Building Up, Not Burning Out Your Brand: How Business Owners Can Stay Passionate and Customer-Focused
Thanks to an ever-expanding realm of digitization and automation, there are more resources available now to business owners than ever before. If you wanted to start a new company 15-20 years ago, you’d be focused on growing the foot traffic that travels in and out of your brick and mortar store. You’d purchase advertisements in the local newspaper or maybe invest in a commercial spot on local cable television. You’d print out flyers to put on windshields and hope that word-of-mouth-marketing was as effective as we’ve always been taught it is. For the most part, those initiatives were successful if you played your cards right and offered a solid product or service.
Now, however? Today’s entrepreneurs are more equipped than those in years past, but that instant access to myriad digital resources, with social media marketing, email, SMS messaging, and video collaboration chief among them, can be more of a headache than a help if not utilized correctly. Thus, it’s no wonder that business owners are burning out at an unparalleled speed. Research shows that age plays a factor in this mental and physical exhaustion, though the trend doesn’t follow the pattern you might expect. Only 59% of those from the Baby Boomer generation reported burnout compared to 84% of Generation Xers and a staggering 94% of Millennials.
So how can these enterprising groups avoid the inevitable? The veritable catch-22 is that with so much potential to grow and thrive also comes the potential to crash and burn if proper care and attention isn’t given at the first sign of burnout. When the leader at the helm of a business isn’t as passionate about the brand as before, that sentiment can quickly travel down throughout the company in a domino effect, eventually resulting in lost clients and a waning brand identity.
Here are three ways entrepreneurs and business owners can stay on fire for their brand and maintain the enthusiasm to grow it, all while juggling the day-to-day demands of running a business and managing a workforce:
1. Schedule strategically
From the outside, it might appear that one of the advantages of entrepreneurship is the ability to set your own schedule. Once you build up your team, you can sleep in a little later, come in with a mug of coffee in hand, go over a few to-do lists and sit back while others take care of the heavy lifting, right? Unfortunately, the opposite tends to be true. Without proper focus, business owners can become flooded with tasks and responsibilities to the point of exhaustion.
The key here is striking a balance. To regain order and a sense of calm, it’s helpful to start by making a clean organizational sweep. File that big stack of papers on your desk, clear out any excess clutter, and delete those few hundred emails that keep sticking around. Then, schedule your time to make sure the highest priority items get taken care of first. These will be your customer-focused, big-ticket items that could result in lost revenue if they slip. Then, as time allows, tend to the others. At the same time, be sure to schedule in breaks and adequate vacation time to ensure there’s enough of a reprieve to come back recharged.
2. Delegate as necessary
There are likely people on your staff who are experts at what they do. That’s the reason you hired them in the first place! When you’re feeling overwhelmed as a business owner, take an inventory of all the work on your plate (that one that feels too full) and consider if you can delegate any of it to a staff member who might have more time to complete it. Of course, this isn’t a free pass to give all your work away, but it is a reminder that you don’t have to carry the entire company on your own.
Even if you’re a small, two-person business still finding your sea legs, remember there are third-party companies with the skill sets, resources, and talent available to help complete much of the work you’re drowning in. Yes, it will require an investment on your company’s part, but how much is really being accomplished if you’re stuck in an endless, back-and-forth cycle of spinning your wheels? From website design to social media marketing, consider if there are any local partners who may be able to lend the helping hand you need.
3. Celebrate your successes (big and little)
One quick way to boost your team’s confidence and ease the tension, even when the office feels like a pressure cooker? Find a success story and celebrate it! This doesn’t have to be the closing of a major deal, though that’s certainly a reason to get excited. Rather, it’s often equally rewarding to highlight even the smallest accomplishments, such as a salesperson upselling an order or a team meeting its quota for the month. Even if as the owner, you weren’t directly involved in the effort, a win for the company is a win for all, and noticing those actions can go a long way in boosting team morale.
Experts reveal that positive feedback boosts employee engagement, performance and retention. It’s worth taking the time of your day to notice even the littlest achievements, as they can make the big challenges that much less daunting to tackle.
Building Your Brand Without Losing Yourself
Building up a solid brand following and active audience requires dedication, time, and tons of effort. As the business owner, you might be feeling the strain of all this responsibility resting square on your shoulders. Yet, with a little refocusing, it is possible to boost sales and grow your client list without burning the midnight oil every night and waking up in a few hours to start the whole process over again. As we move further into 2018, leaders will be those who take the time to ensure that every action and to-do list entry is one that will breathe life into their organization, and likewise, back into themselves.