Mastermind Your Small Business Success

Mastermind Your Small Business Success

Although it had been a dream of my husband’s for decades, the thought of starting a business on my own was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. After some careful thought and discussion, my husband Gerard and I cashed in our NY chips and moved to Maine in 2003 to birth Gerard’s “baby”, his jewelry store, Porte4.

For all of you self-employed, small business owners reading this, you know what I mean about the exhilarating / terrifying contrasting emotions that occur in the course of running your own business don’t you? In fact, the exhilaration can turn to terror in the blink of an eye, feeling like the two emotions are inseparable.

But get here, we did and I found the resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs overwhelming. If you are thinking about starting a business, want to buy a business or want to grow the business you already have, there’s no shortage of information here: SCORE, SBA, ASBDC [http://www.asbdc-us.com], http://www.Business.Gov, Small Business Assistance Center at http://www.sbacnetwork.org. These are just a few; the list goes on & on. Two other great sources of information are Entrepreneur.com and the small business section on About.com ( http://www.about.com/business). Happy researching!!

Gathering the information wasn’t the problem. What I found the most difficult was converting all the information I found into usable and practical ‘how-to’ data. It was data overload and I needed to talk to someone about the real-world of starting the business, not the academics of it. Things like:

  • How do you balance the needs of everyone: customers, employees, family, self?
  • When and how do you make the decision to hire your first employee?
  • …and then how do you recruit and keep great people?
  • What is the right mix for marketing your small business? – Multi-media advertising, PR, speaking, event sponsorship, direct and e-mailing; networking; community involvement …Argh!
  • Growth Strategies – How do you balance the need for growth & innovation yet keep the core of your business steady and strong?
  • Well? Who can you turn to for help in making critical decisions? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to someone on a regular basis who 1) you could trust and 2) could give you feedback based on their experience?

    Consider joining a small business mastermind forum. Mastermind forums or peer advisory groups provide small business owners and entrepreneurs a confidential environment to share with each other, helping each other by leveraging each other’s experience and knowledge, and so much more.

    The benefits of a good group will FAR exceed the investment.
    Among them are:

  • Reduce Costs: Small business owners often don’t have the budget to “re-invent the wheel”. By learning what other businesses have successfully done, you can save time and money.
  • Avoid Mistakes: Solving business problems on your own can result in costly delays and errors. Learning what others have done can help keep you moving forward.
  • Find New Ideas: Get outside your own paradigm and see through the eyes of other business owners. They may give you a perspective that leads you to a far greater outcome than you could have achieved on your own.
  • Improve Performance: When you look for best practices outside your own business, a wonderful thing happens. You raise the bar of performance and set new standards of excellence to propel your company forward.
  • There are a number of executive / CEO forum groups you can consider. Most are franchised and target the executives of larger companies (those with $10 million in sales or more). From personal experience I know the challenges small business owners and solo-preneurs have are every bit as plentiful and just as frustrating and complex as those of larger organizations. However, the smaller the business the more the professional can benefit from participating in a small business mastermind forum.

    Larger organizations have their boards of directors and big budgets. Small business owners and entrepreneurs should have their own advisory support. Grow your small business success through a small business mastermind group.

    Until next time, BE BOLD, Do Bold Business. Remember, it all starts with a Vision.

    Warning: Small Business Owners-Before You Advertise, Read This Simple Checklist

    If you’re writing advertisements for your business follow these 23 principles to ensure you get maximum return for your advertising dollar.

    These 23 advertising ‘rules’ are based on direct response advertising principles from books like ‘Tested Advertising Methods’ by John Caples and ‘Scientific Advertising’ by Claude Hopkins.

    1. Have you clearly researched and defined your ideal target market?

    2. Have you written your advertisement directed solely to your ‘ideal target market’?

    3. Is the marketing piece being placed/sent/posted where your ideal target market will easily see it?

    4. Have you calculated how many sales you need to make to make a profit on this advertisement?

    5. Have you considered any other ways that you can reach your target market that may be more cost effective for you?

    6. Have you made an offer that’s easy for your reader to understand, and irrisistable for them to refuse?

    7. Does your headline ‘sing out’ your ‘ideal target market’ so that they know, that your advertisement is written especially for them?

    8. Does your headline ‘grab’ your ideal target market’s attention and excite them?

    9. Does your headline offer or describe to your target market a major benefit that’s important to them?

    10. Have you written your advertisement so that your headline is approximately 5 sizes larger than the body copy font size?

    11. Does the body copy of your advertisement naturally continue on from what the headline suggests/says?

    12. Through out the body copy, have you continued on with the benefits suggested in your headline, and described more benefits to your target market of using/owning your product/service?

    13. Have you focused your writing on what your product/service will do for your target market, rather than just mentioning how good your business is?

    14. Have you used ‘sub-headings’ above some paragraphs to allow ‘skim readers’ to get the main thrust of your advertisement, just by reading the sub-headings?

    15. If you have included a picture of a person, is the person (or people) positioned so that their shoulders are facing into the body of the advertisement?

    16. Have you included a picture that shows the reader what the benefit(s) of buying and using your product/service will be?

    17. Have you taken the ‘buying risk’ away from your ideal target market by letting people know that they are safe to buy from you by either including a guarantee and/or using testimonials?

    18. Have you used specifics like 5, 7 and 11 in your copy, rather than using generalizations like large, limited or top quality?

    19. Have specifically asked your ideal target market to call, buy, or in some way take action to contact you in a hurry?

    20. Have you included your contact details on your advertisement so it’s clear and easy for readers to contact you, or take action effortlessly?

    21. Have you communicated with your staff so that they know when, why and how the advertisement is being published?

    22. Have you trained your staff so that they know how to handle incoming calls, e-mails and shoppers when they contact/visit your business?

    23. Have you communicated with your staff on how they are to record the results of the advertisement so you can track whether it’s profitable or not?

    The above 23 points are pretty comprehensive, and will help you make your advertisements comply with sound direct response advertising principles.

    By following them, you can ensure you’ll be closer to creating profitable advertisements for your small business growth.

    Before You Launch Your Small Business, Read This

    People start small businesses for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps, they have a passion for something and wish to share that passion with the world. Maybe, they are stuck in a job they feel will lead them nowhere, and they have a great desire to escape it. Many people want to be their own boss- to set their own hours and do their own thing. Others see a need for a particular item or service and decide that they are the perfect person to fill the vacuum. Oftentimes, people just desire a change in life and figure that a career switch and a small business launch is just the thing to fulfill that wish.

    Whatever the reason that you might be considering undertaking such a venture, you would be wise to first take some time to plan out the launch of your small business. Nothing would forecast failure to your project more than a lack of proper planning and preparation. Take the time now, and you will not regret it later!

    First, explore the small business resources available in your area to gain some invaluable help in putting together a business plan, applying for loans, and other essential tasks. Your local chamber of commerce, library, and bank are all good places to start with. Each of the above would most certainly offer some sort of small business help in the form of literature and classes or seminars. They would also potentially have people experienced in small business growth who would be willing to mentor you through the process.

    Then take time to search out any competition you will have. Depending on the type of business you wish to start, that competition may be limited to local stores and companies. However, your competition may also be found elsewhere. The internet has opened up whole new worlds for businesses that were formerly limited to a certain mile radius of customers. Find out who your competitors are, and if possible, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Investigate their costs. Do your research as to how much it will cost you in supplies and overhead to provide those goods and services. Figure out what your profit margin will be, making sure to find a way that you will be able to make a good profit.

    Be certain that you understand as much as possible the market you are trying to launch your small business in. Take time to ascertain the problems that will most certainly arise and prepare beforehand, strategies to deal with them. Get advice from others who have gone before you – learn from their mistakes. Figure out a way that you can bring something new to the table – be unique in the goods or services you will be offering. Give your customers a reason to choose YOU over your competition.

    Proper planning and preparation will do more for the success of a small business launch than anything else so take the time beforehand for it and you will always be glad you did!