Author Archives: rkenneth

Lean Canvas: Create Your Business Plan Quickly

Lean Canvas Model

 

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A key to starting and building a successful business is planning. Sometimes, a business plan is required, but it’s not always the answer to creating a successful business.  Sometimes, you need to think lean.

In this session, SCORE Mentor David Terrell will walk you through a Lean Canvas to help you create a “blueprint” of your business. He will provide practical tips and tools and teach you how to:

  • Determine the key categories of starting, testing and growing your business
  • Identify your target customers and what you need to do to get them to buy from you
  • Recognize your customers’ problems and how your product or service will solve them
  • Communicate your value propositions that set you apart from your competition
  • Test your solutions and get valuable feedback
  • Determine your cost structure, runway and revenue streams
  • Monitor key metrics to determine your business’s initial and ongoing success

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Networking: 3 Tips for Getting Back to the Basics

Let’s get back to the basics and best practices of networking.

Here are my three tips for effective networking – the old fashioned way.

networking-3-tips-getting-back-basicsFirst, you must be committed. You aren’t networking if you’re out for instant gratification.  An effective network is built upon a solid foundation of relationships that are built over time.  When you make a new business acquaintance, take time to learn as much about them as you possibly can.  Don’t look at them with dollar signs in your eyes.  Take time to get them talking by asking open ended questions and listening!  Are there common interests you share?  Do your children go to the same school?  Remember, people do business with people they like — with friends.

Second on my list of best practices is to follow-up after the meeting and be the first to provide assistance.  Stacking business cards on your desk or scanning them into your Outlook doesn’t create a network.  Sending your new acquaintance a brochure or sales letter doesn’t develop a relationship.  And calling to set an appointment or make a sale is really not going to do the trick.  However, taking time to develop a relationship is. For example, let’s say I meet you at an event and during our conversation you mention you are a dog lover.  Guess what, so am I.  We have a nice conversation and you tell me you’d like to know more about creating a dog-friendly office environment.  So what do I do?  I go back to my office and send a “nice to meet you” email, but in addition I include a link to an article with advice for pet-friendly workplaces. Continue reading

Selling isn’t a numbers game. Marketing is.

Ken Sethney [marketing coach]

Sales people have product to move, quotas to meet. They have less time and larger territories than ever before. And to make matters worse, selling cycles are getting longer as decision makers strain to balance the competing needs for value and quality.

Why then do so many sales reps ignore sales leads generated at great expense by advertising, websites, direct mail, email and other promotional efforts?

Simple. It is more productive, more cost-effective for them to work existing leads, recontact existing customers and develop referral business than it is to call on an unqualified lead.

What do sales reps want?

Sales reps want answers to key qualifying questions. They want to know if the person is an information gatherer or a decision maker. Has the company allocated funds for a purchase, or is this a speculative inquiry? How soon will they be making a decision? Which of your products or…

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Make sure your customers are happy with online surveys.

Embracing direct feedback from your customers can help you learn a lot about what your company is doing right and what you might improve upon to be more successful. Online customer surveys are one way to gather insight. 

Like any method of customer research, their usefulness depends on how well they’re planned and executed. And one of the most important components of planning a survey is crafting the questions it will include.

Tips for Creating Effective Customer Survey Questions  

Know What You Want to Accomplish.

Developing a survey that gives you helpful answers starts with knowing what you want to learn. Do you want to get insights into how you might improve the overall experience your customers have? Do you want to focus on product enhancements that would better satisfy your customers’ needs? Or do you want to find out if your customer support services are meeting customers’ expectations? 

As you begin to prepare your survey, consider your end goal and eliminate any questions that don’t align with it.  Continue reading

Washington State’s new paid family and medical leave.

by Johnnie Hawkins, CPA
Parker Mooers & Cena, Silverdale

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits. This benefit offers partially paid leave to care for yourself or a loved one in times of serious illness or injury, to bond with a new child joining your home through birth, adoption or foster placement, and for certain military-connected events if you have a family member in active duty service.  This isn’t like paid sick leave; you will file your claim with the Employment Security Department (ESD), and your payment will come from ESD. Typically, you’ll have access to up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

Premium collection starts on Jan 1, 2019. In 2019, the premium is 0.4% of wages, or $3.85 per week for someone making $50,000 a year. Employers can either pay the full premium or opt to withhold a portion of the premium from their employees. Employers who choose to withhold premiums from their employees may withhold up to 63 percent of the total premium, or $2.44 per week for an employee making $50,000 annually. The employer is responsible for paying the other 37 percent. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the employer portion of the premium but must still collect or opt to pay the employee portion of the premium.

You can learn more about the program at www.paidleave.wa.gov/employers or contact us with questions at 360-692-8808. Continue reading

Build your small business brand with Facebook groups.

social media networkYou’ve surely noticed how increasingly difficult it has become to have your content seen on Facebook. With the social media platform’s algorithm in constant flux to improve the user experience, brands’ status updates aren’t getting the exposure they once did organically. Facebook business page posts are now seen only by a small percentage (some report as low as 2 percent) of page followers.

So small businesses must find creative ways to cut through the noise and engage users. Many companies have found that paying to promote posts and run Facebook ads can help, but entrepreneurs have overlooked the power of Facebook groups. Continue reading