Using the Power of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing, written on a binder

Inbound marketing is one of the major forms of getting people to your site and product. But what exactly is it? And how can we turn that form of marketing into something? Marketing is something we have spoken about often, but how can we make that into something we can direct at our audiences? Today we wanted to share with you the meaning of Inbound Marketing, along with our client Dorian’s own story about in-bound marketing. Hopefully you can turn it into results for yourself!

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 Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding. It tries to build trust by offering potential customers information they value via company sponsored newsletters, blogs and entries on social media platforms. In contrast, outbound marketing is what we would most likely define as marketing, such as, paid advertising, promotions, samples, etc. Smaller businesses can accelerate their potential, but inbound marketing might be the easiest way to lead to growth.

Content on a laptop, a form of in-bound marketing
In-bound marketing is a very smart means of getting people into your business, as our example discusses

Why Is Inbound Marketing Effective?

The theory goes that inbound marketing is designed to help customers learn and gain valuable information and insight. When customers see that value that a service provides, it builds trust, credibility, and relevant awareness. Outbound marketing, in contrast is, by definition, intrusive. It interrupts content and doesn’t enhance. Outbound marketing can be very effective, too. Each has its place. If you already know and trust a brand, outbound marketing can be useful to bring it top-of-mind. Inbound marketing works better when something is new, or where education is key. It also can often be cheaper when done correctly.

Inbound marketing statistics

According to a survey of businesses, who use inbound marketing, they claimed it increased their leads by 72% and their conversion by 55% in the past six months. Both are key aspects of inbound marketing – identifying leads & converting them.  

Our Favorite Tactics

There are 5 major tactics that are used most often for inbound marketing: social media, content promotion, visual content (a.k.a. infographics), blog content, and SEO. Combining them can add to growing your business remarkably.

Social media is the king of inbound marketing

You can use social media marketing campaigns to boost sales

A surprising 90% of businesses leverage social media for inbound marketing. It is no wonder. They are easy to use. The platforms have large audiences, and they utilize sophisticated algorithms to make targeting a breeze. While almost everyone uses it, not all agree regarding its effectiveness. Only about 4 out 10 businesses say that social media produces the best results. In fact, 2 in 10 say it’s the worst. Why? Many don’t use it effectively. Social media is like gardening. It only works when it’s well tended. Forget to water it, and things wither and die. It may be cheap and easy, but it is a significant time commitment, for both new businesses and older ones

Content promotion is a more expensive but less time-consuming tactic

Content promotion is when you pay to have content served to a target audience. It’s where you take your best posts and promote them so more people see them than would have seen them organically. It’s less time consuming. You create the content once and let them promote it vs. gaining likes and shares. If you have powerful contact, with which a large audience interacts, then content promotion is less effective. If you are new, have a smaller following, or the topic is impactful but only to smaller audience, content promotion can help.

Infographics – content promotion on steroids

Infographics are a great way to promote content. If done right, they are simple, straight-forward, and easy to understand. They don’t require a heavy investment in time or a bunch of clicks to get to where you need to be. Having something visual can be a core aspect of any small business marketing plan, both to show 

Inbound Marketing Chart
Image via Visual Objects

Blogs & SEO

Blogs are a more time consuming form of inbound marketing, but possibly more fruitful. However, they offer a great way to provide more complex information. They can be very useful in credibility building – this guy or gal knows what he or she is talking about. They can showcase knowledge, but if not done well, they can under perform. There’s only so much time a person can spend. Blogs are also the food for SEO. We all can remember the days of key word loaded, useless blogs used as link bait. While SEO has become much more sophisticated, blogs are still one of the best tools to ensure good rankings.

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. Can Work for Your Small Business

AI Small Business

A.I. can sound scary, or it can seem like it’s only something large companies can afford to use. Thankfully, it can be for your small business as wellArtificial intelligence is becoming the answer to everything, but it can be a powerful tool if you know how–and when–you use it. We’d like to share the story of Cary and how the use of A.I. solutions helped his business.

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.

What Is A.I.?

In simple terms, artificial intelligence uses the power of computers to recognize patterns in data that might not be obvious or discernable to the naked eye. By quickly spotting patterns that correlate to desired outcomes, A.I. can help optimize our efforts by telling us where to put our resources. For example, a program like this can tell us what content drives more people to click or buy on our websites. However, it is important to realize that A.I. is driven by mathematics, not by compassion. It’s important to make sure your A.I.optimized message is what you want your brand to be. The program and the intention might not be the same thing.

How Cary Uses A.I.

Help improve HR functions and HR automation

Cary runs a large events and catering business. His temporary and full-time employees manage the company’s training, reviews, and payroll. Most of his staff works hourly, and turnover is high, just by the nature that this is second job for most of his staff. We worked with him to identify 3 areas where HR automation made sense. 

revenue
      1. Hiring – While it may seem a bit odd to have a bot interview and screen people, it’s not a crazy as it seems if you are using it for simple entry-level jobs. Tools like Entelo can help you  to find which behaviors correlate to strong job performance. Armed with that data, you can more effectively screen candidate so you can spend more time interviewing the best candidates instead of scouring of hundreds of resumes that would never make the cut.  
      2. Turnover risk – there are a number of products that conduct automated engagement surveys. We used Qualtrics, but Hyphen is good as well. By taking these regular pulse checks, Cary could see which parts of the organization were less engaged and therefore higher turnover risk. 
    1.  

Marketing automation

In all honesty, A.I. is further along in B2Cs than B2B small businesses. A.I. is also more powerful in categories with higher concentration (few players, large market shares) than fragmented (many players, low market shares). In concentrated categories, there is more data on each company, making the correlations more obvious and powerful. 

Brandwatch is an example of an A.I. for small business
Brandwatch is an example of an A.I. for small business

Cary used tools like Crayon to monitor his competitors across multiple channels: their websites, social media and mobile apps. This monitoring provides valuable insights into our competitors’ strategies by flagging changes in price, product mix, and messaging. These insights can help you build effective strategies by leveraging the right target(s) where he had a competitive advantage. He also used Brandwatch to help provide insights into his consumer segmentation. He also used AI to help with messaging and targeting as discussed above.

The most valuable tool for Cary was automating his small details. He used Marketo, which allowed him to launch your pre-planned digital ads, social media posts, and email and mobile notifications so that they reach the right targets at the right time and continuously nurture a relationship with customers.

Improving customer service

One of the more effective ways that Cary’s small business used A.I. was in customer service. By leveraging past behavior, he was able to serve up the product and services that his customers were most likely to want based on what they searched or purchased in the past. As well as helping through optimized offerings, he used chatbots to engage his customers with the FAQs. This provided immediate feedback rather than wait for an e-mail or voice mail. While chatbots don’t replace people, and their overuse can have negative impact on customer perception, they are most useful when they can quickly guide customers to the information that they need. 

How A.I. Helped Cary's Small Business

A.I. helped Cary’s small business in three many ways. First, it helped him reduce the time he and his team spent screening resumes by 45%. He was able to recruit new candidates many weeks faster than before A.I. was used. Second, he was also able to reduce turn-over rate by 20%. Second marketing automation helped him do more with his current staff, saving himself the cost of a marketing intern. Finally, customer service was able to connect with potential customers to direct them through his website. 

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.

Small Business Cyber-Attacks – Why You Need to Act Now

Cyber Attacks Small Business

2/3rd of small business owners don’t worry about cyber-attacks. And, honestly, that number is ridiculously high. According to CNBC, “Cyberattacks now cost small companies $200,000 on average.” A $200,000 cost would bankrupt many small businesses. So, why aren’t we acting? 

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.

Few Small Businesses Perceive Cyber-Attacks as Threats

Two-thirds of small businesses think that they are at risk of a cyber-attack. Less than 10% of small businesses think a cyber-attack is very likely. 60% of us don’t have a cyber-attack prevention plan. In fact, less than 10% of small businesses rank cybersecurity as a top priority, and nearly double that amount feels it’s their lowest priority. 

Our Complacency Makes Us a Big Target

Nearly 4 in 10 attacks are targeted at small business. Some estimates put this number at 67% attacked in the past year. It makes us very vulnerable to a very costly expense. The sad truth is you may not have the chance to act if one happens to you. Few small businesses can absorb a hit of $200K and stay alive. In fact, 6 of 10 small businesses go out of business within six months after a cyber-attack.

Why Don’t We Act?

      • We underestimate the risk, and we think we have bigger fish to fry 
      • Few of us know what to do 
      • We think it only happens to big companies.  We’re too small, too unknown, etc. 
      • Password protection isn’t enough 

What Can We Do?

While password security isn’t all you need to do, it is the first step.  Why you may ask? It’s because 81% of data breached are caused by weak or stolen passwords.  

Steps for creating and maintaining passwords 

      • Create a password policy – strong passwords with a requirement to change them frequently (60 – 90 days) 
      • Train your employees on the password policy  
      • Audit your password policy 

The next step is to determine which data are the most sensitive to least sensitive. This simple classification can be helpful.

Data security levels – sample case 

      • Red – the highest level of sensitivity – employee SSNs, client credit card information, financial data, etc. 
      • Yellow – business plans, marketing plans, client proposals, contracts, etc. (could be red depending on their importance to your business) 
      • Green – publicly available information 

Once you have classified your data, then you need a storage policy.  One possible suggestion could be the following. Red-level data need to be on servers with limited access both internally and externally. This usually means stored locally.  Yellow-level data can be stored in strongly protected cloud resources, such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Shared Drive. Green-level information can be stored on shared servers.

Finally, you should consider purchasing cyber-insurance. This will help protect you financially in case of a breach. You can get much more complex, but with at least these simple steps, you can reduce your risk significantly.

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 Economy Is Cooling as the Trade War Drags On

Trade War Drags On

The economy grew at an anemic pace of 1.9% in the 3rd quarter.  As the trade war drags on, American businesses are taking a financial hit. No one even really knows about whether a recession is likely or not. Not even startups and small businesses being spared. With the economy cooling after so much growth, what do we have to do to prepare for the future?

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.

Tariffs Have Increased the Cost of Doing Business

According to the 2019 Small Business Confidence Survey, small business optimism is starting to fall. Nearly 40% of small businesses have experienced an increase in cost due to tariffs.  Over half of these companies have increased prices to cover these costs.  As a result, nearly ½ of those businesses have lost revenue from the price increase. 

As the Economy Cools, the Trade War Gets Less Popular

According to the 2019 Small Business Confidence Survey, small business optimism is starting to fall. Nearly 40% of small businesses have experienced an increase in cost due to tariffs.  Over half of these companies have increased prices to cover these costs.  As a result, nearly ½ of those businesses have lost revenue from the price increase. 

The US-China Trade War is mostly just a fingerpointing campaign between two superpowers

There Are No Good Options

Many small businesses have faced tough choices since the beginning of the trade way in January of 2018.  None of which are great.  We touched on the impact of raising prices. Inventory stockpiling is risky given how we are governing by Twitter. Loans are problematic since the duration of the tariffs are unknown.  Every option increases either the cost to the business or the customer. At the center are politics involving China and more that no one knows what to expect in the first place. The trade war continues and we just have to witness it.

Nothing is Going to Change Until After the 2020 Election... at the Earliest

According to Forbes, the latest truce is a big nothing burger.

The US-China Trade War is one with finance, not with weapons

"a nothing-burger," said Scott Kennedy, who analyzes China's economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "I call it the 'Invisible Deal.'... The only thing that happened Friday was that the U.S. delayed the tariff increase."

"It's curious that Washington and Beijing have not yet put this 'deal' in writing," said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade negotiator now at the Asia Society Policy Institute. "That suggests that the details may not be worked out yet. If that's the case, we should expect more bumps in the road

Forbes

With the impeachment in full swing, the Trump administration is in a very weak negotiation position. Therefore, any deal that we will get is not likely to be a good one.  As a result, Congress will have little appetite to approve it.  If Trump survives and is re-elected, then if past is precedent, the uncertainty will drag on.  If not, then the trade war will likely end.  

In summary, the best we can do is to continue to ride out the storm.  Hopefully, the economy won’t go south before the trade war is resolved.  But every day it continues the risk increases. 

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.

4 Amazing Ways Automation Can Help Your Small Business

Automation

Automation technologies are improving constantly, and costs are dropping. As they do, these automation processes are much more accessible to small businesses. Here are 4 amazing ways automation may be able to help your small business.

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.

1. Productivity

Productivity is hands-down the best area where automation can help. Its most basic objective of technology is efficiency. Automation can increase efficiency by leaps and bounds. It can decrease the time it takes to do the boring and mundane tasks. Notably, repetitive tasks are the best area for automation. AI has improved exponentially in recent years, but it cannot yet replace people for complex human interaction. 

2. Collaboration

All businesses requires a number of different activities to work in tandem. Small businesses usually require people to wear multiple hats to get those activities accomplished. When you are juggling multiple things, it’s easy for things to get lost in the cracks. 

Automation can simplify communication, ensure the latest documents are up to date, provide an easily accessible database for reference, and track deadlines and progress. So, by tracking progress, you can allocate resources where they are most needed. 

3. Accuracy

People make mistakes. Automation can help improve the accuracy by double-checking or proofing the work. This happens in lending and can help your personal business as well. This can help ensure that errors do not go unnoticed until they cause problems. For example, we are using Grammarly right now to check for typos. When used properly, the whole process can become simpler. 

AI and Lending

4. Retention

People hate boring and monotonous tasks. They become tedious and demotivating. People feel undervalued and morale suffers. Automation can take over some of these tasks, so employees can focus on more interesting tasks where human interaction and creativity are needed. People tend to be happy when they are being challenged and creative. It also can help with customer retention.

How to Adopt Automation

It’s best to take it bite-sized pieces. Start with the most mundane and repetitive tasks you have. See if they can be automated. You can usually see a nice ROI on employee morale, productivity, and accuracy right away. Another area to focus on is collaboration. If your staff feels overworked or overwhelmed, is there a way to make their lives easier and simpler by taking some of the communication burdens off their plate? 

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.

Tariff Uncertainty Weighs on Small Businesses

tariffs

Tariffs are important, particularly when it comes to trade negotiations. From the US to China to the EU to the UK and beyond, trade and tariffs are important factors in our political system. As we continue to wait for Donald Trump’s perfect trade deal, the Chinese import tariffs are taking their toll on small businesses, dimming the overall business outlook for the economy.

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.

Economic Confidence Falls Among Small Businesses

Economic confidence is at its lowest level since November of 2012.  The monthly survey from the Wall St. Journal reported that 40% of small businesses expected the economy to worsen in the next 12 months, which is up significantly from the prior month (29%) and prior year (23%). 

The Reason? Tariffs.

Slightly less than half of the small businesses said that these tariffs are impacting their businesses. It’s not just the tariffs but the uncertainty that is rattling most owners. They don’t know how long these additional costs will remain.  They also don’t know what else is coming.  These together make it nearly impossible to plan accordingly.

The Ripple Effect

Less investment and slower hiring are the two most tangible short-term effects of this ill-conceived policy. 

“It’s hard enough to adjust to price increases, but it’s just more difficult when you are uncertain how the policy will unfold in the future,” said Richard Curtin, a University of Michigan economist. “For small firms that means being more cautious in your investment and hiring plans.” 

Supply chains are feeling the pinch. Customers are ordering less in advance. Fewer are making major purchases. 

“This is the strangest I’ve ever seen it,” said Wiscon President Torben Christensen, who has run the company for the past decade. “It’s busy. The economy is booming, but there is great uncertainty. A lot of it has to do with trade policy.”  

Small businesses can be more nimble, but they also have smaller cash reserves, making it difficult to deal with wild swings in demand 

“Travis Luther, the founder of Queen Anne Pillow Co., a Denver-based maker of high-end bed pillows, said larger competitors have accelerated purchases to get ahead of tariffs, something his six-year-old company can’t afford.”  

Price pressures limit the amount of excess cost that can be passed through to customers. 

Trump is clueless

Mr. Trump continues to reject the notion that his trade policies were hurting the U.S. economy. Instead, he blames the businesses as “badly run and weak companies”.  Neither of which is true.  Alternative facts and propaganda do not pay bills.  With impeachment in full swing, I wouldn’t expect his administration to get their act together anytime soon.  

What Can You Do?

So much of this is outside a small business owner’s control. However, there are a few things you can do.  First, is there anything you can do to increase demand through upselling, bundling, etc.? This can help you boost revenue can help offset some of the costs.  Second, is it possible to remove costs from your organization in other areas? This can help offset some of the increased cost of goods.  Finally, can you increase your price, even a little?  Any off-set is better than none. 

What we really need is stability, and unfortunately, I do not see that happening without a change in the Administration.

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.

4 Small Business Tips for Protection During a Downturn

protecting from a downturn

How can you protect yourself and your business from the impact on an economic downturn during times of struggle? Given our size and the limitations that put on our cash reserves and credit, small businesses tend to take a major hit in recessions.  Now is the best time to prepare while economic conditions are still relatively good to guarantee success in the long-term. 

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.

Yellow Lights Are Flashing

75% of economists predict that the US economy will enter a recession by 2021. Because consumer debt is higher now than right before the Great Recession of 2007-9, the next recession could be deeper and more severe than the previous one, according to some economists. A global trade war is ramping up and the skyrocketing federal debt also means our ability to fight one is less than it was then. 

Recessions Hit Small Businesses the Hardest

A study by the New York Fed showed that recessions hit smaller firms much harder than larger ones. This should come a no real surprise since small businesses do not have access to large cash reservice like large corporations often have.  Therefore, small businesses a more difficult time weathering declining demand.  Bank loans are harder to get in a recession, and this pullback in bank lending can sap small firms’ ability to cover their operational expenses. As a result, there is an increase in bankruptcies and closures.

A Downturn Is Inevitable

Given the decade of the current expansion, few small business owners have yet to weather an economic storm.  It’s easy to see how one could be lulled into a false sense of security.  Complacency is one of the key factors that keep businesses from reacting soon enough.  Making contingency plans for a downturn are as important as making plans for growth in order to protect yourself.  Failing to do either can severely impact your business.

How to Find Protection During a Downturn

We like to share the story of a client of ours.  Jacob was in business during the Great Recession. He runs a successful insurance business 

Jacob's Story

“I started my company in 2005 at the height of the housing bubble. We came into the market focused on focusing on home-owners. In 2008, the bottom fell out of the sub-prime market. Therefore, the recession hit those owners hard. Suddenly, the houses were underwater.  They couldn’t be bothered with insurance when they were worried about paying the mortgage”

Jacob had to learn how to protect himself during a downturn very early in his business life-cycle. Jacob kept his cool.

“Markets go down, but I didn’t panic. All of us were impacted by the recession. Therefore, both my clients and I were struggling. I used this as an opportunity to better understand their issues, and I had to get creative and come up with solutions to solve them.”

4 Proven Tips to Weather a Downturn

Jacob learned some important lessons that can be applied to all small businesses. 

      1. New revenue streams are key – If you can grow your topline by finding new and creative ways to solve problems allows you to offer more, better, or more relevant solutions to your customers. Is there money you don’t need to be spending?
      2. Always test your business, annually – This isn’t just smart advice for protecting against a downside, but also, for succeeding in the long-term.  An annual strategic review, even if it’s just a simple SWOT analysis, can help.  Understanding your exposure (weaknesses), as well as, your opportunities (new revenue) can help you plan for both growth and decline. 
      3. Protect your niche -  It’s important that you do not lose or dilute your core capabilities while chasing sales opportunities.  Protect your core.  It will come back, and you will want to be poised to capitalize on it. 
      4. Be creative in your offerings – Can you partner with other companies to expand your reach or increase your efficiency? Can you offer a revised product or new product offering that is better suited for a recessionary environment? Market yourself properly. 

Summary

In summary, it is important to remember that recessions don’t last forever. The economy will come back. You just need to make sure that you have a plan to manage a downturn and that you build enough reserves to ensure a protection during downturns.

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.

Loan Approval Rates Vary Greatly. Why?

Loan approval rates are important to understand for everyone

Getting small business loans is frequently a must when it comes to building your business. In a look a t30,000 small business loan applications, Biz2Credit discovered, restaurants and other accommodation businesses, such as hotels, caterers, and the like had the highest loan approval rating. This is surprising as restaurant and other accommodation businesses tend to have lower survival rates.  Why is that? 

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.

Alternative Lenders

Restaurants and other food and accommodation businesses are inherently riskier, and thus, many food businesses do not qualify for traditional bank loans. However, they can get funding via non-bank lenders, who charge higher interest rates. Remember as we said in our early posts, just because you can get a loan doesn’t mean that you should.  Remember that you must believe that you can grow faster than the interest rate.  Otherwise, you are losing money.  

Small Business Loan Approval Rates
Small Business Loan Approval Rates

Given the low cost of capital to lenders due to the fed rate being extremely low, it is a very appealing time to alternative lenders. The spread between what it costs to acquire money is so much lower that what they can make by loaning it. SBA loan approval rates are just shy of 50%, while large bank approval rates are around 37%.  These lower rates are due to higher standards, but as a result, the interest rates are much, much lower.  

Loan Amounts

Technology companies lead the pack in terms of the average loan amount.  Retail is next, which is likely due to the need for working capital to cover inventory purchases. The remainder are low amounts, which also make them more attractive to smaller banks and alternative lenders. This means that businesses more likely to grow are those that are seen as less risky. 

The Average Loan Amount, which relates to approval rate drastically
The Average Loan Amount, which relates to approval rate drastically

Loan Approval Rates by Geography

The size of the loans varies dramatically by state.  The leading states has loan amount that are nearly double that of the national average. 

Technology – New Jersey 
      • State Avg. $251,250 
      • Nat’l Avg. $102,029 
Retail – New York 
      • State Avg. $121,867 
      • Nat’l Avg. $73,564 
Personal Services – Texas 
      • State Avg. $116,154 
      • Nat’l Avg. $52,989 
Restaurant – New York 
      • State Avg. $106,701 
      • Nat’l Avg. $59,746 
Business & Prof. – Massachusetts 
      • State Avg. $77,538 
      • Nat’l Avg. $43,248 
Healthcare – California 
      • State Avg. $66,010 
      • Nat’l Avg. $49,835 

These states are home to many immigrants and first-generation Americans, who are typically very entrepreneurial. They are also areas where the real estate markets are strong and businesses grow rapidly. Hence, loan approvals are at a rate different from elsewhere in the country.

Credit Scores

Surprisingly, the average credit score for all the industries was below the SBA and large bank thresholds of 680 and 700 respectively, meaning that the vast majority of small businesses are challenged to find affordable rates. Credit scores, both personal and business-related, are important to maintain in order to keep a company growing at a proper rate. But in order to qualify for a loan, it sometimes takes much more work than just having good credit. Being able to pitch yourself is important, as is how you talk to banks. But it is all important in order to grow your own business.

Credit score information, relating to loan approval rates and amounts
Credit score information, relating to loan approval rates and amounts

Summary

What these data shows are that loan approval rates are improving, mostly due to the fact, the interest rates are low.   As we’ve said many times in the past, being able to get a loan doesn’t mean that you should. Credit scores are still the major limiting factor to access to high quality, low-interest rate loans. If you are looking for credit and can wait a few months, then fixing your personal credit score will save you thousands in the long-run. 

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.

Delegation: Letting Go is the Key to Grow

delegation

Delegation is key to the successful growth of any organization. However, delegating in the right way can be tough. Delegation is not abdication, and it requires clear metrics and the ability to hold people accountable – including yourself. While you may be an expert in your own field, it’s fine not be an expert on running the business end of the things. Too many small business owners spend time muddling through financial problems to get the necessary things done without mastering them. If it’s not strategic, it takes us away from growing our business. And this is where delegation becomes important, and where we introduce the story of our client, Adela. 

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.

Adela's Story

Adela is an amazing veterinarian. She had worked as a junior member of a practice until she decided to start her own. The senior partners were getting older and thinking of selling and Adela had already established a base of pet owners who loved her. So together, they worked at setting up a practice for Adela to run. 

Adela got a lot of help and advice in setting up her clinic from her partners. She had the space, the systems, the equipment, and everything else that she needed. After she secured a loan from her former partners’ bank by leveraging their connections, she was all set. What Adela wasn’t ready for was the backend of the company. As a junior partner, Adela wasn’t involved in the day-to-day running of the practice, and she quickly realized it was more work that she had thought. As a result, Adela was limited in taking on new patients because she could barely serve those she already had.

Adela's Delegation Dilemma

We met Adela through her past partners. We had been working with them on how to sell the practice. They were concerned about her. They introduced us to her, and after our first call, it was clear as to what needed to be done. We started to talk about how Adela could begin thinking about delegation with our four painless steps: 

Delegation to employees means finding the right people to share tasks wtih
      1. Choose the right tasks.
      2. Choose the right employees.
      3. Make it automatic.
      4. Document company knowledge.

Chosing the right tasks

We started by making a list of all Adela’s daily activities and then sorting them as critical or not critical. Sometimes, small business owners are task hoarders. So, the analogy of ‘keep’ vs. ‘toss’ when cleaning out a full closet of clothes can help be a helpful visual. You’ll often find you have clothes that you haven’t worn in years stuffed in the back of your closet. The same is true for your daily tasks. 

On that same list, after we marked critical vs. not critical, we asked Adela to mark those, which she was good at doing vs. those she was not. The list of critical tasks that she was ‘not good at doing’ helped us with the next step in determining what to delegate and when. 

Other Things to Keep in Mind

What’s critical for an owner to keep, here are some thoughts from the Forbes Business Council: 

      •  Remember, only you have the vision for your company. While you can give people a glimpse of it, no one can see the company vision like you can, and no one has the drive to see it succeed as much as you do. This is one area of control that small business owners should never relinquish. 
      • Read, learn and grow. Every day, read and learn something new. This is so important to growing your business and yourself. Read about your trade and know how it’s changing. Read about people who have succeeded. They have much to teach us — not only about business, but about character strength. If you’re lucky, you will have a mentor. If not, these people can be that to you. 

Here’s some things to consider letting go: 

      • What you don’t know well: No man or woman is an island. We all need to accept that we need help. The exercise about will help sort this out. 
Finding the right talent means delegating to the proper employees
      • Work on your business, not in your business. In the beginning, you will need to wear a lot of hats to get your business off the ground. But remember, the objective is to have the time to work on your business—not in your business. To work on your business is to keep the vision front and center and direct the outcomes. To have that view and that perspective, you should build a team of competent, trustworthy people. This will take a little time but be sure it’s a priority. 

Choosing the right employees

We have a technique we like to use when it comes to finding new employees. Adela found that she did have some of the right talent currently, but she also had tasks where no one was the right person. That’s fine. It just meant we may need to look outside of our current set of employees and hire a few positions. There is an argument to be made to running lean when it comes to hiring, but there needs to be a balance between managing expenses and burnout. Both can keep your business from growing.  

Delegating means hiring and firing as is needed for new employees
Delegating means hiring and firing as is needed for new employees

If you do decide to hire, it important to consider that you are hiring someone for both their current role and their ability to learn and grow into greater roles. It benefits both the business owner and client to know that there can be a future for everyone. With Adela, we found that she needed help in booking, record keeping, bookkeeping, accounting, and – eventually – marketing. We built an interviewing process that Adela used, which helped evaluate their fit for the existing job and their potential for growing and learning new roles.

Making it automatic

In Pain-Free Delegation – How-To Guide, we offer a process to help do this. In addition, there are few good points from the Forbes Business Council on this area as well: 

      • Let go of responsibility without letting go of control. As trust built between us, I gave them the responsibility of overseeing others. I followed the model large companies use, which freed up my time because I had just a few direct reports. I trusted my key people, so I still felt in control when they gave me status updates. 
      • Use checks and balances. No matter the stage your business is in and no matter how much you trust your people, always have checks and balances in place. I do this for every area of my business. I trust my staff, but that trust is based on hard evidence that gives me details of exactly what’s transpiring each day. Remember, this is your business and your responsibility, so stay informed and on top of things.

For Adela, we built an internal organizational structure, which lessened her daily tasks and her number of direct reports. We also put into place a reporting structure, where weekly status reports were due from each employee. It was a simple, one-page template that was updated each week and uploaded to their shared system. This way, Adela could do a quick and weekly review to ensure everyone was staying on track.

Document company knowledge

How do you document company knowledge? Well, we already had. We had job descriptions, an organization structure, an interviewing process, and a reporting process. What seemed to Adela originally to be an overwhelming task, was found to be not that hard if she followed our process. We also created a worker’s manual and an onboarding process.

Business Issues 2019

Adela's Results

Within 3 months, Adela had all her job opening filled. Since we had the onboarding process in place before hiring, the new employees were successfully onboarded quickly. After about 4 months, Adela was able to start taking on new patients. She has continued to grow her business because she was more able to focus on right tasks, where she excelled.

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.