The Recipe for a Successful Small Business

Every successful dish starts out as a trusted recipe, if the recipe is followed, the dish is successful every time. It is almost impossible to determine the amount of money lost through small business failures during the last five years. In 2009, the Kauffman Foundation estimated the start-up cost of a small business at $30,000, while the US Small Business Association estimated the start-up cost of a home based micro business at $1,000 to $5,000. In 2013, approximately 28 million small businesses in the USA. Assuming a one to one ratio of success and failures, it is clear that US entrepreneurs loose an enormous amount of money to failed businesses. If there was a recipe for a success in business, it would include outstanding customer service, strategic partner selections, strong processes, effective marketing and monitoring.

Outstanding customer service: Small business owners must be mindful that customers have the right of choice and a wide range of options from which to choose. Therefore, outstanding customer service must be both a defining principle and a clearly defined goal. Satisfied customers are your best referral and advertising tools.

Strategic partner selections: No one succeeds alone, the relationships we form are critical to our success. Whether business partners, team members, referral sources or key vendors, entrepreneurs need to be deliberate and strategic about these relationships. All of these relationships have the potential to affect customer service and profits.

Strong Processes: A good business process cuts across many, areas of business operation. Therefore, it creates efficiency, lowers costs and improves customer service. Business operations are impacted by people, technology and, processes; with processes working as the glue that holds the people involved and the technology applied, together.

Effective marketing: Understanding the difference between being a business owner and a technician is critical to success. A business owner’s time is better spent working on the business. But most entrepreneurs cannot afford to relinquish all technical responsibilities. A workable solution is for small business owners to set aside at least 30 percent of their time to work on marketing and monitoring. Marketing can impact current and future product and service offerings, it requires interaction with existing and would-be customers, improve customer retention and loyalty and add to profits. Monitoring is equally important as there is no other way by which to measure business goals and make timely adjustments which can result in minimizing losses in customers and profits.

How to Hire a Salesperson Who Works 24/7/365

Imagine if you will, that you had the services of a magnificent sales person who you paid a paltry amount of money, yet he or she would work for you 24/7/365.

While it is not for every small business, having a powerful phone message on-hold can add dramatically to your bottom line. Despite this statement, many small business owners do not have or use such a service. Some of the objections to having a solid message on-hold include:
• We don’t want to be so impersonal.
• We are so small we don’t need it.
• It costs too much money.
• It is a hassle to maintain properly.

Yet, in my research with clients who use a message on-hold system, and the providers who offer this service, the evidence is overwhelming that a good message on hold system can annually bring in thousands of dollars of additional revenue to your business.

According to marketing specialist, Jay Conrad Levinson, A typical business receives as many as 100 calls a day and puts callers on hold for over 17 hours each month. A whopping 70 percent of those calls are placed on hold for an average of 90 seconds. A depressingly large 90% of callers hang up within 40 second if “on hold” means dead silence. And 34 percent of those never call back.

On-hold marketing reduces hang-ups by 77 percent because instead of silence, callers hear marketing messages. It increases telephone on-hold time as much as 230 percent. A full 88 percent of callers say they prefer an on-hold message to music or silence. Best of all, 19 percent of callers buy something when they hear a powerful marketing message while on hold.

Here are three solid reasons to consider having a good message on-hold communication system.
• It can enhance your image. When a person calls your company and is put on hold while waiting to talk to a particular person, a good message on-hold, can create a more professional perception.
• It is an excellent opportunity to educate and inform. Tim Brown, Owner of http://www.EasyOnHold.com says, “while a prospect or client is waiting on-hold your message can educate them about your company’s services, mission statement, areas of expertise and anything else that would be important for them to know.”
• 100% Exclusivity. With most forms of advertising, you are constantly fighting for your audience’s attention, competing against TV, radio, outdoor advertising or social media, to name just a few. With a good message-on hold system, your message and only your message is communicated directly to your listener.

Just recently I completed a project where I coached one of my clients, Tony Grech, owner of Greko Printing and Imaging. Tony wanted to add a personal message to his company’s message on-hold system. By adding his voice and specific points he wanted to mention about his personal guarantee, excellent team and community services, he was able customize his message-on hold to create an emotional impact on the listener. To listen to this excellent message simply call Greko Printing & Imaging’s business number at 734-453-0341.

As I have always said, “If your prospects or clients don’t know about specific services or products that you offer; they don’t exist, at least in their minds.

Prices vary on the amount of services you want. However, a good system starts at about $750-$850 plus an annual maintenance fee. This type of an investment is self-financing. In other words it pays for itself with the additional sales your company will incur because of its’ effectiveness to communicate your products and services.
There are many suppliers of this service. Shop around and find one that fits your needs and wants.

To enhance the impact, I would recommend that you make sure you can add a personal message in your own voice to this message on-hold.
When you have your message on-hold, up and running, you will be utilizing the power of a 24/7/365 salesperson that can boost your sales and your profits.

Start-Up Basic Rules

People around the world are tempted to launch a start-up company. A lot of nine-to-fivers facing uncertainty in job security due to the huge global economic downturn tend to take the plunge. However, each year more start-ups crash and burn.

After long conversations with a few of the lucky ones I have compiled a few basic rules to remember.

Keep it Simple.

Most start-ups begin with a single idea which eventually turns out to be the final product or service. Maintaining this simplicity gives you focus. It also keeps your business lean, and ensures that all resources are dedicated to developing that single idea into something exceptional.

However, when that idea gains momentum and develops into new ideas, it can be very easy to lose focus and start expanding your business model before your flagship product has even gotten off the ground. This diversion is one of the first dangers a start-up will face.

Doing too much too soon will spread your resources thin and can confuse your market and possibly scare off potential investors.

Keep a note of possible areas to diversify, product ideas and ways to branch out in the future. You can always tackle these in a planned, strategic way further down the line when you’re in a stronger position.

Your Budget Is as Strong as Your Contingency.

Underestimating your costs is a sure fire way to sabotage your chances of success. The goal of a start-up should be to thrive; it’s not enough to plan for a shoestring budget that allows you to survive. With no money available for growth or breaking into a market, this initial capital will quickly dry up before your revenue has a chance to grow.

Too many entrepreneurs focus on the cost and profit of their actual product, without considering other expenses such as legal fees, market research or additional staff that might need to be brought on to cope with growth.

Always include a realistic salary for yourself in your cost projections. While you may be willing to work for less now in anticipation of higher rewards further down the line, your landlord or phone company are unlikely to be so flexible in payment arrangements.

Build a Strong Team.

Friends and family members make up an important support network for a business owner, and it is important to surround yourself with people you can turn to for honest advice. However, the key is to make a clear distinction between personal and professional help. Hire people who can get things done, not just people who you get along with.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking you can do it all. Running a business requires a variety of skills and experience, and a savvy entrepreneur will build their team to balance their own weaknesses. Make sure your core team includes people who bring something to the table other than a personal relationship with you.

Know When to Throw in the Towel

No business owner wants to close the doors on a project that they have poured their cash, hopes and hard work into. Yet, knowing when to accept failure is crucial if you are to survive to try again. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

Know when enough is enough and accept your losses before they grow into something too big to recover from. It’s much easier to admit defeat than unwind any serious financial or professional damage.

Launching a successful start-up and turning it into a profitable business is a huge undertaking. It requires patience, skill, perseverance and an ability to grasp opportunities. You might not get it right first time, but learning from the mistakes of others could fast track you to your next success.