Mighty Small Business

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Last month I and more than 2,000 fellow business owners and entrepreneurs had the privilege of attending an amazing event in Washington, DC. All of us were graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program (10KSB) and the event apparently was the single largest gathering of small business owners in the United States.

In short, it was incredible. Speakers included Tyler Perry, Warren Buffett, Sara Blakely, Michael Bloomberg, Sir Richard Branson and so many other fabulous business leaders. But the best part was being in the presence of thousands of other entrepreneurs, with all of their creative energy and “can do” attitudes. Someone said (and it’s absolutely true) that there were no “time wasters” in that conference center. All of us are the problem solvers, the ones who ask how something can be done, without much reverence for the obstacles that might be standing in the way of actually getting it done.

It was an exciting, invigorating and life-changing couple of days. I came away inspired and energized, and my very favorite thing happened on a bus one night, en route to a reception at Union Station.  I was sitting alone and a nice young man from Brooklyn sat down next to me. We naturally started talking about our businesses and I mentioned an idea I had to grow part of mine. Within seconds he started to brainstorm with me and within the course of the 15 minute bus ride together we crafted a pretty solid concept.

Then he surprised me, but in a way that exemplified what was so great about the conference.

“I’m giving you homework,” he said. “This is a great idea. How are you going to move it to the next level?”

“Hmmm… Well, I can make a teaser video about the concept and put together some materials.”

“Okay, when can get get that done by?”

“April 1?”

“April 1 is Easter. I’m calling you on April 2 to see what you’ve got.”

Within seconds I had accepted a calendar invite to talk with my new friend April 2. We arrived at our event, got off the bus and went on to have countless other amazing conversations that evening.

One of my co-alum, Leticia Velez, is featured in this video if you’d like to learn more about the program.

At the conference I learned how powerful and important small businesses really are to the economy as a whole. Some of the interesting stats that I learned about small business are:

  • Small business accounts for 29.6 million businesses in America
  • They make up 99% of U.S. employer firms
  • We create 63% of net new private sector jobs
  • We employ 58 million people – nearly half of America’s private workforce

 

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: A Three-Step Formula for Finding Your Purpose and Turning it into an Incredible Success, will be released in 2018. To find out more about how you can use video as a smart tool to grow your business visit our website.

Marketing Books to Read in 2018 (from Entrepreneur)

This week we are sharing a post by John Rampton that was published by Entrepreneur.com. It’s one of our favorite topics – great marketing books and there are some top-notch recommendations on this page. Please check it out. If you’ve been nice this year there are still a few days left to include some of these titles on your Christmas list…

Here’s the article. Happy reading!

Smart Growth: Fewer Clients Can Lead to Profits

Have you ever fired a client? If you’re new to business you might think that this would be a crazy thing to do, but ask some more seasoned business owners and almost everyone has a story about how they had to cut a high-maintenance client loose.

The other day I was talking with some fellow business owners and one of the group shared that she had done exactly that. This woman had done some real soul-searching, which resulted in her restructuring her business and letting 30% of the clients go. At first those of us in the conversation were all kind of surprised by this woman’s audacity in firing all of those clients, but then she reminded us of the 80/20 rule. In her case, 80% of her profits were coming from 20% of her clients, so letting the less profitable ones go actually significantly increased her profitability – that all important bottom line.

And here is the part of the story that is really interesting. When this person fired all of those clients her business revenue – her top line numbers – took a nosedive. Some of the clients she was releasing were really very large accounts. But despite the temporary reduction in revenues what she found was that, at the end of the day, her profitability was up more than 50%!

“I think one of the hardest parts about this restructuring,” she shared, “had to do with my own ego. Everyone likes to say that they have a company of a certain size or X-million-dollars in revenue, but if you’re not all that profitable then it really doesn’t matter.”

Another friend of mine ended up letting her largest client – Walmart – go, after experiencing years of intense pricing pressure and many “logistical hoops” from the behemoth organization.

I know that making that decision wasn’t easy for this friend, but although her overall volume is down, she too has experienced increased profitability and – also importantly – she also seems a lot less stressed these days, too.

When considering the smartest way to grow your business, there really is a lot more to look at than just sales volume. It’s about not only knowing your numbers but also about knowing which of those numbers really matter the most to get you to the fastest -and smartest- growth.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: A Three-Step Formula for Turning Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released early 2018. To find out more about how you can use video as a smart tool to grow your business visit our website.

Why Use Video Marketing for Your Small Business?

Welcome to our first guest blog, written by Nicole Standish of Charm Digital Media. Enjoy this article and let us know what you learned in the comments below!

Videos are some of the most effective marketing tools today. Customers find them attractive, relatable, and relevant. They are highly effective at capturing and retaining the client’s attention. Small Businesses especially can benefit from the value and engagement that video provides.

So, how can this form of marketing be useful to your small business?

Boosting Conversion Rates and Sales

Using a targeted video content strategy, you will not struggle to boost your conversion rates and sales. Therefore, be ready to make serious money and become wildly popular. A landing page that contains a video is capable of increasing conversions by as much as 80 percent.

Amazing ROIs

Videos offer amazing returns on investment (ROI). They guarantee the best results based on what you spend. They are a worthy investment when done correctly. All it takes is a bit of planning, a great video marketing team, and a smartphone to begin seeing your conversions soar.

Research shows that businesses publish on average 18 videos per month according to this HubSpot Infographic. That is close to 1 video per work day. Do not, however, place too much emphasis on producing perfect videos. Instead, focus on the content and solving problems for your target audience.

Building Trust with Clients

Videos are perfect for building trust with your customers. Most times, clients find it easier to relate with brands that produce videos. Trust is the foundation of any business relationship, especially if you are a small business that is just getting acquainted with your buyers. To do this,  Use video to highlight your team, show your community involvement, outline your mission and vision as a company, and show off your well-earned testimonials. 

Search Engines Love Videos

Google – and all the other major search engines – love videos. They reward marketers who use videos to pass messages across. Visitors on your site tend to spend more time browsing through your pages while engaged in one of your videos, improving your reach and validating your relevance to search engines. 

The likelihood of showing on the first results page increases 53 times when you feature videos.

Popular with Mobile Phone Users

Mobile users love videos. Today, there is a 233% increase in mobile video views. Businesses can take advantage of this trend and reach people on their mobile devices, while they are at work or at leisure. Video is the easiest content to consume on a smartphone or smaller device.

Tip: Include text in your video as many viewers watch with the sound off.

Videos are Ideal for Explanations

You have a higher and better chance of reaching out to your customers with a message they understand when using videos to explain your product, service or process.Explainer videos are popular with more than 98% of all video viewers, meaning they value the effort that you are taking to produce the videos and provide the answers they are looking for.

There are many ways to create an entertaining explainer video. If your subject is difficult to explain and low on the likeability scale, you can easily narrate or animate your videos to add more emotion or pizzaz. Use emotion, drama or humor to draw in your audience and keep them engaged.

Popular with Lazy Buyers

Today, your business will engage with many lazy buyers. Such buyers are a difficult lot to market to without videos. They are not interested in your long-form content, they want to know quickly and easily how your product or service can solve their problems. Video allows them to listen or watch while they are multi-tasking. Additionally, video gives them a deeper glimpse into your businesses without needing to visit your about us page, removing another click in their buyers’ journey.

Vidoe Marketing For Small Businesses = Conversions & ROI

If you have small businesses or any business for that matter, video can work for you. Using a mix of written and video content, you will surely attract more customers and do so in the way they feel the most comfortable engaging with your brand. There really isn’t a down-side to video marketing. Video marketing is affordable, easy to produce and has outstanding ROI. 

Nicole Standish is the President of Charm Digital Media.  As a digital media consultant, Nicole helps businesses attract and convert online business.  Nicole evaluates existing digital resources and strategies; develops campaigns to reach targeted audiences, and optimizes marketing channels to reach and exceed sales goals. Follow Charm Digital Media on Facebook at Charm Digital Media and Twitter at @CharmThem

Interested in learning more about video marketing? Comment on this post or subscribe to our digital marketing blog – The Content Catch Up! 

 

Adapt and Grow

If you’re not always changing and adapting as a business, then your business is dying.

You have probably heard that idea before, but if you’re running a small business are you so caught up in the day to day that you’re forgetting to ask yourself how you can continue to do better, be better, and adapt to and ever-changing and often fickle marketplace?

Part of the solution to this issue is a commitment to education for leadership and employees of any organization. And the other part is a willingness to grow and change, to try new things and to let go of that which is no longer serving you.

In order to do this effectively you have to ask a lot of questions, which means listening to your customers, your employees and to peers and leaders in your field. And, when you do start getting feedback, you have to be willing to do something about it.

If you start hearing that your pricing is too high, for example, that could mean one of two things. Either you need to come up with a product or service that is more affordable to your customer base, or you need to court a different demographic because you’re probably not working with your ideal clients.

Obviously no business should want to jump on every trend that pops up, but being savvy enough to balance what your customers need and want with new advances and best practices in your business are a winning combination and one which we all should be striving for.

And even if achieving the perfect balance of innovation and consistency is tough, you don’t have to be perfect to be effective. In fact, any steps you can take towards intentionally creating an innovative and forward thinking company are going to serve you well and move your closer to your goals.

Perfect Place, Perfect Time?

At times running a business can be scary. You could lose a big client, make a costly mistake or have issues with an employee. Your office space could flood as we’ve seen happen recently down in Texas, or you could get sick and have to step back from the company for a while.

I recently spoke with business owners who have experienced all of the above, and one of the similarities that I found among them was this.  While no one enjoyed actually going through the unpleasantness of a major setback, every one of the people I spoke to was convinced that their lives and their businesses are better off now than before they experienced their life-changing event.

One friend, for example, had extreme challenges in her business when she lost a major client. She was forced to dramatically cut back on her staff, and then shortly after that she became seriously ill, which meant that working 70 or 80 hour weeks was no longer an option for her.

What ended up transpiring was that she cut her work hours back dramatically and actually found that without her previous overhead, that her profit was actually significantly higher, even with the shorter hours. She also started working on a book that she had been meaning to write for years but which she had to keep putting off due to other obligations.

It’s not hard to see how this friend’s life and business were better after the unwelcome shake-up happened, and interestingly, I found the same thing to be the case with everyone I talked to about this. Each of the business owners had had a significant setback that turned out to be a blessing. And that’s the part that I started getting very, very interested in.

So often we resist change, especially when it’s something that is perceived as negative, but in the cases of the people that I spoke to, the changes they had endured all had incredible blessings attached to them.

There is a school of thought that says the Universe is always conspiring for our highest good, for our best interest – even when it’s difficult or impossible to see it at the moment you’re going through something challenging. I for one am going to work on actively remembering this the next time things don’t go my way in life and in business. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to relax and allow, and lean into our faith in happy endings and positive outcomes.

The Results are in… It’s Video Crisps for the Win

For years we have specialized in producing high-quality video content. I’ve always been proud of our storytelling abilities and our expertise and attention to the technical quality of our craft – the lighting, the color, the sound…

I don’t think there are many people who would dispute that our team is known for their professionalism and skills, and also for their dedication to producing excellent content and to customer satisfaction.

The thing is, video production is more complicated than most people realize and traditionally the cost of professional production has reflected this fact. At White Knight we knew we could help more people create great video content if we could just get that price point down.

We’ve also extensively studied the mounting evidence that proves video is the most powerful medium for engaging your audience and attracting new clients to your business. There are hundreds of statistics to back up that claim – from the one that tells us that social media posts with video are 1200% more likely to be shared or that people are twice as likely to buy a product once they watch a video about it.

Moreover, we know that these days a company’s values, culture and brand is more important than ever before in creating an engaged and active audience. Every company out there would love to have fans that are so excited about the brand they can’t wait to recommend it to all of their friends. Video can help to create this kind of engagement – with consistent and well thought-out messaging, which is exactly what the Video Crisps do.

Our Video Crisp clients get fresh, custom-created video content delivered to them every month, with a minimal investment of time and money, and so far people love this program! We’ve helped all kinds of companies, from colleges to financial services firms to pet sitters, and across the board we are hearing reports of positive feedback, a broader reach and higher rankings in the search engines.

It’s just one more piece of evidence that proves why video should play an important role in any marketing strategy. What are you doing to create a highly engaged audience today?

You can learn more about our program, see examples and read what people are saying about working with us at this link: http://whiteknightpro.com/video-crisp.html

Tribe it Up

The other day I had lunch with my friend and fellow entrepreneur. We spoke candidly about some of the challenges in our respective businesses, and as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant she said to me, “I’m so relieved that I’m not the only one who goes through this stuff.”

That statement struck a cord with me because so often as entrepreneurs and small business owners we do feel like we have to figure everything out on our own, and that can be a very lonely position to take. The truth of the matter is, we have more in common than we realize. Even though we may be running businesses in different industries with our own very specific challenges, on a slightly higher level we are all the same.

We face issues and questions around cash flow, sales, employee recruitment and retention. We have to pay attention to marketing, advertising, culture and reputation. As our companies grow we most likely have a team in place to assist with many of these items, but ultimately, as a small business owner, the buck does stop with us.

But that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.

Taking the time to intentionally seek out and build a support network for yourself is, I believe, key for the success of a business. At a minimum you may want to consider hiring a business coach or a mentor, but beyond that setting up a “mastermind” group of trusted peers will help you to keep challenges – and successes – in perspective.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.

I’ll Tell You a Secret

And that secret is, your customers don’t care about you.

Okay, that may have been a little harsh and it may be a slight exaggeration, but only a little one. The truth of the matter is, many companies spend their time talking about how great they are and how much they have to offer.

I know you’ve heard the pitches. They go something like this:

  • We have the best team.
  • We offer the best service.
  • Come and work with us and you’ll get the benefits of our new and shiny equipment/office/services.
  • We’re so much better than the competition

The thing is, your customers probably don’t care about all your bells and whistles. They don’t really care about your awards, accolades and your team. No offense, but they really don’t.

The truth is, what they do care about is how they’re going to feel if they decide to work with you. That’s it, so start shifting the story that you’re telling and turn it into one that they actually want to hear.

Need help with your content creation? At White Knight we offer both Video Crisps and our total content solution: Content and Crisps. To find out more about our programs, schedule a time for a discovery session.

Let’s Celebrate!

What do you celebrate in your business? Is it reaching a sales goal or locking in a promotion? Winning an account or delivering a great pitch that your client loved? Is it a certain number of years in business or a new and greater number in your bank account?

People celebrate all kinds of milestones and achievements, but if you’re like most of us you don’t do it often enough. When we achieve any kind of goal most of us don’t even take the time to acknowledge it, much less sit back and rest on our laurels. More often than not, we just keep moving forward, continually resetting the goal posts higher and higher.

And, really, there is nothing wrong with that strategy, for that tendency to constantly push ourselves to reach higher and do better is how we grow. But I’d like to suggest that equally as valuable is the act of pausing for a moment to recognize the small victories. Taking a moment to reflect on where you started and how far you’ve come is a great habit to get into.  When you adopt this practice of celebration it can help keep you moving forward when the going gets tough, because you’ll be better able to remember your successes, victories and achievements along the way. And, if you’ve had celebrations in the past, why not also in the future?

That is easy enough to understand, but here’s the part that most people don’t realize: you don’t just have to celebrate victories.

What if you also learned to appreciate your failures? How would things change for you if, instead of berating yourself when things don’t go the way you planned, you chose to stop and honor the lessons learned during the experience? What if, instead of getting angry and upset with those who have wronged you, you instead practice showering that person with love, light and even gratitude?

The thing that happens when you do this, is you shift the energy and rid yourself of negative connotations that you may be associating with a so-called failure. Start seeing these failures as valuable lessons and stepping stones and suddenly everything gets a little easier. You may find that you’re less afraid of missteps along the way when you remove the aspect of judgment from them, and that newfound boldness may lead you to victories and green pastures that you’d only dreamed of previously.

So, go ahead and celebrate the good and the bad. Every step along your journey really does move you just that little bit closer to your goal, and that truly is something that’s worth popping the champagne cork for.

 

 

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.