Tips from the Top®: Small Business Tips From Business Owners For Business Owners
A Year-end Checklist for Your Business
The end of the year is a great time to step back from the day-to-day operations of your business and make time to cross a few items off your to do list before the new year starts. Here are 10 tasks that will help you end 2012 on a great note and start 2013 off right…Read more
5 Marks of an Effective Brand
Whether or not you intentionally brand your company, the image you put out there is the first impression that will be received by your audience. As a business owner, you have only one chance to make an outstanding, and often, lasting impression.
An effective brand is a positive combination of logo, words, design, colors, personality, service and price. When you think of a few top brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Apple and Whole Foods, think of the brand promise these companies offer to their customers. Once a brand is established, the expectations it sets should be clear to everyone.
Thus, the most important marketing decision a small business owner must make is a solid, well-planned branding choice for the company. At a minimum, your brand should achieve these five objectives…
Using KPIs to Improve Results
I have been working on getting an accurate and meaningful set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for my business, and now that I have them, I do not like all that I see…Read more
How Much Cash Do You Need On Hand?
A best business practice is to keep three to six months of income on hand. So if it costs you $200,000/month to run your business, you need at least $600,000 in cash on hand. You can also use your line of credit. Remember, you can run your business at a loss for a while, but it is very difficult to operate without cash.
Job Descriptions: Include Individual Characteristics
If you want to hire the right employee for an open position, accurate job descriptions are important. While job descriptions traditionally emphasize technical skills, experience requirements and educational background, we have found that adding "desired individual characteristics" to the description improves our hiring success.
For example, when hiring for a service technician, problem-solving skills are critical to the position. Empathy for others is essential in a customer service role, while attention to detail is desired in an operations manager or a staff accountant. Identifying the characteristics that the ideal candidate will bring to the role adds an important dimension to the search. To uncover these individual characteristics, we use assessments to develop powerful questions for the applicant interview.
Acquiring Prospects through Networking
For me, networking is the best way to meet new prospects. Here are a couple tips I use to increase the value of my networking.
- Set up your own referral program. Prospects that are referred to you are easier to close, make their buying decisions faster, and are more profitable because there’s no cost in acquiring them. They also tend to spend or invest more in your products or services.
- Drop an email to the people you meet at events. Mention a detail that you remember and suggest that they keep in touch with you. If there’s an obvious win-win connection with someone you’ve met at an event, call them up and invite them to coffee or lunch to explore the connection further. Just don’t blanket email everyone who was there – they won’t appreciate it!
The Most Important -S-
In a recent TAB board meeting, one of our members, Mike Nesta, expressed his excitement about how his new Operations Manager had "made the noise go away." He asked the Board to help him think about how to spend the time that he now has to work on his business. A fellow Board member, David Gelles, answered by referring to what is widely known as the "7-S System." Although none of us could name all seven S’s, David related the important lesson he learned from his father, the founder of his company – "the only "S" that really matters is Sales." If you have plenty of sales, everything else in your company will be easier. We all urged Mike to go on the road and make the sales that will put his business on the map.