Small business advice can come from many different places, but books are one of the best. Literature can teach life lessons in every area, and business is no exception. Here are a few classical literary moments, as well as some lessons that savvy business owners can take from them and apply to their management strategies. Don’t assume something is impossible. See for yourself. This principle is demonstrated in the Shakespeare favorite, Macbeth. Told by a troop of prophesy speaking  witches that he will reign until the Great Birnam Woods come to Dunsinane Hill, Macbeth assumes that he will be safe since moving trees are impossible, or so he thinks. In the end, his castle is overrun by the forces of his enemies, disguised by the branches of the trees he thought immobile. While, unless you are in landscaping, moving trees will most likely not concern you, the principle that is at work here is important for small business owners to understand. The person who claims

When you’re running a business, every minute of your day becomes a valuable and finite resource. Conserving your time and using it effectively is at the heart of a strong management ability, so taking a little time to set up more efficient business processes can turn out to be a great investment in the long run. One of the things that most business owners do every day is send and receive emails. While business emails are most often short and to the point, they do still need to retain a polished level of grammar and vocabulary. Writing something that sounds great and gets straight to the point takes time, however, and if you are writing the same kind of emails over and over, you should consider creating an email template that can save you the trouble of crafting these letters from scratch every time. Understand when not to use a template. If you are communicating with a client or business partner, sometimes it’s not a good

While there are many things that differ from industry to industry, and even from business to business, there are a few things that remain constant for every business owner. One of these is the need for a formal business plan. A business plan is required for everything from applying for a loan from a bank to recruiting business partners and top level employees, so it pays to have one that is both up to date and up to industry standards at all times. This isn’t a one time thing either. As your business grows and the markets you are in change, you are going to need to reflect this in your business plan with edits, additions and omissions. Something as simple as one key piece of information that is either wrong or outdated can make your business plan look bad no matter how clean the rest of it is, so keeping this document tuned up and ready to be looked at is a wise strategic

Navigating the financial landscape that comes with running a small business is often difficult, and it’s made even more tough by the presence of certain potholes and mirages. One common scam that small business owners should be aware of is the grant scam. How does a grant scam work? This type of scam is kept alive by a simple misdirection. Business owners will either stumble across or otherwise be made aware of a grant that their business is able to apply for, which, should they receive it, will give them what essentially amounts to free money. This should be the first logical red flag, but many business owners are willing to take the existence of grant programs at face value as fact. Once the business owners are sold on their grant applications, the next phase of the scam kicks in. You will be sold (or attempt to be sold) an expensive audit of your business plan, additional help filing your request, a one time fee, or

Guerrilla tactics are those used by a smaller or otherwise disadvantaged force to overtake and overcome a superior one. When applied to the practice of marketing, guerrilla tactics usually means a smaller firm, but sometimes a corporation or larger business using a lower cost but original or otherwise fresh technique to create disproportionate buzz for the total dollars spent. Due to its low cost nature, guerrilla marketing can be put to work for almost any business, and in fact, small businesses have some serious advantages when engaging in creative marketing techniques because of their small size and less stratified leadership. Identify a goal that can be reached with the help of guerrilla techniques. Small business owners don’t have to be promoting a specific sale or product when engaging in guerrilla marketing, but in order to focus their efforts and try and quantify their results, they can create some goals that they want their guerrilla campaigns to hit, such as shares or traffic to a page on

Many small business owners want to expand the techniques they use to market to their clients and build loyalty, but don’t have a huge budget to play with, or a lot of time to tinker with fine tuning something. Enter the newsletter, a simple concept that has stood the test of time thanks to its effectiveness and ability to increase engagement with a brand’s key customers. Small business owners in any industry can benefit from the creation of newsletters, and some businesses may wish to have more than one mailing list in order to run the gamut from enthusiastic clients to industry partners. Putting together a mailing list is a lot more simple nowadays thanks to CRM tools like Mailchimp and ConstantContact. You have the option of building a template for your newsletter that is simple to copy and edit to change out content on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Take the time to build a nice looking template. If you can’t, consider purchasing

In virtually every industry, there will come a time when, as the owner of your business, you will be summoned to appear at a trade show or other type of industry event. These events generally serve as a way for brands to showcase their wares while meeting and networking with old clients as well as potential new ones. When you go to a trade show, you are most likely going to leave laden with an assortment of product guides, free samples and branded goodies. In the end, things can add up to be a lot to keep track of, and finding what you are looking for and remaining focused on your goals when at one of these events might take more finesse than you would have thought. Have a game plan before you get to the show. Going to a trade show will often be an event in itself, with many of them hosted in “destination” areas such as Las Vegas or New York. That’s why

The average small business owner has a long list of concerns, as well as goals that they need to hit in order to keep moving their business forward. The challenge they face is to balance the needs of their business against the needs of their clients. In order to make sure everyone is happy, a happy medium needs to be created between the dollars you put into your production and the dollars put out when marketing your product. While there is no secret sauce that will work for every business, here are some guiding pieces of advice that can let you create a more informed strategy for yourself. Marketing will create better ROI the more product satisfaction you are able to deliver. One problem that small business owners can create for themselves by overdoing their marketing budgets is over-promising and under-delivering. In general, the opposite scenario is what will create loyalty for your business. Larger companies may promise the world and only deliver an adequate product,

When it comes to managing a sales team, it can sometimes be tough given the pressures to make conversions and the competing personalities that make up your team. Nurturing teamwork, positive morale and profitability takes some seriously dexterous management at times. In order to keep things as simple as possible when creating a lead distribution strategy, here are a few tips. Evaluate your sales reps based on performance. If you let non-business related factors cloud your judgment in a sales environment, it can create significant problems for you. Instead, let the track record of your employees speak for itself. That being said, you should also recognize the different strengths present on your team. IF one of your reps is a great closer, and another one happens to be gifted in teaching beginners, then play to those strengths potentially by creating a team where new hires are taught to open deals by the one employee while having the close come in if it looks like a deal

When you take on a new employee, or when you promote one who has been with you for a while, you will find yourself needing to teach them new skills specific to their roles. The better and faster that you are able to do this, the more efficiency and speed you will bring to bear in your business endeavors.  While the expertise that you have is all your own and might require some specific training methods, using some proven and effective methods for better teaching can help save you and your employee’s time. If you find these methods work for you, then share them with your managers. The more leaders you have in your office, the greater your ability to succeed. Create a written supplement to your instructions. When you’re in the middle of teaching a skill, but get pulled away because of a conflicting responsibility, don’t leave your trainee sitting there empty handed. A training manual is an extremely useful tool for briefing new hires

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