All posts by SLevis

Social Distancing and Small Business Coaching? No Problem!

Business coaches like to use face-to-face contact in especially their relationships with their small business clients, to help them fully realize their potential and set and work toward goals. Reliance on in-person contact in a time of social distancing and physical isolation creates a significant challenge!

But not one you can’t overcome, business coaches.

Use Small Business Solver to Coach While Following Social Distancing Protocols

Social Distancing theme with surgical medical face masks

Small Business Solver is built for business coaching in the age of social distancing. Watch our “Small Business Coaching During Physical Distancing” webinar to learn how to use Small Business Solver’s ecoaching platform and your favourite web conferencing tool (Zoom, Skype, or whatever you use) to meet with clients and coach them without either of you having to leave your home or office.

Together you can:

  1. Evaluate the client’s training needs based on the stage in which their small business currently operates.
  2. Assign them Small Business Solver training modules to complete for your next meeting. You can even email them the links to the modules and instructions on how to create an account (or our emails so that they can email us for instructions) so that they have no excuse for not doing their homework!
  3. As they complete each module, have them download the Put in Practice worksheet, complete it, and email it to you. Not only will you keep tabs on whether they’re doing their homework, but you can also review their sheets and see if they’re grasping the material! These modules and Put in Practice worksheets are available for hundreds of topics, so your clients can learn a lot this way – check out the video for an overview of what’s available!
  4. With the Small Business Solver plan for business coaches, you have access to a Coaches’ Corner in over 100 of the modules that helps you with your 1-on-1 coaching sessions. Your clients get more out of the platform and out of their coaching relationship with you, and they’re happier with the service you provide…win-win! Check out the video for more details and contact Carla at carla@smallbusinesssolver.com to talk about accessing Coaches’ Corner.

Face-to-face interaction during coaching is nice, and getting back to it will be great. While social distancing is necessary, it’s not a possibility.at the moment. But you have options for providing support to small businesses that need desperately support to stay on their feet, and we’re happy to help.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Enjoy this webinar? Check out the others on our YouTube Channel!

Eco-Business is for Everyone!

Eco-business graphic

Small Business Solver brings you an unexpected treat with our Live Webinar for March 2020! Not only is our topic, All About Eco-Business, which is both awesome and super-cool, but we have Peter Miller of the Community Innovation Hub hosting with Carla!

Peter and Carla wrote The Giveback Economy together. They teamed up on Friday, March 13 (yikes!) for a discussion about what business owners need to know about eco-business.

In All About Eco-Business, Carla and Peter discuss:

  1. A definition of eco-business and ways in which it’s changing the way the world does business.
  2. Ways that small business owners can make their business operations more environmentally friendly
  3. Opportunities for entrepreneurs waiting to get into eco-business – both umbrella opportunities and specific examples

Eco-business is good for everyone! Let’s talk about it.

What is Eco-Business?

Eco-businesses are companies that make a positive impact on the natural environment. The owners of these companies realize that corporate social responsibility that includes attempts to address environmental concerns benefits the consumer, the business and the supply chain.

However, attempts to address environmental concerns must go deeper than the consumer-facing business in order for a company to truly do eco-business. The commitment to addressing environmental issues must flow through the business, from the start of the supply chain to the moment the customer receives the product. People can tell when they’re being “green-washed” – social media and technology let them catch quickly when businesses aren’t authentic about a desire to help the environment.

How Is Eco-Business Changing the Way We Do Business?

People are concerned for the future of humanity if we don’t start treading more lightly on the Earth. Many of them will switch businesses over a company’s low degree of eco-friendliness. Millennials in particular are less likely to work for or buy from a business that’s having a negative impact on the environment.

Do consider that if your business isn’t taking steps to be eco-friendly that your brand image, customer relationships, and eventually your sales may suffer.

Corporate social responsibility in the eco area affects whether particularly millennials will want to work at or buy from a business

Eco-business requires companies to look beyond their bottom line, because the well-being of the Earth requires decisions that take more than finances into account. For example:

  1. A decision to build a coal mine becomes more than one about profit than loss, but a total impact calculation that includes factors like the usability of the land after processing finishes.
  2. Carbon tax now needs to be considered

Making Your Business Eco-Friendly

All businesses impact the environment. What can you say about the impact that your business is having?

  1. Is your business having a positive impact or a negative impact?
  2. If you are having a positive impact (or would like to), are you being reactive or proactive about it?

Our webinar talks about these reactive strategies for making your business more eco-friendly.

  1. Following Regulations
  2. Reducing Waste
  3. Carbon Offsetting

Being reactive with your eco-business strategy isn’t necessarily bad. However, a reactive strategy to address an issue that’s already occurred isn’t as effective as a proactive strategy that ideally keeps the issue from becoming a problem at all, so the webinar also discusses these additional proactive strategies:

  1. Make Your Eco-Friendly Strategy a Priority
  2. Social Procurement
  3. Reverse Logistics
  4. Giving Back

Integrated Model

Once you’ve put a plan together that includes reducing waste and following regulations, as well as some more proactive strategies, consider a professional evaluation of the social and environmental impact of your business. The webinar discusses the advantages of being evaluated by:

  1. BCorp
  2. Green Sacred Spaces.
  3. Your Hydro Provider

To do the most good you can as an eco-business (and benefit the most you can!), assess where you can employ green business management in all aspects of your business.

What Are the Opportunities?

Small Business Solver sponsors the Social Innovation Challenge, a pitch competition for social enterprises and social innovation. Watch the webinar for information on these umbrella opportunities in eco-business and past Social Innovation challenge winners who have won within them!

  1. Sustainable Water – Building Up. Hires marginalized youth to retrofit bathrooms in apartment buildings to decrease water waste.
  2. Sustainable Food – Growing North. Builds greenhouses in Nunavut to grow affordable vegetables.
  3. Waste Management – Binners’ Project. Support staff help Vancouver’s homeless population to improve their economic opportunities as they divert garbage from the landfills.
  4. Transform Waste – Genecis. Converts food waste from restaurants into energy and biofuel.
  5. Replace Single-Use Plastic – Candy Cutlery. Hard candy utensils designed to let you enjoy your dessert or drink and then be enjoyed as a second treat.
  6. Reverse Logistics – London Drugs. Not a Social Innovation Challenge winner, but one of the first Canadian companies to put in a program where people could return used batteries and old cell phones. Ahead of their time!
  7. End-of-Product Life Cycle – Datawind. When computer companies upgrade their product, Datawind takes the components of the outdated models and makes them into computers to be distributed in developing countries.
  8. Extend the Life – Repair Cafes let people get their broken items fixed while they learn the skills to do their own repairs. Textbooks for Change takes donated textbooks, recycles the damaged ones, donates some to developing countries, and resells others to students at reduced rates.

Make the most of your opportunities and use your imagination! Eco-business is about being creative.

Bottom Line

Eco-business benefits you, your customers, and the Earth – why not consider how you can incorporate it into your business plan? Contact us for more information!

Strategic Planning, Small Business Planner-Style!

We’re six weeks into 2020 and everyone is doing strategic planning for their small business! Which is a great thing…because, as we all known, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail…but as we were preparing to do this year’s strategic planning for Small Business Solver, we noticed that there were no good resources or tools out there to help small business owners through this process.

White 3D figure with a black necktie examines the word "Plan" in large, red, 3D block letters with a magnifying glass. Keyword: strategic planning
Time for Strategic Planning!

So we created a strategic planning process of our own! We used it to do our own planning, and have since used it with 50 small businesses, non-profits, and large associations! We’ve been so excited by the results that we’ve made it a training module on the Small Business Solver Website! It was also the subject of a recent webinar:

In this webinar, you’ll learn about:

  1. The importance of defining your vision
  2. What makes an effective mission statement
  3. How to do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Weaknesses) Analysis
  4. SMART goals
  5. Strategic Activities and getting them done with a Workplan

Defining Your Vision

Your vision tells you and the people involved with your business where your business is headed – it is your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal! For strategic planning purposes, this goal is set for 5 years, although you’ll define goals for the 1, 3, and 5 year marks. Keep your mind open, because you’ll be setting Impossible Goals as well as Possible Goals! (As the webinar explains…)

An Effective Mission Statement

You’ll want to write a strong mission statement as part of your strategic planning. The webinar gives you a formula for writing a mission statement that is:

  1. Memorable
  2. Personal and inclusive
  3. A description of your daily activities
  4. Focused on your target market
  5. A description of the ideal result of your actions for your target market.

Your mission statement should motivate you and your staff!

Strategic Planning and SWOT!

A SWOT analysis forces you to take both internal and external inventory of factors that will affect the success of your business:

  1. Strengths – What do you have going for you?
  2. Weaknesses – What perceived gaps are holding you back?
  3. Opportunities – What are the possibilities or opportunities you can leverage
  4. Threats – What do you need to watch out for?

Your strategic planning will be much more effective when you have a clear idea of what you have to work with!

Strategic Planning Includes Strategic Goals

At this stage of strategic planning, you must define 3 – 5 critical areas for your business that are related to your Unique Selling Proposition. You’ll learn in the webinar that most small businesses list Revenue and Communications or Marketing as critical areas, and you’ll also see examples of other areas. Once you’ve defined your ctitical areas, you’ll write a strategic goal for each of them.

Your strategic plan really starts to take form once you’ve set these goals.

Strategic Activities and Workplan

You now need to list the activities required to make your strategic goals a reality create a workplan so that the work gets done! Ask yourself:

  1. What tasks need to be done so that the goals you’ve set are achieved?
  2. In what order should these tasks be done?
  3. Who is responsible for each task?
  4. What is the deadline for each task?

Keep your workplan and the strategic tasks in view so that they stay on the radar of everyone involved! See the webinar for some suggestions on how to do this.

Strategic Planning – Bottom Line!

Strategic planning lets you take a large amount of data about your business and the areas within it and reduce the overwhelm around what to do next. You’ll end the process with a manageable number of goal, a plan for getting them done, and (hopefully!) a commitment to repeat the process the next year!

Check out the webinar…and then check out our new Strategic Planning Training Module and get your strategic planning done for 2020! And be sure to let us know what you think (here, or on Facebook, or on Twitter, or by email at sarah@smallbusinesssolver.com)…because we love to hear from you!

Twitter Mastery, Small Business-Style!

Cartoon blue bird sitting on rope, singing - "Tweet" comes out of its mouth in a bubble. Keyword: Twitter

Twitter – love it or hate it, you can’t get away from it. So why not learn how to use it? We asked Allan Pollett, social media consultant and the “SEO Guru”, to talk to us about stragegies for entrepreneurs to make Twitter work as hard for their small businesses as they do…and he didn’t disappoint!

Beginning with the Twitter Basics

Twitter is great, Pollett explains, because it lets us communicate with anyone in the world at any moment – no phones, no wait times for mail delivery, no need for even formal introductions. Twitter has a billion accounts, and you can send out messages, or tweets, to each of them from your Twitter account, with no charge per tweet.

You can put links, images, gif files, and videos in a tweet.

You can Like and Retweet tweets that other Twitter users have made.

You can track views of your tweets, engagement with them, and other analytic information.

Hashtag #Madness!

When you send a tweet, it shows up on the timeline of each person that follows you. You won’t have any followers when you join Twitter, and most people don’t have followers (although some do!) However, you can increase the potential audience for a tween by using hashtags. A hashtag looks likes this: #. When you add it to a word or phrase (like #ThursdayThoughts), then anyone who searches the #ThursdayThoughts hashtag, even if they don’t know you, will see your tweet and maybe interact with it. You’ve expanded your reach and joined the conversation about Thursday Thoughts!

Hashtags are a great tool for businesses, and Alan talks about a few great ways to leverage their power.

The 60-40 Rule

Because Allan is such a Twitter rockstar, he actually figured out that Twitter works best for businesses when 60% of their tweets are business-related (tweets about products, offers, sales) and 40% are other information that your customers might find useful – articles, resources, relevant humour. Great tip: People really like quotations by famous people, and tend to share them with others.

Growing Your Twitter Following

Call a tweet to someone’s attention by tagging it with @ and their twitter handle:

Hey @businesssolver! Love your webinar series!

(I guarantee that if we saw this, we would like it, retweet it, and follow you! Just saying.)

When you tag someone in this way, you leverage not only your audience, but theirs too. If their audience is very big, that could be very good for you!

Alan has a technique for finding and growing an audience that’s truly interested in you and what you have to say. Check out the webinar to see what it is! (Here’s a hint: Follow your competitors’ followers!)

Final Things to Consider…

  1. Keep your tweets engaging.
  2. Use hashtags that reach a large audience (3 or 4 per Tweet)
  3. Jump right in and make yourself part of the conversation! It’s not that scary…really!

Thanks so much to Allan Pollett for helping us out today! You can learn more about Allan and the services he offers at his website.

This is our last webinar for 2019! We’re busy getting the line-up for 2020 together, so please let us know if there’s a topic you’d like covered. Happy Holidays!

Sales Funnel Optimization

Your sales funnel drives sales. Can it get easier than that? Make sure you set it up properly so that it creates as many sales as possible for you.

In this webinar you’ll learn about:

  1. The importance of your sales funnel
  2. The purpose of a sales funnel
  3. The parts of a sales funnel
  4. How to optimize a sales funnel

Let’s get started!

The Importance of Your Sales Funnel

When you understand sales funnels, you’re best equipped to observe your sales process and see what areas need improvement. You can identify bottlenecks, or areas in the funnel through which customers are moving slowly compared to the rest of the funnel.

Once you know what’s wrong, you can fix it. You can examine the bottleneck areas, develop and implement strategies to move customers through them more smoothly and quickly. Optimizing your sales funnel in this way ensures that you can move more customers through, with a shorter sales cycle.

That’s good for business!

Purpose

A sales funnel is a numbers game.

Every potential customer enters your sales funnel unaware that your business exists. Your job is to move them through the funnel, converting them from potential customers to people who have bought from you.

A large number or potential customers start a sales journey with you, and people fall away at each stage, for a variety of reasons. Usually it’s a small percentage that move through all the stages of the funnel to become customers. This is where the funnel shape comes from

Parts

A sales funnel has four basic parts:

  1. Gain their Awareness – Use marketing to let people know you exist
  2. Gain their Interest – Get people interested enough in your offering to want to find out more about you
  3. Make them Ready – Convince people of benefits and address doubts and concerns so that potential customers can become paying customers.
  4. Close – Close the sale

Some sales funnels break these basic parts into many more, but the funnel shape holds across all of them: A lot of potential customers start the first stage, some drop away at each stage, and a few finish as actual customers.

When you know at what part of your sales funnel bottlenecks are happening, you can start to optimize your sales funnel.

How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel

In order to identify bottlenecks in your sales funnel, you need to:

  1. Know the stages in your sales funnel
  2. Know the conversion rates between each stage – the goal is 10% or higher.
  3. Make note of whether each of those rates is 10% or higher.
  4. Know the lowest of the these conversion rates – even if the lowest rate is over 10%, this is a bottleneck.
  5. Figure out why this area is a bottleneck
  6. Develop and implement a plan to resolve the bottleneck.

Small Business Solver has a tool to help you figure out where your bottlenecks are and what you need to do to resolve them, but here are some general strategies, linked to Small Business Solver modules to help you learn more:

  1. Finding Prospects – Make sure that you understand your customer, that your customers are qualified, that you’re using a lead list, and that you’re making use of referrals and seeking channel partners.
  2. Improving AwarenessIntegrate your marketing campaigns so that you’re presenting the same message everywhere. Prioritize this work – it’s important!
  3. Improving InterestControl your message by representing your brand wellhone your presentation skills and always leave a great impression! Learn how to address common objections to doing business with you.
  4. Improving the Close – Learn how to gauge interest so you’re not misreading whether people are ready to close. Reduce risk so that people are more inclined to close. Make sure that your closing tactics actually work for you and not against you!
  5. Improving Follow-UpCreate a follow-up plan for customers, so that you can improve retention and create opportunities for upselling.
  6. Improving Delivery – Continue to get to know your customers and build relationships so that you consistently provide a positive experience for them. Set expectations wisely by underpromising and overdelivering.

Small Business Solver can help you do all these things. Sign up today for a pay-what-you-can account to view any of the modules in the above list.

We hope that the the webinar was useful for you! Visit our YouTube channel to view more of our webinars.

Small Business Marketing Tools to Boost your Likeability

People buy from people they like, so remember to congratulate yourself once you’ve made the sale! You connected with the customer and appealed to them on the emotional level at which people ultimately decide to buy. You now need to make this transactional customer who’s made one purchase a lifetime customer. Using small business marketing tools that boost your likeability can help with that. In this webinar you’ll learn about:

  1. The Value of a Customer
  2. Likeability as one of the 3 Tenets of a Sale
  3. How Brand affects Likeability
  4. Marketing Tools that Boost Likeability

The Value of a Customer

Getting existing customers to spend more money on your products is less expensive than spending money on the marketing and onboarding required to continually bring on new customers. You’ll also generate more revenue over a customer’s lifetime. Build personal relationships with your customers, increasing your likeability, and revenue from a given customer will increase as:

  1. Average size and frequency of a sale increases
  2. Purchases become more routine
  3. You become the business that the customer always shops with
  4. The customer not only does business exclusively with you, but refers you to other people.

The sales cycle for a referral is much shorter than for a customer you bring in fresh off the street!

Likeability as One of the 3 Tenets of a Sale

Need a reminder about the 3 Tenets of a Sale? Here they are:

  1. People Must Know You (Visibility)
  2. People Must Trust You (Credibility)
  3. People Must Like You (Likeability)

We are (obviously) examining Likeability’s role in the 3 Tenets of Sale today, and how boosting it through small business marketing and building personal relationships wih customers increases your sales. We’ve examined previously how boosting credibility boosts your sales and also how boosting visibility boosts your sales, so be sure to check out those webinars as well! Small business marketing works!

How Brand Affects Likeability

Your Brand Promise lets customers know who you are and what they can expect from you. Branding choices give your customers information about your business that they use to evaluate your Brand Promise, and all ties into likeability.

Consider how these aspects of your branding will be perceived by your target market:

  1. Your business’ name
  2. Your business’ voice
  3. Visuals
  4. Values
  5. Personality
  6. Characteristics that make it unique from other companies will be perceived by your target market.

Remember that in small business your personal brand as the business owner is part of the business brand. Be both authentic in both!

Small Business Marketing Tools That Boost Likeability

You can use Small Business Solver’s Marketing Solver Tool to learn about a whole bunch of marketing tools that help with the “Like You” part of the 3 Tenets of a Sale. Here are a few the webinar talks about:

  1. Volunteering –> You and/or a staff team
  2. Sponsorships –> Community events or local sports teams
  3. Rebates and Coupons —> For existing customers, not just new ones
  4. Lunch & Learns –> For potential and existing customers
  5. Online Service Tie-In –> Use an online platform to provide value to your offering (such as access to an information website or web community)
  6. Pick Up the Phone –> Call customers instead of emailing them
  7. Employees –> Stay engaged, let them express their personality
  8. Mentors —> Leverage the power of your champions!
  9. Food –> Face-to-face over food can build powerful relationships
  10. Be Helpful –> Share articles, news, events
  11. Birthday Cards –> Note customer details that are potential touchpoints in your CRM
  12. Online Portfolio –> Showcase your business and your brand promise
  13. Networking –> Really listen to peoples’ stories and offer help without expectation of return
  14. Smile! —> People can tell, even if they can’t see you.

The numbers show that you really only need one hundred loyal customers to flourish, bottom line. They will keep coming back to you, over and over. They will refer new customers to you. One hundred loyal customers changes the nature of your business.

Something to think about, right?

Was this useful? Watch our other webinars on our YouTube Channel!