Tag Archives: small business owners

Holiday Madness: Small Business Survival Guide

HOLIDAY-STRESS

For many people the holiday season means juggling several professional, social, and family obligations. For many small business owners the holidays can be the most challenging yet financially lucrative time of the year. As a result, the entrepreneurs that have a plan, deploy staff effectively, and make necessary adjustments are able to maximize this time of year

Here are four tips to help small businesses survive peak season:

1. Ask for help

Office Depot/Office Max Elf Who HelpsAs this year’s Office Depot/OfficeMax “Elf Who Helps” winner, my prize package included two days of on-site services from TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit is a peer-to-peer marketplace that helps local users outsource everything from household errands to skilled tasks. Once you post a task, you see hourly rates for the Taskers who are most qualified for your job. A minimum payment of one hour is required per task. TaskRabbit takes a 20% service fee on each task but it’s definitely worth the investment. This year with the help of my two Taskers I’ve closed out the year feeling organized and ready to tackle 2015.

2. The early bird catches the worm

Early BirdSeveral retailers started promoting and giving customers an opportunity to buy or pre-order Black Friday deals days before their official event. This strategy helps smooth out the peaks in your business while also accelerating cash flow in your business. This strategy is a win-win situation: 1. Customers enjoy the luxury of avoiding the long Black Friday lines; and 2. Potentially gives you a head start and edge over your competitors who wait to offer their deals starting on Black Friday only.

 

3. Manage customer expectations

One of the things I didn’t do well this holiday season was manage online product delivery expectations with my customers. I noticed there were tons of “If you want it before Christmas mailers and e-mail notification from Online Retailers communicating specific deadlines to place orders to ensure delivery before Christmas. Here is an example of specific verbiage used from an online retailer. If you order before Dec. 20, your order will arrive by 12/24 with ground shipping. If you order by 12/22 receive your order by 12/24 with next day shipping. At first glance the communication is geared with the customer in mind to ensure they receive their products before Christmas. However, if you examine this a bit closer this communication also drives customer-ordering behavior that puts the small business in the driver control.

4. Set an Out of Office Message: Take A Break

Sorry we are closedWe all need to time to rejuvenate to ensure we are bringing the best version of ourselves not only to our business but also to the people that matter most. The last two weeks in December are usually an optimal time to take a break since most people and companies slow down during the holidays. If you are a small business owner with a small staff or you’re a sole proprietor you are probably are thinking you can’t afford to take the time off. Honestly, you can’t afford not too. If you are in this situation and/or run a time-sensitive business, I suggest hiring a few temporary employees and setting up a small emergency/time sensitive customer hotline during this time. I think it is worth the investment. For other small business owners I suggest setting an out of office message with the days that your business will be closed and when you will be back to normal business hours.

What strategies have helped you through this Holiday? Please share and leave a comment below.

Happy Holidays. Cheers to an even better 2015.

 

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The Balancing Act: Your 9-5 vs. Your Passion Based Business

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I’ve had the privilege of working at Fortune 500 companies throughout my entire professional career. Despite generous compensation packages featuring six-figure salaries, stock options, and performance bonuses, the reality became clear: I would not be able to control my destiny without owning a business. According to Forbes recent listing, the world’s billionaire club swelled to a record 1,645 members including 268 newcomers. The common thread of these high net worth individuals was they were entrepreneurs or the descendants of entrepreneurs. I realized that if I wanted to enjoy financial freedom and live my passion I needed to get my venture started.

Bloomberg_045[1]About a year ago I decided to launch Liquid Courage Cosmetics. This line is targeted toward modern and upwardly mobile women. I am often asked, “How do you find time to do it all Roshell? How do you balance your 9-5 and your passion based business?” Balancing between the two is never easy especially if you compound the added responsibilities of being a mother and a wife. While balancing is more than an art than a science here are three tips that help me balance between my very demanding 9-5 as a Transportation Procurement professional for the top consumer electronics company in the world and the CEO of Liquid Courage Cosmetics.

  1. Managing Expectations

Like many ambitious rookies, I had a goal of becoming a top executive at a major Fortune 500 company. When I got my “wake up” call I knew that I would need to make a hard choice.  In my world perhaps different for you the two could not co-exist. Simply ask yourself, “what tradeoffs am I willing to make to have the lifestyle I want?” Once I made the decision that I would rather become a successful business owner of my own multi-million dollar company than a VP over a billion dollar brand by 40 I quickly adjusted the way I worked at my 9-5. Don’t get me wrong I am a solid performer at my 9-5 but I became ok with being the B+ employee vs. the A+ water walking & over achieving employee in order to create the time and energy I needed to run my successful passion based business.

  1. Create and Commit to Your Priorities

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I recently read a study that showed 70% of employees are only effective 3 out of the 8 hours at work. I cut off checking personal e-mails and surfing the web during core work hours. I also maximize lunchtime or commute times to work on quick action items for my passion-based business. I figured the more efficient I became at my 9-5 the more time I created to work on my passion based business.

Additionally, at the start of each month, I write down what my top three priorities are for each important area of my life are including health, relationships, my passion based businesses, and my 9-5. Keep in mind these categories can be different for you but these are my top priorities each month.

  1. Outsource  

Make no mistake about it I’m a recovering control freak so it should be no surprise why outsourcing is the balancing tip I struggle with the most. I think as a passion business based owner it’s essential that you decide what items you can outsource. I know you are probably thinking “but Roshell no one can do it just like me” but in order to have the balance you truly are seeking you should identify less essential tasks you can outsource for your passion-based business.  For me, I’ve outsourced all graphic and website service. I’m currently in the process of outsourcing my social media so I can focus on the items where I can create the most impact. For those who struggle on deciding what you should or should not outsource my rule of thumb is if it’s not an action item that show ups on your top priority list then you should consider it for outsourcing.

Pace yourself. I challenge you to master one of these items every 6 months. On this journey you will learn that “No” is in fact a complete sentence. In order to make room for the things that are really important in your life you will have to become comfortable with saying no.

I want to create a community of readers that support each other. There is no better way to show your support for a small business owner by actually making a PURCHASE.  I encourage all you who own or know of small businesses to leave their contact information or website link in the comment section below. Tag a small business with the hashtag #mypassionbiz

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