Credibility: How Can You Get Your Customers To Trust You?

When it comes to sales, vour credibility is critical. Trust is as important in your relationships with your customers as your it is in your personal relationships. As a business owner, you need mustunderstand that:

  1. All sales are emotional. Whether you own a convenience store in a small town or an internationally-known software company worth millions of dollars, you ultimately appeal to emotion, not logic, to make your sale.
  2. Gaining credibility, or a customer’s trust that you know what you’re talking about and that you’ll do what you say what you will, is one of the 3 Tenets of a Sale.

Credibility and Sensitive Trust

The trust that you must develop with customers, who are likely people with whom there isn’t a long and complex personal history, is called sensitive trust. Senstive trust is different than the sensible trust that develops between people in long-term relationships (family, old friends, and significant others), and must develop much more quickly in order to establish the credibility needed to close the sale.

Let’s examine the 3 Tenets of a Sale, or the Sales Funnel, to see how you how you develop that sensitive trust?

The 3 Tenets of a Sale

The 3 Tenets of a Sale, or the Sales Funnel, theory is based on the idea that as people buy from you when they:

  1. Know you
  2. Trust you
  3. Like you.

Marketing is a great way to build sensitive trust and keep people buying from you.

You can use Small Business Solver’s Marketing Solver tool to find a whole list of simple-to-implement marketing strategies that can increase your credibility in a flash:

  1. Get business cards
  2. Record a professional voice mail message
  3. Develop a web presence (not necessarily a web site!)
  4. Ask for referrals/testimonials
  5. Use branded contracts/invoices
  6. Rent a post office box
  7. Get a 1-800 number
  8. Look for media cover opportunities (press releases, articles, etc. – not paid ads)
  9. Encourage customers to leave online ratings on sites like Google and Yelp
  10. Do presentations (keynotes, panels, webinars)
  11. Hire a virtual assistant or use a calling service to look bigger than you are
  12. Make brochures to hand out to clients interested in larger or B2B sales
  13. List your products in established online stores (Etsy, Yahoo, Alibaba) for better SEO rankings and streamlined customer experience
  14. Respond to blogs, letters to the editor, related forums to raise awareness of your company
  15. List awards your company has won – even small ones
  16. Develop an online portfolio
  17. Go to networking events

Which marketing strategies are you currently using? Which ones could you easily start using?

Building credibility is hard work, and it’s easy to be very hard on yourself if you inadvertently let a customer down. However, if you do, don’t throw up your hands – the situation is salvageable! Plus it is important to know how to rebuild trust in this situation. Remember, nobody’s perfect – you are not the first to do this, you won’t be the last. Handle it gracefully, to the best of your ability, and forgive yourself.

Learn More about Credibility

All the strategies in this 20-minute video are low-cost, can be implemented quickly, and do wonders for your credibility. Watch the webinar for details on how to implement each one, pick one or two to try this month, and let us know your results! We’d love to hear from you!

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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.

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Credit Union Straight Talk with DUCA’s Keith Taylor

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a credit union and a bank? Are you curious about why you might choose one over the other?

Keith Taylor of DUCA Financial Services can tell you – and he does.

Why Join a Credit Union?

In this webinar you’ll learn about:

  1. What DUCA is and how a credit union is different from a bank
  2. The different programs that DUCA can offer as a credit union including the Profit-Sharing Program and Profits with Purpose.  There is also a Community Hero Mortgage with a profit donation program with in.
  3. What B-Corp certification is and why DUCA works to maintain it including ensuring that they are paying all employees a living wage (including benefits) and were the first to do so.
  4. What DUCA offers businesses from no or low-fee business banking and all of the other account options.
  5. Plus there is business lending with lines of credit, loans and mortgages  just like you would expect from a bank. But the added advantage for small business owners is the relationship that they have including having a designated Small Business Advisor for all business members.
  6. The DUCA Impact Lab – what if banking’s primary focus was on solving problems and creating opportunities for everyone and not on simply making a profit? 

Social enterprises like DUCA generate revenue, but aren’t in business solely to make profit – they also want to make a positive social impact. For businesses interested in supporting banking institutions with a social conscience while receiving full range services, a credit union like DUCA is the way to go.

To find out more, watch the webinar – let us know what you think!

Special thanks to Keith Taylor for guest hosting. Find out more about DUCA Financial Services

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Email Tips To Make You an Email Pro!

Take your online communcations from “average” to “awesome” with these email tips from Small Business Solver Marketing Manager Sarah Levis.

Email Tips to Take Today!

A recent article from “Forbes” indicated that a corporate employee sends and receives 105 emails a day and can spend 28% of the day dealing with email. So learn how to use how to use this tool effectively! In this webinar on email tips you’ll learn:

  1. Whether An Email is Necessary –> Is email the best way to deliver your message? The most effective way? The most appropriate way?
  2. Deciding What Kind of Email is Necessary –> What’s the purpose of your email? How can you clearly indicate that to the reader?
  3. The Importance of Tone –> Is your tone appropriate for your purpose? Are you using conventions that don’t come across well in text, like sarcasm or teasing?
  4. The Power of Good Editing –> Have you edited your writing to eliminate jargon, excessive words, and weak words and phrases?
  5. A Clear Call to Action — > Does the reader know exactly what you need them to do in response to your email?
  6. Tools of the Trade –> Have you made effective use of the tools available to you in your email client to make your email as clear and accurate as possible (Spell Check, Grammar Check, signature, pre-written text blocks)
  7. Checking Your Work –> Have you proof-read your email for errors? Has someone else looked over it for errors that you may have missed?
  8. Subjects – Did you send test emails to make sure that your subject doesn’t land your email in SPAM folders?
  9. Before You Send – Writing Your Greeting, Pause Before You CC, Know the Laws –> Is your greeting appropriate and accurate? Is everyone (and no one more) on your CC list that must be? Are you in compliance with your country’s SPAM regulations?

Links to check out to make your writing even better!

  1.  21 of the Best Email Subject Lines We’ve Ever Seen – HubSpot
  2. GDPR Compliance Information – ZDNet.com
  3. Grammarly: Free Writing Assistant
  4. How to Use Gmail (Ultimate Beginner’s Guide) – Envatotuts+ Learning Guide 
  5. How to Write Emails Like a Marketing Pro – Aytekin Tank for Medium
  6. How to Write Email with Military Precision – Kabir Seghel for the Harvard Review
  7. Outlook Help Center
  8. The Ultimate List of Email Spam Triggers – HubSpot

Follow these email tips and keep these resources handy and you’ll be writing exceptional email in no time! Oh – watch the webinar, too! If it’s useful, check out our other webinars on our YouTube channel!

Small Business Sales: How to Start Selling NOW!

Get a pen and pencil and take notes, because here’s the thing about small business sales: the quicker you start selling, the quicker you start making money!

Small Business Sales: Getting the Ball Rolling

Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need to wait for a website/business card/brocures/inventory/insert reason here to start selling. In fact, it’s in your best interest of your small business to start selling as soon as possible! In this webinar you’ll learn:

  1. 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.
  2. Why the reasons people give for why we they’re not selling aren’t usually the real reasons
  3. Why it’s a good thing to “fail fast”. Seriously!
  4. How you can quickly and cheaply create a web presence while you’re waiting for your website to be ready
  5. How to create your first batch of business cards/brochures, and why they don’t have to be perfect
  6. Why you don’t need inventory, or even a prototype, before you start selling
  7. How to quickly draft a serviceable client contract
  8. How to choose a business name and how long you should give yourself to do it
  9. Why your business doesn’t need to be a corporation before you start selling
  10. Why you need to talk about your business with other people – lots of other people!

Anything on that list in an action step that could get small business sales rolling within 2 weeks. What are you waiting for?

So, which step are you going to take for your business this week? Let us know in the video comments, on Twitter or Facebook, or email us at smallbusinesssolver@gmail.com. Don’t forget to come back and tell us how it goes!

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Writing a Business Plan to Get What You Want!

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s why why writing a 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!” you’ll webinar, you’ll learn about what you need to think about as you draft a business plan, including the sections you must include.

Decide For Whom You are Writing a Business Plan

Your plan will look very different depending on who will be reading it. Potential readers might include:

  1. Yourself
  2. A bank
  3. Potential investors
  4. Potential partners

If you’re writing a business plan for yourself, you’ll include different information than you will for anyone else. Similarly, a bank may want different information than a potential partner.

Write the Business Overview

The Business Overview is the section to include the following things:

  1. A description of The Opportunity
  2. A summary of why what you offer is a solution
  3. A desciption of your target market
  4. The unique aspect of your business that gives you a competitive advantage over other businesses in your niche
  5. A brief summary of how you plan to keep that advantage

The Business Overview paints a picture of your business at a point in time.

Write the Vision Section

In the Vision Section, paint a picture of how you see your business in the future. Include details about:

  1. Where you see your company in 3 – 5 years
  2. Your ultimate goal for your business
  3. A description of your exit strategy

The reader will appreciate that you have thought about the future.

Write the Marketing Research Section

Drafting this section is a very important part of writing a business plan. Consider including:

  1. Descriptions of the industry trends, consumer trends, and wider general trends (government, economic, technology) that may impact your products;
  2. Your business’ main competitors and their potential impact.

It’s worth taking time to do any necessary research to write this part of your plan.

Write the Sales Projections Section

The webinar recording goes into how to calculate the sales projections that you should include when writing a business a plan.

Write the Management Team Section

In this section, describe why you, as the owner, are the best person to launch your business, given your support team and contacts.

Write the Marketing and Sales Strategy

Discuss your plan to get the word out about products given factors such as:

  1. Price
  2. Location
  3. Size of area to be covered
  4. Marketing budget
  5. Projected sales

If you need help with this part of writing a business plan our Marketing Solver tool can get you started #ShamelessPersonalPlug

Write the Operations Section

The Operations section is a discussion of issues like processes and delivery. You might want to include details about:

  1. How you’ll track processes to ensure completion
  2. Who handles human resources issues like hiring, scheduling, etc.
  3. The processes in place to handle human resource issues

Nailing down processes is dry work, but necessary. Take the time to protect your employees and yourself and get them in place.

Write the Action Steps Section

Discuss the company’s goals. Break them down into three levels:

  1. Today’s Goals
  2. Short Term Goals
  3. Long Term Goals

Again, this shows that you’ve given thought to your company’s position at the moment and to the direction in which you’d like it to go.

Write the Financial Projections Section

Use this section to demonstrate that the business is financially viable and sustainable over the long-term.

The Last Part of Writing a Business Plan: The Executive Summary

Yes, you write this section last…but it’s the first thing reader sees! Make it compelling! It should make the reader want to keep reading. Are you ready to start writing a business plan?

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Small Business Marketing on a Small Business Budget

When you’re a small business owner just starting out, keeping costs low is a priority. But you also must let people know that you’re in business, offering products and services that that they want – you have to do marketing, and marketing costs money! What’s the solution? How can you do small business marketing on a small business budget?

Fear not – you have plenty of options for cheap and cheerful marketing, and we’ve made the replay of webinar we did on the subject available for you to study and consider. You’ll learn about easy-to-use small business marketing tools that are free or almost free, including:

  1. Your smile!
  2. 30-Second Pitch (Elevator Pitch)
  3. Your voicemail message
  4. Business cards
  5. Your email signature
  6. Demonstrations and examples
  7. Customer follow-ups
  8. Feedback forms
  9. Testimonials
  10. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool

You’ll also learn about Small Business Solver’s Marketing Solver Tool. This assessment uses your responses to questions about your small business marketing needs (your goals, the sort of impact you’d like to create, the time span in which you want to implement a marketing campaign, your budget) you to make suggestions about which of the 300 marketing tools currently out there will work best for you. Each marketing tool suggestion comes with an information sheet you can view about how to most effectively use the tool.

Small Business Marketing Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

Some tools do cost money, but you can keep your initial marketing efforts low-cost until you have some cash flowing into your business. You can then increase your marketing budget as your finances allow. Use what’s available to you effectively and re-evaluate your budget as you become able to – and please let us know what the process is like for you! You can reach us on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email us at smallbusinesssolver@gmail.com.

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Small Business Solver is Better Than Ever!

The Small Business Solver logo - A cartoon man in business attire stands smiling against a blue sky with a cloud in it. "Small Business Solver" in black and "www.SmallBusinessSolver.com" are centred in grey on a white text box next to him.

Small Business Solver has done a relaunch! We’ve worked hard on our website and modules and made some changes to what we offer, and we’re very happy with what we’ve come up with:

  1. 100 new training videos and 105 coaching guides
  2. PowerPoint slides for business centers and incubators
  3. A pay-what-you-can option for business owners and a low-cost plan for coaches that wish to use our materials in their trainings
  4. A new staff member, Sarah Levis, to help with marketing and to respond quickly and efficiently to customer concerns.
  5. A monthly email newsletter to keep all our contacts up to date on company activities
  6. A bi-weekly educational webinar series designed to educate entrepreneurs on a variety of issues affecting today’s small business owner.

We’re very excited about all these things, but in today’s post we want to draw your attention to our live webinar series, which debuted 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:

  1. How to test business ideas (and why we don’t, even though we should!)
  2. Questions to ask to determine your idea’s viability as a business
  3. Determining your breakeven numbers
  4. More good questions to ask and things to consider

The live webinar series will run bi-weekly, each one covering a different topic. You can get the schedule for each month, including topics, in our monthly Newsletter. Please do sign up for the webinars, attend, and let us know what you think of them! We would love to hear your feedback.

We post Recordings of all of our webinars to our YouTube channel. Check them out and let us know which one is your favourite.

See you soon!

Non-Disclosure Agreements And You!

A cartoon man and woman hold up a sign that says "Non-Disclosure Agreement!"

Using Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) is a smart move for any small business owner. As you run your business, you’ll work with a variety of people in a variety of contexts, and you may have to share confidential information with them.  You’ll want assurance that the other party won’t share that information with anyone else.  Situations where this concern arises include ones where:

  1. Your employees have access to company secrets, intellectual property, future strategic plans, customer pricing, and many other pieces of information that you don’t wish to have shared.
  2. You’ve shared financial information and future plans with business partners or investors.
  3. You’ve given an accounting firm your financial information, including the debt and equity information, so that they can do your taxes.
  4. You’ve shared information with suppliers on pricing or marketing tactics to be a good strategic partner.
  5. Anyone else with whom you share information with that you want to keep from public knowledge. 

Consider using non-disclosure agreements any time you’re sharing confidential information, especially if keeping that information secret is crucial to your success – if your baking tastes better because you use an ingredient that no one else does, or your product lasts longer because you use a manufacturing technique that no one else has thought of, you don’t want that secret getting out so that other people can also start benefiting from what makes you superior in your market! 

Learn More About Non-Disclosure Agreements and Download a Template 

Thanks to Cobalt Lawyers  and ClauseHound. The information provided may not be relevant to your jurisdiction, this information is not a substitute for obtaining legal counsel, nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship with you, the reader.

Have you checked out our webinars yet? Head to our webinar channel and check them out! Tell us which one you like the best!

Strategic Partnerships and How to Build Them!

strategic partnerships

Strategic partnerships are critical to any small business’ success. Whether your small business is for profit or non-profit, developing solid partnerships is a good use of time and resources.

Watch our Building Strategic Partnerships webinar to learn:

  1. Whether you need to build a partnership
  2. How to determine who of your potential partners are the best to approach about joining forces
  3. How to determine when you are ready to form the partnership
  4. The secrets to maintaining a healthy partnership.

You’re best served by slowly walking through the above stages, paying special attention to the last one.  Keeping your strategic partnership healthy and happy is very important!

When Do You Need to Build a Strategic Partnership?

Consider partnering with someone else when:

  1. They can provide a service or product that is an adjacency to those that you provide
  2. The partnership reduces your risk
  3. Their service or product could add customer value to your offering
  4. Partnering up could help you (and them, ideally!) grow at a faster rate. 

Do you see how partnering with someone could be the best thing for your small business?

What Makes a Good Partner?

Evaluate your potential partners carefully, as you’re trusting them with your precious business! A good partner should:

  1. Need you as much as you need them!
  2. Have leaders that get along with you, and a similar business structure
  3. Have a similar corporate structure
  4. Leave you with a good “gut feel”.

After you meet with a potential partner, ask yourself whether you could, with the right assurances in place, trust them with your vital business information and whether you have confidence in their ability to do what they say they will. You should have both trust and confidence to proceed.

Maintaining Healthy Strategic Partnerships 

Nuture your partnerships to keep them healthy and of maximum benefit to all parties involved by:

  1. Doing planning sessions with your partners at least quarterly
  2. Blending your tools, processes, and technology when possible
  3. Communicating regularly
  4. Determining how all parties involved enjoy the benefits and assume the costs involved in partnering.

Partnerships have perks, so keep them healthy! Email Carla at carla@smallbusinesssolver.com or Sarah at sarah@smallbusinesssolver.com with your comments or questions. 

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