10 Ideas To Make Your Business Better In 2016

10 Ideas To Make Your Business Better In 2016

Our Last Solo Episode of 2015

We’re taking a break for the holidays and coming back in 2016 to challenge some more status quo and talk about business and life, with more Seriously Social Moments and plenty of great guests.

In the meantime, we’ve got 10 ideas for you to use to make your business better in 2016. And stay tuned for this Thursday’s episode, which is our last guest episode, recorded live from Simpson And Vail in Connecticut.

A Name Change?

Ralph has been debating whether or not our podcast needs a name change. When we started out we planned to challenge the status quo of web, search and social marketing. And we did! But over time we’ve evolved to talk more about business in general and even life.

So now we’re wondering… does the name of the podcast really reflect what we’re about? Should we change it? Or would there be a mass revolt amongst Freds everywhere?

It’s up to you, Fred… change the name or keep it the same? And if we should change it, then change it to what?

Ralph suggests “Ralph and Carol Lynn take over the world” which I admit I can get behind, but we want to know what you think.

10 Things To Do To Improve Your Business In 2016, Part 1

1. Work on your customer avatar. Who do you want to do business with? Define that person specifically. Every week Ralph goes to a BNI meeting and many weeks I accompany him. And one of the things we’ve learned is that we can’t walk in and say, “I’m looking for someone who needs marketing.”

That can mean different things to different people. And it means very little to anyone but us.

Instead, we may say, “I’m looking to work with a restaurant owner in the Holmdel, New Jersey area who wants to increase lunch time sales.”

Get specific about the industry your customer is in, their hobbies, everything. The better you “know” this person, the better you can speak their language and craft your messages around what that person needs.

2. Review and prune your profiles. And not just your social media profiles. Google (and Bing!) yourself and find all of your profiles online. Some may be profiles you created, others may be profiles that have been scraped from information you may not even be aware exists.

Find those and be sure they are current. Make sure they best represent any changes you’ve been through, whether personal or business, so that people who find you will understand what you’re about and what you do. If your profiles are inconsistent then that may be confusing to people or not attract the right kind of prospects.

Speak to people who don’t know you. Don’t assume you’re just talking to customers.

3. Take charge of your website (and your whole online presence). Know whether your site is being backed up and where. Understand where your domain is registered and when it expires. Make sure you have access to all your social logins, your hosting account, your Google analytics – everything that belongs to your business.

Someone else (like your marketing company or IT company) may have set up the accounts for you but you need to keep your own house in order and take charge of the key pieces of your business.

4. Be skeptical. Always ask the question, “Why?” Recently we read a study that said that images with faces were 23% less likely to be pinned on Pinterst than images without faces.

This stat was then turned into an infographic and repeated everywhere. But should you believe it?

When it comes to research, correlation doesn’t mean causation. What are the methods used? What, exactly, was studied? How were the conclusions reached and is there enough evidence to support them?

In the case of the Pinterest stat, what industries were studied? Whose customers?

Marketing is complex and it’s up to you to test. Planning to run a Facebook ad? Don’t take anyone’s word for “how to do it.” Create your own tests. Try different photos and text. See what works for you.

In our experience, “conventional wisdom” typically takes a back seat to what actually works.

5. Schedule a brain dump every day. We’ve talked about GTD before and one of the principles is to dump everything out of your brain onto a piece of paper (or into an app if that’s your thing.)

Your brain is not a storage device. If you try to remember what you need to do then you’ll be busy trying to remember what you need to do… and have less brainpower to devote to actually doing it.

Clear out your mind by writing everything down – from buying toilet paper to writing your blog post – and then you’ll be able to use your brain to focus on your actual tasks instead of just remembering them.

Your Seriously Social Moment

Today Ian talks about connecting on LinkedIn. He asks, “Should you connect with people you don’t know?”

It’s a topic that’s widely debated.

Technically, sending a connection request to someone you don’t know is against LinkedIn’s terms of service. But some people believe in connecting with as many people as possible and growing a large network.

Ian says that’s not for him. Social media is about building relationships and quality connections are always more valuable than the quantity of connections.

If you want LinkedIn to work for you then look for valuable connections. Don’t just chase numbers.

Improve Your Business, Part 2

6. Invest in a podcatcher. Every since Ralph broke up with iTunes, he’s been thrilled with his new app, Pocket Casts. If you listen to our podcast, chances are you enjoy podcasts. So don’t let technology get in the way of your enjoyment. Podcasts are about the content. And there’s a plethora of content to choose from – whether you’re a gamer or a knitter or a history buff.

With a good app you’ll have a great listening experience and you can enjoy content that will be good for your business, for your learning, for your spiritual life and for your personal life.

7. Look at how you’re spending your time and money. First, you need to be tracking your time. Even if you don’t bill hourly, you need to understand where your time is going, where you may be wasting it and where you need to reallocate it.

There may be gaps where you’re doing things like cleaning up your computer desktop. And that may be necessary but if you’re doing it for hours on a Tuesday, you’re probably not working on something that’s making you money.

Be sure you understand where you’re spending time with clients. You may have a great client who you talk to often but who doesn’t contribute all that much to your bottom line. And because of that you don’t have enough time left to spend with the client who IS making you money.

If you’re keeping track you’ll be better able to balance your attention so you’re putting it where you need to.

Second, you need to be tracking your expenses. When you get that credit card statement each month, there are probably recurring charges you don’t even remember being there. Once a month if you can but once a quarter at least, check your recurring expenses to see what you can’t live without, what you can consider ditching and what you can immediately cut out.

Finally, be sure you know what costs you’re incurring against client work so you know that you’re making enough money to justify your expenses.

8. Make a plan that is revenue centric. Not a long term plan, but rather short term goals that are tied to how much money you want to make. For example, if you want to make $100,000 next year, set that goal and then decide how many clients you need to reach that goal. Then go out and start getting those clients.

Lots of times we hear people talking about building their email lists or getting more website traffic. But those things don’t pay the bills. Pay more attention to how your actions are contributing to your revenue goals.

If you pay attention to revenue then you may not be so willing to create products in the hope of making money – or giving away freebies in the hope of building a list. Many of those things are haphazard and don’t necessarily tie to revenue.

But if you’re focusing on whether or not your actions contribute to revenue then you’ll start to make better decisions about how to spend your time and efforts.

9. Get offline. This is for the benefit of your business and personal life. If you’re taking a break from work, don’t play computer games. Don’t browse Facebook. Turn the computer and phone off and get into the world. For your business, you need to meet people in real life, whether that’s going to a networking meeting, a meetup, or just to meet someone for a cup of coffee.

We get caught up in text-speak where we talk in sentence fragments without punctuation. But in a real conversation you have to listen and respond. Practice your relationship skills. Even something as simple of making eye contact can start to feel foreign if you don’t flex that muscle.

You can’t build relationships as well or as fast online as you can in real life. It’s a lot harder to pretend someone doesn’t exist or to think of them as less than human when you’re sitting in the same room.

10. GTD the heck out of your life. It’s not rocket science. There are very simple steps you can take to improve your focus, be more productive and do more in less time.

For example, Ralph talks about how he shut off all his notifications – all the pings and pongs that distracted him during the day, from email to texts to social media.

Or try the Pomodoro technique, where you work for a specific length of time then take a break for a specific length of time. The idea is to focus on one task. If you implement some simple productivity techniques you can get a ton more done in a lot less time. Break the “big picture” things into tiny, manageable chunks so you can start hacking away at your tasks. Then you’ll have more time to spend on your life and less on work.

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