Archive for the ‘Networking for Small Business’ Category
Sunday, February 19th, 2012
There are tens of thousands of small business owners who are fantastic at what they do. The problem is, they are terrible when it comes to running a business. Take a tradesperson as a an example. They could be the very best in their trade, yet they go bankrupt everytime they try to work for themselves. Are they doomed to working for someone else for the rest of their life? Not necessarily, especially if they are willing to build partnerships.
The same problem existed before the Internet. Smart professionals quickly learned to build those partnerships. If we take the tradesperson as an example, they could buy into a franchise (which offered training and support for the ‘business’ side of their business), partnered with accountants and bookkeepers for financial advice, and perhaps even partnered with marketing professionals. In some cases, these partnerships were formalized – a tradesperson partnering with a business manager – there are several highly successful franchise chains that grew from such partnerships. Most partnerships were informal, however, they were very personal with players on first name terms, and contact made on an ad-hoc when required basis. If there were changes in the law, the accountant would call with advice, if there was a marketing opportunity, your marketing expert would call.
You can achieve the same with an online business. You don’t need to create a formal business partnership, however, your online strategy can (in some cases should) form informal partnerships with those in a position to help you build an online business. Website design, content production, SEO and online small business marketing are several areas where an informal partnership opportunity exists.
How do these partnerships work? Rather than just hiring a website designer (for example), you work with them making them a part of your team. They get an insight into your business and develop a rapport with both you and your business. They, in return, have a product they can happily display in their portfolio, and you are happy to have their logo and name prominently displayed on for the world to see. You get a great website, they get a great promotional tool. The same can be said for content, SEO and online marketing.
If you have a great business idea, but no idea how to start and run your business, that’s when you look for a formal partner. To be successful, you often need help from successful people – don’t be afraid to build partnerships, everyone benefits when you do.
Monday, September 19th, 2011
A guest blogger at Copyblogger likens small business prospecting with gardening. That’s funny, most of us use those over-used war cliches. But I like the gardening analogy.
If you think about it, it’s a useful analogy. Small business prospecting is more like growing than killing. Here’s how:
- You’re not in control. You can try to control the conversation, but more than likely you’ll drive prospects off. If you respond to their concerns, then you are more likely to meet them at their point of need.
- Disappointment and surprise go hand in hand. You never know what your clients will ask for. When I first started my business, I wanted to take what I learned as a blue chip marketing expert to the table for small businesses. But then I kept getting requests for online marketing initiatives. So my business transformed. Yours will too.
- Get rid of the weeds. It’s bound to happen. You’ll have bad customers. Identify them quickly and let them go. There are ways to effectively do this so that you don’t make an enemy. But if you don’t kill the weeds, then they can kill your business.
- The death of something great is not the end of your business. You might think that a certain practice, business partner, or customer is necessary for your business, but what if wasn’t there any longer? You’ll make it. It will take adjustment, but capture the vision.
- Persistence wins the prize. Like gardening, small business prospecting is about persistence. Overcome the obstacles and you’ll survive.
If you prefer the gardening analogy, you can use that to build your business. Fight the soil within your niche, not the enemy that can destroy you.
Sunday, January 30th, 2011
I was reading an interesting piece from Lee Odden about social media marketing strategies. What he was talking about made perfect sense to me – but then, I am a professional in the business. It struck me early on in the article that most business people, especially those new to online marketing, would have been lost after the first two or three paragraphs.
There are a lot of online business owners, and I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that it’s the majority of online business owners, that know little about online marketing or SEO and even less about social media marketing. I could flippantly suggest they engage a professional like myself to help them through the maze, but that is not always a viable option.
What is a viable option is to use the one resource that many offline businesses rely on, and that’s networking with other online business owners. Networking can be done in a number of ways. You can get together with other business owners in your community, in an offline environment, and compare tactics and different approaches. You can then invite guest speakers to come in and discuss tactics with the group – I have been a guest speaker at several of these over the years to great effect.
You can also meet online with like-minded people in a variety of online forums and social media environments. Facebook and LinkeIn are two popular social sites that provide great networking opportunities.
If the online world is proving to be a frustrating and confusing experience for you, find a way to network with others of varying Internet skill levels. You will find you can learn quite a lot from your peers, and that over time, your confusion will start to clear, and the online world will actually make a lot of sense.
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
In my marketing practice, something I encounter periodically are business partnerships that just aren’t working out as the owners had originally planned. Next to marriage, a business partnership is the most intense and collaborative-dependent and interdependent relationship you can have. And, like marriage, over 50% of them fail. That’s a staggering statistic by any measurement.
If you are a part of a business partnership, have you ever imagined that you could have discussions that ended in decisions rather than arguments with your partner? Or have you wondered how to stop communication from being a barrier rather than a tool for success? Or, are you considering a partnership and aren’t sure how to determine if there is a fit, and how to make sure you have shared values, beliefs, goals – before you enter into the partnership?
A colleague of mine, Linda Finkle, has written a new book that addresses these issues. The book, “Finding The Fork In The Road,” is sure to help make your business partnership more successful and more rewarding.
Linda’s book covers such topics as:
- How to recognize symptoms and stop treating them as if they were the problem
- When the problem is communication and what to do about it
- Secrets to successful partnerships and what that means to you
- How to determine partnership fit if you are considering a partnership
- The realities of family businesses and how they affect the business and partnership
- And much more
Linda Finkle’s book is titled “Finding The Fork In The Road.”
Avoid the problems I mentioned above and get a TON of gifts from amazing leaders in their fields. Buy Linda’s book today and get your partnership started on the right foot.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Many online businesses have figured out that networking off line can be just as effective, or more so, than networking online. The advantage to networking off line is you get to meet people face to face and develop relationships in person. By that, you can establish trust a lot more easily. This is the perfect way for local businesses to network and secure more business. They’ve been doing it for years.
Some of the tools that you can use to do more off line networking for your online business include:
- Meetup – Start or join a local Meetup group. These groups can be centered on any topic and are usually run by a local person with an interest in your niche. If you don’t find a local Meetup group in your niche then start one.
- Tweetup – If you Twitter, start or join a Tweetup group. It’s like Meetup, but for Twitterers.
- Facebook – Facebook is an online social media marketing tool, but it does have a local networking function that allows you to meet people who are local to you. Use it to establish relationships then meet your friends off line for some real world local fun.
- Trade Shows – Just about every industry sponsors periodic trade shows. Find one in your area and attend.
- Chamber of Commerce – Join your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Charity or Civic Service Organization – Get involved in a local charity.
The idea behind meeting people of line in the real world and doing business with them online is to build trust. Develop relationships with people in your area. Use your imagination and find creative ways to develop relationships with people in your area and invite them to do business with you online.