I’m excited today to share an educational opportunity with you, but first let me ask you a question: have you heard of SCORE? It doesn’t have anything to do with basketball or your credit, but it has everything to do with an often overlooked wealth of knowledge for small business owners.
SCORE was previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, but is now recognized as SCORE, “Counselors to America’s Small Business”. They are one of the main reasons why I’m business today. Here’s my story of the crucial role three SCORE volunteers have played in my own business development.
Back in 2013 when I was a student at DU, I met Jim Skagen (blue shirt on the photo). His words of encouragement gave me confidence to start my own business.
You are a small business owner. You started your business, got a website, and then after a period of time, you realize your business is growing, and you need more than just a website!
- You need a way to track your interactions with your customers.
- You need to automate some of your tasks.
- You want to have better data about your customers, so you can send them information and coupons for products and services they are interested in.
- You want to streamline your process to ship your products.
- You want to make sure it is easy for your team to locate information about your customers orders.
You are not alone! There are several business owners in this situation.
I am ready to move on with a new system, but what happens now?
First you realize, “This business is growing, and we need a better system!”
Your business is growing, and you know you need better systems in place to scale it. You have done some research, and now you are ready to move on. What happens in this process? What should you expect from it?
The topic of this post is not the process. Here we will talk about the different emotions you go through during the life-cycle — the journey, if you will — of an implementation project.
Think about the last vacation you took. There was the excitement of planning the trip, the details to make it happen, the last-minute glitches, the amazing moments, and the realities: delays, miscommunication, and the hard work of travel — it’s a journey, after all. And so is taking on a big project like software implementation.
It’s worth it, though.
It’s Monday morning, and you’re staring at your computer, waiting for the coffee to kick in. Your inbox has 3,700 emails, and 152 of them are unread. You’ve got three hundred or so contacts in Outlook (or is it Gmail?) and a stack of business cards on your desk.
What do you really know about the people your business serves? Your email contacts and spreadsheets with notes (and that pile on your desk) have some useful customer information, but you don’t have a system to help you dive into your work this morning. Which leads should you contact first? Which customers need attention right away?
Just because it’s a “good problem to have,” doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Doesn’t mean it isn’t painful. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be solved.
Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute had a good problem.
In 2014, this award-winning Denver nonprofit was growing and its impact was expanding. That brought more opportunities and more to do. And more to do meant a larger team, which meant tasks were more widely distributed.
More cooks in the kitchen.
As a small business owner you probably have heard about sales marketing automation. But what is it? And is this something that applies to your business?
What Does Sales Marketing Software Do?
Sales marketing automation replaces hiring a large team of email marketers, outreach specialists, salespeople and account managers (or trying to do it all yourself!). Marketing automation software gives you the tools to keep track of leads, personalize and customize your emails automatically, and get easy-to-understand reports on how your sales and marketing efforts are working.
Your business relies on technology, and most of us take it for granted. But if you don’t take time to maintain your systems and clean up your data periodically, you can end up with a big problem.
Let’s talk about IT and software best practices and distinguish our services at Mocko consulting from IT service providers.
IT providers are primarily focused on setting up your network. They install and configure servers, operating systems, email servers, and your firewall. They help to set up the backbone of your IT infrastructure. Some IT service providers provide and support software for business operations, but not all of them.
Our Valentine’s day gift for you is a cloud software match making tip.
At Mocko Consulting we match our CRM with an Email Marketing solution.
How does this integration help us? It saves us time. When we add a new contact to our CRM database, the same contact is automatically added to our Email Marketing software. We use tags in order to segment our contacts in CRM, and this segmentation is maintained in the Email Marketing platform, making it easier for us to target our communications.
Choosing a CRM for Your Small Business
Recently we worked with a small manufacturing company on a CRM selection project. We started by getting to know them and how they work. They do custom projects and would need to add about 20 users to the new CRM from their management, sales, and fabrication teams. Working with this team, we helped them select Microsoft Dynamics CRM as the best fit for their business.
But that wasn’t the end of the decisions the principal owner faced. He still had to make one of the key decisions businesses have with any complex software implementation: Do you buy your own on-premise system, or do you subscribe to a partner hosted CRM?
During the first week of January we took the time to look at our numbers and evaluate our efforts for 2015.
- We launched our website.
- We wrote 7 proposals.
- We consulted for 3 customers.
- We added 1 partner.
- We posted 3 blog posts.
- We wrote 1 newsletter.
- We hosted 1 workshop.
- We attended more than 30 networking events.
- We won first place for our business plan in our Leading Edge summer class (check our blog post about our experience), and we had a great time working on it.
- We built a database of 325 contacts, among customers, potential customers, partners, and business community members.
- Our Facebook posts combined reached 2891 people.
We could not have done this without the support of the Denver Small business community. The result: 751 billable hours. We made it! And 2016 is looking good already!