Thinking about 2014It’s a brand new year and with the turn of the calendar page comes a renewed motivation to make THIS the year that you propel your small business to dizzying heights.

A bit of a lofty goal, but you know what they say, right?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu

Here are some things you could aim to accomplish in 2014 to help you on your way:

1. Establish/Improve Your Web Presence

If you don’t have an online presence yet, create a website. It’s not as hard as you might think, with tools such as WordPress and Weebly to make it easier.

For businesses with a website already established: upgrade to a premium template and/or hire a professional graphic designer to freshen up your logo/header graphic.

2. Build Your List

You’ve got a website, but you aren’t doing anything to build your list of contacts. You will have heard it before, but building your list is something you should be doing from the beginning. If you have a list of people who like hearing from you, you have a list of potential customers! You will need to set up software on your website to capture your prospects’ email addresses. Some popular ones are MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse and 1ShoppingCart.

If you’ve already established a way to capture your leads, then now’s the time to focus on list-building activities. I’m doing Nathalie Lussier’s 30-day List Building Challenge; you might want to do that too. It doesn’t cost a thing and so far I’m loving how it’s all laid out in actionable chunks.

3. Blog for Your Business

If you haven’t already, start blogging for your business. New content to your website on a regular basis makes Google happy and when Google is happy it sends more traffic your way. More traffic means more people who might want to buy your products or services.

For established business bloggers, you could join a blogging challenge or create an editorial calendar and stick to it. Brainstorm content ideas and always have a notebook to write down ideas when inspiration strikes. Tip: Always scrambling for a pen and paper? Evernote is a tool that you can use to capture ideas when you’re on your phone or tablet.

4. Publish an eNewsletter

Start publishing an eNewsletter. Most list management software makes pre-made templates available to you that you can use to plug your content into and…Presto! You have a newsletter to send to your contacts.

5. Create Some Products

If you are a service-oriented business, such as a coach or consultant, then you have a wealth of knowledge that simply needs to be shared! People might not be ready to engage your services, but an e-book might give them a taste of what you have to offer and gives you a stream of passive income.

6. Get Social

Social media is a way of connecting with your potential customers and it’s free. Start with two or three: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The key here is to keep your accounts active. A presence without any activity isn’t doing you any good; it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. The bonus is that you might learn something from what others share, you could make some great connections and you could have some fun. Be yourself and remember that it is “social” media not “sales” media. Make sure your non-sales-oriented content appears more than your self-promotion.

7. Take It Offline

You hear everywhere that offline business networking is a very effective way of gaining clients. People like face-to-face interaction and are far more likely to remember someone they’ve met at a business function when they’re looking to buy a product or service. The people you meet in person could also be a great source of referrals.

8. Make Use of Video

It doesn’t have to be a video that goes viral, but a simple introductory video on your website can go a long way to increasing your traffic and sales/clients. Google owns YouTube, so you can bet that websites with video rank higher than those without.

Having written that list, there are some things on there that I need to work on; there is always something I could be doing to make things better. Here’s my plan for 2014.

  • Update my website template to something sleeker.
  • Continue with Nathalie’s List Building Challenge.
  • Blog, blog, blog!
  • Consistently publish my newsletter.
  • I’m not ready to create an e-book, but I do want to create a free offer to encourage people to sign-up to my newsletter.
  • Oops, I’m guilty of being less than active on a few of my social media channels, so have got to fix that!
  • I can be a bit of a wallflower at business functions, so I need to put myself out there and join a business networking group in my area.
  • Video? That’s a scary prospect, but sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone, and for me, this activity definitely fits that description! Hmmm, maybe later in the year after I’ve lost a bit of these extra few kilos from too much pumpkin pie at Christmas.

So there’s a few things to strive for this year, sound good?

Of course, if you need any help with implementing some of the above, email me. We can chat about what you want to achieve for your business and how I can support you in your efforts.

8 Things Small Business Owners Can Aim to Achieve in 2014

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