In 1996, I purchased shares in a public company.
Unlike the big trading corporations that had direct access for instant buying and selling of the shares – I had to call my broker, tell him the ticker symbol, the amount of shares to purchase, and the price at which I was willing to purchase this equity. I was unable to get the exact “fill price” I wanted (due to the delay), and the broker charged me $50.00 in commissions for this transaction.
Fast forward to today…
Technological advances now allow you to program assumptions into every home computer, and make buying and selling decisions in less than 10 minutes. When you’re ready to take action, all it takes is the click of a button.
Instead of the $50.00 in flat commissions (whether you purchased 1 or 1,000 shares), commissions dropped to as low as 0.6 cents per share!
The individual now has many of the same advantages the big guys used to have…
In business, the story is much of the same.
Decades ago, big corporations had the budgets and teams to out-spend and out-work smaller corporations, tipping the advantage in favor of the big guys – with entrepreneurs frequently feeling the pinch of a headlock.
But like trading, that’s changed too…
Small businesses can have a “big business” advantage
without needing a big business budget.
…And this article is meant to provide you with all the “big business” tools and resources we (or our clients) use (and have used) to get an edge.
NOTE: THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF ALL RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU – THEY ARE ONLY RESOURCES WE HAVE A POSITIVE, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH.
(In good conscience, I will never accept paid endorsement opportunities from any companies I wouldn’t use myself… integrity is everything…)
Every tool provides a different edge.
…but this does NOT mean they are ALL necessary to compete.
You may like one or two of them – or you may decided to use none. Either way, it’s ultimately up to you.
My job, however, is to provide you with the information, tools, and resources I’ve discovered to provide small businesses with an advantage (however big or small – they all add up). My feeling is this: if I held back for fear of overwhelming you, I’d be doing you a disservice, so… please accept this for what it is – further awareness of the resources available to you.
- People – the team you build around you to support your unique abilities to increase your productivity and efficiency.
- Process – the system used to dominate your market. The same system described in The Predictable Profits Playbook, and reinforced in The Predictable Profits Insiders’ Club.
- Technology – where we create the ultimate in leverage: information and automation.
As a small business owner, we’re often caught in the trap of working inour business instead of working on our business. This results in stagnation and stops growth.
It’s important to remember:
Growth happens when we spend
time working on our business!
Tools providing this advantage include:
For Virtual Assistance:
Yes, having an entourage of employees is very helpful – but it’s not always feasible. So what do you do?
I’ve hired teams from the Ukraine, China, India, Philippines… but the best service I’ve ever received (and the team I’ve worked with the longest), is a United States based firm called LongerDays.
LongerDays helps me with graphic design, PowerPoint, research, phone reception, customer support, appointment scheduling, blog posting, proofreading, social media updates, and so much more…
Another virtual assistance company that several of my clients use (and are happy with) is a called DemGen. The overwhelmingly positive feedback provides me with the confidence to mention them you.
Tell both companies Charles Gaudet sent you, and they’ll make a special note to take real good care of you 😉
For one-off projects related to technology or website design, check out oDesk.com.
For graphics and other miscellaneous projects, I’ve had GREAT luck with Fiverr.com (where everything is only 5 bucks!) and 99Designs.com (where outsourcers compete to create the best product for you).
For Basic Automation:
For example, “when I post a new blog post, then email my assistant with the following message.” With Zapier and IFTTT, you establish the rule once and the rest happens automatically.
For Contact Management/CRM/Advanced Automation:
Infusionsoft – we use Infusionsoft for lead capture… automation… delegation… segmentation… scheduling emails… delivering content… custom tracking… reporting… lead scoring… affiliate management – and we’re just getting started.
If I were only allowed one marketing tool, without question – this would be the one.
Infusionsoft provides many of my clients (and my company) with an unprecedented competitive advantage, due to its many capabilities – and the leverage they provide. Without this tool, I’d have to hire 10 employees – and still wouldn’t be half as effective as I can be with Infusionsoft…
There are some similar programs on the market (like Ontraport). I’ve heard a few good things about them, but don’t know enough about them to be swayed in one direction or another.
We also use iMember360 to manage our members’ area (and it works great with Infusionsoft). We like iMember because the support is unparalleled and offers more flexibility than many of the other popular options.
I coached a client who couldn’t understand why he had such a low conversion rate on his website. He had over 1,000 visitors a day, and less than a handful of people purchasing his product every month.
To solve his problem, we needed to find out how people were finding out about him and gauge the quality of his traffic.
We installed Google’s free tool, Google Analytics. As we found out, over 970 of his daily visitors came from the term “voyeurism” (which was NOT his product or his industry).
If you don’t have an analytics program installed on your website,
it’s like competing online with a blindfold on.
We also use Infusionsoft for link and conversion tracking data.
For Name & Brand Monitoring:
Wouldn’t it be nice to see what’s being said about you, your competitors, and your company?
I attended a seminar several years ago, and the host asked everyone to stand up…
Then he said:
“If you test your marketing, stay standing – everyone else sit…
…now, if you test and track your marketing monthly, stay standing…
…if you test and track it weekly, stay standing…
…if you are testing and tracking your marketing daily, remain standing.”
This is where my mind was blown – he said: “Raise your hand if you make more than $50,000 a month.”
90% of the people who remained standing
made more than $50,000 a month!
Less than 1% of the people sitting down could say the same!
Tony Robbins says: “Success leaves clues” – so, if 90% of the people who remained standing made more than $50,000 a month, don’t you think this says something about the importance of testing?
Testing and tracking is critical!
For Social Media:
Social media is a double-edged sword. It’s great for customer engagement, but takes LOTS of time to do right!
If only there was a way to pre-schedule and easily manage all your social media profiles in one place… oh wait, there is!
It’s called Hootsuite, and it’s the platform we use to schedule 95% of our social media.
For Printing and Fulfillment:
Our favorites are (in alphabetical oder):
- Corporate Disk Company – best for information products
- HelpWithoutHassle – best for smaller print runs
- Selby Printing – best for direct mail
For Direct Mail List Selection:
SRDS is the gold standard of list selection, but can be a little bit of a challenge to use…
NextMark is a little easier, and they are pretty helpful over the phone.
We’ve also used infoUSA pretty extensively for more basic demographic, geographic, and firmographic information.
These are the resources I’ve come up with so far – I’ll keep it updated as our research continues!
In your corner,