Summer is over and the kids are back to school. As I write this, it’s one of those amazing fall days in the Midwest where the sky is blue, the mornings are cool and the sunshine promises an extension of summer.
This weekend I had the chance to spend time with a few kids which is always fun -- for a few hours at most! I forget how much energy kids have. They bounce from one thing to another and are easily distracted.
And they are all so different.
Just like business owners.
Energy and passion to run the business. Moving from one thing to another throughout the day and distractions taking focus from the thing you should be doing.
And we're all different. You probably started your business because you were better at something than others and you saw an opportunity.
It's likely accounting and finances were not the reason you started your company -- unless you’re a bookkeeper or accountant.
But money and supporting yourself and your family is why you are in business. Knowing how much money you company has is your responsibility.
Let's get back to basics and take the first steps to understanding your finances is knowing what you're tracking.
To start, all you need to know is how much money comes in and how much you spend every month.
The money coming in is called revenue or sales.
The money going out are your expenses.
The money left over is profit or loss.
Track revenue and expenses and you can easily see if the company is making money or losing money.
So why don’t more business owners track finances? I think some don’t know where to start, some are scared, and some just don’t want to.
If you don’t know where to start or are scared of what you might find, I suggest keeping it really simple. Track your revenue for each day and track your expenses for each day using this tracking spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet will calculate your profit or loss for the day.
Doing this will help create the habit of tracking and you’ll have a good idea if you need to grow revenue and cut expenses. Once you know your total revenue and expenses, you can start digging deeper by breaking out your sales categories and understanding your expenses.
Getting back to the basics will help you reevaluate your business.
If you’re a business owner who just doesn’t want to know about finances, hire a bookkeeper who is willing to do all your tracking and hire an accountant who will be honest with you about the financial stability of your company.
This weekend was my fantasy football draft. I’ll admit, I’m not great at Fantasy football, yet. I know once I take the time to focus on the stats, make changes according to the numbers, and trade players that aren’t working for the team I’ll have a lot more fun and maybe even finish in the top half of the league.
That’s how I think of business. Once you take the time to know the numbers and make the changes necessary to improve your numbers, your focus shifts from drama (i.e.; worrying about what the numbers are) to data (i.e.; knowing what the numbers are and having the information you need to make changes.)
Some numbers, like sales and revenue, are easy to measure while other numbers, like marketing spend, aren’t as intuitive. But it doesn't matter if you are doing traditional or digital marketing, it’s important to know your numbers.
The first step to tracking marketing spend is to set a budget for marketing and decide how the budget will be allocated. Settling on a firm budget structure will help tracking. A small company may have one marketing budget where a larger company might have a budget for each location, product, or audience.
Once you have a marketing budget structured, decide who is responsible for tracking the marketing spend. At a small company, this might be the owner while at a larger organization, each location might track their spend separately and roll it up to a larger entity.
Now comes the fun part, deciding how to measure the spend.
Traditional marketing, conventional marketing used before internet marketing became rampant, might be easier to measure because it’s been around longer and there are tried and true ways to track how much is spent on each channel vs sales.
Digital marketing becomes more complex because there are so many different touch points. To get a complete picture of your marketing spend, you’ll need to track all interactions. Google Analytics is a good place to start because you can track email, social media, PPC (pay-per-click), and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
If Google Analytics seems too overwhelming, pull out a spreadsheet and start tracking interactions by hand. Examples of metrics to look at each week are:
Website - Total number of unique visitors to your web site
E-mail - Total number of emails sent, Total number of opens, total number of clicks
Social Media - Number of followers, shares, tags, or likes
If you’re paying for advertising (i.e.; facebook, instagram, linkedin, or adword) metrics include number of impressions, cost per click, and cost per conversion.
One of the tricky parts of tracking your marketing budget is that not all marketing will lead to a sale. Having a goal in mind for your marketing is the only way to know if your marketing is successful.
For example, if you are running ads to get people to sign up for an email list, you would measure the number of email subscribers and expect the number to go up each month. If the goal is new customers, you will want to measure the number of new customers during a time frame.
The effectiveness of your marketing campaign won’t be known overnight; it takes time. Whether you’re doing it on your own or hiring a company, have a goal for your marketing spend, assign a budget, and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns.For help in setting up your marketing budget or tracking your marketing spend, schedule a call with me to talk about how I can help. Knowing if you're getting the results you want will take you from managing based on intuition to managing based on data.
If you’re a new business or and established business whose expenses are out performing your revenue, marketing and selling should be on your list today and every day until you start to see a profit.
Finding clients for your business, converting them to customers, and keeping them happy is why you’re in business. You have a great product or service and you’re great at what you do but you need customers to be a sustainable business.
If you’re a business owner, you probably know a little about marketing -- the action of promoting products and services.
But maybe you didn’t start your business because you were good at marketing. It might have started because you were good at or passionate about something and marketing became a thing you needed to learn to get customers to buy your products or services.
There are many different ways to go about promoting your business that at times it can be overwhelming.
Following are 5 low cost marketing efforts you can put in place in your business this week. Pick one to focus on, and when you’ve systematize it, move on to another one.
Everyone in your company should have business cards with their name, title, and contact information (no fax number please!) Carry your business cards with you wherever you go and hand them out to anyone you’re having a conversation with. When you get a business card, enter them into your contact list and add them to your newsletter list.
Newsletters with valuable content can bring more people into your business. Newsletters are an easy, inexpensive way for people to get to know you and your business. Schedule your newsletter so it goes out the same day and time every week. Each newsletter can have a different topic. Use your newsletters for promotion sparingly -- Gary Vaynerchuk refers to this as jab, jab, jab, hook. Content to consider are employee introductions, how to use your product of service, new products in the pipeline, surveys, and testimonials.
Social Media is the fastest way to get your message out to the most people quickly. When you’re deciding on where to focus your efforts, think about where you customers are hanging out. Facebook, Instagram, Linked, and Twitter are all viable options for promoting your business. Pick one and start building a following. Your goal for social media is to be helpful and social -- respond to posts from other people, let your expertise be known and use the 80/20 rule. 80% of your posts should be educational and establish you as an authority. 20% should be promotional.
In addition to “FREE” promotion on social media, paid advertising is a great way to grow your email list, inform people of groups and events, and get new clients. Tracking your spend and conversion rates on social media is relatively easy. When you start advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin, set a budget high enough to give your ads time to perform. If you’re new to advertising on social media and have time to learn how to do it, you’ll save a lot of money. But if you’re technically challenged, find a social media expert and have them create and track the ads for you. If you hire someone, hold them accountable for weekly reporting and don’t enter into a long term contract until they prove the ads they’ve created are converting.
Getting in front of people to talk about your business, products and services is still a great way to generate leads and sales in your business. We still like to “meet” the people were doing business with and put a name to a face. Sometimes there’s no substitute for getting out of the office and engaging in a good conversation over a beverage. Be sure to have your business cards handy.
These are 5 easy ways to market your business and of course there are many more -- join the local chamber, create a website built to convert, write a blog, write a book, meetup groups -- the list is endless.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do it consistently and measure the return.
Once you see a profit in your business, marketing doesn’t stop. Reinvest in your marketing efforts by increasing your marketing budget or hiring someone to handle the marketing department.
As business owners, promoting the business is your responsibility. To make sure your efforts are showing a return, find the key metrics, track and review them weekly so you can make any course corrections necessary.
If you need help creating your marketing plan or the metrics for measurement, SCHEDULE A CALL with me and we'll create a roadmap to keep you leads constant and your conversion rates high.
Many business owners stunt their own growth with entrepreneurial A.D.D. They have a lot of good ideas but they can't figure out what's the most important thing to work on.
They start writing an article but in the process of writing the article they get distracted by an e-mail they were supposed to send to a client. Jumping over to e-mail, there's 6 new e-mails in their inbox which they start answering.
It's 4th of July week and as I'm writing this I'm watching my neighbors load up the car with a cooler, backpacks, and the family headed for a weeklong get-away. (Yup, I work from home and spy on the neighbors!)
Nothing says freedom more than owning your own business. You get to set your own hours, decide what you'll work on and when, pick your perfect clients, spy on your neighbors...
Unfortunately, some business owners become disillusioned while trying to grow their business to 6-or even 7-figures per year. Maybe leads aren't coming in fast enough, or there are employee issues, or production problems are keeping them from realizing their goals.
Sometimes it feels like owning a ball and chain rather than a business.
And the prospect of freedom, opportunity, and abundance doesn't seem possible.
Are you stuck in your business doing all the work and feeling like if you had a <JOB> at least you’d be making money?
Owning a business is hard work and it’s not for the faint of heart.
But, it’s also super fulfilling and a great way to have freedom -- freedom to set your own hours, freedom to spend time with your family, freedom to set your “salary”, freedom to do things your way.
There is a catch! In order to have freedom, you need to have self-discipline AND create leverage.