How to Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

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Image courtesy of steafpong at FreeDigitalPhotos.netIt’s a dream scenario for many company owners. You find yourself in an elevator with an investor or potential client and you have the opportunity to give him or her the short and sweet version of what your company is all about. Your elevator pitch is your chance to make a great impression on someone and to get him or her excited about your business and about the chance to contribute to it.

You only have a minute or less to get your point across, though. Here’s how to make sure your pitch is perfect.

Focus on “Who,” “What” and “Why”

When you make a quick pitch to someone, he or she may or may not have any idea of who you are or what your company. That’s why it’s essential that the meat of your pitch focus on the who, the what and the why of your business. Introduce yourself and your company, then get right to the heart of the matter. Say what your company does and what it can do for a potential client or what it can do to ultimately benefit an investor.

The “why” should focus on the problem your company solves and in particular, how that problem applies to the person you are addressing. Focus on the needs of your audience so that they understand why they should care about what you’re offering.

Boil It Down to a Single Sentence

Even if you’re not actually pitching someone in an elevator, your time with them is short. You only have a few seconds to hook him or her in. Condensing your pitch down to just a single sentence allows you to pique the other person’s interest. If he or she seems intrigued, you can go on with the rest of your pitch.

Boiling your pitch down to one sentence also helps you better understand what you’re doing and what you’re offering. It can give you some clarity about your company or even encourage you to go back to the drawing board if you can’t figure out the what or why and how to get convey that in just a few words.

Give Your Listener a Way In

After you’ve delivered your one-sentence pitch, the conversation can go a few different ways. Your listener might get excited enough about what you have to offer after hearing just that one sentence that he or she asks for more details, which is a good thing.

Alternatively, your listener might seem interested but might not say or ask anything. This is where you can given him or her a way into the conversation. One way to do that is to ask a question. Your question can give the listener a different way to think about your company or product or offer him or her clarity about it. Most importantly, the question will engage your listener in the conversation. You won’t simply be droning on and on.

Leave Room for Questions

Ideally, your pitch won’t take up the entire (proverbial) elevator ride. You want to leave the person with space to ask questions or with room to find out more about your business. Don’t ask “do you have any questions,” though. Your pitch should be sufficient enough that your listener picks up the ball and asks any questions or gives you his or her card to follow up with later.

It’s also important to remember to respect the other person’s time. If he or she has to go, don’t continue to go on about your company or product and don’t follow them. Hand over your business card and ask for theirs, and say that you’ll follow up by email or phone. Your elevator pitch is a chance to make a great impression. You don’t want to end up looking like a pest.

Although you can’t predict what will happen in a real life scenario, practicing your elevator pitch a few times in front of a mirror or in front of a colleague will help you smooth it out and condense it down so that only the most essential elements remain. If you’re looking for professional guidance when it comes to pitching, remember that the team at New Direction Capital is here for you. Contact us today to learn more about how our virtual chief financial officer services can help your company.

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.netA  business won’t be in business for long without a steady stream of customers, both returning customers and new ones. Because the cost  of getting a new customer can be high, businesses often focus on retaining current ones. But it’s still important to try to bring new customers in. Avoiding the following mistakes will help the customer acquisition process go as smoothly as possible for your company.

Mistake 1: Making a Bad First Impression

You’re heard all the clichés: you only get one chance to make a first impression, first impressions last the longest, and so on. Given the importance placed on really wowing a customer the first time you come into contact with him or her, you’d be surprised at how often companies mess up the first impression.

Making a bad first impression can range from anything from running out of inventory and not being able to fulfill your orders to having a customer service representative from your team speak harshly or in a rude tone to a new or potential customer.

Another way to make a bad first impression is to under promise or undersell your company. It’s a competitive world out there, and customers might have the option of working with several companies that are similar to yours. When connecting with those potential customers, really sell your company, thinking of the components that make you different (and better) than the rest.

Mistake 2: Trying to Be Trendy

It often seems like there’s always a new way to attract and connect with customers. But, just because other companies are following the trends and having some degree of success, doesn’t mean your business needs to do the same. In some cases, the marketing or customer acquisition trend du jour might not make any sense for your business, or could end up costing you more in the long run.

Take a close look at the tactics you’re using to reach out to new customers. Influencer marketing might be a popular technique these days, but not if your primary customers aren’t big social media users. The same is true for pay-per-click services such as Google AdWords. They might be popular and might work for some, but they aren’t always the most effective choices.

Mistake 3: Not Having a Big Enough Budget

Your customer acquisition budget will be influenced by your company’s overall finances and budget. Not every business has the resources to spend considerable amounts of money bringing in new customers. That said, it’s essential that you have a realistic understanding of the potential costs of acquiring customers and that you leave room in the budget to account for them.

Mistake 4: Not Knowing What Customer Acquisition Costs

Not knowing how much it will cost your business to get a new customer goes hand in hand with not setting a big enough budget to acquire customers. One way to estimate customer acquisition cost is to subtract the amount you spend on marketing to and connecting with customers from the amount those new customers will bring into your company in terms of sales. Another way to determine the cost is to look at what you’ve spent and divide that by the number of new customers you brought in. If your business spent $2,000 and gained 10  new customers during one month, the cost per customer for that month is $200.

Mistake 5: Assuming a First-Time Customer Will Become an Ongoing Customer

Getting repeat customers is often a goal, but it doesn’t always happen. If you want a new customer to become a loyal customer, you need to think beyond the first sale. What can your business do to get a customer to come back? Offering a discount on a subsequent purchase is one option, as is sending a personal note thanking that customer for purchasing from or working with your company. Getting repeat customers goes back to making a great first impression. If you don’t give them a reason to return, odds are likely that they won’t.

New Direction Capital can help you gain a better understanding of how acquiring and retaining customers can help improve your business’ finances and help it grow. To learn more about how our virtual CFO services can help your company, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhat’s the key to success as a business? Would you be surprised to learn that it’s building and maintaining great relationships? The better you connect with and relate to your customers and vendors, the more likely they are to want to work with you in the future. In the case of customers, having a strong relationship can be the difference between getting a number of referrals and not getting any referrals.

Here’s what your company can do to establish better relationships with vendors and customers alike.

Remember that Relationships are about Give and Take (but Mostly Give)

Everyone has a friend or acquaintance who only seems to come out of the woodwork when he or she needs something. Think about how you feel when your friend only ever gets in touch with you to ask for help, money or some other sort of favor. That feeling can also occur in business relationships. Your vendors might feel a little unappreciated if they only ever hear from you when you need something done ASAP or when you’re looking to make an order with a fast delivery date. The same is true of customers. If you’re only reaching out to them when you think they might have some business to offer, they are likely to start looking to other companies to do business with.

Think about what your business is giving your customers and vendors and remember that there’s a person behind the client. It’s also important to remember that your contact with your customers or vendors doesn’t always have to be about your company. There might be times when you see a product that would be particularly helpful for your vendor or when you see a service that you know your customer would benefit from. Reaching out with recommendations and ideas, even if your company doesn’t directly benefit from those ideas, will help you establish a great connection.

Keep Communication Open

Maintaining real communication with people is an essential part of maintaining relationships. In the era of social media, it can be all too easy to blur the lines of what real communication is. Sending out tweets or updating a Facebook status usually don’t count as keeping in touch. To keep the lines of communication open, send out personal messages when it’s appropriate. For example, if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, you can reach out and see if he or she is up for a meeting or just send a message to check in. If you’re going to be in the same area as a vendor or client, reach out and see if you can meet up for coffee or dinner, even if you don’t have any direct business planned.

Get a Little Personal

People like to talk about themselves and they are more likely to appreciate the business that goes out of its way to dig a bit deeper into their personal lives. If a client or vendor mentions something personal to you during a meeting, such as an upcoming vacation, a child’s piano recital or a new family pet, follow up with him or her about it the next time you meet. A casual “how was your trip?” or “what did you decide to call your dog?” might not seem like much, but it can go a long way. A vendor or client is going to be more likely to remember the company that cared and is going to be more likely to want to continue to work with that company.

Be Genuine

It’s easy to see through the executive who is just being friendly to drum up business. When you interact with others during your day to day, don’t feel that you  need to plaster on a facade of perfection or that you need to keep things “professional.” Cracking a joke from time to time (when appropriate) and admitting when you’re wrong or don’t have the answer can make a better impression than always being perfect.

New Direction Capital takes a personal approach when it comes to providing virtual CFO services to its clients. We’re committed to establishing long-term relationships with those we work with. To learn more about our services and how we can help your business grow, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThanks to advances in technology, these days, there are many roles that can be performed without ever having to step foot in an office.  In fact, work-from-home or remote positions have increased by 115 percent since 2005, about 10 times faster than the rest of workforce, according to Around 3 percent of employees work from home at least half of the time.

While working remotely has its benefits, such as increased productivity, it does present a few challenges. One of those is how to manage a team when no one ever sees each other in person.

Define Expectations

Your employees need to know what they are expected to do each week, when assignments are due, and what your other expectations are for the week. Work with your team to set goals for performance and to set specific target dates for those goals. Have a plan for the week ahead, the month ahead, and the year ahead, and go from there.

Using a project management system, like Basecamp, can help keep everyone on course and help you define and manage expectations. You can use the program to assign tasks, communicate with your team, and keep track of client preferences.

Stay in Contact

When you aren’t seeing your employees daily, you’ll need to make an extra effort to keep lines of communication open with them. Luckily, there are many ways to stay in touch with your team, even if half of you are on the east coast and the other half are on the west coast. Slack is a great tool for chatting with your team, no matter what time of day. You can use Skype or Google Hangouts to schedule video conferences or the regular phone for quick check-ins when needed.

Video can be particularly useful when managing a remote team, as you’ll be able to show, not tell, your employees about current projects. You’ll be able to share screenshots with them on the video or can use other visual aids throughout the conference.

Get to Know Your Team

Another downside of remote work is that the social aspect of working in an office is gone. Remote workers don’t really get to stand around in the break room, talking about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.”

That means you’ll need to make an extra effort to get to know your team members, so that they don’t feel like just a number. Getting to know your team also helps them feel more part of the company and that their work and input is valued. Take a few minutes for an icebreaker at the start of video conferences or other phone or chat check-ins. You can also record everyone’s birthday and send a card or other type of gift to employees on their birthdays. The same goes for holiday cards and gifts.

Check in From Time to Time

Although working from home has its benefits, it can be helpful to schedule in-person check ins with your team members from time to time. Those in-person meetings help your employees feel more like they are part of the company and can also be helpful for keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to what’s going on in the business.

These meetings don’t have to take place very often, but they should be regular and anticipated. For example, when you hire someone, you can let him or her know that there’s a semi-annual all hands, in person meeting.

Hire the Right People

One way to make managing a remote team easier is to hire the right people for that team. You don’t want to have to micro-manage your work-from-home employees, so it’s important to hire people that can get their work done without having someone looking over their shoulder. Ideally, your work-from-home employees will be able to work independently, will be self-motivated and organized.

Another thing to think about when hiring a person for a remote job is whether that person will do well working solo on a regular basis. While some people are happy to work on their own, plenty of others thrive on the social interactions of an office. Those social butterflies might struggle if they need to work in a quiet setting everyday.

New Direction Capital‘s virtual CFO services are here to help you grow and manage your business. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.netDecades ago, the idea of a cyber attack was unheard of. Today, cyber attacks are incredibly common, with the biggest of them affecting billions of people and costing billions of dollars. CNBC reported that cyber crimes cost the global economy more than $450 billion last year and resulted in the theft of more than two billion personal records.

It can be easy to assume that hackers would be interested in going after the big, multi-national companies and happy to leave small or mid-sized businesses alone.  But, that’s not the case. Nearly half of all cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses. Since smaller companies don’t necessarily have the resources or finances to withstand or respond to the attacks, the effects are often devastating. For example, about 60 percent of smaller companies go out of business within a year of the attack.

While you can’t prevent hackers from trying to break in, you can take steps to protect your business’ information and to protect your computers and software from an attack.

Keep Everything Up-to-Date

As newer versions of software and operating systems get introduced, companies often stop offering support and updates for older versions. The problem is that plenty of customers, including business customers, don’t necessarily update their OS or software to the newest models. For example, many companies that were affected by the WannaCry/WannaCrypt attacks in May of 2017 were running Windows XP, which Microsoft had long since stopped supporting. In response, Microsoft had to issue an emergency patch  and recently issued a new update to the system, which users need to manually download.

If your business is using any sort of OS or software that’s out-of-date, it’s best to save yourself the headache and upgrade to a newer model. That way, you’ll get timely patches and updates, lowering your computer’s risk of being attacked.

Know Where the Threat Lies

The best way to protect your company from the threat of cyber attacks is to know where the threat could come from. There’s hacking, which is in someone actually breaks their way into your company’s systems and can get access to private information. Then there’s phishing attacks, which is when someone sends a legitimate looking email, pretending to be a bank, the government or another business. The goal of phishing emails is to get you to give up personal and private information, like your passwords.

Another type of attack involves installing “malware,” or “malicious software” on your computer. The WannaCry attacks were an example of malware. The computers affected ended up with a type of software known as ransomware. The hackers threatened to delete information or publish private information, unless the owners of the computer complied with demands.

Protect Company Hardware

Hackers don’t always need to use the internet to get to your business’ private information. In some cases, all they need to do is get their hands on a company laptop or smartphone to get all the details they need. A considerable number of cyber attacks actually occur after a piece of hardware, like a laptop, is stolen.

There are several ways you can protect your company’s hardware. One option is to use good old-fashioned locks. Many laptops feature a small port on the side, designed to be connected to Kensington locks. These locks feature a cord that will tether the computer to a desk. Another way to keep hardware locked is to put locks on the doors of any storage areas for computers and on the doors of your business’ server rooms.

Have a Security Policy

Cyber security begins with your employees. It’s important to have a company-wide security policy in place to let employees know what they are allowed to use company equipment for and what is off-limits. For example, your business’ security policy can state that employees are only able to log into the company’s intranet from a company-owned device. It can also require that employees change their passwords frequently and that they use password protected smartphones and laptops for any company-related work.

Educating your employees about the risk of cyber attacks and giving them tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of a hacker, and potentially making your entire company a victim, is also crucial for your business’ overall security.

Want to learn more about how to protect your business from the threat of a cyber attack or how your business can recuperate financially after an attack? Contact the team at New Direction Capital today.

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