Are You Growing Your Business Money Tree?

cheshire catMany gift company owners are a lot like Alice, wandering around aimlessly in  Wonderland. Encountering the Cheshire cat, she asked, “Can you tell me, please, which way I should go from here?”

The cat replied,  “That depends on which way you want to go.”

The same answer is true for us as well. Without knowing where we want to go, we wander from one idea to another with little success. That‘s why it was so important to read, think about, and write the answers to the questions that I posed in the previous article.

If you‘ve been following the process along with us, you should have a notebook full of notes. Go back through those notes and mark the items that you consider to be the most pressing or important. Now is the time to use those notes to grow your business in 2023.

(Read the previous articles Time for New Beginnings and Time to Review Your Business.)

If you  already have a business plan that you created along the way, pull it out and determine what has changed since you wrote it.  If you don’t already have one, don’t worry about it.  Just begin by writing a description of where you are now in your business and then move on to map out where you want to go.  Try to be as objective as possible and write several paragraphs summarizing your business as you see it today.  All those notes that you took should help you do this.  Include both your strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t worry about grammar or your writing skills—just get it down on paper.  This is for your eyes alone.

Now that you know where you are,  your notes should help you decide where you need to go.

  • Do you want to change the perception of your business?
  • Increase sales?
  • Enter a new market where you may not have much expertise?

Be specific and realistic as you list each goal along with the reasons that are leading you towards that decision.  It’s fine to have several goals but prioritize them so you can create a realistic way to achieve them.  It’s better to motivate yourself with ambitious goals than to frustrate yourself by failing at unattainable ones.  It is also beneficial to break them down into two segments — where you want to go this year and long-range goals.

Define your individual markets for each goal as specifically as possible.  We all tend to try to cover all bases by marketing to everybody but you can’t be all things to all people.  Determine the most profitable market and concentrate on what you should do to reach it first.  If you fail to position your market yourself, you may find it positioned automatically by circumstance, and it may not be to your advantage.  If you identify several markets for a goal, rank them in order of priority.  You are not going to be able to market to everyone at once.

For each goal and the target markets within that goal, create a strategy with the steps necessary to accomplish your goal.  This is where brainstorming is productive.  List every option that pops into your head no matter how ridiculous it may sound.  Write as quickly as you can.  One thought leads to another and out of your subconscious will come some ideas that you would probably never have thought of otherwise.  As you develop your final plan, you’ll eliminate the strategies that won’t work for you or your local area.  But you’ll also discover that you’ve thought of some unique ones.

To help you get started, here are some strategies that you might use if your goal is to expand to the Realtor niche market:

  1. Arrange to make presentations at Real Estate company meetings where I will discuss the value of building relationships with past and potential customers, emphasizing how I can help them to this.
  2. Create a brochure called “Secrets to Building Relationships with Your Customers” to leave at these meetings and to offer for free on my website.
  3. I will send follow-up information on a periodic basis to the Realtors who were at the presentations.
  4. I will investigate becoming a vendor member of my local MLS and determine if the value is worth the cost.
  5. I will investigate if it is possible to sell closing and marketing gifts at my local MLS office where they sell other products.
  6. I will investigate the feasibility of participating in the annual Vendor’s Fair.
  7. I will create a section of my website specifically for relationship building gifts that fit all budgets.
  8. I will create a specific category in my website blog for Realtors where I will post ideas for marketing and building relationships.

You can do something similar with whatever direction you decide to take your business in during 2023.  Don’t plan to spend more money than you can afford.  There are many low-cost ways to market your business.  But also don’t make the mistake that marketing is an optional expense.  This is one of the most tragic myths in business.

Marketing expenses should be given priority, particularly when business is slow.

Regardless of what decisions you are in the process of making about your business, you should create a budget listing all the expenses that will be involved.  If you don’t have the budget to tackle all your markets, reach them one by one in order of priority.

Your budget should include the estimated cost of each strategy.  In the example above, determine if the brochure will be printed on your home printer or professionally designed and printed.  Your cash reserve and expertise may make that determination for you.  But once again, as you create you plan, think outside the box.  Perhaps you could trade gifts for a professionally designed brochure or you could have a graphic designer create it in Microsoft Publisher format or even Canva so that you can print it on your home printer or enable you to make changes through the year before sending it to a low-cost printer such as VistaPrint.

Now that you’ve determined what each strategy is going to cost you, you’ll want to prioritize them.  Continue this process with each goal, each target market, and each strategy.  Then allot a segment of time and a deadline for each.  Once again, be realistic with what you can accomplish so that you don’t end up discouraged and burned out at the end of the year.  Now you have a simple but effective business and marketing plan for your business.  Not as difficult as you thought, was it?

You also have one of the most effective “to do” lists that you’ll ever make.  You will now be able to make those decisions about your business and market with knowledge and expertise instead of “let’s just start something and see where it takes us” hunches.

But you’re still not finished. 

Don’t put that plan into a drawer and forget about it.  It should be a working document that grows and changes as your business does.  Print it out and put it into a three-ring binder divided into sections for each goal.  You can then add more information as you accumulate it and keep records of what you are doing or have done to accomplish those goals.  And most important, refer to it regularly.

This isn’t something that you are going to show off to a bank.  It is your system that will allow you to grow your business at the rate you want it to grow.  Keep track of what you have done, when you did it, and how well it worked.

Include information about what you would do different next time or how you might tweak the strategy to make it work better.  If you find that one method of marketing doesn’t work, change it.  For some small businesses, stopping activities that don’t work can be difficult, especially when what isn’t working is one of those “marketing things” that every business is supposed to do.

One very effective way to plan and track your marketing ideas is to create a “marketing calendar.”  How many times have we let a
holiday or other marketing opportunity slip up on us with little time to prepare for it.  No longer.

Sit down with a calendar that you print out yourself or even a commercial one will work for a basic marketing calendar.  Schedule your emails, facebook posts, blog posts, news releases, gift designs, store displays, and inventory ordering on your calendar.

If you’ve made decisions about your business that will affect your customers,  it’s pretty easy to convince  yourself that you know what your customer will think about the decision.  You may be right but nothing beats actually talking to your customers and hearing from them firsthand.  It’s amazing what you can learn from a short conversation.  They would probably never call you and tell you what they think but will be amazed that you took the time to call them.  This can be one of the best relationship building tactics that you can do.  It puts them in a “safe zone” so that they can feel comfortable telling you what they think, like or dislike, or even what their expectations are.

Regardless of what decisions you have made about your business, marketing is something you must do throughout the entire life of your business; so don’t think that just producing a good plan is enough.  You can’t expect to stay ahead of the competition unless you constantly test new markets, new methods and new advertising and promotional ideas.

Nothing stays the same in the business world.  Many people operate their business being satisfied with just being ordinary; okay with just doing okay. But there’s an amazing world and wonderful options available for all of us who are willing to reach for more and go beyond ordinary.

It’s called extraordinary.

We can all turn what otherwise might be just an okay business into an extraordinary one if we are willing to put the effort into it.  I call it “putting the extra in the ordinary.”

As your business changes and grows, you should never remain stagnant.  At some point in the life of your business, you may find it necessary to change your business name or location, add new products or services, your marketing outlets, or even change the entire image of your business.

If you have a sound plan in place that you add to and review regularly, you’ll know when those changes need to be made.  You’ll know where you are now and where you need to go.

Read the previous articles in this series:
 New Beginnings

Review Your Business







2 thoughts on “Are You Growing Your Business Money Tree?”

  1. Thanks for this article. I will be incorporating some of these for sure.


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