The Bitter Truth About Facebook For Business

Have you ever sucked on a lemon and felt your face pucker up? That's how we felt when we heard Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook say "We're making a major change to how we build Facebook.." The news feed is changing again, in a big way. For the casual consumer of FB, this is great news, for the business owner, it's really bad news.

This move came as a result of recent research that showed people aren't actually feeling happy and joyful on social media these days.  Not so great news for FB.  So Zuckerberg has decided to take action and deliver more meaningful interactions into the news feed.

What does this mean? Pages and videos will see their reach decline.  It also means the cost of entry into a news feed (ads) will sky rocket.

But, hey, this isn't news. We've been seeing this happen over the course of the last 18 months!  We've attributed this to the fact that FB is just becoming saturated with ads and public content.  Our gut was  right. Zuckerberg confirmed the saturation of paid content but he also confirmed Facebook will intentionally deliver less of it now.

After the pucker wore off, we are adapting to Facebook's change and revisiting content strategy.

There's upside to everything! These changes will force folks to think through their messages and content. It will also facilitate deeper relationships on Facebook with your audience.  You'll have to understand and communicate that you understand in a way that moves people to interact.  This is especially true in order to catch the eye of a potential new customer, a prospect. Just as you would get to know your prospect in person, you need to get to know them with similar intimacy on social media.  After all, social media is like cold calling, it's where your prospects get to know you, look at your product, and decide if they want to take the next step. Online and offline interactions are very similar in this way.

Really all Zuckerberg is saying is, stop the billboard type posts and start connecting with people again in a way that builds better relationships, more meaningful interactions,  and as a result a better platform. Yes, we're optimistic, because we have to be and because frustration won't help our clients adapt. When Facebook makes a change, we have to navigate it with great velocity so the impact is minimized.

Consequently, if you're a plumber or a manufacturer managing your own social accounts, and may struggle with writing, this can be catastrophic.

If writing isn't your thing, you can always skip the keyboard and go for the camera to tell the story.  Video reigns king of social media right now. 76% of users will opt to watch a video than read words.  So if you get creative with your message through a video, your chances to show up in a feed improve significantly.  The caveat is that Video has only shown to increase engagement, but packing it with  value and a highly relevant message for a specific audience can help you win the conversion. Workbea has partnered with Nickel City Graphics, expert video marketers to offer packages to our clients.  Together we're hosting some local workshops on how to be successful with video and social media.

Most business owners and marketing coordinators lack the technical skill to produce quality video. This isn't an insult, it's just fact. These folks are amazing at what they do, but they aren't savvy in editing software, frame rates, or story boards.  We highly recommend you outsource this, otherwise, you'll spend hours putting a 30 second video together that may miss the mark in "meaningful."

What's the meaning of meaningful. I guess it depends on who you ask.  You have to know your audience before you can make assumptions on what's meaningful to them. Audiences vary across social media platforms. People use them for different reasons.

They key to success is understanding the platform's audience. These Facebook changes are geared to a more pleasant experience for the audience they serve. Let's take a look at the FB user base.  Most FB users want to see family and friend updates, they want to be entertained, and some even use it as a news source. Many aren't in business mode or purchasing mode when they are reading the news feed. They will shift into those modes if what they see compels them to, but in general,  people are on FB when they are on a break, off work, or killing time.  That type of understanding of all your social platforms will help you deliver resonating content.

With any audience, you'll need to build trust and rapport. Building rapport and trust takes thought and consistency.  Thought and consistency takes effort, time, and planning.  (I'm hearing the small business owner laughing right now)  Small businesses are especially challenged here because they just don't have the budget to dedicate man hours to social media.

So for those of you facing the change with limited resources, here's some tips to help you hold your own for as long as you can.

  1.  If you're a service professional working inside people's homes, ask the homeowner to share their story. Everyone has a story. The post might read something like..."Linda moved here last year so she could take care of her aging parents. For her, there wasn't another option. She wanted to come and do this. She sacrificed a lot to be here and she has a lot on her plate. Although, we came to fix the hot water tank, we left inspired by her strength and love for her parents. It was an honor to be of service to her today."
  2. If you're manufacturing product, you have to understand how that product impacts the lives of the end user and be able to demonstrate it in words, pictures, and video.
  3. The ever debatable hashtag. They do serve a purpose, yet they should be purposeful.
  4. Not the mushy type? Go the comedic route.   Everyone loves a good laugh. Find humor in your day that is relevant to your audience and reflect on it. You might make light of your spouse's well intended, botched dinner. Or show someone in the office with that sauce stain from lunch. As long as you can reflect without embarrassing, this is a great way to connect with people. Make light of not so great situations.
  5. Share your story.  Unicorns are rare.  People buy from people. Your customers can chose your competition over you and that's why it's important to tell YOUR story. For example, we have a client who uses us because she loves the fact we all left the corporate world to be more present with our families. She did the same thing 10 years ago. When we spoke to her, we told her our WHY and it resonated.
  6. For God's sake be authentic.  This advice just isn't for social media, it's for everything.  No one is perfect, no business is perfect, and people love seeing other people's imperfections. We all want to know we're not alone in imperfection. That resonates with everyone.   If you appear too put together, too amazing, you'll build skepticism and trust goes right out the window.
  7. This one's old, but new again....ask questions, but the right ones.  Challenge paradigms and assumptions on topics related to your work.  Press buttons, but be careful not to close doors. It's a fine balancing act with this one. You can play it safe by asking people "What's the strangest thing your Elf On The Shelf did this year?"
  8. Inspire people to live and interact in responsible ways.  Lots of great motivational quotes out there, but go deeper than those.  Share something relatable  to the quote and relevant to your work.  Inspire your audience to serve their communities by volunteering, donating,  or just taking a meal to a lonely neighbor.
  9. Take advantage of those "National "whatever" Days.  Be creative with the "Wednesday Wisdom" or "Man Crush Monday."  These days are perfect for connecting the dots to what you do in a meaningful or comedic way.
  10. Test things out with post boosts and target people who already like your page. If they like your page, chances are Facebook will oblige. More importantly if they like your page, they are more likely to share your post and interact with it. If and when they do, their friends might see that and interact as well.

There's a lot of noise out there, so choose to whisper intelligent bytes rather than yell louder or pay more.  We'd be happy to manage your accounts, help you with content strategy, or just give some guidance.  Contact us at info@workbea.com

 

 


G-suite business tools

What Every Leader Needs To Get Right

What Every Leader Needs To Get Right

According to the U.S Department of Labor, multi-factor productivity in 2016 was negative for the first time since the global financial crisis. While the economy has had a stellar performance in 2017, it could be short-lived if we don’t address the productivity challenges. We can’t do this until leaders get one thing right; creating focus.

With the attention span of a human at an all-time high, competing priorities, and too much information coming in, leaders are faced with corporate attention deficit. This lack of focus is a disease and until leaders can manage company time, they won’t be able to create company focus. Without focus, productivity plummets and performance at every level will suck.

So what does all this mean? It means leaders need a paradigm shift. They must look at company time the same way they look at company capital. Time allocation must be part of the planning process and allocated properly. Leaders can create focus with fewer, more impactful priorities and ensure the bulk of company time is spent on the functions/activity that drives the business forward.

What drives a business forward? There are only two functions that move a business forward; innovation and sales. Period. Yet, we’re still compelled by our corporate ego to do it all in-house. We build marketing, accounting, IT, and ultimately bigger HR departments to manage the internal fight over resources. This model, in most cases, produces incremental growth because it creates big processes. more meetings, more reports, and ultimately, more distractions from innovating stuff and selling it.

Marketing, HR, IT and Accounting have a very important role and I’m in no way trying to dimish this. There are advantages to these in-house engines. However, these teams should be intellectual, not tactical. They are the idea factories, the planners, not the executioners. Leaders should consider outsourcing things like social media management, help desk, or delinquent account receivables and let these teams focus on activity that brings the company vision to life.

Furthermore, the traditional business model dilutes the most two important roles in the organization; Sales Managers and Product Developers. These folks are spending a big portion of their time on other department’s stuff. Getting employee surveys done for HR, filling out reports for accounting, providing content for marketing, and regurgitating the P&L in the infamous “status” meeting.

If the ideas presented here are a bit radical for you, then stop reading now. For those who need major disruption and change this year, here are some suggestions to begin your cultural shift and business model transformation.

  • Remove the obvious absurdity of any given self-serving process. We all know what they are, we’ve all had to deal with some ridiculous step in a process for some control freak on the other side of the building. Acknowledge the elephant in the room and get rid of self-serving, CYA, reports and processes.
  • Automate redundant tasks and perform time studies. At first glance, time studies could be seen as micromanagement and people tend to shy away from them. On the other side of this exercise, the insight gained is priceless. Time studies not only identify useless activity, they also help managers understand what can be accomplished with the time they have in a day. I’ve used a good old fashion stopwatch and a little cost accounting to determine ROI on activities, functions, and entire departments.
  • Restructuring the organization into smaller teams and teaching managers communication skills can eliminate meetings, employee surveys, budget overruns, and turnover. Smaller teams tend to be more nimble, more focused, and less bureaucratic. Managers of smaller teams are more likely to forecast better and less likely to become burned out.
  • Give your sales managers the tools they need to close deals. Big CRMs, ERPs, and other enterprise tools are anchors to the sales team. No CRM, intranet, or internal chat tool will help them sell more. The only activity that generates sales is selling! Sales managers want correct and recent customer information, but their department should not be the producers of this, they are the end users of it. Downsize another department and build a sales enablement entity that will manage and update data, send proposals, secure POs, and be a liaison to other departments. Let sales SELL.
  • Identify and stick to core competencies, then outsource the rest. We tend to want to invent the wheel in-house instead of sticking to what’s in our wheelhouse. I’ve been guilty of this myself. “Let’s save money by creating this thing ourselves.” While we may have saved a few bucks, we spent thousands on lost opportunity and worse yet, created a lack of focus.
  • Allow product people to develop product and meet their deadlines by eliminating projects that suck the life out of innovating. Need examples? Just go ask these folks what projects are albatrosses. Give this team a direct line to customer feedback and then unshackle them to meet customer needs.
  • Infuse time management and time awareness into strategic planning, new hire onboarding, and training. After a while, your managers will come to you with all sorts of time sucks to kick out the door.
  • Look at every cost center in the business and quantify its value in dollars. Anything that can’t be quantified should be tabled until it can or replace the manager with one who deeply understands the value of the function. Don’t waste precious time on activities that don’t produce value to the customer and the business.

In the current business environment, velocity is king. Getting high quality and competitive product to market quickly will solidify the future and sustain the business. If leaders can treat time as a resource, a liability, and ultimately, an asset, they will be able to create focus which will propel productivity and significantly improve performance at every level.


Are You Smoking Hopeium?

Are you smoking Hope-ium?

That was a question one of my bosses asked me early on in my career. After my ego took a back seat, I was able to utter the words “I’m sorry, what do you mean by that.”
“I looked over your plan for next year, at a high level, it looks great.  While I love the numbers you have, you didn’t explain how you were going to achieve them.”  Back then I wasn’t very strategic, I was like the rest of the business world- opportunistic and reactionary.  To be honest, there was, in fact, a lot of hope in my plan. I’ve since exchanged my hopeium pipe for conversations and excel.

Over the next two months, he had me build out the numbers by product/service/ customer. then instructed me to clearly define the resources I needed, and accompany everything with monthly goals and a month by month plan of action to reach them. At times, I have to admit, I wanted to stick a pencil in my eye.  It was a lot of work and I worked a lot of overtime. Afterall, we have to keep the wheels on the bus while we’re planning to fly!

Ah! The Pain!

The most painful task in this whole process was “backing into the number.”  What is that?! Basically, I had to document what my department looked like 5 years from now- in other words, create the “vision.”  I had to provide in detail what were we selling, who were we selling it too, how many people were on the team, what the processes looked like, what company resources I would need.  A bit of hopeium here, but not for long.

Once I had the vision, I was asked to put the “Vision” financials on paper. In Excel, with formulas, ugh!  Then the fun began,  I had to run the numbers backwards to the current year.  This was painful, but wow, it ended up being one of the skills I used in all my planning over the years.  This part of the process provides your long-term roadmap and shows you where your sales and expenses need to be next year, the following year, and the year after that.  Now don’t be scared. This is an extreme exercise and my boss was a Software Engineer with an MBA.

Stick to the basics at first.  

If you’re not used to business planning every year, start off small.  Use your current year numbers to forecast and add a percentage for how much you want to grow.   For some,  just the thought of writing a business plan is daunting. I recommend starting small with just the sales/expenses and growth.  You have to plan to grow. This means looking at what it takes to maintain what you have and where you can cut cost to fund growth.  Sometimes funding growth takes financing. Before heading to the bank find ways to cut cost.  A word of caution; in cost-cutting mode, make sure you aren’t sacrificing customer value. Don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish.

Talk to your customers and vendors.

Talk to your customers to make sure they will continue to purchase from you and find out if they see any disruption coming in their industries or changes in their lifestyles.  For instance, if you service Mrs. Smith’s lawn every week but she plans on moving out of state next year; it would be a good thing to know. If your largest client plans on closing that division or is talking about doing so; you would want to know. Right? These are some of the many pitfalls we can avoid through good planning.

Once you work through the sales numbers, look at the expense side. Talk to your vendors.  If your insurance premiums are jumping 10% next year, you should know. If one of the core products you use is being discontinued, you should definitely know.  Moreover, most businesses increase their prices every year, you’ll want to have this information to properly forecast your expenses.  Take forecasting with a grain of salt. It’s an educated guess, but it puts the parameters in that you can work off of. Anything can happen anytime in the year;. being a bit more proactive can help mitigate some of it.  Being proactive is being strategic.

Be strategic, not opportunistic

In a small business or department,  it’s pretty critical we operate strategically.  When we react to everything that’s in front of us every day, we tend to lose sight of the big picture, waste time on things that aren’t aligned with our goals and spend money on things we shouldn’t. When we know what we should be doing and clearly know where we’re going, it’s easier to stay focused and strategic.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve approved an expense on a whim that in 20/20 hindsight didn’t make sense or didn’t generate a return of any kind.  Time suck, and a waste of money- nothing more than that.  I have a rule now- if there is an expense I want to incur for growth, I wait 7 days before committing. This gives me time to step back, revisit my plan, and clearly understand how this will get me closer to my goals. 9 times out of 10; I don’t commit.  Hey, I’m human! I can get caught up in a sales pitch too once in awhile.

Having a thought out plan helps us stay centered and focused. Plans are living, breathing documents. They are outlines of what needs to be accomplished. You should be flexible and ready to pivot when something isn’t working and also ready to capitalize on things that are, even if it means foregoing something else.

Chunk it out. 

How many of us write these beautiful, well thought out plans and then never look at them? I’ve done it myself and have seen it happen.  The way to keep the goals and the plan top of mind is by using a month by month action plan.  Chunking out tasks that map into your revenue goals.  You can call it a “To Do” list, but we like to call it “The Action Plan.”  This is where the rubber meets the road in the day to day grind of operating. Keeping yourself or your team focused on reaching milestones every month will help you stick to your plan.  We use one at Workbea.  Click the link below to see the planner we use. It has proven to be a huge help keeping us focused and has helped us reach our goals this year.

Happy planning!


find new customers quick

Want new customers quick? Find some big coattails.

There’s a lot of creative ways to generate leads and gain find new customers.   Some are pretty effective; some take a lot of time and effort, while others just use gimmicks to coax people into buying something.  All have a place.  If you’re a new small business, the goal is to get sales quickly and efficiently.  Startups don’t have a lot of time to experiment or wait for long pragmatic marketing plans to play out.  

We try to get our clients in front of as many potential customers as possible in the shortest period of time.  The method we use to do this is called “Coattail Riding.”   

Coattail riding is forming relationships with established (successful) businesses that cater to your ideal customer- then give the established business a special offer to give to their clients as a gift.  These businesses can be related to what you provide; completing a service you provide or completely unrelated to your industry yet serve the same customer. As an example, if you own a sports bar, you might partner up with a local sporting goods store.  If you are a hair salon, you might want to partner up with a local cosmetic distributor.   Or, if you are a high end clothing store, you might want to partner up with your local luxury car dealership. These are just a few examples, but the possibilities are endless.find new customers quick

The method of coattail riding  exposes you to a set of prospects pretty quickly. It’s equally beneficial to the older business because they get to give something to their clients without incurring cost. They can use this special offer to entice their current customer base to purchase something more or purchase something again.  It’s win-win for both sides.  Before you pick up the phone, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I know who my ideal customer is? This is the most important question. If you can’t clearly define and articulate your ideal customer- this method won’t work.
  • Can I deliver in a way that builds trust and confidence with the established business? (Don’t make them look bad with unhappy recipients!)
  • What is the worst scenario? Example: If you’re giving a free sample away, will you have enough? Is your supply chain responsive enough to meet the demand of this “sample” offering?

Once you are confident on who you are trying to target and you can deliver with excellence then the next step is to look for the best coattails to ride on.   

  • Do they have a good reputation? If not, you’ll inherit a bad one by association.
  • Are they currently working with businesses similar to yours? If so, you won’t want to create more competition than what you already have.
  • Is this a business that could potentially compete with you?

Thinking through some of the questions above will help you plan and pick. Here are some steps to make this method successful in gaining new customers.

  1. Develop a clear and individual offer to each potential partner. Come up with a free or deeply discounted product or service that is perceived as high value to your prospect.  The sports bar owner might offer a free meal with the purchase of another or two for one appetizers on game nights.   The hair salon might offer a deep discount on a cut, color, and style package.  In turn, your cosmetic distributor partner might offer your package with a purchase of $100 or more.  Think through the offer, write it down and be sure to add in ideas your partner can use to generate more sales for themselves with your offer.
  2. Have a pitch ready when you call. These business owners and managers are very busy and rarely take cold calls from salespeople.  So write down a pitch, a voicemail, and email template for you to use.  These templates cannot be more than 20-30 seconds to listen to or read.  At this point you are not trying to win their business; you’re trying to win their attention. Include the “what’s in it for me” in the first 6 seconds and how you can help them get some incremental sales if they partner with you.  Practice the pitch over and over until you have it memorized. Pivot if you need to by changing things that don’t work in live conversations. 
  3. Make it easy for them to partner with you. Have content templates ready for them to place into their own company letterhead or newsletter.   Be responsive when they need you- give them enough products so they don’t have to keep asking for more and when their customer calls you, be responsive.    You don’t want one of their customers calling them with a complaint about you! You will create more work and headaches for them. The partnership will become a liability to the established business if you are not delivering well. 
  4. Last but NOT LEAST- have a plan to get these redeemers to become regular customers of yours. Make a great first impression and then give them something to comeback for. As an example, the sports bar owner might offer a loyalty card that gives patrons a free meal with the purchase of 10.  Remember hope is not a strategy- so have a plan to turn redeemers into regulars.  There are countless ways to keep customers coming back, but we'll save that for another post. 

Mid size companies use coattail riding all the time! They use it a little differently but the results are the same.    Look at the Hershey’s chocolate dipped pretzel- the pretzel company got to put their name on the bag for providing the pretzel to Hershey at a discount.  Both companies leveraged each other distribution channels and both gained exposure to each other’s customers.   Small computer networking companies strive for putting a Microsoft or Cisco logo on their letterhead or marketing material. Those logos give them instant credibility and expose them to a broader customer base.    

Whichever way you chose to coat tail ride, make sure you are a fantastic and polite rider.  Mind your manners, represent your business with integrity, and deliver with excellence so they will continue to work with you in the future.

Want some help putting this method into an actionable plan?  Contact us!  info@workbea.com www.workbea.com

 


How to improve profits

7 Creative Ways To Get New Customers

Your goal is to get new customers this year (big sigh) - the same goal as last year and every year.  You’ve tried all the traditional methods- running ads, asking for referrals, and attending those dreaded networking events.  Sometimes these traditional tacticsGrow your business and get new customers worked, most times it didn’t or you just couldn’t measure it properly to know if  these efforts worked.  Being more creative and strategic in how you get new customers can make all the difference.  You may have rethink your definition of a "new customer" and think about it as getting more business from different customers.    With some planning and consistency, using some of these methods can be very effective and won’t break your marketing budget.

First a disclaimer: before you start engaging potential customers, make sure you are engaging the right ones.   There is nothing more fruitless than trying to sell a prospect on something they aren't interested in.  Understanding WHO to talk to is just as important as WHAT you will say.

For now, we'll assume you've done the homework on what your target market is and who your ideal customer is. Now that you’re armed with a focus and a message, you can try any of these ideas and you'll be talking to new prospects and closing deals in a just a few weeks.

  1. Leverage your current base.Just asking for a referral isn't enough anymore. If your clients are happy with your service or widget they will do this naturally.  To electrify this process, put some "what's in it for me" into it.  Incentivize your current clients to refer.  Come up with a program where after so many referrals that result in new sales for you, they get their service or product for next to free for an extended period of time.  No one wants to give their widget or service away for free. Instead, think about the cost of bringing on another sales person.  If you can incentivize someone to sell for you for less than what it costs you to bring on a sales person, then it's a winning idea.   Your program should include these elements:
    • A "code" for tracking.  Some type of customer code, discount coupon, or you can use the current customer's name.  Have something to track for them, if they have to track it themselves, it's too much work and interest in your program will fizzle.
    • Automate the process so you're not adding extra work on your end. Tools like Zapier or basic notifications in your email or on your website can help you eliminate some of the administrative work.
    • Shout it out!  Announce the small victories to your other customers. ie "ABC Company got 10% off their invoice this year, you can too!" None of us want to miss out on a deal or something free, so hang the carrot on the stick and talk about whom gets it.
  1. Get engaged in conversations- online.  There isn't a network event in your local area where you can walk in the room and a potential prospect is on a microphone asking the entire room "Where can I find a good xyz?" ( you happen to sell xyz).    A few minutes a day commenting, answering, and advising, will eventually put you right in front of your prospects- daily.   You can do this while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for your daughter's dance class to end, or while having your morning coffee.    The ROI can be significant. We have three clients getting more than 85% of their business from online communities and referrals from them.
  2. Take a class with your prospects.  For instance, a home improvement contractor might attend a "Do it Yourself" class at the Home Depot or an HVAC service provider might take building safety certification classes.  There are tremendous benefits in this strategy and a great way to find new customers.
    • It will help you understand the nuances of your current customer's environment.
    • You will be able to identify what's important to prospects with laser focus.
    • You'll be presented with all kinds of problems to solve, because typically in an interactive class, people talk about their challenges.
    • Opportunity to network. What a great introduction you have: "I'm taking this class because I want to better understand my customer's challenges."   "We provide xyz to companies like yours."
  3. Give a class.  A landscaper might offer a free gardening class at a local community center.  A personal trainer might offer a free nutrition class at the local gym.    The key to this is never sell your service or product at these events- the purpose of these classes are to position yourself as an expert by showing what you know.  As an expert, you gain trust- when people trust you, they do business with you.  Your name and business will be on the printed material and you’ll have   a post card for attendees to fill out that will qualify them as prospects.
  4. Partner up.  If you're a wedding photographer, partner up with a DJ, decorator and a caterer to offer a package.  A software reseller might partner up with a network security company and refer each other.  This gives all involved a force multiplier in the effort of finding new customers.  Your business gets exposed to their customers and visa versa.  Think outside the box here- it doesn’t always have to be completing services, it can be offering a service in another area of the customer journey.  For example- An IT service provider might partner up with a business consultant to offer software audits or technology workflow audits.
  5. Find big shirt tails to ride on.   If you're small fish in a big pond, then be a bottom feeder. Yep, you'll have to eat a little humble pie here.   Call on those market leaders and ask them to outsource work to you during their peak business times.   Every company runs into times when project deadlines are at risk because the workload is overwhelming. It makes much more sense for these companies to outsource rather than increase headcount.  You might get the work they don't want to do, however, its work you didn't have before.  Be sure to have an NDA and Non-Compete to offer so they know you can be trusted and they will be protected.
  6.   White labels your services.  Promotion companies do this all the time, they sell products with other businesses logos on it.   Offer your services to other businesses (in your customer’s journey) and allow them to put their label on it. You’re providing a way for them to expand their product line without a large investment into acquiring the skill and knowledge.  For instance, if you’re a content designer, you might want to approach a local printer  see if they want to expand their service offering.  The printer has an opportunity to gain more of the customer journey and you get the work.  Again, offer the NDA and the Non-Compete, or have a white label agreement.  With this idea you may have to rethink what a new "customer" is, nevertheless, it's a way to get more business.

Try just one of these ideas at a time and make sure you have a way to measure the success.  It’s common to ask a new customer how they found you, go further and assign internal customer codes according to how you acquired them.  You’ll be able to analyze the effort at the end of the year.   Workbea has a comprehensive customer acquisition planning tool that can help you understand the ROI of your efforts.  If you’d like a copy, email us at info@workbea.com


Social media management and digital marketing services

Most Common Questions From Startups

Workbea gone.

At Workbea, we believe in sharing our knowledge, frequently for free.  Of course we want to make money from our consulting services, we also want to be a resource for smaller business owners who don't have the budgets to secure expertise at this stage of their journey. Since  70% of the US workforce is employed by small business, yet 90% of new small businesses fail within the first two years- we feel compelled to do our part. We want to help  startups stay in business longer and beat the undeniable odds against them.  It's actually our civic duty as business consultants and a social responsibility for all in our field.  When one is raised, many are elevated. 

We've compiled the most frequently asked questions we get from our startup clients and the hundreds of small business owners we engage with every month.  Please share and help save the small business world!

  1.  "I'm working full-time at a day job, how can I ramp a side hustle enough to quit the day job and do my business full time?  technology_tools_small_business   This is a very common question on first consultation calls.  Here's the advice we give.    Have a business plan in place with a well vetted opportunity analysis.  You should know what your available market is, the opportunity in dollars, and financial goals tied to winning those opportunities.  The financial goals have to be realistic and increase month over month or quarter over quarter towards replacing your current income and include very specific plans as to how you're going to do that. Sounds easy enough, right?  Hold on, there's a caveat- the plan, the vetted market analysis and the financial model takes a great deal of time to complete.  Most entrepreneurs want to hop out of the gate and start ramping- the problem is,  without a solid plan, the pitfalls of unforeseen circumstances usually crush the effort.  The two most common reasons most new businesses fail is they run out of cash flow before they ramp and they run out of sales after they go through all their friends and family.  Fail to plan, plan to fail.
  2. "How do I get new clients?"  An entire book could be dedicated to this subject, without going too deep or overwhelming a client we simply answer the question with a question.  Do you want to make more money or just want new clients?  Most of the time the answer is, I want to make more money.  Getting new clients is just one way to grow your business, there are countless other ways to increase revenue.  Start with existing clients by offering some add on services- then incentivize them to refer you to their peers, friends, and family.  Done.  Of course you can take the much longer road of networking, courting, cold calling, and prospecting, while this can be pretty effective, it also takes time. Time is not your friend as a start up. You need the quickest path possible to sales without working 200 hours a week.  Expand your service or product line with existing customers, deliver with excellence, and then get referred.  
  3. "When is a good time to hire the first employee?"  Before we answer the question, we always revisit the financial plan.  Your financial plan should have that answer for you.  You'll need to meet certain revenue goals in order to bring on staff.   A good business plan  has x amount of "startup" funds dedicated to things like marketing, accounting, logistics and technology.  Don't try to set up all these things yourself to save money. Understand what you're good at and outsource the rest- otherwise you are a never ending student in all areas for long periods of time- in other words a jack of all trades and a master of none.  Start ups don't have time to learn how to keep an accounting ledger or maintain a website- the focus must be on revenue generating activity in order to stay alive. Focus on what you're good at and outsource the rest. It may cost a few cents more in the short term, but it can reap big long term rewards- like future sales. 
  4. "What do I need to do to sell online?"   Get the laundry list out!  All the ads and DIY e-commerce commercials are very misleading. Launching an e-commerce initiative without understanding how to rank on search engines is like opening a store front in the back room of your uncle's garage out in the country- no one will know you are there.  Selling online is the same, you have to get traffic to your store. Hire a professional to help with search engine rank and website optimization. They can help you build online presence, authority and put your e-commerce site on the map.  If you're not showing up on Google, you don't exist.  So before you sign up for WIX- get the expertise to do it right and your chances of success will dramatically increase. 
  5. "How long does it take to make a profit?"   The statistics say it takes businesses an average of 3-5 years to make a profit, we don't advise waiting that long. Build profit margins into your pricing so you're profitable on day one. Use your start up money to fund equipment and marketing- margins should pay bills, pay yourself with a little  left over to sock away.  Never undersell your product or service just to get the sale. Customers who go with the lowest price will eventually leave you when you actually charge them for what the service or product is worth.    You've worked a long time to acquire your special skills, you've decided to go into business for yourself because you felt you can deliver something better or exceptional.  Essentially, you're an expert at what you do- expertise, skill and quality work is never free and rarely cheap.  Charge competitive prices, offer tremendous value, deliver with excellence- never compromise that. 
  6. "Can I fund growth with credit?"  You sure can- do the homework on options and interest rates so you're making an informed financial commitment.  The other side of the story is equally important, have a solid plan as to how you will pay off the debt.  Go back to the financials (do we sound like a broken record?) and know how many more sales it will take to pay off  the creditor while maintaining your profitability.  There are some good worksheets out there that will help you analyze the numbers. As far as where to borrow from, start with your current bank where you have longevity and relations with. What you don't want to do, is buy an expensive piece of equipment for one or two jobs and not use it for anything else.  You'll have this beautiful state of the art widget sitting in your warehouse and you'll be renting space from yourself at a premium to keep it there.   Know the numbers, do the research, have a plan for pay off. 
  7. "How can I plan for future growth?"  We encourage all our clients to have long term and short term goals. In order to meet those goals you'll need to forecast like a champ. Accurate revenue forecasting will give you the ability to plan better.  If you can get very close to or exceed your forecast, you'll be able to manage the puts and takes on the P&L much better.  Good forecasting helps mitigate risk, helps you foresee cash flow problems, and allows you to grow gracefully.  It's an acquired skill gained by understanding your market, your customers, your industry, and yourself.  Understand where your industry is going, are there trends indicating a spike or a decrease in the demand for your product or service?  Are there indications the market is changing or is there a disruptive technology on the horizon that will make your product obsolete?  Can you anticipate your customer's needs? Are any of your clients moving out of state, retiring or selling thier businesses? Are any of your clients growing rapidly and will they demand more product or service?   All this can affect revenue, proper forecasting is really about gaining intelligence so your numbers are realistic and  attainable.  Without all this information, your forecast isn't a forecast, it's just some numbers on a spreadsheet entered in under the influence of HOPEium.   

These are just a few of the questions we commonly get from clients who are just starting the  entrepreneurial journey. If you're a start up and need some no nonsense advice from people with expertise who traveled your path at one point, contact us.  You can make excuses or you can make progress.    Headquarters in Niagara Falls, NY.  Services delivered Nationally. Workbea provides essential back office services and technology tools that minimize administrative tasks. We use the power of Google to provide small businesses with a centralized, customized approach to collaboration, productivity and marketing that facilitates growth and new customer acquisition. Got big goals? Get there faster with us.