5 TIPS TO BENEFIT YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
Melanie Porter is the Owner of Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar. We asked her for a little Expert Advice:
What advice would you give to someone who feels overwhelmed by the competition? Embrace competition. It’s the reason why there is room for your business to exist. It pushes innovators to do great things, which in turn keeps consumers interested and excited, enabling our economy to thrive. You started your company because you knew you had an innovative idea and weren’t afraid of a little competition. Be confident in your brand, and stay on your toes.
What top three tips would you like to pass along for those who have just started to use social media? 1) Learn how to speak #hashtag. It’s like a search engine and marketing tool combined into one word or phrase; use what’s trending so people can find you! 2) Sharing is caring. Not only do social media users want you to share original content, but they also want you to share theirs. 3) Diversify. Don’t stick with just one social media site. It’s important to be engaged across multiple platforms, rotating through photos, text, and videos. It keeps things interesting and gives you a farther reach.
When you think of the best people to work with, what traits do they share? They are honest, hard-working, and competent; they exude positivity, and they understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Give a budding entrepreneur your best hiring and firing business practices. Qualifications get the interview, but soft skills land the job. I never hire anyone unless I feel they are a natural fit within the existing employee dynamic. I also keep documentation so that terms of employment or termination are clear for both parties. The best practice is to have everything in writing!
Entrepreneurs often say that “you can’t do it all.” What three things do you always outsource? 1) Taxes, 2) Website development, and 3) Roasting
What business book would you recommend to someone who is either about to launch or in the early growth stage? For aspiring restaurateurs, I recommend Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer.
What are your thoughts on raising capital? Capital is arguably the most important consideration when starting a new business. and there are many ways to raise capital. We were extremely lucky to have personal savings and a very generous family to help us finance our business. When deciding which route is best for you, start with a realistic estimate of costs so you know how much capital you need up front, and then determine the cost of capital if you choose to borrow. Crowdfunding may be useful for raising small amounts of capital, but if you go this route, be specific about what the funds will be used for and ensure you have already solicited (and secured) enough investors to meet your goal before you launch your campaign.
What piece of invaluable advice did you receive that you would like to pass on to women pursuing their dream? Have enough cash to cover your business expenses for one year, and avoid taking on any debt.
My best advice to a woman launching a venture is… Don’t take shortcuts.
What would your advice to your younger self be? The right decisions aren’t always the easiest. Put your worry aside and be confident in your ideas!
Finally, please share your top five tips that would benefit an entrepreneurial woman launching or growing her business:
- Prices are negotiable. So negotiate! I learned very quickly that people will walk all over you unless you fight for a fair price and stand your ground. Expensive isn’t always synonymous with best, so shop around. Unless it’s a very unique product or service that has no substitutes, I have a general rule that I get three quotes before I decide on a vendor.
- No one will care more than you. You should care about every little detail and want to continually change your company for the better. Fix problems, even if your customer doesn’t see them. I make sure I am present as much as possible, and continually cover shifts and taste our products for quality control purposes.
- Being a business owner is a lifestyle choice. As a business owner, you have made the choice to make personal sacrifices to pursue your life’s passion. You have a responsibility to your employees and customers/clients to be there when they need you.
- Learn to love numbers and know how to interpret them. I cannot stress enough how important understanding finance is to your business. Every business has financial statements. Even if you don’t prepare them yourself, you have to be able to look at your financials and make decisions. How can you increase margins if you don’t know where to cut costs or when to raise prices? Can you afford to hire that next employee? Are you doing enough volume to make a profit this month? If not, why?
- Employees. You need them. They need you. Treat them well and they will return the favor.
Image: [Joanne Pio]