I am sitting here on the beach in Wilmington, NC, relaxing and enjoying the amazing weather and my general good health. I can- and do- run on the beach, jump in the surf, swim in the ocean, look far down the horizon... I am reading a couple of books and one referenced a Dalai Lama quote I thought I'd share. So many view success in monetary terms only. Money affords a great many things but a broader view of success makes for a happy, rich, rewarding life. This quote is from Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity. "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived. "Don't let the above be your description. Enjoy the holiday. Remember those who have passed and appreciate that YOU are still alive!
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Many (formerly small) business owners, entrepreneurs, and the lawyers, accountants, and others who serve them often ask "why are some companies acquired for eye-popping valuations while very similar ones never attract much interest? The difference often comes from smart exit planning." (Quote taken from article, How to Get Acquired for a Big Price)
One very big reason: being on the radar screen for potential acquirers. That's another great reason to do publicity and marketing. Not only will your prospective customers know you, but so will prospective buyers. Just as with any good sold, the value is determined by those willing to buy. The more buyers you have (or it seems you have), the higher the price you can command for your business.
The article mentioned above has several other smaller reasons. Click on the link to see those reasons. Note: Most of the companies referenced in the article are technology companies. Hence the reference to "eye-popping valuations" instead of just a high price.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
How to ask for a bank loan is a subject that I have written and spoken on numerous times...and will continue to speak and write on. I saw a great article in my email inbox from Inc. on the very subject. The article stated that loan requesters should include a brief summary of the business and several other key points. That brief summary is also known as an executive summary.
According to the article's author, "Remember, you are not selling your business as an investment vehicle for the bank. You are creating confidence that the bank's money will be repaid. And to gain that confidence, they need to understand several things at a basic level." I couldn't have said it better myself!
To read more, click on the article link: How to Ask Your Bank for Money.
Monday, May 14, 2012
I read the following line in a blog article by a guest writer on OnStartups: "...Unless you have deep pockets think of advertising not as a long-term traffic strategy, but as a testing tool to improve your website and find out more about your ideal visitor. Few bootstrapped startups can withstand the cash outlay required to turn advertising into a marketing activity with a positive ROI, but that shouldn't keep you from testing the waters to find out for yourself." I wholeheartedly agree!
Not only will using the above strategy save you money, it will also make you more disciplined in your marketing overall. (Discipline is one great side benefit of bootstrapping!) Marketing should be driven by market research and analysis of results. If you get into this habit before you really have money to spend, you will use your money wisely when you do finally possess sufficient funds to allocate a real marketing budget.
To read the entire article, go to The 5 Minute Guide To Cheap Startup Advertising.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Here's an excerpt from the Inc.com article, "Cash Is King: 5 Simple Rules for Creating a Cash Flow Plan".
"Remember receivables. Not every sale is created equal when it comes to cash. Cash and credit card sales are available for ongoing operations immediately, but sales with terms can take 30, 60, or even 180 days or more to turn into usable funds. Factor this timing into any projections, and most importantly, remember the potential impact on cash flow before extending terms to new customers."
Monday, May 7, 2012
I read an article in the American Express Open newsletter about ten questions to ask customers to boost sales. The article then made me think of a few ideas of my own. Here are two questions to ask your existing or prospective customers when making a sale:
- Who is/who are the decision makers? The answer here could help you save invaluable time. If you are an IT firm spending a lot of time selling to a company's director of IT but it's the CFO who makes the decision, if you make a sale, it will probably be one-off or short term. If you'd asked who the decision maker was and involved the CFO in the discussions, you could have had a long term contract. But it's never too late to move up. :-)
- What trends do you see as having a major impact on your business? Or, put another way, is there anything on the horizon that could skew your business decisions in general, purchasing decisions in particular, either way?
What are the questions you ask customers?
Last week I gave some tips Scott Gerber provided on Inc.com regarding the need for a periodic business check up. Well, here are some additional tips he gave that I didn't include:
- Be mindful of employee morale. If employees are unhappy, they become less productive, less patient with customers, less sales-oriented... You see the trend here. If you notice a downshift in employee morale, get to the root cause by asking questions. The converse is, if you notice a surge in increased employee morale, find out why. Whatever it is, see if you can bottle it for the future. (Or at least make it part of how you do business.)
- Assess your goals and objectives against your strategic business plan timeline. Are you on track? Are you ahead, behind? Why? Remember, a strategic plan is a living, breathing document. (This is figurative. If it really does do that, run like the dickens!) The purpose is to help you focus on your core competencies and be proactive in your market. Tracking your performance can help you identify market, industry trends and other developments that could help or hinder your business long before your competitors see them.
Friday, May 4, 2012
According to the founder of Indiegogo, a crowdfunding company, crowdfunding can be a great way to raise funds for your small business or startup. According to Slava Rubin:
Get 40% - 60% of your funding from friends, family, others that are interested in you and your business. You can then get 20% or so from crowdfunding. The additional PR you get from your crowdfunding campaign will generate a portion of the remainder of the funds.
If you have a money raising campaign, then use create and post a video as part of your campaign.
Per Mr. Rubin, the benefits of using crowdfunding to raise money are as follows:
- Gage demand, mitigate risks.
- Test your market
- Get extra promotion from all the extra social media.
- Get actual customer data. (Highly valuable, of course!)
- "You get money."
To see the actual video, go to How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
I checked out Scott Gerber's tips on Inc.com. I thought some of the pointers were highly valid so I'll share a few.
- Check your cash flow for the coming 1-2 months. I'm a HUGE proponent of charting and tracking cash flow. If you aren't tracking it, you could be in deep doodoo. If you are tracking it but do so on a very short timeline, then you could become aware of a huge impending deficit but have NO time to do anything about it!
- Strategically plan your sales. This will help you avoid over concentration with one customer or, if it does happen, help you be able to find other customers to lessen the risk within a suitable time frame. Or, if your sales are dropping off, you can figure out the issue and do something about it before it really adversely impacts your bottom line.
- Check on what's working. If something is working really well, run with it. If you don't pay attention to what works well, you may lose an opportunity.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Today I attended the grand opening ceremony for Fifth Third Bank inside of a Kroger Store in Raleigh, NC. It was my first ribbon cutting ceremony so that was interesting in itself. But I'll save those comments for a later day.
The comments made by Kroger's management and Fifth Third Bank management got me to thinking. How successful are the banking locations located inside popular grocery stores? One of my former businesses banked at SunTrust so I did find it highly convenient that SunTrust had locations inside Publix grocery stores in the Atlanta metro area. They stayed open later. They were highly convenient. I could grab a banana or some baked goods on my way out!
I've also seen banks inside Walmart. (Is that a bank partially owned by Walmart. Forgive my powers of observation. Since I don't bank there, I have not paid the name much attention!) Always, I see a fair number of people inside of these banks or standing in line within the store during the bank's hours. And banks don't have the level of overhead that they'd incur from owning a stand alone location.
Does anyone know the comparison statistics on performance for banks located inside grocery stores vs. stand alone banks? Please share ...or you will force me to do research and report back!