Categories
Running a Small Business

4 Simple Ways to Tune Up Your Small Business

As we come to the close of 2019, is your business in need of a tune up? In this post, we share how one of our clients, Kelly, performed a tune-up on her business to get her engines running like new. A tune up in your small business might seem like something dangerous, but it actually is a key way to lead to growth in the long run for your business.

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

Kelly's Story

Kelly is a fashion designer. She is a very eco-conscious person, so she created a company around these ideals. Her line focuses on functional fashion that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Her concept is amazing, and she didn’t need help with products or marketing. Where Kelly struggled was with business operations. While she was a wiz at design and genius of materials, her passion didn’t lie in business operations. That’s totally understandable. No one person can be a master of everything. Kelly had grown quickly, but her business processes hadn’t kept pace. In short, her business needed a tune-up. 

Where to Tune Up Your Business?

When looking for ways to tune up your business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly. How do you know where to start? Well, there are a couple of key areas you should always check. 

Review Your Finances

While it’s not sexy and most people would rather avoid it, reviewing your finances is always the best place to start. The first stop is to review your cash flow. Why? Profit is like food. Cash is like air. You can live a few weeks without food, but you die instantly without air. So, think about your revenue and your cash flow to determine how at risk you might be.  

In Kelly’s case, cash flows are highly cyclical, and sales often lag purchases by months. She would always hit a cash flow crunch. Kelly dealt with this problem was by factoring her invoices. Think of it like an advance. You get a percentage of your invoice today from a lender, who gets the full value of the invoice when its paid. It’s not an ideal method. Instead, we set her up with a line of credit. She had good credit and solid financials. She was just continuing to do what she had always done. This simple fix saved her a lot of money.

We come across so many small business owner, who are ready to burn out, because they try to do everything themselves. Don’t. You may think you are saving yourself money, but it won’t work. Please save yourself the aggravation and stress. To learn some time regarding how, please read our tips on Pain-Free Delegation. 

Kelly was no different. She is a superstar, but she was burning the candles at both ends. Sound familiar? We all do it. We took Kelly through our Keep vs. Toss exercise, which highlighted several areas where her team could take over. This saved her several hours a week, which she could use to focus on where she excelled, design. 

Is Your Computer Running Word 2010?

A chart about small business tune-up needs

Sometimes we think we are saving ourselves money by trying to keep our technology too long. Intel funded a study of over 3,000 companies in 16 countries. They found a dramatic drop-off in productivity after 3 years. 

Look, we understand. Tech purchases aren’t cheap, but they start to pay for themselves after about 3 years. 

Kelly didn’t suffer too badly from this. She tended to hand down technology to the lower level talent. Fortunately, they had their own tech, which was faster than what Kelly gave them. While she thought this was saving her money, it was actually creating a cyber security risk. Therefore, we recommended that she stop this practice. A few thousand was worth more than one of her designs or plans accidentally going to one of her competitors.

Learn something new – break out of your comfort zone

It’s tempting to want to fall back to what you know. Starting a business is hard, and once you have it up and running well, why change it? While we’re not recommending that you upend your business, but we are challenging you to try to learn or to do something uncomfortable. Expanding your business can be uncomfortable. However, if you avoid growing, you may find yourself becoming a dinosaur. Hence – tune up.  

Being a creative type, Kelly was always trying new things. However, they were all in her comfort zone – design and fabrics. We challenged her to pick one part of the business that made her the most nervous and try to learn more about it. We all have those spots. Those places where we’d rather watch paint dry than do. For Kelly, that was finances. She didn’t like numbers. We told her, that’s OK. Most people are afraid of finances because they hadn’t been taught well. We set her up with the quick curriculum. We took her thought it. To her credit, she stuck with it. While she’ll never love it, she did feel much more confident. She realized had she been more confident she would have stop factoring a long time ago.

Summary

 We all need a tune-up now and again. Bad habits can creep into the best businesses. They are like dust bunnies under the bed. The longer you wait to clean them, the bigger they get. You don’t have to clean under your bed every week, but it’s a good idea to get into some type of routine.

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.

Categories
Business Issues Running a Small Business

4 Small Business Tips for Protection During 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.

Categories
Markerting Your Small Business Running a Small Business

Generate Leads for Your Small Business with These 3 Tips

Generating leads is one of the hardest things for a new small business to do. To get a client base, you first need to get clients. We have trouble with it sometimes, and many of our clients have talked with us about their issues with it as well. When you start, no one knows who you are or what you do, and why they should work with you. We live in an over-sold world. Skepticism is aaall-time high. Plus, competition is now global. It’s tough to breakthrough. To help you, though, we wanted to give you our three steps to sell aa new small business. 

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

1. Have a Clear, Crisp Pitch

People’s attention spans are shrinking. You need to be ready for that. You need a concise pitch that explains what you do. Pitching is important for a number of reasons, from getting loans to getting customers.  

Here are two good pitch templates that we’ve used in the past. They’re simple. They’re direct. Each shows how to make the most of the differentiation you have. Importantly, they work.

If you have a unique benefit only you can provide: 

[Enter Company Name] is the ONLY [Enter Industry or Competitive Set] that provides [Unique Point of Difference]. That’s because [Support Claim #1] and [Support Claim #2].

If you provide service in a way that might not be “unique”: 

[Enter Company Name] is a [Enter Industry or Competitive Set] that provides [Point of Difference] [better, faster, cheaper, etc] than [competitive set]. That’s because [Support Claim #1] and [Support Claim #2].

Generating Leads is a key aspect of marketing yourself to others

See, it’s basically like a business-oriented MadLibs! And the best part is, it will help you with generating leads in the future. These are two templates for you to start with, but there are a lot of options for your new business

2. Be Seen as an Expert

One of the things that we aProStrategix do is to post articles almost every day, like this! And trust me, I know it’s hard to deliver quality content on a daily basis. You won’t always get it right, but after a while, you will see which content your target finds the most useful. Armed with those insights, you can create an editorial calendar that focuses more on what people are interested inand you can showcase your skills to a larger, more engaged audience.

3. Be Smart with Your SEO and Landing Pages

An example of the importance and work of lead generation, and the payoff of it

SEO is often touted as the holy grail. It’s not quite that, but it is important. SEO is like micro-targeting. You have to find that patch to own. Then, build from there. It’s tough when you want to serve a bigger marketplace, but micro-targeting your content to specific narrow audiences does help to generate leads. The same is true for your landing pages. The tighter and more relevant the content is to person, who lands on your site, the better. They are likely to stay longer, bounce less, and provide you with insights on what’s working or not. 

What Happens After You Generate a Lead?

Ultimately, it’s the conversion that counts, and that goes up the more they interact with your content. Hopefully, you can generate the leads you need to grow from a new business to larger and better things.

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.

Categories
Current Events Running a Small Business

Did the New Tax Law Help or Hurt Small Businesses?

You may have asked yourself if the GOP tax law helped or hurt your small business. Well, it strangely depends on what part of the country you live in. If you are in Professional Services, LLC or S-corporation in a high tax state (“blue”) like New York then no, you probably got hammered. If you lived in a low tax state (“red”) and were a C-corporation, then it likely helped you.

It’s really such a shame that it’s come to this. We are all small businesses who contribute equally to the economy of the nation. Why can’t we all be treated fairly by new tax laws?

A recent house hearing regarding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), aka the GOP tax law, illustrates this point beautifully. In the hearing, small business owners disagreed over the impact. Unsurprisingly, it ran with this tired red state vs. blue state divide. Let’s go through what you may want to know.

New Tax Laws in Red States:

Red State

Justin Conger, an owner of a C-corp in Ohio attributed much of his company’s success to the TCJA.

“Construction is a lagging indicator of the economy…If our clients or other businesses are not growing, expanding, or re-investing in their facilities, there is no need for commercial construction services. There is a lot of work to be completed before a project can start; from an owner obtaining financing to architectural drawings being completed, to regulatory approval from local jurisdictions. Businesses all over Ohio are growing and expanding by utilizing the benefits of the TCJA and reinvesting additional generated capital into their businesses. In talking with past, future, and current clients, over 80 percent indicate the reason for their investment in construction services is due to the economy and current tax structure.”

He reported increased hiring and offer higher wages and better healthcare benefit as a result of these tax laws. If true, then he’s behaving much better than Fortune 500 C-corporations, which did not raise wages and just repatriated a ton of cash. They’ve been sitting on this due to the current economic uncertainty, which has been the true victory of this tax law.

New Tax Laws in Blue & Purple States:

Blue State

Most small businesses are pass-throughs, sole-proprietorships, LLC’s, and/or S-corporations, not C, which means they had fewer resources and more administrative expenses. From a purple state, Virginia, one owner, Muneer Baig, expressed his doubts.

“Unlike many of the large corporations that use their savings to buy back shares and increase the value of their business, most small businesses are interested in growing their business. Businesses investing their savings now may not have extra cash in two to three years to continue investing and the projects may not get completed. This can result in a total loss of their investment.”

He also went on to say that he found the code more complex. This has been the complaint of many small business owners, who had to pay increased fees to their accountants. This complaint was strongest among non-C-corporations regardless of state.

A CPA from Rhode Island added a more mixed view. He said that there were benefits in the TCJA, but also believed that Congress should ease administrative burdens.

“Twenty-nine percent of small business owners said filing taxes in 2018 and 2019 was more difficult than it was in 2017. I can tell you tax practitioners said the same thing.”

What Does the Data Say?

The benefits have varied based on where you live. First, growth has been mixed. In Ohio, construction was growing faster than Maine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio was up 3.5%, while Maine shrank by 4.8%. Second, the same is true with unemployment. Ohio’s rate fell the most 0.7%, the rest ranged between flat to down 0.4%.

What Do Experts Say?

Most economists say it’s a bit of a sugar high, where it will help the economy in the short-term but hinder it in the long.

“Longer-term economic growth would arise from investment, but any incentive effects increasing investment would likely be offset by crowding out from increased deficits,” said

Jane Gravelle.  She went on to say. “Longer-term economic growth would arise from investment, but any incentive effects increasing investment would likely be offset by crowding out from increased deficits,”

“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected a 2018 real growth rate of 2.7 percent without the tax cut and 3 percent with it, for a 0.3 percent growth increase due to the tax revision. Real GDP growth in 2018 was 2.9 percent. This growth rate is consistent with a relatively small first-year effect.”

The New Tax Laws, in Summary

From looking at the data, it’s hard to make an argument that this bill helped everyone equally. It’s also hard to argue that it will have any real lasting and significant effect on the economy as a whole since the places and companies it helped will likely be canceled out by those it did not help. It looks like it is just part of the never-ending saga of Blue vs. Red that’s dividing the country. This cannot go on without negatively impact us all at some point. As part of the business community, we need to stop thinking of us vs. them. Instead, we should think more about making investments in what would help us all.

Is it infrastructure? Or maybe training? Education? It is for us to learn.

Categories
Growing Your Business Running a Small Business

5 Ways to Benefit from Your Small Business Size

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

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

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

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

1. Create Unique & Targeted Experiences

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

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

2. Customize for Your Clientele

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

3. Be Flexible 

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

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

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

4. Listen to What Your Clients Want 

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

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

5. Be Creative! 

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Managing Costs Running a Small Business

Three Awesome Tips For Cutting Costs in Your Small Business

Even when the economy or your business is going strong, cutting costs in your small business is never a bad idea.  In fact, here are three awesome tips for cutting cost.

The economy is hit or miss — one minute it’s up, the next it’s down.  So, if you’re looking for a reliable way to protect your finances, make sure you cut costs all year round.

Forbes

As we come to the back-half of the year, it’s a good time to look at your expenses and see where you might be able to make some changes. These are the three tips that we use for cutting cost, and we believe they can help you in cutting costs in your small business.

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.

Cut out time-wasting activities

Activities that waste time are one of the biggest strains on business resources.  Small business owners often wish they had more hours in the day.  The truth is however, that we and our employees probably spend too much time on unproductive activities.  If we could remove them, we’d be able to get more accomplished.  We find making a list of what you are doing throughout the day helps.  Take a look at all the activities and see what is least value-added.  Try to remove it one day.  See what happens.  If everything is fine, then eliminate it.

Leverage Technology, cutting costs in your small business

Travel is a killer.  It not only costs time but also money.  With technology today, it is so easy to conduct meetings virtually, saving both time and money.  Some people will want face-to-face meetings, but others may not.  However, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Cutting costs in your small business by Saving Resources

Space

In cities like New York, space is a premium.  The same is true in any major city.  But, this just isn’t office spaces, it’s server space, storage space, etc.  An e-mail or a file retention policy can help with cutting cost in your small business .  A semi-annual file clean-up can cut down on unnecessary storage.  Also, smart use of shared space can be more cost-effective than renting or owning office space.

Office supplies

Even in our electronic world, we still use a lot of paper and ink.  While these aren’t the most expensive items, wasting them can add up.  Ask yourself, do you really need to print that presentation, letter, etc.?  If so, can you print it more efficiently, side view or double-sided for example? It’s a simple step to cutting cost in your small business

Utilities

Let’s face it.  Most businesses waste electricity, gas, etc.  Therefore, to cut costs in your small business, think about where you might be able to reduce your energy usage.  First, how can you make the most of natural lighting?  Second, could you switch to a more energy-efficient option like LED lighting, for instance?  Third, could you use window shading to reduce AC costs?  Finally, could you install a smart thermostat or smart appliances?  In fact, some electricity companies provide discounts for use or for purchase.  Either way, it’s a great way to cut costs.

In summary, these are just a few ideas for cutting cost in your small business. There are others that we explore in our post “4 Ways to Avoid Wasting Money as a Small Business”.  You’ll probably come up with even more.  A consistent effort is what’s key.

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.

Categories
Cyber Issues Running a Small Business

Small Business Cyber Security & Why Be Concerned

Small business cyber security & attacks rarely make the news, but small businesses are among the biggest targets. Having had to deal with one ourselves, we know.  In fact, “43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses” according to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).  The most common is ransomware.

Why are small businesses so vulnerable?  Simple, time.  Most of us are so busy running our day-to-day operations.  Who has time to focus on Phishing scams or other cyber-attacks?

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.

Small Business Cyber Security Assistance Act

While it sounds great, it sadly underdelivers. It authorizes the nation’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to “work with” the Department of Homeland Security to, according to  The Hill, “provide consulting to small businesses on how to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols.”  New materials and education programs are also tools?. -Small Business Trends

Sounds good, right?  Not quite.  While the bill has good intentions, the policy execution has problems.

Problem #1: Have You Ever Heard of SBDC?

Right.  I didn’t think so.  So, how can they provide “consultation” on small business cybersecurity if you don’t know they exist?  Sadly, this bill does not include funds to drive awareness of SBDC.  Therefore, if you don’t know about it now, you’re not likely to learn about them in the future.  The idea that the centers will be sufficient to “provide consulting to small businesses on how to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols” is like pouring money down the drain.

Problem #2: Raise Your Hand if You Own a Server?

Again, didn’t think so.  Most small companies have switched to, or started with cloud-based applications.  We do.  I bet you do, too.  This makes our data security dependent upon big tech companies.  While this bill is focusing on us, where is the accountability for those hosting the data – Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others?

Small Business Cyber Security Assistance Act Alternatives

Solution #1: Make Tech Companies Liable for Small Business Losses

While you could sue them for data losses, good luck!  The playing field is completely imbalanced.  If this bill really wanted to help small businesses, it should require big data companies to provide compensation to their small business customers when they screw up.  Regulation of the tech industry is sadly lacking.  Congress is not known for being tech-savvy. 

Solution #2: Cyber Insurance

Who has heard of cyber insurance?  Few have.  It is available, and it’s probably the best option to protect yourself.  It’s just an added cost.  This bill could help small businesses if it would provide some financial guarantees for insurance companies, similar to what they do for the Small Business Administration loans.  Some assistance to help pay for cyber insurance would make it more affordable and accessible.

If this legislation passes, it’s unlikely to do much in terms of helping reduce small business cyber-attacks.  In this jump-start application world, you have two options.  First, put your faith in tech companies acting responsibly with your data, or alternatively, invest in some cyber insurance.

In summary, Congress is woefully behind the times in tech. This is nothing new. This is one area where infrastructure improvements could significantly help small businesses cybersecurity, but in the meantime, we should take precautionary steps to protect ourselves.

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.

Categories
Managing Costs Running a Small Business

Avoid Wasting Money: Small Business Tips

All businesses (unless they’re non-profit) have one thing in common: they all need to turn a profit.  The easiest way to turn a profit is to avoid wasting money as a small business. So read our tips to learn more about how to save and grow without spending money

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 FREE thirty-minute consulting session. 

4 Ways to Avoid Wasting Money as a Small Business

To start, the first step is to understand what a “deal” means to you.

1. Deal or No Deal?

Often, we as small business owners are bombarded with advice, especially when it comes to deals.  Not all of this advice is bad, however, but whether something is a deal, only you can decide. 

Importantly, the biggest mistake many people make is to focus on price versus value.  In other words, if you focus on the value it provides to your small business, you avoid wasting money. It’s a shortcut to long-term success, in many ways.

Have you ever bought something cheap, and it broke or didn’t do the job, etc., only to have to buy something else?  I think we all have.  But, it teaches us a great less about value.  Value is a measure of quality for a given price.  Granted, value is tough to measure because quality is tough to gauge.  But, the key question is really ‘will it do the best job at that price level’?

2. Minimize Impulse Buying to Avoid Wasting Money as a Small Business

Let’s face it.  We all buy on impulse.  It happens.  There are many who will say “never buy on impulse”.  While that’s great in theory, we all know it’s going to happen.  The key is to minimize it.  So, when the urge hits, take a breather and ask, do we or I really need this?  Therefore, if you are buying something, you should have a reason, even if it’s just to treat yourself.

3. Have a Reason to Buy is a Great Way to Avoid Wasting Money as a Small Business

Building on the last point, you can avoid wasting money as a small business by ensuring that all your purchases have a purpose.  Some small business owners are really good at this.  In contrast, some aren’t.  If you fall into the latter category, then, it’s helpful to make a list of what you spent for a week, 2 weeks, or a month.  Next to each purchase, put a check if it had a reason.  Count how many checkmarks you have.   Granted, it’s a bit tedious. But, it’s a good tool to help track and train new spending habits.

4. Find the Hidden Inefficiencies

Look, most small business owners didn’t start their businesses because they had business degrees.  So, it’s likely that there are some hidden inefficiencies in a small business that are wasting money.  To avoid them, it can be helpful to analyze your business model once and awhile. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business, you may not even notice that inefficiencies have crept in.  For instance, continuing to use a given service because you forgot to cancel it.  Or, for example, paying bills late because you were too busy to get to it. It’s things like that which can save you from mistakes that will cost you in the future.

Therefore, It’s often helpful to get some outside advice as they can look at your business from an unbiased perspective. Once you have identified the issues, you can avoid wasting money as a small business.

In summary, if I haven’t convinced you by now that these steps are important, maybe this will: 82% of businesses that fail, do so because of cash flow issues. So, let’s work together to prevent that.  

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.

Categories
Running a Small Business Technology News

Google Small Business Portal: Gimmick or Value-Add?

In June 2019, Google launched the Google Small Business Portal.  We were intrigued by it, so we gave it a try.  Here’s what we learned.

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 it?

This quote from Anthony Ha from Techcrunch sums it up well.

So, on the new site, they can enter their company name and website (assuming they have one), then answer a few questions about their business and their goals. Google will then create a customized, prioritized list of actions, which may involve launching ad campaigns, or building up their online presence, or installing Google Analytics.

Techcrunch

Is it a Gimmick of Value Add?

The truth is, it is both. Here is a quick slide show of what it looks like:

Regardless of the options we chose, we wound up with the same recommendations. 

Google Small Business Portal Value-Adds

Google Analytics is definitely a value-add for any small business. It can be a very powerful tool if you have the time to learn it and use it. G-Suite is both a value ad and a gimmick. It depends on your business. If all you need are the basics, G-Suite is awesome. If you need more powerful tools, G-Suite is the poor man’s substitute to Microsoft, in our opinion.

Google Small Business Portal Gimmicks

There is a static flow that you need to follow if you want to get all the suggestions. In other words, when we tried it, if we didn’t sign up for G-Suite, we couldn’t go any further than the first page. As we mentioned, G-Suite is great, but it’s just not great for us. The next step was Google Ads, which is definitely a gimmick. While search advertising can be very useful, it’s not always right for everyone. If you’re a small business, you’re likely not going to rank highly, and therefore will have to pay more per click. While $1-2/click doesn’t sound that bad, if only 2% (industry average) actually convert, you will be paying $50-$100/lead.

Should you use Google Small Business Portal?

If you are Ok with what G-Suite provides and want to explore or can afford search advertising, it’s a very user-friendly guide to Google’s products. However, if you don’t necessarily want to spend money on Google’s products, you won’t get very far in the guide. Given Google Small Business Portal’s forced path, we are luke-warm about it. The hype was much better than the actual experience.

However, as a small business, the Google Small Business Portal may help you raise brand awareness, which was on the “4 Simple Steps to Write a Successful Marketing Plan

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.

Categories
Current Events Running a Small Business

The Hidden Risk in the Spike in Small Business Optimism

A spike in optimism is always good, right? Not always. While a spike in small business optimism is good for economic growth, there are some hidden risks.  Therefore, it is important to know these risks so they don’t impact your growth.

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.

Spike in Small Business Optimism Leads to a Tightening Labor Market

According to the National Federation of Independent Business survey, as reported by Market Watch, nearly 2 out of every 3 small businesses are looking to hire.  The spike in small business optimism means the competition for good talent will be fierce.  In our post “3 Way to Get the Best Talent More Often”, we highlight some ways to be more competitive. They help you compete better within a tightening marketplace.

Inadequately Planning for Increased Demand

Small business makes up about ½ of the US economy.  Therefore, if there is a spike in small business optimism, there will likely be a spike in spending and demand.  If you wait until the demand hit to plan for growth, you’re already behind.  In our post “If You Don’t Plan for Growth Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later”, we highlight some useful tips on how to prepare for growth before it hits.

A Spike in Small Business Optimism can Lull Us into Complacency

The longer the good times last, the more likely we are to believe that they will continue.  When things are going great, it’s hard to imagine them suddenly going poorly. 

The law of gravity applies to businesses.  Thus, what goes up will eventually come down.  In other words, a spike in optimism is generally follow be a drop. Whether it’s a big drop or small, none can really say, but it is always wise to have a contingency plan in place. 

You should still make the most of the upturn, but don’t fall into the complacency trap and fail to plan for the downturn.

In summary, small business optimism is generally a great thing as long as you are mindful of the challenges it can create. 

One of the best things you can do is to review your business model to ensure that it weather both the upturn while not over extending yourself.  If you need help with this, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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