Set Your Small Business Up On A Fast Track For Success

Nobody said that starting your own business was going to be easy. You’re forced to face your limitations and accept that sometimes what looked great on paper can be not so great in real life. But establishing successes early on in the course of your startup can lead to even more success. It can be a huge morale boost, add credibility to what you are doing and encourage potential customers to check you out. But how do you set your small business up on a fast track for success?

It’s not difficult to get your small business on the fast track for success. With the right mind set and realistic expectations, your startup can flourish. Here’s a few ways to start the fast track for success for your small business.

Aim low

We all know that an entrepreneur is passionate about what they do. Otherwise, they’d do something else. Their little fledgling startup is going to change the course of humankind. And there is a possibility that it might just do that. And Oprah might just be calling you up to see if you’re free for lunch. But if your ambitions are lofty once out of the starting gate, even moderate successes won’t seem up to snuff. It’s best to take a pragmatic approach and set those goals at a realistic level so that you are able to recognize and appreciate the good in your startup.

Start small

Chances are that your startup won’t have offices in every corner of the earth. It would be nice, but it’s going to take a lot of startup capital. And if Warren Buffet isn’t your uncle, then it’s a good idea to scale those ambitions back and concentrate on your local market. Startup costs will be lower, operations costs will be lower, and you’ll have the chance to test your ideas out before taking them to a wider audience. If there’s a chance that things need to be tweaked, then you’ll have the chance to make those revisions. And that saves time and money in the long run.

Go for the easy targets

Sometimes, it’s best to go for those opportunities on our doorsteps. When planning for your startup, you would have already identified the easy targets. The ‘low hanging fruit’. Concentrate on getting results from the easy target, and that will give you the confidence to go after the progressively more elusive (but still relevant) targets.

Make friends

We here at Un_Standard are huge advocates of partnering up with other businesses. After all, two heads are better than one. See if there are any businesses out there that seem to be a natural fit and complimentary to your startup, and see if this new partnership can go after new clients/customers. If the fit is right, then everyone benefits. Time to dust off the Rolodex!

Essential Sales Lead Tools For Small Businesses

Sales lead tools can be invaluable to a business. But many small businesses don’t have the money available to spend on these sorts of tools that larger businesses have. But that doesn’t mean that essential sales lead tools aren’t available for small businesses.
We’ll take a look at three tools that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they aren’t LinkedIn or Facebook (not that there’s anything wrong with LinkedIn and Facebook. They’re both great resources for small and big businesses alike).

Jigsaw

Jigsaw is owned by salesforce.com and combines social media and lead generation. Businesses can earn points for adding contacts into the Jigsaw database. And those points work like frequent flyer miles, where they can be used to get free contacts. Subscriptions to this service start around $250 per year, but it’s free to earn contacts by sharing contacts.

ZoomInfo Community

ZoomInfo gives users access to a database of 60 million business contacts. That’s a whole lot of contacts to mine! The free edition asks for your contacts in exchange. There’s a plethora of plugins that link with Outlook or Google Apps, which makes this a very easy resource to use. You can even export the contacts that you get into a CRM system like Salesforce or Capsule.

Lead411

Lead411 offers users a simple searchable database of contacts at the reasonable rate of around $30 a month. You can gain access to more contact by upgrading your subscription.

making mistakes

Failure Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

Failing from time to time isn’t always bad.

What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.

Running your own business can be a rewarding as well as challenging experience. The rewards can be great, and setbacks can be devastating. But encountering failures from time to time in business isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having a few missteps along the way is one indicator of innovation. If you haven’t gotten your fingers burned a few times, then you aren’t challenging yourself. A mistake can’t be labeled as a mistake if you’ve learned a valuable lesson from them.

As an entrepreneur, you want to take risks, but there are ways to manage the downside to offset the implications if those risks go wrong. You don’t really learn from successes, but failures can teach you some valuable lessons. Along the way, you learn what works and what doesn’t work. And going forward, you can apply those valuable lessons learned to make your business stronger. Experience is an amazing teacher.

Failure can have an adverse effect upon morale. As long as you keep a positive attitude toward failure and not let it consume you, then you have the right attitude toward setbacks and a willingness to learn from them.  Some of the world’s greatest innovators had missteps early on, and learned valuable lessons along the way.

Remember, when you are truly innovative, you will have a lot of naysayers standing in your way. You mustn’t be worries about what people will say about you. It’s up to the entrepreneur to take those risks and move society forward. The future is yours, and don’t forget it. Happy exploring!

How to Write a Business Plan in Thirty Minutes

When planning a business, there’s quite a bit to take in to consideration. And, there are plenty of variables that can drastically alter your business model. One of the key things that Un_Standard recommends in the early stages of business planning is to do a brain dump and get the first business model on paper in about a half an hour. It is highly likely that “plan A” will turn out to not be feasible, so it is important to have a plan b, a plan c and a plan d. Never waste six months in trying to prove that your Plan A isn’t feasible. It is crucial to test out all of your business scenarios until you find the one that works.

In this initial brain dump, be sure to summarize the following important points:

  • Who are your customers? What do you know about them? Gain as much knowledge about your customers and get inside their minds. Figure out what makes them tick.
  • What is your company’s unique value proposition? What sets you apart from your competition and worthy of gaining the attention of your most valuable resource, your customers?
  • Now that you’ve figured out your target audience and what sets you apart from the competition, now comes the tricky part. How will your business deliver your unique value proposition to your target customers?

Once you’ve built this basic planning model, spin it a couple of ways. Try to introduce different scenarios in your solutions to see what comes up. Because, for anyone who has ever planned a business, you would know that it is wise to expect the unexpected. Be sure to cover as much ground as possible, because you never know what curveball that the market will toss to you. The more you plan upfront, the more resilient and robust your business will be down the road.

When planning your business in the early stages, the best business ideas come from personal experience. Your next business idea can come from an issue you’ve wrestled with first hand. Chances are, there are other people wrestling with the same problem. And if you can come up with an innovative solution to that problem, then you’ve got a captive audience for your business launch.

More Isn’t Always Better

When the Hard Sell Stops Working

Your small business has hit a wall. That aggressive sales approach that you used in the past to scale up your business has now ceased to work.  Successful businesses know how to grow. They find a profitable niche in a sustainable market, and then steadily increase market share.

But there comes a time when the aggressive sales strategy ceases to work. Doing more of what has been done before starts to produce smaller and smaller results. The reason for this is that growth brings about more things, more people, more everything. And more “things” increasingly become tougher to manage over time.  Complexity can be a drain on profitability for a small business. And selling more adds fuel to the fire.

The answer to this problem can be down to the simple concept of scalability. Put systems in place that scale up when the business grows. This concept is easier said than done. To successfully scale up a business, the small company must learn how to do grown up things like working together as a team and hiring and firing in a professional manner.

Many businesses never make that transition from small to mid-sized. Some of the main reasons that businesses never scale up are as follows:

A Sales Addiction

Closing that deal can lead to an incredible rush for a small business. Selling can be as addictive as any illicit substance. And most small businesses aren’t willing to curb that addiction. This leads to an increase in sales without the proper infrastructure to manage the business. Things get out of hand and many small business owners can lose control over the productivity of the businesses that they run.

A Fear of Failure

Many small businesses have an incessant fear of the unknown. Business owners then start to shy away from those challenges that they feel might be beyond their means or outside of their strengths. They often times fear that if their small business grows beyond the current size, then that larger business will be harder to manage. This leads to stifling growth. And one of the mantras that we here at Un_Standard hold near and dear to our hearts is that a business can’t truly innovate when it stays within its comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take that chance, but be sure that systems are in place to be able to cope with the changes ahead.

A Resistance to Push Back

We’ve all been there. Afraid to say no to the client. No matter how ridiculously insane those deadlines are. So we end up saying that we’ll turn that project around, even if it means going three days straight without sleeping or going to the toilet. This flexibility is great early on. It helps small companies gain valuable market share. But constantly burning the candle at both ends isn’t something that is going to be sustainable. Occasionally pushing back and saying “no” is part of scaling a business for a long-term strategic growth. Just because you can turn that project around on a dime doesn’t mean that it is a good idea for your business. This is all about taking a strategic and disciplined approach to growing your business.