With the huge group of baby boomers hitting retirement age, we’re seeing a lot of businesses up for sale—and Gen-Xers won’t be far behind.
When the time to exit rolls around, it’s extremely important to get the most value out of your company, because there are no “do-overs” when exiting your business.
Consequently, a large and growing industry has developed around the business of selling businesses. Not to question the value of those in these ancillary businesses, but let’s face it: They all take a share of your money, and the goal of selling your business is to end up with the biggest chunk of change in your pocket. Right?
This is why if you decide to sell your company, you need to explore all your options before you commit to one path. There might be popular business brokers in your community that are recommended, but they are going to take at least 10% of your proceeds, so don’t sign on with anyone just because of convenience.
Take a long look at doing a DIY or hybrid DIY sale of your business. I recommend this approach because today, more than ever before, you have excellent free resources available to you, including:
- Free advice from experienced retired owners and executives
- Excellent internet assets
- A dedicated Small Business Administration (SBA)
Benefits of Small Business IoT
Take a look at these 4 ways the IoT can help your small business work more efficiently.
As a business owner, it’s a good idea to print and use flyers to build awareness and inform potential customers about your business, products or services. The IOT has made information easily available and accessible. One of many amazing things IoT has led to in the healthcare industry is the development of self-monitoring and wearable health technology that will suit almost every type of budget. The availability of smart gadgets to better your health and provide readily available information combine to create a consciousness about health and wellness.
Provide Free Assistants
If you can’t afford a human assistant but could use some extra help to manage your day-to-day tasks, you may consider Google Assistant. Other professionals prefer Amazon Alexa or Siri. People turn to these devices when they’re connected to task management systems and calendars. The devices have the ability to control other smart devices, removing tedious tasks like scheduling and research from the long to-do lists all business owners have. One of many things small business owners should know is that it’s smart to take advantage of free assistants and other tools that simplify your day and boost productivity.
Utilize Smart Locks to Improve Safety
Businesses are turning to smart lock systems; they allow users to give access to buildings instead of tangible keys. Small businesses can control and monitor a door from any location. Smart Lock can also tell if a door is open, and those who use this system can select a package that includes a camera at the door bell, so they can view the visitor before opening the door.
Small businesses can also invest in cameras to monitor security footage in different locations around their business. No need to hire a security guard when you can trust in the IoT options to view your surroundings and boost safety at your brick and mortar location.
Better Transport and Delivery of Goods
If your business has shipments coming in and out, the IoT will help you – it allows for real time tracking. With the implementation of sensors and smart tagging, all individuals with access can easily track the transport and delivery of the packages – something that is very valuable for small businesses that are sending sensitive information.
Smart tags and sensors are game changers for the retail industry. The IoT devices have the ability to track where every item is located in real-time, even identifying the location of an item within a warehouse. This allows for efficient stock and inventory tracking.
The IoT industry is improving the way people work, boosting efficiency. If you’re trying to compete with larger businesses, this efficiency is a key part of your growth and success. The IoT automates office tasks, from customer service to managing resources, to make your life easier and your business run better. Adopt and embrace these offerings if you want to stay competitive in the business arena.
by Megan Totka
The traditional business plan has seen its ups and downs over the years. While still recommended for start ups, especially those seeking funding, business experts and assorted talking heads waver on the role of the traditional business plan for existing firms. The necessity and value of a lengthy document stuffed with research, carefully worded text, and financial analyses is often seen as too cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive. “The business world is changing too fast! By the time the plan is done, it’s outdated!” they say. Besides, an existing business already knows what it does well, who it targets, and how to reach their goals, right?
Not so fast.
Here is the reality: businesses always need to plan effectively, regardless of how long they have been in business. The questions that effective planning seeks to answer are always relevant.
- “What are we trying to accomplish?”
- “What will be required?”
- “Who are we targeting, and how will we reach them?”
- “How much money will we need?”
- “Will we make any money?”
- “What is our competition doing?”
Here are six great reasons why your business needs a plan.
1. To define success:
The planning process helps you get very clear about what success will look like for your business. If you don’t know the target, how can you hit it?
2. To assess your market:
Proper planning helps you validate both the size and makeup of the market. Are there enough customers who want what you offer? What do they look like and where are they? What is your competition like, and can you compete effectively?
3. To discover what it will take:
A good plan helps you ‘count the cost’, so you know what you are getting into.
What will it cost, in time, effort, and resources to attract your ideal customers, to expand your reach, add staff, or build that new location? What will you need to learn? How much money will you need to invest? Can you get there from here?
4. To identify ways you will achieve:
Planning helps you uncover the strategies that will generate the results you seek. What methods will be used to get your message to the right market? What marketing tools will you use? What kind of skills do you need on your staff? What partners will you work with to increase your odds for success?
5. To avoid mistakes:
Too many businesses fail in the early years. Many mistakes are probably preventable, if you take the time to learn from those who have ‘been there, done that’ and lived to tell the tale. Mistakes will be made, no question about it, but a good plan will help minimize the most common mistakes, and potentially uncover and correct others before they happen!
6. To engage your team:
A growing business depends on a team of talented and dedicated employees. A solid business plan, effectively communicated with your employees, helps them better understand what the overall business goals are and how their efforts will contribute to hitting the target.
Writing an effective business plan has many benefits, whether your business is just starting out or in the third generation. Take advantage of what the planning process can do for the future of your business. It’s not the Plan; it’s the PLANNING that makes the difference.
Who here has ever been tempted to cut corners with their business? I’ll admit it, I have.Sometimes, you get that voice at the back of your head, saying: You’ve already spoken with your sales reps last week; that’s good enough. You have a gazillion things on your to-do list… you don’t need to check in with them again.
Now, I call this the “creative justification” trap. You know those justifications that sound as though they make sense, but are actually a cop-out? Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
In your personal life, you might say to yourself “I’ve been sticking to my diet the whole week, so I deserve a cheeseburger this weekend,” or “I’ve saved a lot of money this month, now I can finally buy that new smartphone.”
You get the point.
Now, when you take a step back and think about it, you’ll realize that these creative justifications are nothing but excuses for you to cut corners.
And when it comes to your business, creative justifications can be very dangerous. In particular, make sure you avoid coming up with justifications in these three areas…
1. Blaming external factors.
When things go wrong, plenty of entrepreneurs look for external factors to blame.
“Clients aren’t buying our new products because of the economic downturn.”
“I’m getting bad reviews on Yelp because my competitors are creating fake profiles.”
But here’s the thing — while these creative justifications might make you feel better, they won’t help you grow your business.
So what if there’s an economic downturn? Are you going to cancel all your product launches, and let your sales stagnate? No, you have to figure out a way to work through it, and drive more sales despite the downturn.
2. Compromising on ethics.
Making money is pretty dang important to me, but you know what’s more important? Being ethical and honest.
Say your supplier tells you they can swap out your materials for something lower-grade (and cheaper!), and your customers won’t know the difference. If you’re really struggling, you might be tempted to take up the offer, and use creative justification to ease your guilt.
Don’t do it. In this day and age, consumers value authenticity and honesty above everything else, and being ethical is the key to building a great business.
3. Moving away from your core business.
Your core business is your strength and your foundation, and you should never get distracted or move away from it.
I know, it’s easier said than done. You’ll always hear of exciting new opportunities and projects that you can jump in on. Your customers might also tempt you: “Why don’t you also offer X? If I pay you extra, can you do Y?”
It’s easy to come up with a creative justification — you might think to yourself, I need extra cash to pay for the unexpected costs that came up last month, so I’ll just do this one thing.
Well, here’s the problem: the first step in the wrong direction will open up the possibility for the second step. And before you know it, you’re moving away from your core business. So don’t waver, and politely turn down any opportunities that are not aligned with your core business.
Creative justifications make you feel better about yourself, but as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to bury your head in the sand and cut corners with excuses. Ditch these justifications once and for all, and make the right decisions for your company!
Startups struggle with volatility. Scaling companies struggle with volatility and complexity. Like the bodies of adolescents, these developing organizations behave in unexpected, sometimes unnerving ways.
Their leaders, consequently, require new skills and approaches to navigate this challenging stretch, says Scott Belsky, the chief product officer at Adobe and founder and former CEO of Behance, a platform where artists and designers showcase creative work. Belsky characterizes this “middle” period as a time of swiftly alternating lows that must be endured and highs that must be optimized.
Belsky’s new book, The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture, addresses founders and others in the middle of both ambitious undertakings and their own leadership journeys. Here are three of his useful tips.
1. Take a light touch to process
Belsky calls process the “excretion of misalignment.” Startups, he explains, comprise small teams in which everyone understands the vision and acts on it. Communication is frictionless. To the extent leaders can maintain that alignment through the middle stage they will need less process. “It is only when people start giving you different answers to questions like ‘What are we trying to do?’ or ‘What are our priorities?’ that you [need] to process,” Belsky says.
Leaders can’t avoid process but they can minimize it. For example, founders who fret they’re losing touch with their expanding organizations may set up unnecessary sign-offs or regular check-ins just to maintain the feeling of control. Don’t do that, Belsky cautions. Also, don’t create processes in a vacuum. Instead, A/B test them to see, for example, whether it’s better to brainstorm as a group or have people dream up ideas on their own and submit them for discussion.
Also: always be auditing. “Processes may outlive their usefulness,” Belsky says. “Are we meeting every Tuesday just because it’s Tuesday? Why are we having 360-degree reviews at the end of the year?” Improving or outright killing processes frees up time and releases creativity.
Belsky tempers his personal anti-process bias with this warning: If teams devise their own work processes, don’t interfere. You may know better than anyone else what the business needs to succeed. But your people know better than you what they need to get things done.
2. Market internally
Alignment trumps process. But as companies grow, alignment weakens. New folks sign on, new products and projects pile up, and the mission gets obscured. So in the middle, Belsky says, leaders must convey the company’s message to employees as loudly and clearly as they do to customers and the public. “It is wild how much money companies spend marketing themselves to the world, yet they do so little to market themselves to their own people,” he says.
A company’s external marketing can help. Employees are more likely to believe promises made to the public, whose trust it must earn, “than some kind of internal rah-rah email,” Belsky says. He advises, for example, that companies create external collateral–such as the splash page for a new product–to share with engineers before they start developing. Then everyone coalesces around that vision as they bring it to life.
Belsky also recommends liberating signs of progress from spreadsheets and project management tools and mounting them on large public dashboards that denote metrics like bugs quashed and customers landed. At Behance his team plastered “Done Walls” with completed project plans, checklists, and sketches. When making presentations about future work, he began with slides recounting what teams had already accomplished.
The leader’s main job is constantly to remind employees where to focus, particularly when change and growth throw out so many new narrative threads. Belsky likes the approach of Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, who treats every year as a new chapter for his business with a central theme: For example, the “Year of Going Global.” That way,” Belsky says, “even with all the volatility, everyone has the same answer to the question, ‘What is our No. 1 priority this year?'”
3. Help your hires
Hiring for cultural fit has both yea- and naysayers. Belsky is strongly agin’ it. Small startup teams are typically pretty homogenous, so scaling is an opportunity to enlist discordant viewpoints, he argues. “You want people who can spot an edge that in the future will become the center,” Belsky says. “That means you need edgy people.”
Such people can be polarizing, but that’s what produces bold outcomes. “On your due diligence calls you are probably asking, “Is this person easy to get along with? Did the team like him or her?'” Belsky says. “Those are the wrong questions.”
Post-hiring, leaders must act like surgeons, grafting on new employees–particularly senior people–to the existing team and suppressing the cultural immune system so it doesn’t reject them. Belsky advises checking in often to make sure new hires are settling in and to solicit feedback while their impressions are still fresh. Make sure they’re invited to all the relevant meetings and that everyone on the team understands their new colleague’s role.
Leaders must also foster psychological safety so new people know they can speak up without getting shut down or mocked. That includes safety when challenging the CEO. “I love it when people disagree with me in an interview,” Belsky says. “Sometimes I’ll say something I think they’ll disagree with just to make sure they are going to stay in the fight.”
M.I.T. neuroscientists have found that our brains can process images in as little as thirteen milliseconds — that’s faster than reading a sentence. Our brains are wired to absorb visual information, yet as we get older, we’re taught to “use our words.”
But when a disruptive idea is so unfamiliar that people have no context for it, how do you use words to explain it? When words fall short, a visual approach can help you more fully develop your idea — and more easily connect the dots for others.
To strengthen your skills of visualization and your ability to better describe innovative ideas, try a technique called Picture the Future. Not only can it help you communicate really big ideas, it can help align the vision for your company and inform strategic planning. In fact, a VP at Sprint used this same exercise to create a vision of Sprint’s Future for Content Development.
It all starts with a group visualization exercise. You’re ten years in the future, and your organization is a leading innovator. You’ve achieved a position of dominance in your industry. How did you get here? As in, what specific decisions and actions got you to this level of success? To focus your thoughts, capture your answers to the following:
What new things will our business or team be selling or doing?
What changes will enable us to sell and do those things?
What skills will we need to be successful?
What will be different about the structure of our business?
Now, start drawing your vision of the company ten years from now, using your answers as a guide. Maybe your answers included things like “all employees work remotely” or “A.I. will have a much larger role in operations” or “we will only sell our products through a subscription model.” Whatever your vision, convey it through a mix of words and images and then share with the class.
As you look around, take note if any team members’ sketches are really similar. Ditto if everyone drew something different. Generate a discussion around the implications of having aligned or differing visions for the company. Then decide, as a group, which drawings represents the ideal version of your company’s future. Once you’ve narrowed it down to one or two drawings, identify what you can act on today to start fulfilling your vision of tomorrow.
Visualizing your company’s innovation success in the future is essential to achieving it. Use the actionable ideas from this exercise to strategize, align, and implement a ten-year plan for innovation success.
You want to work smarter — not harder. By making a few aspects of your business automated and passive, you’ll be saving time and resources. This gives you a smarter work day, every day.
And it doesn’t matter what business you’re in. There are always certain parts of your process you can automate — whether that’s marketing, customer outreach or scheduling appointments. The more you can systematize or delegate, the more time you free up to grow your business. That means passive strategies become scalable strategies.
Now, I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I opened several successful drop-shipping companies in various industries that have since allowed me to open additional businesses. And even though my current endeavors at True Blue Life Insurance are less passive, there are still aspects we’ve automated in order to allow us to focus on growth.
Here are a few strategies for building passive aspects into your business that have helped me be successful:
1. Leverage your visibility with social proof.
Just like with any other aspect of your business, you want to be visible. With people going online more and more, it’s that much easier to draw them in and grow your business passively.
For me, as an online business owner, that means being visible in search engines. Because I run a national company I’m also competing nationally for SEO results. Even if you’re just local, you should be in every local directory and showing up in every local search result.
Q. My husband started his own one-man, small business as a handyman a little less than a year ago. He has netted $17,000 in that time, but the business has about $13,000 worth of debt. We’ve always kept personal finances and business separate, but what would you think about us selling one of our paid-for cars to help with the business debt?
A. There’s nothing wrong with small beginnings. On top of that, you should always keep your business and personal finances separate. Aside from the debt, it sounds like he’s off to a good start.
I think you’ll be able to pay off the debt from your future income. If your husband started his business less than a year ago, he has spent that time trying to get things off the ground and working with very little name recognition. If he’s good at what he does, and he continues to work hard and market himself properly, he should be able to double what he made in the last year.
To do that, however, he’s going to have to spend some time in accountant mode. He needs to figure out the types of jobs he makes the most money on for the time he puts into them. I know a guy in our area who made more than $100,000 as a handyman in the last year. I’m talking about $100,000 in profit! His prices are higher than most in that line of work, but he’s the best. He provides superb quality work, and he’s always polite, on time and on schedule.
If your husband does the research and crunches some numbers, I think he can dial it in and make a lot more money than he’s making now. Find that sweet spot, and he’ll continue to grow the business.
Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including “The Total Money Makeover.” The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 14 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.
Q. Recently, I loaned some money to a good friend. He’s going to help me with a big home project over the next few weekends, so do you think I should pay him for the work or forgive the debt instead?
A. First, I don’t recommend loaning money to friends or family. Once in a while, things may work out and everyone ends up happy. But in most cases, it changes the dynamic of the relationship. The Bible says the borrower is a slave to the lender, and there’s a lot of truth in that – financially and emotionally.
The big question is whether you’ve already agreed to pay him for the work. Another consideration is how he views the situation. He may be looking at this as just helping a buddy, and he still owes the money.
Ask him what his expectations are before you guys start the job. Just talk to him, and figure out what seems fair to you both. If you’ve already agreed on a certain amount, and the value of the work is close to what you loaned him, you might discuss the idea of paying back the debt that way.
But in the future, if someone close to you really needs financial help – and you’re not enabling bad behavior in the process – just make the money a gift.
Instagram has quickly shot through the ranks of social media platforms to become one of the top tools for savvy business owners. With its live video features in Instagram Stories and the capability to shop stories directly with product tag stickers, it has become an ideal place for retailers to connect with followers and ultimately sell products. In fact, Instagram reported 8 million Instagram Business users in 2017 .
All the tools for a successful business are right at your fingertips with Instagram, and your marketing strategists may dream of the day when your IG stories and posts draw thousands of likes, comments and purchases. However, drawing followers to your page can be a struggle. At least, it was for my company. As members of an industry with tangible, photogenic products we were poised to win on Instagram, but our marketing team couldn’t create a meaningful following.
It took a valuable perspective change in our marketing team to rethink how we organized and even photographed content. However, the results were immediately worth it.
Think about your Instagram feed in a new way.
You can incorporate as many branded hashtags as you like in your posts. You can pay for advertising, time your posts carefully, create contests and reply to every comment in an effort to boost engagement. However, if this is all you’re doing, you’ll probably still see a lag in your number of followers and therefore your sales.
So, what’s the missing step? After all, that’s pretty much everything that social media business guides tell you to do.
It turns out that the missing step for our Instagram presence was our actual content. It wasn’t enough to post whatever pictures we had on hand. Instead, we noticed (and heard from industry experts) that curating our feed was essential. Curating may sound like a term used by IG influencers who take a lot of pictures in white space with succulents. While that’s part of their branding and is effective, that’s not where IG curating starts or stops. Instead, you need to think about your IG feed as a magazine, and every addition to it a valuable part of your editorial content.
Our marketing team stopped thinking like a business using Instagram and instead began thinking like graphic designers and magazine editors. Our engagement soared. This article is about the quick tricks we learned along the way.
Source : forbes