Avoid These 6 Small Business Mistakes

Taking a breather from shipping orders to share a wonderful article I read a few months ago on The Mogul Mom website.

Many folks take time at the end of the year or the beginning of the next to think about their next steps in building or starting their business. So, actually, this is perfect timing to share the article by Natalie Akalp.

6 Terrifying Small Business Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

1. Not Marketing Your BusinessAvoid These 6 Small Business Mistakes

If you’re like many business owners, you think marketing isn’t worth the time or money investment. After all, you’ve got customers coming in the door, so why waste money on trying to attract more?…Marketing not only helps more potential customers find you, but it also helps you stay connected with existing customers.

2. Ignoring What’s Being Said About Your Brand Online

Another ghastly mistake entrepreneurs make is not being aware that there are many channels online that people use to talk about brands like yours…and sometimes not for the better. Social media is a great example. If a customer had a bad experience with your company, it’s easy to tell her network all about it…. set up a search for your company name and respond as soon as there’s any mention of your brand, for better or worse.

3. Not Reinvesting in Your Business

Every extra penny you make, you take as your salary. … Setting aside even a little can give you enough foundation to try out new software programs, invest in training that will expand your skills, or even hire help.  Start by putting just 15% of your profits …

4. Thinking You Can Do It All

…By not asking for help where you need it, you’re stunting your own professional growth. Ask for help! Whether that’s hiring a part time assistant, asking your husband to stuff envelopes, or asking the babysitter to take the kids an extra afternoon, don’t be shy about calling in reinforcements.

5. Fearing Change

Change is the nature of business, and if you avoid it, you’ll pay the price with reduced market share and loss of customers. Change — often in the form of technology — is what keeps you competitive.

6. Forgetting Your Business Plan

Without a glance at it every once in a while, you can’t ensure you’re still on track with the goals you initially set. Keep your business plan handy and review it every month or quarter. Amend it as your company objectives shift.

Sound advice!  As soon as business slows down, I am going to review these tips myself to see where I can implement them.

Creating Interest for Your Products

I love success stories!  I’ll bet you do to!  I especially like to share stories where a producer or artisan is creating interest in their product.

Most new producers and artisans grow their business in the same manner:  Sell at craft shows, move to online sales, maybe try some wholesaling, go to trade shows or hire sales reps …..

Sometimes, it is more important to create interest in your line before you approach retailers.

That is just Creating Interest in Your Productswhat Goetzke White did when she wanted to get her Mood-lites in stores nationwide.  Instead of approaching retailers right way, she launched a PR campaign with magazines and newspapers all over the country.  Once she was able to show retailers there was a real interest in her product, she was able to move into the wholesale sector fast and in a big way!

Read her story here: How to Overcome Retailer Resistance.

I especially liked the take away of lessons learned from her experience.  Here is a direct quote from the article published by One Stop Invention Shop.

1. Retailers support new trends

Products tied to new trends typically sell well and sell at high margins–just the types of products retailers want. Consumers are curious about new trends, and that curiosity produces sales and store traffic. Because published articles show the product is part of a trend, they effectively generate retailer interest.

2. Go with the flow, not against it

Inventors often come up with ideas to change how things are done. Their product introduction strategy calls for persuading people that there is a better way to do something. That strategy almost never works; inventors just don’t have the money to change a market. They should instead find a way to show how their product is an extension of products people already use. …

3. Keep products front and center

People usually shop with a purchase in mind. Rarely do people notice other products unless they are displayed prominently enough to catch their attention. Using clip strips, which can be provided by the inventor or the retailer, is a low-cost tactic that often produces impulse sales, and most inventors can afford it.

4. Get expert advice

Inventors without marketing experience often don’t know how to best position a product in the market. If you need help from a marketing expert, contact your local Small Business Development Center.

Great article and wonderful story!

Last Minute Holiday Tips

Thanksgiving is just a day or so away, and we are already getting an increase of orders on our Tastes of Idaho site.  I hope you are too!

So with all the craziness going on this week, I was just not sure what to post.  As it is, I will be taking a few days off, so this will be my only post for the week ….. but what is relevant at this point in time.

My friends at the Arts Business Institute shared an article that I thought was perfect.  Here it is:

Your Holiday Marketing ChecklistLast Minute Holiday Tips

1. Send out emails now to your retail and wholesale buyers to encourage gift purchases and last-minute orders. This is prime time to do an e-blast to capture repeat orders from those customers who already own your work, and to convert prospects who have shown an interest.

2. Provide incentives for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday shopping. Will you offer free shipping? Gift wrap with any purchase? Make your offer time-sensitive to spur those purchases.

3. Give shipping deadlines. Encourage buyers to purchase now if they want their order shipped in time for that important holiday gift.

4. Be versatile. Make it easy to buy by offering gift cards for your online store, or a gift certificate for that special someone. This makes it a no-brainer to give a gift of art.

5. Get organized before you head out to those retail shows by bringing a guest book for collecting email addresses of customers and others who love your work. This will be the list you will reach out to on a regular basis in your future drip marketing campaigns.

6. Focus on excellent customer service. Answer your emails, respond to special requests. You are building relationships that will produce repeat business far into the future

7. Check your website. Is it current? Have an email sign up form? Ready with a holiday message?

8. Spread the word about your open studio event, art walk, pop up show, through direct mail with invitations, through email, and on social media.

9. Make phone calls to your best accounts to see if they need any fill-in orders that you can quickly ship.

So with that list, I am done with holiday tips for this year.

Go out there and sell ….. sell …. sell …….  and make sure to take time for yourself and your family!

Getting Your Business Ready for the Holiday Rush

With everything going on during this time of the year, getting your business ready for the holiday rush is a bit late.  It you are not ready now, you may not be as effective with fulfilling your retail order.

Then, on the other hand, there is still time (if you act quickly) to put things in order.  The majority of our retail order start AFTER Cyber Monday (Dec. 1 this year).

Anyway, a week or so ago, I was featured as a co-host on a webinar with the gals from The Mogul Mom.

As part of this presentation, I developed a series of slides containing tips for Getting Your Business Ready for the Holiday.

As a loyal subscriber of mine, I would like to offer you a PDF copy the presentation slides — which just lists the main tips of getting ready for the holiday season.

Feel free to copy them and share with anyone who might find them useful!

Getting Your Business Ready for the Holiday Rush!Getting Your Business Ready for the Holiday Rush!

If you have any additional tips on getting your business ready for the holiday rush that you would like to share with us, please add them in the comment section below!

Last Minute Wholesale Hustle

I thought I knew all (or most) of the wholesale tricks and techniques out there.  After all, I’ve been a sales rep for over 12 years!

Wholesale selling usually slows to a halt by mid-November — when I change roles and start promoting our retail sites.

Well, after receiving a note from fellow retired road rep, Meryl Hooker, I decided to rethink my plan.

Here are her tips on last minute wholesale hustle:

30 Days of HustleLast Minute Wholesale Hustle

So, here’s my challenge to you over the next 30 days. You’ve got it – right up to Thursday, December 18th:  HUSTLE

Start by pulling together a list of everyone who has done business with you in the last 30/60/90 days. I’m talking active, money transferring accounts and CALL THEM….

Then ask the following questions:

  • Is your supply of my product/benefits of my service at a good level to get you through the end of the year?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you get through the end of the year?
  • When would you like/when would be the best time to check in with you again?

…Be warned: You will need to keep a sense of humor about this. Be prepared to answer responses like: “yeah, a bottle of Jack” or “a vacation to Hawaii”. Don’t freak out. Have fun with this.

As you work through your active customer list, your January calls will start to take shape so you can hit the ground running in 2015…

What a wonderful suggestion!  Call and let your buyers know you care about them, want to make sure their last minute needs are met, and when they would like to hear from you again.

With all the hustle and bustle surrounding the retail holiday season, your buyers may really appreciate this check in.  If nothing else, you can listen to their stories (complaints!) about all the crazy shoppers in their store!!

So …. are you on your phone dialing your best customers yet????