QuickBizBreak by david weaver

Take a quick break from your biz to ponder new ideas and strategies that will turbocharge your business.

10 Business Strategies for the New Year

Posted by QuickBizBreak on December 2, 2010

How does 2011 look for business? The best answer is perhaps the age-old response ‘it depends’. And that’s probably the good news. This time last year, most would agree that the economy was still in the dumps with only fleeting thoughts of recovery in 2010. I’m seeing more optimism this time around but mixed with the realization that we may never see the economy as robust as it was the decade or so prior to bailouts, falling stock and real estate values and the tanking of consumer confidence.

So yes, it depends upon your industry, the length of time you’ve been in business, your cash position, your marketing prowess and a lot of other variables. Regardless of where you fall within those areas, here are 10 areas that every business should look at in preparation for 2011:

1) Strategic Planning – Whatever your expectations were for 2010 and indeed, for the past couple of years and beyond, they are probably different know. Challenge the assumptions you had from previous years. Where is the market going? Who can you partner with? Is there an ancillary market or ancillary products/services you can offer? Leave no stone unturned. A good strategic plan will keep you focused for the year to come while watching for new opportunities within your area of expertise.

2) Quit Doing What Doesn’t Work – Sounds obvious but you might be surprised at the number of people who continue to beat their collective heads against the wall trying the same old things (remember the definition of insanity?). The corollary to this concept, of course, is to focus on what works and that is the real key. What are your most profitable products or services? Why are they the most profitable? What can you do to expand within this area of profitability?

3) Brainstorm – You may note a recurring theme here. This is no time to be afraid to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for suggestions from your employees. When was the last time you surveyed your customers or had a client roundtable discussion? Not only can new ideas come from this type of exchange but the interaction and involvement with customers and employees show both sides how important they are to the success of the company.

4) Know Who to Fire – Customers, that is. I’ve talked with so many business owners who keep catering to their worst customers who continue to be a drain on resources, affecting both personnel and finances. My wife says you have to be careful when you encounter what she refers to as a ‘black hole’ personality type at a dinner party. They suck anyone close to them into a negative conversation or no conversation at all. Customers can be a ‘black hole’ as well. At a dinner party you have to tolerate bad guests. You don’t have to tolerate bad customers, especially the ones that aren’t paying their bills.

5) Leverage Your Network – In good times, business seems to roll through the door. In difficult times, it takes hard work and a lot of it. Take advantage of your network and let them be relationship brokers on your behalf. A third party can offer introductions in a non-threatening way that doesn’t come across as a sales call, nor should it be. This is about helping each other connect. Some connections lead to business, some lead to referrals and some lead nowhere, at least initially. It’s all good if it gets people talking and working together. People like helping people as long as it is reciprocal. Just watch out for the ‘black holes’…

6) Break Through the Barriers – In this type of economy, customers are always looking for better deals. What can you do that breaks through traditional barriers, excites the customer, delivers the unexpected? Provide something stellar and watch your customers become advocates for your business. I observed closely as a new frozen yogurt shop opened in our area just as the season changed and cold weather hit. What a lousy time to open a frozen-anything eatery. Yet, the product is so good that word spread instantly. Every time we’re there, we see friends and acquaintances, even with winter weather upon us. I know my wife alone encouraged a dozen or so families to try it out. Multiply that by 20 raving fans and you’ve developed a nice little core business.

7) Engage Your Employees – I talked with the owner of one of the largest financial management practices in our area. She can’t understand why her employees aren’t meeting her expectations. Then I learned that she rolls in around 10am each day, leaves by 4 in the afternoon and takes every Friday afternoon off. I’ve seen it in other businesses as well where senior employees come and go on their own schedule and newer employees simply mirror the behavior. Not exactly great for productivity. In both instances, expectations need to be clear, roles defined and understood and performance standards in place for each level of employee and management. Including owners. It’s our responsibility to encourage and engage our employees so they understand what success looks like for them as well as the organization. They also need to know what the prize looks like when success is realized.

8) Financial Management – This is a subject that some owners would rather ignore than face. Believe me, the big bear in front of you doesn’t go away if you cover your eyes. If you don’t understand your company financials, sit down with your accountant (hiring an accountant would actually be a great first step) and have them explain the basics – Balance Sheet (Assets & Liabilities), Income (Profit & Loss) Statement and Cash Flow Statement (movement of cash through the business). There are books and short courses available that can also help you here – let Google be your friend.

9) Negotiate Deals – From rent to purchasing supplies to locking in long-term purchase contracts, many vendors are willing to negotiate to maintain customer retention, even if their profitability suffers. Retailers can upgrade space for the same or less than they’ve been paying in many cases. Bulk ordering can improve pricing but I’d rather see businesses place smaller orders while negotiating bulk rates unless it’s raw materials that you know you will use in the long term. Banks are still tight with their money but the better financial records you maintain, the better the improvement in sales and receivables, the better chance you have at negotiating a loan if you really need extra capital.

9.5) Bonus! – It’s really number 10 but by calling it 9.5, you feel like you’re getting a bit extra, right? Let’s hope so. I wanted to call this “Know What You Can Steal” but that sounds a bit wayward. The economy isn’t really expanding so stealing customers from your competitors is the one place to find new business while retaining your current customer/client base. It’s also a great time to steal the very best employees you can find. If you have done a great job at numbers 1 through 9, you should have a great environment to offer new employees – a solid, profitable company with a good future.

10) Surprise! – There really is a 10. How do you relay your marketing message? Website, social media, PR, advertising,coupons? All great avenues, when appropriate. Consider adding a video component to your marketing activities. I know a good platform that makes it easy. For this or any other area where you might have questions or need help, give me a call.

To learn more about video marketing, click here –> Video Marketing Made Easy

David Weaver    678.620.3990

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What Are Your Challenges in Todays Economic Environment?

Posted by QuickBizBreak on September 16, 2010

How do I plan for the future when I don’t know what the future holds? How can I best identify and attract good customers? Is social media really the way to go? What are my options? When I do grow, how do I fund that growth? How are current and future tax laws going to affect my business? Are there legal issues I need to be aware of?

So many questions – where do I go for answers from qualified experts? Glad you asked – keep reading!

Getting Answers

I don’t want to attend a bunch of seminars!

We understand. That’s why we assembled the best advisors from different specializations who can answer those questions and challenge you to ask even more of yourself and your business.

Intoducing The Georgia Business Resource Alliance

On Tuesday, September 28th, you will have the opportunity to tap the minds of specialized advisors to answer your most pressing questions about handling business in the current economic environment!

From 11am-3pm, the Georgia Business Resource Alliance is hosting an elite group of advisors who will address critical business issues. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to get answers to your important questions all in one place!

Maggiano’s Lunch

You received an audio message. Click here to play it.

Did I mention that for your incredibly small entry fee, you also get to enjoy Maggiano’s Buckhead 5-Star all-you-can-eat lunch? That’s worth the price of admission alone!

Topics and Speakers

Legal Issues You Need to Know for Small Businesses – Mark deAndre, deAndrade Callahan, LLC

Identifying, Attracting and Retaining Your Best CustomersDave Banko, President of Loyalty Marketing Solutions

Harnessing the Power of the Social Media Sphere – Emma Loggins, LNP Studios

Developing a Business Plan for Success – David Weaver, Managing Partner, The Weaver Group

Investment Strategies in an Ever-Changing Economic Environment – Darryl Dyche, CFP, Compass Financial Services

How Tax Laws Are Affecting Businesses – Ben Loggins, CPA, Loggins & Associates

Small Business Challenges in Today’s Banking Environment – Billy Lovett, Co-Founder, One Georgia Bank

Learn more about our speakers and topics here.

______________________________________________

Pre-Event Registation Only $35

Limited Seating – Order Now!

Each advisor can only admit 20 attendees and I’d love to see you there. But….this newsletter went out to hundreds of contacts in metro Atlanta, so please, order now to ensure your seat!

Click here for ordering info.

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The top question to ask yourself before starting a new business

Posted by QuickBizBreak on August 19, 2010

My guest post on Mike Michalowicz’s Toilet Paper Entrepreneur blog answering the question: What is the top question to ask yourself before starting a new business:

“What are you willing to risk”… to be successful, to meet your goals, even just to survive? You may be spending more time away from your family, you will need to expand your knowledge and do many things you don’t enjoy just to be in the business you enjoy! The business will cost more than you have planned. Are you willing to dip further into your savings? Can you handle defeat? If you can answer yes to all, you are off to a good start!

So what do you think is the top question you should ask yourself before starting a new business?

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-able

Posted by QuickBizBreak on August 17, 2010

Some of you may follow Scott Ginsberg, otherwise known as ‘That Guy with the Nametag’.  If not, you can learn about him in the link included later in this post.  Today, he posted about his new book titled, “-able”.   It’s a common suffix which, when added to a word, means “capable of or worthy of” according to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary.

Scott’s post got me thinking about what we really are capable of when we put our mind to certain tasks and goals.  Many of us are stymied, however, thinking we are incapable of controlling our own destiny.  Scott has a great theory about this, calling it his ‘theory of the universe’:

” Which is:  The only thing in life you have control over is yourself.

And that you can’t make anything happen – but you can (greatly) increase the probability of that thing happening …by making yourself more “-able.” “

A friend once told me that you have to make your own luck by being more ‘available’ – putting yourself in the best position to capitalize on opportunities.  While that’s true, Scott is saying it’s not just available, but also a bunch of other -able words such as:

Advanceable. Addictable. Bookable. Brandable. Breakable. Buyable. Buzzable. Callbackable. Checkbookable. Discoverable. Engageable. Googleable. Invokable. Meetable. Nameable. Needable. Non-nextable. Openable. Pursuable. Referable. Requestable. Retweetable. Revisitable. Sellable. Show-Up-Able. Sought-after-able. Spreadable. Successable. Superiorable. Trustable. Unbullshittable. Unequalable. Yessable – all words he addresses in his book.

After reading all these words, and assuming that you become more of what those words try to describe, I believe they can jointly make us more “free-able”, to make up my own ‘-able’ word.  Freeable to accomplish more, to profit more, to enjoy more, to build more, to share more, to gain more of whatever we are trying to accomplish in our business.  And after all, isn’t that really what we strive for in our business?

To learn more about Scott’s book, click here.  To learn more about Scott via his blog, click here.  And if you want to learn how becoming more accountable to yourself and others can help you commit and execute on all those -ables, give me a call at The Weaver Group, 678-620-3990.

By the way, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m hoping to win a free book from Scott by writing this post.  It looks like a great read though, even if we have to pay for it!

Photo courtesy of RGB Stock

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Small Business Access To Capital

Posted by QuickBizBreak on July 7, 2010

When interviewing attendees of the North Fulton Business Expo in Atlanta, one key topic kept surfacing: Access to Capital. We all know that the credit markets continue to be tight for small business lending. The administration announced in February, two new SBA lending initiatives to help increase access to capital. One is a refinancing program for owner-occupied commercial real estate and the other is an expanded working capital loan program. There is also a call for a permanent increase of the maximum loan sizes for SBA’s 7(a) program.

To learn more about available programs, watch the interview with Wendy Armstrong, Private Banker with One Georgia Bank.

Loan Program Overview

SBA 7(a)

7-10 years full amortization term with 10-15% down payment which can include a seller take back and a tenant improvement allowance. With real estate, the amortization can grow to 20-25 years and can include blending amortization to extend payments. The maximum loan per person/per entity is $2 million but may increase to $5 million. Rates are variable and based on the Wall Street Journal prime rate but cannot be higher than 2.75% above prime. Usually, its around WSJ Prime + 2.25% to 2.50%. A $2500 packaging fee is required but the guarantee fee is currently waived.

USDA

USDA programs allow up to a 30-year amortization with 20% down payment. Loan amounts are available up to $25 million and require a 2% guarantee fee. Rates may be variable or fixed.

For more information, contact Wendy Armstrong, One Georgia Bank at 678-553-7039 or email her at wendy.armstrong@onegeorgiabank.com.


Microfinance Loans

Thanks to tighter credit standards and stricter regulatory scrutiny, many small businesses have found it difficult – or impossible – to get a bank loan.

A federal proposal to launch a $30 billion fund aimed at boosting lending could help.  But,  in the meantime, a growing number of companies that might not have been able to get a loan from a traditional bank have been flocking to microfinance institutions, instead.

Called community development financial institutions (CDFIs), these organizations include community development banks, credit unions, loan funds, and venture funds “dedicated to serving small businesses and others who are outside the financial mainstream”, says Mark Pinsky, CEO of Opportunity Finance Network, a network of microfinance groups based in Philadelphia.

Some provide loans of up to $35,000 to “anybody having trouble getting access to credit,” says Pinsky.  Others lend amounts of up to $200,000 to small businesses.

But, most important, the approximately 700 CDFIs in the U.S. have dramatically different lending criteria from the usual bank standards.  They include an eclectic mix of such factors as a good credit score and relevant industry experience.  You also need collateral, but often that can mean anything from a car to a television.

Originally published in OPEN Forum. To read the full article, click here.

The 9 Most Devastating Mistakes Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Make When Financing Their Businesses

Mistake #9:  Using personal credit to finance your business

Mistake #8:  Putting personal assets at risk

Mistake #7:  Contaminating your credit

Mistake #6:  Not paying your bills on time…100% of the time

Mistake #5:  Using your family’s money

Mistake #4:  Not setting up a corporation and building corporate credit – the right way

Mistake #3:  Rushing the process for building corporate credit

Mistake #2:  Not following up on the credit-building process

Mistake #1:  Not recognizing opportunity costs

Admittedly, this has a bias towards building credit and is written by a credit company but there are still some great insights.  Read the full article here.

Community Bank Loans May Be Harder to Get

Community banks have been a lifeline for entrepreneurs during the recession – one of the few places that small-business owners have still been able to get traditional loans.

But the Wall Street Journal not long ago took a look at how community banks facing increased federal scrutiny from regulators are also placing tighter scrutiny on their small-business customers.

Community banks typically hold less capital than bigger banks, don’t leverage themselves as much and rarely get involved in subprime mortgage lending–all of which helped them stay out of trouble. But eventually some did venture into this market, got into trouble and eventually even closed down.

Community banks also tended to be heavily involved in commercial real estate lending–a market that some experts believe is heading for a crash similar to that suffered by the subprime housing market a few years ago.

The problems have led to more scrutiny, with federal regulators demanding that community banks increase their capital and loan-loss reserves even further, call in the risky loans that are outstanding and be more cautious when making new loans.

To read more about what that means for business owners, read the full article here.

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How to Become a Relationship Broker

Posted by QuickBizBreak on May 19, 2010

What is a Relationship Broker? It’s someone who is always thinking of building relationships by brokering introductions. And not just any introductions, but the kinds that create synergy between people, drawing from the strengths of both parties. Those strengths may be tactical, possessing a needed skill for example, or they could be strategic, such as brokering further introductions within their own sphere of influence.

Now, who comes to mind when you think of a Relationship Broker? If you’re in Roswell, GA, that would be Steve Stroud. Listen in as Steve describes how he works within the community to the benefit of others and how that can work for you to build better relationships and more business!

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Using the Power of Process to Increase Your Sales

Posted by QuickBizBreak on April 27, 2010

Complimentary Webinar for Business Owners and Managers:

Using The Power of Process to Increase Your Sales

Wednesday, May 5th, 11am-12pm

Tara Lamboley, Integrated MARCOM Inc.

* Maximize new leads, close more sales with this simple 3-step process
* Start marketing with the end in mind
* Capitalize on the secret that 90% of your competition doesn’t even know about!

David Weaver, Advicoach Business Advisor

* Do you know where you are you taking your company and the process to get it there?
* Navigate to success and the one tool you need to guide you!

Bruce Hoelzen, Sales Effectiveness Inc.

* Protect and grow your profits by improving your negotiation process
* Get the sales you need and build strong business relationships
* Use a strategy for negotiating..instead of just ‘winging it’!

Click here for more info:  Webinar-LI-5-5-10

Click here to register:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/737205427

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What Atlanta Business Owners Are Saying

Posted by QuickBizBreak on April 23, 2010

I recently roamed the rooms at the North Fulton Business Expo here in north Atlanta, recording what business owners think is the number one issue for them today and how to address it.  What do you think was the number one issue mentioned?  Click here to find out!

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The Power of Process in Driving Sales Results

Posted by QuickBizBreak on April 21, 2010

What role does process play in planning and executing for success? I’ve been known to shoot from the hip at times and when I do, it tends to get me in trouble.  There is a lot to be said for having a defined process for much of your business.

We’re taking a much closer look at that topic in an upcoming webinar titled “Using the Power of Process to Increase Your Sales”.  While the subject is centered around sales it hits on several areas of process, including planning, marketing and negotiation.  What does negotiation have to do with increasing sales?  All it takes is to be on the ‘losing side’ of a negotiation with a client, a prospect or a vendor to understand the importance of negotiating skills.  Bruce Hoelzen with Sales Effectiveness, a negotiation and sales training specialist with a history of training IBM’s best, will give us some quick tips on following a process for winning negotiations at any level.

And what about marketing? There is a proven process and Tara Lamboley with Intergrated MARCOM will introduce us to the power of that process in managing campaigns and touch points. She will share a secret that 90% of your competitors don’t even know about that will blow you away!

No process will work without proper planning.  I’ve worked with many businesses that have good intentions but no defined plan, much less a process, to accomplish their goals. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a GPS where you could plug in your destination and then follow directions to your goals?  There is and I’ll show you where to find it and how to use it.

Join us on May 5th at 11am for this information-packed webinar – “Using the Power of Process to Increase Your Sales” – to find out how and when to utilize process to improve sales results. This one hour can change the way you do business!

Click here to register today.

To your success,

David Weaver

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Video Repost: What Kind of Song Would Customers Write About Your Company?

Posted by QuickBizBreak on March 31, 2010

If a typical customer of yours were to write a song about your company, what kind of song would it be?  Positive? Negative? Funny? Sad?

Assuming that it would be positive, would any of your customers love your company, products or service so much that they would actually follow through and write it…and record it…and post it on YouTube?

The video here is part of a comedy routine, but think about it seriously for a moment.  What would your customers be willing to do to promote your company or your products?  Would they spread the word to their friends?  Would they act as a referral?  Would they submit an on-line testimonial?  Would they promote your business at all?

Perhaps the bigger question is, what are you doing to deliver the kind of products and service that would make a customer want to do extraordinary things to promote your company?

David Weaver, Advisory Services, 678-620-3990

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