Over the holidays, I had a friend’s 10 year-old son ask me if I could help him with a small business that he wanted to open in 2012. Really? A 10 year-old kid? I know kids are much more advanced than I was at 10 with smart-phones, tablets and all the techno-devices but a business? Yup, he was serious!
He said, “I’d like to open up a lemonade stand when it gets hot in the summer; my dad says you help businesses grow”. And on we went discussing some basic principles about starting a business and operating an existing one; specifically, marketing.
I was so impressed by this “little-guy’s” insight and enthusiasm and his willingness to learn, along with the turn of the calendar year, it got me thinking about what I had learned in the past year; a natural ritual for entrepreneurs in January of any year!
So, here is what I have experienced as a successful Toronto web design and small business marketing company in my interactions with dozens and dozens of entrepreneurs in 2011, I found the following three trends to be most noticeable:
1. Business Viability
I found an overwhelming number of small business owners did not have a good sense of the profitability of their business; whether they were a start-up or established. This means knowing your expenses and understanding the revenue potential of your product/service. This exercise is sophisticated but it starts with a very simple question: “How much do I want to get paid per year from my business?” From this number, calculate how much revenue you need per month to achieve this. This doesn’t include costs of doing business or other expenses which must be factored in, but it is a start. Whether you are a start-up or are a young company, understand your business model and your expenses and determine how realistic it is going to be to generate the revenue you want. Having lofty sales goals with no justification of its viability or means of attaining them is no good without understanding the impact on the bottom line. Don’t just create a job for yourself in 2012, create and grow a business!
2. Marketing Budget
Taking it one step further, the ensuing discussion that I would find myself in (after #1) was discovering that these small business owners didn’t have a marketing budget identified. Again, whether they were start-up or established, even if they did have an aggressive set of sales targets, they still had no means or plan of attaining these goals. In some cases, it was even unrealistic. For examples, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to double your 2011 sales of $150,000 per year with a $500 marketing budget for 2012. The old adage is correct: “you have to spend money to make money”. If you are trying to defy this, then it will be increasingly more difficult to generate revenue and grow your business. The key for a small business owner is to understand what is the best “bang-for-your-buck”. Don’t do “one-off” marketing tactics; you WILL waste your money. Marketing is a process and it needs to be integrated with various other business strategies and goals. The key is to be practical. If your business model is realistic, calculating your marketing budget will be easier. Take the time and create a marketing budget in 2012, you’ll save a lot of time and money in the long-run.
3. Value Proposition
Usually my first question when I meet entrepreneurs is: “Tell me about your business”. What I’m expecting is a short one or two sentence statement about what they offer; basically, an opportunity for them to express the “value” of their business… “why would I want to purchase from them?” Instead, I get this…
Although this has a bit of a science flavour to it, you get the picture. If your value proposition is anything like this, you need to consider changing it. Your marketing value proposition is not a LIST of WHAT your product does or the type of services your offer. Creating a strong marketing value proposition statement is a core component to all of your marketing, communication and branding activities. It can also win or lose you a potential customer or investor when you are networking. In 2012, to grow your business by creating and communicating a strong value proposition.
Be Real. Grow your business.
Reality Business Consulting (RBC) (www.realityconsulting.ca) is a Toronto Web Design and Small Business Marketing Company that helps small businesses grow by designing profitable, creative and practical small business marketing plans and web marketing strategies, including WordPress small business website design. Having already successfully co-founded a technology and eCommerce company, as the principle of Reality Business Consulting, I understand the challenges and needs of a small business.
If you are searching for a professional and customer-focused small business marketing company with extensive work in marketing planning, WordPress small business website design, contact us for a “Reality Check”; a no-obligation, no-charge consultation.