Two’s company – or even three!

As a small business owner marketing can be hard work and expensive. Whether you are going down the networking route, doing presentations, or marketing yourself through more traditional methods, such as adverts, it takes time and money to do it right.

However, there are ways to reduce the costs, and the time you have to spend.

By teaming up with other business owners you can share the marketing time and expense.

An obvious collusion is to put together a presentation with a couple of likeminded businesses in complementary fields. For example, an employment lawyer could run a seminar with an HR expert and a payroll company.

The costs of the venue, refreshments, seminar marketing, handouts etc. could then be shared three ways. As an individual you also only have to prepare enough material for a third of the presentation time – thus saving you time and effort.

There are also hidden benefits of doing joint presentations. Each professional will get a better understanding of the others’ fields. This will make it easier for them to refer their clients in areas they are not, themselves, familiar.

Another way of colluding is having a common website, blog, or other social media presence. I am currently involved in helping put together a fantastic website to introduce business owners to management accountants in their area.

The benefit of such a scheme is that we can create a really great website, which is inexpensive for each accountant, because of the numbers of people who will be advertised on it.

So, why not have a think about which of your business contacts you can do a joint piece of marketing with and see where it takes you.

Fiona 🙂

Can’t do it all?

One of the problems with being a small business owner is the number and scope of jobs which land on your desk. These jobs can be broken down into a number of categories:

  • Jobs you like and can do well
  • Jobs you hate and put off as long as you can – worrying all the time in between because they have not been done!
  • Urgent Jobs which take all your time
  • Important Jobs you don’t get round to because the urgent ones take precedence
  • Non important/non urgent jobs which you like doing but distract you

Trying to deal with everything is the route to inefficiency and despair! However, there are solutions which can help you manage your time – and your business – more effectively. Below are a couple of strategies you might like to embrace.

Firstly, look at the jobs you are doing and work out if YOU need to be doing all of them. Most small business owners end up doing everything because they believe their time is cheap. This is absolutely wrong! Your time is the most expensive of anyone’s. You are the only person who can plan the direction your company should be going in so, if you aren’t able to spend time thinking about strategy because you are doing the bookkeeping, how expensive to the company is that bookkeeping work? On top of that you probably hate bookkeeping and worry you aren’t doing it right!

Review the jobs on your plate and decide if there is someone better placed to do them. Examples of these sorts of jobs are:

  • Bookkeeping/Accountancy/Payroll
  • Phone answering and diary management
  • Web design
  • Lead generation

There are people out there who love doing each of these types of jobs so, if you hate doing these activities, find someone to do them for you.

Secondly, look at how you are spending your day and make sure you allow time to think about the really important issues in your business. This will mean managing the ‘urgent’ jobs. Taking telephone calls and answering emails are jobs which will always push themselves to the front of the queue if you let them.

When the phone rings we have an in-built need to answer it. However, if you are in the middle of a job the interruption can be very distracting. If you have an answering service which can take calls when you are busy, you can manage your time better – and also ensure you talk to people when you have the opportunity to deal with their issue effectively.

Similarly, have a method of dealing with emails which works for you. Some people only look at emails at a particular time in the working day and restrict the time they spend doing so. Others will manually click to receive emails (rather than automatically receiving new emails) which means that they can, again, manage when they are prepared to accept the distraction of dealing with emails.

Time management is always going to be a struggle if you are a small business owner. So do yourself a favour, acknowledge the problem, and work to find a solution to save your sanity!

Fiona 🙂