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25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

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  1. 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business Make your business more productive, creative, and efficient

  2. Learning Objectives At the end of this module, you will be able to: • Examine your business with a focused approach on how to get to the next level. • Develop strategies to make your business more productive, make your team more creative, and make your operations more efficient. • Be more productive. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  3. About FDIC Small Business Resource Effort • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) recognizes the important contributions made by small, veteran, and minority and women-owned businesses to our economy. For that reason, we strive to provide small businesses with opportunities to contract with the FDIC. In furtherance of this goal, the FDIC has initiated the FDIC Small Business Resource Effort to assist the small vendors that provide products, services, and solutions to the FDIC. • The objective of the Small Business Resource Effort is to provide information and the tools small vendors need to become better positioned to compete for contracts and subcontracts at the FDIC. To achieve this objective, the Small Business Resource Effort references outside resources critical for qualified vendors, leverages technology to provide education according to perceived needs, and offers connectivity through resourcing, accessibility, counseling, coaching, and guidance where applicable. • This product was developed by the FDIC Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI). OMWI has responsibility for oversight of the Small Business Resource Effort.   FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  4. Executive Summary These 25 strategies can make your business more productive, make your team more creative, and make your operations more efficient. The strategies range from thoughts on leadership, to advice on how to motivate employees, to ways of reducing Information Technology (IT) costs. Each of these ideas has been tested by other small businesses and yielded a significant pay-off. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  5. 1. Focus on Truly Urgent Matters • There are two kinds of urgency. • Good – Moving steadily forward by focusing on propelling your business to the next level. • Bad – State of panic and being overly busy on unproductive tasks that deplete your energy. • How to tell the difference • Will the task add value to your company or client/prospect? • What will the measurable outcome be for completing the task? • Is the task in keeping with your business’ vision and business plan? • Review your calendar. If every minute is filled with meetings or conference calls, step back and determine what is truly urgent and what is non-productive. • Narrow down your tasks to the three most important for the day. Of the three, finish the most important thing first in the morning when you have fewer distractions. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business


  6. 2. Engage Your Employees Ask employees for suggestions on ways to improve business or reduce costs. Offer rewards for the top suggestions. Hire employees with leadership skills. Be positive and believe in your product. Your attitude as a leader will be contagious. Create a war room and invite key employees to participate in decision making. Praise your employees openly for a job well done. When employees feel important, they are more productive. Invite employees to lunch and ask for their input on specific projects. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  7. 3. Tweak the Language on Your Website Update your website frequently. Websites updated frequently are more dynamic, moving, ever-changing, and interesting. They offer potential visitors the most current information. Search engines find sites more easily when they are updated regularly, and updating your site with new products can give your business an edge over the competition. Measure the number of website visitors vs. visitors that buy your product or service. Pages that are visited less should be reworked. Check if visitors are putting items in online shopping carts and then leaving the site. If so, simplify your checkout process. Hold a focus group to gather feedback on the ease of using your website. Follow up with an e-mail if a profile/account was created. Ask if they had technical difficulties. Include “unsubscribe” option in e-mail. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  8. 4. Measure Demand for New Products on the Cheap (Slide 1 of 2) • Survey current customers’ interest level in buying new products. • Create a blog about your new product. • Post product videos on sites, such as, YouTube or MetaCafe. • Place classified ads on free classified websites. • Submit articles to online trade publications. • Get affiliates to advertise your products. • Test launch new products online before conducting extensive research. • Create new pages with pricing. • Change search engine keywords. • Create campaigns on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. • Send an e-mail to contacts in customer database. • Leverage other serial media. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  9. 4. Measure Demand for New Products on the Cheap (Slide 2 of 2) • Test interest before developing a product. • Works best for products with short development timeframe. • Long wait times will aggravate customers and do more harm than good. • Make it clear that this product will be developed only with sufficient customer interest. Misleading messaging could lead to claims of false advertisement or even fraud. • Contact customers that showed interest if product is not created to let them know what happened. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  10. 5. Improve the Accuracy of Your Sales Forecasts • Accuracy is critical as forecasts drive manufacturing line production, which in turn drive inventory, supply, costs, and ultimately revenues. Most supply problems result from poor forecasting. • Answer these questions: • What are you currently measuring, e.g., sales, products, demand? • What products are selling and what are not? • What is in your sales pipeline? • How are you determining deal closure probability? • Develop a list of objective criteria that any potential sale must satisfy before it can be forecast. • Have more frequent conversations with your customers. Why did they order less? Their business (cash flow) directly affects your business. • Create new forecasts monthly. This can be time consuming, but worth it to identify new trends or unexplained changes. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  11. 6. Shed Your Problem Customers Define your ideal customer and market to those customers. Are you catering to any one customer? Why? What is the cost? Is it a reproducible service that will grow revenue? If costly and not reproducible, is that your ideal customer? Use forecasting and communication to identify inefficiencies, e.g., combine orders to reduce shipping costs. Help transition customers that are no longer ideal to larger suppliers of your product/service. They will remember your efforts and recommend you to others. Require late-paying customers to pay by credit card. Contact disgruntled customers directly, but do not tolerate verbal abuse. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  12. 7. Turn Freebies into a Search Engine Optimization Play Use key words in your HTML title tags and use only one tag per page. Increase inbound links to your site from other websites. Build search engine traffic based on inbound links, as well as, word meta tags. Offer something for free for customers to download, such as an application or a book. Interview an expert or local charity and post it to your website. Link to blog sites that are relevant to your business. Get mentioned in the press and include a link to your website. Create search phrases instead of single words and use in the titles. Use Google Keyword Tool to find other phrases. Ask the customer how they found you. Make sure pages can be easily updated. Refreshing content regularly is beneficial to search engines. Remove under used pages. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  13. 8. Encourage Your Staff to Submit Their Ideas Have an open forum for employees to submit ideas. Ask for employee input in specific areas. Organize quarterly internal employee challenges for idea submission. Consider all ideas submitted – small or big. Have a defined deadline and reward winner(s). Use technology to track and rank ideas submitted. Allow employees to vote or comment on ideas to promote collaboration and refine ideas. Put ideas into action. Suggestions will stop if action is not visible. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  14. 9. Look for Partners in Struggling Industries Start planning your rebound during a recession. Conduct market research for areas to expand. Team with training or software companies to offer internal training programs. Form strategic partnerships with prospective advertisers or outlets to display your product/service, e.g., industry publications, Google. Look for joint advertising opportunities with a complementary company. Ask your customers to list your name and link as a preferred vendor on their website. Team with business process vendors, such as a conferencing service provider to minimize travel costs. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  15. 10. Share Information More Widely Web-based collaboration tools allow for instant communication through a central repository of ideas, e.g., SharePoint, OfficeMedium, Basecamp, CubeTree, WiseHive, SocialText. Document sharing software also allows for file collaboration while minimizing version control issues. The most up-to-date file is always available. Fee-based online collaboration vendors have technology in place to mitigate data loss and offer a written guarantee that the software will be accessible. Free collaboration sites are typically less reliable and offer no guarantees. Internal collaboration software can be costly to install and maintain. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  16. 11. Play Sales Games With Your Employees Consider if healthy competition is right for your company. It can be a great way to increase sales. Ensure you reward the right outcome when choosing this method to avoid potential sabotage. Use competitions with fun awards rather than significant sums of money. Fun competitions are more likely to remain friendly and leave relationships solid. Consider competing against past measures instead of each other as another way to engage without damaging relationships. Make sure all employees know all rules, such as start and end dates. Keep it simple. Complicated games will turn off employees and can be time consuming to monitor. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  17. 12. Write a New Marketing Plan (Slide 1 of 2) A Marketing Plan is your strategy. It should be brief and cover key points. Your Marketing Plan is a living document and should have some flexibility. Be careful of rewriting too quickly. You must give your strategy time to work. Measuring tasks will show what is successful and what should be modified. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  18. 12. Write a New Marketing Plan (Slide 2 of 2) • Start with a vision statement--the long-term mission for your business that is timeless and immediately inspiring to employees and stakeholders. • Define marketing objectives that will accomplish your business goals. Goals must be realistic. • Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of your business. • Define the five Cs (consumer, channel, company, competition, and climate) to determine your unique position in the market and where your opportunities lie. • Establish SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) to drive your tangible goal, such as profitable growth or market share. • Conduct research and market analysis. • How are you positioned against your competition? • What is your target market or ideal customer? • Is your pricing competitive in your industry and against your competition? • Define measurements against your goals and objectives. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  19. 13. Turn Tweets into Cash (Slide 1 of 2) • Turn followers into creators. • Ask your Twitter followers for their input. • Retweets: Offer tweeters prizes for sharing information with their followers/friends. • Sell products on Twitter. • Tell customers what is the sale of the day. • Tweeting daily keeps you in front of your customers. • Retweets: Keep message short so there is room for followers to add their own message before tweeting to their friends. • Look for leads on Twitter. • Use Twitter’s search function to find prospects looking for your service. • Set up Twitter free alerts for key word searches using services such as TweetDeck or DemandSpot. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  20. 13. Turn Tweets into Cash (Slide 2 of 2) • Sell products for Twitter. • Create a Twitter application that adds more functionality or ease in using Twitter and tweeters will buy it. • Find customers anywhere. • Use Twitter to let your followers know where you are when you hold special events or attend tradeshows. • If your company is mobile and moves to a different location, tweeting can let your followers know where to find you. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  21. 14. Look to Learn More from Lost Sales (Slide 1 of 2) Reflect on lost sales to help you improve your areas of weakness. Prevent lost sales from the beginning of the relationship with a prospective candidate. Determine if they are a viable candidate for your business model. Implement a sales tracking system to determine your probability of success. Ask for permission to perform a post-decision analysis and interview early in the sales process. Use a win-loss analysis template and ask clients and prospects to complete a performance survey of three key areas: the sales team, sales tools and collateral, and product features. Implement win-loss analysis quickly. Do not initiate on the same call where you learn of the deal loss. Ask why the competition won. Asking open-ended questions gets more comprehensive answers. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  22. 14. Look to Learn More from Lost Sales (Slide 2 of 2) Ask for first and last impressions. How was your company viewed before initial contact? Did perceptions change during the sales process? Would they recommend your company to others? Interview the lost customer after you receive the returned questionnaire. Interviewer should not be a member of the original sales team. A neutral person will be more objective. Employing a third-party for interviewing is the most objective option and usually results in more definitive information. Turn loss into lessons learned going forward. Identify training opportunities for a young sales force. Track losses to uncover areas for improvement and negative patterns. Implement any changes to sales process immediately. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  23. 15. Prepare Better for Your Presentations (Slide 1 of 2) You only get one chance to make a first impression – prospects are more likely to buy from someone who is able to clearly present the product or service. Take a course on giving effective presentations. Practice makes perfect! Practice also makes professional! Practice in front of a video camera. Know your audience, not just the company background. Ask for bios of those who will be attending the presentation. Be sure you are very comfortable with the presentation material. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  24. 15. Prepare Better for Your Presentations (Slide 2 of 2) • Tell the audience if they can ask questions as you present or if they should wait until the end. • Use a presentation structure – tell them what you’re going to say, present your material, and then tell them what you told them • Opening – Make an emotional connection to your audience • Body – Engage the audience in your three most important points that tie directly to your desired outcome • Closing – The last thing you say is what will be remembered most. Make it positive and cause the audience to take action • Present in a conversational style instead of using memorization. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  25. 16. Cut Costs with Green IT (Slide 1 of 2) • Use virtualization software. • This software turns each server into several virtual machines and lets the IT department easily swap applications from one server to another if one gets overloaded. • Servers are more fully utilized, which reduces the number of servers to purchase, maintain, power, and cool. • Allow the IT director to see the electric bill. • Trying different “power-up/power-down” options may reduce electricity usage over time. • Make sure your computers are the most energy efficient models. • Find electronic recyclers in your area. • Screen savers do not save electricity. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  26. 16. Cut Costs with Green IT (Slide 2 of 2) Use network power management systems to turn computers, printers, and copiers off at night. Dimming monitors slightly will decrease power usage as well as reduce eyestrain. Eliminate what is known as phantom power draw by using power strips. They are easier to turn off and on. Change printer/copier default settings to automatically print double-sided. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  27. 17. Streamline Your Decision-Making Process Time management is an oxymoron in that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Remember when you first started your business, it was easier for everyone to be included in decisions because you had only three employees. Invite only team members who are directly involved with a project. For example, including the IT department in marketing decisions will only frustrate IT employees and waste their time. Send emails only to relevant team members. Including others will be a distraction from their relevant work. Determine who the decision-makers are on each project and communicate it to the immediate team. Avoid adding people to projects mid-way through or at the end. New team members are not able to contribute immediately because they require ramp-up time. A team member must stop working to bring the new team member up-to-speed, causing the project to fall further behind. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  28. 18. Find Some Amazing Interns • Interns are an economical way of filling in gaps on your staff, and bringing new energy and ideas to the table. • Interns are typically eager to learn and appreciate the work experience. While they do need to be managed closely, their computer knowledge makes them great at tasks, such as computer research and web development. • Finding exceptional interns is no different than finding full-time candidates. Intern candidates should be required to: • Submit a resume • Complete an application • Write an essay explaining why they want an internship at your business • Provide references or reference letters • Interview via telephone • Interview in-person with company representatives FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  29. 19. Use Crowdsourcing to Control Inventory Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call for free. • Allows you to gain immediate insight into what the consumer really wants and will purchase. • Expands your talent pool and allows you to tap directly into customer base. • Improves productivity and creativity while minimizing labor and research expenses. • You find out immediately what the customer likes and will buy without having to do research. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  30. 20. Mine Your Data Gathering data is easier than ever with the technology available to us, but you need a way to process and analyze it. This is called data mining. • Data mining is critical in decision making, creating forecasts and reports, preparing client presentations and proposals, collecting, identifying, and managing customer information and trending analysis (sales demographics). • Populating your Client Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) databases over time creates massive amounts of data. • Historically, data mining software was only for large corporations due to their complexity and need for a staff software specialist. • Small businesses now have access to data mining software that is much easier to use. • Examples of data mining software options include: Oracle, SQL, Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro, Lotus Approach, Corel Paradox, and MyDatabase. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  31. 21. Advertise on Facebook (Slide 1 of 2) • Social networks have become a useful advertising platform for both free and purchased ads. • Create creative, professional ads. You must stay within your business’ brand or image. • Target a specific product to a specific audience. Test your ads among different demographics. • Track analytics with programs like Google Analytics and HitsLink. • How to advertise on Facebook: • Click on the "Advertising" link at the bottom of the page. Click on the "Create Social Ad" button to get started • Insert your website. This is where users who click on your ad will be directed. • Choose demographics you want your ad displayed to – gender, age group, educational status, relationship status, or political views or leave the options blank to create a more inclusive group. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  32. 21. Advertise on Facebook (Slide 2 of 2) • Include keywords relating to the interests you would like your targeted group to have. • Create a short, catchy title and a few sentences of copy to explain your website or product. To insert a photo, click "Upload Photo" from the drop down menu. • Select pay per click or per view. When you pay per click, you'll only pay Facebook when someone clicks on your ad. When you select pay per view, you'll pay every time your ad is displayed to a user. • Determine the maximum amount of money you're willing to pay every day. You may pay less than this, but this is most money you'll pay for one day of Facebook ads. • Ads are displayed based on the amount you are willing to pay per click or per 1000 impressions. Choose the maximum amount you are willing to pay. The amount you actually pay depends on how much other advertisers have bid. Suggested bid amounts are included in the “Budget” section. • Click on “Test” to make sure your ad loads properly. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  33. 22. Create Some Cool Viral Videos Creating clever videos and posting them on viral video websites is a great way to increase brand awareness and show your company’s social side. Videos can be fun, but done in good taste. Instructional videos or product demonstrations are great ways to use video. • Create videos that keep with your business’ brand/image. • Create and customize a company channel instead of using watermarked templates. Customizing your background is a way to promote your brand/image. Free software for creating backgrounds or editing photos includes Gimp, Aviary’s Phoenix or Photoshop.com (free online version, not actual application) • Review videos of other businesses. It may spark an idea for your unique video. • Standard home video equipment works great, to save money. • Use easy-to-use free video editing software. • Subtitles, annotations or tags can be used to let customers know how to contact you. • Use viral video sites including YouTube, Metacafe, Yahoo, iFilm, Break.com, Google. • Promote your video links on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  34. 23. Send Customer Coupons on Their Mobile Phones Consumers are still resistant to having advertisements sent directly to their cell phones due to unwanted phone charges. Consumers are participating in mobile customer-loyalty programs to receive discounts or access coupons. Very new technology is currently available to consumers with smart phones only. Consumers show their phones to wait staff and a bar code is scanned. This allows for easy tracking to see how many are participating vs. how many you are sending out. New free mobile applications, such as Yowza, MobiQpons, Foursquare, and Cellfire, allow consumers to check for nearby businesses offering special deals. Consumers use GPS tracking software to find the nearest location. Coupons can be sent via text messaging to consumers who sign up for these messages. Mobile coupons are proving to be far more cost effective than newspaper or mailer coupons. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  35. 24. Say Thank You More Often Promotions and cash bonuses are great ways of recognizing employee accomplishments, but recent studies show employees prefer an in-person thank-you or having a job well done reported to senior management. Employees are far more productive and loyal when they feel valued and appreciated. Saying thank you is easy to do, but is typically not done enough. Schedule a meeting and personally thank those employees deserving of praise. Be consistent with praise. Saying thank you one week, but not the next will send mixed messages to employees. Make notes on your calendar if necessary. Encourage team members to say thank you or compliment each other. After personally saying thank you, further recognition could be: FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  36. 25. Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself Work-life balance should not just be a catch-phrase. • Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise. • Make a schedule and stick to it. • Be careful of adding busy work that adds no value. • Consider working a flexible schedule, e.g., four days/week and 10 hours/day. • Stagger start times of employees to offer more coverage of tasks such as phones. • Schedule time for yourself. • Doing everything yourself is not possible. • Hire people to help – start with part-time help or hire an intern. • Delegate to others appropriately. • Take a quick walk around the block to re-energize yourself. • Take time off – a day or a week – and relax. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  37. Key Takeaways from This Module There are many ways you can choose to jump start your business. Thinking about the ideas that might be relevant and beneficial to your business can help you rethink your business plan and focus. Make a plan for the ideas you can implement today. Make a plan for the ideas that will take longer to implement. FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

  38. Sources and Citations Pick the Brain, Important vs. Urgent: 5 Ways to Focus On What Really Matters SalesVantage.com, The Key to Accurate Sales Forecasting TAG, The Art of Sales Forecasting Shirleen Glasin, ProSidian Consulting, 25 Ways To Jump Start Your Business Reliant Park, Internship bnet.com, What Is Crowdsourcing? ehow.com, How to Advertise on Facebook mashable.com, How To Create Custom Backgrounds for Twitter, YouTube, & MySpace FDIC OMWI Education Module: 25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business