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Gene Marks.png­­­­Season’s Greetings!  We wrap up the Verizon Author Series with featured author Gene Marks, who wrote five best-selling books for small business owners and managers. His latest book is called In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.

 

Gene writes weekly on political, economic and cultural events that affect the business community for the New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post and American City Business Journals.

 

He frequently appears as a commentator on FOX Business, FOX News, MSNBC and CNBC and speaks often around the country on business management topics. Gene has worked with dozens of Fortune 1000 companies, helping them build relationships with the business community.  Since 1994 Gene, a CPA, has run his own ten person consulting firm based near Philadelphia. Previously, Gene was a senior manager with the international accounting and consulting firm KPMG.

 

To get insights directly from Gene this month, be sure to check back as he will share a couple of guest blog posts.  Join us this Thursday (Dec. 8th) to get real-time tips and advice directly from Gene during the live Twitter chat we’ll have with him at 12 p.m. ET.  Just follow us on Twitter @VZSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VzSmallBiz) or search for #bizbooks.

 

Also, join us for a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center next Wednesday which will feature Gene as a guest presenter on December 14 at 2 p.m. ET.  This will be another opportunity for you to ask Gene your questions and get tips to grow your business in 2012.  Register for the webinar now by clicking here or go to http://bit.ly/v5ONVJ.

 

The best part of the Verizon Author Series is that we’ll be giving away Gene’s book all this month: In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.

 

You’ll want to read this book to get tips to grow your business. To win your free copy of Gene’s latest book be one of the first 15 people to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.net telling us you’d like a copy of Gene’s book and what tips you hope to gain from it. 

 

Should you have any questions for Gene, don’t hesitate to post it below; we’ll do our best to get him to answer your questions so you can get insights to help you grow your business starting now and into the New Year.

 

 

Employee Employee ‎11-13-2011 08:06 PM

TanyaB.pngGuest post from Tanya Brockett this month’s featured author from the Verizon Authors Series. Tanya is an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship and Book Publishing at the University of Virginia; 15-year advocate of and consultant to entrepreneurs; and author of The Loan Solution.

 

 

 

Oftentimes we choose to avoid the evaluation of our spending because we are afraid of what we will find. If we examine our spending habits, we may see that we spend way too much on, say, office supplies than we need to. We overspend on every new gadget that comes along without looking at the return on that investment. We spend mindlessly on marketing...just because. We couldn't quantify the results of the advertising campaign if we wanted to. And, in reality, we didn't even have a campaign, it was just a series of spending actions that led to...well...we don't know because we didn't measure our results.

 

Year-end is a time to recognize that we cannot accurately set financial goals for our new year if we don't look at the spending of the previous year. At least, if we do, we won't know if it is better or worse, realistic or not. Small business owners, heck all individuals, need to take a look at their performance over the past year to set a new strategy for the year to come.

 

Now is the time to get a jump on entering the months' worth of transactions that you have avoided entering into your accounting system. Now is the time to record all the deposits, and document all the spending. Don't wait until the year ends to do this. Your accountant is going to have enough rush work to do without adding yours to it. Give them a break, and give yourself a heads up, by ensuring that all of your transactions are entered into your system and accounted for.

 

After you have done so, go ahead and pull up your preliminary income statement and balance sheets: your financial statements. These will help you to analyze your business activity from a financial perspective. Yes, you should have been looking at these monthly; but that is water under the bridge now. Pull up your statements now and evaluate what you see, so you aren't surprised by what your accountant finds after the year has ended.

 

If you find that you are in a better cash position than anticipated, you might ask your accountant about whether to buy the equipment that you need to run your business, in order to take advantage of new tax credits this year. It may mean you have to take possession of and put the equipment into service before December 31 to take the tax credit for the whole year. Find out now so you can take advantage of it.

 

If you find that you are in a cash-strapped position, what led to this? Can you identify areas of overspending or loss of inventory or poor pricing strategies that negatively impacted your cash? Have you made investments into marketing in a slow market? If not, why not? A down market is the time to be seen amongst the usual advertising clutter. It is also when customers may see you, consistently, rising above your competition.

 

Money Solution.jpg

 

After you have evaluated your financial position and discussed it with your accountant or business consultant, use your new knowledge to chart your course for the upcoming year. What will you do differently to improve your cash position? What will you keep the same because it is working well for you? What new income streams can you produce to boost sales? What fresh perspective can you take on your existing business and service areas that will breathe new life into your financials and the excitement you enjoy in "doing" your business? There is nothing like bouncing ideas off of others to help you stimulate your thinking. So plan to get together with others to share ideas, share best practices, and explore industry trends. It is likely to make a positive difference in your business, regardless of your current position.

 

Armed with all of the new insights and ideas, quantify your revised approach by developing a cash budget. This is not the same as creating financial statement projections (pro formas). Creating a cash budget helps you to literally see each dollar (or penny) going in and out of your business each month.  On page 40 of my book The Loan Solution, you will find a twelve-month cash budget spreadsheet that helps you to clearly identify each cash expenditure that your business will make (find the spreadsheets at www.loansolutionbook.com/CashSalesPage.htm).

 

In many ways, this is better than an income statement projection, because you can follow the movement of money, not just expenses (which may or may not require actual cash to claim).

 

My book recommends a very practical approach to budgeting that you should consider: put the actual dollar item where it will actually fall in your year, rather than just taking an annual total and dividing it by twelve for a monthly amount. For example, if you know you only pay your business insurance bill quarterly, put the quarterly amount into the four months that you will actually pay the bill. It sounds simple, but many business owners do not know what their monthly cash outlay is likely to be, so they cannot respond quickly when sales dip or when a great supplier discount can be realized.

Loan Solution.png 

If numbers are just not your thing, offset your weakness with someone else's strength. Seek out someone who can assist you with the collection, reporting, and analysis of your financial position. You, your business, your customers, and your employees will all benefit greatly by your willingness to evaluate and plan.  No matter what you find in your analysis, having your eyes wide open will allow you to have a better year in 2012.

 

To win your free copy of The Loan Solution be one of the first 15 people to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.nettelling us you’d like a copy of Tanya’s book.  Of course, in the email, do share with us how you handle your company’s cash flow.

 

For opportunities to get more insights from Tanya click here.

 

TanyaB.pngIt’s November and we’re excited to introduce another expert in the Verizon Author Series: Tanya Brockett adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship and Book Publishing at the University of Virginia; 15-year advocate of and consultant to entrepreneurs; and author of The Loan Solution.

 

The best part of the Verizon Author Series is that we’ll be giving away Tanya’s book The Loan Solution all this month.  You’ll want to read this book because Tanya will share insights into how to manage and create your cash flow instead of borrowing to turn things around (and more).

 

Previously, Tanya served as director of operations for a non-profit micro-lender and as an SBDC Center Director, and has helped her clients to acquire millions in capital throughout her career. She is also the owner of Hallagen Ink where they help clients to prosper on purpose through corporate sponsorships, entrepreneurship, and publishing. Tanya is also a speaker and presenter of workshops and lectures. Tanya’s upcoming books include Money Solutions for Small Businesses and The Enlightened (New) Writer: Tips & Tools for Creating a Joyous Publishing Experience.

 

To get money solutions and insights from Tanya this month, be sure to check back as she will share a couple of guest blog posts.  Also, join us for a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center which will feature Tanya as a guest presenter on Wednesday, November 16 at 2 p.m. ET.  This will be a great opportunity to ask Tanya your questions.  Register now (http://bit.ly/rU6ATO) .

 

Lastly, we give you another chance to get real-time tips and advice directly from Tanya during the live Twitter chat we’ll have with Tanya on Thursday, November 17 at 12 p.m. ET.  Just follow us @VZSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VzSmallBiz) or search for #bizbooks.

Loan Solution.png 

To win your free copy of The Loan Solution be one of the first 15 people to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.nettelling us you’d like a copy of Tanya’s book.  Of course, in the email, do share with us how you handle your company’s cash flow.

 

Should you have any questions for Tanya, don’t hesitate to post it below, we’ll do our best to get Tanya to answer your questions so you can get insights to help you grow your business.

 

To reach Tanya, email her at Tanya@ProsperOnPurpose.net or follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Employee Employee ‎10-13-2011 10:31 PM

Referral Engine.pngGuest post from John Jantsch this month’s featured author from the Verizon Author Series. John is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.

 

 

Businesses run on referrals. Just ask any business owner or salesperson what the number one source of new business is and you’re likely to hear some variation on the theme of referrals.

 

But, ask that same business owner, marketer or salesperson what they do to consistently generate referrals and you won’t hear much.

 

I’ve always struggled with this idea. It’s like knowing that your car needs gas, runs way better on gas, but then heading out on a long trip without any idea if there are any gas station along your route.

 

The fact that most referrals happen by accident leaves many business to conclude that the only way to get referrals is to sit and wait.

 

If you deserve referrals, because nothing I’m writing about here will change that reality if you don’t, you have every reason to make systematic referral generation a core marketing strategy and here’s how:

 

Target Your Sources – The first step in referral generation, heck in marketing, is to have a very clear understanding of what and who actually makes an ideal referral. If you don’t have a crystal clear understanding of this, how are you going explain to your referral sources how they might spot the perfect referral? This is the number one referral killer out there. If you can explain in sharp detail what a great referral looks like, it’s more likely that I’ll conjure up a list of several people that fit that exact picture – help me do that!

 

Educate Your Sources – Take the time to teach your best referral sources how to talk about your business in ways that spark interest and spell out the value of doing business with you. Single out every business that has ever referred a prospect and ask to meet with to teach them the value they’ve received and how and why to refer your business. Give them the actual words to use to describe what you do that’s ‘Wow’. Create marketing materials and tools for them to put in a referred prospect’s hands and show them exactly how you treat a referred lead when you get one.

 

Motivate Your Sources – You may find that offering cash rewards for referrals gets people motivated, but more often than not your customers, the ones that know your magic best, will be more motivated by a creative promotion that turns your referral program into a game for them, allows them to earn something worth more to them than cash (like free services or special perks) or acknowledges their contribution through charitable donations.

 

Reward Your Sources – Every business has those referral zealots. They can’t stop talking about your business to all they meet. Take those folks and give them a big hug, they are gold. Find ways to make them part of your team. Bring them into marketing conversations, put them on an informal advisory board and create special events for them. You will get referrals from rewarding this group than any other effort your might enact.

 

Get More Sources – The greatest overlooked referral opportunity lies in the development of a strategic referral network. Some businesses have a business here and there that they may trade leads or collaborate with on a pitch, but I’m talking about something far more integrated than that. Think in terms of building an entire team of best of class providers for every need your clients may have. The idea here it to turn yourself into the “go to” source for anything your clients need. Do you think that could make you more valuable to them?

 

The trick is to attract the right partners and this starts by asking your existing clients what other businesses should be on you team. Once you combine this information with your own observations, you can reach out to these businesses and ask them to teach you the best way to introduce them to your clients – I guarantee this will get their attention.

 

Ignite Your Sources – Once you get the attention of a handful of partners show them opportunities to benefit just by association. Interview them and place the video on your site, allow them to submit a guest blog post, offer them e-books you’ve produced and allow them to co-brand the content and distribute it, offer to do a free educational workshop on a hot topic for their clients, and create logical ways to start introducing them to your clients.

 

When you make these kinds of opportunities readily available to your partners you stand a far greater chance of gaining their trust and attention – just the kind of thing that will get you and your business intentionally referred to their entire customer community.

 

So, how do you engage with those customers that refer your business to their contacts?

 

Editor’s note: Read the tips John Jantsch shared during our live Twitter chat.   Follow us on Twitter @VZSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VzSmallBiz) to learn of our next Twitter chat.

 

Additionally join us for a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center which will feature John as a guest presenter on Thursday, October 20 at 2 p.m. ET.  This will be a great opportunity to ask John your questions. Click here to register (or go to http://www.brighttalk.com/channel/6255)

 

To win your free copy of The Referral Engine be one of the first 15 people to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.net telling us you’d like a copy of John’s book.  Of course, in the email, do share with us how you offer good service or what’s so loveable about your business as that’s one of the reasons people refer a business because they had a more than pleasant experience working with the business.

About Verizon Business Markets
Get news from Verizon about Business Markets services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon Business Markets group and other experts to help keep your business growing.

       




Contact the editor: tumara.r.jordan@verizon.com

About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Tumara Jordan

Tumara is a contributor to the Business Markets Marketing team and she currently manages Social Media marketing campaigns.


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