The saying “Cowboy Up” generally means to be tougher or more resilient in the face of difficult circumstances. It can also mean to prepare to act on something about to immediately occur. And, when it comes to protecting your business from data breaches, it may be time for your company to “Cowboy Up” and implement some simple solutions that help mitigate risks and protect confidential information.
Industry analysts agree cybersecurity will continue to be one of the top investments business owners will make for the foreseeable future. Too often, business owners believe that only larger organizations need to take cybersecurity seriously. Listed below are a few facts about who is a common security target, and what can happen to a business after a data breach.
DATA BREACHES CAN PUT YOU OUT OF BUSINESS. Not only do data breaches happen to small companies, but often with greater impact! A National Cyber Security Alliance Study found, that 60% of small to midsize companies go out of business within the first 6 months of a data breach. The costs and reputation damage attributed to a data breach may be too much to recover from for most businesses.
DATA BREACHES AFFECT THE “LITTLE” GUYS TOO. Most often, the media reports on data breaches that affect larger organizations like Target, Home Depot, and Sony, but did you know that a Verizon study found that 71% of data breaches happen to companies with less than 100 employees?
EMPLOYEES ARE YOUR WEAKEST LINK. Installing network firewalls, ensuring that your systems are regularly patched with the most current vendor security patches and deploying up-to-date anti-virus software sounds like a great start to protecting your businesses information, however, technology alone cannot stop cybercrime and data breaches. In a study led by IBM, they uncovered that 95% of data breaches are caused by human error. That makes your employees the weakest link in your fight against cybersecurity!
YOUR EMPLOYEES NEED CYBER SECURITY TRAINING! The best way to minimize the potential risk of a data breach is to educate your employees. Training your employees on cybersecurity best practices and how to recognize possible threats, is the first step in implementing a robust data security strategy. Look for a comprehensive training program that informs and engages your employees on security best practices. Make sure it includes training on phishing scams, ransomware, phones scams and the dangers of public Wi-Fi. Lastly, you want a training program that hits a broad range of security topics to increase your employees’ security awareness and protects your business.
When it comes to marketing, most small businesses take the approach of throwing something against the wall to see what sticks. Or even worse, they try something once and if they don’t see immediate results, they give up. What many don’t realize is it takes 9 - 13 touches to reach their audience, rendering the wing-it approach virtually useless.
To truly reap the rewards from your marketing efforts, you need a funnel system that strategically orchestrates multiple touches across the lead nurturing spectrum, measuring as you go. Think of it like an auditorium. You’ve got the space with hundreds of seats, a stage and powerful AV system—and you’ve got something important to say. But if no one knows you’re there, you’ll be speaking to an empty room. Before you can impart your wisdom, you need to first fill the seats (build brand awareness). Once you’ve got a captive audience, you need to give them compelling reasons to stay (engage through multiple touch points in your funnel), all while constantly reading the room to see if you’re getting through (measure).
The problem is, many businesses aren’t taking this approach—not in its entirety. In fact, up to 65% have not even identified or attempted to measure their sales funnel, which is staggering considering nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Implementing a marketing program alone is not enough. You absolutely need to be measuring its effectiveness. If you neglect your funnel, you’ll miss out on a huge revenue opportunity. In my experience, there are two reasons why businesses aren’t measuring: they fear they’ll only call attention to their marketing fails or they think it’s too complicated to do. Good news—neither is true.
Metrics support profitable decision-making
The most successful marketers are those who unapologetically assess their marketing efforts on an ongoing basis to see what’s working and what’s not. They rely on the data to tell a compelling story about where they’ve been, where they are today and where they need to go. Yes, when you do this you may discover that a particular marketing program underperformed. That’s okay—even expected at times. Use those insights to redirect you to a more profitable and successful marketing program—not to point out your “failures.” It’s not a linear process, but rather an evolution in your approach as you nurture your customer along their journey to the point of purchase.
Measuring marketing performance doesn’t have to be hard
It’s true—measuring marketing performance isn’t as cut and dry as measuring your sales team’s performance. In fact, it might take a customer anywhere from 3 - 12 months to go through the entire funnel before purchasing (sometimes longer). But, don’t let that deter you. While you may not be able to attribute a particular marketing effort to the ultimate sale, you can measure your brand awareness and ROI through each stage of your customer journey by way of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
For example, you can measure your brand by looking at how you’re doing on social media. Track things like follower growth, reach, referrals and engagement. Also examine your website metrics. How many page views are you generating and what’s the average user’s time-on-site? If your traffic is increasing (both new and existing users) and users are staying on your site longer, then you’re doing a good job building your brand.
To measure direct ROI, look at metrics like social media conversion, the number of webinar registrants, downloadable content conversions, email open rates, etc. These metrics are relatively black-and-white and should be fairly easy to capture. More importantly, they reveal a wealth of information that can guide your marketing decisions moving forward.
The truth is, to really understand how well you’re reaching your audience, you need to measure throughout the entire customer journey. But be sure to set goals. Identify the metrics you want to achieve across every touch point and monitor as you go. By tracking your efforts as you go, you’ll end up with a powerful funnel that delivers a shorter sales cycle and ultimately supports revenue growth.
What do I know about hyper growth? Quite a bit, actually.
In the last five years, my law firm experienced hyper growth. From 2015 to 2018, we saw a revenue increase of 125% with profit hovering around 10%. By 2017, we had quadrupled our revenue—without quadrupling client headcount. In fact, in 2016, we serviced 158 clients. In 2017 that number dropped to 125, but our revenue jumped by almost half a million dollars. By 2018 we brought in 142 new clients, representing a 15.5% revenue growth over 2017. We grew the dollar value of our average client by over 60%!
You don’t experience growth like this without learning some lessons along the way. For us, it was a matter of gathering data and applying metrics to course correct when we needed a change of direction.
Several years ago, were not reaching our ideal client. We thought we were doing everything right: we had a target market, a message we believed resonated with our audience and a valuable service that helped people. Yet, somewhere along the way, there was a disconnect—and we had to get to the bottom of it in order to stay profitable.
We needed a better understanding of our ideal client. To do this, we gathered as much demographic data as we could about our existing clients—things like age, gender, occupation, zip code and more. We then formed an advisory board, which was comprised of a sampling of those ideal clients, as well as successful business owners and community leaders, to help us identify why we weren’t reaching more customers. The more we dug, the more metrics we identified—and the more we learned about what we were doing wrong and where profitable opportunities were hiding.
Before we knew it, we were headed down a metrics-based path that guided us to the hyper growth we continue to enjoy today.
Here’s what those metrics told us:
To combat the false perception, we initiated a number of rebranding initiatives, which included a new website, updated marketing materials and a new visual brand identity that reflected the more upscale image we were trying to convey. We also updated the physical appearance of our offices—both inside and out. With those foundational elements in place, we then targeted our print and digital advertising and social media strategy on clients with higher income.
For every business, setting goals like this might look different. For us it meant defining what each lawyer and paralegal could and should generate in terms of billable hours. That gave us a projected revenue stream, which helped us determine the budget we had to work with. We then engaged our marketing team to develop a dashboard that now helps us measure ROI on every marketing dollar we spend, our growth and the number of clients coming in.
Do you want to experience hyper growth? Of course you do. What business wouldn’t? You can. But it takes some tough love, an honest look at the business and a willingness to use input and data to understand your customer, your market and even your business so that you profitably redirect your efforts.
Additional potential revenue streams exist in every business. They are hidden within the capabilities of the firm. The challenge is finding and turning them into new products and services. Most businesses are not structured or focused to discover or develop them. As a result, sales don’t materialize.
This does not have to be the case. The business leader needs to make generating revenue from new sources a strategic priority. Enlisting the leadership team in this effort can have a two-fold benefit. It focuses on growing revenue and unifies the company on a positive initiative that potentially benefits everyone in the company. Below are a series of steps to make this happen.
Create a leadership team meeting agenda to focus on uncovering new revenue sources. Include your outside advisors in this meeting. They will bring an external view of the business and the market that will be helpful. Brainstorm what internal capabilities could become new sources of revenue. Set a goal to identify one idea in each leader’s area. For example, a new product or service could be developed as a result of a unique solution devised for an individual customer. It may come from a valued employee developing an idea for a product or service. Implementing unused functions in existing technology could generate a new product or service. An internal process could be re-purposed to generate revenue. No ideas are off limits. Write them all down for all to see.
Have the leadership team prioritize the ideas. Focus on ideas that could be implemented in 12 to 18 months. That way results can be seen in a reasonably short period of time and reinforces that the process can be used successfully again. Have each executive take responsibility for the top idea that emanates from their area. Each area leader should discuss the idea with their staff to determine if it is feasible. If it is, devise a plan to make it a reality. If an idea involves more than one area, each area leader commits to work with the other to determine implementation feasibility.
Establish review milestones. Put dates on the calendar for the leadership team to get together quarterly. Meet with each area executive monthly to review the status of the initiatives they are leading. Monitor each team initiative to ensure that the teams are meeting and progress is being made.
Team brainpower is more powerful than individual brainpower, Whenever possible, using a team to refine and implement any idea provides far more value to the business. It gives the team a sense of ownership. It also provides motivation to help ensure the success of the idea.
Other benefits. Using teams to develop a product or service adds another level of benefit. The team that developed it becomes the cheerleaders. They provide an additional push to the sales organization to focus on the sale of this product or service. There is an additional benefit for the firm’s leader. He/she gains time to focus on other areas of the business and their personal life to keep them energized.
An option. If you don’t have the appropriate staff or time to focus on identifying and implementing new products and services, Berger Business Advisors has the expertise to help you. For a free consultation to explore how you can implement new revenue streams for your organization, contact us.
Author: Allan Berger, Berger Business Advisors, Aberger@BergerBusinessAdvisors.com
New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the Nation, and as a result, traffic is a primary concern for any development project. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”) has jurisdiction over all projects along state highways. Although local and county roadways fall outside of the State’s authority, New Jersey agencies maintain their own application and approval process.
As businesses look to secure real estate and operate in New Jersey, navigating traffic issues and permitting can be daunting. Working to understand the State’s permitting challenges and knowing how to obtain the necessary approvals for a project in advance are critical in ensuring a real estate project is completed on time and on budget.
This guide will help assess site feasibility and what lies ahead on the road to permitting a project from a site access and traffic impact perspective. The information provided addresses sites located along a state highway falling within the jurisdiction of the NJDOT. Projects located on county roads will require review and approval by county planning and engineering agencies rather than the State of New Jersey which generally can be accomplished in less time and at less cost. The assistance of a New Jersey licensed civil engineer specializing in traffic engineering will be needed to not only assess all required permits and approvals, but also to prepare the information necessary for filing with the appropriate agencies.
Getting Ahead of New Jersey Traffic Issues - Step By Step
1. Due Diligence - Determine if the site is located along a local, county, or state road. For purposes of this discussion, we will assume the project is located along a state highway as NJDOT permitting poses the most challenges.
2. Lot Conformance Analysis- This analysis is a study of the amount of traffic that will be permitted to access a state road from a site and which traffic movements will be allowed. It takes into account a number of factors including roadway speeds, amount of frontage along the roadway, size of the site, etc., and can be performed by most traffic engineers in less than two days. With approximately 90% certainty, this analysis can determine the extent to which a development will be limited by the NJDOT.
3. NJDOT Pre-Application Meeting - Schedule an informal meeting with the NJDOT to confirm the results of the Lot Conformance Analysis and the allowable movements out of a site driveway and onto a state highway. There is no fee charged by the NJDOT for these meetings and all that is required is a conceptual layout plan and initial calculations from a traffic engineer.
4. Evaluate Permit Options - After performing steps one through three, the potential development limitations are now known and a determination can be made as to what type of permit will be required. Now, an accurate evaluation can be made of the potential costs and time periods associated with securing the particular permit.
The Four Types of NJDOT Permits
1. Letter of No Interest - A Letter of No Interest allows developments to reuse existing driveways to the state highway with no changes to turning movements out of the driveway, the width, driveway material, or curbing. The applicant is required to provide proof that there would not be a significant change in the amount of traffic being generated by the development compared to the previous use.
2. Minor Access Permit - A Minor Access Permit will likely be required if a new driveway or a modification to an existing driveway is proposed and the trip generation associated with the development is very low (less than 500 trips a day to the state highway). The types of developments that would fall in this category are usually small and medium-sized residential developments, small offices, and smaller retail establishments with additional access to a side street.
3. Major Access Permit - A Major Access Permit may be required if a new driveway or modification to an existing driveway is proposed, the site will generate over 500 trips a day, and the net increase in trips compared to the previous development is less than 200 in the busiest hour. Typical developments that would fall in this category are restaurants, medium-sized office and medical office buildings, smaller shopping centers, and fast-food/coffee/convenience stores with a significant amount of traffic using a side street.
4. Major Access Permit with Planning - A Major Access Permit with Planning will likely be required if a new driveway or modification to an existing driveway is proposed, the site will generate over 500 trips a day, and the net increase in trips compared to the previous development is more than 200 in the busiest hour. Typical developments that would fall in this category are large shopping centers, gas stations with convenience stores, and other large-scale developments.
Joseph A. Paparo, Esq., Principal, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C., firstname.lastname@example.org
In the age of digital everything, the average consumer’s approach to buying has been completely reimagined. No longer do consumers react favorably to the once tried and true sales models of yesteryear, when sales teams would rely almost exclusively on tactics like phone calls and conferences to facilitate transactions. These days, the sales funnel is tied much more closely to marketing – a technique that aims to build and sustain customer loyalty by creating an inviting and engaging user experience at every touch.
When it comes down to it, sales and marketing have a lot in common, perhaps most notably that both directly impact lead generation and revenue. The biggest difference, however, is that marketing is defined as the process of getting people interested in the goods and services being sold, whereas sales refers to all activities that lead up to the direct selling of those products. The most successful businesses, therefore, are the ones that understand the nuances and are open to implementing a strategy that integrates elements from both sides.
What does sales and marketing integration look like?
Sales and marketing integration starts with collaboration. When sales and marketing teams work together instead of as separate entities, the sales process becomes significantly easier for everyone from start to finish. The marketing team’s job is to ensure that the consumer is already educated in your brand – and has had several positive touches related to the brand – before ever making any sort of contact with a salesperson. This approach has been shown to make the sales process more likely to be successful and more efficient because:
Sales and Marketing Integration: A 3-Step Process
At Paradigm, we believe that both sales and marketing should operate with the same two goals in mind: brand building and maximizing ROI. Many companies are at least familiar with ROI – measuring how much has been gained or lost on an investment, relative to the amount of resources invested – because those numbers are a direct indicator of the company’s overall profitability. But brand building – and measuring the success of a brand building campaign – can be much trickier, especially for small businesses. The effort usually pays off, though, because once a strong brand building strategy has been executed, your job as a marketer or salesperson becomes easier over time.
We measure brand building by identifying and then measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can be things like email list growth with quality leads (example: if we grow an email list by 50% but see the open rate decrease significantly, we know those were poor leads); social media mentions, follows and engagement; and website hits, time spent on the site, etc.
Once everyone is on the same page and working toward the same brand building and ROI goals, there are three steps to follow for effectively integrating your sales and marketing teams:
Sales and marketing integration is a process that takes time; it’s not going to happen overnight. But once both teams begin working together to drive home your brand and maximize ROI, you’re likely to see significant improvements in your efficiency and effectiveness at closing deals.
For more detailed tips on how to integrate your own sales and marketing teams, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design today to schedule a consultation.
Small businesses face a host of challenges. Only a small percentage reach their fifth anniversary. Most people start out with a dream, roll the dice, and jump in feet first. You can reduce risk and increase your chances of success by taking the steps outlined below.
Plan to Succeed. A well thought out Business Plan can mitigate seven of the top ten reasons businesses fail. It allows you to organize, prioritize and shape your thoughts. It is a roadmap to the future. A Business Plan is a living document which changes periodically. When you write your thoughts down, it is easier to see the holes and to fill them before implementing. A Business Plan also allows you to share your thoughts with your advisors and employees so that everyone is on the same page.
Establish Goals. Goals help you measure success. Goals should be reasonable and a stretch to achieve. If they are too easy, the results are meaningless. Unachievable goals are counterproductive. Failure to meet them demoralizes the staff and may cause them to question the competence of the company’s leadership.
Monitor Cash Flow. Cash flow is the life-blood of business. As a business owner, you sign the checks and use the company credit card. You commit the company to spend money. When planning to spend consider Need vs. Want and Invest vs. Spend. Ask yourself, “Do I need it or do I want it?” If you want a $50,000 car when a $30,000 model will suffice, stop and think. Ask, “What’s the return on my investment?” The answer will help you make the right decision. If you need to buy raw materials that you will turn into a profitable deliverable that a customer has ordered, then do so. The question you need to answer is, “Where will I get the best return in terms of new business for the money I am investing?”
Track Your Progress. How do you know who’s winning if you don’t keep score? Determine what metrics drive your business and monitor them on a regular basis. It involves more than looking at your checkbook balance each day or running an income statement each month. You need to break down your sales process. It may include:
Our experience in developing and implementing business development plans increases your odds of success, contact us for a complementary consultation. Learn more
Fact or Fiction? In order to achieve a high reward on your money, you have to accept high levels of risk.
FICTION. The truth is, achieving a high overall reward on your money is possible while taking minimal risks. For years, common investing wisdom has promoted the idea that high risks lead to high returns, but in reality, many people experienced low rewards for taking high risk. It is often assumed that high risk investments will automatically generate high returns, leading you to believe that you will have much more money in your future as a result. When you plan on having a large return you might end up actually saving a much lower percentage of your income than you should be.
High risk doesn’t always equal high reward
It is common to hear a misconception that traditional financial planning offers; in order to achieve a specific financial goal, high risk products are the way to go. Many people build their financial futures based upon the hope that they’ll be in the right place at the right time with their retirement nest egg. There are many factors that affect your future such as rising taxes, life events and stock market fluctuations. All of these things cannot be monetized or computed with a mathematical equation to get an exact number as to how much you should have in retirement. Financial planning need and goal calculations suggest you don’t have to save as much, as long as you’re investing your money. But it’s not just about taking the high risk with your money, it’s also how much that risk is actually costing you. For example, there are factors such as taxes, fees, debt and lifestyle expenses that all have to be considered when determining your actual return. Decisions with your money need to be much more certain in nature and the only thing you can control is how much you save.
So what can you do to get ahead and stay ahead?
Focus more on your rate of savings than on your rate of return. The better you are at putting money away, the less dependent you may be on needing high returns and taking on high levels of risk. If you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle as you build your net worth, and you feel like you aren’t making any progress, ask yourself these questions…How much money did I save/invest last year as a percentage of my income? What is the right amount of money to save? If you find yourself saving a lower percentage of your income, there may be a temptation to turn to higher risk investments to help close the gap as you plan for retirement. By setting a goal to save more, you can be in more control over your financial future. Since rates of return are so unpredictable, saving the right amount each year may actually allow you to lower the amount of risk you take. You work hard for your money and it shouldn’t all be put at risk in hopes of a high payout.
Become a saver before becoming an investor.
Today, it is all too common for people to invest in market based investments before using guaranteed assets. This approach may not only encourage high levels of risk and volatility, but might also leave you without enough accessible money to respond to changing life events. There is no way to predict what may happen tomorrow and you could suddenly be faced with events such as an unexpected job loss, a medical emergency, or an opportunity to start a business. Before taking high risks with your hard earned money, or setting aside funds in illiquid accounts, focus on the following:
• Become a world class saver by setting aside 15-20% of your gross income.
• Accumulate one year of household income in accounts you can easily access.
• Protect your balance sheet and cash flows against life events that could wipe out your ability to save and wipe out the money you’ve already saved.
• Become more efficient by lowering taxes and other expenses that can erode savings and investment returns.
Rather than hoping for an attractive high rate of return on your money, and accepting the high risks that come with it, focus on these steps to lead you toward a more positive road to building wealth. Always remember, your rate of savings is more important than your rate of return.
Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation. The Living Balance Sheet® and The Living Balance Sheet® Logo are registered service marks of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. © Copyright 2005-2018 Guardian
People are odd when it comes to risk. Marc Adee, chairman and CEO of insurance giant Crum & Forster, noted people living near water often opt not to purchase flood insurance for $300 but buy insurance on their smart phones. “They get to watch all their worldly possessions float down the river while filming it on their fully insured phones,” he said. Adee was the keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting Luncheon of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce in January, held at the Hanover Marriott. His topic was how businesses can mitigate risk. “It’s fun to talk about things like landing on Mars or automated vehicles,” he told the audience of more than 500. “I’m not going to talk about anything fun like that. I’m going to talk about things that can go wrong and how you can navigate that.”
People have different levels of appetite for risk, according to Adee, yet he offered the following advice to all business owners and managers:
1. Identify the risk
2. Assess the likelihood of occurrence and the resultant impact on the business
3. Create a plan to mitigate that impact
“You can share (the risk) with insurance or you cankeep your fingers crossed,” he said.
Adee discussed a number of issues impacting risk for New Jersey businesses. He noted New Jersey placed seventh on a recent list of the most litigious states in the nation, resulting in high levels of liability. The list identifies states with an unfair bias against defendants, often businesses, he said. He said the state’s new equal pay law increases the threshold of risk for businesses being sued by current or former employees. He called such laws job killers. Adee reported that twice as many people move out of New Jersey as move in, which impacts employee recruitment and retention. Reasons include affordability and taxes. “Making New Jersey in its entirety a place people want to move to is a challenge,” he said. The state’s approaching legalization of marijuana also will increase risk for businesses, Adee warned. “It’s unlikely productivity is going to go up for employees,” he said, drawing laughs. Adee cited problems experienced by Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, including issues such as employee testing, work accidents and driving accidents.
Cyber attacks are an increasing cause of risk for businesses, Adee said. “The guys who built the internet did not design it to be defended,” he said. “So defending your little part of it can be problematic.” Adee told the audience most cyber attacks are emailbased and 90 percent of related costs are due to human error. Therefore, educating employees about cautionary policies and procedures is essential, he said. For example, he recommended sending a fake phishing email and seeing which employees open it. “If you walk the halls and find everyone has sticky notes with their passwords, it’s probably an indication further education is needed,” he said. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and extended power outages, were the final issues Adee discussed. He suggested small businesses evaluate how long they can go without cash flow and all businesses consider the secondary effects of disasters when creating a disaster recovery plan. “What you’re looking for is resilience so you bounce back better than the next guy,” he said. In summary, Adee said, “Having a healthy respect for risk involves going through the process, assessing and planning…It (also) increases the long-term success of your business.”
One-2-One meetings allow you to establish the Rapport that helps build Relationships which can lead to a Reward. Here’s how to make the most of your One-2-Ones:
Please Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
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Our Mission: The Morris County Chamber of Commerce collaboratively advances the interests of its members to champion a thriving business and community environment.
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