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Small Business

What’s Networking Worth to You? ROI Explored.

on January 27 in Foundations, Small Business, Startups/Entrepreneurs | 0 comments

In talking to solopreneurs and microbusiness owners, I’ve heard many approaches to networking. Some people don’t like to spend money on it. Some think it’s a waste of time. Others understand and believe in networking as a valuable concept, but find the actual activity (or existing options) to be poor investments. Many have had mixed experiences with membership-based leads groups, but I’ve heard from a few raving fans. Some resent the pressure of “putting on a show” or projecting someone else’s (limited) idea of professionalism at networking events–and feel this is a major “expense.” What is networking really worth? Exploring Networking ROI Let’s look at the hard costs of networking first. In Phoenix, there are so many opportunities for networking events. THE place to go for event listings is NetworkingPhoenix.com. Here, you’ll find the most common event registration fees are $10-20, with the highest fee at $79. The average cost for a networking event comes to $39.50. We may also factor in gas, dry cleaning (if your idea of professionalism requires it), and, depending on the venue – food and drink. The value of your time (opportunity cost) may also be added. Now we might have an estimated cost of investment to plug into the traditional ROI formula: Gain from investment -Cost of investment Cost of investment GAIN is the hard part. Especially since traditionally this might be measured in volume–of business cards, interactions, meetings set, etc. But does that really represent GAIN? What we might measure instead is the depth of the relationships formed. But how do we put a value on the relationships we hope to create (or have initiated) at these events? This relationship value seems difficult to measure in traditional business terms for a number of reasons. Mainly, business deals or referrals don’t (always) happen automatically. So what kind of time frame do we allow for measurement? It’s not like email marketing, for example, in which you know the results quickly and there’s a window for measuring success. Specifically, in the first two days after an email is sent, 85% of open rates have occurred (Alchemy Worx). But, how do we factor time into this networking equation – particularly when someone we met long ago has now...

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What is a Microbusiness? Do You Own One?

on June 25 in Small Business, Startups/Entrepreneurs | 0 comments

Here is how the term microbusiness–and related terms–are being defined. Number of Employees in a Microbusiness According to the Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker, a microbusiness is defined as “a business with five or fewer workers.”  AEO defines it the same way (see image “Bigger than You Think“) but adds “including the owner.” Wikipedia, however, identifies a micro-enterprise as a “small business employing 10 people or less.” Wikipedia has an international slant, which may account for the difference. This entry also attempts to distinguish between microbusiness and the related term microenterprise, which “have the same meaning, although traditionally when referring to a small business financed by microcredit, the term microenterprise is used. Similarly, when referring to a small, usually legal business that is not financed by microcredit, the term microbusiness is used.” (Note: Wikipedia isn’t the most viable reference; it can be updated by anyone. It doesn’t represent a comprehensive, unbiased view of this topic. We use it here only to make a comparison and open the floor for further discussion.) For more specific information about microenterprise, the impact of microloans in the U.S., and the microenterprise development programs that support these businesses, visit the Microtracker.org and its Field Trendlines Series Issue 8 (May 2015). Revenue Financial circumstances for microbusiness are improving. Quarterly reports throughout 2014 show less need for entrepreneurs to dip into their personal saving and/or struggling with cash reserve. (Source: Sam’s Club Report – The State of Microbusiness in 2015. A Year in Review) Current Sentiment The Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker study of microbusiness owners is conducted quarterly. At the beginning of 2015, the research reported that microbusiness owners are starting the year “in higher spirits and with higher expectations than one year ago.” According to the Vistaprint Small Business Happiness Index, 77% “report being happy or extremely happy that they work for themselves.” Reason for Being Here are noteworthy reasons why microbusiness owners started their businesses, according to The State of Microbusiness in 2015. A Year in Review: 1% of business owners said it’s always been a dream of theirs to start their own business. 7% of microbusiness owners were motivated to be their own boss. Only 18.4% chose to start a business due to lack of desirable job options. This is more attributed to sole owners (20.8%), than those...

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Do You Need Technology for Content Marketing?

on June 15 in Creative Partnering, Small Business | 0 comments

In this post, we address whether you–as a small business owner–need technology for content marketing. Technology here refers to marketing automation software or a platform. You may or may not need a big technology investment to support your content efforts.  This is one of our Business Breakdown posts. We break down a marketing headline, explaining who it’s intended for and what it means to you as a U.S.-based small business owner, microbusiness owner, SOHO, or sole proprietor. The Source “How Tech Can Help B2Bs Elevate Content Efficiency” from Emarketer.com The Details about Technology for Content Marketing “Nearly eight in 10 B2B marketing professionals worldwide used website analytics tools, the top response, and about three-quarters leveraged No. 2 marketing automation solutions. In comparison, just over three in 10 used collaboration or project management platforms to coordinate and track such efforts.” (Q2 2015 polling by Starfleet Media) The Audience and Participants For international marketers in B2B companies. We don’t know how many companies participated in the studies. We don’t know the sizes of the companies surveyed, either. The Purpose To show how inefficient content marketing can be. To show the gap in technology use. Project management software or a content-marketing platform, for example. The conclusion is the ineffiency is caused by the lack of tools or too many tools. The solution for B2B marketers is technology for content marketing–and more specifically a platform. What You Need to Know As a small business owner, microbusiness owner, SOHO, or sole proprietor, know this:  1. If you’re going to produce or curate content, measure it. Chances are, you already have Google Analytics. Use it. You need that technology for content marketing at a minimum. And to know what to measure, too. (Update: Buffer has an awesome blog post about using GA more effectively and what to measure.) 2. Have a defined process for measuring and what you do with the data. Having a data-driven culture helps too. If all that sounds overwhelming, my associates and I can help. 3. Don’t take on too many technology tools. More to manage, more expense. Not always more results. Technology for technology’s sake is not smart. Unless you can afford to have technology as hobby. 4. Automation may or may not be your best bet. Before you rush out and...

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How to Prevent Bad Marketing Decisions as a Small Business Owner

on February 10 in Foundations, Small Business, Soapbox | 0 comments

Small business owners sometimes buy print/radio advertising, social media, and other tactical marketing solutions based on the recommendations of a sales representative for those services. Because they haven’t been able to look at all available solutions and make informed decisions (without sales pressure), the owner can incur unnecessary costs, create more work, and achieve little to no results. In worst-case scenarios, I have talked to small business owners who have to face closing their doors because of poor, ill-advised, costly, and ineffective marketing decisions. This is why an owner should speak with a marketing strategist first and talk about their business goals and challenges. By starting their conversations with an independent, skilled marketing professional and focusing on strategy and goals, owners can be assured that all the important factors when designing a marketing communications strategy—regardless of media—will come into play and that a plan will be created to meet the agreed-upon objectives. This approach allows small business owners to benefit from results-driven investments in their success based on a professional marketer’s understanding of who they are trying to reach (their market) and how their brand will “behave” as well as how the right solutions can be implemented based on actual owner budget and desired level of effort. If a small business owner you know is at risk of signing contracts with multiple media or agencies and intending to manage marketing in-house (especially without a professional marketing background and/or a professional marketing strategy in place), please stop...

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