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Why it’s better to be a small business than a big one


by Roger Pierce

small toad - Scott* - Flickr
As the owner of a small business, you may feel societal pressure to grow big.
 

We hear terms like ‘scaling’ and ‘venture capital’ and ‘management layer’ and begin to think that bigger must be better.

Contrary to the popular expression, a smaller size may actually be advantageous.

Small businesses are nimble

Bureaucracy can take over bigger businesses. And that slows down an organization’s marketplace responsiveness.

In a big business, decisions are formed by department or committee – and can take forever and a day. Without a cumbersome management layer, a small business owner can move quickly to take advantage of opportunities. And, when one strategy isn’t working, it’s easy for a small business to pivot to try a new one.

Reacting quickly to change is a tremendous advantage for a small business – and often necessary for survival.

Small businesses owners enjoy fewer headaches

There are simply less moving parts to a small business than a big one.

Budgets are smaller and less complicated. Customers are more likely to be nearby than faraway. And there’s probably only one shareholder to please – you!

Achieving ‘scale’ usually involves a lot more people, a lot more money and major commitments. A business owner may prefer to keep things as simple as possible by keeping their company operations small.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Small businesses can specialise

Being all things to all customers is better suited for large companies with the resources and the brand recognition to diversify successfully – like Walmart.

As a result, there’s pressure on big companies to get good at doing a number of things.

With fewer overheads and financial burdens, small businesses can choose to focus on a particular type of customer or a particular type of product or service. The owner of a small business can thrive by doing one thing very well – and hopefully that one thing is a passion.

Plenty of small and micro businesses in Canada

Despite the attention big businesses seem to capture, it’s important to know that most businesses in Canada are small.

A staggering 98% of all businesses in Canada are considered to be small businesses, with 1 to 99 employees. And approximately 1.6 million businesses in Canada (which is a majority of small businesses) are companies of one person with no employees at all.

If you’re running a business that fits into the definition of a small business – congratulations! You’re likely enjoying the advantages that are unique to smaller enterprises.

Don’t succumb to the pressure to get bigger. You have every right to be perfectly happy with the current size of your business.

 

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Curious about entrepreneurship?


by Roger Pierce

Curiousity - elycefeliz - Flickr
You’re invited to learn what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur in this free seminar that I'm delivering called ‘Riding the Rollercoaster: Exploring Life as an Entrepreneur.’

 

BY ROGER PIERCE

Starting a business is a process that’s both thrilling and scary – just like riding a rollercoaster. You’re pumped to be on the ride but nervous about the next turn.

Even with the best business plan, you are plunging into the great unknown and hoping with all of your heart that the ride ends well. It’s a ride that will change your life forever.

Naturally many employed people wonder about the self-employment journey. Are you one of them? I believe there’s not enough information available to really let people know what it really takes to be an entrepreneur. That’s why I’m giving this free seminar – to help you to explore entrepreneurship as your next career move.

You may decide to climb aboard that rollercoaster. Or you may discover that particular ride isn’t for you.

Life as an Entrepreneur seminar

I won’t lie to you: opening a business involves late nights, lots of stress and plenty of work. And money is always an issue. But once you taste full-time entrepreneurship you’ll be hooked and unable to earn your living any other way.

If you are curious about life as an entrepreneur and wonder what it’s like to start and run your own business, you are invited to attend this free seminar to learn about:

  • The good, bad and ugly sides of entrepreneurship.
  • How people get started.
  • Why new businesses fail.
  • What it’s like to pursue your passion – and make money from it.
  • A day in the life of a small business owner.
  • Where to find start-up resources such as mentors and money.
  • The best types of businesses to start.

There’s no sales pitch or product offer attached to this seminar. I simply want to help people understand this career choice.

I’m delivering this free seminar on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) in the Alterna Room. CSI is located at 215 Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto (just North of Queen Street).

Please click on this link to register for free and to find more information about his event.

See you there!

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Seller’s remorse


by Roger Pierce

remorse - enchantedwood - Flickr
They say regret is a terrible thing.

Seller’s remorse is a form of regret experienced by a business owner or salesperson who feels he or she gave the customer a deal that’s too good. And the seller is now uncomfortable with the arrangement.

Situations that create seller’s remorse can happen for several reasons.

The business owner might desperately need the money to pay bills. Or maybe the seller really wanted to steal the deal away from a competitor. More often, however, the seller simply gets caught up in overwhelming desire to close the deal—and gives away too much in the process.

How do you know you are experiencing seller’s remorse? Check for these conditions.

1. The selling price is too low

As a buyer have you ever regretted paying too much? Perhaps you felt the value received didn’t justify the price you paid for a service or product—like paying $16,100 on eBay for former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s crack-confession day necktie.

Selling for too little is the same kind of reaction—that lingering sense you’re getting the short end of the stick.

Selling for too little money can happen to the best of entrepreneurs. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of customer negotiations and agree to take less money for the work.

Learn from this mistake by checking your value proposition. You may need to change how you are presenting the benefits associated with your offering.

2. Payment terms are unfavourable to the seller

Aside from price it’s common for sellers to agree to overly generous payment terms. For example, you might agree to accepting payment from a customer in 180 days instead of your usual 30 days because you really want the sale.

Hey—being flexible with payment terms is often what it takes to close the deal. It’s the sign of a savvy salesperson. But it’s important not to accept terms that negatively impact your own cash flow especially if the customer job involves some upfront costs. Home renovation contractors often insist customers pay for materials upfront for this reason.

Rack it up as experience. Revisit your payment terms to see where you can tighten up your policies—and put them right upfront in your estimates and proposals so customers know the deal.

3. You’re feeling uneasy about your new customer

It happens when your gut tells you not to do business with this customer but you sign them up anyway.

This is a tough element of seller’s remorse because it’s so personal: you simply don’t feel good about this new relationship. In your mind there’s something “off” about the individual or the company. The customer may have said something off-putting during your sales interaction that you ignored at the time.

Overcoming seller’s remorse

If the deal is done there may be very little you can do about it. And being a bad sport about the situation may damage your well-earned reputation.

Just remember that contracts don’t last forever: you may need to ride out the deal. Once your current obligations are fulfilled, you can change the terms of the next contract—or simply never work with that customer again.

Cheer up. At the end of the day you’ve got yourself a new customer. And that’s usually a good thing

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

March Break vacation? Set some work boundaries


by Roger Pierce

It’s that time of year when Canadians head out for some fun in the sun or fun in the snow: March break starts next week for most school jurisdictions.

Vacation

While spending time with family is priceless, it may be impossible for you to fully break away from your business responsibilities.

If you have to work while you’re on vacation consider these points.

There’s a cost to working while vacationing

You’ve worked hard to build your business and you certainly don’t want it to fall apart while you’re away. However, your health and family relationships can all be jeopardized by spending too much time in front of the computer or on the telephone while on vacation. 

Recognize the real price of working while on vacation: missing out on memories with family and friends, failing to unplug and missing a chance to personally refresh—all of which will help to make you a better business owner when you return to work.

If you must work, set some rules

Don’t let work consume your entire vacation. Set aside a few hours every day to work and stick to it—like checking emails at breakfast and lunchtime only. Get the critical work done and get back to playing.

Be sure to communicate your rules to your team. Let partners, employees and even customers know when you will be checking emails or answering calls during your vacation. Such clarity will calm people who are nervous about your absence and help you to embrace some well-deserved vacation freedom.

Use this chance to delegate and test your team

It’s impossible to get your normal volume of work done while on vacation—otherwise you may as well be in the office.

So some tasks will have to go—unless you delegate them to others.

Delegating is a great way to ensure necessary work gets completed and it will give you a chance to evaluate how well your employees handle additional responsibilities.

Working during holidays is unavoidable for many business owners. It’s a fact of self-employment. A little preparation and discipline, however, will help you to get your work done quickly so that you can enjoy your family getaway.

Happy March Break!

 

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Three Ways to Boost Your Competitive Advantage


by Roger Pierce

Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Competition - colleeninhawaii - Flickr
You can be more competitive by combining creativity, bravery and perseverance. 
 

Creativity involves looking for innovative ways to win more customers and stay ahead of your competition. Bravery is about defending your product quality, pricing and reputation. And perseverance is the never-say-die attitude that forces you to find a way through the marketplace.

Explore these strategies to help your business achieve or maintain its competitive edge.

Target a niche

Do one thing well for one group of customers.

Serving a niche carries multiple benefits: your team gets better at doing one thing, you’ll develop a reputation as an expert and operating costs will decrease as your business becomes more efficient thanks to process repetition. Plus, marketing to a niche can be less expensive because you’ll only spend money to reach your ideal customers.

Add tremendous value

Don't get caught up in a price war because constantly lowering your price will reduce profit and may make the business unsustainable. It’s far better to enjoy the healthy margins associated with a higher price. To command that higher price you’ll need to add value to your products or services in order to make competitor comparisons difficult. 

For example:

  • Be available to support your customer anytime – it’s easy to do with online services such as virtual help desks, or by hiring a virtual assistant.
  • Take care of the details. Handle the shipping arrangements, send the meeting invitation, write the report or supervise installation.
  • Include extras. A higher pricetag should cover the cost of including items that were once extra charge. So just include everything and promote that fact. 

Be sure to follow up

Everyone talks about following up but very few people actually do it.

Following up involves doing whatever you promised to do, like answer a question, send a sample, make a connection, do more research, pick up the phone, confirm a measurement or run a test. Simply doing what you said you would do creates an unbelievable competitive advantage because (believe it or not) most sellers fall short on their promises.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 

 

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Is It Okay to Reject a Customer?


by Roger Pierce

Rejection! - Mariaa Iqbal - Flickr
Sometimes the best decision you can make for your small business is to decline a business opportunity that isn’t right for you, or your company.
 
Listen to your gut if you are struggling with a decision to play or pass on some work. The opporunity may be screaming “Don’t do it!” for several reasons:
  • The work is not what you do.
  • The work would strain your thin resources to a point where other work is affected.
  • The money offered is too low.
  • You don’t like the customer, or you get a bad vibe about them.

Any of these reasons are perfectly valid ones to reject a deal.

Disliking a customer is a particularly difficult instinct to deal with. As a hungry entrepreneur it seems incredibly foolish to let emotions get in the way of a meal ticket. But, that's exactly what you must do in order to grow a principled business (and keep your sanity). It's not realistic for a small business owner to work face to face with a disagreeable customer and you will only be setting yourself up for the inevitable failure of the relationship.

Listen to your head and your heart when assessing new work opportunities. Make a decision about a new customer that will feel just as good tomorrow as it does today.

(Image courtesty of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

5 Selling Fiascos


by Roger Pierce

make no mistake - Meshl - FlickrBy Entrepreneurship Expert Roger Pierce

Whatever you’re selling there may come a point in the process when you need to connect one-to-one with your prospect.

And unless you are a seasoned sales professional, it’s natural to be nervous about that appointment because you feel pressure to get it right. That’s when mistakes are made.

Close the deal by avoiding these five fiascos.

1. Talking too much

You’ve heard this one before but it is important to repeat it here: spend 80% of your time listening to the prospect or customer and 20% of your time talking.

When people are nervous, it’s a natural tendency to talk too much (and too fast) and put it all out there. Sellers may think it best to present all of the information about a product or service with the hope the buyer will like something they hear.

Instead, ask plenty of questions. By actively listening to a prospect, you’ll be able to match your product features and benefits to their purchase criteria.

2. Discussing price too early

While price is an important element to a buying decision, it may not be the most important one to your prospect. And if you disclose price prematurely, you could taint the rest of the conversation as the prospect ignores the many other attractive features of your offering.

Your prospect is likely considering other buying criteria, including vendor dependability, industry reputation, product or service performance, implementation cost, warranties, payment arrangements and shipping timelines. Ask your prospect early in the sales process how they intend to evaluate the opportunity you are presenting.

3. Failure to follow up

It may seem like an obvious mistake to avoid, but many sellers drop the ball by failing to follow up with a prospect after a promising meeting or telephone call.

Allow some time in your schedule after the meeting to do the things you promised the prospect during the meeting. That may include sending more information, providing your customer references or doing up a detailed quote.

4. No knowledge of the prospect

Walking into a sales presentation and asking the prospect, “What do you do here?” is a failure on the part of the seller to do the research and background work usually considered a prerequisite to any meeting.

And it’s a huge waste of everyone’s time.

There’s no excuse in this internet age to not know everything you can about your prospect, including:

  • Company background and history.
  • Company competitors.
  • Expansion plans.
  • Key executives.
  • Founder career path.
  • Founder interests (use social media to learn about your contact).
  • Suppliers, customers, industry and more.

5. Ignoring buying signals

Have you ever been in a situation where the salesperson kept talking about the product long after you decided to buy it?

Selling is a process: once you notice buying signals, it’s time to close the sale and process the order. Again, the key here is listening to the prospect.

When they ask about delivery dates, payment plans, next steps or order specifications (“Is it available in blue?”), it’s time to wrap up the deal. Stop talking and process the order.

 

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Top 3 Small Business Beefs


by Roger Pierce

Beef - etva101 - FlickrThere are plenty of good reasons to run your own business, but I’m not going to talk about them here. You are likely already aware of the reasons why running a business is awesome.

But there’s a flip side to the benefits of self-employment. It’s not all wine and roses. There are, admittedly, things that really rattle a small business owner—and sometimes tick them right off.

What irritates small business owners may surprise you—or cause you to nod your head with understanding.

1. Late paying customers.

Any entrepreneur running a business-to-business (B2B) company knows this pain: the cheque in the mail.

It’s a pain B2C companies will never know because they usually enjoy instant cash payment for their products or services. Cash flow is rarely an issue unless sales drop or expenses increase.

The business owner can do everything humanly possible to speed up payment by including a direct deposit option, accepting credit cards, and offering an early payment discount. But it won’t matter much if the accounts payable machinery of your business customer is hopelessly slow. Or downright clogged.

Waiting 30, 60 and sometimes 90 days for payment can be frustrating—especially when a small business is counting on those funds to cover current expenses.

Short of sweet-talking the accounts payable clerk (tried that!) there is very little you can do except make alternate arrangements to cover your cash flow requirements though a line of credit or factoring service.

2. Insincere prospects.

Chasing down deals is part of every entrepreneur’s life. We expect to be selling every day and all the time.

And while we don’t expect every prospect to be interested in what we are selling, we do expect a little sincerity and respect for our time, expressed in the form of “no thanks” or “not now—try me later”.

Why do prospects lie to business owners?

  • The purchaser has made up their mind to hire a particular vendor but needs to conduct some marketplace “due diligence” to show sourcing they have shopped around.
  • The prospect finds it difficult to say “no” directly to the seller.
  • The prospect is simply collecting information to help design a long-term strategy. That’s fine—just as long as the prospect tells the business owner not to expect a sale anytime soon!

The prospect that engages a small business owner without the intent to buy is very damaging. A prospect who fails to communicate that position is being deceptive and downright rude because it raises false hopes for the business owner and wastes her time.

3. Red tape.

The paperwork burden imposed by various government agencies can cost a Canadian small business thousands of dollars each year.

For example, think about GST returns: it’s a lot of work for business owners to compile and return GST forms just so the federal government can collect its taxes. And some businesses must remit each month.

Entrepreneurs accept a certain level of administrative responsibilities, but they begrudge any government policies or reporting requirements that add to their existing workload.

We’d rather be spending that time building our companies.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

3 ways to make more money next year


by Roger Pierce

New Years Eve - labnolasia - FlickrThe year 2015 will be an exciting one for small business owners.

At your disposal are some amazing new methods you can embrace to make money. In fact, there may never have been a better (and easier) time to be an entrepreneur, largely due to empowering technology.

Consider these three strategies to improve your revenue for the next year.

1. Create systems.

The benefits of an efficient business design are numerous: company revenues rise while expenses decrease, there’s more owner freedom from day-to-day responsibilities as the business hums along without you, and the operation becomes a transferable asset that is attractive to an interested buyer or family member.

Start by writing down all of the individual processes that make up your operations. Then look for technology solutions to help improve your systems. For example, instead of building your own customer service centre, you might outsource that function to an online firm.

2. Make a plan to sell your business.

As much as you love your business today, there will come a time when you want to leave it.

An exit strategy may involve selling the business to a buyer, selling your share of the business to a partner, or transferring the business to family member (also known as succession planning).

Building an exit strategy will force you to create value in your business by developing transferrable systems. That's what a buyer wants: to be able to step in and operate the business profitably without you around.

3. Use social media to attract customers.

Social media offers an incredible opportunity for business owners to amplify their prospect reach and reduce marketing costs.

For example, instead of paying for costly advertising, some business owners elect to create their own broadcast on YouTube. Interested viewers can subscribe to your YouTube channel to receive alerts every time you post new content. And, enthusiastic viewers can easily share your channel across multiple social media platforms – increasing your pool of potential buyers.

Here's to your fantastic 2015!

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Secret Sauce of Terrific Content


by Roger Pierce

Busy people have less and less time to read articles or watch videos, no matter how interesting or helpful they may appear to be. 

So they hit the delete button. This makes your job as a content creator for your business very difficult. 

You'll have a better time engaging your target audience if you make sure your content includes these key ingredients:

Easy to apply

People want content that is both helpful and efficient. They want to be able to get to the point quickly and then use the information you've supplied.

Be helpful by presenting expert advice or insightful information that your audience can apply right away. Be efficient by organizing that advice and information in an easy-to-digest format – bullets are always popular, as are 'top ten' lists (think David Letterman!). Respect viewers' time by keeping each piece of content short...your articles and videos shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes to enjoy.

Relevant to the viewer

Your content should be designed for the people who will be consuming it. Small business owners, for example, want to know how to reduce taxes or start a loyalty program. Dog owners want to know how to care for their pet. Vacationers are interested in dining tips.

Present your authority

The author of your material should be credible. It should come from somone who resonates with the target audience -- for example, foodies will accept cooking tips from an experienced chef.

Let people know who is behind the information by inserting an author byline, short bio with photo, or a link to their website or LinkedIn profile. If you are the author, provide some information about your background so viewers believe and accept the advice you are presenting.

Publish regularly

Present your blog post, newsletter, advice video or other content using a regular schedule so people know when to expect your next communication. For example, a comedian might publish 'Funny Friday' jokes on Fridays to showcase his material.

Terrific content creates a competitive advantage because it positions you as a thought leader and a source of helpful information. Content builds trust and gives you the opportunity to start a conversation with prospects and customers. Content will make people interested in what your business does and should lead them to your website where the selling process takes over.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  
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