As a small business, generating leads is a top priority. Luckily, there are many ways to get more leads quickly and effectively.
The following five ideas can be used by businesses of all sizes and most industries. The key is to test and modify them to make them work for your customer base.
Here are five foolproof ways to generate leads for your business:
1. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are one of the best ways to drive leads. If you’re willing to “pay to play,” you have access to specific targeting options, including age, location, interests, and more.
To make your ads successful, and drive qualified leads, use best practices and follow your data. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you create your first Facebook ad:
2. Personalized email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to drive leads, especially when your emails are personalized to the person receiving it.
A study by Experian found that personalized emails generated up to six times higher revenue than non-personalized emails and campaigns.
Use your email platform to personalize your email greeting to include the recipient’s name. Segment your contact list by grouping subscribers together by name location, purchase history, or expressed interests.
This small touch can help you drive more leads while building brand loyalty with potential customers.
As you begin sending emails, it’s important to track your success. This allows you to test, modify and evolve, driving more leads with each send. Compare your open and click rates to the average for your industry, as well, to determine if you’re on par or behind.
Don’t forget to check where people are clicking within the email itself. If you place links in more than one place in your email — which you should to increase total clicks — track which ones are being clicked more often. Learning your subscribers’ habits allows you to be more effective.
3. Discounts and coupons
To drive leads with discounts and coupons, focus on “new customer coupons.”
Once you’ve created your deal or coupon, it’s time to distribute — you can’t expect customers to find these discounts and deals themselves.
Share with current and future customers via all your online platforms, including social media and email.
If possible, create a banner ad or pop-up for your website as well, enticing potential customers to buy right then and there.
If direct mailing is part of your marketing budget, use this as a way to distribute discounts and coupons as well.
4. High-value content
Content is a great way to build search engine optimization for your website, show your knowledge as a business, and generate leads.
The first step in using content as a lead-driving tool is to remember that this term encompasses more than just blog posts. Content could be an ebook, guide, white paper, graphic, in-depth study, or video.
The content is then gated, so potential customers give you their contact information in exchange for access to it.
To make the most of this content, consider how you can make it most valuable and targeted.
For example, if your ideal customer is in the healthcare industry, create a piece of content for healthcare leaders. Learn about this audience, write about a topic that you’ve found to be most important to them, and in a format they prefer (I.E. ebook versus white paper) and then promote it accordingly.
5. Referral Partnerships
As a small business, you can generate leads by partnering with other small businesses. A simple way to facilitate this is with a referral partnership.
In this case, you receive a percentage of the revenue from referrals you send to the other business and vice versa.
Have your lawyers or legal team create and proof paperwork, to ensure both sides are clear on the stipulations.
Include information about requirements such as quality of the leads, total sale amount, percentage tiers, and more.
How will you generate leads for your business?
Every business needs to drive leads. Using these proven strategies, you can drive leads, even with a small budget.
Consider which ideas are best for your potential customers and start testing!
Image Credits: Getty
Family businesses can be serious entities. Some of the world’s biggest and best companies are owned by families, including Walmart, Volkswagen and Berkshire Hathaway. Company owners looking to build a team they trust don’t need to look very far, and enlisting the help of partners, parents, children and siblings can make all the difference. In theory, it’s great. In practice, it’s a different story. Could you work with your family?
Ali Assadkhan knows how to work successfully with siblings. As the founder and one of the owners of Vitasave, started in 2013 and expected to make $50 million in revenue this year, Assadkhan works with his two brothers to run the company. Not only is their business thriving, but Assadkhan and his team successfully transitioned it from a bricks and mortar store to e-commerce-only. Today, the company offers more than 300 brands and 8,000 natural health products.
From nearly ten years of experience working with his brothers, here are Assadkhan’s nine essential tips for running a business with your siblings.
Communicate Clearly and Regularly
Communication is key to any successful relationship, but it's even more important between siblings who run a business together. “You may know your siblings well as people, but you have to make sure no one is left guessing about what's going on in your business,” said Assadkhan. “Running a venture together could bring out new versions of someone's character that may surprise you, even if you all grew up together.”
According to strengths“There might be a natural leader among siblings,” said Assadkhan, “but everyone needs specific areas of responsibility to own.” Like in any team, everyone will have different strengths and the workload has to be split between partners. When building out the team, the brothers “implemented one simple strategy from the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Each of us managed one department: marketing, accounting and operations.” This allowed them to each focus on one core area and communicate their progress without duplicating efforts. Divide and conquer and watch your efforts multiply.
Separating personal and professional lives can be tricky among siblings, but it is key to having harmonious relationships both within and outside the business. “We set clear boundaries and draw the line to not mix up our work and personal relationships,” said Assadkhan. For example, “whether we’re discussing growth plans, reviewing performance, or addressing an internal issue, we remain professional and stay on topic. Our personal lives are left at the door of any meeting we have in relation to the business.”
Align Your Goals
“My siblings and I have our individual ideas and unique leadership skills, and without a proper strategy, our ideas could be the very things that break us,” said Assadkhan. To make sure he and his brothers’ plans are all on the same page, they set a clear path together, agree to it, and refer back to it in everything they do. “Building a company or business with family is something many people do not think is possible, but with the goals clearly aligned, including when to expand the product offering and how to improve the website, we have been able to take Vitasave to a respectable height.”
Encourage Healthy Debate
When working with siblings, make the most of there being more of you and don't make decisions by yourself. “Growing up, you might have experienced the older one deciding for everyone or one sibling taking the reins for everyone, but this is no longer just about who has the television remote.” Assadkhan wants you to tell your siblings everything that’s in your head about your business, so you can arrive at decisions as partners. “There have been times in the boardroom where we debate for hours and challenge each other, always in favor of the business. So far, that strategy has worked. And there are never any hard feelings!”
Be Each Other's Source of Motivation
“We are each other’s biggest fuel and we constantly push each other to learn, grow, and stay hungry for knowledge and connections,” said Assadkhan. That was as true in their childhoods as it is today. “When one of us wants to pursue an idea for growing the company, the others support them and are there for them.” Assadkhan, for example, believes that personal breakthroughs lead to better business and “in 2016 I wanted to attend a Tony Robbins seminar. I shared the seminar with my brothers and we all attended together. The seminar changed our personal lives forever which impacted many aspects of our business.”
Don’t Dwell on Failure
Knowing your siblings well means you know what they are capable of, both resounding success and colossal mistakes. “Worrying about what mistakes your siblings might commit will only hinder all of your growth,” said Assadkhan. “Instead, focus on your vision.” At Vitasave, when the team is focused on its vision, failures and mistakes become stepping stones and development opportunities rather than setbacks.
Get Outside Help
Working with siblings means it’s easy to operate in an echo chamber, where you believe that between you, you have all the answers. Assadkhan knows this isn’t the case. “We know there are resources and expertise we need beyond what our family is capable of, so we don’t hesitate to ask for help from others.” Admitting you don’t know the answer within your family unit is a strength, and “getting help from others does not entail weakness but ensures success in the long run.”
Like many family-run businesses, Assadkhan and brothers want their future children to build on the legacy they have started. “Picture your business three, five, to ten decades down the line and think about who might be part of it in the future.” It’s never too soon to start succession planning and Assadkhan recommends you identify critical positions and develop action plans for them. “If younger people in your family want to be involved in the future, you can prepare them early on for this to be a success.”
Working with your family, if done well, can be brilliant. Your business will soar to new heights and you’ll wonder why you didn’t consider it sooner. When done badly, however, it’s a nightmare that affects multiple areas of your life. Keeping communication high, supporting each other, actively seeking experience and help from elsewhere and setting boundaries means it might just work for you.
Image Credit: GETTY
When you’re just getting your startup off the ground, you’re open to many vulnerabilities you’re likely not aware of. Read on to learn about five critical ways to protect your new company—from the kind of insurance you need to security measures you should take to safeguard your brand to deciding on a business structure.
When it comes to business insurance, more is always better. Having the right business insurance coverage can make the difference between your company’s survival or failure. To protect your new business, consider the following five categories of insurance:
Besides the standard types of coverage, you might also want to protect your company with business income interruption insurance, cybersecurity insurance, and key man insurance, which covers the business for a specific period if a critical member of the company passes away.
Besides obtaining insurance in case of a data breach, a new business should do its due diligence to ensure the breach doesn’t happen in the first place. Preventive measures against ransomware and phishing attacks can save your company a future of headaches. Make it a priority to have a comprehensive cybersecurity plan in place. Get started by hiring a cybersecurity expert who understands your business and can explain all possible threats to your company’s critical data. Then compile an action plan and require all employees to adhere to it. With more employees working remotely, the chance of a data breach increases, especially if your staff is not trained to keep the company’s information safe.
Your company’s intellectual property (IP) is a valuable asset; therefore, as a new business owner, you must do everything you can to protect it. Here are the differences between each IP and how to protect yours.
Incorporating Your Business
The easiest (and least costly) way to structure your new business is as a sole proprietorship. However, as a sole proprietor, the state considers your company a “non-entity,” and therefore, there is no legal separation from the business’s owner. In other words, the owner is personally liable for the legal and financial debts of the company. So, if the sole proprietorship fails to pay its bills or gets sued by a customer or vendor, the owner’s personal assets can be seized to settle those debts.
For this reason, many new business owners choose to incorporate their companies as a C Corp or Limited Liability Company (LLC). Corporations and LLCs enjoy limited liability because the business is legally a separate and distinct entity. If the business fails to pay its debts or is sued, the business owner’s assets (or the business’s investors) are typically protected.
Incorporating your new business begins at the Secretary of State’s office in your state. It involves filing paperwork, paying filing fees, and staying in compliance with the state’s requirements for good standing. Also, because running a C Corp requires more compliance than an LLC, many business owners choose the LLC for the increased flexibility the management structure provides.
There are several differences between the C Corp and LLC’s tax structure, investor rules, and more, so it’s important to talk to your accountant and attorney about what makes the most sense for your business. But in general, both entities provide better protection for the business owner’s personal assets than the sole proprietorship.
Keeping Your Business Compliant
To keep your business in good standing and for long-term survival, you need to keep your business compliant. Compliance rules cover everything from meeting annual filing deadlines to registering for various business licenses and permits to paying the appropriate payroll taxes in the state/s where your company conducts business.
Most states require registered corporations and LLCs to file a Statement of Information, also called an Annual Report, with the Secretary of State’s office. Also, if your business sells products and services subject to sales taxes, you will need a sales tax license from the state tax authority office.
If your company conducts business in a state other than the state of formation, the state where the business transactions are taking place may require you to apply for foreign qualification within that state. If you plan to have employees working remotely in other states, in addition to paying payroll taxes in your home state, you also must register in the employees’ states. State regulations vary, so be sure to check with each state where you do business.
Finally, every state has its own threshold for economic nexus. If you reach it, as an out-of-state company, you must pay sales tax to those states and comply with their rules and regulations.
Image Credits: Getty
They say timing is everything. However, in business, timing is often sacrificed in the interest of time, or lack thereof. We are perpetually short on time; everything is business critical and needs to be done "ASAP." It is rare to add another week to a deadline or feel that we are "on track." Instead, deadlines are often brought forward, and we always feel like we are on the back foot. Many times, "urgent" deadlines are arbitrary, and the results are not nearly as good as they could be if given more time.
So, while the saying "time is money" is not entirely inaccurate, perhaps it would be more precise to say, "timing is money." Looking at time as an enemy you are fighting against in order to turn higher benefits means that you are not concentrating on the opportunities that time can afford. By keeping your focus on timing and how that can help you achieve your long-term business goals, you can be better able to set realistic and business-relevant deadlines, thereby reducing unnecessary stress and improving the quality of your results.
Define your goals.
Determining how to get timing right is really about identifying and analyzing your goals. You have to be able to define what you want to achieve and then ask yourself why you want to achieve that specific goal.
For example, you want to set your business up for long-term, multi-decade success and decide to build an entirely new website, so you hire a digital marketing team. As a business owner, you want to push hard to get your website up and running as soon as possible, assuming that the faster the site is up, the sooner you can start raking in the profits. However, you have to stop and ask yourself: Is reaching this short-term goal of getting your website online really going to serve you in the long term?
Let’s say that you can get your site up and running in three months, but if you added six weeks or maybe even two months to your deadline, you could also develop a full-scope social media strategy and then launch all your platforms to coincide with a week-long expo you will be attending. Five, 10 or 15 years down the line, those extra two months of waiting may have really paid off with little or no detriment to your bottom line.
In our fast-paced world where everything seems to get done at lightning speed, businesses often underestimate how much time it takes to complete certain projects, especially those that involve organizational change or systems redevelopment. Any large-scale project that involves multiple people or teams requires a holistic approach to identify realistic milestones.
To do this well, project leads need to gather feedback from various teams as to when and how they believe different parts of the project can be delivered. This helps inform upper management of the bigger picture and gives them feedback as to what can realistically be achieved in a given time period. Ignoring what is realistic and pushing instead for an "ASAP" approach puts undue pressure on teams and risks missing deadlines, which in turn has a domino effect on the rest of your plans.
Having realistic goals and expectations for a project is key to informing timing. Knowing when you can expect things to be done to specification means you can time related projects such as product launches, collaborations or campaigns much more effectively.
Focus on quality.
Once you know your goals and you have determined what you can realistically achieve in a given time, it is important to also consider the quality of what you are hoping to achieve or produce. For example, it may be realistic and consistent with your goals to launch three new products in the next year. Long term, this sounds like a good investment for your business and is something both feasible and profitable.
But what if you slowed down your development and only released a new product every six months, which would extend the timeline by half a year? With the extra time, you could focus on enhancing or refining the quality of your product and you could simultaneously improve your timing as you avoid oversaturating your market with new products or fatiguing your clients with too many "new" launches.
Instead, you have the chance to release high-quality products or services over a longer period of time, not only giving you more time to respond to feedback and tweak your next launch but also drip-feed new products into the market in a consistent way.
Take your time.
When you are a business owner, you want to see your business thrive. So, it is hard not to give in to the feeling of urgency when you think of how many others you are competing against. However, you cannot allow short-term goals to cloud the bigger picture and trick you into setting unrealistic deadlines simply because you think you are in a race against time and losing potential profits.
Instead, focus on your long-term goals and how you can use timing to help you achieve them. Understand what your realistic deliverables are and how you can time their completion to coincide with other projects, launches, collaborations and events. Forget about "running out of time" and instead leverage timing to enhance the quality of your achievements to ensure the long-term success of your business.
Image Credits: Getty
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