Earlier this month, I had a medical “incident” – It appeared I was having a stroke. Luckily, my wife was home that morning, and immediately took me to the ER, where they assessed my situation. After a slew of test, they determined I was not having a stroke, rather, I was suffering from Bell’s Palsy, a condition where half of your face becomes paralyzed due to inflammation around a facial nerve.
Needless to say, when half your face is paralyzed, there are some issues you need to deal with. Talking is difficult, I cannot smile, I cannot close my right eye, and eating & chewing is exhausting. While trying to determine which foods would be easiest to eat, I obviously thought of cereal. I just happened to have a box of Cocoa Pebbles in the cabinet. Small pieces, soaking in milk… Sounds tasty and easy to eat.
With each spoon full, milk would dribble down the right side of my chin, falling onto my sweatshirt, or landing on the table. After four or five attempts, I had to admit defeat. I never really thought about it, but when you eat cereal, you need to chew with liquid in your mouth. Easy to do normally, impossible to do when half your face is paralyzed. It was a sad realization.
The realization I had with my love for cereal and my Bell’s Palsy condition can also serve as a larger lesson for small businesses and their marketing strategy. Often, a small business will attempt a marketing strategy which they WANT, ignoring the obvious signs that it simply is not a good fit. Certain items take up too much of the budget, too much is focused on one event, your schedule is spread too thin or too bunched together, etc.
Don’t allow want you want to cloud what you should do. Assess the situation from a neutral view, then make your decision. Sometimes, what you want and what you should do will align. Other times, you’ll need to admit, you can’t eat cereal when you have Bell’s Palsy.
I do not participate in the “resolution” game, however, I do take this time to reflect. What did I accomplish (personal and professional) in the past 12 months? Is there something I wanted to do but did not, and why? What can I improve on? What are my options moving forward? I find this reflection to be very helpful – We often overlook our many small accomplishments and focus on one or two failures.
I also use this time of year to plan. And in my reflection/planning world, that plan can be as simple as one thing… Be a better husband, update my website, improve at being “on time,” take the dog to the park more often, and so on. I find the more specific and shorter my list, the more successful I am in accomplishing items on it.
As you start the new year, find ONE “marketing thing” you want to accomplish for your small business in 2017. Write it down, put it somewhere you can see it, and get at it. Trying to collect more emails, increasing new customers by 15%, learning more about SEO, or finally starting that blog you wanted are all great examples. And, once you finish one, feel free to start another.
While every business needs a professionally developed plan from year to year, creating your own “One Item Check List” for items you have chosen to give priority to is a simple and effective way to start out the new year.
Read. Learn. Laugh.
Random thoughts, comments & opinions.