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Small Business

 

How To Create A Small Business Marketing Strategy That Will Triple Your Profits This Year

What does a small business marketing strategy mean to you? Some people automatically think in terms of their company’s long-term goals. When they start their small business, they create a long-term business plan, including a marketing strategy, that will help them develop their company over time.

small business marketing strategy

Copyright 2006 Vision Business Concepts Inc

What does a small business marketing strategy mean to you? Some people automatically think in terms of their company’s long-term goals. When they start their small business, they create a long-term business plan, including a marketing strategy, that will help them develop their company over time. Others think of a small business marketing strategy as a single campaign. They create a marketing campaign for one product or service they offer, and create a series of marketing tools that will help them sell that product or service.

While both may technically be correct, there is a distinct difference between the two. One creates a stream of income for a short period of time (typically a few weeks to a few months), while the other ensures you have a stream of income coming in on a regular basis.

In order to ensure an effective small business marketing strategy, you must have three things in place.

1. Multiple marketing tools in place. Every day a person is marketed to 60-100 times. You see banners on the sides of busses, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and coupons in your mailbox. It’s easy to see why marketing tends to become almost non-existent in our minds.

But the thing that a good marketer realizes is that he has to use different marketing tools to reach different target audiences. Everyone has a different attention span. Everyone is searching for different products and services at different times. A good small business marketing strategy has multiple tools in place to capture a prospects attention when he or she is ready for our product or service.

The key is to knowing who your ideal clients are. The more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to reach them in a manner that’s best for them. Good marketing tools are:

* direct mail postcards

* direct mail letters

* advertisements in magazines

* advertisements in newspapers

* neighborhood postcard packs

* door hangers

* flyers

* brochures

* promotional products

* tradeshows

* billboards

* bus stops

* school buses

* regional transportation systems

* sponsorship of school athletics

* and much more

An ideal small business marketing strategy will encompass many of these types of tools, and have campaigns set up using select tools at different times throughout the year.

2. Use those marketing tools over long periods of time. Once you have your marketing tools in place, continue to use them again and again. Probably the biggest mistake a small business owner makes is to grow tired of his own marketing campaign, and abandoning it before it’s realized its full potential.

The average campaign takes a person 8 – 12 times of viewing the same material to recognize the information and take action. If you quit running a campaign before you reach the 8 – 12 times average, you won’t achieve your desired results.

An ideal small business marketing strategy will provide goals to seek out longevity in marketing campaigns. While nuances of a campaign can change (i.e. changing ad advertisement to showcase seasonal products) the structure of the campaign should always remain the same.

3. Use those marketing tools in many different places. Your prospects come from a variety of different sources, and have a variety of different interests. Mailing your brochure out to prospects is a great way of marketing; but you may also do well by placing your brochure in offices of complimentary businesses. Advertisements may work well in your local newspaper; but they may do just as well in an industry trade publication. Direct mail postcards may inspire a lot of people to pick up the phone and call you; but it may motivate more people to visit your website.

Creating a handful of tools to use in your campaigns provides you with the resources. Getting those tools into the hands of your prospects is what requires a plan.

An ideal small business marketing strategy will be a long-term plan that involves creating marketing tools, putting them into the appropriate places, and leaving them in place long enough to let them work.

 

The Worst Small Business Financing Strategy Ever?

If you are a small business owner, or considering becoming one, then you will be interested in learning how to avoid cash flow suicide brought on by a poor business financing strategy.

business financing strategy

The Worst Small Business Financing Strategy Ever?

Depending on whose stats you pay attention to, approximately 80% of small businesses fail within their first 5 years of operation.

In many cases, its not that a particular business could not succeed; there just wasn't sufficient time to figure out how to succeed.

Which brings us to the worst small business financing strategy ever.

Here's how it work.

The would be entrepreneur develops what they believe to be a sure fire business plan that can't fail.

Unable to locate any form of start up capital, they start their business with credit cards as the only source of financing, and an expectation of sustainable business results within 3 to 6 months.

If everything goes well, the debt will be retired within a year and funds will start building in the bank account.

Sounds Good, right?

I mean the thinking lines up perfectly with all the get rich quick business opportunities that exist on and off the internet today where some of them even try to convince you to use your credit cards because the opportunity is soooooooo good and can't miss.

The problem is that every business can miss.

Every single one.

And the vast majority do fail.

Have you ever spoken to someone who runs a successful small business; perhaps one that's been around for 10 to 20 years?

If you take the time to ask one of these entrepreneurs about their start up period, what you learn may shock you.

Even some of the most successful small and medium sized businesses out there today had some hairy moments making a go of it in the early years.

And some times the difficult early years lasted for several years.

The point here is simply this.

The process of getting a business operating and successful can take many unexpected twists and turns, no matter how diligent you are in creating a thorough business plan and business financing strategy.

Therefore, to increase your probability for success you need to allow for the unknown, the unplanned, and the unfair.

A business financing strategy that cannot accommodate unforeseen events is not much of a strategy.

A business financing strategy that is based on high interest credit cards that can destroy both your cash flow and your personal credit is also not much of a strategy.

To improve your odds of small business success, here are some tips for developing a solid business financing strategy.

>>> Invest Your Own Cash

If you have some of your own cash penciled into your business financing strategy, it will immediately increase your likelihood of getting some sort of start up loan.

The more "skin" you have in the game, the more interested a lender will be in approving your loan request.

There is also something to be said about the psychological incentive of losing your own money and the motivation it creates for you to work harder to keep it.

>>> Create Contingencies in Your Cash Flow

Whatever you estimate your working capital requirement to be, double it. At least increase it by a factor larger than 1.

Things can and will go wrong, so give yourself a fighting chance and develop a business financing strategy that allows for less than perfect results.

>>> Use Credit Cards Wisely

Used properly, credit cards can be the cheapest form of working capital that you have at your disposal.

Some business credit cards provide 40 days of interest free financing. If you pay off the entire balance every month, you have an extremely low cost of working capital financing.

But if you start carrying large balances without paying them down monthly, you will go from the cheapest source of working capital to one of the most expensive, and you will likely also destroy your credit rating in the process.

>>> Make Timely Government Remittances

Small businesses are by default tax collectors. And the taxes collected can sometimes wind up funding the business for longer periods of time than they were ever intended.

Using government remittances as a business financing strategy is basically a bad idea.

Government agencies that are assigned to collect from you have large budgets and enough broad sweeping authority to create plenty of grief for you if you are too slow in paying.

If you apply for a business loan while you have an overdue balance with a government tax agency, your loan request will likely be declined.

Even after the balance is paid up, you may have burned your bridge with the lender as a history of overdue government remittances can brand you as a bad credit risk.

>>> Watch Spending Closely At Startup

One of the things you can control early on is how much you spend and what you spend it on.

This is going to change in time, but if you can spend wisely in the beginning you may be able to avoid a cost cutting exercise further down the line.

While its normally true that you have to spend money to make money, you can still be smart about the spending process.

 

Avoiding a Financial Crisis: How to Keep Your Small Business Alive

Having a superb product, soaring sales and stupendous customer service are undoubtedly some of the things which go into making a successful business. But all of this is irrelevant if you suffer a financial crisis. Without a sound stable financial position the slightest shock can be enough to send your business crashing to the ground. So what can you do to ensure that all your hard work is not in vain?

small business financial crisis

Having a superb product, soaring sales and stupendous customer service are undoubtedly some of the things which go into making a successful business. But all of this is irrelevant if you suffer a financial crisis. Without a sound stable financial position the slightest shock can be enough to send your business crashing to the ground.

So what can you do to ensure that all your hard work is not in vain? What can you do to make sure that a financial crisis doesn’t rock the boat or even sink it? Let’s take a look at what can cause these jolts and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

<b>Poor Record Keeping and Administration</b>

Business owners are usually not good record or bookkeepers! People who start businesses are the ones who have great ideas, see a gap in the market or have the personality to sell anything. They are not people who jump out of bed in the morning and say “Great, it’s a VAT and paperwork day today!”

If you are to keep your business on the straight and narrow then you have to accept that there are going to days like this; you can’t avoid it. You must keep records of your sales, your purchases, how much you have, how much raw material or finished goods you hold.

Without these records you will very quickly lose track of where you are. You won’t know:

• What you have spent your money on

• You won’t know where your cash is going

• You won’t know where all your stock is – has someone stolen it? Who knows?
You are effectively working in the dark and this is not conducive to financial stability. So what sort of records are we talking about? Nothing sophisticated. It can be as simple as a book with one page for your income and another for your expenditure. At least once a month total it all up to see how money you have made (I hope!). There’s a saying. ‘The people who keep records are the people who break records’ – so true.

<b>Not Watching Your Bank Balance</b>

Do you know exactly what your bank balance is today? Why is it important? Because if you are going to write a cheque you must know whether you have the money on your account. If you don’t that nasty Bank Manager may just bounce it.

Obviously this can have a negative effect on your reputation; your credit will be damaged and you may struggle to get support from your Bank and suppliers in the future. All because you didn’t check what your balance was.

To avoid this make sure you keep a running total in a cash book of what you have on your account. Why not sign up for Internet Banking? These days all the High Street Banks make this facility available, so there is no excuse for losing track of where you stand.

<b>Poor Cash and Credit Management</b>

Closely linked to keeping an eye on your Bank balance is how you handle your cash flow. There are 3 aspects to this.

1. Don’t be tempted to keep too much at your home or on your business premises. You could lose it to thieves, fire or flood

2. If you are doing ‘business-to-business’ sales then you may be faced with having to sell on credit. If so then be disciplined in chasing up any outstanding payments. You can’t afford to be embarrassed about asking for a cheque. If you have agreed 1 month credit, why wait for 3 months? Chase as hard as you can because remember you have your own debts to pay!

3. You may be lucky to have a period of credit granted by the people you buy from. If they give you one month’s credit, then stick to it. If you decide to hold onto your bills before paying you may be faced with a Solicitor’s letter. Don’t ignore the problem and hope the phone calls will go away - they won’t!

<b>No Cost Controls</b>

To keep yourself in a strong financial position shop around for purchases you have to make. Compare prices and specifications. Have an upper limit beyond which you will not pay. Always be on the lookout for a good deal.

<b>Spending On the Wrong Things</b>

Running your own business can be a very powerful feeling! You may be tempted to spend on anything but the business – a new car, flash clothes, a new kitchen. Well, you have to look the part don’t you??

During the early years and even when you are established make sure you spend your hard earned cash on the right things. The trappings of success may not be right at this stage of your business life. Your business, in order for it to grow, needs cash. Remove the cash and you remove the life blood which keeps your business alive.
You have to be disciplined in your expenditure and ask yourself the question, ‘Will this cost add anything to my business?’. Don’t act on impulse; go away and think about every large expenditure. If the answer to the question is no, then you should think twice about spending.

<b>Failing To Make Cuts in Time</b>

Failing to make the necessary cuts to ensure the survival of your business is something you cannot afford to do. If you spot you have a problem do something about it! Don’t sit back and hope things will get better; the chances are it won’t.

If you have product or service which is not performing and it’s costing you money don’t try and dress it up – be ruthless and cut it out. Make your decision quickly; don’t hang about. Not acting fast will only compound the problem.

<b>Depending On a Small Number of Customers</b>

Having a small number of customers is not a problem when everything is going well, but if one or two leave you or fail to pay up on time, then this can cause problems.
If you depend on 3 customers and one of them leaves then you are faced with a 33% reduction in sales. Unless you can replace him immediately you may not be able to cut your overheads quick enough to avert any crisis.

You cannot afford for your business to be held to ransom. Try and diversify as much as you can. Get out there and get new customers.
The same applies to businesses which rely on only one or two products. A shift in public tastes can leave you high and dry with unsold stock and no business!

<b>Not Having a Budget</b>

One good financial discipline is to have a budget. At the beginning of each year sit down and, based on your previous year’s income and expenditure, set new targets. Look to see where you can cut back in expenditure or even what to cut out all together.

Armed with your budget you will have a guide to work to. This will be a second check before you make any large unnecessary purchases.

Having a budget will provide discipline to your expenditure. At the end of every month up date it by including your actual income and expenditure then compare your budget with the actuals. Going through this exercise will give you more focus and what your business is doing. It can help you put things right by highlighting the problem areas.

<b>No Contingency Plan In Place</b>

Bigger businesses need to have a contingency plan for all parts of the business. A contingency plan is basically a plan which answers the question, “What would we do if this happened …?”

What is your “if”? What if you lose your premises? What if your computer goes down?
For a small business the biggest risk is you! What would happen to your business if you fall ill or even die? Most small businesses are totally dependent on the owner. You do everything!

If you are ill enough for one or two months that you can’t work who will see to the customers? Who will get new ones? Who will see to the paperwork? Who will collect the money owed to you?

These are important questions you must answer now. You have to identify someone who could fill in for you if you are to avoid a potential financial crisis. Your next step is to write a manual on how your business works, and outlining all the key processes. If something does happen then at least there is a path to follow!

<b>Not Talking To Your Bank Manager</b>

As soon as most people see a financial crisis looming the person they try and avoid most is their Bank Manager! If they see him walking on the same side of the road they will cross to avoid bumping into him.

The Bank Manager is usually the first person you should speak to. Bank Managers like to be kept up to date with what is happening in your business. They don’t like surprises. It’s when they are kept in the dark they make decisions that can have a major impact on your business.

You must resolve to talk to your Bank Manager the moment you suspect there is a problem. Who knows, he may surprise you by offering to do something to help!

Financial problems can usually be avoided by taking a step back from the business and thinking about what can go wrong. Once you know that, then you can take actions to put preventative measures in place before it’s too late.




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