January 2018 eNewsletter

Welcome to our January business eNewsletter focused on New Year’s resolutions for your small business.

Quote of the month:
“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream” – C.S. Lewis

In this Issue…

SpiritBank Business Resource Series Event

Join Transworld Business Advisors of Tulsa and SpiritBank for our next Business Resource Series Event!

Featuring author, realtor and former news anchor, Beth Rengel, who will be discussing how to overcome obstacles in business.

Enjoy networking, drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and a lively presentation at this free event.

February 15, 2018
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
SpiritBank, 1800 S. Baltimore Ave., Tulsa

Please RSVP early to Katie Segner at ksegner@spiritbank.com or (918) 295-7222.

Our mission is to provide you with expert advice, information and resources as you need them with no sales pitch. “When our customers succeed, we succeed!”


9 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success
By Kimberly de Silva, Guest Writer

It’s a good time to reflect on your business’ progress and plan how you want to grow your business in the new year.

When people hear new year’s resolutions, they often think of ‘exercising more,’ “spending more time with the family” or “traveling more.” Besides these personal resolutions, you can also create impactful resolutions for your small business. A resolution, after all, is a decision to do something differently to bring about positive change. It’s a good time to reflect on your business’ progress and plan how you want to grow your business in the new year.

1. I will learn how to delegate and do more of it.

As a small business owner, your to-do list probably doesn’t even fit on one page. There are so many things to do, and it’s easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them ourselves. You can only work so many hours in a day. As a result, you’re probably exhausted, stressed and don’t have any free time outside of your business. Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance. However, people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of upfront effort and requires a loss of control. So how do you let someone else do certain tasks, while making sure it’s done correctly? The answer is simple: communication and training. Make sure your employees are trained enough, to the point where they can take over some of your tasks. The next step is to clearly communicate the objectives and deadlines, so that you don’t end up micromanaging.

2. I will learn how to manage my cash flow more effectively.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business. In fact, a prominent study from the financial services company U.S. Bank found that 82 percent of startups and small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management. According to The Balance, “This is a great resolution for small business owners who have drastic ebbs and flows in their cash flow, have been unable to create enough capital to invest back into the business or those who don’t really understand the day-to-day finances of the business.”

3. I will take steps to improve my digital presence.

If it’s been more than a year since your site has been updated, if you haven’t taken action to make your online presence mobile-friendly, if you still haven’t created an email marketing list or if digital isn’t part of your marketing strategy at all, it’s time to add this to your new year’s resolutions. You could even take a step further than mobile-friendly and use a mobile-first approach to your digital presence.

4. I will charge what I’m worth.

Do you feel that your product or service is undervalued? If so, then it might be time to raise your rates to correspond with the value you bring to the table. You might be thinking that raising your prices will alienate certain people from becoming a customer. That could be the case, but you can’t be all things to all people. “Your target market will pay what the marketplace has proved it will pay”, says Entrepreneur. How can you implement this? Depending on your business, you can shift to a “packaged value” approach. This is where you provide tiered packages that give potential customers choices, so they can focus on the value you offer rather than the amount of time you spent. Your prices can then reflect this value.

5. I will learn something new.

New year, new skill. Choose something new to learn in 2018 — it may be directly related to your business or completely unrelated. Learning a new skill will add a dimension of interest to your life that will help to maintain that work-life balance. It will also help you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, if you decide to take marketing classes or learn a new language.

6. I will make business strategizing a weekly event.

Planning is vital if you want to foster a growing business. But running a small business can be chaotic and it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day operations. Business strategizing allows you to take a step back and highlight what worked and what didn’t, while adjusting old goals and setting new ones. So why do it just once a quarter or once a year? Set aside time each week to review your strategies. This will help you stay on track and allow you to have a clear hold on your business.

7. I will drop what’s not working and move on.

After all that business strategizing, you will know exactly what’s not working for your small business. Maybe your sales method isn’t performing well, one of your products isn’t selling or a specific partnership isn’t working out… If this is the case, it’s time to drop it. As The Balance states, “If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn’t working for you, stop using it. Don’t invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.”

8. I will promote my business regularly and consistently.

Since small business owners wear a lot of hats, you might not always have “marketing” at the top of your to-do list. While you should definitely focus on delivering that amazing small business experience, you shouldn’t forget to market that amazing experience to to the outside world. To attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Take the time to create a marketing plan or, even your funds allow it, hire a marketing expert to help you set it up. To get started, try some of these ways to get press coverage for your small business.

9. I will enhance my technology footprint.

Few things frustrate employees — and customers — more than working with outdated technology. Slow internet speeds, clunky operating systems and inadequate tools can eat up valuable time. Make an inventory list of all your company supplies to see what needs replacing. Maybe it’s time to implement that online food ordering system, or maybe your employees could use new computers. Start the year off right by upgrading your technology footprint.

Read this article Entrepreneur.com

Six Secrets Of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions
By Stephanie Vozza

We talked to six people who have kept resolutions for two, three, and even 10 years. Here are their secrets for making resolutions with sticking power.

How many New Year’s resolutions have you kept … for more than a week? If you haven’t made it to a month milestone – let alone a year – maybe you’re skipping steps that help you create resolutions that last.

We talked to six people who have kept resolutions for two, three, and even 10 years. Here are their secrets for making resolutions with sticking power.

Their Resolutions Revolve Around Small Changes

Fred Schebesta, cofounder of the personal finance comparison website finder.com, has kept the same resolution for the past 10 years: make one improvement every day, such as listening to audio books or removing apps from his smartphone that don’t improve his efficiency. “Being small, it has been easy to stick to but pivotal in my personal development and the growth of my business,” he says. “I figured that if you improve by 1% everyday, you will improve by 365% over a year. The changes you can make in a year through one small improvement are huge.”

Related: 12 Apps To Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Schebesta puts the resolution at the forefront of each day. “I don’t start anything else until I have ticked that off,” he says. “This one resolution and daily habit has helped me grow revenue, improve company culture, and grow my business internationally.”

They Write Down The Resolution Every Day

Three years ago, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman made a New Year’s resolution to share valuable information and engage with his social media and website visitors in order to double his following. He believes he’s been successful because he writes his goal down every morning in his journal.

“I don’t believe that simply making a mental or written statement at the beginning of the calendar year is enough to keep your goals fresh and in front of you,” he says, adding that transforming a resolution into reality takes much more action than that.

“I have a phrase that I live by: ‘Add some zeros to it,'” he says. “There is not any one thing you can do that will be enough to get you the results you want. For example, working out at the gym one time isn’t going to help you lose a lot of weight. However, if you add some zeros to it, and repeat that one workout 100 times or 1,000 times, you’re going to get somewhere.”

Continuously reminding himself of what he wanted to accomplish has helped Bregman stay focused. “I’m proud to say that with only one month left to go in 2017, I’ve once again achieved all of my New Year’s resolutions,” he says. “I’ve hit almost 100,000 followers on my Facebook page and more than 350,000 people a week are consuming my videos, articles, and content.”

They Have A Strong “Why”

Eve Dawes, founder of Fitness by Eve, created a New Year’s resolution in 2012 that she’s kept for the past six years. “My resolution was to do all of my meal prep for the week in advance so that I’d eat healthily and have portion control,” she says. “It also has the added benefit of freeing up more time for work and life in general.”

Dawes says she’s kept her New Year’s resolution because her “why” is stronger than her “why not.” “List why you’re doing this and what you don’t like about your life right now so that you always have a reference point, a why, and can see your progress,” she suggests. “Then recognize potential barriers, and plan ways to overcome them before they happen.”

Their Resolutions Benefit Others

The Jim Carrey film Yes Man inspired Caleb Backe, marketing manager for Maple Holistics, to make a New Year resolution two years ago. In the movie, Carrey’s character is a bank loan clerk who routinely says “no” to customers. After promising to say “yes,” he grants loans to customers he previously would have declined, and later finds that the recipients were so grateful they met their payments and effectively made the bank richer.

Related: The Secrets To Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

“I decided to say ‘yes’ to my team whenever I could,” says Backe. “I would allow my team the most slack that I can possibly afford. It wasn’t that I was such a hardass before that, but it occurred to me that I needed to make an improvement in that area.”

Backe believes he’s kept his resolution because it has nothing to do with him. “Through a relatively small action, I am able to make their workplace that much more convenient and friendly,” he says. “People hear so many ‘no’s’ in life; it is a refreshing and welcomed change to hear ‘yes,’ specifically at the workplace.”

They Seek Accountability

Jennifer Snyder, founder of Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts, has consistently met at least 80% of her New Year’s resolutions since she started doing them, and she says her secret is accountability. Every Monday she meets with a group of seven other women business owners. “We primarily focus on weekly goals, which are typically small steps toward the large yearly goals,” she says.

Snyder also holds herself accountable with quarterly check-ins. “Those serve as reminders to get back on track when I haven’t made them a priority, or forgot them altogether,” she says.

They Make Failure Difficult

When Kate Hanley, author of How to Be a Better Person and personal development coach, made a resolution in 2016 to exercise more, she made good on her promise by getting a dog. “And now I’m pretty much forced to take a 20-30 minute walk at least twice a day,” she says, adding that it helps to do something that will not take a lot of effort and maybe even be embarrassing to wriggle out of.

“If you want to grow your business, put some money on the line and join a mastermind,” she says. “Or if you want to get in shape, sign up for a marathon in the fall.”

Why Do These Strategies Work?

People who are successful realize that resolutions are not a one-time change, says Josh Zerkel, director of global customer education and community for Evernote. “They understand that things won’t change with the flip of a switch, and take into account the idea that there is not one straight path forward,” he says. “Big goals – the type that people typically set as resolutions – are usually long-term projects or habit changes, and won’t happen overnight.”

Related: 11 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

People who make a long-term change stick with it because there’s something about that goal that speaks to the kind of person they want to be, says Hanley. “For example, your doctor may tell you to lose some weight and move a little more, but if you’re just following her directive you’ll be only too happy to rebel when given the chance,” she says. “But if you’ve decided you want to end up being the kind of grandparent who can get down on the floor and plays with the grandkids, you’ll be much more likely to choose to do something active on a regular basis.”

It also helps to practice forgiveness, adds Zerkel. “We’re bound to go off track from time to time, but then we get back on the horse and follow our plan,” he says. “Take time to think about what you may want to stop doing, or do more of. Resolutions aren’t about making a list, and those who find success setting and attaining their goals build in time to reflect.”

Read this article at the FastCompany.com

2018 Resolutions: Planning for a Successful Year
By Eric Michaels

Whether you make personal resolutions each year is completely up to the individual, and can vary from year to year. But if you’re a small business owner, there are benefits in defining specific resolutions for your small business on an annual basis. One component of being an effective leader is the ability to take a step back and look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses with a fresh perspective. Here are seven tips to help you develop resolutions for the new year that are worthwhile and help the overall success of your business.

1. Double down on the positive

Start by evaluating your team’s successes over the past 12 months. Think critically about what really has worked well, what has created raving fans among your clients, and what has kept employees engaged. Before you start searching for brand new opportunities for the New Year, plan to make the most of these winning areas. Maybe it’s expanding a program, refining it slightly, or bringing back something that was temporary, and using these known wins as your starting point for 2018.

2. Trim (or slice off) the negative

As you play up your strengths, plan to cut back on areas in which your team has struggled over the past year. Business owners must be able to recognize failing projects and adapt quickly to avoid losing market share, so don’t hesitate to make difficult, but necessary, decisions. If you hired employees to help in business areas that were ultimately unsuccessful, you may have to let them go. Gather the necessary feedback from customers and employees so that you can learn from the experience and avoid making the same mistakes next year.

3. Resolve to win the tech game

Every company has a different take on technology. Some brands need expensive software to operate on a daily basis, while others simply need high-speed internet and computers with powerful processing capabilities. Whatever your company needs, resolve to explore new solutions that can help your team save time and increase productivity. If you have been putting off a system reboot or new website launch, consider tackling this project in 2018.

4. Ramp up your social media strategy

In today’s digital world, social media has more power than ever before. If your company has ignored this aspect of your marketing strategy in the past, the time has come to get on Twitter and Facebook. (LinkedIn is also an important social site if you are a business-to-business company). If your budget does not allow you to hire someone to take charge of your marketing endeavors, leverage your current team’s social media skillset to help you get started.

5. Challenge your staff members

Some business owners may look back on 2017 and realize they did not challenge their team enough. This is a common mistake amongst first-time entrepreneurs. After all, building a business takes an incredible amount of courage and persistence, and releasing control can be difficult. However, your company will suffer if you try to do it all yourself. Need some tips on how to delegate and better manage your team? Consider seeking out small business coaching services.

6. Encourage employees to make their own resolutions

One of your goals as a business owner and manager should be to get your employees to take ownership of their work. Call upon each member of your staff to point out personal successes and failures from the past year, and ask them to set their own goals for the coming year. It’s important that every employee is aware of his or her role in the company’s success, and that you review their progress against their goals on a regular basis. If you engage your employees along the way, you’ll be better positioned to reach your overarching goals for the company.

7. Improve company culture

When developing your own resolutions for next year, don’t forget to take company culture into account. It will be much more difficult to reach milestones in the coming year if your employees don’t feel respected, rewarded, and compensated. Find out where the holes are in your workplace culture and patch them up. Your company’s future depends on the happiness and engagement level of your employees.

Spend some time evaluating what worked and what didn’t work so well in 2017, so that you can finalize a plan for the New Year that steers you towards well-defined success!

Read this article at the The UPS Store

3 New Year’s Resolutions Every Small Business Owner Should Avoid in 2018
By Bill Brunelle

It’s almost that time – time for a new year, a new quarter and new business goals. With 2018 on the horizon, a new year of opportunity is on the line for small business owners across the country. Planning for success in the New Year means setting the right goals and knowing which resolutions to avoid in 2018.

To begin, small business owners planning for the future should take a scrupulous look at the past. What worked well in 2017? What didn’t? Evaluate how you can continue to do the things that did work well while tweaking what didn’t to create future success.

Of course, it’s important to remember your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Consider what lessons you can learn from your customers. Did they share any feedback with you over the last year? Did they respond well to any new campaigns or promotions? As much as you can, try to anticipate what your customers will demand from your business and your competitors in 2018.

To put the finishing touches on your 2018 strategy, consider adopting a small business resolution. Perhaps there’s a new marketing medium you’d like to explore or a new service you’re yearning to offer in the New Year. You probably have endless “to-do” items for your business this time of year, but here are a few “to-don’ts” you can immediately check off your list.

DON’T: Cut Prices

Lowering prices can seem like an easy way to draw customers into your store. In the small business community, there exists a constant pressure to match or beat the prices of powerful national chains and online competitors. While low prices are sure to attract customers in 2018, striving to be the bottom dollar may be counter-productive.

Price will always be important to consumers, but data increasingly shows that consumers are willing to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to shopping small. According to an AT&T survey released in April, approximately half of millennials are willing to pay more at a small business. As the largest generation in the country, millennials will continue to have a significant amount of purchasing power in the New Year and beyond. Their desire to support small business, no matter the cost, suggests that many consumers value factors other than price. In other words, don’t sacrifice your business’ strengths for a lower price point.

DON’T: Try to Control the Message

As social media and interactive marketing become more ubiquitous, controlling the message about your business gets more difficult – and, perhaps, less necessary. Surely, your business should employ a comprehensive public relations and marketing strategy, including reputation management, to ensure that your business’s message remains pure and authentic. However, instead of trying to control the message, it’s high time to embrace two-way messaging.

According to BrightLocal, a staggering 97 percent of consumers read online reviews. Customers can leave reviews about your business on Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and similar sites. As a business owner, it’s important to read what customers are saying about your business on these sites. You’ll learn where you succeed, where you can improve, and how you can communicate with consumers. If there’s an opportunity to respond to reviews about your business, take advantage of the ability to create a two-way conversation and foster customer relations.

DON’T: Be the Big Brand

In the endless effort to compete with big brands, small businesses risk losing their edge. In an increasingly homogenized marketplace, there’s value in being unique. In the New Year, small businesses across the country should seek not to take on their big-box counterparts directly, but rather, to change the game. Differentiate your business by telling its Main Street Story and prioritizing customer service. In essence don’t be the big brand, be better than the big brand. Take an active role in the local community and work together with other small businesses on your block. The competition from big brands won’t go away in 2018, but you can confront it differently by thinking creatively about the value your business adds to the community.

Read this article at the SmallBizDaily.com

The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.
Property of SpiritBank. 2018.