Business 26 October 2017
You're a small business owner. Things are going well, but you're ready to take the next step in growing your business. Easier said than done, right? Rest assured, there are active, tangible measures any business owner can take to diversify and strengthen their revenue streams, regardless of industry or scale.
I started Brooklyn Outdoor, Detroit's only national outdoor advertising company, in 2013 and grew initial revenue from $600K to $6M last year. It hasn't always been easy and there's still much more work to be done, but let's take a look at some of the ways you too can grow your business.
Assessing Your Business
From the start, it's important to continuously review and assess your strengths and weaknesses as a company. To do so, you'll want to keep a strong pulse on your profit and loss statements by quarter to see where costs can be tightened as your business and industry changes. Take the time at year-end to evaluate where you have financial gaps, and where your business needs to grow to serve your clients better.
Additionally, staying in tune with your team's morale will allow you to address in-office issues quickly, which will help foster an environment that creates happier, more empowered employees who have the confidence to produce better results. This can be difficult when you are “in the thick of it" as the CEO or founder, but well worth it in your bottom line and workplace culture. You'll also want to identify what brings you the highest percentage of business, whether that be a specific client-type or sector. Zeroing in on the right kind of client for your business helps you build a stronger, more targeted business plan, as opposed to going after everyone. You may be forced to walk away from some potential clients, but the motto “quality over quantity" will be your best friend in this case.
Inbound Marketing How-To's
According to Marketo, a marketing software developer, inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business. Using these tools correctly can be critical to growing your business. Just as brands try to find customers, we live in an age where brands are “being found" by customers, making inbound marketing an important aspect in developing that relationship.
When you have owned channels like blogs and social media, or events that are tailored to your business, your reputation grows authentically and naturally as more people encounter you and your brand. This system of touchpoints helps your business connect with clients and prospective customers on an interpersonal level, and goes beyond the typical business transaction mindset, allowing you to establish a more valuable and memorable connection with people. As they continue to interact with your business and become more familiar what motivates you and what your brand represents, they may just be your next partner or loyal customer.
How We Did It: To illustrate who we are as a company, we've established an office space that emphasizes our focus on authenticity and Detroit roots. It maintains an industrial-chic style and features many unique art pieces from local artists, so when it is time for a potential client to visit, they understand our brand and perspective. As we have had more people from our community in our workspace, they have often inquired about if it was available for parties or meetings. That got us thinking, and we realized our office had untapped potential as a rentable venue. We have since begun renting the space to corporate and individual customers, helping us generate additional revenue and opportunities to connect with more potential clients. This was a great lesson in identifying what's unique about our business and how we can use it to boost our bottom line.
Your social presence is also helpful in providing a portfolio of information readily available for that right kind of client to find and get a glimpse of the real you. Social tools like boosting posts will also help reach your target audience quicker for a few dollars at a time. Also, using search engine optimization (SEO) keywords in your social posts are extremely helpful in boosting brand awareness, ranking higher in web searches, and leveraging your locality to attract customers in your area. Recognizing and understanding needs and niches in your market that have not been filled can be helpful when trying to broaden your business plan as well. This could mean creating an extension of your business that might not directly relate to your current industry, but adds another layer to your services, expand your network and expose you to additional resources that further your entrepreneurial goals.
How We Did It: Relying on our team's strengths and expertise, we have developed various business units that fit under the broader Brooklyn Outdoor umbrella: Experiential, Hand-Painted, Events, and more. Brooklyn Events – our most successful new division - started with our in-depth knowledge of Detroit's food, art, and entertainment scenes, and our Detroit-themed lifestyle blog – J'adore Detroit – focused on highlighting our great city and its revitalization. The blog has helped us boost our online presence, and because of its locally-sourced content, we have become more ingrained in our community. This has helped introduce us to the local businesses that are highlighted on the blog – who potentially need event space through our Events division – and locals who enjoy our content.
We also established Brooklyn Experiential, which stemmed from working on an outdoor project with the use of outdoor advertising on one of our buildings and led to a partnership where we now create large-scale experiential activations for our clients in Detroit and beyond. It's all about rolling with the punches and diversifying as you grow.
Also, as supporters of our local arts community, we know many artists throughout the city. This has helped us develop a division strictly revolving around art and murals, called Brooklyn Hand-Painted. It allows our clients to collaborate with local artists to tell their story in artful, unique ways in mural form.
To reiterate, in each example above, we leverage connections into more connections, which leads to more opportunity for us and our partners.
Keeping up with trends is essential in evolving your business as well. You should keep track of all the asks that clients make, even ones that you can't fulfill. This allows you to evaluate how you could accomplish these tasks in the future or look to see if other clients might benefit from similar types of services. This presents an opportunity to tap your network to see how they approach similar requests and compare how you can improve.
It is also important to track year-over-year data on businesses that relate to or impact your industry to see how things are changing in those sectors and have a better idea of how they might impact your business. This will allow you to make more informed decisions in the future when you start to see similar changes or effects. Tracking these types of industry trends are vital.
Many strategies can help strengthen and diversify your business. Just remember to stay true to who you are while remaining flexible to the changes in clients and industry.
As you continue trying to find new customers, remember that there are people out there trying to find you. Make it easier for them to connect.
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.