Quarters

How much do you make?

Most people like to keep their finances to themselves, especially when it comes to take-home pay. What’s great about this series of articles from the New York Times is that it paints a detailed, accurate picture of the typical small business owner: a smart, hard-working person who struggles to keep his business growing while trying to balance the books, navigate the mysterious world of online advertising, figure out healthcare and cut his own salary when necessary.

The 7 stages of small business success

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From Infusionsoft

The dirty, little secret to smarter growth?

According to Inc., the key to growth for a lot of companies is to narrow their focus instead of expanding it. We’ve seen this as well. Why does this work?

Small entrepreneurial companies need to adapt to their customer needs, adjusting their business model accordingly to grow revenue. But once [they've] built a successful company, [they've] also likely built a reputation and distinctiveness around a specific product, service, or customer segment. CEOs who are able to sustain this growth actually get more narrow in their focus, which allows them to scale the business around that key strength.

The trick, of course, is to figure out what this means for you:

1. Find your most profitable customers. Do some back-of-the-envelope math to rank order your customers in terms of high to low profits. The customers that pay more and cost less to serve are creating the most value for your business.

2. Understand the unique needs of your most valuable customers. How are they different from your less profitable customers? Identify the drivers of why they rise to the top.

3. Understand what you are doing for these customers that no one else can do as well. Determine your key strengths and the offerings that they find the most value in.

4. Ruthlessly prioritize and focus organizational resources and investment on these customers. Always choose projects and investment that favor your most profitable customers. Challenge yourself to free up time and resources to devote more to these customers.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Insights: Health insurance tips

Nothing seems to cause more headaches than employee healthcare coverage. If you’re trying to decide what to do, consider these five questions posed in a recent Los Angeles Times article.

1. Consider the nature of your business.
2. Don’t forget about the tax benefits of providing healthcare.
3. Keep in mind what your employees want.
4. Remember subsidies when weighing whether to offer health benefits.
5. Don’t feel pressured to rush to a decision.

To read the entire article, click here.

When an employee says “I’m leaving.” Should you counter or not?

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When good employees quit, it’s tempting to try to make them stay. But is it a good idea? This article makes a good case for saying “Goodbye and good luck.”

To read the article, click here.

Five questions every company should ask

In working with small to mid-size companies, one of the most surprising things is how infrequently they stop to re-assess their situation. These five questions are a good way to shake things up and gain a little perspective:

1. What is our company’s purpose on this earth?

2. What should we stop doing?

3. If we didn’t have an existing business, how could we best build a new one?

4. Where is our petri dish?

5. How can we make a better experiment?

From Fast Co. Design

Insights: why employees are unhappy

From Inc.

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News: Economic Forecast 2013

From USA TODAY

The first half of 2013 is expected to be sluggish as government spending cuts dampen growth and a payroll tax increase crimps consumer spending. Those surveyed expect the economy to grow at less than a 2% annual rate the first six months of 2013.

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Data-rich; Insight-poor. Does this describe you?

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News: Small Business Optimism Rises

Key quote:

57 percent of respondents said they expected their financial situations 12 months from now to be either very good or somewhat good, an increase of seven percentage points.

To read the entire article: go to Inc.

Segue 360 Business Performance Index Reports: How do you compare?