This is the second in a series of posts featuring small business owners' suggestions for things you can do to be successful in 2010.
Earlier this week, I told you about Joan Morais, an IBN member who increased her productivity by hiring a virtual assistant. Today, I'd like to share the story of Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap Co. near Boston, Massachusetts. Marla is teaches classes on how to make cosmetics, and provides private consulting for new and existing businesses. Marla leads the How To Launch A Successful Beauty Business Group at our social networking site.
That's me and the fabulous Marla at this year's Conference of Handcrafted Soap Makers where we were both speakers this year (and will be again next year!) (Enjoy the entire photo album on FaceBook.) I was excited when Marla shared with me the strategies she used to double her sales in the past 12 months. While individual results may vary, I can't imagine a scenario where implementing Marla's simple steps would not benefit any business. Here's what Marla said she did this year to double her business, and how you can do it too.
- This year, I … implemented two daily tasks that resulted in doubling Back Porch Soap Company's gross sales. In a nutshell, I made at least three basic forward-moving actions daily. Of course not every action resulted in direct income, but each thing that fit this category had to result in some tangible forward motion toward increasing sales. I also performed at least one daily task to move me toward one of my specific long-term goals.
- This was a great move for me because … it was very simple to do. By breaking things down into basic steps, I didn't have the excuse of not having enough time to do all of the things required to accomplish a goal. Instead of focusing on the big mountains I had to climb, I focused on small things I could do on a daily basis to make incremental progress up the mountains.Here are some examples of specific steps I took to advance my company.
First, I made it my business to collaborate more with industry colleagues. Examples include blogging promotions and connecting with people at IBN's social networking site facilitated new and profitable business relationships.
Second, I identified specific trade and retail stores that were good matches for my products. Once I identified the shows, I planned and then took specific steps over time to get into them. I held myself accountable and made sure that each step was actually doable so I would not sabotage my efforts or become discouraged. Using this method, I was able to land my products in Whole Foods Market.
Third, I took the time to proactively reach out to my wholesale accounts. It's amazing how we let those opportunities slip by because we don't want to “bug” anyone. My “out of the blue” calls helped me to stay present in the minds of the buyers, so that when they had shelf space, they would think of me. Sometimes, it even resulted in an order right there on the spot because I called the right person at the right time!
- 2010 is a great time for you to do this because … it's easy to put into action! Ask yourself where you want to take your business over the next five years. Then complete one action/step per day to move you in the direction of that long-term goal. As a small business owner, it is easy to get distracted and caught up in day-to-day tasks that do not ultimately grow your business. Create a game plan of vital steps you need to make to increase sales. Then make a daily list and implement at least three items to move your company forward.
- Tips and resources to get you started include … two of my favorite business books. First, The Big Book of Small Business: You Don't Have to Run Your Business by the Seat of Your Pants. This is a great book that emphasizes that small businesses can and should be organized and focuses.Another book I highly recommend is How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life. This book is a quick read that incorporates lots of juicy lifestyle elements.
Small Steps, Big Results
Marla's experience and advice illustrates that expanding your business does not have to be a crap shoot. Each monumental task can be broken down into basic steps, then each step can be scheduled for regular intervals, as Marla's examples illustrate.
This time next year will be here before we know it! Take a few tips from Marla and make every workday. Marla doubled her sales in twelve months in 2009. It can be you in 2010! If it is, let me know so I can share your story too!
Question: Can you identify a few major tasks that can be accomplished by taking small steps throughout 2010? Or maybe like Marla, you can share something you did this year to double or even triple your sales!!? We'd love to learn from you so please share your experiences in the comments section below.