3 PR Hacks for Your Small Business

3 PR Hacks

PR is one of the best tools a small business has in its toolkit. It’s knowing how to earn it that’s the key. We wanted to share three hacks in PR that have worked for us, and how marketing and PR has helped our business to sell. 

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.

PR Hack 1 – Write About What’s Hot

Let’s face it. Small business doesn’t have the newsworthiness of larger organizations. Neither can we afford a large PR budget or firm to track trends and pitch stories to reporters. So, we have to find what’s hot in the media and build a bridge to what we do.

A small business example

Let’s say we are looking for topics about small business about which to write. We could head to Google Trends and search “Small Business” as a topic. 

First, we see that interest in relatively high right now: The first PR Hack Infographic

Second, we would see that interest is high in our market, so local New York State media outlets might be looking for stories 

Lastly, we see that healthcare is a breakout topic. Also, other hot topics might be the Reorganization Act of 2019 or marketing Apps. All three of which are relevant to our area of expertise. 

Your business could do the same thing. Find the topic about which you are expert. Figure out how to link that to what is trending. There are several other social platforms you can use.

PR Hack 2 – Know What Your Outlet Wants

social media customer service

You can write the best pitch in the world, but if the outlet or journalist doesn’t cover that topic, you’re out of luck. So, what can you do? 

First, set-up a Google Alert for your main area of expertise. For us, it’s Small Business. Not a ton of reporters and outlets cover small business, so it’s easy to make a list of journalists and outlets that specialize in our segment. Read your daily alerts. See what writers cover. 

 

Second, if they write something about your topic, send them a comment. Share something useful. When we found a journalist, who wrote a great piece about gig-workers, we sent a comment to her. We praised her work, and we offered her a different lens from which to see it. That was the small business perspective. She liked so much that she added our comment in a blog post, and now, we are connected on LinkedIn. 

PR Hack 3 – Make an Editorial Calendar

We just told you to follow what’s hot and comment on current events. If we are constantly trend scouting, you might ask should you bother with an editorial calendar? The answer is yes. While not as powerful as it once was, most media outlets have a planned calendar. If you have a shortlist of media outlets, you can always reach out to them to ask for their editorial calendar. This way, you at least have a heads-up on what they will be covering, so you can content ready.

Unfortunately,  you need to be prepared for both guerilla tactics and pre-planned content if you want to be heard. But hopefully these three PR Hacks will be enough for 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.

Google Small Business Portal: Gimmick or Value-Add?

Google Small Business Portal

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.

5 Key Small Business Technology & Market Trends

Small-Business-Trends-470x320

Technology and Market Trends affect small business every day. See how these 5 key small business & market trends might impact you.

The article “5 Small Business Technology & Market Trends for 2019” sponsored by Salesforce Essentials and published in Small Business Trends highlights important trends.

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.

5 Key Small Business Technology & Market Trends for 2019

It’s common to hear how large global brands are affected by business and technology trends like artificial intelligence, changing customer expectations, and data privacy concerns. But, how do these trends affect unsung – but much more numerous – small businesses?… We surveyed more than 2,000 small business owners and leaders across the globe [and here are the findings]

  1. The new generation of entrepreneurs is more likely to side-hustle
  2. Self-discipline is key to the entrepreneurial mindset
  3. Price is not the end-all and be-all when looking at new technology
  4. CRM [and financial software] are the top small business tech priorities
  5. AI is poised for big growth in small business

5 Key Small Business Technology & Market Trends & What They May Mean to You

Business Technology & Market Trends, The Side-hustle: Pros and Cons

Importantly, there are several pros and cons for running a business as a side hustle.

When starting a business, millennials and Gen Zers are 188% more likely to have the aim of creating a side business.. [and] 48% more likely to say they started their business because they had an idea they were passionate about bringing to the marketplace

Salesforce Essentials

First, the Pros of a side hustle are fulfillment and income. Millennials and Gen Zers are starting off with more debt. For instance, most have student loan debt. Debt overhang is much more prevalent with these generations than with past generations. Thus, it creates the need for a second income. Plus, these generations are looking for more personal fulfillment in what they do.

In contrast, the Cons of a side hustle are simple. Any side hustle is by definition not someone’s main focus. This lack of focus can lead to suboptimal results. The second is burnout. Importantly, you can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before there is no more candle left to burn.

Self-discipline the unsung hero

“Small business owners are personally responsible for an average of 4.2 roles.”

Salesforce Essentials

Therefore, their focus is key. Conversely, it also speaks to the con of a side hustle. While self-discipline is critical, it is not the only factor driving success. People skills, communication, and market knowledge are all important.

It’s not the price, but the value

When it comes to technology, it’s the value that drives decision making. Small business owners are busy. With 4.2 roles to perform, it’s not a surprise when they say ease of use, simplicity, and speed are as critical, if not more, than price when making a decision on purchasing technology.

CRM & Financial Software are key tools for today’s small businesses

Both of these tools are important and are top technology budget items for small businesses. This isn’t a surprise. Managing your revenue and your finances are key success criteria for any small business. Poor CRM or financial management may be killing your growth.

The Last Business Technology & Market Trend: AI hype vs. reality

Right now, AI is more hype than reality for most small business owners. Between 2 and 3% of small business owners use an AI service. For example, 3% use automated service chatbots, with roughly the same number for lead prioritization and predictive audiences.  Small business owners project that they will use AI services more often in the future, 25% or more say that they will use one or more of these services in the next 3 years. Whether or not, that becomes reality will depend on the value and effectiveness of these programs. Beware of scams, this areas is ripe with them.

5 Key Small Business Technology & Market Trends & You, a Summary

When it comes to side hustles, it’s important to weigh the benefit of the bump in revenue vs. the time commitment and focus required to be successful. When it comes to technology, it’s important to gauge the value of the services provided. CRM and financial software are solid bets. AI enable technologies probably need a bit more time to demonstrate their value before jumping in.

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

4 Tips to Secure a Small Business Loan

secure-a-small-business-loan

When trying to secure a small business loan, there are several things to consider. Our blog post “How to Take the Pain Out of Getting a Loan” discussed in detail some of the steps to doing this, but an article we read recently made us consider some different ways to think about getting small business loans. 

Hawaii Business Journal talks about some of these points, saying:

“Know your credit score:…Your credit score is a crucial part of how a lender will assess your risk as a borrower.  Having the best credit possible is important because it provides insight into your character, and propensity to repay financial obligations.”  

Ms. Lee – Hawaii Business Journal

Amen! Between our article and Ms. Lee’s, we would like to go over our tips and give you some additional thoughts. 

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. 

“Seek advice from a mentor”

If this is your first time trying to secure a loan, you probably aren’t aware of the most common pitfall you face.  As a result, It’s easy to make some rookie mistakes.  It can be difficult to find a trusted mentor.  However, there are a few tips you can use to help in selecting the right one

Search your network:

Small business owners tend to be willing to help each other. As a result, you probably already know someone who has done this before and would be willing to help

Check their credentials:

Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous businesses and people who look to prey on small businesses, especially as the market for small business lending grows.  It pays to make sure your ‘mentor’ has done this before and is knowledgeable.  Ask for examples

Explore free services:

SCORE is an excellent resource for free advice and mentorship.  SCORE is funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  There is usually at least one office in every major city.  While SCORE provides a great service, it is definitely a do-it-yourself shop.  If you need more hand-holding, there are reputable consultants, who would be more than willing to help.

“Be realistic and honest”

It is very important to build credibility when trying to secure a small business loan. Your potential lender will want to be certain that the data you are providing is accurate and reasonable.

There are inherent biases in securing a loan

The one point that Ms. Lee doesn’t raise is the bias in lending practices. There are a racial and gender biases in lending.  We’ve seen it.  It’s well documented. Our clients have experienced it.

While it’s a fact, it can be managed.  The SBA has programs in place to help address these biases when securing a loan.  While helpful, they don’t eliminate entirely.  It is important to go in with your eyes open. It also helps to have some guidance.  Thus, it is a good idea to have a mentor if you are concerned this issue might apply to your business.

“Build a cash reserve & Cash flow empowers”

The first point deals with liquidity.  Liquidity is a term, which means how much cash, or assets you can quickly convert in cash, do you have.  A business with more liquidity is less risky than one that does not.   Not every business has the luxury of high liquidity. Thus, it is important not to wait until you are in a liquidity crunch to secure a small business loan.

She makes a similar point on cash flow.  You need to make a profit to pay off the loan. Lenders will look for evidence that you will have enough cash to pay off your debt.  A business with stronger cash flow is less risky.   Therefore, you are likely to get better rates.  Again, timing is everything.   Don’t wait until you are at risk of losses to try to secure a small business loan.  If you do, it may be too late.

Securing a small business loan can be very challenging.  However, it is possible if you are prepared.

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

5 Hacks to Increase a Small Business Owner’s Long-term Success

small-business-long-term-success

We said in our blog post “If You Don’t Plan For Growth Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later” that “all small businesses need to plan for growth to increase their chances of long-term success.” It’s an important fact and one that other writers elsewhere agree with as well. Jeff Shurford says, “If you want to increase your odds of long-term success as a small business owner, it’s time to get strategic with your approach to growth.”  

Consider these five points about how you can plot for your best future, they may just save 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 FREE thirty-minute consulting session. 

Be Strategic About How You Use Your Time

First of all, time is likely your most precious asset. A small business owner needs to be strategic about how they use their time. Just like how you should avoid wasting money in your small business, you should also avoid wasting time.

Because there is always something urgent competing for your time, it is important to separate our the emergencies from the simply urgent. Emergencies are things that need to be addressed immediately, while urgent items can be prioritized.  Therefore, take a step back to ask yourself. Is this something that has to happen right now or can it wait?

As a result, you may find that not everything is an emergency.  If you find that everything truly is an emergency, you may need to re-look at your business model because something isn’t working. 

Focusing on growth is one of the best ways to increase a small business owner’s long-term success. Thus, if you are constantly fighting fires, you won’t have the time.

Track your Marketing ROI

While you may need to spend some money in order to learn, you still can be strategic in the choices that you make.  

Start with asking yourself: Is this marketing tactic or strategy focused on your target audience? How efficiently is it in reaching them?  Is your message impactful? What is the conversion rate? 

You likely won’t know the answer to these questions before you start, but if you measure your results versus your spend you will.  Making sure every dollar is working hard for you will definitely increase the small business owner’s chances of long-term success. Having a solid marketing plan will also help.

Set Smart Goals that are Tied to Results

What is a SMART goal?  A smart goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

Smartsheet.com has an excellent template for writing smart goals.  Measured goals are usually met. Why? It’s simple. Because you are measuring them, you are making them a priority. In addition, they are also more easily analyzed to determine what went right versus what when wrong. 

Plus, focusing on what went right and fixing what went wrong will definitely increase a small business owner’s chance of long-term success.

Build a Strong Network

Start building your network early.  There are plenty of technological tools to help, but they are only useful if they are truly used to build connections.  Therefore, just having followers isn’t enough.

Meaningful connections will help you drive business today. They will also buffer you during economic downturns. Therefore, small owner’s chances of long-term success increase by having a strong network.

Benchmark

Taking a step back to consistently to see what others are doing is extremely helpful because it’s important to know what your competition is doing.

We write this daily blog because we use it as our means of benchmarking.  It allows us to stay abreast of trends in the industry.  If we see something new, we ask ourselves if are we doing this. If we are not, we see how we might incorporate it into our business. Next, we explore if there a way our clients can incorporate it into theirs.

It is important to stay on top of trends and developments in your industry. By doing so, a small business owner’s chance of long-term success will definitely increase.

In summary, as a small business, we’ve found these 5 simple hacks to be extremely helpful.  Consequently, we believe that they can help any small business owner’s chances of long-term success. We’ve helped many small business owners increase their chances of long-term success, and we’d love the opportunity to help 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.

How to Transition from an Owner to a CEO

owner to ceo

This may sound strange. You might say, “C’mon, I run a small business, why should I transition to a CEO? What could we possible have in common?” More that you think.

Over the years, we have helped a wide range of small business owners.  There’s been one clear theme that we have found. Many of the challenges successful small businesses face arise from the need to transition from an owner to a CEO.

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.

Transitioning from an owner to a CEO

So, what’s the difference between an owner and a CEO? And why should I care? It all starts with the mindset shift.

Owner

    • Has complete control of the business
    • Is highly involved in the day-to-day operations
    • Has an intimate knowledge of all the details
    • Plays multiple roles
    • Is not usually accustomed to delegating
    • Business model, systems & processes are usually not optimized

CEO

    • Has shared control of the business
    • Focuses more on strategy & growth, much less on the day-to-day
    • Relies on others to manage the details of the business
    • Focuses on leading & managing
    • Understands that delegation is a way of life
    • Business systems & processes are much more formalized and optimized

Why is this important?

The problem with the owner model is building scale. Unless you can clone yourself, your sales are capped at your maximum capacity. You can see signs of this, bookkeeping that gets put off, working 12-14 hour days, lopsided sales cycles (peaks when your selling, nothing when you’re working), etc. There are countless examples, which generally lead to trouble of burnout (see blog post “How to survive the 3-year itch”)

How do you make the transition for an owner to a CEO?

That’s the harder part, and we’ve found that many people struggle.  We’d suggest you get help, but if you wish to do it on your own, here are a few tips on how to transition from an owner to a CEO.

Learn to let go by taking little steps:

Delegate some minor operational activities to an employee or new hire.  See how it goes.  If it works out, delegate more.  If it doesn’t, find out why?

Hire the right team

No one person has all the skills needed to run a successful business.  It requires a team.  If you try to do it all on your own, you are likely to burn out.  Finding the right talent makes delegation easier.

Ask yourself where you want to be in 5 years?

Knowing where you want to go can significantly help you structure the business so that it can get you there.

Work on your business systems and processes

Clear processes lead to clear communication and timely information.  Both make delegating easier.

Develop your leadership and management skills

There are a number of great online resources that you can use to help build those skills. We also offer some free business tools as well.

It’s not easy making the transition from the owner to the CEO, but ProStrategix can help

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