March 2018 Business eNewsletter

Welcome to our March business eNewsletter focused on Growth for your small business.

Quote of the month:
“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

In this Issue…

4 Growth Strategies for Oklahoma Small Businesses
By Greg Conder, PE

Many Oklahoma small businesses would like to grow. Below, we discuss four strategies for you to consider.

Increase Marketing and Promotional Efforts
This strategy could mean anything from updating your website, social media, old fashioned direct mail campaigns, networking, contacting customers that you haven’t heard from in a while and more. We have found this strategy to be useful to small businesses that have operated with little to no marketing budget, in terms of time and money, in the past. Sometimes, these companies have relied on just a few customers for their success over the years.

Seek Out New Markets to Serve
In this strategy, your current products and services basically stay the same, although some modifications may be required to meet the needs of the new market. For example, a marketing firm that has been concentrating on the attorney market may seek to serve another professional service market like accounting or insurance firms. Perhaps a technical service business can expand to another city or state. Products can find new markets and uses too. The inventors of bubble wrap thought the commercial application would be wallpaper! Today, most of us know the use to be a packaging material.

You should do some investigating to determine what new markets will give you the best chances of success. Caution: sometimes new markets will require you to learn that market’s unique language and methods. For example, do you know that the term “eight-six” means in the restaurant industry? Do you know what the acronym “ISO” means to the manufacturing industry? In America, we go on vacation. In Britain, they go on holiday. Keep the information you learn in mind as you shape your products, services and marketing message for your new market.

Innovate – Develop New Products and Services
For this strategy, it is best to develop these new products and services for introduction to the current market your business serves. Success generally requires knowledge and experience of the new product and the market. Taking a new product into an unfamiliar market can be done, but it can be a lengthy and costly process. If you start with your current market, you already have an understanding of the market and customers and prospects to approach.

Of course, you should do some research, development and vetting before introducing a new product or service to increase your chances of success.

Acquire Another Company
In this strategy, you buy all or part of another company. Sometimes it is not the whole company, but simply a product or service line. If you buy a company that has the same basic products and services as yours, you are looking to grow by the acquisition of the new customer accounts. If you buy a company with complementary products or services to your current, then you may gain new customers and have new products and services to offer to your existing customers.

Educate yourself about how the acquisition process works. Make sure the acquisition target is a good fit for your business. Learn about how the purchase price can be negotiated and structured financially.

Contact us today for help in growing your business!

Read this article ConderBusinessSolutions.com


7 Practical Ways to Grow Your Small Business in 2018.
By Gilgal Properties

If you run a small business, you will agree with me that growing your business from where it is presently to where you desire it to be, can be quite challenging, particularly as a result of the current dwindling economy and the high competition that exists in the entrepreneurial space.

You are faced with a range of issues, from honing your skills or perfecting your craft, to setting up systems and structures that ensure the sustainability of your small business. Any form of growth in your business requires that you invest a large amount of time and energy; not only in growing yourself to become a better person, but in consciously taking steps that will move you closer to achieving your desired goals.

The below seven (7) essentials will help you build a solid base and help your small business become successful.

1. Do Some More Digging

Research? Yes! How much do you know about your small business? The first step to growing your business in 2018 is to acquire as much information as possible about what you do. Dig deeper. You need to know more about your market, industry, customers (potential or existing) and competitors in order to stay ahead. Ask yourself the following questions, “What’s obtainable in my industry? What grants and opportunities are available for my kind of business? What partnership, funding and investment opportunities are open to my field? The more information you get, the better chance you stand at emerging successful.

2. Get a Mentor

There’s a quote I love. It says ‘Find someone who is doing every day, what you hope to do someday’ Deep. Isn’t it? Look ahead of you! Who is in front? Those people certainly took some steps that placed them in front of the row. And if you follow close enough, you will soon catch up. In more practical terms, get someone that is running a business similar to yours but has gone farther and achieved more, and learn from them. This is a hack for growing your business. What they learnt in seven years, you might learn in a week.

3. Collaborate

A lot of small business owners are living in what we call a ‘one man island’, meaning, they’re just doing their own thing, their own way not caring about what is happening with other people in other places. This is sure-fire step to failure in business and career. Find other small businesses (or even big) and do things with them. Support their initiatives. Contribute your quota to their successes. Collaborate with their events. Publicize their products if possible. Sponsor their programs. One good turn deserves another, you know. This will open bigger doors for you than you ever imagined. Collaboration is a better alternative to competition.

4. Separate Your Personal Life from Business

Far too many entrepreneurs, especially startups treat their businesses like an extension of their personal finances. This approach is a no no. Build the right business entity and keep it separate from your personal life.

5. Invest in Advertisement.

Creating more awareness about your brand should be a priority if you do not intend to remain a small business for a long time. How many people know about your company? Advertising and business awareness have become easier these days, thanks to online platforms. Explore as many awareness opportunities as you can find. The more the number of people who know about your business increases, the more potential customers you will have.

6. Put Strategies and Structures In Place.

If you are running a hobby, you can run it any how you like, do it at your convenience, spend your profits as you like and take liberties. But when you are running a business, structure is key. We will discuss at length about the differences between running a hobby and running a business in our next post. But the bottom line is to create strategies and structures that sustain your business come what may.

7. Leverage on Social Media.

Thanks to social media, connecting has been made a lot easier. The more you engage with your audience, the more they connect to your brand. Social Media is one of the best leverages you can use to connect to your audience and promote your business. Just make sure you do it the right way.

Read this article GilgalProperties.com

9 Business Tips for Sustainable Growth
By Young Entrepreneur Council

Businesses are built for more reasons than selling at first opportunity.

By Krzysztof ‘Kris’ Garlewicz, President of ProsperiFi.

Build, sell, repeat. This has seemingly become the dominant strategy recommended for entrepreneurs today. While rapidly launching a business they can sell might work for some, what about those interested in building a business they can keep? Businesses are built for more reasons than selling at first opportunity. Owning a business can be a chance to build something tangible, express yourself and create a long-term investment. Rather than take aim for the exit, build a business you can keep with these nine habits for fueling long-term company success.

Getting Financially Fit

A surprisingly high number of entrepreneurs are clueless about their own financials. Running a business involves a lot of moving parts. And perhaps chief among them is tracking income and expenses. Delegating this to a bookkeeper is fine, yet it’s recommended to become at least somewhat familiar with the process yourself. A well-kept financial record creates a record of business value. It’s also crucial for making intelligent projections about business growth.

Growth Focus

From infancy to maturity, entrepreneurs often pivot their business to where they see growth over time. Is your business growing each year intentionally or are you simply treading water? Proprietary concepts, technology and techniques can create opportunities for business growth. Picture your business five years from now. Locate opportunities for growth and develop strategies for capitalizing on them. With intelligent projections on-hand you’ll be able to answer when opportunity knocks. Remain focused to execute on the opportunity and pivot as needed.

Establishing Autonomous Operations

Companies able to operate independently of a single person or entity are generally better suited for the long haul. Relying too heavily on a single manager, employee, supplier, etc., is risky. If the person or business becomes unavailable, it can affect operations and revenue. Creating established processes, finessing them for efficiency and promoting them among employees can help contribute to autonomy. The right processes can also help save time dedicated to training new employees and increase workplace safety.

Adopting A Profit-First Mentality

Perhaps counter-intuitive to what most entrepreneurs have been told, placing profit first can help promote growth. Rather than following the standard formula (subtracting expenses from sales for a profit), change the math. Dedicating a set amount to profits means subtracting profits from sales for a leftover amount, which is then used for expenses. This may be new territory. Yet a growing number of entrepreneurs have reported experiencing successful growth utilizing this method.

Developing Recurring Revenue Streams

Sales are a necessary part of creating profit. Recurring sales help establish predictable and steady profits. Selling a job at a time or doing one-off projects can pay the bills yet leave the future unclear. Creating quality sources of recurring revenue such as memberships, licenses, maintenance and more can help businesses sustain for the long term. To start, check around your industry and see what’s working for other business owners.

Leaving A Unique Footprint

A unique service, interesting product, proprietary technique or other special something can help set your business apart. Companies with something more to offer can generally better draw customers in and maintain viability. Find what makes your business special and use that to grow.

Measuring Satisfaction Metrics

There’s more to customer satisfaction than an online review. Employee satisfaction should also be a target, as good employees can be difficult to replace. Utilizing numbered scoring methods, promote the completion of questionnaires by staff and customers. This can help judge satisfaction and highlight areas for improvement.

Implementing an Advisory Board

Pooling talent and brainpower by implementing an advisory board can give your business a leg up. An advisory board brings new thoughts into the fold and is a great way to get feedback about decisions before taking action. There may be additional tax advantages to having an advisory board as well. They can help steer the company, promote autonomy and much more.

Creating Owner Freedom

For many entrepreneurs, releasing control over part or all of the business can be challenging. And that’s normal. After all, your business is something you’ve worked hard to build and maintain. To help give your business the best chances for success, step back far enough where the business can carry on without direct owner involvement. Dependency on the owner robs the business of its autonomy, which can hinder efficiency.

Owning a business for the long haul can be hard work and a challenging experience, but for many, the reward far outweighs anything else. Adopting these nine habits for fueling company success can help steer your company toward long-term success.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Read this article at the Inc.com

Why Collaboration Is an Easier Route to Small Business Growth
By Jana Barrett

This story originally appeared on Bizness Apps

In a world where social media and product association are rampant, small businesses know there’s great strength in numbers. Business owners benefit considerably when they collaborate with other entrepreneurs to build branding and ultimately thrive together.

The Competitive Advantage of Collaboration

There are costs associated with any venture, but when you team up with a company that provides goods or services that you don’t, you significantly reduce the time and money you put into a new channel. Another word for collaboration is bartering – both businesses provide expertise and mutually beneficial services, strengthening each other in doing so.

The more businesses you partner with, the larger your potential client base grows and the greater the demand for your product becomes. Whether you’re an e-commerce site or a brick and mortar, by bartering you gain an advantage on those who aren’t partnering up.

Finding the Right Partner

To ensure you’re collaborating with a “merger” rather than a “moocher” and to safeguard yourself from the biggest partnership pitfalls, ask yourself the following questions before entering an agreement:

    • Can their industry or sector accommodate the needs of my company?
    • Is this partnership professionally or personally driven?
  • What am I committing to this partnership?
  • What are my goals and objectives for this partnership?
  • Specifically (and with as much detail as possible), how will the two businesses collaborate?
  • What data, intellectual property, patents, and secured information can be shared/obtained while collaborating?
  • What is the ROI of any funds allocated to this partnership?
  • What is my business NOT offering that this potential partner IS offering?

While professional collaboration may be attractive, if the data doesn’t back the decision, it’s safer to go it alone or look for other partnership opportunities.

Keep It Personal, Keep it Local

Small businesses may aim for global expansion, but attention should focus locally (or at least on a localized market) in the early stages. A business that offers a physical product the local community needs — which is generally why the product is offered in the first place — should buy local and establish a local entrepreneurial group that meets regularly. These groups spark innovation, improve marketing strategy, and increase community interest in small business ventures, which equals higher profits.

Most of all, keep it personal. It’s your business and your livelihood at stake. If you have doubts about collaboration, get a professional opinion. If you can’t get one, walk away. Better to err on the side of caution than risk an ill-informed partnership.

Read this article at the Entrepreneur.com

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