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7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business

7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business

From “7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business” by Joan Nowak and Manta.com

As you prepare your business for success in the coming year, will you focus your time and resources on sales growth? While it’s important, it’s often not enough. For sustainable growth and profit with a lot more control, spread your efforts around – creating small improvements in ALL areas of your business. It’s the formula for a business that is simple, fun and profitable!

So where do you start? Here’s the formula I recommend.

Planning. You don’t need a 50 page business plan. But you do need some clear, measurable goals with specific ‘actions’ you need to take to achieve them. Written goals and a simple action plan provide you with focus and clarity. So take the time to write down what you WANT (results or outcomes) and what you need to DO (actions) to make it happen.

Products/Services. When was the last time you actually thought about the products or services you offer? It’s more than just ‘what price should I charge’. Which ones are most profitable, which produce the most sales? Do your products and services still meet the needs of your target customers or do they need a facelift? Technology, competition and your customer needs change over time – make sure your products and services keep up!

Promotion. Sales don’t just happen. So what are you doing to attract new customers and keep existing ones coming back and referring others? Most owners associate promotion with marketing for new customers – and invest few (if any) resources on current customers. Big mistake. Make sure your plans also include tactics to turn your current customers into raving fans – who spend more, buy more often and refer other quality people to your business.

Processes. Streamlining and standardizing procedures make daily operations easier, efficient and more effective, whether you are there or not. They are also a key to increased profitability. As you plan for the coming year, make systematizing your business more of a priority. Start with just a few. Focus on those that save you time, increase sales, or fix problems that consistently erode profit.

People. No business operates successfully in a vacuum – we all need help from others. While we often associate people with employees, building a strong network of contractors, vendors and alliance partners for your business is equally important. Your needs will vary based on your business – but most small businesses have an opportunity to improve in this area. Have a method for hiring or developing new relationships with people who are committed to your customers and the success of your business.

Personal Development. As you grow and improve, so will your business. We are all familiar with the phrase, knowledge is power, but it also translates to earnings or income. And it doesn’t require a lot of time or money – just a commitment to learning and building skills and knowledge. Here’s a few things to consider:

•Invest 15 minutes a day reading and you will read about 12 books a year.
•Turn drive time into learning with audio books.
•Attend interactive workshops or webinars to improve knowledge gaps or simply get new ideas.
•Meet with and build relationships with other successful business owners so you can share information and learn.
•Work with a mentor or business coach who can help you find hidden opportunities, provide shortcuts to results and accountability to get more done.

Profit. You don’t need to be an accountant or financial guru, but you do need to track and understand the numbers that drive your business – beyond just sales. Here’s a few others to consider: average sale per customer or transaction, number of leads, revenue per employee, average accounts receivable, gross profit margins, customer retention rates and net profit. Monitor them and focus on activities that help to improve them – especially gross profit margins and net profit. If you keep them at the center of what you do, your small business will continue to serve your needs and the needs of your people and customers.

Remember, little improvements in ALL these areas will put more profit on the bottom line and in your wallet. So take the hybrid approach: bring together all the key elements that drive success – and you too will have a business that is simple, fun and profitable.

More from “7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business” and Manta.com

 

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Your Live, Online Guide to Sage Peachtree Success
512.892.8990
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
 
21 Shoestring Marketing Secrets That All Small Business Owners Need to Know

21 Shoestring Marketing Secrets That All Small Business Owners Need to Know

From “21 Shoestring Marketing Secrets That All Small Business Owners Need to Know” by Jessica Swanson and Manta.com

Unfortunately, many small business owners believe in the motto, “it takes money to make money” in the world of small business. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth.

There are twenty-one shoestring marketing secrets that will provide you with the right frame of mind so that you can begin the process of building a thriving small business without spending a dime on marketing.

1. Low-cost. In today’s internet and social media age, there are now more low-cost marketing options than ever before. Not only is it possible, but absolutely doable to substantially grow your small business on a shoestring budget.

2. Commitment. If your marketing is going to eventually take hold, then you need to make a strong commitment to see it through until it sticks. Don’t give up in the early stages.

3. Patience. The fruits of your marketing labors don’t happen overnight. You need to plant your marketing seeds and tend to them regularly before your marketing garden blooms.

4. Branding. Your clients and customers need to have a clear picture in their minds as to who you are and how your product or service can solve their most pressing problems

5. Consistency. Marketing is much like breathing. It’s the life of your small business and should be a regular part of your daily business activities.

6. Domination. If you want to explode your small business profits, then you must dominate a small part of your market. You need to become the “go-to” person in your particular niche.

7. Customer-focused. Your primary job is to clearly identify the problems that your prospects face and offer them the obvious solutions.

8. Identify your target market. It’s crucial that you know exactly who needs your product or service. Mass marketing doesn’t work in today’s business environment. Not only does it force you to water down your marketing message to please the masses, but it’s much too expensive for the shoestring marketer.

9. Elicits confidence and trust. Create experiences and situations that boost the level of confidence from your prospects. At the end of the day, people buy from those whom they like and trust.

10. Massive visibility. Since your prospects are exposed to over 4,000 ads every single day, you need to ensure that your small business is utilizing as many marketing platforms as possible. Your prospects should come across you in as many places as possible.

11. Repetition. Research suggests that prospects need to encounter your small business between seven and twelve times before they are ready to purchase. So, put yourself in front of your target market over and over again.

12. Ease of use. If your sales process, marketing materials or any other part of your business is too complicated, your customers will become confused. Confused customers simply don’t buy.

13. The WOW Factor. What are you doing to get noticed? How are you different than your competition? The fastest way to small business failure is to blend in with the crowd.

14. Quality. If your product and/or services aren’t top quality, then you won’t get repeat business. Your long-term success depends on satisfied customers who spread the word about your business and purchase from you repeatedly.

15. Education. Position yourself as an expert and educate your prospects as to why your small business can offer them the remedy to their most pressing pain points.

16. Relationships. Create real relationships with your prospects and customers. Answer their questions, solve their problems and help them if they’re stuck. Your prospects want to know that there’s a real person in front of your small business.

17. Increasing the lifetime value of customers. Over 20% of your existing customers will purchase from you again (since they already know and trust you), so create additional ways for them to make purchases.

18. Automation. We’re living in a fast-tracked society that doesn’t work using old-fashioned marketing methods. So, embrace automation tools such as landing pages, email autoresponders, shopping carts, customer management software, etc.

19. Tracking your results. It’s essential to your overall survival that you have a clear understanding what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to your marketing. Use link tracking software to track your ROI (even if your only investment is your time).

20. Flexibility. Things change quickly and you must be willing to adapt. When the next “great” marketing platform emerges, be willing to jump on board and embrace it with excitement. If you are a flexible marketer, you’re always miles ahead of your competition.

21. Everything that you do. Marketing isn’t just about your advertising campaigns. Every single interaction that you have with your prospects promotes your small business. So, be careful how you answer the phone, respond to your emails and treat your customers because all of it makes an instant and lasting impression on them.

So, there you have it, twenty-one Shoestring Marketing strategies that will literally transform your small business from “just getting by” to “flourishing.” And, the best part of all is that you can do it all on a shoestring marketing budget.

More from “21 Shoestring Marketing Secrets That All Small Business Owners Need to Know” and Manta.com

 
Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Your Live, Online Guide to Sage Peachtree Success
512.892.8990
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
 

Your Business Attitude is a Choice. I Choose Optimism.

Your Business Attitude is a Choice. I Choose Optimism.

From: “Your Business Attitude is a Choice” by Harvey Mackay

Optimists outperform pessimists on the job by as much as 50 percent. Which do you choose to be?

When you wake up every day you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.

You can whine because you have so much work or be grateful that you are your own boss and in control of your own destiny. You can complain about your lack of an IT department, or be excited about learning the tech you need to know. You can grumble about your unengaged employees or do everything in your power to make them succeed. You get the idea.

More from: “Your Business Attitude is a Choice” by Harvey Mackay

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Your Live, Online Guide To Peachtree Success
512.892.8990
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.

 

Keep Your Website Simple

Keep Your Website Simple


From: Transform Your Small Business Website From Blah to Ta-Dah! from Jessica Swanson and Manta Tip of the Day

Have you ever visited a website and were absolutely bored out of your mind?

Unfortunately, way too many websites are just big, fat sales brochures yapping on and on about every excruciating detail about the company – right down to a 500-word history on when and why the company was founded. Uggg!

Always remember that your website needs to be about your customer, not about you. Your customer doesn’t give a hoot about when and why your company was founded. All they care about is their problems and finding a solution. Blah and boring websites are much more common than websites that work. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that most small business owners need to do a complete overhaul of their website in order to bring it from “blah” to “ta-dah.”

The good news is that there are simple and immediate solutions that you can implement in order to keep prospects on your website and convert them to paying customers.

Here is a list of five simple and proven ways to transform your website:

1. Create a clear purpose.
When a visitor comes to your website, your purpose needs to be crystal clear. Do you want the prospect to enter their name and email into a website opt-in form? Are you trying to sell a product or service? Are you interested in educating the prospect over time? Your website should be designed to efficiently guide visitors to the information that they are seeking. It must have a clear and direct purpose.

In the overcrowded world of the internet, you only have three seconds to capture the attention of your prospect. If your visitor is confused (even a little), they are going to leave your website in order to find a more obvious solution.

2. Highlight your benefits.
A prospect visits your site in order to solve a problem or improve their lives. It’s your job to convince them that your product or service will accomplish this. You can succeed in doing this by highlighting the benefits that your prospect will receive if they purchase your product or service.

Will your product make your prospect happier? Will it save them time? Will they be healthier or wealthier? It’s imperative that you convey to your prospect that if they purchase from you, they will receive an obvious and important benefit.

3. Keep it simple.
Time is a precious commodity in today’s world. More than ever before, your visitors are looking for a solution to their problems in a quick and timely manner. They don’t have hours to browse through your website looking for the answer.

Keep your web copy concise and to the point. You should use short paragraphs, bulleted lists and bolded and underlined text to highlight items of importance.

4. Give your visitors reasons to trust you.
As soon as a visitor comes to your site, it’s crucial that they feel that they can connect and trust you. There are a number of ways to increase the trust factor. Make sure that your contact information is prominent and easy to find.

Your website should be free from grammatical and spelling errors. Your site should have the look and feel of a well-established and successful company.

Research suggests that trust must be established for a prospect to either give you their information or make a purchase.

5. Offer your visitors options.
Whether you’re offering a product or service, your sales will immediately increase if you offer your prospects multiple options.

Giving your prospects three distinct price points to choose between is a highly successful model. For instance, if you’re offering a service, you can bundle your service into three different price points that will appeal to different buyers. If you’re offering a product, then offer a low price point, middle price point and a high price point.

When buyers have choices they feel more in control. They appreciate the fact that they are selecting an option that works best for them and their specific needs.

There are numerous ways to keep prospects engaged in your website and convert them to happy clients and customers. If you design your website with a clear and specific purpose, keep things simple, create a sense of trust and offer numerous benefits and options, you’ll soon find yourself with an abundance of new sales, clients and happy customers.

 

More from “Keep Your Website Simple” and Manta Tip of the Day

Suzy Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Passionate about Small Business

Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.

Build a Killer Website

Build a Killer Website


From:  Build a Killer Website: 19 Dos and Don’ts and Inc.com

If you do it right, your website can be the best marketing tool you have.  Ilya Pozin, founder of the Web design firm Ciplex, on how not to screw it up.

Important Dos

Set smart goals.  And make sure they’re measurable. Here are a few great ones a Web designer wants to hear: increase conversion rates, increase sales, generate more leads, reduce overhead, and improve brand awareness.

Plan on becoming an SEO wizard.  Sure, you’re going to want help from the pros and eventually you might even need your own in-house SEO expert, but search engine optimization is something you need to know about too. It has one of the highest ROIs in marketing. Plus, do it right and SEO can literally put your marketing on autopilot, allowing you to focus on improving the quality of your business, instead of figuring out how to bring in customers to your site. Start reading SEOmoz and stay up to date with SEO changes by reading sites like searchengineland.com.

Use open source tools. You could go with a proprietary content management system (CMS) but that means you’re typically stuck with one company and paying hefty license fees to boot. Do yourself a favor and go with an open-source system—I like WordPress and Magento—that any developer can access.

Think about your mobile strategy simultaneously. Research the percentage of your visitors that are likely to use mobile devices to access your site. If it’s high, you may want to consider building a separate mobile version of your site, or even an app. If it’s relatively low, just make sure your website works on smart phones, but don’t invest into a mobile version.

Steal from your competitors. Before you build your site, check out your competitors and write down the things they do well. If you like the look and feel of another site, there’s no reason not to start with something you like and then make it your own.

Develop your content. The biggest slow-down in the Web design process is content. If you’re going to sell products on your site, get product photos and product descriptions ready. If you sell services, you’ll need a description of each service. Get as much of your content together before you start building your site—it will save you weeks. And while you’re at it…

Write with calls to action in mind. Good calls to action allow visitors to quickly decide what they want to do next. Having a big sale? Don’t just write a banner that says “50% off all products.” Write one that says “50% off all products, CLICK HERE to view them.”

Always answer the question “why?”.  Have you ever walked up to someone you’ve never met, handed them a business card, and walked away without saying a word? Likely not. If you want people to do something on your website, such as sign up for your newsletter, don’t just put up a box that says “enter email” or even “sign up for newsletter”—you’ll get a very weak conversion rate. Tell them why they should do it: “Sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly specials.” Same thing goes for Twitter and Facebook logos. Just putting them up isn’t smart. Tell people why they should follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook. What will they get out of it?

Trust your Web designer. I tend to see the worst end results with customers who come in with a “I know what I want, just do what I tell you” attitude. You hired an expert because they know more than you, right? Let them do what they do best and they’re more likely to meet and often exceed your goals.

More From:  Build a Killer Website: 19 Dos and Don’ts and Inc.com

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Passionate about Small Business
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
Building Your Business-5 Things You Must Do Every Day

Building Your Business-5 Things You Must Do Every Day

 


1. Plan for the future a few minutes each day. Assume that your product has stopped selling all of a sudden. What direction will you take your company next? What new income stream can you add? This is a time for day dreaming and recording notes in preparation for the future. You don’t necessarily have to take action on these items, but you need to think about them daily in order to bring out the golden ideas.

2. Work on your marketing in some aspect every day to get new customers. If your prospective customers don’t know about you they won’t buy from you. Work on getting your message out every day even if it is just for a few minutes.

3. Work on closing a sale every single day. whether you are doing this on-line, on the phone, through the mail, or face-to-face you need to be selling every day. Without the close of a sale there is no business. This is not something that you can delegate all the way. even if you have a sales force you need to be out there looking for deals.

4. Develop or strengthen your business network. You need to join or create a business network where you can help others and they can help you back. This is a great place to get free customers through referrals and an excellent mentoring opportunity using the mastermind principle.

5. Contact your current customers. Don’t ever forget about the people that have already purchased from you. These are your best customers. They already like what you have to sell and they don’t cost anything to acquire. Contact your current customers frequently, even if you are just saying hello. They need to know what you have to offer and they need to know you are still breathing. They won’t seek you out. You must go to them.

More from: “Entrepreneurs – 5 Things You Must Do Every Day to Build Your Business” and related videos from Joshua Black and Manta.com

Suzy Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Passionate about Small Business
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.