Posts Tagged ‘small business growth’

This Summer, Grow Your Business and Refresh Yourself

June 5, 2015

Summer is the time for growing your small- and medium-size business, not slumbering away hot days.

For many, summer is the time for slackening efforts in the face of hot days and vacation schedules.

For smart small- and medium-size business leaders these months can be used to add sales, expand operations and prepare for year-end efforts.

While competitors slumber in the summer doldrums; it may be an opportunity for your business to steal sales.

At the least, July and August workdays can be used to plan fall campaigns, review year-to-date results, recharge employees, and make changes necessary to close year-end business ahead of plan.

Here are five suggestions for making your business more productive this summer:

  1. Review your business’ first six months results and identify what worked and didn’t work during this period. Include, expand the best performing efforts in the final year-end push.
  2. Take advantage of the slower period to reach out to current and former customers with new ideas, promotions. There is less clutter during this period and the message may stand out better.
  3. Develop a business program for hitting the bricks in September. Customers view this month as a fresh beginning, offer them something innovative.
  4. Use this time to refresh the company’s inner-communications with informal gatherings and perhaps a picnic. Casual Fridays are nice but perhaps a Thursday pizza party or adding flex hours will appeal to your staff.
  5. Above all, for small- and medium-size business leaders used to 24/7 work weeks it is important to recharge their own batteries. Leave the business alone for one day a week and let others take charge. The results will most probably surprise those leaders.

Happy Summer!

Advertisements

Current Customers Are Vital To Adding Profits, Generating New Revenues

June 14, 2014

Generating new revenue is an important component of small business growth.

But there are other avenues to generating added profits.

One route is through the current customer base.

In our surveys at Information Strategies, Inc., it is apparent many companies focus their marketing efforts on identifying, selling new customers through outside media such as advertising, social media, public relations.

At times, this process leads to companies putting the majority of their resources into this effort while ignoring current clients.

Yet, adding to current customer’s average sale and gaining referrals to new customers is an economical way of improving profits.

Retaining current customers is cheaper than finding a replacement client. Ipsos cites that acquiring a new customer can be 12 times more costly then retain an existing one.

Therefore, there is much to gain to putting emphasis on good customer relations with current customers.

Upselling new products/services is economical, easier, and more profitable.

A good profit generator and one often overlooked is current purchasers can be upsold into other products/services.

It is easier to sell new products/services to an existing customer than it is to market to potential clients.

Having set an upsell program in place, insure current customers are more than satisfied with the company’s products/services and particularly customer service.

Referrals from current customers are more profitable and longer lasting.

There are other compelling reasons for viewing these efforts as critical elements in the drive for increased revenues and profitability.

Current customers are a mouthpiece in the marketplace. According to McKinsey, word-of-month generates 2 times the sales of paid advertising.

As MePlusYou points out, trust in personal recommendations is at 92% and growing.

Finally, Deloitte claims customers referred by other loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

Current customers are perhaps the best single source of new clients.

Therefore, it behooves small businesses to devote resources to enlist current customers as allies in new business efforts.

Some referred customer marketing tactics to employ are:

· Build customer referrals into the total marketing plan and set targets.
· Train, reward staff to ask for referrals.
· Provide incentives to encourage customer referrals.
· Identify customers who are vocally positive and amplify their message.

In summary, often the focus on new clientele leads companies sometimes to neglect current customers.

To ignore current customers is to put the company at risk.

Properly managing, better serving, encouraging current customers can lead to additional sales, referrals and significant profit gains.

Hiring A Contributing Employee Is Key To Small Business Growth

May 9, 2014

Choosing the right employees is often the key to long-term small business growth.

In a recent series of interviews Information Strategies, Inc. conducted with the founders of successful enterprises, this was often cited as a key element of their success.

There was also a common thread to what they looked for in a new employee.

These characteristics boiled down to Passion and an unbending will to succeed in the face of significant challenges.

Honesty, an ability to be flexible, and above all a Commitment to the company were the other key factors highlighted by these owners.

The most used words were Passion and Commitment.

Most said they faced adversity and were sustained by the loyalty of their employees.

Many reported they had employees who sacrificed along with the owners during the hard times of establishing and growing a new company.

How they identified an excellent hire varied but evolved from their own past experiences and outlook.

Some of the comments they said included:

  • “The three primary tenets we focus on are Self-Awareness, Situational Awareness, and Empathy. We want someone that is aware of their strengths and weaknesses and then position them in roles that align with their strengths.”
  • “Personality and positive attitude are key factors for us when finding both employees and franchise partners. We want to find the people who are passionate about the (our) brand coupled with a willingness and desire to learn and improve daily.”
  • “First and foremost – I look for passion. Certain things can be taught, but love for what you do is the most important asset to any employee in any business.”
  • “Values. Do they align with the values we have set forth as a company? Is family important to them?”

It is interesting, experience and qualifications, while important, are not the overriding concern of many successful entrepreneurs.

As one respondent said: “The operations of the business can be taught, but a person’s personality and positive attitude cannot.”

Which leads to the final point about hiring: a new employee needs to have the same positive outlook as the founders who by ‘jumping off the cliff’ of starting a new business are being extremely optimistic.

Referrals and recommendations from business associates, family, and friends were the preferred way to identify potential hires with 90% saying this was their preferred method of sourcing candidates.

A majority admitted they had made mistakes in hiring but felt the worst part of such an occurrence was keeping the bad hire too long.

When a bad hire is made, end it quickly.

Another major shortcoming they pointed out was hiring against their “gut feel” against moving ahead.

Hiring in their image was also a major cause of a bad hire.

“Find the right person not someone who is very much like you but does not have the passion, dedication, or willingness to accept the ups and downs of small business,” said one entrepreneur but echoed by others.

Hiring a new employee is always important but never as important then in the early stages of any new business.