If promotion for yourself or business is challenging for you, there’s a big problem with that because you can’t grow a business if no one knows you. The old saying “Good Things come to those who wait” doesn’t apply in the digital age. In today’s market, you have to have to get up and get it yourself. Here are three real, practical, hands-on steps you can and should do today to promote yourself and your business effectively and fast.
Brand advocates are those who enjoy your product or service so much that they’ll happily spread the word about it. The customer’s ability to rate and review a company’s online reputation empowers them to speak out more when they use your service. Turning your customers into brand advocates is an important process since they’re your biggest advertising tool.
When you’re building a business, a lot of people will offer you advice. But, eventually, you are going to fail in some aspect and don’t be afraid because it will become a positive thing. Make mistakes, take risks, and don’t hold back are all cliché phrases you’ll hear. If you’re never failing, you’re probably never really winning either.
Today highlight some of the comments and questions you submitted and getting Frank’s response on all topics.
As discussed previously funding is hard to obtain especially when asking from friends/family. It’s important if you go that route to understand at all times this is a business transaction. It’s not your money, and there is risk associated with borrowing money from people close to you. Notify them of the risks involved, possible obstacles and a realistic time frame to see an ROI, in addition, how you will handle these obstacles. Treating it like it’s an official pitch to a bank or investor helps take the emotion out of the situation and keeps everything professional.
Making a move to hiring a finance person is always tricky because it depends on what stage your bootstrap startup is currently at. Most time you may be able to sustain with an in-house bookkeeper a few times and transition them into a full-time position. The risk in going to a senior accountant before necessary is the cost associated can be expensive and sometimes unnecessary. Instead, consider having a person who can perform the daily accounting procedures until you reach the point where a CFO is needed.
When starting off a business everyone needs a location work out from, but most bootstrap startups are unsure what options they have and what does it look like? Today we’ll discuss the best move for your bootstrap startup.
Working from home vs. office is a debate that nobody has mastered, but both provide their own advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, your main concern should be to keep costs down. Working from home gives you that freedom and space to move in a space which you’re comfortable and avoid having to sign leases. However, it may come at the disadvantage of not establishing the company culture and collaborate on ideas with others.
Working in an office is much easier today than its ever been. Things such as shared offices, small rental units, and collaborative spaces/software all help with growing a business. Staff get the chance to discuss ideas, build relationships and collaborate together. Although, this might require longer commute times to work, and additional costs for the renal space.
Ultimately, the decision will be based on the type of business you are conducting, and if the home/office culture is where you will thrive the most. For example, tech-based companies may be interested in an open concept area with lounge and relaxation space because staff want an area away from their computers. Contrarily, a sales culture where staff are working independently speaking to clients and want to be in a home environment or have a dedicated desk. Some companies are exploring the option of a hybrid office, which has both features, so they can cater to all personality types and working styles.
Finally, the hardest part is determining how much space you will need as a startup. As s bootstrap startup its hopeful to expect your business to grow as the years go by, but there is never a guarantee. Most rentals are 3-5 years so the best way to determine what to do is take a realistic approach to your business and assess if a larger office contributes to the growth of your business and the bottom line. A bad office lease or too expensive office can cripple your business quicker than anything else.
The sales industry has changed from the old school, knock on your door days, and referrals. People pick up the phones less, buyers are more educated, and sellers now need to take a modernized approach it customers. Understanding how to run a formalized BDR/SDR (Business Development Rep/Sale Development Rep) program is essential to staying active in the sales industry, including sending out emails and other touchpoints to prospective clients to make a sale.
Exhausting every option to gain a customer’s interest is now industry standard. The amount of activity and resources spent to make a sale has increased because the amount of relationship building with customers in the pre-sale stage has decreased. Sales are now primarily driven by campaign data, so business owners can start to understand where sales call drop-offs will be, expected responses, and bookings.
Hiring sales staff that are able to quickly understand the different types of personalities when speaking to people and adjust to them will bring in more sales every time. Using a combination of a call, voicemail, email, and backed up by marketing messaging (documents) provides the highest rate of success. Ultimately, coming up with a sales strategy, including script, target market, and campaign (based on data) will give your business the best opportunity to succeed in the sales field.
Everyone is well aware that having a finance department is essential for any business in all industries to progress. However, when comes to startups its more about when is the right time to set one up, and who will be responsible for overseeing the company’s finances. We’ve seen the difficulties many startups are having with this conundrum and came up with a few tips to help you get started on setting up your finance department.
When a company is just getting started and can’t afford an accountant one of the best moves is look into accounting software programs. Options such as QuickBooks is reasonably priced and will do the number crunching for you. Most startups do their own accounting using multiple spreadsheets, ledgers etc. but technology has created a way for startups to save time on doing math and more time on marketing the business. Utilize the ability to let a computer do the work for you and start figuring out a way to get paid from any outstanding receivables.
Live within your means when it’s time to expand. As the business grows in revenue, you’ll need more help handling the finances, and hiring an accounting firm can be very time costly experience if you don’t know what you’re doing. Research both large and smaller firms, be clear about your expectations and budget when speaking to their agents. Do not discredit smaller firms because on occasion they can produce the type of financial assistance you require within your budget and building business relationships never hurts. A lot of startups can get swept up in the appeal of a large financial firm taking over but unable to maintain the costs associated. There is nothing impressive about going with a big firm if you don’t have the big budget to match it. Keep it simple.
Finally, consider hiring contract, part-time, or freelance bookkeepers to complete your finance department. Not every business needs a full time dedicated finance department. Take advantage of these options and seek outside help who can pick up some of the workloads where your business may be falling short. It’s usually just as effective and keeps costs low while you wait for your business to take that next step up in revenue to hire full-time staff.
As you’re reading this I hope this finds you well. How was your Canada Day? I hope it was relaxing. This day means a lot of things to many different people but for me besides getting a chance to kick back and celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest countries on earth, I like to remind myself how wonderful it is to be in a country where anyone with a dream and a product or service that people need and can afford can compete in the free enterprise system.
This week I want to address an issue I’ve heard leading up to this holiday which is the question of time. I’ve heard this so many times: “but I don’t have time for that”. While it’s true that time is limited, time is our most precious and limited resource, when I start talking to people about why they don’t have enough time, the picture becomes a little clearer as to how they could take their power back and really clean their calendar. I’m going to share with you some of my real time-saving strategies, because ultimately if it’s not on your calendar and if it’s not a routine or a ritual in your life, it will not come into fruition. Whatever you want to create, whether it’s an incredible healthy body or a successful business or whatever it might be – whatever you want to create requires time to be scheduled in your calendar and requires you to actually show up!
If your calendar is full of all kinds of other stuff from other people you’re never going to find time for you, and unfortunately you’re just going to slide into a mediocre boring life. You will become so resentful that you either just resign and say that’s just the way life is, or you get fired up and you hit a bottom and you say I’m never going to let this happen again. Maybe you’re at that place where you’re feeling frustrated that you want to do that creative project or work on your exercise and diet but just don’t have the time. If your ambition is to become successful, time shrinks the more successful you become. I found I had more time when just getting started than I do now with all these pressures and different deadlines. The key is to get your time and calendar right, and here’s how you got to do it. It’s very simple:
Learn to say NO: That’s the word you want to learn. No is how you detox your calendar, because if you look at your calendar and all the time that you’re spending with other people or on projects that you don’t want to be on, you would probably be shocked. Or if you’re honest, how much time are you spending on Netflix, HBO, twitter, Instagram, Facebook, doing things where you just let time pass by? People ask me all the time, how do you manage all those companies and still find time to travel, golf, give back to students and young entrepreneurs? It’s because I’ve become really good at saying the word no to distractions. When you have a hard time saying no, there’s usually two emotional issues. The first one is being okay with letting people down from time to time. You can do this without being out of integrity by being in communication with that person and re-negotiating the timing of when you can be present with them. The other emotional issue is when you create time to work on your projects, usually you’ve been spending so much time focusing on other people that there’s usually unfelt negative emotions inside you that you’ve been running from such as fear, guilt, or anger. We got to work on those emotions, because ultimately if you want to work on yourself and really take your business to the next level, exercise and take your body to the next level, or take your relationship to the next level, you’re going to have to work on yourself.
When you clear your calendar, all those emotions are going to well up, mainly the emotion of fear. Fear of whether it’s going to work out or fear if whether you’re good enough. Then we get to the real issue, which is not time, but rather the negative emotions and fear. How well you manage unfelt negative emotions and fear will determine the quality of your life. If you want to detox your calendar, believe in yourself and develop a daily ritual or a behavior every single day that leans you in the direction of getting all of your goals met.
For me, I need to read and do yoga or work on my body every single day. I always struggled with the time to do both with all the pre bedtime routines so I found that I can perform some stretches while reading every night before I go to sleep. It gives me time to distress and tune out all the distractions before bed so I can have a sound sleep and be recharged for what always seems to be a powerful day. You want to set yourself up so that you can actually do the behaviors and the rituals that make you the most fulfilled.
With that said, that would be my advice for you this week. Really take your calendar back to get the business results you want, the body you want, the relationship you want and ultimately the life you want.
I have no doubt that many of you were glued to the TV watching the championship games to see who would make it to the Superbowl in a couple of weeks (Patriots vs. Seahawks in case you missed it). While the Seahawks incredible comeback is its own story, I want to focus on the Patriots.
On the surface, the Patriots dominated the Colts 45-7 and earned Tom Brady another trip to the Superbowl. However, what happened after the game were accusations that the Patriots were cheating – specifically for deflating footballs during their championship game. As of writing this, the investigation is fresh and will probably take a while to fully examine. That point though is that this isn’t the first time that the Patriots have been accused of cheating. Back in 2007 they were fined $250,000 after a NFL investigation found them illegally videotaping their opponents.
This leaves the Patriots in a very interesting position, regardless of whether the allegations are true. I know many people who instantly scoff at any mention of the Patriots because of all the constant cheating allegations that have followed them. While they’re undeniably one of the top football teams, their credibility is always up for debate. The question I ask you is this: has anyone on your sales team made it so that your company’s credibility is lost? Worst yet, have they ever blatantly lied just to make a sale?
Whether it’s stretching the truth or promising things that simply aren’t possible, there will be a time when your client finds out the truth and then your trust is broken. Having integrity when selling is something that you would think would be common sense, however I thought it would be important to discuss why being dishonest during your sales process is simply a terrible idea:
Distrust Leaves A Lingering Taste – The biggest problem with the Patriots’ latest scandal is the fact that people are generally saying “again?” Obviously this is not the kind of reputation that any team or company would want when nasty things are being said about them. This doesn’t always have to be about blatant “cheating” as well. Terrible customer service or anything that makes anyone’s experience with your company unpleasant will unfortunately linger a lot longer than a good memory.
Hard To Earn Back Trust – As mentioned above, it is going to take a long time for the Patriots to lose their reputation as cheaters, and for fans to just see them as champion-level team instead of anything else. Earning trust is already a difficult task, but earning back someone’s trust after you’ve wronged them is an entirely different beast. It’s simply much better to not get into that situation in the first place.
Ensuring that integrity is something that is constantly talked about to your sales team will ensure that your company’s reputation stays intact.