Oh, The Hat’s We Wear.

As a business owner (or even a manager) we tend to wear all the hats- or at least most of them. From manager to marketer, HR to customer service. It can get overwhelming. Sometimes we need a little help.

I’m not recommending that you drop what you’re doing and post a help wanted sign or ad in the classifieds. What I am telling you is that there is way to make wearing all of the hats a little easier to manage. And someday, when you are ready to hire, you will be prepared with a job description, payroll costs v. value and an idea of the type of person you are looking for rather than general ‘help’.

Every time you start a project or task, take a quick moment and decide which ‘hat’ you are wearing. Start making a list of all the hats and which tasks you do while wearing that hat. What you are doing is defining the responsibilities of that position.

The Marketing Coordinator Hat may have a list that contains mailer for holiday sales and Facebook page updates. The Customer Service Hat would have answer phones, balance till and greet customers.

Creating these lists are going to do two things for you.
1- You are going to be able to be more productive throughout the day. Since you are doing tasks of the same nature, you won’t be spending the extra time changing hats.
2- When you are ready to hire some help, you already have clear job descriptions. If you need a part-time person but don’t have enough administrative work, look at your other hats that you wear and see if you can combine the job duties into 1 position. Maybe look for someone that can also take care of your marketing or be able to manage merchandising as well.

“Spend time working on the business, not just in the business.”

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50/60/70/80

The buzz on Twitter right now is all about finding your customers and actually listening to what they have to say. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this concept. As a business owner, I tend to find myself assuming I know what my current and potential clients want. My dad clearly repeated to me throughout my childhood and beyond what exactly “assuming” does. In case you haven’t heard, I quote, “It makes an ass out of u and me.” So I came up with the 50-60-70-80 rule. And it works.

50
This one is straight forward. Go find your customers. Spend (at least) 50% of your time finding your customers. You will never know what your customers want, or even who they are from inside your store-front or office.

Truth: Your customers don’t care about you. Heck, they don’t even know you exist.

Solution: Go find them. Figure out who they are, what they do, where they live – narrow it down.

It’s much easier (and more cost-effective) to market to a smaller audience, but you can’t do that until you know who they are. I understand your challenges. You are busy, you don’t have any other employees, etc., but you will not- and cannot grow unless you roll up your sleeves and get out there. You want to hire someone to answer phones? Then you’d better have customers calling. Check out the Customer Manifesto from Steve Blank. He sure knows how to hit that nail on the head.

60
While you’re out there finding your niche, you need to listen. This is not the time to market yourself. Your mission is information. Not marketing. We just established that you need to find out who your customers are and what they want before you market to them.

Fact: Marketing can get expensive.Why waste valuable resources on groups of people that will never be your customer.

Listen to what your customers are saying- minimum 60% of you time while your out should be listening. What do they like, where do they shop, who are they, what social media do they use, where do they get their news, what activities do they like? You have to find the answers to these questions before you start anything else. You need to know what type of media they like. There is no sense on putting your efforts into a daily blog if your customers are on twitter – but we’ll talk about this in the “80.”

Spend your time listening while you’re out there. Image

70
Once you’ve listened, or I should say are listening (because this is ongoing, people change), you can start narrowing your focus. Spend 70% of your time in the office on efforts towards attracting and appealing to your target group. You don’t have a business without customers. Yes, you have expenses to manage and sales to achieve and possibly employees (which are also very important, but that’s a whole other blog), but you won’t have those things if you don’t have someone buying your product.

Make these soon-to-be customers your priority. They are your present and your future.

80
Don’t spread yourself thin. Now that you know who your audience is and what they like and want, you can make that your priority. Like I said earlier, don’t spend all your time on a blog if your audience is on Twitter. Don’t ignore your blog, maybe cut it down to once/week or twice/month, you still need to stand out as an expert, but spend 80% of your marketing efforts on things that you know your new found niche will like and respond to.

Check out what Gini Dietrich has to say on this matter, specifically on the social aspect. It follows the same idea for both social media marketing and more traditional approaches.

Not to sound too mushy, but I have complete faith in you and your ability to be successful. I’m sure you do too. Just take a deep breath and don’t assume anything.