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

Ten Lessons for Small Business Owners

By Chemeketa SBDC

Funny how some business concepts are classic. No matter
what new bestseller spins them or gives them new names, they’re just recycled
chestnuts. Here are 10 of my favorites.

1. Anyone who can take a shower can have a good idea. What matters is what happens after you towel off. Your ideas are only as good as your follow-through! All of us have great ideas. You need to develop a strategic plan for capturing your idea for immediate and future implementation.

2. The #1 killer of small business is loneliness. Get out of the office! Visit your competitors. Talk with your peers. Join your Chamber. Become a member of a peer mentoring group. Get out and see best practices.

3. Profits are what you pay taxes on; cash is what you take home. First learn how to track it – then how to forecast it! There is a dramatic difference between the money that flows through your business and the profitability of operations. Learn to manage by the numbers, track trends and modify by what you learn.

4. Nothing happens until the sale is made. Celebrate the customer! It is often tempting to fall in love with what we do and forget what our customers love. Keep operational and strategic planning focused on your customer.

5. Marketing, first you have to know what it is, and then develop a marketing plan. There is a lot more to marketing than advertising. There is more to advertising than buying an ad. There is more to buying an ad than paying the bill. Plan your efforts.

6. Teams mean leverage. You simply cannot do it alone. Consider your attorney, accountant, insurance agent, banker and financial planner as part of your “outside management team”. Consider your peers and your colleagues as valuable sources of information. Work with them. Find a team environment that answers your needs.

7. Employees are from Pluto – Employers are from Saturn. You must first understand employees before you can manage them. Not much more needs to be said. There are motivation, reward and loyalty issues that are only yours if your employees are willing to give.

8. The day you hire your first employee is the day you begin to make the transition to manager. Take your own skill inventory. What do you like to do? What will you delegate? What are you good at?

9.
Growing or dying – there is no in-between. If your business isn’t growing, it needs a strategic change. And if you aren’t managing by the numbers, you won’t know whether you are growing or dying.

10. The #1 common characteristic of successful business owners – the desire to learn. You must grow at the same (or faster) rate as your company! Don’t neglect your own professional development.

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.


Collaboration Can Boost Your Business

By Chemeketa SBDC

The word “collaboration” is used a lot these days. But
what’s the practical application of that word and concept for a business owner?
Turns out there’s a lot contained there that can help you with your business.
There’s a synergy to working with others that can mean great things for you, and
success for your business. Tap into the power of others and watch what
happens.

A common way to build a collaborative partnership is
when a for-profit business (a pet store for instance) teams up with a nonprofit
(the humane society). They have some common goals, they have a common
constituency, and they can mutually benefit each other.

Another pathway to collaboration is when a group of
businesses in a given industry (retailers, manufacturers, service providers,
etc.) or a group of similar businesses (specialty food producers, health
services providers, artisans, etc.) work together. Perhaps they host an event,
perhaps it’s a group marketing campaign, or a series of meetings where they get
together to share best practices and common concerns.

There are several good reasons to enter into these
mutual arrangements. First is to promote your business to customers (with the
intention of driving sales). As a business owner, this is always on the top of
your mind, and a collaborative effort is another way for you to do achieve that
end. When you team up with other organizations you may gain access to their
customer lists, their ability to reach customers, their expertise, and many
other benefits.

Another good reason is to generate publicity for
yourself and your collaborative partners. The more awareness and name
recognition you can create, the better. Cross-promotion helps everyone.

There are a couple of things to consider before
entering into a collaborative effort with others.

• Consider carefully who you align yourself with in
order to ensure compatibility of mission. Ask yourself who you want to be
associated with.

• Be sure to plan everything out in advance and put it
in writing. The more time spent up front, the smoother things will go.

• Each partner’s responsibilities need to be spelled
out and agreed to.

• Reach a consensus on a common vision for what will be
accomplished and how each partner will benefit.

• Speak well of each other in public; dirty laundry
needs to be kept strictly out of sight. Keep a professional tone, both when
speaking with, and when speaking to, your collaborators.

Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small
Business Development Center.