Happy Leap Year Day! Every four years we add an extra day to the month of February. Why? Because it actually takes Earth a tiny bit longer than 365 days to orbit the sun. Five hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds longer, to be exact. In order to even things out, Pope Gregory XIII signed a papal bull in 1582 that introduced the Gregorian calendar. It included a leap year system (Was he that interested in making a correct calendar, or did he just want something important to be named after him? You decide). The bottom line is this: today we get an extra 24 hours. How will you use yours to improve your business?
1. Learn something new. Update your knowledge. Figure out how to use all the new features of your iPhone. Take a quick online tutorial on a software program that can help you do business more efficiently. Pick a subject in which your knowledge is lacking and get smarter today.
2. Teach something new. Gather your employees together or do some one-on-one coaching. Teach them strategies for better customer service, new product features or more efficient ways to do their jobs.
3. Offer something new. What new service or product will provide your customers with even more value? Do some research today and figure out how to incorporate your new offering into your business.
4. Go for a walk. Hanging out at the office or store all day can make you stressed and cranky. Get out in the fresh air and get your blood flowing a bit.
5. Make some new friends. Plan a community event for your business to host. It doesn’t have to be a huge affair—just a gathering of people that might include current customers, other local business people and some of their guests.
6. Do some pre-spring cleaning. Take an hour and give some part of your store a good scrubbing (baseboards and light fixtures tend to collect extra dust). Your customers will notice your efforts. A recent survey of customers showed that cleanliness was one of the most important things that contributed to their willingness to return.(1)
7. Make some goals. What would you like to accomplish with your business in the next year? Month? Week? Yes, you were supposed to do this at the beginning of the year. If you did, get those goals out and see how you’re doing. If you didn’t, now’s the time.
8. Get rid of unused equipment. Start-up businesses often invest in equipment they just don’t need. It ends up in the back storage room, gathering dust and taking up space. If you have some items like this it’s time to clear them out. Put them on Craig’s List, eBay or your local classified ads, or donate them to charity.
9 .Visit a competitor. Hopefully you’ve been networking and you already know the owners. If not, it’s time to say hello. See what they’re doing that works and what they’re doing that doesn’t.
10. Hold a contest. See who can sell the most products, answer the most phone calls or visit the most clients. Give prizes to the winners.
11. Review your budget. Are you sticking to the financial plan you made at the beginning of the year? If not, why? Can you cut costs in some areas? Do you need to increase your budget in other areas?
12. Show your employees some appreciation today. Take them to lunch. Give them a small gift (or a large gift if you’re feeling wealthy). Send them flowers. Employees love to be recognized and doing so helps both them and your business. A recent survey showed that 69% of employees said that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.(2)
13. Freshen your signage. Are your in-store signs worn out and looking a little raggedy? Time to replace them. Maybe your signage needs an updated look. Create some new designs.
14. Make a wish list. Is there some equipment you’ve had your eye on for awhile? New store fixtures? A new service van? Make a wish list and choose one item to purchase soon.
15. Focus on upselling today. Find an add-on item or service that will benefit your customers then spend the business day offering it to them. You might be surprised how much the extra sales will impact your profits for the day.
16. Plan a company party. Fostering a warm, caring company culture can benefit your business in many ways. Don’t wait for Christmas to have a party—plan one for March when everyone is beginning to get tired of winter. Shake it up a little—go to a movie, go bowling, play laser tag together. Have fun with your employees!
17. Get organized. Sort out that stack of paperwork on your desk. Poor organization costs your business money (How many late fees have you paid? Are you lax when invoicing clients?)
18. Call a customer. Or several. Ask for feedback about their recent service or purchase. What are you doing well? What do they wish you did better? Listen to your customers and benefit from their insights.
19. Negotiate a better deal. If you’re ordering a lot of product from suppliers you might be able to negotiate a better price. Have the numbers handy and give them a call to see if you qualify for a quantity discount.
20. Volunteer. Is there an organization in your community that could use some help? Plan a company volunteer day at the food bank or homeless shelter. Make some calls and ask around to see how your company can contribute to those less fortunate.
21. Create or update your social media profiles. If your company doesn’t have a Facebook page or LinkedIn account, it should. If you already have social media set up, look at ways to update your profiles or add more value to customers through social media avenues.
22. Ask a mentor for advice. Give your mentor a call or stop by for a visit. Don’t have a mentor? Get one! Find someone in the community that you admire and start a friendship.
23. Read a book. Visit your local bookstore and see what’s new in the small business, management or leadership sections. Or, indulge yourself and buy a novel.
24. Eat a healthy meal. Small business owners often find themselves in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant because they don’t want to take the time out of work to eat properly. Don’t sacrifice your health for the sake of your business. Plan a healthy meal and pick up the ingredients to make it at home.
(1)Alain D’Astous. Irritating Aspects of the Shopping Environment.
(2)Lantz, Gayle. “Employee Appreciation—Statistics Leaders Should Know”