Every small business has “the elephant in the room.” It might be you. Sure, you want to grow and make more money. At least make more money. I mean, growth is isn’t really a thing is it? You aren’t required to do that – there’s no rule. You never intended to have an empire, just a good living. Am I right?
Have you ever walked into a store and been immediately pressed by a salesperson or greeter with offers of help? It is a practice that generally yields quick results for the shoppers that want to expedite their search. “Can I help you?” the greeter asks. “Could you tell me where the coats are?” you reply. There was a time when “Just looking” wasn’t allowed.
The end of the year is a special time for me. It is time for reflection and I don’t do it often enough. Next week – the New Year – will be time for new directions, but the week between Christmas and New Year’s has always saved for thinking…and cleaning.
In this podcast Tom Stimson explains how to keep setbacks from lowering your goals.
Tom Stimson describes the makings of true success, and the difference between “abundance” and just “enough.”
Over the past decade I have learned a lot about what it means to own a business, how business owners think, and what is most important to them. I have narrowed this down to a list of five recurring themes in the order that they manifest most frequently. Not all owners want the same things in the same order, but the underlying issues seem to be somewhat universal. The five themes are Cash Flow, Profit, Growth, Satisfaction, and Harmony. Cash Flow Of all the themes, cash flow is the most critical. It is emotional and practical. Cash is oxygen and when in short supply, owners become light-headed, then despondent, then desperate. Cash represents success and lack of it, failure. This is the one theme that always goes home with the small business owner. You might leave all other issues behind when you depart the office, but not this one. Check out this Podcast: Seven Tips to Improve Cash Flow: Short Term Expect to get paid. Give customers multiple options to pay including credit cards. Get better terms from suppliers, landlords, and banks. A 90 day reprieve on loan repayments is probably there for the asking. Cut back on discretionary spending […]
One of the benefits of having evaluated and advised so many companies, is that I can quickly see the patterns that connect underlying conditions with overarching needs. I thought it might be helpful to share one of my techniques: The Customer Response Profile. I can use this chart diagnostically or analytically. As a diagnostic tool, I can observe the strength of the company brand and whether the business dialogue is geared towards its customers or its products. The resulting intersect will place the company in one quadrant or another to varying degrees. Conversely I might observe how customers interact with the company, which would also indicate a prevalent quadrant: Quadrant 1: The company is a proposal mill, pursuing any available opportunity and focusing on revenue over strategic growth. A weak brand and product-centric dialogue creates a price-centric relationship. Quadrant 2: Customers are somewhat indifferent. Even when the seller does a good job, buyers resist long-term relationships. Adding better customer service wins more business, but a weak brand undermines customer loyalty. Quadrant 3: When customers seem genuinely pleased with the finished product, but aren’t happy with the journey – they become more demanding. The strong brand of the seller makes the […]
As I scroll through my LinkedIn feed, I am underwhelmed by business and technology trends that are interesting but not important. Social Media experts can tell you exactly what headline to write and more importantly, what pictures to post that will get people to click on your link, thereby validating the expert’s advice. It may be entertaining, but the only beneficiaries are the Social Media experts that have figured out how to get paid for their trendy advice and the platforms we spend our digital days browsing. LinkedIn should ban the self-congratulatory selfie. Who’s with me? There are hundreds of things more important than that trend you just read about on LinkedIn. As a small businessperson, you should care more about the issues that affect your business today. Let the CEOs of mega-corporations worry about what Millennials will wear in virtual meetings ten years from now. Off the top of my head, here are five issues that should matter to you, your customers, and your employees – today. Retention Unemployment is low and that means demand is high. Your skilled workers have more options for switching jobs. It is time you paid attention to reducing their reasons for doing so. Simple […]
The great thing about being in the midst of a strong business cycle is that you can focus on the future instead of dwelling on the present (or worse, the past). The bad part is that we all know that economies cycle up and down. After we have enjoyed a bit of success, we start to worry. I was thinking about this while sitting in traffic the other day. Why do some people weave in and out of traffic to get down the road faster? Is it worth it? There is a Sales analogy in here somewhere. When it comes to business, some of us are conservative and try to stay in one lane most of the time. Some of us look for openings and slip in when no one else is looking. Drivers that can look farther ahead and execute well can take advantage of openings that others may let pass. Some folks are poor drivers and make a mess of trying to push ahead. Others have the wrong car – not enough acceleration, perhaps. We can train people to be better drivers. We can put them in faster cars. Or, we can navigate the less clogged side roads, […]