The Building Blocks to Increase Profits

The foundational building blocks of every business are Processes (procedures/policy), People (employees), Customers and Resources (ideas/capital). Leaders, who strengthen and understand each of these blocks, build their business. Those who weaken or neglect these building blocks, find themselves with declines in both their top and bottom lines.

Believe it or not, organizations can sometimes forget that creating and delivering top quality products and providing excellent services is their main objective. Organizations keep ineffective processes in effect because it is comfortable, safe and familiar. Leaders must regularly set aside time to define and redefine their processes, track defects and poor service, and make improvements to solidify these (5) major building blocks.

Owner Mindset

You’ve got to make the mental shift from running your businesses as a self-employed job/good employee to building a business you can one day sell, scale or own passively to fund your retirement.

This means consistently reminding yourself that you are just a temporary producer, and that your business must eventually replace you from its day to day operations.

Be Clear in Your Mission

There’s a reason you started a business and left your job (or didn’t try to find a new one). Why are you doing this? Keep in mind that your personal mission and your company’s mission can be different, as long as they’re aligned and can co-exist. You did the mission statement in the business plan and it’s on the bookshelf collecting dust.

Network and Get a Mentor

Get a business advisor or coach. It doesn’t have to be someone professional, just someone who can share experiences to bounce ideas off of and tell you when you are losing teams, money and the mindset.

Get your Business off the Road to Nowhere

When the money gets tight and the momentum fades, you are left with day to day work of the business, this is when you learn how to make your business run. It can become grinding because sales are slow and you are learning how the business actually operates, to acquire customers, market products, understand how changing processes and products affect your financials, and every idea you have does not automatically work as you envision it to increase profits.

At some point while running a business, your likely to experience that burned out or uninspired feeling. Work-life balance is important; there is a truth, in working hard and playing hard to unwind. Reading a daily devotion and taking a daily 30 minute walk can assist in relaxing the mind, etc.

Customer

Customer acquisition is expensive in order to acquire new customers, companies must effectively target, market to and convince customers to try their product or service.

Many business owners do not take time to figure out who is their target customer. What are their target customers’ likes, dislikes, needs and wants? Which types of media do they consume? What is the cheapest way to reach them? How much is the target customer willing to pay for their products or services? Where and how should we sell our products?

Remember, it is cheaper to keep a customer than it is to acquire new ones.

Master the Art of Engagement

Being engaging is important in every part of your business, whether its communicating through email marketing, social media, blogs, videos and other commercial formats

Grab social Media Attention

Social media marketing plan should include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the company website to communicate with your customer. Use the same theme, pictures (banner pages) and similar products.

Understand importance of Business Logos

It is the first thing potential customers will notice about your brand, make sure it is presentable, professional and polished. Make sure the Logo connects with your customer needs and wants.

Create an experience for your Brand

Create fun and informative environment to solve your customer problems

The Right Clients are more Important than the Most clients

Most business strategy is get the cash in the door by any means necessary to get most clients in the door. Problem is you achieve all of this at the expense of quality, profit and sanity. The right clients will allow your company to do better work, build a better reputation, generate more profits and retain better employees.

Focus on Your Goal, Objectives, Theme but most of all Profitability

Don’t try to be all things to all customers. Specialize in solving your ‘target audience’ problems and have fun doing it. Even the largest companies do their best when they focus on keeping the ‘main thing the main thing’.

Operations

Processes

Are the actions and applications that executives and teams put in place to achieve desired results.

Leaders need to take a step back to review their processes-individually or in a cross-functional groupings— to eliminate inefficiencies and optimize performance, annually or as the market changes.

Systems

Systems are the reliable processes and procedures that empower your business to consistently produce an excellent result for your client and profitability for you.

Documenting automated processes can increase your company’s efficiency and reduce costly mistakes; the checklists your employees follow to ensure that all orders are shipped correctly; the orientation process for all new clients when you begin working together; and the standardized contracts you use with all your new hires and vendors.

Controls/Standards

Controls are the processes, procedures and safeguards that protect your company form uninformed or inappropriate decisions or actions by any team member. They also are your business’s way of making sure that key work is getting done on time and the right way.

There are (4) main types of business controls:

Checklists/Visual Business Process Controls
Scorecards/ Business Performance Measurements Metrics by Function (KPI)
Embedded Internal Quality Controls— product/process quality checks
Policy and Procedures— written/measured

Scalable Solutions

Systems(using excel and quickbooks), Processes and Procedures that worked for a $1million dollar a year business, are not sufficient for $10 million dollar business or a $25 million dollar business.

Scaling your business requires building it in such a way that your business model and systems can be rolled out and replicated on a much bigger playing field, based on increased product ordered/processed sales volume.

Example, choosing a database solution or a 3rd party fulfillment should be based on actual growth rates, not potential or forecasted projected sales.

Financials

Cash flow and Financial Statements are your ‘life line’.

Learn how you are making and losing money. Understand profit and loss statements and what processes and procedures link to improving the ‘profits’ of your business.

Resources

The company’s financial wherewithal additionally, the measurement tools necessary to manage and track finances and assets. Do you have the knowledge, competencies and skills necessary to use those tools to increase your profits?

Small and mid-size businesses must master the ability to manage their working capital and cash flow. Every company has access to profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements. Management is either using accounting software or someone is preparing the reports for management.

How well does senior management understand the company’s financials and it correlation to their strategy? Do these managers understand which parts of the company need investment, where cuts can be made on why?

Managers must take the time to learn the relationships and interdependencies between their tools and the reports they use to maximize their resources.

Teamwork makes DreamWorks

You can’t do it by yourself. It is critical to ensure that your business doesn’t rely on the presence of any one individual.

Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, needed a great team to help them execute, deliver and do everything behind the scenes to deliver their vision to customers.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find. Hire people who are smarter than you, then step back and let them do their jobs. Remember championships are won by teams, not athletes. Employees are hired either to increase revenue or to decrease expenses in order to improve profits, no other reason.

Social Media for Small Businesses

Social media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Businesses of all size and shapes have started making the most of available mediums. Today we will try to anatomize tips on social media for small businesses. There are a plethora of small businesses eyeing social medium to promote their business/services. However, majorly these small businesses are failing or not being able to make optimum use of social media for their business growth. There are many theories and strategies on how to effectively use social media for established brands, but the topic social media for small businesses is seldom addressed. According to Digital state of eMarketing India 2017 Octane Research:

60% small businesses promote their business on social media. 50% focus on SEO and 35% use multichannel marketing funnel.
70% small businesses consider content strategy as their primary marketing activity.
52% business owners are using social media as to efficiently address customer engagement.
More than 20% of business owners said that they are making 50% plus profit using social media.

The primary reasons for the low turnout are uncertainty on an application of social media, calculating return on investment and persuade employees/stakeholders to clinch social media. Hence it is important to address the elephant in the room and analyze how beneficial is Social media for small businesses.

Social media for small businesses is a great way for emerging businesses to generate lead and build a reputation. If regularly updated, social media can deliver more results as compared to traditional mediums. Social media for small businesses gives brands an edge of control over the content that they want to post. Also, since social media is a two-way dialogue process, it helps businesses to instantly identify what is benefitting them. Social media for small businesses also helps generate Word of Mouth, which is one of the best tools for emerging businesses.

Social Media for small businesses | 10 Tips to effectively use Social Media

Define your Target Audience
The first and foremost important part that small businesses should focus on is to define their target audience. This helps small businesses to device their social media strategy accordingly. The target audience should be defined basis age group, sex, location, users’ online behaviors, their likes, interests, and preferences. For niche products, business owners can even target users based on their birthdays, anniversaries and important milestone. Audience targeting plays a very crucial role in the outcome of the results. For e.g.: a local shop selling footwear should not target users with interest in entertainment. The shop definitely won’t get the desired results.

Set achievable goals
Overnight success is a myth. Small businesses must understand this basic fact. Generally, when a new business starts selling on social media, there is palpable excitement is achieving more than set targeted sales. Businesses need to set goals which are upwards and forward. To achieve enormous goals, small businesses start updating social feed with multiple updates in shorter duration. This leads to user’s disinterest in the product/service. The set goals should be in sync with brand’s core capabilities and expertise. For e.g.: if a business is into selling shoes, they shouldn’t set a goal to repair maximum shoes in their area.

Choose the right medium
By now everyone knows, social media is for free. Even paid campaigns can be conducted at a relatively low cost as compared to traditional mediums. It is in this scenario, that we often see small businesses jumping the bandwagon and creating profiles on all the available platforms. Creating social profile doesn’t hamper brand image, but aggressively promoting a brand on wrong platforms can lead to brand losing its potential customers. Hence it is advisable for SME’s to first identify the right platform through which they can maximize their business. For e.g.: If a shoe selling brand tries to aggressively sell on LinkedIn, they won’t get a plausible response as compared to promotions on Facebook/Instagram.

Promote your core product/services
Since each and every business is riding in the social media wave, it is important for a them to promote their core product/services. Nowadays, we see a lot of businesses promoting their services as well as promoting peripheral products/services, which revolves around their core product/services. Majority of the times, this SME’s doesn’t have capabilities to fulfill a requirement, which can lead to a bad word of mouth for their business on social media platforms. Let us go back to our example; if a shoe seller is trying to aggressively promote socks instead of shoes, it is not going to benefit the business in the long run.

Create quality content
Now that we have covered the topics of identifying the target audience, setting achievable goals, choosing the right medium and promoting the right product/services let us now take a look at the type of content a business should promote on their social pages. A business should always focus on creating good quality content rather than not-good quantity content. Even if the business updates their page once in a day as long as it is relevant to their business, advocates about its core products send across a clear message it is considered as a good quality content. Antagonistically, if a business posts multiple updates which aren’t even relevant to the business’s products and services leads to users considering the business as fake/spam. Also, new businesses should try and refrain from promoting other businesses on their social platforms initially.

Create a content calendar
Making a small business successful on social platforms is no small task. It takes a lot of efforts for the businesses to keep up their conversion ratio. One such effort is to create a content calendar. Small businesses must anticipate important events and create a content calendar accordingly. Ideally, a content calendar must be planned a month in advance but an even weekly content calendar is highly recommended. This helps businesses to avoid any last minute hassles, strategize much more effectively and it also helps in creating curiosity amongst its loyal fans/customers.

Test and re-test
Social media is highly unpredictable. The content a business posts today, might not work for tomorrow. Hence, small businesses must always test their content before publishing it on their pages. Testing content also applies to the platform a small business chooses to promote. Small business owners must always don the consumer’s hat before posting about any product feature, updates, schemes or offers. A consumer’s perspective is the key when testing the content that has to be uploaded.

Look for inspiration
Small businesses must always look for inspiration from a competitor who is successful in the same category. Copy pasting competitors idea or content is not the answer. Small businesses must look for the kind of content its competitors are putting up and derive their own strategies subsequently. Inspiring content/stories always make a business to strive to create their own content that is appreciated by one and all. It helps in increasing brand consideration, brand visibility thereby increasing conversions for the business.

Calculate ROI
Even a small promotional budget is not justifiable if there is no mechanism to calculate its return on investment. It is more important in case of small businesses. It is very important for a small business to keep a tab on the budgets allocated to any promotions and the subsequent ROI related to it. If a certain promotion is not doing well or the business is not getting desired results, the brand custodian can always look for other platforms to generate quality conversions.

Analyze and Re-strategize
There can be umpteen instances where a particular campaign/promotion might not work for a business. That doesn’t mean that the promotion is wrong or the product/service is not good. Doing an analysis of the campaign is as important as setting the objective. This helps the business to formulate their upcoming strategies in more effective ways. At the end of every campaign, brands must note down the learning’s from that campaign and identify if the content/idea was appreciated by their fans or not. This helps businesses to skip the non-performing updates from future communications.

How Business Succession Planning Can Protect Business Owners

What if something happens to you, and you can no longer manage your business anymore? Who will then take over your business, and will it be managed the way you want?

Establishing a sound business succession plan helps ensure that your business gets handed over more smoothly.

Business succession planning, also known as business continuation planning, is about planning for the continuation of the business after the departure of a business owner. A clearly articulated business succession plan specifies what happens upon events such as the retirement, death or disability of the owner.

A good business succession plans typically include, but not limited to:

·Goal articulation, such as who will be authorized to own and run the business;

The business owner’s retirement planning, disability planning and estate planning;

·Process articulation, such as whom to transfer shares to, and how to do it, and how the transferee is to fund the transfer;

·Analysing if existing life insurance and investments are in place to provide funds to facilitate ownership transfer. If no, how are the gaps to be filled;

·Analysing shareholder agreements; and

·Assessing the business environment and strategy, management capabilities and shortfalls, corporate structure.

Why should business owners consider business succession planning?

·The business can be transferred more smoothly as possible obstacles have been anticipated and addressed

·Income for the business owner through insurance policies, e.g. ongoing income for disabled or critically ill business owner, or income source for family of deceased business owner

·Reduced probability of forced liquidation of the business due to sudden death or permanent disability of business owner

For certain components of a good business succession plan to work, funding is required. Some common ways of funding a succession plan include investments, internal reserves and bank loans.

However, insurance is generally preferred as it is the most effective solution and the least expensive one compared to the other options.

Life and disability insurance on each owner ensure that some financial risk is transferred to an insurance company in the event that one of the owners passes on. The proceeds will be used to buy out the deceased owner’s business share.

Owners may choose their preferred ownership of the insurance policies via any of the two arrangements, “cross-purchase agreement” or “entity-purchase agreement”.

Cross-Purchase Agreement

In a cross-purchase agreement, co-owners will buy and own a policy on each other. When an owner dies, their policy proceeds would be paid out to the surviving owners, who will use the proceeds to buy the departing owner’s business share at a previously agreed-on price.

However, this type of agreement has its limitations. A key one is, in a business with a large number of co-owners (10 or more), it is somewhat impractical for each owner to maintain separate policies on each other. The cost of each policy may differ due to a huge disparity between owners’ age, resulting in inequity.

In this instance, an entity-purchase agreement is often preferred.

Entity-Purchase Agreement

In an entity-purchase agreement, the business itself purchases a single policy on each owner, becoming both the policy owner and beneficiary. When an owner dies, the business will use the policy proceeds to buy the deceased owner’s business share. All costs are absorbed by the business and equity is maintained among the co-owners.

What Happens Without a Business Succession Plan?

Your business may suffer grave consequences without a proper business succession plan in the event of an unexpected death or a permanent disability.

Without a business succession plan in place, these scenarios might happen.

If the business is shared among business owners, then the remaining owners may fight over the shares of the departing business owner or over the percentage of the business.

There could also be a potential dispute between the sellers and buyers of the business. For e.g., the buyer may insist on a lower price against the seller’s higher price.

In the event of the permanent disability or critical illness of the business owner, the operations of the company could be affected as they might not be able to work. This could affect clients’ faith, revenue and morale in the company as well.

The stream of income to the owner’s family will be cut off if the business owner, being the sole breadwinner of the family, unexpectedly passes away.

Don’t let all the business you have built up collapse the moment you are not there. Planning ahead with a proper business succession plan before an unexpected or premature event happens can help secure your business legacy, ensuring that you and your family’s future will be well taken care of.