August marks one full calendar year since I officially opened the doors to my marketing company, Richardson Media Group. Starting my own business was a dream come true. When I eventually took the plunge, I was at a key point in my life - feeling accomplished as a professional person, highly experienced in my field and ready psychologically and fiscally to take on the inherent risks of entrepreneurship.
Over the course of this first year, I've had my share of bumps, but so far it's been a pretty favorable journey. I'm happy to say that any mistakes I've made have been due to my own inexperience with the mechanics of running a business, vs. anyone else's malevolence. For example, I'm still working through the ins and outs of things like contract negotiation, bidding on jobs and keeping ahead of those tricky estimated taxes. Knowing when to ask questions and seeking out sound advice has been crucial to navigating the financial aspects of my business.
I'd be remiss not to acknowledge how vital my spouse's contributions have been to my early success. A 25+ year veteran business owner himself, he's been an unflagging champion of my foray into entrepreneurship. I'm also grateful to my talented accountant, some loyal colleagues and my generous team of SCORE consultants who have been critical allies, guiding me intrepidly through some of these murkier waters.
The question is, how to celebrate this milestone in a more meaningful way that won't break the bank? Here's a short list of smart and creative marketing-based ideas to help acknowledge this important business anniversary and keep alive the continued growth I hope to achieve.
1. Give Something Back. Perhaps your profit margin is still fairly slim after your first year, but there's nothing like the feeling of giving back to your community or a cause you believe in. Two of my favorite non-profits are Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Regardless of what organization you choose, or community event you donate your time to, even a small donation can make a huge difference.
2. Collect Customer Reviews. Why not take the opportunity to ask a few of your valued customers to contribute a testimonial statement or two? Taking account of your accounts is part of practicing good customer service and you might be surprised by what you learn in the process of gathering feedback from your clients.
3. Generate some Buzz. Now that you are at the one-year mark, and feeling more established, go ahead and make a little PR splash! Writing a well-organized press release about what makes your business unique from the competition and sending it to some targeted media outlets could be just the ticket to boost your company's visibility.
4. Share on Social Media. This is a perfect opportunity to share your company milestone on social media. Take a look on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, and you'll see examples of all types of company announcements and special celebrations. Social Media is a fast and easy way to spread the good news to all your followers!
5. Refresh Your Assets. Have you looked at your company branding recently? Now is the perfect time to assess your company's external messaging and public image. Check your website, collateral pieces, newsletters, social media and any other communications and decide whether your branding is consistent across all channels. This is a birthday present that will pay for itself multiple times over!
Whether you embrace these ideas or come up with a few of your own, don't forget to take a little time to acknowledge the hard work and dedication you've put in this past year. Small business owners like us deserve a little recognition!
Cheers to all and best wishes for continued success!