Thursday, May 31, 2012
Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming.
Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.
Relationships must be developed with primes and other small businesses that can help you, team with you and keep you in mind as they search for success. That takes time, patience and open-minded, out of the box thinking.
It also takes more than a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), a teaming agreement (TA) and a proposal to succeed. It takes dynamic marketing and communication with strong partners and hard, innovative work. Nice buzz words you say - but it is the truth and you have to find what that truth means to you.
See the below free articles on how to develop teaming relationships, protect your interests and your intellectual property.
Small Business Teaming
Protecting Intellectual Property And Proprietary Data
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
|Your Nest Eggs - Concentrate or Spread Them Out?|
Monday, May 28, 2012
Some of the ways which can be explored is -
1. Promoting newer product use - re-positioning your product/services
2. Exploring newer geographical areas of marketing and drastically reduce your inventories
3. Cross branding
4. Innovative sales promotions
5.Turning your cost centers into profit centers - e.g. if you have excess production capacities or R&D capacities or test beds ..... you can take up such opportunities from across the world from different companies.
6. Collaborate in countries where your products or services are not
7. Increase your sales network - in your country and abroad.
Affordability in my mind is in availability of funds.
Some long range thinking is in order here, not short term bottom line thinking. Most of the big boys and many, many of the small ones are acutely aware of this factor or will become acutely aware when their funding goes dry.
In past periods I have witnessed this type over the last 40 years, those companies that diversify (innovate and keep a long view of requirements) as well as team and develop a marketing approach that is hard hitting in the areas of "Bang for the Buck" (efficiency, talent utilization and resource management) survive.
Those that send a bill for everything they want paid and show up with an army of workers with a cost plus mentality, burn through and run out of funding, lose competitions on overhead and G&A issues and go out of business.
The little guy with the "Big Guy" talent has an advantage but must cover his back as the larger corporations become squeezed and go for the smaller pieces of the action.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Of course, there are people who say that, but when it comes to actually defining the true definition of love.....we find that what the people really mean is that they "like" it.
The relativity is that often, as you know, we use words and phrases out of context without truly considering their true significance. Let's take for instance the questions: " How do you pamper 'n' spoil your customers? How do you make them feel special and unique?"
Do you notice something, here? Neither one of these questions are unique. In fact, they reflect an "old school mentality" for what is understood today in a much better light as "customer care." Back then, It was all about manipulation.
Words like "pamper," "spoil," and phrases like "make them feel" presupposes an air of subliminal seduction as opposed to honesty.
Although there's more detail to really explaining what I'm saying, hopefully, it'll suffice to mention that we're, in general, a far cry from the school of "Roger Ramjet"
We don't "pamper 'n' spoil." Instead, we "gently embrace." We don't "make them feel special and unique." We let them "know" they are.
So, in direct response to " I recently got a new set of clients, and I want to do something special for them."
Here's your answer:
Gently embrace them with sincere words of appreciation, letting them know that they're truly very special and unique....'cause really...they are!! Then you graciously prove it by doing something extra relative to the situation.
Be creative. It has to come from you....
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
My first cold call, “cold “ being the vernacular used for an unsolicited visit on an unsuspecting business to make a sales pitch.
I was one of the major contributors as to why there are so many “No Solicitors” sign on doors.Like the polyester plaid I was wearing, rejection isn’t my strong suit. I have to admit there were days I could not face the day ahead without becoming physically ill, cramps and vomiting, anticipating the rejection that inevitably lay ahead.
For better or worse, most of the businesses I “solicited” on the south side of Chicago, were unaccustomed to a 21 year old young man in polyester and a “pleather” briefcase showing up at their door. My first “sales call” and I use the term loosely, required considerable surveillance. I drove around the block several times. In the end, it was a relief to just to be dismissed. To hear a simple “no thanks” was a victory, of sort. I had broken the sound barrier. I had made contact with the other side. Soon, I was making 20 cold calls in a day.
Thankfully gas was 30 cents a gallon! My father would get a call from someone I had visited and he would say, “Yes, that’s my son, he’s like manure, he’s spread all over the place.” The message was loud and clear, I needed to take the next step, get to the next level.Speaking of manure, here's a great joke from Ronald Reagan, only takes a minute, during one of his speeches. Precious really. Good clean fun!
I needed to convince my prospects I wasn’t just another pretty face in plaid polyester. My contacts were bewildered, annoyed, amused, indifferent or thankfully, on rare occasion, sympathetic to my pitch. It’s simply amazing. I became accustomed to the word“no”. I managed to solicit a cadre of variations theme to the extent I began to expect and anticipate the response. I learned to take a “no” and solicit another. As my skin thickened and the manure piled higher, I was able to garner a “maybe” here and there and occasionally a yes! It was the “ying and the yang” thing, “Yes means No” to the extent a Tibetan monk would have been proud.
Later, as a regional director at NCR Corp. at the sage age of 28 years, where I managed more than 70 neophyte sales reps in 10 states, I became well known for the expression, “lose more orders”. My mantra was the more orders you lose, the more opportunities you have to win. Spread that manure! Well not exactly...
Anyway, my dad fired me. he put me out of my misery! His too. He said I needed more experience. He was right. I was keeping him too busy spinning his wheels. At the time, I was devastated. I finished the blueberry pancakes my Mom had made me. I left town to seek employment near my fiancé, in Racine, WI. I stayed with the in-laws while looking for work.
I painted their house for $70 bucks, but I painted their windows shut, so we were even. I found a job right before I was evicted. But there's more to the story...
Monday, May 21, 2012
I have found that most of my successful small business clients understand that core content of a base web is the preeminent feature of social media, but from there, effective networking is also a strong contributor.
You must network a core content and let it do the work for you, building connections around it like spokes on a wheel. Don't think only of Linked In, but expand your efforts to grow connections to other venues as well and use your core content to create synergism.
I set up a Google blog as an extension of my volunteer work that blossomed into a web site ($10 a year to buy and convert it from a blog to a domain in my name) containing the basics of entering and succeeding in the venue as well my books and articles on the subject for download via Box Net (also a free application)
The idea was to refer clients to article links at the site to avoid repeating myself over and over to new business clients and still keep myself available for specific inquiries and problems.
I linked everything together on "Linked In" and began answering questions at the "Answers" feature there as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that could benefit my work. Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications served my site well. The Adsense Feature added cash flow. Roughly 30% of my clients began coming via Linked In or Linked In related networking.
The result has been heavy traffic, good efficiency in supporting in excess of 5000 counseling cases and virtually no expense to me as a volunteer working for a non-profit organization.
Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in.
Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will have their ear.
When the dialogue begins to revolve around a specific scope of work that can be identified, quantified in terms of hours and a schedule, reduce these details to a quotation and ask the client to consider it.
Remember to quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him.
Above advice courtesy of Kenneth Larson from SmallToFeds
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Social media is not only a tool for marketing, but it now gives businesses the ability to touch base with their customers on a personal level that they could never get without people physically coming to a store location (or office). Not only does this mean more sales, the potential to build more loyalty, and obviously make more money, but this also gives businesses the ability to develop or improve their products with feedback from the people most likely to spend money with them.. their existing customers! There is no better venue for businesses to develop and grow on this level. Add to that the fact that there is an incredible ability to track, understand, and utilize information that comes in via social media platforms, it can allow business to streamline their marketing and engagement strategies on a level no other form of advertising/marketing truly can. You never know how many people discover your business through newspaper ads or television spots. There's no question who comes to your doorstep via social media.
The sky is the limit with social media, and the ones who stand the most to gain from it are definitely small businesses.
I am not too sure if Twitter and Linkedin on their own can truly benefit a small independent company. However, Linkedin and Twitter only make up a small part of Social Media Sites - Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut,Tagged, Badoo etc.
The sites themselves are not the answer .... it is how small companies address the opportunities offered by the Social Media Platforms.
A small company CAN benefit from engaging in Social Media Marketing and can level the playing field and compete with much larger companies for the attention and ultimately their customer. For this they will need to know what their customers want and provide it in the form of valuable content. This way they can begin to build a relationship, become known as experts in the field, and contribute to a meaningful conversation. If they don't they will be defined by how their competitors define them, not how they would define themselves, if they had been part of the conversation.
When they are blogging and deeply involved in the conversation and adding to the conversation they will be seen as leaders and have people come to them for solutions to their problems.
Social Media is here to stay....Small companies need to harness the power of Social Media Marketing by providing opinions, solutions, advice, etc. The power of the blog is one of the channels that they can use. Others are videoblogs, webinars, participation in other conversations etc. This is how they will stand out.
Yes they need a level playing field and social media marketing can help provide a competitive edge. Besides, if they are not engaging with their marketplace, their competitors, surely will.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Small businesses that don't use social media are going to get left behind, and ultimately, I believe, be out of business before long. It's a story of adapt and thrive, or remain the same and wither on the vine.
The biggest challenge for a small business is time.... so here's what I suggest:
- find out where your clients are in social media, and focus on that tool first: Really master it.
- Start small, experiment with social media, and see what works and what doesn't.
- Focus on that tool for one fiscal quarter and see what results you're getting.
- Evaluate, and repeat what worked for you.
Do market research and find out what your competitors are doing, evaluate what about their efforts appeals to you (along with what doesn't), and then do it better.
There's a lot of social media hype out there that doesn't make sense. Ignore that, and find out what works for your business.
Below is a link to a helpful checklist that outlines the essential four steps for small business owners using social media.
Social Media Campaign Checklist
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
I often recommend the article, "Are you Prepared to Succeed in Business" by Douglas H. Rogers, Jr., Winfield Akeley, Robert Edelson Content at the Biz Info Library.
Here is an extract:
"In today's competitive market, small businesses must deal with new competitors, ever changing markets, price sensitivity, and cash flow issues — flying by the seat of your pants just doesn't work anymore. Do you desire to lead your business to growth and expansion?
Rapidly changing technologies, instantaneous worldwide communications, and strong customer preferences require rethinking of how we manage a business. Technologies that lead to product life cycles of 18 to 36 months, and the necessity to focus on true customer desires affect most businesses either directly or indirectly. In order to meet dynamic changes in business conditions and customer needs, an organization must be agile and responsive to these changes.
The long-term success of a business is dependent on its long-term strategies. It has been said that a company can overcome inefficient use of internal resources if its basic strategy is brilliant, but not likely to get by with the wrong strategies even with excellent production and distribution capabilities.
Past success formulas might not work in the future. Therefore, a company must periodically reexamine its situation as objectively as possible and determine the best course of action for the future in order to meet its goals and objectives."
The article provides further details and case studies in strategic vision and planning by successful firms. It can be downloaded at no charge from the second, vertical, Box Net "References" cube at the link below.
Small Business Resources
Monday, May 7, 2012
Companies that are involved in social media have a tremendous opportunity to use the customer feedback to improve their offerings and their bottom line. Those that are new to the idea seem to be more concerned about increasing the number of "fans" on their site rather than asking for any real feedback. As a result, most companies don't consider the impact of social media until they have a bad "report card" floating around.
social media and social CRM can be used to gain customers, support existing ones and innovate based on their Feedback.
There are many ways businesses can use new social platforms and channels. Many people think it's just a case of setting up profiles and see what happens, it isn't.
'Social CRM' is a term I guarantee people will start to hear more and more. Social CRM is an extension of traditional CRM, but the social business model gives the customer more control.
Social networks allow businesses to build communities, listen and engage in conversions whilst having the ability to innovate based on prospects' and customers' insight. Businesses can themselves provide industry-specific insight and support to prospects and customers, then start to build and strengthen relationships. We all buy from people we like and trust, social media can be a great way to really turn contacts into long term customers. These platforms give the customer new ways to communicate with you and can provide you with a new way of understanding your customer-base. The more you know about someone the easier it is to sell to them, social media allows businesses to get on a level with their customers and understand more about them, which can only be a good thing!
I was told that when providing a service or product for someone, if they were pleased they might tell one other person. However, if they were displeased, statistically, they would tell 12 people about your poor quality service or product. With today’s technology and, literally, the world potentially the audience of those with computers or mobile devices I wonder…
1. What are the current numbers with respect to how many people may hear about the good or bad service or products?
2. Has the presence of social media affected your commitment to attempt to ensure that you are providing top quality in your product or service?
3. Do you, as a consumer, feel that there is evidence of a positive influence caused by social media on the quality of products or services in the market-place?... and ...
4. Should more business people pay more attention to how quickly a good, or bad, “report card” can be disseminated so quickly to so many?
Previously, unless your business was on a national or international scale, certainly the audience for your success or failure with regards to the quality of your product or service was much smaller. How has social media affected how YOU do business?
Sunday, May 6, 2012
The following is a guest post by Rick Lindquist, President of Zane Benefits, a provider of Small Business Health Insurance. You can read more of his writing on his blog at www.clarifyinghealth.com.
A good job comes with great health benefits...Imagine that you've just accumulated enough sales/revenue to justify your first hire.... A good job comes with great health benefits, right?
Not so fast... that's not the case anymore. Today, nearly 60% of small businesses do not offer health insurance due to:
- Firm Size
- Employee Turnover
Even so, a health benefits package can be the deciding factor for a potential new hire.
About 45 percent of “microbusiness” owners who responded to a survey by the National Association for the Self-Employed agreed it is necessary to offer a health insurance benefit to find and hire qualified people. More than 80 percent maintained small businesses don’t have access to the same health insurance options as large companies.
So, you're faced with a tough decision: To offer health benefits or not to offer health benefits?
To answer this question, you have to understand why most employees value health benefits over salary.
Employees value health benefits over pay because health benefits are tax deductibleThe history of employers providing workers with health insurance goes back for decades. In the early 1940s, the federal government changed the tax laws to allow businesses to provide health insurance coverage as part of an employee's compensation package 100% tax-free.
The primary reason companies offer health insurance today is because:
- It is tax deductible to the business
- Employees get the benefit 100% tax-free
Additionally, the $1 in health benefits costs the company less than $1 in pay. (Remember, it's tax deductible to the business so the company does not have to pay payroll taxes!)
The first mistake many startups make is assuming that they can not afford to offer health benefits due to costs.
Here's a fresh perspective: if you can afford to hire an employee, you can afford to offer health benefits.
The real question is how do I structure the compensation and health benefits package for maximum value to the employee and minimal cost to the company?
It's not a question of whether to offer health benefits - It's a question of how to offer themDepending on a number of factors (e.g. your age, your health and your prior experience with health insurance), you may have pre-conceptions of a small business's health insurance options.
For example, many startup owners incorrectly believe traditional group health insurance is the only way to offer employees proper health benefits. Consequently, many startups rule out employee health benefits altogether due to the costs associated with traditional benefit programs.
Don't take my word for it. The NASE survey (reference above) found that 46 percent of small business owners say they don’t have access to health-insurance options that fit their startup company’s needs.
Thanks to health care reform, startups and small businesses now have a new option : Defined Contribution Health Benefits.
How Every Startup Can Offer Health Benefits: Defined ContributionWith a defined contribution health plan, the company gives each employee a fixed dollar amount (a "defined contribution") the employees choose how to spend. Employees then use their defined contribution to reimburse themselves for out-of-pocket health insurance costs or other medical expenses 100% tax-free.
The reimbursements are:
- Tax deductible to the business
- 100% tax-free to employees
Additionally, the $1 in defined contribution health benefits costs the company less than $1 in pay.
(Remember, it's tax deductible to the business so the company does not have to pay payroll taxes!)
As a result, startups can integrate a customized health benefit into a compensation package for any new hire.
Here's how it works:
- The business sets the defined contribution amounts (the amounts can be varied based on employee job classifications, and there is no "minimum contribution")
- The business decides what expenses can be reimbursed by the plan (eligible expenses include health insurance premiums, dental expenses, doctor visits, etc.)
- The business decides who is eligible for the plan (the employer can restrict eligibility based on job classifications, and there is no "minimum participation")
This is a re-posting of an article from the Zane Benefits' blog. The original article is available at The 5 Minute Guide to Affordable Startup Health Insurance.