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Small business owners: You have to switch it up if you don’t want customers to tune out

Last week, with my brain on political overload, I needed a diversion, and so my my wife and I rewatched that Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day.”

In one sense, it was perfect because it’s just such a great flick. And yet, on the other hand, it was all too familiar.

Just like in the movie, everyone on cable news kept saying the same thing over and over again, day after day. Whether it was President Donald Trump spreading misinformation or the Democrats defending the status quo, life imitated art.

“I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Bill Murray says as Phil Connors.

But beyond that, for some reason, this time the movie reminded me of so many of my small-business brothers and sisters who are also stuck doing the same thing every day, making the same mistakes over and over again, and thinking there is no way out.

Look, we all fall into ruts. The trick is getting out of them.

Read on for some of the most common redundant-yet-fixable mistakes that I see small businesses make.

Sticking to that same old tired marketing bit: Does this sound familiar? Start a business, try to get customers, stumble upon a marketing trick that works, perfect it … and then beat it into the ground.

That’s what a lot of small business owners do.

It could be any marketing effort – a TV ad, a monthly sale, a newsletter, whatever. But while figuring out a marketing strategy that works is vital, never mixing it up is suicide. Marketing campaigns have a shelf life.

Does McDonald’s still advertise that “You deserve a break today“? Does Amazon still call itself “the world’s biggest bookstore“? No, of course not. Why? Because marketing has a shelf life.

What Phil Connors figured out – and what we must learn too – is that doing the same thing again and again gets really boring. You, the marketer, get bored, and so do your customers. And when that happens, they will tune you out.

Sticking with the wrong team: Hiring is not fun, but firing is even worse, and that is why a lot of employers often let it slide.

Rather than getting rid of that employee who is dead weight, many small-business owners decide to just do nothing. While they know that employee is not perfect, replacing him or her seems like too much effort.

But that’s an obvious mistake, and this election season reminded us why.

We all are aware that incumbents usually win, but every now and then, an upstart beats the old hat politician.

Sound familiar?

Keeping employees (or lawyers or accountants or vendors) who have gotten lazy not only reflects poorly on your business, it keeps you stuck.

Sticking with old ways: Whether its using that bookkeeping software that you first bought in 2004 or that filing cabinet that is jammed full of old stuff, sticking with the old ways is old thinking.

Solution: Reboot and update your systems.

“Groundhog Day: The Election” was bad enough. “Groundhog Day: The Small Business” is worse. The good news is that Bill Murray figured it out for us – if you challenge yourself and try new ways, you can escape the redundant, boring, soul-killing, time-loop of purgatory.

Now that’s a change worth voting for (even if the charming Andie McDowell won’t be at your side).

Steve Strauss is an attorney, speaker and the author of 17 books, including “The Small Business Bible.” You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.com, get more tips at his site TheSelfEmployed, and connect with him on Twitter @SteveStrauss and on Facebook at TheSelfEmployed.

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