Is Yahoo! Small Business’s Business Maker a Deal or Not?

Yahoo Small Business

We’ve gone through Amazon and Google and other tech companies before when it comes to small businesses. Now, let’s think about Yahoo, and specifically the Yahoo Business Maker. 

In October 2019, Yahoo Small Business launched its Business Maker. It’s a “a new platform to help small businesses and aspiring business owners start, run, and grow their own business.” So, we thought we’d give it a try, and directionally compare it to other service providers. What we found was surprising.

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 Yahoo Business Maker Claims

Yahoo Small Business Maker does provide a selection of tailored services that help you manage your small business plans, legal needs, online hosting, local search, and point of sale. 

How It Stacks Up

Like we said in the video, it appears to be a good deal. While it’s impossible to tell if each of the individual services offered by Yahoo will be equivalent to the services provided by the other services we reviewed, it wins from a convenience standpoint. The interface is great. The unified dashboard is definite plus. If you are an experienced businessperson, Yahoo Business Maker’s guided tracks and to-do lists a bit annoying. But for someone starting out, they are a great resource.

Retail Solution Seemed Great, but We Couldn’t Review It

We aren’t a traditional brick-and-mortar business, so we weren’t able to review the POS system and solutions of Yahoo Business Maker. Like the rest of the platform, it’s seems user friendly. However, as to ease of use, functionality, etc., we can only go on what they claim. 

This easy-to-use system will help storeowners automatically track sales and inventory from a searchable, user-friendly app. The Yahoo Small Business Mobile Point of Sale system combines a backoffice where owners can control inventory, sales, and returns, and a payment processing function using PayPal Here card readers for in-person purchases.

Yahoo! Press Release (10/19)

Summary

If you are starting a business, you should consider Yahoo Business Maker. As an existing business, if you have your business plan complete, all your legal paperwork in place, etc., its value is a bit diminished. For us, it only made sense to use the Local Search tool. Unfortunately, that tool was about as expensive as the monthly rate for the full plan, and about the same price as a more wellestablished brand. Therefore, we chose not to use it, as we already have a local provider, and we didn’t see much added value. 

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.

Flexible Hours: 3 Simples Way to Make Them Work

Flexible Hours

The trend for flexible hours — true flexibility in staffing hours — is here to stay. Gone are the tweaks of the corporate world, which used to offer 7 am -3 pm or 10 am – 6 pm. This is a great thing. Adapting your work to empower people’s lives is the way to keep employees motivated and engaged. It is a key factor in hiring for any small 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.

Jillian’s Tale – Here’s What NOT to Do

Jillian decided to give flexible hours a try. She hired a staffer who agreed to a flexible schedule. This hire needed a flexible schedule, so she could care for both her family and aging parentsBut, it was problem from the start. This staffer wasn’t available at core hours to answer questions, nor was she able to be available immediately if a crisis hit. After a few of these issues occurred, Jillian started to wonder if she was actually doing any work. It was a disaster, and it only lasted 6 months.

Why Jillian Failed

Jillian was trying to be more open and flexible, but she failed because of one simple fact. You can’t just change one piece of the puzzle and expect it all to fit. It’s like when you switch phones, you can’t use the same adaptor. Is it the phone’s fault, the adaptor’s fault, or the buyers? In truth, it’s all threeYou can’t change one part of the organization without an adaptor to make it work with the rest. 

Step 1: Find the Right Staff

Jillian hired this staffer because she had a skill set that that was desperately needed. The employee was willing to work with less pay then a full-salaried person because of flex hours. The simple truth was Jillian needed this employee. Others might work, but she couldn’t afford them. When thinking about flexible hours, you need to think about all the cost, not just the salary. Jillian didn’t ever consider the problems, let alone the cost.

Seventy-seven percent of employees consider flexible work a major consideration in their job searches, according to Zenefits, which provides human resource software. And 30% have left a job because it didn’t provide flexible work options, a FlexJobs poll reveals.

USA Today

Step 2: Make the Right Changes

It’s important to know from the onset what you need from the role and how that will work with the demands for talents within the organization. Do you need core hour coverage all the time? Can you live with some of the downtime? What’s urgent vs. an emergency? If everything that is urgent is an emergency, then you have to look at how the company is operating. How can you document what work is done and by when? Will that work for the other parts of organization? 

In late 2017, the vast majority of workers said they had some degree of work flexibility but just 42% said they had been trained on how to manage it, down from 47% in 2015, according to a survey by Flex + Strategy.

USA Today

Step 3: Weight the total cost

If the adaptation costs more than the staffer, then obviously you need to make the right choice. In Jillian’s case, she didn’t adapt, so she will never know. Like with phones, the adaptor is usually not the costliest part. You just have to spend and really think about how the role will need to be adapted so both needs can be met. I think Jillian could have make this work by making a few minor adjustments. 

Technology such as smartphones, cloud computing and work collaboration tools such as Slack also have paved the way. So has a work culture that often requires employees to answer emails late at night or on vacation. Companies can hardly ask workers to make such sacrifices without providing them more leeway to adjust their hours or location during the workday, Yost says.

USA Today

How Jillian Could Have Succeeded with Flex Hours

First, Jillian could have set some boundaries on hours that would accommodate both parties. There were three key periods in the employee’s day that she needs to be free: before school, mid-afternoon, and after school. This meant she could have agreed to 9-11 and 2-4 as core hours with minimal disruption to her day. Those would be 4 hours every given day that people who needed her could have known how to reach her.  

Second, Jillian could have put weekly status reports in place to judge and track how much work was being completed [link to status post]. He had no way measuring work output. 

Increased flexibility also boosts productivity, Yost says. Sixty percent of employees with workplace flexibility said they feel more productive and engaged and 45% say it increases their ability to work effectively with their team, according to the Flex + Strategy survey. 

Lastly, Jillian could have put a simple policy in place to notify the rest of the workforce and future hires about how to manage flexible hours. It required some minor behavioral change within the whole organization not just one person. The same innovative company that developed the calendar and policies said, “it works because now everyone knows the rules of the game.” Now Jillian can grow her company with ease.

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.

Secrets of Small Business Funding Unveiled (Part 1 of 3)

small business funding secrets

For many of our clients, the unfortunate truth Is that funding their small business is the biggest obstacle that they encounter. In this series of three posts, we are going to share the story of Jackie, the problems she faced, and how she overcame 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.

Jackie’s Story

Jackie was like any other entrepreneur. She was so excited about her idea. She knew she had a winner. What she didn’t really know what how to bring that idea to market. It wasn’t that she didn’t try to learn, but the steps are challenging and complex. Plus, the advice she was getting was conflicting, confusing, or frankly, condescending. Listening to too many cooks can be a mistakeWhen she was referred to us, she was feeling a bit defeated and beaten down. She had been struggling to get funding for her small business, and she wasn’t sure why.

The Struggle Is Real...

Depending on the business, start-up costs can be small to strikingly high. Even if you aren’t in start-up mode, the process is the same. The first step is always to create a comprehensive list. How? If you’re in start-up mode, it starts with your business model. Our post is a great primer if you need one. If you’re not in start-up mode, make a complete list of all the project’s costs.

Jackie needed a model makeover

Jackie had built a good business model, but it needed a little makeover before it was ready for showtime. She was missing a few basics. We don’t want to bore you with all the details. However, suffice it to say, there were some gaps between spending and sales projections, a few production cost omissions, and somewhat over-optimistic overhead costs. So we helped her revitalize that business plan for a new age. And that was step one to find small business funding.

The Olympic Hurdle Race for Small Business Funding

When trying to determine what’s getting in your way, it can sometimes feel like the Olympic hurdle race. This can leave you feeling like you’re struggling. But that doesn’t have to be the case! 

  1. Yourself 
    What do you mean me? Yes, you. The first hurdle is to be brutally honest with yourself about what you want this business to be. Is it a legacy? Is it to make money, and leave? Is it something to put every cent intoWhat is it to you? We have to answer this question first, or we could waste our time chasing the wrong type of funding for Jackie’s small business.  
  2. Business Concept 
    Being laser-focused on how you are different is key. If you can get that across, then it’s game over. Once you cross that hurdle, it has to pass the red-face test. Is it believable? Credible? Can it be done? Sometimes these issues can be fixed with minor changes, but sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board.  
  3. Singing & Dancing 
    I sincerely wish it wasn’t true, but the presentation can make or break the deal. If the energy level isn’t right or the audience doesn’t perceive a high level of enthusiasm, a great idea can die. This is one of the hardest lessons that I, personally, had to learn. 
  4. ‘T’s crossed and ‘I’s dotted 
    Regardless of how great a show, if the numbers don’t make sense or the market doesn’t seem well researched, you can easily lose your audience. Yes, there are some unicorns that just sold dreams, but they are as rare in real-life as the were in myth. 
  5. Sticker Shock 
    This is one of the key areas where mismatched expectations can really be a problem. It’s very important to be realistic about how much you can raise. It’s better to base your strategy on standard financial metrics than on luck.  
  6. Market Competition 
    Even the best idea can get drowned out by all the noise. You can bet there are more ideas than money. Therefore, being able to communicate your point of difference quickly is critical. You have to cut through market competition, or you will not be heard. 

Jackie's Hurdles

We had a long heart-to-heart talk with Jackie about her business and what she wanted from it. She was looking for something she could build long-term. Jackie wasn’t against bringing on a partner if it made sense, but wanted to maintain as much control as possible. She had a solid business concept. Truthfully, all she did need was a little spit and polish, plus ensuring all the ‘I’s and ‘t’s we in place for funding her small business. Her ask was reasonable, so we were left we the next step. Where to go? 

Well, come back tomorrow to learn more!

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.

Top 2 Upsides & Downsides of Being A Small Business 

small business upsides

Running a small business isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but it also isn’t all doom and gloom. Like everything in life, it’s a balance. Depending on each of our personalities, we may focus on one side or the other. But, it’s the ability to see both that makes clients successful. So let’s talk about two upsides and two downsides to operating your own small 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.

Top 2 Small Business Upsides

The top 2 small business upsides are agility and control. For many control is the key motivator. Being free to do your own thing is a major benefit. 

Agility

After 20 plus years in corporate America, I can confidently say that I have seen more great ideas die in committee than make it to market. In addition, I’ve seen so many great ideas become diluted to mediocrity to accommodate competing agenda. People who were more concerned about themselves than the company. 

The advantage small businesses have is that they don’t have this crap. I’m sorry, but yes, it’s crap. We have to be focused on what drives the business forward to survive. We can implement change and adapt quickly. We can identify market opportunities and provide products and services before the big companies have had their 2nd meeting. Plus, as we grow, we can learn from the problems we used to have.

Control

Control allows you to cut through the BS that most large companies have. It’s a ton of responsibility. Being able to call the shots means you are responsible at the end of the day for the financial, operational, and business strategy. Honestly, if not managed well, it can feel overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. 

It is incredibly empowering to be able to determine the people you hire, the clients or customers you serve, the impact you have on your community, and the list continues. This gives you the amazing opportunity to work with people you like, you trust, and you know are good people. You get to create the organizational culture that is right for you.

Top 2 Small Business Downsides

The top 2 small business downsides are knowledge-base and money. For many, money or access to capital is the biggest downside. However, I would argue knowledge-base is where we see most people get tripped up.

Knowledge-base

Knowledge-base is the flipside of control. If you are in charge of the financial, operations, and business strategy, you need to be knowledgeable about each. That’s no small task. Few people have the breadth of knowledge, and that’s OK. There are plenty of successful small business owners who don’t. That’s when it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you do know and what you don’t. Then, you can get the help you need by hiring great talent, by creating an advisory board, and/or by bringing in a consulting group. People who tend to fail do so because they try to do it all or fail to recognize or admit what they don’t know. 

Money

Yes, this one is the obvious one. Small businesses do not typically have the advantage of being funded by large investment firms or groups. This means we have to be mindful of capital and cash-flow always. We can’t afford to blow out millions in cash before we show a profit. Arguably, things are changing with the Ubers and WeWorks of the world. But, we aren’t financially able to make many big mistakes or big gambles.  

Being mindful of profit doesn’t mean you don’t try to learn or be so afraid of making mistakes or investing that it cripples your long-term growth. Look, I won’t lie, there are many times when we are trying to learn something, that I second guess myself. I question am I doing the right thing? And can I afford to spend money where I need to, like on marketing or hiring? Whenever I get anxious, I go back to our benchmarks. Are we moving towards where we want to be? That’s why metrics and benchmarks are so important. Not only can they help your course correct, they can also give you the courage to stay the course as well. 

Summary

The glass is neither half empty or half full. It’s both. It’s important to keep your eye on both balls, as tough as that may seem. It’s easy to focus on one or the other to the determent of both. There is no perfect upside or downside to owning a small business. Just know what you need, and your limits. 

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.

Top Ways to Use LinkedIn to Boost Small Business

LinkedIn Boost

It should come as no surprise. We use LinkedIn to boost our small business. Why? Even though LinkedIn has become more crowded and the audience a bit more jaded, it’s still one of the best platforms for Business-to-Business (B2B) selling. This is one of the main ways to turn your small business from something starting out into a more contact-driven group. In some ways, it is a unique form of E-Commerce. 

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.

#1. Realize that Building Your Network Takes Time 

In reality, this is was my hardest lesson to learn. You can’t rush it. I don’t believe there is a magic formula that does the trick. It’s a time consuming, slow process. Brand building takes time. If you are going to invest in LinkedIn, which I would argue is worth it for B2B companies, you have to be willing to put in the time to boost results. If you’re using it to drive inbound marketing, be prepared for an uphill battle. But it is all worth the effort at the end of the day.

#2. Quality Content is Key

Keyword search is helpful. Hashtag research is as well. We do both. However, that doesn’t always correlate with engagement. We’ve found it the most helpful to track each post to see what gets the most views and the most likes. By doing so, we found patterns within our audience that we wouldn’t have found via the standard recommended tools. Again, this takes time and effort. But, we’ve seen it pay dividends in boosting the numbers of views and likes on LinkedIn.

#3. Social Selling Index

If you don’t have Linkedin Sales Navigator, you’re probably thinking what the heck this is. It’s a measure of how well you are doing in selling your services in a social format. One of the HARDEST things for me was to realize that this is about trying to build connections with others. I’m at a disadvantage. I didn’t grow up with social media. It was a hard concept to learn, and frankly, I am still learning. When I think of writing and video, I think formal. It took me a while to unlearn that behavior. But, if you enter it with a ‘how can we help each other’ mindset, it’s been my experience that it works better.

#4. Groups – Jury’s Out

I’m starting to wonder if there are just too many groups on LinkedIn. We run one. Small Business Bootcamp. We’ve been able to build it to over 400 people in a few months. It’s a great tool to share information with people who are interested in what we have to say. However, I just wonder if people are getting burned out on groups. We’ll just have to see. 

Summary – We Love LinkedIn – Hope It Boosts Your Business Too!

If you are willing to put in time and effort, LinkedIn can be a great way to help boost your brand. By following the four steps we outlined, we think you will be more successful and happier with your experience. Will you still run into jerks – yes. It’s tough when you get a nasty reply when your intentions were good. But there are good people who are genuinely willing to help, and with effort, you can find them.

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.