On thing that happens when you’re forced out of your routine is to realize some of the things you tend to take for granted. As many of you know I’m saddled with a bit of computer problems this week and am working from an old, though workable laptop. A good part of yesterday was spent getting this old system up to be speed, though as much as I’d like it to be otherwise, I’ll have to do without a few things for the next few days. Now that I’m without them I realize how I took for granted that some things would always be there and I thought it would be interesting to ask each of you what things related to your business might you be taking for granted.
I say might, but I know there’s something you take for granted, because we all do. You probably have a to do list a mile long like me, a to do list I would gladly show you were it not sitting on a temporarily inaccessible hard drive on my desk.
What Are You Taking For Granted?
When was the last time you emailed your clients just to say hello? Any you haven’t heard from in awhile. Do you take for granted they’ll call you when they need something? You might be surprised at how much business starts to come in after you connect with people you haven’t spoken with in awhile. Typing this now reminds me of a few people I owe a friendly email. In the past during a slow month I’ve generated several weeks of work simply by saying hello and reminding people I’m here. Even without new work a pleasant greeting is still good customer service as it lets people know you’re thinking about them at times when they aren’t spending money with you.
Where does your site’s traffic come from? How many different sources send visitors to your site? We’d all like the key to unlock the Google traffic train, but should you rely so much on one supplier for your revenue. Google has shown they won’t hesitate to cut off your traffic if they think you’re trying to manipulate them. Do you get a large percentage of traffic from advertising on a single site? What would you do if that site pulled your ads or suddenly closed its doors? If you’re taking a traffic stream for granted realize it may not be there tomorrow. Diversify where your visitors comes from so you aren’t too reliant on any one or two sources.
When was the last time you took a thorough look at your site to see where it could stand a little improvement? All sites can be improved. Is your blog less sticky than you’d like? Could you speed up the ordering process in your shopping cart? How many spelling or grammatical errors are lurking in your content? Little things can make a big difference and can lead to big changes in conversions. What little things can you fix on your site tomorrow afternoon?
What’s your competition been up to? Have they released a new product that’s generating buzz? Are they working harder than you on their seo and marketing. Don’t assume they’ve been standing pat because they have been in the past. Maybe they’ve been gathering links in places you hadn’t thought about or noticed. Maybe it’s a remarkable post on their blog that’s generating conversation. Assume your competition is doing something and act accordingly.
The Things You Don’t Miss Till They’re Gone
My computer setup here is nothing particularly complex. For backup I’ve been using a couple of external hard drives wired into my network. One drive to backup my laptop and one drive to back up the the first drive. With data stored in three different places here along with a handful of servers around the web it’s easy to think you’re prepared.
Still there’s plenty to be taken for granted. Sure you can have the install CDs and downloads to recover any software that gets lost in a crash, but do you want to spend all day reinstalling things. For my part I’ll be updating computers I may not use much just in case they need to be put in use in a hurry.
How often do you backup? I’ve always maintained a certain amount of temporary files that I know won’t be used beyond a week or so. It’s easy to take them for granted since their use is limited until you go to reach for one and remember it’s not there.
What about all the settings you’ve modified over the life of your computer. True many are just fluff like the background image you use on your desktop, but they make the work week that much more enjoyable don’t they. Even more are the settings you’ve changed on common apps like your email and browser.
Of all the software I use on a given day Firefox is the one that does the most work. Easy enough to replace Firefox I know, but what about all the extensions you’ve added or all the bookmarks you reach for throughout the day. There’s even your browser history. Do you always type full URLs or do you rely on your browser to fill them in after a few characters? New browser no history.
Same for email. Again it was easy enough to replace Thunderbird, but it’s not so easy replacing all those folders and filters I created or even my address book. Most I know, but a few times in the last few days I had to think where else an email address might be located.
If you’re not already doing so remember to back up all the settings you’ve customized. On Windows:
Documents and Settings => User => Application Data
I’ll remember not to take that folder and all the folders inside for granted anymore. I’m managing fine and none of this is meant to complain, but what I wouldn’t give to have made a copy last week. The lesson for me this week is to keep in mind that something there now could be gone tomorrow whether that something is a client, traffic, or a to do list.
What are you taking for granted? What aspects of your business should you pay a little more attention? What do you currently assume will work tomorrow they same way it worked yesterday? Are you sure it will?