Last year my family became the new owners of Royal Trophies in East Point, GA. Running a business is a lot harder than what we imagined, but it has been rewarding. As a new business owner, we had to wrestle with a variety of emotions on an ongoing basis. ?
Will we do a good job? Will customers continue to support the company? Should we raise prices? Should we lower them? Will we be able to comfortably support our family? How much struggle should we expect? Can we adequately compete against the trophy companies online? How do we attract new customers? Did we make the right move?
Despite the insecurities, mistakes, and hard lessons learned, we had an amazing first year. Which brings me to the important lessons I learned this year.
The Key Lessons Learned
- No matter what, do not neglect the power of marketing.
Last year we practically didn’t do any marketing. We’ll do a social media post here or there, but nothing consistent. I approached marketing with a primary dependency on word-of-mouth. Don’t get me wrong, word-of-mouth is very powerful and can be effective, but it’s should not be the primary means of attracting new customers. I like how Renee Blodgett defined it, Marketing?is an ongoing communications exchange with customers in a way that educates, informs and builds a relationship over time.? Businesses that have a true marketing plan whether simple or elaborate will run circles around the brands that depend only on word-of-mouth.
- Pay close attention to your costs
During our peak seasons, I was very careless with our spending. I was like a kid in the candy store buying everything. However, when the peak seasons were over, to my embarrassment, I realized how wasteful I was. Now I purchase what we need and what customers are buying. Just because you can afford to purchase something doesn’t mean you should.
- Working hard and working smart are not the same
Last year as a company our primary focus was on doing a good job and staying ahead of the many demands of the business. And we worked very long hours. However, I felt that we were not strategically positioning ourselves for growth. Working smart requires one to focus on the tasks required to stay ahead of the daily demands of the business, without neglecting the strategic work that will position them for sustainable growth. The day-to-day work will always demand your attention, but the strategic work isn’t demanding your attention but is most often overlooked. However, it’s the strategic or “smart work” that will take you to the next level.