Print has a nearly 80 percent response rate; digital still plays second fiddle to visual call-to-action advertising in print media.
In the digital age, there is a perception that if you put your business offering up on Facebook or other social media, that’s enough. While social media is an important part of getting your customer’s attention, it is only part of the mix. Although it is “free” in the sense that posting doesn’t cost you much more than time, it is transitory at best and the number of people who will see that post is based largely on who’s on line at any given time.
The rule of thumb for ad space purchases is to budget 10 percent of your annual income to advertising. In a small town, that generally means radio and newspaper. It does not include charity or support giving to various school and community publications asking you to “buy an ad.” Advertising is any medium intended to reach the greatest number of people in which you include a call to action.
Many advertising surveys indicate consumers respond more readily to print – whether it be magazines or newspapers – or through direct mail – than to digital media. One report stated that 79 percent of readers are more likely to respond to print ads than e-mailed or digital sales pitches. Digital media will argue that is changing, and perhaps it is. The magic bullet of digital advertising is more difficult to measure.
My favorite explanation for effective advertising (Sales vs Marketing) –
Sales: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “To Dallas.”
Marketing: A hitchhiker on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “I want to get to Mom’s for Christmas.”
Your sales pitch is your goal. Marketing is knowing how to reach that goal by understanding the marketplace and your customer.
Print continues to be an important platform for getting your message out, but as the fellow going to Dallas figured out, tugging at the heartstrings of his audience was more important than saying outright what he wanted.
What works for you will depend on your expected outcome. A caution here, avoid buying advertising with the flawed expectation that one ad is going to result in customers flocking to your door in mass.
If you are selling furniture and your one page $2,000 full-color ad nets one sale of $500, you haven’t wasted your money, but perhaps you haven’t made best use of the space. Your goal is to make the ad as appealing as possible to assure you get enough sales to at the very least cover your cost. Five $500 sales would more than do it. The point is, manage your expectations. Know your reach. Understand your market.
Let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to run an ad that lets folks know you are now serving T-Bone steaks. Which of these two ads is more likely to work?
Ad 1 with address prominently displayed with a small picture of a T-Bone Steak and in small print “NOW SERVING T-BONE STEAKS,” is okay. You will likely get customers out of it, but the reality is the message has been lost.
Ad 2 with a grilling T-Bone steak prominently displayed, coupled with a 10% discount gives the buyer incentive to show up, ad in hand. It serves two purposes: getting customers in the door and being able to track the effectiveness of the ad.
If you spend $150 to $175 for the ad and the meal price is $25, you could easily sell 10 meals including the discount, and more than cover the cost of the ad.
Sometimes your goal is to let customers know who you are and where you are. The bonus is sales; the message is where to find you.
Advertising serves many purposes. While word-of-mouth has its place, advertising specific offerings provides updated information, provides actionable offers, and expands a business’ customer base.
As a business person, you likely know on day one of a new year what you hope to achieve in the next 12 months. Make planning for your advertising as important as planning for paying your employees, even if the employee is the person you look at in the mirror every morning. Advertising is as much of an investment as the fixtures in your store. Let it work for you and it will pay off.
These links lead to a series of ads that will inspire you to think more creatively about ad space purchases.
Boredpanda __________________________________ I have not solicited or been given compensation for this content. If you found this of interest and worthwhile, please share with your network. Readers and new Followers make my day. Please add your thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading and following.
Canva, a design website, is an amazing resource for bloggers and content developers. Much of the content is free and even the premium backgrounds are inexpensive. There is a pro version for a monthly subscription fee. Depending on your needs, it is an excellent affordable resource. The graphic below, and it’s content, is downloadable as is, or you can use the template and add your own information. I can’t recommend it highly enough. To be an exceptional graphic designer, consider a degree from New Mexico Highlands University Media Arts. It is a cutting-edge program that has led graduates to stellar careers.
Your purchase of a single-page artist or business profile will serve multiple purposes for a one-time fee of $67.50. Purchase includes 30 color copies of your profile on quality paper. Uses for the profile include:
I do a lot of free online meetings, mostly about blogging and site building. Invariably the topic of SEO comes up (Search Engine Optimization). Let us pretend I know what that entails. Let us pretend I know what that even means.
So, what does it take to make a website stand out from all the others? Well, I wish I knew. What I know is that I write, and I post, and I wait… and not much happens. How many blogs pretending to be websites are there? According to one online source, by September 2017 there were about 152 million. Is it any wonder so few people are taking note of mine?
I do have nearly 276 followers and 226 subscribers, which I am totally excited to have. How many of them are friends and family? One-third? Half? Surprisingly about 10 percent; the rest are folks who sort of stumbled onto my site and liked something I wrote.
A few have left – unsubscribed – since I started the site, perhaps because it has undergone a variety of themes and formats over its seven-year existence. Or maybe I’ve written about something a reader didn’t like or found boring. Could it be that my scatter-shot approach to this site is all over the map? I’m told I need to focus on one topic or idea and stick with it. Who am I? What do I want this site to do for me? Good question.
Ultimately I want people to read what I write and respond: comment on posts, share posts, buy my books, subscribe to my episodic novel. These are the reasons I decided on a magazine format. My intent is to create or post content that people learn from, laugh at, think about or are inspired by. That comes in many forms, and I hope in the end it turns people on to new ideas, new opportunities and new insights.
The trick is to get the content in front of more eyes, which is where SEO – and other posting strategies – come into play, which is where I am right now, trying to figure it out.
As a WordPress user, it is clear I have at my disposal many resources. They have detailed instructions about… well, about everything, including SEO. What it requires of the user/blogger/website developer, is attention to detail, understanding the limitations (and flexibility) of themes, and taking the FREE sessions that teach you how to make best use of the wonderful tool that is the internet.
In closing, I would love for you as a reader to recommend this site to your friends and family. If you enjoy the content let me know. If you don’t like the content or see ways it can be improved, I for sure want to know that.
This morning I spent quality time with Steve, a WordPress Happiness Engineer who talked me through my site and gave me invaluable tips on how to improve it. These were tools already available to me that I hadn’t known how to use. That’s the thing about WordPress; if you have a premium or business plan, you have access to a wealth of one-on-one help from WordPress support. As a basic user with a free blogging site, help is available and a click away.
So, thank you WordPress, and thank you Steve, for your help. It has given me a leg up when the road was getting ever so bumpy.
From the keyboard of Sharon Vander Meer (Note: I am not paid to promote WordPress)
Fans of The Skillet, get ready to chow down on old favorites and new menu items. The food truck with an attitude and funky decor is now a 90-seat restaurant and bar. The new digs will be open soon in the old wool warehouse on 12th Street. Radical decor and a trendy ambiance invite diners to sit awhile. Part of the renovation included the installation of an all new kitchen and overhaul of the electrical wiring. Through the construction and revitalization of the building, owner/operators Isaac and Shawna Sandoval oversaw the process and put their unique stamp on the eatery. As talented artists the Sandovals have created an experiential dining space in a fast-casual setting. They expect the restaurant will be open by the end of the month. In this Q&A, the couple talks about bringing their vision to life.
ORP: How did the ambiance and décor of The Skillet develop? Isaac: We approached the design of The Skillet as an art installation. We used the time we had during construction to make works of art for the restaurant. Shawna and I are both artists. We have different approaches to making art. A lot of how things turned out were a product of us working together. We also had a great crew of assistants and other artist working with us to execute our vision. We worked together to create an immersive art environment. We wanted to create a space that was different, a place where people could sit and interact with artworks without being in a high-pressure situation that I think sometimes happens when visiting a museum or gallery. Some of the art was built with specific intent to the space, and some was made, and then the space was built around it. The tile work on the bar, for instance, was an idea Shawna had to take some of the design from the food truck into the restaurant. Meanwhile, the eight-foot donkey bust that I made over the course of a couple of weeks, had no specific place in the building until we finally put it up. Really, the whole processes of making the art was quite fluid. One project would influence another, and it seems to have become a new body of artwork itself. Shawna: Our background in the arts informs much of what we were able to create in the business. The overall design is a total collaboration between us. We tend to make decisions as we go, coming up with design solutions on the fly, or in other instances, taking time to plan out larger components. The goal for the overall feel of the place was to create something aesthetically pleasing with an enjoyable ambiance, but also something with a bit of an edge that makes looking around at the artwork part of the experience.
OPR: Your food from The Skillet Rolling Kitchen was along the lines of fusion cuisine rather than typical Northern New Mexico foods. Talk about how you developed the menu in the new restaurant. Isaac:Northern New Mexican food is – in itself – a fusion food. Chile sauce often contains a roux, which is a French technique, and dishes that we call “Spanish” are Mexican. There was a time not too long ago, that we were part of Mexico. Northern New Mexican food was very much influenced by Mexican food but it is a different cuisine than American-Mexican (Tex Mex), and to paint the cuisine of Mexico with a broad brush would be like saying all American food is a cheese burger. There is something specific and special about the type of food that is prepared in the area.
My background in cooking is Northern New Mexican food. I love to eat and try new foods/ingredients. Because of my background, I know that you can put pretty much anything in a tortilla and it has the potential to be awesome. When planning our menu, we wanted something different, but relatable. Shawna and I really wanted a fun menu, that wasn’t too fussy or would take too long. Most of the items from our food truck menu will still be available, along with new burritos and an appetizer menu. Our menu has items guests will be able to share over a beer or get a fast bite. Shawna: We wanted to stick with many of the same menu items offered at our food truck because it is the food that helped us develop our customer base to begin with. We are keeping the fast-casual aspect of the menu knowing our customers appreciated that they could get in and out quickly at lunch with a satisfying meal. We are expanding the menu quite a bit to include more appetizers, salads, and burrito creations with new flavor combinations.
ORP: Will it change seasonally or as you are inspired as chef? Isaac:As a food truck, we tried to keep our regular menu items while integrating new or different items throughout the year. Once we get settled with the restaurant we plan on doing regular daily specials, and offer something different. For instance, every Friday we might have a chicken fried steak with coleslaw and Mac and cheese special but it might be wrapped into a burrito. At this point it’s hard to say, I am too excited. I think with having a bigger kitchen than the food truck kitchen, the possibilities really grow.
ORP: What advice did you get from your entrepreneurial parents that gives you confidence about opening your own place? Isaac: My parents have been our biggest guidance throughout this whole project. They have years of experience in the industry and are very knowledgeable about restaurants. I have grown up watching them work day in and out, dealing with customers and see how they handle employees in a professional manner. I have worked for my parents for many years now; everything I know, I know because of them. Shawna:Hard work equals success. It’s a tough business at times, but with owner dedication, the restaurant business can really be rewarding.
ORP: What influenced your decision to expand from the rolling kitchen concept to a brick and mortar restaurant? Isaac: The major influence was the support we had. We were a food truck for three summers before we decided to fully commit to a restaurant. Every year we were open we grew a larger following and grew slowly, adding new art to the environment, and integrating live music. At the end of the day, we were really at the mercy of Mother Nature. During the monsoon, we would get rained out. In fall, winter could be five minutes away and last until the first week of June. It created an inconsistent schedule that was bad for business. When the opportunity to purchase a liquor license came up, we knew a brick and mortar restaurant and bar would be a good undertaking. Shawna: We learned a lot about the food business with the food truck and we were ready to scale to something bigger. The new location is the manifestation of our need to see our dreams for our business fulfilled.
ORP: How many do you expect to employ? Isaac:We will employ bartenders, kitchen staff, cocktail servers, security, and dishwashers, 20-30 in all.
ORP: What is your food philosophy in terms of fresh and locally sourced when possible? Isaac: In a perfect world everyone would be buying direct from local farmers. In that world, we would be eating green chile, squash, onions, some peppers and beef or lamb. In that same world, we wouldn’t be eating guacamole or sushi. When the food truck was open, we used locally raised eggs, which I loved, but near the end of the summer the chickens had a hard time producing enough eggs for the truck. I try to go to the farmers’ market on a weekly basis and buy what I can, but at the volume our food truck produced we had to outsource. That said, we do prepare most of our dishes from scratch or make them as fresh as possible.
ORP: What appeals to you about being a culinary entrepreneur? Isaac:I love working with my hands. I love that cutting a case of tomatoes can become a meditation. I love that the situation in a kitchen can go from 0-100 in a matter of minutes. I love the rush of getting long tickets coming out of the printer. I love taking an ingredient and changing it into something completely different. Shawna: We grew up in the business, Isaac with his family here in Las Vegas. My very first of many restaurant jobs was washing dishes. After graduating college, there was something about the business that kept pulling us back in. We love the challenges and being our own boss. Seeing our vision make people happy, creates a lot of satisfaction for us.
OPR: What are your hours of operation? Isaac:We will be opening at 11 a.m. ’til close, Monday through Saturday.
ORP: Will reservations be recommended? Isaac: Our restaurant is a fast-casual environment. We can seat about 90 people in the restaurant and 25 of those seats are at the bar. Outside, our two patios can seat another 50 plus a standing bar. We will be a different dining experience than what some might be used to. Customers order at the counter; we will not have servers. We will have cocktail servers to take drink orders and bring food out. We will also take call-in orders to go. We want The Skillet to be a place where people can get something delicious fast and easy.
ORP: What are examples of specialty drinks you will serve? Isaac:We have a wide variety of really refreshing margaritas and cocktails. One example of a cocktail we offer is the Red Dawn, made with hibiscus tea, tequila, and grapefruit juice.
ORP: Do you plan to have live music/entertainment? Isaac: Last year we had a band or musician playing once a week for most of the summer. We are reaching out to local talent, and traveling bands to play throughout the year. If anyone is interested in playing or performing they can email us a sample of their work at Giantskillet@gmail.com or contact us on our website www.giantskillet.com
ORP: What is your anticipated opening day. Isaac: If everything goes as expected, we will open by the end of the month.
It takes unique talent and passion to create something people like to look at that also satisfies a yearning for a delicious treat to cap off special occasions. Amanda Medina of SugarBomb Bake Shoppe nails it every time. Her Facebook reviews are numerous and enthusiastic.
She always does an amazing job! My graduation cake was perfect and tasted so good! AE
Absolutely love SugarBomb. Everything that I have ever ordered has exceeded my expectations. Wouldn’t order from anywhere else. LT
SugarBomb is the BOMB! I’ve never been disappointed! Always been satisfied! FP
This culinary entrepreneur defines what it means to create a business from nothing and make it into a stellar success.
ORP: Briefly talk about why you started SugarBomb Bake Shoppe.
Amanda: SugarBomb was started out of combination of curiosity, passion for the craft and the desire to create something my way, from the ground up. Throughout my childhood, my mom owned her own flower shop, The Awesome Blossom, and it really resonated with me. I saw the struggles of owning your own small business, but it was the successes that really made the impression. I wanted to be my own boss and create something that was a representation of me. Baking has always been a hobby of mine, so it seemed a natural fit. It was a craft that I could hone and really make my own.
ORP: How did you become interested in baking?
Amanda: It started in high school. I’d taken a few culinary arts classes and fell in love with it. It was also at that time that cupcakeries were trendy and cake-related TV shows were becoming popular. I would make cakes from mixes and try to decorate them with fondant to replicate what I’d see on those shows.
ORP: You started out as a home-based operation. What are the challenges to doing that?
Amanda: I think having a home based business has a bit of a negative connotation. People are a little more wary because they can’t just come in and browse. I feel like I’ve really had to prove myself and my product. I’ve definitely earned every one of my customers!
ORP: What is the biggest challenge you faced in the beginning and how did you overcome it?
Amanda: The biggest challenge in the beginning was getting the word out there in ways that would be beneficial to the business, but also fiscally responsible for me. I came into this very naive. That may have been a blessing in disguise because the things I did then were done out of sheer gumption and hunger to make it work. From day one I had the desire to succeed at this. Everyday, every cake I make, I still strive to be better, learn more about my craft and to improve. I think having that mindset has helped me to overcome a lot of the struggles involved in having a home-based business.
ORP: What gives you the greatest joy as a professional baker?
Amanda: The reactions, for sure! Nothing compares to seeing a bride and groom see their cake for the first time or a three-year-old excitedly shrieking about their cake. And as much as I love the initial visual reactions, I love the texts or calls that often come later telling me how it tasted “…even better than it looked,” even more! Those make all the sleepless nights and hours of work more than worth it!
ORP: What is the most important trait for someone who wants to be a culinary entrepreneur?
Amanda: A bit of stubbornness. There are going to be so many hurdles to overcome that you have to be a little stubborn. You have to be willing to stick to your guns, believe wholeheartedly in your product and be willing to sacrifice to make it work. Also, I think there’s a balance of being confident in your product and having the humility to always want to learn more.
ORP: You are now the kitchen manager at La Cocina Commercial Kitchen at Luna Community College. Talk about that and what it means to you to have access to a commercial kitchen for your business.
Amanda: A commercial kitchen is a game changer! Right now, I am only allowed to sell direct to consumers. Producing in the commercial kitchen would enable me to wholesale (my products) and potentially get my items in restaurants or even grocery stores. It completely broadens the market and allows for faster and more efficient production. La Cocina Commercial Kitchen is a great resource for up and coming, and established business owners in our community. I definitely have plans to utilize it to grow SugarBomb.
ORP: You are also teaching a baking basics class at Luna Community College this fall. What prompted you to do that and what are you most looking forward to as an instructor?
Amanda: Initially, I wanted to teach the class as a challenge for myself. I haven’t always been super comfortable with public speaking so I thought it would help me break that. Talking about baking and the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way comes natural so it’s been nice to be able to share that with a group of people who are equally interested in baking. There’s such a range of students in the class, all the way from beginners to people who already work as professional bakers. I tell my class all the time that we are all learning new things from each other. It’s the only the third week but it’s been such an enriching experience already.
ORP: Any advice for beginning culinary entrepreneurs?
Amanda: Go for it! Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, if you have a passion, go for it. Put your heart and soul into it and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are some amazing people in the food industry here in Las Vegas that are willing to share their expertise. SugarBomb is a custom cake Shoppe. I strive to make everything from flavor to decor completely custom and one of a kind.
You’ve decided to go into business for yourself. Congratulations. Now what? There are dozens upon dozens upon hundreds of websites that will tell you how to go into business. Many are advertising sites that lure you into trying their particular method. Most are targeted toward already successful businesses looking for ways to hone areas of specific need, like marketing, website development, human resource development and advertising.
As a start-up, your best and most affordable help (free) are sites like the Small Business Administration website where you can find tried and true processes for just about every concern related to developing your business idea into a successful enterprise, and Inc, a site full of informative, well-researched articles about managing and building a business.
Where does business development start? You would think the answer to that question is to have a great idea. True, but it also must be a workable idea, one that serves a need not adequately met in the existing marketplace. Starting a business is more of a challenge in small towns located close to large metropolitan areas. That doesn’t prevent a creative thinker in a small market from being successful. Going back to the question of “where does business development start,” it begins with planning.
Let’s say that an in-depth study of buying habits of people who live in your zip code shows all their pet supply purchases are at pet shops in a large city sixty miles away. That might lead you to think opening a pet supply store in your small town is a great business idea. Before you forge ahead, remember this, not all pet supplies are purchased at pet stores. Most are purchased at grocery stores, feed and supply stores, and through animal care clinics. The pet supply niche may be filled locally through those outlets. The first step in business development is knowing your idea has legs and will stand up under considerable questioning.
Questions to consider:
Why am I starting a business? The answer should be more than, “I want to make money,” or “I want to be my own boss.” What need will this business serve that isn’t being met? And by the way, being in business for yourself does not mean you are your own boss. You become the employee of your new enterprise and your time will be dictated by many factors beyond your control. As a responsible owner/employee you will put in far more hours than when you worked for someone else.
Who is my ideal customer? In the example of the pet supply store, it’s more than, “people with pets.” What is the demographic you are looking for? People to whom pets are family? Affluent customers who can afford more upscale purchases for Miss Kitty or Mr. Ambrose the Beagle? If your biggest expected sales are pet food, rethink opening a pet supply business. Buyers can purchase pet food just about anywhere, including online.
How is my business idea, product or service different from what’s already out there? The answer to this question will be weighed in the balance of what you provide, the marketplace you are part of, and the economy. There is every reason to expect restaurants will survive in a time when more and more people are eating out. Such is not the case. Restaurants have a high fail rate. Oddly, competition is not the biggest reason cafés and other types of eateries fail. It stems largely from a failure to plan and fully understand the complexities of owning and running a food establishment. Those that succeed have these factors in common: a commitment to excellence in food and service, finding a niche and sticking with it, and providing a pleasant and welcoming ambiance. The same philosophy applied to any business sets the stage for success.
Location, location, location. Where you establish your business is right up there with knowing your marketplace. Being in a mall environment does not guarantee success. Being in a supportive business block or neighborhood with high traffic and the assurance of referrals ranks with great customer service.
Can I afford to go into business? All businesses require start-up costs. Even if you’re opening a one-person plumbing business, starting a landscaping service or providing auto repair, your qualifications as a top-notch service provider are worthless without tools and a base of operations, both of which cost money. Consider carefully your source of business funding and your ability to remain solvent for the first three years without repeatedly taking loans to sustain operations. You can’t borrow your way out of debt.
Profitability. When can you expect to start making money? This will vary based on factors such as maintaining inventory, rent/mortgage costs, overhead for employees and benefits, and unknown factors like illness or economic downturn. Profit is anything over and above expenses, including paying the owner.
There are many other issues you must consider, among them:
• How many employees will you need;
• Sources of inventory or supplies;
• Product/service pricing;
• Legal structure;
• Taxes, insurance, liability;
• Over all management philosophy;
• Marketing strategy.
A good business plan is a great place to start. See here and here for free business plan instructions and templates.
You cannot eliminate all the risks associated with starting a small business. You can improve your chances of success with good planning and insight. This article is drawn from multiple sources, including the SBA website and Inc.com. It is intended to give entrepreneurs food for thought.
Okay, I’m updating my website with a new theme… an EASY to upload and format theme. Don’t. You. Believe. It.
I know once I get there – there being a finished and fine tuned website – I’ll feel sooooo good about it, but right now my poor husband dare not ask me a question or I’ll snap like a hungry horse at the rag end of the trough.
So my goal is to have a site that looks more like a magazine and less like a blog. I’ve been working toward that goal for some time, but now I’m getting close… and yet at the moment so far, far away. I don’t follow written instructions very well.
Did they mean this, or did they mean that?
I’m in the noodle it around until I figure it out camp, which means quite a lot of redoing.
So, if you happen on this site and it looks like something going through birth pains, you would be quite right. It is a work in progress, as am I.
Media kits are resources that tell others about you and your business. Whether you are a small single-owner shop or employ hundreds, you have a story to tell. Google, Facebook, Coca Cola and Ford don’t rely on word of mouth; they rely on getting their story out to the public by every means possible. Their media kits are neither simple nor economical. They know the value of story, their story.
As a small business owner you can affordably get the job done by working with a professional to compile a media kit designed to get your message out. Yes, your friends and neighbors know who you are, but do their friends and neighbors know who you are?
Media kits are custom designed, but there are standard items to include: recent high resolution photos of the owner and images of the store front and interior, high resolution images of logos, an introduction that tells your story, contact information and online presence, testimonials from satisfied customers, overview of product/service you provide, and your business mission or philosophy.
5 Reasons a Media Kit Makes Sense Be prepared: Whether you are celebrating your 10th year in business, or your millionth customer, you want to share your success. Most media outlets are willing to do a write up, or invite you to provide your own. Plan ahead for those special moments by compiling the bits and pieces of your story so it is easily and quickly accessible.
Be informed: Preparing a media kit requires market awareness. You may not believe you have competition because there is no other store like yours in your business district, but competition exists everywhere, including in most homes through the internet. What sets you apart? What makes your store the best place to go for what you provide? That’s the story you want to tell.
The elevator pitch:“Media kit” is an intimidating phrase. The elevator pitch is, “A media kit organizes outreach.” What is your elevator pitch? Compiling outreach information helps you fine tune your elevator pitch.
Aids in marketing:When someone walks in the door and wants to sell you an ad, are you ready? Is the idea of putting an ad together daunting? A media kit is a tool in your business tool box. You can readily answer the question of whether this ad placement is the right one for you and have the tools to help the ad rep create the ad.
Insight:A media kit inspires you to think in new ways about your business. The process of working with a professional (or doing it on your own) generates excitement and ideas.
Because of technology, this “kit” need not cost you a lot in printing and distribution. It can be uploaded to your website or e-mailed at any time to whomever is in need of the information.
How many times have you looked in the mirror and found a flaw? If you say never, good grief, what planet do you live on? Most of us are self-critical, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to what makes us unique. We seem to have a beast inside bent on bellyaching about our multiple deficiencies. Do you obsess about being too tall or not tall enough? Too thin or too heavy? Not pretty/handsome enough? Too pushy? Not pushy enough?
You have your list and so do I. Do you apply that self-critical flaw-finding attitude to your business?
I can’t succeed.
The economy is against me!
I can’t afford to carry enough inventory.
Everybody shops out of town!
I’m afraid of the competition.
Advertising costs too much and it’s a waste of my limited resources.
Marketing eludes me. I can’t figure it out.
When you add your own night terrors to this list do you start to sweat? Are you on the brink of throwing in the towel, going to bed and covering up your head? STOP! Before you lie down with a cold compress – or knock back a numbing libation – get a grip! Perhaps you’re thinking is getting in the way of your business success.
But I’m only 60 inches tall, that’s not going to change
Challenges are real. There is something to be said for critical evaluation. SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis exists for a reason. The list above clearly represents the outcome of looking at weaknesses.
So how do you bring your future, the future of your business and the future of your community’s economy into perspective? Let the bellyaching beast of negativity off its leash and listen up. Evaluation does not mean you must find every flaw. Yes, you need to know what your weaknesses are, but also be certain you know and embrace your strengths. I may only be five foot tall and nowhere near thin, but anyone who knows me will tell you it has rarely held me back, even when standing still might have been wiser.
You are a star, and don’t you forget it
After hearing the bellyaching beast whining and begging for the scraps of uncertainty and fear left behind in the wake of your mental self-abuse, give him his freedom, open the door and let him go. When you see his tail wagging as he crests the horizon, take pen in hand and write down why your skills, services or business benefits others. It is freeing. It reminds you of your successes and puts the bad times in perspective.
As an entrepreneur you should take stock from time to time. Go somewhere quiet, where you will be able to think uninterrupted. Take a notebook and pen. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of the implements in your hand as you see your entrepreneurial spirit come to life through the words flowing onto the page.
Affirm your commitment to success:
I started this business/service (aside from money) because____________.
There is never any one reason entrepreneurs go into business. While earning a profit is likely at the top of the list there are other compelling reasons that fired and inspired you to put out your shingle. Name those reasons. Embrace them.
My business/service is unique in these ways_____________.
If you don’t have a response to this perhaps it’s time to think carefully about what you offer that no one else does, or think of an add-in that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Investing in my business through promotion has value because_________.
There is a rule of thumb that you should commit a percentage of your annual income to advertising and promotion. I would add, use that money wisely and well. No matter how much you want to support every publication and cause that “represents youth,” consider what you do in context of your business success. There are other ways to donate that don’t involve spending your much-needed promotional dollars.
My business has loyal customers. I’m going to reward them by______________.
When was the last time you e-mailed, called or in some way communicated with your customers? It’s less expensive to retain a satisfied customer and get them to buy again than it is to draw new customers to your door. And remember this – activity begets activity. If you have your old customers coming in the door, new customers will follow.
I will make sure my employees like their jobs and convey that to our customers.
If your employees aren’t on your side and don’t enjoy their jobs it will show in your bottom line. Take care of your employees (even if the only employee you have is you). If employees are not confident in their ability to take care of customers, if they feel inadequate, if they feel you don’t care about them, they will not do their best. They will do the minimum and not very well.
I will participate actively in associations that advocate for independent entrepreneurs.
Belonging to a business association is an opportunity for networking, yes, absolutely. Aside from that, you have something to offer. What can you contribute that will improve/promote all businesses? Rising water lifts all boats. Be part of the rising tide.
I will post a list of my business successes where I can see it every day, beginning with the day I opened, my first success.
Remember your successes. That first big sale. Meeting your first payroll (including paying yourself!). The “thank you” from a customer who benefited from your service. Keep track of the positive influence and impact your business has had and continues to have.
When business is stagnant or beginning to slide, remember this is a bump in the road, not a wall. Small business continues to be the backbone of the economy. Your success determines the health of the local economy and the national economy. Take time to celebrate your entrepreneurial strengths. It will be good for you, and it will be good for your business.
Sharon Vander Meer is an entrepreneur, author, blogger and freelance writer. To tap into her skills to your benefit e-mail email@example.com. Type Write Stuff in the subject line.
Your comments are appreciated. Please share this article by clicking on one or more of the buttons below. To receive automatic notification of updates to One Roof Publishing and Write Stuff, please subscribe (top, right).