Inbound Lead Generation
While it certainly can’t be called ‘innovative’ at this point, an inbound lead generation model is highly efficient. If you haven’t already, your business needs to create a web presence that allows you to attract visitors and capture the names and email addresses of those interested in your products or services — even if it’s as simple as a “Contact Us” form or newsletter subscription.
If you’re used to pursuing customers, the beauty of an inbound lead generation model is that customers come to you. There’s no cold-calling, cold emailing, or even much advertising involved for most inbound campaigns. The key with inbound lead gen is the opt-in: everyone you speak with has indicated their interest and given permission for a follow-up. Talk about a time saver.
Closely related to inbound lead generation, content marketing uses articles, videos, info-graphics, or other content that fulfills the educational needs of your buyers. For example, a landscaping business might create content about caring for popular plants and companion planting. An accounting firm might create videos about tax reporting and compliance.
Content marketing accomplishes two things:
After prospects discover and visit your site through content, and once they’ve given their name and email address, you can start sending marketing emails, assuming they opted in. You did ask on your form, right?
The rise of marketing automation software means that most if not all of the email marketing process can be automated, and at a relatively low price per lead (see the infographic linked below for more information). Of course, no one likes getting spam mail, so make sure you send relevant content at the right stage of the buying process. Our email marketing research has shown that 43 percent of subscribers want fewer emails, and 48 percent want the content to be more informative.
Video content is the future of the Internet. According to YouTube, hundreds of millions of hours of content are consumed each day, and that’s just on their platform. Creating good video content can net your business lots of new customers. Just ask Mirabeau Wines, whose video on how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew has seen over 10 million views and helped catapult their brand from obscurity to internet marketing legend. While this particular video isn’t technically a lead generation play, Mirabeau could have used a call-to-action directing viewers to sign-up for a newsletter, visit an about page, or some other conversion tool.
Direct Mail/Print Marketing
Direct mail is an established marketing play that many small businesses forget about, but shouldn’t. Unlike the 80s and 90s, when the Internet was new, email accounts are now overflowing with spam, and cutting through all the noise can be a challenge. Traditional mail has dropped significantly in volume as companies move towards digital communication channels (click to tweet), which means there’s less competition in the traditional mailbox than there used to be.
Despite the cost, direct mail is an underutilized and highly effective way to market. You can either provide the prospect with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to reply, or if you want to connect your direct mail campaign with your digital campaigns, the URL to a unique landing page (e.g. free industry tool, free e-book, subscription opt-in). Take, for example, the Content Marketing Institute, which publishes and distributes a bi-monthly print newsletter called Chief Content Officer. Founder Joe Pulizzi explains why: “The printed word is still perceived as more credible than anything on the web. . . If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.”
Lots of businesses, big and small, use events to generate leads. B2B conferences have long been a place to form close connections and make deals.Micro-events, however, are underutilized. Micro-events are basically small, exclusive networking opportunities surrounding or within larger events.
Can’t afford a $2,000 ticket to a B2B conference? Host a small, off-site event in the evening after the exposition and keynotes have finished. Maybe even use direct mail to invite a small, select group, keeping costs down and the exclusivity factor up, which means you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on the best business opportunities. If you convert leads from micro-events at a higher percentage than other channels, it will be worth the investment.
Account-based marketing (ABM) rising in popularity among businesses of every size. Instead of a traditional or inbound lead generation model that relies on a reductive approach — the old funnel model — the account-based marketing approach is additive. Once you capture information about a prospect at a particular business, you work to capture the information and attention of other decision-makers at the same company.
With ABM, you target the entire account as a market of one. Since you’re customizing your communications for individual companies (or even individuals themselves), you can run any number of the previously described strategies more efficiently. Just as with micro-events, an ABM lead generation strategy allows you to focus more of your time on those opportunities which best fit your business, hopefully resulting in more conversions and higher ROI.
On Becoming An Entrepreneur
Always Encourage Innovation Within Your Company
Small business owners and entrepreneurs should get their brains in shape just like professional athletes mold their bodies into lean mean performance machines. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, likened the human brain to a saw. He said we need to continually sharpen that saw in order to get the best performance out of it day after day.
The best way I know to keep my brain healthy is by reading. So, I’ve provided a list of my top favorite books every small business owner should read.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Summary Stephen Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, realizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness, so this book is a manual for performing better in both arenas. His anecdotes are as frequently from family situations as from business challenges.
Biggest Takeaway My biggest takeaway from Covey’s timeless masterpiece is the concept of beginning with the end in mind. My mind is very formulaic. I need structure to what I do, to everything I create.
Learning to Begin with the end in mind for every project I take on as a small business owner has helped me get started on projects with which I was previously paralyzed by doubt. Now that I can visualize what the outcome should look like, it’s empowering me to dream bigger and act on those dreams.
Favorite Quote “Begin with the end in mind.”
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
SummaryRich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads—his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad—and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.
Biggest Takeaway The most important thing I learned from this book that I still use today is the concept of the “Three Piggybanks”. Kiyosaki stresses the importance of putting all money you make (aside from what you need to pay the bills) into three categories:
This is absolutely one of the best business books to read for anyone who wants to work smarter, not harder.
Favorite Quote“Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
Speak and Get Results
Author: Sandy Linver
Summary We’ve all known the “naturals”– people who can get up to speak in any business situation and make something happen. They get the budget approved, win the big account, get the group’s support at the weekly staff meeting. When the “naturals” finish speaking people believe– and act. Now fully revised and updated, “Speak and Get Results” helps you to be a natural– helps you to get the results you want.
Biggest Takeaway I’m big on systems and processes. Maybe it’s my German heritage. You know, engineering and efficiencies. Linver does a superb job breaking down the science of designing a speech or presentation that will get your audience to take exactly the actions you want them to take when you’re through.
There’s an actual formula for this in the book that every small business owner can use as a template for your next sales meeting, client proposal, or whatever you’re talking about where you want actionable results to occur in your company. In my opinion, this is one of the best books on business speaking available.
Favorite Quote “Your primary task is to direct your listeners’ change so it leads them to the result you want.”
Author: Gary Vaynerchuk
Summary Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. In CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.
Biggest Takeaway The biggest thing I took away from this book is how crucial it is for every small business owner to create a personal brand. People buy from people, not companies. Gary goes into great detail explaining the why and the how of creating irresistible personal brands. This is by far one of the best books for business owners who want to translate their offline sales into online sales.
Favorite Quote “It’s never a bad time to start a business unless you’re starting a mediocre business.”
Author: Chris Ducker
Summary Entrepreneurs often suffer from ”superhero syndrome”—the misconception that to be successful, they must do everything themselves. Not only are they the boss, but also the salesperson, HR manager, copywriter, operations manager, online marketing guru, and so much more. It’s no wonder why so many people give up the dream of starting a business—it’s just too much for one person to handle. But outsourcing expert and ”Virtual CEO,” Chris Ducker knows how you can get the help you need with resources you can afford. Small business owners, consultants, and online entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone when they discover the power of building teams of virtual employees to help run, support, and grow their businesses.
Biggest Takeaway This is an awesome read for any small business owner or entrepreneur who needs an assistant, whether in-house or virtual. I just hired my first assistant, much to the celebration of my staff. Before I did, though, I put Ducker’s 3-step exercise into practice. Going through it helped me identify:
Favorite Quote“you’ll have access to the most powerful asset any entrepreneur can wish for – more time.”
Authors: Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles
Summary “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.”
Biggest Takeaway My favorite thing about this book is that it is immediately actionable. After a couple of chapters, I realized that I had been way over-thinking how I could improve my own agency’s customer service.
Just like so many profound concepts in life, this book showed me that it’s really quite simple to create raving fans out of my own clients. You, as a small business owner, only have to put yourself in their shoes to gain the necessary perspective to make the right adjustments in your own company.This is definitively one of the all time best books on business customer service out there.
Favorite Quote“Every day I go to a different store and pump gas for at least an hour to listen to customers.”
Built to Last
Authors: Jim Collins & Jerry Porras
Summary Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?”
Biggest Takeaway Collins uses wonderful examples throughout this book of companies who are doing things the right way and the wrong way. Very well known companies, I might add. What dawned on me very early on in reading it is that there’s no need for me, as a small business owner, to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building my own successful company. If I just identify the best traits of larger successful companies, I can apply them to my own business, minus the mistakes of the companies who didn’t make the grade.
Favorite Quote“Every day I go to a different store and pump gas for at least an hour to listen to customers.”
Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Spencer Johnson
Summary With Who Moved My Cheese? Dr. Spencer Johnson realizes the need for finding the language and tools to deal with change–an issue that makes all of us nervous and uncomfortable. Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.
Biggest Takeaway What I walked away with from this book was a renewed sense of reality. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of everyday work problems. Steve Jobs didn’t create the personal computing experience and then go on to revolutionize the way we listen to music and communicate with each other by just settling for the status quo. He embraced change and all the power that comes with it, just as this book teaches. Greatness begins when you challenge what is acceptable by the average Joe and push for meaningful change.
Favorite Quote“Life moves on and so should we”
The 4-Hour Workweek
Author: Timothy Ferriss
Summary Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.
Biggest Takeaway Tim Ferriss is a giant in his own right. But if you listen to his podcast (yes, he’s got one, too), he says quite often that he’s just an ordinary guy who’s
figured out how to be ultra effective in what he does.
What I take away from this book is hope that I can be more effective and efficient in just about any aspect of my life. Tim also helped me see that the systems and processes I create as a small business owner for one company can translate well into other companies I create.
Favorite Quote “The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” but “What would excite me?”
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
Author: John C. Maxwell
Summary What would happen if a top expert with more than thirty years of leadership experience were willing to distill everything he had learned about leadership into a handful of life-changing principles just for you? It would change your life. John C. Maxwell has combined insights learned from his thirty-plus years of leadership successes and mistakes with observations from the worlds of business, politics, sports, religion, and military conflict. The result is a revealing study of leadership delivered as only a communicator like Maxwell can.
Biggest Takeaway This book acted as a checklist for my leadership skills when I first read it. The format provides an easy means for skipping around to what you think you might need to work on most in your life right now as a small business owner.
Favorite Quote “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”
A friend had been talking about starting a business for at least six months. Whenever I saw him, that's all he talked about. Eventually, I got tired of it. "What are you waiting for?" I finally asked. It turns out, he thought the process of starting a business was extremely complicated. "I don't want to go through all that stuff," he said, "unless I'm absolutely sure my idea is perfect." Like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs, he was stalling because he was intimidated by the apparent complexity of the administrative and legal tasks involved in starting a business. So I bet him lunch that we could take care of all that in less than three hours.
The goal is to get off square one and get on to the fun stuff.
Get over the company-name thing.
Many people agonize endlessly over dreaming up the perfect company name. Don't. If you're waiting until you come up with the perfect name, you're also waiting to start making money.
Instead, at least for now, forget branding and unique selling propositions and all the business-identity stuff. And don't worry about finding the perfect URL or website design or promotional literature. You're putting those carts way before your business horse, too.
Just pick a name so you can get the administrative ball rolling.
Remember, your business can operate under a different name than your company name. (A "doing business as" form takes minutes to complete.) And you can change your company name later, if you like.
Get your Employer Identification number (EIN).
An EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business. You don't need an EIN unless you will have employees or plan to form a partnership, LLC, or corporation.
But even if you don't need an EIN, get one anyway: It's free, takes minutes, and you can keep your Social Security number private and reduce the chance of identity theft, because if you don't have an EIN, your SSN identifies your business for tax purposes.
Note: If you're using an online legal service to set up an LLC or corporation, don't use it to get your EIN. Instead, apply online at the IRS website. You'll have your EIN in minutes.
Now it's time to head to your locality's administrative offices.
Register your trade name.
If you won't operate under your own name, your locality may require you to register a trade name. In most cases, you'll get approved on the spot.
Get your business license.
Your county or city will require a business license. The form takes minutes to fill out. Use your EIN instead of your Social Security number to identify your business (for privacy reasons if nothing else).
You may be asked to estimate annual gross receipts. Do your best to estimate accurately, but don't agonize over it. You're just providing an estimate.
Complete a business personal-property tax form (if necessary).
Businesses are taxed on "personal" property, just like individuals. Where I live, no form is required for the year the business is established.
If you are required to file a business personal-property tax form and you plan to work from home using computers, tools, etc., that you already own, you won't need to list those items.
If you purchase tangible personal property during your first year in business, you will list those items when you file your business personal-property tax form the following year.
Ask your locality about other permits.
Every locality has different requirements. In my area, for example, a "home occupation permit" is required to verify that a business based in a home meets zoning requirements.
Your locality may require other permits. Ask. They'll tell you.
Get a certificate of resale (if necessary).
A certificate of resale, also known as a seller's permit, allows you to collect state sales tax on products sold. (There is no sales tax on services.)
If you will sell products, you need a seller's permit. Your state department of taxation's website has complete details, forms, etc., if you decide to apply online, but most localities have forms you can complete while you're at their administrative offices.
Get a business bank account.
One of the easiest ways to screw up your business accounting and possibly run afoul of the IRS is to commingle personal and business funds (and transactions). Using a business account for all business transactions eliminates that possibility.
Get a business account using your business name and EIN, and only use that account for all business-related deposits, withdrawals, and transactions.
Pick a bank or credit union that is convenient. Check out your local credit unions; often they provide better deals than banks.
Set up a simple accounting spreadsheet.
Worry about business accounting software like QuickBooks later. For now, just create a spreadsheet on which you can enter money you spend and money you receive.
Bookkeeping is simple, at least at first. All you need are Revenue and Expenses columns; you can add line items as you go.
Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories, and creating fancy reports with no data, spend that time generating revenue. As long as you record everything you do now, creating a more formal system later will be fairly easy. It will also be more fun, because then you'll have real data to enter.
And now you're an entrepreneur, with all the documents to prove it.
Who knew remote-controlled flying devices would create such a stir? According to Inc. Magazine it’s an estimated $3.3 billion dollar market that’s expected to grow 5.8 percent annually. Its uses span humanitarian relief to military surveillance to scientific research to freight delivery to recreational fun. It’s created thousands of IT jobs and its only deterrent is the FAA’s regulations on its commercial use, which are still being finalized. These high-flying devices are on their way to becoming a norm.
This has become a huge market with more and more businesses incorporating it into their corporate culture. Gym memberships, onsite yoga, stress management and even quit smoking programs are a few examples of what companies are including in their wellness plans. This attention to workers’ health is having huge payoffs. Companies save billions of dollars in healthcare expenses while seeing significant jumps in productivity and employee retention.
Sustainability and eco-friendly products are the wave of the future. This is particularly true in the housing and construction industries. Consumers are clamoring for environmentally-friendly, energy efficient materials, fixtures, and designs. This awareness also applies to food manufacturing, packaging, and preparation.
Who isn’t worried about identity theft, computer hacking, and online security breaches? With more and more of us using Cloud-based technology, this has become a huge industry. It applies to commercial industries, governments, and individuals. It does require high-end IT talent to keep up with the fraudsters, but the on-going demand balances the investment.
Although legal in only four states and the District of Columbia, recreational marijuana is currently a $5.7 billion-dollar industry. Legislation regulating the industry is still being hammered out in most of these locations, but that isn’t slowing down its growth. Edibles, paraphernalia, and plain old weed are hot commodities. The industry has trade shows, street fairs, and even food trucks. It’s an industry that thrives on quality, ingenuity, and creativity. It’s a far cry from the pot of the 1960’s.
This is industry includes food delivery services ranging from Amazon Fresh to Blue Apron to Munchery. The message? We’re too busy to shop, meal plan, and/or cook. This has spawned a plethora of businesses offering to do it for us. Successful businesses factor in food sustainability, dietary variety, smart phone applications, delivery methods, online payments, and personalized list-making. Of all the growing small business industries, this one demonstrates how receptive consumers are to outsourcing domestic tasks.
This translates into virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies. To 3-D interactive training scenarios to self-driving cars, these are the wave of the future. They’re so new it’s hard to delineate how far-reaching they’ll be. Experts agree they will redefine our world making everyday tasks easier and requiring less human interaction. The jury’s still out on whether this will be a positive or negative. In the meantime, it’s a new and exciting frontier.
Did your industry make the cut? If you answer yes, great! How can you keep ahead of the curve? What can you incorporate from these other industries to make your business even more effective? Sustainability? Fraud proofing? Employee well-being?
Regardless of whether your industry is or is not on this list, the key here is what this list and these industries indicate about the business environment in 2017. Study it, reflect on it, use it.
A small business owner is an individual who manages his own organization. These entrepreneurs can be found within all industries, including retail, entertainment, financial services and law. A formal educational background is not required to become a successful small business owner. What is needed however is a good idea, a solid business plan and startup capital. Due to the variety of organizations that make up this sector, the average income of small business owners varies widely, depending upon level of experience, location of employment and gender.
Average Income by Experience
According to compensation survey administrator PayScale in 2010, the average income of small business owners varies widely depending upon their level of experience. For example, small business owners with less than one year of experience in running an organization earn an annual salary ranging from $34,392 to $75,076. Those with more than 10 years experience, on the other hand, earn upwards of $105,757 per year.
Average Income by Gender
The average income of small business owners is also affected by gender. Males earn a median annual salary that far surpassed their female counterparts. Payscale’s report indicated that men who own small businesses earn a salary that ranges from $42,575 to $96,111. Women, on the other hand, only earn $31,380 to $71,140 every year.
Average Income by Industry
The industry in which a small business operates also affects the average income of his owner. Some industries pay far more than others. For example, entrepreneurs who owned electrical contracting businesses make salaries that range from $49,910 to $114,000 each year. Child care providers, in contrast, make anywhere between $19,792 and $61,674 annually.
Average Income by Special Skill
Although a small business owner overseas is entire operation, it is not uncommon for him to have a specific skill set. For example, the owner of a financial services recruiting firm may have started his career as a tax accountant. The possession of special skills can affect an entrepreneur’s average income. Those with accounting skills, for instance, earn an average annual salary ranging from $38,884 to $81,313, while individuals with sales management experience earning income ranging from $45,000 to $104,762.
Average Income by Region
The region in which a small business is located also affects the average income of its owners. A report issued by PayScale indicated that entrepreneurs employed on the coasts earn more than their counterparts in the South and Midwest. Entrepreneurs in New York, for example, earned a median yearly salary upwards of $125,185, while those in Georgia top out at $75,500.
These mistakes are common to many entrepreneurs:
Getting wedded to an idea and sticking with it too long. Don't marry a single idea. Remember, ideas are the currency of entrepreneurs. Play with many ideas and see which ones bring money and success.
Trying to be something other than an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs. You'll give yourself a hernia if you try to act like other people. Your difference is your strength.
Believing your own B.S. Entrepreneurs are genetically wired to be optimistic. Just don't believe everything you say to others...
Ignoring your cash position. The world (aka customers) doesn't respond to even superior products in the timeframe that you think they should. You'll need plenty of cash to sustain yourself in the meantime.
Attracting weak staff members. Not that many great employees will put up with a mercurial or childish/immature entrepreneur. If you're attracting weak people, you'll need to mature as a human being.
Confusing possibility with reality. The successful entrepreneur lives in a world of possibility but spends money in the world of reality.
Selling too hard. If you find yourself selling an idea or product too hard to too many people, perhaps it's time to listen to why they are not buying and learn from that vs. trying to become a better salesperson.
Not setting up support structures. Hire people and services to handle many of your business and personal needs. Most entrepreneurs do better when they are fully supported, even if transparently. Be responsible enough to arrange this.
Over-delegating. Many entrepreneurs over delegate tasks and accountability to others, aka dumping. Better to learn the skill of responsibility and completely turn over a task or project than assuming/hoping/needing others to come up to speed quickly enough on their own. Most people cannot.
Giving up. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed several times before doing extremely well. So, if you're failing, fail. And fail fast. And learn. And try again, with this new wisdom. Do NOT give up. Yet, do not suffer, either.
If your business isn’t making the money you expect, there's a good chance that you haven’t quite hit on a money-making niche. You’ve probably identified a targeted group of potential customers but you may not have identified a targeted group of customers who are spending money for what you’re offering.
Today, I’m going to give you a practical primer on finding a market niche. You’re going to read some of the items on this list and think that they won’t work or apply to you, but don't be so quick to dismiss them. These tips apply to everyone, in every industry. That said...
Everyone is not your ideal customer
It’s counter intuitive to think that by focusing on a smaller market you will actually make more money, but it’s true. Real money is found in targeting and identifying a market niche found inside the intersection of wants, trends and frustrations. The biggest mistake most business owners make is stopping their search for a niche too soon.
After you’ve selected a particular demographic, look at what they want. Wants are emotional desires. Wants are the reason behind the product. They go far beyond the basic benefits. For example, women who have recently gotten divorced want to feel whole again. They may be attracted to a variety of different products such as weight loss or coaching. They aren’t really buying the product; they are buying how they want to feel.
Trends are another important aspect of finding a niche. You’re looking for ideas, behaviors and products that are trending up and growing in popularity. Mobile devices are a trend. Social media is a trend. Reality TV is a trend. If you’re at a loss, just head out to a neighborhood sporting event and watch kids and families interact. What are they talking about, what products are they using? Again, don’t differentiate between B2B and consumer because these lines are fairly blurred these days.
Finally we head to the most powerful buying trigger: frustration. Frustration is a function of the frequency, intensity and duration of a circumstance or event that just irritates your customer to the point of distraction. To put these into perspective take out a piece of paper. On the top put a picture of a person that represents your target market. Draw three intersecting circles and label them wants, trends and frustrations. Then inside each circle draw icons that represent each of those elements for your audience. This will activate your brain to think differently and connect with that audience.
Use a marketer’s mindset
The first thing you will have to do is stop looking at your product or service like a consumer, and start looking at it as a marketer. Consumers get snared and engrossed by the message and don’t see beyond the purchase. Marketers are focused on understanding customers’ needs, wants and deeper desires and then delivering on those in the form of an offer. Focus on your ideal client and explore how your product or service will help them achieve those deep desires and wants. Don’t snicker. If your product is technical or industrial, remember that B2B customers are people too. Explore what your project means to them, will it help them get a promotion, be a hero, invent or develop something new? Think bigger and beyond the tangible.
Follow the money
It’s standard marketing practice to look for an empty space and fill it. But this isn’t always appropriate for every product or service. Notice car dealerships, retailers and even food trucks are most successful when they go to a place where there are lots of people already spending money. At that point, they don’t have to find an audience; they only have to stand out and attract those people who are most attracted to their offer.
Another terrific guerrilla strategy for following the money is to find everyone in that space and do an analysis of how successful they are, who they are attracting and how they are succeeding at attracting people who spend money. Notice the advertising, the headlines and the offers. Critically examine their marketing messages and the customers that are attracted to them. What is it about those messages that pull customers in?
Explore and implement a money-making model
Running your business in reactive mode eats into your profit margins. Simply making, selling and delivering a product or service isn’t enough to keep your head above water. You need to create a money-making model that attracts and moves the most profitable customers through your pipeline. Online marketers have really perfected money-making models. They’ve carefully crafted landing pages that attract specific markets, they give tons of free educational information and they’ve turned the upsell into an art. Make the time to explore and evaluate online marketing offers and then adapt those practices to your business.
Look around you
Notice that there is a persistent conversation about how bad the economy is and how there are no opportunities out there. Then acknowledge the conversation, and start looking around at the businesses that are successful. There are many, many businesses out there that are outrageously successful. If they are successful and making money, you have that opportunity as well. Take a critical marketer's look at your business and use these tips to further define your niche and develop a model that gives this audience exactly what they want and desire. You will not only build profitable sales, but you will also bring joy and satisfaction to your customers.
This Segment Is Dedicated To Two Exceptionally Bright Future Entrepreneurs: Logan & Ryan Northville MI
The world needs new entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create jobs, lift the standard of living, usher new technology into society, and keep competition alive in the marketplace. Starting a business is difficult, and it’s crucial that the next generation has as much ammunition as possible. We are all relying on you to carry on the proud tradition of innovation.
If I could go back and give my 18 to 20 something self a bit of advice about starting out as an entrepreneur, these are the tips I’d start with:
Perseverance/Passion. Throughout the entrepreneurial journey you will at times fail. That is part of the game. Your failures are most likely to lead to success if you get involved with something you believe in. Starting a business just for its own sake will leave you directionless, burned out and ultimately, back where you started. Choose an interest that you can be passionate about. Marrying charity to traditional business models may be a great way to combine the things you – and potential consumers – care most about.
Define your market. You’ve heard this before. It’s one of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make. Go with something that makes sense for your scope. If you’re a small startup and still a student, staying local or targeting fellow students might be the best direction. The Internet gives us almost infinite reach, but it’s vital to narrow your market down to what is realistic, and stick with those who have a reason to be interested.
Price point. Risk taking is important in any new business venture, provided that it is sensible. Consider providing your product or service at the most basic level possible (also called minimum viable product). A small investment up front can hook new customers/donations before risking more money. Your target defines the ideal price. Survey your defined market and adjust accordingly. You can always reevaluate your prices as you grow.
Be honest. This advice applies to yourself, your employees and your customers. Be honest about what you can commit to your business. It doesn’t do any good to over-extend yourself when in truth; you don’t have the cash or the hours to commit to a project. Be honest about what your partners can expect from, and what you expect in return. And be honest with clients.
Utilize, but don’t over-use, social media. Young people are always eager to jump online, and that’s not a bad thing. But it is important to think carefully before plastering marketing materials on the Internet. Social media is obviously a powerful tool. Focusing it on your business can get word out quickly and cheaply. That said, be careful not to put all of your eggs in the online basket. Experiment and measure results, then constantly evaluate and decide what is working, and what you are wasting resources on.
Don’t forget PR. Traditional and online press relations can yield coverage that has longer shelf life and costs less than advertising. Think about what makes your product new, interesting, and relevant. Then, talk to the media about it. You might get great reviews, mentions on blogs, or even appear on news segments. Many media outlets have sections dedicated to people in the community doing outstanding things. Even an article in your local/campus newspaper can be a valuable source of publicity.
Look for mentors. The beginning of any venture can be exhilarating, frustrating, liberating and terrifying all at once. Remember, although younger generations can be more tech-savvy than those who have been in business for years, there are still basic principles that are refined by experience. Many communities offer networking opportunities for entrepreneurs young and old. Take advantage of this, and you may be surprised at the wealth of knowledge your colleagues have to offer.
These tips won’t earn you certain success, but every bit of knowledge you can gather before you begin your entrepreneurial career can help you avoid serious mistakes.
Measure Your Business's Health with These Financial Ratios
Large companies use defined financial ratios to analyze the health of the organization. There are dozens of established ratios that test a variety of financial domains, including the ability to pay debt, secure stockholder funding and expand services.
Not all ratios are used by every company. Small business owners should use the following ratios that help manage day-to-day activities while still keeping an eye on growth:
This metric derives its name from the speed in which you can get out of your business. The quick ratio is cash, accounts receivable and other assets that can be quickly realized divided by your total current liabilities. This ratio tells you whether or not you can cover your debt without tapping into your inventory. It looks at a point in time for your business and determines if it is healthy at that point.
If your assets are greater than your liabilities, the quick ratio will be greater than one. Decimal ratios show that your business needs a fast infusion of cash to be strong. You may consider cashing out long-term income from things like structured settlements and annuity payments using J.G. Wentworth. If your quick ratio is more than two, this means that you have twice the capital that you need and should think about expanding your business.
The second ratio of the financial triumvirate measures the income from operations divided by the net sales. The operating income is the profit after deducting variable costs of production or service delivery. If this ratio is equal to one, then there is no cost for doing business and all of the income from sales is profit. On the other hand, if the ratio approaches zero, all of the income from sales is eaten up by producing the item. Somewhere is the middle of these two extremes is a good profit margin. This ratio only looks at operating costs and before-tax sales. It does not take into consideration after-tax effects or cash assets.
There are other profitability ratios that are more robust in their analysis and work better for larger companies, but for a small business, the operating margin ratio tells you everything you need to know about your profit. Since entrepreneurial ventures are often closely linked to the owner’s net worth, things like tax bases and fixed expenses do not fit into the mix. When we drop the kids off at school, go see a client, then come home to the office, it is useless to separate out these expenses as fixed costs. The operating margin lets us ignore these and focus only on the profitability for one service or product.
Cash Flow to Debt
Many new businesses have failed because they did not analyze their cash flow. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration cites under funding and poor cash flow as one of the main reasons a new business fails. This coverage ratio is your net income plus depreciation divided by total debt, and it is considered the best predictor of business failure. A number less than one means you cannot cover your bills without securing additional funds. A ratio greater than one but less than two is good, and anything high shows that you have surplus capital and you should start looking at investing or expanding.
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