Friday, December 11, 2009

What are the top 3 financial questions you must be able to answer about your company?

1) Are you making money?

In many new businesses, the owner is putting so many of the companies expenses on credit cards that answering this question is more difficult than just looking at the business check book balance. They never spend the time to create a profit and loss statement to figure out if they are REALLY making money! Whether you are or not, the profit and loss statement should give ideas of where to focus your time. That may mean watching expenses or increasing sales of more profitable items.

2) How much does a new sale cost you?

I am always surprised at how many business owners can not answer this question. To get the answer, you need to add up all of your expenses associated with a sale. Many people want to just include the price of the lead, but don’t forget to include items such as: costs of leads that didn’t close, other advertising you do, salaries/commissions for sales staff, cost of item sold (product or service). It is best to know these costs per product/service line. This helps you know if the selling expenses associated with a particular product/service is eating up all your profit margins for that product/service.

3) What is the future value, in terms of revenue, of each of your customers?

This means how much business can you plan on getting from each of your new customers in the future? If you have consumable products, how often can you expect each customer to reorder? If you provide a service, when can you expect to do more work for each customer? Knowing the amount and frequency of repeat business allows you to better plan your company’s growth with each new customer won!

Having the answers to each of these questions will help keep you on top of the financial well being of your company.

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Monday, November 9, 2009

How fast should I return phone calls and emails?

As soon as you can. By getting in the habit of returning your phone calls and emails as soon as practical, you will get more things done and less things will fall in the cracks. For sure there are times when you need to do some research, think about things before you do it or commit to it but in general you want to respond sooner rather than later. I know people who like to wait several hours or a day before returning emails.

Keep in mind you are setting an expectation with the people you communicate with that it is okay to wait half a day or a full day before responding to any communication from YOU. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be careful what message you are sending to people with the way you return calls and emails.

When in doubt, always respond as soon as possible.

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marketing 101: Don’t blow your shot!

Who doesn't love a good massage? I feel very fortunate I am able to get one of these stress relieving, knot reducing, self indulging acts on a regular basis to ease the pain from all this typing! When you think of massages, marketing typically doesn’t pop into your mind but for many masseuses marketing is a key tool for obtaining a full clientele base.

I have used the same masseuse for many years now, not only out of loyalty but because their services were bar none. More recently, I was approached by a new therapist who heard about my frequent massages. She attempted to sell us on her services raving how her techniques for deep tissue massage were second to none and that is was absolutely necessary we give her a try. Since deep massages are my forte and this therapist seemed to really understand the concept to giving deep sports type massage I thought I would be willing to try out her services.

As the new therapist's luck with have it, my current masseuse needed to change my schedule around, which did not work out for me and so I decided to contact the new therapist. I made several attempts to contact her via phone and email a couple days ago and I still have NOT HEARD FROM HER!

This brings up a very serious question. Why would the new therapist spend an intense amount of time trying to obtain my business and when the opportunity presented itself she completely dropped the ball? The answer remains a mystery but because of her lack of dependability, she blew it. If this is how she is treating me as a potential customer, how will I be treated once she gains my business when she no longer has to work for it? Unfortunately, she will never get the opportunity.

Not only do you never get a second chance to make a first impression, with some customers you'll never get another chance period. Keep this mind when marketing you services and products. Don’t spend the time to obtain potential customers if you don't plan on staying consistent with your business etiquette.

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is there room for new strategic partners?

While we all try to survive the economic downturn, it might be worthwhile for you to open up your playbook and consider entering into some new strategic business relationships. You may not be as busy as you once were, and now could be a good time to not only seek out new strategic partners, but to re-visit some of the past partnership ideas that you originally passed on.

Perhaps you were too busy a year ago to pay attention to another small business that wanted to work with you. If you still have a contact at that company, reach out to them and ask them how business is going. Something like a word of mouth referral is worth your time.

It would be a good idea to have your own ideas about how you can make the alliance an effective one, but be more of a listener when you approach the other business. You don’t want to step on anyone’s feet, so listen to what avenues they are willing to explore and be ready to adjust your position on how you can help each other to be successful.

The best way to prepare when approaching these companies is by familiarizing yourself with what they do. What is their company history? What is their mission statement? What is their service and who are they trying to help? Who are their current partners? Visit their website and polish up on your general knowledge about the company. This makes you conversational and credible when speaking about potential business ventures.

Whether you end up trading contacts, providing each other with leads or website links, a little can go a long way during difficult times. Dig up those old business cards and go through your old emails, you never know who might help your small business get back on its feet!

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Friday, August 14, 2009

How much money should I spend on office supplies to set up my home office?

As little as possible! Too many people go crazy trying to set up their home office to be perfect, to have all the gadgets, new furniture, computers and all kinds of other things. Get what you need to function to start and AFTER you start making money you can think about getting more. Get focused on marketing your new business, tell everyone you know about your new company and try to get referrals. Get your business cards out to people and keep your website up to date.

Start making money with your new business before you start making additional investments in office equipment you don't need yet. Make it happen!

© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Make your business more appealing by getting involved with other businesses

Why not give yourself another competitive edge by associating your small business with something that catches people’s interest? Establishing a relationship with another company or organization does a few different things for you and your business. First, it puts your company name in front of more potential customers. It can also help to establish your company’s credibility. Thirdly, and perhaps the most important reasons to associate with something interesting – is that it’s fun. You should be involved with a business that you have fun running, and shouldn’t be doing it if it isn’t fun.

Focus on having fun and the outcome (money) is more likely to be what you have hoped for. Subsequently, you can pick and choose the types of companies and organizations that you might want to be connected with. If you haven’t already developed unique relationships that separate you from your competitors, start brainstorming about who you might want to deal with immediately. Your first step might come with looking at some popular websites that generate a lot of traffic, and evaluate who they are associating themselves with.Some companies might partner with similar companies within the same industry. Another company may be committed to giving back to charitable organizations in their community. If you end up coming together with a charitable group, you might incent potential customers to invest in your business by donating a small percentage of their purchase toward that charity. People are very careful with their money, but are often times more willing to participate when they are standing behind a cause that gives back.

Be creative though, think about ways that your company might be able to help a company in a totally different industry. Perhaps you are a construction company that is capable of building a set for a movie. Why not find a company in the movie industry that has filming locations available, and see if you can put their logo on your website? Most companies would be happy to have the additional exposure – they might even do the same for you – and of course you might end up finding some additional jobs.If there are well respected unions or organizations that you can join, it’s another way to raise your credibility. If you become part of a particular group they might let you place their logo on your site. This will indicate to customers and potential buyers that you are an industry player and have associates in the industry.Remember to have fun, and the possibilities are limitless. In fact, there are probably hundreds of different companies and groups that will allow room for some sort of partnership. It’s just a matter of you putting in the time to think about how you can help others, while they help you.

© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don’t be afraid to bring back old school business tactics

Over the years a number of owners have gotten away from some of the oldest business tactics in the book. Now that we are able to contact people so conveniently with cell phones and email, owners are not handing out their business cards as often as they used to. This is a fundamental lapse in business tactics, as you may be missing out on potential customers every time you are away from home or the office. The best way to do business is by doing it 365 days a year. You never know who you might run into when you are at the grocery store, a ball game or any other place that involves people.

The first way to ensure that you are doing business year round and marketing all the time is by ordering yourself some business cards in considerable bulk. It might be one business card alone that pays for this cost one hundred times over. The second way to be sure that you don’t miss lucrative business opportunities and potential deals is by making sure that you always have business cards both in your wallet and in your car. Even if you are out to dinner and realize you don’t have a card on you, you can pop out to your car and grab a few to hand out. The best way to do business is to go find the business, and not make it come to you. You never know who you will run into that might run into. Always carry business cards with you and be sure to hand them out to anyone and everyone, including family and friends.
© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I just started my small business…now what do I do?

First of all, congratulations! You’ve got your business all set and ready to go - now it’s time to make some money! That’s the challenge for all small business owners, so although there isn’t a silver bullet, there are some things you can put in place right now to be successful.

The first thing you need to start doing is marketing. Do all of your friends and family know about your business? If not, tell them. Tell everyone you know about your business. Do you have business cards to hand out to anyone and everyone? Never leave home without some business cards. Put them in your car, in your wallet, everywhere. You never know when you’ll be somewhere and meet a potential new customer. Do you have a website? If not, get one. 70% of all searches for services begin online now rather than through Google and Yahoo!. A website will give you credibility, and chances are people will remember your company name rather than your phone number, so they’ll search for you online by your name when looking for a phone number. Do you have flyers for your small business? If not, buy them. Flyers are great for handing out in mass quantities, whether it’s at a picnic or a community event. They’re easy to hold on to and easy for potential customers to read.

The second thing you need to start doing is developing your service model. You will want to do what you tell your customers you’re going to do and do it with the highest level of customer service. You want your customers to know you are the number one specialist in your industry. Let them know you are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure quality. From the first time you meet a potential customer to each time you do business, you will want to build your service so that the customer knows what to expect from you and that they can depend on you. The key here is to make sure you treat everyone the same and treat them the way you would want to be treated. You never know who your customers know.

The last thing you want to do is develop some type of referral program. Once you’ve found new customers and service them with the highest level of care, you can start asking for referrals. If you have fulfilled your customers’ needs and provided a great service, you have earned the right to ask them who they know – and if you have done what you say you are going to do – they will be happy to refer their friends. When asking for the referral, confirm with the customer that you have exceeded their expectations. Then say that in order to grow your business, you are looking to meet other people that they know that may also need your services. Use open-ended questions like, “Who else do you know in the neighborhood?” or “Who else in your family might need help getting started?”, and make the questions specific to a group. You can offer customers who provide referrals a free service or money off their next purchase.

Good luck!
© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do I need Letterhead and Envelopes for my business?

Most businesses don’t really have a need for letterhead and envelopes. People used to think you were a “real business” if you had letterhead and envelopes and now people tend to want to look a business up online and see if they have a web site or any kind of internet presence for validation. For sure you still need to have business cards to be able to pass out to people but if you have a web site, letterhead and envelopes aren’t as necessary any more.

Not to mention so much of today’s business is done by email. If you do need to send someone something by “snail mail” then you can easily type your company name, address and phone number in the upper middle portion of your letter and generate the printed envelope from your printer and then provide your email and your domain name for your web site in the letter for additional validation.

If you still feel like you need to have letterhead made, than have someone create letterhead for you in a word document, then all you need to do is put nice paper in your printer and print it out in color instead of buying a bunch of letterhead and envelopes that you’ll probably never use.

© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do you have your business cards with you?

You know how it goes; you meet someone, have an interesting conversation with them, and begin to believe this person has great potential to work with you or as a referral and so you ask, “Do you have a business card?”

Many people respond saying “I’m really sorry, but I just gave my last one out” and then just like that, a missed opportunity. It’s hard to determine how many opportunities people let slip away by not carrying their business cards, but by losing the ability to follow up you are losing FREE business clear of any marketing costs.

So take a minute to think, are you the person without the business cards? Or, has this ever happened to you? If so, shame on you! Luckily, opportunity is all about chance and you can still benefit from these chance meetings, but you must have your business cards. No matter what you are doing, it’s always a great idea to keep some cards handy. Working out? Tuck a few business cards in with your health club card. Out to dinner? Be nice to your server and drop a card in with your paid bill. On vacation? Put some cards in your towel bag to take down to the pool.

Ensuring you are carrying company business cards will allow your business to profit and will reflect a higher level of personal organization and professional.

For a great online source to get your business cards and easily reorder so you never run out, click here. Be ready to meet people and do business wherever you go! Make it happen!

© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is Text messaging on a cell phone the same as getting an email feature on your PDA?

No, they are not the same. Text messaging is a quick way of communicating with people you know by using your phone keypad and typing (texting) a short message to them versus calling them. Texting works well for people that don't have time to carry on a full-fledged discussion, but there is a limited amount of space in which to write, so choose your words wisely.

Texting is a casual form of communication and should be used primarily with people you already know and have a relationship with. Texting people that you do not have a solid previous relationship with may be viewed as cold or unprofessional. ALWAYS make the extra effort to email contacts in which you are interested in doing business with. Remember, you get only one chance to make a first impression.

So now you want text messaging capabilities, how do you go about getting them? Most cell phones are capable of texting already and it’s only a matter of putting a plan together. Be careful because many providers charge extra for texting, so find a cell phone plan including text messaging before you start texting everyone you know.

For information about cell phones that receive email read our article titled Do I need a phone that has email on it for my business?.

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How often should I check email each day?

This is a great question that we each wrestle with on a daily basis. The answer is: as often as you absolutely need to. That means a different amount for each person. If your business is one that you are getting lots of email inquiries from your web site or online leads, than you should probably check your emails more frequently throughout the day or even consider getting a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) type of phone so you can receive your emails where ever you are at.

If the majority of your inquiries to your business come to you by phone, then you should check your email at least 3 times per day, morning, noon and afternoon. If you do not get many emails than you might consider checking them twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Another good idea for you is to forward your phone calls from your office phone to your cell phone when you are out and about, especially if your inquiry’s are time sensitive.

Remember, to build your small business you need to be in front of prospects and customers. Prospects to get more new business and customers to get repeat business and to ask for referrals! Stay closest to where the sales come from!

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Monday, March 30, 2009

# 1 Tip for 2008 Goal Setting

Think about what you want, not what you don’t want. This is an area that haunts most people in their life and they don’t even know it. Ask someone you know “What is most important to you about…” and fill in the blank. Put family, friends, business associates, vacations or job and see what the people say. Do they tell you what they want or what they don’t want?

If they tell you what they want, chances are they are a person who gets what they want or gets closer to what they want than most people do. If they are a person who tells you what they don’t want, even though you asked them what is important to them, chances are they are getting what they focus on…..which is what they don’t want.

Hopefully this is not too confusing for you. If it is, read it over again and you’ll get the hang of it. Set goals, focus on what you want and don’t let negative thoughts of what you don’t want, slip in.

You are what you think about, make it happen in 2008!

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are you really focused on Success?

A couple weeks ago, I spoke to a home inspector who spent a great deal of time telling me how bad he thought the market was. After asking him why he felt this way, he proceeded to explain how bad new housing was and that the mortgage crisis was affecting everything. It really didn’t matter what kind of “business building” suggestions I made to him. He opposed every single one of my ideas. No matter what I suggested, he was not willing to adjust his viewpoint that everything was “terrible”.

I decided to research other home inspectors businesses. I approached employees of AHIT, American Home Inspectors Training Institute, a company which has trained thousands of home inspectors across the country and asked them what the general feeling and feedback was the inspectors who called their customer service and technical support. Overall these were the comments: “I’m not growing as much this year as last year, but things are still plugging along” or “I stepped up my marketing efforts because my business is a little flat this year, but I feel like I’m going to be up a little over last year when it’s all said and done”. In general, the people who remain positive and focused on building their businesses are doing better than the negative ones.

This is true of people in any business. If you only focus on what the media is saying, whether bad or good, your business will probably flow with the “headlines.” The reason for this is because what you believe and get emotional about, you bring about. If you’ve built your business on sound business principles and you focus on the positive, you have very good chance of doing better and more customers will want to work with, or refer you. It’s much more enjoyable to talk and be around positive people than negative ones.

Take a close, objective look at your attitude and make sure you’re staying positive about your business and your industry. If you’re staying positive, good for you! If your attitude has been negative, change it. Every industry has cycles and your attitude has a lot to do with how your business will weather it. Focus on how you want your business to be, focus on the good benefits you provide your customers, and focus on being positive. Do this and you’ll have a better outcome with your business.

Make it happen!

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why “Doing It Now” is a good thing.

Why do people procrastinate? Typically there are two main causes that result in procrastination; either the task at hand is OVERWHELMING or the task at hand is UNPLEASANT. Procrastination sucks the energy out of you and causes unnecessary stress. When a person procrastinates they are overloading their mind with too many tasks to manage causing anxiety and nervous tension, all which is avoidable. People spend too much time following up on their follow up instead of using a “Do It Now” frame of mind.

It is much easier to complete the follow up now, instead of putting it off. Try doing this with the things that make sense to do it with. As an example, if you tell someone you’ll call them back in two days; call them back in two days. Really, could you have dealt with the issue present day rather than calling them back in two days? By telling yourself you are going to do less procrastinating and less follow up, you will complete more tasks NOW!

Procrastination can lead to undesirable results. For instance, if you’re not in the habit of making regular backups of your computer files, the first time your hard drive crashes you’ll discover how detrimental procrastination can be. So how can you tell if you are a procrastinator? There are a number of ways, but here are some just a few tell tale signs:

• You allow piles of paper to grow in your home or office
• More often than not you don’t respond to e-mails and letters in a reasonable amount of time
• You have a tendency to delay important projects for more easily accomplished tasks.

Have you identified yourself in this list? No problem, there is still hope for you! To beat procrastinating you must change your mind set and deal with the task immediately, meeting it head on. If the task is quite large, break the task up into various stages, setting goals, and rewarding you for completing the tasks on time. Most importantly ask yourself, “What will be the price of procrastinating and am I willing to pay it?” Eventually you will have to do the task anyways, so you might as well get it over and done with.

By using a “Doing it NOW” frame of mind, you will create more time for yourself and add a new level of efficiency to everything you do.

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do my business taxes need to be filed by April 15th?

If you are on a calendar year-end reporting with your company, the answer is most likely yes. The only exception to that would be if you incorporated your business, in which case the company’s taxes are due March 15! You will at least have to pay any taxes you owe by that time. If you would like to file an extension for some reason you can do so, but the extension only gives you more time to file your taxes, not to pay your taxes. It’s always best to file by the original due date to get it out of the way. This way you can focus on building your business the rest of the year instead of having to be concerned about meeting your extension deadline.

Keep in mind that with your small business you will most likely have to complete your business taxes either before or at the same time you file your personal taxes. Since today is New Year’s Eve, it’s a good time to make your list of things to do in 2008 and completing your taxes on time is a great one to add to the list!

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Should I get a company credit card?

If you have good credit and you manage your finances well, you really don’t need a company credit card. All you need to do is keep your business expense separate and write the business reason on the back of the receipt. You’ll want to keep a running total of your business expenses for your taxes.

If you have a spouse or other people in your family using the same credit card, it is probably a good idea to get a credit card with your company’s name on it and only put your business expenses on that card. Typically you will be guaranteeing the credit card personally but the credit card company will put your business name on the card.

Here are a couple of good options for you if you are ready to get a company credit card. Click Here to view some credit card provider links.

See a related article titled: Should I add employees to my company credit card?

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My business needs money, should I get it from my home equity line if credit?

That is a tough question. First off, can you accelerate some of your accounts receivable accounts to get more cash flowing? If not, you can also try to send out your invoices faster and try reducing the timeframe for paying them to 15 days from 30.

Also, if you have some jobs pending out there you might tell the prospects you have an opening now and you may be able to reduce your bid to start a little sooner.

If all these suggestions still leave you tight on cash and you need a loan, taking it from your homes line of credit is certainly the easiest way to go but be careful…. If you’re planning on selling your house any time soon make sure the market hasn’t changed in your area and be sure you could sell the house with your current equity position, especially after you take the loan.

If you’re not sure on this one it might be a good idea to get a loan from your banker or a credit union. Credit unions usually have more less strict qualification guidelines and they may also have a lower interest rate than your bank.

If all else fails and you need the dough, your credit line may be the only alternative. Be careful and don’t take more than you need. Turn up your marketing efforts and try to get more business in the door!

© 2009 eMarketing 4 Business LLC