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My best advice for Millennial Business Owners

I was recently invited to appear as a featured guest on the Tweetchat  #MillennialTalk hosted by social media Influencer Chelsea Krost on Tuesday at 8pm ET. She asked me to talk about growth strategies for millennial business owners. They were a lively bunch. I thought this information might be helpful for all my loyal readers, so here are my questions and answers. Moving too fast can hurt you more than help you. How do you know when it is the right time to take the next step in growing your small business? It’s time to grow when you are really clear about your target customer, product/service offering, profit margins and have the right team in place. If you grow your business without a strong team, you risk damaging your brand and creating a high-stress situation for yourself. You also need to have the funding or a strong line-of-credit in place to manage the growth and expansion. What are the different types of small business growth strategies?  You can upsell your existing customers or launch a new product or service. You can buy a competitor and expand your footprint or become an affiliate marketer. You can add an additional salesperson or a sales team to increase your sales. You can also expand digital products and services which will allow you to test different content marketing strategies. How can we determine which growth strategy is the right fit for our business? You must research your market intelligence, look at your existing customer base, and your ARR (annual recurring revenue). Talk to your customers. Review your own records to determine which products or service sell the best, and at the highest margins. Test your growth idea first, give it at least 3-6 months to see if it’s working. What if we are feeling stagnant in our business and don’t know how to define goals or strategic objectives to grow? if you feel stagnant in your business it’s time for a fix, grab my book Fix Your Business to develop a new strategic plan for your business. You can also hire a business coach to help you turn things around, but make sure you are working…

High-Performance Hiring Practices

Guest Article One of the most frequent questions across this country, when I am talking to small business owners, is, “How do I hire the right person?”  Looking for the right person to hire can be the most expensive and damaging process in your business.  Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization.  They are often customer facing and affect your bottom line in various ways. What we as business owners should be searching for are “core employees”.  A core employee is defined as an employee who has been with you for two or more years.  Once someone has been with you for two or more years, you pretty much know what to expect from them, they know what to expect from you, and efficiency increases.  The more core employees that you have, the better your organization functions. The trick is to streamline your hiring practices to pinpoint great partners to work with. It all starts with your job description. Many businesses don’t create job descriptions or have minimal descriptions and throw in the catch-all statement, “And other duties as assigned.” The problem with this practice is that we never truly define what we are searching for and we likely create legal issues for our businesses. If you don’t actually explain what you want your employee to do, how do you expect them to perform the job? We must list every recurring function of the job. Is it possible to list EVERY function your employee has? No. But if that function becomes a recurring function, we should list it in the description. A great job description will include the essential functions of the position as well as the ergonomic, environmental, and physical needs of the position. Ergonomically, are you requiring the employee to stand for 6 hours a day? Maybe they need to sit for 6 hours a day? It needs to be in the job description. We can’t assume that the applicant will automatically know what you need from the position and can perform those functions. We need to list the environmental factors that could affect our employee as…

How to Develop a Business Strategy – Part III

Developing a business strategy is all about looking at where you want your company to be in the next 3-to-5 years and figuring out what you need to do now to get there. If you spend your days constantly putting out fires in your business, it’s doubtful that you have much time for developing a new business strategy. But if you ever want to stop living like that, you need to make time. Strategic planning can reignite your passion for what you’re doing. By reconnecting with your “Why” story, you can reclaim your original business dream. The daily stress of a business is tough. It’s easy to flip into survival mode and lose sight of that dream that you set out to accomplish in the beginning when you started your business. But you can always hit the reset button. By clearly identifying your niche target customer, validating your value proposition and setting sales goals, you’re no longer winging it. In my series on developing a business strategy in Part I, we discussed how to create a strategy and in Part II, we focused on why strategy fails for small businesses and the criteria for good business strategy. In Part III, we will focus on the benefits of a business strategy. Just consider this, developing a long-term business strategy will increase your chances of business success by forcing you to develop strategies and tactics to address any identified problems. Here are the 7 Main Benefits of Developing a Business Strategy. 1)    Minimizing Risk: One of the main benefits of developing a business strategy is that it reduces risk. Once you’ve envisioned your company’s future over the next 3 to 5 years and done a thoughtful analysis of current state, resources, strengths and weaknesses, competitors and the business environment, you will be better equipped to make decisions and therefore to minimize risk to achieve your company’s potential. 2)    Cost Savings: Once you’ve defined your long-term goals, you will have significant cost saving because you will not waste any marketing resources or time on business appointments or opportunities that are not a fit for your core expertise, focused on your…

How to Develop a Business Strategy – Part II

Your business strategy is your roadmap to business success, but it needs to be adjusted annually. You and your team should take a look at your business strategy every fall to plot out your sales objectives and goals for the new year. 2019 is just around the corner, and you should start your planning process now. When evaluating any business strategy your top concern should be what will help you accomplish your financial goals the fastest. In part II of the series on how to develop a business strategy, we’re going to discuss why strategy fails for small businesses and criteria for good business strategy. Any growth strategy must be measured based profitability, customer satisfaction, conversion rates and retention rates. Why does strategy fail for many small business owners? Chasing too many types of opportunities. Lack of specific targets and time frames means you don’t have an organized sales process. If everyone can use your product or service, no one will. Focus on specific targets and set goals to hold yourself and your team accountable. Make emotional decisions about business opportunities If you shoot from the gut, and make business decision based on how you feel instead of using data to drive business decisions, you’ll make the wrong decision. Instead use careful research, analysis, an experience to make business decisions. Lack of market intelligence We are in the information age. there is an abundance of information about anything online. As small business owners we need to take advantage of market intelligence. Consistently focus on the problems in the business If you are always stressing over your problems instead of doing your daily business development activities. If you turn yourself into a horse with blinders on, you won’t see opportunities right in front of you that might be readily available to you. The criteria for a good business strategy is gathered below: Consider multiple scenarios to evaluate alternative strategies. No small business owner should be wedded to just one strategy. Instead, take multiple approaches into consideration. Factors to consider include cost to pursue a new market, risk, and aligning any strategy…

How to Develop a Business Strategy – Part 1

September is the perfect time to start looking ahead to first quarter 2019. The fall is right time to start thinking about your business goals and then engage your team in developing a new business strategy. Winging it is NOT a strategy, yet too often business owners venture into new markets without a specific target or value proposition, hoping to come across someone in need of services. If you’re looking to identify new business targets, outline a growth plan, determine your product roadmap or plan your funding needs, you’ll need a clear business strategy. It’s one thing to know your business needs, actually developing a strategy is not so easy. This is the first article in a three-part series on building a business strategy. This article is about how to develop a business strategy. Part II and Part III will focus on why strategy fails for small businesses and the benefits of a having a current business strategy. Here’s the six-steps to develop a new business strategy. 1. Examine Your Current State Before you start looking to the future, you should review your past business performance, or the current state. Look at your annual revenues, customer lists, average revenue per transaction and review your most popular services or products. Then look at how your business operates. Look at your market position, employees, sales processes, profit margins and customer satisfaction. Use a SWOT analysis to conduct your review. You must determine what worked well, what could have been better, outline your weaknesses and consider what new opportunities are in the marketplace. When you look at your business, bring your team together to make sure you are collecting all the relevant information that you need. 2. Look at External Factors There are things that affect your business that are not under your control such as industry trends, government regulations, legal compliance, political policies such as international tariffs. Technological advances as well as environmental concerns such as a neighborhood community protesting your restaurant getting a liquor license, can also affect your business results or expansion plans. External factors can either be threats or…

Success Secrets from America’s Top Business Experts Part 2

My new book Fix Your Business, features top business experts at the end of each of the chapters. Each expert was selected based on the advice they could share based on my 12 Ps of Running a Successful Business: Preparation, Purpose, People, Profit, Processes, Productivity, Performance, Product, Presence, Prospects, Planning and Perseverance. They are all at the top of their respective fields. This week you’ll have the opportunity to learn from Misty Young, Stephanie Chandler Jay Baer, Barbara Weaver Smith, Tim Berry and Twyla Garrett. I have grabbed one question and answer from each of them just to give you a sneak preview of the resources in Fix Your Business. These are success secrets from America’s Top Business Experts. SmallBizLady: How can you build a great customer service program and train your team to implement it? Misty Young: Training is the ultimate fulfillment of your brand promise, no matter the business you are in. Find your industry’s best books and buy them for your team. Pay them to read or listen to the book as part of their weekly duties and have a mastermind session weekly to brainstorm ideas and hear feedback. Ask your team to serve each other first and foremost. When they have an internal service focus, they’ll automatically want to help the clients even more. When your entire team knows the goal, the direction, and isn’t trying to read your mind, your customer service will vastly improve. Be sure to celebrate wins to help team building – use every client downfall as a training opportunity to build your team. SmallBizLady: How does a business owner redefine their niche? Stephanie Chandler: I like to start by asking a series of questions about your ideal clients: What industries or demographics do you most enjoy working with? Are there any specific industries or demographics that you would like to work with? For example, maybe you are passionate about health and wellness and you’d like to work with people in related professions. Once you’ve identified some potential niche audiences, next you need to evaluate the opportunities. Is this a niche that is growing,…

The Art of Commercial Conversations to Drive Sales

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Bernadette McClelland @b_mcclelland Bernadette is a Keynote Speaker, Sales Leadership Coach, and published author of ‘The Art of Commercial Conversations’. As CEO of Sales Leaders Global 3 Red Folders, headquartered out of Melbourne, Australia, she ensures her clients create double digit, sustainable sales growth and marketplace differentiation through unique science-backed sales performance and sales leadership tools and resources. SmallBizLady: What do you believe to be the biggest disruptor for businesses moving forward? Bernadette McClelland: The buzz words are AI – Artificial Intelligence however, I still believe we have many years ahead of us where Amplified Intelligence, my version of AI, is what will continue to make the difference. Wrapping these conversations around competencies such as mental readiness, intuition and critical thinking is something that will allow us to work in parallel with the technological advances of Artificial Intelligence SmallBizLady: What do you believe business owners can do to improve sales performance and sales leadership? Bernadette McClelland: If a business is not making revenue and profits together, then they are dying. It doesn’t matter if it is a solopreneur in the front room of their home, a CEO of a family business or a corporate sales director. We all need to be selling whether it be ideas, products or services so that we can reinvest back into the business, the community and our pockets.  So why would investing in educating, training, sales tools, stories and experiments be something a business owner wouldn’t do? Unfortunately, many business owners see this as a cost to the business rather than an opportunity to grow the business. SmallBizLady: What is the focus of your sales book The Art of Commercial Conversations? Bernadette McClelland: The essence of the book is leadership. Ultimately selling is about leadership. It doesn’t matter how you want to dress it up, what acronyms you want to use, what methodologies you want to think is the best.…

How to Run a Successful Business

Melinda Emerson, @SmallBizLady offers advice and encouragement to more than three million entrepreneurs every week online. She is the publisher of succeedasyourowboss.com. Forbes magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She has a 20-year track record as a successful businesswoman as CEO of Quintessence Group, an award winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA. She is a social media expert, journalist, and dynamic keynote speaker and she’s a professional single mom. I sat down with her for an exclusive interview on the eve of the release of her new book, Fix Your Business that was released March 6,2018. For details log on to www.FixYourBusiness.com Q: You’re an amazing role model for all entrepreneurs. Can you tell us your story? SmallBizLady: I was 26 when I started my company Quintessence Group. I knew I didn’t know much about running a small business. I am journalist, so I approached starting a business like a research project. I read and took business courses to learn how to run my business and be a leader. After about seven years in business, I was doing very well. I had numerous professional accolades and awards, and I had the largest female-owned production company in my city. Then my husband and I got pregnant, and I was immediately put on bed rest with a high risk pregnancy. I went from being the worst workaholic in the world, to not being about to leave my home and Wi-Fi was not available yet. My business really suffered. In fact, I almost went out of business that year. Unfortunately, I built a business that couldn’t run without me. However, when I had six months to sit and think, I came up with a million-dollar idea. I realized all the expensive mistakes I had made in business and it also occurred to me that unless I started educating people about the right way to run a business, they must struggle that way I did. The first thing I did after my son was born, and I adjusted to motherhood, was write my bestselling book, Become…

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