Marketing

4 Business Ideas During These Times

What are some business ideas that you can implement and that should thrive during these times and in the future? Here are 4 to choose from:

Marketing Services

This includes web design, social media marketing, and developing content for your customers. The online marketing trend should continue and there will be a demand for this service to be outsourced.

Pest Control

With people spending more time at home they will notice more of the creepy crawlies around the house. If you’re spending more time inside your home then you are probably making more of a mess with food and inviting opportunities for pests.

Virtual Services

Although this is a huge market, there is a growing trend for services to be delivered online. Examples include: training videos, consulting services, and learning about various topics from personal to business knowledge.

Online Product Sales

Unfortunately, most online sellers do not do this one correctly and would be better off getting a minimum wage job. However, if you focus on a niche product or line of products that you can easily manage and that have a large enough profit margin, then you can do very well. Options include selling directly though your website or through online marketplaces like Amazon.

 

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Business Time or Family Time?

A common struggle is balancing spending time on your business to make more money and a focus on your family. Should you sacrifice your family time to make more money?

There will be times in your life when you need to spend more time on your business due to reasons such as seasonality of the business, growing the business, starting up a new business, and fixing problems. This is normal and probably will not create long-term problems unless taken to the extreme. Extreme examples include: working 7 days a week/12 hours a day, working away from home for long stretches of time, and always coming home with no energy left over for your family. The threshold will be different for every family depending upon dynamics and the length of time away, but a general rule is the more time away from your family, the easier it will be to invite problems into your home.

A good approach is a balanced approach. By taking this approach you set limits and boundaries on time spent on your business. While you can still grow your business, you may end up with slower growth due to less time being spent on it. However, if you work smarter, then you may actually do better by spending your time even more productively and only pursuing opportunities that provide the highest return per time spent. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it to!

Figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your business growth and make sure this is in line with what matters most to you.

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Are You Striving Too Hard or Too Little?

There is nothing wrong with striving to have financial success but be careful of taking it too far. The opposite can also be true, whereas you don’t strive enough, which can create another set of problems. Here are some signs of each:

Signs You are Striving too Hard

  1. You work an excessive amount of hours to get ahead at the peril of your own health and relationships
  2. No matter what you accomplish it never seems to be enough
  3. Most of your conversations involve making more money. However, this doesn’t apply to financial professionals.
  4. Your drive is not enjoyable anymore

Signs You are Striving too Little

  1. You are always behind financially due to a lack of effort
  2. When business is down, aside from a worldwide pandemic, you do nothing to turn it around
  3. Your efforts are not producing any real financial success
  4. You take little to no corrective actions to get ahead

The Right Balance

The right balance may be as simple as striving for success, while putting financial success in its proper place. It’s different for everyone and if you are honest with yourself you will know when you are striving in an unhealthy way or not striving enough.

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3 Things MBA’s Don’t Learn in School

Obtaining an MBA is quite an accomplishment and is something to be proud of. However, there are 3 eye-opening things they don’t teach MBA’s in school, especially when running a small business.

You’re probably so smart that you’re not

Intelligence and knowledge are extremely useful in life, but it can also be a liability. What I am referring to is that not everyone around you will have an MBA and you must be able to relate to your employees, vendors, and customers. Don’t be so proud that you look for perfection or have expectations that are not practical. If you do, then you will end up constantly firing employees and vendors instead of trying to seek the best from them. Worse yet, you may end up viewing everyone as numbers.

The cash in your business greatly depends upon your personal spending needs

When you work for a large, multi-national company, you can’t just decide to withdraw huge sums of money at will, and even if you did, it may not hurt the cash flow of the business. However, when you run a small business and take too much cash for your personal expenses, then you can easily choke the business, even a very profitable one.

Fancy projections and metric may not matter all that much

MBA’s like to crunch numbers, create graphs, and make presentations. Although financial ratios and projections matter greatly, the truth is that they can change in the blink of an eye in a small business and change drastically. If you can’t run the business properly to support your projections, then the projections are useless.

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Before You Open Up A New Location

It’s not a crazy idea, but now may be the time to open another location. Before you do, here are a few things you should consider:

Do you still have capacity at your existing location?

It’s much, much easier and less expensive to utilize your existing location to increase your sales and profits then to look for a new location. If you still have plenty of capacity in your current location then the time is not right. If you the opposite is true or you are trending to be at full capacity soon, then the time may be right to look for a new location

Relocate or additional location?

A relocation is essentially just a move, however, if you are keeping your existing location then the task becomes more complex. An additional location is almost like running two separate businesses at the same time.

If an additional location then consider management and staffing

Who will manage your new location? If you answered that you will, then expect to burn yourself out in a short period of time. Strongly consider either hiring a manager for the new location or for your existing location, while you manage the new location.

What is your cash flow like?

If your cash flow is already tight, then figure out what the reason is before you magnify the problem. A larger location or additional location will only add to cash flow problems if you haven’t addressed this issue already.

 

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What Changes Will You Make?

Hopefully we don’t see a pandemic like COVID-19 in a long time or never see one again. Aside from practicing safety, there are many business changes that you are probably thinking of making and here are a few examples:

Work from Home More, but not too Much

Now that many of us have been forced to work from home more, you may want to continue the trend. Although, working at the office does have benefits, including less distractions from family members, a better work set-up than working in your bedroom, kitchen, or basement, being around co-workers, and the sense that you are now in work mode.

Work Better Hours

Maybe you were used to putting in 12 hour days and realize that there is more to life then working. After taking a breather, now may be the time to cut back those hours, but be careful that the hours do not creep back up over time.

Expand Your Business

There may be opportunities to expand your business in a low-risk way if your business is currently in a strong position. It can be possible to find a good location with reasonable rents, good employees to fill positions, and marketing may be more effective if your competition decides to sit tight.

Evaluate Your Current Business Model

Instead of bricks and mortar, you can transform your business to be either virtual, online, or delivery based. Many industries have changed and I believe that some of the virtual trends, including telemedicine, will continue to increase.

 

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What Should We Do?

With business closings, unemployment, restrictions, and people directly or indirectly impacted by the virus, what should we do? Here are some things we can do:

Don’t Make Drastic Changes

When possible, do not make significant, time-consuming, and cash-consuming changes. These are not normal times and no one knows how long this situation will last.

Adapt and Change

Many businesses have been adapting and changing their business models to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Can you do the same? Think of how you can modify your product or services to deliver them in a safe and different way. This is not always easy to do, but there are always possibilities.

Don’t Be Too Positive or Negative

Let’s not be foolishly optimistic about the situation because with each passing week or month that you expect things to change, your disappointment will keep on growing. However, do not be so negative to think that the world will never open back up.

Only Think About What You Can Control

If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that a lot in life is out of our control. What you can control are your reactions to others, actions you take, choice of words, reactions to your emotions, and the amount of news that you view. A formula that is probably true is More News = More Anxiety.

There is so much that is unknown at this time, and it would be great to have all of the answers.

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Why is Sales Such a Bad Word?

Everyone is trying to sell something, whether we realize it or not. Even employees are trying to sell themselves to get a job and keep moving up the ladder. Although selling has a bad reputation, it is more about intent, which makes it either good or bad.

The Bad Side of Sales

Selling a service or product that is unnecessary, unhelpful, damaging, or just not needed are the worst forms of selling. The “not needed “ product can be very subjective though, because no one really needs a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, but on the other hand, maybe it is exactly what is needed! On a serious note, a common example of selling something that is unnecessary can be a professional telling you that you need to replace your entire heating system, when it can easily be fully repaired for a fraction of the cost. Another example can be a warranty that is completely useless. The list goes on and every business that sells or provides a service should try to avoid selling in this manner.

The Good Side of Sales

If you are selling something that is in the best interest of your client, customer, or patient, then you are selling correctly. Put their interests before your wallet and you have nothing to worry about. This is the simplest test to alleviate your fears of being a sales person.

Don’t Over Think It

Don’t think about it too much. Everyone is selling something to some degree, whether we recognize it or not.

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Are You Keeping Track of the Right Metrics?

Financial information tends to bore most people except for accountants, accountants, and accountants. Even though the thought of looking through and analyzing numbers may scare you, there are some metrics that drive your financial results and should be measured carefully. They are usually more exciting to keep track of because they can also help predict your results. Here are some examples:

Customer Metrics

Volume: Examples of customer metrics can include: the number of patients, clients, or customers seen/visits per day, week, or month. An increase in this number will increase your sales, however, there may be a delay in actual cash received.

Sales per customer: Are your customers purchasing more or less from you? An easy way to increase sales is to increase the amount of sales to each customer.

Multiple Location Metrics

Same store sales or sales by location: If you have multiple locations, you must keep track of your sales by location. Ideally, you want to keep financials by location, but sales per location is a good starting point. You should compare the sales versus the same period last year and also with other locations.

Net profit by location: It’s great if your sales are doing well in one location, but if the profitability is poor, then you need to know this to make improvements or to shut down that location. Time and resources need to be spent at locations that will achieve the highest return.

Sales or Billings per Employee or by Employee

Sales results: Which employees are performing well, and which are not? What if you operate a real estate office and do not know which agents are your top performers and which are not performing?

Billings: For non-sales positions, especially professional services firms, a crucial number is billings per employee. A low amount may mean that you are over staffed or have inefficient operations. It is also critical to know billings per individual employee.

Leads & Sales Generation

# of leads: Are you receiving more inquiries or less inquiries compared to last month or last year at this time? An increase in leads should result in an increase of sales, but this is just the starting point.

Appointments scheduled: What is the percentage of inquiries that set appointments? You need to make sure that you are able to schedule appointments from your leads.

Appointments closed: A high closing ratio is the ultimate goal and a sign of sales productivity.

Customer acquisition cost: Ideally, you want to obtain customers at the lowest cost possible with the least amount of effort. The longer you retain a customer then the more you can spend trying to acquire them, but if you spend too much money on obtaining one-time customers then your profitability will suffer greatly.

The Metrics are Endless

There is an endless amount of metrics, and each industry has their own set of metrics that are measured, but sometimes metrics can be borrowed from outside your industry to make your own business more profitable. Review your situation to see which metrics will have the most impact to keep your success moving forward.

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How to Destroy Your Business Success in 6 Steps

Sometimes to be successful means to avoid doing the things that will destroy your success. It’s easy to go down the wrong path and it’s important to be aware of this.

Step #1: Saddling Your Business with Debt

Conventional wisdom states that there is smart debt vs. dumb debt or a similar description of two kinds of debt. Although there is some truth to this, the bottom line is that large amounts of debt will cause a huge handicap to your business, especially a start-up. Even if you are doing well it will not feel like it when you have massive debt payments each month or sometimes on a daily or weekly basis if you took out a predatory lender loan. When you have easy access to large amounts of debt it numbs your sense of being financially cautious, prudence, and allows you to spend your money on things that can easily be justified but are not necessary.

Step #2: Poor People Management

See what happens if you constantly treat your employees, vendors, and customers disrespectfully. The end result will be high turnover, sabotage, lack of a sense of shared purpose, losing customers, and everything else negative. It is amazing to see how little attention is paid to the management of people in a poor performing business.

Step #3: Over Working Yourself

There are times when you need to work more or work more rigorously, but if done for too long, then your productivity will decline, decision making becomes worse, and you may find yourself in the hospital for stress induced health reasons.

Step #4: Not Listening to the Right Advisors

Unemployed Uncle Jimmy with a string of failed businesses will not provide you with the advice you need, and if he does provide you with advice, then do the opposite. Or, which is also very commonplace, is to seek the advice of the wrong professional. Make sure the professional that you confide in is an expert with the advice you are looking for.

Step #5: Personal Issues

This is somewhat related to step #2, but more on a personal level. If you are going through difficult times on a personal level, then this will ultimately translate into poor business performance.  A common example is taking care of a sick family member that needs you. If you need to focus more fully on your family situation, then delay starting a business, or for an existing business try to delegate more of your business responsibilities to trusted employees.

Step #6: Ignore Marketing and Sales

Many years ago, I met with a brand new business owner to discuss his business and try to help him out. During our discussion, I asked what he was doing for marketing, and he said that he did very little because he didn’t want to spend money on marketing because marketing costs money. I’m not sure of my exact reply, but he was no longer in business within a few months’ time.

Summing it Up

Some of these steps may seem obvious, but they are common due to the fact that it is hard to take a step back, access a situation, swallow your pride, and say to yourself, “Hey, I need some help because I am not always right.” We should probably all say that more often.

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