14 May 2013

Admit It – You’re Struggling as a Small Business

30 Comments people management

Duck

We pretend everything’s just fine to our fellow business owners and friends. But the truth is, we all struggle – we’re calm on the surface but paddling like mad below the water.

Each week, payroll’s a gamble because you’re not always sure where the funds are coming from to pay your people. And you have to smile behind that cold sweat, or who’d be interested in working for you or doing business with your company?

You know you’d like to tell your employees, but they don’t really care. It’s not their business. You want to get them to think for themselves, take initiative, and do things that just seem obvious to you.

But you don’t have time to chase them or pursue all the hot new leads that just came in, and you don’t have the money to always do things right. Because if you just had a little more cash, you wouldn’t have to take shortcuts, spend so much valuable time away from your family putting out fires, and making excuses to your clients about your product or service problems.

That’s the story Infusionsoft’s founders recently told, echoed by most small businesses. If you’re a small business that hasn’t struggled, I’d like to talk to you and duplicate your genes. For science, of course.

As for the rest of us, we have to use the tried and true strategies.

Follow-UpYou don’t have time to pursue every new lead while also nurturing your existing customers. Really, you have so many systems for your email program, website, customer database, accounting, etc., that you don’t even have an accurate picture of your business.

You’re drowning in a multitude of tools that each solve a specific problem – and they all seem necessary – which means you’re spending time doing stuff unrelated to your passion, the thing that got you into business. You’re not doing what you’re uniquely talented at.

And then you have prospects you have to explain your services over and over again to. If only you could automate that.

Worse, you might be cold calling people or spending money on marketing with hazy ROI. But you have to spend money to make money, right?

I found something last month that solved this problem for our business.

It slices, it dices – and if you act now, you’ll get another set absolutely free. Just pay for additional shipping and handling.  Unfortunately, we’re kidding.

I wish there was a one-click solution, but the next best thing does exist. It’s a tool that:

  • automatically follows up with interested customers, so you don’t have to.
  • builds landing pages on the fly (no programming) that tie to your database.
  • keeps track of all your customers in one place across all of your systems – no more disorganization and lost revenue.
  • tells you when a prospect is ready to buy, so you don’t waste time chasing butterflies.
  • has an integrated email system, so you don’t have to hire a programmer.
  • bills your customers automatically each month and even reminds them if their card didn’t go through.

In short, it allows you to be a business owner, not an employee who franatically runs around to put out fires.

I’ve built software systems for 20 years – for companies like American Airlines and Yahoo! – and I’ve managed some of the most complex databases in business. Here’s how this tool makes me feel:

It’s like I just spent three laborious weeks climbing my way to the top of Mount Everest, only to discover there’s a Starbucks right there. And on the other side? Why, a fleet of luxury tourist buses.

ISKnifeInfusionsoft has been the answer to our prayers. I don’t have to chase unmotivated employees that manually put together every proposal, or hunt every (now stale) lead in our system, or fiddle with computer software nonsense.

But, there are a few things you need to do, which is why some people jokingly call this platform ConfusionSoft. Check out this video – you can thank me later!

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written by
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of Portage. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing, having been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. He is also an author at InsideFacebook and AllFacebook. Dennis has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines. He studied Finance and Economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. You can contact him at dennis@portage.co, his blog, or on Facebook.
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