How to grow your business but still stay true to your audience

As your business grows and changes, it can be difficult to stay true to the people who have been with you from the beginning. So how do you grow but still stay connected with old friends?

You can think of the people around your business as fitting into three groups; your customers, your prospects and your partners. Most important are your customers, after all they have chosen to spend their money with you. Your partners are people who have the ‘ears’ (or emails addresses!) of people who could become your customers one day. Think complementary businesses or anyone who might refer people to you. The third group are your prospects – people who are a good match for your product or service, but who haven’t yet become customers.

All of these people are your audience and it’s important to stay not just in touch with them, but also true to them. There’s no point in sending out a message if it doesn’t ring true when it arrives.

It’s easy to get sidetracked from your original message. Yet if you stay true to your audience your business can expand in surprising and profitable ways. It’s about keeping your old friends and making new ones too. You can be innovative, add new products and services, and still meet the needs of your audience. Here’s how:

Connect with them using social media. Social media has the power to let you be a fly on the wall. You can listen, watch and learn. You can also interact and discuss. These conversations provide valuable information about what your audience needs and wants. Discovering their problems puts you in an ideal situation to be the solution. Don’t just stick with Facebook and Twitter, try new platforms as they come along (such as Pinterest). Comments on your own and other people’s blogs can also be a useful way of picking up opinions.

Ask questions and listen to the answers. As you’re striving to grow your business you are bound to have moments of doubt.  If you don’t know what your audience wants to buy or don’t want to risk the expense of making a mistake, ask them. Send email questionnaires and post surveys on social media sites. Ask your audience the important questions and then listen to the answers.

Stay on top of industry information. Read industry publications and stay on top of trends. This information can help you tap into emerging ideas. It can also help you continue to position yourself as an authority in your industry. When you’re able to discuss the latest news you’re able to continue to provide up-to-date solutions.

Keep in mind the value you’re giving to your audience. Creating a book or course for the sake of having something new is a mistake. After all, nobody is short of information these days! Creating a product because it solves a problem in a new and useful way is a much better approach. Whenever you’re changing your business or adding new products or services, always put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Measure it.  If you don’t know what your audience responds to, how can you continue to give them what they need? Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website and schedule time each week or month reviewing the information. Decide what metrics are useful for your business (number visitors to your website, number of sales – whatever allows you to take the pulse of your business the best) and use the data to make smart business building decisions.

Test and try new things. If you are not sure about a new product or service, try a beta test. Release the product to a small group of people and use their feedback and response to improve and grow.

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Top time management tips from real business women

Ready for some tried-and-tested time management tips from real women in business?

Last week at The Likeminded Network, we had a ‘Your Business Dilemmas Solved’ session where we all sat around a big table and had our pressing business questions answered by the rest of the group. This was a simple but brilliant idea, not just because we were pooling the combined experience of around twenty women in business, but because it was a great way to get to know one another.

As most of us are on our second or third career, there was a heck of a lot of expertise in the room.

My question was on time management – what tips did people have for getting everything done? Here’s what they said:

  • Work in fifteen minute blocks. – Claire Land, Save Our Sanity
  • Accept that you’ll never get to the end of your to do list! – Emma Perry of Shabby Rock Chic
  • Put down how long you spend on everything in an Excel spreadsheet, then at the end of the month create a graph so you can see exactly where you are spending your time. – Penny Norton of PNPR
  • Turn off Facebook, Twitter and close your email while you’re working. Then check them once or twice a day at set times, otherwise it’s too distracting. Anna Brim of Aloha Photography and others!
  • If you’ve got a task that you don’t want to do, spend just ten minutes on it then give yourself ten minutes of something more fun or creative as a reward. Mary Mansfield, Cambridge Interiors
  • Do similar tasks together. For example, do all your invoices once a month in a block so you’ve got all the right paperwork and files open at the same time. Anna Brim of Aloha Photography
  • Set up email folders according to priority, then put your emails in the appropriate folder as they arrive. Then you can deal with all the urgent ones first, the less urgent ones later and so on. Otherwise you end up dealing with them in the order that they arrive, which isn’t the best use of time. – Chrissy Brown of Crafty Monkey Pottery Painting Studio
  • Don’t read your emails or make phone calls in the first hour of the day as this puts you in a reactive frame of mind for the rest of the day. Get into a proactive mindset by focusing your first hour on the task that’s going to bring in the money. Use that hour to work on your business rather than in it. – I’m not sure of this person’s name, please leave a comment if it was you and I’ll add you!

Hope those are helpful!

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Dealing with guilt as a business mum

As business owners and mums we have the best of both worlds. We get the satisfaction and mental stimulation of running a business and we get to see more of our kids than we would if we had a traditional job.  Well, that’s the theory anyway! 🙂

That said, it can be very difficult to juggle all of our commitments.  We want to be able to have everything and do everything and often that just isn’t possible. Then something gets pushed to the back burner and we feel guilty about it.

Guilt usually happens when you don’t feel you are giving one aspect of your life or work the attention it deserves. It’s probably one of a mum’s most difficult emotions to manage. It can feel overwhelming and it really can hold you back from achieving what you want.

The good news is that you do have certain qualities that can help you manage or overcome your guilty feelings. Here are some things to think about… Continue reading “Dealing with guilt as a business mum”

So what is PR… exactly?

Introducing my latest guest blogger here at Business Plus Baby….Julie Sherwood of Welcome Julie!

PR is all about getting the press to talk about you and effectively gaining ‘free advertising’ for your business. PR – or public relations – is the art of getting news about your business in the press. It’s an area that is often overlooked in small businesses, but can reap fantastic rewards if taken the time to understand.

Understanding how PR works is the first step in generating press coverage for your business. Continue reading “So what is PR… exactly?”

Does WordPress drive you nuts?

Here’s the problem. Just about everyone recommends WordPress as the best way to run a blog (me included). I’d also recommend it to you if you’re setting up a business website that isn’t a blog.

It really is that good.

But anything this powerful does, of course, have a downside.

WordPress is so flexible because you can adapt it in virtually any way you want. You can add themes and plug ins to give you any look or feature you could possibly want – and many of these are cheap or even free. But that does mean a lot of fiddling around. Not a major problem if you’re a techy, but most of us aren’t.

So you end up doing one of three things: Continue reading “Does WordPress drive you nuts?”