Planning for Small Business Growth: A Webinar

We wanted to start posting the first of our Small Business Bootcamp webinars with you. Today is our third webinar. Every small business eventually needs to grow in some way, whether expanding to new locations or adding to the current stock. Learn about the ways to plan for growth in our video below!

The Small Business Bootcamp is a LinkedIn group and weekly newsletter that provides information on how to provide for your small business. We discuss everything from marketing to employment to getting loans and more. Once a month we provide a webinar that outlines a content stream that we then talk about for the rest of the month.

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.

In November, we put out this video about what to know. It is based in part on our article “If You Don’t Plan for Growth Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later,” which gets deeper into some of the details about our webinar. Feel free to watch the video and reach out for more advice! We would love to provide it.

Here are some of the points of advice that we mention in the video:

      1. Focus on what you will need financially and with employees. Delegate if you need to.
      2. Make sure that you’re going to be ready to be put in a position where you will have responsibility. You’ll be the CEO of a new kind of company soon.
      3. Know what you need before you get a loan. And have a set business plan in advance as well.

All of these details are what will matter most in planning for growth. Growth is key to any small business, so get in the right mindset now.

If you want to know more, join our LinkedIn group. It might help you learn more. This group includes small business owners across the New York area who are in similar positions. We want to help small business owners, and how better to do that than communicating. 

Join us, won’t 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.

The Perils and Perks of the Gig Economy: A Webinar

The Perils and Perks of the Gig Economy Presentation

We wanted to start posting the first of our Small Business Bootcamp webinars with you. Today, let’s share our second webinar, about how to navigate the gig economy. From archaic laws to strange situations to modern issues in the political sector, there is a lot to discuss. Feel free to watch our video now, it may save your business a lot of struggle down the line.

The Small Business Bootcamp is a LinkedIn group and weekly newsletter that provides information on how to provide for your small business. We discuss everything from marketing to employment to getting loans and more. Once a month we provide a webinar that outlines a content stream that we then talk about for the rest of the month.

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.

In October, we made our second video about the gig economy and the pitfalls that occur in it. It is based in part on our article “We Use Gig Workers. Why You Should Too.” That post was far more about our experience. This video, however, gets into the history of the gig economy and why it is unsustainable in 2019. In other words, a lot has changed in the gig economy, and it is important to know more about it.

Here are some of the points of advice that we mention in the video:

      1. Know the history of the gig economy. It goes back so far and it still has problems. Our jobs system is still screwed up since the New Deal
      2. The current system is changing, as evidenced by the recent deal with Uber from earlier this year in California. That was a major change in policy, and it isn’t the end
      3. More than anything else, stay aware of what you’re asking of our employees. Know the difference between contract work and employee work.

All of these details and more are in the video. We also provide some examples that might be important for you to know about. If you want to know even more, feel free to contact us!

If you want to know more, join our LinkedIn group. It might help you learn more. This group includes small business owners across the New York area who are in similar positions. We want to help small business owners, and how better to do that than communicating. 

Join us, won’t 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.

Marketing Content That Sells: A Webinar

The Header for the Marketing Content That Sells Video

We wanted to start posting the first of our Small Business Bootcamp webinars with you, so let’s begin with our first webinar, about how to develop, create, market, and manage content that sells. From advertising to communicating, content marketing is something every business does on some level.

The Small Business Bootcamp is a LinkedIn group and weekly newsletter that provides information on how to provide for your small business. We discuss everything from marketing to employment to getting loans and more. Once a month we provide a webinar that outlines a content stream that we then talk about for the rest of the month.

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.

In September, we made our first video about marketing content that sells. It is based in part on article Marketing Content That Sells & How to Create It, which gets deeper into some of the details about our webinar. Feel free to watch the video and reach out for more advice! We would love to provide it.

Here are some of the points of advice that we mention in the video:

      1. Begin with a strong attention-getting opener
      2. Focus on the Insight, the thing that hits people in their core
      3. Storytelling is what people remember at the end of the day

All of these details are what will matter most in building content. Marketing content to sell it isn’t always easy. But we want to help you through it. 

If you want to know more, join our LinkedIn group. It might help you learn more. This group includes small business owners across the New York area who are in similar positions. We want to help small business owners, and how better to do that than communicating. 

Join us, won’t 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.

Amazon vs. Small Business – David vs. Robotic Goliath

amazon small business

It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1994, Amazon was just an online book retailer. Fast-forward 20 or so years, and in the second quarter of 2019, Amazon booked over $63 billion – billion with a “B”! – in retail sales. Amazon killed the likes of Barnes and Noble and has been gobbling up categories left and right ever since. Therefore, as a small business, it’s hard not to see Amazon as a threat, especially for newer businesses. 

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.

Most Small Businesses See Amazon as a Threat

Small Business Ecosystem

According to Lendio’s American Dream Survey, many small business owners see Amazon as a threat to their profitability and long-term health. Over 2/3rd of small business owners see Amazon, Google, and other large companies, e.g. Walmart, as having a negative impact on their long-term growth.  

David’s Story

Our client David was concerned about online retailers stealing market share and customers. He was finding that many potential clients came into his store to look at the merchandise, and then, use their mobile device to purchase it on Amazon. It was infuriating to him. He was acting as a showroom, carrying all the overhead so Amazon could make the profit. He was frustrated and didn’t quite know what to do

David’s Sling Shot – How Did He Overcome Goliath

Well, if you’re looking for the classical biblical ending, you won’t find it here. But you will see how David was able to grow and start to get his fair share by working with Amazon instead of fighting it

Give them what Amazon can’t – an experience

It’s the biggest flaw in the e-commerce’s armor. All the best algorithms in the world still can’t make people feel like they’re special or going to look like a million bucks. David could. So, that’s where we focused. We had to yield the ground to low-end inventory and focus on upselling either the high-end unique products or in selling a full look. If you purchased in-store, David would ‘dress’ his clients. This meant they would leave with a full look. 

He still lost some of the browsers, but they weren’t likely to purchase anyway. It was OK, as this gave him more time to focus on his engaged customers. He was able to increase their average dollars spent per visit by over 40%, just by upselling. He made them look and feel beautiful. That’s something no e-commerce retailer can do, today. It is also why so many new businesses still rely on brick-and-mortar.

Power of Positive Experiences

So, guess what? When you make a customer feel great, what happens? They tell others. This switch in approach caused his Yelp and Google My Business rating skyrocket. It seems like common sense, right? Well, if you want clients to go out of their way, then you need to give them something special. In David’s case, it was the way he made them feel. Emotions drive reactions more powerfully than anything else. David’s brand, essentially, was his care foothers. 

social media customer service

Finally, if you can’t beat them, join them

According to Amazon, small- and medium-sized businesses accounted for $2 billion in sales during the last Prime Day. While that may be true, you want to smart about how you show up on Amazon, so it isn’t a race to the bottoon price. David did. He opened his own Amazon store, where he only sold curated outfits, not individual pieces. Amazon is set up to sell bundles as easily, so there was no simple way to directly price compare. While he couldn’t repeat the store experience online, he could differentiate his product offering. With the added fees, he wasn’t going to win on price without hurting his margin. So, he changed the rules of the game and accellerated his small business growth.

So, What If You’re Not David?

You can still win vs. Goliath if you follow a few key steps.  

      • Focus on what they can’t deliver – an experience: Even if you can replicate what David did, ask yourself this – What can you do to make sure that people leave your store feeling better than they did when coming in 
      • Build on the power of positive experiences: If people exit your store feeling better than they did entering, they are more likely to provide you with positive reviews. A positive review pays dividends long after the experience ended 
      • Learn how to join them: Don’t try to compete head-to-head on price. Find a way to offer something that they can’t. Maybe it’s a bundle, like David? Perhaps, it’s a limitededition promotion? Whatever it is, you’re likely to be more successful if it’s something that can’t easily find elsewhere. 

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 an Advisory Board Can Be Life Changing

small business advisory board

We aren’t exaggerating when we say that having a small business advisory board can work magic for you. Our client Jack is proof. His business was plateauing, and his advisory board helped him turn things around. It is a form odelegation at the highest level, but with completely different results.

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.

No One Person Has All the Skills for Running a Business

Small business owners like Jack started their business to follow a dream. Jack’s dream was to be his own boss. Jack had been a successful attorney at a mid-sized law firm, but he was tired of the hours, rainmaking, and defending big businesses. He wanted something more meaningful out of life. So, he took the plunge and started out on his own. 

Look, there was no doubt that Jack is a great lawyer, but Jack had no real training in business operationBut that’s okay, because he had skills of his own. Many successful businesses were started by people whose experience as an owner was limited. It’s tough to run a small business when you’re suddenly expected to wear all these different hats. Lots of people may have advice for you, but yomight not necessarily know where to turn or who to trust. Jack was no different. 

When we first met with him, he was frustrated and overwhelmed. Our first question to him was whether he thought we could practice law. He looked at us quizzically and said, “no, you haven’t passed the bar.” We had to smile at that, because he was right. Just like how we weren’t trained or experienced to be lawyers, he wasn’t prepared to run a business. This was Jack’s “light bulb” moment, as it were. Jack wasn’t just a business owner, he was a CEO. And he had to learn how to act like one.

Why an Advisory Board Was Right for Jack

Running a law firm is quite different than running other small businesses. There are restrictions and requirements that must be metand that’s where specialists can be of use. The question is, hocan yomanage these experts cost-effectively? In this instance, we recommended an advisory board.

What is an advisory board?

An advisory board is a group of professionals with backgrounds in both necessary business disciplines and a specific industry. This group advises business owners on key strategic decisions regarding how to manage their business and help it grow. This differs from a board of directors because there is no obligatioon the owner to folloor to act on this advice. Advisory boards are a great way to learn without ceding control. A smart business owner won’t ignore the advice, but he or she still retains full controof the decisions being made. Unlike simple delegatioof tasks, this is delegatioof ideas.  

A woman trying to cope with her small business's struggles

Benefits of an advisory board

The most obvious are: 

      1. Perspective: challenges the owner to think differently or see the issue from various sides so he or she can make more informed decisions 
      2. Creativity: the more people involved, the less likely the group will suffer from tunnel vision 
      3. Connections: to be successful long-term, you need to have the right skills in place to get the job done. 
      4. Accountability: when running your own shop, there’s no one there to help keep you focused and on-track 
      5. Sounding Board: Having others around can help you find better solutions by sharing them with the group. 

The Dos and Do Nots of Advisory Boards

There are some clear dos and don’ts when it comes to setting up a board. Much like finding the right talent for your small business, it is important to find the right mentors and peers that can help you. So, here is our advice

Do...

      1. …focus on expertise in the field but also vision for the future 
      2. …seek diverse opinions – you don’t have to like everyone, but you do need to respect their knowledge 
      3. … prove your decisionmaking authority and ensure everyone agrees the process. 

Do not...

      1. …use family or friends. Unless you can have a frank and honest debate with the people in your lifeavoid them even if they have expertise in the areas needed. If they think the relationship is at risk, they will likely hold back. 
      2. pick myopic experts. You want people who know their field, but also those who can see a bigger picture.

What We Did with Jack

We knew enough about Jack’s business so we could identify the knowledge gaps. We had some of the experience required, but he needed some additional experts. To help, we sourced experts froour network. We provided the names to Jack and helped him interview potential board members. Each board member was compensated for their timon an hourly basis, just like any employee. We set up monthly advisory boards at the start, and switched to quarterly once the business was in a better position and once Jack didn’t need to turn to his board for every decision he didn’t want to make himself

The board consisted of 6 members, including a ProStrategix consultant and Jack himself. It is important to keep the board size to a manageable number. Enough to have the right expertise, but not too much to get bogged down in endless debate. Jack was struggling when we met him, and after 6 months, he was on a solid pathway to growth and expansion 

What if You Can’t Afford Jack’s Board

There are free ways to set up an advisory board. SCORE can help you. If you go this route, know that you are dependent on their volunteer base, which may not be exactly what you need. If you can’t afford the approach we took for Jack, it’s not a bad fall back option.

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.

Optimism Remains Strong Among Small Business Owners

small business optimism

Impeachment. Trade wars. The 2020 election. Tariffs. With all the uncertainty around these and other issues, small business owners remain optimistic about the future. Yet despite the optimism, almost 30% expect a recession in the near future, and nearly 7outof10 small business owners feel that the presidential candidate are not focused on small-business issues. To be fair, with all the noise and constant constitutional crises, there not a loooxygen left in the room. That being said, it is still a time that more are planning for growth than a recession.

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.

Small Business Resiliency is Hitting Hard

According to the quarterly Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey, small business owner optimism continues to climb even in these uncertain times. It’s somewhat uncanny. This index measure both present and future optimism, and both were up.

The Small Business Index measure of optimism
The Small Business Index measure of optimism. From gallup.com

The index is a composite of factors currently affecting the business climate. Surprisingly, these rises come from modest gain across a wide range of factors, not just one or two. In fact, when asked about their personal outlook, almost 8 in 10 small business owners were more optimistic than pessimistic. This has held relatively steady across the year, apart from a second quarter dip to 70%. 

Small business owner’s confidence remains strong, even though their confidence in the economy has shown some signs of weakness. 63% said the economy was excellent or good, which is stable in comparison with Q2 and down 7% from Q1. A climate like this is often associated with growth and business stability

But is this optimism going to last?

Although small business owners remain very optimistic, their confidence in the overall economy has shown some signs of erosion. Sixty-three percent say the current state of the U.S. economy is excellent or good. While still strong, this is down somewhat from 70% in July’s Quarter 3 poll but on par with Quarter 2, when 63% rated the economy as excellent or good.

Notably, 1/3 of small businesses expect an economic downturn in the next 12 months. Roughly a third think a recession is somewhat likely, and about 27% say it’s not very likely. Owners generally say their business are tied to the economy as a whole, with 84% saying it affects them somewhat to a great deal. 

Contrary to what we’ve reported froother sources, 3 out 4 small business owners feel they have the right strategy in place to handle a downturn, and nearly 90% feel that they are at least somewhat prepared to handle a downturn that might occur in the next few years. 

Are We Seeing Complacency?

While this data is all extremely encouraging fobusiness like ours who serve other businesses. However, there are so many risk factors that are unknowable. With so much uncertainty about the future of the country, it can be hard to accept that 75% of small business owners truly have the right strategy and protections.

We’ve talked before about how the trade war is volatile, and it influences the economyPlus, a weakened Trump is apt to do something rash and drastic, and who knows what his social media will result in for the market or politics. Even global tensions like Brexit can be a risk fosupply chain disruptions. We don’t want to sound too alarmist, but the list is a long one. How could yoprepare when no one knows with any degree of certainty when or if another shoe is going to drop. That’s why I find this statistic the most concerning of all. 

2020 Election & Small Business Desires

There isn’t any real consensus among small business owners when it comes to politicsTaxes/tax relief always tops the list, but it is fairly low, with only 1 in 5 business owners reporting it. It’s not surprising, as a number of small businesses did not see the amount of tax relief the big businesses did from the 2018 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Aside from healthcare, which was at 11%, all the other political areas were under 10% for small business owner fears.  Based on this information, there doesn’t seem to be any real hotbutton issues rising to the top. Maybe this is due to sense of complacency, or perhaps we all have different issue depending oour local environments.

marketing politics

An Optimism Killer for Small Business Owners? Finding New Business

Finding new business remains the top challenge for small business owners. This has remained relative flat for the year. Competition from larger companies and tight labor markets were the next two major concerns. They also remained relatively stable over the year.

Summary

While owners remain upbeat about their future, one can’t help to wonder if some complacency has started to set it. Small business owners share some concern about a recession longer-term, and most feel like they have the right places in place to manage it. With all the uncertainty swirling around, I find the difficult to believe, but I hope I am wrong. 

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.

Why We Love Kabbage’s Small Business Index

kabbage small business index

We talk a lot about different kinds of technology that can help your small business, and we might have a very useful one for you. Kabbage is a small business lending platform, and it has released a free tool called the Small Business Index. So often, we, as small business owners, struggle to find data how our performance compares to our peers. This free tool provides live data on more than 200,000 companies so we can see how our business is performing vs. our industry peers in our state and across the country. It might help you when it comes to long-term success for your business. 

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.

Why We Love It

Most of the research available is static and survey based, so it lacks both timeliness and accuracy. This quote, from Forbes, may answer some of your questions

“The preponderance of small business health reports are reliant on survey responses or static research,” says David Snitkof, head of data analytics and strategy at Kabbage. “This is the only tool available with an ongoing pulse on the financial health of local American small businesses, such as restaurants, hair salons, dentists, lawn care providers, boutique shops and more.”

Forbes

This tool allow you to choose between 15 industry options over a 3 year range, by state or by the US. It’s real time and data driven. Therefore, it both timely and more accurate.

Why We Think You'd Love It

Growth without context is just a number. For example, let’s say your business grew 15% in the past year. That’s good, right? Well, maybe. If you grew at 15%, but the average for your industry in your state was 20%, then no, it’s not. You’re actually lagging, so there are probably things you should be doing that your are not. Conversely, if the average was 10%, then you are doing somethings really well. You might want to consider what’s making you standout, so you can do more of it. You can take the tips from Kabbage and learn how to save yourself.

Some Facts You May Not Know

In 2019, the average small business grew by 19.37% based on the small businesses analyzed within the Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index. That’s pretty amazing when you think about the average GDP growth has been less than 3%. This illustrates the impact that small business has on fueling the growth of the economy. Research shows that we are the driving forces of job creation. We employ nearly ½ the US workforce

To Summarize, Try Kabbage

We love the Small Business Index because it a powerful tool for both ourselves and our clients to understand how we are performing vs. our peers. This is incredible valuable information that can help us to create more effective strategies and to focus on the right areas for growth.

3 Ways to Market Your Small Business Almost for Free

3 Marketing Tips Nothing

The advertising market is insane. In 2019, it’s estimated to be a nearly $600 billion industry, and that’s almost over the topIn this crowded marketplace, how can small businesses compete? If you don’t have the same resources, how can you market your small business for free? Well, do you remember when your mom said “kill them with kindness”? We want to encourage you to kill them with creativity. It may help your business grow in the long run.

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.

Kill Them with Creativity

We know we can’t beat big brands with spending. However, big ideas tend to die at big companies. Creativity dies in committee. I spent 20 years at major companies, and I’ve seen more creative ideas which died on the vine than survived. So, trust me because I know how your small business might need to market itself and free your route to successOn top of that, you might not have the capital to compete with those massive marketing budgets. Luckily, small businesses and entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to be creative and take smart risks. The followinthree breakthrough ways to market your small business are inexpensive and effective, and we encourage you to consider them.

1. If It’s Fun, They Will Come

People are social. They love to come together. You just need to give them a fun reason to do it. According to Eventbritea recent poll of adults aged 18+ revealed that people are attending more live events than ever before. Some businesses lend themselves to this more than others. But, even a consulting group like ourselves, can put together an educational event and make it fun. Reach out to the public and you might find your new customers. 

Holidays give you a built-in platform. Even not-so-fun events, like tax season, can be a hook for education. If there is a business expo and you can’t afford a booth, consider holding an event nearby. If you can provide free help as a small business, you might have found your perfect market. It’s always better to bring the event to you, so if you have a brick and mortar store, think about how you can piggy-back on local festivals and the like. Small Business Saturday is also another great time to work with your neighbors to create and event. The key is to make it fun. Prizes, bragging rights, competitions are all ways to make something that may seem drab more interesting.

2.  It Takes a Village

If you feel like you need to market your small business, your neighbors might be looking for some of the same free help. So get to know your neighbors! You would be surprised how much it helps to talk to your peers. Small businesses can use each other to succeed, creating a real life network. Promote one another and build your own community. If that isn’t possible, use other forms of connections. Talk to your LinkedIn contacts and your friends and more to figure out how you can help one another without too much cost.

Another way is to put your customers to work. Referral programs work very well because people trust their friends. Even big name brands have built their businesses based on referrals. DropBox, when it started, offered 50MB of extra space for every friend you referred. After referring 20 friends, we had a free account with 1 GB of space, which at the time, was enormous. It doesn’t have to be big, a simple thank you gift will usually suffice. Plus, it may help you grow your circles of communication.

3. Earned Media Will Always Beat Paid Media

[Repurpose HARO from 4 tips on a dime]

Overall, Creativity and Elbow Grease Result in Free Social Media Marketing

While marketing on a limited budget can be challenging, creativity and our tactics might help you save yourself. In order to market your small business for free, you may need to think differently. But, don’t forget, some of these tactics can work exceptionally well whether you have a small budget or a big one.

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.

Avoiding 3 Critical Small Business Mistakes

Common Small Business Mistakes

We’ve found throughout our work with small businesses that there are three critical mistakes that you can make which can really harm your business. Today, we want to share the story of “Larry,” a small business owner that faced these three problems. Luckily, we were able to fix them, but we are sharing this post so others might be able to avoid them. 

Feeling like your business isn’t going the right way? 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.

Larry's Story

Larry runs a small home services business. He came to use because he was struggling. His customers were disgruntled. He had stopped growing, and the perceived value of his services was dropping. As a result, the profits were dwindling. Larry was overwhelmed and needed help. He was constantly putting out fires, which could have been avoided. When we met Larry, we identified our three critical mistakes, killing his small business potential. This is where we stepped in, because we know how bad a mistake can be.

Larry and the Three Critical Small Business Mistakes

Like all small business owners, Larry was wearing multiple hats. Hwas so busy doing his work that he had little time to stop and think about if they were the right things to be doing.  It’s very important to face these issues head on, which can sometimes be a harsh truth to realize.

Critical Small Business Mistake #1 – Being a Jack-of-All-Trades 

At one point or another, weve all had to wear multiple hats, from being a CEO to being a janitor in a single day. However, just because we can do everything doesn’t mean we should. If we do, we run into the problem of our business running us. If a business owner doesn’t have control over their business, then they don’t have time to think about where the business is going.  

Larry was a workaholic. We all are. Larry’s situation worsened as profit became tighter. He found that he kept taking on more and more tasks to save money. What he didn’t realize that his inefficiency in those tasks were costing him in the backend. By the time he finished everything, he had little time and energy to take a step back and ask himself why he was doing everything. 

The first thing Larry had to do was learn to say ‘no’ and stick with it. In short, he had to delegate. We’ve touched on delegation and how to do it, so we won’t go into detail here. Suffice it to say, Larry was a task hoarder. The first step was to free up enough time where he could focus on the key issues driving his business.  

Critical Small Business Mistake #2 – Missing Prospects 

Larry was so busy that he wasn’t actively following up on leads. He would accept a “no” and move on, or worse, forget to call them back. The truth is a “no” today doesn’t necessarily mean a “no” forever. It often means “not right now”. Larry needed a better CRM system that pinged him to follow-up with responded ‘no’s 

It’s best practice to follow up with your leads, even if they had said ‘no’ in the past. This doesn’t mean become a spammer, but a nice, respectful ask is usually accepted. If you take control of your lead and prospect process, you may actually land a few new clients or more work from existing ones with some cajoling. A respectful outreach – key word, respectful – keeps you in mind so, even if they aren’t ready now, you name is still known. 

The worst was not calling prospects back or leaving comments unaddressed. It makes you look bad. Not only are you leaving money on the table, you are discouraging others from actively seeking you out if they seem previous post unaddressed. It makes you look sloppy, and it can often lead to businesses failing. 

Critical Small Business Mistake #3 – Not Listening 

Larry was a bit tone deaf when it came to subtle cues. Customers will always give you a clue as to how they think about you, subtle or otherwise. This is invaluable. It’s a gift that you can use to make your business better. Any feedback, positive or negative, is better than none. Feedback is actionable. Silence is not. Remember, not responding to feedback is worse. It’s best practice to answer all feedback. It lets customers know that they are being heard. By simply acknowledging a problem and trying to fix it can change a negative review into a positive. Completely ignoring the negative reviews will likely lead to more negative reviews.  

Getting Larry Back on Track

First, we went through our delegation exercises, and we uncovered the roles that Larry needed to delegate to free up his time. Second, we helped Larry find a CRM that could work for him. We got him started, and he assigned a role to one of his employees to manage it. Larry would still address the comments, questions, and inquiries, but not the day-to-day management of the system. Finally, we helped him find a social media manager. This role would monitor feedback and respond based on a script we developed. We also built an escalation process so the comments that needed Larry’s attention got it.

Larry's Results

It took some upfront investment in people and systems. We were able to help Larry secure the needed money (working capital) to hire the people he needed and purchase the systems necessary to improve efficiency. It took about 3 months for the effects to really show. After which, Larry started to see his business grow again. After six months, things were running smoothly, and he was able to pay off his line of credit within 24 months.

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.

Whether to DIY or Outsource Digital Marketing: Jeff’s Story

digital marketing

Digital marketing is a key strategy for all small businesses. It’s a tough decision whether to outsource part or all of it to a third party. Who can you trust? Will they do a good job? Can you afford it? All leaps of faith to a certain degree. Our client Jeff faced these same questions. He dabbled, and he struggled. Even then, he still was not sure what was best. He, like all of us, has limited time and resources, so what did he decide to do? Well, that’s where digital marketing comes into play. 

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.

Jeff's Story

Jeff runs a small boutique store in New York. He’s had been successful with his brick and mortar location, but sales were starting to slow. He had some e-commerce, but it was extremely limited. He wanted to keep his growth going, but he wasn’t exactly sure how. Most of his current business came from foot traffic and through his reputation as curator of unique and custommade products from locally sourced material. Jeff, himself, had a great online presence through is Instagram account, but the business was less well represented.

Digital Marketing 101

Digital marketing requires some knowledge and skill to be effective. Some of the skills from traditional marketing are translatable. Some are not. There are great short courses on digital marketing basics at SCORE and Digital Marketing Institute.

Content marketing

Content marketing cover much of what we spoke about in our blog post on In-Bound Marketing. An example of content marketing is what we are doing right now. Good contact marketing leverages key words that your audience connects with your business. Valuable content is worth its weight in gold. It drives both engagement and search rankings.

Organic SEO

Organic SEO is the holy grail of digital marketing. While it’s the holy grail, it’s the hardest to influence. Google spends millions on its algorithms, and they change constantly. It’s time consuming, but not impossible to do yourself. First you need to see where you stand. This requires setting up a Google Search Console account. It’s simple to do, but harder to manage. Google offers a SEO starter’s guide, which is worth completing if you decide to try your hand at SEO.

Social media

We went through a whole section on social media in our blog post on Inbound Marketing. Social media can be a powerful tool for small businesses. This is the one area in which Jeff excelled. 

Paid search & advertising

Advertising on Google involves keyword bidding. This can be expensive for popular keywords. However, local search can be very helpful. Google My Business coupled with Ads can be helpful. Google Ads provides a Smart Campaign option that we’ve used, and it has been effective. The jury is out if it is more or less effective than a professionally managed campaign.

What Did Jeff Do?

Jeff was a whiz at social media. We didn’t need to hire an expert here, but he did need to make sure that he put the same effort into his business account as he did his personal. All the social media credit was going to his personal account, and if people didn’t know he owned a store, he was losing them as potential customers and diminishing his chances of long-term success.

No one could write content about his business better than he could. What he needed was some help on which key words were the most productive. He didn’t have time both to write and to do the research. As a result, we recommended that he hire someone to manage his SEO. With paid advertising, we decided to try the Google Smart Campaign. We didn’t have the budget for both SEO and paid advertising managers. Therefore, we had to make a strategic choice to avoid wasting money.

Jeff's Results

The brick and mortar results were not instantaneous, but the web metrics were. Within the first month, he saw his web traffic quadruple. Once we had enough clicks, we turned on the remarketing feature. Within the 2nd month, we saw his online sales skyrocket. Let’s put this in context. He had a very minimal e-commerce presence prior, so any change was dramatic. After 3 months, his local organic rankings started to improve significantly, and his in-store sales started to increase. It took roughly six months to see the full impact and his year-on-year in store sales were up +20%, with growth seeming to continue in that upward-swing.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you are planning on including digital marketing into your mix or if you are doing it now, we would recommend that you look at each of the aspects above. We at ProStrategix believe it is a tool that can be used in all marketing plans. Every business is different and has a different set of needs. That said, a thoughtful analysis of how each of these tools can be put the best use for you should increase your chances of success. 

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.