Posts

How To Recession Proof Your Business

Guest Post by Karen Wenner Cooper, Team Owner, Platinum Group Real Estate at Pearson Smith Realty

2020 has been a year for the record books in more ways than one! Like it or not, economic downturns and market fluctuations are inevitable. With the global impact of COVID-19 it would appear that we are rapidly heading in that direction (if not already there in some areas). So how do you prepare now, and what do you do then to ensure your business survives and even thrives?

As a business owner in the real estate space I’ve survived major (and minor) market adjustments, and learned a few things along the way.

Here are my top tips.

Protect Cash Flow/Prepare Your Personal & Business Savings

Start now by building strong reserves in both your personal and business accounts. Ideally, have 1 year worth of living expenses in savings at all times. Save, invest, and pay off debts.

As much as possible, stay lean in your expenses, in good times and bad. Heavy overhead can spell disaster in a market downturn.

Being a business owner or entrepreneur is a tricky business and rarely comes with consistent bi-weekly paychecks. Handling budgets can be a struggle when your income fluctuates so much.

What has worked well for me is having a separate business account that all of my business income is deposit directly into. Then each month I establish my family’s budget (which is more predictable, and more similar each month) and then “pay” myself from my business account for the month (transferring more throughout the month if needed). This way large sums aren’t deposited directly into my personal account and there is less of a likelihood of overspending in the moment.

Also, in addition to providing peace of mind, having strong reserves and cash flow will allow you to take full advantage of an adjusted market, which could mean business model changes and shifting direction. Both of which you can do more confidently when you have money in the bank.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

Speaking of marketing, don’t quit marketing yourself or your business when markets change! In fact, if possible, this is the time to ramp up your marketing if you can.

This tends to be the first thing to go for many businesses when the markets and economy starts to adjust, which means that this is the perfect time for you to invest more!

Remember that not all marketing has to be expensive. Grassroots (relationship) marketing efforts can be some of your least expensive, and most effective tools.

Relationships Are Key

The stronger your relationships with your clients, community and database, the better your business will fare when the market adjusts. When markets adjust, consumers are far more likely to choose service providers based on quality and experience, those they can trust to get the job done.

It’s no longer about who is the cheapest. This is the time when consumers are most likely to acknowledge your value as a professional and will seek out people that they trust. Focusing on growing and building your relationships will allow you to be this trusted advisor.

Focus On Core Competencies

Identify the pillars in your business (where your business comes from, where you want it to come from) and focus on these areas. When you know who your ideal client is you are able to be more clear to ensure that you spend less time and money “trying things” vs being strategic.

I see many businesses who are tempted to offer many, many things, but the problem is that sometimes when you are doing many different things, none of them are being done well. Also, the consumer doesn’t really know who you are and what you do. When you are clear, the consumer is clear, and they will know when to call you and why.

Be A Specialist

Find and develop your niche. Avoid being a “jack of all trades, master of none”. The more specialized you are, the more dominant you can be in your business.

When you specialize with a particular type of clientele or location it is easier to become known as the “go to” person or business. When markets and the economy shift, the strongest will survive, and that often means those that have a dominating presence.

Look for a customer need and serve it well. Many businesses and services will retain demand despite market conditions, someone needs to thrive, it might as well be you!

You must be willing to adapt if you will be able to adjust to market conditions. Flexibility and a willingness to embrace change will see you through tough times. Don’t confuse being disciplined with being inflexible (I often have).

You need to be disciplined in your marketing and consistent with how you manage your business, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it in a fluid way. Nothing EVER stays the same. It is important to be able to roll with the punches as they say, and adjust to the changes and market conditions.

Market conditions change, consumer needs changes, ways of doing business and market changes. You need to be flexible, learn all you can, and adjust as needed.

Lastly, stay positive. Refuse to participate in a recession, bad market or market adjustment. Money will continue to change hands. Businesses will continue to operate.

The positive aspect of a recession or downtown is that it will help to weed out the excess competition in some markets or business. The dabblers, the commodities (those whose business model is based on being the cheapest), those considering retirement, the part timers will most likely not survive the market shift (either of their own choosing or not). The professionals will stay. Be a professional.

About the Author

Karen Wenner Cooper is the founder of Empowering Women In Real Estate, and principle behind Empower Coaching by Karen Cooper, providing coaching and marketing systems for women in the real estate industry, and owner of the Platinum Group Real Estate team at Pearson Smith Realty. An 18+ year industry veteran, having served many hundreds of clients, her greatest accomplishments and biggest joy are the three boys who call her “mom”.

 

Location and Your Local Business Marketing Plan

Localizing your marketing efforts will build brand recognition within your community and foster brand loyalty from consumers who support local businesses.

Why you need a local marketing strategy

What’s the first thing you do when you need your car repaired, want to find some local entertainment or want to plan a date night?

If you’re like most people, you turn to Google. “Near me” searches have grown consistently since 2013, according to Google. In fact, these searches are so common that Google’s algorithm routinely provides localized results for most searches.

A local marketing strategy increases your visibility in these local searches. Whether users start with a search query, use Google maps, or go directly to their preferred third-party review site, you want your company to be listed among the options.

How to use digital channels to support local marketing

Getting listed takes specific focus on local marketing strategy. Here are a few tactics that are essential.

Claim your business page on third-party review sites

Google Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, and TripAdvisor are just a few of many sites that people turn to when they want to find a local resource. Claim your business page on these sites to make sure the information is accurate and that you can respond or react to comments, questions and reviews.

Create targeted advertising campaigns

Digital ads offer you an excellent opportunity to target your audience using various parameters, including location. You can leverage posts within Google maps, ads on social media, and ads within review and other sites to make sure your business is seen.

Have a SEO strategy

When creating content for your website, it’s important to factor in search engine optimization (SEO). Understand what your customers search to find a business like yours and use those words and phrases on pages and posts. Make sure that your meta description field highlights keywords as well as information that will make someone click on your search result.

Structure your website for local users

Local users often search for the same information, and it is best to highlight those things on your website. Have your name, address and phone in the header and footer of every page. On your contact page, be sure to include those details along with a map and driving directions from central locations.

Also be sure to mention the areas you serve. Most often, you’ll best serve the needs of people and search engine crawlers by naming specific towns and cities.

It’s good to be local

It wasn’t too long ago that local businesses could not compete online with national organizations with large budgets. All that has changed as search engines react to the trend of users looking for and preferring local business results. This creates terrific digital marketing for those businesses that take time to apply a local marketing strategy to their online efforts.

Critical Small Business Tips to Tame Overwhelm

Guest Post by Robin Suomi, MBA, Owner, Startup to Growth, LLC

You started your business so YOU could be your own boss and call the shots, right? You were excited about getting those first clients. It was a busy time, but you made it through.  You knew you wouldn’t keep up that pace forever. Those crazy hours were just for your startup phase.

Then one day you realized that things had not changed: You are still working long hours, feeling increasingly overwhelmed and afraid you would never catch up. What the heck? That is not how it is supposed to be.

The good news is that there are many choices you can make and tools you can use to gain control of your business day and stop the overwhelm. Now is the best time to take a hard look at your processes, change the procedures that need changing and tame your overwhelm.  The bad news is that this requires some hard decisions and discipline on your part.

Here are five positive steps to take that will help you get your business life under control and be more productive. Then you can use your “saved” time to work on new products/services, work more billable hours, and do whatever else is on your checklist that will grow your business…with a guilt-free conscience.  Ready to start?

  1. Templates. This is a critical step that is often overlooked.  Set up templates for the standard email responses you need to send out by email, social media, messenger, etc. An inquiry about your product? Setting up a meeting? I would like to introduce you to so-and-so? No problem. Write your standard responses and store them in a file called “Templates.” They will likely cover 80 percent of your responses. Spend a few moments to customize each response.  Done.
  2. Phone. This is a bit controversial, depending upon your industry and where you live in the county, but here’s my advice:  Pick up the phone and call the person you are trying to reach that hasn’t gotten back to you! This has saved me sooooo much time! You can immediately stop the back-and-forth, time-burning email tag if you phone them, speak for 60 seconds, get your answer, and move on. You can send a confirming email if you do need a paper trail. Done.
  3. Finances. Store your financial data, both income and expenses, in one place, and process it regularly. Most small businesses, especially in the beginning, can process this data weekly, or even monthly. Your system can be physical, including file folders; it can be 100 percent digital; or, it can be a combination of the two. If you are outsourcing your bookkeeping, it is still important to organize your data regularly and send it to your service provider on a regular basis. Get your system in place and calendar regular time to complete these tasks. Done.
  4. Calendar. Did I just say calendar?  Whether your calendar is paper or digital, make sure you know what you are supposed to do when.  As I pointed out under the Finances tip, use your calendar to set some time aside to work on organizing your income/expenses. Set aside regular blocks of time to work on marketing, business planning, setting meetings, creating/revising your products/services, etc., whatever your priority projects are. Make sure you have a system in place to set up new appointments quickly and accurately so you can stay organized and forego the embarrassment of missing a scheduled meeting. There are many apps that can help, from project management to calendaring tools. Done.
  5. Checklist. This is perhaps one of the easiest organizing tools.  Again, it can be paper or digital.  I personally use both, and in a way that probably only makes sense to me!  I create daily and weekly “must do” checklists, which all support my monthly goals.  And my monthly goals support my business plan.  Here’s where the hard decisions and discipline really come into play.  Yes, you can attend X meeting, but is attending X meeting the “highest and best use” of your time?  Does it substantively help you reach your goals?  If not, don’t attend.  To rephrase that:  Learn to say, “No,” and stick to it!  Create your checklist, using whatever method – paper or digital or hybrid – that makes the most sense to you. Use it religiously. Done.

I hope these tips help you tame overwhelm and become more organized.  When you free up your schedule by organizing repetitive, standard tasks to get more done in less time, you can use the time you are saving to help you grow your business while having more fun along the way!  If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at robin@startuptogrowth.com.

About the Author

Robin Suomi has worked with thousands of small business owners to start and grow their businesses through coaching, membership programs, professional development and training workshops. Her passion is to help you become better…whatever that looks like in your life.