The Unfortunate Truth of E-Commerce Failures

e-commerce failures

Technology has been changing business for a long time now, but recent developments are particularly groundbreaking. A new survey from MarketingSignals reported that the unfortunate truth about e-commerce businesses is, 90% fail within the first 4 months of starting up. In contrast, the survival rate of the first YEAR for brick and mortar stores is 78% according to the Small Business Administration. In other words, almost 8 times more brick and mortar stores live to see their first birthday than e-commerce sites do. Let’s identify why there are so many E-Commerce failures.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Why Is There SUCH a Stark Difference?

One word. Marketing. According to MarketingSignals, “Poor online marketing performance coupled with an overall lack of search engine visibility [was the reason for market failure].” In simple English, if people don’t know you exist, how can they buy from you?

E-Commerce businesses are vast but fail at a rate larger than normal commerce businesses

It’s probably fair to assume that most people don’t think all you need to do is put an e-commerce plug-in on your website, and you’re golden, but few probably realize the amount of effort and resources (time and/or money) required in order to be successful. The survey points this out.

What Causes E-Commerce Failures?

Nearly 4 out of 10 new businesses failed because of poor online marketing. When you look across the top 10 reasons for e-commerce failure, the top 6 are all marketing related.

The top ten reasons why e-commerce startups end in failure:

1. Poor online marketing – 37%

2. Lack of online search visibility – 35%

3. Little to no market for their products or services – 35%

4. Running out of cash – 32%

5. Price and cost issues – 29%

6. Got outcompeted – 23%

7. Retail giants dominating a large share of the market – 19%

8. Lack of customer service – 16%

9. A poor team – 14%

10. Product mistiming – 11%

How to Avoid E-Commerce Failure

We have outlined before the ways that you can develop a successful marketing plan that won’t break the bank.

“Many tools can be used to increase their [businesses] brand awareness and search visibility in their first few days and weeks, where consumer trust and loyalty hasn’t yet been established.”

Marketing Signals

Unfortunately, they weren’t as forthcoming as to say where. We’re not surprised. In fact, our experience has been that there are no quick fixes. You need to be careful. It’s very easy to get ripped off if you don’t know what you are buying. In our post, “Google Small Business Portal – Marketing Gimmick or Value-Add”, we show how even large companies are willing to take your money.

E-Commerce relies on maintaining a customer base that keeps coming back to your website, which is helped by having a good marketing program

In the end, we found you really do have to put in the hard work. You need to educate yourself on the fundamentals of digital marketing. You can find some great courses offered through SCORE or the SBA. We highly recommend you take a least one of them before you start your business. You might want to consider a mentor or hiring an agency or a consultant to help.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your e-commerce business. However, you can put in the work, find the right support, and avoid the scammers to be one of the E-Commerce success stories instead of an E-Commerce failure.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Unretirement: The Secret of a New Workforce

unretirement

I have a term for you that you will start hearing more and more over the next few years: unretirement. The title explains itself really, with the idea being that retirement is no longer a necessity. Now, you can keep your small business expanding beyond what you may have thought possible in the past, staying in charge past when people may see you as “expired.” Because why stop doing what you love because of something as arbitrary as age?

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

What Is “Unretirement?” Exactly?

As I’ve gotten older, that evil ‘R’ word kept creeping closer. I spent a lifetime of gaining knowledge. Am I to toss that away and sit in a home and wait to kick it? No, I don’t accept that. So, instead of thinking about retirement, I started to think about unretirement. My little 5-foot tall Italian grandmother worked with her sisters until she was 90. It gave her purpose. So, I used her as a model and started ProStrategix. 

The amazing thing was I’m not alone. Listening to an interview with Chris Farrell from NPR’s Marketplace was really eye-opening to me. 

It is time to shift the conversation about aging away from Social Security, retirement, physical decline, and an economic crisis, [and] focus on boosting the odds of healthy, active, and purposeful aging through working longer- including launching an entrepreneurial venture. Older minds who are involved in a community are happier.

Chris Farrell, interviewed on the Small Business Radio Show

So. What to do with this information?

Bam, Unretirement – A Whole New Workforce 

If a small business was willing to look past the stereotypes, this could be a real opportunity to access experienced workers. Age discrimination is a real issue, and people who want to work are often not hired at large companies. Think about it. Since when have you had someone with 20 or 30 years of experience in your market want to work at a small business, knowing it comes with a smaller salary? I bet the answer is never.  

It is a talent pool that is underutilized and underserved. So let’s think about ways to change that and to expand both your employee base and audience.

Unretirement – A Whole New Set of Entrepreneurs 

I was amazed by the statistic Mr. Farrell shared. 

For the first time, 25% of all business are started by people who are 55 to 64 years old. These older entrepreneurs are turning their passion into a business. What is different for these people is that many of these new entrepreneurs start to focus on a business with a purpose rather than just earning more money. 

Farrell, SBRS

Speaking as a Gen X’er, I know that I can be a little cynical when it comes to baby-boomers. However, it seems that they and I are sharing the same goal: work because you like it, not just because you need to. So let’s embrace these new employees for your market.

Working Longer May Keep Us Happier 

As we live longer, the traditional model for retirement really doesn’t make sense. We should embrace the idea of unretirement. Age has value if the aged are willing to learn and adapt. When I think back to my grandmother, who was born in 1914 and died in 2014, I am amazed at how much change she experienced. But in the end, she managed to evolve and adapt. If she could do it, why can’t we? 

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

5 Ways to Benefit from Your Small Business Size

use size to advantage

A problem that many of our clients at ProStrategix present is that they find their company’s size to be a disadvantage. Maybe your business is struggling against a large company for the same customers? Or maybe you are feeling like a David facing a Goliath. But here’s the thing: your business’s size can be the biggest success. Here are five ideas for how to look at the positive side of being a smaller business.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

5 Ways to Use Our Small Size to Create a Business Advantage 

Growth is something you should plan for and that you may soon need, but don’t ignore how your small business’s size can help you now.

1. Create Unique & Targeted Experiences

Make the experience for your customer unique. We don’t have the bureaucracy. For instance, if you’re a gym, how can you make it feel like a family or clique? Anyone can go to a mega gym, but your clients choose to join you. Why? Well, you’re one of the cool kids. Encourage bonding with your trainers, staff, etc. Relationships keep people coming back.

Even a clinic could do the same. Is your staff welcoming? Do they know your patients by name? If they know there’s a backlog, do they take the time to explain to the patient why? Our size allows us to build experiences where people can feel valued, not a number.

2. Customize for Your Clientele

You’ve created experiences that are unique to your own company, but you can also customize and personalize to your existent audience. We can use our small size to create an advantage for our small business. Personalization and customization take time, which is a precious resource. You can’t make every experience personal, but we can avoid the canned “one size fits all” approach. While marketing automation can be a godsend, it can also be a killer on this point. Where you can, the more you can personalize the experience the better. 

3. Be Flexible 

Building on the first two points, experiences and customization are two examples of flexibility. We can use our flexibility to create an advantage for our size of small business. How?

  • Less red tape
  • Provide faster decisions
  • More personal contact
  • More!

Also, don’t forget to reward and recognize your staff when they exhibit flexibility in servicing a customer or client.  

4. Listen to What Your Clients Want 

We’ve talked before about screwing up the sale. Think about this: how many times have you been at a big box retailer searching for something or someone to help? And when you do find them, how many listen? Like, really listen.

Don’t be that business. You’re small and have a dedicated staff that wants to be there working with you. Listen to your customers and help them help you. That can only help you grow in the future. 

5. Be Creative! 

We don’t have long chains of review and approval. Let’s use that to create an advantage for our small business. If you’ve done all of the 4 steps above, it’s probably not that hard to think of creative ways to make things better. If you know your customer on a personal level, and you’ve been listening, they’ll tell what they need. Jump on it.  

It’s Hard to Compete, but Your Size Can Be Your Biggest Advantage 

It will take resources, time and change to bring all of these steps to life. We know that’s the case too. It’s taken us time to figure it out ourselves too. We’ve created a base who feels welcome. They recommend us to others. They feel they’re being heard, and you are being flexible to their needs. So, it’s likely reciprocity will kick in, and they will volunteer ideas. 

All of the five above steps are interrelated. We’ve helped a number of businesses differentiate themselves using these steps, and you can do the same too. The size of your small business doesn’t mean the end of your business, and it will only grow with you as the business grows too.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How A.I. is Transforming Business Lending

AI and Lending

The rise of Artificial Intelligence has completely shifted all forms of business practices. Specifically, A.I. is transforming small business lending in ways both positive and negative. On the positive side, it helps detect fraud, increases the speed of underwriting, and levels the playing field somewhat. On the negative side, A.I. loan monitoring can be both a blessing and a curse. So, it is wise to be aware of what these changes mean to your small business.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Funding is One of the Biggest Pain Points for Small Businesses

As we’ve said in multiple posts, small to medium size businesses employ nearly ½ of the nation’s workforce, but the sector is often overlooked. Whether it’s healthcare, retirement, or taxes, small businesses rarely have the advantages that big businesses do.

Funding is no exception. Small to medium-sized businesses often struggle with traditional lenders. Traditional lenders make the most money on big loans. Microloans and SBA loans are not their main focus. While SBA loans are hands-down the best option for small to medium-sized businesses, the application process is slow and cumbersome. We’ve discussed these challenges before, but digital lending may help alleviate some of these challenges.

Fraud Detection

Machine learning allows for better fraud monitoring

When it comes to small business lending, underwriters are always concerned about fraud. A.I. has vastly improved the fraud detection process with algorithms based on credit-bureau data, ID verification systems, and numerous other data sources. These algorithms provide a predictive probability of fraud, which can immediately flag risky applications. Thereby, it speeds the process along.

Somewhat Leveler Playing Field

The traditional lending process is laden with bias. Both gender and racial biases are well-documented. A.I. has the potential to lessen these biases, but its track record so far is a bit mixed.

That said, the A.I. models do use a significantly larger data set to help paint a more detailed picture of creditworthiness. This does helps avoid the Paydex paradox. In other words, you need a load to gain sufficient credit history, but how can you do that if you’ve never had one. It’s the “insufficient credit history” trap. While A.I. doesn’t eliminate all bias, it does help to level the playing field somewhat.

Hands-Down, A.I. has Dramatically Improved Efficiency

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. has made programs more efficient

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. solves this issue with its predictive models. These models dramatically streamline the underwriting process. The model can quickly provide eligibility parameters in hours vs. weeks. Thereby, it makes the process simpler for everyone.

Improved Loan Monitoring Through A.I.

This helps the banks, but not necessarily the small business borrower. However, this is the price we pay for the benefits above. Since lenders now have access to all this data, tracking your business is much easier. Those same A.I. models that were trained to improve fraud detection, level the playing somewhat, and speed things along, also were trained to predict default.

This is where a dose of caution is worthwhile. While improved loan monitoring does make small business lending less risky and more profitable for the bank, it does make it a bit more risky for the borrower. Lenders are a conservative lot. Therefore, given any mixed data, they are likely to interpret it more negatively. So, while you may think the business is fine, the A.I. model may not. It could be much harder in the future to secure a small business loan.

On the whole, the changes to small business lending due to A.I. are mostly positive, but with any new tool, it helps to understand how it can be used for you and against you.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

5 Quick Steps to Get Results for Your Small Business

Small business wins

As small business owners, we don’t have the resources in time or money to waste. You didn’t start your business wanting it to fall apart. To help you, here are 5 ways we’ve gotten results for our own small business quickly. While we can’t guarantee the same results for you, they are based on sound business principles that have proven successful repeatedly. Plus, they may help you as well as they helped us.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Blogging allows people to find your website easier

There are several ways to build your brand. Obviously, we believe that blogging is one of them. It helps you connect with your target audience. It helps improve search rankings. It’s nearly free. It’s time-consuming, sure. But, it also forces you to stay up to date with what’s going on in your market, and what matters to your customers.

Ashley Lipman for Lobster Digital Media has some helpful guidance on how to blog better.

2. Get Over Review Phobia

Second, reviews can really help. Reviews help establish your reputation and help build credibility. Websites like Yelp and Google show customers what they need to know about your company. It matters to get results that help your small business grow.

We know that it’s tough to ask for a review. Even we still struggle to ask for honest feedback. But, we found Jason Yormark’s NetBlaze post to be helpful.

3. Social Listening

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Social media and social listening. Yes, social media is a crowded morass where you need to shout to be heard, but if you are smart about social the importance of the insight. ​listening, you can find what your customers care about, resulting in success for your small business In our posts about marketing content and about how to learn about marketing from politics, we speak about 

social listening

the importance of the insight.  Smart social listening can improve your chances of being heard since you will be speaking about what your customers care about.

4. Cultivate Influencers

Why do big brands, like Pepsi, use celebrities? They want to tap into that celebrity’s fans. Simple. We can’t afford celebrities, but we all have a micro-influencer we know. It’s about building relationships and seeing how you might be able to help each other.

On the smallest scale, it’s your local business community providing referrals for each other, getting everyone the results they want. On a larger scale, TopRank Marketing outlines some good suggestions.

5. Don’t Screw Up the Sale

You might scoff at this, but it’s not always common sense to everyone. Have you ever forgotten to follow-up with a client within a few hours? Maybe, been just a little too pushy and turned someone off? Perhaps, you just sold too much and didn’t listen? If you’ve done any other these things, you likely screwed up the sale. If you want more detail, we recommend you read SmallBiz Tech’s post.

For the Results You Can’t Guarantee, Bring Your Small Business to Us

If you want to get results quickly for your business, these 5 ways are a good place to start. There any many others, and we’ve found these to be the most helpful to us. If you want to learn more or if you think your small business needs more targeted tips, that’s where we can step in and help.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

The New SBA Bill: What You Need to Know

SBA legislation

The SBA reauthorization bill is making its way through Congress. This legislation may be a boom for entrepreneurs in the technology, biotechnology, medical, and any other research-intensive industries. So learn what you can do to prepare. And tell us if you will need help in managing your small business before it is too late.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

R&D Funding Enhancements is the Potential Biggest Boon for Entrepreneurs

Senator Mark Rubio (chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee in the Senate) said during a recent speech at Cape Canaveral

[Access to] “patient capital” [for] “the new industries, the new ideas that fuel sustainable, long-term growth, and it comes particularly concerning when it is not happening in sectors that are critical to our national security and our national economic security.”

“We view it as an opportunity not just to conduct oversight and our proper role to reauthorize, but also as an opportunity to modernize and sort of adjust the SBA to the 21st century needs of our country, and to sharpen it as a tool that serves our national interest,” There are some provisions in the current bill that would enable the SBA to provide capital for R&D intensive industries. It’s unclear if it will make it into law, but it is encouraging.

Marco Rubio spoke about investments and entrepreneurship for small businesses in Florida recently.

Concern From Abroad – SBA Bill Could Level an Unfair Playing Field

There has been concern highlighted in Congress about foreign government subsidies, namely China, negatively impacting domestic markets. This isn’t Trump slapping on tariffs willy-nilly. This is a bit more grounded in reality.

“When a Chinese train-maker, whether it’s for urban mass transit or whatever, bids on a project, they are going to be able to undercut any domestic competitor, not to mention any international competitors, because they don’t have the same profit motives that our companies would,” Rubio said in the interview. “They are prepared to bid on projects that make no financial sense because they want to dominate that industry.”

“We are not competing against private-sector firms. We are competing against companies with the full backing of the Chinese government,”

– Sen. Marco Rubio

It’s unclear what the SBA’s bill can do about this situation, but it is encouraging that there is recognition. Subsidies do alter the economic realities that small businesses and entrepreneurs face which is important for everyone to know.

A Bill Strengthening Small Strengthens the Community

The Small Business Administration helps to protect small businesses and campaign for their needs in congress

Nealy ½ of Americans work for small businesses. There simply isn’t a group that is more closely tied to the communities they serve and expand. Congress has talked about strengthening the competitiveness of small businesses against large corporations and foreign competition, though not much has been done. There has been some draft language in this legislation that could help improve access to capital, reduction of security threats, as mentioned in our post about small business cyberattacks. However, no one can say if they make it into the final bill, or whether they are able to deliver what they promise.

In summary, there are a lot of potentially beneficial programs and initiatives in the SBA reauthorization bill. There are reasons to be hopeful, especially if you are in the medical and or technical fields and are looking to expand beyond what you assumed were your limits.

How to Avoid a Common Small Business Mistake

Common Small Business Mistakes

After years of helping clients, we’ve found that the most common small business mistake is poor cash flow management. Cash flow is one of the key financial documents you should monitor and keep up to date. Your accountant can help you. QuickBooks or other software can do it for you. If both make your head spin, we can help you too.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Why We All Should Care about Small Business Success

Every business has ups and downs when it comes to cash coming in. Customers pay late. Things get delayed. Projects start late. The problem is we all have monthly costs, such as rent, payroll, etc. going out regardless of how much is coming in. That’s what results in people living paycheck to paycheck, or being forced to be overly thrifty with their money. Cash flow management is developing a strategy that creates a buffer so you always have enough to weather these fluctuations.

“[The most common small business mistake] owners make is that they don’t understand their cash forecast, and business can be going very well, but you can run out of money,”

— Karen Mills, the former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) during President Barack Obama’s presidency in Yahoo Finance

In 2017, small businesses created 1.7 million new jobs. That number rose to 1.9 million in 2018, and another 1.9 million in 2019. There are nearly 31 million small businesses in the US, which employs about ½ of the US workforce. When cash flow falls apart and you face this mistake, your small business is more likely to fall behind. Karen Mills hit the nail on the head when she said that small businesses “…create a path to the American dream, so it’s not only part of the economy, but it’s part of economic mobility.”

How to Manage Cash Flow to Avoid this Common Mistake in your Small Business

Here are four easy tips to learn how to easily combat this mistake in your small business.

1. Know You Average Billing Cycle

What’s a billing cycle? It’s the average time between the date you send an invoice and the date the cash is available in your bank. Available is important because it can take a band 1-2 business days to clear a check. During that time, that cash is NOT available for you to use. Typical billing cycles are between 40-70 days. Cash flow is important for most aspects of business management

2. Keep Enough Cash on Hand

In an ideal world, you would have enough cash on hand to cover your expenses over your average billing cycle. In plain English, you should have enough money in the bank to cover 2 to 3 months of expenses. Now, no one lives in an ideal world, so what can you do?

3. Have a Backup Plan

For many, this takes the form of a line of credit. A line of credit is when a bank agrees to loan you money up to a fixed amount. The interest rate is usually variable, meaning it is set based on the Federal Reserve rate plus some fixed percentage. You would treat this as a regular loan, with TWO major advantages.  First, you take only the amount you need. Second, you can pay it off early

 

Lack of cash on hand always causes problems

First, you take only the amount you need. Second, you can pay it off early without penalties. Most term loans are lump-sum payments. They also tend to carry early payment penalties. This is why lines of credit are much more preferable to loans when dealing with short-term cash flow problems.

4. What to Do if You Can’t Get a Line of Credit

Lines of credit are hard to get. You need stellar personal credit. Plus, you need to be in business for at least 2 if not 3 years. We’ve gone into depth about the challenges you face getting loans and how to avoid them. So if you can’t get a line of credit, your best bet is to get a term loan. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than running out of cash. However, if you don’t qualify for a line of credit, you’re not likely to qualify for a term loan.

We review the alternatives in our post “Denied a Small Business Loan? Try Alternative Lenders”. But always remember, the time to ask for a loan is when you have money in the bank. Don’t wait until you have a cash flow emergency to do it, and NEVER take a merchant cash advance. You’ll only make your problems worse.

In summary…

…to avoid the most common small business mistake, always keep your cash flow forecast up to date. We know that’s more easily said than done, and that it pulls you away from doing what you love. Fortunately, you can turn to us for help.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Denied a Small Business Loan? Try Alternative Lenders

Denied Small Business Loan

If you were denied a small business loan, it may be for a good reason. As we discussed in some of our previous posts including ‘Small Business Lending is Booming’; ‘4 Tips to Secure a Small Business Loan’; and more, it’s not always advisable to seek a small business loan if there are other things that need to be fixed first. So let’s figure out what those things are, shall we?

Unsure of how to take your business from good to great? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

So, You Were Denied for a Small Business Loan. Now, what?

Not getting a small business loan isn’t the end of the world. However, there are times when you need a loan or alternative funding to fix certain problems. What should you do then? Well, there are a number of alternative lenders available to you. If you need to take this path to secure a small business loan or funding, you should take it with your eyes wide open. In other words, this is considered the high-risk lending market. High-risk equals higher rates, and generally, short-terms.

You’re Not Alone

killing-your-growth

Banks are conservative. So, if you’ve been denied a small business loan, the lender considered you too risky. Being viewed as too risky doesn’t automatically mean that your business is in trouble, or you’re radioactive. This isn’t necessarily the time to despair.

“Nearly 20% of small businesses report being denied credit”

– Kauffman Foundation

And those that get approval, don’t always get the amount they want.

“More than ½ of small businesses that applied for a loan under $250K in 2018 receive less than requested”

– Federal Reserve

We have covered the reasons for denial in detail in previous posts, so there’s no need to rehash those here. But that shouldn’t keep you from trying to grow your business in other ways.

Denied for a Small Business Loan: The Alternative Lender Options

Even if your small business has been denied a loan, you may still have a good chance of obtaining funding form alternative lending sources without pain. These non-bank, online lending services offer alternative sources of funding with less strict requirements.

32% of applicants have turned to online lending in 2018, up from 24% in 2017

– Federal Reserve

The National Small Business Association has said that these lenders have played a significant role in providing capital to small businesses.

Less Strict

While traditional lenders require good credit scores, collateral, and business plans, alternative lenders are less like to deny a small business loan if these factors do not meet the traditional banking standards. They accept average credit and are less likely to need to see your financial statements. In fact, “54% of business with credit scores less than 700 are more likely to apply to an alternative lender”, according to the Federal Reserve.

Nothing is Ever Free

While getting approved may be easier, the rates will almost certainly be higher. Plus, there are also additional fees attached. There is no simple way around it. It’s not necessarily bad, but you need to be aware of the impact that will have on the business. To put this into perspective, SBA loans or

Commercial loans have annual percentage rates (APRs) between 6% to 12% on average. In contrast, alternative lenders tend to range between 7% to over 100% depending on the risk profile. Did you say 100%? Yes.

While alternative lenders can be a lifesaver after being denied for a small business loan, just make sure it doesn’t turn into an anchor that sinks your business. Like any business decision, you have to weigh the cost vs. the benefit and go in with your eyes open. Dangerous financing early in business could cause massive problems down the line.

Crowdfunding & Peer to Peer Lending Can Offer an Out

Crowdfunding and Peer to Peer can offer an alternative if you are denied a small business loan. They often offer lower rates than online lenders because the risk is distributed across a wider group. Crowdfunding & Peer to Peer lending is generally best for smaller, micro-loans. Why? You will need to do the heavy lifting. You need to build the campaign. Recruit people in your network to donate funds. Ensure you reach your target. The larger that number is, the harder that will be to achieve.

Alternative Lenders List

Note, we do not endorse or recommend any of the lenders on this list. We are sharing these for informational purposes only. We recommend you research any option thoroughly before taking any action.

    1. Lending Club
    2. Credible
    3. Lending Tree
    4. Eloan
    5. PayPal Loans
    6. AmOne
    7. UpGrade
    8. Lending Point

Crowdfunding & Peer to Peer

Note, we do not endorse or recommend any of the lenders on this list. We are sharing these for informational purposes only. We recommend you research any option thoroughly before taking any action.

    1. Prosper
    2. Kiva
    3. GoFundMe
    4. Kickstarter
    5. Fundly
    6. FaceBook
    7. UpStart
    8. Funding Circle
    9. CircleBack
    10. Peerform

In summary, if you’ve been denied a small business loan, first, understand why. If you can solve that problem first, then do it. If not, then it depends on how much you need, and how much time and effort you can spend. Alternative lenders can be viable options, but you need to know what you are getting into before you take the leap. We help troubled businesses all the time, so if you want professional help in choosing what’s best for you, please contact us.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Marketing and Politics: Not Too Different in 2019

marketing politics

The way we market has completely changed in recent years. Not only have trends in marketing shifted, so too have trends in social media. But of course, marketing isn’t the only thing that has changed how social media looks in 2019.

Whether you love or hate Donald Trump or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you have to admit both are brilliant at using social media. They treat it like a tool to market themselves and their ideologies to a wider audience. Why has #MAGA and #AOC had such an impact? It goes back to the same basic marketing principles that any small business can apply.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Both Tap Into a Key Emotional Insight

The marketing of both of our #political stars tap into a strong emotional insight, ironically caused by the same societal trend – the changing demographics of the US. On the #MAGA side, I would argue you have the people who feel left behind by the changes in technology, demographics, and shift in economic opportunity.  On the #AOC side, I would propose you have those who have benefited from the changing demographics, technology, and shift to a gig economy mindset. Both hit a raw nerve within their target audiences.

Political-Star Marketing Demonstrate the Power of a Strong Insight to Change Behavior

From Gage Skidmore via flickr

One look at Donald Trump’s rallies, and you can see the raw emotion driving the excitement of the crowds. His audience wears his MAGA gear as a sense of pride and belonging.

Likewise, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was an unknown bartender from the Bronx just 18 months ago, but she tapped into the fury felt by her audience, their repulsion of the principles driving MAGA, and impatience for change. By leveraging that fury, she was able to catapult herself into the national spotlight.

They Both Underscore the Risk of a Powerful Insight

A powerful insight is only beneficial if you can deliver the benefit you promise. Our # political stars face significant challenges on this front. It a challenge all marketers face.

First MAGA, Donald Trump can no more stop the changes taking place in today’s society, than he can stop the sun from rising. He can blame this or that, but after some point, you have to deliver.

Likewise, the same is true for #AOC, she can no more impose her policy positions than she can make it rain.

The power of the insight and the emotion behind it will likely sustain them for a while, but eventually, the benefit will have to be delivered. Importantly, this is true for any marketing.

So, What Can Small Businesses Learn from our # Political Stars Marketing?

Build a Powerful Insight

An “insight” is defined as a statement which connects with the target on an emotional level (fear, hope, love, etc.), that when leveraged, can change behavior. In our post, “How to Create Marketing Content That Gets Attention AND Sells”, we discuss the insight in more detail, but we hope # Political Stars examples have driving this home.

Have a Unique Benefit that Delivers Against the Insight

Delivering a benefit based on a strong insight will definitely get immediate results. Delivering that benefit uniquely will get you BOTH immediate and long-lasting results. As small business owners, we need both. 

Being Provocative Works

From Ståle Grut / NRKbeta via flickr

This is a tough one for me, personally. I grew up in marketing during an age when offending someone was viewed as a huge negative. Brands tended to steer clear of controversy and kept negative press to a minimum.

However, if I’ve learned anything over the past 4 years for the marketing of our # political stars, it is that being provocative cuts through the clutter. The media clutter is exponentially more than it was 10 or 20 years ago. There is so much noise now, shouting is the only option left. Whether this provides a long-term benefit remains to be seen, but to deny it is to deny reality.

Finally, Be Authentic

All brands need to be authentic. Each has a personality. If it’s fake or stilted, people aren’t shy in calling you out on it. Nor, are they willing to tolerate it as much as in the past. # Political stars’ marketing has taught us that.

Not everyone is cut out to be so outspoken or comfortable with criticism. However, truly being authentic takes courage. It means being loved by some but disliked by others. You need to stand for something, or else you stand for nothing. 

In closing, you need to keep that authenticity front and center. For Mr. Trump, “TOTAL EXHONORATION” is considered a lie to most, but it’s authentic to his base. His defiance is their defiance. For Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, her 5 AM Instagram of washing her clothes may be seen as a just another Millennial over-sharing, but I assure you, it’s not. To her base, it’s a powerful image of a common struggle they all face – the impact of meeting the demands of today’s work environment for young people.

Key takeaways from the # Political Stars Marketing

Look, if an unknown bartender can make the leap, why doesn’t this work for everyone? Well, there are three reasons. First, true emotional insights are hard to find. Just being provocative for provocative sake isn’t going to get the job done. Second, delivering a benefit that truly satisfies that insight is also not simple. In fact, it’s the risk that both Trump and AOC have yet to achieve, fully. Finally, not everyone is comfortable with being provocative.

All that said, we can still take elements from this playbook to make ourselves more successful. First, get to know your customers. Understand their issues. It’s only by doing this can you truly find a meaningful insight. Second, position yourself in such a way that ONLY your business can deliver on that insight. This may cause you to be provocative, but as we’ve seen, being provocative works. Finally, stay authentic. Be true to your brand.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

We Use Gig Workers. Why You Could Too

gig worker

As opposed to long-term and retained talent, gig workers provider short-term support when you need it. These workers are key to enabling us to effectively delegate. Consequently, we can focus most on building our business. If you are not tapping into the gig workforce, you should. Delegation is critical in any small business, no matter the size. Embracing a different kind of workforce could really help you in the long run.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Small Business Owners Tend to Take on Too Much

The payroll provider OnPay states small business owners spend almost 40 hours a month on HR and payroll. That’s a full workweek. And that’s just one (important) example. If you are spending so much time running the business, when is there time left for what you want to do? A gig worker could help. Referring again to our post on Pain-Free Delegation, we need to look at our list of what we can delegate and how. That way, you can see where you need the most help.

Gig Workers Can Do What You Hate

What you hate to do the most? Because let’s face it, there’s always a task that you put off until the last possible second. I have gig workers do my extra jobs; could a gig worker help you?

For many of our clients, it’s their books. They just hate it. Luckily, this is one area where the gig workers can help. There are plenty of reputable accountants and bookkeepers who can help. If you are in the New York City Metro Area, we can happily recommend some.

The key is to find what you consider a chore and see if there is a gig worker who can help. Often, they’re waiting in line happy to help.

Gig Workers Can Do What Don’t You Know

Here you need to be brutally honest with yourself. While we tend to think we can learn anything, there is a difference between the ability to learn something and whether you should learning it.

For us, it was social media. I know it. I’m functional in it. I know I could become an expert in it. However, I chose a gig worker for it because my time was better spent building the business. There were hundreds of great candidates that knew more than I did. Thus, frankly, it didn’t make sense for me to invest my time to become as good as they are.

For many small business owners, they are missing some of the key business skills. Maybe it is accounting, marketing, finance, etc.? It’s not worth your time in learning all these skills when there are a ton of gig workers who can help.

How do you access the quality of skill you don’t have? It’s tough, but most gig worker websites now have competency tests that can help. In our post, “How to Learn More About Business for Free”, we also provide a few resources you can tap into which can help.

Ok, You’re Not Picasso

Not everyone is a talented artist or a great writer. Here’s another area where gig workers can help. Professional headshot for LinkedIn. Videographers for short-branded videos. Web Design…the list goes on and on.

Finding gig workers for these tasks are relatively easy. Sites like Thumbtack, Fivver, etc. have plenty of willing workers. It may cost more than a DIY project, but do you want your Brand to look like a DIY project? For more creative types, DIY is more than sufficient. For others, it’s likely not. It’s about being honest with yourself.

In summary, the most important resource you have as a small business owner is time. Be wise how you use it.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.