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Serial Killers of Business #4

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In the last article we talked about having a contingency fund for cash flow crunches. Unfortunately, lack of cash flow is only one of many possible issues can spell disaster for a business. Calamities without Contingencies, #4 on our list, should be a wakeup call for any entrepreneur or manager that hasn’t written a Contingency Plan. There are several different types of issues that are more or less important, depending on your business, facilities, and number of employees. Here, we’re going to focus on a few operational disruptions, but we hope you’ll investigate further. Public Safety Canada is a good place to start.

Threats to Plan For:

Utilities – What will happen if the power goes out? What if you don’t have water or the sewage system backs up? Are you dependent on natural gas? In each of these scenarios, plan for short, medium, and long term outages, considering what you could do in advance to mitigate the impact. For example, have all of your computers plugged into a battery backup system, allowing files to be saved and computers to be shut down properly – procedures that should be documented in your plan.Natural Disasters – Fires, floods, and earthquakes are happening with increased frequency, and sometimes in areas with little history of such incidents. Your plan should cover protecting your business assets, including employees, to the extent possible, as well as alternatives to getting back up and running as soon as possible. Also think about your major suppliers, distributors, and customers. What if they are impacted?Illnesses – This has been the worst flu season in North America, and flu is just one of many contagious diseases that can impact on the work place. Employee illness can be an even greater concern if you have staff that travel frequently, particularly overseas. Your plan should consider the sudden loss of workers, and the cost/benefit of mitigating risk with paid sick leave, or foreign travellers staying home for a day or two following their return.

Equipment – How quickly can you make repairs or replace essential equipment? Consider production, transportation and communications. Remember that you may need to protect yourself from disasters that happen to your vendors and suppliers as well.

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Serial Killers of Business #5

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Everything seems to be running smoothly. You’re busy, which means you must be making money. A fabulous opportunity lands in your lap and you just need a bit of cash to make it happen. That’s when you suddenly realize, you don’t have any. Sometimes it’s just bad timing. Whatever the reason, you have no money in the bank and it’s frightening. The businesses that die from lack of cash flow, are the ones who don’t see it coming or ignore it when it happens. There are things you can do to get over that hump.

Protection Strategies:

Setting up a contingency fund and saving a percentage of every dollar you earn, is a great way to protect your business from cash shortages. Borrowing from yourself is easy and interest free. Just make sure you pay it back, so the fund is always there when you need it.If you don’t have a fund, consider borrowing, with the understanding that it may be a long shot unless you have assets for collateral or receivables greater than the amount you need to borrow.A better option might be to make some really quick sales. To do that without spending money takes effort, but is possible. Here are a few ideas:Use social media to announce a deep discount flash sale that starts immediately and ends within 48 hours. Don’t sell at a loss, but keep your profit margin low to generate a greater volume of sales, and some quick cash.

Use social media or a direct email to clients to announce referral incentives, sharable discount codes, buy one – get one, or similar inducements, again with a short timeline.If you belong to a networking group, tell them the problem and offer them the best discount you can. Most people are happy to help a friend, particularly if they get something out of it too.Pop-up stores are pretty popular these days, and if you can find a busy location that doesn’t require you to pay for the space up front, you can hold a sale on products, or services to be provided in future.Use any excuse you can up with, and all the contacts you have, to encourage immediate sales – your birthday, customer appreciation, etc.

 

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Serial Killers of Business: #6

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
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We continue to hear from clients puzzled by the lack of sales generated by their website. What they don’t understand is that having a great site simply isn’t enough these days. With more than one billion websites on the internet, competition is fierce in almost every imaginable category. That means that a great website is a must, but only the first step in an effective marketing plan. That brings us to the #6 killers of business – not doing enough advertising.

Internet advertising has a simple process:

set your goalscreate an advertising planimplement the planrevise the plan until the goal is metif results drop, change tacticsif results exceed capacity, expand capacity or drop advertising by 10%

Your plan should include Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Search Engine Marketing (SEM); and for most businesses, Social Media Marketing (SMM). In a few rare instances, internet advertising should be supplemented with more traditional formats, such as newspaper ads, but be sure to set these up so the benefits can be measured.

In days of old, formulas for determining an appropriate ad budget ranged from 50% of expected revenue for start-ups in a highly competitive industry, to 2% for well-known and profitable brands. With internet advertising, we prefer to use a different approach. What is a customer worth to you over their lifetime? So what is it worth to convert one of those customers – 10%? 50%?

Once you’ve determined your budget for internet advertising, it really is best to leave the implementation to a professional team (like ours ☺). We have in place and people dedicated to monitoring results. That allows us to tweak up the ads to get progressively better results over time, reducing the amount you need to spend.

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Serial Killers of Business: #7

pic2Your website is the core of your marketing strategy, or it should be. It can also be an essential part of your sales cycle, and form a part of your operational activities.

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Serial Killers of Business: #8

pic2Marcie’s great, isn’t she? She does all the ordering, pays all the bills, fixes the printers, and seems to be the only one who can get that old safe to open.

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Serial Killers of Business: #9

Patience no longer exists. We live in a world where instant gratification is the expected norm.

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Serial Killers of Business: #10

While it’s never a good idea to focus too much attention on what not to do in business, analyzing negative outcomes allows us to determine where the missteps occurred so that others can avoid them.

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No Joke

pic2Three men walk into a restaurant. Each is seated in a different section with a different waitress. The first man says, “I’ll have the special,” to which his waitress replies, “We don’t have a special.” The man gets up and walks out.

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Web Trends for 2018

pic6If your website needs more than the kind of quick fix we talked about last time, consider a makeover featuring some of these emerging trends.

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Spruce up your website for 2018

pic2Spruce up your website for 2018 (and more importantly, for under $1,000!)

‘Twas the season for spending, so Angela’s in bargain hunting mode. She suggested an article on quick and easy (and therefore, cheap) ways to perk up a website that’s a couple of years old. Great idea, so here we go!

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