Small Business Marketing Book Review – People and Your Business

What if somebody told you one critical key to business success was to practice the principle of the Golden Rule in your business? The idea seems to somehow run counter to so much of what we’ve been taught about business, doesn’t it? Yet, what if that same source convinced you through case-study after case-study that application of the Golden Rule in business actually leads to success?

Let us introduce Frederick Reichheld and his book The Loyalty Effect. While not a small business marketer, but rather an expert business consultant, what Reichheld teaches us about loyalty is worthwhile reading for any small business owner or manager.

Did we say “worthwhile”? Scratch that; pencil in the phrase “urgently essential”, instead. This book is that vital to a small company.

The Loyalty Effect focuses on three groups of people critical to business success: Customers, Employees, and Investors. For most small business, the investor is the owner, so for our brief review in this article we will focus on Customers and Employees.

Reichheld is a definite advocate of customer retention. He convincingly demonstrates time and again that small percentage increases in customer retention have huge impacts on profits. This read will be a just-right fit for those of you having problems focusing on the right customers. If you will take the time to trudge through this book, and really understand most of its principles (we found Chapter 8 to be the toughest) then not only will the marketing of your business improve, but so will your profits.

Isn’t that the reason for all this focus on marketing, anyway?

And Reichheld really opened our eyes to how important employees are in retaining customers. If a company treats their employees right, those employees become more efficient and productive in their daily tasks. Profits go up, retention increases.

Reichheld stresses again and again that a company’s prime mission needs to be creating customer value. Most of you in small business realize this, but it’s reaffirming to see hard-and-fast facts to back up what many of us intuitively know. Customers don’t come to a small business looking to boost our profits; they arrive seeking value. If we consistently create value, profit will come.

Another key point for small business owners is the importance of leadership. If you need to go down to the bookstore and browse through The Loyalty Effect before you buy it, flip over to page 246. Reichheld has studied several large and successful businesses, and concludes here that most of them had leaders with an “intuitive grasp” of how important loyalty is. This is critical for business success, regardless of business size. While not written to be a rah-rah inspirational book, Reichheld’s arguments and his examination of the role strong leaders play in forming great companies reinforces just how important to the bottom line it is for a small business owner to be a good leader.

So much of Reichheld’s book seemed familiar; akin to common sense…after we read it. Treat employees well and they’ll perform well for you; we’ll that’s pretty basic, now isn’t it? But we tend to forget, we tend to think we need to cut corners or just “improve efficiency” and that’ll lead to greater profits. In the short term it very well may, but Reichheld argues effectively that in the long run it’s only by creating value for our customer that we build profitable businesses.

Remember, People is the third element–along with Brand and Package–of any small business marketing success story. Taking a week or so and reading Frederick Reichheld over lunch or before lights out at night is a great way to hone your “people productivity”.

© 2006 Marketing Hawks

Bank on It – Why Having a Business Bank Account is Essential

There are many reasons why a new business owner may forgo opening a business bank account and struggle on using their own personal account for their business transactions. Sometimes they simply run out of time, having focused on everything else and forgotten to open a business bank account, they suddenly realise that it cannot be done instantly and so opt to carry on using their personal account. Other times it is through lack of conviction, fear of business failure leads them to bulk at putting the business finances into black and white. Most often, though, it is in the mistaken belief that it will save them a little money if they do not have to fork out for business banking fees.

Not paying to have a separate business account can often prove something of a false economy, as, for the small amount that most business accounts might cost, a business can gain so much more than just a bank account.

The way that customers and other businesses with which you do business view you is very valuable; image is everything in business and having your business transactions move through a personal rather than a business account smacks of small time; your business is far less likely to be taken seriously and plenty of customers will be put-off by the impression of paucity it creates.

Trying to do business accounts when using the same account for personal and business finances has the potential for absolute disaster; even allowing for not making any important fiscal errors, the sheer time consuming nature of fussing around separating everything out will be very trying for most new business owners.

Make no mistake, HMRC will be watching you; there will of course be times when you will have to have contact with them, provide them with information etc. and other times when they will just be watching. Mixing personal and business bank accounts may cause them to look a little harder at you and your business, as it makes financial transparency more difficult to demonstrate at a glance. If the Tax Man wants to see that you are declaring everything you should, having to fight through hundreds of domestic transactions to locate those of the business will not endear you to them.

Business accounts can provide your business with more than just banking facilities; many banks will throw-in added extras, such as accounting software, deals on insurance and even offer the actual banking services free for the first year or more of business. They are also a great source of financial advice for the new business owner.

So, rather than viewing a business bank account as an extra overhead on your new business, perhaps you could look at it in terms of what it can provide in benefits for your venture. If a business bank account can help your business profile or simplify its record keeping maybe it is worth the effort of setting it up, if it can also help the authorities to look favourably on you and throw-in a bit of guidance and some cheap insurance to boot, well then maybe it becomes an essential to add to your list.

The Merits of Proper Document Shredding Services for Businesses

All businesses when operating generate documents that contain information about their employees, customers and suppliers as well as financial information about the company itself. Over time, some of this information is no longer needed and has become useless or is also being stored in an electronic system. Storing the documents is also a waste of precious office space. Cases of theft of important and confidential information from private documents have really increased. It is crucial for companies and the government to get rid of the excess paper is a way that is safe to ensure that the information contained is kept confidential.

Some of the documents that need to be destroyed include correspondence between firms which included addresses, tax documents, credit cards, and bank statements. In the wrong hands these can provide unscrupulous people with information that can be used for illegal purposes. This is why most businesses nowadays prefer getting shredding services to do their document destruction to make sure that they are completely pulverized. There are many advantages to working with proper document shredding services for businesses including affordable cost, service effectiveness and saving time.

It has become very popular to use document shredding services so the competitiveness is very high in this industry. There are many companies offering these services therefore it is easy to get quotes from several companies and bargain for the best deal. These companies either come to your location with the necessary equipment or take the materials to be shredded to their facilities. Either way you are getting a further cost savings as there is no need to purchase the equipment. Your workers are too busy to be worrying about the physical process of document destruction and need to focus on their daily tasks. This time savings is also a cost savings to the overall operations.

The basic service is the same so the effectiveness of the firm needs to be considered. All the documents need to be shredded into little pieces that no one can identify. However, the reliability of the firm you have chosen is important. How often will they come to destroy the documents? If one company comes every week but another one only once a month, even if the price is lower it is not a better deal. Better firms will provide certificates proving that your documents have been properly destroyed. Their service people will be respectful and efficient. Also, these firms are environment friendly. This is because they are dealing with shredding of papers, and papers can be recycled. They should have a program in place to recycle the paper.

What is the best way to find a document shredding service you can trust. Online research is a good place to start this task, as any professional company will have internet presence. Perhaps reviews exist from past client’s interactions with a specific shredding company, and their experiences are documented to help you make your decision. There are direct benefits to any given company or corporations when document shredding is done properly and efficiently by a professional company. While personal shredders do exist, to save time headaches and money, hire a document destruction company to do the work for you in a secure and professional manner.

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