Items tagged with SBDC Business Tips Articles
We witnessed the power of networking and connections recently among existing business owners, especially those having a track record of solid sales and a commitment to grow. Some call this type of business a Stage 2 business. Stage 2 growth businesses have different needs than a Stage 1 startup business. One of those needs is to connect more with other business owners, the need to network and develop partnerships.
We ran a 10-week course at the Business Resource Center (BRC) for 10 local Stage 2 businesses who wished to explore ways to grow. The course, FastTrac Growth Venture, included a textbook that covered the major areas of knowledge businesses in this stage need to know to be successful.
From a business perspective, what is branding?
We know that from an agricultural and livestock perspective, it is the marking of animals to indicate ownership or pedigree. The branding of animals began centuries ago and over the course of time was extended to paper as watermarks, silver and other products to indicate manufacturer. These became known as some of the first trademarks and were referred to as their brand. Thus, branding could be considered building an identity for your business, or creating a mark that becomes synonymous with your business.
The dream of every business owner is for business to be able to expand, but when your business grows from day to night it can be scary.
Like children, when they grow and suddenly no clothes fit them, you feel overwhelmed by the idea of what you could do to fulfill all the needs of your growing child/business.
The current market environment San Angelo and nearby towns are experiencing is challenging, fast growth in a short time. Currently small businesses feel pressure to grow too fast to meet clients’ demands and be able to compete in the market. This accelerated growth has created stress in business owners and has driven them to make expansion decisions often without the necessary planning. And, unfortunately, this accelerated growth can jeopardize the business’ future.
In a recent blog post, I came across some startling statistics: 40 percent of U. S. workers are planning to look for a new job in the next six months, and 69 percent say they are already passively looking.
To a small business employer, those figures are staggering. We are careful to hire only the best employees, and once we have them, we want to keep them. There are huge benefits for employees to stay with the same company for 10 years. Employers need to know what steps to take to make workers want to stick around for years.
Proactive efforts by employers to establish a culture that builds strong relationships with their employees — the kind that leads to a lengthy commitment, and perhaps even a commitment for life — are what we are seeking.
“The goal to be reached is the mind’s insight into what knowing is. Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there.” Hegel 1770-1831.
This poster, neatly framed, hangs in my office to help remind me my job is to help my clients reach their goal by helping them prepare.
Preparation is the “means of getting there” and the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center offers the training to prepare you so you can reach your goal. Without a basic foundation in the tools and vocabulary of business, it will be you who “asks for the impossible.”
We have seen an increase in businesses for sale recently, and I am sure it is partly because of the baby boomer generation of business owners wanting to cash out and transition their business to someone else.
Buying a business can be an exciting and apprehensive task. An existing business usually has a solid customer base and can provide immediate cash flow. Systems and procedures are mostly developed. Employees are most likely well trained and have good knowledge of their customers and business operations. These things are already in place that someone starting a new business would have to build or create.
As exciting as this seems, there may be some unanswered questions. Is this business right for you? Why is the owner selling? Are the financials accurate as presented? Will there be hidden land mines that you as the new owner will have to face?
I enjoy reading the posts on Facebook of a high school principal.
I know a number of educators and am “friends” with them on Facebook. However, not one of them is more active on Facebook and Twitter than he is. In fact, it would be fair to say he is more active than my own school age children are.
Why would a 60-year-old school principal (I can say his age because he posted it on Facebook!) be active in social media? Because he loves children and he wants to be where they are. He uses social media to make school announcements such as snow days or calendar events. He reminds them of dress code rules. He praises their accomplishments with lofty eloquence.
We often find ourselves looking for feedback, such as reviews on places or things of interest to make sure we are making the right decision or that we will make our time and money worth the while.
Therefore, as business owners you are aware of the importance of customer reviews on your websites, social media and even word-of-mouth comments.
Sometimes being able to handle all the feedback you received from clients can be challenging, but I guarantee it will be worth your time.
Is training important for small businesses? The answer is a resounding yes.
Everything is important to small businesses. Any organization, small or large, can’t afford to stress one or two areas and let another slide. Training is important. It teaches new techniques and reinforces old ones. Every member of your team needs both those kinds of support. Sales training enhances the one area where small businesses have an advantage — the person-to-person connection. Give your sales staff the tools and training to be available to customers at any time.
As it is said, “I know I’m preaching to the choir,” when I say that customers will help you build and grow your small business. Business owners constantly work to get referrals from their customers but sometimes it is good hear about and explore different techniques which may sharpen your skills.
Last week I had the privilege of listening to a successful local entrepreneur speak about the reasons for his success and the success of his companies.
He reminded us of the importance of listening to your customers, to give them what they want and need with value to them and a profitable relationship for the business. How do you listen to your customers? Below is a brief discussion on how business owners can listen and take action.
As a small-business owner, what is your objective?
It is to separate your customers from a portion of their money. That is the bottom line. You found a service or product they want or need and you will sell it to them for a price. They have what you want. You have what they want.
The catch is in the question: are you the only one from whom they can purchase that service or product? Chances are you have competitors. In recent articles, we have discussed competitive advantage. When we discuss competitive advantage with our clients, pricing often comes up as the advantage as does product or performance quality.
When hiring employees sometimes we find ourselves in a bind on what to put more emphasis on, soft or hard skills?
The perfect combination is ideal but often difficult. For many job positions hard skills will be the area to focus on, but for many other businesses related to customer services or sales, soft skills might be paramount to make a decision when hiring.
Hard and soft skills are often discussed when hiring. For most jobs, while the hard skills are essential to getting the interview, it’s the soft skills that will land the job because as an employer you want someone who won’t just perform their job function, but will be a good personality fit for the company and make a good impression on clients.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Got a great idea for a business? Got a great name for that great idea for a business? Does anyone else own that great name for that great idea that you have for a business? Better check on that.
I am of the opinion that selecting the correct name for any endeavor has never been as important as it is today. Your business name will be bounced between all different venues of social media, TV and radio as well as print media. The name you select might even become a sought-after window decal.
During my research for assistance to a client, I came across two different avenues for selecting a business name. First is advice from a professional naming company and the second is a “crowd-source” business naming opportunity.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — When starting a business, one of the many questions for the entrepreneur to answer is a basic one.
What would compel your target market of potential customers to stop purchasing from your competitors and start purchasing from you? The compelling reasons must be important to your target market, which are customers most likely to do business with you. Most successful businesses consider only certain groups of people as their target customers. “Everyone” is usually not a realistic target market.
Inevitably in our growing up years, we played a game with our peers whereby the initiator or “owner” of the game made the rules up for the game as the game progressed. As could have been predicted, one or more of the players became agitated as the rules that were made favored the “owner” of the game.
Such frustration can be avoided when all players know the rules in advance and can make informed decisions about whether they want to play the game.
Things are no different in business. In fact, take the above scenario and substitute employees for players and work or job for game and it takes on a personal feel. Have you ever worked for someone who kind of made the rules up on the go? How frustrating is it to be penalized or disciplined for rule violations that you didn’t even know about?
Now that you are a business owner, is this how you are operating your business? Are you making the rules up as you go along?
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Working in different environments surrounded by different people can be challenging, but also an educational experience.
The world is composed of diverse people, and I am not referring to personalities. In this case, I focus on the different generations, the famous age gaps.
Working at the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center, we work with clients from all generations. Interacting with all in a pleasant manner can be overwhelming at times. It is like flipping on and off different switches. But, the ability to do so will provide multiple benefits. Generational flexibility with clients and employees can become the key to a successful business.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Being an adviser with the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center for eight years, I have seen many small businesses go up for sale.
I also have seen many people who are interested in purchasing a small business. When valuing a business for sale, start by reviewing basic financial statements.
Let’s say a husband and wife have been working in his father’s small business for several years. They want to purchase the business from him. They know the market potential and the father has used an accountant to assist with taxes and other record keeping. How do they evaluate the company and gain the knowledge of what they should offer him for his business?
SAN ANGELO, Texas — The caller simply asked, “Can you help me with an idea I have for an invention?” My answer was, “Let’s meet and I can teach you how to perform a basic Web search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
The appointment was set and I did a mental review of the information I would be sharing at our first one-on-one counseling session.
At the first meeting, I visited with the client about the Small Business Development Center and the wide variety of services we offer. I mentioned the center is funded through state and federal tax dollars and that every center, more than 900 across the nation, respects that responsibility. All centers are associated with colleges and universities and Angelo State University is our host institution.
Many businesses think they are too small to do business with state and federal agencies. Think again.
The state of Texas and the United States government not only have opportunities for small businesses, they want and many times are required to set aside specific contracts for them. If you are looking to expand your small business this could be perfect for you. Typically the process is not easy, but if you stick to it and fill out the necessary paperwork, it can give your small business a real competitive advantage.
It is imperative that any new business identifies and understands its target market.
For some business and industries, this is easily determined. For others, it is more difficult.
For example, it is fairly obvious that an infant and children’s clothing boutique will target parents and grandparents with infants and children that are within a certain age range. For the business to succeed there must be enough parents and grandparents to generate sufficient demand for such clothing and an evaluation of the number of competitors and their strength.
The food industry tends to be pretty popular for many entrepreneurs when they decide to open a business. Cooking is something that comes natural to many; therefore, the idea of having a business doing something you are passionate about becomes very attractive.
The San Angelo Business Resource Center opened its doors downtown a year ago and had its official grand opening March 20.
The BRC is a facility designed to house many of San Angelo’s economic and business development activities. It is a success, as the vision it was designed to accomplish is right on track, to create a partnership and working collaboration in the spirit of cooperation for the economic betterment of the San Angelo area. In addition it is accomplishing the goal of helping to reinvigorate a part of downtown San Angelo.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — There it was, finally the sofa had arrived in our store.
It was beautiful in my eyes and I had lobbied hard to get it. It’s sleek, long slung seating had a contemporary modern look. The velvety or white which added to its uniqueness. Yes, it was orange, but in the late ’70s orange was still a popular color for living room furniture. It became a real conversation piece among our customers. Problem was, that’s all they did was talk about it.
I received an interesting article a couple weeks ago. The article talked about the family affair of owning a business; learning who the boss is, and how the next ones in line can or cannot be successful.
If you haven’t noticed, our world is changing fast and not just technologically.
The question my client asked seemed simple at first: “How is a credit score determined?”
I wanted to simply say it is determined by your consistent attention to paying your bills on time. Luckily though, I decided to research the answer and learned it’s far more than just paying bills on time.
The power of the crowd using Internet technology has enabled many new and interesting ideas.
It seemed like a good idea at the time starting your own business that is.
After all, how hard could it be? All I have to do is buy or make something and sell it to someone who wants or needs it. Simple. All you had to do was establish a legal business structure, set up an account with the State Comptroller’s office, find a business location, and obtain some financing. You jumped through some hoops to get all that done and now you are in business and you are doing well. Or are you? How do you know?
Before I started working at the Small Business Development Center, I had the same concept as many of you might have about SBDCs. The services offered by these centers are only for startups or “small” businesses. But, have you ever wondered what encompasses the term small business?