Billingslea Media
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The latest news and industry trends

Posts tagged small business
Why You Should Support Small Business
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This week is National Small Business Week. It’s a week long event focused on driving more attention to the power of small businesses. While shopping at larger retail stores may be easy, convenient, or enticing, there are tons of small businesses out there offering goods and services that are just as good, if not better than what you’ll find at their competitors. Here are a couple of reasons why you should purchase from a small business.

  • It Drives Your Local Economy

    When you buy from a local business, the dollars you spend stay in your community and go back into your local economy. It also allows small business owners to sustain their dream businesses, and offer gainful employment. When people are gainfully employed, they also spend more money in their community. It’s a cycle that keeps on going and adds to local growth and development.

  • It’s More Eco-Friendly

    Buying from a local business means less time transporting goods, less packaging, less gas, less traffic on your carbon footprint.

  • Contributes to Diversity in the Marketplace

    Larger stores cater to the demands of the national market; whereas local businesses create unique goods that often reflect the heart and soul of their city. This deepens ties to the community and encourages people to spend even more money in their local area. It also gives other business owners with smaller budgets and less powerful connections a chance to get their businesses in front of more people.

Supporting small businesses is easier than you think. Check out your local business associations , social media outlets, and Google business pages for a list of small businesses in your area.

3 Things I Learned From Hurricane Florence

...and 3 things I’m doing with those lessons


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Hurricane season in NC can be brutal. Although I’ve lived here since a teen, I don’t ever think I will be “calm” during a hurricane. The unpredictability is just too much for me to deal with. Dealing with Hurricane Florence this week drove that home for me. We watched it twist and turn and go from a full fledged beast of a hurricane to a tropical storm that still wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the US. Looked a bit like my business….


I was fortunate during this storm. My area managed to escape the turmoil. But I still had to get prepared, and I still never knew what to expect. I started to get OVER prepared. I figured better safe than sorry. It’s so much easier to be prepared for the worst than to wait til the storm comes to get things together. Unfortunately we don’t do this in other areas of our lives - especially our businesses. Those of us who are small business owners make the mistake of operating just like a small business. Instead, we need to be operating like a Corporation, no matter what size business we own. Truth is, most of us don’t have an emergency kit for our businesses. After thinking about the need for a better contingency plan, I wrote this mini guide for developing an Emergency Business Kit’.

Let me give you a couple of disastrous scenarios that might have a negative impact on your business:

  • A natural disaster that destroys your physical business or inventory supply

  • Sudden illness (You, a family member, or a team member)

  • Geographic economic downturn

Those are just three examples of things that may blindside you and have huge negative impacts on the livelihood of your business. None of those scenarios are things that we necessarily put into our working business plans. But unfortunately they are realistic scenarios that require a bit of planning,  a clear head, and the ability to be flexible.


So what are the lessons I learned from Hurricane Florence?

  1. Include contingencies in your business plan.

It’s much better to develop a strategic plan during the quiet moments in your business than it is to do so during chaos. Most people think disaster preparedness only applies to businesses like beachfront restaurants or hotels, but these aren’t the only businesses that can be affected by natural disasters.

   2.   Have Backup staff

Even if you don’t traditionally have a large staff, it’s important to have people that can be “on call: for you during the tough times. If you can’t afford to hire a large staff, outsourcing a freelance professional is a good short term solution. You can also partner with other businesses similar to yours that can step in and help with the overload. Although they may be a competitor, those people are quite possibly the most qualified to help you run your business effectively. If these aren’t viable options for you, then enlist the help of friends or family. Keep them up to speed with the flow of your business throughout the year. This helps reduce the learning curve when training people to work with you.

  3.  You are only as good as your last project

You’ve gotta stay in the game at all times. You never know when something will pop up that will result in pausing your operation temporarily. In the event that your business has to go on hiatus, it’s good to have irons already in the fire that can carry you through that time period. The positive feedback and the ability to re-purpose any content you previously put out will help you make an easier transition when you are ready. If you go too long without any activity, you run the risk of having to re-introduce yourself to your industry and start from scratch when establishing a trust factor with your clientele.

So what are some things that I've decided to add to my 'Business Emergency Kit’? 3 simple practices:

1- Better Health and Wellness Plan

Without a healthy body and mind, your business will suffer. While some health issues may not be preventable, there are other things that we can do to ensure that we are maximizing our time when we are healthy. Taking an active role in improving my health and wellness will definitely be an integral part of my business plan from now on.

2- Strict Time Management

“Fail to Plan and You Plan to Fail”. I’m the same person who crammed for my LSAT the night before I took it. Why? Because I knew that I could do that and still ace the exam as I always did with every other exam I had ever taken. But just because it works doesn’t mean it’s a great strategy to employ. In the event that things don’t go EXACTLY as planned, you are stuck behind the eight ball. My new strategy is to have TWO backup plans - One for my time management routine, and one for my actual workflow. Workflows don’t do us any good without implementing your time management sequence.

3- Support Staff

My business has always been run as a Solopreneur operation. Sure, I’ve outsourced things from time to time but I’ve never employed someone on a regular basis. That means that whenever I’m in need of outsourcing a project, I have that long learning curve that we talked about. I have to take the time to explain my business and how I want specific things to go. It sucks up my time, and also presents the opportunity to have things lost in translation.

But what do you do if you can’t afford to have someone on staff year round? There are definitely a couple of alternatives.

  • Proper documentation

In the event that someone needs to come in and work in my business right away, I have systems and documents in place to explain the business and how things flow. With each daily activity, I document the process and check off the items that I complete. I even save my to-do lists and organize them by date. It can be time consuming in the beginning, but once you get the ball rolling, it is actually a time saver.

  • Family and Friends

My Mom is my business “Battle Buddy”. She and I get together over dinner and discuss business goals and progress once a week. We talk about new developments, new goals, and new projects. I keep her in the loop with my business in case I need her help IN the business. In the event that something happens to me, she can step in and take charge. Because she has signed a confidentiality agreement and has been briefed on company projects, she is equipped to draft documents on my behalf, help with lead generation, and check for new industry updates. All of this helps to address (and minimize) that dreaded learning curve that pops up when someone new steps in.

  • Management Software - There are tons of mobile apps and desktop software programs that can keep you organized and help prioritize tasks. Find apps that help you sync your calendar and business tasks. Programs like Slack, Hootsuite, and Evernote help you communicate effectively and manage your content across a variety of platforms. Millennial marketing guru Chelsea Krost swears by Fin, an on-demand productivity tool that allows you to take your scheduling and organization to the next level. Their features are so in depth that they are akin to having your own virtual assistant. Check out more on Fin on Chelsea's website, and the special offer they are giving to her readers.

 



Do you have an ‘Emergency Kit’ for your business? What are some of the things that might affect your business in an emergency situation?

Click the button below to get our FREE Business Emergency Kit when you subscribe to our mailing list!

 

 

3 Benefits of a Written Marketing Plan
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Developing industry specific marketing plans can be difficult to achieve with little to no direction. Just like a business plan gets you set up for strategic growth, a marketing plan serves much of the same purpose. While some may think that you can mix and match marketing methods as you go along, it is always much more efficient to develop your plan of attack well in advance. Your marketing plan should serve as the companion piece to your business and financial plans.

Marketing plans are not a one-size fits all scenario. Your plan should be specific to your industry, as well as your time in the business. It brings you clarity, structure, and most of all - more effective marketing. Here are a couple of the benefits of having a written marketing plan for your business.

Gain Clarity

  •  A written plan helps you gain the clarity you need to expand your business with effective marketing strategies. It takes your original business plan and stretches it out in a way that shows your creativity in a structured manner. As a companion piece to your business plan, it lays out the specifics of your business plan and assigns a marketing task to each area. It also shows you where your challenges may lie within reaching your target market, and how you should address a financial plan of attack.

Track Your Methods

  • A lot of people approach marketing without a strategy. They throw a couple of things at the wall and see what sticks, then get frustrated when they don't see a return. A written marketing plan helps you keep track of what you've done. It gives you a clear view of what has worked, what hasn't, and how much time and money has been put into it. Are you delivering things to your target market that actually address their wants and needs? If not, how do you change that? What new techniques can you use to better serve them?

Establish Company Culture

  • What better way to help your employees learn about your company culture than to have it in writing? Although you may think that you've expressed the core of your company culture and brand values, it is can easily be misconstrued by an outside party. Instead of assuming that employees know how to represent your brand, why not feel comfortable in knowing that they are clear on how to represent your brand. You can even ask for feedback through meetings and forums, and incorporate that data into a working plan for your employees. 

No matter the industry, your marketing efforts should be tailored to fit your specific needs. Just because a similar business has had success with a given marketing tactic doesn't mean that your business will enjoy that same success. It takes time, introspection, and documentation to get together a proven formula for success that can grow with your company.

Don't take chances on missing the mark with your marketing. Contact us today for a consultation on developing a targeted marketing plan for your business.

Your 2017 Playbook Simplified
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The beginning of a new year is an exciting time for us as we take on new goals and new activities. But for some, it can also be overwhelming. In the midst of our excitement, we can sometimes take on too much at one time. It's one of the major reasons why people begin gym memberships in January and fall off the radar by March. Pacing yourself with your business or career goals is essential to your success. Without a proper action plan, we get overwhelmed, frustrated, and give up.

 

  • Evaluate

 

Before you begin to make a zillion new changes in your life and business, take a minute to evaluate things first. If your goal is to make more money in your business, you have to first figure out where you are lacking. Don't go blindly into the entrepreneurial sector looking to scrape up every dollar you see just for the sake of filling your pockets. Be strategic about your money. Before you go out and try and reinvent the wheel, see if maybe the wheel just needs a little oil. You may just need to make small tweaks to your plan of attack instead of changing everything completely.

 

 

  • Information overload

 

Most entrepreneurs today are guilty of this. There is so much free information out there today that it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed with the way we educate ourselves on business. The key is to find a source that best suits you and the way you learn. Just because a business expert is popular with others in your circle doesn't mean that you will benefit from their lessons in the same way. Pick two or three sources of information and study them intensely before you go purchasing additional lessons or attending their workshops and conferences. Study and evaluate them, and compare which source gave you the best tools. Once you've found that perfect fit, then you can begin to invest in additional education that can help you with your specific goals.

 

  • Clear out personal distraction

 

This is the tricky part! If anyone ever tells you to wait until the timing is right to begin a new career or business, stop the conversation right there! There is NEVER a good time to start a business. And if you think your timing is perfect, you are probably in for a rude awakening. Now, no one is saying to be irrational or unrealistic. If your house is in foreclosure and you have mouths to feed, then by all means, take your time with making major decisions. But there will never be a perfect time where everything in your life lines up perfectly in order for you to begin. But you have to start anyway. There is no way to stop the realities of real life, but you can definitely filter out your distractions. When personal problems arise, don't ignore them; figure out the best way to tackle them. Sometimes this means putting off new developments, and other times this means addressing the issue at a later date. You also have to be very cautious about allowing others to interrupt the schedule of plans that you've set out for yourself. You are the only one who can determine your comfort level. Don't allow someone else to do that for you.

 

  • Work Twice as Hard

 

Simple and plain. Commit yourself to pushing harder this year than you did last year. Achieving success is a huge mental battle. It takes emotional fortitude to continue to push through to your goals, and then eventually tackle new ones. Maybe your version of working hard is not the same as the next person. That's okay. As long as it consists of YOU working harder than before, then you've succeeded. Sometimes our goals have to be broken down into smaller pieces than others just to give us that extra push. But make no mistake, no new goals equal new effort. Every single time.

 

 

What are your secret weapons for tackling the new year? What tips do you have for staying on track?