Post about "business"

Top Goal for Small Businesses: The Eight Most Important Checkup Questions for 2021

Are you happy with your business this year? What are you going to do differently? How can you hire the right people to support your vision? Sadly, many small business owners do not spend enough time planning for the future. It’s quite understandable. Managers must keep pace with the daily demands of their businesses, including payroll, taxes, product/service delivery, and customer expectations.Fortunately, the end of the year is the perfect time for a comprehensive evaluation of your company. Your business needs a checkup. Most people can relate to a checkup with their local doctor, depending on their background and personality characteristics (age, sex, family medical history). The doctor will conduct a variety of tests, including blood, vision, heart, and hearing.In fact, one element like an individual’s weight is not the only indicator of overall good health. Likewise, small businesses could benefit from a good checkup too. Successful entrepreneurs think strategically when engaged in a hostile, global environment.After 27 years of managing projects and conducting over 100 organizational evaluations of business organizations, I realize that both large and small organizations struggle in implementing their operations effectively. This article examines how small businesses need to conduct an effective checkup of their organizations.Welcome to the New Normal! Yet, nearly a year after this pandemic, the full impact on the U.S. economy is unclear. According to recent studies, more than four million Americans have left the workforce, and nearly 10 million are now unemployed compared with last February.In fact, the number of unemployed people continues to rise. According to a business study conducted between March 28 and April 4, 2020, small businesses have been heavily damaged by the lockdowns due to Covid-19.In an analysis of more than 5,800 small businesses (reaching a network of 4.6 million small businesses), the research highlighted the damage caused by the pandemic. The results showed evident damage of the pandemic. At this juncture, 43% of businesses had temporarily closed, and nearly all of these closures were due to COVID-19.Respondents stated that they had temporarily closed, largely pointed to reductions in demand and employee health concerns as the reasons for closure. In fact, the businesses, on average, reported having reduced their active employment by 39% since January.All industries have been impacted. However, retail, arts and entertainment, personal services, food services, and hospitality businesses showed significant employment declines exceeding 50%. Some businesses hope for assistance from the government.According to a Babson’s Goldman Sachs report, 88% of U.S. small business owners have already exhausted their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan; the Small Business Association gave these loans specifically to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic. These loans were helpful.Yet, these successes do not diminish the fact that more than 32% of PPP loan recipients already have laid off employees or cut wages. In fact, Forty-three percent of Black small business owners reported that their businesses’ cash reserves would be depleted by year’s end due to Covid-19.Today’s small businesses and entrepreneurs must retool themselves, given the potential impacts of Covid-19 have the necessary capacity to change their way of thinking because of their passion. However, small businesses must be willing to evaluate their current operations and make the required changes.For example, customers have largely gone online to purchase services due to the lockdowns. If a business does not have an online presence now, this company does not exist. Internet pioneer and CEO of PSINet Bill Schrader explains the significant of online visibility: “Almost overnight, the Internet’s gone from a technical wonder to a business must.”With the appropriate diagnosis of an organization, a business can develop more sustainable success. Thus, the right checkup is critical.Below are some critical questions to help you conduct your own self-checkup:

Do you have a clear vision for your business? What is it?

Do you know why your customers buy from you and why others do not buy from you?

What results are you getting from your marketing? Do you have an effective online presence on the web?

Are you collecting data or the right kind of data on your customers and competitors?

Are you keeping pace with your industry trends? If so, what are the key trends?

How are you measuring results (i.e., key performance indicators like cash flow and revenue)?

What are your key competitors’ marketing strategies?

Have you evaluated your strengths and weaknesses (i.e., SWOT Analysis)?

In summary, successful global businesses, like IBM and Google, have continuous systems in place to evaluate their performance. Let’s call this process an organizational checkup.Small businesses that want to succeed in this global and technological climate must be able to conduct this self-evaluation or checkup. This article demonstrated the relevancy of a good checkup to help improve a business by asking probing questions. In many cases, small businesses do not have to take on this organizational checkup along.There are various organizations like the Small Business Administration and local universities that can assist in this process. Have you conducted a checkup for your business this year? It’s not too late. Start the new year with a healthy business checkup.© 2021 by D. D. Green

A Google Places Page – Maps Lesson – When Not To Believe Your Own Eyes

“But I am already showing up on the first page,” my neighborhood bowling alley proprietor told me the other day. And he was right. Even though he had no web site, and had done nothing at all to get top ranking, there he was listed number three on the Google Map for the keyword “Bowling.”He wondered why he should pay me to help him get his listing set up properly. And it was a good question. Just six months ago, it would have cost him thousands of dollars to get anywhere near the first page results. Today, he was sitting near the top, pretty as punch, having spent zip!The new Google Places phenomenon is just beginning to take hold, and one of its biggest positive attributes may actually be retarding its growth in a bizarre manner. The places page is all about local business. It takes advantage of Google’s ability to recognize the computer searcher’s location. If you are in zip code 55417 like I am, and search for “bowling” you will get Skylane’s Bowling, a ten lane mom and pop alley in the top 3 listings. That’s because they are the only bowling alley in my zip code.Now if you were on the other side of town in say zip code 55429, you might have to scroll down to page 17 or beyond to find them. Why, because the beauty of Google Places Pages is that they are local. The entire idea is to provide searchers with the most relevant results to meet the implied need of their search.In months and years past, if you were to search for a chiropractor online, you would get a lot of generic chiropractor sites and maybe a listing or two from New York or California, even if you lived and were doing your search from Minneapolis. Not very helpful. Today, a search done in Minneapolis will tend to show those establishments closest to the searcher – kind of.Google actually uses a variety of factors to determine which listing gets placed in what order. And it’s clear that local proximity is one valid, and useful criteria, but it is far from the only. Those of us who work with Google Places know that there are multiple things that you can and should do to gain the top listing and we also know that it will matter in terms of how many calls and how much business you get.But for the typical business owner who does not follow internet marketing as closely or at all, their search for themselves online may give them a false sense of pride. As my friend John the bowling proprietor saw, his listing had a very local advantage, but he needs to draw customers from beyond the immediate area. This is true for most small businesses. Thus it is important that they learn how to effectively set up and promote their Google Places Pages if they are to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market place.So if you are a local business and are feeling good about your new found high ranking on Google Places, be cautious. You are likely not as highly ranked elsewhere in your market area, and if you fail to take action to properly complete and promote your Google Places Page, you will eventually be shoved off the first page as your competitors learn the tricks of the trade to raise their listings above yours.