Peak SBC, LLC  

 

 

The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center

 

 

October 26, 2002

Table of Contents

 

Welcome

Quote of the Week

Administration

Featured Resource - PC Flank

Editorial

Staff Article - 15 WAYS SMALL BUSINESSES GET INTO TROUBLE - PART 2
Guest Article -  IS YOUR AD KILLING YOUR BRAND?
Parting Comments

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Welcome

Thank you for subscribing to the Peak Small Business Center
Small Business Newsletter!

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Quote of the Week

To dream of the person you would like to be is to waste the person you are.

- Anonymous


Administration

INTERESTED IN THE HOME BUSINESS NEWSLETTER?

If you're interested in subscribing or switching, a simple blank email will do, as follows:

mailto:s2home@peakconsultinginc.com - to switch to the home
business version and unsubscribe from the small business version.

mailto:both@peakconsultinginc.com - to receive both versions of
the newsletter.
 


Featured Resource

PC Flank

Hopefully, you use a firewall to secure your computer. (Even at home! Please don't leave yourself open to attack). But even if you are using one, are you sure it works? PC Flank has a number of tests online to help you find out. This link is to an article on the PC Flank website regarding personal firewalls vs. the PC Flank tests, but if you'll look in the left border, you'll see the links to all the tests. Check this out. The site contains a lot of interesting information in addition to the tests.

http://www.pcflank.com/art27.htm 


Editorial

by: Cary Christian

I hate getting angry, but the stupidity level is getting awfully high these days.

SITUATION 1

This isn't really new, in fact, it's getting old. This past week, two successful businessmen with a lot of integrity lost their websites because of s p * m complaints. (Pardon the spelling, but these idiotic filters will probably kill the newsletter if I don't do this)! Neither of these gentlemen would EVER send out a s p * m email. NEVER! And they didn't this time.

It seems like every day a new anti-s p * m organization is popping up and a new filtering tool is introduced. And what is the net effect? More s p * m in our inboxes! When are these cretins going to understand that the only people they are going to filter and put out of business are decent people who are trying to follow the rules? S p * m m e r s are usually very technically competent or at least have studied their craft enough to understand how to get around all this garbage. They're laughing all the way to the bank while the rest of us suffer, filter and try every new tactic that comes along to foil them.

These two businessmen I'm talking about had their domains highjacked. They didn't send out any s p * m. Someone else did using their domain. This could happen to YOU. Easily! And what happens then? Anti-s p * m organizations and your ISP are all over you in a heartbeat, you lose your business, and the
s p * m m e r just laughs and moves on to someone else. No due process. No chance to tell your side of the story. You're just dead in the water. Is that fair and just? Does anyone really care?

It's time someone did something that has a chance of working. I'm tired of all these holier-than-thou organizations spouting off and basically doing nothing to cure the problem. Are you? Are you willing to join me and other like-minded professionals to push for change? (There are going to be literally tens of thousands of us. Please join us!) If so, email me. If you're willing to do nothing more than lend your name to a petition or send a supporting email, even that will help. We welcome your support. If you're willing to lend your voice to our effort when the time comes, please click this link and send me a blank email to the following address:

mailto:enough@peakconsultinginc.com

(P.S. I'll receive at least 50 s p * m emails per day to this address after the s p * m bots finish harvesting the email address from our site. Isn't that just too cute?)

SITUATION 2

I wrote several articles over the past six months about the Enron / Andersen / Worldcom et. al. debacle that has crushed confidence in our stock markets. I also wrote about the new fraud bill that seems to have so much promise.

The act included an increase in SEC funding from $438 million to $776 million. President Bush also vowed to increase SEC funding when he addressed the nation on corporate responsibility in July of this year.

But The New York Times reports the White House has backed off the budget provision and is now urging Congress to provide the agency with $568 million, 27% less than the new law authorized. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, recently warned Bush that the SEC's "effectiveness will be seriously compromised" unless it gets more money.

With consumer confidence at its lowest in years and investor confidence in just as bad shape, what are these politicians thinking? Will we ever learn? We rush to provide a fix when times are at their toughest, then back off as the bad memories fade a little.

Please, write your Congressman and tell him to keep the pressure applied to corporate fraud. If you want a sample communication to send, let me know and I'll provide it to you.

Thank you for listening!


Staff Article

15 WAYS SMALL BUSINESSES GET INTO TROUBLE - PART 2
by: Cary Christian


In Part 1 of this three-part series we looked at five ways small businesses get into trouble related to money problems. This week we are going to review five strategic problems that plague small businesses.

Small businesses do not normally have access to all the resources that large businesses do, either quantitatively or qualitatively. This is normally a matter of money in that the small business cannot afford the more expensive resources that are available.

But more frequently, it is a matter of improper emphasis. A small business owner must understand when higher quality resources are required and when they are not really necessary. In most cases, large businesses require more in the way of resources. A small business can remain competitive if they know when and where to spend their money on resources most effectively.

STRATEGIC PROBLEMS

1. Failure to plan.

Too many small businesses operate "by the seat of their pants." For example, when a large business rolls out a new product or opens a new division, time is spent studying the situation, doing a market study, determining the financial and personnel resources required, and planning the activities that will create success. Entrepreneurs tend to simply decide it's a good idea and put the wheels in motion with no planning whatsoever.

The result is that a lot of resources are wasted pursuing activities that would not have been pursued if adequate planning had taken place. Small businesses simply do not have the resources to waste in this manner.

All aspects of business operations must be planned from the beginning, and planning must continue to enable the business to adjust and make changes when and where required.

2. Thinking the "rules" don't apply to small business.

People go to business school for a reason. There are business concepts and techniques that have been proven to work and that are generally accepted as good business procedure. While many concepts covered in a business school education SEEM to apply only to large enterprises, this is not the case. The "rules" may have to be adjusted to scale, but they apply nonetheless.

Solid business operating concepts are solid whether they are viewed in the context of the small mom and pop organization or a multinational company. It may take some work to determine how a particular concept might apply to the smaller enterprise, but if you look intently enough you will find a way to adapt the concept to small business. Good business is good business, regardless of size.

This does not mean that an entrepreneur must obtain a business school education in order to be successful. What it does mean is that an entrepreneur must take the steps necessary to understand solid business concepts, even if that means hiring a consultant for guidance.

3. Failure to anticipate problems.

Most entrepreneurs are optimists. They wouldn't be in business for themselves if they weren't. This is a positive and desired frame of mind or trait of an entrepreneur. But it can be carried to the extreme.

A small business owner must understand that problems will occur. He or she must also make every effort to anticipate them. The entrepreneur must look down the road, anticipate problems that might occur with any business strategy and develop a plan to deal with these problems immediately when they occur. Failure to do so has ruined more than a few very profitable businesses.

Markets change. People change. Technology changes. The small business must stand ready to change as well.

4. Lagging behind the technology curve.

Small businesses do not normally need to spend millions of dollars on technology like their larger counterparts do. But they do need to stay in touch with technological change that offers an opportunity to become more efficient, productive and effective.

In most businesses, people costs are the largest cost the business incurs. Anything that makes employees more productive and efficient is going to pay for itself relatively quickly. Failure to adopt these technological improvements will end up costing the business a lot of money in the long run and will tend to make the company less competitive over time.

Your customers and vendors may also expect you to adopt new technologies that make it easier for them to communicate with you and do business with you. If you do not meet their needs, they will find someone who will. For example, if your competitors are providing online services that are important to customers, you'd better be providing these services also. Better still, commit to be the first to offer such advanced services. It's a lead you may never relinquish.

5. Failure to identify customers as a business asset.

Assume you spend $200,000 on a new advertising campaign and pick up 100 new customers as a result. Each customer purchases a $500 product resulting in $50,000 in new sales. If the story ends there, your advertising campaign is a complete flop. You just paid $2,000 per customer to obtain $500 per customer in sales.

Assuming your business is such that customers can represent repeat business, the results might not be so bad. If the $500 product is something a customer might buy every year, your $200,000 expenditure has created a $50,000 a year annuity that might continue indefinitely. If you have other complementary products the customer might also be interested in, the picture starts to look very good indeed.

The key is to identify your customers as an asset to your business. Small businesses get into trouble when they think of customers in terms of being a one-shot deal. Small businesses must embrace customers as their most important business asset, keep them extremely happy, and keep them coming back for more for many years to come. The cost of obtaining a new customer might not be $2,000, but it is more expensive than most entrepreneurs think and every effort must be made to get the most out of this asset.

Next week in the last part of this series, we are going to look at people problems that get small businesses into trouble.


Copyright (c) 2002


Guest Article

IS YOUR AD KILLING YOUR BRAND?
by Karon Thackston 2002
http://www.copywritingcourse.com

It's funny to me how companies spend thousands of dollars to develop a brand only to wreck it when they create their advertising campaigns. They pour over colors, fonts, logo designs, Web site creation, USPs, and target audience analyses.  But then, when it's time to bring their message to the public, it all falls apart.

Case in point: a local technical college in my town has recently begun to run a television campaign. This institution previously had an image of providing cutting-edge training on technically based vocations. They have spent the last several years touting how high-tech their facilities are, and how leading edge their curriculums are. That's why I can't image what happened during the production of this ad.

The background music is slow and rather classical. The pictures are of smiling students carrying books, and of one of the oldest buildings on the campus. The copy did do its job. The copy mentioned how the workplace was changing and becoming more advanced day-by-day. It talked about how even the simplest of jobs now require at least some technological "know-how." But the clash between the copy and the imagery was painfully obvious.

What would I have done differently? I would have chosen each element with the express purpose of supporting the brand. The music would have been more upbeat and modern. The images would have been of students working at computers, or in engineering labs. The closing shot would not have been one of the oldest, stodgiest building on campus, but of the new stucco and glass building they added 2 years ago.

The end result *could* have been an ad that completely portrayed the innovative and advanced curriculums offered by this technology-based school. The copy, the visuals, and the music all working in harmony would bring about a much larger response, and would also reinforce the brand this institution has worked so hard to create.

When you create advertising pieces for your company, look for the branding aspects of each, individual element. As you work through the process, ask yourself these questions:

o What identity am I attempting to portray?
o Do the graphics reinforce that identity?
o Does the music support my brand?
o Is the copy descriptive of aspects related to the brand?
o Do the colors fall in line with how I want to be viewed?
o Is the medium itself appropriate to my brand?

When the final product (whether it be a piece for TV, radio, the Web, or print) is completed, show it to several people who are unfamiliar with your organization. Ask them to describe the "essence" of your business based on this one piece. If your combination is put together right, they'll be able to do just that.

When you pay close attention to each element you'll have a powerful end result. When everything works in concert, you will have a much more beneficial campaign that works to contribute to your branding efforts rather than destroy them.

--------------------------------

Copy not getting results? Visit Karon online at http://www.ktamarketing.com  or let Karon teach you to write like a pro! Boost your sales and your search engine rankings with The Step-by-Step Copywriting Course. Not just an ebook... a complete course including LIVE feedback. Get yours - and 3 FREE bonuses - today! http://www.copywritingcourse.com


Parting Comments

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of the Peak Small Business Newsletter and found it useful.  Please visit our website at http://www.peakconsultinginc.com to check out all the resources we provide. 

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