Will The USPS Changes Impact Your Business?

usps-mailboxes

It’s not news that the United States Postal Service is losing money. At a recent press conference, a USPS spokesperson claimed the organization loses were approximately $23 million per day. As a result, the USPS just announced it will be closing 252 of its 461 mail processing centers beginning early next year. This is a basic network cost optimization maneuver and nothing more.

However, the result is that the USPS logistical network will be permanently changed and it will force the delay of first-class mail. Regardless of how you feel about USPS and its approaches to dealing with their revenue shortfall, its changes are reality, and they will impact your business. In this post, I’ll evaluate the problem and provide some alternatives.

Being Realistic With The 20-Day End Of Year Calendar

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I had an owner of a small business call me about a project he wanted done. Though an immediate response was provided to them, the real follow-up didn’t take place until the Monday after Thanksgiving. The business owner’s thought Monday was, “It’s been six days since I contacted you!”

Let’s start from there to talk about the reality of getting things done during the holiday season.

Getting Things Done – Back To The Basics

Due to the economy, businesses are being asked to do “more with less.” Not only do we as business owners have more to do these days but we also operate in more complex worlds. Still, sticking to the basics is the key to time management and getting things done. In this article, I’m going to share my version of “the basics.”

There are three variables that apply to getting something done: the task(s) at hand,  the time available,  and the resources required to do it. In the spirit of providing helpful guidance, I’ll put the winning formula up front. If you want to get things done, use a fixed timeframe, optimize your resources, and reduce the tasks at hand in order to succeed at getting things done.

Why Small Businesses Should Fear Data Breaches As Much as Big Companies [Infographic]

Being the owner of a hosting company, I see thousands of data breach attempts on a weekly basis. The attempts are crafty, pointed, and have one purpose–breaching our servers. Even though we’ve invested exorbitant amounts of time and money to protect our infrastructure, it still makes us nervous.

You too should be nervous, as the target of a potential data breach is small to medium business infrastructure as much as it is that of a large corporation.

The Golden Rule of Payables

money-cash-flowDuring times of economic uncertainty, payables and receivables become a core focus of any privately owned business. The reason is simple: They govern cash flow.

Instead of trying to provide you with a mathematical or system-based approach to optimizing your cash flow, I wanted to take a step back and have a realistic discussion about your business mindset when it comes to accounts payable. I’ve called it the “Golden Rule of Payables” because we really do want others to treat us well when it comes to our receivables. If we start by doing our part in paying our bills, good things can happen.

Silence Is A Communication Tool

When a business owner works with employees in order to grow their soft skills, one area of focus is often communication. A business owner wants an employee to ask the right questions, provide concise answers, and even diffuse an upset customer or vendor when the situation demands it. Moreover, good communication training focuses heavily on listening skills.

Still, one communication skill that is often overlooked is the use of silence.

Password Policies – Cyber Protection You Can Implement Today

In recent months, the media has been bombarding us with stories related to hackers and cyber security. With large corporations like Sony having been the victims of hacker attacks, and MasterCard having been shut down by denial of service attacks, it can leave the small- to medium-size business owner feeling a little overwhelmed.

Still, one basic security measure many overlook is a simple focus on their individual and company password policies.

5 Ways to Cut Technology Costs

As businesses deal with the ups and downs of a struggling economy they are constantly faced with the challenge of cutting costs.

Traditionally, information technology has created a significant set of line items in the operating budgets of small and medium sized businesses.  These technologies range from printing and copying machines to business-critical applications.

In this article, I am going to examine 5 areas of technology where rich functionality has met commodity pricing, thus offering companies unique opportunities to save and improve simultaneously.

References vs Revenue – Clearly Define the Lines and Be Proactive

One of the biggest mistakes companies old and new make is not clearly defining the lines between references versus revenue.

References are clients to whom you sell goods or for whom you perform a service whose value to your business goes beyond the amount collected on an invoice. These clients, because of their stature or keen understanding of what you sell, can serve to help convince future prospective clients to sign on with you as well.

Of course revenue ultimately drives profit, and businesses can never take their eye off the revenue ball, but there are a couple of compelling reasons why attaining solid client references is gaining increasing importance.

  1. Many products and services these days are intangible and thus harder for potential customers to understand.
  2. Innovative products and services further leave questions in consumers’ minds.

This combination of intangible and innovative can lead to potential clients needing “a little extra” to be pulled over onto your side of the fence. References can often provide this little extra because:

  • References provide customers who come later in your product cycle with a proof point that your product or service is good.
  • References help customers understand innovative products and services by showing real world examples.

References are able to do this in three basic forms:

  1. Simple reference – “Company XYZ is a customer…”
  2. Testimonials – a compelling, illustrative quote from customer
  3. Case Study – in-depth details of a customer’s experience with your good or service; this is often the hardest to get but also the most convincing.

So how can you as a business owner be proactive in clearly defining the lines between references and revenue to put the power of references to work for your company? Here are four key steps:

1)  Instill a reference vs. revenue mentality in your sales force.

If a customer asks for a discount, do you give it to them? The first trade off is that they have to become a reference. In this sense you are still getting full value from the customer and they have an enticement to a) be an early adopter and b) become a proof point for you down the road.

2)  Clearly define what you are willing to do for free or give away in building references.

Assign a budget to your reference building strategy as they relate to your overall business. Break it down based on the three types of references listed above. Understand that work done for no charge, if it results in a powerful reference, is bringing value back to the company that will grow revenues down the line.

3)  Define a point in your product life cycle when you wind down reference initiatives and just go for revenue.

Again, the eye can never be taken off of the revenue ball. Generating references is done with the specific intent of using them as a foundation for future revenue growth. At some point you will receive diminishing returns from each new reference. Once you attain compelling and varied references, it’s time to earn the value from those references and focus on revenue.

4)  Be prepared to walk from customers who won’t be a reference and want to hammer margins down to nothing

This is very important. We all know that some customers are easy to work with and some are simply a pain in the neck. The painful customers are only worth it if a) you are able charge them a premium or b) they will be a solid reference. If you are making the same or less revenue off of the difficult customers who suck up more of your time and energy, and these customers are unwilling to be references, what value do they have to your company? Not much. Walk.

© 2011 Generational Equity, LLC All Rights Reserved

Generational Equity Video on Market Timing

This Generational Equity video features a number of business owners who have successfully sold their business discussing their experience preparing their business for sale and ultimately closing deal.

The key concept in this video is market timing and how important it is for a business owner to be proactive about preparing his or her business for sale so as to be ready when the market timing is right.