#EducatedAndEmpoweredhttp://www.blackvibes.com/dekesha/DeKesha Williams, a Business Strategist and Leadership Development Trainer, is the owner of Vizions Consulting. Driven by a sincere desire to inspire, motivate and educate; Ms. Williams is committed to leading her clients towards success. Ms. Williams leverages over 17 years of experience in retail management to help other entrepreneurs develop practical business strategies that include: solutions to increase profitability, S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals, brand development and more. During her many years in retail management, she worked for retail companies such as Macy's and Ann Taylor Loft. As a manager and then a District Manager, her responsibilities included developing floor set and marketing strategies among other things. Additionally, she was responsible for creating sales projections and action plans for stores across 5 states for a number of years. As a District Manager, Ms. Williams had the pleasure of managing and mentoring several young women. The mentoring relationships further fueled her desire to inspire, motivate and educate as she was able to see first-hand how her efforts led to the successful achievement of her company's goals 90% of the time by those she mentored. In addition to her many years of experience, Ms. Williams holds a B.A. degree in Fashion Merchandising and a M.B.A degree in Finance. en-usinfo@vizionsconsulting.comhttp://www.vizionsconsulting.comde_keshaVizionsConsultingde_kesha0mm150265ca-app-pub-5614911574263464/35689314350dekeshahttp://www.blackvibes.com/dekesha/http://www.blackvibes.com/images/users/18120-dekesha.jpgReferral Marketing Made Easy by @de_keshahttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-small-business-business-strategies-referral-marketing/features/blogs/dekesha-small-business-business-strategies-referral-marketing/Posted by dekesha0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-small-business-business-strategies-referral-marketing/#commentsFri, 13 Jun 2014 16:08 GMTOften times we get so caught up in driving traffic to our business that we forget to dig deep within our current database. Business owners have a tendency to focus primarily on the day-to-day task of "getting things done" that we leave money on the table because of the lack of simplicity. You've often hear me speak on "3 Simple Strategies to Attract Client" but I'll never omit the power of tapping into your current database. So I want to highlight one sure method that you can use to build your database. And it's referral marketing. Referral marketing can be implemented whether or not you have a paying client database that you currently have (like a list of current clients that you currently service) or if you've done pro bono work. Let's say you've helped your girlfriends out or if you've helped your brother out. Any type of services that you have actually provided that falls underneath your product line, whether it was paid or unpaid, you can get a testimony for that and you could also ask for referrals from those particular individuals. What I did was I came up with five sure ways to make client attraction a walk in the park. Referral marketing is simply a part of building your database. Your business database is consisted of prospective clients, referral partners who will filter in and send you clients and influential leaders. You're going to have what you consider to be 'center of influence'. These are individuals that you work with and you all may also service the exact same client and you can work together or maybe collaborate together. So there are several different avenues in which you can generate and have clients being fed into your pipeline. So one of the most important things that I want you to understand is that when it comes to referral marketing, you have to create a habit. You have to make it a habit to ask every customer for friends, family, brother, cousin Jo-Jo, anybody that has someone who you feel would benefit from your product and services. Top recommendations to make Referral Marketing work for you: 1. I'll highly recommend creating a section on your proposal or your invoice where it actually states, "Do you know three to five individuals that you feel will benefit from the services or products that I provide?" That way, it's a no-brainer. It's a part of your process. And once you fill out names, information and the actual order and you're getting that customer to sign. 2. it can be a small block - I mean, 125 x 125, really small - where you say, "Hey, just jot down three to five names that you think would appreciate the services that I provide." That's 5 additional prospects that you didn't even have to work hard for. This is a simplified method to add value to your current clients but also help them add value to their network of friends and clients. Stop overcomplicating building your business and look for simple business strategies to boost your business.34417small business, business strategies, referral marketingEfficient Ways to Cut Cost in Your Businesshttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-business-financing-business-small-business/features/blogs/dekesha-business-financing-business-small-business/Posted by dekesha0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-business-financing-business-small-business/#commentsFri, 13 Jun 2014 16:07 GMTToday a great question came across the American Express platform and it made me think of YOU first. Small business owners have to look at cost on a daily basis because funds are limited in the beginning. costs-down-efficiency-upv4 Ameer asked a great question about eliminating cost and restructuring his organization. Not only is this an ongoing issue for large corporations it seems to hinder small businesses on an ongoing basis. So when I saw this question I felt the desire to break it down into steps where Operational Managers and CEOs could grasp and implement. When looking at an organization and restructuring, your line items become a critical part of this process. When I speak of line items, each organization should complete profit & loss statements, cash flow statements including income statements of a monthly/quarterly and yearly basis. These reports are the analytical foundation to how your business is going financially. If you are currently operating a business and don't know where you stand financially WELL STOP RIGHT NOW! That's like riding a bicycle with blind folders on or driving a car on a road where you can't see 3 inches in front of you. So let's fix this problem now. There should be a strategic approach to this process of understanding your financials and making adjustments when spending becomes a problem. Naturally you should develop cost efficient methods to replace high valued line items. We have become so reliant on technology to automate our business that annual and monthly subscriptions can become an intricate part of your cash flow statements. Be mindful every time you register for the newest automated program to operate your business efficiently. Be sure that you have enough customers/revenue to keep you in the black, my friend. 4 Easy Steps To Research other options that could save your company money on the bottom line. What that means is identify the top 3 items that are costing you a fortune in your business. When you have employees most times the cost is labor, however when you don't have employees the cost can differentiate based on industries. So to sum it up: 1. Identify high cost line items - Where are you spending most of your money? But WAIT, what's the return on investment for that line item. Think about it, it could be a sales employee whose labor rate is out of control but they generate a 4x's their salary in revenue for your company. Are you really going to eliminate their job because you pay them well. Hell, they do a fantastic job so move on to the next item please. Be smart about your restructuring. 2. Identify cost efficient replacements - Think about the internet/cable services in your business or the merchant fees that you're paying. Think about the website monthly maintenance fee that you're paying and so on. These are the operational cost that have become overbearing in small businesses that can often times be unnecessary. 3. Research effectiveness of other options - Here is the fun part because now it's time to hit the streets to find alternative methods to what's working in your company. With so much technology and the evolution of the internet, I can guarantee you that there is a free app or cost efficient program that you can use in a large corporation/small business and save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Don't think because you're a Fortune 500 company that you don't have to use apps that small businesses use on a daily basis. You better think about the bottom line. Anywhere you save money is more money in a bonus check. Am I right? 4. Test/Implement and repeat the cycle. Once you've identified a replacement tool then it's time to test the program to see if it's compatible to your company/industry. Run the test for 3-6 months for accuracy and eliminate the kinks. If the pilot seems to work out like golden then move on to implementation phase and roll out the new program to the company. Don't forget that this will incorporate training on the new systems and you have to take in account any additional labor hours. AGAIN, be mindful of the revenue generated on the time-saving and cost efficient process. You've just been blessed by Business Strategist and Operation Management Special DeKesha C. Williams 34416business financing, business, small business, cut costE-Commerce is Non-Negotiable for #Retailershttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-ecommerce-business-strategies/features/blogs/dekesha-ecommerce-business-strategies/Posted by dekesha0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-ecommerce-business-strategies/#commentsFri, 13 Jun 2014 16:04 GMTE-Commerce sites have become the way of the online shopping world. Do you know that e-commerce sales were estimated at $263.3 billion in 2013 according to the US Department of Commerce. Here is your opportunity to expand your reach outside of the four walls that you stare at every opening retail hour. You wonder how can people find out that your store even exist in the world outside of your geographical location. Think about the effect of the LIKE button the popular social media site Facebook and how it expands your social media to other online individuals. You post an image or quote and I LIKE your post then my 2K or 3K friends have access to that post. This influence model stands true for the online retailing industry. Reach expansion is the major benefit of creating an online e-commerce website. When you talk about your marketing message reaching the masses then online methods are the way to go. So take a look at your strategic plan for the rest of this year and insert the inclusion of a NEW online store. Just to add value to this article, I'll give you three great platforms to begin your online store: 1. Volusion - www.volusion.com 2. 1ShoppingCart - www.1shoppingcart.com 3. InfusionSoft - www.infusionsoft.com I have personally used the first two and think they are user-friendly and easily customizable to your needs. Don't let companies like Amazon.com, Zappos.com or ShoeDazzle.com stop you from building your next revenue generating machine. Stop reading and start building or at least start interviewing a website designer to build it. 34415ecommerce, business strategies4 Key Elements of a Business Planhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-elements-business-plan-strategic-plan-marketing-plans/features/blogs/dekesha-elements-business-plan-strategic-plan-marketing-plans/Posted by dekesha0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-elements-business-plan-strategic-plan-marketing-plans/#commentsFri, 13 Jun 2014 16:00 GMTWorking with business owners and entrepreneurs has shed the light on several aspects of business management. One particular area has resurfaced from 2012 and its very vital to the survival of a business. This critical element is your business/strategic plan and how it's non-negotiable. A business plan is usually created when one is seeking investors for a startup company or organizations are looking to expand their reach. A strategic plan is more feasible for entrepreneurs looking to create the roadmap to success. In the effort of educating and empowering, I feel obliged to inform you of the key elements to a business plan. 4 Key Elements of the Business Plan 1. Business Concept This section is created to define the core understanding of the existence of a business. Here is where you explain what the company does and what they are looking to accomplish. 2. Strategic Plan The strategic plan always involves an assessment of where you stand. When you think of an assessment, it's an evaluation of your behavior or processes. At the completion of the assessment you're always given feedback and next steps. 3. Marketing Plan A marketing plan is devised of who the company will target and clearly what your message will be composed of. You also spend time researching what your competition is doing and what they ARE NOT doing. Here is where you review the 4 Ps: pricing, product, positioning and promotions. 4. Action Plan What do you NEED to do to reach the financial goals that you will set. Here is where the financial statements are highly impacted and projections play a huge role. Why? Because in order to know how to finish then you must know where to start. If you can grasp this concept then you'll master the layout and planning of your business plan. I know that you're reading this and may already have a business however it's never to late to write the plan. This is something that you should look at yearly, quarterly and monthly to stay on track to hitting the financial goals. If you have questions about writing/updating your business plan/strategic plan. Please use the form below to ask away or submit to have someone call you and guide you through the process. 34412elements of the business plan, strategic plan, marketing plansblogs/6-2014/34412-elements-business-pla-s.jpg3 reasons that you're not able to secure business financing.http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-business-financing-business-small-business/features/blogs/dekesha-business-financing-business-small-business/Posted by dekesha0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/dekesha-business-financing-business-small-business/#commentsFri, 13 Jun 2014 15:54 GMT3 reasons that you're not able to secure business financing. 1. Traditional methods - You're still looking at banks and credit unions for solutions to your business needs. Credit unions were not created to help small businesses so therefore you're looking in the wrong place. Your objective is to locate entities that support the growth of small business across the country. 2. No business plan - You've found someone who is considering entertaining your business ideas. They schedule an appointment to have a conversation and by the way "can you bring a copy of your business plan?" The expression on your face is priceless when you realize that you've never completed the process of finishing your business plan. 3. Lack of a thorough plan - Just because you typed this 20 page document (which I had less than 15 pages not included financials and received $30K funding) doesn't guarantee you funding. You have to use the language that they're looking for and be clear on how your going to make money. Just because you used a software that provides pie charts and graphs does not validate that you can prove to an investor that your plan will ultimately make a return on your investment. I know that the thought of writing anything over 2-3 pages is intimidating. I can remember trying to submit a 4 page paper when studying for my Master's degree. I would wait until 9pm that night and always type from the heart, experience and my INSTINCT never let me down. So stop procrastinating and playing and let's make it happen. Whether you're starting out in business or revamping your current plan, just make it happen. Thanks, Your Business Strategist DeKesha Williams www.vizionsconsutling.com34411business financing, business, small businessblogs/6-2014/34411-business-financing-bu-s.jpg