This is a guest post from an old friend of mine, Pete Ekizian, a very savvy small business owner who owns and runs a very successful ecommerce engraved gifts store that has been online for twelve years.
I’ve known Pete for most of those years and had no idea what he wanted to write when he asked if he could guest post here and am very happy to share these tips from him on how to manage a small business during economically challenging times.
I hope you REALLY listen to what Pete has to share in this post. Few are as successful at ecommerce as Pete is – I can count how many I know about personally on one hand.
You can read more about his store in my post
How to Evaluate an Ecommerce Store and Merchant’s Affiliate Program.
So the recession is killing all of us.
Ignore what you read from certain people
who claim you can actually do
better in this economy.
The only reason they are saying
this is that they have something to sell.
You know the pitch:
The economy is bad, yes,
but we have the secret to
getting richer than ever!
It comes in many different forms:
- Build links that Google loves, without leaving your couch!
- How to add tons of content to your site on autopilot!
- Comment on followed blogs in your industry without lifting a finger!
There are two common threads to just about all pitches like this (and I’m sure you’re getting more than ever because people are getting desperate):
- First, they promise to automate a service that we all know works: Building links, building content, adding real value to blog conversations, etc.
- Second, they state that these invaluable activities can be done effortlessly.
And, of course, they claim that for a small lump sum payment or monthly fee, they’ll show you step by step how to do this.
Please, please, please take my word on this for your own sake…
Do NOT fall for what SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK!
99.9% of pitches for ways to automate your business
are utter nonsense!
I don’t say 100% are nonsense because I’ve been around long enough to know never to say never! (Never and always will usually come back to bite you.)
Grow Your Business by Building a REAL Small Business:
How about doing this instead?
Build a real business
(yes – even if its a website based business)
with real customers / clients who will
come back to you again and again
because you provide value.
How about using this recession as an opportunity to refine your business? You’re not packing as many orders, overseeing as much AdSense activity, or consulting with as many clients, so take the time to fine tune your business processes and practices.
When the recession ends, which it will because they always do, you will be so much better off because of this. Here are some tips that you can get working on today:
Business Operating Expenses:
Take a long hard look at your expenses:
- Stress what’s working for you
- Eliminate what’s not.
This is probably the single most important activity you can do right now. When business is booming, you can often add a whole bunch of expenses that may or may not work. Who cares when you have so much money coming in that you don’t want to upset the apple cart by getting rid of anything.
That social bookmarker you hired for $200 a month, maybe he’s paying for himself in traffic and/or rankings. The blog commenter from the Philippines you employ for $100 a month, well you don’t have time to check your analytics to see if she’s actually driving traffic. You’re too busy!
Make sure money you are spending
Is actually working for you.
Well guess what, now you’re not too busy. You have the time now to go and check your analytics, to do backlink analysis, to get on the phone with your virtual employees and see what’s working and what’s not.
Stop outsourcing so much that you lose
control of the quality of your product.
Look, I love outsourcing. It’s one of the most important activities you can do. When you break it down, every great business in history has used outsourcing in one way or another.
When you think of outsourcing as just getting someone else
to do your work (tedious, or otherwise), there’s no debating
that you need to learn how to do this.
The problem arises when you lose control. When you don’t know what your article writer is writing, and whether its really content you feel proud putting “out there.” When your AdWords specialist is upping your spend without increasing conversions because they get paid as a percentage of spend.
Or when your “brand” is becoming known more
for the blog comment spam your blog commenter
is posting than for your actual products or services.
Right now, outsourcing is huge. Everyone is touting the virtues of outsourcing your life. This is fine but you need to monitor your outsourcers just as you would any other aspect of your business. If you don’t, they may run amok, and bring your business down with it!
Strive for a better product and happier customers.
This one seems fairly obvious in theory, but judging by many of the companies I’ve bought products from or employed to do a service, it needs to be stated.
Everyone wants more, more, more.
More clients, more sales, more money.
How about building a real business with happy customers
that you care about and products you’re proud to sell.
Now, you can do this for purely altruistic reasons of course but, let’s face it, you’re a business person. The best reason of all to do this form purely a business perspective is that you’ll build customers for life.
Your customers will come to you,
even in the midst of a recession
with hardly any money to spend
Because they know they will get value from you!
They know that you stand behind your products
and that they’ll never feel like they got ripped off.
They know they will be treated well –
and that is even more important to them when they’re
parting with the few extra dollars they have.
These are some things that have helped me survive this economic downturn. Obviously, things are not booming like they were three years ago, but when they do come back, my company will be a leaner, nicer, more customer-friendly operation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the things you’re doing to survive the recession.
[NOTE: Pete often shares business tips in the Executive Gift Shoppe blog including this interesting piece on Keeping Your Employees Happy When Money is Tight.
NOTE from GrowMap:
I hope you REALLY listened to what Pete had to share in this post.
Few are as successful at ecommerce as Pete is – I can count how many I know about personally on one hand.
Small businesses like Pete’s that Google’s favored big brands see as
competition were severely impacted by the Google MayDay update,
then the Google Panda update, and will continue to lose traffic from
organic search and from AdWords pay per click ads (unless they
keep adding more and more keywords or spending much more).
One other thing Pete does is that he offers the very best money back guarantee I have ever seen – so good that I highlighted it in this post I wrote about my favorite category of all the products he offers: business card holders.
You can see Pete’s guarantee
and some of my favorites in my post
How to Use Business Card Holders to Attract More Business.
Pete has a larger selection of practical and unusual gifts that can be personalized with engraving than any site I’ve seen online or any store I’ve ever seen – and because I once managed Pete’s AdWords account and worked with him on blogging and social media I’ve done a LOT of research in his niche and seen all of his competitor’s sites.
As the holiday season approaches, I encourage you to
support small businesses – both local and online.
Every dime you spend with them benefits our economy and working people everywhere because real people like us spend the money we receive so that it stays in circulation and benefits more people!
Make notes about your favorite small businesses
that include their Web site URL because during the
holiday shopping season they will become harder to locate online.
Whenever you need personalized gifts, groomsmen gifts, or unique holiday gifts I can highly recommend Pete’s store.
DISCLOSURE: Pete Ekizian / Executive Gift Shoppe is a former client of mine. We are not currently working together. He did not offer and I would not accept any compensation for the privilege of my readers and I benefiting from him sharing his wisdom.
I put more links in this post because limiting links is another way that search engines make it difficult for us to find small businesses. I wrote the intro and closing. At the time of publication, he has not even seen what I wrote about him.
I add this because so many (not my regular readers who understand – others who may see this) are so quick to jump to unwarranted conclusions and so far have still not seen what is so obvious to me:
When we actively promote small businesses
we use and trust EVERYONE benefits;
- The small business benefits because they MAY receive more sales.
- Anyone who reads or hears your recommendation benefits because you have assisted them in finding a business they can trust offering products or services that they need or want.
- Our economy benefits because money you spend in a small business stays in circulation, pays sales and often property taxes, and creates jobs!
- Your favorite small businesses will STAY in business and you still have freedom of choice!
- The relationships you form with small business owners can change your life and theirs for the better.
We have been conditioned to object
when small businesses use
word of mouth small business marketing
to help us find what we want and need.
WHY greatly favor ONLY the multi-national corporations
who can afford to advertise nationally or internationally?
Small business marketing BENEFITS US!
Big brands and bankers have taken too much from us already:
our jobs, our pensions, our benefits, our standard of living –
and now they want our food and our freedom, too.
WE MUST ACT NOW!
to stop it from going any further
While we still can.
By understanding how our economy benefits we can raise our standard of living – and the first step is to CHANGE where we spend our time and money!
Have you heard about BANK TRANSFER DAY? MOVE your money!