Sunday, September 20, 2009

Speeding Up The Economic Recovery

I just listened to an interview of Fred Smith, Founder of FedEx, concerning the economy. He's optimistic as his company has seen an increase in all business sectors the past few months. Our company has also seen this uptick.

The economic numbers are starting to perk up, and most economists agree that we are now in positive territory and the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression is over. Now, it's time for a slow recovery. The question is: How can we speed this recovery?

Historically, consumer spending and small businesses have fueled recoveries. Hopefully, consumers will start spending.

As far as small businesses, you can count on their help only if we can get liquidity into the marketplace. Tight lending has caused many businesses to stop growth plans and others from starting businesses at all. Home equity lines were always an entrepreneur's ticket to living the American Dream. Well, tight credit and a depressed housing market have made this one of the most difficult times for small business owners.

If small business is going to play a role in this recovery, more credit is a must.

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twitter: Sucking Everyone Into The Next Web Bubble

Remember the days when VC companies would hand millions of dollars to young, hot-shot web gurus. It was a strange time, back then. The VCs were always so proud of themselves: "This company isn't making money, but its burn rate isn't that bad." Wow, what a great investment. My client's not losing that much money.
Most of those companies never made money (were never going to make money) and crashed and along with the tech bubble. You'd think everyone would learn a valuable lesson. Apparently not.
I just finished reading a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Tim Barker about a visit by Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter. Dorsey came to St. Louis as a guest of Webster University. According to the article, he answered questions for an audience of 1,000. Benjamin Akande, dean of Webster's school of business and technology, compared him to Johannes Gutenberg (printing press inventor) and Alexander Graham Bell (telephone creator).
I should seem ironic that a business school would honor Dorsey and a company that has never made a dime in profit. I say "should."
Twitter continues to struggle to find a way to be profitable. "Just wait," say the VCs that just pumped $50 million more into the firm. I'm not as confident. Dorsey and his staff thought they'd be making a profit last year. Didn't happen. They've yet to successful implement their mythical business plan.
Yet, VCs fall all over him and he's honored by 1,000 teary-eyed followers (sort of like the Beattles, without the hit singles).
Don't get me wrong. I like Twitter, use Twitter and would love to see Dorsey and Twitter become a success. But my definition of business success is making a profit. I'd like to see a profit before we start comparing Twitter to the printing press and the telephone.
And, of course, Dorsey discussed a new application that would be out soon. Sounds like the old tech companies that always stayed one step in front of the VCs by promising a new application. (When it looked like money was drying up, there was always a new application.)
It's easy to see why VCs get sucked into these companies. Just like the 1,000 guests that came to hear Dorsey, they get sucked in with the sexiness of the service.
If we can learn anything from the tech bubble, it should be investing in profitable companies.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, September 14, 2009

When It Comes To Sales, Persistence Is Key

Have you ever heard the expression, “90% of success is just showing up.” It amazes me as I talk with clients and others in the business community how reluctant salespeople are to actually sell. Here are some statistics I find fascinating. When I look at these numbers, the ones that pop out to me first are: 1.) 2% of sales are made on the first contact with a prospect., and 2.) 80% of sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contact with a prospect.

• 48% of sales people never follow up with their prospects.
• 25% of sales people make a second contact with their prospect and then they stop.
• 12% of sales people make three contacts with their prospect and then they stop.
• Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts with their prospects.
• 2% of sales are made on the first contact with a prospect.
• 3% of sales are made on the second contact with a prospect.
• 5% of sales are made on the third contact with a prospect.
• 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact with a prospect.
• 80% of sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contact with a prospect.

--Ron Ameln, SBM