Do you ever wonder if anyone who dispenses advice, free or otherwise, actually uses their own advice? I hate that cliche the cobbler’s kids have no shoes. Why don’t ad agencies use social media if they sell social media? Why don’t accounting services bill timely? I don’t get it. I imagine you are like me, and you want your business advisors to follow their own advice – at least if it is applicable.
At Crossroads, we believe it is important to build strong Christian business foundations for any business, even when it is small. It is much more difficult to add, change, or fix when you are big. We consider Christian business foundations to be vision, people, systems, and procedures for your business. i believe developing a strong foundation actually propels growth.
With that intro, I want to share what we at Crossroads worked towards in 2012.
First full year with additional team members
I was a solopreneur on the business coaching side of the business for many years. As seasons have changed again (which I wrote about here) God started sending more people and businesses to CrossRoads for us to coach and counsel. To meet these needs, in the second half of 2011 we added office management and another business coach. The keys to adding people to your organization are:
- make sure they agree with the vision of the company.
- make sure they fit the culture you want in your business.
- make sure they have the skills you need.
- make sure they compliment your gifts and talents.
Kim (Office Manager) and Dawn (Business Coach) are both Godly women who have significant skills in their respective areas. The best thing is that they have skills that offset my weaknesses – as an ENFP I can get pretty idealistic. It is important to have team members who can make sure all of the wonderful ideas get executed and who are much more structured than I.
All of us like to learn new things and we are expanding our skills consistently.
Automation and Systems
With no debt and being the only team member for so many years, I didn’t have many systems for the business, and only automation that helped me personally. During 2012 we were able to:
- have real financial statements for the business fully reconciled each month through Quickbooks for Mac.
- we implemented a time keeping system called Harvest (highly recommend it at www.harvestapp.com ) which functioned as a billing system and a timekeeper for paying us and other contract workers. One excellent feature of Harvest is the tracking of our time by task. This gave us insight into the type of needs our clients have and how much of our business is really devoted to each area. This has helped us improve our management of key areas and find additional resources for heavy areas.
- we went paperless by acquiring new technology and implementing excellent apps for business. I wrote about how we went paperless here.
- we also began to use the new Basecamp more consistently which improved our collaboration and project management. The new Basecamp is much improved and they add new features monthly. You can find it at www.basecamp.com.
We believe that marketing should be focused specifically on a company’s goals and match a company’s budget. Our goal was to grow our list, improve our SEO ranking, and to continue to highlight our point of difference. We are low key in the marketing area, but we definitely practice what we preach.
Through social media and online marketing we have achieved the following:
- page 1 ranking on Google for the search terms Christian business coach and Christian business coaching.
- we increased conversion on our social media efforts and website by a trillion percent, but that is because it was pretty much zero in 2011. In 2012, approximately 25-30% of our clients indicated that the blog or our online presence enticed them to call.
- we added Google + and a business page on Facebook. If you haven’t seen the new Facebook page, check it out and “like” it to get daily tips and insights on the intersection of faith and business.
- we have had a stronger, more active presence on Linkedin. We already began to see results from our activity on LinkedIn. I usually stress to clients who are new to social media to not try to be everywhere all at once. I tried being everywhere when I first started. Here are the mistakes I made starting out. Since then I have tested one at a time. This year we focused on LinkedIn and had a good response.
In 2013 we will see what comes of the Facebook business page. We are also considering a new look for our site.
When I was looking back at some of my personal journals, I was really pleased with what Crossroads achieved in 2012. We really soared on some of our goals, beating numbers by more than 100%.
On some others, we didn’t even really start.
I am okay with that because I firmly believe it is better to do a few things well than to start a bunch of things and never finish any. Our prioritization was on track as we focused on the clients we had and the new ones that our clients referred to us. One of our core values is to help our clients achieve their goals and I feel like we really focused our efforts on this, rather than starting new things.
I am sharing this with you because the items highlighted above made a significant difference in the development and evolution of Crossroads. If you are a solopreneur or a small business, I hope some of these resources will be a help to you and I hope that you will see the benefit of building a strong foundation for you business.
These verses from the New Testament inspire me to want to build a strong foundation for my business.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
Since God cares about my business as much as He does the other aspects of my life, I think it is important to follow His Word in my business too!
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