“You choose the future with your actions each day.” James Clear.
Since becoming a Virtual Assistant almost 3 years ago, I have supported more than 50 small business owners with their digital marketing and administration. During this time, I have learnt both from working with clients and from growing the Planner Bee Hive that there are certain practices that many successful small business owners share. In this blog post I round up 24 of the most pivotal practices you can adopt as a small business owner in 2024.
Practices to Grow Your Small Business in 2024
#1 Maximising your ‘goal-den hour’
‘Goal-den hour’ refers to the point in the day when you usually feel the most motivated, productive and focused when it comes to work. By maximising your ‘goal-den hour’ you can enhance your productivity, produce higher quality work, be more intentional with your time and improve your workload management.
#2 Creating simple systems to improve your business organisation and planning.
Utilising a project management system like Trello can be a game-changing addition to your business systems and processes. Having a project management system allows you to organise your projects, business plan, to-do-list, marketing content and more, all in one place. To discover our tried and tested planning process, for getting organised in 2024 with Trello, access the workshop here.
#3 Blocking out focused ‘CEO time’
As small business owners, when business gets busy we can fill our time working in the business and neglect working ON the business, which can decrease business growth in the long run. Having dedicated ‘CEO time’ is a great way to prioritise and make time to work on the business goals, strategy and development. For me, I do not schedule meetings for Fridays and instead, Fridays provide dedicated time for me to work on the business.
#4 Working on yourself as a business owner
You are the driving force behind your business, so working on your personal growth is likely to also create business growth. Whether you work with a mindset coach, practice journaling or read self-development books (I’m currently reading The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business and Life), working on yourself as a business owner can pay dividends (literally).
#5 Delegating before you’re ready
In my experience, it’s not that business owners tend to start outsourcing too early, it’s that they leave it too late! Of course, deciding to take your business to the next level and to delegate your workload is a big decision and one that you will want to carefully consider. BUT make sure that you are considering and not procrastinating. Because if you leave it too late the work can build up, organisational processes can get lost and it can make it harder to get the ball rolling when you do start outsourcing. Instead of thinking “when I reach X milestone, then I will outsource ” try reframing to “when I start outsourcing, then I will free up my time and we can work to reach Y milestone”.
#6 Setting goals on a monthly basis
People who set goals are 10 times more likely to be successful – surely this statistic alone is reason enough to prioritise setting goals on a regular basis. Setting and reviewing your goals every month enables you to ensure that your business is moving in the right direction, track progress, plan ahead and course correct if needed.
#7 Maintaining a tidy inbox
Just like the saying ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’, I think the same applies to your inbox. A recent survey found that 40% of email users have 50+ unopened emails in their inbox! Setting up folders to organise emails, deleting junk mail and unsubscribing from mailing lists are essential practices to keep your inbox organised and prevent your emails from becoming overwhelming.
#8 Utilising automation to improve client experience
Automation isn’t going anywhere in 2024 and as the tech becomes more and more advanced, it’s becoming an essential tool for small business owners. Although there is an initial time investment to get the automation set up, the time-saving benefits and improvement in customer experience can provide an excellent return on that initial investment.
#9 Investing in your personal brand
With growing numbers of small businesses in the UK, in addition to a fabulous product or service, developing a strong personal brand is a great way to stand out and increase trust in your business. In particular, investing in building your reputation as a thought leader in your industry can bring credibility and customers to your business.
#10 Showing up as the face of your brand
Similarly, as the online world gets busier and busier, sharing your face online in images and videos, as part of your marketing strategy is an effective way to increase trust and build a community with your audience, as they get to know you as a business owner.
#11 Putting yourself out there for PR and awards
As part of your efforts to grow your personal brand and show up as the face of your brand, taking opportunities for press and industry awards can boost the reputation of your business. For many industry awards, you have to apply or be nominated to be considered – so you have to be in it to win it (when applying for awards, conduct due diligence checks to ensure the legitimacy of the awards).
#12 Reviewing and repeating what works
Assess your previous marketing campaigns and strategies to identify what works and what doesn’t. According to the 80-20 rule, 20% of our actions create 80% of our results. Map out the actions that create results for you and then put together a plan for how you can replicate previous success moving forward.
#13 Continually learning
To grow your personal brand and reputation as a thought leader within your industry, invest in building your knowledge around your sector and niche. Share your learnings with your audience in your blog and email newsletter to provide value and support to your community.
#14 Prioritising website and blog contenty
Unlike the quick dopamine hit we get when we post on social media, blogging is a longer game, with no quick feedback or instant gratification. But also unlike social media posts which can have an average lifespan of 1-2 days, SEO-optimised blog posts have an average lifespan of 700 days – almost 2 years! The best-performing blog articles are often a minimum of 2000 words long (this article has 2300+ words!), so there is a much greater time investment involved in putting together a blog article initially, in comparison with a social media post. But, your SEO-optimised blog could still be generating website traffic and leads in 18 months, so it is definitely worth playing the long game and incorporating SEO and blog writing into your marketing strategy for 2024.
#15 Making long-form content the base of your marketing strategy
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for short-form social media content and social media can be an amazing tool for small businesses in 2024. But sometimes we can get so obsessed with social media content that we neglect long-form content such as blogs, email newsletters and longer video content. Long-form content allows you to tell stories and connect with your audience on a deeper level than shorter social media posts. Plus, if you make long-form content the basis of your marketing strategy, you can repurpose this and take snippets to transform into social media content – enabling you to make the most of your content and get more bang for your content buck (so to speak).
#16 Reviewing and learning from other successful marketing campaigns
Too often I see small businesses creating similar marketing content over and over again, because that is what they have always done. This strategy can work up to a point, but to grow our businesses and improve our marketing in 2024, we need to learn and adapt along the way. One of the best ways to do this is to take inspiration from successful marketing campaigns that you like (note: taking inspiration and copying are NOT the same thing). In particular, if you see a campaign by a business in a completely different niche or industry that inspires you to create a new marketing campaign for your business. Being inspired by a campaign in an unrelated sector can be a great way to bring a fresh perspective to your industry and boost your chances of success because you are taking inspiration from another campaign that has already been successful.
#17 Planning your social media content in advance
If you wake up every day and frantically try to rack your brain for a social media post idea, then planning out your content in advance could be a pivotal practice for you in 2024. Planning out your content not only helps you to show up consistently on social media, but it will also save you time and help you to achieve growth across your social media channels. To get your social media strategy sorted for 2024, download our 365 Day Social Media Content Plan here.
#18 Filming snippets of your life as content
According to Sprout Social, the number one thing that customers don’t see enough of from brands on social media is authentic, non-promotional content. Sharing behind-the-scenes snippets of your life is one of the most effective ways of doing this, whilst also connecting with your community. Plus, with the video content continuing to perform well on social media, video BTS content is likely to get higher reach and engagement than just sharing images.
#19 Monthly marketing content themes
All of your email subscribers do not open every email. All of your social media followers do not see every post. All of your community members do not read every blog post. One of the most pivotal practices that you can adopt as a small business owner in 2024 is having monthly marketing themes. Your community do not see every piece of content you share, plus it often takes somebody seeing your content several times before taking action. Having a consistent content theme and sharing different content related to the same theme over the month allows your audience time to properly digest the content.
#20 Doubling down on fewer social media platforms
One of the biggest misconceptions that small business owners have about social media is that you have to be present on every platform. Social media is a big part of marketing nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on every platform for social media to help your business succeed. In fact, trying to be present on every platform could mean you are prioritising the quantity of content over the quality whilst also overwhelming yourself by trying to be everywhere at once. Most likely, your audience will be predominantly present on one or two platforms, so focusing your energy here is likely to create a bigger impact for your business in 2024.
#21 Utilising email newsletters to build a community and provide exclusive value
Despite new marketing channels popping up almost daily, email marketing continues to be a useful and cost-effective marketing tool, with 99% of email users checking their inbox daily. To make the most of your email list, we recommend that your email newsletters do more than just sell or share the same content that you have already posted on your website or blog. Your email newsletters are a direct line to your customers, so write each email as though you are talking to an individual person. Provide value, unique insight and personal BTS snippets, to build relationships with your community and keep them coming back to your emails for more.
#22 Tracking key marketing analytics
Marketing isn’t just about sharing content and then getting on with your day. In fact, we would argue that the most important part of marketing comes after the content has been shared, when you review your analytics and stats to see how the content has performed. Monitoring your analytics can include your social media stats, email marketing data as well as Google Analytics and Search Console (to track your website data). Your marketing analytics and data is like gold dust – this is the information that you can use to inform and improve your strategy moving forward.
#23 Networking in the right places
Investing in networking can pay dividends for any business owner in 2024. Networking is an excellent way to increase awareness of your business, boost your personal brand and expand your tribe. But, there are so, so many networking groups. I joined my first networking group at the start of 2022 and to be honest, in the year that I was a member, I got nothing out of it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great group, but it just wasn’t the right group for me. That didn’t mean that networking wasn’t for me, I just hadn’t found the right place to network. Try different groups and spend time finding a group of people that you enjoy spending time with, because that is when you will get the most out of your networking activities. For purpose-led brands, I highly recommend the Better Business Network who run monthly online networking sessions for ethical business owners.
#24 Asking for reviews and sharing the transformation you create
Social proof is a vital part of demonstrating to your audience that you are credible and trustworthy. Don’t forget to ask for testimonials on a regular basis and share these alongside the results that your product/ service creates.
Growing your Small Business in 2024
As business owners, the actions we take every single day play a huge part in creating the businesses we build. By adopting these 24 pivotal practices as a small business owner in 2024, you will be well on your way to setting yourself up for small business success.