Running a small business is no easy feat – as a business owner, you wear several hats to keep your day-to-day operations running smoothly all while strategizing for your business’ long term growth. But how do you find the time to get everything done?

In OnDeck’s latest Main Street Pulse Report, 61% of business owners surveyed told us they’re constantly racing against the clock, 49% said work/life balance is an illusion and 86% said time management is critical to success. So, we’re launching a Time Management Series this week to help you be more efficient, sacrifice less personal time and get one step closer to achieving that elusive work/life balance.

In this post, one of OnDeck’s strategic partners, Angie’s List, shares time management tips for marketing and customer service.

ANGIE’S LIST ON MARKETING:

What is one piece of advice you’d give a business owner who can’t find time to devote to their marketing efforts?
Focus on one area of marketing that you really want to accomplish. Most people never start because they assume you need to do it all. First, do a little research. Get to know where your competitors are and what they are doing. Where are they advertising or receiving most of their business? Then take a good look at your own business to determine strengths and areas for improvement. You can develop marketing to support the areas that are already bringing in business and then provide more attention to additional campaigns as resources allow.

Any other marketing best practices?
Many small businesses want to start marketing their services right away but don’t know what to do first. Here are three things to consider:

  • Understand your audience: Knowing who your customers are and what they like helps you target an audience more likely to buy your services. Create a customer profile with age, gender, education level and income to help you prepare a marketing campaign that will engage your target audience.
  • Be social: Even if you don’t think you have the time to monitor or participate often in social media, it’s still important to secure your presence and be where your customers are engaging. Consider what social channel – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – works best and makes the most sense for your brand, and use it as an opportunity to learn what customers think about you, respond to your comments, build your brand’s personality and, if you’re an Angie’s List service provider, gain credibility outside of our platform.
  • Gauge your success: Track where your customers are coming from so you know the effectiveness of each campaign. Set up online analytics, tracking phone numbers and unique offer codes to see if your customers are coming from social media, email, direct mail marketing or your website. This lets you know what’s working best, determine the cost and ROI of your efforts and allows you to adjust accordingly.

ANGIE’S LIST ON CUSTOMER SERVICE:

What is one piece of advice you’d give a business owner who needs a more efficient customer service strategy?
Focus on the basics. Your core mission is to keep customers happy. As a top-rated business, customers expect you to:

  • Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner.
  • Show up to appointments on time.
  • Listen to their concerns or feedback, and let them know you appreciate their business.

Why do you think small businesses struggle so often with efficient customer service?
Being a small business owner requires wearing multiple hats and there is only some much time in a day. It’s really important to build a support team, companies and individuals you can count on and team up with while you are growing the business.

In setting up your support team, consider your own expertise and the needs of your business. Figure out what kind of help makes the most sense for your situation. A great way to do this: networking. Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with people that can help you advance your business.

ABOUT ANGIE’S LIST:

Angie’s List is one of OnDeck’s strategic partners. They offer a variety of products and services to help businesses get noticed by local consumers all year long. Consumers can easily find top-rated businesses to hire through their multiple channels (the Angie’s List website, magazine and call center). There is even an option to send co-branded postcards to members in their area. Further, the Angie’s List Business Center account keeps customer interaction all in one spot, from your messages to your reviews. Learn more at Angieslist.com.

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