Posts by Stephanie Valentine:
Investing into new technologies and content that you are unfamiliar with can be difficult for small businesses with limited resources. Content marketing can be a beneficial ally if your marketing team takes proper advantage of SEO and latest trends in your particular niche. Let’s take a look at some of the powerful ways in which content marketing can help small businesses that you might not be aware of right now.
Higher search engine ranking
All content on the internet is accessed through a search engine at some point or another. Not every internet user will know your website address or a particular article title – they will search for anything relevant to that topic.
Do you want to just laugh when you have a lousy interaction with a company’s customer service department and then they ask you to take a survey about their customer service?
The other day I dealt with customer service at a software company. The representative blew me off, his supervisor did the same, and the top dog manager was only mildly accommodating. At the end of all this merry-go-round, they asked me to take a 3 question survey to rate their customer service. I told them they had to be joking!
Have you noticed that the number cranky customers is on the rise? This isn’t a huge surprise, since the current economic situation tends to make people testy about anything to do with money, including shipping fees, taxes, and product cost. And while it may be irritating to deal with unhappy customers, finding ways to soothe these customers can actually increase your small business profitability and generate customer loyalty in the long run.
Cranky Customers and Profitability: An Example
Recently I have had several interactions with cranky customers that has reshaped the way I handle customer service for my small businesses. In one case, a customer complained about the shipping cost for a single bottle of nutritional supplements he ordered from my small business website.
Asking if you suck at personal finance can seem insulting, but the question is not meant to be insulting. It’s just that, being a small business owner and having recently taken a deep look at my personal finances, I have to say that I suck at personal finance. A lot of my small business owner buddies do, too. How do I know this? Because we have all been taking the 30-Day Challenge by Ramit Sethi of the Scrooge Strategy, and it has been truly eye-opening.
What is the Scrooge Strategy 30-Day Challenge?
Basically, it’s an ebook written by national bestselling author Ramit Sethi. The challenge is to see if you can save $1,000 in 30 days by doing the steps in his ebook. There is one step per day.
With the current business environment, small business owners are definitely struggling and “giving up” may start to look like a better and better option. While only you can decide when enough is enough, I heartily encourage you to consider staying in the game as long as possible.
For one thing, small businesses are the engines that really drive our economy, so just by keeping your doors open you are helping the economy to recover. Second, if you have been in business for more than 5 years, you have already beaten the odds, since 95% of small businesses fail by their fifth year. If you have come this far, maybe it’s worth trying to keep your small business afloat a while longer.
Adrian Monk is one of my favorite characters on television, probably because my husband resembles him so much … everything has to be “just so”! I catch reruns of “Monk” on the tube at least once a week, and I love how he uses his OCD mind, which is truly detail-oriented, to solve crimes. It has occurred to me more than once that small business owners could benefit from a little Monkishness to create a more efficient and productive business.
Small Business Owners and Adrian Monk
It’s true that Monk’s OCD tends to hinder rather than help him on a daily basis, since he spends so much time staying sanitary and clean. However, his “devil is in the details” approach is pretty useful for the small business owner.
Here is something to think about:
One of the most successful businessmen I have ever had the pleasure to talk to, Bob Block, credits his success in great part to his practice of developing five ideas per day to improve his businesses.
This is a practice he developed when he was just starting out as a salesperson in a mid-western state. He would think of five ideas, every single day, for improving his business.
While he admits that most of the ideas were worthless (about 95% of them), the few that were valuable were fairly priceless.
As the economy slides headlong into the dumper, it amazes me to watch small business owners continue to spend money on stupid stuff … just because they can or just because they always have. I can make this statement with impunity because I’m one of them!
What Constitutes “Stupid Stuff” in a Cash-Poor Economy?
So let me clarify what I mean by “stupid stuff.” Stupid stuff equals goods and services that your small business used to buy but, in today’s economy, which it can no longer afford.
I’m kind of a manic-depressive small business owner, sometimes super-focused and other times distracted to pieces … not a good personality type for running a small business. I figured this out about myself a long time ago and realized that the only way I would ever succeed in small business is to become this:
An efficient little twerp.
What’s an Efficient Little Twerp?
“Efficient little twerp” is the phrase a friend recently used to describe me in the way that I run my small businesses. Being an efficient little twerp is how I manage to be successful in my small businesses despite my major personality flaws, and boils down to three things:
So there is a small business guy around here I really admire – Mike of All Wet Sprinklers. This economy has been just as tough on Mike as on every other small business owner. People are slamming their wallets shut, and fewer people want new sprinkler systems installed on their properties.
So Mike, being the totally ingenious Italian dude that he is, decided that he would expand the services his small businesses offered so he could get more work. The sprinkler system market was shrinking, so Mike decided to expand into other markets, including landscaping, masonry, supplying firewood, and dog walking (actually, I’m not sure if he actually walks dogs or he’s just pulling my leg).