Marketing? Psshh. Try Branding-Marketing-Public Relations (BMPr) | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Marketing? Psshh. Try Branding-Marketing-Public Relations (BMPr). | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Once, maybe, marketing was all that was needed to create a revenue stream. I mean think about all of the poorly conceived products you have seen in the market place over the years! Lots of them were profitable! Gone now. Think of the local businesses that have great packaging and the most expensive billboards in your community, but no one knows two things about the owners/executives. (Public relations is less vital if you could give two rips about the communities in which your business serves.) To those that do, (BMPr) is the key. Without proper branding, you have nothing to market. Without marketing, you do not drive buyers to your widget. Without public relations your brand name will rarely drop from the mouths of others. Even though there are exceptions to every rule, Branding, Marketing, and Public Relations will be indispensable to product visibility in the emerging economy.

All good businesses must spend time, money, and effort on Branding. Branding effects the public perception of the product or service. Change the color, mascot, logo and it could signal that the brand is more professional, better tasting, reliable or the opposite. “Built it and they will come” rarely applies in business.

Marketing is what businesses must do in order to drive traffic into the front door. Just because you built a better, faster, sleeker widget does not mean people are going to beat a path to your checkout counter. You must market that product. Plan, budget, analyze, cut back, and push forward your marketing strategy. What works in a bull market does not necessarily work in a bear market! Be resourceful, vigilant, and keep track and compare! Get customers to believe in the product. When they do, market those reviews! Present that perception as the brand. Make those client-based reviews synonymous with the brand. Of course do the usual, if they have positive ROI’s i.e. Money Mailer, RSVP, Valpak, local newspapers, local marketing pieces, or television.

Public Relations is paramount to success in modern day small business. It costs so little and returns so much. What is the price of a lunch ticket to a local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce meeting, or the cost of gas on a visit to local schools, police stations, fire departments, businesses, churches, vendors, or even a customer? Public relations is an offshoot of what colleges refer to as networking. Some textbooks call it network marketing. Huge industries created business models around network marketing: Amway, Mary Kay. I am not proposing multi-level marketing, but relating to others with a purpose. Publicly relating to your communities is one of the purest forms of promotion and it is cheap to boot. When done with genuine caring for the communities involved it can help produce a sweet bottom line!

There are three pillars to modern day promotion. Branding, Marketing, and Public Relations (BMPr). You might say wait a minute self-promotion is bad! No. A poorly branded product is bad. A lousy marketing plan and/or no marketing budget, when needed, is bad. A small business owner shirking her responsibility to relate to the public is bad. Promoting oneself as an extension of the product or service you sell is public relations. BMPr is good business. For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s Hut Blog.

P(X) | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

P(X) | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

No not P90X, P of X. When business lingo can be jargon, theories tricky, and books long and laborious, simplify. I know this looks like Algebra class, and you hate Algebra class, but hear me out. Two simple letters can aid when managing business pursuits, daily life and everything else in between: P and X.

In this simple drill, these letters are not arbitrary, but purposeful. If you want five kids (P), and wives equals (X) and you only want one wife, then one wife must have five kids; five times one equals five. Let us take it up a notch. You want to make 125k this year. Each customer (X) brings you 20,000 (P) then you need 6.25 customers. When simplifying concerning business, let (P) equal profits. (When referring to profits we are referencing the bottom-line of the income statement. Sales minus cost of goods and all variable and fixed expenses attached to doing business.) Up another notch? Okay, here we go! You have two stores (X) and you have a goal to make a profit to the tune of 100,000. How much (P) must each store produce? That is right 50,000. Remember (X) is flexible; it can be customers, locations, marketing pieces, or regions. So keep it simple. Knowing (P), (X), or what you are seeking to produce, gives you two of three variables and in my estimation, you are on your way to finding what you are looking for.

If P(X) seems too simplified, trust me it is. Love it for its benefits. P of X, as a mark to guard daily pursuits and repetitions against, does not disappoint. Here in lies the magic, out of the novel and frequent glitch that bombards an entrepreneurial life evolves a seasoned problem solver. Remember the one equation that even applies to a lemonade stand. Never leave home without your P(X) lenses. Remember, when (X) is number of occurrences needed to achieve a goal, solve for occurrences and then enjoy the mental sunshine. Let your (X) be (X) and your (P) be (P). For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s Hut Blog.

How Can A Small Business Enhance Community? | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

How Can A Small Business Enhance Community? | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Small businesses have a great responsibility in the 21st century. They must learn how to survive & thrive among emerging competition owned and operated by business minds located all over the world. As the internet has changed nearly all business models, so must small business owners realize they must shift the way they play the game. Small businesses, among many things, will need to increase their involvement in the local community. Although this cannot ensure success, especially in industries that have moved exclusively online. It can offer an added advantage to a company that has some mix of external (outside buyer radius) and internal (inside buyer radius) competition. Small businesses can enhance community through proper leadership, mission-based marketing, and fundraisers.

A small business enhances community first by being flat (minimal layers) enough to be profitable and produce jobs. Let us assume we are well past that, then, leadership is the key (Hire Level 5!). Instead of managing or even more grueling micromanagement, how about good ole’ fashion leadership. Leaders train and teach employees how things are done right. Competitive firms create training videos or manuals aimed to train new recruits, so training is not a hassle it is just business. Some small business owners did all their training 10-30 years ago and training is not something that they are willing to do again. Which is a huge blunder. Allowing employees to advance not only technically but also emotionally, and intellectually is why larger firms are able to lure better talent. What great artisan was without a great mentor? The need for leadership, mentors, and advancement among the more gifted in the community is high. Think of how many kids go to college these days. Once we have grappled with the hard truths of leadership we then must remember, our product in itself can enrich the community.

The footwear company Toms has made headlines and social media buzz for years donating shoes to inspire consumers to purchase. This company has effectively employed a mission-based marketing strategy. Which is Brilliant. Giving away shoes to the less fortunate in response to sales. Any small business using profits or merchandise as a means to give back to the community and the world abroad gains huge advantages against businesses that are not as philanthropic. Capture your activity! Do not worry if you are a technological dinosaur, social media is easier than you think. I predict the ‘Going Green Age’ will swing around to ‘The Altruism Age’. Once we have mastered the use of our profits and products to enhance community we must then master using our time and effort.

Hosting fundraisers and benefits connect you to communities that need help and buy your products. It is a win-win! By utilizing your financial- and human capital to enrich the community, you have enriched your own business in the long term. This mindset is an alternative to ‘when things are slow get out and make a deal’, ‘when things are slow get out and create appeal”.

By leading our staff, using a mission-based marketing strategy, and hosting community events (small and large), small businesses stand a much greater chance of surviving the unforeseen changes in the ‘globalizing’ market place. Without competition, growth becomes stagnant and one of our greatest achievements is advancement by improvement. Let us jump back on the bandwagon and remind the world why small businesses are also to be applauded for striving & thriving communities. For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Small Business in the 21st Century? | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Small Business in the 21st Century? | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Executive Summary

Small businesses have been living under the guise of “if I don’t know it” then “I don’t need to learn it” far too long. The lacking abilities of entrepreneurs in accountability, processes, scalability, and PR have relegated small business success to a coin flip. Small business historically was mom-and-pop organizations with a large portion having other family working for the company. For many reasons, businesses have shirked their responsibility in key areas that if not fixed will dinosaur some small business sectors. Small businesses struggle to survive without some form of control over the 14 listed faces of business. Even more so, without an increasing competence in the four listed areas, small businesses will hardly thrive and if they do, they will have a harder time thriving into the second generation, let alone the third.


Article

Was it the rise of the conglomerate that led the decent of mom-and-pops, small businesses, and other entrepreneurships? Advantages of Economies of Scale and Scope are real. There have to be answers to the quagmire of inconsistency that defines small business.

For entrepreneurs, there is no manual. You can be the heir of capital, have a genetic make-up of a risk-taker, get lucky, have years of trial-and-error under your belt, read authors like Gladwell, Kouplen, Wasserman, Kiyosaki, Carnegie, or college textbooks, but does this insure against or hedge the risk a small business entrepreneur will take? Assuming that some combination of these intangibles can stack the deck. Mom-and-pops and small business owners are still in a David and Goliath against big business and franchises. There is a silver lining!

The following is an attempt to ‘bucket’ that silver lining, so here goes. Marketing, accounting, branding, an ever improving product, an ever increasing client list, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), management of social-, financial-, and human-capital, HR, accountability, processes, scalability, and PR. Say that in one breath. I am sure I have missed at least 2 or 3 others that in some industries would be game breakers. I have listed 14 areas a small business owner must have her hands on in any given day. Not to mention many owners are owner/operators, so include the grind of being the main employee and you have an extremely unfair fight. Assuming you have already fine-tuned your product and branding, know your customers, have enough margin to outsource HR, accounting, SEO, marketing, and even management. You are in your 30s to 50s so your social capital is strong, your human capital is improving, assuming you are not a 1-man show, and your business, since it is still in business, is in the black. That leaves us with a few categories that go under-developed and forgotten in small business. That leaves us with accountability, processes, scalability, and PR.

Frankly, too many business owners are know-it-alls or just plain listening impaired. An even smaller group of business owners has had a fortunate rise in business and has not had to deal with much failure. The down side for these owners is their lack of humility, humanity, and listening skills. However, for the rest of us, having a ‘think tank’ or a group of like-minded business owners is immensely important to longevity in an ever-flattening world and increasingly complex market place. No business owner has all skills required to perform optimally on all fronts. This accountability allows for continued learning and allows for vulnerability among peers. Local Chambers, Rotaries, and other community & business groups (1 Million Cups, Score, Typros) exist, so get creative and increase your social circle.

Processes are indispensable, especially in small business, where one quarter of loss can capsize the ship. Furthermore, the American small business offers less persuasive benefits & opportunities, so inevitably they lose great employees. A disadvantage that must be prepared for. Processes go hand in glove with scalability. My suggestion is, document product knowledge, employee expectations, the company history, and other industry specifics that increase the general knowledge of existing and new employees. Document everything. Documentation, documentation, documentation. How will you know which marketing pieces have positive ROI’s, where the customers live, how they heard about you, or what the year-to-date comparisons are? Without processes for documenting and recording, the business knowledge gained in each year of business is lost or stored in someone’s head. Without processes, every lost owner, executive, or manager becomes a human capital loss. Though not debited from the balance sheet, this loss is detrimental. Small business owners must be proactive in developing business processes.

When you think of small business, do you think of scalable? A small business can become more scalable. Start with a written business plan, values, and documented processes. If a process during the ebb works, but becomes ineffectual in the flow then scalability is to blame. Basic documentation, which is key in fiscal competency, includes daily workflows, checklists, expectations, and historical financial data. Big business understands scalability.

Lastly, and easiest, but most non-natural is PR. How can a small business generate free PR? Local Chambers and Churches are great places to start. Local newspapers and websites that promote local activities and news are always looking for material. So write about something or talk about something that you know about. Just having your company name visible is valuable PR. Be a guerrilla when it comes to PR. Try to find ways to give your product away on slow days or aid a non-profit. Create opportunity out of lag, create buzz and chatter out of silence. How many coffee mugs with my logo have you delivered to local taste-makers and influencers? This is PR. Give away candy at local Halloween events, sponsor events, and just be visible. You say, “I am just not natural at being outgoing”. Read Guerrilla P.R. 2.0 by Michael Levine and you will see there are techniques that fit every business owner, no matter where you are on a personality spectrum.

The truth is small business can turn into big business or even a franchise overnight. It may do so well that a larger business buys you out of the market or you franchise the model to sell to other entrepreneurs. Is this the end game for small business in the 21st century? Not always. It truly depends on your reason for being in business. For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s Hut Blog.

Good Luck and God Bless

So Who Is It Now? | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

So Who Is It Now? | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

You are spending your whole life on this thing. Every ounce of sweat, every good thought, every great idea or perfect moment. All invested into ‘This’. This thing soon becomes itself, an entity, it lives, breaths, sleeps, wakes, yawns, and ages. Yet this thing has the ability to live much longer than 78.74 years, so what does that mean. How will I feed it, protect it, direct, guide, hire, buy, sell, and grow it. I can give it to my kids! They will surely love it, think through it, understand why it must live longer, and pass it along to their kids! But what if this is not so? It feels so whimsical! What if my children do not want it, cannot, should not, will not be the next me to this ‘thing’! So Who Is It Now?

So you have a skill, a great business, something that you are exceedingly good at, but no heir. Well you might have an heir, per se, but they are not interested. Long gone are the days when children grew up in the family trade, learned it from the ground up and then to succeed as owner. Nowadays, children pawn it, waste it, drive it into the ground, throw it away, and abuse it. No one is saying this is an improvement, but do we really miss the olden days? I mean often times these successors did not have the drive of the founder and to compound that, they did not have the perspective, education, or ingenuity to take the family business well into the second generation. We wanted them to be our protégé, our apprentice, where you were Yoda and they were Jedi knight. What we forgot is we did not know how to mentor and the things that needed to be projected were not traits that are mentored into others. So Who Is It Now?

Businesses and artisans both have a question to answer. Who. Who is the protégé, the successor?
You see her. She has the same spark as you. That employee that sticks it out through thick and thin and believes in the cause behind the business. That kid that has worked for ‘it seems like forever’. These are our apprentices. We must train and transfer our skills to them. These ones will feed, protect, direct, guide, hire, buy, sell, and grow that business or skill. For businesses, it is easy, because they can help that protégé finance and purchase the company from them when we are ready. For artisans, it is trickier. As you cannot just transfer a talent and receive a final payment. On the other hand, has that just not been thought of yet? So Who Is It Now? For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s hut Blog.

William Nozak Bio | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

William Nozak Bio | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

When a flock of birds flies off into the sky, do they know where they are going? Did they talk about it just before take-off or maybe one lifted off and the rest followed? What we know is when birds fly in formation there is no single leader; each will get its turn. We can assume there is some form of communication with birds, so it is my hope to encourage a conversation among the business-minded readers and together fly toward entrepreneurial & community growth.

It is my greatest joy to accept the offer from Kirk McCracken to write a monthly business column in the Sand Springs Leader. In a quick personal snapshot. I have toured and recorded over 60 songs as a BMI songwriter. With three full-length albums as my crowing jewel. (This brought me personal fulfillment as my natural hand in business is as a ‘pioneer’). As I worked on creating a following for my small music-making business, I knew I needed a supplemental income. In 2005, I owned my first franchise located in Dallas. In 2006, I started teaching college, which lasted until 2014. In 2008, I graduated with an MBA from ORU. In 2010, I accepted a promotion becoming the first Director of Education at AIMT in Tulsa. (This is where I truly understood life as a ‘settler’). In 2013, I had the great honor to marry my wife Lindsay Nozak and purchase three franchise units in California: Oxi Fresh of San Francisco, San Rafael, & Santa Rosa. These businesses, my wife and I own/manage from Tulsa. What a ride owning and managing a business 1700 miles away has been! Everything that could go wrong has! And we have become stronger and smarter for it. In 2014, I became a fulltime entrepreneur starting my own brand: Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice. In 2014, our shaved ice stand won ‘Best of the Best Tulsa’ and had ten seasonal employees.

Music, teaching, and business. Those were the three flags on my life’s ship. In the last season of my life, I have taken down the teaching and music flags and have extended my business flag across the whole ship.

On a personal level, I read over 20 books a year, my wife and I are raising an unruly dog and a rescue cat, we love spending time together, helping others, and family. I do not have it all together and there are many, more able than I to catalog the ebbs and flows of entrepreneurial life. With that said, I humbly accept this privilege to share personal insights in small business with the Sand Springs Leader readership. For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s Hut Blog.

You Will Find What You Are Looking For | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

You Will Find What You Are Looking For | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Several years back while in a chapel at ORU, the Men’s Pastor Earl McClellan delivered a message titled You’ll Find What You’re Looking for. This message is not limited to spiritual pursuits. In business, we have a similar moniker “you can’t improve what you don’t manage”. Experts agree upon managing KPI or Key Performance Indicators. Although this article does not delve into financial ratios, they are KPI and every business owner must run and manage month-to-month and year-to-year ratios. Even a lemonade stand has KPI. Maybe the following can be catalysts to help you devise or revise your own. Three important KPI include technician upsales, customer surveying, and social media mentions.

Whether you take a soft or hard approach to upsales the additional revenue per transaction is likely some of the highest margin revenue. Always be measuring though, not every change that increases the average ticket is a good change. If you have (ten), $100 dollar clients and you increase the average ticket by $10 dollars, but lose three clients you will actually decrease sales by $230 dollars. Whatever the expectation for upsales, there needs to be a minimum benchmark percentage. This minimum allows for A-player hiring and encourages associates to be mindful of add-on sales as a job requirement. Often times, we lose some customer respect when a focus is placed on increasing ticket value and that is why the second KPI deals with tracking customer perception.

Not every business has access to a Net Promoter Score (NPS), which has its own set of algorithms to calculate customer perception. Doubly not everyone sends an email to every client asking that $2 dollar question. How likely are you to recommend us? In order to understand how customers perceive their interaction with the company, there must be some form of feedback recovery system and on top of that a customer recovery plan AKA customer surveying and then a bad reviewer retention strategy. Emails or phone calls are the tried and true way to collect customer data. With upsales benchmarking, be certain, there will be negative comments about how an associate tried to upsell a client and the bill was 2 or 3 times higher than expected. This customer feedback allows for perception monitoring. Perception is reality with customers. Those with bad perceptions, it turns out, are more likely to share their woes with friends, so this allows for safety valves before a problem arises. It also helps to guard against ‘bait and switch’ tactics. Upsales are vital, but more so, is avoiding negative perceptions. Always monitor the balance between increasing profits and decreasing perception. If this line is not managed correctly, social media will never reach its potential.

Once revenue is increasing through strategic upsales and benchmarking, and the management team is seeing what is exciting promoters and enraging detractors it is time to focus on social media. A word to the wise, do not start a social media campaign until the team has a decent understanding of why angry customers are angry. Maximizing social media before this will yield sub-par reviews and will become your social media presence. After you have a decent customer recovery plan in place, encourage customers to promote the brand through social media channels i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, Foursquare, Angie’s List, and others to come. Shamelessly build your web presence with your happiest customers. Expect every associate to encourage social media mentions from clients; this is a KPI because companies can easily see if reviews are increasing and whether they are positive or negative.

By implementing upsales benchmarking, a form of customer surveying, and social media mention expectations you will be on your way to finding what you are looking for. The great part about managing KPI is they become reflexive over time and adding new KPI is easier once a measurement backbone is in place. Run your business like a science experiment, more than likely you will be able to see good results when they occur and reproduce them time-and-time again. For more business related articles check out http://harpershutshavedice.me/ or Harper’s Hut Blog.