February 7, 2013 2 Comments

When Small Business Fails to Grow – Part 3

Used FurnitureSo here’s the final word on what I think happened to this great little business. We’ve already established that the business owner was capable and knowledgeable, adept in most areas of running his store. The business was capitalizing on multiple marketing pillars and was taking advantage of many of its marketing assets such as owner expertise, location, publicity, unique product, and community relationships.

If so much was going right, what went wrong?

As I mentioned in Part 1, the owner felt that he was squeezed out because he could not compete with “the big boys”, notably Ikea.

Yes, the business could have had a more compelling USP (Unique Selling Proposition) but it was not far off. Most of the messaging about the store in some way captured how this shop was different from its competitors. It had a distinct advantage over competitors like impersonal big box furniture stores. When working with any small business client, our first step is to ensure they have a solid USP in place, because that is the foundation upon which all other aspects of the business can be built. (more…)

January 20, 2013 1 Comment

Systematize your Business Growth

When I speak with clients about the Core Four marketing steps that every business should undertake when looking for growth, part of my job is to help them understand that making marketing part of their business systems is vital to make their business a going concern.

Crafting a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), integrating that USP into all your marketing activities, setting up processes for customer relationship management (CRM), and establishing processes for joint ventures and alliances all contribute to making a marketing system that is repeatable, measurable, and effective.

If you do not have systems in place in your business, you are at risk. Here’s why. If your sales processes depend upon the knowledge of the business owner or the top sales person, you need those individuals in order to make a sale. Customers may buy because they like you, or because you have a business relationship with them. But if those people are not available, no sale can be made. By writing down the USP and ensuring it is communicated during every customer contact, you take the sales process out of the head of the business owner and the top sales person and make it into a system that anyone can use. (more…)

January 2, 2013 No Comments

Four Core Activities for Business Growth NOW

In a New Year, we all like to revitalize our businesses and make plans for growth and improvement. This is a great time to look at how you are spending your marketing dollars and what you can do to get more revenue without increasing your budget.

When I go through an opportunity analysis with a client, I look at four main areas where they can see rapid business growth:

  1. Their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or extra value proposition.
    What this business does better than any competitor.
  2. Integration of the USP into all marketing and business activities.
    The business and all staff have to be “living” the USP in everything they do.
  3. Existing customer database. This is a huge, often-untapped resource
    in any small-to-medium enterprise.
  4. Alliances and partnering. This is a very powerful way to grow.

 

The free, no-obligation opportunity analysis is basically an asset-finding interview, where we discover the many ways that the business is leaving money on the table. Along the way, we often find other problems that can be quickly solved to increase revenue. (more…)

August 11, 2012 No Comments

System or Infrastructure?

Do you have systems in place in your business, or only an infrastructure?

To permit a business to grow, it needs more than just a framework. Manageable, repeatable systems, which can operate independently of the business owner, are necessary before a business can reach its potential.

While infrastructure is important, and is often a first step in establishing a strong business model, you will need a working operation that goes beyond who sits where and who’s responsible for what.

Infrastructure, or company organization and plans, is animated by systems that embody policies, procedures, methodologies, and expected outcomes. A system is dynamic, subject to change as efficiencies are discovered. It is portable, and does not rely upon the charisma or skill of the business owner, a shop foreman, or a key staff member.

Infrastructure: sales dept, marketing dept, customer support dept, etc.
System: marketing generates leads which sales turns into customers, who are serviced by customer support. (more…)

May 31, 2011 1 Comment

6 Tips for Getting the Hourly Rate you Deserve

Contractors and freelancers are often asked to name their hourly rate for jobs, or state their salary expectations. Depending on the industry and the type of work you’ll be doing, rates can vary widely. I personally have found that for jobs I can properly scope, quoting a flat rate for the entire job is more worthwhile. But sometimes you need to know what figure to quote for work that will be billed at an hourly rate.

Here are some ideas that have worked for me:

  1. Determine how much you’re willing to do the job for. You will have a sense of how much it costs you to work (transportation, child care, clothing, lunches, etc.) and about how much per hour you’d need to earn to make it worth your while to take the job. That figure is your low end, rock bottom amount. See what they’re willing to offer above that figure. If they offer less, you must realize that you’ll be losing money by taking that job. Unless there’s a compelling reason to take that particular job, or if you have some other way of making up your shortfall, tell them thanks but you really need to be making at least $XX.00 per hour.
    (more…)