Selecting A Document Storage Vendor

June 7, 2023

June 2023 Blog – Selecting A Document Storage Vendor

Storing digital and paper documents is often considered a chore rather than a critical process that must be carefully considered and monitored.

The initial phase of any storage process is choosing when, where, and how the data is stored. We use the word data because even the most minor receipt can become important in subsequent events. Proper storage can mean significant savings in time and money down the line.

Businesses have varying needs for storing their digital and paper documents. If your business deals with confidential information, it is essential to select your document storage vendor carefully.

When looking for storage of paper and/or digital storage for your business documents, here are some questions you should ask the document storage providers under consideration before making any commitments.

How long has the provider been in business?  Best to choose a records storage company that has been a longtime member of the records management industry and understands the importance of protecting and managing information assets. Also, research reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings, etc.

  1. What is the provider’s knowledge and experience of storing records in your business’s line of business?

Each industry encourages a different record-keeping compliance process. Only when the provider has shown it has handled similar clients will you be comfortable that the vendor can adequately support your company’s needs.

  1. How are your business’s documents protected?

Look for a provider who makes protecting your business’s valuable records a priority, one who can explain in detail the physical or technical protections they have in place to protect our documents from being accessed by competitors, hackers, and other criminals with ill intent. 

The storage facility should have the following:

  • High-level, 24/7 monitored security and surveillance systems
  • Secured entry doors with locks and security codes
  • Motion and intrusion detection sensors
  • Environmental control
  • Emergency retrieval protocols
  • State-of-the-art fire detection and mitigations systems
  • Note: A dry system doesn’t send water into the pipes until an alarm is triggered.
  • Protection against sudden floods
  • Evaluate if the vendor has adequate security measures to protect the records against physical, artificial, and natural disasters.

Even if your business’s files are locked up tight, does the provider do background checks on its employees? Does it require them to sign confidentiality agreements, take fingerprints, or use biometric scanning?

Finally, ask the provider if they have an industry-recognized certificate, such as PRISM Privacy+, proving they have the most advanced security and physical safety procedures.

Further, consider whether a screened and uniformed courier should deliver your business records in a GPS-tracked and alarmed vehicle. An electronic receipt should be provided with every delivery.

  1. How does the provider take inventory of your business’s files and index them?

Some record storage providers will inventory and index your business’s boxes before storing them to provide an accurate offsite storage inventory when asked. 

  1. How does your business get its records offsite?

Another important question will be understanding how records are safely transported from your business to the storage facility. 

  • Understand the frequency of transport and how secure this transportation system is. 
  • How are records packaged, loaded, monitored for tampering on the way, etc.?
  • What kind of checklists and reports does the provider produce from the point of pick up to delivery?
  1. How is access requested, and how long does it take for documents to be delivered?

Requesting documents and files from your document storage provider should be easy. Understand the different options between asking for document locations or requesting receipt of your documents. Check if the provider offers:

  • Next-day delivery
  • Same-day delivery
  • Two-hour retrieval and delivery
  • Scan on Demand digital delivery

Ask about the vendor’s information tagging and search functions.

  • Can you find the information you need quickly? 
  • What if you can’t find something—what kind of help do they offer?

Further, we may want some people at your business to view our storage documents, but not everyone. 

  • Does the vendor have a way to enforce your business’s governance and security policy?
  • Do they validate records requests? 
  • How does the provider train their workers to handle requests for files?
  1. Where is the document storage facility located?

It is essential to understand where your business’s records will be stored. The longer the distance from the provider facility, the higher the accessorial charges of each record retrieval and delivery will be. 

If the provider has scan-on-demand services, then locations do not matter, and it can offer your business significant cost savings over many years.

  1.  What are Your Certifications and Insurance Coverages? 

It is vital to get independent verification that the document storage service your business sells. Find out about the provider’s certifications (such as NAID) and insurance coverage (such as Downstream Data Coverage).

  1. What value-added services does the provider offer?

Some records storage providers can assist your business with additional services like media storage, document scanning, and shredding. Having one provider for our entire records management function is often easier.

If the provider offers imaging services, you also want to ask how they secure online documents. 

  • Are they using cloud storage? 
  • Who can access documents? 
  • What firewalls and security measures are in place? 
  1. How is the providers’ security checked?

It’s no use protecting business documents from spies and wannabe thieves if the storage provider’s staff are going to interfere with them directly. Ask if the provider should have gone through DBS checking, been security vetted to BS7858, and signed the Official Secrets Act! 

  1. Will the provider come and collect business documents?

The collection isn’t strictly essential, but will the provider come over to your business, get everything boxed up – even bring the boxes and tidy up after themselves?

  1. How does the pricing work?

Ask about the provider’s pricing:

  • Is it per box or file, or based on the dedicated storage space your business wants to contract? 
  • What are other factors that can influence the pricing? 

As time passes, records keep getting generated in volumes, and your storage cost can climb multifold. Evaluate how the pricing works incrementally. Understand their contract terms so that your business will not be surprised at a future time.

  1. What about compliance regulations?

There are many laws governing the retention periods for various types of documents. Ask how the provider keeps track of all of them. 

Also, query:

  • Can your business access this information with the press of a button?
  • How does the provider handle document destruction? Documents must be destroyed after a certain period and in a certain way. Someone must do it and provide documentation. 
  • Will they send your business alerts when it’s time to destroy documents and verify they have done so?
  1. What industry associations does the provider belong to?

Your business can gain insight into a prospective document storage vendor by verifying industry memberships. The following affiliations confirm your provider’s commitment to industry best practices and standards:

  • PRISM International (Professional Records & Information Services Management)
  • NAID (National Association for Information Destruction)
  • AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management)
  • NRC (National Records Centers)
  • ARMA International (Association of Records Managers and Administrators)
  • NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency)
  • DPA (Data Protection Agency)

In summary, if/when we’re looking for a trusted and reliable document storage company, asking these questions and verifying the answers will help your business choose a document storage provider that offers dependable service, unparalleled security, and personalized support.

It is best to put out a detailed RFP asking these questions, then speak with two or more providers to compare and contrast their offerings and how they meet your business’s needs. Please only settle for a vendor once you find one who answers your firm’s questions and meets your business’s needs.

Above, we have provided a long list of do’s and don’ts. 

Consider the consequences if your files are breached or stolen. The time and money you spend today to give you security may never be necessary. It will be priceless if something untoward happens in the future.

Value of Partnerships

May 7, 2023

Sometimes, small business growth moves faster when two or more entities draw together. Often labeled strategic alliances, these undertakings occur when two or more businesses enter into an agreement to work together toward a common goal while still remaining independent. This type of partnership enables you to go further as a team than either of you could go alone.

Why are partnerships so important?

Partnerships increase your base of knowledge, expertise, and resources available to make better products, reach broader audiences, reduce costs, and spread risks. An added benefit is the 360-degree feedback partnerships instill can fuel your business to grow. The right business partnership will also enhance the ethos of your firm.

How do strategic alliances create value?

Strategic alliances allow partners to scale quickly, build innovative solutions for their customers, enter new markets, and pool valuable expertise and resources. And in a business environment that values speed and innovation, this is a distinct competitive advantage.

Here are ways a strategic partnership can be a boon to your business.

  • Access to new customers – you will widen your reach by being able to reach your partner’s clients.
  • Opportunity to reach new markets – both partners have the ability to explore a new frontier and benefit.
  • Added value for existing customers – a partnership adds value for your loyal customers; reaching customers during a growth period can further loyalty and perhaps foster positive word-of-mouth.
  • Increase brand awareness – get out there and let people know who you are, be exposed to your logo and branding; create recognition.
  • Build brand trust – when people see you create positive relationships with others, they will be more willing to help out and support your business.

While partnerships have significant upsides, business alliances are notoriously difficult to get right.  But, the effort is worth the added effort as the competitive advantages are key to success in our increasingly fluid economy.

A mutually beneficial strategic partnership can be forged when both parties have:

  • skin in the game,
  • a shared vision, and
  • an all-in-this-together mindset.

What is also crucial is cultural alignment. Both parties must share:

  • core values,
  • transparent objectives, and
  • a willingness to share data.

Both parties should be co-developing new customer propositions or business models through a shared ecosystem of service and product offerings. A strategic partnership should be both exciting and daunting.

However, in the past, strategic alliances have tended to flounder after the initial excitement and press release—cultural differences, conflicting priorities, and logistical hurdles can derail the best of intentions. Apparent infidelity and growing mistrust have caused several major corporate partnerships to unravel. In some cases, alliances have consumed a great deal of time and resources without producing much in the way of results.

These elements must be identified and addressed before the final agreement.  If they are left for the post-announcement stage, the partnership might never flourish.

If both parties understand the key elements of successful partnerships; have identified complementary goals; and have a willingness to share, joining together can positively spur growth.

Explore partnerships with care, act with discretion, and if you do act, jump in with both feet.

Gray Work Force

April 3, 2023

To grow and be successful,  your business needs committed workers with good attitudes.  These attributes are found in abundance in the so-called Gray Work Force.

In today’s volatile job market and with reports of recession already being here, you may be nervous enough to not want to invest in added full-time workers.  But to grow or even maintain current revenue goals, your business, like many other small businesses, might need added help.

A remarkable resource is available to you right in your own locale. Consider tapping into the graying workforce, which is often looking for part-time work. By employing them as part-time employees, you get the benefits (committed, experienced, good attitude) without having to pay benefits.

Here are some ideas for economically finding part-time workers to minimize recruitment costs.

Advertise your part-time role locally.  It will remove relocation costs, cut down on commute time, and draw candidates familiar with your company and the area.

Highlight flexibility of perhaps location and schedule so the worker can complete what is required yet still maintain his/her desired work/life goals.  FlexJobs is one resource for posting jobs that have built-in flexibility.

Look at full-time jobs that can be scaled back or divvied up. Look at whether multiple discreet tasks can be distributed among multiple roles. The benefit to your business is that dividing the role might enable you to afford a more experienced hire where it counts, while providing new opportunity for a junior person or a chance to increase automation – a one-time investment that pays year-after-year.

Job share with another part-time worker. An experienced worker often has a wide network of colleagues at various levels and specialties, and they might have another person in mind with whom they can share a role. Sometimes ½ + ½ is greater than 1. Or, consider pairing –up an older and a younger worker as a team.

Finally, consider a consultant. While not the same as a part-time worker. They can work part-time and fill your business needs. Look for consultants with a track record and perhaps have set up their own consulting business.

Hiring part-timers may be a solution to your business needs.  Adding a Gray Work individual could help your business soar.

Bad Clients

March 2, 2023

Every small business manager or owner has a story or few encounters with bad clients – someone who demanded the impossible, nickeled and dimed a project, used profanity during business calls, and threw tantrums about deadlines.  If you ask around, no doubt you will hear about client encounters that may shock you for their audacity and unreasonableness. 

So what are the early signs of a bad client?

  • The client starts making unreasonable demands from the beginning and continues.
  • Early in the relationship, the client is skeptical of your abilities; this happens twice as often for women than men.

Some of the most common types of bad behaviors include:

  • Being mean and/or abusive to you or your team members
  • Being dishonest
  • Not paying on time or at all
  • Costing more time and effort than the revenue/profit they bring to your business

All are unacceptable, but only about a third of small business owners fire their clients, and the majority continue to work with their bad clients.

If you decide to fire a bad client, here is how to do it professionally.

  • Finish any work in progress.
  • Use email to put it in writing that you will no longer provide your offering(s) to the client.  Thank the client for the opportunity to work together and then provide a reason for not doing so going forward.
  • Then follow up with a telephone call to ensure your client reads your email and understands that you won’t work together anymore.  Your call is also an excellent opportunity to discuss the next steps, such as returning any necessary files and/or collecting an outstanding balance.

Remember, never fire a client when you’re angry. If you are tempted to have a heated conversation with a difficult client, sleep on it before making any rash decisions.

If you decide to keep a bad client, here is how to manage better.

  • First, identify what makes your client so difficult to work with.
  • Then, create and implement the right strategy to transform your client.

Here are some common issues and how to handle them; hint, the primary tool is communication via email:

  • Late Payment – send reminders at specific intervals (5 days, 30 days, or even 60 days) of when payment is due.
  • Having too many Chiefs on a project – via email, designate the lead person in your business and in your client’s.
  • Not respecting your time by expecting you to be available 24/7 and/or the client runs on tight deadlines – again, a carefully crafted email that sets boundaries and establishes workflow with time frames helps.
  • Poor or lack of communication – give your client a gentle nudge via email.
  • Out-of-scope requests – inform your client via email of additional fees associated with additional work.

Finally, here are some steps for you to get better clients.

  • Define your perfect client – this will give you criteria that you can use to assess all future clients.
  • Discover where your ideal target clients hang out – determine what social media platforms they use and/or in-person events they attend.
  • Find and connect with better clients – consider writing content that establishes you as a thought leader or that is relevant to better clients, be active on your target clients’ preferred social media platforms, and attend gatherings where you can interact with target clients.
  • Perfect your pitch – be sure it is on-point, tailored, and directed to the right person.
  • Offer unique value – communicate your unique merits, and include them consistently in all your communications, such as on your website and when speaking with potential clients.

Clients bring in revenue and can make referrals for your business.  Dealing effectively with bad clients and preferably finding better clients is essential to your professional well-being and the success of your business.

Cash Flow Problems

February 1, 2023

Cash flow problems occur as your business experiences uncontrolled growth, the economy takes a downturn, a major client suddenly leaves, or something else unforeseen occurs.

Let’s examine some of the issues that cause cash flow problems and what you as business owner, leader, or manager can do about them.

Inter-related issues include:

  • Incorrect forecasting of sales, inventory requirements, and expenses
  • Inaccurate accounting or bookkeeping practices
  • Wrong business plan
  • Erroneous market research

One or more of the above can result in cash flow problems.  To address this, it is essential to have good data and use it appropriately to manage and profitably grow your business.

Other issues and some solutions*:

  • Lacking cash reserves and/or too much debt – find investors or make a capital call/invest more money in your business or cut expenses.
  • Decreasing sales – run a sale or promotion; but consider the effect on your margins.
  • Lower profit margins – raise the sales price, but consider if your price will be competitive and whether you will lose sales and not move inventory fast enough.
  • Outstanding receivables – offer cash discounts; take credit cards; factor your receivables.
  • Too much inventory – slash the sales price and move it out with a promotion such as a BOGO
  • Expensive borrowing – shop around for best rates from financial lenders, and consider a loan against your assets; other places to ‘borrow’ are your vendors, see if you can get your terms extended to free up cash.
  • Uncontrolled business growth – that scales too rapidly can be a challenge; double and triple source vendors and partner on offering (hold inventory and ship directly) and financial terms.
  • Seasonal changes in demand – limit volume and rise prices or utilize outside resources to meet higher demand.

All these issues can be fixed. The crux of the matter is do you want to tackle the problems? It takes a decisive, focused leader to handle, but your business will be healthier for your actions.

But whatever the corrective outcome is, action needs to be taken now, not later. You cannot spend profits, but you need to pay your debts.  You need to act with alacrity on cash flow problems to have a positive cash flow.

* Note there are downsides to every solution. You need to spend time and model the effect on your business and cash flow before you implement these tactics.

The Importance Of Hiring

January 3, 2023

Hiring the best, most appropriate talents is critical to your organization’s success. Hiring well is an essential ingredient to your business’s long-term growth. Yet, the hiring process is often the most difficult, and the outcome is easily prone to failure.

Here are some ways to hire better.

Assess your company’s needs before hiring. Be very clear on why you are hiring. Specify what needs to be done at what level and for what duration.

Some ways to fill your hiring needs:

  • Train and develop an existing employee; it’s great for morale and retention.
  • Bring on a part-time or contractor to do work; you will save on benefits.
  • Hire a new full-time employee with the skills needed today and tomorrow.
  • Consider part-time help; you can assess workers plus meets your limited business need and/or budget.
  • Workers share one position, provide coverage, have no benefit costs, learn from each other, and you might further diversify your workforce.
  • Use a contract worker if the need is limited to a project or the business is fast evolving; plus, it is a great way to test out a potential employee and not pay benefits.
  • Leverage seasonal worker(s) to meet surges in demand.
  • Capitalize on your relationships with vendors, and have them provide additional services for a fee.
  • Buy automation to supplement your workforce; purchase makes sense if there is an ongoing need and a return on investment.
  • Lease an automated service if your need is transitory or expensive or if the technology is changing fast.

Okay, you have decided what type of worker to hire; now, you need a process/methodology to optimize the outcome.  Here is how:

  • Make a marketing plan to attract good candidates.
  • Advertise where the type of candidates you are seeking hang out.
  • Look very carefully at the candidates who apply and go after dream candidates.
  • Create measures of accountability for the position(s) being filled; also establish goals with time frames.
  • Train those doing the interviews on what to look for, what questions to ask, and, equally importantly, what questions are illegal.

  • Have a uniform process to assess candidates and evaluate them against each other.
  • Make sure the hire ‘fits,’ he or she embraces the organization’s purpose and buys into its core values. Plus, consider if the person under consideration is ethical and will represent your business well.
  • Do a background screen and drug test; the cost is nominal when considering what you can uncover and avoid*.

Make a reasonable offer that will be accepted; then, onboard your new hire carefully and match your process with the expectation established during the interview process. As a result, you will have a good hire to help your business’s growth and profitability.

*A poor hire is considerably more expensive than a good hire. A poor hire can ruin your company’s reputation and brand, steal from the organization, disrupt your culture, and much more. So hire very carefully.

Increase Your Competitiveness

December 8, 2022

The competition for your customers has never been higher. Your competitor is not limited to fellow small businesses; large global brands and mid-size businesses are in the mix. As a small business leader, you can avoid being overshadowed by these antagonists. Small businesses have many advantages over their larger competitors in both the physical and digital arena.

Let’s take just one trust in small businesses (86%) versus large companies (55%) is an advantage. Plus, a considerable level of competition is necessary for a small business to achieve greater success.  

First, let’s look briefly at why competition is good.

Prevents Complacency – competition pushes business owners out of their comfort zone, and they are driven to take a closer look at their offerings, customer service, marketing, business structure, and more. 

Stimulates Innovation – competition encourages business owners to find new ways to deliver their products and/or services; also, be creative with marketing, customer interactions, and other areas.

Avoid Committing Mistakes – competition enables a small business owner to try new ones that work for your company rather than using the faulty strategies and tactics of others;  

Realize on the Right Path – competition ensures the direction taken is good and provides something people/businesses need.

Think Like Customers – competition forces business owners to reflect on his/her customer experiences and understand what areas of the business model customers love and what parts need improvement.

A small business can grow with the right amount of competition, focus, strategy, perspective, and Innovation. Hence, competition plays a significant role in the evolution of any small business.

Let’s look at how your small business can stand out and succeed in today’s competitive environment.

Know Your Business – What are its strengths? How do its customers perceive it? In today’s world, comments can be found online; consider the sentiments most often expressed about your business. Amplify the favorable. Address negative comments immediately and determine ways to minimize or prevent them from reoccurring.

Define its Value – What is unique about your offerings? What makes it different from others in your niche? Determine your business’s unique value proposition and share it with prospective and existing customers.

Know Your Customer (KYC) – Be aware of the customers your business attracts and additional customers you might want to do business with. Consider why they buy from your company: customer service, price, value, uniqueness, location, easiness, and/or something else.

Solve Customer Problems or Fill Wants – Offer solutions to problems that your potential and existing customers have. Research of the marketplace, your competitors, and your customers will surface gaps your business can fill. Then provide an offering that solves the problem (or fills the want), and your business should generate revenue and garner market share.

Identify Big Markets – If possible, find a large market for your business, then focus on dominating a subset before expanding into niche markets around your initial sub-niche. You will begin strong and growing steadily.

Focus on Innovation – Make changes to existing offerings by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. Compare your products and services with competitors and then outdo them; be better to draw customers.

Make Decisions Faster – Being small has the advantage of a quick turnaround for decision-making or product innovation; your business can be agile, adapt and change with the market.

Offer Great Products and/or Services – If you provide outstanding offerings, encouraging word will get around about your business. You will gain repeat and loyal customers as well as new ones. 

Keep your offering(s) great, and your business will be competitive.

Define Your Brand – What is your business’s customer experience(s)? You want to stay memorable. Think about what differentiates you from others, unique, better. Branding takes time to build into a potential customer’s mind, so your messages need to reiterate and be consistent from your logo to your social media/over the phone/in-person to your company culture.

Select an Appealing Name and Great Logo – A memorable name and an eye-catching logo can strengthen your business. It should be easy to recognize and appeal to your target audience. Further, it should reflect your brand’s personality, the products or services it offers, and the overall character of your business.

Build a Website Experience – Your web presence should be mobile-friendly, as most people checking out your website today do so from their mobile phones. 

You want a user-friendly design that cultivates trust and provides the information your target customers seek.  

Market to Specific Groups – Target people with a specific want or a problem you can solve. Understand who is attracted to or benefits from your products or service. Then position your business as the go-to source. 

As a specialist, you may be perceived as an expert or purveyor of better quality.

Become the Expert – Demonstrate this by providing great content; it will inform your target audiences and give them a reason to reach out to your business and purchase your offerings. Types of content to position you as the expert include: publishing thought leadership on your website, guest blogs on reputable websites where your target audiences are, and providing interesting or valuable data that your audiences seek. Consider creating a desirable free offer demonstrating your understanding of the target audience’s want/need and how you can fulfill them.

Empower/Develop your Team – A strong internal team that feels valued makes all the difference for business operations. Make sure that employees have a say in the direction of the company and leadership is accessible to employees so that their concerns and questions are addressed fully. Also, set aside time to discuss and track professional development goals with each team member. 

Make Your Store (if you have one) Enticing – Your first and repeat impressions are essential. 

Create a great in-store experience that will make people come to your place of business to explore and buy. 

Here is how:

  • start with your target customer in mind;
  • appeal to as many of the five senses as possible;
  • show your customers about your offerings, don’t tell them;
  • use light to capture attention;
  • keep your store fresh and inviting; and
  • organize and decorate, if you need it.

Be an Advocate – If you are passionate about your business, your sincerity for the brand will shine through when you share it with others. Communicate your business’ mission, stories behind the offerings, customer examples (with permission), etc., to bring life to your company and distinguish it from others. Perhaps others will become excited about your business too.

Communicate with Customers – Get customers’ feedback on your offering (sales process, product, service, etc.). This information will enhance your business and develop strong customer relationships. A few ways to get customer feedback include surveys, feedbox boxes, usability testing online and in physical locations, and direct contact. 

Build Solid Personalized Relationships – Make an effort to stay in touch with targets, prospects, and customers. Provide insightful tips, unique data/knowledge, discounts or favorable pricing, and more so they get to know your business better. Perhaps they will follow your business on social media and open and respond to your emails.

Provide Excellent Customer Service – Great service matters to your customers. A customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service-related rather than what is the asking price or product-related, according to Bain & Co. Figure out how to service your customers well and do it consistently to build their loyalty.

Be Present – Find a way to be the face of the business with your employees and customers. Be actively engaged inside your business and within the community.

Build a Community – It takes time and dedication, but if you build a passionate online community, you may gain the trust and respect of current and future customers. Social media platforms can effectively build community; consider which ones your target audiences utilize. Support local fundraisers and events and/or help out in community projects; it shows your customers that you care about them and where you live. Being involved at the local level creates those authentic and long-lasting relationships with customers.

Offer a Trial or Guarantee – Consider a free trial or even a money-back guarantee on your offering; it will reassure customers that what they buy is worth their money. If you are the only business in your niche providing this incentive, it will help your business stand out and pull more sales than competitors.

Technology – Select the best software for your employees and customers. Small companies have a considerable advantage in changing and adopting new software quickly and efficiently. This flexibility can save your business time and money and allow you to provide a better overall customer experience to your customers.


Achieving greater success is often helped by the company facing a considerable level of competition. Some ways of turning a competitive landscape into one where your company is successful include:

  • know your strengths and your customers;  
  • identify ways to distinguish your business; and 
  • then, deliver consistently.

There needs to be more than just knowing your company’s strengths and best strategies, you need to put them to work to see positive results.

End Of Year Checklist

November 2, 2022

As year-end approaches, most small businesses are busy with the holiday season, so time is precious.  Nevertheless, it is critical for small business owners and managers to set aside time to handle year-end activities.  Like prior years, we are putting forth a checklist of tasks to take care of so your business finishes the year well and is set-up for a good start in 2023.

Revenue – Check to see how you are doing against your 2022 target.  If you are ahead, excellent; keep going to finish strong.  If you are behind, now is the time to plan a year-end push: plan a promotion, holiday(s) sales, or another effort to generate additional sales.

Marketing – Review your brand.  Does your website reflect what your business does/sells?  Update its information, images, headlines, and content to keep customers informed and engaged.  Also, tweak your inbound (highlighted in last month’s blog) and outbound marketing materials to maximize their effectiveness.

Financial Reports – While you have to wait until all the figures are in, you can pull your records together and do a pre-close (P&L, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow) with 10 months of data plus an estimate to see where your business may end up.  Then make adjustments to your spending and other financial activities to help reach your business goals.  Speak with your financial advisor or accountant about any questions you might have.  Plus, with having done a pre-close, finalizing the financial reports in early January should be a snap.

Employees – Review your employees: do you have the right people in the right positions?  Do evaluations.  Also, verify their information for contact (telephone number, email, mailing address), payroll, benefits, compliance, etc.  Consider their access to physical assets, computer systems, financial information, and other proprietary assets.  Make necessary hirings or layoffs for the holidays and next year; consider temporary and part-time help as well.

Inventory and Assets – Now is a good time to check your inventory; physically count it.  Do you have what is needed to make your business grow?  Note missing things and include them in financials, and institute loss prevention.  Note and make adjustments for what products are selling and which are not.  For the latter, contact your suppliers and see if they are willing to exchange slow-moving for something you can sell faster or put the older inventory on sale to raise cash and make room for a new product.

Suppliers – Do a refresh, not only on their contact information but also on payment terms, and enhance the relationships.  Consider expanding business with those who are supporting you and replacing those who are not.

Technology – Being up-to-date, protected, and compliant can be advantageous for your business and minimize risks.  Make the time to back-up systems (computers and mobile devices); this is critical, and lost information is hard or impossible to replace.  Plus, information is sensitive, whether it be your business’ and/or customers’ information.  Protecting customer information is essential; consider who has access to it and how to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.  There are laws protecting information, and you want your business to be compliant.

Achievements – Create a list of your business accomplishments.  Reflect on all the good that has happened, and learn from any shortfalls.

2023 – As you want to start the year off positively, plan ahead.  Set goals.  Make a budget.  Plan employee training and development.  Expand your partnerships.

Here is to your success in finishing 2022, as well as beginning afresh and being well-prepared for 2023.

Business Essentials

October 1, 2022

Preparing your business for what lies ahead, adapting to changes, handling challenges, and seizing opportunities is the mark of a good leader.

Over the years of working with small businesses, as an owner and advisor, I have keyed in on a few essentials that can make a difference in business success. I want to share with you what I have learned.


First, it is all about the people involved in your business: employees, customers, partners, and suppliers. 

As the business leader, you must ensure connection, communication, and clarity, especially during change and disruption. Nurture relationships to create bonds; they can withstand periods of change. 

Communicate in the form other people are most comfortable with (face-to-face, over the telephone, via text or email, etc.). Be accessible for others to reach you and make the time to answer their questions. 

Be clear about expectations and plans for today and the future, individually and for the business. 

Managing interpersonal relationships is one of the most critical responsibilities of a business leader and human being. 


While economic conditions change, focus on your business purpose and fundamentals.

Look at why you are in business and what you are trying to achieve. Always be cognizant of and share the business’ purpose and goals. Then examine how you are doing it; think of values and execution. Lead with good character; your integrity and positively affecting the communities your business serves matters. 

Also, look at how you run your business; stay focused on the fundamentals. Strive for continuous improvement of processes, financial rigor (which we will in part address in the next point), and accountability of those involved in making it a success.

Your leadership focus is on how and why, and what you do.

Cash Flow

Cash management is critical whether your business is scaling fast or going through rough times.

Collecting receivables as soon as possible is essential. Review your customer payment terms closely to ensure prompt payment.

For business expenses, always be frugal; hopefully, there will be enough cash to endure or flourish; observe where monies are spent and the return on investment the business receives. When in a cash crunch, cut all discretionary expenses. Limit payments to what is critical to keeping the business going, such as payroll and electrical, and pay those first. Pay for other items over time; talk to your suppliers about extending payment terms. 

Always seek the best collection and payment terms for your business; cash is its lifeblood and needs careful management.


Technology is available in all business areas; when leveraged appropriately, it can be advantageous to your business, saving money and making it more competitive.

People, cash flow, and other factors drive your business needs. Consider whether technology helps you communicate better with people and/or perform tasks more efficiently and at lower cost.

Look at the return on investment for technology. Always examine rent versus buy scenarios, and remember to factor in any costs for training as well as privacy and protection of data.

Technology is rapidly changing; it can enable business processes and help scale or hinder and add risk. Technology is an essential part of business today and in the future, use it wisely.


Finally, a business can be complicated and perhaps overwhelming at times; but steps can make a difference. 

As a business leader, you must stay optimistic about the future, address near-term challenges, and seize opportunities to innovate, change, and grow. 

Be creative when you consider alternatives. Also, play to your business’s strengths, such as customer service or the highest quality offering. Then decide what you want to do and break it down into steps to get there. Then take one manageable step at a time, and you will progress.

There may be hurdles and changes along the way, but pivot and move forward step-by-step to achieve a better future.

Nothing is certain in business with many outside influencing factors. But experience has taught me that if a business leader focuses on what can be controlled, the people who can make it happen, manage the business’ cash well, leverages technology, and moves forwards in steps, there will be better outcomes.

Please feel free to share any other business essentials you have learned.

Value of Inbound Marketing

September 4, 2022

Inbound marketing can provide the best return on business development monies spent. Learn why.

Inbound marketing uses tailored messages to attract the right type of customer – the kind actively looking for answers or solutions.

[Compared to outbound marketing, which involves sending the same message to a large group of people.]

More and more small businesses (and larger ones, too) are moving from traditional marketing to inbound strategies and tactics because it solves their most significant challenges: small marketing teams and limited internal resources. Moreover, the inbound methodology boosts lead generation, costs less than outbound leads, and increases sales.

[Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not compete for customer attention.]

Inbound marketing involves creating content (written, audio, video) about your offerings that potential and existing customers can easily find in blogs, via SEO, on social media, and across multiple channels. Your content needs to appeal to your audience’s needs or wants: answer their questions, solve their problems, engage, educate, and/or inspire each potential or existing customer. Your ‘advertising’ is no longer viewed as disruptive when it becomes relevant, perhaps helpful, to your viewers.

Your business needs an inbound strategy; it involves understanding and providing the content your potential and existing customers seek in each stage of their buyer’s journey. When the viewer is interested, they will engage more, click on a call to action and receive offers from your business; audiences qualify themselves as a lead. As a result, your business will generate better (actual) leads, increase sales, and retain customers longer.

[More than 9 out of 10 companies using inbound marketing increase their lead generation, and most companies increase their leads by +50%.]

Let’s delve more into the buyer’s journey, as it is the backbone of an inbound marketing strategy.

There are three stages of the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness (learning about your business and its offerings).
  • Consideration (looking at your offering vis-à-vis their needs and those offered by your competitors).
  • Decision (being one click away from purchase).

With great content marketing, people find the right message at the right time; its message moves the prospect further along the buying journey.

Similarly, using the same methodology, your content can convert initial contact into a more highly desirable sales-qualified lead. When you close your sales-qualified lead, the prospect becomes a customer. After that, you must delight your customers with great content that makes them more frequent, loyal, and/or more significant buyers.

You can segment potential customers into buyer personas. Separating types of customers into specific target groups allows you to learn which audience sector is most interested in content marketing and which buyer persona most often converts to becoming a customer. Then you will better understand where to direct your content marketing.

[Inbound marketing is less expensive; inbound leads cost about 60% less than outbound leads.]

As you know, most people do not want to be prospected, nor sold to. Yet, they still have questions and want answers in a personalized, engaging way. All the great content you create is findable at any time when a potential customer searches for it. Also, interested potential customers are willing to exchange personal information if they get something in return, such as a free brochure, white paper, or a free trial estimate.

Once a potential customer has gotten enough information (downloaded, read, and/or listened to it), they should be ready to take the next step in the buyer’s journey as a marketing-qualified lead and be directed to a landing page to learn your sales offer.

[Nearly 50% of companies using inbound marketing increase sales within seven months.]

This approach focuses on providing the right information at the right time, wherever the potential customer is in the sales funnel.

Inbound salespeople can focus on attracting new leads to grow the sales pipeline, engage with prospects ready for sales conversion, and delight them with specific solutions to their challenges or fill their wants.

A bonus is smaller sales and marketing teams can manage inbound marketing. Most prospective customers have the same questions: they want to know why they should trust your company and what makes you different and/or better than your competitors. Your business’ inbound teams can focus on evergreen content that answers those questions.

Marketing your business well is essential to your success. If you have the in-house talent, use it. But, if you do not have the expertise then look outside and choose wisely.  Consider your needs and budget, then review possible firms, and utilize key performance metrics to measure your ROI.