Many businesses these days, whether they are brand new, or have been around for many years, seem to be neglecting the importance of a business website. Facebook seems to be the new “poor man’s website” where businesses have a Facebook page but have virtually no other presence on the web. Why is this a problem?
First of all, we now live in the day and age where not having a website for your business is like not having a phone number. Bad, right? In our new technology age, people’s impulse today is to look up a business on the web before doing anything else. If they can’t find you, that’s a serious problem: you automatically lose credibility in their eyes.
Maybe you do have a small web presence through a Facebook page, Google+ page, or LinkedIn page for your business. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is not the end all, be all of online marketing and web presence. If you have a business page on these social media sites, but do not have a website of your own, again, you lose credibility. As a business, you give your potential customers the idea that you are not an established business. While social media sites are great for connecting and engaging with your customers on a more “social” level, it still should not replace an official business website. These outlets can be used to drive traffic to your website through SEO (search engine optimization). In layman’s terms? These social media sites can be used to help people find your business on the web through higher ratings on organic searches related to your business. So don’t just stop at the social media sites. You lose search ranking capabilities by neglecting a business website.
Finally, let’s face it: people want information available at their fingertips (hello computers, tablets, and smartphones!) so if you, as a business, aren’t providing that necessary information through those venues, your business will be hurting in the long run. People want information about your business readily available, and if you aren’t providing that through an official business website, eyebrows will be raised and you may get fewer converts or leads.
So what’s the bottom line? If you don’t have a business website, trust us. You need one!
For a small business, getting individuals to buy into your product or service is crucial for survival. Conducting sales is truly a learned art. It takes time and practice to persuade people to support your business. When trying to promote your sales, one sure-fire way to shut your business down is to try to give your potential customers a scripted sales pitch. When in conversation with a potential buyer, they are more likely to shut down and tune you out if you delve into an elevator pitch you have tweaked countless times to get just right. But there is one huge problem with that strategy: you neglect your customers true needs and fail to help them make the connection between your product or service and how it will fill their needs. Your customer will feel as though you are not listening to them or paying attention to what they really need because you are too focused on promoting yourself! Here are five tips to help you conduct a more effective sales conversation:
- Let the customer talk- When it comes to sales, the one biggest factor that you have to keep in mind is that people love to talk about themselves. If you enter into a conversation with a potential customer, focus the conversation 95% on them and only 5% on you.
- Keep your responses short and sweet. Keep your talk to less than a paragraph. The longer you talk, the more your customer will tune you out. Keep your customer talking.
- Be alert and pay attention to what they are saying. The more distracted you are in the conversation, the more you will miss key insights to what your customer needs.
- Get to know you customer as much as is appropriate for your line of business. The more the customer feels like you know them, the more likely they will be converted to your product or service. Knowing your customer builds trust and loyalty. Getting to know your customer may take time, but it is truly worth the time and effort in the long run.
- Keep a flow of “yeses”– Ask your potential customer probing questions that lead to “yeses”, or in return, try to make your negative answers into a positive. The more positives in the conversation, the more you will keep the conversation flowing. A conversation filled with “no’s” will shut down the conversation with your potential customer and leave you lost without a solution and without a converted customer.
There is a new CrossFit gym opening here in Columbia called CrossFit Audacity. Jack Jones, the business owner of CrossFit Audacity, shared with us some very inspirational words for all of you dreaming about starting a business.
“Held the first class at CrossFit Audacity tonight and wow – so many unexpected life lessons! All day as 5:30 approached I kept having random reasons why I should cancel tonight’s first class: the floor wasn’t clean enough, they didn’t get the toilets put back, I wasn’t able to get our billing system set up… on and on and on.
And a year ago I would have definitely cancelled. All the reasons were legitimate. They could have been justified. People would have understood. And I think that’s why most of my big ideas have fizzled out. When it actually came time to take action I would let the fear of failure stop me from taking that final, crucial step.
Now I see that these little decisions make all the difference between success and failure.
I’m so glad I went ahead with the class despite not being perfectly prepared. It was awesome. Everyone was so nice. We had a blast with dodgeball. Learned incredibly valuable lessons and tomorrow is going to be a little less scary. I’ll be a little better prepared. The class will go a bit smoother. And that’s all that needs to happen – get a little better, one step at a time.
If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do – go do it! Don’t put it off! There will never be the perfect time. You’ll never be prepared enough.
The motto of the British SAS is: ‘Who dares, wins.’ Be the one who dares. Dare greatly. Take risks. Be bold. Audacity: ‘The willingness to take great risk.'”
Thank you Jack Jones for sharing your inspiring words with us!
19 THINGS YOU MUST DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL
You have to do the hard things.
- You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
- You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
- You have to give more than you get in return right away.
- You have to care more about others than they care about you.
- You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
- You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
- You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
- You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
- You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
- You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
- You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
- You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
- You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
- You have to try, fail and try again.
- You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
- You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
- You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
- You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
- You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.
The tasks we complete on a day to day basis can fall into two main categories: urgent and important. You may complete a task because it is urgent: it needs your attention now before you complete anything else. These could be crises, pressing problems, or projects you must complete on a deadline. These kinds of tasks could be important as well, don’t get me wrong, but the reason they are urgent is because you have to see to them now. An important task is one that is long term such as planning, preparation, prevention, or relationship building and you aren’t necessarily under a crunch to complete it.
Many of us end up putting off important tasks until they can no longer go undone, which then turns them into urgent tasks. You procrastinators in particular may fall into this trap of urgency. But procrastinators beware… it is a nasty cycle that feeds itself. The more you put off, the more urgent matters you eventually have to deal with and with that comes a rising level of stress and feeling of being out of control.
The solution? Focus on those important tasks before they turn into urgent tasks. Make to-do lists. Look long term. Take the time to focus on what’s important and save yourself and your business the stress in the end. You certainly don’t want to turn into an urgency addict (i.e. you get to the point where you thrive on the adrenaline of all the fires you put out every day).
Operating under urgency can be destructive. You lose sight of the long term because you are so focused on the short term or completing tasks that have to be done now. Without that long term vision and considerable planning and preparation for the future (all important but not urgent tasks) you could certainly be creating a spell for disaster for your business, or even setting up your business for failure.
Just think of it. All of those important tasks you wish you could do but can’t because you have more urgent matters to tend to? Stop the cycle and focus on your preparation, prevention, and planning strategies before it’s too late.
Inspiration for this blog post was pulled from First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Truly a must read!
What makes a great leader? Be Constant, Consistent and Concise. Constancy and consistency build trust in your coworkers and employees. When those around you can rely on your word and know you will follow through, they are more apt to follow you and trust your management and leadership. Never make promises you know you can’t keep. In other terms “say what you mean and mean what you say.” Constantly communicate with your employees and provide them the vision of your business. Your employees and coworkers will be more likely to jump on board with you and give their best work for you if they understand the vision of the business. When communicating this vision, be concise. In other words, keep things simple. Over complicating your vision or a problem in your company is a sure fire way to breed confusion within your business. Be as clear as you can be. Why is great leadership so important as an entrepreneur? Because you’re the boss.
For other great tips on how to foster a healthy entrepreneurial culture and leadership in your business, check out Beat the System: 11 Secrets to Building an Entrepreneurial Culture in a Bureaucratic World by Robert W. MacDonald.
Through the month of April, we will be waiving the set-up fee for our Executive Offices and Virtual Offices when you sign a 12 month agreement. What a great time to explore your solutions at Buttonwood Business Center!
Update: You have only a few more days to take advantage of our April promotion! Get those free set-up fees while you can!
Starting your own business, whether it is a law firm, accounting firm, internet based business, restaurant, or whatever your dream may be, is an incredibly daunting and stressful process. I can only imagine how many people write-off entrepreneurialism as way too much work with high risk and no guaranteed reward.
I recently read a bleak statistic saying that after 2 years, 80% of start-ups fail. And it gets worse: 93% of start-ups fail before they have reached the 5 year mark. Wow. That’s depressing. Seeing that statistic would surely scare away any hopeful dreamer. But let’s think about it for a minute.
Starting your own business is all about planning and research. You must research the market you are entering, learn about existing competition, and really explore every single facet of the business. You must investigate the accounting side, the legal side, marketing, all costs and overhead, the list goes on! So I wonder how many of those 93% failed businesses actually researched and planned well? Failing to plan and research well sure is setting your business up for failure.
So, by the time you do all of your proper research and business planning, starting your business is a very calculated risk. It’s not a gamble as I’m sure many people see entrepreneurialism to be. The real risk lies in not starting your business. What do you have to lose if you plan and research properly? You risk your reward: chasing your dream, and making money doing so.
I am continuing to discover the great depth of resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses here in Columbia, MO! This morning I attended a great networking event for people who want to start a business or love and want to support the entrepreneurial culture in the surrounding area. It’s a great avenue to get involved in the Columbia business startups culture.
The Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers is a great resource for all of you just starting out with your small business. I highly recommend checking out their website www.missouribusiness.net for some great resources and information on how to start a business. In particular, I found a great segment on home-based business start-ups. Click Here.
Be thankful we live in a community that loves to support people in chasing their dreams of starting a business!
I recently just read Built to Sell by John Warrillow. It turned out to be a really interesting read. The basis of the book is to give business owners tips to making their business sellable. The unique aspect of the book is that it is written in narrative form rather than a straight text-book style read, which makes it a breeze to read!
As I’ve been contemplating this book, I’ve been thinking… A lot of entrepreneurs start their business because it’s something they are passionate about. So many may not actually be looking to sell their business. Perhaps those of you contemplating selling your business are either 1. Serial business sellers (you start businesses and sell multiple times) or 2. You’re getting ready to retire. Both valid reasons to consider selling to make a profit from your business. For these folks: this book is a great fountain of tips to guide you through the selling process. I highly recommend checking it out.
But for those of you who don’t have selling your business on your radar- or maybe you’re contemplating starting a business or are just now starting one- this book can be useful for you too. Overall, Built to Sell gives great tips on how to get your business running without you. Wouldn’t you say that a lot of entrepreneurs dream of creating a business they can eventually run from the sideline and work only a couple of hours a week and still be the boss? That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship. You have the potential to have as much freedom from work as you’d like. Before you get there though, you will probably have some long hours, rough patches, and sacrifices that have to be made. But through these rough times, creating a profitable business is the drive that keeps you going.
Just a couple of tips that I found most helpful for any small business in this book were:
1. “Don’t generalize, specialize. If you focus on doing one thing well and hire specialists in that area, the quality of your work will improve and you will stand out among your competitors.” (Ted’s Tip #1)
2. “Owning a process makes it easier to pitch and puts you in control. Be clear about what you’re selling and potential customers will be more likely to buy your product.” (Ted’s Tip #3)
3. “Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.” (Ted’s Tip #6)
4. “Relying too heavily on one client is risky and will turn off potential buyers. Make sure that no one client makes up more than 15 percent of your revenue.” (Ted’s Tip #2)
5. “Two sales reps are always better than one. Usually naturally competitive types, sales reps will try to outdo each other. And having two on staff will prove to a buyer that you have a scalable sales model, not just one good sales rep.” (Ted’s Tip #8)
If these tips are helpful to you, or you find them interesting, I highly encourage you to check this book out! There are 17 tips total given in the book. Let us know what you think about this on Facebook and Twitter! #builttosell.