To Become Relevant, What GOP Majority Must Do For SMEs



Sept. 16, 2017-


The U.S. economy is blossoming, despite the inept Congress.

Why?

To use another gardening metaphor, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) haven’t received their deserved nourishing fertilizer from public policy.

With a few exceptions, members of Congress resemble Abbott and Costello in their famous “Who’s on First” routine.

Ironically, the Small Business Administration reports 99 percent of all employers are small businesses.

They employ almost 50 percent of private-sector employees, and create 75 percent of new jobs.

But these are not wealthy people. Instead of benefiting by paying corporate tax rates, 90 percent or more file tax returns as individuals.

So despite what Democrats claim, they’re not in the same category as the top 1 percent of income earners.

Data – published by a government agency and a leading small-business association – U.S. Treasury and the National Federation of Independent Business, respectively – indicates that just 2.4 percent of small businesses earn revenue higher than $250,000.

Seventy-one percent have an adjusted income under $100,000 annually.

Unfortunately, such small business owners have to pay the individual tax rate, the self-employment tax and the net investment tax. That’s why Tax Foundation data indicates that the most-successful small businesses are saddled with a marginal federal tax rate of 44.6 percent.

And don’t forget, none of this includes state-income tax rates. So by paying close to cumulative 50-percent tax rates little wonder such business owners have grievances.

Economic trends

True, consumer confidence is up.

Investors love proposed Trump Administration policies. The stock market has skyrocketed.

This also means average Americans are enjoying massive growth in their 401(k) retirement accounts.

Unemployment is low and jobs are coming back from overseas.

Concurrently, this year’s Q2 gross domestic product (GDP) is 3 percent. That’s 300 percent higher than in recent years and the eight-year average under President Obama.

Forecasts of leading economic indicators provide more hope.

So it’s no coincidence that a majority of Americans is pleased, according to a legendary polling company.

Gallup poll

Despite what the mainstream media would lead us to believe, a Gallup Poll reported that 51 percent of respondents approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy.

This is particularly noteworthy because it’s been rare for presidents over the last four decades to receive such high economic-approval ratings during their first year in office.

That’s right. With one exception, no other Republican or Democrat has been as successful.

President Trump’s economic approval rating is higher than his predecessors such as President Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

The exception: In his first year in office, 2001, George Bush had a 72 percent rating.

Out-of-sync Congress

But here’s the conundrum:

In comparison to the Trump Administration’s economic leadership – despite a majority, no doubt about it – Republicans in Congress look inept on the economy. Indeed, no one in Congress has significant economic-approval ratings.

There are two ramifications:

Firstly, to guarantee the Trump Administration hits its 4 percent GDP objective, Republican lawmakers have to get their act together for the majority of employers – small and medium-sized businesses.

If they don’t, this means the economy won’t be firing on all cylinders for growth and job creation.

Secondly, Republicans continue to look and behave like Abbott and Costello in their “Who’s on First”, which was only an act.

But what’s happening in Congress is nightmarish reality and they Republicans will lose their governing majority in Congress. Why?

They’re not governing. Americans, especially, SMEs overwhelmingly voted for positive change. They’re still getting the same dysfunction from Congress.

Obstacles/solutions

Business owners know they deserve a serious tax cut so they can grow, invest in equipment and develop products – these measures will create jobs.

In turn, this will accelerate a middle-class revival.

In addition, with no incentives passed by Congress and no ObamaCare reform, healthcare remains one of the typical business owner’s biggest expenses.

But insurance companies have abandoned health-care exchanges in virtually every state leaving countless Americans without choices or even coverage.

Self-employed business owners who are forced to buy individual policies are sick and tired of double-digit ObamaCare increases in premiums and deductibles.

Others who have small workforces have been forced to cut their employees’ hours under the onerous ObamaCare mandates. That’s a salient reason why the average American workweek is only 34 hours.

But Republicans failed on ObamaCare reform because they didn’t have a unified strategy for success in opposing the Democrats’ government-dependency philosophy.

Time is running out if Republicans hope to avert misfortune in the 2018 mid-term elections.

What is needed is a unified economic-growth mindset and strategy.

The next step should be an immediate easy-to-understand tax-cut bill for the nation’s 99-percent of employers.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant editor’s picks:

7 Capitalism Principles for Economic Growth, Prosperity — Employers are discouraged from hiring largely because of uncertainty created by public policies. That includes uncertainty – created by ObamaCare – in costs and taxes.

On 9/11, America’s Economic Preparedness Worse than Ever — Unfortunately, today is the 16th anniversary of that tragic day, and hurricanes have devastated America. But America’s fiscal ability to deal with such crises is worse than ever. Here’s what Congress must do.

Solution to Cure Worker Skills Gaps, Underemployment — An innovative solution has been unveiled to solve a big economic conundrum. The solution is designed to create 25 million new jobs and help grow the economy by 4 percent.

Why President Trump’s Growth Budget, Reforms Matter — Deficit-spending and the resulting massive debt severely damages America’s economic prospects and hurts each American. But a disciplined approach will make America great again — by shrinking the national debt and implementing other needed reforms.

Analysis: Trump’s Vision to Fix Trade Deficit, Create Jobs — Donald Trump acts positively: Americans are tired of the reign of politically correct terror, the movement for income redistribution, and the massive loss of good-paying jobs.

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

Plato


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




69% of Consumers Worry about Security at Major Companies – Growth Opportunity for Small Business



Consumer worries over security, privacy and fraud from security breaches at major companies, such as Target and Neiman Marcus, are presenting opportunities for small businesses in online sales.

A study shows 69 percent of consumers were worried about the breaches as they started their 2014 holiday shopping. The survey was conducted by Web.com Group, Inc.

Sixty-five percent of respondents are more likely to shop at small business Web sites.

“Small businesses have an opportunity to think even more strategically about their online and digital presence through the lens of what value they can bring their customers – whether in the form of money, efficiency or security,” said David Brown, chairman and CEO of Web.com.

Mr. Brown’s recommendation is not surprising.

“In order to gain consumer confidence, small business owners have become more thoughtful and serious about managing their online presence and making the necessary security measures to keep their customers’ data safe,” he added.

Key findings:

— Persistent security breaches at “big box” retailers and large banks are motivating consumers to look to small businesses as a more likely destination this year.

— Small businesses are learning from the challenges that “big box” retailers are facing and taking steps to meet consumer demand for tighter online security and privacy controls this holiday season.

— Consumers desire more “wireless, mobile apps and services” from small businesses, and SBs are taking substantial steps to address these demands and increasingly focusing their attention on mobile marketing opportunities.

Small businesses that meet consumers’ expectations for online and mobile capabilities have a significant opportunity to drive consumers to their business, thereby improving their bottom line.

— SBs’ attitude and approach to doing business in digital channels is becoming more “professionalized.” Small businesses are beginning to invest in more sophisticated digital capabilities as well as in top notch security measures needed to deliver on what customers want and need today.

Web.com recommends small businesses assess their online, social and mobile activities and security: 

  1. Amp up direct customer communications with messages to reassure them that the security of your website/digital assets is a top priority: it’s well-maintained and monitored.
  1. Find a way to leverage the business assets of the physical world and translate them to the digital world.
  1. Take steps to become more accessible to your customers, as well as more professional and sophisticated with how your business offers products/services via the web and mobile.
  1. Hone your focus on mobile opportunities – consumers see the greatest value in the ‘local’ benefit combined with mobile accessibility and flexibility.
  1. As your business evolves, seek counsel and help from proven resources that can propel your business down the path of growth and success.

From the Coach’s Corner, related Biz Coach tips:

4 Strategies for CEOs to Win Their Cyber Security Tug of War — The cyber security tug of war is never ending even though chief executive officers and board members now get the importance of protecting their companies’ information assets. They’ve learned to fear cyber-security threats because they could lose their jobs. If this is all true, why then are there incessant, worldwide cyber attacks?

8 Basic Tips for Selecting the Right Web Hosting Company — If you want to grow or have plans for a complex Web site, hiring the right Web hosting company can be daunting. How do you find a hosting firm that’s reliable and is responsive to your needs? Don’t take the selection process for granted. You can suffer from any one of many unforeseen challenges.

Tips For Internet Security to Prepare you for New Cyber Attacks — Do you need more evidence to be diligent in using best practices for security on the Internet? According to a Web security study in 2013, Internet attacks have been impacting businesses, with the majority of them reporting significant effects in the form of increased help desk time, reduced employee productivity and disruption of business activities.

Don’t Wait for Cyber Security Legislation that Affects Your Business — Not likely to pass, a data-breach bill has been re-introduced in the U.S. Senate that would regulate how businesses behave – informing customers when their personal information has been stolen. Passage or not, businesses should act on their own. It’s the right thing to do.

5 Strategies to Sell More from Your Web Site — Yes, Internet sales can be challenging. To paraphrase a line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” it’s not always true that if you build it, they will come. There are many salient elements to keep in mind. Naturally, you need to attract visitors, convert them into customers, continually study your site’s visitors’ data, and keep fine-tuning your approach.

Tips to Avoid Advertising Scams Tricking You to Ask for Tech Support — Advertising scams that prey on Internet consumers have prompted four Internet companies to band together to fight the abuse. The scams use harmless-looking ads to trick consumers into using phony tech support that actually enable cybercriminals to invade the unsuspecting owners’ devices.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

To Get the Lowest-Cost Small Business Loan, Here Are 6 Tips



Updated March 17, 2018 –


The U.S. Senate’s rollback of some Dodd-Frank’s banking rules appears to be a good sign for small banks and small-business owners.

Small banks would be permitted to exclude their cash balances as they determine how much money to keep on hand in reserve.

At issue has been over-regulation in the wake of the Great Recession, which hurt small banks. This means small banks would allowed to operate at higher limits in lending to provide more capital to small businesses.

Senate Bill 2155 now goes to the House of Representatives.

Small business owners have been facing unnecessary financial risks because they increasingly seek debt consolidation and loan refinancing as the result of high interest rates and onerous fees, according to a small-business lender.

Lender Quarterspot reported, for example, that nearly 25 percent of the $10 million in aggregate loan requests it received from July 7 to August 7 in 2013 were for loan consolidation and refinancing.

But in refinancing their old loans, those businesses face “effective interest rates well above triple digit percentages” said the company.

ID-100144053 stuart miles“There is obviously pent-up demand for business loan refinancing, but this also shows that many small business owners are entering into their original loan agreements without fully understanding the terms and implications,” said Adam Cohen, CEO and co-founder of QuarterSpot (http://www.quarterspot.com).

“We want to educate all owners so that they understand the difference between good and bad loans, and are able to secure the best possible loan for their business,” he asserted.

Due diligence

He warns borrowers to ignore advertised rates and to calculate the true cost of loans.

In a press statement, he claims small business owners are “blindly entering into loan agreements with fixed interest payments and poor terms…since most merchant cash advances and small business loans charge a fixed amount of interest and can include prepay penalties, many of these businesses will be faced with effective interest rates well above triple digit percentages if they refinance.”

Instead, he said business owners should continue to pay on the original until paid off, and get another loan if more funding is needed.

Many press releases and studies published by organizations are self-serving, so it’s important to have a healthy skepticism. That’s my first thought about small-business lender Quarterspot.

Great Recession’s residual effects

The Great Recession was caused in part by the predatory behavior of small-business lenders. In How to Ease Debt-Collection Headaches, I explained how tight credit traumatized 360,000 businesses thanks to unscrupulous practices of lenders like the nation’s 15th largest credit card company, Advanta, headed by CEO Dennis Alter:

Advanta has been repeatedly accused of bilking countless customers with predatory interest rates at higher than 30 percent for dubious reasons, and abruptly cutting credit lines without warning to unsuspecting businesses long before the recession was acknowledged by economists. Little wonder about Advanta’s downfall. Its business customers couldn’t pay their credit card bills.

Advanta and others also wrecked the personal credit of entrepreneurs by requiring personal loan guarantees and Social Security numbers.

So Mr. Cohen’s representations hit a nerve with me.

“There is obviously pent-up demand for business loan refinancing, but this also shows that many small business owners are entering into their original loan agreements without fully understanding the terms and implications.”

–Adam Cohen

Quarterspot recommendations

He provides six tips:

1. Make sure your business credit profile is accurate by requesting a copy from Experian, Equifax or Dunn & Bradstreet

2. Maximize your good credit accounts by working with businesses that report trade information

3. Positive payment history is a major component of a strong credit profile so be sure to pay creditors on time

4. Maintain sufficient cash reserves in your business checking account to increase your credit limit

5. Choose a business loan without prepayment penalties or fixed interest repayments

6. Compare loans and other financing options calculating the total borrowing costs (interest paid + fees + loan amount) in dollars and cents

“Business owners should ignore advertised rates and instead compare borrowing costs in dollars and cents,” continued Mr. Cohen. “Many online lenders and merchant cash advance companies calculate interest and fees using methods that cost small businesses double or more.”

Quarterspot representations

He claims QuarterSpot can reduce borrowing costs by as much as 85 percent when compared to traditional lenders. He says QuarterSpot does not require small business owners to provide personal loan guarantees or to undergo personal credit checks.

Borrowers can apply for a loan in five minutes or less and receive funding in as little as 24 hours for loans ranging from $5,000 to more than $1 million.

“Small businesses employ nearly half of America and account for half of GDP, yet most small businesses cannot get a bank loan.”said Mr. Cohen in an earlier release. “They are often forced to accept extremely high rates and fees from alternative sources, and worse yet – owners risk losing their personal belongings and damaging their personal credit if things don’t work out.”

If you apply to Quarterspot, please let us know about your experience. (We don’t have any connection with Quarterspot.)

From the Coach’s Corner, here are tips on obtaining a bank loan:

Applying for Bank Loan? Here’s How to Shorten the Process — Business owners generally have two concerns when trying to get a bank loan or line of credit. Either they can’t qualify or they face scrutiny beyond belief. Wouldn’t it be great to save time and shorten the process?

Financial tips:

Primer for Best Practices in Preparing Financial Statements – A good financial system is vital for your business. Not only will a properly prepared financial statement tell you what’s transpired in your business, it will give you a snapshot regarding your future. 

Budgeting Basics for a Micro Business – For entrepreneurs, often the most difficult part of launching a business is preparing financial projections. It may not be the most enjoyable task, but budgeting is imperative for maximizing performance.

Accounting / Finance – Why and How to Determine Your Break-Even Point – Uncertainty can kill hope in business. Best practices in management mean having the right information to alleviate uncertainty in business. For that you need the right tools. 

“It’s easy to get a loan unless you need it.”

-Norman Ralph Augustine


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Where the Action is for U.S. Small Business Growth


Valuable insights for getting a competitive edge are contained in a financial-service firm’s report – it provides details on the U.S. markets experiencing rapid small-business growth.

With so many businesses having trouble getting capital and some Silicon Valley startups facing a Series A funding crunch, this is obviously a soft economy. So, it’s important to look for competitive edge.

My sense is that the study provides insights for entrepreneurial growth in different ways. That includes where to launch a startup, expand into new markets, or deciding where B2Bs might target small businesses.

The financial services firm, Biz2Credit.com, released its 2013 report on U.S. markets in four categories.

By category, here are the No. 1 ranked cities:

  1. Average Annual Revenue – Riverside-San Bernardino, CA ($508,538)
  2. Average Number of Employees – Houston (7.1)
  3. Youngest Average Age of Business (in Months) – Houston (34.0)
  4. Highest Average Credit Score – San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area (643)

File:Sb 2004 dt skyline 006a.jpg

San Bernardino, CA

“Houston has had sustained growth, thanks to an influx of immigrants who have started their own businesses” says Biz2Credit CEO, Rohit Arora.

“The city’s small businesses have created the highest average number of jobs (7.1) and are the youngest in age (34 months), meaning that these are new businesses that have started up only in the past three years,” he explains. “If local governments want to promote small businesses, they cannot handcuff entrepreneurs with fees and costs.”

Parameters of study

Biz2Credit analyzed data for 15,000 small businesses from 2011 to 2012. The firm defines small businesses as companies operating for more than a year and having fewer than 250 employees with less than $10 million in annual revenue.

“When we embarked upon this study, we expected cities such as New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, which both have well deserved reputations for business innovation, to be atop the list,” says Mr. Arora.

“However, the costs of doing business are much greater in big cities along the east coast,” he adds. “In other sections of the country, the cost of living is much cheaper. Technology levels the playing field.”

For example, Mr. Arora says New York hampers growth potential for small business in multiple ways:

  • State and local tax burden
  • Government fees
  • Cost of living (property taxes have risen about 30 percent in past few years)
  • Prevalence of unions
  • High insurance costs make it unattractive for knowledge-based businesses, which don’t have to have a presence in the Big Apple to be successful.

“While sales in New York are higher than in other places, the operating costs are also higher. Thus, revenues are up, but profits are down,” says Mr. Arora. “These realities do not bode well for small business growth.”

Drivers of small business growth include the arrival of large numbers of Latinos and south Asian immigrants, who are starting companies in metropolitan areas in all sections of the country, including cities in southern California, Texas, and Florida.

Average annual revenue

The top-10 metro areas with the highest small-business loan-application growth by annual revenue: Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Washington, DC, Jacksonville, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

Average number of employees

Small businesses in Houston had the highest average number of employees. Mr. Arora astutely points out that this measurement is significant, as smaller companies have created the lion’s share of new jobs during the past decade.

“Houston was well ahead of the other cities in the average number of employees at small companies,” explains Mr. Arora.

The top-10 metro areas with the highest small-business loan-application growth by the number of employees: Houston, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Phoenix, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and Cincinnati.

Youngest average age of business (in months)

When sorted by age of business, Houston was again the leader.

“The small number of months in business indicates more startups in the area,” explains Mr. Arora. “Cities such as New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Boston tend to have older, more established companies, which raise the average.”

The top-10 metro areas with the highest small-business loan-application growth by age of business: Houston, Tampa-St. Pete, Denver, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, St. Louis, and San Francisco-Oakland.

Highest average credit score

When sorted by average credit score, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area was No. 1.

“Small businesses in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles tended to have higher credit scores,” says Mr. Arora. “Many of these cities are tech hubs with small, nimble and profitable small businesses. They are also areas with a long history of innovation and success, and thus achieve higher credit scores.”

The top-10 metro areas with highest small-business loan-application growth by highest credit score: San Francisco-Oakland, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

Having arranged $800 million in funding throughout the U.S., Biz2Credit touts itself as the No. 1 online credit resource for small business loans, lines of credit, working capital and other funding options.

The company says it matches borrowers to financial institutions based on each company’s unique profile – completed in less than four minutes – in a safe, efficient, price-transparent environment. Biz2Credit’s network consists of 1.6 million users, 1,100+ lenders, credit rating agencies such as D&B and Equifax, and small business service providers including CPAs and lawyers.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

“A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.”

-Bob Hope

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Easiest Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Morale



Employee morale affects performance. Study after study shows a significant percentage of worker morale is mediocre, at best. That’s often the case even for companies that are able to pay competitive wages and benefits.

As you might guess, it’s a bigger quandary for business owners that don’t have enough cash flow for raises.

There are strategies you can implement if a valued employee wants a raise, and money’s tight

ambro@www.freedigitalphotos.netIt’s also possible to sleep well and not worry about keeping your top employees.

What about the rest of the team?

What can be done to improve the morale of  employees to perform at their highest possible levels?

Employees, who otherwise have good attitudes, appreciate positive communication.

They like knowing they’re contributing to the welfare of their employer, and that they’re appreciated as an asset to the organization.

To boost your employees’ morale, here are some easy-to-follow strategies:

Start a listening campaign. If it’s not your style it will take some gumption to ask your employees what they want. For example, when planning a staff party ask your workers for their preferences. But you’re a courageous entrepreneur, right?

At the minimum on a indefinite basis, you should smilingly walk the floor twice a day to engage your workers. It’ll only take a minute with each employee. Ask them open-ended questions about their hobbies or how they’re doing. Wait for the answers – be attentive –  eespecially if they indicate they have a problem.

When’s the time to give feedback? You should always give feedback right away – whether a person performed a task well or poorly. Be specific. Make a note about the performance and slip it in the employee’s personnel file as a reminder at appraisal time.

A talented employee with a positive attitude will appreciate it.

Help your employees’ career growth. You can accomplish this without a big expense.For example, help them develop skills by giving them added duties. This will enhance their self confidence.

Besides, a good boss knows how to delegate.

Accommodate their schedule with flexibility. Flexibility is usually appreciated and is a great motivator. Sometimes employees need to leave work early to do an important errand. Perhaps they have a child playing in a championship Little League game.

Share information. Let the employees know how the business is doing – and how their work is contributing to any successes. They’d appreciate knowing if they’re making a difference — or how they can.

Moreover, share your vision for the direction of the company, what’s expected and how the performance of the workers will affect the outcome.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are recommendations for other workplace problems — from improving your teamwork to fixing your culture issues:

How You Can Eliminate Destructive Conflict for Better Teamwork — There are two types of conflict. For better teamwork and higher performance, it’s true that constructive conflict works. Usually, the best ideas evolve when ideas are discussed and debated. But when employees fail to exercise self control and their egos get in the way, emotions flare and cliques are formed in the workplace. That’s destructive conflict.

Workplace Bullies May Hurt Retention of All Employees, Not Just Victims — Victims of workplace bullies are less likely to quit than employees who observe the abuse, according to a study by a Canadian university. The 2012 research implies a costly threat to an organization’s teamwork and productivity.

Four Tips to Motivate Employees When You’re Facing Adversity — Effective bosses have antennas to alert them over looming challenges. If they don’t have such an antenna, it’s important for them to develop one for multiple credibility reasons. Even the bosses of small companies can suffer from image problems externally and internally. Either one or both will adversely affect profits.

Secrets in Motivating Employees to Offer Profitable Ideas — Savvy employers know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale. Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road.

Is Your Company Underperforming in Marketing / Sales? Evaluate Your Culture — If you’re dissatisfied with your revenue, it’s time for an assessment of your culture’s operation. Why? Superior cultures drive business performance. Specifically, two key elements of culture – innovation and responsiveness – have a direct impact on your company’s sales success. You must be a top innovator to beat the competition, and your teams have to respond and execute strategic planning with cohesion.

Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

11 B2B Strategies to Outsell Your Big Competitors



Big companies with big budgets have obvious advantages over small businesses.

Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. Etc…etc…etc…

On the other hand, effective branding, superior sales techniques and customer service will work to your advantage.

So don’t let their advantages dissuade you from doing the necessary footwork for success.

Here are the basics to put into practice:

1. Know your strengths and capitalize on them.

Assess your strengths and develop short value propositions for each of your products and services.

Differentiate your business in quality, convenience, and service.

Don’t forget to highlight the quality of your people in your marketing.

2. Know your weaknesses and capitalize on them.

Your weaknesses can actually be a competitive advantage.

For instance, smallness is a quality. It means you’re more mobile, and it takes less time for you to provide solutions – there are no out-of-town committees making decisions.

And you provide more cost-effective value.

3. Make cold calls.

For higher sales, there are good reasons to revert back to the lost art of cold-calling.

4. When you have bad-hair days, remember two concepts.

Sales is an inside job. “Act as if…” and “fake it till you make it.” Even if you are apprehensive in sales but if you do your best to speak to prospects with conviction, they will feel your passion.

Enthusiasm and passion are hard for your prospects to ignore.

5. Know when to cut your losses.

That’s an adage from Economics 101. If you’re making sales calls on prospects but you sense you’re getting nowhere, cut your “losses” and focus on your other prospects. Know when you should walk away from new business.

On the other hand for great prospects, there’s another adage – “The longer they keep you waiting, the more they want you.”

As a business-performance consultant, I can’t count the number of times prospects kept me waiting in their lobbies, only to win their business.

For instance, I first learned the lesson from this adage when I got an appointment with a promising referral for a prospect who owned No. 1 in market share in his niche. But I was mystified when the prospect kept me waiting in his lobby for 55 minutes. “Good grief,” I thought. Worse, when he called me into his office, he abruptly said he wanted to cancel the meeting because he had already decided to hire my firm. But to insure we’d start on a good long-term foundation with my firm’s ground rules, I insisted he listen to my presentation to get an agreement on my approach in my serving his company. The result? His company spent $20,000+ each month with me for many years.

On the other hand, I’ve had many likeable vendors call on me, but they give up too soon before I’m ready to buy or they’re inconsistent in their sales calls. Then, they’ve wondered why I bought from their competitors.

Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. 

-George S. Patton

6. Understand that you are the company.

First impressions are critical. Be mindful – of your appearance, enthusiasm, empathy, talent and commitment – to provide solutions. Size doesn’t matter but image and professionalism count.

7. Remember your time, service and products are valuable.

Providing added value can be helpful. But don’t let customers take advantage of you. When you’re asked to do something for free, look for opportunities to capitalize on the request.

Get something in return. Make certain such customers reciprocate.

8. Make certain you cater to appreciative clientele.

Make certain you get a thank you from clients after you deliver strong results. If they don’t show gratitude, train them to say thank you. “Huh?” you’re thinking.

Ask for a thank you in a subtle way (“So you like our product?” Or, “You like the way we handled the problem?”)

If your clients don’t say thank you, you have a problem and you better look for prospects to replace them.

9. Know which customers are profitable.

Be congenial. But don’t break your back for a customer who expects you to repeatedly bend over backwards. You need to know what factors drive your profit.

10. Make certain each employee understand sales and customer service.

It’s important that your employees understand your vision. Get your employees to provide you with profitable ideas. In fact, you’ll see profits grow if you partner with your employees.

11. Make the right investments for selling and serving your customers.

That means cost-effective technology, and customer service and sales training for your employees. Keep learning. Learn how other small businesses capitalize on cyber strategies.

From the Coach’s Corner, for consulting and professional service firms, here are resource links:

Consultants / Service Firms: Why Hourly Billing Isn’t Best — Businesspeople want strong results that include: Efficiency, information, innovation, objectivity,  and productivity. This means projects are completed on schedule, within budget, and with measurable results. That’s why clients pay you.

Your Dream is to be a Consultant? Here’s How to Develop Your Vision Plan. — So you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug. You have nothing against your boss, but it’s time for you to run the show. What? The budget’s tight? You know you need a business plan but you don’t know how to write it, and you don’t have a budget to hire someone? Indeed, to do it right, an action business plan with all the crunched numbers is tedious and expensive.

Thought Leadership — Why Companies Hire Management Consultants — Companies want knowledge. A good idea can be worth $1 million and more. That’s why companies hire thought leaders. It’s also why you see many consultants position themselves as thought leaders and give away free information in how-to articles or studies, which lead to books, seminars and being quoted in the media.

Performance Gap Solutions for Consultants in Income and Image — How’s business? Is it time for a little biz coaching? If there’s a disparity between your income goals and your current financial situation, it would appear that you have a performance-gap issue.   That’s right. It’s time evaluate your processes. Recheck everything. In most cases, a performance gap issue arises from three factors

“Remember, you only have to succeed the last time.”

-Brian Tracy


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




How Small Businesses Can Profit from Cyber Strategies



Yes, it’s become important for small businesses to capitalize on cyber strategies for profit.

Small and even regional retailers should be cognizant of three realities:

  1. Potential customers probably think that national chains have easier-to-shop Web sites.
  2. Big retailers have lower prices.
  3. Until a national Internet sales tax is passed, many consumers will prefer to shop online.

So, with all retailers depending so heavily on Q4 sales to stay in the black and record numbers of shoppers continuing to buy online each Cyber Monday, year-round cyber strategies are increasingly important.

office-620822_1280Nonetheless, a cursory search on the Internet in every sector shows many small retailers and professional service firms, especially law firms, don’t have a strong Web presence.

Many suffer from the following:

— Many have only simple landing pages

— Most don’t have social media acumen

— Even those with Web sites are difficult to navigate

— Poor SEO (search engine optimization)

By comparison, large companies have terrific e-commerce sites and display good judgment in social media.

It’s important to understand how marketing has developed in the digital age.

True, traditional media is important. But it’s vital to do something about online consumer trends. A McKinsey study indicates more than four out of five Americans use the Internet to search for information or to buy products.

The Internet has given them more control over their spending with reviews, enhanced abilities for comparison shopping and for moving from an advertiser’s monologue to a dialogue with prospective customers.

Small businesses must create a marketing strategy for a strong presence on Google, which has a 66 percent market share in the U.S. and 90 percent worldwide.

However, in my experience, strategies for optimizing your Web site’s presence on Google also work on Bing and Yahoo.

Expertise in mobile marketing is becoming increasingly valuable for small businesses. Use of smartphones by shoppers is becoming widespread. So make sure your site is compatible for mobile marketing.

Facebook pros and cons

Not to mention the impact of social media playing a role. It’s possible to make money on Facebook. There are 11 ways to do it. However, beware that Facebook can cannibalize and make losers out of small business Web sites.

Further, there are eight tools to optimize sales with social media, but beware of a red flag.

So, small businesspeople should remember that the key to Internet dominance is to think integration.

That often doesn’t include advertising with daily deal sites. They don’t work for substantial numbers of small businesses. Beware of daily deal sites and pricing principles. Daily deal sites actually cost companies money.

Meanwhile, the evolving Internet also means it’s important to take safeguards to protect your brand’s image. Poor customer reviews and public relations can kill a company.

So understand the best practices to optimize your brand and manage your Web reputation.

Success in sales depends on trust.

To build trust with Internet users, here are three key reminders:

  • Be transparent. List a description of your business including contact information, products, services, location and the names of company principals. That includes your telephone ID numbers for when you make outgoing calls, and disclosing your customer-service policies.
  • Privacy policies are necessary. If you sell online, take every security precaution, respect customer contact preferences, and don’t share customer information.
  • Develop an online media kit. An online media kit is helpful to dialogue with advertisers, clients, customers, journalists and prospects. To make it easy for Internet users to learn about your business, explain your company using the five Ws – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Depending on your sector, there are probably other principles to heed and utilize, but these are the basics for on how small businesses can capitalize on cyber strategies for profit.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resource links:

8 Red Flags Your Web Site is Out-of-Date (Here’s What to Do) — Just like your finances, human resources and other aspects of your business, your Web site should be continuously monitored for red flags and to be sure it’s not out-of date. Yes, it’s time-consuming and expensive, but any problems should be solved. The trick is to do right, cost-effectively.

Google’s reasoning for best Web site rankings — The world’s most popular search engine has released detailed information on how it evaluates and ranks Web sites.

Checklist: 14 strategies to rock on Google — Periodic changes in Google’s search criteria and algorithms have indeed hurt many Web sites. But it’s possible to bullet-proof your site’s prominence on Google by taking 14 precautions, which is worth your time and energy.

Why B2B Marketers Like Content Marketing – Study — B2B marketers ostensibly get a satisfying return on content marketing because that’s the preferred choice for 82 percent of respondents in a survey. “Content Marketing is now a more popular marketing tactic than search marketing, public relations, events, or print/TV/radio advertising,” wrote the study’s authors. “Twice as many marketers now implement Content Marketing as do print, TV and radio advertising.

Blogging? Simplify Your Tech Articles for a Rosy Response — In content marketing, painting the right picture with words – simplicity as in a garden of roses – yields better results. Complex, technical pieces don’t have to be monotonous. Simplicity is important if you want to reach financial decision-makers not just geeks — especially in small to medium enterprises. Here’s how.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

-Peter F. Drucker


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Small Business Options for Year-End Cash Flow, Tax Benefits



The fourth quarter is the time for small business owners to reflect on options for year-end cash flow and tax benefits.

In general, here are items to discuss with your accountant and tax advisor:

Anticipate tax obligations. Your first concern should be to reduce your tax obligation next April. Unless you already know you have too many write offs, you can further accomplish it with legal strategies to delay income and accelerate your expenses.

ID-10042601 worradmuExpenses. Decide what equipment, furniture and supplies you can buy this month.

Delay invoicing. Unless you have cash flow issues, and if your calendar year is your fiscal year and you run your business on a cash basis, delay mailing your invoices.

Retirement account. If you don’t have a retirement account, establish a qualified plan. It’s important for diversity in a downturn or when times are good. This will help your tax picture, as well.

IT updates. If you’re considering updating your bookkeeping and technology systems, do it before the end of the year. In this way, you’ll make it easier to start fresh for the New Year. You’ll want to segregate your old records from the new.

Weigh the possible benefits for acquiring new equipment. You’ll need to make a financial forecast.

Financing options. As for financing any new equipment purchases, do your due diligence. Determine your best options for financing, as well as for your tax situation.

Section 179. Understand how the IRS will view your situation in terms of Section 179 depreciation deductions and bonus depreciation. Section 179 deductions for certain expenses are allowable up to $500,000.

Credit options. In addition to understanding the pros and cons of possible tax incentives, know your credit situation. For the best credit worthy businesses, lease financing might be a viable option. But it’s getting more complicated with financial institutions than in past years.

Buying due diligence. If you do buy or lease, it also goes without saying to comparison shop all fees, rates, and terms. Avoid paying so-called application fees. Also be careful with the hidden evergreen clauses.

Should you decide to buy from different vendors, consider grouping all the purchases into one package, which means you’ll benefit from lower fees and rates.

Consider these options small business options for year-end cash flow and tax benefits. But remember this is not tax advice for your situation. Again, see your accountant and tax advisor for counsel as part of your decision-making.

From the Coach’s Corner, related content:

Finance – Managing Hidden Evergreen Clauses for Your Benefit — A big frustration for businesspeople in financing and leasing business and commercial equipment comes after they fail to read the fine print in contracts. Commonly found in financing and leasing contracts, evergreen clauses are designed to keep customers committed to an agreement beyond the original term. To the rescue: LeaseQ, www.leaseq.com.

Budgeting Basics for a Micro Business — For entrepreneurs, often the most difficult part of launching a business is preparing financial projections. It may not be the most enjoyable task, but budgeting is imperative for maximizing performance. “Eight out of 10 companies fail in the first two years due to insufficient cash,” warns esteemed financial consultant Roni Fischer.

12 Tips for Profits to Keep Your Business Dreams Alive — Most businesspeople agree the economy continues to be challenging. Signs of a lingering downturn are everywhere. Business activity is slow. Governments at all levels report low tax revenue and are restructuring, and not spending. So what can you do?

Accounting / Finance – Why and How to Determine Your Break-Even Point — Uncertainty can kill hope in business. Best practices in management mean having the right information to alleviate uncertainty in business. For that you need the right tools. One important tool – know your break-even point (BEP). A BEP analysis should be an integral part of your financial planning. If it isn’t, you can count on suffering from unnecessary stress – emotionally and financially.

Cutting Costs — 9 Best Practices to Avoid Making Reactionary Decisions — In chaotic times, it’s common for businesspeople to be fearful and reactionary when they feel they must cut expenses. But entrepreneurs need to be unemotional so that they make decisions that will bolster their objectives. They can take the emotion out of their decision-making — by eliminating stress factors — if their priorities are clearly defined with values. This is facilitated by documenting goals and priorities.

“If you make any money, the government shoves you in the creek once a year with it in your pockets, and all that don’t get wet you can keep.”

-Will Rogers

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of worradmu at www.freedigitalphotos.net

The 8 Best Practices to Win in Small Business Marketing



For many small businesspeople, uncertainty can be so unnerving it leads to fear. But fear can be healthy if used as a motivator to act.

And act you should. Especially, in marketing.

In small business marketing, here are the eight best practices:

ID-100206755 Stuart Miles1. Your first priority every day should be to market your business.

Avoid complacency. Even on the bad-hair days, don’t let up. Even when revenue is good and you’re really busy, don’t get complacent.

The point is this – decreasing your marketing investment to save money will hurt you both short and long term. Be relentless. Attack, attack and attack. Even the secrets to success in a tepid economy: Expand your marketing.

2. For cost-effectiveness, continually evaluate your marketing and related internal factors.

Evaluate your messages. You should have five influential value propositions with a three to five word branding slogan.

Don’t forget a logo. It should effectively tell your story and be simple.

Don’t forget a favicon a small-business must for instant credibility – small enough to be condensed in 16 x 16 pixels for your Internet identity.

If the ROI is insufficient, find out why and use an alternative. That goes for using the right mediums, too. Research what’s working and what isn’t.

Make changes where necessary, including in customer service. Overall, think 1930s for business success. Why? Consumer attitudes are changing.

3. Strive to reach your target five times.

In messaging, frequency counts with quality. In most cases, the buying decision is reached after the prospect experiences five positive messages.

For the best return on your hard earned dollars, you must build your brand as inexpensively as possible. For that you need to implement marketing essentials on a shoestring budget.

For many small businesspeople, the uncertainty can be so unnerving it leads to fear. But fear can be healthy if used as a motivator to act.

4. Use a diversified, integrated approach.

Whenever possible, remember a single marketing medium should not eat up the entire budget. You should have a marketing mix of public relations and paid advertising.

This is necessitated by consumer overload – customers act on messages from a variety of sources. For Internet dominance, thing integration. This includes making your social media shine.

5. Have a social conscience.

Don’t under-estimate the power of cause-related marketing cause-related marketing because it can get you a double-digit percentage in higher sales.

And it helps to be environmentally conscious, which means you’ll be able to expand your customer base by branding your business as green.

6. Get the right marketing help.

Enlist the aid of an objective expert who is focused on getting you an ROI. Use the right mediums, which might not be what your gut-instinct tells you about products, pricing and promotion.

Small business owners often make the mistake of spending money in the wrong places, not as investments in where their best prospects are. Startups especially have to preserve cash with the right steps.

7. Keep focused on winning the gold medal.

Many small business owners, especially startups, are too-concerned about the competition. Remember, you’re in a marathon race. Don’t be obsessive about looking over your shoulder to beat your competitors.

8. Be defensive – protect your turf.

In all sports, strong defenses win championships. Remember how much time and energy it took for you to get your best customers. Be a good steward of your assets to generate profits.

When faced with a choice – whether to chase new business or to take care of lucrative, repeat customers – remember loyalty is usually rewarded and leads to good word-of-mouth advertising.

You can actually invigorate sales with customer retention and referral strategies. Review your strategies for word-of-mouth advertising and customer service.

Stay focused for success. Good luck!

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

Create Buzz to Win Your Major Marketing Campaign — There are many reasons for marketing failure of a campaign. Here are 14 of the more important reasons.

Want More Business? Build Trust with Consumers…Here’s How — With consumers trying to cope with information overload – you will increase sales with long-term customer loyalty – if you build trust by using best practices.

Consultants – 5 Strategies to Build Trust with Clients — The five strategies that enhance relationships between consultants and clients.

Your Dream is to be a Consultant? Here’s How to Develop Your Vision Plan. — So you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug. You have nothing against your boss, but it’s time for you to run the show. Here’s how to develop a vision plan.

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”
-Milan Kundera


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 





Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

SBA Web Chat: Tips on Healthcare Tax Credits

 

Aug. 4, 2010

If you need up-to-date information on healthcare for your small business, the Small Business Administration is holding a Web Chat. The SBA’s Web Chat will highlight small business health care, with a focus on how the Affordable Care Act will benefit small business owners through available tax-saving incentives.  

Participants can learn about the newest tax credits they can take advantage of, and additional tax provisions to be implemented during the next several years.  

John Tuzynski, chief of Employment Tax and Specialty Programs for the Small Business Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division at the Internal Revenue Service, will host the August web chat on “Healthcare and Small Business.” 

SBA’s Web chat series provides small business owners with an opportunity to discuss relevant business issues online with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs.  Chat participants will have direct, real-time access to the Web chats via questions they submit online in advance and during the live session, with instant answers. 

WHEN: August 12, 2010, 2010, 1 p.m. ET. Mr. Tuzynski will answer questions for one hour.      

HOW: Participants can join the live Web chat by going online to www.sba.gov, and clicking “Online Business Chat.”  Web chat participants may post questions before the August 12th chat by visiting http://web.sba.gov/livemeeting/Aug10/ and posting their questions online. 

To review archives of past Web chats, visit online at http://www.sba.gov/tools/monthlywebchat/index.html.

From the Coach’s Corner, however, please note these columns:

Healthcare Reform Increases Costs to Workers, Study

How Healthcare Law Would Affect Small Business

Oxymorons: ‘Healthcare Reform’ and ‘Public Servants’

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.