Tips success on small business will be comes true, Learn it

Whether it’s about how to use social media, getting through the early dark days of a startup, or about marketing your business, getting advice can help you succeed.
The video below contains success tips from 11 business leaders. It was shot at ICON14 in Phoenix, Arizona. ICON is the Infusionsoft customer conference that attracts 3,000 attendees, most of them small businesses or serving small businesses like yours and mine.
I was there on behalf of Small Business Trends capturing some “man on the aisle” interviews from presenters and attendees.
And out of all the success tips, what’s my favorite? Well, it’s from Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, who sat down and talked frankly about the brutally tough early days of the company he co-founded over a decade ago. Infusionsoft, which got $54 million in venture capital from Goldman Sachs, bootstrapped its way for years before earning that large injection of growth capital.
Mask says that in the early years, every single day was a struggle for survival. And while cash flow and business experience matter, the real secret, he says, “starts in your head with your success mindset, attitude and positive thinking.” This is what gets you through the struggle.
Below is the video (accompanied by a brief recap of key quotes):

Tip 1: In Social Media, Be Where Your Customers Are
“Know where your customers are hanging out online. You don’t have to be everywhere. Be where your customers are … and communicate with them there.” – Laurie McCabe, Partner SMB Group, SMB-GR.com
Tip 2: Never Stop Networking. Don’t Give Up
“Never stop networking, never stop pushing. It’s easy to give up when everybody around you … is telling you ‘you can’t do it’. You have to be around positive people. Then push on.” – (Starts at 1:08) Tom Force, Owner, ICE Keytags
Tip 3: Twitter Provides Powerful Market Research
“Twitter is the best thing that ever happened to small business owners. You can listen to your competitors or customers, and they don’t even know you’re listening.” – (Starts at 2:01) Melinda Emerson, Author of Succeed as Your Own Boss
Tip 4: It’s all About Mindset and Positive Thinking
“Our first three years were brutally tough… every day was about survival. Then I remembered a lesson from my father. Your mind is everything, yet it’s not what you know, but rather how you deal with it. It is about your mindset and positive thinking.” – (Starts at 2:43) Clate Mask, Founder and CEO, Infusionsoft
Tip 5: Wearable Tech Keeps You Fit
“The ‘wearables’ tech trend is keeping people fit, keeping them active, and keeping them in toe with their fitness goals.” – (Starts at 7:10) Tishin Donkersley, Editor in Chief, AZTechBeat.com
Tip 6: A Handwritten Thank You Note Will Wow Customers
“One simple way to ‘wow’ customers is thank-you cards — a handwritten note, a thank-you card saying ‘thank you for buying from me’.” – (Starts at 8:09) Ramon Ray, Technology Evangelist, SmallBizTechnology.com
Tip 7: Share Information on Facebook That is Great for Your Customers
“Having a Facebook presence as a real estate professional is vitally important. Buyers and sellers are there. Make sure you are sharing information that is great for the consumer, not just real estate people.” – (Starts at 9:09) Bill Harney, CEO, Keeping Current Matters
Tip 8: To Get PR, Offer Yourself up as a Thought Leader
“If you are a local small business, look at local media for PR. Read those publications, forge relationships, find out what types of stories the journalists are covering, and offer yourself up as a thought leader on a topic.” – (Starts at 9:49) Laura Collins, PR at Infusionsoft

How to manage your budget on business

If you run a small business, it’s likely that you’re operating on a relatively limited budget. Whether you bootstrapped your business or are trying to pay back loans you took out to cover your startup costs, it’s in your best interest to conserve money wherever you can.

Without a thorough budget plan, however, it can be difficult to track and manage your finances. This is especially true for any unexpected business expenses that may come up, as they often do. A 2015 survey by small business credit provider Headway Capital found that although 57 percent of small business owners anticipated growth this year, nearly 19 percent were concerned about how unexpected expenses would impact their business.

If you want to keep your business operating in the black, you’ll need to account for both fixed and unplanned costs, and then create — and stick to — a solid budget. Experts offered their advice for small business owners looking to keep their finances in order. [4 Tips for Reducing Startup Costs]

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Define and understand your risks
Every business venture has a certain degree of risk involved, and all of those risks have the potential for a financial impact on your company. Paul Cho, managing director of Headway Capital, said that small business owners need to consider their long- and short-term risks to accurately plan for their financial future.

“How will changes in minimum wage or health care requirements impact your workforce?” Cho said. “Do you operate in a geography at high risk of a natural disaster? Do you rely heavily on seasonal workers? Understanding the potential risks facing you on a short- and long-term basis is important for all small businesses. Once you’ve mapped out the threats to productivity, a clearer picture can be built around emergency planning, insurance needs, etc.”

Overestimate your expenses
If your business operates on a project-to-project basis, you know that every client is different and no two projects will turn out exactly the same. This means that often, you can’t predict when something is going to go over budget.

“Every project seems to have a one-time cost that was never anticipated,” said James Ontra, CEO of presentation management company Shufflrr. “It usually is that one unique extra item [that is] necessary to the job, but [was] not anticipated when bidding the job.”

For this reason, Ontra advised budgeting slightly above your anticipated line-item costs, no matter what, so that if you do go over, you won’t be fully unprepared.

“I go by the cost-moon-stars theory,” he said. “If you think it will cost the moon, expect to pay the stars.”

Pay attention to your sales cycle
Many businesses go through busy and slow periods over the course of the year. If your company has an “off-season,” you’ll need to account for your expenses during that time. Cho also suggested using your slower periods to think of ways to plan ahead for your next sales boom.

“There is much to be learned from your sales cycles,” he said. “Use your downtime to ramp up your marketing efforts while preventing profit generation from screeching to a halt. In order to keep your company thriving and the revenue coming in, you will have to identify how to market to your customers in new and creative ways.”

Plan for large purchases carefully and early
Some large business expenses occur when you least expect them — a piece of equipment breaks and needs to be replaced or your delivery van needs a costly repair, for instance. However, planned expenses like store renovations or a new software system should be carefully timed and budgeted to avoid a huge financial burden on your business.

“Substantial business changes need to be timed carefully, balancing the risk with the reward and done with a full understanding of the financial landscape you’re operating within,” Cho told Business News Daily. “An up-to-date budget and data-driven financial projections are important components that help guide when to make large investments in your business.”

Remember that time is money, too
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is forgetting to incorporate their time into a budget plan. Ontra reminded business owners that time is money, especially when working with people who are paid for their time.

“Timing underestimation directly increases costs,” Ontra said. “For us, the biggest underestimation is allotting time for client feedback. It is a Herculean effort sometimes to meet a deadline with lots of people focused on a single task. Then, the client needs to give feedback for us to proceed. If the client is distracted with other issues, feedback planned for a three-day turnaround, can become a week or longer. Not only do you start to lose time to the delivery schedule, your team also loses momentum as their collective thought shifts focus to another project.”

Ontra recommended treating your time like your money, and set external deadlines later than when you think the project will actually be done.

“If you believe the project will finish on Friday, promise delivery on Monday,” he said. “So, if you finish on Friday, deliver the work early and become a star. If for some reason time runs over, deliver on Monday and you are still a success.”

Small Business Leader Tips

downloadTip #1: Do Not Aim To Match Or Beat Prices Offered By Competitors

Price may win among retailers that include Walmart, Amazon and Target – as well as countless other larger businesses in a variety of categories – but smaller businesses know all too well they typically can’t compete in this big-box space when it comes to dollars. Instead? This is where smaller businesses have the chance to thrive in offering other experiences that stand-out from prices alone. Of course, price will factor into the overall impression any business leaves on consumers, but when combined with other experiences price can often become overlooked thanks to the many other factors that can outshine it.

Tip #2: Deliver Customer Service That Makes A Lasting Impression

Parker, Colorado based cupcake shop Nomelie Cupcakes was a business “not doing well due to a lack of good customer service and absence of quality control on product quality,” as explained by current store co-owner Soumya Sen. Together with his business partner and wife, Avantika Sen, the Sens aimed to bring new life and profitable success to the ailing bakery by making the business “customer centric”. As Avantika explains, their goal was to “provide the best customer service possible.” To make this happen, Nomelie knew they had to become “more than just cupcakes” and soon became the “forefront of major community events and initiatives,” as explained by Soumya Sen.

As small business owners, Soumya and Avantika Sen knew they had to sell more than just outstanding cupcakes to keep customers returning to their store. PHOTO CREDIT: Retail Minded
As small business owners, Soumya and Avantika Sen knew they had to sell more than just outstanding cupcakes to keep customers returning to their store. PHOTO CREDIT: Retail Minded

The Sens approach to bringing new life to a dying cupcake shop was built around more than just tasty cupcakes, but instead around the idea that delivering outstanding customer service would lift their store to where it needed to be. As it turns out, they were right. Their cupcake shop excels in community partnerships, customer service and has a consistent presence in their community that had not existed before. Beyond their store walls, Nomelie is known around town for their memorable customer care and genuine community support. These two factors – combined with great tasty cupcakes and more – are what have grown Nomelie… and continue to help them thrive in a town saturated with big-box competitors. As for the sales that were previously lacking? They continue to grow everyday, which is an accomplishment any small business owner can be proud of.

Marketing Tips For Small Business

As a small business, you may think it’s impossible to get the word out about what you do. That’s no excuse. And you don’t need fads or gimmicks. Follow the proven, timeless tips and techniques of these entrepreneurs to help get the word out about your business and watch it grow.

1. Give Your Stuff Away

Ari Fleischer and Aly Moler of Frozen Pints have grown their craft beer ice cream business by leaps and bounds by attending craft beer shows and farmers markets to do one thing–give their product away. Once customers taste this unexpected combination (which happens to be delicious) for free, they line up at their local store to buy it or even request that the store carry it.

2. Attend Networking Events…

Desiree Scales of Bella Web Design is a master networker. She attends and presents at almost every event in town. Her contribution to the overall community makes her one of the first people that come to mind when anyone looks for an expert in her area of concentration: small business websites and drip marketing.

3. …Or, Create Your Own Event

If you don’t like the events you are attending, invent your own! Darrah Brustein has created one of the most successful networking events in Atlanta: Atlanta Under 40. The event, which Darrah created to connect with other young entrepreneurs in her city, is now being franchised to other cities.

4. Volunteer to Lead an Organization

The secret to getting the most out of a group or organization is not just to attend but to lead. Take Lisa Calhoun of Write2Market. She served as the president of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, allowing her to rub elbows and connect with the brightest minds of the fastest growing companies in the Atlanta market.

5. Start a Podcast

Todd Schnick of Dreamland Interactive is the first person I saw create his own podcast–he interviews other business owners. People love to tell their story, and by highlighting them on a podcast you make an instant and meaningful connection. It’s also a great way to get an education on a topic you are interested in.

6. Be Helpful

Most small business owners struggle to get their finances in line, especially when they move from an Excel spreadsheet to something as sophisticated as QuickBooks. Cathy Iconis of Iconis Group hosts a Quickbook Chat on Twitter every Thursday night at 7:00 EST to answer small business owners’ questions–and potentially find some clients.

7. Send a Weekly E-mail
If you want to stay in relationship with your customers, there is nothing simpler than creating a weekly e-mail that provides something of value. Rick Houcek of Soar With Eagles sends one out every Monday that he calls the 2-Minute Monday Motivator. I look forward to getting it every week and often forward his advice to others.

8. Support a Cause

Mary Hester of LAN Systems throws an annual cookout with purpose every Earth Day. Party-goers are encouraged to bring their “e-waste”–old computer monitors and CPUs. At their most recent event they collected more than two tons of IT equipment, keeping it out of the landfills and creating goodwill with their customers, current and potential.

9. Sponsor an Organization

Many local organizations are not that expensive to sponsor for a year if you consider the so-called per meeting cost. If your product or service is a good fit with their audience, you will get exposure every time the organization sends out an e-mail and a mention every time they meet. Attendees always remember and appreciate companies who sponsor their favorite organizations.