Successful Small Businesses Can Grow Faster Using Their Customer Values

Owners who want to grow successful small businesses faster should understand what is driving the customers they want to serve.

There is a huge post crisis audience across all demographic groups that are looking for friendly, engaging and socially responsible firms to do business with.

Voting with Their Dollars

Consider nearly 67% of one survey respondents* who felt they could influence corporate behavior through what they purchased. Trends like these should be a real wake up alarm to owners committed to keep their successful small businesses thriving in a slow growth economy.

A surprising majority of consumer near this same number avoided companies whose values did not reflect their own. The central idea that entrepreneurs should not only be aware but integrate customer values with their marketing and sales approach is one of the top ideas to pursue.

It is very clear from the consumer attitude surveys that post crisis customers want to engage more actively beyond the transaction level.

How many more successful small businesses would flourish if they could tap more into this cause related marketing approach?

Do Your Own Quick Observation

Do an easy confirming test of the most successful small businesses near you. Can you identify the highest consumer values they are emphasizing through their marketing, customer service and community involvement practices?

The widely recognized Fortune Best Places to Work list has inspired similar locally sponsored surveys from area chamber groups who want to help grow small business. Study your city’s survey results about the top small firms.

What values come through?

I find that employee involvement and success sharing dominate the survey results.

In fact, many of these successful small businesses share the same core values that more post-crisis consumers now embrace (kindness, respect, empathy, community involvement, etc.)

Imagine what the impact would be in our communities if more owners knew just how close they already are to connecting with an entirely new set of potential customers!

Try another very revealing observation. Contrast the competitors who do not make these most admired lists. What do you observe is missing? In my experience they generally focus on a transactional relationship with their customers and do not venture beyond it.

Your Values Checklist

For those wanting to make progress try this simple checklist with your staff:

1) What is my company brand really about? Who do we make a difference with?

Tip: What is the highest emotional connection you bring to your customers?

2) If I had to distill our company values down to the top three what would those be?

3) What is a related need by the wider community we serve that is

urgent and compelling?

4) What is an existing non-profit that is already trying to meet that need?

5) As the business owner, what is something that is hurting in our

community I am personally passionate about?

Tip: Be sure your cause is both genuine and long-term.

6) How does the cause relate in a direct way to our primary product or service?

Tip: Public relations synergy done right is a win/win for successful small businesses!

7) What are simple ways we could integrate the support of a

community cause in our everyday communications and promotions to our customers?

Mastering how to do a good transaction well is a foundation to survive. However, to really thrive in a slow economy is an entirely different approach.

Successful small businesses are those who pay close attention to the values their customers share the strongest and simply mirror that in all their customer centered practices.

*Survey Source: The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer, by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio.

5 Tips to Boost Small Business Productivity

For many entrepreneurs and small business owners maintaining consistent level of productivity can be a major challenge, and can have a significant impact on their business. A business owner with a brick and mortar store has more limited options for failing to be productive because clients and customers are depending on the business owner to adhere to the stated hours of operation.

It’s easier for those who work from home or from wherever they have an internet connection to lose productive hours if they fail to implement systems and strategies to keep track of how they use their time. What are some of those tips and strategies?

Below are five tips to boost small business productivity:

1. Wake Earlier: The idea of starting earlier than you already do may not appeal to many entrepreneurs. However, many early-risers have found that they are more productive in the mornings, and so they get more done in a shorter time because their energy level is much higher. It’s noteworthy that J.P Getty’s formula for success was: rise early, work hard, strike oil.

2. Stop Multi-tasking: People often boast that they’re able to work on multiple projects at the same time, and often find themselves surrounded by several unfinished projects. Research indicates that multi-tasking cuts back on productivity. You actually increase productivity by focusing on one project at a time in time blocks.

3. Complete the Most Challenging Task First: Brian Tracy describes this as ‘eating the frog.’ Knowing that you have something to do, which you don’t really like to do, and which presents a challenge can rob you of your energy. It’s better to get it done and out of the way so you can move ahead with jobs you prefer to do or find easier to do. Dale Carnegie is quoted as saying, “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”

4. Plan Ahead: Spend 30 minutes the night before, or if you prefer to plan weekly, do so on Sunday evening to plan your day or your week by listing your most important tasks that must be done and stay focused until each day’s most important tasks are completed. When you plan ahead you can hit the ground running each day instead of wondering where to start or what to do first.

5. Schedule Similar Tasks Together: Block similar things to do together. For example: return all of your calls at one time; schedule times to check your email and social media platforms. This way you’re not switching from one thing to something in an unrelated field and have to do mental adjustments.

These are only five of many tips to boost your productivity. Very few entrepreneurs and small business owners are able to maintain consistent productivity with proper planning and systems implementation. By being open to tips to boost small business productivity, you can maximize your time so that it feels as if your were actually given increased time.

5 Tips to Increase Small Business Productivity

On a daily basis, small businesses owners find themselves in an extremely competitive environment. It’s been said before that, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.” This is especially true now that advances in technology and communications are occurring more frequently and businesses both large and small are able to adopt them with relative ease. Effectively increasing your business’s productivity can mean the difference between just “getting by” and dominating your market. Here are some tips to help you achieve the latter.

1. Provide anytime, anywhere access to out of office employees – It’s becoming more and more common for employees to work from outside of a physical office. Whether they’re working from home, out in the field or just gone for an event, you want to make sure they have instant access to the information they need. Without proper mobility solutions in place, your team is guaranteed to lag on projects and customer service. Small business cloud computing services are often the easiest way to improve on your business’s mobility.

2. Make it easy to manage information – If your business is still passing around manila folders, listen up. The way your business organizes and acts upon its information might very well be the most important component to your success. It is imperative that both you and your team be able to access and manage your company’s data with ease and minimal downtime. Things like email, file storage, permissions, etc. are all part of this information management. This also means ensuring your data is backed up often and you have a solid disaster recovery plan in place for when (not if) theft, human error or natural disaster strikes.

3. Streamline customer communications – Have you incorporated a CRM (customer relationship management) solution yet? A solid CRM will exponentially increase your interaction with your customers and prospects, helping you deliver fast and knowledgeable services. One of the more popular small business CRMs is Salesforce but there are many CRM’s that are more industry specific or perhaps more suited to your unique needs. Here is a link to get you started if you’ve yet to explore your CRM options – Popular CRM Tools.

4. Employ a managed service provider (MSP) – It’s no mystery that small business owners and executives can wear many hats. Hooray for building your skill sets but unfortunately, this dilutes your ability to handle the more pressing responsibilities within your company…like maintaining “high-level” thinking and running your business as a leader. Managed IT services allow owners, executives and even IT managers to stay out of the weeds by removing the hefty technology burden that comes with being a competitive company. MSPs provide ongoing IT support, maintenance, project work, consultation and more. Essentially, they act as your IT department; a full team for a fraction of the cost of bringing one person in-house.

5. Develop both short and long term technology plans – Sure you know where you want your business to go (right?) but how you get there is equally as important. Without methodical planning regarding your technology and business productivity solutions, you will unnecessarily burn through your hard earned cash. People hire consultants for all kinds of things and IT should absolutely be one of them. Make sure you choose a small business IT support company that’s local (who can physically look at your network and perform an IT assessment) and one that’s reputable with years of experience. They will provide you direction and suggest any needed changes to make your business as efficient as possible.

Heed these tips like you heed a stop light! If you plow through it without paying attention, you’re asking for a serious, costly accident. If you take your time and make educated decisions, the end result will be a company that’s healthy from the inside-out; resilient, competitive and a force to be reckoned with!

Simple Ways To Kick Start Your Small Business Blog In 2016

Yep I know you hate hearing or reading about it and I know you keep telling yourself you’ll make a start someday, but if you haven’t done it by now then you’ll be waiting a long old time for someday to come!

A blog for your small business is a great way to connect with your customers on a whole new level, promote customer interaction and increase customer loyalty.

OK, so let’s imagine you’re committed to starting a blog for your small business, how do you create content? how do you even get people to come and check out your content and keep them coming back to visit regularly?

Let’s dive straight in!

Kick Start Your Small Business Blog With These 5 Tips

1. Just do it!

The first step of kick starting your small business blog is to actually create one! Ta da… What the? Yes that’s right, stop putting it off for another week or another month or year even and get the job done now, today.

2. Create a content strategy.

Next you’ll need a content development strategy, so you’ll need to figure out who will actually be creating content for your small business blog, will it be you or will you outsource?

What types of content do you want to post on your business blog? For example, do you want to share news on your latest products, projects and innovations?

Do you want to share tips on how to use your products or services more effectively?

Do you want to use a blog to make important announcements and promote special events?

Do you want to share news on special promotions and offers? The list is endless, but the key is to create an effective content creation strategy where you’ll be able to add valuable resource to your blog on a regular basis.

Avoid making the silly mistake of just adding content for the sake of adding content, or using a blog to post silly sales pitches repeatedly.

Avoid writing too many unhelpful self-promo posts that just talks about how great your products and services are and nothing else, or worst still, posting embarrassing photos of your staff at the company Christmas party! Instead focus on adding real value, real useful content and building an audience first.

A great way to decide what content to put together for your small business blog is to create an email marketing campaign asking your audience “hey we’re launching our new blog, what types of stuff would you like to see us write about?”, or if you have a Facebook page for your business, check to see what kinds of content people are engaging with the most.

3. Get experts in to help you.

What I mean by experts is ‘guest writers’ that are currently writing for other blogs in similar industries to come and add value and a new perspective to the content on your business blog. Whether you’re blogging for business or not, finding the right kinds of contributors can be really beneficial in helping you to kick start your blog.

4. Give your clients the option to signup to your blog newsletter.

Create a fresh email list then consider adding a ‘subscribe to blog newsletter’ call to action or button to your checkout pages, website home page or client emails. There are many other more effective ways to capture email leads for your blog, and this is one very effective way to build a targeted audience for your small business blog as well as increase customer loyalty.

Once again if you have a Facebook page for your business, encourage clients to visit and like your page via your blog, this again promotes customer loyalty.

5. Walk before you can run.

What ever you do, don’t expect to achieve massive results quickly as a result of starting a blog for your small business today. Creating content and building readership takes time, so as the saying goes, walk before you can run. Small business blogging has many benefits to your business.

So I hope this is enough to help inspire you to start blogging for your business in 2016 and beyond, and if you already have, I hope you take action today and use the tips to kick start your small business blog in the right direction.