The Link to the Solution

How to Work ON Your Business, Not IN it

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We get so caught up in the daily life of running a business, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. Not that you have a choice! You’re fighting fires, handling a pissed-off customer, rending your face over an emergency bug-fix, the website just went down, and the accountant is coming tomorrow and the books are in shambles.

All normal. But still every month or so it’s nice to take a step back and see whether you’re missing a chance to make a more meaningful change to your business.

Here’s some things you can do:

  • View your website/product/service through the eyes of a new potential customer. *Do informal usability testing with a stranger. You’re too close to your own projects!
  • Find a decision about your product or your behaviour which is really due to ego rather than making life better for your employees or customers, or rather than seeking revenue. *There’s no shame in having a big ego and it’s natural to not want to admit mistakes or change your position on things, but sometimes it’s the right thing for everyone.
  • Delegate activities you’re still doing yourself because “no one else can do them as well or as quickly,” but which don’t actually need to be done that well or quickly.*Delegation is hard, but healthy, and necessary if you expect to grow as a company and as a person.
  • Do one thing to increase your company’s visibility on Twitter, blogs, Facebook – wherever.
  • Identify one person who could really help get your company more exposure, and who might be personally motivated to do so. *Then spend real time trying to contact that person.
  • Find one “number” in your business you know the least about (i.e. conversion rates, trial/sales rates, length of a trial, number of people who hit the home page and nothing more). Then spend time trying to learn more.
  • Come up with one thing you could do that might increase conversion rates by 1%. Here “conversion” can mean any part of the funnel from home page hit to downloads to CRM opportunities to sales. *Usually conversion rates are in the 0.1% – 5% range, so just a single additional percent can result in a massive boost in revenue.
  • Collect 10 pieces of empirical evidence about why your latest customers decided to give you money. *Use that to tune your website, ads, pitches, and marketing material to attract the next customers.
  • Collect 10 pieces of empirical evidence about why people didn’t buy even when they were deep in your website or after they trialled your software. *The answer to more revenue lies with the folks who didn’t buy.
  • Do one thing to prove to the world that you’re an expert in your field. *People like to buy from experts they trust.
  • Identify one mundane, time-consuming tasks that you could outsource.*Even if it means spending money, it means you can spend your time on getting more revenue which will more than pay for the outsourcing.
  • Quantify how much completely disposable cash you have in the company’s bank account. *Whether it’s ₦100,000 or ₦10,000,000, maybe you should brainstorm how to spend it to get more revenue.
  • Defer something you’re working on now that really isn’t necessary to be done now. *Take a minute to reset your priorities. What’s really timely?
  • Admit one thing you’re doing because of an assumption rather than because of hard evidence. *You have to make assumptions to live in the world, but it’s worth stepping back and challenging even the most basic ones.
  • Identify anything you’re doing because of a “plan” rather than because of hard evidence. *There’s no glory in following a business plan. Do the right thing with information at hand today regardless of any “plan.”
  • Identify choices that don’t “feel” like the right thing to do. *If it feels wrong, it is. Do what’s right instead of what makes most revenue; in the long run Karma does work in business.
  • Change your home page to be more specific in describing how you help your customers. *General phrases and wishy-washy statements don’t excite people or win customers’ hearts.
  • Give your customers something wonderful, for free. *A deal on a related product, a free book, even just a thoughtful article of interest to them — give them something for free to show you care and they’ll reward you ten-fold.
  • Take one step to become more visible in communities related to your business. *On-line or off-line, how can you be a part of other social networks?
  • Further differentiate yourself from competitors rather than just try to “kill” them. *Explaining the niche you unquestionably own is a better path to sales than trying to win every deal on every point.
  • Congratulate yourself and your employees on the good aspects of the business. *We’re always battling problems instead of revelling in the good stuff; the good stuff is what makes business fun, and is kind of the whole point.
  • Do something to invest in your customers’ experience after the sale. *We’re so caught up in getting new customers we sometimes forget how to keep them thrilled one year later.
  • Take on a project that you could complete in under a week, and really ought to, but you’ve procrastinated because it sucks to have to do it.
  • Remove 5 blogs from your feed reader because they’re not worth the time, and add 5 blogs that increase your chances of having a successful business.

I hope some of these ideas inspire you to reconsider your priorities and shift your behaviour. Don’t let fire-fighting or your personality get in the way of healthy revenue growth!

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