Dear Small Business Owner: From Sudershan Shaunak, SBDC Director. Online Video Says it All. Small Business Survival Tips

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1 Business Briefs for January 2010 Dear Small Business Owner: From Sudershan Shaunak, SBDC Director The strength, endurance and prosperity of small businesses is crucial to getting Californians back to work and help our state get out of this recession. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) wants to better understand the challenges that small businesses face in California. We are working with Senator Mark Wyland to bring attention to these challenges. It is for this reason that we want to hear from you. What are examples of regulations, fees and taxes that are impediments to your success and prosperity? Please send letters to the SBDC at 1823 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA with copies to Senator Mark Wyland at 1910 Palomar Point Way, Ste. 105, Carlsbad, CA or at with a copy Small Business Survival Tips Many small-business owners have been watching the economy nose-dive everyday for months. As a result, owners are stressed as they struggle to stay in business. While it's natural to be concerned during these challenging times, it is not the time to panic or make rash decisions. A better approach is to logically and carefully plan for survival and success during these difficult conditions. As economic history illustrates, the economy will turn around and offer more prosperous opportunities. With that said, the following are important survival tips for the small business owner: Click here to read more. Online Video Says it All It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is true, then online video is worth a million words or more! Media experts say this is true in the case of online video, which companies are using more frequently to send their message to potential clients and customers. As the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use, more small businesses have embraced the use of Internet video. Not only has the cost of digital video cameras and PCs declined, the access to cheap broadband Internet connections has soared. There has been a radical shift from shooting videos for television or VHS players, to producing videos for use on the Internet. Research continues to show that there is a decline in television viewers and an increase in the number of people viewing videos on the Web. Business owners understand this shift in viewing habits and want to use online videos to reach their target markets. Click here to read more. SBA Launches New Online Training Course: How to Win Federal Contracts The U.S. Small Business Administration launched a new online training course to help strengthen access to contracting opportunities for small businesses, including those owned by women, minorities, disadvantaged individuals and veterans. The training course, Recovery Act Opportunities: How to Win Federal Contracts, is part of a federal government-wide initiative announced last quarter by President Obama and being led by SBA and the Department of Commerce. Click here for more information. 1

2 Small Business Survival Tips Many small-business owners have been watching the economy nose-dive everyday for months. As a result, owners are stressed as they struggle to stay in business. While it's natural to be concerned during these challenging times, it is not the time to panic or make rash decisions. A better approach is to logically and carefully plan for survival and success during these difficult conditions. As economic history illustrates, the economy will turn around and offer more prosperous opportunities. With that said, the following are important survival tips for the small business owner: Keep your cash flowing As the owner, you should know how your cash flows. You need to track how cash comes in and how it goes out. QuickBooks or similar accounting package will help you to get a better understanding of your business cash flow. Cut the fat and leave the meat The U.S. economy experienced tremendous growth over the past 10 years. Businesses had good cash flow coming in the firm, but they allowed financial fat to build up in the things going out the door. Today you need to examine where your money is going and eliminate unnecessary costs. Evaluate what money is coming in during the next four months, specifically from where and when. Then compare this data to the cash outflows that you assessed in the previous step. If things are tight, that's fine; if more cash is going out than coming in, cut more expense items. It's critical that you get your cash outflows to a manageable level ASAP. Do Sales Forecasts Some business owners never forecasted sales before; the sales just happened. Those days are gone and now it is time to forecast sales. You should develop sales forecasts that are at least three months out. Back to Successful Basics When you first went into business, you focused on basic activities to help establish your company. Perhaps it is time to create a list of the things you did back then to bring in sales and profits. Like many businesses, you most likely moved away from many of those fundamental strategies when business improved. Now is the time to aggressively return to them. Don t Feed the Credit Card Monster It's alluring to use debt and credit cards to borrow your way through these financially challenging times. However, don t give in to the temptation. Say 'no' to using credit cards, the equity in your home, or any other borrowing. Rather than rely on costly credit cards, you may need to be financially creative and bootstrap your way to success. Cash for a Rainy Day You must have cash reserves, in case of an emergency. If possible, you should create an emergency fund that equals one, two, or three months of your cash outflows. Stash this amount away in an account, and don't use it unless it's life or death for the business. This fund offers a safety net just in case something bad comes along at the worst possible time. If you don't have money now, do everything you can to build up such a reserve. 2

3 The Banker is your Partner Your banker is probably as nervous as you are, if you're having trouble keeping up with your financial obligations. You need to develop a concrete plan for getting cash flows back in shape. Use the steps above to create the basics for the plan, and ask your CPA to help you format the plan. Once completed, discuss the plan with your banker and ask him to help you implement it. If it's a quality financial institution, they'll want to see you succeed. Who are your Cash Cows? Don't forget who your paying customers are now. It s great to have new business, but it's critical that you keep your current ones. The competition is always trying to win your customers over. Contact your clients and ask them how they're doing, and if there's anything you can do to help them out. Ask if they're happy with your service, and what can you do to assist them. You should also offer specific suggestions on how you can help them with your products and services. Work on the Important Things, don t Sweat the Details Many business owners are in the same situation as you are. The smart owners survive because they'll do the important things listed above and get their business on-track. You should allocate time to work on your cash flows, and improve the customer relationships. Set aside at least a full day within the next two weeks to work on the items above. Don t Panic The difference between which businesses succeed or fail has a lot to do with the decisions they make. To make smart moves, you must think clearly and logically. When you're panicked, it's difficult to make big decisions and show the leadership that's needed to survive. If you would like some guidance through these difficult times, please contact us at the SBDC North San Diego County (760)

4 Online Video Says it All Small business can afford online videos It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is true, then online video is worth a million words or more! Media experts say this is true in the case of online video, which companies are using more frequently to send their message to potential clients and customers. As the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use, more small businesses have embraced the use of Internet video. Not only has the cost of digital video cameras and PCs declined, the access to cheap broadband Internet connections has soared. There has been a radical shift from shooting videos for television or VHS players, to producing videos for use on the Internet. Research continues to show that there is a decline in television viewers and an increase in the number of people viewing videos on the Web. Business owners understand this shift in viewing habits and want to use online videos to reach their target markets. Prior to the Internet, delivering a video production was costly and time consuming. For just a 30 second spot on film for television broadcast, businesses could spend in excess of $200,000. In addition, the cost of paying for air time and distribution fees would increase the price of the video ad. Contrast those costs with the lower expenses associate with online videos. It is common for many online videos to be shot with a HD video camera costing less than $1,000. A company employee could professionally edit the video using an editing software package which also costs less than a grand to purchase. So a technically savvy and innovative small business could produce and publish an online video for a couple thousand dollars rather than $200K plus. In addition to cost savings, there are other benefits to using online videos such as: Businesses can produce and publish online videos in much less time compared to traditional video shoots. There are few time restrictions regarding the length of videos being published. Video commercials aren t limited to just 30 or 60 second spots. Digital videos are more dynamic and easier to make changes than film videos are. Online videos can easily be customized to meet the needs of various target markets. 4

5 Organizations can use online videos to create viral marketing campaigns which encourage people to pass along and share the videos with their friends. Businesses can repurpose the video by publishing the video on their company website, on public websites like YouTube and using it in campaigns. The future for online videos appears to be bright and growing. In fact the explosion in mobile devices like the I-phone and smart mobile devices will fuel the growth of Internet videos. In the 1960s people watched televisions in their living rooms; tomorrow people will watch videos via computers, laptops, and smart phones. It will be critical that businesses use online videos to reach their prospects and customers wherever and whenever they are viewing the videos. If you would like assistance in planning, producing and publishing an online video, please contact the consultants at the SBDC North San Diego County (760)

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