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Sheffie Robinson with Metric Mate; Set 1 – Rep 9

Sheffie Robinson with Metric Mate; Set 1 – Rep 9

Sheffie Robinson with Metric Mate; Set 1 – Rep 9

SET 1 REP 9 WITH SHEFFIE ROBINSON Rectangle
Welcome to the new wave of fitness tracking. Metric Mate, an Atlanta-based small-business, is revolutionizing using a virtual personal assistant to help people with their fitness journey. As a small business in a boomtown like Atlanta, founders Braxton Davis and Marcus-Tor Strickland know what it means to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your passion. Out of their efforts came Metric Mate. A patented virtual personal assistant with an advanced AI system. 

Metric Mate also hosts a weekly podcast that recognizes leaders from all over the spectrum. Brother M-T brings in extraordinary individuals to share their stories about how they shaped their fields. This week, he brought in Sheffie for a great interview. 

 

The Origin

One of the most prominent themes Sheffie refers back to is business owners’ needs to save time. Over and over, we hear about how DIY websites are inexpensive, but the time-suck destroys productivity. Where can companies go to consolidate all of their tools? 

Sheffie talks about the costs incurred by using various tools spread over several other services. Sites like GoDaddy give very cheap website options, but start adding in email services like Mailchimp. Add in Asana, Analytics, Security plugins, etc., and the costs go through the roof. 

Shamrck brings together everything onto one platform at one cost. Most importantly, Shamrck lets business owners outsource vital tasks that would typically take entire days. 

 

You Don’t Have to Do It All.

If there’s anything that we can learn from the pandemic is companies big and small need help sometimes. For many entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, the biggest realization is that outsourcing is not only possible but required for specific tasks. 

As Sheffie recounts, it’s easy for business owners to look past self-care and focus only on work. The idea that you have to do it all is wrong, plain and simple.Brother M-T puts it best when he talks about the Gates and Zuckerbergs out there that sit in a room 24/7 and grind out a product are the exceptions, not the rule. We have spouses, children, hobbies…a life! At some point, we have to bring in help. 

 

 

Going Beyond Business

The most important thing entrepreneurs can do is take care of themselves. A sound body and mind are the only way to maintain a successful business. Without the right mindset, the quality of your work and the work of your employees can suffer. Taking time to understand what you need is every bit as valuable as what the business needs, even if that means 30 minutes with some Chick-Fil-A fries and a lemonade.

There is life outside of work. Services like Shamrck help you realize opportunities you can miss when you’re too wrapped up in researching the best third-party applications to put on the homepage of your website. Give yourself every chance to experience life outside the office. Take it from Sheffie, burning yourself out is the quickest way to dramatically affect your business in the worst way. 

 

 

3 Reasons to Open an Online Store for Your Bakery

The 2020 pandemic didn't expose business owners to the idea that foot traffic is dwindling and brick and mortar storefronts are fading. 2020 did, however, show that all business owners could benefit from an online presence. When doors started to close, small...

Sheffie Robinson with Metric Mate; Set 1 – Rep 9

Welcome to the new wave of fitness tracking. Metric Mate, an Atlanta-based small-business, is revolutionizing using a virtual personal assistant to help people with their fitness journey. As a small business in a boomtown like Atlanta, founders Braxton Davis and...

She Flipped It – Entrepreneur to MBA: Unpolished MBA Podcast

Recently, our very own Sheffie Robinson made an appearance on Unpolished MBA. Unpolished MBA is a podcast dedicated to looking at the value of startup experience instead of corporate experience. The idea isn't that one is better than the other, but instead, they...

15 Tips to Create Better Lead Capture Forms to Close More Sales

15 Tips to Create Better Lead Capture Forms to Close More Sales

15 Tips to Create Better Lead Capture Forms to Close More Sales

As anyone in sales will tell you, capturing a lead is the first step in any sales process. Leads turn into prospects, which turn into sales, which turn into customers. The path is clear, but how do we get started?

The right web tools give you options to create lead capture forms. You see them everywhere. Most people don’t know how to design a suitable layout to bring in new leads. “Sign up for our newsletter” is almost like white noise to us at this point. Yes, we know you have a newsletter, but we’re going to skip right over your form.

Lead capture forms aren’t hard to create. In fact, we try to find the quickest and easiest way to build them, but we usually don’t end up with a quality product. How can you take steps to create forms that convert? Here are 15 tips to get you started.

  

1. Do your research.

You aren’t the only one trying to get leads! Look at what other websites are doing. How are they approaching form creation? Remember that every website in every industry uses some sort of lead capture form to build a pipeline. Don’t limit yourself to the competition. Scour the internet for ideas and find ones that suit you. 

 

2. Find your voice.

You have a brand. You have a look. Most form creation tools let you use templates, so find one that fits your voice. Authenticity is the name of the game. When people feel a bond with you, they’re more likely to sign up for whatever you’re selling. There are thousands of possibilities for different schemes. Use the one that you connect with the most, customers will follow. 

  

3. Keep it short.

No one wants to read a wall of text for any reason. They certainly aren’t interested in a pop-up with 400 words. Keep the form short. One or two questions and/or blanks to fill out will give you everything you need to know to get started with a lead. If you need to dive further, do it on your next contact, whether it’s another form or a conversation. Don’t overwhelm leads before they get started!

 

4. Keep it simple.

Don’t ask leads for too much information. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and design the simplest questions to get you there. If all you need to pursue a lead is an email address, stop there. If your lead qualification goes a little further, think of the most concise phrasing, and use it. 

 

5. Use conditional logic.

What is conditional logic? Conditional logic is where the customers’ answers to each question determine the next fields. For example, if the question is, “are you a citizen,” and you answer yes, you move on to the next question. If the answer is no, conditional logic redirects that person to a new field for non-citizens. This tool lets you keep your forms short by automatically skipping unnecessary questions.

 

6. Test calls to action.

The call to action may be the most vital element of lead generation. The CTA is your way to produce a desired response from the customer. “Click here” is a CTA, although it’s not a great one. Be specific to your product. “Test drive our system today!” builds more value and urgency to drive clicks. 

 

7. Automatically email signups.  

As soon as someone completes your form, send them a confirmation email. Confirmation emails serve a few purposes, aside from just letting the customer know you received their form. You can use them to start promoting products and services before your next contact point. Automatic emails can also help redirect leads to complete a deeper information dive to build on the one or two question signup form. 

 

8. Use the power of conversational marketing.

Nothing produces better results than connecting with a lead in a conversation. We’re coded to respond to usual conversational queues. I ask you a question, and you answer that one question. I don’t ask you five questions in a row and expect an answer for all five right then. Conversational marketing applies that idea to presenting forms to leads. As opposed to displaying a static, five-question form, you can ask leads questions one at a time to generate better responses. If you think you don’t know how to set up this type of lead capture tool, don’t worry. There are plenty of solutions to help.

9. Integrate your lead capture tools to other products.

When a lead fills out a form, they receive a confirmation email, but how do you know when someone submits a form? Integrations with other software products like Slack, Zapier, and Mailchimp can immediately notify you the second someone signs up. Connecting to these different solutions is straightforward since most of them are explicitly built for lead capture tools.

10. Follow up on partially completed forms.

Sometimes keeping a lead capture form short isn’t an option. That’s ok. Longer forms lead to fewer completions, though. Many people will start filling out the questions but not finish. Keep an eye on signup statuses to see where some leads began the process but didn’t finish. In many cases, you can reach out to these prospects to encourage them to finish filling out the form.  

11. Make your forms secure.

Cyber-security isn’t a buzz-word. Hackers are always trying to breach firewalls and intercept information, so putting in a “Captcha” tool can block tacit attacks that some hackers put in place. Google’s “reCAPTCHA” is completely free and provides an excellent layer of security for your site.

12. Learn about who is signing up.

Learning demographic details about your audience is every bit as important as their contact information or lead qualifications. Geolocation can help you begin to tailor your calls to action to attack a specific segment of the market or country. Lead capture forms are always evolving, so take every bit of information you can find to improve your conversion chances. 

 

13. Make your terms and conditions easy to follow.

No one likes reading terms and conditions. Most people don’t even read them. T&Cs can save your skin from a legal standpoint, so don’t overlook them as a business owner. That said, presenting them to a prospect during lead capture needs to be easy to stomach. Adding a clickthrough option or a small text box will do the trick, but adding too much information hurts your conversion rates. 

 

14. Hold up your end of the deal.

By completing a form, leads are entering an upfront contract with you. You are responsible for protecting their information and only using it for the agreed-upon means. Ensure you are transparent about what kinds of guidelines and security measures you put in place, so leads feel confident signing up. Your conversion rate will thank you.

 

15. Incentivize signups.

Everyone loves free stuff. Give leads a reason to enter their information. If offering a $25 Amazon gift card generated 2,000 new leads, and you close ten sales, that $25 is a drop in the bucket. Don’t be afraid to go big on a giveaway. Converting new leads is essential to a growing business. 

 

Summary

Shiny templates with strategic verbiage and design are only a few components of a useful form. Our list is by no means comprehensive, but at least you have a head start!

Creating and managing forms on Shamrck is as easy as picking a template and adding your content. We can make sure the leads are routed to the right location, making things easier for you to stay organized and keep all of your sales and marketing tools under one roof. Test drive Shamrck today to start getting your time back.  

3 Reasons to Open an Online Store for Your Bakery

The 2020 pandemic didn't expose business owners to the idea that foot traffic is dwindling and brick and mortar storefronts are fading. 2020 did, however, show that all business owners could benefit from an online presence. When doors started to close, small...

Sheffie Robinson with Metric Mate; Set 1 – Rep 9

Welcome to the new wave of fitness tracking. Metric Mate, an Atlanta-based small-business, is revolutionizing using a virtual personal assistant to help people with their fitness journey. As a small business in a boomtown like Atlanta, founders Braxton Davis and...

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Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Small business owners don’t have enough hours in the day. Full Stop. It feels like there is always too much work and not enough time, but realistically, some organization can free up time. Most owners have issues with organization and time management. That’s not to say they’re bad with organization or time management, but everyone can use a little help. One of the easiest ways to get back on a schedule is to add appointment scheduling to your website. 

Planning out your day is chaotic at best, and things pop up left and right to derail everything, but scheduling appointments and sticking to them can help bring a little calm to the storm. Streamlining your operations is vital for any small business owner. Shouldn’t that include organizing your schedule?

Are you already scheduling appointments? How? Using an integrated appointment scheduler on your website helps customers set up times to talk, and it keeps them on your site. Win-win! Stop using post-its or scrap paper to “put something on the books.” Using an online scheduling system can help with creating events on your calendar and automatically sending out reminders. 

It turns out there are a lot of benefits to appointment scheduling for small businesses.

 

They’re dependable.

Do you have that one flakey friend in your life that always says they’ll come to dinner but cancels at the last minute? The business world is no different. Customers can say “call me” and never answer. Or worse, you forget to call them! 

Appointments help to make sure everyone has a set time and place to meet. Whether you’re on a conference call or out to lunch, setting a defined appointment increases the likelihood of avoiding no-shows. Using a scheduler directly on your website makes it difficult for a customer to say “I forgot” since they pick the time and get appointment reminders. 

 

Appointments are more organized.

Everyone has meetings with no structure. Those meetings are like herding cats. Nothing gets done, and there’s an email chain cracking jokes about how inefficient it was. For a small business owner, wasting an hour on a meeting where nothing gets done is money down the drain.

Instead, schedule meetings with a clear outline of what you plan to cover. Allow time at the beginning and end for pleasantries, but make sure the discussion is substantive and valuable. Writing down topics and agendas is a good start, but using an online appointment scheduler lets you create a detailed plan that can be shared with all invitees before the meeting starts. 

Streamlining how you spend your time is difficult any day, but having structured meeting time is a massive step in the right direction. 

 

Online scheduling saves time.

Imagine every phone call that leads to an appointment. It probably takes a few minutes to actually get to set up the time, then a few more discussing the meeting’s content, and then a few more if the customer likes to talk a lot. You could be spending 10 minutes or more on the phone to schedule one appointment. Multiply that by the number of meetings you schedule, and you could spend half your day on the phone just talking to customers or vendors about spending even more time with them. 

Online scheduling gives you all of that time back. Now you can direct customers to the online appointment scheduling system and move on to more essential items on your to-do list. Streamlining operations is the best way to become more efficient as a business. The key component is time management. 

 

You make more appointments and money.

Did we mention time is critical for an efficient business? Well, with more time, you can add more business. More appointments mean more chances to interact with customers and vendors, leading to more revenue. Queuing up times on an online calendar lets your customers fill your schedule for you. Booking free consultations is an incredibly effective way to get potential customers in the door. 

An often overlooked aspect of setting appointments is taking deposits or payments directly from customers. Capture customers’ card information to hold their spots. This tactic will significantly decrease the likelihood of no-shows making your schedule more reliable. 

 

Online scheduling is popular for a reason. 

More and more businesses are employing online scheduling on their website. Most services make it straightforward to link social media pages directly to the calendar. Larger companies with multiple locations find it easier to centralize a scheduling process to avoid confusion. Customers select whichever area they need to meet and at what time. 

As small businesses grow, the process doesn’t change. You can maintain that same sense of centralization, whether you’re organizing multiple locations or multiple users. Most appointment setting software allows owners to create multiple users with individual usernames to receive notifications when a customer books an appointment without notifying everyone else. They can also control their availability, which may be different from the rest of the team. 

 

Conclusion

Most small business owners haven’t given online scheduling a second thought. In fact, many small businesses don’t think of a website as more than a logo and a phone number online. Integrated features like email campaigns and online calendars fly under the radar either by ignorance or not wanting to go through the trouble of setting them up. 

Maybe you have a trusty day planner where you keep all of your notes. Perhaps you prefer the organized chaos of sticky notes swamping your office. Regardless of how you do things now, this is a digital world. It’s time to go online. Drop the pen and paper, and start organizing your schedule online. The operational benefits far outweigh any added “trouble” of integrating systems. 

Shamrck is a complete website and business management suite designed to simplify sales and marketing for small businesses. Online scheduling is one of the many organizational tools at your disposal to help your business operate more efficiently. There are several benefits to appointment scheduling on your website. Maybe it’s time you started reaping the benefits for yourself. 

 

Start your free demo today to see if Shamrck is right for your business. 

 

3 Reasons to Open an Online Store for Your Bakery

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How to Retain Customers with Product Services

How to Retain Customers with Product Services

How to Retain Customers with Product Services

So many companies only focus on signing new customers. They offer special rates and sign-up discounts or spend thousands on marketing. However, the real profit comes from customer retention. Why pay more money to focus on new clients when you already have a customer base. Useful tools like product services and simply building brand loyalty go a long way to retain customers. 

Let’s look at it this way. Is it easier to ask a friend out to lunch or grab someone off the street? Obviously, you have a better chance of bringing your friend. Customers are no different. You have a much better chance of making a sale to someone you already know than qualifying a new lead.

Think of the work going into new clients. You have to market the product, generate leads, move through a sales funnel, and negotiate the sale. Each step costs time and money. Retaining current clients costs much less, and the more effort you put into retention, the more likely you are to gain referral business.

Fortunately, there are several ways to focus on customer retention without sacrificing your efforts to sign new customers. 

 

Build Loyalty

First and foremost, sell an excellent product. A good salesperson can sell almost anything, but customers jump to another company with a better offering if the product is sub-par. Selling a premier product builds trust with your brand. Loyalty is incredibly powerful for businesses. It’s what keeps customers with you even if there’s a cheaper option. 

Part of building loyalty is creating a relationship with your customers. Coupons and occasional discounts go a long way to remind your client base you care about their business. Newsletters and updates let them know what you’re up to and what they can expect in the future. 

Newsletters and coupons can only go so far. No matter how good your relationship is with your customers, they have to be happy with the product.

 

Product Services

Product services, or product service system, is a way to reshape a product and turn it into a service. Here’s an example: in the past, you could rent a movie and have to return it two days later. You paid a fee for those two days, and then you were done with the rental store. Along comes Netflix. Like with the rental store, Netflix retained ownership of the “product” but offered unlimited rentals for a monthly service fee. Sorry, Blockbuster. 

Let’s try another one. Spotify knows that selling a CD is a one-time purchase, and the seller loses ownership of the CD. Instead, Spotify provides access to the same CD any time a user wants to listen to it for one monthly fee of roughly the same price. However, users get access to that CD and millions of other songs. Which is better, 12 CDs per year or unlimited music all the time for the same price? Sorry, SamGoody.

The core idea of a product service is to retain ownership of the product while still providing the same outcome. You can mimic the same strategy. For example, you can create a database of online courses and sell a subscription allowing users to take as many as they want. Now, rather than buying the one-time class (product), customers can have unlimited access to all of your classes (service), and they’re more likely to stay with you. Turning an end product into an ongoing service can be a vital stepping stone to a successful company.

 

Customer Service

Customer service is how your clients stay happy. Provide excellent service, and your clientele will remain content and loyal. Think of all the times you’ve been frustrated with a product, so you call or email the business for help, and no one answers. Poor service is one of the top reasons customers leave. Hopefully, your customers aren’t calling in too often to complain, but if they do, have an effective system in place to handle issues.

Customer service is more than just reacting to issues, however. Businesses who can be proactive with their customers tend to build more loyalty and create more long-lasting relationships. Rather than waiting on a problem to come up, companies can reach out and offer new products and services at an intimate level.

Excellent service starts with taking the time to put a plan in place and find the right people to work with your customers. Strategies on proactive customer service include things like personal phone calls or weekly newsletters. Luckily, you can automate these strategies, so you get to set up shop and go back to progressing your business.

 

Relationship Equals Retention

From building loyalty to providing customer service to utilizing technical tools, retention requires hard work. Retention strategies come in many different shapes, and each business needs a different plan. You know your business better than anyone, so figure out how best to build your relationships. Do your customers expect a friendly, personal phone call? Does your enterprise rely on online communication to touch as many customers as possible? What strategy makes the most financial sense for you (keep labor costs in mind!)? 

There is no single right answer, but you can get some help. A significant part of utilizing a business and marketing suite is creating a strategy to generate contact lists and reach your current customers. Their professional expertise helps map out strategies that work in your industry, and as a team, they can build your solution for you. 

Building relationships with your customers is crucial to your company’s success, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Understand the strategies and tools in front of you, so you can become more productive without sacrificing your need to generate new customers.

 

Hang on to your customers.

Product services and brand loyalty are incredibly effective ways to retain customers, but you need to take the care and effort to make them quality aspects of your business. Anyone can make a sale, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get repeat customers. 

Your website can handle everything for you. Staying in touch with customers is vital, but email marketing services on your site can help by sending coupons or newsletters. Automated appointment features let your customers pick times to meet, so you never have scheduling conflicts. build a database of online courses establishing your expertise in the market and creating a new subscription-based product.

Shamrck lets you do it all in one place. It’s a complete website and business management suite to give you everything you need to retain customers, create new products, and work new leads. Maintaining a successful business goes well beyond making sales. You need to keep current customers, but you don’t have to do it alone. Use Shamrck to help make your company succeed. 

 

3 Reasons to Open an Online Store for Your Bakery

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How to Maximize Your First Time with Facebook Ads

How to Maximize Your First Time with Facebook Ads

How to Maximize Your First Time with Facebook Ads

 

Advertising as a small business is daunting. Where do you start? Do you have a budget? Who is your target market, and how are you targeting them? Massive corporations like Nike or Verizon can spend millions of dollars on TV and web ads, but you don’t need all of that to be successful. Marketing for your business is challenging, but you have options for any budget.

Marketing has changed over the past decades. Billboards were the end all be all of advertising once upon a time. While they still dot the interstates, advertising opened to new mediums like TV and radio. The problem was marketing on these mediums was still prohibitively expensive. Relying on word of mouth recommendations and storefront signs only go so far. 

Fast forward to the social media boom. Now small businesses have a diverse collection of options for advertising. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube…you name it, you can pay money to promote your product on it. Social media is more budget-friendly for small businesses. 

The new challenge is learning how to target your market surgically. Trying to attack the whole market is an excellent way to waste money. Identify who you want to reach, and strategize from there.

While there are several platforms to try, here are some ways to maximize your first time using Facebook ads. 

 

Strategize

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin.

Just like starting a business, you need a plan. Marketing is challenging, and trying to “make it up as you go” can be devastating. Start to form a strategy focusing your message on your target audience. What is your goal? Are you trying to drive customers to your website? Or maybe you want to build an email list. 

Build a timeline for your strategy. Decide when to launch or if you want multiple launches based on your campaign. Knowing the browsing habits of your demographic can make or break your plan as much as anything else. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available that can help define browsing activity.

 

Know Your Market

Who are you targeting? This should be the first question you answer when you start. The next question should be ‘why?’ We talked about not trying to attack the entire market. Market researchers exist specifically to give you data on various demographics. Whatever you need to know, chances are they have the data. You know your product better than anyone. You also know who is buying it. 

With Facebook, you can create highly targeted ads focused solely on your market. Be as broad or as surgical as you want. Pick through different keywords and age groups to narrow the crowd, and tailor your content accordingly.

 

Set a Budget

A few months ago, we sat down (virtually, of course) with Social by Steph’s Stephanie Smith to go into a little more detail about Facebook ads. She let us in on a few trade secrets like never hitting the “boost” button. It’s designed to convince you that spending $5 more will help reach more people, but really, $5 won’t do much either way. 

Why? 

Nickel and dining your way through a marketing campaign is a waste of money. Thinking that reaching tens of thousands of people by spending $15 on Facebook couldn’t be more incorrect. Don’t get us wrong, traffic is traffic, but you want the right people. You can expect to spend at least $30-$50 per day. You’ll have a much better chance of reaching the right audience. 

The moral of the story is if this is out of your budget right now, you need to save until you can contribute between $500-$700 per month. Otherwise, you are spending money and not accomplishing much. 

 

Set a Timeline

Setting a timeline can be tricky since you are trying to balance your budget with your marketing goals. Your marketing plan should consider campaign duration, but you need to set a distinct timeline to keep yourself from overreaching. When you start to see success with an ad campaign, the temptation to keep rolling forward is intense, but remember, you have a budget. Stick to it!

 

A/B Testing

No one is perfect. Your first ad campaign won’t be perfect either. However, you can do something called A/B Testing. A/B Testing is a process of showing two variants of an ad to different audiences and seeing which drives more clicks or conversions. In your case, different variants might be writing other text or using a different image. If you’re making a video, you could try different voiceover scripts or narration. 

The goal is to create two different ads with the exact same narrative. A/B Testing is invaluable as you begin a marketing campaign because you can try out different versions before committing your whole budget. The good news is that you don’t need an enormous sample size to figure out which ad tests better, so don’t worry about blowing your money on an ineffective ad. Start small with each version, see which performs better, and then put everything behind the more successful 

 

Learn

Learning from what works is essential. Learning from what doesn’t work is vital. Try using key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor your success (or lack thereof). KPIs are invaluable and used across every industry. When starting your campaign, have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Do you want 30k more page visits? Create benchmarks at specific times for 5k, 10k, and so on to monitor your progress. If you’re not hitting your KPIs, learn from your opportunities, and improve. 

Your first time using a Facebook ad may be discouraging if you go in shooting for the moon. It’s ok to be ambitious, but set realistic expectations. Sit back and watch your campaign unfold, and most importantly, learn everything you can about where it’s useful and where it’s not.

 

Commit

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Many first, second, or even third attempts with a marketing campaign can fail miserably, but don’t be discouraged! Learn from what went wrong, and go into your next shot with a better plan. You need to commit, though. We talked about the pitfalls of trying to nickel and dime the system, so go all-in when you go in. 

It feels risky to sink a large amount of money into advertising, but remember, advertising exists on nearly all platforms because it produces results. Commit to your strategy and your timeline. Commit to your budget, and commit to making a successful campaign. That’s the only way to be successful. 

 

Marketing on Facebook

Facebook is one of the most budget-friendly advertising platforms available. We recommend it due to the pinpoint market segments you can target and the ease of use. Ad campaigns are challenging, so choosing a platform that’s easy to use will help immensely. 

Luckily, Facebook provides some guidance as you go about creating your ad(s), so you’re not lost in the weeds. But at the same time, you need to create an engaging ad or watch your money disappear. Do your research, make a plan, set a budget, monitor your KPIs, and commit to the process. Facebook can help to a point, but being successful is up to you.

 

You’re not alone, though. Small businesses need help all over the place, not just marketing. Shamrck is a complete website and business management suite with everything you need to be successful. Start your free trial to see why Shamrck is right for your business.

 

3 Reasons to Open an Online Store for Your Bakery

The 2020 pandemic didn't expose business owners to the idea that foot traffic is dwindling and brick and mortar storefronts are fading. 2020 did, however, show that all business owners could benefit from an online presence. When doors started to close, small...

Sheffie Robinson with Metric Mate; Set 1 – Rep 9

Welcome to the new wave of fitness tracking. Metric Mate, an Atlanta-based small-business, is revolutionizing using a virtual personal assistant to help people with their fitness journey. As a small business in a boomtown like Atlanta, founders Braxton Davis and...

She Flipped It – Entrepreneur to MBA: Unpolished MBA Podcast

Recently, our very own Sheffie Robinson made an appearance on Unpolished MBA. Unpolished MBA is a podcast dedicated to looking at the value of startup experience instead of corporate experience. The idea isn't that one is better than the other, but instead, they...

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail

Every year, thousands of small businesses open, and thousands of small businesses fail. Building a successful business is much more challenging than most people imagine. Without doing the right research, people have no idea how much work goes into every facet of a business. From marketing to overhead to employees, running a company can consume every bit of your time. 

The challenge is daunting but not impossible. For every business that fails, another thrives. The question is, how can you make sure yours is the latter?

We want to only look at the fun sides of operations. You make your schedule and all the decisions. Every new sale or new customer feels like a cause for champagne. Success means watching the company bank account grow. 

However, we need to have perspective. How are you protecting yourself legally? You need to know exactly how much money you’re making, as well as how much you’re making. Are you innovating? Your competitors are. What is your strategy for customer retention? Launching a company is more than having a good idea. It’s a living being that requires your attention or else it won’t last.

Here are nine reasons why small businesses fail.

1. The Market Is Too Small

Finding a niche is one thing. Being too narrow is destructive. Markets can dry up with any shift in the economy or unforeseen circumstances. Your company can’t be so focused that it shuts down if one segment of the market disappears. No one can see the future, but you can plan for it. 

By making sure you stay agile and versatile, you guarantee that you can weather any storms (as best you can). Businesses need to find identifiable segments of the market to target and be broad enough to appeal to all of them. If one segment shifts, you need to be ready to move to another. Just like we’ll talk about later, market targeting comes down to research.

2. Bad Management

Being a successful manager is challenging under any circumstances. Managing every aspect of your business, including hiring and managing employees, presents an incredibly difficult challenge. Many business owners are not familiar with managing purchasing, bookkeeping, employment, office space, and everything else. We always want to think a good manager is good at delegation, but that’s not always true. 

Delegating tasks to the wrong people can run your business into the ground faster than anything you can do on your own. The most critical problem facing business owners is identifying when their employees are making poor decisions. Unfortunately, sinking everything you have into your business means there’s not much of a learning curve. You either sink or swim. That added pressure means putting proper management at the forefront of your business plan. Will you manage everything yourself? Are there ways to outsource some of your tasks? Where are the opportunities to protect yourself?

Worse than poor delegation is merely a dereliction of duty. Getting spread too thin and overlooking vital operations can also destroy your business, possibly before you even start. Be sure you are up to the challenge, and when it does become time to hire employees to help, be a good leader. Inspire your employees to do their best work, and take advantage of excellent staff.

3. Opening For The Wrong Reasons

Write down the reasons you want to open a new business. Is it just to make your own hours or be your own boss? Do you just think it’s an excellent way to make money? Discover the “why” buried deep within your business plan. If you can’t identify a reason you’re passionate about, the chances your business will succeed sink. You need a passion for what you do, or you can become bored or disinterested, and the company will fail.

Ask yourself some simple questions.

-Why do you want to open a business?

-Where do your passions come from?

-Are you driven enough to put in the hours?

-Can you learn from your mistakes and improve?

-Are you determined to make this company successful?

When you feel confident that your answers point in the right direction, you’ll be ready to start a successful business.

4. Not Enough Money

Not only does starting a business require a lot of time and effort, but it also requires a lot of capital. Many companies can’t make ends meet only a short time after they open. Poor planning is typically to blame, so remember to budget for all of your needs.

Make fundraising a core component of your business plan. Remember, there are options for capital other than your wallet. Investment firms, banks, and Small Business Association (SBA) loans are all alternatives to investing everything you have. 

Start with consultations. Many small business owners don’t fully understand all of the costs involved in opening and maintaining a business. If you’re unsure about what to expect, try the SBA startup calculator. Not planning for all expenses can be devastating. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

5. No Business Plan

Speaking of setting yourself up for failure, make a plan! You need a business plan. Dedication and hard work only go so far. This opportunity is where you flesh out all the details of your launch. If you don’t know where to start, you can find samples and templates all over the internet. You’ll need some guidance, but ultimately, you need to do the research and fill out the details. 

Here are some key elements to include.

-A Mission Statement: What does your business do, and what are your goals?

-Market Analysis: Identify challenges and opportunities within your target market.

-Competitive Analysis: Who are your competitors? What can you offer that they don’t?

-Finances: How much startup capital do you need? List all financial information, including all costs and expected income. 

-Remember to include everything from infrastructure to taxes to marketing.

Budget: After you list your financial details, create a budget accounting for everything, and always try to be conservative with your expectations.

Business plans need to be extensive. You need to address every detail of your business launch and operations, or you may be setting yourself up for failure.

6. Marketing

Obviously, web-based businesses require a detailed, well-designed website, but every business needs an online presence in today’s market. Websites are a necessity, and a poorly designed site can make your business look unprofessional. Marketing starts with creating an attractive website that engages customers. 

Step two is getting customers to visit your website. This step is where social media is essential. You may be able to get by without a social media presence, but you’re already behind your competitors. The great thing about social media is the price tag. You can create accounts on almost any social media platform for free, and millions of people traffic Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter daily. Each one is an opportunity.

Another critical aspect of social media is the paid advertising side. Yes, accounts are free, but directing customers to your social media accounts can be challenging to do organically. Facebook and Twitter offer reasonable prices to help you reach thousands of people. 

Without some marketing modicum, your business can stay invisible and fail before you have a chance to be successful.

7. Too Much Ambition

Typically, ambition is a virtue in the business world, but you can quickly outgrow your budget and over-extend yourself. Slow and steady growth is the key to success. An extremely memorable example is the Borders Bookstore franchise. By wildly expanding in the ’90s and 2000s, Borders failed to plan for a future being shaped by online stores. By the time online retailers like Amazon took over the market’s lion share, Borders was stretched too thin to survive. They declared bankruptcy in 2011.

Their biggest fault was equating growth with success. The ability to expand doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to do so. Remember your business plan. Hopefully, you included five and ten-year outlooks to try to foresee potential challenges. This kind of planning helps you be more conservative before deciding to expand too much. You want your small business to grow into a large company. Just don’t get too impatient!

8. Customer Diversification

Having a cornerstone customer is excellent, but relying too much on one customer is risky. We discussed making sure you can reach different segments of the market. You need to diversify your customer base so that you can absorb any large-scale losses. Try to go after a smaller market along with targeting “whales.” The diversity will help you be more agile if you lose one of your more substantial income streams.

9. Stubbornness

Many small business owners are set in their ways. They’re experts in their field and want to build a business on what they know. It makes sense. Stick with what you know. 

But are you ready to change with the times?

Many businesses fail because they’re unable or unwilling to pivot to fit the changing market. Understanding the business world isn’t the same as 30 or 20 or even ten years ago is critical to your success. You need to be flexible. Adopt new software that can help with operations. Get past the notion that you can’t teach a dog new tricks. Learn from your competition, and study the market. Getting complacent because “your way is the best way” is a sure-fire way to put your business in danger. 

Summary

Opening a successful small business is much more challenging than most people expect. The level of dedication, commitment, and planning that goes into just the launch is daunting. Before you decide to go down the incredibly difficult road of small business ownership, remember why you want to do it. There are many reasons why companies can fail. Staying vigilant and keeping focused is the best way to increase your odds of success. 

Plan thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a world of resources available to you. Use them. 

Using a sales and marketing platform like Shamrck is invaluable for consolidating your tools and making you more efficient. Small business owners need to save time everywhere possible. Start your free trial with Shamrck to learn how we can help your business succeed. 

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