(Editor's Note: today's post was submitted by our respected friend and guest-blogging superstar, Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting! Read more about Meghan at the end of the post!)
For many, the midnight ball drop is a definitive break between last year’s failures and this year’s goals. We all make resolutions with the hopes of achieving them, but sometimes we don’t make as much progress as expected. The key to attainable resolutions is a simple evaluation – using your experiences, it’s important to determine what has been working and what hasn’t been working in your business. No matter how lofty your goals, it’ll be much more difficult to achieve them if there’s something holding you back. So, the question is – how can we be more mindful of the good and the bad of our business, and how do we move forward to the next level?
Before starting off, jump to your contact page – is there a place for potential clients to include how they heard about you? Although a simple method of evaluation, this all-important question can reveal a wealth of information about your outreach efforts. “With the inquiries broken down, it’s easy to see how many clients booked from each advertisement and we can easily determine if the ad paid for itself,” shared Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events. If you haven’t included this option before, this is certainly something to consider for the upcoming year.
The truth is, there is no set formula for breaking down your business as every company is different and faces unique opportunities and challenges. Your first step to success is to set time aside for a comprehensive analysis of the business and its recent performance. Break it down and look at what efforts were key to bringing in business and positive recognition. Perhaps your advertisement expenses came back tenfold or your newest networking group is really paying off – these are the things that have been working for you, so find ways to build off of these ideas.
On the flip side, you’ll want to look at what didn’t work. Were there any expenses that didn’t need to be made? Did anything negative happen when it could have been avoided? Take an honest look at your company and be open to changing certain things if it means more revenue or a better workflow.
Look at the numbers that you’ve achieved in the past year and compare them to the previous year. Keep an eye out for trends – are there dips during a certain time of year? Did sales explode after a certain campaign?
“Numbers don’t lie, so we rely on sales analysis while evaluating our business,” explained Charles Zhong of Azazie. “We look at things such as the ratio between sales and view time and the return rate of products. We then make operational changes to accommodate our findings – whether it’s as simple as moving a less popular dress off the homepage or as big as retiring a dress. It’s about building an inventory that customers love!”
Once you’ve determined what is working and what isn’t working, it’s time to take action. Sometimes it can be handled in-house, but other times it’s more effective to hire out. “As a small business owner, it can be difficult to wear all of the hats that it takes to run a successful company,” expressed Mike Busada of Mike B Photography. “This year, we combatted this problem by outsourcing our needs and taking on a wedding PR firm and the results have been extraordinary.” Whether it’s public relations or financial consulting, outsourcing, while not inexpensive, can certainly be the best bang for a buck.
Perhaps your business is operating successfully, but the relationship side needs a bit of work. Allocating time to building relationships is invaluable, so be sure that’s a consideration during your evaluation. “We’ve found that the absolute best way to reach your audience is by word of mouth,” shared Jamie Turner of Turner Photography Studio. “People trust other peoples’ experiences – it’s as simple as that. We rely on strong vendor relationships to keep us on the minds of potential clients. In return, we’re sure to keep them in mind when giving our own referrals!” Building relationships with other vendors can bring in leads which, as many know, can mean the world to a small business.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and book an appointment with yourself to start tossing the bad fruits and embracing the ripe ones. Be thoughtful in your approach and stay true to yourself and your business philosophy – you can’t go wrong!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting, which specializes in getting wedding professionals their brides. She is a highly sought after industry speaker and serves as a Public Relations adjunct professor for Virginia Commonwealth University.