How Can Your Business Nurture Intrapreneurs?

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It’s no surprise that so many business leaders today want to bring an innovative, creative approach to their already established companies. To do this, they are turning to intrapreneurs—employees with the energy and creativity to turn an entrepreneurial eye towards specific internal issues or opportunities faced by a company.

Of course, it’s not as simple as all that. Intrapreneurs can be as disruptive to old business models as their external counterparts. And disruption can make or break a business, depending on how easily the company, and its employees, can adapt.

With that in mind, we look at several ways a manager can nurture intrapreneurs, from the essential company culture to smaller, more practical measures.

The culture needed to nurture intrapreneurs

An open, relaxed management structure is a must.

Entrepreneurs have one thing that many employees do not. They have the capacity to act immediately. If you want to foster intrapreneurship, you need to give your intrapreneurs the same capacity. How do you do this? Quite frankly, you relax your management structure.

Intrapreneurs need to know what problem or opportunity they are approaching, and they need to know from the off that their work will be valued and applied to the business. This means that the leaders of the company will listen to the intrapreneurs, acting as a sounding board for potential solutions. They will be available to the intrapreneurs, and they will help guide the intrapreneurs to the solutions that will work for the business, both for the bottom line and for the employees’ morale. They will also have to be honest about the state of the business with people they may not be used to sharing that information with.

Collaboration must be actively supported by management.

Entrepreneurs don’t act in silos. There are no departments when four people are working on a single goal together. Similarly, a business that nurtures intrapreneurs will have to take down some of the barriers between departments. After all, creativity blooms when new, diverse perspectives are added. Even employees from seemingly unrelated fields can bring some useful new perspectives to a problem.

If it is too much to completely tear down the structures separating your departments, scour each department for enthusiastic go-getters. If they are interested, have them join a cross-department intrapreneurship team. That team can focus on one opportunity the company is facing, or they can be encouraged to seek out new, less obvious opportunities. Either way, the combination of the diverse approaches, disciplines and perspectives will undoubtedly create some interesting new solutions.

The attitudes that build intrapreneurship

Risk isn’t a four-letter word.

Entrepreneurs know that there is no reward without risk. And while many established businesses prefer to be risk-averse, there can be no intrapreneurship without some managed risk.

One benefit of a more open management structure is that top brass can help intrapreneurs manage the risks their solution will inevitably throw up. Managers can encourage intrapreneurs to conduct consumer surveys, study the industry, talk to outside experts, demonstrate proof of concept and establish a solid business case, so that all knowable risks can be identified and planned for.

Once all of the groundwork has been laid, the top managers must ensure that the solutions are put into place. There is no point in doing all of this work if the company leaders aren’t going to act on it. And sitting on the intrapreneurs’ ideas will just cause your formerly enthusiastic employees to become demoralized.

Finally, the taking of the risk must be highlighted and celebrated, almost regardless of the outcome. The individuals responsible should be praised for their ingenuity, and lessons should be learned, also regardless of the outcome. That way, you encourage even more calculated risks to be taken and even more opportunities to be grabbed.

The everyday considerations for intrapreneurship

Empower your middle management.

Entrepreneurs don’t ask permission. They see an opportunity, and they leap on it. Your middle management team need to be able to make decisions without having to get every person at the top to sign off on them. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should act with impunity. Instead, assign a particular top-level manager to be the person who signs off on a particular intrapreneurial challenge. That way, the intrapreneurs can act quickly, and the company leaders can know there is some project oversight.

Put some boundaries up.

Proof of the connection between strict restrictions and creative solutions are abundant in the art world, and it is clear that having too many options – and too large a budget – can often be counterproductive to the entrepreneur. That is why so many companies failed in the dotcom bust at the turn of the last century. So having some restrictions on what your intrapreneurs can do is actually a very good idea.

Start with a small, strict budget. That will force your intrapreneurs to get creative with their solutions, which in turn will result in more realistic, actionable plans. Since those plan are more realistic, they can be enacted, which makes the intrapreneurs feel effective, and all this feeds back into the loop that encourages and rewards your employees’ intrapreneurial mindsets.

Of course, a little blue-sky thinking goes a long way, so you can start a particular intrapreneurial project by asking how they would meet the particular opportunity in front of them if they had an unlimited budget. Ask them what would need to be done in this area to help the company double its size. Ask if there are other opportunities the company is missing that could put you at the top of your industry. Once they are thinking that big, it will be easier to pull back to more reasonable goals and plans.

Intrapreneurship is more than management jargon. It is a state of mind that treats every problem as an opportunity and every opportunity as a challenge to be met with creativity and bravery. It seeks out opportunities where others see none, and it uses tools and resources in completely new ways. Your employees have this energy and this creativity, and with a little bit of encouragement and incentivization from the top management, they will happily put this to use for your company. All you have to do as manager is make sure you nurture the intrapreneurial spirit that is already there.

Author: Matt Bailey is the Assistant Manager at UKBullion.com. He enjoys writing about small business trends on the UKBullion blog.

Should You Buy or Lease a Car for Tax Deductions?

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Buying or leasing a car can be a difficult decision for both individuals and businesses. A number of factors play into tax deductions for a business car. Things such as the definition of business use, the types of expenses claimed and methods of calculating deductions play an important role, in addition to whether or not you buy or lease your car.

When you decide to lease a car, you will require less cash even if you do decide to finance the purchase. For example, if you decide to lease a car that costs $20,000, you will likely only have to pay $10,000 over a 3 year period. However, when you look at this from a tax standpoint, there is a limit on the monthly lease payment that you will be able to deduct.

In order to arrive at a decision on whether to buy or lease a car, you must understand four things: Finance Lease, Hire purchase, sales tax implications and business structure.

Finance Lease

With finance lease, you as the lessee are responsible for that car’s running costs, maintenance and repairs. Although you will be using the car as if you do own it, you are not the actual owner of the car when the lease comes to an end. If you wish to own the car at the end of the lease, you will have to part with a significant amount of money. Since you are not treated as the actual owner of the car as far as taxes go, you cannot lay claim to capital allowances during the period of use. You can, however, claim your lease payments when you go the depreciation route.

Hire Purchase

When you opt for a hire purchase, you are hiring a car with the option of buying it at the end. With the agreement in hand at the end of the term, you should be able to claim capital allowances, since you will be treated like you actually did buy the car in the first place. With a hire purchase, you should be able to get a tax deduction up front.

Sales Tax Implications

When you understand your local sales tax implications, you will be in a better position to decide which the best option is: finance lease or hire purchase. Depending on your region, businesses might be eligible to recover as much as 50% of the sales tax on lease payments for cars that are held on a finance lease.

Business Structure

Your business structure does play a huge role in whether you buy or lease a car. In case you are a sole trader, then any capital allowances that you claim will be reduced for personal use. In such an instance, you may be better off claiming for mileage as opposed to claiming for the costs of the car. As a limited company owner on the other hand, if the business pays for the car then you will have to include the benefit in kind on your company car on your self-assessment tax return. You will also have to pay any tax that arises. The list price of the car as well as the emissions does play a big role in the benefit in kind.

Factors that Play into Tax Deductions

There are quite a few factors that play into tax deductions, such as:

  • Mileage: There is a standard mileage deduction rate. You can deduct accrued mileage whether you own or lease a car.
  • Repair Costs: It is possible to deduct repair costs for maintaining a car where it is owned or leased.
  • Tolls and Parking: Both owned and leased cars are eligible for a deduction on toll costs and parking fees.
  • Depreciation: Depreciation is what separates a leased and owned car as far as deductions are concerned. In case you own the car, then you can deduct the depreciation value over the life of the car. On the other hand, if you lease the car then you are not eligible for depreciation tax deductions.

Ultimately, for tax deduction purposes, you should carefully consider the pros and cons of buying or leasing a car before doing so. However, if there are a few things you’re unsure about, it’s highly recommended to hire an accountant to help you take advantage of as many tax benefits and incentives as possible.

Author: Jason Pikeman writes to us from GoWrench Auto. They are a mobile auto repair service from Hamilton, Ontario. Jason has tons of experience working as an accountant with various automotive companies in the past and he loves to share his knowledge and experience.

You Need to Understand the Business Principle of Displacement

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Imagine a bucket of water full to the brim, on a table, right next to a phone and a computer. Now take a brick and drop it into that bucket. Imagine what happens. Water splashes out, right? And that’s probably bad for that phone and computer next to it.

Business Principle of Displacement

That simple story is how I explain the business principle of displacement, in small business, startups, and entrepreneurship. I write it out as:

Principle of displacement: everything you do rules out something else that you don’t do.

The reason this matters so much is that we can’t do everything. So we have to do the most important things. We can’t please everybody. So we have to please the most important, biggest volume groups.

When you decide to add outlier features—used by a few, requested by a few—to a product you are also distracting your team and your product from the main function. And displacement is a legitimate concern as you deal with strategy. Can we expand into schools, from mainly offices? Can we sell to consultants as well as users? In normal growth strategy you have to sort through lots of questions, many possibilities, all with the awareness that you can’t do everything.

Paradox and Strategy

There’s a lot of paradox in managing focus, displacement, and growth.

On the one hand, if you don’t change, you suffer. You can’t just stay focused on the main thing. You have to deal with new possibilities, which sometimes means new products, or new markets.

On the other hand, if you are constantly after the latest shiny new thing, you risk losing focus on what matters most. You don’t want to lose your core while you’re looking to expand.

What I like about real-world business strategy, for startups and small business, is that there is always an other hand.

7 Ways Customer Surveys Can Grow Your Conversion Rate

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When you create a survey with a specific goal in mind, your number one priority is, naturally, to achieve that goal. Businesses on the Internet are highly dependent on traffic and unique visitors who access the page. The key to achieving those goals that you are ambitiously trying to reach lies in the conversion rate of your website. In other words, not only do you need people to visit, but you also need them to take action and make the transition from passivity to activity.

The most frustrating scenario occurs when there is a decent influx of visitors, but the conversion rate is low or nonexistent because they barely take any action. It’s almost pointless to have an online store accessed by hundreds of people that, unfortunately, has no sales. There is a way to help prevent that and to ensure growth in your website’s conversion rate. The secret? Customer surveys.

Try asking a client leaving a store why they decided to leave without buying anything and, almost definitely, you’ll see their reluctance to answer. Let’s not even mention the fact that very few store-owners actually pose this question. The anonymity of the Internet makes it much easier to ask possible clients to spare a moment of their day to complete a survey. By doing so, they will help with:

  1. Exit & Bounce Rates
  2. Market Trends Identification
  3. Fast Feedback
  4. Learn to Filter
  5. Emotional Engagement
  6. Trust Increase Through Reviews
  7. Establish a Bond with Customers

Marketing Boost

Exit & Bounce Rates refer to the percent of visitors who exit the site without taking any action and, respectively, those who land on a page then leave without clicking on any other page. This is the biggest problem that any website owner has to confront. Surveys can help combat this by directly asking visitors why they chose to leave and weren’t interested in your services. Alternatively, you can ask them what they would like to see that they haven’t seen yet.

Market Trends Identification is important because it helps you localize what are the hottest products and services sought by the majority of Internet browsers. By providing an open-ended survey that asks visitors what they would like to see, you can get a general idea of what might appeal to a larger audience. Center those results, implement that feature, and the odds boost of someone taking action and converting.

Practicability

The Fast Feedback provided by surveys is a clear advantage. Tools that analyze traffic, conversion rates, and other forms of data require a certain amount of time to develop the statistics or to be updated. The results of a survey are memorized and sent to you almost instantly.

You can Learn to Filter your services or products. By including a field that asks the customers their gender, age, or social class, you’ll be able to create categories and, thus, appeal to a variety of customers rather than a niche.

Personal Advantages

Surveys provide Emotional Engagement. This means that, when faced with a survey and a thank you page, visitors will know that you value their opinion and seek to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.

Alternatively, you can include an open-ended survey that gathers reviews. This will lead to a Trust Increase Through Reviews, which is going to let future new visitors know that you aren’t afraid of their opinions. Likewise, if a specific product has many positive reviews, the customer will be more likely to take action in its direction.

Last but not least, the whole point of a survey is that it helps Establish a Bond with Customers. They visit the website, they choose to leave, and then they are shown that you want to improve your services to change whatever it was that made them click away. It’s the most direct form of communication between you and the visitor, and it will naturally make you more sensitive to the requests of the public.

In conclusion, customer surveys help improve your marketing strategies. They are practical ways to quickly gather information and take action before the conversion rate drops irredeemably. And they facilitate a business that’s founded on inter-personal interactions and opinion valuing.

Author: Mike Jones is a Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication. He is a full-time writer, passionate about everything related to business and technology. He sometimes writes for CustomerSurveyReport.com.

Volume and Velocity—What’s Missing?

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There’s a huge amount of discussion focusing on Volume And Velocity in sales. SaaS companies trying to build traction and subscriptions person by person, department by department—at least until they confront the enterprise. Companies envying the growth of these companies are copying them, looking again for Volume And Velocity.

We see endless research about the importance of speed in following up leads, minutes and second count—literally. The advantage goes to the first person to follow up a lead.

The sales process is changed—but as it should, when we pursue individuals, or small departments, we are no longer looking at a complex selling process. When the investments we’re making are pretty small, the risk of implementation is small, and the ability to cancel is great—the process of buying and selling becomes much less complicated.

Sales cycles are measured in minutes, hours, days—rarely weeks and months.

Being successful requires specialization. SDR’s do much of the heavy lifting, at least from a volume point of view. Their goal is to move people through qualifying and the next meeting or demo as quickly as possible. The good ones are viciously focused on this.

The problem, however, is they are focused on their goals, not the customers’. They are moving at their cadence, not the customers’.

The “control dials” in the Volume And Velocity world are pretty simple: Hire the right people, ramp them as quickly as possible. Bring them up to speed in weeks or a couple of months. For organizations not focused on Volume and Velocity, the ramp time is at least 10 months.

Since the sales cycle is short, it doesn’t take long to weed out the poor performers. (So maybe you don’t have to focus so much on the right people?)

Once a person is on board, it’s all about volume and velocity. Technology can solve those problems. We can send out endless emails, we can generate content, we can leverage social channels. When the outcomes aren’t right, we crank up the volume. Likewise, technology enables us to call within seconds. So every piece of content that gets downloaded gets a call—often even before the content has finished downloading, and certainly before the customer has read it.

But that doesn’t matter, the SDR, never wants to talk about the content and the customer’s interest in it. Their goals are qualification and setting up the meeting/demo—so the customer interest is not really relevant. It actually slows us down. If they aren’t interested in buying, having a meeting, or doing a demo, we have to move on—after all, there are all those other leads piling up. (For a discussion on this, look at Is Your Prospecting Call Relevant and Do your Sales People Understand The Objective Of Your Content?)

One wonders, what would happen if we were relevant in that first call? We know what the customer is interested in—at least part of it, because of the content they selected. What if we talked to them about those interests instead. Yeah, it screws up our Velocity metrics—but it increases our Volume Conversions, so we don’t have to be as concerned about continually pumping up the volume.

What about trust, credibility, relationships? In the world of complex B2B sales, we know those are foundations of success. (Not the only things, but certainly very critical.)

In the Volume And Velocity world, it doesn’t seem to be a sales problem—that’s Customer Success’s worry. It’s their job to retain and grow the customer–they have a year to three years to do it. But they aren’t as focused on Volume And Velocity.

Volume And Velocity are very powerful when you are dealing with TAM’s of millions. Take sales tools as an example, by 2020, some surveys put total sales people at 20M. Getting 0.5% of that market means you’ve build a subscriber business of 100K users! Even if you are looking at departments, the numbers of “departments” are still in the millions.

For startups, those figures are seductive, the stuff of supersonic growth rates: What’s the time to my first 1000, my first 10K subscribers. Double that every year, in a little over 2 more years, you are at 100K–0.5% of the market, but your investors are thrilled, you’ve grown at supersonic rates! They are so happy, you probably race through your B, C, D rounds.

You keep feeding the machine, more Volume, more Velocity. Analytics can have you calling customers before they know they should be interested. Yeah, hit rates are lower, but we know how to solve that problem—more Volume.

But then your aspirations change. Rather than continuing to go after individuals and departments, you go after the enterprise. You’ve done the math, let’s say an organization has a few thousand sales people—or a few thousand of whatever persona you are targeting. You look at the Volume and Velocity you have to go through to get 100% those people to subscribe. Customer Acquisition Costs become a problem, it becomes really expensive, difficult, and long. It’s difficult to continue your growth rates, when you are acquiring 1-10 customers at a time. It becomes very expensive. You have to start acquiring 100’s to 1000’s of customers at a time. You have to go after the Enterprise Sale.

The world changes, you are in a complex buying/selling process. You have to deal with the 5.4 (or whatever number the buying group becomes). You have to build trust, credibility, relationships. You have to create value in every engagement. Selling becomes more than qualifying and doing a demo. You have to understand what the customer is trying to achieve—not just one, but a lot of them, remember we are in a complex sale. You have to align the disparate interests, you have to create a business justified solution. You have to help the customer sell up the food chain. You have to worry about implementation, risk, change management. Even though everything is in the cloud, what you are doing disrupts the entire organization, the executives worry about risk, change management, integration into the rest of the workflow, data integration, security and so forth. When you were dealing with individuals or departments, these issues weren’t paramount.

All that you did in your Volume And Velocity cycles change—it seems to go to a grinding halt. What worked in your old mode no longer works! Volume And Velocity have hit a brick wall. Sure you have the reference of the people in the company who are currently using the products, but the concerns of the decision makers are about the impact on the whole organization (in fact, they may decide to stop those current users—bad for churn numbers).

Volume/Velocity Selling is different than the Complex Sale. There is value and great results in both. If your targets are individuals/departments, and the investment/risk is very small, Volume/Velocity works. If your targets are the enterprise or the investments/risks are large, we have to change the way we sell–Complex Sales/consultative approaches become critical.

There is a lot for all of us to learn. Those of us who have focused on the Enterprise/Complex sales can adapt some of the principles of Volume/Velocity sales, there are some good lessons. For those with a Volume/Velocity model, at some point you hit a brick wall—at least in B2B environments. At some point Volume/Velocity becomes unsustainable by itself. You have to change and go after the Enterprise.

A Small Business Workout: Get in Shape to Sell

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It’s always a good idea to keep a regular check on the health of your business, but it’s vital if you are thinking of selling anytime soon.

Taking the time out to analyze your expenses, crack down on cyber security, as well as outsourcing tasks and reducing piles of paperwork will really help to tone up your business and get it looking its best for prospective buyers.

Here are our three top tips to quickly and easily improve the health stats of your small business:

Burn off excess expenses

Unnecessary operational costs can build up over the years and can be neglected in the everyday running of a business. These surplus expenses can have a very negative effect on profits.

Vigorous financial analysis is the only way to buff-up your assets. Take the time to study all outgoing expenses and work out actual value versus cost:

  • Minimize phone/internet expenses by negotiating a better contract—or, better still, call it on calls altogether and invest in a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system which will be a lot cheaper in the long-run.
  • Make sure you are not being over-charged by suppliers: look out for incorrect invoice amounts, double billing and missing discounts.
  • Research cheaper suppliers where possible, or ask for discounts and/or better payment terms from existing ones.
  • Analyze the financial benefit of all marketing and get rid of what isn’t working
  • Scrap frequent, small bills and organize larger upfront payments. Request early payment discounts for all bills, including rent if possible.

Build core muscle

Getting your business fit to sell isn’t all about reduction. Reinvesting any savings into new technologies that streamline management of tasks, customer relations, finance and marketing solutions will strengthen your enterprise from within and seriously improve saleability:

  • Invest in one of the latest task management apps. They are great time-saving tools that enable the assignation and management of tasks and the sharing of files, calendars and progress reports. Hitask and Basecamp are great examples.
  • Streamline your financials with a budgeting tool such as Expensify or Freshbooks. The pain of managing receipts, expense reports and creating invoices will miraculously disappear.
  • Investing in a great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a must. Sales, marketing and customer service will be synchronized saving you hours of labor. You will find it far easier to interact with customers and, in turn, leverage the most income out of those relationships. Try Zoho or Colabo.
  • Today’s marketing apps allow you to monitor your company’s presence in the outer parameters of your industry and across social media. Automatic analysis of the success/failure of your online marketing enables you to tailor your approach. Mention, Follerwonk and Hootsuite are market leaders.
  • The once trusty filing cabinet is fast becoming extinct and every self-respecting business owner is now ditching paperwork and jumping on the cloud. BYOD (bring your own device) is a growing trend within the business community and cloud services have developed quickly in line with this to enable businesses to securely store and share any type of data online.

Another way to tone-up a business is to farm out time-consuming tasks.

Almost anything can be outsourced these days including marketing, web-design and accounting. The extra time saved will enable you to focus on the core growth and development of your business.

Learn self-defence

As a small business owner operating today, educating yourself about cyber-security and taking steps to prevent attack is essential. Adequate protection will be on any business buyer’s checklist.

In the wake of the high profile hacks of Sony and Target, President Obama kicked 2015 off by placing the combating of cyber-threat high on the agenda of his State of the Union address.

Cyber crime is now considered one of the biggest threats to online enterprise and any business, big or small, can fall prey to an attack.

In fact, a small business is potentially at greater risk. According to a recent report, the number of bots (automated applications that scan websites) now outnumber human visitors and smaller websites receive a relatively higher percentage of bots—up to 80% of all traffic on websites with 1000 or less visitors a day.

Employing relevant security measures to protect your IT system, equipment and sensitive information is vital in an ever-expanding digital work-space:

  • Review your existing security on a regular basis. Use a web scanner to detect potential vulnerabilities.
  • Get yourself some DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) protection. Small businesses, in particular, can’t afford to stop trading for long periods whilst under attack or pay the ransoms that are frequently demanded to stop it.
  • Use two-factor authentication solutions such as Google Authenticator.

Follow this simple three step workout and see your business glow with health!

Author: Nicky Tatley, Senior Writer at BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Nicky writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable including PropertySales.com and FranchiseSales.com.

How Small Business Owners Can Find Their Day in the Sun

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It’s the time of year when people are packing their bags to escape for some fun in the sun over the summer months, and small business owners are just as eager to take a couple of days to enjoy the sunshine. But with digital communication taking over our lives, 42 percent of small business customers expect a response from a business within four hours of sending an email—does this mean business owners can’t enjoy some time off?

When GoDaddy took a look at how small business owners work, we found 40 percent of owners use their phones to successfully access their productivity applications (e.g.: email, calendar, online bookkeeping), and stay in touch with business operations no matter where they are. With a little extra planning, business owners can take time off and make sure they get the most out of their vacation.

Here are some of my favorite tips for small business owners to get the most out of their summer vacations:

Keep it in the cloud

If you’re not already taking advantage of cloud software it could be an efficient solution for your business year round, but would be particularly useful for times when you’re going to be away. Having everything you need in the cloud means that you will be able to access your work contacts, files, calendar and email should something that needs your attention arise while you’re on vacation. Setting aside time at the beginning or end of your day to catch up on work emails, and make sure everything’s running smoothly will ease your stress and make sure you don’t return to a deluge of email.

Let the content flow

If you’re a solopreneur, you don’t want to go an extended period of time without communicating with your customers. Stay in touch with your email subscribers by setting up a seasonal email marketing campaign before your vacation. If you have any social media presence, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts to go out. Vacation is a great time to help your customers feel the love by sharing your favorite customer posts with the rest of your audience.

Ask for help

If you have an online-only store, business likely won’t stop just because you decided to take a vacation. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any of the fun; you can hire a freelance web designer/developer to help maintain your site while you’re away who can troubleshoot any technical issues that may arise. If you have a set schedule and a brick-and-mortar shop, find another local business owner to help you and stand in while you’re away. Plus, a job swap will give you extra peace of mind while you’re away, and you can return the favor sometime down the line!

Communication is key

Get in touch with your clients early to let them know when you’re planning to be out of town so you can schedule projects to wrap before you leave. If you can’t finish something before it’s time for you to leave, work with your customer to make sure you make progress and get to a good pause point that can start back up when you return. Be sure to set expectations with employees as well. Let them know when you’ll be out of the office and prepare them accordingly, and also make sure to communicate with them how to reach you for urgent matters that come up while you’re gone.

Remind your customers you’re human

Since we’re able to get so much information at the tip of our fingers, it’s easy to forget that there are people behind the businesses we love. Adding a clever out-of-office notification or blog post with information on why you’re going away and when you’ll be back will give your business a human touch.

Steven AldrichAuthor: Steven Aldrich is Chief Product Officer at GoDaddy. His main role is to set and execute the company’s vision of providing elegant, end-to-end technology solutions for GoDaddy’s 14 million small business customers.

Tips to Stretch Your Trade Show Budget, Part 2

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Even though trade shows have proven to be a lucrative and profitable option for many businesses, it is not uncommon for exhibitors to be working with a small budget. We established that you can save money by planning ahead to avoid late fees and by carefully analyzing which trade show to exhibit at. Here are 5 more tips on how you can stretch your trade show budget.

Set up meetings at trade shows.

Make the most out of the time you’re spending at the trade show by booking meetings with potential clients after hours. By meeting with them when you’re both in the same city and have similar schedules, you won’t have to spend money traveling to see them in the future.

Examine travel expenses.

When attending a trade show, you should purchase the airplane tickets as soon as you know you’re attending because they’re usually less expensive if you buy them in advance. If you travel often for trade shows, join loyalty programs where you can earn points and redeem them for discounts or upgrades.

Many people think that by booking a hotel that is further from the convention center, they’ll save money. However, compare it to the taxi/shuttle costs that you have to pay in order to get from the hotel to the convention area. There are also benefits to staying in the same hotel as the convention, such as having more time and opportunity to network with other guests.

Bring a smaller staff if you’re going to be traveling.

Many times, businesses bring more than the necessary amount of staff to a trade show. They think this is a good strategy but it might make your booth seem crowded. We have also noticed that based on how many staff members you bring, there are a couple that will stand back while one or two do most of the work. Instead, bring the staff that is most experienced and that really wants to be there. This way you’ll save money on additional travel costs and fees.

Raffle a large prize instead of giving away random promotional items.

Instead of buying lots of low quality promotional products, save that money and buy a large prize that you can raffle off. For example, instead of spending all of your promotional products budget buying cozies and pens (which aren’t super exciting items anyways), find one large prize that is either around the same price or less and raffle it off. Ask for business cards in exchange for a raffle ticket.

If you like having multiple promotional items, purchase higher quality items and be selective of who you hand them to. Instead of having them laid out on a table for trick-or-treaters who have no interested in your company, have them in the back and hand it to interested attendees.

Look into trade opportunities.

If you have a product that the trade shows can benefit from, you might want to offer to trade items or services in exchange for booth space. For example, a print studio might provide graphics for the trade show in exchange for a booth. Speak with them and see if you can work out a deal. Usually trade shows are trying to save money as well and they might be open to the idea.

Cindy PereaAuthor: Cindy Perea is the Marketing Manager for National Trade Show Displays, an online retailer for pop up displays, fabric displays, and banner stands. 

Website: http://www.nationaltradeshowdisplays.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShowDisplays

5 Signs You’re Meant to Be a Franchise Owner

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You’ve got the passion and drive it takes to run your own business, and you’re considering buying a franchise as a feasible option. It’s important to note that running a franchise is a bit different from running an independent business. Both have their own benefits and drawbacks. But if the following apply to you, being a franchise owner is a good fit.

#1. You Crave Structure.

Whereas starting your own business requires you to figure everything out from scratch, buying a franchise is like buying a business in a box. Everything you need is already established, and there are tried-and-true processes and procedures that every franchisee is required to follow.

If you like the idea of having everything laid out before you with a pretty much-guaranteed plan for success, a franchise is a better fit for you.

#2. You’re a Brand Advocate.

Maybe you’re considering buying a particular franchise because you believe in it and have long supported local franchises as a customer. Who better to be a franchise owner than someone who’s been a raving fan for years? Having passion about a particular franchise brand will make you that much more successful when you run a franchise.

#3. You Don’t Want to Start from Scratch with Vendors.

Running a business requires plenty of research and negotiation to find the right vendors who will deliver quality products at a fair price. But with a franchise, the hard work has already been done. Typically, you’ll be presented with a list of potential vendors to choose from. All you have to do is set up an account and start ordering. They’ve worked with other franchises in your brand family, so these vendors know the deal.

#4. You Want to Take Advantage of National Marketing.

You’re no marketing expert, so you don’t have the inclination to have to do all your own marketing. But with a franchise, much of the branding groundwork has already been done for you. The franchisor often invests millions of dollars into commercials and advertising that represents the brand as a whole, and of course, provides plenty of perks for your local franchise.

#5. You Want a Known Successful Product.

You could open your own hamburger joint and struggle to find just the right formula that makes people rave about your burgers…or you could buy into a system where you already know there are people who will travel out of their way to buy your burgers. The latter is the safer choice and the easier one.

Running a franchise is hard work; there’s no mistake about that. But the fact that you’re paying to be a part of something bigger than your local franchise is inspiring, and can help you reap plenty of financial rewards.

How Much Do You Focus on Your Customers’ Needs and Wants?

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Do you know your customers’ needs and wants? No, I mean really know their needs and wants?

It appears that 38% of marketers find this their number-one challenge, regardless of company size or industry.

According to the newly released global report, The 2016 Digital Marketer from Experian, “Customer-centric brands are shifting the way they think about “customers” or “consumers” to start thinking of them as people; people who have real lives, relationships and desires rather than just views, clicks or transactions on the other side of a screen.”

The brands that can deliver on customer expectations will know the people who buy and use their products at a deeper, more intimate level, the report says.

This knowledge goes beyond standard demographics like gender, age or income to include their needs, wants and attitudes. How do these people spend their time? How do they engage with your brand and with other brands? How do they behave as individuals; not just members of a specific demographic?”

But, is that easier said than done, especially for smaller organizations? Predictive analytic and customer insight tools may be out of reach for smaller businesses. So, what can you do?

Here’s a list of 10 affordable ways to learn more about your customers’ needs and wants:

  1. Check online reviews. What are your customers saying about your company?
  2. Do some research on question sites, like Quora. What questions are prospective customers asking about your industry/profession/product/service?
  3. Dig up any complaints or praise you’ve received from customers.
  4. Conduct a quantitative survey. Keep it brief and offer an incentive or prize for completing it on time.
  5. Conduct qualitative research, particularly IDIs (in-depth interviews). Choose a wide range of current and past customers and ask for 5-15 minutes of their time on the telephone.
  6. Do social media research. Choose a representation of customers and check out their LinkedIn profiles, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, or other networks to which you have access.
  7. If you have a reliable database or CRM (customer relationship management) program, look for common customer insights.
  8. Check Google Trends to see what people are searching for.
  9. Review your website analytics to see which keywords visitors use to discover your site.
  10. If you have employees, ask them. They may be sitting on insights they have never shared.

Do you have any more to add?