This Thanksgiving, the perfect time to focus on family businesses. Working with the people you love is tough. I recently had a chance to speak with Mitzi Purdue. She is the daughter of Sheraton Hotels co-founder and the wife of the late entrepreneur Frank Perdue. She is also the author the of the book “How To Make Your Family Business Last” and “How to Communicate Values to Children—So They’ll Love it.” It’s a practical guide to keep families and business together through the predictable issues all businesses face. For the holidays, Misti has discounted her book to $10 at http://mitziperdue.com/discount.
I’ve seen so many family businesses ruined. When I learned that only 30 percent of family businesses endure beyond one generation, I wasn’t surprised: How can family businesses last when there isn’t a strong family culture to sustain them? I wanted to use my experiences to help families avoid court battles and family strife when its time for the next generation to take over the business.
Everyone loves a good story – but those stories only matter if we can bring their lessons to life. Throughout the book, I combine anecdotes from my personal experience with checklists, tips and tricks so that readers have clear-cut applications and advice for their own families and businesses.
Quite simply because we are the stories we tell ourselves. It is stories – not principles, statistics or arguments – that shape the way we live our lives. Telling the family story acts as a sort of relational glue: It reminds members of how deeply their identity is founded in the family, and it gives everyone a shared sense of “what it means to be us.”
There are dozens of ways! One of them is family traditions – another kind of relational glue. In the Perdue family, we have all kinds of traditions. Some fall on holidays, like our Thanksgiving gathering when we wrap presents for disaster victims. Some center on major events, like weddings, when we give the bride a coin from a sunken treasure ship whose finding Frank backed financially. And some of them don’t have any particular purpose at all, like our annual talent show and annual vacation, when we just get together and enjoy one another’s skills and gifts.
Another is just simply asking good questions. Do you know what your parents’ first jobs were? Do you know about any major injuries, challenge, or struggles in your grandparents’ lives were? Do you know the origin of your name?
Telling these kinds of stories can itself be a bonding experience – and if you record them, either via a coffee table book, as we do, or with a video, you’ll be able to remember and reflect on the answers for years to come.
Oh, there are just so many! But I would say fortune hunters are a big problem, especially if you’re a high profile business. Learning to trust yourself and your intuition on these matters is crucial. Legal trouble is a big problem as well. Too often, family members are too quick to move a dispute to the courtroom rather than settling it privately – a decision that is incredibly costly, both monetarily and emotionally.
Yes, it does seem contradictory, doesn’t it? Frugality means holding onto your money; philanthropy means giving it away. But both these things are a way to combat selfishness, showiness, and the temptation to a “the world revolves around me” attitude. Frank always impressed me with his frugality: He absolutely refused to live beyond his means, and constantly was looking for smart ways to save, whether flying economy or living in a home far less expensive than he could afford.
This is another thing Frank was a master at. For him, running a family business meant not just treating family members like employees, but treating employees like family. He knew the names of countless individuals – even the hourly workers – and made a point of attending weddings and funerals and visiting people in the hospital. He also wrote hundreds of handwritten notes to supervisors, using this as a way to ensure that the company’s values were always being realized in every aspect of its operations.
I highly recommend creating an ethical will. It binds family members to one another and to the memory of the deceased, and it reminds them that their inheritance is far more than dollars and assets – it’s an attitude and an approach to doing things.
Shut up and listen! You will learn far more by observing than by talking. Make a point of listening 90 percent of the time and not ten. There’s a reason your relatives are where they are. Listen to them, and take notes – literally. The more information you can glean to inform your decisions – business, career, or personal – the better.
Ah, this is a tricky one! My answer is yes and no. On the one hand, as I’ve said, make it a rule to solve family problems within the family, as opposed to bringing in lawyers. Hiring someone whose MO is litigation, in my observation, regularly leads to family disaster. However, if a conflict is intractable and you need outside help to help you sort through the mess, there are many resources to turn to including family business therapists, and professional mediators. By all means get the help you need. It’s a worthwhile investment, and can prevent you from spending thousands on legal fees, not to mention extraordinary emotional anguish.
It’s so easy to get caught up in practical matters like growth, operations and product development and skimp on subtler things, like family get-togethers and trust. But this is a mistake that can have devastating consequences, both personally and professionally. Develop a supportive culture that can sustain your family business for generations. Always remember: You were family before you were in business, and acting in the best interest of your family is ultimately acting in the best interest of your family business. After all, what good does it do to succeed financially and fail as a family? The deepest joys and worst pains in life come through our intimate relationships, so put the time, effort, resources, and love to protect and nurture these relationships.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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Are your walls adorned with the images of Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? Do you find yourself constantly dreaming about running a small business? Do you love discussing ideas and coming up with something new? Then it wouldn’t be wrong to say that you want to be an entrepreneur and start your own business some day. To fulfill that dream at a young age, it is important to develop entrepreneur skills early.
Here are 8 tips for young entrepreneurs that will help in developing important entrepreneurial skills that will help you navigate through the business world.
Be Open to New Experiences
Nobody achieves anything great by sticking in their comfort zone. As an aspiring entrepreneur, it is important to stretch beyond your comfort zone and keep your mind open to new ideas. Make a habit of seeking new experiences as it will expose you to things, people and ideas that will help you grow as a person.
Dare to Take Risks
One common trait amongst successful entrepreneurs is that they are not afraid of taking risks. They understand that calculated risks often lead to success. Make a move from being an aspiring entrepreneur to actually launching a business will require some calculated leaps. You can’t step into the business world just by dreaming and wishing about it.
Never Stop Learning
The most successful entrepreneurs are those who never stop reading and learning. They never consider themselves as the smartest people in the room and are constantly seeking ways to learn new things and surround themselves with people who are smarter. The more you keep your mind open to learning new things, the more skills you will develop and that will help you develop key entrepreneurial skills such as being a leader, a visionary, and a salesman.
Young entrepreneurs should understand the importance of being consistent. Running a business is unpredictable, challenging and unlike the regular 9-to-5 job. You have to make a schedule and stick to it. Don’t just become a success overnight, you must create a plan for success. Follow your schedules, create goals and consistently perform the tasks that are required to execute your plan.
Remember that being consistent is not just limited to your professional life. You have to be consistent in your personal life too. If you have chores and homework for school you need to make sure that you get those things done, so that you can work on your business idea. Do what you have to do, so that you can do what you want to do.
Be Self Motivated
How many times have you heard companies seeking to hire people who are self-starters. This is just a fancy word for those who don’t need constant supervision. If you approach each day enthusiastic about starting your tasks and can stay motivated enough to see through them, you will be a success. You can’t run a business if you lack the drive to do the work or tackle problems. Your leadership skills must guide your business. One day when you have employees they will look to you as the example. It is important to develop this habit while you are young, do not wait to be asked to do your homework or take your dishes off the table. Making it a habit to ask how you can help. Self-motivated leaders, make the best entrepreneurs.
Be Aware of your Strengths and Weaknesses
If you don’t know your strengths, you can’t take advantage of them and when you aren’t’t aware of your weaknesses, you won’t make an effort to overcome them. Overlooking either can hindering your progress in like and in business. Successful entrepreneurs know their strengths and weaknesses, and they keep honing their weaknesses and they hire people who are strong where they are weak. They leverage their strengths too, but that is much easier.
Learn to be Emotionally Intelligent
Customer complaints are common in any business, but how you react to it will make the difference in retaining customers or losing them. At the same time, entrepreneurs face a lot of criticism and rejection in various forms, especially in the early years of a business. As an aspiring business owner, you must be emotionally intelligent to learn from every situation without getting dejected, loosing confidence or destroying a relationship. Learn to develop a thick skin and tackle rejection in a calm and reflective manner. Look at criticism as honest feedback which is a gift and an opportunity to improve your skills and move on.
Every successful entrepreneur got their because going they identified an opportunity that no one else noticed or took advantage of. It would be beneficial if you get into the habit of identifying opportunities at a young age itself.
To develop habits of an entrepreneur, you must start young. Your teen years are the perfect time start molding yourself into an individual who is prepared to take on running a small business later in life and succeed in it.
About the Author:
Dana Jandhyala is the co-founder of MySchoolPage in Bengaluru, India. She specializes in making education simple and easy to comprehend through online tutorials. She writes to help students study better, and to coach parents so they can facilitate the success of their children.
The post 8 Habits to Become a Successful Young Entrepreneur appeared first on Succeed As Your Own Boss.
When you see or hear the abbreviation “IP,” it stands for Intellectual Property. IP is a key asset in a small business. Simply put, intellectual property is the ownership of concepts, processes and ideas, as opposed to physical property which characterizes a tangible asset. IP is fast becoming the major delineator among business owners who are competing for market share and customers.
There are four basic types of IP that small businesses often rely on.
This category encompasses everything from literary and artistic works to video and audio recordings to architectural drawings and computer code. Although a copyright is the most common form of IP, it does not cover ideas or concepts unless they are written down, creatively rendered, or recorded in some other fashion. However, you can not copyright a book title unless it’s a book series. Though technically speaking, you don’t have to register a copyright in order for it to be valid, doing so is relatively inexpensive and gives you more solid legal footing should a dispute ever arise.
While copyrights focus mainly on creative works, trademarks protect anything that is related to branding. Things that can be trademarked include company symbols (like McDonald’s golden arches), names (like the Super Bowl), or logos (like the blue and white F for Facebook) – as long as it is distinctive (for instance, the name “AAA Plumbing” probably couldn’t be trademarked). Trademarks can be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a few hundred dollars or a bit more if you utilize a lawyer.
These days, patents are the least common types of IP among small business owners. That’s because patents only apply to invented products, processes, and methods which are determined to be “novel,” “non-obvious,” and “useful” according to federal statutes. Also, the patenting process with the USPTO can take months or years and cost thousands of dollars, and it always involves securing the services of a patent lawyer.
This is a more nebulous classification which covers any type of process, recipe, formula, or design that gives your business a competitive advantage (like a family secret pie recipe, your unique 3D printing process, or Coca-Cola’s secret formula). Here’s the problem: the government doesn’t provide any registration process for trade secrets (which would defeat the purpose, after all), so it’s up to the small business to restrict access to its trade secrets. Legal relief only comes if the IP is leaked or stolen (which is theft) or an employee violates a non-disclosure agreement (which is a breach of contract).
Intensely Protect Your IP
Though the process for safeguarding or registering various forms of IP can differ depending on the company and the context, here are some general guidelines for how to protect your business:
Do your homework. Identify your IP, categorize it properly, and know your rights and limitations.
Don’t procrastinate. The USPTO operates on a “first to file” system, so even if you come up with the idea first, you’re out of luck if someone else registers it with the USPTO before you do.
Seek expert advice. For complex IP types like patents and trademarks, hiring a who specializes in IP law to help you navigate the process.
Monitor your IP rights. Once you have registered your IP, it’s up to you to watch out for infringements; the government won’t do it for you.
Handle disputes wisely. If you find someone using your IP improperly, don’t automatically run to the courthouse. Consider sending a notification letter to the perpetrator; or if the revelation might actually boost your business, it may be prudent to ignore it altogether.
Overlooking your IP could have negative ramifications for your business. But don’t wait to find out you’re wrong by watching a competitor leverage your creative ideas or logo to make money for their business. When it comes to IP, Prevention is worth a pound of cure.
For more insights on running your small business, follow me on Twitter.
The post Protecting Your Intellectual Property Is More Important than Ever appeared first on Succeed As Your Own Boss.
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 R.W. Burke who is a Certified Professional Coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and is the top coach on Ford Motor Company’s Consumer Experience Movement (CEM) project. He is also the author of a self-help book for business executives – Quiet the Rage: How Learning to Manage Conflict Will Change Your Life (and the World). For more information: www.quiettherage.com.
SmallBizLady: HOW DOES UNMANAGED CONFLICT IMPACT THE EMPLOYEES OF BUSINESSES?
SmallBizLady: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES TO MANAGE CONFLICT?
R.W. Burke: Most companies are all aiming to lift the collective performance of their employees. Why? To establish a sustainable competitive advantage. Managers at all levels have the same concerns: “How do I move my organization forward by getting more out of my people?” They do that by elevating employee engagement.
According to Gallup, employee engagement is at an all-time low—only 27% of employees are “highly engaged.” Employee engagement is a direct result of the health and the strength of the relationships that exist between people. Unmanaged conflict jeopardizes those relationships.
SmallBizLady: HOW CAN MANAGERS BECOME BETTER MANAGERS OF CONFLICT?
R.W. Burke: Most managers struggle with trying to change behavior…his own, or someone else’s. And it’s usually someone else’s.
The struggle with that behavior is mostly caused by the lack of understanding of it.
Once a basic understanding exists, managing it becomes easier. The same is true of managing conflict.
Managing conflict is not only a state of mind, but a state of understanding.
And it’s easiest to learn to manage it within yourself before trying to manage it in others.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ARE THE KEY INSIGHTS MANAGERS MUST UNDERSTAND TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE CONFLICT?
R.W. Burke: Some keys to addressing conflict between employees, managers and employees, between departments, divisions, etc. Understand that all human behavior is a function of personal values. Recognize that conflict exists when someone feels as though one of their personal values has been offended; or, when someone feels like another is imposing their personal values on them. Realize that we sometimes create the behavior in others that we don’t want. Learn about the specific situations that are prone to offend our personal values to anticipate them, manage them, and proactively avoid them.
SmallBizLady: WHY DO PERSONAL VALUES MATTER IN A BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT?
R.W. Burke: When one of our personal values is offended, we become emotionally reactive.
When we’re reactive, we’re not our best selves, nor do we produce the best outcomes. We don’t recognize that others’ behavior is simply their honoring their values. And that recognition is the keystone to eliminating the offensiveness we perceive in their behavior. Recognition leads to transformation of our reaction into a response, flipping it from a negative to a positive interaction
SmallBizLady: WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO MANAGING CONFLICT?
R.W. Burke: There are 5 Steps to managing conflict:
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY AND DECLARE YOUR PERSONAL VALUES?
R.W. Burke: There are a couple of reasons it’s important to identify your personal values.
Any situation that you encounter that challenges 1 of your values will cause you to become emotionally reactive.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE YOUR “HOT SITUATIONS?”
R.W. Burke: Conflict exists when someone feels like a personal value has been offended,
and by answering this question, they identify their individual “hot situations” –
or those that are prone to offend a particular person’s values.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU DETERMINE YOUR DEFAULT STYLE OF EMOTIONAL REACTION?
R.W. Burke: Once becoming emotionally reactive, what remains is to identify someone’s “default reactionary style.” People will react as “victims” or “in conflict.”
If reacting as a victim, that person will withdraw, stop communicating, feel helpless and powerless, and the prevailing idea is “I lose.”
If reacting in conflict, that person will lash out, become angry and aggressive, argumentative and combative, and the prevailing idea is “I win.
Regardless of the default reactionary style, the ultimate challenge is to learn how to interrupt
the negative emotional reaction and transform it into a positive response.
SmallBizLady: HOW CAN THE NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS BE INTERRUPTED?
R.W. Burke: There are two levels of interruption, one is simple restraint. That is where the emotion still exists, but the destructive action does not. The problem with restraint though is it is a diminishable resource…you can run out of restraint.
The second level, is where the emotion no longer exists by virtue of dissociating the perception of intentionality with respect to the observed or witnessed behavior. Without the emotion, there is no fuel for the reaction, and without the reaction we are simply left with a situation that we would like to be different.
SmallBizLady: IN YOUR BOOK, YOU SAY: “SOMETIMES WE CREATE THE BEHAVIOR IN OTHERS THAT WE DON’T WANT.” HOW DO WE DO THAT?
R.W. Burke: Conflict also exists when another feel like someone else is imposing their personal values on them. It’s natural for an organization to reflect the persona of its managers and owners. Too often though, those managers and owners are judging everyone else in the organization with respect to how much like them, those others are. And when they feel someone isn’t enough like themselves, they attempt to change them…making it natural for employees to rebel against that.
SmallBizLady: IN YOUR BOOK, YOU TALK ABOUT SOMETHING CALLED A “SUPER WICKED PROBLEM.” WHAT IS THAT?
R.W. Burke: A Super Wicked Problem exists when: the people that want to solve the problem also create it. That means to say, if you want to productively manage conflict, you must first understand how you may be participating in it…in other words, creating it. When we allow ourselves to become emotionally reactive, our behavior contributes to the problem, not the solution.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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As a small business owner, we all feel overwhelmed at times, and it can be a debilitating. It is not only frustrating and miserable, but it keeps us from achieving our goals and delivering value to the world. My most recent experience was a couple months ago when I was trying to use social media to broaden my reach about my core message about positivity. I was learning how to do it effectively and found that it was time-consuming work. Because I was just learning, I was making painfully slow progress on my long list of things to do. As I fell behind, I started feeling stressed. After a week of making minimal headway, I was stressed, tired, and overwhelmed by my seemingly insurmountable list of things to do. One afternoon, feeling particularly stressed and upset with myself, I complained to my wife.
She looks at me and says. “Really Steve? Think about this a second…You’re getting stressed-out about positivity.”
Touché. That stopped me in my tracks.
She was right. I had to take a different approach. I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to use one of the tools in my book Head First! A Crash Course in Positivity: Eight Practical Ways to Increase Your Positivity and Improve Your Outcome. In my current situation, the most relevant tool was Principle Two: “Focus on the things you control.”
This principle works well when you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s a simple five-step approach to getting unstuck, unstressed, and moving in the right direction again that will work in any situation.
Step 1: Place the elements of your situation into three categories
Take a sheet of paper and make three columns with the labels:
Now, break down your current situation into its component parts and put them into each category. In my situation of being stressed out about social media, I came up with the following:
Simply breaking down your situation into these elements and writing them down makes a big difference in your attitude and helps you become unblocked. It puts some structure to the problem and you can start to see the path forward. By writing it down and defining it, you have already started taking control of the situation. You will feel your mindset shift.
Step 2: Awareness and acceptance of what you don’t control
Read through the items in column three to just simply to be aware of them and accept them. Don’t spend any energy on these things, just be aware of them so you can navigate around them. In my situation, I had to accept the fact that social media marketing is effective and I need to do it, even if it’s a time suck for me. Sigh…
Step 3: Focus on what you CAN control
Read through the items in the list of things you control. Pick one that meets the following criteria and circle it.
I circled “Making time to do social media.” It was the easiest thing to do and it would be a small but visible step in the right direction.
Step 4: Take ACTION!
For that one thing you circled, write down what steps you can take to move it forward. The smaller and easier the steps, the better. Now pick one of those steps, do it, and cross it off the list. Pick another action and do it.
For my first thing, ‘Finding time to do social media, all I had to do was decide when was a good time, put it on my calendar and tell my wife the plan. After thinking about how my days were going, I decided that the best time for me would be sometime between getting home from work and eating dinner. I blocked off 30 min each day, and told my wife so she could help hold me accountable… She would tell me… “No treats until you do your tweets!”
Once you take a few small steps forward, even if they are tiny, you start to separate yourself from your overwhelmed feeling. Once you regain control over the situation, you will regain your confidence and energy.
Step 5: Move into things you can INFLUENCE
After focusing on what you can control and regaining your self-confidence, start putting energy into the things you can influence. It is through influence that we have the biggest effect on the world, but you won’t be successful influencing unless you approach it from a position of strength and confidence.
Although it can be rewarding, influencing can also be time consuming and frustrating. To avoid wasting your precious time and energy, ask yourself three questions:
1) Is it any of your business? Is it reasonable for you to try to influence it?
2) Do you have the credibility to convince others to follow you?
3) If you are successful, Is the expected benefit worth the effort?
If you answered yes to all three of those, then dive in. Do it from a position of strength, do it with confidence and be aggressive.
My step five was to start interacting with others on Twitter and Facebook trying to build engagement. I crafted social posts that encouraged likes and shares from my audience. It is hit or miss things, but as I do it, I get better reactions. Bit by bit, my list of followers is expanding. By the time you read this article, I will probably have almost as many followers as the SmallBizLady, we’ll I can have a goal anyway. I have an idea. Next time you feel overwhelmed, grab a pen and paper and give this process a try. Honestly, the hardest part is getting the energy to grab a pen. Momentum is a big part of this equation and by starting small and making incremental progress you gain momentum. Every moment you spend moving forward gives you more momentum, which makes the next step even easier.
Once you completed step five, that feeling of being overwhelmed is a distant memory and has been replaced with accomplishment, confidence and energy. Keep going! Get out there, do great things and make this world a better place!
About the author:
Steve H. Lawton is a positivity expert and author of “Head First! A Crash Course in Positivity.” Lawton shares his inspirational story alongside eight practical positivity principles that he took away from a major tragedy and instructions on how to implement them into your life. Follow him on Twitter @SteveHLawton
If you’re one of the 2.5 million veterans who own a business, or is a vet thinking about starting a business, you should know that there are resources that will help make your journey easier. There are programs specifically designed for veteran-owned businesses. Whether you need financing, a mentor, or just small business training, here are a list of resources that you can take advantage of to boost your business venture.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website has a robust section dedicated to veteran entrepreneurs. There, you can find resources for starting and growing a business, as well as financing and pursuing federal contracting opportunities. You can also find franchising opportunities, training and employment programs.
What it’s best for: Sometimes getting started is the hardest thing to do, especially when it comes to applying for federal contracts. This site provides ample educational resources to walk you through becoming certified as a veteran-owned small business so that you can bid on federal contracts. If you’re a disabled vet, you will be given priority in the bidding process, so it’s worth becoming certified.
For female veterans, V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) can get you started on your entrepreneurial adventure. This three-phase training program includes a 15-day online course, a 3-day entrepreneurship training conference, and ongoing mentorship and support as you launch or grow your business.
The great thing about this program is that it’s not only for honorably discharged women vets and active duty service members, but also female spouses or same-sex life partners of women veterans.
What it’s best for: If you thrive networking with other veteran business owners and learning in a formal education-style training program, you’ll get the most out of this resource.
For the past 10 years, the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans has been held on 10 college campuses, with the aim of providing access to higher education-level training for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.
The program, free for post-9/11 vets, includes three phases:
What it’s best for: If finances have kept you from seeking top-level training to boost your entrepreneurship skills, this program removes financial hardship from the equation.
Bunker Labs, a national non-profit built by military veteran entrepreneurs, designed to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation by providing educational programming and small business resources.
Through this organization, you can network with other veteran business owners through its Bunker Brews and CEOCircle events, or take one of several education courses online or in person.
What it’s best for: If getting to an in-person training course is difficult, check out Bunker in a Box, an online entrepreneur education platform.
For startups, having funds to scale a big business idea is key. If you’re seeking funding for your veteran-owned startup, why not work with an angel investor that focuses on funding people who have served in the military? Hivers & Strivers provides early-stage investment for startups founded and run by graduates of the US Military Academies.
What it’s best for: If you’re looking for $250,000 to $1 million in investment, Hivers & Strivers is the resources to consider.
Franchising is an excellent option for entry into business ownership: with business branding and processes already established for you, it’s less work to get an establish business up and running than to build an independent business from scratch.
VetFran supports veterans who are interested in franchises, and connects them with franchising opportunities. Often, franchisors will offer a reduced franchising fee to veterans as a way to encourage them to buy a franchise, and VetFran can guide you to the best franchise for your needs. The website includes a veteran franchise directory, as well as educational resources.
What it’s best for: If you want guidance toward finding the best franchises for you as a veteran, this is a great resource.
Having a local resource to turn to with questions on small business ownership is invaluable. The VBOC has centers all over the US, where you can participate in transition assistance programs and receive counseling, training, and mentoring. It’s also a great place to meet other veterans in your area.
What it’s best for: If you feel in over your head in starting a business, a VBOC can help. They offer training and education on developing your business plan, conducting a comprehensive feasibility analysis, and much more.
As a veteran, you can access organizations like these dedicated to helping you succeed as your own boss. Take advantage of them so that you have an edge over the competition once you’re up and running in your new business.
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 Louis Gudema, who has worked with companies from MIT startups to IBM — and everything in between. He focuses on helping small- and mid-sized businesses grow faster by focusing their efforts with his Bullseye Marketing Framework. For more information: www.revenueassociates.biz.
SmallBizLady: WHY SHOULD SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS CARE ABOUT MARKETING?
Louis Gudema: Across virtually all industries, the companies that market more and better, grow faster. Period. For example, a study of >1000 insurance agencies found much faster growth from those that market more. My study of 85 software companies found those with the broadest marketing programs grow almost 5X faster than others. Those are very different industries, but you see the same results over and over again. The biggest companies market a lot. They didn’t get big then start marketing, they got big because they marketed.
SmallBizLady: DO SMALL BUSINESSES TYPICALLY MARKET ENOUGH?
Louis Gudema: No, the vast majority of small businesses do very little, if any, marketing. They should allocate several percent of their budget toward marketing, at least. Remember: marketing is an investment; it should not be an expense. It should return several times what you spend.
SmallBizLady: IF MARKETING IS SO GREAT, WHY DON’T SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DO MORE OF IT?
Louis Gudema: There are reasons why more small business owners don’t do more marketing. First, they often don’t know much about it. They are really experts in their business. And they probably developed good sales skills. Marketing has become complex. There used to only be about 6/8 ways to communicate w/customers. Now there are DOZENS. Plus, over 5000 marketing software vendors in dozens of categories, all making similar claims. Many marketers are overwhelmed, so it’s no surprise that small business owners are, too!
SmallBizLady: ISN’T IT REALLY EXPENSIVE? SMALL BUSINESSES DON’T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY?
Louis Gudema: It doesn’t have to be. Marketing starts with understanding the customer. Talk to 10-20 customers — not a sales call, but a listening conversation. That’s free! If you have those conversations I guarantee you you’ll learn a lot, improve offerings and probably even have some of those customers ask you to do more business. And, it’s amazing the number of free and inexpensive tools available these days, like low cost email tools and free CRMs.
SmallBizLady: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST MARKETING MISTAKE THAT SMALL BUSINESSES MAKE?
Louis Gudema: They equate marketing with advertising and other approaches that are expensive and typically take a long time to have an impact like social media. They also forget about the most profound purpose of #marketing which is to understand the customer and market and develop better products and services. In the startup world, that’s called creating product-market fit. Don’t do any promotion until you have that!
SmallBizLady: YOU HAVE DEVELOPED THIS APPROACH THAT YOU CALL THE BULLSEYE MARKETING FRAMEWORK. HOW IS THAT USEFUL FOR A SMALL BUSINESS?
Louis Gudema: This small business marketing approach helps companies recognize marketing assets that they’re not taking full advantage of. These are marketing assets that they already own, like their customer relationships/website, but are not fully exploiting. They are foundational. Every company should do these first both because they produce the fastest, least expensive results…and because they help set you up for success with those later programs.
SmallBizLady: WHAT’S IN THE CENTER OF THE BULLSEYE?
Louis Gudema: Talking with customers, having listening conversations, creating better offerings, and then upsell them. Least expensive new revenue. Improve your website so that it helps produce new contacts, leads/sales for you. Make sure that it’s more than a brochure
Use email marketing. Analyst firm Deloitte estimates that email marketing is 40X more powerful than social media! Use remarketing, which shows ads only to people who already have visited your website. It’s very efficient and inexpensive.
SmallBizLady: AFTER YOU DO THAT, THEN WHAT?
Louis Gudema: Secondly, you expand your universe by selling to people who want to buy *now*.
Think of these 3 characteristics of customers:
You can find them through search ads, by people who visit your website repeatedly, and other methods.
SmallBizLady: YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING & INBOUND AND ADVERTISING IN THE OUTER – LAST – RING OF YOUR BULLSEYE. REALLY?
Louis Gudema: Absolutely. These are long-term awareness and branding programs. They can take 1-2 years — or more — to have an impact. VPs of marketing often complain that execs in their firms don’t understand that they need more time to let those work. Not that they can’t be valuable in the long run. They can! Creating a strong brand means your customers are more loyal, you can charge more and have higher margins. You can get $1,000 for a smartphone!
You want to get there eventually, but you want to start with those faster, less expensive programs.
SmallBizLady: CAN A SMALL BUSINESS PERSON REALLY DO THIS ON THEIR OWN? WHAT KIND OF SKILLS OR TEAM DO THEY NEED?
Louis Gudema: Great question! If a person doesn’t have marketing experience, then they should get help. Each of the tactics that I’ve mentioned has many techniques that are essential to their success, like combining email with Facebook Custom Audience ads and remarketing
That combination is very inexpensive but has lots of levers you need to pull to get it right
Take advantage of what others know. It’s faster and cheaper than doing it all yourself.
SmallBizLady: THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF MARKETING SOFTWARE PROGRAMS. HOW CAN YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONES FOR YOUR COMPANY?
Louis Gudema: Yes, and those thousands of programs are in dozens of categories. No one can know how to use them all. But, with the Bullseye, you can focus on the 5 or 6 most important programs to support those initial efforts. And, the great thing for small business people today is that many of these are inexpensive — sometimes free! It’s a great time to be marketing.
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Marketing your own business can be time consuming and costly. As a business owner you have limited time with often a tight budget. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to execute a marketing plan. Below are seven low-cost ways to market your company without forfeiting quality.
The three main social platforms you can use to promote your social media for free are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. All you need to get started is a solid social media plan, content writing skills, and/or video making skills. However, you can always use your staff or interns for this if they have a higher skillset. Just remember, quality content counts. A single post on your social media profiles can make the difference between hundreds of clicks, comments, and shares versus none.
Writing blog posts or press releases that interest your customers is another great way to promote your business online. Plus, the more attention your articles get, the more traffic it can drive back to your website and advertise your company. If you’re a real estate company, you can write anything from securing home loans to finding the perfect home in your area. Remember, the more specific you make the topic of the article, the more it can market your company. You should also include a short blurb about you and your business with your article to allow potential customers to know how to find you.
Word of mouth is still the most popular marketing tools used for business, large and small. Creating your company’s own referral program is a great way to reward customers and get them talking about how professional your business is. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot for customer rewards. You’ll be surprised how excited people get for small discounts, free t-shirts, or even movie passes.
Sending out weekly or monthly emails to your valued customers is a great way to market new products or simply tell your consumers how much they mean to your company. Plus, offering special deals in return for reading the email is a great way to reward your customers. However, make sure that you are providing helpful content to your readers. You don’t want to message your customer too much do that they unsubscribe from your list. The last thing they want is to feel pressured into buying a product or be bombarded with irrelevant news from your company. Make sure to keep it as light and interesting as you can.
Using branded promotional products is a great way to boost brand awareness and ensure potential clients remember your business. Give them away for free to potential customers and clients or use them to draw a crowd at business conferences. Whenever they see the product, they will remember your company and what you do. You can remain in the forefront of their mind when looking for or recommending a company like yours, which will surely increase sales.
When using cross-promotion, also known as buddy marketing, you create an agreement with another business to promote each other. For example, you may agree to post an ad for the other company in your email newsletter if they agree to do the same. This is a fantastic way to spread the reach of your business and reach an entirely new audience.
It might be in your best interest to seek out companies in the same industry, though not ones that offer the same sort of product. This way, you can run joint promotions. For example, if you teach art classes, you can cross promote with an art supply store and run a contest together. This is less expensive than running a promotion on your own and will require less effort on your part since you will be sharing responsibility and the cost.
Every document you send out, both physical and digital, should be branded with your logo and pertinent company information. Yes, this is for more than just your business cards. Every document that you send out should contain your company name, logo, website, and contact information. You can even add your slogan onto your documents to be even more memorable. This info should be placed in the letterhead on digital and physical correspondences. You should also update your email signature to contain this information, too. You can even add links to your company’s social media profiles so your clients can connect with you there, too. Be sure to take every promotional opportunity given to you.
About the author:
Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer for Alamo Tees & Advertising. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and running.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice a quiet revolution happening in the world of marketing. Mobile is quickly becoming the go-to channel for a variety of strategies designed to reach your customer. If you’re not using mobile yet, you will soon be. Here are 7 trends to take notice of to start developing a strategy to add mobile to your marketing mix in 2018.
It’s been predicted that in 2018, people will spend about 36 minutes watching videos on their mobile devices, where they’ll spend just 18.5 minutes on non-mobile devices. That’s reason alone to invest in mobile video content and mobile advertising for your brand. With different formats for mobile video ads, there are a variety of ways to engage with your audience, as well as get them to click to your website from the device that has their attention throughout the day. Remember less is more, keep videos under two-minutes to gain traction.
This is far beyond having a responsive website. It’s a given that your website design will adapt based on the device it’s being viewed on. Mobile SEO is about how your mobile website focuses on core ranking, indexing and leveraging mobile keywords. Keys to success are the following:
Also know that in 2018, Google will rank search results based on the mobile friendliness of websites too, so if you’re planning on updating your site keep mobile top of mind.
You may have optimized your website for desktop searches, but you’ll need to take another gander to make sure it’s mobile friendly in terms of search, too. Because so many searches for local businesses happens on mobile devices with intent to buy, it’s imperative that your website content uses keywords to attract local customers. Consider long-tail keywords, that include the neighborhood your business is located in within those keywords.
Also know that voice search is huge with mobile, so people are searching differently. Rather than typing in “restaurant best steak Philadelphia,” a user might voice search with Siri, Amazon Echo or Google Home “What’s the best place to get a cheesesteak in Philly?” Knowing this, you can use these semantic search phrases in your SEO to better reach your mobile audience.
Mobile apps have been all the rage for years, and they’re not going anywhere. While not every business needs to invest in the expense of designing an app, they can be beneficial for many industries including restaurants, lifestyle bloggers, fashion, art, health and fitness, and of course productivity/software businesses. But your app better be worth it. People aren’t willing to give up precious data to a hog app that runs in the background.
Before diving in, ask yourself what your purpose is in building an app. How will it better serve your customers? Are you prepared to invest in marketing the app to boost users? What’s your end goal? Having a mobile app strategy will help you be successful in this endeavor.
You may be focusing on creating great content on your blog, but you need great mobile friendly content too. Why? Because Google now searches apps for content and shows it in search results.
Having valuable and up-to-date content in your mobile app may help you attract more app users and customers simply because Google will acknowledge it, so divert some of your content marketing efforts to that mobile app.
Whether you want to boost use of your mobile apps, get people to redeem mobile coupons, or have users share your content on social media, mobile gamification can help.
People like challenges. Imagine a marketing campaign where you enter anyone who opens your app every day for two weeks into a drawing for a vacation. Or giving a coupon to anyone who shares your content on Facebook. By requiring people to make tiny efforts, you can have a huge impact on your mobile marketing.
Mobile pay-per-click ads can help you connect with the millions of smartphone users who are searching on their phones for businesses — especially local ones. Beyond mobile video ads (which should be no more than :15-:20 seconds) are growing in popularity. There’s growing interest in Google shopping ads which are pay-per-click ads that allows you to show up in Google search results even if your target is blocking ads. Facebook ads, are now mobile friendly, and can help you boost engagement of your Facebook page through mobile use. With over two-thirds of Facebook traffic being mobile, there is far more available inventory to optimize.
There are other mobile ad options to consider, like banner ads, retargeting ads, display ads within app content or on mobile websites. The key is: go mobile with your ads, because that’s where your audience is.
If you truly care about reaching your target audience, don’t ignore mobile. Instead, choose one or more of these up-and-coming mobile marketing trends and see how they affect your bottom line. You may just find mobile to be the next marketing boost for your business.
Learning how to properly bill time can be a tricky concept to master. In this guide, we uncover the 10 best free time tracking software options that can ensure accurate billing to your customers, or accurate payment to employees/contractors who have performed the work. Here is our list of the 10 best free time tracking…
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