Category: Entrepreneurs

Are Small Businesses Spending Too Much Time on Social?

Day to day business activities have transformed dramatically since I launched my first company nearly 20 years ago. Back then, there was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn. My social contact with customers and potential customers was limited to email and phone conversations.

With the birth of social media, I was eager to adopt a new way of doing business. Like so many other small business owners, I was enamored by the possibility of reaching new customers at an unprecedented scale, getting free exposure and showing a more fun side of our business. I was determined to be the “social” company in my industry.

As time went on, some of the shiny facade of social media began to chip. I wondered if all the time I was spending on social activities like Instagram and Twitter was actually paying off. Using social media effectively takes an enormous effort, between creating original content, defining a social strategy and roadmap, managing communities, running targeted ads and more

Last year, Vertical Response conducted a survey of small businesses and social media and found that 43 percent of small businesses spend about six hours per week on social media (almost the equivalent of a full workday). Most telling to me, one-third of CEOs and small business owners wanted to spend less time on social media.

If you’re wondering if you or your business is spending too much time on social, here are a few things that I have learned.

Know your market before investing in social media.

With all the buzz surrounding social media, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon without first creating a social strategy that makes sense for your business. Some businesses live on social media — for example, urban food trucks that use Twitter to let their customers know where they are. But that’s not every business.

The key to social media marketing is reaching your target audience wherever they live, work or play. If the people you’re trying to reach aren’t using Instagram, even the best content on Instagram won’t do a thing for your business. Think about the demographics of your target customers and research where they spend their time. You can even ask some of your existing customers which social platforms they’re likely to use, and where they’d like to connect with you.

Prioritizing your social media presence is the single most important thing you can do to minimize (and optimize) the time spent on social media.

Don’t ignore other channels because of social media.

You should never put so much time and energy into social media activities that you can’t do anything else. For some small businesses, a strong email campaign will be even more effective than social media, since email is a form of direct marketing.

Over the years, I came to discover that the more time time I spent on social media, the less social I was actually being. When I backed away from Twitter and Facebook, I had more time to answer phones and talk to customers one on one. Meeting people through live networking events and conferences is what keeps me inspired and driven. The bottom line is you don’t really know your customers if you’re just interacting through blog comments and retweets.

Learn to function without your smartphone.

As a mom of teens and tweens, I understand the importance of logging off from social media and putting away the phone. Some of the same messages I tell my daughter apply just as well to me as a CEO. We live in a distracted world, but your relationships will be impacted if you’re always distracted when talking to employees and customers. As hard as it may be, resist the urge to check your phone when talking to somebody; the conversation you’re having right now with an employee is just as important as the Facebook message you just received.

Listen to experts with a grain of salt.

Given social media’s popularity, it’s no surprise that an entire industry has sprouted up to help businesses manage their social media presence. Many small business owners are sold on the importance of social media by consultants who want to set up and manage their accounts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a publicist and marketing manager who truly understands social. But, there are others out there who try to convince small business owners that creating a Facebook page will instantly double their sales leads. That’s setting the wrong expectations.

Before investing significant time in social media, you need to understand that “likes” don’t equal clicks or sales. The power of social media is that it helps foster loyalty, trust, and goodwill between you and your customers. Some of your social efforts will bring in direct sales, but more than likely, it will be a gradual process toward increasing your community and brand presence. Social media marketing requires a lot of patience, but don’t ignore all your other customer touch points along the way.

Help Your Employees Be Their Best!

http://angelnetwork.com/ammlive/ – Tip Of The Day – Greg shares how the way we treat our employees rolls over to our customers and customer referrals.

**What is Angel Investors Network?
Angel Investors Network (AIN) was created by a group of successful entrepreneurs, investment bankers, angel investors, marketing and management experts, lawyers and accountants who have built companies in a diverse set of industries.
AIN offers investors an opportunity to participate in the buying and selling of businesses, making equity investments, and providing debt financing to businesses with the opportunity of managing risk and creating wealth.
AIN also works with investors, marketing strategists, management experts and financial gurus who combine their skills and experience to work with our target entrepreneurs and make them highly successful business owners.

We are more than just Angel Investors. We are a community of experts that invest our time, expertise, and money in exchange for equity with the objective to perpetuate free enterprise, capitalism and support the entrepreneur spirit while creating wealth, happiness and fulfillment for all those involved.

What Makes Your Business?

http://angelnetwork.com/ammlive/ – Tip Of The Day – “We become what we do” – everything we say and do on a daily basis – regarding our businesses – dictates the value, brand and longevity of our companies.

**What is Angel Investors Network?
Angel Investors Network (AIN) was created by a group of successful entrepreneurs, investment bankers, angel investors, marketing and management experts, lawyers and accountants who have built companies in a diverse set of industries.
AIN offers investors an opportunity to participate in the buying and selling of businesses, making equity investments, and providing debt financing to businesses with the opportunity of managing risk and creating wealth.
AIN also works with investors, marketing strategists, management experts and financial gurus who combine their skills and experience to work with our target entrepreneurs and make them highly successful business owners.

We are more than just Angel Investors. We are a community of experts that invest our time, expertise, and money in exchange for equity with the objective to perpetuate free enterprise, capitalism and support the entrepreneur spirit while creating wealth, happiness and fulfillment for all those involved.

4 Things You Can Do Today to Make More Money Every Day

Money isn’t the only reason to start or grow a business but you better believe it’s important. If your business isn’t making money, all you have is a nice hobby. There are a lot of activities you can do that seem like they will lead to income but they won’t. Successful entrepreneurs avoid the time wasters and focus on what will help their business grow.

There are four things you could do today — you could start right now if you’re not doing them — that could lead to more income in your business. These are simple but overlooked strategies that have withstood the test of time and technology. Your business can experience explosive growth with the right focus.

1. Sell more than makes you comfortable.

Chances are, you sell in your business. While you may know selling is important, you may not realize that you aren’t selling enough. The human brain can be a funny organ. Someone on your email list or involved in your ecosystem may need to see something as many as 37 times before it clicks in their brain.

While it feels like you are selling a lot, you probably aren’t selling enough. When you sell, you are bound to upset people — that’s okay. If you are consistently providing value for your audience, you have earned the right to tell them about your premium offerings. Sell more than you feel comfortable and you’ll see your income and business grow. Your audience wants to buy from you, they just need to know what you offer — tell them consistently.

2. Spend each day on income producing strategies.

Our natural inclination is to wake up and do what we feel is urgent. We check email, browse through social media and may even take calls. If you want to make more money now, start your day by doing things that lead to income. It could be crafting a well-written sales email to you email list, calling an old client and renewing their contract, or spending time selling to a lead who you know is ready to buy.

Start each day pursuing hot opportunities that require only a little work to close. You may not close a sale every day, but over time, you will close more and that will add to your bottom line. As this becomes a habit, you will be a well-oiled machine that knows how to spot opportunities.

3. Offer value that leads to building your email list.

Sales come when the customer sees that you know what you’re talking about and they have gotten value from you. Value is best delivered when what you provide is actionable in someone’s life. As you continually add value, you will build your email list and potential base of customers.

Spend more time on what you put out publicly. Your products, services, and information should separate you from your competition. They should have undeniable value because you’ve taken the proper time to make sure they do. Put this value out on your website, social media or wherever you advertise. Your email list will build offering you the opportunity to sell more. That will lead to more income.

4. Leverage massive exposure.

There are many fantastic chances for entrepreneurs today to get more visibility for their business. Social media has billions of users. Google AdWords, or SEO in general, can put your business in front of millions of potential customers. You can put out content on great websites, such as “Entrepreneur” and more, and get exposure to millions of people.

The Internet and social media have connected us and given us access to an almost limitless potential customer base. Leverage exposure for and in your business. Get your name and content in front of the larger audience and convert some of them into customers. Massive exposure will increase your bottom line dramatically and quickly.

If the growth or income has stalled in your business, these four things can help you right away. If you are doing just fine, use these to reach your next growth and income goals. There is a wealth of potential leads and income, for us as entrepreneurs, if we open our eyes and capitalize.

The 7 Stages of Business Ownership

Building a business doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t build a business and then wait for it to grow. You start with a barely feasible idea and you nurture it, guiding it through several phases of evolution until it becomes almost unrecognizable. If you’re lucky, it will keep evolving until you start generating a substantial profit, and become stable enough to consider an exit strategy.

If you keep pressing, you’ll find that there are seven main “stages” of business ownership, each with its own challenges and opportunities. Learning more about these stages can help you plan for your business’s growth and give you key insights on which to build your organization.

1. The idea.

The idea stage is a bit more than just coming up with the original idea for your business, though it is that as well. Once you’ve got some solid business idea, the remainder of this phase is spent putting together all the pieces of how, exactly, you can pull this off. That means creating a thorough business plan you can use as the blueprint for your business, working out all the kinks you didn’t think about when you came up with that initial spark, compensating for the competition you anticipate, and figuring out how you’re going to finance everything.

2. The launch.

This phase marks the “official” start of your business, though you can still consider yourself an entrepreneur in the first phase. At this point, you’ll have all the resources you need to begin operations. You’ll find an office (if you need one), secure equipment (if you need it), and start looking for your first clients and customers. This is a hectic stage, but usually doesn’t carry any financial risks–you’ve secured enough funding to see you through this phase. The big problem lies in facing the first line of problems you didn’t anticipate in your business plan–and they will come up.

3. Survival.

The next stage is probably the most volatile, because it’s a make-or-break point for your business plan. You’ll start to run out of your initial funding, but it’s still too early to have any manageable flow of revenue. You’re likely changing things in your business daily, so your structure is volatile, and all the while you’re scrambling to pick up enough clients to keep you afloat. Your business will either learn to adapt quickly or burn out in a flash–it’s up to you and your team to decide which. Adaptation is the key to surviving the “survival” stage, and it isn’t easy.

4. Floating steady.

Though the process will be slow and gradual, eventually you’ll secure enough clients and revenue to pull yourself out of the survival phase. At this point, you’ll be able to float steadily, breaking even or making a profit on a predictable basis, and all your internal processes will start to stabilize. You’ll learn to count on your core team, your products will be consistent, and you’ll start to think that theoretically, your business could sustain itself forever–and if you let it, it just might. Some businesses stop at this phase and self-sustain indefinitely, and there’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re after something more.

5. Growth.

The growth phase involves acceleration beyond your floating steady setup, and though it can happen naturally through word-of-mouth and high client retention, it’s more likely that you’ll instill this growth through some effort of your own. You can achieve this in a number of ways, usually involving heavy leaning on your sales and marketing teams. The more you promote your business, and the better job you do at retaining your existing customers, the better your chance at scaling your business upward. However, be aware that with growth comes volatility–growing too quickly or too slowly can put too much pressure on your resources.

6. Evolution.

Generally speaking, as your business reaches a certain point of growth, it’s going to need to change in some drastic way to continue growing, or even to survive. For example, it may need to split into different companies, or it may need to acquire a new company to help it in some key area. It may need to branch out into different locations, or it may need to adopt a new model for some of its central processes. This evolution will be difficult, as your business has been consistent for some time, but it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

7. Exit.

Finally, at some point, you’ll reach the level you wanted to achieve, and it’ll be time for you to move on. That might mean selling the business, passing it to one of your team members or a family member, or simply retiring and letting someone else figure out what to do (though I don’t advise this).

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