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Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

7 Step Revenue Planning And How To Ensure Profitability

A few years ago I was at a closed door meeting of business owners. We had gotten together to share information and work on our businesses.

One of the members had just crossed the $500,000 mark in her business. She was understandably psyched and we were for her.

Later, after dinner, we were talking and I asked her what her profit was (cheeky I know).

Her net was under $50,000. On $500,000 in revenue. And she paid herself a salary of $60,000 so it wasn't that she moved $300,000 to her personal savings.

Thinking back on it, my mouth must have dropped. I hope it didn't, but don't see how it didn't.

She then asked my net and her mouth did drop. While hers was under 10% of revenue, mine was closer to 35%.

We talked late into the night about revenue, expenses, profit, taxes, retention and much more.

The next day she hired me. Flash forward 12 months and her revenue was a little under $550,000 and her profit was just over 20%.

When it comes to small businesses, "profit" often seems to be "that thing we never speak about", a secret to remain hidden, often shamefully, brought out from under the bed only during tax season.

What if your profit was public?

Would you be proud? Embarrassed?

What if you were to plan for your profit first?

Years ago I gave away a revenue planning template. One where you actually plan what your profit is rather than "just let it happen". (Hint: It almost never "just happens".)

7 Step Revenue Planning

The planning template was simple and all about reverse engineering your revenue:

1. List all your known expenses, including your salary
2. Add in your desired profit
3. Total them
4. Multiply the total by 10-15% for unknown expenses
5. Add Numbers 3 and 4 together
6. Multiply the new total (#5) by 30% or your tax percentage if known
7. Add Numbers 5 and 6 together. This is your revenue goal

The above works for planning, but what about day-to-day reality?

Day-to-day is simple although it requires a little more discipline to continuously follow the process - that said, if you do, you'll be thrilled with the results.

Ready?

For every dollar of revenue that comes in, give it a home.

1. X% to your Profit
2. Y% to your "Salary"
3. Z% to your Taxes

The remainder is what's left for your expenses.

Depending on your preferences (and whether or not you can keep your fingers out of the other pots), you may wish to set up separate accounts to "house" these sums or simply move it within your bookkeeping file.

Personally I keep separate accounts (out of sight, out of mind).

Following this process:

• ensures that your business is profitable,
• ensures that you get paid,
• ensures that your taxes are paid and
• ensures that you don't spend more than your business makes.

Don't worry about what's happened in the past. Choose today to move forward. The above will help you do that even if you start small and increase over time as you reduce your expenses and, if necessary, pay down debt.

Questions? Hit reply and let me know, I'm happy to answer them.

And, if you're ready to work together on your business, you'll love our "Keep It Simple" Non-program Program designed for the business owner who is looking for a trusted partner to run things by, brainstorm with, get advice when things come up and yet doesn't necessarily need a set schedule of calls.

* Note that, on a personal level, I used to pay for pet insurance each month. Then I applied this same concept and created a savings account just for that - now the funds come out automatically each month and are available when I need them without the feeling of "throwing money away" when the insurance company would deny claims.

As an inspiring and in-demand mentor, trainer and speaker, Sandy has helped hundreds of small business owners across the globe create sustainable businesses which make a positive impact. Sandy is also the founder of Escalator Marketing™, creating client engagement and raving fans by design. Sandy's Done 4 You services, programs, products and presentations on Escalator Marketing™ and creating lifetime clients through Extreme Client Care™ have made her an in-demand and innovative expert. http://www.TheMartiniWay.com

By Sandra Martini

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Ways To Position Your Small Business As Unique

In business, it's vital to present your enterprise as different from others in your industry. Your goal is to let potential customers know that you offer something your competition does not. This is your Unique Selling Point (USP), which often impels people to check out your business further.

The following are 5 ways to position your business as unique to build sales and a loyal customer following:

1. Commit to product and service integrity

In today's hyper-competitive business environment, the temptation is to flood the marketplace with your products and services to drive sales. The caution here is to make sure every product and service you offer is of top-notch quality.

Everything you offer must satisfy what your advertising promised. Make each product and service a reliable solution to customers' needs. You harm your business reputation every time you offer something that's inferior.

Companies that rush products to market just to capture quick sales end up suffering in the long-term. They become looked upon as inferior in direct relation to their products, which lack integrity. Commit to integrity to set your business apart as reliable and trustworthy, even if it means offering less products and services. Only offer what you know is first-rate.

2. Commit to originality

Are you operating in a traditional sector? Do you find yourself marketing the way "it's always been done?" Do you only offer the same products and services, which everyone else in your sector does? This is the antithesis of originality and uniqueness. Just because it's the way you've always done it, doesn't mean you should keep doing it that way.

Regarding marketing, try an unconventional way to spread the word about your business. For example, don't stick with the "same old" online banner ads or dull hard-copy brochures if they're not working for you. Post creative and even humorous blog posts or videos that speak of your brand in a compelling way.

Originality applies to products and services as well. Make your product family unique through offering a proper mix of high-end, mid-range, and less expensive items. Carry some hard-to-find items. Sell products related to, but not of, your main line that your competitors' are not offering. Concerning services, make your guarantee, customer loyalty program, and delivery service unique to your establishment.

3. Consider an association with another business

The focus here is a tactical cooperation. You and another business can work together to market to the same niche audience. For example, if your business is web design, you can link up with a copywriting service that writes web content. Together you offer an attractive service to businesses - in essence, a one-stop shop.

The benefit to both of you is that you have the marketing power of two businesses targeting a niche. Consider offering a product package for a special price, which is a combination of what you and the other business offers. Furthermore, you can provide your business partner's coupons at your location, and they can provide your coupons at their location.

4. Focus on a niche

Distinguish yourself from the competition by focusing on a niche and becoming an expert. Cater to a niche that you're interested in. Cater to one that you can supply the necessary products and services to.

For example, if you're a shoe retailer, you can consider focusing on fashionable and durable wear for the 25-35 age group. Understand their desires for shoe fashion and become a specialist in providing exactly what this niche needs. There are a host of 'generalists' out there getting a little piece of the shoe sales pie. Be a specialist and corner a big piece of a specific niche market.

5. Always provide more

You position your business as unique when you provide more than what's typically expected. If you sell products, consider a dedicated follow-up program with your customers. Let them know you back up your products with quality after-sales service.

Be a top-notch information provider as well. Always have ready useful information about your products to aid customers' in the use of the items they buy. This could be booklets, case studies, easy-to-read information packets, testimonials and such, which inform customers' on the proper use of products.

Position your business for long-term success through incorporating the above five tips. Distinguish yourself from your competitors so your target market takes the time to visit you online and in-store. Being unique in your business sector is your means for remaining a viable enterprise.

Michael Ugulini is a business writer from the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada ( http://www.smallbizcopywriting.com ). He writes articles for small businesses, feature articles, blog posts for small businesses, newsletter content, brochure content, and stock market articles. He is a a contributing writer at Seeking Alpha ( http://seekingalpha.com/author/michael-ugulini ).

By Michael E Ugulini

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Who Is Responsible For The Demise Of Small Business?

The thing is more of us older and senior people still judge a store by the service they provide. If that is the case, how come we have allowed our friends and families with businesses to be taken over by large corporations? These friends, family, and neighbours were the ones who gave us service, they lived in our neighbourhoods, knew our names, and made sure we received excellent service. These real people didn't have cookie cutter scripted interaction with us, but genuinely interested in their customers. They appreciated our business enough not to annoy us at the end, you know with point cards or up-sells. When we bought something they took us to the cash, put it through themselves no waiting in lines, and sincerely thanked us for the business.

Back in the day a shoes store was a shoe store, not a grocery, drug store, and hardware in one. It was about smaller specialty stores. The people in them knew their products better, so of course they were able to provide service. In the box stores if you're lucky to find someone, they can read the labels as well as you. If something was not on the shelf it was no big deal to go see if any were available in the back. Box stores expect us to come into their 5 football field size stores, find our own stuff, receive no service, pay and be happy their price was lower. The problem is we've become cheap, and still expect the same service for a pair of shoes that cost $20, as one that is $150. We can't have it all, made our bed and now need to sleep in it.

Next time you walk into a box store start getting grumpy about service, lashing out at the one poor associate who makes minimum wage, who is overwhelmed, not trained properly, barely surviving back off. At one time we lived in a democrat society, where a majority ruled, and our governments had no choice but to listen to what we wanted. Obviously we had no concern that large businesses were starting to squeeze out small and medium size ones, and changing our tune from quality products to cheap inexpensive. Free trade was great right, so many people lost jobs in the manufacturing industry, but getting bad quality shoes for $20 was real savings! No problem that unemployment is high, no real worthwhile job creation, the economy is in toilette, and the backbone of any countries economy has always been the small and medium size business. Instead we focus on the environment saving trees instead of people, and complain there is no service when walking into box store that purchase goods from other places. We are not even supporting our own people, and demand service really!

It's time to go back to basics, first people need to be fairly paid, bring back the small and medium size business concept, and have a better economy. Once that is accomplished we can afford to pay for the quality, and the service will be there. The small and medium business even if they had the same products and pricing winning by who has better service! If you're looking for exceptional service perhaps the first place to demand it is from our Governments. Then we can move forward walk into a small neighbourhood business, able to support them, and in return like before obtaining the service we as customers deserve. Box stores herd us in like sheep, and most people can't afford to go somewhere else. The ones most responsible for the demise of small business is us the older and senior people who didn't care about the future!

By Arnold Nadler

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Managing Your Small Business Budget

Smart Budgeting Tips for Savvy Small Business Owners

Not surprisingly, small businesses often operate on relatively limited budgets. Regardless of the financial situation the business may be in, it is always important to conserve money whenever and wherever feasibly possible. While this may seem simple, it is often very difficult to track and manage business expenses without having a well-thought-out business budget. This is definitely true for those expenses that may be unexpected, which happens within a small business more often than not.

For those small business owners who want to keep their business operating in the black, they will need to account for both expected and unexpected costs. With this in mind, it is important to create - and stick with - a well-planned business budget. If you are a business owner who is struggling with managing your small business's finances, here are some tip to help you better manager your business's money.

Know and Understand Your Risks

Regardless of what type of business you run, there is always some amount of risk. The risks associated with your line of work always have the potential to have a major financial impact on the business. In order to have a secure budget plan, it is important to take both short-term and long-term risks into consideration. Think about how these factors may affect your business: changes in minimum wage, changes in healthcare requirements, the likelihood of a natural disaster, or the need for seasonal help.

Take Note of Sales Cycles

Almost every business goes through an ebb and flow of sales throughout the year - ice cream shops are generally busier in the summer where snowboard and ski shops do more business in the winter. Small business owners should take a close look at the seasons of their sales and incorporate that information into their budget. During the business's slow season, you may need to incorporate more wiggle room for overhead or increase the budget for marketing when you have a need to bring in business.

Plan for Large Expenses

Some of the largest purchases a small business makes often happen without warning - equipment breaking down and needing to be replaced right away or a company vehicle needing important repairs in order to make deliveries. Even though you cannot plan for these types of expenses, you can plan for large projects that you know about ahead of time, such as store renovations, technology upgrades, or hiring more employees. Carefully planning and timing these purchases can be very helpful.

Always Review Your Budget

Budgets are never static - they are always changing based on the needs of the business. Revisiting your budget on a regular basis can help to ensure the business stays on track and that the budget is growing, changing, and evolving along with the business. Compare profit patterns, changing sales cycles, and other factors with your budget on a regular basis in order to make sure it fits the business's needs, the expenses you have can be carried by your income and to have an up to date picture of the finances.

Stacy O'Quinn helps many business owners with the training he received from Dani Johnson. Today, many of his students earn six figures every year! If you would like to find out how Stacy can help you, click here.

By Stacy OQuinn

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Don't Become A Small Business Owner "Statistic"

If you are or have been, a small business owner, I'm sure you are aware of the abysmal failure rate. 50%, 80%, (more?)... overall failure rate within 5 years to 10 years... Whatever the true statistical figure or exact percentage is... you, the start-up or small business owner, do not have to fall prey to the 'statistic'.

There is a pathway to not only stay alive but thrive as a small business owner. If you possess the road-map and have the help and resources by your side to take the steps necessary, in the proper sequence and order, it can be done. This has been positively proven by many business owners who have been able to turn the corner and begin to reach the original ideal, the reason they went into the venture in the first place. Their all important "why"... Do you remember your "why?"... Why you decided to take the challenging step in the first place?

Most begin with a strong "why"... Doing what they love, releasing their creative passions, bringing valuable solutions to problems, achieving financial goals, taking care of others, independence, freedom,... and other just as valid "whys".

Then at some point, often very soon in the journey, the grind takes over, the daily urgencies begin to take control. These are the real and constant activities, problems, emergencies, and tasks that must be done. It's all part and parcel of running daily necessary activities that is a part of any and every business.

The business owner find him or herself just treading water, spending all their energy just to stay afloat, instead of soaring and enjoying the expected fruit of their dream in starting the business.

And so, to use that oft quoted phrase, they end up in the never ending cycle of always "working in the business - instead of on the business".

In practical reality, more often than not, the person fired their previous boss of regular employment and went to work for a new boss... the unforgiving, coldly practical boss of the business's unrelenting constant demands.

The very reason the business has some real success is the passion and skills of the owner,... who saw a need to be filled, a problem to be fixed, a want to be actualized. But what now, how does the next step of growing the business and getting to the all important "why" achieved?

Here is the good news. There is hope. The owner cannot move forward by neglecting what is working now. But there is more to be done. What is needed is a proven "paint by the numbers" strategic and tactical system and the resources needed to help and point the way. step by step,... by proven step. Fortunately, there are such systems available, as well as the resources and people needed.

Most business owners love the idea of independence, yet paradoxically, that independence can only be achieved by interdependence with others. No one can do it all. All business operates in community. The community of partners, family, employees, vendors, end users, clients, customers.

So, what to do to not become "a statistic"?... Well, let me ask: Have you ever seen an athlete, at whatever level, without a coach? Or an actor without a teacher and agent?... The business owner as well needs consultants and coaching to help them take the steps needed to move forward in the correct direction with guidance and accountability. Fortunately, there are quality people and resources in these categories available to fit each person and situation.

Consider seeking out the help you need to expedite, often in a surprisingly exponential way, the efficiencies and growth your business needs, as well as the opportunity for you, the business owner, to reach the "why" you began on your journey in the first place. Together, we can get there.
-Jerry Zak

"The 3 Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes Small Businesses Make... And How To Overcome Them All." Get All The Leads Your Business Can Handle.

http://www.ontargetresultsmarketing.com

By Jerry I Zak

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Small Business Owners....Improving Profits In Daily Operations

When you own a small business, there are dozens of people and projects vying for your time and attention. It can get hard to figure out where to focus your resources and easy to become overwhelmed.

Furthermore, in my years of consulting what I have found to be the difference in success or failure of a business was not the amount of money, a business owner had on hand, nor the education level of the management team. It was his or her daily habits and beliefs, that determined success or the lack there of.

What is profit? It is simply, how much money the business makes after transaction and paying taxes is over.

Traditional thinking about profit says, Revenue - Expenses = Profit. However, this method fails to measure lost opportunity.

What is lost opportunity?

First, business has people performing activities each day. The lost opportunity is in not measuring, managing and leveraging those activities on a real-time basis.

Management fact, your company profitability depends on how well your people consistently perform specific activities minimizing errors.

The following are 12 tips to help your business increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and stay ahead of the competition.

1 - Living a balanced life

A. Work and business are not the be-all and end-all of your life. Learn to have fun! Spend more time with your family. Take a vacation once in a while. Engage in activities that will rejuvenate your spirit and your life. Take care of yourself, and your health, exercise and eat fruits and vegetables. Your productivity and focus will improve if you are stress-free and healthy. Bad health and divorces has destroyed more businesses than I have room to write about in this article.

2 - The Destination: Goals, Themes and Vision

A. Go find your business plans and update it. Since your business' inception, a number of factors must have changed - from the overall business climate to your product line. Take all those changes into consideration, consider the business and economic climate, factor in your and your family's goals, and get a clear assessment of the direction of your business. Get in touch with your business coaches, if any. What is your overall vision of your business? What are your goals 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now? What is your business theme and brand to your customers? Is it relevant to your business and memorable and fun for your customers?

B. Setting Team Expectations

1. Small business owners need to insure all managers and employees are on the 'same page' daily. Setting proper team expectations and accountability, is the most impactful thing you can do to insure the success of your business. Have weekly meetings with management teams to discuss accomplishments and challenges.

3 - The System: Starting your day off with motivations

A. Take a notebook (or a laptop or tablet) and jot down your thoughts and plans for the day. Whether you prefer doing this in the morning or in the evening, it is always best to take a step back, review what happened during the day (or the day before), and think of ways how you can do better. Take time to review your profit scorecard, in order to find quick hits and losses. Send out an email where you see outstanding work, done the previous day.

B. Figure out the 20% of activities that are producing 80% of desired results. Eliminate activities that are keeping you busy but not producing results, daily.

4 - Understand Customer Needs

A. Write down ideas, whether for your marketing strategies, product lines, or new projects that you want to take on. List your ideas on how to expand and energize your business. Only through innovation and continuing adoption of relevant new products and ideas can your business improve its competitiveness and profitability.

B. Take time to tap into your customer database and get in touch with your existing customers. Whether by phone, email or letter, contact your customers to greet them and remind them that your business is ready to serve them again. Get their opinions about what they think about your business (and make getting customer feedback a part of your business processes). You need to constantly look for ways to encourage repeat business. Although marketing and advertising are important to get more customers, quality, service and customer satisfaction are what keep a business successful in the long run.

5 - Understand the Profit Formula in your day to day operations

A. What are the critical success factors in your business, daily and monthly targets to meet or exceed annual profitability?

B. Develop a system for monitoring operational progress on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

C. Compare the employee time documentation with information gathered from your operational monitoring process. If productivity is not meeting or exceeding goals, look at employee time logs where time is not being used as effectively as possible and make adjustments to that employee's job role. If operations are running on track with goals, consider elevating goals by small increments until you reach a point of equilibrium.

6 - Keep employees involved, motivated and trained

A. Good employees are hard to find; yet they are an important element in your business. It all comes down to choosing the right person and personality type for each role so that no one is doing tasks that they resent. Forget coaching weaknesses (too time consuming), focus on leveraging strengths and passions. Check to see if they are getting what they need and make them part of the team. Help them understand the importance of their role in your business and how their job impacts the business as a whole. Review your relationship with your employees and find ways to keep your relationship happy and avoid costly attrition.

B. Hiring the right leader, someone who owns the operation from start to finish.

1. The small business owner needs to hire someone to own the operation from start to finish. This person should be obsessed with the details, the metrics, and the numbers. They should be elated to hit their goals, inspired by business coaching to do better when they miss it. They love the success of your company; it's not a job but an adventure to them.

7 - Keep an eye on new opportunities, markets and products

A. Start the year by exploring new markets for your business. Whether you are looking at targeting a new demographic or getting your business up on the web, take time to plan how you can expand your existing market. Look for ways to improve your marketing, whether by winning easy publicity, arranging an open house or preparing direct mails.

8 - Find Ways to Operate efficiently with lower cost

A. Motivate employees with production goals and ask employees and managers what they need to improve workplace operations. If suggestions seem practical and are within budget, consider implementing them. Example, only scheduling 30 minute meetings unless subject requires extra attention.

B. Documenting your Processes

1. Document the workflow of every operation within the business, with policy and procedures and special customer instructions. Yes, this is a time-consuming, tedious, boring exercise, initially. However, if you are able to provide clear and concise documentation to your team, it leaves very little room for things to be miscommunicated. Documentation makes it easier to onboard new employees, saves business from being reliant on any one person and allows the business to continuously improve and innovate operations, without having to waste months and money, researching and gathering workflow procedures from inexperience contract workers. Documenting helps to avoid 'lost opportunity' of being slow to change operations in the marketplace.

9 - Use Process Improvement initiatives to your competitive advantage

Six Sigma methodologies is a tool that can be utilized to improve process, people and profits. By establishing performance measures for key processes, asking the following questions.

• What is the purpose of the key process?

• What is the expected deliverable?

• How will the process owner know if there process has succeeded?

Six sigma benefits for small businesses are

1. Provides a road map and tools to determine root causes and solve problems

2. Reliable facts for decision making, improved metrics and measurements

3. Improvement in order accuracies and on time delivery

4. Improvement in labor efficiencies enterprise wide

5. Increased customer confidence and profitability (customer buy more better quality)

As a business owner, it is vital that you understand how 'technology' helps me to make more money by eliminating errors, overhead expenses and attracting more customers.

Invest in new technology that will help streamline operations and improve productivity. This could include new computers or equipment related to your industry or designing more efficient work stations and telephone systems. Provide training for new hires to ensure they are aware of how to effectively perform the functions of their job. If seasoned employees are underperforming, send them for training refresher courses.

Documenting processes, installing six sigma and implementing technology improves the customer experience with your business, makes your profit planning measurements more transparent to employees throughout the enterprise.

Implementing an employee recognition system and recommendation process, continuously improves operations aligning performance with corporate vision, mission, performance measurements and corporate profit scorecard. Quality improves your customer emotional attachment to your business. Loyal customers are repeat customers which will recruit others to your business, increasing profits.

10 - Identify and Resolve Weak Spots in the System

A. Take stock of all aspects of your business operation and list down the areas that you want to improve. If your list of delinquent receivables is longer than Santa's list, find out how you can improve your billing and collection process. Perhaps you need to improve your record keeping to help flag you on delinquent accounts

11 - Keep an eye on your competition

A way to get the inside edge on your competitors is by asking your customers for help. This need not be especially difficult or complex. Simply ask your customers (in the form of a survey or follow-up call) if there's anything a competitor does (or sells) that they wish you did. Now, the idea isn't that you'll necessarily turn on a dime and honor every request that comes in.

Own a share of stock in their publicly-traded competitors. This alone entitles you to detailed financial information about the company each and every year. But what if you and your competitors aren't public companies? The basic idea is the same: any financial data you can get your hands on is worth having. You want to know as much as possible about what their costs are, who their suppliers are and how you stack up in comparison.

If there is a trade journal or research study about your industry, now is the time to subscribe - and digest what it contains.

In addition to using your competitor's products, you should go through and closely study their sales funnel. Every successful business has a system for attracting, educating, selling and following up with customers. Whether it's via direct mail, Internet marketing or the telephone, this is the infrastructure that actually turns their prospects into buyers. How do you know if your sales funnel is performing at max capacity if you don't compare it to the competition?

12 - Go Play Golf: Network, Network, Network

Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for your business.

Join business associations to meet other business owners, you might be surprised at who will assist you towards your success or what ideas you hear that can solve your current dilemma.

Join your areas Chamber of Commerce and participate in community service events. Get involved in your community by volunteering, donating to and/or sponsor local events. It gives you the opportunity to network with other business owners and maybe cross promote with other local. These monthly meetings let you know what going on economically in your area.

Vinson Primas is a certified business and life coach at http://www.nomopofolks.com/small-business.html. He writes small business blogs to help small business owners make money.

By Vinson Primas

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Why You Want To Leverage The Power Of Pissed Off People

Aristotle once wrote that to avoid criticism you must "say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." In other words, the only way not to get on the wrong side of those human beings crowded around you is to sit in a strong box and hope no one notices you.

In purely business terms we can change Aristotle's musing to define how to avoid being an entrepreneur: change nothing, challenge nothing, dare not to be different. After all you really don't want to piss off your customers, do you? You want to keep those regular sales coming in, don't you? You don't want to find a new solution to their problems... hell, it just might not work?

And if you're starting up a business, you want to do what everyone else is doing, don't you?

Dare to be different

Well, that depends whether you want a GREAT business or one that just plods along, meeting half-hearted targets, keeping its head above water... existing. Sure, you can turn round to your friends and say: Look, I'm still going, still making a bit of money here and there, still keeping the wolf from the door.

The true entrepreneur has a different mind-set. If you want to succeed in the competitive, dog eat dog world of today, you have to learn how to embrace innovation. The world of bright ideas. The world of problem solving. Your brilliant solution may well piss off half the world, but the other half are going to really love it.

Why you can't please all of the people

Select any global brand - Nike, MacDonald's, Apple or Microsoft. If you pick someone from a crowd of mall shoppers during the next Black Friday Sale and ask for their opinion, you're just as likely to find someone who likes one of these brands as hates them.

Why?

Each company stands for a set of clearly defined values that may or may not meet the expectations or agree with the person you are asking. Just as importantly, each business continues to innovate, to change and bring something new and exciting things to the table. Some people don't much like change whatever it is. Others aren't going to like the particular changes that are being made. Still more are probably going to love what's been done.

The success of any brand depends on it being true to its values. You cannot be all things to all people and if you have a defined set of values then, along the line, you are going to make part of the population cranky without even trying. If you run a fast food restaurant you aren't going to attract love letters and fan blogs from vegetarians who cannot eat anything that hasn't been grown organically, preferably in their own garden using compost developed from the decayed remains of their own lost hopes.

What we're saying is: Don't ever think that you are going to appeal to everyone from your next door neighbour to the King of Siam, because you're not. Make your brand bold and different, stay loyal to your values and walk quickly past those who would shout that what you are doing everything wrong.

Why pissed off people are actually good

When there's a problem, some people see a problem. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, see a possibility. Do you think the taxi app Uber would have come about if people were actually happy with the way they got a taxicab? It was created because someone listened to the pissed off people and decided to find a solution for their problem. Of course they were helped that Wi-Fi and smart phones had come along (otherwise they might have been using flares and smoke signals), but they knew the kind of thing they wanted to see and were prepared to develop it from the idea stage, right through to innovation and development.

If someone is pissed off, then there is a problem. If there are enough POPs, then you have an entrepreneurial opportunity.

Look Ma, I cured squeaky doors!

Not all Uber ideas lead to a marketable product or service. Ask any entrepreneur worth their salt and you'll find a long list of ideas that hit the fan at the speed of light and were never seen again. If any entrepreneur tells you their current business was a first idea you should sit back and wait for their nose to grow.

Entrepreneurs go through several stages before they get to the 'big one'.

� They have to find pissed off people with a problem that needs to be solved.

� They need to talk to as many POPs as possible to come up with a clear idea of the central problem.

� They need a lightbulb moment when they come up with a solution.

� They have to test said solution and make sure it works (in truth, this is where many a business idea hits the floor like a sack of potatoes in a chipping factory).

� They adjust and rethink but finally bring the true nature of the problem in line with the right solution - the product that their pissed off people are going to just love.

The problem any solution is that it may well then piss off the people who liked the status quo, those who didn't want things to change, who thought they could count on things staying the same until they went belly up and left this world.

First of all, these people are forever and always. If you invented a way to teleport to China in a millisecond you'd still find plenty of naysayers lauding the benefits of plane travel and weather delays. And if you invented a way for people to socialise and interact with each other online you'd still find other people who wonder what happened to the art of conversation. Secondly, you actually don't need them at all because there are going to be plenty enough people who really, really love your idea.

Entrepreneurs as truth seekers

That may make entrepreneurs sound like latter day prophets, but actually it's not that far from reality. They look at the truth of a problem, however big or small, and devise a solution that sets it right. The good ones do this by often stepping outside their comfort zone, pushing into areas which are not comfortable. As Captain Kirk put it: Boldly going where no man has been before.

There will be brick walls to run into, there will people who laugh and scorn as you happily drop into the commercial abyss with a product they can't see the point of and there will be times when you wonder if you shouldn't give up the entrepreneurial life for something more sedate.

But then there will be times when you solve that damn problem, see the light of hope in your customers eyes, and may even be those few times of pure gold when your solution catches on and changes the world you live in.

Stay true to your values, dear entrepreneur. Who else is there to help assuage the anger of your average consumer?

Most startups struggle and fail. Valery specializes in the success of fast growing startup businesses. She helps startup entrepreneurs get, keep and grow customers and excite investors. Startup entrepreneurs and founders. avoid the big and costly mistakes that derail a lot of startups, even those with great ideas. For more information please visit http://www.NailMyStartup.com

By Valery Satterwhite

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

8 Steps To Grow Your Small Business

Here's the reality. As a small business you know you are limited terms in terms of resources; undisciplined pursuit of growth will squander your time and money with little to show for your efforts.

Don't go there.

Here is my 8-step BE DIFFERENT process to grow your business...

1. Set the context for growth by renewing your business strategy. Growth should be a function of what overall direction you want to follow; it should never be pursued by tactics or by chasing possibilities. Chasing will keep you busy but will not feed disciplined growth.

2. Look to organically grow your business as opposed to pursuing more risky strategies such as acquisitions and strategic partnerships. Earn the right to take on more risk by doing your business fundamentals well.

3. Have a specific growth target and make it about top line revenue. Forget about trend line analysis to set your targets. Declare your intent and be OK with not knowing how to get there. Use "I don't know" to drive innovation and creativity.

4. Establish a short term planning horizon of not more than 24 months. Sustained growth requires an intense focus on execution; consider your plan to be 24 periods of 30 days to be able to successfully respond to unforeseen market events.

5. Be clear on WHO you intend to target to achieve your growth goal. The customers you intend to serve must have the latent potential to deliver your revenue goal. Organic growth is best achieved through the loyal customers you currently serve. Focus on THEM. Trust that with the right value proposition they will do more business with you and "sneeze" you to others.
Beware of "new customer acquisition" strategies. They are expensive in terms of marketing effort and don't guarantee more loyal customers.

6. Choose a few critical objectives that will give you an 80% chance of hitting your revenue target. Avoid brainstorming as the way of setting priorities; if an action cannot be directly aligned with generating revenue from your loyal customer base, don't chase it!

7. Eliminate the CRAP that isn't directly related to achieving your growth strategy. Projects and activities that may have been relevant in some other scenario but not now need to be abandoned in order to make room for the new things that must be done. Stand-out leaders are effective at not only taking on new stuff, but also at stopping the activity no longer needed to fuel revenue growth.

8. Measure progress every month. Set revenue objectives for each month of your 24-month plan and monitor your success rate. Take action on any shortfalls you experience. Tweak your strategy as you learn from execution success and failure.

Business growth doesn't happen by serendipity; rather it's the result of discipline and perseverance.

And it doesn't happen overnight; it is the cumulative result of effort applied over time.

There is no easy way to grow. It's hard and often painful.

Are you up for it?

NEVER has it been more important to carve out a distinctive and unique place for your organization (and yourself) in the market than it is today. If you're not different you're dead (or soon will be).

Visit Roy's site http://www.bedifferentorbedead.com for tools that will help you on your journey to BE DiFFERENT. Learn more about his BE DiFFERENT OR BE DEAD book Series, subscribe to his Blog and take the BE DiFFERENT Quiz to find out if you're different (or dead).

By Roy Osing

Monday, January 4, 2016

How To Manage Multiple Email Marketing Campaigns

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sales Skills For Small Business Owners

Selling is a very important aspect of any business and although many small business owners don't like to consider themselves as 'sales people' per se in reality small business owners are actually key sales people who know their business and product or service offering better than anyone else in most instances. Let's identify what some key sales skills are and discuss how they can be further developed.

In a nutshell the key 'must have' sales skills include:

  • Confidence
  • Relationship building skills
  • Listening
  • Persuasion
  • Product / service knowledge

Most of the skills listed above will be familiar to you, but I bet you are wondering, how can I apply this and learn to become a better sales person? The key is to identify any gaps you have in the skills outlined above and then develop your skills in these areas. It's also important to understand what makes for a more natural sell which is centred around confidence. The truth is we all dislike the hard sell and pushy sales people so it's about striking a balance, you want to be described as 'confident' and avoid being perceived as arrogant. So how does one achieve this?

Know your product or service

This is fundamental to your success. If you don't know your product or service you won't feel comfortable talking about it. If you need to develop your product knowledge, look for resources to help you do this, be it sales training, product or sales manuals, brochures and other materials, senior staff or technical staff with deep product or service knowledge.

Speak naturally

Speak naturally about what you do and the services you offer, a prospect that is interested in your offering is more likely to ask you questions and engage in a conversation with you about your offering. Sharing knowledge will help you build a relationship with a potential prospect.

Relationships develop leads better than any other form of lead generation. Word of mouth and relationships drive sales better than any other lead generation technique, even in today's digital world! Think about your network and whether or not you are leveraging the opportunities that are being presented to you.

Believe in what you are selling

Passion and a genuine belief in your product or service will get more sales flowing.

Be clear, concise and articulate the benefits of your product or services to prospective customers or clients. Remember the golden rule. People are focused on what's in it for them. Make sure you keep the customer and their needs at the centre of your conversation and explain how your product or service can benefit them.

Actively listen to your prospects / customers

Each one is different with unique requirements. Listen to any concerns or objections they have so that you can respond to these effectively. Be mindful not to interrupt when they are trying to express a concern.

Be patient

Be patient with your customers and be aware of body language and social cues. This applies to your own body language and tone of voice and that of your customers. It will help you to gauge interest/disinterest and read the situation, allowing you to know when it's time to speak, seek clarification and when it's necessary to listen or repeat what has been said to reinforce that you have been listening!

Sales is a complex subject area. I'd love to hear about any first hand sales experiences or tips you may have from your own sales history. What were some of the things that helped you close a sale? Is your network the main source of sales leads for your business? What are some of the areas within the sales process that you find difficult?

Effie Cinanni is a Certified Practising Marketer and Director of Small Chilli Marketing, a boutique small business consulting practice located in Melbourne, Victoria. Small Chilli Marketing specialises in sales and marketing services for Small to Medium Sized Enterprises. For further sales and marketing tips visit http://www.smallchillimarketing.com.au or subscribe to the Small Chilli blog http://smallchillimarketing.com.au/blog/

By Effie Cinanni