By Carolyn M. Brown –Blackenterprise.com
As the owner of a startup or growing enterprise, if you are constantly stressing out and always in a state of flux, chances are that you are so busy working in your business that you are rarely working on your business. To be successful in business you can’t get bogged down by day-to-day details. You have to have your eyes set on the future. You have to be planning, strategizing, and building the best business in your industry. What’s your company’s vision for the New Year?
What is one thing all entrepreneurs can to do to rev up their businesses for 2016? BLACK ENTERPRISE reached out to the members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. The following responses from these young CEOs are meant to help small business owners drive sales, engage customers, and ultimately boost profits in the coming year.
1. Use Branded Content. If you think you still have “consumers,” you’re wrong. You have an audience, and you need to build it. If you think you own your brand, you don’t. Your newly created audience owns your brand. Give them the content they crave and your company will flourish. The best part is, it’s a fun processes. So throw out the old playbook and allow your branded content to drive your marketing.
2. Become Overly Accountable. Being accountable to yourself isn’t good enough. It’s like the difference between going to the gym by yourself and having a trainer or training partner. Find someone who you really admire and look up to — someone you can’t bear the idea of letting down. Give them your goals for the year and ask them to check in with you regularly.
3. Have Brand Ambassadors. You need people at your company besides the founder who are credible. It shows online in the content that they produce and the events they speak at on a monthly basis. The way you brand them will help to gain trust and credibility online. Once you have someone’s trust, you will have them as a customer for life.
4. Take a Vacation or Two. I like to work in 12-week sprints, with downtime at the end. Every second sprint I complete, I try to take a vacation to fully recharge. When I dive back into work, I’m energized and ready to take on what’s next and exceed our goals. You need at least one digitally disconnected vacation per year. Recharging and grounding yourself will supercharge your business and yourself.
5. Prioritize. Entrepreneurs often start with nothing, becoming adept at filling in cracks and being a jack of all trades. Over time that approach will hold the company back, and entrepreneurs need to regularly re-prioritize around their strengths. The focus should be on outsourcing all non-priority items into the organization. This makes the team stronger, avoids entrepreneur burnout, and accelerates growth.
6. Find a Right-Hand Person. The one thing all entrepreneurs need to rev up their business in 2016 is an effective manager/right-hand person they get along with. There is only so much you can do on your own, so choose your battles carefully. Technology fools you into thinking that you can do it all. This manager should get along with you, the owner, and train/motivate staff while you focus on your core skill set.
7. Embrace Lead Intelligence and Big Data. If in 2016 you’re not fully embracing lead intelligence and big data inside your organization, you’re going to struggle. The availability of data to the SMB space has exploded over the past few years. The ease of integration into any CRM or marketing automation platform has brought big data into everyone’s hands. If you don’t take advantage of it, your competition will — so embrace it or get left behind.
8. Gear Quality Leadership Training Towards Millennials. According to the Washington Post, 3.6 million baby boomers will retire, and more than one-fourth of the Millennial workforce will move into a leadership role in 2016. This massive shift requires new types of training approaches geared towards Millennials. New leaders are flattening corporate management and focusing on social good, rather than just the bottom line.
9. Use the Tools You Already Have. We use AppBoy for our mobile marketing. There is so much that can be done with it to give your users the best experience possible, but at the moment we haven’t fully harnessed that power. It’s essential to make sure that you’re getting the most out of the tools you already have in place.
10. Become More Progressive. The last few years have been about the expansion of digital tools, changes in marketing trends and adopting advertising to new platforms, like streaming services, partnering with content creators, and developing relationships with up-and-coming thought leaders. 2016 is truly about the refinement of those new core business facets, adopting them completely, and being progressive in your industry.