Saturday, January 25, 2014

Keep Your Small Business on Track

Time management is one aspect of business that many people struggle with.  Being Type A in my business practices I'm prone to creating 10 million lists and schedules in order to keep on top of the goals I want to accomplish.  Here is a copy of my most recent schedule, which I desperately have to update:
Yes, it's rough, scribbled upon, and sometimes so messy even I forget where I was going with an idea.  However, I try to use this as my invisible "supervisor", because Goddess knows I get distracted by shiny objects at times... and there is nothing more distracting than the seductive lure of the internet when a large portion of your marketing and sales is online.  As long as I stick to my daily tasks I have found that my online views, sales, and overall presence increases.

In the invisible realm that is the world wide web a business can become out of sight, out of mind so very quickly.  The key I find is to stay in people's digital faces as much as possible.  Post often, 2-3 times a day, 2-3 times a week if possible.  A tool I've found very helpful is of course social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are my top three.  If you have a smart phone, as I do, it makes social media marketing that much easier.  A quick little Tweet, picture, post or share on the go will draw in the views.  Use Facebook's post scheduling feature (on Pages) to get in a lot of posts all at once, scheduled out over a long period of time.  This way you don't need to be on your phone or computer several times a day (especially good if you have a day of vending, cold calls, or if you work another job).  Tip: Promote each of your social media sites on the others, to get more exposure and allow your audience to enjoy them all.  Lastly, sign up for Google Analytics to track your progress and followers, and make changes as needed.  It can be confusing at first, but there are many helpful sites & forums to guide you to understanding the process and making it work for you.

Blogs are also a great way to network and get yourself out there.  Blogger also has a schedule feature that allows you to set the day and time you'd like a post to...well, post!  Short, interesting posts with top notch photos are the best way to draw in the crowds and keep them coming back for more.

A screenshot of the top of my November 2013 newsletter, created with MailChimp.

Newsletters, while sometimes time consuming, are a fun and interesting way to draw attention to your business while entertaining your audience with topics that are in the same vein without being too pushy with product or service promotion.  This allow potential customers to relate to you as a person, and understand your philosophies and ideas that make your business unique and exciting - a key point for any handcrafted business!  I use MailChimp because of its ease of use and generous features in the free account. 
(You can view my current and past newsletters HERE.)

My last piece of advice is to keep your work space clean and organized.  I can't stress this enough!  It will make life so much easier on you.  Hit the thrift store for super cheap & creative organizational tools: binders, proper lighting, shelving, baskets for sorting, fun glassware or vintage kitchenware for those millions of pens & highlighters, and stackable bins for "to do" and "to file" documents.

Oh yea, and try not to let your furry friend keep you from your work for too long.... No matter how cute they look while doing it :D

Liu Jun Pei loves the warm, shiny thing on my desk.

I wish you all the best with your small, home-based, and handmade businesses and hobbies in 2014!  Be sure to follow my blog for future tips and tricks, as well as new products I'll be rolling out in the near future.

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