Marketing Strategy Definition- Win More Clients!

Marketing strategy

Any small business owner knows they must create a marketing strategy and update it regularly. This is an extremely important tool to plan how to sell and to track your sales performance.

Marketing Strategy Definition- Win More Clients!

Whether this a start-up plan or one created after you’ve launched your business, the fundamentals remain the same.

When tackling the subject of marketing, you must first understand the difference between the strategies and tactics of a general marketing plan.

Strategic Marketing Vs. Tactical Marketing

Strategy refers to the overall vision and approach you want to follow towards your goals, while tactics involve the actions needed to fulfill your strategy.

A sampling of marketing strategies might include:

  • Create a strong and consistent online marketing campaign via social media most used by target audience
  • Build loyalty and trust with free webinars, content, and videos
  • Negotiate with large-scale retailers to sell products
  • Bring product quickly to market to take advantage of a new trend

Marketing is what allows you to place your product or service in front of prospects. It’s also how you create brand awareness. Your approach to marketing is to ultimately pull in potential clients, make sales, and bring in the cash flow needed to make a profit.

Marketing Can Dramatically Grow Your Business

Not surprisingly, the topic of marketing can be intimidating to a business owner because of all the daunting research, data, and choices. As any small business coach will tell you, the typical self-employed owner has to wear many hats to get their company off the ground >  designer, pitchman, social media maven, copywriter. Unfortunately, most are not marketing geniuses.

Once you have an overall marketing strategy, you’ll need to consider the tactical marketing actions needed to achieve those strategic goals.

First, find out what should be in your Strategic Marketing Plan.

Strategic Marketing

As you develop your plan to market your company’s products and services, it all begins with your marketing strategy. This is what determines the direction that your business will follow. Usually it addresses a broad view of the long term, but there’s no reason you can’t start with a high-level vision and narrow it down whenever you want.

Both management and operations should engage in developing this key element.

A strategic marketing plan generally covers:

  • Mission Statement or Goals. Defining what the company wants to accomplish. Write out your USP (unique selling proposition).
  • Market Trends. Spelling out current market drivers that are happening now. Maybe your furniture store decides to sell trendy upcycled furniture in addition to standard inventory.
  • Target Audience. Discerning the demographics of who wants or needs your offerings. If you’re a business coach, then this group would include entrepreneurs, small business owners, and independent business owners.
  • Budget. You have to consider the numbers. Set a limit on how much to spend on:
    • Social media or landing pages or newspaper ads
    • Printed materials, business cards, or banners
    • A consultant, copywriter, or website designer
    • Networking or club fees (have to get out there face-to-face)
    • Associated technology or software (iPad, projector, security)
  • Customer Retention. A plan to ensure repeat customers, thus repeat sales. Possibilities are rewards programs, special promotions, and regular clearance sales. You could give away hats, bumper stickers, or the like.
  • Pricing. Assign a price to your products and services which reflect not only their quality and worth but also on the cost to produce and what the market will bear. You should also consider special pricing:
    • Will there be discounts for large volume bundles?
    • Does the price include guarantees or warranties or can they be sold separately?
    • Will you have special sales or offers at certain times of the year?
  • Promotional strategy. The general approach to sales such as radio and television ads, teleseminars, trade shows, social media, email campaigns, and networking.
  • Distribution. Delineate your high-level strategy for getting products and services to the customer. Will they buy online or in a retail shop? Will customers be able to purchase at special venues/events or at face-to-face meetings? If shipping is needed, how will that be done economically?
  • Your Competitive Edge. Identifying and assessing your competition will be crucial in figuring out where your company stands in the marketplace. If you open a hardware store, you must know how your company will compete against giants like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
  • Partners, Referrals, and Joint Ventures. There could be strong benefits in collaborating with peers, contacts, and other business owners:
    • Referrals for your products or services
    • Sharing email address lists for promotional campaigns
    • Cross-promoting events like showcases, workshops, and tele-seminars.
  • Whether you see them as weaknesses, shortcomings, threats, or roadblocks, you must be aware of the potential risks to your success, like:
    • insufficient or inconsistent income
    • inability to find a skilled workforce
    • lack of business experience
    • being new to a saturated market

You should now be able to confirm if your small business has the finances, resources, and foundation to grab market opportunities while tackling those threats that will pop up.

After defining your overall marketing strategy and goals, you’ve gotten a better grasp on elements like demographics, trends, costs, risks, and logistics. Now, you can then start to develop the actual tactics to reach those goals.

marketing strategy

Tactical Marketing

As mentioned, tactical marketing refers to the actions to take towards reaching your strategic goals.

Tactical marketing should address the steps needed to reach goals such as building websites, generating leads, placing ads, and promoting sales.

Set your tactics according to your available resources > primarily budget, personnel, vendors, partners, materials, inventory, and facilities.

Developing Your Tactical Marketing Plan

You will find yourself needing two different tactics: foundational and ongoing. Foundational tactics are the ones that you just do once (such as creating your website), while ongoing tactics are the ones that are used in different ways over time (such as promoting a product).

A tactical marketing plan doesn’t have to be a specific size or shape. The main point is that it adapts to your needs, resources, and business objectives.

Following are typical elements of a tactical marketing plan:

#1 Tactical Decisions With Products and Services

This section covers what you want to do with new products and services. It’s the right place to include all the related aspects around decisions needed to market your offerings. It is also important to brainstorm any downstream effects or changes that this may bring, such as changes to your manufacturing process or the need for a new distribution channel.

Begin with an overview of current offerings, which might include:

  • Product and service descriptions
  • Key features
  • Main benefits
  • Manufacturing/development processes
  • Branding
  • Packaging
  • Distribution

#2 Tactical Decisions With Promotion

Describe how your products and services are going to be promoted. This part of your Tactical Marketing Plan usually includes four potential promotional approaches: (1) advertising, (2) sales promotion, (3) personal selling, and (4) public relations.

For this section, timetables are incredibly important. Let’s say that you are considering setting up at a trade show or buying magazine ads. These types of promotions can require long lead times.

In the case of buying magazine ads, lay out time frame and milestones for:

  • researching which magazines reach your target demographic
  • comparing pricing among magazines
  • choosing the ad size, copy, and imagery
  • deciding on the perfect time (month, season) to place the ad

The majority of section should employ graphs and tables to represent key information with a glance.

Include special promotion programs that you define for holiday, seasonal, local events, or other benchmarks.

  • Advertising Objectives: Can address a range of objectives like respond to competitor promotion, encourage product trial, build traffic, increase use or purchase rate, and branding. You should also clarify the ad type to employ, such as direct mail, billboards, social media posts, or television spots.
  • Sales Promotion Objectives: May include goals such as build traffic, encourage repurchase, increase product trial, support other promotions, and build inquiries. You should also clarify the sales promotion type that you’re going to use – it may be product demonstrations or coupons, for instance.
  • Personal Selling Objectives: Could involve aims like encourage purchase, develop new accounts, build traffic, increase product trial, and support accounts. You should also clarify the selling type that you’re going to adopt, like a call center or a sales force.
  • Public Relations Objectives: Might cover actions such as respond to negative news, report an upcoming activity such as a new product release, build inquiries or traffic, or promote a sale or event.
    Spell out the possible PR choices – a press release, social media post, pitch to media, or any other.

#3 Tactical Decisions With Pricing

To write this section of your Tactical Marketing Plan, you need to have good knowledge about economic conditions, the market, your competitors, and your customers.

You may want to use both graphs and tables that allow you to display the different pricing decisions and trends in each one of the categories that you plan to define.

Other Important Areas in Marketing 

There may be less major decisions to make such that your small business reaches its goals, which might cover:

  • Marketing research
  • Customer support service
  • Calls-to-action (Ex. driving potential customers to download a PDF, go to your website, etc., sign up for a teleseminar)
  • On-hand inventory
  • Focus groups, surveys, or other means of customer feedback
  • Thresholds, metrics, and measurements

Drilling Down With Your Marketing Strategy

This is the moment to lay out the details on accomplishing your tactical goals – it’s time to drill down what, who, when, where and how.

WHAT          You need to outline all the tasks that need to be completed to reach the business goals that you defined in your strategic marketing plan.

WHO           Identify the human resources with the skills and knowledge to accomplish the tasks – will it be you, an employee, temporary, consultant, vendor, or intern? If staff not yet in place, use a title (Lead Mechanic, CEO, Editor, Salesperson).

WHERE       Specify if tasks are done on-site or off-site (at a networking event or trade show, or by a third-party vendor or remote worker).

WHEN         Know the timing and order of when things must happen – i.e., a website host site must be in place prior to hosting a webinar.

HOW           Develop the procedures or processes for personnel to execute by.

As always, you know that you can count on our Small Business Consultation Services to ensure that you are on the right track for growing your small business.

Conclusion: Getting Results From Your Marketing Plan

Your Marketing Plan allows you to know your company’s direction, the course that you are following, and your planned destination.

With a well-detailed Tactical Marketing Plan, you will have a measurable plan that includes your estimates in terms of product and service offerings, promotions, pricing, and other relevant areas.

It’s important to check regularly that your plan is on track and to make adjustments as trends, costs, and resources change.

Do you have a marketing strategy? If so, how is your plan impacting your business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments area below.

 

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Part 1- How to Profit through Time Management

Profit through Time Management

Manage Time Like Money and Profit Through Time Management

Why did you get into business for yourself? Was it to be your own boss? Choose your own hours? Have more time with the family? Spend more time doing what you love? How do you profit through time management? Chances are, you answered yes to all these questions.

These days, you probably wonder where the time went. Why you spent 12 hours at work and barely make a dent in your to-do list. We already know that time is a key resource for you and your business, but it’s also a key resource in your life. Harnessing and leveraging time is the only way to enjoy life, and have a profitable business at the same time.

A few years back I was working with a client who told me that he hadn’t had a date with his wife in years! He was running a million-dollar business with ten employees but he didn’t take any time off for himself. We were able to restructure the business that made him more profitable and he was able to get regular dates with his wife.

The Pareto Principle in Business

You may be familiar with the Pareto Principle; 80% of your results can be attributed to 20% of your efforts, while 20% of your results can be attributed to 80% of your efforts. As the leader of your business, you want to focus your efforts on the activities that yield the greatest results.

Most business owners carefully manage their financial and personnel resources, and pay due attention to their performance. Marketing plans and budgets are created, people are hired and fired. What most business owners don’t realize is that time – and the time of all employees – requires the same attention and diligent management.

Time will never manage itself.

Time is invaluable when you are running a business. That is why it is important to manage time like money and profit through time management. Time will never manage itself. The decision to make a pro-active effort to manage your time must come from you. Once you have committed to taking ownership for your own time management, there are a host of tools available to you. But first, you must understand how much your time is actually worth, and where you are currently spending it.

What is Your Time Worth?

Ever wonder what your time is actually worth? Here’s a quick way to figure it out:
Target annual income A.
Working days in a year B. 235
Working hours in a day C. 7
Working hours in a year D. 1,645
A/D = YOUR HOURLY WORTH (before tax + expenses) E.

This is a very simple calculation intended to put your time in perspective. In reality, no one is productive for each of the 1,645 hours. Various studies have put actual productivity at anywhere between 25 minutes and four hours per day. Either way, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

How Many Days Do You Have Left on Earth?

Let’s look at it another way:

Your age A.
Days in a year B.
Days spent on earth to date (A x B) C.
Average life expectancy D. 70
Total projected days on earth (D x B) E.
Estimated days left (E – C) F.

This exercise isn’t intended to scare you, but bring your attention to the importance of choosing how you spend each hour you have available. It is a choice! By developing the skills required to manage your time, you will not only have a profitable business but rewarding and balanced life.

The Five Culprits of Time Theft

Chances are – if you’re like most people – you have no idea where your time goes. You’re likely frustrated by the fact that you can spend 10, 12, even 14 hours a day working, and not make a dent in your to-do list, or only bill half of those hours.

When we’re too busy and overloaded with work, we often switch into reactive mode. We can’t make it to the bottom of the pile and end up handling issues and making decisions at the last minute. One of the great benefits of choosing to become proactive in time management is that you can become proactive in all other areas of your business. When in a proactive mode, you can take steps to grow your business through networking, building programs, and establishing systems.

Before you investigate where your time goes, let’s take a look at the top five culprits of modern-day time theft:

1. Time Management and Your Email

Make profit through time management and managing your email. How many times a day do you check your email? Is Outlook or Mail constantly running on your desktop? Email – internal, external, personal and business – clogs up your day like no other communication channel. For many of us, it is possible to spend the entire day writing and responding to emails without even glancing at our inbox. The number of emails sent and received each day by the average person in 2007 was 147. Multiply that by an average of two minutes per message, and you have spent almost five hours on email in a single day.

2. Time Management and Your Mobile Phone

Cell phones have created convenience, security, and the luxury of telecommuting. PDAs and cell phones have also created a society that expects to be able to reach you at any moment or at least receive instant responses to their calls. Your cell phone or PDA not only robs you of your time during the day but also during the evenings and on weekends when you are not at work.

3. Time Management and Your Open Door Policy

If you make it easy for your staff and associates to interrupt you, they will. Too often, open-door policies are set up by human resource departments to create clear communication channels. Instead, they create a clog of employees lined up at your door seeking immediate answers to non-emergent issues.

4. Time Management in Meetings

You can profit through time management if we also manage our meetings well. How many times have you been to a meeting that was scheduled to be an hour, and ended up lasting three? How often do you attend unnecessary meetings? Or meetings that run off-topic? Meetings can be a huge source of wasted time – your valuable time. In a senior management or ownership position, your day may consist of back-to-back meetings, leaving only your evening hours to complete the tasks that should have been done during the day.

5. Time Management: YOU!

Every person has daily habits that sabotage their ability to work productively and efficiently. Many entrepreneurs and business owners can’t separate business hours from leisure hours. Some get caught in a time warp while surfing the internet. Others – mainly overachievers – can become paralyzed by perfectionism or procrastination. Mainly we just don’t have the tools to schedule and structure our time in a way that fits with our working style.

Where Does Your Time Go?

So far we’ve seen that time is a resource that should be as carefully managed as cash, we’ve figured out what your time is worth, and looked at the top five culprits of time theft. You’ve committed to taking steps to become a better time manager. What now?

Personal Time Management Research Exercise

The next step is to take a good, (and honest!) look at how you spend your time. Once you understand your patterns and habits, you begin to implement the strategies in this chapter that will make you a better time manager.

Step One: Time Audit

Use the Time Log Worksheet at the back of this chapter to record how you spend your time for three working days in a row. Be honest, and be specific. Include time spent in transit, surfing the web, interacting with clients and colleagues, as well as how your time is spent at home in the evenings. The more information you can record, the easier it will be to analyze your time management skills in step two.

Step Two: Time Categorization

Once you have recorded your time for three days, sit down with all three sheets in front of you and identify the following using different colored markers or highlighters:

• Driving, public transportation or other travel
• Eating, including food preparation
• Personal Errands
• Exercise
• Watching TV
• Sleeping, including naps
• Using the computer, personal use only
• Being with family/friends
• Emailing, including checking, reading, and returning messages
• Talking on the phone, including checking and returning messages
• Internal meetings
• External meetings
• Administrative work
• Client work
• Non-client, non-administrative work

Step Two: Time Analysis

Now that you have identified how you have spent your time, go through the worksheets one more time and identify if you have spent enough, too much, or too little time on each main task.

Then, based on your observations, answer the following questions:1. What patterns do you notice about how you spend your time during the day? (i.e., When are you most productive? Least productive? Most or least interrupted?)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Write down the four highest priorities in your life right now. Does your timesheet reflect these priorities?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. If you had more time, what would you do?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. If you had less time, what wouldn’t you do?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Could you remove the items in question four and add the items in question three? Why or why not?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Is procrastination a problem for you? How much?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Go here to read Part 3.
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Finding and Training Great Employees

finding and training great employees
Part 1 of 3.

The people you hire to work for your business can be your biggest assets and your biggest headaches; finding and training great employees can be a challenge. They can support and help you to achieve the vision you have for your company – but they can also prevent you from reaching that vision.

Finding and Training Great Employees

Too many businesses overlook the role of employee recruitment and retention when planning for the success of their organization. Staffing is an important exercise that needs to be purpose-driven and strategic, just like marketing.

Employees Think: What’s in it for Me?

It is vital to understand in today’s market that the relationship between employee and employer is a two-way street. Now, more than ever, employees have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude that extends beyond salary and benefits expectations into incentive and rewards programs. The days of simple compensation structures are over.

Now, this may sound like a big headache, but it’s actually a good thing! With some simple systems and open dialogue, you will be able to effectively create – and keep – your dream team.

The Power of Your Dream Team

How much of your own personal time has human resources – staff hiring, firing, issues management, etc. – taken this year? No doubt staff recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges facing any business owner today.

The truth is, if you spent half as much time on human resources as you do on marketing, I guarantee your sales would increase dramatically.

Employees Treat Customers Exactly the Way You Treat Them

Customers know the difference between happy employees and disgruntled ones, and it makes a difference when it comes to purchasing decisions. I’ve heard it said that your employees will treat your customers exactly the same way that you treat them. Would you rather have your car serviced by a grumpy mechanic who doesn’t feel his good work is rewarded or a pleasant one who just stepped out of a weekly team meeting?

A successful business owner has confidence in the people who work for him because he believes they are the best people for the job. Employees who know their employer believes in their skills and abilities will go over and above to get the job done, to make the sale.

Successful Business Owner Invest Time and Money in Employees

Successful business owners invest time and money in finding, keeping and training great employees. These are the people who share and support the collective vision of the company.

I’m not talking about a complicated formula or magic concoction. I’m talking about some careful thought and a proactive strategy that will make your business shine from the inside out.

how to get the best employees

 

Finding Your Dream Employees

Building a dream team starts by finding and hiring the right people for the job. Sounds simple enough. You post an ad, find someone who has the necessary qualifications and hire them on.

Not so fast. Recruitment is a complex process that can dramatically impact your business operations. Just like finding and securing the right customers, finding and hiring the right candidates requires pro-active planning and careful evaluation.

Create an Internal Recruitment System

If you currently work with a recruiting agency to build your team, now may be a good time to stop and evaluate the effectiveness of their service. While a recruiting agency can save you the time and hassle of working through the hiring process, it can also cost more money in the long run.

I always recommend creating an internal recruitment system, not because recruiting agencies do a bad job, but because no one knows your business like you do.

 

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Create an Attractive Business Culture

If you want to attract and retain the highest quality clients, you must have a culture that is attractive and a future that is compelling. Developing an effective strategic plan and including your employees in the process is a good place to start. Determine where you are going, what your mission is and how your organization will treat others. Once you have established your vision, mission, and values, then you must deploy them throughout your organization to ensure that you “practice what you preach.”

An internal recruitment system ensures that the true essence of your business culture is communicated – from advertisement to interview. You also have the opportunity to communicate expectations from the outset, instead of relying on the recruiter to relay this information. The middleman’s thoughts and impressions are eliminated, leaving you to make decisions based on your impression of the candidate and no one else’s.

Step One: Advertise the Opportunity

The first step in recruiting candidates is obviously letting potential candidates know about the opportunity with your company.

But before you pick up the phone to place a classified ad, remember that advertising for potential employees requires just as much consideration and planning as general advertising for your business.

Before You Place an ad ask yourself:

• Who is your ideal candidate?
• What are their skills and qualifications?
• What is their personality or demeanor?
• What are they passionate about?
• What are they looking for in a job?

Once you have a mental picture of your candidate, then you can begin to write an ad that will not only reach them but also inspire them to act (and submit an application).

When writing this ad, be as specific as possible and focus on the benefits of the job. Remember that potential candidates screen job postings with an eye for “what’s in it for me.” Tell them exactly that.

Here are a few sample job postings:

Are you the Marketing Assistant we need?

About You

You’re fun, friendly and have a keen eye for detail. You’re always two steps ahead of your colleagues, and eager to take on new and exciting challenges.

You’ll be the glue that keeps the marketing team operating in a seamless fashion, responsible for website updates, copywriting, event coordination and client relations. You’ll be punctual, responsible, and well put together.

You’ll ideally have an undergraduate degree in marketing or English, and some previous office experience, but a fast learner with a great attitude will also get our attention.

About Us

We are a collaborative team of young professionals. We offer a competitive salary, great benefits and performance incentives.

Think you fit the bill? Email your resume and cover letter to John Jones at [email protected] business.com by Friday at 5 pm.

Are Computers Your Life?

About You

You are smart, outgoing, and a wiz when it comes to computer programming. You’re on your friend’s speed dial for computer emergencies, large and small. Helping people understand the complex digital world is your passion.

You’ll be our Lead Computer Technician, managing our computer repair counter and five Junior Technicians. You’ll have great people skills, mounds of patience, and enjoy working as part of a dynamic team.

About Us

We operate Anytown’s leading computer repair store and are known across the region for our customer service. We work hard, play hard, and offer a competitive benefits package to our employees.

Tell us why this job is for you. Email your resume and cover letter to [email protected] by Thursday, September 23.

Both of these job postings speak directly to a very targeted audience. They’re friendly, colloquial, and communicate the job requirements in an informal way.

Every job posting should:

• Be written in the way that you talk
• Be specific
• Describe benefits
• Include skills, qualifications, duties and job title
• Be written in the present tense
• Have a great headline
• Call the reader to action
• Be simple – in word choice and sentence structure
• Be more exciting than the competition

Now that you have a great ad to post, you need to decide where you are going to publish it. This depends on the level of the job (junior to management) and on the specific type of candidate you are looking to recruit.

Here are the five major places to advertise your opportunity:

Government Employment Center

These are great places to find blue-collar or junior level employees. Candidates register with the center, which keeps their resumes on file. Be cautious with this route – it can produce a wide variety of candidates who are not qualified.

Indeed, Ziprecruiter, Etc

This is a great place to post junior to mid-level employment opportunities. You’re looking for basic qualifications from local applicants, perhaps even for part-time positions, with minimal cost.

Linkedin

Senior employment opportunities that require specific high-level qualifications are best advertised with a broad scope. This incurs a greater cost but will return a greater variety of candidates.

Online

This is a cheap way to tap into a massive database of job seekers. Post your ad online on sites like www.monster.com or www.workopolis.com and watch the resumes come flooding in. A large number of highly qualified job seekers who do not wish to register with a recruitment agency will use these services.

Referrals

The most ideal way to find candidates is through your existing network – including associates, colleagues, employees, friends and family. These candidates come to you already vetted by a trusted source. You may also wish to consider giving your staff an incentive to refer their qualified friends and associates to you.

Other Niche Areas

You should also brainstorm a list of any other niche areas that your target market may look for a job. Consider vocational schools, colleges, industry publications, industry associations, small publications, etc.

Conclusion

Once you’ve posted your ad, your next step is to manage the inquiries that come flooding in. These are just a few steps in the process of finding and training great employees.

To read part 2 Finding and Training Great Employees.

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What is the One Missing Key to Your Business Success?

business success

Just like humans, every business has weaknesses. In some cases business owners simply need to work on one or two areas to propel their business to amazing growth and profits. What is the one missing key to your business success?

One of my business ventures was a small service company with 130 employees. Our largest customer was a Ritz Carlton hotel, and the hotel chain was involved with the Malcolm Baldrige Process, a way for organizations to achieve outstanding results. Our leadership team decided to get involved with this process at a state level, and we hired a business coach to help us identify areas of improvement. We grew our profits by more than one thousand percent!

What is the Missing Key to Business Success

There are seven keys to business success according to the Baldrige criteria. Over the next few blog articles, I will be writing about these seven keys. How is your business doing in these areas? Growth normally requires things like small business loans and access to business credit lines but without these 7 keys you will not be managing that growth as effectively and efficiently as you could.

1. Leadership.

Most small businesses are strong in the area of leadership. It takes strong leaders to start and run business. However once your business is going, how do you keep the momentum going? Do you communicate a clear vision, strong values and a compelling mission? Is your team growing, learning and adjusting to the business environment?

2. Strategic Planning.

In my work with small business owners, many do not have a current business plan. That is a huge mistake, especially in this volatile business environment. For example, you would be surprised how many businesses are fortunate enough to get a small business loan but then they don’t use the funds for revenue-generating initiatives and the end result is just more debt and no new clients or business. Every business owner should have short and long term goals, and every employee should understand the goals. Consider all your stakeholders during your planning.

3. Customer Focus.

This area is also a strength for many small business owners. But as a business grows it is easy to lose touch with customers, and without customers your business is dead! Do you have ways of measuring customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Are you improving?

4. Measurement.

Speaking of measurement, do you know your business “stats?” In the same way that sports teams know statistics about players, coaches and their offense and defense, you need to track important information. Nearly everyone tracks sale and profits, but do you know the value of your business? What are your key business success factors? Do know how your numbers compared to competitors? You should.

5. Workforce Focus.

Many business owners struggle with finding good employees. Your employees are critical to your business success. Cutting edge leaders believe that their employees are more important than their customers. How do you attract and retain good people?

6. Operations Focus.

The way you deliver your product or service can make you or break you. If you can provide excellent products and services consistently every time, your customers will likely stay with you. Otherwise, you are “rolling the dice.” Wise business owners develop measurable processes that ensure a great customer experience with few exceptions.

7. Results.

This, of course, is the bottom line of all your efforts in business. Once you have determined what is important to measure and have established measures, how are you doing? Are your “stats” improving? How do they compare with your competition or industry? Are your sales and profits growing, or are you struggling like many small businesses? Is your business value growing?

Conclusion

After reviewing these seven keys, what are the top one or two areas that could use some attention in your business? Focus your efforts on the area where your business needs to improve. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it out.

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Part 3- How to Profit through Time Management

time management study
Read Part 1 How to Profit Through Time Management or Part 2 of this article.

Personal Time Management Strategy

Choose the top five tips from Part 1 that you think will help you the most, given your personal time management study. This time management study will help you finish all your important tasks and appointments on time.  Write them below, with three corresponding actions that you will start tomorrow.  For example, if you are going to set a strict schedule, three actions might be to establish the schedule, communicate it to your staff, and re-record your voicemail message.

1.

a. _______________________________________________________

b. _______________________________________________________

c. _______________________________________________________

2.

a. _______________________________________________________

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c. _______________________________________________________

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a. _______________________________________________________

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Timesheet | Day Three

Timeslot Activities More/Less/Enough time?
7:30 – 8:00
8:00 – 8:30
8:30 – 9:00
9:00 – 9:30
10:00 – 10:30
10:30 – 11:00
11:00 – 11:30
11:00 – 11:30
11:30 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:30
12:30 – 1:00
1:00 – 1:30
1:30 – 2:00
2:00 – 2:30
2:30 – 3:00
3:00 – 3:30
3:30 – 4:00
4:00 – 4:30
4:30 – 5:00
5:00 – 5:30
5:30 – 6:00
6:00 – 10:00
(Evening)

Daily To-Do List | Business

Task Priority(1-10) Deadline Delegation?

Weekly To-Do List | Personal (Family, Leisure, etc.)

Task Priority(1-10) Deadline Delegation?

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Part 2- How to Profit through Time Management

Go here to read Part 1.

Strategies for Profitable Time Management

There are many ways to curb time theft and refine your time management ability. Through a solid understanding of how you currently spend – and waste – time, you can determine which strategies you need to implement to correct unproductive behavior.

Here are 17 ways you can turn less of your time into more money:

1. Set Clear Priorities

The foundation of time management is a clear understanding of what your time is best spent on. Once you accept that you can’t do everything, you need to decide what needs to be completed now, what can be completed later, and what someone else can complete. Each to-do list you create should be put through this filter, and reorganized so the highest priority items are on top, and the lowest priority items are less visible, or on the bottom.

Once you have established your priorities – which will also naturally reflect the priorities and goals of your business – stick to them. Just because someone else feels something is of a high priority doesn’t mean it holds the same status next to your other tasks.

Prioritization is also helpful in your personal life and leisure time. Your spare time is precious – so make sure are clear on how you would like to spend it.

2. Use Your Skills – Delegate Your Weaknesses

As a business owner, your day naturally consists of tasks you dislike doing. Some are essential – signing checks, reviewing financial statements, and other business maintenance – while others are simply not within your skillset.

If you are a strong public speaker but struggle with report writing – delegate to a copywriter or editor. If you own a retail store and have no experience in design – outsource your signage. These freelance professionals often cost half as much as you and take half as long to complete the task. It is a great idea, especially if you struggle with time management. Your time is saved for tasks that use and strengthen your skills effectively, your stress is managed, and ultimately a better product is produced.

3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

As a small business owner, the only way you will ever get everything done is by delegating. Delegation is a vital skill that needs to be refined and practiced, and once mastered is the key to profitable time management.

Too often, owners and managers believe that it will be “faster” or “more efficient” to complete the task themselves than to train and monitor someone else. Other times, there are no internal resources to download assignments.

As a result, the following trends can be seen in many small companies:

• Owners and senior staff are stressed and overworked, while junior staff is underutilized and under capacity.

• Staff members are not given an opportunity to grow and develop in their roles and may perceive a lack of trust or confidence in their ability. The company loses good people.

• Owners and senior staff are always in a reactive state, instead of a visionary or proactive state.

• Delegation happens at the very last minute, and junior staff has little understanding of either the overall project or expectations for the task.

The easiest way to fix this problem is before it starts. Create a solid team of staff members around you who are well-trained and prepared to support the business. Attract and retain qualified and quality people who can be cross-trained and promoted within the company. Ensure that communication flows throughout the business, so everyone has the product and service knowledge to step in and assist when necessary.

4. Learn to Say “No”

It’s easy to fall into the habit of saying yes to everything. You are, after all the business owner, right? No one can complete these tasks as well as you, right? You’ll lose that customer if you don’t help them with their garage sale, right?

Wrong. The most successful business owners have a keen understanding of time management and delegate the remaining responsibilities to trusted others. It’s too easy to say yes to every request in the moment, and later feel overwhelmed when it’s added to your to-do list. You may not ruffle any feathers, but what toll does it take on your stress level? Your workload? Your time is valuable – so protect it!

Remember that if it is too challenging to say no immediately, you can always request some time to think about it. This way, you can evaluate your workload and realistically decide whether or not you can take on a new project. Then, stand by your decision, or assist in bringing in the necessary resources to get it done. time management

5. Create (and keep!) a Strict Schedule

While multi-tasking is a desirable skill, it is also often a time thief. Attempting to do too many things at one time ensures that nothing gets done. As a business owner, you need to be able to focus and concentrate on essential projects without interruptions.

The only way to do this is to commit to a strict schedule. Once you understand your work style and concentration patterns, you can allocate periods of the day to specific tasks. This includes personal and leisure time – schedule it, and stick to it.

Doing a time management by creating a schedule time for list-creation + prioritization, email messages, telephone messages, internal meetings, client meetings, meeting preparation, “me-time”, family time, recreation + fitness, daily business tasks, and blocks for focused work.
Remember that there is a training period involved in beginning a new routine – for yourself and those around you. Use your voicemail, out-of-office email message, and a closed-door to begin to let people know when you will not be disturbed.

6. Make Decisions

The choice to not make a decision is a decision in itself. The most successful business owners have the ability to make good decisions quickly
and efficiently and do not waste time deliberating over simple choices.

In leadership positions, often people are afraid of making the wrong decision or looking foolish if they make a mistake in front of junior staff. What they don’t realize, is that hesitating or avoiding decision making impacts their leadership just as much or more than making the wrong decision. Not only can being indecisive be personally stressful, but it is also stressful for those around you whose tasks are waiting on your choices.

Remember, you must make the best decision with the information you have, in the time frame you have to make the decision. No one expects you to be a fortune teller – be decisive, make some mistakes, and learn from them.

7. Manage Telephone Interruptions

This is a huge source of time theft that can easily be managed and avoided. If you are available to take phone calls at any time of day, you are setting yourself up to take work home in the evenings. The phone will always ring when you are focused on an important task, and this is something that can easily be avoided.

Figure out when you are most productive. Is it in the morning or the afternoon? Before, during, or after lunch? Once you have identified this time period, set your phone on “do not disturb” or have your calls directed to voicemail. If you do not have a receptionist, a variety of automatic answering systems are available for a nominal fee. To structure your phone time further, let callers know on your voicemail what specific time of day is best to reach you via phone. Then, set that time aside to receive and return phone calls.

8. Keep Your Work Environment Organized

Have you ever tried to make dinner in a messy kitchen? More of your time is spent looking for (and cleaning) dishes and tools than actually spent cooking the meal.

The same goes for your work environment. If your desk and office is in a constant state of chaos, then your mind will be too. In fact, some studies have revealed that the average senior business leader spends nearly four weeks each year navigating through messy or cluttered desks, looking for lost information. Does that sound like a productive time for you?

Once you make the initial clean sweep, it’s easy to maintain order in the chaos:

• Tidy your desk at the beginning and end of each day. Attach pertinent documents to your to-do list, or have clear and organized folders for loose papers.
• Organize your supplies drawer so you have easy access to stationery like pens, post-it notes, staplers, and highlighters. Every minute counts!
• Only have the documents and files you are working on, on your desk. The rest should be neatly filed on a side table for later retrieval.
• Keep personal items (like photos or memorabilia) out of your primary line of vision. These can be distracting and encourage daydreaming.

As for your office or store, there are many ways to make its layout more conducive to effective time management. Try:

• Minimizing the distance between the reception desk and electronics like photocopies and fax machines.

• Keep a clear line of sight between your office and the most productive area of your business, so you are aware of what is happening amongst your staff.

• Organize shelves and filing cabinets so files are not only easily accessed, but out of sight when not being used. Consider putting sliding doors or cabinets in storage areas, and remember that the floor is not a storage cabinet.

time management

9. Keep Your Filing System Organized

If your data isn’t organized properly, you will waste hundreds of hours searching for documents you need on a regular basis. This includes both electronic and hard copy files; they need to be organized and up-to-date.

Customer databases and inquiry records are worth their weight in gold. You can’t afford to get behind when updating this information, or poorly store it for later retrieval. There are many easy to use software programs that will manage and organize customer databases for you; it doesn’t need to be a time consuming or tedious exercise.

A simple way to manage information is to keep it in short, medium, and long term files for both hard and electronic copies. Create shortcuts on your desktop for folders or files you constantly access. Have short-term files available on your desk, medium-term files available within an arm’s reach, and long-term files stored in cabinets.

10. Clearly Communicate – Never Assume

One of the biggest issues for time management in business – and likely the world – is miscommunication. This is a dangerous issue that can cripple any business, including yours. Establishing and enforcing clear policies on things like accurate note-taking, task assignments, and phone messages will ensure your staff understands the importance of clear and accurate communication.

The easiest habit to start to curb miscommunication is simple: write everything down. Carry a notepad, and jot down key points, figures, agreements, and deadlines. Don’t assume you’ll remember later – you have at least a hundred other things to remember.

Some other simple strategies are:

• Return all communication promptly, including email, letters, faxes and phone calls
• Repeat back phone messages, phone numbers, and other figures to confirm you recorded the information correctly.
• Record appointments in your PDA or agenda the moment you make them. Otherwise, you will forget.
• Double-check and confirm everything – addresses, phone numbers, meeting locations and times.
• Maintain accurate customer contact logs with dates, times, and phone numbers.
• Post checklists in your store or office for routine operations procedures.
• Announce any changes to the policies and procedures manual immediately.

11. Stop Duplicating Efforts

This is a key element of time management that is closely related to effective communication. Studies have continually shown that many businesses often duplicate and triplicate efforts that need only be completed once.

When you have clear systems and procedures in place, your staff will not need to “reinvent the wheel” each time the task needs to be completed. Meeting minutes and individual task assignments will ensure everyone is on the same page and understands their personal responsibilities.

Simple examples of this include re-reading your to-do list each hour to determine what the next important item is. If your list is already structured by priority, this is a needless task. If two staff members are working on similar projects, but unaware of the other, the work will not only be inconsistent, but the efforts will be duplicated. These are easy problems to fix, once they have been identified and communicated.

12. Say Goodbye to Procrastination + Perfectionism

Procrastination is something we all face at one time or another – and likely have since our school days. However, given the pace that the world operates at today, you will only fall behind your competitor if you allow procrastination to rule your day. So how you do avoid it? It’s simple. Stop, and just get started, no matter how boring, tedious, or painful the project may be. Reward yourself by crossing each step off your to-do list.

Many small business owners also fall victim to perfectionism, which can be paralyzing. The fear that there isn’t enough time or resources to “get it perfect” will sometimes stop you dead in your tracks. Perfectionism can also hinder your ability to delegate and say no to tasks you believe no one else can complete “better”. Do the best you can with the time and resources you have – and just get started.

13. Avoid Needless, Impromptu + Unstructured Meetings

This may seem like a time theft issue that is out of your control, but it’s not. You are in control of your own time, and through strict scheduling can establish a structure for internal and external meetings that everyone around you can work within.
Minimize impromptu internal meetings by letting your staff know when you’re available for a “quick chat” and when you are not. If it is important, ask them to schedule a time to meet with you that works with both of your schedules. This not only saves you time, but encourages staff to find solutions to their own issues, and only approach you with more urgent or challenging matters.

You can’t avoid having meetings, but you can avoid having unstructured meetings. Ask for or create an agenda for each meeting you attend, with a clear objective and an amount of time allocated to each item. This will keep your meetings focused and on task. If a meeting does run late, give yourself a reasonable buffer, and politely leave for your next appointment. You can always follow up with a colleague to catch-up on the pertinent items you may have missed.

time management

14. Establish Clear Policies + Procedures

A clear policy and procedures manual is like a marketing or business plan – it takes time to create, but ultimately saves everyone in your company time, money and effort. A step-by-step guide to “the way we do things here” is an invaluable resource for your existing and new staff, and provides clear expectations for how you like things done.

Too many businesses make up policies and procedures on the fly – creating dangerous scenarios where mistakes are made and expectations are not clear. Some items that should be included in a comprehensive policy and procedures manual include:
• Recruitment
• Customer relations
• Customer inquiries
• Customer complaints
• Returns
• Exchanges
• Late Payments
• Salary structure
• Bonus structure
• Employee review
• Theft
• Harassment

15. Keep the Right Set of Tools

The equipment your business needs to operate (and grow!) effectively should always be on hand, or easily contracted out. This is specific to each company, and closely related to costs – including the cost of your time.
Whether you are a high-tech business or local retailer, knowledge of the latest advancements in technology will increase your efficiency. It will help you stay on top of the competitor, maintain your position as an expert, and perhaps provide an easier way of getting things done.

Always ask yourself if these purchases are essential to your business –could you perhaps make these purchases from a second-hand dealer to minimize cost? Is it more cost-effective to outsource or sub-contract the tasks to someone with access to this equipment, or to buy the equipment yourself?

If your business relies on tools and technology for daily tasks (such as the trade profession) then obtaining the best quality you can afford is crucial.

16. Maintain Your Equipment

This may seem obvious, but you’ll understand the importance if your network server has ever crashed, or point of sale system has malfunctioned. Your business can be slowed to a stand-still if your equipment is not in good working order. Of course, there are instances that can’t be predicted, but regular maintenance of your essential equipment will reduce these occurrences and help to anticipate when old equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.

Go here to read Part 3 How to Profit Through Time Management.

Questions about our small business coaching services?

Call us at 1-888-504-0777,

or 

Enter your information below to start growing your revenues and profits today…

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Contact Us at 888-504-0777.
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What is the One Missing Key to Your Business Success?

business success

Just like humans, every business has weaknesses.  In some cases, business owners simply need to work on one or two areas to propel their business to amazing growth and profits. Entrepreneurs can benefit from the services of small business coaches, who can assist them in identifying areas that require improvement while also guiding them toward business success.

One of my business ventures was a small service company with 130 employees. Our largest customer was a Ritz Carlton hotel, and the hotel chain was involved with the Malcolm Baldrige Process, a way for organizations to achieve outstanding results. Our leadership team decided to get involved with this process at a state level, and we hired a small business marketing coach to help us identify areas of improvement. We grew our profits by more than one thousand percent!

Seven Keys to Success in Business

There are seven keys to business success according to the Baldrige criteria. Over the next few blog articles, I will be writing about these seven keys. How is your business doing in these areas?  Growth normally requires things like small business loans and access to business credit lines but without these 7 keys, you will not be managing that growth as effectively and efficiently as you could.

1.  Leadership in Business.

Most small businesses are strong in the area of leadership. It takes strong leaders to start and run business. However, once your business is going, how do you keep the momentum going? Do you communicate a clear vision, strong values, and a compelling mission? Is your team growing, learning and adjusting to the business environment?

2.  Strategic Planning in Your Business.

In my work with small business owners, many do not have a current business plan.  That is a huge mistake, especially in this volatile business environment. For example, you would be surprised how many businesses are fortunate enough to get a small business loan but then they don’t use the funds for revenue-generating initiatives and the end result is just more debt and no new clients or business.  Every business owner should have short and long term goals, and every employee should understand the goals. Consider all your stakeholders during your planning.

3.  Customer Focus in Your Business.

This area is also a strength for many small business owners. But as a business grows it is easy to lose touch with customers, and without customers your business is dead! Do you have ways of measuring customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Are you improving?

4.  Measurement in Your Business.

Speaking of measurement, do you know your business “stats?” In the same way that sports teams know statistics about players, coaches and their offense and defense, you need to track important information. Nearly everyone tracks sale and profits, but do you know the value of your business? What are your key business success factors? Do know how your numbers compared to competitors? You should.

5.  Workforce Focus in Your Business.

Many business owners struggle with finding good employees. Your employees are critical to your business success. Cutting edge leaders believe that their employees are more important than their customers.  How do you attract and retain good people?

6.  Operations Focus in Your Business. 

The way you deliver your product or service can make you or break you. If you can provide excellent products and services consistently every time, your customers will likely stay with you. Otherwise, you are “rolling the dice.”  Wise business owners develop measurable processes that ensure a great customer experience with few exceptions.

7.  Results in Your Business.

This, of course, is the bottom line of all your efforts in business. Once you have determined what is important to measure and have established measures, how are you doing? Are your “stats” improving? How do they compare with your competition or industry? Are your sales and profits growing, or are you struggling like many small businesses? Is your business value growing?

Conclusion

After reviewing these seven keys, what are the top one or two areas that could use some attention in your business? Focus your efforts on the area where your business needs to improve. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it out.

Questions about our small business coaching services?

Call us at 1-888-504-0777,

or 

Enter your information below to start growing your revenues and profits today…

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