Don’t get stuck thinking that venture capital is the only route to the promised land of success. There’s a road block you say? No way around the costs of going national, or even global – no way to increase your profits without more money?
Focus (on the customer)
I don’t have to tell you again. You’ve read it a hundred times. Know who your customers are; know how to reach them with your ads.
Look again. Spend the time you’d use reading the rest of this article on a definitive sentence that captures the essence of your client base.
Paint this sentence in bold letters on your office wall and read it when you’re making decisions about advertising, about venture capital, about where to eat lunch.
Now that you have your thesis, make sure that your pricing allows these fine folks to try out your products or services. Be flexible so new customers, impressed with your creativity, become old customers.
How about your website? Grammatical and spelling errors can have an impact on income. Brush up on the fundamentals of website design too. Here’s a site that not only preaches, but practices good website design. Check out their rules here: www.smartersites.com
Make sure all your brochures are up to date, that your logo and color scheme are integrated across all of your media, and that your ad copy reinforces the fact that your products or services save your customers time and money by doing… well, you have to fill in the blank here.
Getting the Job Done
Hiring seems counterintuitive when your every dollar already has a home. Do you watch how you spend your quarters? How about your quarter hours?
Try recording the way you spend each fifteen minute segment of your day for a week. Yes, it is extreme, but you’re going for the top, so get out your paper and stop watch.
The key here is identifying the times when you’re paying yourself to do things like general maintenance of equipment or store space, that someone else could do. You’re worth too much an hour to spend your time marketing. Or sweeping.
Once you know where all your precious minutes are going, decide how you’re going to win some of them back. This could mean hiring some new help, or passing on responsibilities. Your workers will appreciate your trust in their abilities, and you’ll have more time to make the big bucks.
If hiring really isn’t right for you at the moment, consider outsourcing as a means of freeing up more of your or your employees’ valuable time.
Keep a solid core of reliable virtuosos for holding down the fort. And rather than keeping others working for you full time, minimize your fixed costs by outsourcing. Marketing? IT? Manufacturing? Since you’re not hiring them full time, you can afford the specialists.
This site offers many articles on outsourcing: www.outsourcing-center.com.
Still Need More?
So far we’ve investigated making more money (by focusing on the customer), and making more money (by hiring or outsourcing) as means of getting to the next level.
So you’re making more money now, and you’re still not at the next level, and you’re absolutely sure it’s because you need more capital?
If you’re towards the upper end of small business, consider the 7a Loan Guaranty from the SBA. Here you can borrow $150k to $2 million. Repay ability from the cash flow of the business is their prime factor in loan eligibility decision making. www.sbaonline.sba.gov
For loans of $150k or less, try the SBAExpress loan. They want to get you in and out quick, and will guarantee your lender. www.sbaonline.sba.gov
If you’re a microentrepreneur in need of assistance, check out the following link: www.sbaonline.sba.gov.
By now I’m sure you’re not interested in this link to over 130 venture capital sites: udel.edu
Garrett French is the editor of Murdok’s eBusiness channel. You can talk to him directly at WebProWorld, the eBusiness Community Forum.