Dolly Parton made a #1 hit with her song 9 to 5 but for small business owners those are not enough hours in the day to get it all done and be successful. Ms. Parton’s song also refers to the daily grind of a j. o. b., the service and devotion it takes of being an employee. Regardless if we work 9 to 5 or are small business owners working 24 hours, we need to work if we want to eat, pay bills and have any kind of a life.
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You have had this burning desire to start a business for the longest time. You have a passion for a particular product or service and you have quit your j. o. b. What do you do now? The first thing besides six months of savings, you need to make sure you have a game plan at least for the next 5 years. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more. As one would expect, the probability of survival increases with a firm’s age. Survival rates have changed little over time.” The SBA’s Office of Advocacy was created by Congress in 1976. Part of the office’s mission includes conducting policy studies and economic research on issues of concern to small businesses. The office also publishes data on small firm characteristics and contributions. For further data and research information, visit the Office of Advocacy’s website at www.sba.gov/.
Branding and Marketing your product or service is key to your survival and success. There are many companies that will help you do both. They are two different things that go hand in hand when it comes to your small business. Branding your business has more to do with a logo or tag line that people will remember every time they see it. Some great examples of branding would be Nike, Coca Cola, Campbell’s Soup, New Lawrenceville just to name a few. Having a simple and clean logo on everything from your websites, business cards, mail outs or attached to anything you do will help you stand out and be recognized. As a new business owner you may want to seek a professional service to assist with your vision. Your next step once you have a brand that people will recognize you and your company and what you provide will be to consistently market that brand and services/products.
Marketing is thought of as your business communicating to the general public. According to Wikipedia “Marketing” can be looked at as an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, delivering and communicating value to customers, and customer relationship management that also benefits the organization. Marketing is the science of choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer behavior and providing superior customer value. From a societal point of view, marketing is the link between a society’s material requirements and its economic patterns of response. Marketing satisfies these needs and wants through exchange processes and building long term relationships. Small business owners can build the best brand in the business world and market better than anyone but one must be able to consistently deliver a great product or great services or the success will never happen regardless how great your brand and marketing are for your company.
Networking is something every small business owner must do. It is not enough to be in social media outlets, cold-calling, websites, direct mailers and email campaigns. One must go out and meet the public face to face and actually connect with potential clients/customers. Some people use just branded logo’s for their businesses, which is fine to brand a company that way and typical. However, as you are building the brand and your company you need a face out front. Everyone loves a celebrity-like person or to be connected with the head of a company. The more you are involved the more people will recognize you, your brand and your company. But showing up with a business card isn’t enough either. You must participate and follow up with those people you are networking with throughout the community. Network-ing leads to building a database and Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty International will tell you that your database is always hungry and craves more contacts daily. Then from database building you will go back to marketing consistently to the database with your brand. Do you see how it all ties in together? One step is related to the next step and only when they are all working together do they function to a level of success for your business.
The money aspect of a small business owner is always concerning as well. The old saying of “you got to spend money to make money” isn’t always true but is true most of the time. As money comes back into your organization you have to reinvest somewhere. Somewhere could be supplies, advertising, marketing, staff and even paying yourself. If money isn’t coming in as fast as you would like for it to do then you may need to network more. I wouldn’t recommend charging things on credit until you have a reserve to cover these additional expenses. It is wise to have an accountant or bookkeeper who helps you track your expenses, usually meeting once a month will keep you on your monthly and yearly goals. It will also keep you more aware of your expenses and not letting your finances run amuck. You have made it past the statistical failure for new businesses of 5 years and you may have already hired or beginning to hire some employees. Growth is exciting but can also be a big mistake if you don’t hire the right people. There are many ways to find the extra help you are looking for to leverage yourself in your business.
My personal favorite is using the psychology testing of personality traits of Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance aka, the DISC Profile. Your company growth is again tied back into the financial aspect of how well your business is doing, where your finances back to how well you brand, market and lead generate your small business. There is so much when it comes to starting this dream and passion of yours that you really must think it through before taking that step. If you are not willing to put in the hours for your company to succeed then punching the clock from 9 to 5 may be just great for you.
Author Rodney Camren helps to lead New Lawrenceville in an effort to promote buying locally, educate the community on issues that affect our community. Rodney Camren is a Real Estate Agent with Keller Wiliams.