Posted by Melanie Tajaard ● Mon, Dec 18, 2023 @ 13:12 PM

Reflections on Growing a business while taking time off

As I reflect on a year in which I hit my goals and took more time for myself and my family, I wanted to share the ingredients that contributed to the success.

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Lean into Support

Growing a business is not for the faint of heart. Entrepreneurs are often burning the candle at both ends, growing their businesses and tweaking their offerings and essential working most of their waking hours. But you are not alone, there are countless organizations offering support. While we often think of Chambers of Commerce and Networking Groups for support, there is a long list of organizations to help you grow. This year I have received immeasurable support from so many organizations I cannot list them all, but here are a few:

  1. Hubspot Academy – Dan Tyre has been a long-term mentor who has incredible capacity and passion to collaborate, teach, and share all things marketing.
  2. Centre for Women in Business -- As a female-run business, I have often leveraged insight and support from CWB. The CWB exists to help women business owners in all phases of their business development and has programs for various-sized businesses.
  3. Invest NS -- Invest Nova Scotia is the province's business development agency. They support the growth and momentum of Nova Scotia businesses of all sizes, in particular, the Export Development Program has been a wonderful catalyst to grow my list of clients from outside of Nova Scotia.
  4. Digital Maturity Group brings together a network of several hundred Digital Advisors representing experts from all areas of Digital Transformation. The DMG group offers training, and certifications, and is an important network for Digital Advisors to collaborate and grow.

While these partners serve me and my business well, your list may look entirely different, but I am confident that you don’t need to go it alone. Regardless of geography or industry, there is an association, networking group, government association, or other organization to help fuel your growth. And if there isn’t perhaps it’s time to start your own mastermind or support group for others in your industry or sector.  

Collaborate and Partner

They say it takes a village to raise a child and feel the same analogy is true in trying to grow a business. Over the years, I have received support from other businesses near and far.

It seems there are two types of business owners. Those who love to support and lift other business owners, and those who fear that sharing or collaborating will not be beneficial. The second group holds their cards close to their chest and feels it is each business for themselves. As an entrepreneur, I love to help other businesses grow and extend support when I can. Opportunities aren’t like cake, with a limited number of slices to grow around. In my experience, sharing and collaborating has always been the most fruitful approach and this year was no exception.

Leverage the power of AI

Probably the single greatest impact and change this year, in the marketing sector (and many other sectors for that matter) is Artificial Intelligence. The impact of AI is both impressive and concerning. While we saw tremendous impact from AI last year, it is quite likely that the impact will continue at astounding rates. If you haven’t put AI to work for you, it is time. It is quite likely that your competitors are using AI and getting a leg up.

In the past year, I embraced Hubspot AI Features and they are a great way to start to see the power of AI in Marketing. Many of their AI tools are even included in their free Hubspot tools. Get started here 

Evolve with the times

I have always had a tremendous passion for all things Marketing and Advertising. When I watch TV (which is rare) I watch the commercials. When it comes to the Superbowl, I’ll settle for the commercial recap the next day. While I studied Marketing at university, it was long before the world of social media, inbound marketing, or even Google. Staying current in this space is about embracing technology. Digital Marketing is now deeply embedded in the entire business operations, or it should be. I see the real value in the coming years will be all about integrating systems and creating a seamless customer experience.

In just a few short decades, I have seen my value as a marketer From Marketing to Digital Marketing to a Growth Agency to creating a seamless customer experience. Increasingly I spent my consulting time helping organizations assess their digital usage and opportunities. Having a digital transformation, strategy, and road map is essential to an organization’s future.

The great news here is there is amazing support for businesses to create a Digital Adoption Plan, with the plan being 90% covered by the federal government’s CDAP program. I am pleased to be a CDAP Approved Advisor and have completed dozens of plans for businesses across Canada.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the CDAP program, put it on your list for 2024, not only does it fund 90% of your plan, but it unlocks two other amazing benefits – 100% funded grants to hire students or graduates and an interest-free load of up to $100,000 from the BDC. Learn more here.

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Niche down on your offering

This wasn’t a new lesson I learned this year, but rather something I figured out a while ago, but it continues to pay divide ends. It is very tempting to be all things to all people. BUT niching down your offering and being an expert at one or two things is the best way to grow. When you focus on one service offering you can become an expert in it, you can become known for that, and your reputation will speak for itself. It is impossible to be an expert in all areas of Marketing and Digital Transformation. As a long-time Hubspot partner, I now get referrals for the work that I do all the time. The groundwork that I did a year or two ago or more continues to pay dividends. While I have added Digital Transformation to my menu, it dovetails nicely with Hubspot. Hubspot now has over 1,000 integrations and mastering Hubspot brought me to a place where I was become an integrations expert.

In 2024 can you trim your offering? Perhaps you can let go of some of your products or services that are labor-intensive, less enjoyable, or less profitable. Can you go deep with just your core offering?

The other tremendous benefit of zoning in on a niche is the ability to recommend other service providers for what you no longer offer, developing a list of complimentary service partners to recommend will be valuable to the prospect as well as your partner development.

Can I help you grow while doing more of what you love?  I'd love to connect with you to see if we might be a good fit for your future growth.

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