How to fall back in love with your small business

Chloe Bell
By Chloë Bell, Content Journalist

Although you might still be recovering from the Christmas festivities, February marks yet another excellent marketing opportunity for small businesses. We’re talking about spreading the love for Valentine’s Day and beyond.  

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re on the frontline and running your company day after day. You might even lose sight of why you started it in the first place and what makes it so special. 

So why not spruce up your business this February and rediscover why you’re so proud of it. Here are eight ways to give your SME the TLC it deserves.

1. Spruce up your shop  

Sprucing up your business can do wonders. It can affect how your staff feel working there, how many customers you can attract and, just as importantly, how you feel about running it. 

Shop front showing four mannequins in ladies clothing

We’ve all heard that saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but in the world of small business, there’s no harm in making sure the first impression your customers have is a positive, polished, and put together one. 

Sprucing up your business can be as easy as repainting the interior or exterior, moving furniture around or setting your shop out differently. But if you want a bigger change, be as inventive as you can and completely redesign your whole shop floor layout or even apply for an extension if you have the business finance in place. Have a real think about how you can utilise space and what you would do with more.  

A quick and effortless way to vamp up your business is to refresh your window display. Valentine’s Day is a big seller for gift shops, florists, bakeries, and card stores so why not make the most of your themed stock and put it on full display. You can easily get hold of some heart-shaped balloons and window stickers to send that extra bit of love to your customers.

2. Pique interest with new products

As we enter the second month of the year, many will still be recovering from Christmas, while some resolutions will have fallen by the wayside. Why not use February to try something different, source some new products and entice your customers by piquing their interest.  

A florist cuts roses and puts them into a white box.

If you own a florist, Valentine’s is likely to be a huge event for you. Try arranging special Valentine's themed bouquets ready to collect or you even hold a mini-workshop for anyone interested in making their own.  

If you own a bakery and get an influx of custom for specially made cakes in February, get creative with what you offer. Heart-shaped biscuits are always a great bet, but maybe you could offer a home delivery service for ‘breakfast in bed’ on the big day, complete with homemade treats and fresh coffee.  

Customers love things a little out of the ordinary and ideas like this make it easy (as the preparation is done for them) but still mark the special occasion, showing some thought.

3. Sweet talk your staff

February can be tough - the weather is dreary, the mornings are still dark, and summer seems ages away. Why not give your staff something to smile about and show them your appreciation? 

Colleagues applaud an employee who is sat behind her laptop after receiving an employee of the month award

Bring in some little treats for Valentine’s Day or get even more creative. You could ask each staff member to nominate an employee they think has gone above and beyond over the last month or ask each person to write down a reason they love working at a small business. You could even have a prize reserved for the quirkiest or most abstract contribution.  

And don’t forget that the little things count, make a real effort this month to praise your staff if they are doing an excellent job. A simple ‘thank you’ or a ‘well done’ really does go a long way. 

4. Give your marketing a makeover

Valentine’s day is the perfect excuse to refresh your marketing techniques, no matter what your business is. The great thing about this tip is you can go as in-depth as you want.  

A shop owner films herself on a smart phone to make a video for her online clothing store

It can be as simple as putting a Valentine’s themed filter on your business social media profiles, posting a Happy Valentine’s message on the 14th, or uploading a photo of your business Valentine’s displays. But you could also go further and create a whole social campaign if you choose. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, every SME can benefit from solid marketing.  

For example, if you own a corner shop, you may think you have to rely on footfall custom, but you don’t. Start up a fun email newsletter or host a giveaway on Instagram for a Valentine’s Day prosecco hamper. How you market can bring your business to life, plus you’ll stand out from the crowd of other corner shops who may not think social media is ‘their thing’. 

If you’re friends with other surrounding local businesses, why not engage in a little competition where customers vote for the best shop front as their ‘Valentine.’ Think up some catchy hashtags and encourage customers to tag you in their Valentine’s celebrations with items bought from your business.

5. Let your business personality shine

Each small business is different and has a chance to celebrate its own unique charm. Think about what makes your business different from competitors and home in on that. How can you make your customers impressed by what you offer? 

A pub owner stands behind the bar and smiles at customers while two other bar staff serve

If you own a local pub then do your research. Take note of what the local competition is offering. Maybe you could organise a Valentine’s event with live music and a top-notch dinner. Or you could think about sourcing exclusive ales, specialist gins or different cocktails to make you stand out. Think hard about your selling point and then work on expressing your business. 

Lots of people are eager to help out their local community, especially since the pandemic, so really let your business’ personality shine in everything you do.  

This could be anything from hosting events to celebrate new products or launches, personalised planet-friendly paper bags for customers or making sure your business social accounts are fun and quirky if that’s the vibe you’re going for. The list is endless, decide what kind of business you want to be and see how you can make that clear to customers.

6. Hire a business guru

Sometimes you can visualise a fantastic business idea but might have trouble bringing it to life. You might know exactly what you want to achieve in the next ten years but have no clue how to go about it.  

A business guru looks at a tablet pc while advising a business owner

That’s when you can have a browse online for a professional to help you make the most out of your business decisions. After all, if you’re achieving all you can with your SME, you’re more likely to love running it. 

Sites like LinkedIn are great for finding business coaches but specialist freelance sites like Bark and Yell are handy too if you want to narrow your search and easily access their personal websites.  

Whether you want to revamp your accounting strategy, get more organised, manage your staff better, or even want some insight into what your business could aspire to, it's a great idea to have a chat with a business coach.  There are lots of different professionals out there, some specialise in growing your SME, some lean more towards changing your mindset and developing ideas, don’t let your business ever stop aspiring.  

And free up some time with expert help from Bionic – we can save you time and money when switching business energy, insurance, phone and broadband. If you need finance to expand or improve your business, we can also help with business loans.

7. Get savvy with some new skills

Learning is the key to bettering your business. The more you learn, the more you can try out new ideas or ways of working until you find something that clicks.  

A group of business owners take part in a cookery class to learn new skills

There are lots of courses online offering help with a whole range of skills from numeracy and literacy to bookkeeping and finance. Some of the more basic ones are free.  

The government are currently offering a lengthy list of courses aimed at small business owners wanting to get back on their feet after the last lockdown. NatWest bank also has free business skills tips to make use of, plus job hunting sites like Reed have leadership and management courses on offer at no cost.  

But you don’t even have to enrol on a course to start learning, head to your local bookstore and browse useful books on how to improve your business. Learn a new language, read a marketing book or even devour something about customer psychology. All this information will help you make your SME the best it can be, and you’ll remember why you started it in the first place.

8. Connect with your customers

February is the month of love so use it as an excuse to make lasting connections with your customers. A simple smile really makes such a difference to the customer experience.  

A deli owner picks out food from the counter for a customer

Showing each customer they are special and worthwhile to your business can be really easy. Think about simple things like a handwritten thank you note in with their order, free Valentine’s sweets at the counter or exclusive discounts to use through February. Your customers make your business, and this month is the ultimate time to show this.  

If you own a takeaway, you could throw in a free dessert or special Valentine’s treat if a customer spends a certain amount. A little gesture like that can go a long way in cementing a strong customer bond and keep them returning. 

These tips are not an extensive list of things you can do to add that extra sparkle back into your business, you can come up with your own, get creative with your ideas.  

Making an effort and showing the best side of your SME will go a long way to making you fall in love with it again. Think about quirky, fun ideas you can try to show some love, but most of all emphasise your appreciation to your staff, customers and company. Happy ‘Love Your Business’ month!