Halloween is just around the corner, so I’ve got a “Trick or Treat” Small Business Quiz. When do you know whether something in your small business is a “Treat”—a real opportunity—or a “Trick”—a problem disguised as a chance to grow?
Are these tricks or treats for your small business?
- Your top performing salesperson brings in tons of sales each month. You want to expand your sales team, so you approach your sales star about building a sales team around him. He’d supervise a group of salespeople, and they’d learn from the best. Trick or treat?
- You interview a dozen people for an important job opening. You find the ideal candidate. You’re excited about her skills, experience, and attitude. But there’s a catch—her salary requirement is 25% higher than you were willing to pay. Trick or treat?
- An executive from a Fortune 500 company invites you to prepare a proposal and submit a bid for a big project. This project would bring you a substantial amount of money, and you’d get a foot in the door of this company. Trick or treat?
- The guy you sit next to on the stationery bikes at your health club tells you he’s made a ton of money in a “networking marketing” company. He says that if you come in as a distributor, you too can make thousands of dollars a month in your spare time and “be your own boss.” Trick or treat?
- There’s an advertisement on your industry association website for a cloud-based application containing all the client management and billing programs customized for your specific type of business. It’s more expensive than generic bookkeeping and contact management programs, but it contains the forms, contracts, and information perfect for your needs. Trick or treat?
- You’re approached about including your business in a direct mail marketing brochure sent to 1 million homes in your business area. The price is right, and since you have a very limited marketing budget, this seems like a good way to spread the word about your business. Trick or treat?
Sales Star: Trick. Just because someone is a great salesperson doesn’t mean he’ll make a great supervisor. Most great salespeople are independent types who like to have control of their lives rather than following company policies. I’ve never yet met a great salesperson who was good at paperwork—they know their time is better spent with customers than filling out forms. Keep your great salespeople selling.
Great Applicant: Treat. Grab her! You’ll want to check references and spend more time with her so you make sure it wasn’t just a good first impression, but terrific employees are hard to find. It can cost you a lot more money hiring just a so-so employee. Go for the best; it will pay off.
Fortune 500: Trick AND Treat. Large companies expect prospective vendors to do a lot of work preparing proposals and bids. This could be very costly to a small company. Weigh the costs of preparing a proposal against the realistic chance of getting the deal. On the other hand, once you have a large corporate client it’s much easier to get others. If you can handle the proposal process, this could be quite a treat!
Network Marketing: Trick. Your workout buddy is suggesting you join a “multi-level marketing” (MLM) program. There are tons of these, selling everything from detergent, clothing, herbs, cosmetics, and much more. The idea is you bring in other people to also be “distributors” and you’ll make money off their sales too. In reality, you’re all customers for overpriced products. Statistics show you have almost no chance of actually making money. MLMs are nasty tricks!
Cloud-based apps: Trick OR Treat. Industry-specific applications can be worth their weight in gold—meeting your specific needs. But there’s a catch: the companies offering those applications may not be as stable as the companies offering more generic applications. They may go out of business or not update their programs frequently. Make sure you backup your data, and avoid brand new companies.
Mailing: Trick. The key to marketing, especially advertising, is consistency and repetition. A one-time piece has little chance of making a meaningful impression. Plan your marketing activities around opportunities giving you repeated exposure to your target market.
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2019
This article originally ran in USA Today on October 23, 2019