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Small Business Game, Big Business Win

My neighbors are entrepreneurs at heart. They are part of the 860,000 new small business enterprises that opened doors this year. At the rate they are going they could also be part of the churned small enterprises that will close their doors over the next year if they don’t proactively take preventive measures.

My neighbors represent the vast majority of small business owners entering the market daily. In the beginning they are brimming with bright optimism and bright ideas. By the end they wonder how they could have made it all work as they close doors on yet another opportunity.

What are my neighbors, and small business owners (SBOs) like them doing wrong?

Do small businesses need excess cash flow to make it in this market?

Do marketing mix, core competencies and/or niche marketing spell small business accomplishment?

Well…yes and no.

I don’t think ample cash reserves tell the entire story for how to be a small business success. Cash helps, but it’s one piece to the overall puzzle. I also don’t think complex stats and formal business jargon determine small business success either. It helps to talk-the-talk. It helps even more to walk-the-walk, but again complexity doesn’t help unravel the tangled web of linear progression.

Bottom line, a devotion to realizing and then seizing business opportunities can course an SBO onto the path of growth.

A business with cash that does not do this will falter. Just as a business with a small budget can do this and succeed.

Small companies can play in this business game to garner big business wins.

o Size Matters

Small businesses have the advantage in just that: their size!

Unlike larger corporations, small businesses are postured to agilely and quickly remedy non cost-effective processes, products, and/or services. Also, small businesses can advantageously leverage their span of control as it is more cross functional and less hierarchical than larger competitors. Hence, revisions can be implemented and evident to the consumer before problems become systemically ingrained.

Utilize your business size and its mobility to deliver effective results for your consumers and your employees.

o Dedicate your Wits

While cash flow is a routine focus for business sustenance and growth, do not neglect the need for creative brainpower. As tiring as constant innovation and inventiveness can be when intermingled with ever changing products, services and finances, understand thriving enterprises analyze the market for the best opportunities to meet consumer demand.

Your business is static until you make it dynamic.

o Know Yourself to Know Your Business

Competition is rampant and it can affect sales. Yet, there are enough resources to support the SBO. If you look around at the varying small organizations in a city district, you should be encouraged! For the most part, these businesses offer similar products and/or services as larger companies, yet they still thrive.

Know what you offer and tout your uniqueness. A small business is an external expression of its owner. So just doing what you do is differentiation! Recognize it, and champion it as a unique resource available only through your gateway.

o Listen to the Beat

You don’t have to have expensive customer feedback mechanisms to know what your customers are saying. Feedback comes your way all the time in hushed compliments and verbose criticisms.

Be a pulse chaser! In other words, seek what’s hot. Pulse chasing companies experience business progression and growth beyond the box in which they initially started. Don’t just ask customers if they satisfied. Strive to exceed their expectations. There certainly exist tangent markets of available market share if you’re willing to listen to what that market says.

o Do It Already!

Knowing what to do and not doing it is insanity. The point of business ownership lies in the freedom to mold your ideas into a value-added good or service. Yet, execution is the lacking factor capable of diversifying your product into a money-making entity versus a money-sucking unit.

Implementing other processes and streamlining existing ones are not necessarily easy steps, but such analyses are relevant and can result in longstanding progressive actions. Lean and agile corporations anticipate customer demand, but the battle is won in how they back up their hunch with consistently salable products or services.

o Burn the Midnight Oil

Business is rhythmic.

Hang in there long enough to learn your business’ battle rhythm. Decisions can then be made proactively versus reactively, which gives the SBO an offensive positioning.

The only way you’ll know any of this data, however, is through defining new processes, assessing their relevance and reassessing the overall process for positive repositioning.

And that takes time…so hang in there!

SEO FAQ For Small Business 7 of 10 – How Long For SEO Results? (SEO Results Time Frame)

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, search engine optimization takes time and effort. In this article we’ll discuss the basic time frame in which you could expect results.

The hours and effort needed to increase the visibility of your small business website depend greatly on your marketing plan and which keyword you’re going after. Let’s take the term mortgage calculator. If you were to advertise your mortgage calculator with Google, the Google Traffic Estimator shows an estimated 600 to 752 clicks per day with a projected AdWords cost of $2,070 – $3,680 PER DAY for this keyword. There are 24,900,000 Google results for this term, and 510 associated keywords. Google Keyword Tools also reveals approx 890,000 searches for this term in a month.

This is some serious competition and your chances of getting on the first page of Google in less than a year is possible, but not probable. The top Google site for this term is Alexa ranked at about 7700 in the US with over 60% of the traffic coming from search engines. There are still ways to compete with this particular website on this particular keyword, but it would take a while. This top site gets a majority of the traffic for the term.

As a minimum time investment, you should be committed to performing (or contracting for) at least two hours a day, three days a week, for at least three to six months, with a review of progress and re-evaluation at the three and six month mark. You may very well experience a noticeable traffic increase in only four or six weeks, but to get onto the front page of a search engine will require two or three crawls of the site by the search engines after optimization, and you have no control over when, and if, that happens. A year-long optimization campaign is not unheard of for a large site. If your site is less than three or four months old, or the domain is expiring in less than a year, you may have issues with high rank despite your best efforts as these are ‘red flags’ to the search engines.

Don’t forget your off-page efforts as well. This will be the subject of the next article. Take into consideration your other sources of product or service promotion and notification. I’m speaking of your existent customer base, your business related social network (or lack thereof) and your business blog. These are invaluable resources for the formation of ‘inbound links’, article or video reviews, and “join the conversation”. Remember that “joining the conversation” is customer service and a means to an end. Talking about your site or services is a fine thing, and handling issues is a must, but if you’re not converting your conversation or generating calls to action and practicing the ‘principle of reciprocity’, then you are not using your off-site network to its fullest potential. Conversations are mostly listening, but more importantly hearing.

No matter your business battle plan, it will take time to formulate and execute. Tell the principals involved (CEO, CFO and CIO) that they need to budget at least six months for the project, with reviews occurring every ninety days to check on progress toward the pre-defined goal. And please don’t end the project when you’ve exceeded your goals. You’ve gotten more than you expected and should continue to reap the benefits. If it works for you, continue to work it until your growth curve begins to flatten, and then do it again with another ‘angle of attack’. You can have “too much exposure” in the same respect you can have “too many customers”.

Next time: Social Media and SEO.

Business Success in 4 Non-Negotiable Steps

As an entrepreneur you may have heard that financial success and growth is preceded by personal growth. The road to success begins with the decision to be successful. Your decision is later reinforced by the mental fortitude to stick to that decision through the highs and the lows that any business will undoubtedly offer.

The following four steps are non-negotiable on your path to success.

1 – Cultivating The Right Attitude is the foremost step in importance for any entrepreneur to master in order to create their first million dollars. I’ll paraphrase a quote by Ford here – Whether you think you can or can not, you are right! When you say “I CAN” you are more than halfway there already.

2 – Having Determination is the next order of business battle. Without determination, an entrepreneur lacks the drive to succeed. One without it will fail to plan, fail to ask for the sale of their product or service, and ultimately fail in their business.

An entrepreneur with an inner drive who is determined to succeed will see business problems as challenges and thrive on finding solutions.

3 – The right attitude and determination are nothing without the third non-negotiable step in business success: Taking Action. Nothing gets done without taking specific action. Sales are not made, progress is not achieved, and success is not had nor celebrated. It is easy to plan and theorize, and talk, but taking action is what pays the bills.

When in doubt, you should take action. Many new entrepreneurs spend the day “aiming” when they should in fact just be “firing” (…to use a shooting analogy).

4 – Last but not least: Seek Your Goals. That is to say, an entrepreneur should have obtainable goals that make them stretch, but not so much that they are totally out of reach. Having business goals forces you to plan, to evaluate, and to re-evaluate in order to achieve business success.

Know that accomplishing 3 out of the 4 non-negotiable steps to business success is not enough. All entrepreneurs must enact all 4 steps in order to attain the business and financial success you work so diligently toward.

Again you must take action to realize your goals coupled with the determination to persevere balanced by the attitude the You Can!

Now Go Get ‘Em!