Here are a few quick tips from the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College to help your business grow:
- Make sure your website is super Google friendly. Here are a few quick search engine optimization (SEO) tips straight from the mouth of a Google trainer: •keywords should be incorporated into your navigation menu •your phone number should be readable by the search engine (meaning that it should not be imbedded in a graphic) •page titles should be unique with keywords •have good searchable content •the H1 header should clearly tell the search engine about your business •get keywords in your URL if possible •meta keywords are a waste of time •the meta description is important (limit this to 160 characters)
- Know, know, know about Cash Flow. It’s important to know that profitability and cash flow is not the same thing. According to Dunn & Bradstreet Small Business, 90% of small business failures are caused by poor cash flow. That’s significant. A company can be profitable, but without a clear understanding and plan for cash flow, that same business can run into difficult times. For more information about cash flow, check out Martin Zwilling’s article in Young Entrepreneur for some starting points on the topic.
- Constantly educate yourself. Being wide-eyed and excited might be lovely for a Disney movie, but in business it just isn’t enough. Get familiar with business principles and accounting principles. Know what strategies have a direct impact on profitability. If pursuing a loan, know your business model inside and out and ask for help if you need it BEFORE approaching a lending center (SBDC can help you). What banks and investors don’t want to hear? That you are “hopeful” without putting in the real preliminary work. That you haven’t done you research. Passion for your business is essential…passion and “hopefulness” alone though won’t give you the tools you need to succeed. Never stop learning. Read relevant articles and books, watch videos, attend courses and ASK QUESTIONS.
- Define your niche market/community and dare to be different. Marketing guru Seth Godin speaks to this point best. As discussed in A Town Hall Meeting with Seth Godin, last week at Brookdale Community College and in one of Seth’s recent posts, Seth says the following – “The thing is, though, that the only prospects you care about, the only people you have a shot of reaching, the only people who are going to use your service or join your tribe are weird. And everyone is weird, at least sometimes.” This means the real value is not in targeting “everyone” as your customer…it’s targeting the “weird”…those who are just like you in a very specific way. A targeted community will seek you out, the masses will not. Read more at SethGodin.com
- Hire right. Might sound obvious, right? This is an area though, that could be a killer for a small company. Bringing in the wrong people who haven’t bought into your vision or who doesn’t have the talent or temperament for the position can be very costly. Having the right people in the right positions can make your company soar. Outstanding organizations are staffed with outstanding people.
- Program profitability into your business. Curt Clinkinbeard, consultant and Founding Member of The Profit Think Tank, notes that small changes in several areas can have a big impact on profitability. Use a synergistic approach with modest changes in multiple areas can increase your profitability. For more information from Curt, visit ProfitThinkTank.com and for more information on profitability, visit Entrepreneur.com
- Remember your mobile customers. Make sure your website is smartphone and tablet enabled and test it on various devices. Read more at Entrepreneur.com
- Overcome Fear. An entrepreneur needs the heart of a lion. That doesn’t mean being fearless. That means recognizing your fears and pushing through it anyway. There is a myth that successful entrepreneurs are all fearless and don’t mind taking risks. Usually this is not the case. They keep plugging ahead and take calculated risks. That means the entrepreneur has done the work, looked at the numbers, reached out for advice and support from their advisors and then took a calculated risk armed with solid information as opposed to jumping blindly.
- Become an expert in your specialized niche/community. Share information and advice…that’s what building a community is about. Create compelling content about your area of expertise and have it come from your unique voice.
- Planning and strategizing. A well thought out business plan can serve several valuable purposes. Not only is a business plan a necessary component of most small business loan applications, it provides the business owner the opportunity to think through and formalize objectives and strategies. Read more at Entrepreneur.com
About the author
Pasqualina DeLucia is the Assistant Director of the ASBDC New Jersey at Brookdale Community College.
Contact the ASBDC NJ office at Brookdale Community College to schedule an appointment with an expert to help you take your business to the next level.