Let’s face it: being a small business owner is tough. It’s a full-time responsibility and like playing professional football, it takes commitment and discipline to succeed. During a recent visit to Winter Village at Bryant Park in New York City, I hit the Holiday Shops with entrepreneur and travel expert Lee Abbamonte – who visited every country by the time he was 32 – to talk with small business owners about the challenges they face.

 

All the small business owners we talked with ran unique businesses and had their own vision of success, yet they shared a common theme: passion!

 

 

Caption: Small business owner and former NFL star Dhani Jones and entrepreneur and travel expert Lee Abbamonte talk to small business owners about the challenges of running a business and expectations for 2019

 

 

The day got me thinking about my own business. After hearing about some of the most common challenges, I wrote down my own thoughts for 2019 that can help you run your business better this year.

 

Of course, these come with a few unapologetic football puns.

 

Play 1: Get a strong “O”rganization Line

 

A lot of business owners told us that organization was not their strongest skill. To this I’d say - be glad you live in 2019! There are plenty of digital resources available that can help decrease digital clutter, maximizing efficiency. A couple of programs to consider: Google Drive and Trello. Also, check out a new tool from Bank of America to organize your business finances – details below, under the Extra Point heading.

 

For more digital resources, read this.

 

Play 2: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

 

One small business owner told us being an entrepreneur meant “long days, short nights.” As a small business owner, delegation is critical! But make sure to assign tasks with strengths and work styles in mind. Give employees both motivation and structure with clear deadlines. And a loyal, passionate team is priceless, so be sure to recognize and reward employees when merited. This can include financial benefits, workspace upgrades or milestone celebrations.

 

For more ideas on how to reward employees, check out these helpful stories:

27 Ideas to Celebrate Your Employees Hard Work – No Matter the Season

 

Play 3: Tackle a Marketing Strategy

 

When developing your small business strategy, remember that while marketing methods such as print ads or direct mail are consistently stable, digital marketing constantly changes. Stay ahead of your competitors by taking the time to consider some online marketing essentials. Building a website, developing a social presence and utilizing email marketing are all key to a successful marketing strategy. Whatever your small business is developing a strategy for, check out these tips:

 

 

Play 4: Score a Touchdown, Again

 

Now comes an important piece of the small business puzzle: How can you keep the customer you just won? Earning a customer is one thing but retaining a loyal customer is a different game, and an important one at that. Forty-three percent of consumers spend more money with companies they are loyal to. A returning client costs less than acquiring a new one, they spend more and typically refer new customers. Consider some basic blocking and tackling tactics like loyalty reward programs or offering discounts to those who make referrals.

 

For more ideas on how to retain customers, read this.

 

Extra Point

 

Getting back to organization, Bank of America designed a digital tool specifically to help small business owners manage their financial performance. Business Advantage 360  tracks your account balances, ongoing expenses, analyzes cash flow and even what-if scenarios, all from a single dashboard (mobile and desktop!).

 

Trust me, you’ll want to check this out – I had a sneak peek and it’s incredibly useful!

 

 

About Dhani Jones

 

Dhani Jones is the owner of BowTie Cause, which empowers numerous organizations with custom bowties designed to support their initiatives. Before his journey into entrepreneurship, Jones played for eleven seasons in pro football as a linebacker in New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. Additionally, he hosted the Travel Channel series, “Dhani Tackles the Globe” and the CNBC series, “Adventure Capitalist.” He is a guest contributor to the Small Business Community.

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