Small Business Marketing Book Review – People and Your Business

What if somebody told you one critical key to business success was to practice the principle of the Golden Rule in your business? The idea seems to somehow run counter to so much of what we’ve been taught about business, doesn’t it? Yet, what if that same source convinced you through case-study after case-study that application of the Golden Rule in business actually leads to success?

Let us introduce Frederick Reichheld and his book The Loyalty Effect. While not a small business marketer, but rather an expert business consultant, what Reichheld teaches us about loyalty is worthwhile reading for any small business owner or manager.

Did we say “worthwhile”? Scratch that; pencil in the phrase “urgently essential”, instead. This book is that vital to a small company.

The Loyalty Effect focuses on three groups of people critical to business success: Customers, Employees, and Investors. For most small business, the investor is the owner, so for our brief review in this article we will focus on Customers and Employees.

Reichheld is a definite advocate of customer retention. He convincingly demonstrates time and again that small percentage increases in customer retention have huge impacts on profits. This read will be a just-right fit for those of you having problems focusing on the right customers. If you will take the time to trudge through this book, and really understand most of its principles (we found Chapter 8 to be the toughest) then not only will the marketing of your business improve, but so will your profits.

Isn’t that the reason for all this focus on marketing, anyway?

And Reichheld really opened our eyes to how important employees are in retaining customers. If a company treats their employees right, those employees become more efficient and productive in their daily tasks. Profits go up, retention increases.

Reichheld stresses again and again that a company’s prime mission needs to be creating customer value. Most of you in small business realize this, but it’s reaffirming to see hard-and-fast facts to back up what many of us intuitively know. Customers don’t come to a small business looking to boost our profits; they arrive seeking value. If we consistently create value, profit will come.

Another key point for small business owners is the importance of leadership. If you need to go down to the bookstore and browse through The Loyalty Effect before you buy it, flip over to page 246. Reichheld has studied several large and successful businesses, and concludes here that most of them had leaders with an “intuitive grasp” of how important loyalty is. This is critical for business success, regardless of business size. While not written to be a rah-rah inspirational book, Reichheld’s arguments and his examination of the role strong leaders play in forming great companies reinforces just how important to the bottom line it is for a small business owner to be a good leader.

So much of Reichheld’s book seemed familiar; akin to common sense…after we read it. Treat employees well and they’ll perform well for you; we’ll that’s pretty basic, now isn’t it? But we tend to forget, we tend to think we need to cut corners or just “improve efficiency” and that’ll lead to greater profits. In the short term it very well may, but Reichheld argues effectively that in the long run it’s only by creating value for our customer that we build profitable businesses.

Remember, People is the third element–along with Brand and Package–of any small business marketing success story. Taking a week or so and reading Frederick Reichheld over lunch or before lights out at night is a great way to hone your “people productivity”.

© 2006 Marketing Hawks

Selling a Small Business With a Business Broker

If you are a business owner thinking that the time is right to sell, there are a few options that are open to you. Usually though, it boils down to selling the business privately or using the services of a business broker. This article will focus on a few items to bear in mind if you do decide to sell your business with a business broker.

Patience. It takes time to sell a business. Most reputable business brokers are constantly being approached by small business owners who would like to sell a business. Unfortunately, many of these businesses are losing money or are very difficult to sell for a host of other reasons. Business brokers usually turn down more business listings than they take on. Even with this being the case, it usually takes several months for a business brokerage to find a buyer for a company listed for sale. Many times, business owners that have “just listed” their business with a professional business intermediary expect rapid response and a lineup of buyers hoping to view the business. Things don’t usually work this way, unfortunately. If you have decided to list your company with a business brokerage then there are many positive benefits you can expect from the relationship. However, please do be patient.

Multiple Showings. After you enlist the services of a business brokerage to sell your small business, don’t expect the first buyer to be shown your business to be “the one”. Often, it takes showings to 10-12 different ‘qualified’ buyers before a purchaser of found. Sellers tend to get excited at the first showing of the business to a prospect but the reality is that it many take many different people to see the business. There are times, however, where the first person who sees the business ends up buying it so please take these comments with a grain of salt.

Expect False Starts. Selling a business sometimes means being expected for a few false starts. When a business is sold, the first step is (usually) the conditional sale agreement. Typically then, buyers enter into a conditional due diligence period where the operations and financials of the business are scrutinized. In this scenario, the business buyer can walk away from the deal at any time. Sellers are usually quite disappointed if this happens since they put so much time and effort into the deal and now they must start again at square one and start the process over to find a new buyer.

Deal Must Be “Win Win”. In a business sale, the dynamic between the buyers and the sellers must be such that both parties to the transaction feel comfortable with the terms. Unlike some real estate transactions, a business sale must not be confrontational in order to successfully come to a close. The process in a business transaction, especially small business sales, can be quite emotional. The buyer must feel good about the seller and vice versa. The process is much too long and there are too many “outs” along the way for both parties that if a confrontational or aggressive negotiating stance is taken that the deal process could potentially fall apart. The role of the business broker is to ‘reign in’ the emotions of both sides. Be prepared for frank discussions with a business brokerage professional if negotiations (or emotions) get heated.

Selling a small business with a business broker is a good decision that should increase your chances of selling significantly.

What Are Some Of The Most Important IT Services For Businesses?

The success of any business depends on maintaining smooth uninterrupted enterprise operations. In this digital age, it is essential that businesses have IT (information technology) services that will keep their network operational and intact with minimal down time. Because business computer systems and networks are always evolving it is imperative to work with the right IT company to maintain and preserve your companies’ data. This involves a number of steps in order to prevent loss of data due to disasters such as floods, fires, theft, power failure, equipment failure, etc. To ensure the success of your company, below you will find a list of some of the most important IT services for businesses.

Network backup systems are vital in order for a business to keep their data safe. Hiring an IT services company (that offers network support) will help ensure data is never lost or corrupted. With a network backup system in place, you can safely upload your client information, financial records and files via the Internet to a secure off site location where data cannot be harmed. By doing so, your data is safe from storms, fire, unauthorized intrusions, floods, viruses, and hardware malfunctions. As well, backups can be monitored 24/7 to ensure data availability in case of an emergency.

Remote monitoring is a very beneficial service for any size business that enables 24/7 monitoring of your computer network. While this is an effective method used to monitor systems for malicious bugs, intrusions, glitches, and emergencies, it’s also very cost effective. Proactively monitoring, managing, and maintaining your computer network remotely means problems are detected immediately and fixed without the need to have a technician physically come to the business location. Having a constant ‘guard’ for the system and network will help ensure uninterrupted network operation thereby reducing worker downtime. Nothing can be as frustrating as having an office full of workers who can’t work!

It is critical for every business to have effective email and spam protection as this step helps protect against potentially disastrous threats. A technician will help establish an email security and archiving system that will actively secure your email by stopping spam, viruses, worms, and other email-borne malware before reaching the inbox. Furthermore it allows you to preserve and access emails more easily and at the same time allows for the archiving of all inbound and outbound emails online for compliance and backup. There is also continual monitoring of email activity to ensure critical emails are being received and delivered.

With an IT company offering offsite back up disaster recovery solutions, businesses will ensure no data is lost should there be a disaster affecting the computing systems. Such a back up system makes data accessible 24/7 thereby ensuring that said data is immediately recoverable if there is an event such as power failure. High tech facilities house servers safely, protecting them from any unauthorized access and physically potential disasters such as humidity, fire, temperature extremes, dust, and floods. These storage facilities help to protect business systems and data, ensuring that your company information is protected.

A quality IT plan ensures complete backup services, daily checks on your backup, security monitoring, and effective disaster recovery solutions. The loss of client records or financial information could very well be the end of many companies. Unfortunately many companies also need to be protected from the malicious activity of competitors and hackers. Compiled with the waste of money on potential downtime, having an effective IT plan is a necessity for the success of any business.

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