Small Business Development Center
At Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry
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Monthly Archives: May 2012

This Day Forward Coaching

By Chemeketa SBDC

Carol Leek brings This Day Forward Coaching not only to the Salem-Keizer area, but
also to women nationwide! As a Personal Development Coach, she helps women
entrepreneurs and small business owners discover their values and purpose, and
then align them with their business and personal lives, therefore creating a better-balanced life!

Carol  began coaching in 2010 after receiving personal and business coaching herself.
While transitioning from the sale of a self-built business, into discovering
her own life purpose, Carol was encouraged to use her natural abilities,
business expertise, and life experiences, and look into the phenomenon of Life
Coaching.

After falling in love with the profession of coaching, its process and the positive
outcomes coaching provides, Carol took the necessary steps to receive the
proper and necessary trainings to become a Board Certified Coach in several
areas. In addition, she continues to participate in business advising, and
teaches entrepreneur classes for the MERIT Program at the SBDC.

Working with women on a business level as well as a personal level has always been one
of Carol’s strong and natural gifts. Being gifted as an excellent communicator
with a positive attitude, a natural encourager, motivational, dependable, kind,
enthusiastic, and well organized are just a few words that have been used to
describe her. Her unique style (with a tad bit of humor), and direct approach
have guided and inspired many women in accomplishing personal and professional
challenges.

Life Coaching is perfect for those craving:

  • Forward movement and positive change in designing an ideal life and business
  • Balance and harmony in business and family life, in order to create inner peace
  • Guidance, action, and accountability, to achieve the results desired!

Carol provides a variety of coaching options in order to fulfill her client’s needs.
Individual coaching, group coaching, and topic related workshops are just a
few. As a way to give back to the community, she also provides a series of Pro
Bono sessions for those who desire and need coaching but are otherwise unable
to afford them at this time.

Carol has participated in Opportunity Knocks, the Small Business Management
Program
, and has served as an instructor for MERIT.

Contact info:
503.877.7964
thisdayforwardcoaching@gmail.com
www.ThisDayForwardCoaching.com

Visit Carol’s website to receive your FREE 30-minute consultation to see how you may benefit from Life Coaching. In addition to being a Board Certified Coach, Carol is also a Certified Life Purpose and Career Coach and Christian Life Coach. She is a
member of the ICF NW Coaches Association, and International Association of Coaches. She is also a member of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.


Effective Pricing Strategies Can Help Business

By Chemeketa SBDC

Pricing products or services correctly is a crucial function of a business owner. But how do you go about doing that consistently and fairly?

Pricing obviously plays a large role in whether a business is profitable. The difference between your selling price and the cost of a product is the “contribution margin.” The contribution margin pays for all other expenses and then after that, some profit. Even if sales are high, you may still find there is no money left at the end of the month. This lack of cash can be from expenses that are too high, but many times it is because you do not have an effective pricing strategy. The difference between sales and profit is found in your pricing policies.

Some small businesses use the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. It is an easy strategy to use but it may not be right for you. It may create an undesirable price image and it doesn’t consider the competition’s pricing strategies.

Another tactic is pricing based on the competition. This is where many small businesses get in trouble — trying to compete with the mass merchandiser. Many of these “giants” can sell at retail for less than you can buy at wholesale. So while you may generate a great deal of revenue, you may be losing money with every product you sell.

You can price below the competition but this also reduces the profit margin per sale.  This strategy requires careful monitoring and the ability to react quickly.

You can price above the competition – when price is NOT the customer’s greatest concern.  Many people find their time much more valuable than saving a few dollars. Target your business at these individuals, not the bargain hunters.

The key to success is to have a well-planned strategy, establish your policies, monitor costs and evaluate your effectiveness. The formula is simple: Sales less cost of goods less overhead expenses equals profit.

Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program. This column is produced by the center. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. or call (503) 399-5088.


Consider Starting Business Using ‘Boot-Strap’ Method

By Chemeketa SBDC

In this current economic climate starting a business using the “bootstrap” method minimizes your personal financial risk to outside sources. Bootstrapping is a means of financing a start-up business through creative acquisition and use of resources without raising equity from traditional sources or borrowing money from a bank. In short, “bootstrapping” means starting a new business without start-up capital; it is a self-sustaining process that proceeds on its own.

Objectively evaluating your current financial position will help you determine how to proceed with your business idea. Many people will need to get some financial management training and work on clearing out unnecessary debt before launching their business. Others will benefit from dedicating themselves to becoming frugal minimalists by scrutinizing expenditures. Building this foundation for yourself will help you establish a core value for your business success.

There are lots of ways to get a business up and running while staying within your financial parameters. Here are a few.

•  Start your business out of your home. Rent is one of the biggest expenses for any business. If you can, start your business in your home office, basement, or garage.

•  Start with what you have. Use what you have around the house first. Consider borrowing from a friend, renting or buying used equipment when you can.

•  Learn to barter. Barter everything you possibly can. Think outside the box —trade services with other entrepreneurs

•  Start small. You don’t need a huge start-up marketing campaign. Start small and ever-so-slowly work your way up. Keep in mind that a moderate expenditure for an established business can be an outrageous one for a start-up.

•  Be creative. One of the keys to keeping start-up costs low is to find affordable and creative ways of doing what you need to get done, rather than just spending cash to hire someone else. Save money by making your own fliers and business cards, instead of getting them professionally designed and printed.

How you maintain your personal finances is a good indicator as to how you will manage your business finances. A good place to start is to develop a good cash flow budget. This is a goal setting tool to help you see the flow of income and expenses over a period of time. It is an estimate of cash coming in and cash flowing out. Monitoring when and how money comes in, and where it goes on what dates, will allow you to save for upcoming months when money may not be as plentiful. Knowing this will help you determine when to purchase equipment and other needed supplies thus keeping you in the black.

Cash flow should be the first priority for every business, so begin this practice in your personal finances to get a feel for doing it in your business. There are many resources available to help you understand this process and effectively implement it in your personal finances.

This link will give you a cash flow worksheet: http://www.entrepreneur.com/formnet/form/483

For a good explanation of cash flow try: http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/term/82034.html

Mona Edwards is a program coordinator working with the MERIT Microenterprise Program at the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center. www.sbdc.chemeketa.edu.


Hate Collecting Money From Customers?

By Chemeketa SBDC

Hate collecting money from customers? The operative word here is “collecting.” That is where the discomfort comes in. You are not alone. Recent OPEN Small Business Network Polls from American Express shows accounts receivables is the top cash flow concern of small business owners.

It is true, most of us don’t review our credit practices (notice I did not say policies — often practices evolve over time without much thought about systems) until we have a customer who isn’t paying. The larger the customer’s account — the more drastic this situation — the more likely (if you survive the crisis) you are to review your operations. It’s a fact but, it probably makes sense to take some time before your business is in cash flow jeopardy to set up some good systems.

To get your invoices paid in a timely manner, think like your customer. Several factors affect how your invoices will get paid, including the size of the bill, the financial health of your customer, the format of your invoice and your relationship with the customer.

•  Your relationship with your customers is critical. People pay more quickly if they know you.

•  An equally important factor is the format of your invoices. If you are like most, you send whatever your accounting software spits out. Think about customizing your invoices so they help your customer want to pay you. Are they clear and easy to understand? Make them easy to read, consistent in format, reference the transaction, and with clear terms. The harder an invoice is to understand or the more research they have to do to make sense of your bill, the longer they may procrastinate.

•  It is critical to make your terms clear and easy to understand. Use your terms as a way to encourage payment. Be very specific about the due date, and state it clearly. Instead of: “Pay by the 10th” — use: “Pay by August 10, 2012.” Instead of: “2% 10, net 20” — use: “Take $20 off if paid by August 10, 2012.”

Naturally you want to only take on customers who you know have the ability to pay. So how do you stack the odds in your favor? Before offering credit for especially large amounts try the following:

•  Run a credit report. Reduce your overdue accounts by running a credit check on your potential business client before the deal is done. Expect to spend some money on a Dun & Bradstreet report. D & B uses self-reported data but adds credibility by including: banking data from company suppliers, bankruptcy filings, media sources, suits, liens, and judgments.

•  Always check references. Any small business planning to sign a “big deal” would be advised to run trade and bank reference checks. Simply inquiring with your potential customer’s bank can reveal important banking relationship information and how they have maintained their accounts.

Think before you have a problem. It will simplify complex situations — when they come.

Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program . The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center and appears each Sunday. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.


How to Audit Your Marketing Plan

By Chemeketa SBDC

It’s always a good idea to audit your marketing plan to see how its working, and update as needed. Here’s a systematic way to do that.

Start with ROI (return on investment). Are you getting the results you are looking for from your plan? Can you track the dollars coming in to specific marketing campaigns or pieces? Can you quantify results in some other way (“likes” on Facebook, referrals from existing customers, etc.)? Can you tie results to specific marketing efforts?

Next, take a look at all the marketing materials you use, brochures, website, ads, etc. Are they fresh? Are they working for you? Do they speak well for you? Does anything need to be reworked? Marketing is a continual process, and that includes bringing your materials up to date on a regular basis. What’s on the hit list?

How are your employees assisting in your marketing efforts? Do they clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve through marketing? Do they have the tools and knowledge to be able to assist with this? Do you need to invest in them in some way to make this happen? They can be wonderful marketing assistants, but you need to be intentional about getting that from concept to reality.

Are you making good use of your current customers to help spread the good word about your business? Are you keeping in touch with them on a regular basis? Are you asking them for referrals and incentivizing this process? Have you asked them lately for feedback about what you’re doing well and where your challenges are? Perhaps it’s time for a survey, or a simple request for their opinions.

What are you competitors doing these days? Watching them go about marketing can help you spot trends in your industry, provide ideas for your own campaigns, and give you leads to their customer bases. Where are your competitors getting their information, industry associations or trade groups? Industry publications? Are you following these things too? They can be a powerful source of inspiration.

Go back to your plan and start reworking it with the new information you’ve just gathered. Map out the activities you’re going to engage in, and set deadlines and goals. Watch what happens and measure results over the next three to six months. Then start this process all over again!

Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program. The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center and appears each Sunday. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.


Construction Contractor Training

By Chemeketa SBDC

Construction Contractor Training

Prepare for the Construction Contractor Exam with this 2-day live class which meets the State of Oregon education requirements. Get the added benefit of learning from the instructor with 35 years of construction experience. This class will prepare you for the exam and teach you how to set up your business for success.

The registration fee of $325 includes all class sessions, class materials, a copy
of the current edition of the Oregon Contractor’s Reference Manual, chapter quizzes, and two 80-question Practice Exams.

Comments from past participants:

  • “Judy was practical and presented information with ease and with all pertinent details.”
  • “Knowledge of instructor. All the handouts and key points.”
  • “Easy to follow. Well organized.”
  • “Concrete, specific application to practicing and passing exam.”
  • “The ability of the instructor to answer questions.”

Dates:
Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31
Friday, March 13 and and Saturday, March 14
Friday, May 1 and and Saturday, May 2
Time: 8:30 am to 6 pm
Location: Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry, 626 High Street NE, Downtown Salem
Cost: $325 (includes the manual)
Registration and Information: 503.399.5088