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The Small Business Survival Guide

Book Description

THE SMALL BUSINESS SURVIVAL GUIDE is a pragmatic book geared toward entrepreneurs who want to grow their small business fast. The book is not about creating a mission or strategic planning -- it's a hands-on tool that teaches small business owners what they need to know about marketing, sales, hiring and managing employees, cost control, and other basic business principles. There's a particular focus on using the Internet through multiple channels, including social media, to effectively grow the business quickly.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. About the Author
  3. Introduction: Doing Business Today
    1. Why Small Businesses Stay Small
      1. They Love Their Product or Service More Than They Love Business
      2. This Book Is for You Regardless of Your Company’s Size
    2. How You Ended Up Here
      1. Passion for a Hobby
      2. You Fell Into It
      3. Wanting to Be Your Own Boss
      4. How Low Is the Bar in Your Industry?
    3. You: CEO and Owner
      1. Working on Your Business, Instead of in It
      2. Your Dream
    4. What This Book Is and Is Not
  4. 1. Branding
    1. Identifying Your Brand
      1. Creating a Tagline
      2. Creating a Logo
      3. Your Elevator Pitch
    2. Successful Branding
    3. Branding: The Summary
  5. 2. Marketing
    1. Strategy #1: Doing Nothing and Loving It
    2. Strategy #2: Spending Your Way to the Poor House
      1. Caution, Will Robinson: Strategies That Don’t Usually Work
        1. Merged Mailers
        2. Yellow Pages
    3. Strategy #3: Creating a Marketing Program that Works
      1. Make an Inventory List
      2. Marketing Materials: What You Really Need
        1. Business Cards
        2. A Basic Flyer
        3. Refrigerator Magnets and Other “Swag”
        4. Ads in Local Papers
        5. Free Publicity
        6. A Reference Book
    4. Using Referrals to Get Repeat Business
      1. Customer Service Survey with Referral Piece
      2. Referral: Call to Action
    5. Referrals 2.0: Using Facebook to Market Your Business
      1. Creating a Facebook Fan Page
    6. Using LinkedIn to Market Your Business
    7. Back to Basics: Using Handwritten Notes
      1. Sending Out Cards: Almost as Good
      2. Email Not for a Thank You, But…
        1. Email to Respond to Customer Questions
        2. Email Information
    8. All You Never Wanted to Know About the Internet!
      1. The Why of the Website
      2. Your URL (Otherwise Known as Your Web Address)
      3. Less Is More
      4. References
      5. Important Website Tips
        1. Include Contact Information
        2. Include a Buy Now Button
        3. Provide Your Branding Message
    9. Using a Blog To Market Your Business
    10. Website Optimizing and Other Expensive Hobbies
      1. No One Really Knows Besides Google
      2. Searches That Do Matter
      3. Own Your Local Searches
    11. Using Google: The One Stop Shop for All Your Web Marketing Needs
      1. Google Maps
      2. Google Ad Words
    12. Using a Web Marketing Company
    13. Yes, There Is More You Can Do on the Web
      1. Try Craigslist
      2. Try Backpage.com
      3. Try eBay
  6. 3. When Things Go Very Bad
    1. “Satisfactory” Will Kill Your Business!
    2. Service Review Sites
      1. Pissedoffconsumer.com
      2. Angieslist.com
      3. Ripoffreport.com
      4. HomeStars.com
      5. Checkbook.org
      6. Kudzu.com
      7. Google.com
      8. Yelp.com
      9. Dine.com
    3. Retail Sites
      1. RateItAll.com
      2. Mechanic-Review.com
    4. Dentists and Doctors Beware!
      1. Doctoroogle.com
      2. RateMDs.com
      3. PhysicianReports.com
    5. Lawyers: Avvo.com
    6. Ratingz.net
    7. Scared Yet?
      1. The Customer Is Not Always Right
      2. The Review Is Incorrect!
    8. You Have a Problem: Now What?
      1. Be Proactive
      2. Bad Review Half-Life
      3. But This Customer Is Dead Wrong!
      4. The World Is Generally Good
      5. What You Can and Should Do Now
        1. Constantly Google Yourself
        2. Encourage the Positive
  7. 4. Leads
    1. Everyone Window Shops
      1. Have You Ever Been to Mexico?
    2. The Leads Are Weak!
    3. Have You Ever?
    4. The Customer Qualification Game
    5. All the World Is a Stage...
    6. Some Undeniable Truths About Customers
      1. Good Leads Die Young
      2. Old Customer Leads Are Not Bad Leads
      3. If They Don’t Call Back, They Must Not Be Interested
      4. Last Man Standing
      5. Every Lead Is Different, But the Same
    7. The Essential Rules of Leads
    8. Internet Lead Providers—A Few Important Thoughts
      1. Why They Are So Popular
      2. The Customer Experience
      3. The Internet Is Not Going Away
      4. If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
      5. If You Are Not First, You Are Last
      6. Enjoy the Pain
      7. Bad Internet Leads
      8. The Secret
      9. Invest
    9. Branding/Marketing/Lead Generation Summary
      1. Branding
      2. Marketing
      3. Lead Generation
  8. 5. Sales, Sales, Sales
    1. Sales Is Not a Dirty Word
    2. The Basics
      1. Call When You Say You Will
      2. Call to Confirm
      3. Show Up
      4. First Impressions
      5. The Vehicle
      6. Your Showroom, Shop, or Restaurant
      7. It’s the Little Things
      8. Shoes Count
      9. Tattoos, Earrings, and Other Miscellaneous Adornments
      10. Long Hair
      11. Got Smokes?
      12. Smile All the Time
      13. Got a Funny Story?
      14. Understand Personal Space
      15. Ask Questions and Learn Something New
    3. Understand Your Customers
      1. Hard Driving and Fast Talking
      2. The Technician
      3. Friend of the World
      4. Salespeople
      5. Got Nothing
    4. Two Ears and One Mouth: Use Them Proportionately
    5. Competency
    6. Trust
    7. Safety
    8. The Process
      1. Act 1: The First Phone Call
      2. Act 2: The Front Door
      3. Act 3: Time to Chat
      4. Act 4: The Work
      5. Act 5: Your Time to Shine
      6. Act 6: Your Reference Book
      7. Act 7: The Measure
      8. Act 8: The Big Finish: The Climax of the Show
        1. Going for the Close
        2. Back to the Show
      9. Act 9: Objections
      10. Act 10: Keep Closing!
        1. “No”—in Sales—Doesn’t Always Mean “No”
      11. Act 11: Command Performances
    9. Rehearsal
      1. Experience Teaches Us Many Things
      2. Know Your Stuff
      3. Be the Expert
    10. “Don’t Touch” Means “No Sale”
    11. Props Make All the Difference in a High-End, In-Home Presentation
      1. Window Replacement
      2. Painters
      3. Restaurants
      4. Plumbers
      5. Pet Stores
      6. Electricians
      7. Dry Cleaners
      8. Website Designers
    12. The Wow Effect
      1. Where To Get the “Wow Effect”—Suppliers
      2. Don’t Over-Stock or Over-Prop
    13. Sell More Product to the Same Customers
      1. Subway
      2. KFC
      3. McDonalds
      4. Best Buy
      5. Starbucks
      6. Walmart
      7. Home Depot/Lowes
    14. Out of the Box Ideas: Some You’ll Like and Some You Won’t
      1. Restaurants
      2. Dry Cleaners
      3. Landscapers
      4. House Cleaners
      5. Gift Card/Curio Shops
      6. Day Care Centers
      7. Hobby/Craft Stores
    15. Warning! Warning! You Can’t Be All Things to All People
      1. Home Depot
      2. From the Small Business Side
    16. My Story
    17. Up-Selling
      1. The Basic Up-Sells
      2. The Quality Up-Sell
      3. Good/Better/Best Offerings
        1. The Good
        2. The Better
        3. The Best
    18. Your Customers Want Options
      1. Green Options
        1. Why Go Green?
      2. Be an Energy Star!
        1. Electronics
        2. Plumbers
        3. Buy Local
        4. Electricians
        5. Organic
        6. Landscapers
      3. Be a Trusted Advisor
    19. The Fun Stuff Most People Don’t Think About
      1. Painting
      2. Electronics
      3. Carpet Cleaning
      4. Electrical
      5. Landscapers
      6. Up-Selling Summary
  9. 6. Sales Management
    1. Think You Are Ready To Have a Sales Team?
    2. Do You Have a Strong Lead Generation Program?
    3. Production Capacity
    4. Cash
    5. Are You Going To Be Providing All the Leads?
    6. Hiring Salespeople
      1. Experience Is Great, But...
      2. Points To Keep in Mind
      3. Organizational Fit
      4. Will You Enjoy This Person?
      5. What Do They Believe?
      6. Home Improvement Sales Is a Different Animal
    7. Understand the Sales Role
      1. Retail: Consumer Goods
      2. Consumer: Inside Sales (Telephone)
      3. Business-to-Business: Inside Sales (Telephone)
      4. Business to Business: Outside Sales
      5. Technical Sales
    8. What Kind of Salespeople Do You Need?
      1. Are They Salespeople or Just Marketers?
    9. Salespeople Are Pack Animals
    10. Proper Care and Feeding: Assembly Required
      1. Shadowing
      2. Ask a Veteran
      3. Training
      4. Talk to Your Salespeople Three Times a Day
    11. Still Want Salespeople?
  10. 7. Employees: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
    1. So What Happened?
    2. The Employee Groups
      1. The “F” Players: Hurricanes
      2. The “D” Players: Tropical Storms
      3. The “C” Players: Occasional Showers
      4. The “B” Player: Sun Showers
      5. The “A” Players: Rarely a Cloud in the Sky
      6. The “A+” Player: Sunny Days Are Here Again (Your Vacation Players)
      7. The “A++” Player: The Weatherman
    3. A CEO’s Responsibility
    4. The True Cost of a Bad Hiring Decision
      1. The Interview Time
      2. Cost of Ads
      3. Salary and Benefits Costs
      4. Training Costs
      5. Frustration Hours
      6. Lost Business
      7. Opportunity Cost
      8. Employee Morale and Productivity
      9. Add It Up
    5. Finding People
      1. Scouting: Always Be Recruiting
      2. Your Favorite Sports Teams Do It
      3. “No” Does Not Mean “No” (In This Case)
      4. Keep Your Roster
    6. Danger, Will Robinson!
    7. Recruiting the Normal Way
      1. Craigslist
      2. Newspapers
      3. Career Websites
        1. Monster.com
          1. Purchase options
          2. Power Résumé Search
        2. CareerBuilder.com
          1. Wide Reach
          2. Industry Specialization
        3. But Wait, There’s More...
          1. TheLadders.com
          2. Snagajob.com
          3. Foodservice.com
          4. Hcareers.com
          5. WorkInRetail.com
          6. AllRetailJobs.com
          7. MechanicJobs.com
          8. ConstructionJobs.com
          9. Dice.com
          10. Fishing-Jobs.com
      4. Get the Point?
        1. Research
        2. Price
        3. Is Bigger Better?
        4. Expect a Flood
        5. Needle in a Haystack
      5. Friends of Friends
    8. Screening Applicants: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
      1. The Screening Process
        1. Résumé Screening
          1. Relevant Experience
          2. Gaps in Employment
          3. Job Jumping
          4. Typos on the Résumé
          5. A/B/C
        2. Top 15: Phone Interviews
        3. In-Person Interviews
          1. Where?
          2. How Long?
          3. Questions
          4. Listen Carefully
          5. It’s a Two-Way Street!
        4. Offsite Interviews
        5. On-the-Job Trials
      2. Résumé Checks
        1. Reference Checks
        2. Employee Screening: Background Checks
          1. Criminal Checks
          2. Credit Checks
          3. Driving
          4. Drugs
      3. Talk to Your HR Professional
    9. To Summarize
  11. 8. It’s Your Time, Use It Wisely
    1. Realize Your Weaknesses
    2. Get Help
    3. The Delegation Process
      1. 1. The Easy Stuff
      2. 2. Daily Log
      3. 3. Analyze Your Diary
      4. 4. Highest and Best Use
      5. 5. Give Up Something: Baby Steps
      6. 6. It’s All About the Hand-Off
      7. 7. Walk Away
      8. 8. Expect Mistakes
      9. 9. Repeat
    4. Steps to Freedom
      1. First...
      2. Second...
      3. Third...
      4. Fourth...
    5. Your Organizational Chart
      1. Think About Delegation
      2. How Many People Report Directly to You?
      3. Take a Look at Your Direct Reports
      4. The Fun Part: Looking Ahead
        1. Yes
        2. No
      5. Future Staffing Needs
      6. Next Steps
    6. Summary
  12. 9. Customers
    1. Every Customer Has at Least One Friend
    2. The 11 Rules of Customer Service
      1. 1. Call Me Back, Please!
        1. Yes, You Do Need To Be Able To Text
        2. Communication Is Key
      2. 2. Liar, Liar
      3. 3. Do What You Say You Are Going To Do
      4. 4. Everything Rolls Down Hill
      5. 5. The Best Generals Are on the Front Lines with Their Men
      6. 6. Show You Care
        1. Heartburn
        2. Please the Customer
      7. 7. The Job Site: Hey! Someone Lives Here!
        1. Off with Their Heads!
        2. A Mess by Any Other Name...
        3. Job Site Cleanliness = Job Quality
        4. Magnifying Glasses
        5. Lose, Lose
      8. 8. Say “Hello”
        1. Keep Your Distance
        2. Smile, Baby, Smile
        3. Stop What You Are Doing
        4. Look at the Customer When You Say “Hello”
        5. Practice
      9. 9. Follow Up
      10. 10. Take Notes
      11. 11. Create a Customer Bill of Rights
        1. Consumer Bill of Rights
          1. The Right To Be Safe
          2. The Right To Choose Freely
          3. The Right To Be Heard
          4. The Right To Be Informed
          5. The Right to Education
          6. The Right to Service
        2. Now It’s Your Turn
  13. 10. Technology
    1. The Technology Basics
      1. Cell Phone
        1. Voice or Speed Dial
        2. Camera
        3. Text Messaging
      2. Email
        1. Be @yourcompany.com
        2. Make It Easy To Remember
        3. Mobile Email
        4. Smart Phone Options
          1. Blackberry
          2. iPhone
          3. Droid and Other Smart Phones
        5. Email: More Basics
          1. Signature Line
          2. Spell Check
      3. Computers
      4. Software
      5. Back Up!
      6. You Don’t Always Save Money By Being Cheap
      7. Free Internet for All!
    2. Random Thoughts on Technology
      1. Fax = efax
      2. Simulscribe
      3. Wireless Internet Cards
      4. Video Surveillance
    3. Summary
  14. 11. Business Intelligence
    1. The Marketplace
    2. Your Competition
      1. Now What?
      2. How To Gather Information About Competitors
    3. Business Intelligence Outside Your Market
    4. Friendly Competition Is Always Better
    5. Business Intelligence: Strategic Relationships
    6. Thinking Outside the Box
      1. What About...?
  15. 12. Back to School
    1. The Enemy of Learning Is Knowing
      1. The Boss Attitude
      2. The Salty Dog
        1. Taking the Salt Out of Your Dogs
      3. Not Invented Here
    2. Learning Is Not Just for You
      1. Trade/Industry Associations: Get Involved
        1. Local Meetings
        2. Conventions
        3. Suppliers
      2. Build Your Advisory Team
        1. Legal
        2. CPA
        3. Banker
        4. IT Professional
        5. Industry Experts and, Yes, Competitors
        6. “Serial Entrepreneur”
        7. Mentor and Coach
    3. CEO Groups
      1. Entrepreneurs’ Organization: EO
        1. EO’s facts-at-a-glance:
      2. Young Presidents Organization: YPO
      3. Vistage
      4. My Experience
    4. Other Organizations
      1. Business Roundtable
      2. BNI: Business Networking
    5. Personal Growth: A Commitment to Reading
      1. Business Books
        1. Step One: Pick a Book, Any Book
        2. Step Two: Time Is of the Essence
        3. Step Three: The Halfway Point
        4. Step Four: The Review
      2. Magazines
      3. Websites
  16. 13. Expense Management: Running a Lean Business
    1. Contractors and Service Companies
      1. Materials Estimating
      2. Material Suppliers
      3. Inventorying Materials
        1. Controlling Inventory
      4. Checking on the Work
      5. Focusing on Waste Does Not Mean Lowering Quality Standards
      6. Labor Waste: The Big One
        1. How Do You Eat an Elephant?
        2. Set Clear Expectations
        3. Bonus for Jobs for Coming in on Time
      7. Your Equipment
    2. Restaurants
      1. Suppliers
      2. Hours
      3. Food Costs
      4. Restaurant Staff
      5. Inventory Control
      6. The Bar
      7. Employee Theft
      8. Live Entertainment
      9. Restaurant Summary
    3. Retail
      1. Inventory, Inventory, Inventory
        1. Dollars Tied Up in Expensive Inventory
        2. Staffing
        3. Caution
    4. Expense Management Advice for All Industries
      1. Leases
      2. Vehicles
      3. Purchasing Power
      4. Job Costing
      5. The Office
      6. Outsourcing
      7. Office Efficiency
      8. The Little Stuff
        1. Cell Phones
        2. Postage
        3. Miscellaneous Office Supplies
        4. Phone Lines
        5. Internet Service
        6. Don’t Buy Anything New
        7. Computers and Equipment
        8. Photocopiers
        9. Ink Cartridges
        10. Cleaning Service
    5. The Big Stuff
      1. Legal
        1. If You Are Being Sued...
          1. Ignore the Dollar Amount
          2. Don’t Panic
          3. Yes, Some or All of Their Claim Is Untrue
          4. Get to the Heart of the Problem Right Away
          5. Don’t Hire the First Lawyer You Talk To
          6. Get Referrals
          7. What Do They Specialize In?
          8. Check Out the Lawyer’s Bar Record
          9. Interview Three Lawyers
          10. Managing Your Lawyer
          11. Settle the Case as Fast as You Can
          12. Review All Bills
          13. Being Right Is Not Enough
        2. Suing Someone Else
        3. Contracts
        4. Contract Disputes
        5. In Summary, Your Honor, Now What?
      2. CPA Firms
      3. Equipment Purchases
      4. Expansion
      5. Acquisition
      6. Budgeting
      7. Job Costing
      8. Interviewing Key Hires
      9. Financial Controls
      10. CPAs Are Not Just for Taxes
      11. Run, Don’t Walk
      12. Remember Arthur Andersen and Choose Wisely
  17. 14. Estimating and Pricing
    1. Examples
      1. Mechanics
      2. Caterers
      3. Carpet Cleaners
      4. Manufacturing
      5. Restaurants
    2. Estimating System
      1. Estimating Software and Books
    3. The Horrors of Underestimating
    4. Pricing
      1. Mark Up
      2. Prices Are All Over the Map
      3. Just To Keep My Guys Working
      4. You Will Never Make It Up with Volume
    5. Job Watch!
      1. The Allure of Easy Money
        1. Experience
        2. Resources
  18. 15. Big Opportunities
    1. Big Box Retailer
      1. Big Box Buddies
      2. Pricing Pressure
      3. Advertising Dollars
      4. Slotting Fees
      5. Payments
      6. The Extra Surprises
      7. The End
      8. Sour Grapes
    2. Other Businesses
      1. Restaurant Catering
      2. Auto Mechanics
      3. Dry Cleaners
      4. Cleaning Services
      5. Your Business
    3. Staff Crossing Over: Like a Fish Out of Water
    4. Opportunities Outside Your Area of Expertise
      1. Cash Flow
      2. Bonding and Insurance
      3. Estimating
      4. Being Low Bid
    5. Final Thoughts on Going Outside the Box
  19. 16. Management
    1. Job Mapping
      1. The Right Seat on the Bus
      2. Attitude Is Everything, Right?
      3. Skills Required for Each Job
      4. Your Employees
      5. Different Skills and Attitudes
    2. Understanding/Communication
      1. Communication—No, Not Text Messaging
      2. Personality Profiles
    3. Expectations Management
      1. The Basics
      2. Expectations Management: The Next Steps
        1. Start by Asking Questions
        2. Look for New Ways
        3. Encourage Employees to Speed Up
    4. Incentive Management: Share in the Profits
      1. Step One
      2. Step Two
      3. Step Three
      4. Overall
    5. Culture—The Glue That Holds It All Together
      1. Define Your Company’s Culture
  20. 17. Meetings: Communication Is Key!
    1. Weekly/Bi-Weekly Team Meeting
      1. Tip One
      2. Tip Two
      3. Tip Three
      4. Tip Four
      5. Tip Five
      6. Tip Six
      7. Tip Seven
      8. Tip Eight
      9. Tip Nine
    2. Project Meeting
      1. Tip One
      2. Tip Two
      3. Tip Three
      4. Tip Four
      5. Tip Five
      6. Tip Six
      7. Tip Seven
    3. Company Lunches or Breakfast Meetings
      1. Tip One
      2. Tip Two
      3. Tip Three
      4. Tip Four
    4. Morning “Pump Up!” Meetings
      1. Tip One
      2. Tip Two
      3. Tip Three
      4. Tip Four
    5. Daily “Wrap Up” Meetings
      1. Tip One
      2. Tip Two
      3. Tip Three
      4. Tip Four
    6. The One-to-One Meeting
      1. Tip One
      2. Tip Two
      3. Tip Three
      4. Tip Four
    7. Additional Reading
  21. 18. Dream Management or Whole Life Management
    1. Starting a Business
      1. Step One
      2. Step Two
      3. Step Three
      4. Step Four
      5. Step Five
    2. Managing Happy Employees
  22. 19. Goals
    1. Write It Down
    2. The Writing Process
      1. Step 1
      2. Step 2
      3. Step 3
      4. Step 4
        1. Specific
        2. Measurable
        3. Attainable
        4. Relevant
        5. Time Bound
        6. Evaluate
        7. Reward
      5. Step 5
      6. Step 6
      7. Step 7
      8. Step 8
      9. Step 9
        1. Step 10
        2. Step 11
        3. Step 12
    3. Example Goals
    4. Your Turn: Writing Your Goals
  23. 20. Protect Yourself, Your Company, and Your Employees
    1. Advertising/Marketing/Branding
    2. Consultants—Business Coaches
      1. The Specialist
      2. The Generalist
      3. Degrees
      4. Don’t Be Wowed!
      5. Be Wowed!
      6. Check References
      7. Don’t Commit
    3. Banks
      1. Banks Specialize
      2. Banks Need To Understand Your Business
      3. Interview 5 or Even 10 Banks
      4. Banks Are Not Venture Capitalists
      5. Everything Is Negotiable
      6. Read the Fine Print
      7. Relationships Matter
    4. Angel/Devil Investors and Venture Capitalists
      1. Interview as Many as Possible
      2. Check References
      3. Partner?
      4. Time Horizon
      5. The Lure of Easy Money
      6. Equity
      7. The Devil Is in the Details (Literally)
      8. Sometimes the Best Deal Is No Deal
    5. Insurance
      1. Your Broker Should Not Be Your Best Friend
      2. Don’t Use Just One Broker
      3. The Renewal Trick
      4. Specialists
      5. Apples to Apples
      6. Claims: Be Careful
      7. Understand Your Risks
      8. Workers’ Comp: Yes, You Need It
    6. Your Employees’ Safety
    7. Summary
  24. 21. Business Planning
    1. Writing the Plan
    2. Elements of a Business Plan
      1. The Business
      2. Financial Data
      3. Supporting Documents
    3. Understanding Your Market
    4. The Challenge with Business Plans
      1. The Basic Plan You Need
    5. Summary
  25. 22. Conclusion
    1. Conclusion