As a small business owner, I’m always looking for lessons or mantras that I can hold on to. Little nuggets that I can use to guide my decision making help keep me on the right path during difficult times. Over the past two years, I’ve come up with four mantras that I think any small business owner would do well to follow. I’ll share them below. Let me know if you agree or, perhaps, what your own mantras are for your business or your brand.
1. Stay Social
Yes, I know you have a million things to do today, but try to make at least one of those things to get on Twitter and start talking to people. Or to create a new FourSquare or Groupon promotion for your business. As a small business owner, you need to be on the lookout for ways to integrate social media into your day-to-day activities. Think of how you can use these new platforms to build upon the experience you’re already creating elsewhere. Social media is powerful for medium- and large-sized companies, but I really believe it’s even more powerful for small businesses. It’s about storytelling and connecting to people on a human level. This is what SMBs have been surviving on for years. Now you can do it grand-scale and for free. Stay social.
2. Stay Quick
It’s easy to become intimidated as a small business owner. You hear you need to start a blog and you start thinking about the content, worrying about who’s going to build it, who will maintain it, who will market it, etc. You immediately get into that snowball of worrying about everything that will go into that blog. And while that’s important to think about, it can also derail momentum. Start small and stay quick. Instead of worrying about the beast that WordPress can be, get yourself something more lightweight – like a Tumblr account. Instead of worrying about all the camera equipment you’ll need to produce those online videos, get a Flip video camera and upload it straight to YouTube. Sometimes picking the lightweight solution allows you to skip the hassle and get right into the meat of creation. That’s where you want to be. Nimble.
3. Stay Small
I write a lot over at my company blog about the importance of thinking small and keeping that startup mentality. The one that paints you as the scrappy underdog who needs to outwit his competition by being fearless, trying new things, and really focusing on building relationships with your customers. That’s how you become successful when you’re small and it’s something businesses forget (or just plain ignore) as they become larger. But don’t let that happen to you. Stay small and stay in the business of servicing people and making every touch point you create count.
4. Stay Open
Do your best to remain transparent with your customer base. Introduce them to your staff, let them know what you’re working on, be honest when you goof up, and do what you can to bring them into your organization and show them what you’re about. Again, this is something we’re typically really good about when we’re small, but forget to keep doing as we grow. Social media has shown us a lot. But one thing in particular is that customers like feeling connected to the businesses that they support. And they connect through the stories we tell, the information we share, and by how we reach out to their community. Don’t lose sight of that.
Those are four mantras I’ve tried to hold on to as a small business owner. What words do you live and run your business by?