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What’s Missing From The Small Business Owner’s Business Plan

Ladies, have you ever come across a shoe sale so good that you had to take time right then to send a text, tweet, and post on Instagram for your entire posse to see? If so, then what you’ve just done was provide a little PR for that store owner. You used media platforms to share something ‘good’ about your findings and your experience.

The Business Journals reported a decline in small businesses during the recession according to federally released data. List after list you will find reasons as to their failure. However, what you will not find listed is public relations. As a public relations professional servicing these smaller markets, I have found the lack of public relations is a culprit in small business owners closing their doors. This is a finding that not only needs to be exposed, but more importantly explored. “What impact does lack of public relations campaign have on the failure of small business ownership?”

For centuries, PR has always been a mysterious profession to general audiences. Recently I was challenged by a journalist to explain public relations in three simple words. If you are in the pr industry or work in a field that compliments the pr industry, then you probably did as I when I was first given the challenge…laugh. But the truth of the matter, we can and must simplify this industry and its benefits – particularly for the small business owner. Here’s why.

In servicing the small business market, we are finding these owners are at a disadvantage when understanding the efforts and beneficial outcomes of public relations. As a segment in general, this ‘art of communication’ is often under-utilized, if used at all! As a result, we’re finding this market struggles when it comes to achieving its’ full potential growth. Whereas 170,000 businesses have closed during the first two years of the recession, pr could have prevented many of these failures.

Back to the challenge, ‘explain pr in three words’; response… ‘communicating your story’. Public Relations is the art of ‘communicating your story’ in a manner that it fosters a positive image drawing interest and a favorable outcome of coverage and reputation.

As a business owner, it is more beneficial to understand what public relations can do for an organization, than to struggle with defining an elaborate understanding of the profession. Would you like a front row seat at a window looking into the world of pr? Follow our two-part series: PR – The Weak Link In Your Business Plan

8 Ways To Make Your New Business Idea Succeed

Research has shown that more than 90% of small businesses don’t succeed within the first five years of getting started. This includes both offline and online business, from flower shops in your local town to work at home entrepreneurs wanting to earn a living from the internet.

So, how do you make your new business ideas succeed?

1. Who is your ideal customer?

Firstly, who is your ideal customer? This is crucial to the success of your new business idea. If you don’t know who you are selling to, how can you sell to them? For example, are they male or female, how old are they, where do they live and what is their income? The more you know about your prospective customers, the easier it will be for you to target your marketing messages to them.

2. What do your customers want?

People will buy what they want before they buy what they need. They buy with emotion and rationalise their choice with logic. Selling a ‘want’ is easier than selling a ‘need’. How can you turn your new business idea into something that your customers will want?

3. Who are your competitors?

You have to know how and where your prospective customers are currently buying the type of product or service that you intend to offer with your new business idea. You can’t ignore or copy what your competitors are doing and you need establish a reason why people should buy from you, rather than from somebody else.

4. Can you reach your potential customers?

It is important that you know that you can reach your target audience with your marketing messages before you start with a new business idea. Some specific niche markets appear very lucrative at first but end up being so difficult to reach and communicate to that success is almost impossible.

5. Can you afford to get started?

You do have to consider the cost for starting a new business idea. Your new business is going to require investment. You are going to have to spend some money on things like a website, marketing, training and other resources to help you. You need to carefully budget your outgoings and match them with your incomings.

6. Is your new business idea scalable?

As your new business idea becomes a reality and starts to grow, will you need more resources to help you? Are you able to use automated software or outsourcing that can do some of the work for you? As much as you say you will, t is not physically possible to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are the only person that can operate or manage your business, you have to adapt it so that you can scale it up using other resources.

7. Are you willing to work hard?

There is no such thing as a get rich quick business scheme. Starting a new business requires hard work and it does take time to build it up. You have to be passionate about your business and actually enjoy doing it. If you don’t, you may start to resent the hours and effort that you are putting in which may lead to you giving it all up.

8. Are you willing to learn?

If you were starting a new job working for somebody else, you would expect somebody to teach the job and show you what you needed to do. Your new business idea should not be any different as you will not know everything about all aspects of business. Take time to learn from those who have gone before you as you will be able to avoid mistakes and become profitable more quickly.

How to Improve Your Business by Watching Reality TV

Most of what reality TV has to offer is not worth watching. The one exception, in my opinion, is the genre called ‘Rescue Reality Shows’. They typically include a failing business, an industry expert, a desperate business owner and a recipe for fixing the business.

You don’t have to be failing or even willing to watch countless TV episodes to be able to make the recipe work for your own business. All you need to do is follow their process. Of course, you need to be serious enough about improving your business to make it work.

Here’s how the ‘Rescue Reality TV’ formula works.

1. Approach your business from the viewpoint of a customer. Sample your product or service and observe all the steps that provide a complete customer experience. If you, as the owner, don’t feel you can be objective, have someone else do this for you.

2. Look at how you are running the business. The vast majority of problems in a business can be traced back to the owner of the business. Be honest about your involvement, abilities and desire for ownership.

3. Reintroduce operating standards. Most of the time, more attention to doing things well, can have a huge impact on customer retention and the bottom line. Upgrading your standards makes employees feel better about their roles and demonstrates a professional commitment on the part of the owner.

4. Offer training to improve your process. If people don’t know what to do or how best to do it, they must be trained. Training does not have to be lengthy or expensive. It can be done on the job by more experienced employees.

5. Upgrade your facility and operating practices. This phase may require help from the outside but it will definitely pay off. Having a ‘dated’ business environment or ways of doing things will not encourage customers to be loyal.

6. Implement systems that can monitor results. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Being able to monitor and measure what you are doing will enable you to continually fine tune your operating. Your employees and your customers will thank you for it.

As a business coach, I have yet to meet a business owner or a business that could not benefit from doing this. Some want the public exposure and opt to have their dirty laundry played out on national TV. Others take the initiative and do it themselves. Whichever way you elect to bring your business’s performance and success up to the level you feel is what you strive for, just make the decision and do it!

The reason you see so many of these type reality shows on television today is that there are way too many businesses that need rescuing. Most would not be in this shape if they simply acknowledged the problems earlier and get help fixing them. Getting help is the easy part. Making the decision to do something about it is what causes so much stress and frustration with the average business owner.