Small Business Tidbits – Sample Newsletters
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth 5 minutes of your time to read Small Business Tidbits (which will be e-mailed to you twice a month), check out these 12 examples of the types of ideas, resources, and advice that you can expect to get (one per newsletter).
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Clone Yourself…Or Not!
Do you feel the need to clone yourself? Or do you wish for more hours in the day?
If so, these are warning signs of an unhealthy business.
The symptoms could be caused by stretching yourself too thin… by going further into debt from overspending… by growing too fast… by hiring too many employees or not enough… by ambitions that exceed your ability to implement them… by runaway creativity… by hours spent on projects that don’t produce income… by self-sabotage… the list goes on.
Whatever the cause, it’s time to simplify. Instead of searching for more hours or super-human endurance, start eliminating tasks and responsibilities.
One of you is enough.
Time For An Industry Check
Once a year, it’s a good idea to step outside your business in order to consider what’s going on in your industry. Can you answer the following questions:
- what’s the size of your industry
- what’s the history and maturity of your industry
- right now, is your industry growing, stable, or shrinking
- what are the primary risks facing your industry
- what are the trends (positive and negative) in your industry
- what’s the profile of a typical client/customer in this industry
The answers can help determine which course your business will take next.
Buy Back Your Soul
You might have heard of the expression, “Sell your soul, there’s always a buyer.”
If you’re an entrepreneur, this doesn’t apply to you, right? Running your own business has given you total freedom, correct?
If you’ve lost some of that freedom lately, buy it back. Pay off a crippling bank loan. Fire an obnoxious client. Eliminate some task in your business that you despise. Transfer five business hours per week to your personal or family time.
Pay the price — no amount is too high when it comes to negotiating for the return of your soul.
Take Yourself Seriously
You can spot fledgling entrepreneurs by their schedule of errands. They’re the ones picking up the neighbors’ kids in the middle of the day, running friends to the airport, and e-mailing out the homeowner’s associations minutes… all because they doesn’t have “real jobs.”
More seasoned entrepreneurs have learned to set work and personal boundaries.
The shift that occurs between a fledgling entrepreneur and a seasoned one is purely internal and can occur instantaneously. Once you begin to take yourself seriously, others will, too.
Intentional Not Accidental
One day, my neighbor, who is a statistical consultant, made an odd statement. He said, “You know, when you’re self-employed, you’re always one contract away from the street.”
I disagree. I’ve never been one bid, one job, one contract, one bad month, or one client away from doom.
All of my business comes by intention, not accident.
I control the amount of work I perform with a marketing plan that I implement on a consistent basis. I don’t “trick or treat,” wondering what goodies will drop into my bag. I methodically market through financial low and high times, as well as emotional downturns and upswings.
This approach requires more effort than some entrepreneurs are willing to employ, but it also yields far more empowering results.
Thanks to good marketing, I’m in complete control of how much money I’ll make this year. You can be, too!
The Easiest Path In Marketing
A friend once described how he kept attacking different organizations, trying to get them to buy his services. As he spoke, I had this visual of him attempting to reach decision-makers, who were holed up in a citadel. I could picture him scaling an iron fence, running through a field of peril, swimming across a moat, breaking down a massive door, and fighting off an army of guards.
It seemed like way too much strife. Why, instead, couldn’t he send a message in or wait for the decision-makers to come out.
The application in marketing is as simple as this…
I can send a message in through social media, direct mail, advertising, SEO, or a number of other marketing options.
Or, I can wait until the decision-makers come out and “bump into” them at a tradeshow, a Meetup group, a networking function, or some other type of event.
Marketing doesn’t have to be torturous (or life-threatening). It can be cost-effective, simple, even fun!
10 Out Of 10 Isn’t Perfect
If you land every job or project you bid on, your prices are too low.
Raise them immediately, and you’ll soon see a corresponding raise in your pay.
Best, Highest Use Of You
There’s a term in real estate: “best, highest use.” The ideal is to develop (or leave as is) each piece of land to its best, highest use. This might mean a high-rise in the city, a beach house on oceanfront land, or undeveloped acreage in the middle of a forest.
You can apply this same strategy to the jobs within your own company.
Even if you have few or no employees, you are responsible, nonetheless, for at least a half dozen departments (production, sales, accounting, and purchasing, just to mention a few). When you reach the point that you’re ready to farm out some of these, you need to first evaluate what’s the best, highest use of yourself.
See which responsibilities and tasks you excel at and love, then try to hand off the others to outside companies, independent contractors, or employees.
The 5-Minute Meeting
There’s a successful retail store in Denver that holds a 30-minute meeting staff meeting… every single morning.
The buyers share information with the sales staff, everyone focuses on a sales goal, and then they get on with their day.
Perhaps a company with 20 employees needs 30 minutes, but you might be able to achieve the same results in 5-minutes or less.
I propose the five-minute meeting, even if you have no employees. The idea is brilliant: Start each day with a focus and you’ll end it with more production and less scatter.
Give A Little, Get A Lot
I’ve heard too many small business owners say…
“I won’t volunteer my expertise.”
“I won’t give away samples of my products or services.”
“I won’t offer free 30-minute consultations.”
“I won’t extend discounts for trial orders.”
“I won’t give away thank you gifts for referrals.”
“I won’t do work on spec.”
You know what they’re really saying?
“I won’t take advantage of some of the most effective types of marketing available.”
Try giving away something little, and you might get something big!
Controlled Growth Is The Best Growth
Many mid-size and large businesses have, quite literally, grown themselves out of business. Too much expansion, risk-taking, and leveraged debt have stricken and killed otherwise healthy businesses.
In small businesses, we have to watch for a more common affliction: Growing ourselves into exhaustion.
The next time you come up with the latest, greatest idea for a new product or another service, remember who will have to take responsibility and implement it: You!
There’s only so much of you to go around. Think laser-focus, not hair-pulling scatter, and your business and sanity will still be around, in five, ten, and twenty years.
Face The Truth
The best entrepreneurs are those who are able to spot and react to trends, both good and bad.
What trends do you see in your business?
Is it time to move into bigger office space or a smaller location? Is it time to expand or cut your losses? Is it time to pay off debt or borrow more? Is it time to move into or out of a market? Is it time to ramp up or quit?
Take an unflinchingly look at what’s going on… and react honestly.