Small Business Is Best

Why are brick and mortar stores closing?  What’s going on?  What’s changing?  Why are CEOs earning 500-700 times the salary of most other employees, especially when they aren’t able to keep their companies in business?

Part of the reason just might be priorities.  Sometime around 1970 the focus changed from building business relationships and sharing with the wealth with employees to maximizing the stock price.  The product, whether it was cars, clothing, or other goods, while a concern, was less important than the stock price.

Another reason is borrowing.  Most companies are not able to meet their day-to-day expenses without some form of borrowed cash, which they then have to pay back.  The result is a cut, slice and dice mentality that usually manifests around Christmas (a joyous occasion enhanced by the fact you’ve just been let go.)

As some old friends from Vegas used to say “Hey, its only business, ya understand.”

Running a small business has many of the same challenges.  The benefit is fun.  Its more fun to work hard at building and sustaining a customer base, developing a relationship within the community and experiencing the rewards, personal, professional and financial of your efforts.

When the company can be started debt-free and, through effective money management, kept debt-free its possible to keep the business open and competitive during times of (inevitable) economic readjustments.  It may even be possible to acquire customers from those companies that downsize or close.  Believe or not, its small businesses that are the economic glue that keeps the economy humming.  People like you and me selling products and services to our friends and neighbors.

Copyright © 2019, Moody Publishing Co., LLC

Play In Your Own Sandbox!

There can be two hotels side-by-side with exactly the same amenities.  The assumption is they are after the same market.  Not so.  Each of the properties will have guests who prefer one over the other and for strictly personal reasons.  Neither property is competing with the other.

I bring this up because a former client of mine insisted on tracking the rates and sales data of a hotel down the street from his.  He wanted to be sure his rates were just $20 above theirs so he can compete.  Lots of time and resources waisted.  He was walking over dollars to get to pennies and then wondering why he was having cash flow challenges.  Besides, how that other hotel did business and priced their product was none of his business.

The most successful people I’ve known over my life have “played in their own sandbox.”  They were aware of their competition, but focused their attention on what they needed to do and in what order to build and sustain their business.  They developed loyalty programs, better customer service and highly focused, effective marketing plans.  They even created special sales events for their “A-List” customers.

They avoided the “my way or the highway” business model because they understood that, without the good will and support of their loyal customers they would not have become multi-millionaires.

There is no secret, here.  Just know your customer and sell them what they want in a way that is comfortable and appealing.  Make it easy to buy the most important product a company can sell – TRUST.  Trust evolves into loyalty and, in some cases, a lifetime commitment.

When trust is broken, customers go elsewhere taking their money with them.

Copyright © 2019, Moody Publishing Co., LLC

Books As A Loss-Leader for Something Else

A book, from a marketing point of view, is a loss-leader.  In other words, it opens doors for other products like workshops, seminars, lectures, book signings, and a whole host of other money-making opportunities.  Depending on the story, the book can also lead to that sale of play, movie and television rights – rare, but it does happen if the story has a strong emotional connection to its readers (the Harry Potter series comes to mind.)

Its rare that an author makes a living on royalties from book sales alone.  Most authors sell an average of 500 books and even if its self-published with a royalty of $17 (70% of the gross cover price of $25) at 500 sales that’s only $8,750 or so.  The actual return to the author may actually be around $3.75 (or less) for a whopping $1,875.

Even more rare is reaching best seller status.  Using some of the numbers in the previous paragraph, an author who sells 35,000 books, may realize a return of $122,500 ($3.75/book.)  Selling that many books, depending on the story, can lead to movie deals and more.

Why am I brining this up?  As I said earlier, I want to write fiction and find a way to make a living doing it.  I have no illusions that I will write a best seller or end up with a movie deal.  I won’t even try to focus in that direction.  I will concentrate on creating relatable characters with challenging plots and sell the stories to a market that wants to explore along with me.

Along the way, I will create side projects and products that will give me the financial resources necessary to make my dreams come true.  More on this in later columns.  Stay tuned.  Let’s learn something together.

Copyright © 2019, Moody Publishing Co., LLC

One Equals 90,000. Really.

One of the tricks I was taught as a radio DJ (a short-lived career) was to imagine I was talking to one person, a good friend, one who thinks I’m funny and will laugh at my horrible jokes.  My imaginary friend would also listen intently to the commercials I read and would rush out to buy – even at three in the morning, even though the store is closed.

Entertainers who are able to maintain life-long careers use the same trick.  They create a character that is easy to relate to, even as it evolves over the course of their career.  The character, and the audience they attract have interests that are similar enough to sustain a long-term relationship because there is a high level of trust.

Highly successful copywriters use the same trick as well.  They research the product, what it does, its benefits, etc., in detail.  Then they create a profile of the ideal customer, who they are, their economic status, life goals, etc., in equal detail.

Here is where the fun starts.  Each individual represents three hundred other people, including friends, family and colleagues.  Those three hundred people equal three hundred more for a total of ninety thousand potential buyers.  That is a huge potential group of potential buyers  that represent a kind of word of mouth network.

Connecting with that massive network begins with one person who, when they like the product, will contact everyone they know to promote the value of the product.  Even though social media can make this process even more dynamic, the principle is the same.

Copyright © 2019, Moody Publishing Co., LLC,

Want A Sample? Pay Me!

One of the best ways to prove the value of your copywriting skills is to produce your own products and sell them.  They can be workshops, seminars, writing classes, books, newsletters, or subscription blog posts or any combination.  You can even focus on one or two that best suit your personality.

What’s the point?  Sales!  The best credential is proof that your copy produces results.

If a potential client wants samples of your work, sell them a book or get them to subscribe to a paid newsletter.

I got this idea from my wife.  At one time she was in the gift industry and would have vendors request samples of the products she represented.  Buying the samples and sending them out was expensive, especially when the result was “thank you no.”

She finally decided to charge for the samples.  She would still get the “thank you no”, but she had a little extra cash for her effort AND made it clear that she took the value of her products seriously.

This may seem counter intuitive, but writing and preparing samples takes time, energy and effort.  That effort is worth something to a freelancer.

Will some potential clients balk?  Yes, no doubt.

However, selling them something that other people have also purchased, established a solid credential difficult to ignore.  Even if the number is relatively small (just a hundred copies or so), you have provided proof of the value of your writing.  (Of course, if you can show proof of a few thousand sales, even better.)

Copyright © 2019, Moody Publishing Co., LLC

Basic Subscription Project Math

One of the challenges to explaining the math of a subscription project is taxes.  Every state, county and city have their own point of view..  Then, of course, there is the Federal stuff.

The chart below is a GUESSIMATE of the general costs of operations and taxes.  It is NOT ACCURATE since, as noted above, there are lots of variables. 

Base $50,000 Lifestyle and business expenses
Taxes @ 40% $20,000 This is an average, not a total.
Cash Reserve @ 20% $10,000 To cover any overages
Total needed $80,000 Total operating budget for a year (approximate.)
Annual Subscription Price $240  
Subsribers Needed 333 Subscribers needed to meet expenses.

What this chart establishes is a starting point using some very basic math.  In order to set a goal, its necessary to have some idea of the end result and what it can cost to sustain the project.

The beauty of a subscription project is its ability to be scaled up to a level that is comfortable for the owner.  The number of subscribers can be capped at one-thousand, or the subscription rate can be increased to improve cash flow from fewer subscribers.  It all depends on the end product and its value to the subscribers.

My advice, here, is for you to run your own numbers to determine the viability of a subscription-type project (like a subscription newsletter) might work for you.  Please note that the calculations in the chart above are based on a subscription project that has already been established.

Copyright © 2019, Moody Publishing Co., LLC