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Conquering Top Concerns for All Small Business Owners

A universal experience of all business owners is the rarely-quiet concern we have for the companies we run and, in many cases, founded. There's work to deliver, vendors to pay, employees to develop, and competitors to outperform. It honestly never stops.
So, what's on your mind so far this year? I bet it includes some version of these topics: growth, profitability and hiring. No matter how long you're in business, these can be regular visitors to your middle-of-the-night, ceiling-staring parties.
Instead of losing sleep, take a step back and consider each. I think you'll find the answers are simple, and change can come quickly with a little action.
1. Growth
Nearly all small business owners want their business to grow, but they don't take the simple steps necessary to make it happen. Growth happens, in simplest form, by selling more.
Sell more by reaching more.
You have products and services to sell; you just need more customers to sell to. To reach more customers, you must invest in marketing.
Marketing is the process of identifying potential customers and getting your message to them. This may mean pursuing new geographic markets, new industries, or even new decision-makers.
How you market depends on your audience. Investing in digital marketing campaigns may be just the thing. Or, perhaps traditional advertising like direct mail and billboards is the right fit. Find a marketing partner to help with your strategy; it will be the most valuable investment you make in your business this year.
Sell more by offering more.
In every business, we have our go-to lineup of products and services – our "bread and butter." But, take a step back and think, "What else could we be doing here?" You'll probably quickly identify some complementary offerings that your customers would jump on.
Let's consider a landscaping company. Your customers want their home's exterior managed, so what else could you take on? Maybe your crews could pressure wash the driveway or clean the windows. These extra services could be big business over time and they require little investment to get off the ground. Just be careful to stick to things you can do well and that support your core business.
2. Profitability
Growth is great, but profitability means financial health which is good for everyone involved in your business. Increasing your profitability is all about making sure your expenses are in check with your revenue.
A simple review of your expenses will reveal at least a line item or two where you're spending money that's not doing you any good. Maybe you can live without the company lunches. You may also have a vendor who's not offering competitive prices. Maybe it's time to part with an employee who's not contributing. Taking the time to evaluate your costs and trim back has an immediate effect on your bottom line.
Get your entire team on board to focus on profitability. Regardless of role: selling, producing, supporting, managing - everyone has a part to play.
3. Hiring
Having the right team can make all the difference in your success. But as you probably already know, it's not as simple as it sounds. Candidates can look like a great option during the hiring process, only to turn out to be a real drag on your team. Here are some tips for hiring the right fit.
1. Take your time. Most of the time, you're hiring in a pinch: business is booming and you need help, or perhaps you need to replace someone. Resist the temptation to cut corners in your hiring process by remembering that bringing on the wrong person will cost you more time in the long run.

Tip: Avoid starting cold by always accepting and reviewing resumes.

2. Start with team recommendations. If you've got an existing team, chances are that they know someone who'd be a good fit for the job. Starting here gives you someone who'd likely mesh well with the rest of your staff.

Tip: When appropriate, consider rewarding your employees for any referrals you end up hiring.

3. Look beyond the credentials. The right degree and a strong resume are absolutely good things, but they're not a guarantee of a good fit. Be sure you get to know the candidate over the course of several interviews, unpacking the job in detail, and spending time getting to know their personality and values.

Tip: If you don't like hanging out with the candidate, you probably won't like working with them.
While every small business is unique, similar challenges face us all. Don't be an island. Reach out to other entrepreneurs and mentors who can give you insight from their own experiences.
Jacob Savage is the president and founder of Speak Creative, a Tennessee-based digital agency founded in 1999. His 27-person team works with clients across the U.S. and from a wide array of industries. Jacob shares his perspectives on business ownership, leadership and faith at

Posted: 3/2/2016 10:07:53 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Business, Concerns, Creative, Growth, Hiring, Jacob, Profitability, Savage, Small, Speak

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.