Category Archives: Strategy

Anything that has to do with strategic planning, vision development, forward thinking, risk management, and business planning.

Small Business Wisdom: What To Expect in Your First Year

What can you expect in your first year as a small business owner? After tracking our first year as a business and following thousands of others on the journey, we can tell you that you’ll go through several ways of looking at your business, or paradign shifts. Here are the main ones covered in our video of what to expect in your first year:

You’ll also hear about the milestones you can expect to reach in your first few years.

Weeks 1 – 4: The Fake Start

The Fake Start paradigm shift occurs when you first jump into the idea of starting your own business. Get ready to do some serious talking and planning! You’re putting your business together during this first month and making sure that everyone around you knows it.

Weeks 5 – 8: Small Business Realities

You’re making a paradigm shift to Small Business Realities thinking when you start to realize that small business is different than every other type of business. This four-week period is about testing things out and learning the rules of small business (“”Cash is King” and “Personal Brand is Small Business Brand”, for example.) You’ll concentrate on getting some cash into your business, assess how long you can wait for cash to start coming in, and determine what prices you’ll need to charge in the future to keep your business running.

Weeks 9 – 12: Getting to the 2nd Ring

In Week 8, at the tail end of the Small Business Realities paradigm shift, you may still be only selling to friends and family. That’s okay. But during Weeks 9 to 12 you need to make a third paradigm shift.

Getting to the 2nd Ring thinking forces you to consider how you can sell to strangers. You’ll need to:

  • Assess who you know outside of the circle of friends and family that could be potential customers.
  • Learn about networking
  • Get business cards so that you always have a way to quickly and conveniently give people your contact information. .

Weeks 13 -16: Unlearning (Relearning)

At Week 13, four months into your small business journey, the Unlearning (Relearning) paradigm shift begins. This is a time to go over your progress so far and tweak your plans and processes for the future to include what you’ve learned.

Maybe you need to do more definitive goal-setting. Maybe you need to examine your revenue streams and determine whether they’re all working optimally for you. Maybe your marketing plan needs some changes. Maybe you need to consider a potential referral partner who take on work that people who want you to do that’s not a service you offer.

This paradigm shift is about asking, “Is this real? Did what I try during the first 3 months work, or do I have to change things up?”

Weeks 17 – 21: Asking for Help with Your Small Business

In Month 5 you’re going to start adding people to your team, shifting your business paradigm from one where you work alone to one where Asking for Help is healthy and encouraged. Finding someone to talk to about your business (not family or a significant other – they’re sick of hearing about it by now), who can offer a second opinion about issues you face and help you keep your energy up, will keep you from waking up at night with business concerns stuck in your head. Mentors are ideal for this.

Weeks 22 – 25: Cash-O-La!

This month’s paradigm shift is around money. You will learn:

  • Why “cash is king”
  • Why reducing costs is important
  • How you may be able to benefit from bartering
  • How attention to all the things mentioned above raises your profit margin.

Still with us, business owner? Good! You’re doing great!

Weeks 26 – 28: Breath(ish)

You need to make the Breath(ish) paradigm shift now because at this point you’ve been going full-speed for six months! You need to slow down and make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as well as well as your business.

Put a self-care plan in place if you don’t have one, to avoid burn-out. Be sure that your plan is something that you can keep doing over the long-term.

Week 29 – 33: Think Bigger about Your Small Business!

As you shift your business paradigm to Think Bigger, you’re looking for an elephant. Not literally, of course, but an elephant of a new client that brings in a lot of money with consistency, or a current client to whom you can sell more services. You can look for elephants in a couple of ways:

  • Reconnect with contacts you made when you launched. Let them know that you’re still around, offering services and welcoming referrals.
  • Consider making your business your full-time job if you haven’t already. Give some thought as to how you’ll structure Accounts Receivable when the time comes to do so.

Can you think of any potential elephants right now?

Weeks 34 – 37: Graduate

As you start making the Graduate paradigm shift, you might feel to need to move on from your mentor – you’re having some success, you’re feeling confident, and you’d like to go at it alone. Take a couple of weeks to consider your decision, trying to stay humble and realistic as you evaluate where you are with your business and whether you can keep up the momentum on your own. At the end of Week 37, make the decision about whether to graduate from your mentor.

Weeks 38 – 41: Do Bigger for your Small Business

Now the business paradigm shifts to Do Bigger – you’ve thought about how you’d like to make your business grow, now what structure do you need to put in place to make it happen? As you make this paradigm shift, you’ll think about:

  • Action plans
  • Scalability and processes
  • Re-investment
  • Whether you need employees or partners

Guess what? You’re almost there..

Weeks 42 – 52: Sustain Your Small Business

In Sustain, the the last of the paradigm shifts for your first year, you’ll focus first on strengthening your business through its customer service and its branding, and then on you. You’ll ask yourself:

  • Is this making me happy?
  • Do I want to continue?

Hopefully you do! Congratulate yourself for making it through your first year…you did it!

View What to Expect When You Are Starting to learn about the Small Business Solver modules that are the most useful for small businesses in each paradigm shift. And view more of our webinars on our You Tube Channel!

Contact us at smallbusinesssolver@gmail.com if you have any questions…

Social Enterprise – Making Money While You Make A Difference!

Our “Make Money & Make a Difference” webinar is all about how you can do just that in your organization! Social enterprise is on the rise, and why not? It feels good to give back, and it’s a good business move to do so, as 60% of customers want to support companies with a sense of corporate social responsibility. How can you lose?

If you need more convincing, the webinar examines even more of the business advantages to operating as a social enterprise, including:

  1. Improved public perception
  2. Direct recognition for your efforts
  3. Increased sales
  4. More opportunities for partnerships
  5. Increased employee satisfaction
  6. Opportunities to team build
  7. Increased opportunities to network. Statistics show that almost all small business owners want to give back to their communities – over 99%!

What Social Enterprise Looks Like

There are many ways that companies can be social enterprises. Check out these businesses that are making a difference.

Hungry Heart Cafe – “Hungry Heart Café is much more than a great place for food. We help vulnerable adults access careers in the food service industry so that they can achieve independence and realize their dreams.”

Virgin Unite Foundation – “non-profit foundation…to unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world.”

Tim Horton’s Smile Cookie Week – “Your full $1 goes to over 500 charities and organizations in communities across Canada ”

Making a difference feels good. It can make things a little more complicated for a small business, yes. The webinar addresses these issues, and also talks about what goes into making a social idea a social enterprise:

  1. Starting with the problem to find the solution
  2. Validating your idea
  3. Marketing your idea
  4. Developing your team
  5. Determining your financing options

Does the idea of social innovation and social enterprise appeal to you? We’re here to help! Reach out to us at smallbusinesssolver@gmail.com and tell us how we can help.

Alternative Revenue Streams for Your Small Business

Why would you want to develop some alternative revenue streams for your small business? For lots of reasons! Diversification and customer retention, for a start – customers who have a wide range of sevices and products from which to choose are happy customers!

Alternative Revenue Streams: Things to Consider

You can’t provide everything, so choose your alterative revenue streams wisely. You need to consider:

  1. Your core competencies
  2. Adjacencies to those competencies
  3. Your existing customers
  4. New customers
  5. Standard types of alternative revenue streams

Core Competency

How to decide what your core competency is? This is your bread & butter! A core compentecy is your competitive advantage, what you are known for! You should be better at your core competency than everyone else is. It’s probably the reason why you went into business.

Logical Adjacencies

Logical adjancenies are potential alternative revenue streams that are strategically aligned to your core competency. They steer what you offer in a defined direction. Some different ways to pivot when you do adjacencies is if they are a new product or service for your existing customers or if you are doing the same product or service for a new target market. Both are a natural step in growing your alternative revenue streams strategically.

Existing Customers

Strategies to develop alternative revenue streams that focus on the existing customer include:

  1. Increasing the average sale from a customer
  2. Increasing the frequency with which customers use your business
  3. Offering something new that customers also need
  4. Developing more effective retention strategies.

Keeping a customer is worth even more (and is much less expensive) than finding a new one!

New Customers

Strategies to develop alternative revenue streams that focus on new customers include:

  1. Targeting new markets
  2. Testing new offerings

Standard Alternative Revenue Streams

Standard alternative revenue streams include:

  1. New products, services, intellectual property, programs
  2. Events
  3. Memberships
  4. Intermediaries
  5. Residual income
  6. Sharing economy
  7. Government contracts
  8. Crowdfunding

Learn More About Alternative Revenue Streams

When it comes to alternative streams, the limit is really only the resources that you have available to implement them and oversee them. The general rule is that, regardless of how many revenue streams you have, 20% of your revenue streams should be producing 80% of your income, so focus on that 20%…but make them what you want! You can do one or more of them, blend them…have fun!

Watch the video to hear more about all of this.

Was this useful? Watch more webinars on our YouTube channel!

How to Start Selling NOW!

Get a pen and pencil and take notes, because the quicker you start selling, the quicker you start making money!

In this webinar you’ll learn:

  • Why the length of the average sales cycle means that you need that you need to start selling as soon as possible after opening your business.
  • Why the reasons people give for why we they’re not selling aren’t usually the real reasons
  • Why it’s good to “fail fast”
  • How you can quickly and cheaply create a web presence while you’re waiting for your website to be ready
  • How to create your first batch of business cards/brochures, and why they don’t have to be perfect
  • Why you don’t need inventory, or even a prototype, before you start selling
  • How to quickly draft a serviceable client contract
  • How to choose a business name and how long you should give yourself to do it
  • Why your business doesn’t need to be a corporation before you start selling
  • Why you need to talk about your business with other people

Everything that Carla talks about is an action step that could get you selling within 2 weeks. Which step are you going to take? Let us know in the video comments, on Twitter or Facebook, or at smallbusinesssolver@gmail.com…and don’t forget to come back and tell us how it goes!

Writing a Business Plan to Get What You Want!

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – that’s why writing a solid business plan is the best first step you can take toward making your dream of owning a successful small business a reality.

In this recording of our “Writing a Business Plan to Get What You Want!” webinar you’ll learn about a Business Plan and its sections, including:

  1. The importance of deciding who the plan is for
  2. The Business Overview – Talking about The Opportunity and why what you offer is The Solution; defining the target market; describing the unique aspects of a business that give it a competitive advantage and how the business owner intends to keep that advantage
  3. Vision – Where the owner sees their company in 3 – 5 years, the ultimate goal for the business, and a description of the exit strategy
  4. What to include in the Marketing Research section – Industry trends, consumer trends, wider general trends (government, economic, technology) that may impact a product; a business’ main competitors and their potential impact.
  5. Sales Projections – How to calculate reasonable sales projections to include in a business plan
  6. Management Team – Why is the owner the best person to launch this business, given their support team and contacts?
  7. Marketing and Sales Strategy – The plan to get the word out about products given factors like prices, location, size of area to be covered, marketing budget, and projected sales
  8. Operations – Discussion of operational issues like processes and delivery; how processes will be tracked to ensure completion; who handles human resources issues like hiring, scheduling, etc., and how they will be handled. 
  9. Action Steps – The importance of showing the company’s goals for today, as well as its Short Term and Long Term goals.
  10. Financial Projections – Demonstration that the business is financially viable and sustainable over the long-term.
  11. Executive Summary – Written last, but first thing reader sees. Must entice reader to keep reading.

Have you noticed some changes at Small Business Solver recently?

We’ve done a relaunch, and we’re very happy with what we’ve added to the program:

We’re very excited about all these things, but in today’s post we want to draw your attention to our webinar series, which began on March 28, 2019. Small Business Solver co-founder and CEO Carla Langhorst did a presentation called “Make It Fly!” where she talked about how to evaluate whether your business idea is a good one, using Small Business Solver’s Make It Fly Idea Tester.

You’ll learn about:

  • How to test business ideas (and why we don’t)
  • Questions to ask to determine your idea’s viability as a business
  • Determining your breakeven numbers
  • More good questions to ask and things to think about

The webinars will run bi-weekly, each one covering a different topic. Please do sign up, attend, and let us know what you think of the webinars! We would love to hear your feedback.

Click this link to sign up for one or both webinars

See you soon!

How to Build Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships are critical to any small business’ success. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a small non profit, building relationships is critical.

Find out the basics of if you need to build a partnership, how to figure out who is the best to partner with, when you are ready to form the partnership, and how to maintain a healthy partnership.

Walking through these stages and ensuring that you keep focused on the last part – maintaining the healthy partnership.

Contact The Expert

The Small Business Solver Team
www.smallbusinesssolver.com
info@smallbusinesssolver.com

Succession Planning for Small Business

Succession planning is all about planning your exit strategy and maximizing the value that the small business owner receives for their effort (which often amounts to years and decades of work).

It also protects the small business owner, family, and the business from any risk.

Learn the process and your options in 20 minutes!

Contact the Expert
Mike Hook
mike@intrepidlaw.ca

Business Clarity Questions for Small Business

The New Year is a great time to plan to ramp up your business.

Getting ready for 2015 involves getting your business ready with a solid foundation to move forward. Your foundation is based on answering these 7 critical questions.

In 20 minutes, walk through the business clarity questions and answer them for your business. Make your 2015 more impactful!

Contact the Expert

Charles McFarland
Email: cmcfarland@focalpointcoaching.com
Website: http://www.charlesmcfarland.ca
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/coachingbusinessandartsleaders
Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlesmcf

SBS Clarity 14 Jan 2015

Guaranteed Better Than The Rest

Differentiating your small business and continuing to improve your business are two key pieces of being better than the rest.

But how do you get this in motion? Where do you start?

In 15 minutes we walk through two key objectives;
1. Ensuring that you are making time to work on your business rather than in it
2. Outlining 5 key ways to differentiate your business and how to do this

Contact the Expert

Eloise Pasianotto
www.effectiveprofessionalconsulting.com