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What Fall TV Previews Can Teach You About Business

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that Fall TV season is under way.

In fact, it seems every single day we turn on the TV there is a new show premiering, promising to be the most riveting drama or laugh-out-loud comedy.

It also means that several shows will be put on the chopping block. It’s like the network game of Survivor.

I bet your own industry feels like Fall TV season sometimes. Especially when you’re trying high leverage activities – like going after national media coverage, rolling out a high priced product or program, or trying to score a book deal (or – gasp – even get a TV Show in development). All of these strategies are ultra-lucrative, and ultra-competitive.

So how do you make sure your business is more like the first network pick-up this year “New Girl” than “The Playboy Club” (the first to get cancelled)?

Location, Location, Location

In TV land, time slot is everything. Crappy time slot = highly-probable cancellation.

Business owners should pay special attention to physical location (if you’re a brick and mortar business). What stores surround you? Is there a lot of competition? Good foot traffic? Helpful landlord?

If you run an online business, you’ll want prime real estate in the search engines and an eye-pleasing, easy-to-navigate website.

Launch Hype

If you turned on your TV in August, you were probably plagued with hundreds of previews for upcoming Fall shows. There are billboards covering every major highway and magazines plastered with ads. This buzz generation is intended to create the highest number of viewers for the show’s premiere.

In business, if you’re planning to introduce a new product or service – or even upgrade or tweak something you have – why not craft a similar launch campaign? Your campaign should be well planned and creative, and each element has a specific call-to-action for this one product or service. If you want to see a surge in sales and build a great following, launches are key.

Keep the Buzz

Many TV shows have strong promise, and then get cancelled after one season.

It’s important to keep the buzz going after your launch. Surprise your customers. Take new twists and turns. Keep them excited and buzzing about your business.

Get Critical Acclaim

Some TV shows can last with a small audience but with strong critical acclaim (think Mad Men).

This can also happen with business. Instead of the “one big bang” approach, you can rest comfortably with a business that grows slowly and organically through the acclaim of happy customers and favorable media reviews.

Find a Niche Audience

Some shows exist because they target a very specific market (the CW is filled with soapy-teen dramas that are highly-targeted to that specific crowd).

Businesses can also explode by filling a need within a specific niche. If you have a sports supplement, you might target “weight lifters” rather than “athletes.”

Business Cliffhanger

A great TV cliffhanger keeps audiences on the edge of their seat, counting the days for the next season.

As a business owner, generating anticipation is key. Apple does this extremely well with new products and new upgrades (iPhone 4S anyone?)

Three Ways to Get Funding For Your Small Business

For new start-ups, as well as small businesses that have already been in operation for months or years, finding sources of funding is one of the greatest challenges that small business owners will inevitably face. Many potential entrepreneurs avoid starting businesses all together because of the daunting task of finding sufficient funding. Here are three of the most reliable sources of small business funding that you can rely on even when economic times are tough:

1. Do it yourself – or with the help of a business partner

Using a combination of money you have saved up and equity you have in personal assets is one of the best sources of small business funding because you maintain complete control over the money that goes into your business. If you can’t afford it, one approach used by many successful small biz owners is to split ownership with someone who already has a strong history of entrepreneurship and is able to offer funds to help start your business. Not only does sharing the burden of funding your business with a business partner give you more flexibility over how your money is spent, but if your partner is already well versed in running a business, he or she can offer important advice in areas other than just finance.

2. Grants

Although they are very hard to obtain, grants are one of the best ways to fund a business in a bad economy. The U.S. government provides an entire department to grants, which provides funding to individuals as well as small businesses. One reason small biz owners love grants is because they are essentially “free money” – they are one of very few funding sources that come with no interest.

3. Business Cash Advance

Getting a business cash advance, which is also known as a “merchant cash advance” or “credit card factoring” is a process by which a financial lender advances your business with a certain amount of cash which is calculated based on your financial history and how many credit card transactions you process each month. Then, you repay the money that you borrowed by paying back a fixed percentage of your future credit card receivables. While getting a cash advance tends to imply that the money advanced to you will be expensive, many business owners appreciate that the funding can be made available in only a matter of days. Furthermore, it is much easier to qualify for a merchant cash advance than it is for a traditional loan from a bank.