Your Guide to Resuscitating a Dying Product or Service

Some things are destined to fail. But not everything that seems like it’s circling the drain is doomed! That goes for all things in life, including a product or service your business is selling that feels like it’s totally flopping. So if you’re in that situation with your business, it might not necessarily be time to throw up your hands and cut your losses. With a little strategy, you might be able to turn things around. After all, you had the vision in the first place, so you can absolutely use your business smarts to figure out what went wrong, make some necessary changes, and even revive your business in the process. 

Doomed to Fail?

It’s a hard thing to measure, but according to some studies just on products alone (not including services), around 30,000 new products are launched each year and around 80% of them fail. Again, that number doesn’t include services, but we can guess that certainly nowhere near every service a business offers succeeds, considering the high rate of small business failure in this country. So if you feel like your product or service is struggling, you’re certainly not alone! 

And why might what you’re offering not be performing the way it should or the way you want it to be? Well, according to Harvard Business Review, it might not be because of what you’re offering, but how you put it onto the market. But that’s good news, right? It might mean that it’s not simply that people aren’t interested! It might be because:plant in the ground

  • Your product/service wasn’t fully ready for launch, meaning it won’t meet customer expectations
  • Your product/service is in a type of “limbo,” meaning it hasn’t found its base
  • You haven’t fully educated customers on your product/service, or you’ve confused them with your marketing

So if the problem is not necessarily that you just have a crappy product/service, it stands to reason that there are things you can try to revive it. Let’s take a look at those now.

Product/Service Resuscitation

So, as we’ve pointed out, not everything is New Coke or Blockbuster Video, and doomed to ultimate failure. Here’s a story for you: in 1957, the product we know as Bubble Wrap was created, but it wasn’t intended to revolutionize the way we pack items. It was intended to be a new mod wallpaper – yes, wallpaper!  That didn’t work out, so it was then marketed as insulation for greenhouses and homes. That was better, but it wasn’t until IBM used Bubble Wrap to protect computer shipments that the product succeeded.

The moral of this fun story is that there are sometimes – often – ways to turn around a product or service that isn’t working, and just one of them is reinventing it the way Bubble Wrap did. Let’s look at that way of giving new life to your failing product/service, as well as multiple other useful ways you can try to resuscitate it. 

Start with an analysis

The first step is to analyze all your metrics about the product/service launch itself. Make sure you’re using something like Google Analytics, and collecting data anywhere you can. Once you’ve analyzed your data, talk to your customers! Survey them – after all, what better way to find out why people aren’t buying than to ask them?

Only after you’ve done this can you know if you’ve actually got a viable product/service worth turning around. And if you’re thinking it’s time to let it go, remember: nothing your business offers is ever a complete failure if you learn the lessons about why it failed. Data analysis about the failure can vastly improve your customer experience with other offerings.

What’s in a name? 

Did you know that the original name of Google was Backrub? Ick. You might not have misnamed your product/service so egregiously, but maybe the name you’ve given it is, well, boring. Think about the canned water called “Liquid Death” – what would grab your attention more “Water in a Can” or “Liquid Death”? I think we all know the answer to that one. Don’t want to go all clever? At least give what you’re offering a more descriptive name, like adding the phrase “cushion-grip” to a toolset. 

Look elsewhere for your marketing

You don’t have to do everything the same way as your competition, or the way that you’ve always done it. Maybe you need to move your marketing into new arenas. First, make sure you analyze where your target customers are, then follow them there – to all the places where they are. This is called using omnichannel, or cross-channel, marketing, and it could make a world of difference. Consider using a combination of the following:magazines stacked on top of each other

  • Magazines (print and digital)
  • Blogs
  • Newspapers
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Local Events
  • Social Media 
  • Direct Mail
  • Trade Shows
  • Business Networking
  • Trade Associations

Change the packaging

According to a recent survey, 72% of consumers say that packaging design influences their purchasing decisions. Not only that, but 30% of businesses report an increase in revenue after improving product packaging. If you’ve got a failing product, you might want to talk to an expert about changing its packaging design. Also, consider adding a QR code or URL to the packaging so that your customers can easily learn more about your product. 

Change the messaging 

Your product/service might honestly solve a real problem, and help with a real customer pain point, but you might not be conveying that to consumers. Try talking to customers who are happy with your failing product/service, and you might find out they love it for reasons you never even thought of – and there’s your new message!

Tell a story

Similar to changing your messaging, one thing you can do to revitalize interest in your product/service is to really tell its story. Sit down and analyze your target customer, including all of their demographics, and write a new story about your product and how it will appeal to each demographic. Remember, customers might not always feel a visceral connection with a product or service, but they will feel a connection with a story of struggles and solutions similar to their own stories.

Get influencers on board

With the rise of social media marketing has come the rise of the influencer. Don’t discount what getting an influencer to promote your product/service can do. Consider this: not only do 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, but 40% have also purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.

Think about your pricing strategy

A lot of thought needs to go into the way you price your product or service. And it’s not simply a matter of pricing it too high and putting off customers. Pricing it too low for your target market can also be detrimental. You need to consider your customers and your niche in the market: are you offering something that’s a lower price than your competitors? Or are you offering a different kind of value, meaning your higher quality product/service should be priced accordingly?

Get feedback

Want more feedback from potential customers? Try offering freebies (or discounts) to get some easy beta testing.

Host an eventchairs in a room

Invite people to an educational event that also features your product/service, and how it can help solve problems. Not up for planning an entire event? Try asking local non-competitive complementary businesses to join you.

Stand out from the crowd

If your market has a lot of competition, you need to set yourself apart. You need to offer uniqueness in value, innovation, product packaging, and creativity. So really think about it: what is your unique selling point? 

Relaunch your product/service

Once you’ve revamped your product/service, why not celebrate by relaunching it? Launches create excitement and buzz that generates more leads than a boring old product release or announcement about a new service. 

Sometimes when things aren’t going right, you just need to move on. But sometimes it’s not time to give up! If you’ve analyzed what’s going on with your product/service, and feel like it’s worth trying to turn things around, give it a try with the ideas we’ve laid out above. Resuscitating one of your products/services could end up revitalizing your whole business. And if you’ve managed to rescue a dying product/service, we want to hear your story!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Is “Quiet Hiring” a Thing and Could It Help You Build the Right Team to Grow Your Business?

There have been a lot of “quiet” things going on in workplaces in the last few years, since we’ve settled into our “new normal” of work. Employees have been in the spotlight for “quiet quitting,” and bosses have had their share of scrutiny for “quiet firing.” But what about “quiet hiring”? Is that even a thing? Yes! Turns out giant companies like Google have been employing this practice to their great advantage, and using it to build the best teams they can. So what does it mean to quiet hire, and can you borrow some of the ideas from the big boys to make sure you’ve got the best team possible, and grow your business?

Quiet Quitting, Firing, and Hiring, Oh My!

So what is all of this quiet stuff going on in the workplace these days, and is there a reason why it’s all exploded recently? 

Quiet quittingquiet quitting on a paper

You might have heard this term on social media, and you might even be experiencing it with your own team. Quiet quitting refers to employees doing the bare minimum expected of them rather than truly abandoning their positions. The term took hold on social media, with one TikTok user posting a video describing the idea behind quiet quitting in this way:

“You’re not abandoning your job overtly, but you’re losing the concept of going above and beyond at work. You’re still doing your job, but you’re not buying into the hustle culture attitude that says work needs to be your life.”

Quiet firing

While some employees lack the will to fully quit, some employers also feel unwilling to outright break ties with their less-than-stellar team members. Instead, employers who engage in quiet firing will purposely behave in a poor manner towards their employees, passing them over for promotions or raises, moving them to a less desirable position, or withholding development opportunities. This is certainly not a tactic we recommend for your workplace. Instead of engaging in negative practices that discourage employees, you might want to consider more positive and nurturing practices, like quiet hiring.

Quiet hiring

According to an Inc article, quiet hiring is Google’s little-known but incredibly effective recruiting method, a method that excludes employees unwilling to go the additional mile. This strategy is all about picking out employees who are already going above and beyond, doing things like taking on additional responsibilities, and proving they have what it takes to excel. These employees are then recruited from within to fill open positions. According to the article, “It’s part of what enables [companies like Google] to identify the brightest minds (internally and externally) and place the best candidates into its open positions.” 

And when Google does hire externally, they tend to prioritize candidates who have been referred by trusted employees, or who score high on notes from other employees who sit in on their interviews. This also cuts down on making bad hires, and keeps the team feeling cohesive.

So quiet hiring can be good for employees who are up to the job, but why can it be so beneficial for employers? Again according to the Inc article, “For employers, there is far less risk, as well as little to no cost associated with recruiting and training, saving what can amount to a lot of money.” In addition, studies show that high-achievers can produce 400% more than the average employee, so from a business perspective, prioritizing them over the quiet quitter type just makes sense.

Quiet hiring can help you to promote and reward the best members of your team, but can it also help you to turn things around with those who aren’t giving their all, or even engaging in quiet quitting? Let’s look at that, but first, we need to look at why workers might be quiet quitting.

Why All the Quiet Quitting? questions

So while the attitude that leads to quiet quitting can be very frustrating for employers, it is rooted in more than just laziness. The last few years since the pandemic have seen employees reexamine their work-life balance, and the “grind” that is driving the high levels of burnout we’re seeing in workers. 

And not only that, but when it comes to employees quiet quitting, it takes two to tango, as they say. It might not just be an employee problem: according to data gathered by the Harvard Business Review, quiet quitting typically has less to do with a worker’s willingness to work in better ways, and more to do with a manager’s capacity to create bonds with and engage employees.

In fact, employee engagement seems to be falling for the first time in a while. According to a Gallup poll, from 2019 to 2022, the percentage of engaged employees fell by 6%. At the same time, the proportion of actively disengaged employees climbed by 6%. This is bad news for employers, because employees who aren’t engaged at work will bring less energy and passion to their jobs, which is a slippery slope to quiet quitting. 

And once they do that, a vicious cycle can begin. Other team members will have to pick up the slack, which could lead to those employees becoming dissatisfied, and a toxic work culture. So if you’re experiencing this in your workplace, could quiet hiring be a way to turn things around? Or is it better to do everything at your business out loud?

Can Quiet Hiring Tempt Quiet Quitters?

With all of this surreptitious quitting going around, you might be a bit worried. And you’re not alone! According to SHRM research, 51% of HR professionals are concerned about silent resignation. Furthermore, HR experts are afraid that quiet quitting will have a negative impact on their business, because they worry it will reduce employee morale in the workplace (83%), employee productivity (70%), or the quality of employee work products (50%).

But engaging in quiet hiring, or at least taking some of the best parts of it, like rewarding employees who are engaged and working creatively, can possibly entice those who might otherwise fall into quiet quitting to go for the gold. 

It’s also important, though, to look at your own management style. Quiet hiring can motivate employees, but you still need to do at least the following to keep the right atmosphere at your business:

  • Have a set of well-defined values that are aligned with the actions of you and your other leaders
  • Foster a culture of accountability
  • Know your staff as people, including their life circumstances, abilities, and ambitions
  • Make sure your employees understand how their efforts fit into the bigger picture
  • Consider the impact of requiring mandatory attendance in tasks that employees may accomplish from home, and have a shared understanding of what amount of flexibility is acceptable
  • Give employees a clear roadmap for their career trajectories
  • Pay attention to their health and well-being, perhaps by offering family leave, healthcare, and other perks

So quiet hiring can be a win-win for employers and employees. It can be seen as giving the power back to employees who want to move forward in their careers and be rewarded for their stellar performance, and it can also save you the pain and expense of recruiting employees, only to be saddled with the wrong team – or even quiet quitters! 

But on the other hand, all of these “quiet” goings-on, including using a quiet hiring strategy, could point to a vaguely toxic or passive-aggressive workplace, where employees and employers aren’t engaging in enough direct communication. It’s up to you, then, to set the tone, and use the strategies that will work for your business, so you can build your dream team and soar to new heights of growth!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Feeling the Pinch? Are There Alternatives to Layoffs?

Have times been tough at your small business? Yeah, we get it: running a business isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, especially when you have to weather a few years of crazy downturn followed by skyrocketing inflation. If you’re sweating over your books, and wondering what to do, you might be considering letting go of some of your employees – and you wouldn’t be alone. Even the big guys are turning to layoffs to make ends meet: according to SHRM, “In a survey of U.S. business executives by professional services firm PwC, 50% of respondents indicated that they were reducing their companies’ headcounts.”

But is jumping right to laying off employees the right course of action? Not necessarily. You might want to look into some alternatives to layoffs, so read on to find out your options.

The Problems with Layoffs

As a small business owner, you’re probably not super excited about the prospect of giving some of your valued employees the ax. And it might not actually be the best thing to do, anyway. Consider these potential pitfalls of layoffs. You might end up:hand with money

  • Needing to provide severance pay
  • Facing increased unemployment insurance rates
  • Dealing with lower morale among your remaining employees, which could lead to lower productivity
  • Looking at a higher turnover rate and lower productivity as your workforce shrinks and employees become more overwhelmed – in fact, research shows that letting go of just 1% of your team can significantly decrease the engagement, performance, and job satisfaction levels of your remaining staff
  • Feeling shorthanded when business picks up

Alternatives to Layoffs

So maybe layoffs aren’t the way to go for your business. If that’s what you’re thinking, you can consider the following alternatives to help you get financially back on track without having to completely jettison the people you rely on:


The word “layoff” can be very scary for employees, because although it actually implies that a business might need to bring workers back at some point, it does feel very permanent. So instead of laying off employees, consider furloughing them, which would allow you to save money without losing your employee altogether. A furlough is basically a mandatory unpaid leave of absence, but it can also mean reduced hours. An unpaid absence is obviously not ideal for employees, but at least they know they will be back when you are able to pay them again. Remember, you’ll need to research your state’s employment laws regarding any mandatory treatment of your employees’ benefits during a furlough.

Job sharing 

Job sharing lets two employees share duties in a job that normally would be filled by one full-time employee. This is a way to save money so that you can ultimately get back to a normal work schedule when things improve. There are actually government-backed work-sharing programs that allow the affected employees to collect partial unemployment benefits to help offset lost wages. This is a great way to keep valued employees around, so check to see if your state offers a program like this. 

Reduced work hours for non-exempt employees

Reducing exempt employees hours and/or restricting overtime can save your business money in hourly wages.

Non-exempt employees are only entitled to pay for hours worked, so reducing their hours and/or restricting overtime can save your business money in hourly wages. Your state might actually allow employees to collect unemployment benefits if their hours drop below a certain point. So check what your state law is, and make sure you consider the impact of reducing hours on employees if they can’t make up for the pay in other ways. 

So how do you most effectively reduce hours, while keeping things running? Consider separating your employees into three tiers: critical, essential, and those who are not as essential and subject to the biggest cuts. You can then divide up hours among them as necessary.

Pay cuts

Sure, no one wants to hear that they’re going to be making less money for doing the same amount of work, but if it’s the only way to keep your business going, it might be the best option. The secret to doing pay cuts right? Honest communication, and implementing the cuts in a uniform way, across the board, so everyone feels like they’re in it together. According to Jill Chapman, senior performance consultant at Insperity, a professional employer organization (PEO), “For [pay cuts] to be effective, there must be an agreed-upon, uniform cut percentage across the board. Though this will hurt in the short term, it is definitely a more stable alternative for both the employee and employer.”

Cuts in benefits or perks

You can also consider cutting things other than pay, like benefits and perks. You can look at reducing any extras you’re providing, including:

  • Free food (Remembering, though, that free food is listed as a highly desirable perk!)
  • Employer-branded swag
  • Travel expenses
  • Switching from attending events to videoconferencing 
  • Lowering or eliminating a 401(k) match


If you have a larger business with multiple departments, consider temporarily moving an employee in a department that has been affected by a downturn to a department that is in greater need.

Voluntary paid time off

Furloughs are mandatory unpaid leaves of absence, but you also have the option of offering your employees some voluntary unpaid time off. If you know that there is an employee who wants to do some extended traveling, go back to school, or work on a personal project, you can suggest that now would be a great time to do that, and then return to their position when your business is in better shape. Unfortunately, your employee won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits if they take this option, so make sure they’ll be able to do it without going under.

Think about the composition of your workforce

To be proactive, and hopefully avoid layoffs in the future, consider employing a mix of contract workers and full-time employees. This will allow you to stay flexible and adjust quickly to market changes.

Cut operational costs

Finally, don’t forget that there are ways to cut costs at your business that don’t include losing employees. Ask yourself:laptop screen

  • Will more remote work help you decrease office utility expenses?
  • What business travel can you limit?
  • What marketing and sales expenses can you cut back on?
  • What recurring costs can you limit?
  • Do you pay for any monthly services and/or tools that aren’t used frequently or that you can go without?
  • Can you consolidate any services and/or tools?

We know that none of the above ways to deal with financial pressure at your business is exactly ideal, but we also know that the last thing you want to do is lose your valued employees. And that’s not just because it could be bad for your bottom line: you care about your employees and want the best for them. 

So if it comes down to making the tough choices, the most important thing is that you encourage open communication throughout your business, and be honest with your employees about what your business is going through. Together, you and your team can work towards finding solutions that work for everyone, while avoiding the layoffs that can be so detrimental to your organization. And hopefully, before you know it, you’ll be back in the black and celebrating with your employees! We want to hear from you: have you had to consider layoffs? Were you able to find viable alternatives?

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Lights, Camera, Marketing: The Most Popular Types of Video Marketing and How You Can Make Them Work for You

How’s your online marketing game these days? Are you blogging, sharing, commenting, liking? How about pointing and shooting? Well, if you’re not making videos as part of your content marketing strategy, you could be missing out. While text content is still a great thing to produce, you can really round out your marketing and engage customers in a whole new way with visual content. So if you’re thinking about breaking into video marketing, how should you start, what kinds of videos should you consider, and what are some things to think about when creating high quality video content? 

The Why and How of Video Marketing

Getting started with video marketing can feel a bit daunting, and might seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But it’s not! Consider this: according to former Facebook, Google, and SpaceX executive Dex Torricke-Barton, “More than 80% of traffic online is video traffic, as the content people want has changed from text to images to videos and now live streams.” Not only that, but 80% of viewers remember what they watch, with half of them taking action afterward. And 90% of users say product videos are helpful in making purchasing decisions.

Those are pretty powerful statistics, and they might convince you to get started with video marketing. So what are the first things you need to think about when planning your video content? First of all, remember that consumers want content that’s immersive on a visual level and tells a compelling story. What they don’t want is a sales pitch! That means to create effective videos, you should:people under magnifying glass

  • Start with your customers – Don’t start by thinking too big, and aiming to reach those millions of people watching millions of hours of video content every day. Focus on your existing customers, what they want to know, and what you can impart to them. Don’t worry about your numbers at first, worry about who is watching, and about building a community you can engage with (and don’t forget to do so regularly).
  • Get the tone right – Consumers can smell a sales pitch from a mile away, and if you get your approach wrong, you could lose 20% of your viewers in 10 seconds. Yikes! But taking an educational approach can help; in fact, customers are up to 85% more likely to buy your item after watching an educational or “explainer” video about it.
  • Be creative – You need to engage your audience, and videos featuring talking heads just ain’t going to do it. Tell a story, use humor, add animation, try a longer format that immerses the viewer, or a super short punchy video that sticks with them. Just make sure that you keep in mind your customers’ wants and needs, and entertain them while addressing those wants and needs.
  • Keep it short – There is a time and a place for longer videos, but in general it’s best to keep your videos to 2 minutes or less. Like we said, a fifth of viewers click away from videos within the first 10 seconds, so you don’t want to make them feel like they have to make a big time commitment to get your message. And studies show that 2 minute videos tend to get the most engagement.
  • Stay focused – If you’re doing shorter videos, it’s usually best to stick with one or two messages so you don’t overwhelm your viewers. If you want to make multiple points, make multiple videos, and link them – you could end up getting customers hooked on each installment!

Types of Marketing Videos

So we know that video marketing is a powerful tool, and we’ve looked at what you need to think about when getting started with your videos, but what are some of the specific types of effective videos you can make? 

Product videos

Want to show off a new product? Video is a great way for you to “show and tell” for your customers. You’ll have the opportunity to simplify anything that seems complicated about your product, while building enthusiasm, and highlighting the benefits of your item. For these types of videos, you should create a sense of how your product can make the customer’s life better, and inspire them by showing how your product fits into their lifestyle (or an aspirational lifestyle).

Explainer animation videos

Need to explain something complex or new about your business, product, or service? An explainer animation video is a creative and engaging way to educate viewers, and this type of video means that you can create locations, characters, and props that would be difficult in the real world. With animation, you can break down complex ideas in a fun way, and much more quickly, so you don’t lose your audience.

Website videos video on computer screen

What better way to get people to spend more time on your website, engaging with your content than by embedding videos on it? And you know that the longer customers spend on your website, the more likely you are to get conversions! Consider using videos embedded in your website to give customers an immersive glimpse of your products that they would normally only get by visiting a store, or an engaging video that invites your customers to explore your services. 

How-to videos

There are a whole lot of people out there on YouTube looking for videos on how to do whatever it is they’re trying to do. You can become a thought leader in your industry, or customers’ go-to person for a certain topic if you create fun and easy to follow instructional videos. You can also highlight how your product, service, or business can be of even further help.

Testimonial videos

Sometimes the best way to convince new customers to get on board is by showing them how satisfied your existing customers are. Testimonial videos from happy customers can highlight what they like best about your business, and will often feel more authentic, since they come from a third-party. After all, around 90% of customers say they trust testimonials just as much as personal recommendations! Add to that the powerful and engaging video format, and you’ve got a winning formula.

Tips for Creating Quality Videos

One last thing before we leave you to planning and creating your marketing videos: a few tips on how to make them look and feel more professional. After all, a crappy video is probably not going to do you all that many favors when it comes to bringing in customers. So, as you create your videos, consider the following:

  • Sound quality – It might sound funny, but viewers are more likely to forgive bad video quality than bad sound quality, so use a good microphone and run a basic noise-removal filter on your recording.
  • Lighting – Paying attention to lighting will make even a low-quality camera produce a better video, so look into either an inexpensive lighting kit, or just stick some desk or ring lamps behind you to get the effect you’re looking for.scissors and wand next to video clip
  • Editing – Instead of filming in one long shot, use the jump-cut method, which means your video will be made up of dozens (or hundreds) of short little clips pieced together to make a whole. This will keep the video moving along, and keep viewers more engaged.

We would say that video marketing is the future, but that future is already here. More and more customers want to see video content, so the quicker you get in the video marketing game, the better! With a little bit of thought, and a little time and effort, you could even make an engaging video on your phone that ends up bringing in more customers than any other content strategy you’ve tried. So get your director’s hat on and get shooting – and let us know how it goes!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Running a Business in the Time of Inflation? Strategies to Help Beat the Beast

Small businesses have not had it easy over the last few years. First, we had a pandemic that disrupted the way we all lived, worked, and did business – and now? Well, now we have the beast that is inflation. You’ve probably been feeling the effects of inflation for a while now, and are probably not taking a whole lot of comfort in the fact that it’s starting to level off ever so slightly. But don’t despair, there are some strategies that small businesses can employ to cope with the effects of inflation.

How Is Inflation Affecting Small Businesses?

While inflation and supply-chain issues have been a problem since the pandemic hit in 2020, inflation really began to ramp up in the spring of 2021. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation accelerated at a higher rate between March 2021 and September 2021 than it did at any point in 2020. And, for at least five or six months straight, 2021’s inflation rates more than doubled 2020’s highest increases.

But then came 2022, telling 2021 to hold its beer. While 2021 had the largest inflation rate in the last two decades at 4.7%, 2022 has nearly doubled that with an 8.32% inflation average (as of the summer), the highest month-over-month inflation rates since 1982.

person holding bills and calculating

So if you’re feeling the pinch, you’re certainly not imagining things. And you’re probably caught between a bit of a rock and hard place: your customers are looking to cut back and your costs are probably skyrocketing. You’re not alone: 92% of small-business owners reported that the cost of supplies or services needed to run their business has increased since the pandemic started.

In fact, in 2022, 71% of small-business owners reported at least a 20% increase in costs for supplies and services, with 16% saying that their costs have increased by 50%! The effect of these huge increases has been pretty brutal for small businesses. Consider these stats:

  • 60% of small businesses are concerned about the financial health of their business because of inflation
  • 47% report their profit margins are decreasing due to inflation 
  • 37% of small-business owners are afraid inflation will hurt the health of their business
  • 37% report customers have complained about inflated prices at their business
  • 30% think raising their prices will deter customers from patronizing their business

Does all of this sound familiar to you? Are you one of the 1 in 3 small business owners(according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) who lists inflation as their top business concern? If so, what can you do about it? Let’s take a look at what small businesses are doing to combat the effects of inflation, and what specific strategies you can try to stay afloat and keep growing during these tough times.

What Are Small Businesses Doing to Deal with Inflation?

illustration of a person next to a calculator
In order to help ease the inflation rates, business owners are hiring accountants.

If so many small businesses like yours are feeling the burn from inflation, what steps are they taking to try and mitigate the effects? Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of focus on reducing costs, as well as tracking expenses:

  • 46% of small businesses are reducing the size of their inventory
  • 44% are purchasing software to help track their businesses expenses
  • 24% have hired an accountant to help find ways to save money
  • 40% have reduced marketing costs
  • 29% have moved to a cheaper workspace
  • 42% have reduced the number of employees on their team
  • Only 17% of small-business owners report not changing anything to reduce costs

So have you taken some of these steps, or are you considering doing so? If you’re unsure where to begin, and what strategies are right for you, check out some tips below.

Strategies to Consider

According to James Cassel, chairman and co-founder of the investment bank Cassel Salpeter, “Most business owners have experienced minimal inflation or even pricing deflation. Today’s small businesses need to be creative in their approach to dealing with inflation, as it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.” So let’s think creatively! To deal with inflation, you can:

Streamline and automate processes

Sometimes you need to invest to grow, right? So maybe you need to spend a little money on software to automate time-intensive work. Look at all the little things that take time and manpower: could scheduling, billing or collecting payments, or taking orders be automated at your business? Or think even more creatively: if you’ve got a warehouse, for example, could investing in a new shelving system streamline how you work?

Invest in your business in other ways

You can take some of your capital and put it into streamlining and automation, but you can also use it to do things like ramp up your marketing or revisit your pricing strategy in order to attract customers. And if you don’t have the money to do so, but aren’t adverse to taking on some debt via a business loan, now is the time to do so. The Fed raised interest rates in March for the first time in 2 years (so it’s not an ideal time to borrow), but we’re scheduled to see a few more hikes this year alone.

Watch your cash flow like a hawk

Now’s the time to knuckle down and really pay attention to your cash flow, since you’re between that rock and hard place we mentioned before, where you’re facing increasing expenses while at the same time losing customers or finding them slow to pay. That means you’ve got to stay on top of the money coming in, so try things like:

  • Invoicing customers as quickly as possible
  • Requiring immediate payment
  • Reviewing your expenses more often, ideally weekly
  • Running credit checks on customers
  • Being vigilant about your accounts, and maintaining a policy of not selling to customers with outstanding bills

Reduce costs scissors cutting paper

Prices might be rising, but there are still things you can do to try to reduce expenses in this brave new world of crazy inflation. You can:

  • Talk to your merchant credit card provider about lowering your rate
  • Switch from landlines to VoIP
  • Talk to your landlord about a rent reduction deal
  • Negotiate with your service providers
  • Downsize your office by offering more remote work options
  • Stop printing so much!
  • Check to make sure you aren’t paying for any unnecessary monthly subscription services or other recurring expenses
  • Use a cash-back credit card

Stock up on supplies while you can 

It might seem counterintuitive to tell you to go stock up after we just suggested reducing expenses wherever you can, but it could be a smart move to stock up on supplies to beat any issues with the supply chain. A lot of businesses are reorganizing their spaces (it comes back to streamlining!) and buying extra of what they need, to avoid running out, and to lock in today’s “cheaper” prices before they rise again.

Increase your prices – carefully

While this isn’t the ideal solution, it might be a necessary evil. Just make sure you’re doing it judiciously, and aren’t making giant increases across the board. Consider making smaller, incremental, less noticeable changes. You can even try offering premium, paid subscriptions or memberships, or bundled offers if that’s something you can do, to bring in a little extra cash.

Target the right customers – and be ready for new ones

If you’re looking to bring in as much money as possible in these tough times, know who you should be targeting. That means analyzing your business and determining where your most profitable sales come from. Check out what the most profitable sales have in common, and then zero in on those areas or people. 

But while trying to sell more to your existing customers is probably your best bet, don’t forget that inflation could actually drive some unexpected new customers in your direction. People could very well be looking for new businesses that meet their needs in terms of prices and rates, so be ready to welcome these curious customers with open arms.

Inflation stinks – for everyone. But if you’re running a small business, there’s no need to panic. You have options to beat back the inflation beast, you just have to find the right one for you. And let us know: how are you weathering things as inflation hits us all hard? 

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Can You Get Your Small Business to Carbon Neutral – And Still Grow?

A lot of the news these days is worrying for small businesses: global pandemics, rising inflation, etc. But while you’re worrying about these more immediate threats, are you also thinking about something more long-term? Are you disturbed by climate change, and wondering if there’s anything you, with your small business, can do to help? If so, you might be feeling a bit helpless, thinking that only big businesses have the resources to reduce their carbon footprint. But that’s not necessarily true! Small businesses can get to carbon neutral, too – so take a look at the following suggestions that will benefit the environment and your business.

What Does It Mean to Be Carbon Neutral?

So when we say “carbon neutral,” what do we mean? It doesn’t mean that you (necessarily) are out there, physically cleaning up the rivers in your area. It has more to do with evening out the impact your business is making on the environment – hence, the word “neutral.”

What does that mean? Well, everything you do related to your business – driving, heating/cooling and lighting your workspace, operating a website, shipping, flying, etc – expels carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. We’re talking here about your business’s carbon footprint – and that footprint can be pretty big, and pretty hard to rein in.

illustration of a hand holding a remote with an HVAC system in the wall

But, with that being said, there are things you can do to both reduce your carbon output and offset it, essentially bringing your carbon output down to a net zero, even though you’ll still be necessarily engaging in activities that produce carbon. In other words, for every ounce of carbon that you have to dump into the atmosphere, you find a way to remove an ounce. 

The Benefits for Small Businesses of Going Carbon Neutral 

If offsetting your carbon output to bring your business to carbon neutral sounds, well, a bit complicated and time-consuming, we’re not going to lie – it can be. But taking the time to do it is not only good for the world; it can also be good for your business. So before we get to the specific steps you can take to make the process of getting to carbon neutral easier, let’s look at how doing so can be beneficial for you:

  • You won’t be just another “greenwasher” – Nowadays, with so many consumers more concerned about the environment, a lot of businesses are trying to tout their “green” credentials, but aren’t exactly making the grade. Consumers are becoming a lot more savvy when it comes to greenwashing (or businesses offering exaggerated, misleading, or unsupported claims about their environmental practices), so if you can both talk the talk and walk the walk, you could come out ahead of your competition. In fact, consider this: almost 70% of Americans say they are willing to pay more for brands that help them reduce their negative impact on the environment, and more than 80% prefer to buy from sustainable sellers. 
  • Investments in green energy are good investments – Yes, it can be pretty pricey to switch to renewable forms of energy, but if you do invest in solar panels, for example, your monthly energy bills will reduced, and any surplus energy your solar energy systems produces can be sold back to suppliers, which will generate additional income for your business. But even if you don’t want to make a huge investment in a new renewable energy system, any reduction in energy use will save you money!

The benefits sound great, of course, but can your small business actually afford the process of getting to carbon neutral, both in terms of money and time? If you take a look at the following steps, you might find that it can actually work for your small business, with some planning (and you might even end up saving some money!)

Steps You Can Take 

Working towards carbon neutrality requires some bigger-picture thinking and strategic planning. Yes, little things like putting out more recycling bins can all add up, but you really need to be doing more tracking of what you’re currently using/outputting, and researching ways to offset. But don’t worry: everything you do will help! So here’s where to start:

calculator with a pen and paper next to it
To reduce your emissions, you must first calculate how much you use.

1. Calculate your emissions

Before you set out to reduce your emissions, it’s a good idea to get an idea of the baseline from which you’re starting. Head online and look for calculators that allow businesses to figure out what they’re putting out there, so you know what you’re going to need to lower, and you can set goals for reduction.

2. Make a plan, and stick to it

Like we said, any little bit helps, but if you’re really committed to getting to carbon neutral, you’ll need to have a plan that includes systematically figuring out where you’re going to implement changes to curb your emissions. This will also help you know how much you’ll need to spend on cutting your emissions – and how much you could save. 

You can then set a goal for becoming carbon neutral, say, in 5 years. Your goal could look like this:

  • Year 1 Target: 20 % reduction in baseline emissions via energy efficiency actions or carbon offsets.
  • Year 2 Target: 40% reduction in baseline emissions via energy efficiency actions or carbon offsets
  • Etc

Now, check out the following steps to begin making your carbon reduction and offsetting plan.

3. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Yep, just like a lot of people are trying to do in their daily lives, you’ll have to get down to the process of reducing, reusing, and recycling – but on a bigger and more strategic scale, of course. Again, it goes beyond putting the right bins out. You can:

  • Move towards post-consumer waste products wherever possible
  • Decrease or eliminate the single-use materials you use – There are often biodegradable options to replace plastics (think paper or raffia), or better yet, reuse what you already have.
  • Think about sourcing – Remember, if you’re getting supplies or packing materials that come from halfway across the world, you’re already accumulating a carbon footprint.
  • Recycle everything you can’t reduce – The goal is to get those trash cans as empty as possible! You can even consider composting any food waste your business generates.

3. Get Energy Efficient

Switching to solar or other types of renewable energy would be ideal, but if that’s not in the cards right now, there are other ways you can be more energy efficient at your business. You can:

  • Switch to LED lighting
  • Utilize as much natural light as possible
  • Use timers and motion sensors for your lighting 
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances
  • Clean your air filters

4. Travel less

Do you and your employees fly and/or drive a lot for your business? Consider this: one little flight from NY to Seattle emits half a metric ton of CO2! And driving? The average driver emits 4.6 metric tons of CO2 a year, but if you’re taking extra road trips for business, you’re emitting even more. You can’t always avoid driving and flying, but you shouldn’t book business trips willy nilly, or should try to find more sustainable ways of traveling whenever possible. 

5. Get employees on boardlego of a man in a suit riding a bike

Speaking of the actions we take that make a difference, like driving, talk to your employees about your desire to take your business to carbon neutral and get them on board in doing their part. Encourage carpooling or biking, and consider asking them to agree to meatless foods for catered events. And of course, they can do their part by recycling, or even coming up with innovative ways to reduce and reuse! Don’t forget to ask them to communicate your business’s green ambitions to your customers, so everyone knows about your efforts.

6. Offset all that pesky remaining carbon

All of the above is a great start when it comes to reducing your environmental impact, but it’s simply impossible to cut all carbon emissions without closing up shop. So the final thing you can do is offset your carbon. You can hire an organization to do it for you, but that’s a big investment for many small businesses. 

So instead, you can calculate your new carbon footprint after implementing all of your new policies, and find projects like wind farms, landfill gas capture, or reforestation to invest in. Programs like these help either remove harmful excess emissions like carbon and methane from the environment or lessen our reliance on non-renewable resources, meaning the money you give them will essentially be making things even when it comes to your carbon emissions. And that’s where carbon neutrality comes in: the goal is to be at net zero in terms of emissions.

One important thing to note about carbon offsetting: be sure to check that the projects you’re funding are legitimate, and are third-party verified!

The road to becoming carbon neutral is by no means an easy one, but it’s worth it if it’s something you believe in. The actions you take now could mean a secure future for your business and our planet – so let us know if getting to carbon neutral is a goal of yours, and how you plan on getting there!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling