Archive for the ‘Blog Posts’ Category

See Success in 2013 with a Small Business Management Consultant

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

We know running a small business can be difficult, especially when you’re just starting out. You often have a very limited budget, a small support staff, and very few resources. Getting your company off the ground and on the way to being truly successful can sometimes take years to accomplish. However, we’re here to help. At the Connell Curtis Group, you can find a small business management consultant who can help you every step of the way. They’ll make sure your company is operating at the level it should be to make you money.

 

Specifically, a Connell Curtis small business management consultant will look at:

  • Your sales. Are they where they should be? Are you truly meeting your customers’ needs and utilizing the right sales channels?
  • Your staff. Are they operating as efficiently as they could be? Are there any redundancies? How could they improve?
  • Your technology. Are you using the most cost-effective forms of technology? Are you protected in the event of a disaster or security breach?
  • Your processes. Are there better ways your products can be manufactured? Are there more effective ways your team can communicate or manage the production process?
  • Your marketing. How are you reaching your target customers? Is it being done in the most effective way possible? How can you better reach those customers and speak to their needs and demands?
  • Your overhead costs. Are you paying too much in overhead costs? What can be done to reduce those? How can more money be freed up to put toward marketing and sales?

 

If your small business just isn’t delivering the success you’d hoped it would, consider enlisting the help of a small business management consultant. They’ll help you get your company on track to be a truly successful and lucrative operation. Call the Connell Curtis Group at 210-414-9724 to learn more today.

Marketing Plans for Small Business: All the Steps You Need to Know

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

If you own a small business, you know how big of a part marketing plays into the overall success of a company. Unfortunately though, with the minimal budget and limited staff that often comes with a small business, many find it hard to really make waves with traditional marketing tactics. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to create a unique, customized marketing plan just for your business, one that meets your budget, fits your needs, and delivers real results.

 

So what goes into marketing plans for small business? Where do you begin? Follow our quick guide to creating killer marketing plans for small business.

 

Step 1: Analyze the market and your customers.

The first thing you have to do when creating marketing plans for small business is take a look at the market around you. Who are your current competitors? How many products and services are out there like yours? What makes your product different? Take a look at what’s currently trending in the marketplace and see how you fit in.  Are you selling something that’s in demand? Do you offer products or services that meet a specific need? Overall, you want to determine where your company and its products fall into today’s marketplace.

 

You’ll also need to define your target customers. Who exactly are you marketing your company to? What do they like, dislike, and need? What is popular with them right now? You’ll want to pay specific attention to their buying habits, too. Do they shop primarily online? At bargain stores? Through catalogs? This will help you better define how and where your marketing can reach them.

 

Step 2: Set your budget and your goals.

Next, you’ll need to define your marketing goals and outline a budget.  What are you looking to accomplish with this marketing plan? Be as specific as possible, such as: to increase profits by $10,000, to gain 1,000 new customers in the next year, or to sell 1,500 products to a new target demographic. The more specific you are, the better you can tailor your marketing tactics to your needs. Plus, it will make measuring the success of your marketing much easier later on down the line.

 

You should also set a specific budget for your marketing plan. How much can you spend this year? If possible, break it down by month. You don’t want to get to December and have no budget left. Overall, in marketing plans for small business, the more specific you are, the better.

 

Step 3: Create a strategy.

Now it’s time to strategize. What methods can you use to market your products and services to the target customer you defined earlier? What forms of promotion, advertising, and communication would be effective? Consider what would most appeal to your customers, what would best suit your brand and your company’s vision, and what would be the most cost-effective. Remember, you already set a budget, so don’t strategize for some multi-million dollar advertising campaign if you don’t expect to have the funds for it.

 

Step 4: Devise a plan of action.

Here, you’ll need to outline the specific course of action you’ll take to execute your strategy. Create a step-by-step guide that details exactly what marketing action is taken and when it will occur. Break it down by month, if possible. This allows you not only to map out a long-term plan, but it also ensures you can more easily stick to your budget and track your spending.

 

Step 5: Track your performance.

The real key to creating great marketing plans for small business is to track them. In truth, there’s no way to know if your marketing plan is actually effective unless you track its performance. Each month, check to see if you’re making headway on your overall goals. Have sales increased? Have you gotten new customers? Compare your returns against the goals and budget you set in step 2, and do some forecasting. Are you on track to achieve them? Are you still on or under budget? If you find yourself getting off track, you can take this time to regroup, make some revisions, and get your campaign back on the route to success.

 

Want to learn more about marketing plans for small business? Need help creating one? Contact the Connell Curtis Group today at 210-414-9724.

Elements of an Effective Business Plan

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

When you’re starting a new business, an effective business plan is crucial to your success. Not only does it help you determine your vision for the company, give you insight into its position in the market, and outline the financial details of everything, it also gives you a roadmap of sorts, one that will help guide you and your new business to success. A great business plan is also a convenient selling tool, and it could help you gain investors or potential business partners.

 

So what do you need to put an effective business plan together? Follow our handy guide below.

 

The Executive Summary

One of the most important parts of an effective business plan is the executive summary. This comes at the very beginning and gives the reader insight into the overall content of your plan. In it, you should explain the gist of what your company does, its goals, its vision, and its current marketplace.

 

This is your chance to really sell your business to someone, so be sure to point out all the best and most eye-catching information here. You want the person who reads your executive summary to want to continue on to learn more about your company, so be sure you pique their interest. Tell them what your company can accomplish and what kind of returns and profits they can expect by joining you on the journey.

 

The Details

After you’ve written a great executive summary, you’ll need to give your reader all the nitty gritty details of your new company. You should include:

  • A full business description, including your company name, legal status, structure, mission statement, and more. You should also include information on the products and services you will provide, and outline the overall goals and visions you have for the company.
  • A market analysis. Here, you should detail your target customer; outline their demographics, their needs, their wants, and their buying trends. Also, speak to your company’s place in the current marketplace and address any competitors you may have.
  • Marketing strategies. A great marketing strategy is hugely important to an effective business plan. You could have the most unique product or service out there, but if you can’t market those services and convert them into sales, it doesn’t matter. Take this time to outline your marketing plan: where will you sell your products? How will you get the word out?
  • Operational details. This is where you’ll delve into how your products and services are actually delivered. Where will the business be located? Where will products be manufactured? How will you store inventory? You should outline all the facilities, equipment, and staffing needs you’ll have, as well as how your products will be shipped, delivered, and packaged.
  • Your team members. A really effective business plan doesn’t just sell a reader on the company; it sells them on the people who will be running it. This is where you can seek to accomplish that. Detail the unique experience and expertise you and your management team have. Explain why your employees are equipped to make this company a success, and what qualifies them to perform their respective roles.

 

The Financials

This is, quite possibly, the most looked at part of a business plan. In this section, you’ll need to provide all the financial details that an investor would be interested in: your overhead costs, your current investments and capital, and your labor and production costs. You should also speak to the expected profits, and include a project for what sort of return you expect in one year, three years, and five years. Outline your cash flow projections, and be sure to include information on how all these numbers were determined.

 

Do you need help creating an effective business plan? Call the Connell Curtis Group today at 210-414-9724.

Traits of Great Marketing Consultants for Small Business

Monday, January 21st, 2013

So, you’ve decided: in 2013, instead of going it alone, you’re going to enlist the help of an expert when crafting your marketing strategy. This year, you’ll be looking for a great marketing consultant to help guide you and your team in creating a winning plan that’s sure to improve your sales and increase your customer base. However, where do you start? What is it exactly you’re looking for when seeking marketing consultants for small business? Also, what makes one consultant stand out from another?

 

It’s true, not all marketing consultants are created equal. Some are more qualified, more experienced, and more effective than others. Also, with something as important as your marketing on the line, you can’t just leave it to chance. You need to be sure you’re hiring the right consultant, or you could risk losing out on loads of potential sales.

 

Essentially, great marketing consultants for small business all share a few common traits. Look for these traits when considering consulting candidates, and you’ll better set yourself and your company up for marketing success.

 

Specifically, marketing consultants for small business should:

  • Know your market. You can’t have a successful marketing plan without knowing your market inside and out. Your marketing consultant should have great knowledge and experience in your company’s market. They should have a finger on who your customers are, what they want, and what they need. They should also know about your competitors and be aware of current market trends and strategies.
  • Be a great listener. Listening is an integral part of what marketing consultants for small business do. They need to listen to you and your colleagues about your company, the challenges you’re facing, your goals, and your current marketing tactics. Only through this can they learn what your company’s marketing needs and demands are. Then, they can begin to help you strategize to improve, grow, and prosper.
  • Know the value of time. A great marketing consultant should always know the value of time. Essentially, time is money, and the longer you’re operating under a failing marketing strategy, the more money you’re losing out on. Truly effective marketing consultants for small business are able to offer quick turn-around time, so you don’t lose out on any more valuable sales.
  • Have real-world experience. To really know the strategies, methods, and tactics that work in marketing, a consultant must have real-world experience in the field. Most great marketing consultants for small business have spent time in positions at PR firms, advertising agencies, or marketing companies, and they boast a long resume of marketing-related jobs and duties.
  • Be analytical. A crucial part of the consulting process is analysis. In order to help you create a marketing strategy that is truly effective, a consultant first has to analyze your current marketing methods and determine what’s not working, what could be better and where you’re lacking. Only then can they start brainstorming strategies that are more likely to take your company to success.
  • Be results-driven. In marketing, the goal is always the same: to increase sales and get more customers. This goal should always be on the mind of any marketing consultants you choose. They shouldn’t be concerned with how much money they’re making or how many hours they’re putting in; they should be thinking of what can done to get you and your company to a more profitable level. Every step of the consulting process should be executed with this in mind.

 

Are you on the hunt for some great marketing consultants for small business? The Connell Curtis Group can help. Call us at 210-414-9724 today to learn more about getting started!

In Marketing, a Consulting Business Can Make All the Difference

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

When it comes to marketing, a consulting business is one of the best allies you can have. Enlisting a consultant can give you unique insight into your company: what its strengths and weaknesses are, what’s working and not working, and how your customers are responding. Then, armed with this information, you can create a truly effective marketing plan that not only sells your products and services, but also better speaks to your customers’ needs and demands.

 

When working on your company’s marketing, a consulting business can help by:

  • Providing expertise. Consultants have built their careers on helping companies improve efficiency and better sell their products and services. Through this, they’ve acquired a whole arsenal of knowledge, tools, and strategies that are proven to work. When you hire a consultant, you get to take advantage of that.
  • Giving you an outside opinion. Pinpointing what’s not working within a company and its marketing strategies is the key to making them better. Unfortunately, it’s often hard for companies to turn the magnifying glass on themselves and admit that something isn’t quite right. A consultant makes the process easier by providing you with a third party, outside appraisal of your company and its marketing. Then, they can help you strategize to improve.
  • Freeing up more funds. What’s marketing without a budget? Hiring a consultant can help your business improve your strategies, cut back on costs, and increase profits. Then, you can pour even more money into that marketing budget and reach an even larger number of customers!
  • Suggesting ways to expand your reach. Consultants will often help you devise ways to expand your reach, either by utilizing new sales channels, launching new products, or improving on your existing ones. Once you have your new strategies in place, you can start marketing them to increase your sales.

 

Having trouble with marketing? A consulting business like the Connell Curtis Group can help.  Contact us today at 210-414-9724 to learn more!

Looking Ahead: Small Business Growth Strategies for 2013

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

The new year is quickly approaching and you know what that means? It’s resolution time. If you’re a small business owner, making a resolution isn’t just about your personal goals, like losing weight, making more money, or taking a vacation; it’s about the goals you set for your company, and how you plan to grow and improve your business in the coming year. Are you resolving to better your company in 2013? Check out these great small business growth strategies that are sure to bring in big results:

 

Expand your reach.

One of the most tried and true small business growth strategies is to simply expand the reach of your business. Take a look at your company and think about other locations or regions that may be a good market for your products and services. If you currently only operate storefronts in Chicago, consider branching out and opening some in Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and other major markets. In addition to just opening up new locations, you could also think about getting your products offered at other businesses, like super markets, grocery store chains and bookstores. Anywhere that your target customers may be is a potential venue in which to expand your reach.

 

Network and collaborate.

There are many other small business owners out there just like you who are trying to get their companies off the ground and profitable. Seek them out and look for opportunities that could be mutually beneficial to both companies. If you make hot sauce, look for local restaurant owners who are willing to put your sauces on their dining room tables. This gets your company exposure and has an added benefit to the restaurant’s customers. Additionally, you could even offer them some stock and allow them to sell your sauces at the check-out counter with a small mark-up; then, both you and the restaurant get a financial benefit from the relationship.

 

Add value.

This is one of the most sure-fire small business growth strategies in the book. Take time to learn about your customers and discover what needs and wants they have. Sure your products and services meet their needs on some level, but what more do they want? How can you improve your products to add value for your customers? Better yet, what products or services can you develop and launch to complement your existing ones? Any way you can add value to your offerings is a way to add money in your pocket.

 

Find a new niche.

You’ve already got one niche down; instead of messing with success, why not just branch into another? Analyze the market and take time to evaluate the demands and needs of those outside your target demographic. What are their needs? What is popular with them? How can your company offer a product or service that would fit what they’re looking for? If you can find a new niche to break into, it’s an automatic new revenue stream!

 

Get exposure.

Out of all the small business growth strategies we’re touting, this one’s the easiest. It simply means you need to take every opportunity to get your products, services and brand out there and in your customer’s field of vision. Attend trade shows and display your product at industry expos. Rent an info booth at a local convention, or hit the road and head to a networking event. If you’re on a smaller scale, simply go to an area flea market just to get your brand out there. The more exposure, the better!

 

Want more small business growth strategies to help improve your business in the new year? Contact the Connell Curtis Group today!

Benefits of Hiring a Small Business Advisor

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Sometimes, when business gets tough, it’s hard to separate your feelings from the needs of your company. In order to truly evaluate what your company requires to move forward, you need a neutral third party, one who’s an expert in growing businesses and improving company efficiency. Essentially, you need a small business advisor.

 

A small business advisor can have a great many advantages to a struggling company. They can recognize and pinpoint problem areas, discover inefficiencies and redundancies, and provide bona fide solutions that can help get the business back on a growth track.

 

Some of the many benefits of a small business advisor can include:

 

  • You get an outside opinion. One of the biggest advantages of a small business advisor is the fact that you get an outsider’s opinion of your business. You just can’t get this with in-house staffers, who fear the repercussions and consequences of truly voicing their minds. A third party advisor can look at your business as a whole and give you great insight as to what’s working, what’s not working, and what you can  do about it. Also, they’ll be able to give you helpful tips and advice on where you can take your company, and they can help you set reasonable, achievable goals.

 

  • You get experience. When you’re working to improve your business from the inside, you’re more or less shooting in the dark. You’re trying tactic after tactic until you find something that works and makes you more money. With a small business advisor, you don’t have this learning curve; right from the start, you get someone who’s experienced and well-versed in helping companies do exactly what you want: grow. Your advisor will likely have helped hundreds, maybe even thousands, of companies grow and prosper in similar situations like yours. They may have even worked in the same industry or on the same type of business. Either way, you know you’re getting experience and a track record of success with a small business advisor.

 

  • You get varied expertise. Choosing a small business advisor doesn’t just mean you get one person to help out your company; you get their whole team. These advisors come with a whole slew of colleagues and resources that they can pull from at any given moment. That means you get the best advice on technology, human resources, supply chain management, budgeting, and more, all from proven experts in their craft.

 

  • You get a plan. A small business advisor doesn’t just help you in the here and now; they help you create a distinct plan for working toward your business goals in the future. When your advisor’s work is done, you’ll know exactly what you’re going to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it, and when you’re going to achieve it by. You’ll be on the path to success in no time.

 

  • You have more free time. Getting the help of an advisor does more than just improve your business; it helps you personally, too. When you’re able to hand off your company’s problems, issues, and inefficiencies to an advisor, one who’s experienced and skilled in creating solutions, you’re left with a lot of free time on your hands. No longer do you have to roll up your sleeves and try to problem solve all your company’s issues on your own. Your advisor will handle that, and you can get back to doing what you do best: running your successful business!

 

If you’d like to see your business improved, consider hiring a small business advisor to evaluate and analyze your company. Contact the Connell Curtis Group to learn more about our business advising and consulting services today!

Innovative Business Ideas for Increasing Profits in 2013

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

As we head into 2013, it’s time to start looking at how you can improve, grow, and better your business in the new year. Better yet, how can you increase profits and make more money? If you’re looking for great ways to help you grow your company’s profits in 2013, we’ve got some innovative business ideas just for you:

 

Find new sales channels.

The easiest way to increase profits, and fast, is to start selling your products and services in a new venue or channel. If you’re only selling in a storefront, consider going online and offering delivery options. If you only offer products via catalog or subscription, look into selling your products at local markets or expos. The more venues customers can find your products in, the more convenient and easier it is for them to buy from you. Inherently, if there’s a demand, this helps increase profits.

 

Launch complementary products.

Of all the innovative business ideas you’ll find out there, few are as great at increasing profits as this one. Brainstorm ideas for products and services that your company could offer in tandem with its existing products. Ideally, you want to come up with ones that would complement, go along with, or even improve the use of your existing items. If you sell books, create cute and fun bookmarks and offer them as a bundle to customers for a small extra fee. If your company sells electronics, offer professional set-up services from a technician for an added cost.

 

Why does this work for upping profits? It’s simple: because it encourages an increase in order amount. Instead of focusing on getting more customers to buy your products, you’re focusing on getting your existing customers to buy just a little bit more. A few extra dollars on every order you get can go a long way in increasing your profits.

 

Start a loyalty program.

Another great way to leverage your existing customers is to start a loyalty program. Reward customers for purchasing from you with coupons, discounts on future orders, and freebies. This shows them you appreciate them and their purchase, and it gives them a sense of brand loyalty, making it more likely that they’ll come back with repeat business later. Additionally, give them incentives for recommending your company to a friend, and reward them when those friends make a purchase from you.

 

Get more efficiency.

One of the most effective innovative business ideas around, improving the efficiency of your company as a whole is a sure-fire route to making more money. Look into hiring a consultant or advisor to analyze your business systems, your resources and your technology, and see if they can recommend some areas of improvement. Consider allowing employees to work remotely and move your data and network to the cloud; both of these can cut down on the amount of money you spend on equipment, resources, and electricity in house.

 

Additionally, think about how you can be streamline positions. Can some jobs be combined? Is there unnecessary overlap? It’s possible you have some redundancies that, if removed, could save you tons of money in salary and benefits. You could also reevaluate your production and manufacturing strategies. Consider outsourcing if it could save you a bundle.

 

If you’re looking to increase your profits in the new year, then it’s time to start planning now. Consider new complementary products and services you can offer, and look into launching a loyalty program. Discover new sales channels and evaluate how your company could become more efficient overall.

 

Need more innovative business ideas for increasing profits? Call the Connell Curtis Group today.

What to Look for in a Business Advisory Service

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Succeeding in the business world isn’t easy. It takes the right amount of hard work, dedication, and expertise to truly make it happen. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to be an expert in everything, and sometimes you just need a little help. That’s where a business advisory service comes in. Business advisory services seek to help you and your business work more efficiently, be more productive, and, all in all, make more money.

 

Also, the best part about getting a business advisory service to help is that you know it’s going to work. These companies have built their reputation on guiding businesses of all sizes and types to success, and they can do the same for you.

 

How do you begin looking for a business advisory service? What factors should going into consideration when you’re weighing potential candidates? Here are a few tips:

 

  • Find out the extent of their services. You want a business advisory service that’s, well, full-service. They shouldn’t just offer one line of expertise; they should be able to provide expertise and guidance in all areas of your business. From the best technology and network systems to use to the most efficient use of staff and resources, a great advisory service should be able to help you with it all. If they can’t, consider it a red flag that they’re not as great as they say they are.

 

  • Learn about their credibility and reputation. You can’t trust the fate of your company to just anyone; you need to know that you’re putting your business in good hands. That’s why it’s imperative to look into the reputation and credibility of any business advisory service you’re considering using. Check into online reviews and ratings, and look for any complaints or issues past clients have noted. Ensure they have good standing with the Better Business Bureau, as well; this helps you make sure your money is going to a trustworthy source.

 

  • Look into their case studies and past clients. Ask any potential services if they can provide you with case studies and references of past clients they’ve worked with. If they refuse, move on to the next candidate. Looking into past cases is crucial to finding a great business advisory service. You need to know that 1) the company is satisfactory to work with and 2) that they are able to deliver on their promises. If possible, connect with past clients for a one-on-one or phone conversation. Find out what their needs were, how the service helped them reach those needs, and most importantly, ask if they would recommend the service to another company. If they would, you can assume you’re in good hands.

 

  • Learn about their staff and the professionals that would be working with you. They may be able to talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Take time to learn about the staff members you would be working with if you chose a potential business advisory service. What is their background and expertise? Are they well qualified and experienced in the help they provide? Most services have staff biographies on their website or have some available on request; look at these to determine if their staff is capable of handling (and delivering on) your needs.

 

If you want your business to see success, consider utilizing a business advisory service to help in the process. A business advisor can help streamline your company, allowing it to become more efficient, more productive, and more profitable across the board. Contact the Connell Curtis Group today to learn more about how our advisors can help guide you and your company.

How to Create an Effective Business Plan

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

When starting a new company, an effective business plan is integral to success. The right business plan not only provides a great roadmap to follow as you launch your new venture, but it also allows you to entice and impress potential investors and partners.

 

A truly effective business plan should address these items:

  • The market
  • Product development and production
  • The management team
  • Marketing strategies
  • Sales venues
  • Financial details

 

Need a little help creating your plan? Follow these simple steps.

 

  1. Sum it up. You need to create a killer business summary that can really wow investors and get them excited about your company. A good summary should include a description of your business, your products, and your industry. When done reading it, an investor should have a good idea of what your vision for the new company is.
  2. Do market research. Market research is incredibly important to creating an effective business plan. Analyze your industry and its marketplace to determine demand for your product, get an idea of who your customers are, and identify any possible competitors you may face. You should also use the SWOT analysis method to determine any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that your company may have.
  3. Outline development and production. You’ll need to outline the specific details of how your products will be developed and manufactured. How much labor will be required? Where will production take place? How will distribution work? Basically, you need map out the exact process your business will go through to produce its services and products.
  4. Define sales methods. Once you’ve covered how development and production will happen, you need to define your sales methods. Where will your services be offered? Do you have potential sales venues already lined up? Will sales online be a possibility?  Paint a clear picture of where and how customers will be able to purchase your products.
  5. Break down the financials. This is really what an investor is looking at when considering putting money into your new business. How much profit will this company make? How much will products be sold for? In the long run, what type of numbers can be expected? Outline all the nitty gritty financial details, so investors can get a clear picture of what funds are needed now, and what type of return can be expected in the future. If possible, use graphs and charts to really illustrate your data.
  6. Profile your team. A potential investor won’t put money into your company unless they’re confident in the people running the show. Put together detailed biographies of your management team that detail each person’s qualifications, education, resume, and anything else that may make them a trustworthy potential business partner.
  7. Detail marketing strategies. Creating a great product is one thing, but getting it to sell is another. A truly effective business plan should also include projected marketing strategies that will entice customers to buy products and take part in the new business. What sort of advertising will be used? Will there be any promotions that may encourage buying? Identify those and spur confidence in your investors that, not only can you launch a ground-breaking product, but you can sell it, too.
  8. Offer measurable projections. Finally, once you’ve outlined all details of your business, you need to make some projections as to your company’s performance. Outline what your expected sales numbers will be in one year, five years, and 10 years, and project the possible annual growth of the company. By including these in your business plan, you’re giving yourself goals to work toward, as well as showing investors that you are forward-thinking and looking ahead to the future.

 

Need helping creating an effective business plan for your company? Contact the Connell Curtis Group today.