Problem Solver: Getting bang for your buck online, and switching off to be more productive
Q: Can you give me some ideas on how I market my business on a very limited budget?
A: If I was giving you this advice 10 or 15 years ago, I would probably have suggested to you that you concentrated on achieving free PR for the business through both print and spoken media. By coming up with innovative themes and activities, you would certainly increase your chances of getting some media coverage which would certainly help with your agenda of raising the profile of the business.
The big difference between 15 years ago and today, is the whole area of digital media. Very often many of the platforms are free and the coverage you get is reliant on how innovative you are and how knowledgeable of the platform you are operating on.
Facebook has now become mandatory for all businesses and it should no longer be innovative for some business to be setting up a Facebook profile. Twitter is hugely popular, especially in many of the food sectors where chefs etc find its brevity attractive.
If your business has products that are highly visual, then Instagram or Snapchat could both be possibilities. Videos are where I have gotten most examples of over the last twelve months. Many businesses tell me they have produced a series of short and snappy videos detailing or showcasing their production facilities, customer ideas on how to use their product or indeed examples of the product in use.
You will find that your Local Enterprise Office will have regular training sessions with some great experts which you should definitely be attending. You should also seek out some of the many new bloggers and influencers within each sector. Many have huge followings, but the cost of engaging with them isn't so steep. They certainly cannot write about you if they don't know about you, so that is a good starting point.
One final piece of advice… If you are not on all of these platforms already don't attempt to take them all on at the same time, as you simply won't be able to manage. Do one, and do it well, then proceed to the next.
Q: Can you recommend some ways to help me unwind as I am struggling to balance my business career and my personal life?
A: I think this is a challenge for lots of people and it can become all consuming if you don't manage it properly. Of course work is important as it pays the wages, but family life is more important and business people who devote enough time to their families and activities outside of work are actually better at their jobs as a general rule, as the time spent away from work doing other things helps re-energise them which benefits their business career.
It almost seems like a contradiction to tell someone who has a big workload, to leave early and go home to spend time with family or to enjoy their favourite hobby. The reality is though, that one hour going home early can potentially make that employee twice as productive the next day as they are mentally more focussed on their job. There are also some new free apps which you can download which are specifically targeted at business people who have trouble switching off. These apps use proven techniques which help to clear your mind and ease any stress you might be feeling. More have a free trial package so they are well worth exploring.
Your employer also has a responsibility, and a good employer will see the benefits of helping their staff get their work, lifestyle, work/lifestyle balance correct. Some companies now even provide a gym within the building to encourage staff to keep themselves healthy, and others will subsidise staff participation in sports- related activates etc.
Finally, apart from the business rationale for taking time off, you have to put your family first. I hear all too often people saying that their kids have grown up with a mum or a dad regretting they haven't spent more time with them and enjoying those rare moments. It is possible to do both and you just need to give your personal life an equal footing with your business career.