Forming business relationships in this digital age

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Life as a business owner in today's digital age can be challenging, even on the best of days. It may seem like the future of small businesses is very bleak, with many independent owners closing shop due to increased internet competition, ever decreasing profit margins, and a future that seems very uncertain. While all of these negative factors are certainly true, there are still consumers who are looking for more from their shopping and services than the lowest price. Relationships are still possible, even as so many shoppers turn to the internet for their purchases and disregard all sense of loyalty as they search for the lowest possible price.

On the positive side, there are still aspects of owning a business that are based on the interaction between owner and customer, and cannot be replicated by online transactions. There are certain key foundation tenets that, once in place, can smooth the road to success and help you to stay in the black in spite of the many challenges that face small business owners today. Obviously, the rules of basic good business still apply, and when you are strategic in your planning and customer interaction, you can make progress in even the most challenging of situations. These tenets include high-quality service and products, communication, and the transfer of knowledge and expertise.

Small business owners can often feel overwhelmed by the modern sales and service environment, and feel that they are working to simply stay alive rather than succeed. From online competition to rock bottom pricing that eats into already narrow profit margins, today's independent business owners can begin to wonder how they are going to be able to squeak out a living as they juggle bills and expenses in an attempt to manage their cash flow. 

There are several important strategies that one can implement in order to rise above the limitations that are inherent in today's challenging marketplace. These tips can help you to increase your revenue and profit levels while helping you to remain true to the stated mission to serve your customers at the highest possible level of quality:

Differentiation

In today's competitive landscape, you have to give your customers a higher level of service than what they can find elsewhere. While this is basic business ownership 101, this attitude can sometimes be difficult to maintain when it feels like you are working for fewer and fewer dollars. Yes, there is a massive trend these days for consumers to chase after the lowest available price and disregard other more emotional and experiential factors. However, if you consistently provide top-level service and delight your customers time and again, you will gain a reputation that will serve you well with shoppers who consider more than price when making their purchase decisions. 

It may not seem like it, but many consumers do prefer to engage with purveyors and service providers with whom they have established a meaningful relationship. Take advantage of this reality and do more to reach the type of consumer that will be a loyal customer today and well into the future.

Relationships

Even as it seems like the buying public is simply searching for the lowest price available, and no one cares anymore about customer service or building a relationship with their vendor or service provider, there are still niches where that personal touch can make a significant and positive difference.

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If you are in the service sector, whether you own a salon or a restaurant, you have the chance to make a difference in your customers' everyday lives. Listening and responding to your clients' needs is an effective way to become a trusted provider and build a loyal clientele that will continue to come back again and again. Have you tried special "regulars only" pricing or creating loyalty rewards programs? Even providing your regular customers with special perks that are not part of a dedicated rewards program can help them to feel appreciated and part of a larger community.

Organic growth

As your business moves through the different growth stages of the business cycle, from start-up to established endeavor, it can be difficult to maintain organic growth, especially as profit margins can become razor thin. When you are properly capitalized and actively managing your cash flow, you will begin to see trends in your sales and profit margins, as well as areas for organic growth. By recognizing the areas where you are seeing the highest profit levels, you will be able to steer your business into those niches. Organic growth hinges on the pursuit of expanding known successes in a targeted manner, rather than taking a scattershot approach to your business. Constant analysis of your successes and failures will provide the necessary insight to discern the direction to steer your business for even greater success. 

Sufficient capital

LVRG provides business funding and small business loans to independent owners who are an established entity and are in a continuous growth mode. It is clear that in today's market, continuous growth is a necessity. Maintaining a healthy small business with a vibrant cash flow can be the difference between success and failure, whether your business is in year five or year seven. If you aren't actively managing your cash flow, your working capital is likely to be too low to maintain the continued growth approach that is necessary for success. 

Knowing when it is time for a capital infusion can mean the difference between stagnation and success, and as small business owners, if you aren't moving forward it is only a matter of time before you begin to slide backward. Concentrating on the business lines and products with the healthiest profit margins is one way to keep your revenues growing. Another is to expand onto the internet and offer your clients both a virtual and a real-world experience.

If you are an established business owner and are feeling like you are constantly treading water, the team at LVRG can help you to determine if additional capital funding is the right move to enable the future success of your business. We work extensively with frontline vendors and service providers, such as nail and hair salon owners, boutique owners and clothing designers, restauranteurs, craft brewers, and bar owners. Yes, it is easy to feel dismayed when members of your regular clientele continue to flock to the online marketplace seeking the cheapest price, but it is still possible to survive in these rough waters.

Contact LVRG today and learn more about our passion for helping independent and small business owners to succeed. We can address your capital shortfalls and help you manage your cash flow more profitably.

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Author: Charles Barr, Co-Founder & Director of LVRG Funding. Charles is highly dedicated to the genesis of professional development, social networking and civic engagement, with a passion for cultivating creativity, entrepreneurship and a spirit of community.

 

Is it possible to be successful as a small business owner without a social media presence?

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I get asked all the time, "is it possible to be successful as a small business owner without a social media presence?" And here is my answer..... YES!

That said, I have absolutely no idea what your business is, what you sell, who you sell to, product or service, where you operate, how you operate, etc. There are way too many undefined factors here, but I think as a generalization, I would absolutely say yes. Social media may be useful for brand development and to gain some traffic, but most do not see any ROI from social media.

The social media platforms are also making it extremely challenging for content to be seen without paying for it. Don’t quote me on these statistics, but I think Facebook only allows less than 2% of “your” page followers to see the content you post. Most platforms are getting so tight and the amount of content continues to rise, so nobody is seeing what you post on social media anyway. It’s pay to play, and a TON of small business owners are spending a fortune to be seen on social media. The cost of customer acquisition becomes much higher than what could be made on a sale. People are dumping a TON of money in social media, and few see any trackable ROI.

That said, if you are an online retailer and/or only sell online, I would say no it’s not possible to operate a business without having some sort of social media presence. If you are a brick-and-mortar small business, and want to generate some sort of online presence as it relates to your local store, then I would say having some sort of social media presence is helpful. Helpful, but not imperative. I do not feel that social media can build a business. I believe it can help with branding, getting the name out there, interacting with customers, promoting sales or discounts, and other things along those lines, but I definitely do not believe that social media can build a sustainable business.

I’ll take this one step further. I know many wildly successful business owners that can barely operate their iPhone. They are known in the community, they give back to local charities, they volunteer with nonprofits, they are active in the local Chamber of Commerce, they play golf with other business owners, they go to country clubs, they are active in their kids sports teams so they can meet other parents who are likely business owners, and they participate in social activities in their community. Let me give you an example, if you needed a life insurance policy would you call some random company over the Internet, or talk to another parent at your son’s baseball game who you know is an expert in life insurance? All things being equal, people do business with those they know, like, and trust. And there are a millions of small business owners out there who are ridiculously successful, and could care less about social media. Of course there are those social media die hards, but I would say most these days view it as a curse, more than a gift. I personally think that social media is extremely overrated, overused, and killing society in more ways than one.

There’s no denying that social media gives people a platform to reach thousands, or even millions of people that they would not have been able to reach without it. But at what cost? I do believe that people (especially the younger generation) are counting on social media as a business plan and they’re putting more emphasis on it than they should. And the reality is, it takes a heck of a lot more than a few Instagram and Facebook posts to operate a sustainable business. Social media should be used as a tool, but it’s definitely not mandatory. And with the overwhelming bombardment of ads, banners, videos, and everything else, social media is becoming more of a nuisance than a tool.

Guest post by Charles Barr - Co-Founder & Director of LVRG.

 

A small business loan can help your business succeed now and in the future

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Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy, and no one knows better than an independent business owner how much work goes into running a successful business. Even when your business is thriving, maintaining a steady cash flow can be challenging. We all know how difficult it is for small businesses to succeed, but were you aware that 50% of small businesses fail after five years, while 30% close in the 10th year of business? 

Working capital can make the difference between success and failure

If your business is going well and your revenue stream is strong but you are lacking capital, an unexpected expense or a price increase from one of your vendors can send you reeling. Businesses that are cash flowing but lack capital are much more likely to fail. Capital is necessary to keep businesses from stagnating and losing steam. If you run into difficulty, capital funding can help you to avoid the fate of 50% of small businesses that fail after five years. 

A small business loan is an effective way to smooth out the highs and lows that are a part of small business cash flow and begin to build your profit and growth levels. Working capital is one of the most important building blocks of any successful business, no matter the size. And with a strong balance sheet your cash flow irregularities become less impactful on the overall health of the business.

Excess capital can make a positive difference for your small business

Equipment needs and production costs, along with marketing and advertising expenses, never end when you own and operate an independent small business. If you are looking at a small net gain at the end of the month, there is no possibility of investing more in your business and keep it growing. Constant investment and improvement of business processes will allow you to consider expansion or equipment upgrades that will further strengthen your company's financial health and future.

Are you a small business owner looking for a way to get out from underneath your bills and expenses? Contact LVRG today to learn more about how capital funding can help you stabilize your cash flow and take your business to the next level. We specialize in working with small businesses such as salons, spas, craft breweries, and manufacturers and would welcome the opportunity to work with you too!

 

Are cash flow irregularities affecting the level of success in your small business?

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Small business cash flow is likely the most difficult variable to manage. You can be up one month and down the next, but more than that, there can be no rhyme or reason behind the time of the month that you are busiest. Sometimes you feel like you need a crystal ball for managing your cash flow with any success, and future growth feels impossible because you are constantly treading water.

Get the working capital you need to smooth out the gaps in your small business cash flow

Even when your business is profitable, it can feel like you aren't making any progress due to the peaks and valleys caused by your cash flow. Small businesses typically run on owner investment, and these cash infusions can help ease the times when you are waiting for receivables to come in. While this can be an effective temporary solution, it is not viable once your business starts to grow. Can you imagine having to turn down a substantial order because you do not have the working capital available to get the job done? Taking your business to the next level usually requires a cash infusion beyond that of owner investment.

Small business funding can help your business grow without the headaches caused by cash flow irregularities

When you have reached a plateau and are being stopped from advancing due to a cash flow problem, capital funding is often a good solution. Working capital is one of the necessities of growth and without it, your business will likely stagnate and may even fail. In small businesses, every dollar counts and they are typically spent before they even reach your bank account. Now is the time to consider your options for raising working capital. Fast small business loans from a strategic funding source like LVRG can help you to smooth out any cash flow irregularities that your business is experiencing and provide the funds that you need to keep your business growing. 

Contact LVRG today and find out how we can help provide the capital you need to take your small business to the next level! Stop letting cash flow issues hold you back from the success that you deserve. Our team is on hand to answer all of your questions and discuss the options that are available for you and your business.

 

6 Signs Your Small Business Requires Funding

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There are plenty of reasons why your small business may require financing. But how do you know if it’s the right time to borrow capital for your business? Well, here are six signs that your small business needs funding. 

Your business is doing well

A significant number of small business owners have the wrong mentality towards business funding options. These owners only apply for a loan when their business is in financial trouble, which only leads to them being rejected due to poor credit history.

Many lenders look at the financial health of your business before approving your loan. Thus, the best time to look for additional funding for your business is when your business is doing well financially.

Your business has occasional cash flow issues

If you’re paying for labor or supplies upfront but your customers don’t pay you early enough, the likelihood of your business experiencing cash flow problems is high. A small business loan or business line of credit can help to manage your cash flow issues while awaiting payment from your customers.

Your business is growing

If your business is expanding fast, then this is a big sign that you may require extra financing to take it to the next level. For example, fast growth may force you to hire more staff, move to a bigger office space or buy extra equipment to fulfill customer demands. If you don't have extra capital you may not realize any of these aims.

Your business can’t fulfill a large order

If your small business receives a large order but your inventory is insufficient, getting a loan to cover for the deficit is not only sensible but also profitable. Basically, partnering with lenders can help your business cater to customers with large orders.

You need to hire more people

Running a small business isn’t as easy as many people think. In the initial stages, it’s okay to take care of everything from marketing to operations, but as the days roll by you'll need more staff to run your business more efficiently. Small business loans can enable you to hire the extra people you badly need to manage your enterprise more effectively.

Purchase equipment

Most small businesses require equipment to serve customer needs more efficiently. If you’re just starting out, you may not have enough money to buy the equipment your business needs. If your business requires equipment to operate optimally, this is a sign that you need funding.

If you’re looking for fast small business loans from a strategic funding source, we're here to help! LVRG is one of the top small business cash flow funding companies in the country. Just remember, the worst time to scramble for capital is when you need it. Contact us to learn how our loan products can help grow your business today.