Category Archives: Grow Your Business

How can I keep my business going?

by Ken Sethney, Volunteer Business Mentor, SCORE Kitsap

Every business owner I’ve had a conversation with in the last month or so is struggling to answer that question. It doesn’t matter what they sell, products or services, they are struggling to find answers to very difficult questions. Almost everyone in start-up mode has simply stopped. 

So, what should they do? What should you do? My suggestion is to keep moving forward. 

One of my SCORE clients owns a well established business with several employees. She and her team provide therapeutic services, but they don’t qualify as “essential.” 

After giving the shelter-in-place problem some thought, she decided to focus on the sale of complimentary products the customers used to purchase at the front counter as they left her facility. 

The products are promoted online. Orders are placed online or by telephone, and they are delivered by a very essential delivery service. Her team is working. Revenue is being generated. Her client base feels like they are being served by people who really care. 

A friend of mine owns a coffee shop/café. She didn’t have to close her doors, but she had to stack up the tables and chairs. People walk up, place orders, and take their coffee and treats out the door. Sales aren’t normal, but they are a lot better than zero. 

Many years ago, I had to deal with an emergency. The fellow I worked for gave me a call and told me that he was closing his advertising agency for medical reasons. There wasn’t a pandemic, but he lost his company and 36 people lost their jobs. I wasn’t a happy guy. 

That said, after two days of wondering what I should do, I had a plan. I couldn’t afford to buy the agency, so I would create my own. I decided to create a virtual ad agency staffed by creative people willing to be independent contractors. 

I knew lots of artists, illustrators, photographers, and more, that didn’t want to work for anybody full time. I would call the VP’s of Sales & Marketing for the top 50 companies in Orange County California and see if I could get some projects. 

I had never made a sales call in my life, but I know I would have to do it. In three weeks, I had my first job. In a few months, I didn’t have time to make any more sales calls. I had lots of projects and my clients were calling me to see if I could help with something new. 

As a volunteer business mentor, I’ve met with hundreds of people in Kitsap County over the last 5 or 6 years. Many have started businesses or grown the ones they owned. 

If you asked me for advice, I would encourage you to find a new way to use your skills and abilities to serve your customers or find new ones. I would ask you what you might do differently now than you had done in the past. Maybe your idea would help a little while we’re all waiting to get our economy back up to speed. Or, maybe it would open a new path that would help you make your future bigger and better than it had ever been. 

If you would like to meet with an experienced business person who has volunteered his or her time to help people like you, reach out to a SCORE mentor today!

Ken Sethney is a volunteer business mentor and branch manager for SCORE Kitsap. He started his first business in 1976, and several more after that. Contact him by email at ken.sethney@scorevolunteer.org.

How to develop a successful new product.

Developing and launching a new product requires research, resources, and a determination to follow through despite roadblocks and setbacks. If you have a product idea, how can you better ensure your development effort goes smoothly, and the end result is a win for you and your company?

While product development comes with varying levels of complexity that depend on the type of product you plan to create, several key ingredients for success remain universal. Continue reading

Is an SBA loan right for you?

SBA loan

If you’re starting or growing your small business, you should learn about loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a funding option.

If you apply for an SBA loan, your loan won’t be from the SBA, and you won’t make your payments to the agency. Instead, the SBA approves lenders to provide loans to small businesses under their loan programs. Continue reading

Yes, you can manage your time more effectively.

With so many responsibilities as a business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fall short on what you want to accomplish. If you’re a new business owner who formerly worked for someone else, you may have discovered that managing time has become more challenging. 

That’s natural. After all, you’ve gone from having your work schedule and priorities set for you to needing to prioritize every project and task related to running your business. Time management doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s an essential skill that can be developed with some attention and effort.  Continue reading

Nine Ways to Fund Your Business

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

If you don’t have the capital to fund your business growth, here are a few ideas. Which one is right for you?

1. Bank Loan or Line of Credit

Borrowing from the bank is probably the most traditional way of funding a business. This can take the form of a traditional loan or line of credit. Some banks may require an SBA guarantee which is a little more expensive than a bank-only loan. Others may require covenants, or conditions, within which the business must perform.

Bankers will review your historical performance and business plan in great detail. Assuming that these pass muster, the bank will require collateral in the form of inventory, equipment or even your house. In many cases they will insist on a personal guarantee.

Bank loans are debt financing requiring periodic payment of principal and interest. However, they do not require you to give up equity in your business; if your business takes off, you keep the profits (after debt repayment). Continue reading

Best practices for building a winning website.

website developmentYour website is often the first impression a person has of your business. Is your website a good representation of your company – or does it miss the mark?

In this webinar presented by digital marketing expert Sherry Bonelli, you’ll learn what to consider and implement as you build or update your website.

View the Webinar

Viewing this webinar requires some basic information. This data is only used within SCORE and will not be distributed to any third parties. Continue reading

Closing Sales Starts With Building Trust

Making the sale, especially when your small business offers products and services to other businesses, demands more than being good at what you do. It definitely requires building professional relationships. To do that, you must earn your customers’ trust. 

There’s no scientific formula for earning trust. It requires time, patience, and honest effort. 

Here are some suggestions to help you lay a foundation of trust with your potential customers: Continue reading

It’s Time to Budget for 2020

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

Most businesses are on a fiscal year which coincides with the calendar year. Now is a good time to look back and reflect on 2019 as well as look forward and create a new budget for 2020.

A budget is a roadmap. Based on where you have been, it can help guide you to the desired final destination for year-end.

If you stay on the current course – where will you end up? Alternatively, if you change the route – where will you be at the end of the year? It is up to you to decide which path is the most profitable and most likely to be achieved.

Here are a few things to think about as you prepare your budget. Continue reading

Create an emotionally engaging customer experience.

It seems somewhat contradictory, but the more technologically savvy buyers become (and the less time they spend visiting stores or talking to services providers on the phone) the more they want a personal, emotionally gratifying experience with businesses.

Entrepreneurs must find ways to not only appeal to customers’ desire for quality products or services, but also to their hearts.

In a Harvard Business Review article by consumer intelligence experts Alan Zorfass and Daniel Leemon, “Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level.”

What does this mean for you? Instead of just transactions, your business must make memorable interactions. To gain a competitive edge and win customer loyalty, you must make an emotional connection with buyers. Continue reading