Chimera Strategies
How to make a marketing plan for all seasons by Tom Searcy

A marketing plan should be a written document, not scratchings on a cocktail napkin or recalled from memory. To take your business to the next level requires preparing a written marketing action plan every quarter.

Without a 90-day marketing GPS to guide you to your destination, treacherous roadblocks and time-consuming detours can keep you from reaching your goals. Even if you are a one-person sales department, you should know where your leads are coming from.

Try not to look at planning as an obligatory to-do, but as a way to solve tangible problems like generating awareness and improving credibility. Think of it as a way to solve lead generation problems before they arise. Here are some checklist steps to guide you:

1. Attack strategy quarterly. Begin developing a strategy-driven marketing action plan every 90 days. Marketing plays a vital role in successful business ventures, yet its systematic implementation is often overlooked by many sales people. Put down on paper how you are going to do three things:

— Generate leads for the sales team

— Build awareness of what your company sells

— Enhance the credibility of the organization

2. Think strategic first. Too many individuals believe that the tactical plan — the newsletters, press kits, trade shows, banners, 800-numbers, display advertisements, logos and giveaways — comes before the strategic plan. Those promotional, publicity and advertising tactics (and there are hundreds to choose from) should be contained within a well-orchestrated marketing action plan. But first create your strategic messages that will generate leads, build awareness and enhance credibility.

3. Update what’s happening now. The situation analysis introduces the company and includes:

— A brief overview of the product or service

— A brief overview of the personnel involved

— A past history of the company

— Its present performance

— Financial information, if appropriate

4. Profile away. Profiling is a bad word these days, but it works here. The product or service profile provides information regarding the specific items you intend to market. By addressing the following categories, a profile emerges. They include:

— Position Statement: The niche the product or service is intended to occupy

— Description: The product or service described in detail

— Pricing: The methods used to establish pricing. Questions such as, “Will discounts be offered?” are asked

— Market maturity: The overall market maturity is addressed

— Quality/Reliability: What level of quality is being portrayed? What’s the relation to price?

— New market potential: The potential size of the market is assessed

— Delivery of service: An explanation of the service delivery mechanism is given

— Packaging: Includes overall presentation of the product or service and its delivery

— Image: The impression customers receive from employees, facility, furnishings, stationary, etc.

5. Make the first the last. The executive summary consists of a one-page, top-level summary of the entire plan. It’s placed at the front of the document, but it’s the last thing you’ll write. Its purpose is to convey the gist of the plan to stakeholders, investors and anyone else who needs to know these facts in a hurry:

— The scope of the plan in an outlined paragraph

— The product or service being marketed

— For whom the plan is being prepared

— The time period the plan covers

— The geographic area where the implementation occurs

— The strategic messages and the tactics to get them to the target markets

If you manage to write two or three paragraphs for each of the topics, you’ll end up with plenty. But no more than 10 pages, please. From there, you can refine your tactics. More important, you’ve taken a big step forward because you’ve written your strategy down on paper.

Link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505183_162-57381379-10391735/how-to-make-a-marketing-plan-for-all-seasons/?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea

How to spot innovative hires by Geil Browning

Many of the resumes that cross my desk are white pieces of paper that list education, experiences, and skills. Since they’re typically from traditionally-minded people who prefer not to call attention to themselves, I don’t expect anything else.

Some people who are more expressive also include links to websites, where they post videos or slide presentations. Some resumes cleverly include square QR bar codes to scan, leading to multimedia links. I’ve also seen resumes from designers that are so colorful and inventive they are like works of art. Some of these are visually stunning, but it can take me 20 minutes to decipher the creator’s job qualifications. I’ve seen a resume set up like a board game, with a spinner in the middle, and—my personal favorite—one you cut out and fold into a colorful little box with the job seeker’s information printed on all six sides. It’s a thinking-outside-the-box box!

In my last article, I noted that all people have natural strengths to be innovative, whether they are butchers or bakers or cabinet makers. But how can you identify them in the job application and interview process? Though it does give some cues, the resume—whether a white one-sheet or a creatively-designed interactive puzzle—is of course not enough.

Suppose you have evaluated your team and you realize that you do not have all brain types represented. Specifically, you need someone with a “conceptual” brain to foster innovation and ideas that are not bound by the kinds of restraints that often hinder others. (Other folks say, “It has never been done before,” “It’s too expensive,” or “You’ll never get it approved,” for instance.)

These conceptual people naturally look at things differently. They usually excel at generating ideas and making the “quantum leaps” necessary to solve difficult problems. They need to engage with the big picture. They enjoy a challenge and immediately focus on solutions, but not the steps involved to get there. They are quickly bored by details and mundane matters.

So how do you weed out the innovators from the masses? And how can you distinguish the best ones at that? Naturally you want an intelligent, energetic employee with enthusiasm and integrity, one whose values are in line with those of your organization. Finding an innovative thinker also means looking for a creative resume, with writing that is metaphorical and playful, even inspirational. Look for phrases like, “I am an idea person,” “I am visionary,” or—better yet—”I enjoy developing solutions that are fresh and new.” Don’t be suspicious of a career path that has jumped from one field to another.

The interview is where you can really get a sense of conceptual thinking. Be prepared for innovative thinkers to go off on tangents—in their minds they are not digressing, but connecting the dots. Listen for words or phrases like these: brainstorming, big picture, global, vision, hunch, oneness, synchronicity, and cutting edge.

Here are useful interview questions to ask to identify strong innovators:

1. If you were to assemble a piece of furniture from the directions, how would you go about it?

I love this question because each thinking type answers it so differently. Someone whose thinking is very innovative will often say, ”I look at the picture on the box, dump the pieces in a pile on the floor, and then begin. When the project is complete, I use the directions to start a fire.”

2. When a deadline is a month away, how do you finish a project—and when?

An innovative thinker will say something like, “First, I search the Internet for ideas. Then I’ll take a walk or ponder until a solution makes itself known. This may happen immediately or it may happen three days before the deadline, but when the solution surfaces, it will come all at once—and it will come.”

3. How do you make important life decisions?

Innovative minds will answer, “I base my decisions on intuition.” 

An applicant’s behaviors are also important to understanding how an innovator (if you’ve found one) would interact as part of your team. Look to uncover them with questions like these:

4. What would you do if you showed up ten minutes early for a meeting?

Does this individual talk about striking up a conversation with the nearest person, or quietly prepare for the meeting? Only you know which trait would offer an appropriate balance at your company. 

5. How would you assert your ideas if you were in a meeting with a group of managers and a confrontational issue emerged?

This way you can get a sense of whether or not this applicant will wait for encouragement before speaking, or jump in with a point of view. Does your current team have outspoken leaders who would squelch innovations your candidate proposes, or would his voice be heard? 

6. How would you respond if your manager suddenly changed your project?

Do you find this applicant describes immediately adapting to the new task, or holding his ground? Which would benefit your organization’s processes more? 

In addition, innovative job applicants will most likely ask you where you expect your company to be in ten years. They may ask how many products you have introduced, and whether or not you have awards for innovation. They also may ask if they can bring their dog to work.

If you want innovative ideas to surface in your company, it is your job to cultivate an atmosphere in which all types of creativity are valued. Before you hire your perfect candidate, make sure your organization is truly ready to hear new ideas.

One note of caution: look for competence, not just blue-sky thinking, because ultimately you need ideas that will benefit your bottom line. Experience with real world solutions is a bonus in any job candidate.

Link: http://www.inc.com/geil-browning/how-to-identify-innovative-new-hires.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+inc%2Fheadlines+%28Inc.com+Headlines%29

Why You Should Use User-Generated Content by Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business getting reviews and recommendations from customers on social media? If not, you may need to take steps to encourage this type of social sharing. A new study from Bazaarvoice, reported by eMarketer, found that consumers of all ages are increasingly relying on recommendations and reviews—both from people they know and from strangers online—when making purchasing decisions.

Bazaarvoice studied how “user-generated content”—which includes reviews, recommendations, questions or comments—was used by consumers in deciding what products, services and brands to patronize. The study focused on two different age groups: Millennials (29 and under) and Baby Boomers, and looked at content on brand websites, social networking sites and third-party websites (such as Yelp!.com).

What differentiates Boomers from Millennials? Boomers (aged 47-65) were more likely to rely on people they knew for recommendations; 66 percent relied on this source. Millennials, however, rely pretty much equally on people they know (51 percent) and anonymous user-generated content (51 percent) when deciding what to buy. websites (51 percent) to influence their buying decisions.

Millennials were also more likely than Boomers to share their brand experiences online, both positive and negative. One-fourth preferred to share this type of information on third-party sites (such as CNET), but the biggest group (42 percent) said social networking sites like Facebook were their favorite place to share information about brands.

Although 17 percent of Boomers do share positive brand experiences via social media, and 21 percent share on third-party websites, the preferred method for Boomers was email (38 percent). In comparison, just 24 percent of Millennials used email to share purchasing experiences.

While there are some significant differences among the age groups, there are two major takeaways for your business:

1)    Both age groups are becoming more comfortable with relying on other consumers’ input and advice when making purchases. As familiarity with social sites increases among all age groups, the age-old practice of “word-of-mouth” is only going to get more and more digital.

2)    Both Millennials and Boomers trusted user-generated content significantly more than they trusted advertising or publicity. In fact, they trusted other users’ opinions even more than impartial news articles about brands.

If your business isn’t already encouraging this type of feedback from customers, this study is a clear sign that you need to start.

Link: www.networksolutions.com/smallbusiness/2012/02/why-you-should-use-user-generated-content/

Electronic, Marine and Automotive Aftermarket Distributor Available for Acquisition
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
 
Electronic, Marine and Automotive Aftermarket Distributor Available for Acquisition
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
The company is a specialty distributor of products for the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  The company manufactures and distributes the largest selection of cable ties, wire ties, heat shrink tubing, wire connectors, cable tie mounts, HVAC supply products, and related wiring accessories throughout the world.  It imports from both foreign and domestic sources, inventories, offers value added services like kitting and sells products to distributors, installers and consumers through its website nationwide.
 
The owner of the company has been absent for the last 6 years due to various illnesses and can no longer manage the business.
 
A Strategic Buyer
A strategic buyer can acquire 1) key clients relationships and 2) consolidate and improve operations.  The crown jewel of the company is a large, repeat client base consisting of well-known distributors and installers in the industry.  Additionally, the strategic buyer can consolidate operations, remove overhead and improve current gross product margins of 38% by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
An Overseas Buyer
The overseas buyer can acquire 1) a domestic presence, 2) key domestic client relationships, and 3) domestic distribution channels in the electronic, marine and automotive aftermarket industries.  In addition to the above, the overseas buyer can improve cash flow by adding full time management oversight and upgrading inventory systems.
 
Financial Highlights
Sales are estimated to be $1.9MM in 2011.  Cash flow is estimated to be $52M in 2011 or 3% of sales.  Cash flow is calculated by adding back expenses to net income that are not passed on to a new buyer.
 
The Asking Price
For the asking price of $557,000 the buyer receives 1) inventory, 2) assets, and 3) the ability of those assets to produce cash flow or goodwill.  The inventory is valued at $324,000 or 58% of the asking price.  There are no assets of value in the business.  And, the goodwill is valued at $233,000 or 42% of the asking price.  The owner of the company will hold a note.
 
Communications & Inquires
All communications, inquiries and requests for information should be addressed to Gary Kane.  He can be reached by phone at 855-chimera (244-6372) ext. 801 or by email at gkane@chimerastrategies.com.
 
About Chimera Strategies
Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm.  We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success happens naturally for our clients and our firm.  Additional information about our firm can be obtained by visiting our website at ww.chimerastrategies.com.
 
Chimera Strategies is proud to congratulate our Founder & Managing Partner, Gary B Kane, for being selected to the Long Island Business News’ 40 under 40

The Long Island Business News (“libn”) selects 40 individuals under the age of 40 each year that demonstrate leadership in their business, support the Island’s not-for-profit organizations and show commitment to the communities that ultimately support them and their business.  This award is the libn’s tribute to Long Island’s best and brightest rising stars.

Chimera Strategies is proud to congratulate our Founder & Managing Partner, Gary B Kane, for being selected to the libn’s class of 2012.  Gary B Kane founded Chimera Strategies in 2010 to bring investment banking quality services to small businesses. Mr. Kane had an extensive career both on Wall Street and on Main Street in various roles such as analyst, consultant and chief financial officer. Mr. Kane has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Finance. He also is a CFA or Chartered Financial Analyst.  Mr. Kane brings knowledge, experience and professionalism to our clients and cultural leadership to our team.

About Chimera Strategies

Chimera Strategies LLC is a full service business brokerage firm operating in the state of New York. We believe with the right purpose, culture, people and processes success for our clients and our firm happens naturally.

Additional information about Chimera Strategies can be obtained by visiting our website at www.chimerastrategies.com.

Simple “Who’s Next” relationship plan by Jamillah Warner

A plan is a decision about what you’re going to do. It can be as detailed as you choose and potentially complicated. Or it can be core and more simple. I’ve noticed that when you’re running a one man, one woman show or any type of small team, it’s easy to get lost in the details. So make the details second to the beautiful parts of the vision.

For example, it’s the new year and we have fitness resolutions dancing in our heads. But instead of thinking of the 4 or 5 workouts a week and the diet changes, you could choose to focus on a flat tummy in your favorite shirt, a shopping spree at the 20 pound mark, how fun Zumba classes are on Monday nights and the new tasty gourmet meals that you’ll discover, etc.

You still get the same results, but you have a lot more fun along the way.

I have found that adding the pleasure to your business plans makes it easier to do the grunt work as well. For me, it’s not about the workout. It’s about the 20 minutes in the steam room afterwards. It’s not about the hours at the desk, it’s about a solution for the small business owners that I know and love. Now, I’ll show up for that.

Here are four different types of business plans to consider for this year.

The Relationship Plan

In “What Matters Most: Business (Part II),” John Mariotti tells a simple (true) story that makes it easier for you to understand the power of tenacity and relationships in pursuing new clients. His tale highlights the never-give-up, never-back-down, but service-driven-attitude that it takes to attract new clientele. And it reminds you to keep showing up. Because one day your prospects will have an emergency, a problem that you can solve. You just need to be ready and available.

The “Who’s Next” Plan

Every business or program has to have successors but it’s common for small business owners to operate like superman doesn’t have a weakness. Well he does and it’s time to plan for it.  It’s time to identify and train a team that is ready to lead when the time comes.

But first you have to:

  1. Get clear about every position in the company and who will fill each spot in the face of an emergency, life-change or tragedy.
  2. Get your team ready to lead now with real world experiences. I love this one because there’s nothing like feeling the fear and handling the situation anyway.

When training your team, get focused on the position you are preparing them for and realistic about how long it will take to get them ready. There is a serious difference between being the right hand man and the front runner. Your team players need a chance to feel that difference and learn to manage it. And real world practice makes it better.

In “The Key to Succession Planning Is Having A Strong Bench,” John gives additional advice to help you plan for the long term future of your business.

The “No BS” Plan

Ivana Taylor says:

“The reason most of our business plans fail is because we leave them on the paper or we suck the life out of them by giving them uninspiring names.”

I agree and to combat that you can do what I did:

  1. Choose the two or three major projects that you will to accomplish this year.
  2. Name them something that inspires you and your team every time you hear it.
  3. Create a visually appealing image to represent the project and put it on the wall.

There will be many details in order to complete your plan, but the core or your desire (with a cool name) will be in your face daily.

For Ivana’s no BS plan check out “A New And Improved Goal Setting Process For Your Business (And Life).” She encourages us to know what our real commitments are, to plan with those in mind, to get them down on paper as soon as possible and then off the page and into real life.

The Simple Plan

And if you are really overwhelmed, just start with the The Overwhelmed Small Business Owner’s Guide to Simplicity. You have to be in motion to be in the game. So even if you take baby steps, as long as you keep moving in the right direction, you will eventually arrive at your destination.

But if you stand in the same place, you’ll be left behind. So, just get started.

Link: http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/01/simple-whos-next-relationship-plan-what-experts-say.html

An alternative way to finance startups by Andy Sack

In 1994, the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction made a Bible passage from the Book of Ezekiel (25:17) famous.

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish, and the tyranny of evil men.  Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of lost children.”

Most fans of the film will tell you that Samuel L. Jackson (as his character Jules Winnfield) would deliver the passage as “a coldblooded thing to say to a (expletive) before popping a cap in his (donkey).”  However, for many of today’s entrepreneurs, the passage may be a better interpretation of how coldblooded the funding process can be for a small business.

In today’s economy, it can be a real pain, if not impossible, for a small business owner or entrepreneur to find capital to fund small business growth. But for the few that do secure financing, their path has typically been beset on all sides by the inequities of banking institutions or the tyranny of venture capitalists.

There’s no denying that big banks have become increasingly difficult when it comes to issuing small loans – which regulators define as loans of $1 million or less, regardless of the size of the business. Recent FDIC data shows that the number of small bank loans to businesses has fallen to the lowest point in more than a decade. And the money that banks do lend is often issued at fixed rates that burden start-ups with unrealistic payments.

Meanwhile, the path to funding through institutional venture capital is no less painful. Venture capital, while illiquid, brings with it a high degree of “hands-on management,” outside pressure from investors and ultimately, and a greater loss of control by the entrepreneur. As soon as venture capitalists become involved, the founder’s role shifts from focused leader in full control, to full-time investor liaison where management decisions are collaborated upon.

So, how are today’s entrepreneurs expected to navigate this valley of financing darkness?  Well, there’s an often overlooked financing model called revenue-based finance that is gaining a “shepherd-like” following from many of today’s small businesses.

The revenue-based finance model, sometimes called royalty-based finance (RBF), was introduced over 50 years ago and is again gaining popularity today.  The RBF model provides a unique set of benefits to both the small business and the investor.

The RBF model is called a “non-dilutive” form of finance because the small business owner does not trade ownership in the company in exchange for cash. Instead, the loan is structured so monthly payments are a percentage of increased revenues. Additionally, the investor’s payout is capped to a specific amount that is paid out of the revenue the company earns within a specified time period.

Business owners benefit by receiving investment dollars to build their business (without losing ownership) and investors benefit by receiving increasing payments as revenues increase. The investor has purchased the rights to a portion of the revenue earned by the small business, but they have not purchased any other ownership of the business. The terms of the RBF model are typically negotiated to allow some time for revenue to accrue before payouts need to be made, and typically there is a time period limitation and a payout limitation that is included in the negotiated terms.

OneWed, a provider of wedding planning tools and websites, used a hybrid of revenue-based finance and equity when taking seed-stage investment from Founder’s Co-op in 2009.

“We got capital that was cheaper than equity, when no other debt financing was available in the market for our stage of business. The fund gets return on capital immediately via the revenue-based payments, while still having significant upside via their equity investment,” said OneWed CEO John Scrofano.

This model is now used by many investment companies across the nation including even local and state government agencies. Notably, not all small businesses or investors will benefit by using this model.  Investors who agree to RBF terms need to accept the “capped” earning potential of the investment. And some businesses with low profit margins and limited flexibility on pricing may not be appropriate for an RBF loan.

The RBF model can provide capital now to help small businesses grow to that next level, without getting a second mortgage on mom’s house, or selling an ownership stake in the business.  This kind of financing aligns the goals of the investor and the business owner in a mutually beneficial situation.

Link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/01/04/pulp-funding-an-alternative-way-to-finance-startups/2/

Five website resolutions to put on your list for 2012 by Shashi Bellamkonda

We’re in the New Year and the time for making resolutions about health, wealth, family and oddball bucket lists. Don’t forget about making resolutions about your online presence as well. Your website 2012 resolutions should include content, communications, community, conversations and conversion.  The secret of successful small business owners is that they spend more time “on the business” than “in the business.” One of the tools for spending on your business is your web presence.

Small businesses are great at customer service and realize that their next customer will come from a current customer – Word of Mouth. In the digital world word of mouth is “word of mouse” a powerful tool to gain new customers. A new era of marketing is unfolding and digital marketing helps you in your objective to influence behavior to change positively towards you.  The audience who need your product and services are increasingly searching for them online. It is interesting to see how the communication tools are coming together.

We hope you are convinced that even your brick and mortar business needs to be on the web. Guess what - “92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web” according to a May 2011 Pew Internet Survey (PDF).

Without further adieu, here are some 2012 resolutions you should include in your business list.  Five “C” online resolutions for small business:

Content

  • Not having a website for your business is not an option anymore. A website or a blog all count as establishing your web presence.
  • Resolve to update it constantly. Once a day, week or even a month as long as you are consistent.
  • Show your thought leadership through content. Publish your thoughts on your industry, peers, products, good news about your community.
  • Education through content – provide tips to your customers, answer the most asked questions on your website or blog.
  • Fresh and updated content is a good way to ensure search engines are indexing your site often and your chances of appearing in search results will be better.

Communications

  • Email  Marketing is still a top performing marketing channel for businesses. Embrace it and use it to flourish.
    • It is important for you to get email branded with your business name showing consistency and credibility.
    • Communicate with your customers to solve their problems with your product rather than selling your product.
    • If you are sending an email newsletter you should try to use software like Constant Contact, Exact Target, MailChimp or other professional tools. Many of these tools make it easy for you and also guide you to succeed in email marketing.
  • Establish communications with customers using popular social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Before you decide on setting up your social profiles, asking your customers where they would like to connect with you is a good idea.
    • Food trucks use this medium very well to let customers know their location.
    • Last minute availability of appointments at doctors, saloons.
  • Your website should have the components of a Web 2.0 site – ability for your web visitors to comment, share your content and bookmark it.
  • Your blog, social media tools are all communication tools and working together with email make great marketing tools.

Community

  • Every business should nurture their customer communities by providing them with tools to spread word of mouth.
    • Customer appreciation days
    • Special offers for regular customers
    • Formal or informal meetings with customer advisory boards
    • Asking customers for ideas to improve products or suggest new product features
    • Provide easy ways to give you feedback or review your business
  • Face to face networking is important
    • Attend local events
    • Business networking and educational events
    • Set aside time and budget to attend and learn ways to increase your business
  • Sponsoring local community events – get involved in local community events, PTA organizations, schools , scout groups.

Cutting edge Technology

  • While investing in technology evaluate the benefit to your organization and avoid any impulse buys.
    • Upgrade your Internet speeds if you feel it will increase the speed of your customer transactions.
    • Get a new smartphone if you are away from your computer a lot and your business depends on emails and orders from customers through the web.
    • Invest in a tablet if you would like to carry an electronic portfolio to show customers.
  • Attend trade shows or subscribe to trade magazines to see what new technology can help make your business more efficient.
  • Consider having an advisory board of people you know who can advise you on new technology.

Conversion: All your resolutions should lead to your objective of growing your business.

  • Make sure you spend your time on activities that help your business grow.
  • Social tools can be distracting.  Consider them as communication tools and allot enough time to nurture your communities there.
  • While only talking about sales in a social context is sometimes in poor taste, look for opportunities where you answer peoples questions and offer to help.
  • Definitely use analytics programs to see where your traffic is coming from and which keywords they are using to find your business online.
  • If you are a brick and mortar business like a restaurant, try to ask your customers where they found you.

Remember you don’t have to do all these tasks yourself. Weigh the time you would spend with the cost of hiring people to tell your story and concentrate on what you do best – working on your business. What did you add to your New Year business resolution?

Link: http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/01/5-website-resolutions-for-2012.html

Overcome 5 obstacles to growth in 2012 by Karen E Klein

Late in 2011, the U.S. economy began crackling with signs of increasing confidence, putting American entrepreneurs in a better position than they’ve been in for years, says Karl Schamotta, a senior market strategist for Western Union Business Solutions (WU) in Calgary. “The U.S. economy took its licks very hard during the financial crisis and its aftermath, but it’s still one of the world’s most flexible economies—and that gives it a huge advantage in recovery,” Schamotta says.

The upbeat forecasts could get lost in the doom-and-gloom pronouncements that typically accompany a Presidential election year, says John Krubski, a futurist and research adviser for the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute. He suggests that small companies use the uptick as an excuse to adjust their business models and seek new markets.

In this Smart Answers column, Schamotta and Krubski pinpoint five challenges they foresee facing entrepreneurs in 2012 and offer advice to business owners on how to meet these obstacles to growth, head-on.

Negative focus. “Politicians don’t get elected unless they can convince people that things are going badly,” Krubski says, explaining why research shows that election years tend to be unfavorable for business. To avoid getting sucked into the rhetoric, small business owners should “inoculate themselves” against the prevailing wisdom and accentuate the positive: Financial-analysis-software maker Sageworks tracked U.S. companies with sales under $7 million and found a 3 percent average revenue increase in 2011. That’s up from a 2 percent increase in 2010 and a 6 percent drop in 2009.

Worry about slumping sales. The Guardian Life’s October 2011 survey of 1,100 business owners showed that 14 percent would shut their doors if revenues were to drop drastically in 2012; the figure rose to just over 23 percent for sole proprietors. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs are unrelenting optimists, even in tough times. Insurance firm Hiscox released its year-end “DNA of an Entrepreneur” survey of 3,000 respondents, showing that despite increased stress, almost half of U.S. entrepreneurs are optimistic about 2012; fewer than half expected layoffs. The McGladrey Manufacturing & Distribution Monitor, a quarterly survey of just over 500 executives who run mostly small and midsize businesses, showed economic outlook increasing from 38 percent positive in the spring to 60 percent positive in the summer—and 78 percent by the fall, says Karen Kurek, national manufacturing and distribution practice leader in McGladrey’s Chicago office.

World economic turmoil. From currency troubles in the euro zone to decelerating growth in emerging economies, the fallout contains repercussions for the U.S. economy. However, such difficulties also provide opportunities for small U.S. businesses to expand into markets where their competition has been weakened, particularly if they retool business plans and increase productivity.

“This year is a good one to be looking for coins in the sofa, to work on little improvements that can make a big difference to your long-term success,” Schamotta says. “Reduce costs, reduce cash flow volatility, and maximize foreign trading relationships.” Don’t forget the surplus of talented people looking for jobs, Krubski says. “If you have 10 employees and one isn’t pulling his weight, the other nine are penalized. It’s a hard decision, but think about what’s working for your company, what’s not, and what you can do to rebalance.”

Uncertainty. Service providers are craving the certainty of long-term contracts and may be willing to trade some profitability in exchange. “People are going to be looking to renegotiate everything and you should be doing the same. A friend [who runs a small business] had a copier salesman approach her about locking in her account for 10 years. She agreed, at a much lower rate, and got him to buy her out of her previous contract,” Krubski says. Do a start-from-scratch review of all your expenses and cut deals with everyone from your accountant to your customers and employees. Give people your commitment to buy from them and you can renegotiate many fixed expenses to your long-term benefit.

Link: http://www.businessweek.com/small-business/overcome-five-obstacles-to-growth-in-2012-01032012.html