Small business owners like us commonly fall into a trap of our making. We are truly excellent at operating our companies and keeping our existing customers happy. That is nothing to be ashamed of. We are proud of the job we do and how efficiently we can do it. It does come with one considerable negative, however. It takes a great deal of time and energy to handle operations for today’s business; we often forget about the need for ensuring tomorrow’s revenue!
Some small business owners reply, “Well, I’m busy enough. I’m not really looking for additional work right now.” This is a short sighted view. We can’t count on our customers being with us forever, despite the fantastic work we do for them. Attrition happens and your relationships with prospective clients will have to be tended carefully to ensure that revenue keeps pace or grows over time.
Here’s a concrete example: Daniel Boyle started his website marketing business 18 months ago and has five clients for whom he updates their websites, integrates their Email blasts and promotions into their social media marketing activities. Three of those customers require daily updates, and they keep Dan Boyle very busy.
He is a sole proprietor, and he has not hired anyone else to assist in running his business. At the end of each long day, he has completed all of his clients’ tasks. And they are happy with Dan’s services. But as a result, Dan has not paid attention to his own website and his own marketing strategy. What happens if one of his customers is bought out or decides to hire a social media manager of its own? He will be scrambling to fill this hole in his revenue.
One reason we become trapped is that we are very comfortable providing excellent service, and we are less comfortable (maybe even unhappy) with the prospect of marketing ourselves. When I started my first company in 2006, I was guilty of this very problem. I had some existing relationships from my previous job, and I was contented writing their reports, white papers, and presentations. One of my best customers, a director of a large health care firm, suddenly announced she was leaving that company to pursue another position. Her replacement told me she had a previous relationship with another writer. With the sudden realization that 25% of revenue was at risk, I had the not-so-clever idea that I needed to spend some time learning how to market my business, and now.
Everyone needs to focus some time on their marketing activities. If you need a reason, just think about what would happen if a quarter of your business went away overnight. That will kick start most people into action.
Keep in mind that consistently marketing your company doesn’t mean that you will be spending 2 hours every day doing it. Once you commit to doing it, you may be talking about 30-45 minutes every day or even every other day. If you have a similar experience to my own, it does mean you have to start.