Small Business Survival

In today's economic climate, the first priority for the small business entrepreneur is survival. A glance at newspapers, business journals, or cable news channels reveals a succession of corporations striving to stay on top of their game, and often failing, to slow the growth of outsourcing or to show real growth within their market space. In such times, knowing how to achieve long-term success is more critical than ever.

The most important thing today's small businesses can do is expose their organizations to critical self-analysis. Small businesses survive not by competing head-on with global corporations, but by pursuing the market niches larger operators ignore. Such a strategy requires constant attention to detail, necessitating self-analysis well beyond the operational level; it is crucial that everything from the basic business model down to the operation of the mailroom is subject to rigorous study. This means determining what, precisely, the business is aiming to offer its customers, how this differentiates it from its competitors, and how well it is delivering on these core products and services.

Much of this analysis can be readily conducted by the business itself, but a substantial part of a company's success is down to perception ? how customers (existing or potential) view its products, services and overall performance. However, determining such perceptions is notoriously difficult for companies that typically lack personnel trained in the specifics of marketing, public relations and advertising.

The most obvious alternative, turning to outside experts ? dedicated market research companies, for example ? is often impossible when money is tight and budgets small, but this does not mean entrepreneurs can ignore the example set by the most successful corporations. What almost all business success stories have in common is a relentless commitment to factors that reinforce competitive advantage: product research and development; marketing, advertising and public relations activities; and customer relations.

What the most successful companies have recognized is that survival hinges on two separate, yet intertwined factors ? being the best, and being recognized as being the best.

Being the best requires a commitment to excellence in all areas. That means small business leaders cannot shy away from hard decisions, where employment is concerned for example. Staff that consistently fail to perform must be replaced with those that will. The smaller the company, the more difficult such actions may be to take, but they are essential. Similarly, leaders need to ensure they have staff who are prepared to do what it takes to deliver results, no matter if that means asking for a commitment from staff far greater than business rivals demand of their employees. Being the best also requires a company to recognize when it is lacking in excellence in key areas, and to identify whether that excellence can be delivered through hiring new employees, retraining existing staff, or seeking outside counsel. Money invested in improving core business competencies is never better spent than in tough times like today, because it directly impacts productivity, sales, and perceptions.

Making sure a company is recognized as being the best is often seen by small business entrepreneurs as secondary in importance to "real" issues such as production, distribution and sales. The common viewpoint is that if the product is "right" the customers will buy it. Yet it is precisely this attitude that dooms many businesses, regardless of the quality of their products or services. Small businesses need to give as much attention to their public relations, marketing and advertising strategies as large corporations.

Many entrepreneurs cry that this is simply beyond their means ? they cannot contemplate spending tens of thousands of dollars on "fancy" market analyses from specialized researchers. The argument is valid, but consider this: if marketing, advertising and public relations dollars are in short supply, how critical is it that those dollars are well spent? A small business can far less afford just one marketing effort to miss its target than can a huge international corporation.

What small businesses must do is learn the core skills marketing experts take for granted. They need to take every opportunity to speak to customers, potential customers and vendors to uncover how well the company is perceived. Likewise, a simple analysis of publicly available materials (such as census data) can help a small business better identify key target markets, reducing the waste of valuable resources inherent in blindly blanketing an area with its advertising. Such an analysis might lack the sophistication of a professional market analysis, but it can make the difference between success and failure ? and there is nothing to stop the company utilizing a more professional analysis in the future when it is growing strongly.

It comes back to the issue of self-analysis. If a company has a clear vision of where it wants to go, the task of identifying its market, and the optimal ways to attack that target, is much easier. This allows for a concentration of limited resources where they can best help deliver success. Such a focus of effort lies at the heart of corporate survival, no matter if the company is large or small.

Laura Aldridge is CEO of Aldridge Corporation, a minority, woman-owned strategic marketing communication & public relations firm. Big deal. That title sounds powerful, but don't be fooled. She readily admits you might catch her in the line of a local Los Angeles area store, playing with her husband and kids at the lake, coaching her daughter's cheerleading squad, watching youth football practices, or art show.

And on occasion she finds time to write articles on various topics, writing training material for technology based applications, speak at a conference or two, designing just about anything for almost anybody, making calls and trying to get her client's all the press and exposure they can handle, and serve on the board of directors for some great organizations. She's worked for a couple of great companies that saw the value of her ideas and style; she has won an award or two. But don't let the "powerful" title trick you; she's just "Laura" to most people.

In The News:

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Choose the Best Small Business Loan for your Needs  EntrepreneurSpecific loans can help you start or improve your small business.
Supermarket considers rationing small business buyers  FreshPlaza.comFreshPlaza, portal for the *fresh* produce industry, offering the latest news, job advertisements, pricewatching, and photo reports.
6 Amazing Twitter Hacks You've Probably Never Done Before  Small Business TrendsYou'll only get out of this world results from using Twitter if you truly know how to release its potential. Try these 6 Twitter hacks to start.
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Why Every Small Business Needs a Data Strategy  BizTech MagazineNot very long ago, data was just a byproduct of business processes: It was created because the business did something, but it had no value of its own.
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How Merchant Cash Advance Can Help with Working Capital  Business.comFind our if working capital through a merchant cash advance is the right solution.
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Unfair contract terms in small business sector under scrutiny by ACCC  iTWireAustralia's competition regulator the ACCC says unfair contract terms are a big focus as it takes action and moves to ensure small businesses are not...
Six key areas small business owners should focus on to maintain control  NN Business ViewHow do you stay on track and help your business live up to its potential? Here are six areas that are critical to establishing a solid foundation for growth.
The best London office spaces for small businesses | London Business News  London Loves BusinessNot too long ago, the prospect of finding a cost-effective office space in London would have seemed like nothing more than a distant dream for most small ...
Small Business Owners Fighting to Protect Playing Music in Public  Small Business TrendsIf you play music at your small business, the review of ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) will likely have ...
The Small Business 'Crisis' That Isn't  Gotham Gazette(photo: William Alatriste/City Council). When shops and restaurants that you love and depend on close it can be heartbreaking; I know from personal experience.
10 Tips to Improve Customer Experience in Your Small Business  Small Business TrendsIf you want to keep customers coming back to your business, you need to create a positive experience. There's a lot that goes into cultivating that experience, ...
Supermarket considers rationing small business buyers to ensure supplies  Business MattersBusiness MattersA senior executive at a major food retailer said it is considering introducing rationing to prevent firms from using retailers as wholesalers.
WeWork Gets Tax Rebate Meant for Its Small-Business Tenants  BloombergTenants' fees include upfront property tax payments, and then WeWork keeps the refund.
Cisco: 6 critical security alarms for UCS software, small-biz routers  Network WorldCisco finds critical bugs in its Unified communications Director and Director Express software for Big Data packages as well as its Small Business 220 Series ...
Small business claims ASU owes them $1 million for video game  AZFamilyIt was a sort of digital “choose your own adventure” game where would-be corporate leaders could apply their knowledge as they worked for a virtual airline.
CenturyLink Expands SIMPLE Service for Small Business Owners  Yahoo FinanceWith CenturyLink's (CTL) SIMPLE *service* expansion, small business customers can now purchase more business-critical services with ease.
More hackers targeting small business owners. Here’s what to do  wflxHow safe is your business? We are all vulnerable to hackers, but now experts say small business owners are more at risk than ever before.
A Small Business Scorecard, Part Two  Flathead BeaconToday we continue with part two of the series, “A Small Business Scorecard”. As a reminder, I'm calling this a scorecard, but the goal is not to arrive at a number ...
Hobart CBD parking zone proving a headache for motorists, Small Business Council boss says  The MercuryHOBART motorists are being caught out by a confusing parking zone with contested reports that machine payment is being accepted at times when parking is ...
5 Reasons to Lease the Car You Really Want to Drive  Small Business TrendsAre most of your business decisions based on how much money you can save? If so, you probably lease a car for your business simply because it's affordable ...
5 Tips for Expanding Your Small Business (The Right Way)  EntrepreneurMany small-business owners want to grow their companies, and they want to do it fast. But if you rush into expandsion without a plan, you risk losing everything ...
Small business owners prepare for COSBOA Summit in Melbourne  Tasmania ExaminerRural Business Tasmania's Elizabeth Skirving chairs COSBOA sessions.
Niagara Falls offers more small business support grants  Buffalo NewsThe application window for Niagara Falls second round of federally funded small business grants has opened, Community Development Director Seth A.
Many Small Businesses Don't Understand Retirement Plan Options  The 401(k) SpecialistSmall businesses are an essential part of the American economy. They spark innovation, drive competition and employ many people.
Head of Small Business Administration visiting Sioux City  Radio IowaThe head of the U.S. Small Business Administration's lending operation will be in Sioux City today to meet with lenders and to visit businesses that are ...
Atlanta Small Business Profile - Alan Mishkoff, Granite Garage Floors  Atlanta Small Business NetworkOn this week's episode of the Atlanta Small Business Profile, Ted Jenkin speaks with Alan Mishkoff, Founder and Franchisor of Granite Garage Floors.
Not high-profile but a target for violence: small businesses  Washington PostSmall businesses can provide active shooter training to staffers, bringing in local law enforcement or consultants.
What happens when a small business owner dies?  http://smallbusiness.co.ukShareholder Protection Insurance helps you plan your business succession when you die, enabling a smooth transition for your small business.
Small Business Trends To Watch Out For: Stay Ahead Of The Game  ValueWalkPeople also often say that working from home account for more time wasted and less time being productive. studies prove that it's actually.
About 35 vendors expected at today's Small Business Expo  Texarkana GazetteThe Chamber of Commerce hosts a Small Business Expo from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today on the corner of Third Street and Texas Boulevard. Aug. 22 2019 @ 4:21am.
Looking to start a small business? Brasher Falls wants to help, if you open there  NNY360BRASHER FALLS — A micro-loan program initiated by the Brasher Town Board in 2011 and operated by the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development ...
ICIC builds ecosystem for small businesses  BayStateBannerIn 1994, when Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter founded the Institute for a Competitive Inner City, decades of capital flight had taken a toll on ...
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce announces Small Business of the Year  WKRG News 5MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce has named BCM Morring as the 2019 Small Business of the Year. The announcement came ...
Bruce Sackrison's Insurance Matters: Does your small business need key person insurance?  Napa Valley RegisterIf you have employees, keep reading to see if you need key person insurance.
Empire Outlets creates space for small businesses to open kiosks  Spectrum News NY1Empire Outlets has launched a new specialty leasing program that will provide space for small businesses to open up a kiosk at the shopping center.
48% of Small Business Employees Have Access to Too Much Data  Small Business TrendsWith the right data classification policy in place, you can identify the types of data you have, who can access it, and secure the information.
HALL: Don't Turn Your Back on Small Business, Governor  North State JournalSmall businesses are the engine of North Carolina's economy, yet they all suffer from one problem: access to affordable health insurance. This message doesn't ...
YPC details how to start a small business  Cleburne Times-ReviewKen Byrd, an advisor with the Small Business Development Center, discussed how to start a small business with members of the Young Professionals of ...
Small business workshop slated  The Courier“Seven Costly Mistakes Small Businesses Make with Their Websites & Marketing,” will be discussed in a workshop from 8 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the Hancock ...
Connie Whitt named Small Business Development Center state star  Mississippi Business JournalConnie Whitt, director of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center locations at the University of Southern Mississippi and on the Gulf Coast, has been ...
9 green technologies small business should consider  The Next WebGreen technologies can offer benefits to businesses while at the same time making it more environmentally sensible. There are a lot of options for smaller ...
50 Businesses Every Small Town Needs  Small Business TrendsWhat business does every small town need? If you want to contribute to the business landscape in a small town, here are 50 ideas to consider.
Best cell phone plans for small businesses  Digital TrendsJust as one shoe size can't fit all, there's no single cell phone plan that will suit every small company. But there are numerous high-quality plans that are worthy ...
Developing Great Managers for Your Small Business  WCBS 880When an organization has a great manager at the helm leading the way, success is imminent. A great manager makes sure all aspects of the business are ...
William Watson: Slim down our sacred small-business cow  Financial PostIn the Chinese calendar this is the year of the pig. In Canada we are about to enter the season of the sacred cow and fatted calf, i.e., the federal election ...
GSA preps industry for Alliant 2 Small Business redo  Washington TechnologyFive months after nixing awards, the General Services Administration is previewing its plans for a second try at awards on its Alliant 2 Small Business contract.
Cognytics Tries to Bring Better Visualization to a Small Business's Data  Small Business TrendsMention data analytics to a small business owner and they might think it is the domain of large enterprises, but it is no longer the case. This is because small ...
Homeless crisis forces small business owner in California to relocate, she says  Fox BusinessAs the homeless crisis continues to be a problem in California, one small business owner took her complaints directly to Gov. Gavin Newsom in a Twitter video.
Digital Tax on Google, Amazon, Facebook, others will gut consumers and small businesses  Fox BusinessGoogle, Facebook, and Amazon and several other major tech companies argued the digital services tax by France will hurt small business and consumers ...
An NYC community center is helping seniors build small businesses  Business InsiderFor some seniors, retirement is an opportunity to learn how to start their own small business, and they're doing it at New York's Senior Planet.
Hiring The Right Talent: Six Essential Tips For Small Businesses  ForbesFinding the right people for your team can be challenging, especially when time and other resources are tight. Here are some things to keep in mind as you ...
3 MSME schemes for marketing and promotion of small businesses  YourStoryThe MSME Ministry is implementing a number of marketing schemes for small businesses. Here are some of them.
Adobe Launches New Products to Help Digitize Small Businesses  Small Business TrendsAdobe Sign for small business, helps digitize paper-based processes for anyone who wants to move on from pen, paper, printer and filing cabinets.
Reasons your small business loan may be rejected  The PunchFor some business owners, it is a nightmare scenario: You were counting on getting that small business loan, but the bank said no. What do you do n...
Crack the Small Business PR Code with These 3 Pro Tips  Small Business TrendsPR and media coverage doesn't have to be limited to the big corporate brands out there. Try these 3 PR tips for small business to gain attention.
Experts see 'scare-mongering' in reports that federal carbon tax is a nightmare for small business  The Globe and MailExperts see 'scare-mongering' in reports that federal carbon tax is a nightmare for small business. Brian Milner. Special to The Globe and Mail. Published ...
Instagram Removing Like Counts - How to Adjust Your Marketing Strategy  Small Business TrendsWith instagram removing like counts, Small Business Trends spoke to an expert to learn about the advertising implications for SMB's.
Small business confidence drops to a low as U.S.–China trade war rattles Main Street  CNBCSmall business owners across the nation are worried about the U.S.–China trade war. The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey for the third quarter ...
In the News: Small Business Cyber Security Concerns Persist  Small Business TrendsOnline security was a big topic in the past week. Of course, news broke mid-week about the big Capital One data breach. And we talked about how you can deal ...

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