Excerpt from the Merchant Maverick article What’s the Best Way To Get a Loan For My New Business? featuring quotes from The Golding Group CEO Kyle Golding among others….

Perhaps it’s an understatement to say that starting a business is hard work. With countless judgment calls, details to attend to, plans to make, and business-related things to learn, quite frankly, it’s a wonder that anybody starts a successful business.

One of the biggest decisions an entrepreneur with a fledgling business has to make is how to fund their business. Funding is notoriously difficult for business startups to attain; but on the other hand, additional funding could really jump-start your business.

Should you seek outside funding? If so, when? Making those judgment calls can be hard. We’ve asked some successful entrepreneurs how they’ve funded their business, and here’s what we learned…

Most Start with Bootstrapping

Most entrepreneurs started with bootstrapping. In fact, according to a survey performed by The Alternative Board (TAB), two-thirds of small business owners surveyed self-funded their business.

The co-founder of VORTTX Training and Testing, Kyle Golding, has a similar story. Golding and his partner wanted to make sure they had a feasible idea before investing money in their business:

Our approach was putting some personal money (neither of us mortgaged a house or anything with risk) into the basics like website, trade show display and digital marketing (less than $5,000 total) to very strategically approach the most likely audience only. This laser focus might seem too risky to some but we knew each limited dollar spent was going directly at a very likely target.

Golding advises that,

The most important thing to do is determine if you have a profitable business concept, not how fast can [you] get funding for the first version of a product or next great idea. . . . If you play the long game with hustle and patience, you can build something not only profitable but sustainable.

Read the full article here. 

Golding Group co-founder Kyle Golding recently contributed to several articles about future trends in business such as Content Marketing, Consulting and B2B Marketing. Check out his advice along with a lot of other smart people) here:

 

A business is more than a collection of assets and liabilities. It is also a group of people, and the way that those people interact always has a large influence on how the business does. A company that has a positive culture will have employees that are invested in the business and want to see it succeed. They will also feel comfortable asking questions and offering solutions for discussion. That will boost the odds of finding a solution to every problem, and cause people to come up with new ways to help the business grow.

Encourage Questions
Misunderstandings can lead to accidents and other problems, but people are often embarrassed to ask for clarification. Managers should try to foster a culture where people feel comfortable asking any questions that they might have. This will cut down on mistakes in the office and it can make the explainer think about things that they had not considered. Make this change by ensuring that people are never made to feel foolish for asking their questions. Managers should lead by example and feel free to ask questions of their own, since that demonstrates to everyone else that asking is acceptable.

Promote Diversity
The best results almost always occur when a team looks at a wide variety of options from different perspectives. That allows them to identify the best course of action, and then work through any flaws in the plan. Since people who come from similar backgrounds often have similar ideas, the best way to encourage that system is to develop a diverse workforce. To do so, try to encourage workers to interact with as many different types of people as possible. If you have any ongoing partnerships with other businesses, watch them closely to see if they have any policies that you should adopt.

Recognize Success
Too many managers dwell on failures without recognizing success, but it’s much better to do the opposite. Workers will be more motivated if they know that their successes will get noticed. Similarly, focusing on failures without applauding success creates a workforce that is more interested in avoiding public mistakes than in attaining excellence. This is one of the easiest cultural changes for most managers to implement. Simply congratulate workers when they do well, and make sure that any disciplinary actions are kept as private as possible.

Look for Honesty
Honesty is a virtue. People sometimes notice flaws in business plans, but decide not to point them out because they feel that their manager will take any criticism as an insult. That leads to businesses making expensive mistakes that they could easily have avoided. Solve that problem by making it clear that your business would rather have honest discussions than flattery. Be sure to thank people who offer their honest perspectives, and make a point of responding to them in a positive way. If it seems like their perspective is wrong, it isn’t necessary to follow their advice, but it is important to make it clear that you have considered their statements. Doing that will make it clear that they aren’t being ignored, which encourages them to speak up again in the future.

Author Bio: Brian Rees is a media relations representative for FB Solutions. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, music, and spending time outside.

Kyle Golding is an Oklahoma visual artist and founder of The Golding Group, an award-winning think tank of business process management (BPM) and marketing integration experts. Despite growing a successful business, he is also able to pursue his painting passion and succeed in that area as well. “I’ve been creative most of my life, in the music business as a professional & transitioning to visual arts,” he said. “The biggest advantage is that most people who live in Oklahoma live in a house. That means you can create a studio in a garage or spare room. That affordability of housing makes a big difference.” by Heide Brandes – for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

A good restaurant name is many things, chief among them: memorable, simple, searchable and relevant.

Choose a name that stands apart
“Every business needs to consider a brand — name, logo, slogan, colors, etc. — that connects with the intended audience and stands out from the crowd,” said Kyle Golding, CEO and Chief Strategic Idealist at business consulting firm The Golding Group.

“The most important part of marketing a restaurant is drawing the right customer, someone who will appreciate what you do and how you do it, along with differentiating your product or service from the competition. A well-crafted name can be a big part of these efforts.”

Let customers know what to expect
“Restaurants do really well when part of their name lets you know what type of food they have or what type or style of restaurant is it,” said Golding. Think “Shake Shack” or “In-N-Out Burger.”“Any good branding needs to paint a picture of what it is before you arrive, not only the type and style of food but other expectations such as cost, service, speed, etc.”That doesn’t mean a name like “Speedy Pizza” is the ideal. There are, after all, plenty of quick-serve pizza places. The name should be “universally recognized but specific to you,” said Golding.Take the name “Chipotle” for example. “It doesn’t say ‘burrito,’ but it has the connotation that it’s Hispanic and a little different from Taco Bell, Taco Bueno, etc.,” said Golding.To arrive at that sweet spot, Golding advised, “Start at opposite ends of the spectrum and work toward the center as a compromise.”The name can also give clues about the overall vibe. When creating the name for a new restaurant and bar in downtown Oklahoma City, the Golding Group arrived at “The Manhattan,” after the drink of the same name. “It fits the style of establishment we’re trying to create — classic but comfortable, familiar but not old-fashioned.”

Adding a word such as “café” “or “restaurant” or the acronym for your city could also work, noted Golding. For example, since “TheManhattan.com” was taken, The Golding Group went with “TheManhattanOKC.com.”

“Now people are so comfortable with URLs that you can go with a little bit longer URL if you need to,” said Golding. 

“Any business name should be able to stand the test of time, still be relevant and attractive 5, 10 and 25 years from now,” said Golding. If in the 1980s you named your restaurant “Miami Vice Sandwich Shop,” that name “wouldn’t make any sense today.”

Tempted to use an emoticon or emoji as part of the name? Don’t go there, said Golding.

Make sure it translates to merchandise
Consider that someday you may want your restaurant or café name on napkins or on
brand extensions such as T-shirts, mugs, cookbooks or food products. How well will the name you have in mind work?

Names that are very long or rely on punctuation may not play out well on products, said Golding. If the name is based on a color, such as in “Red Café,” know that “there may be times you have to print that in black and white.”

Hire a lawyer to run a national trademark search. “When you apply for your business license with your city and state, that should be part of that process, but that will only cover your state,” said Golding. “If you want to do a national search you’ll want to consult an attorney that does that. The cost is going to be less than $2,000 for a total search and protection service from most reputable attorneys, and in the long run it’s probably worth it. You’ll spend more than that on the signs you’ll put out front, so you don’t want to take them down and start over.”

Kununu Blog asked a handful of CEOs and business leaders to tell in their own words and experiences (in about 3 sentences or less) what they consider to be the top quality of a great leader.

#7. Open-minded

“The ability to not be closed off to new ideas or challenges to established norms is what sets apart an open-minded leader. A person who can look at the best lessons of the past and current while being open to the ideas of the future has the best opportunity to create success in themselves, their business and employees. Being able to change with the times, flexible when needed and decisive when required is a rare thing today.”

-Kyle Golding, CEO & Chief Strategic Idealist of The Golding Group

Creating An Effective Social Media Campaign

Creating a Social Media (SM) campaign has the same basic structure of a traditional campaign: identify your best, most likely to engage audience then craft the message and choose the channel accordingly. Identify the objective, set a time period and define what success looks like (clicks, likes, call, sign ups, sales, etc.). The major difference is how/where to invest your time and effort as opposed to a cash budget for paid placement. Setting a SM budget is also the same as traditional advertising. Spend as much as you can while creating a positive Return On Investment (ROI). The great thing about SM paid placement is you can experiment with very low dollar amounts to find the right message, channel and timing that creates the best response then add budget to your tested formula. You can’t do that with traditional advertising because you have to buy ads, TV time, etc. at full price every time to get the size, same placement. SM allows you to find what works then ramp up your spending. Budgets starting as small as $25 can be very effective on SM. 
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Finding ideas for SM campaigns is as easy as going to Google. Search for keywords associated with your business or product like “marketing” or “running shoes” to see what types of articles come up. This is what is interesting (based on traffic) to people who search for what you’re providing.
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When using hashtags pay attention to which SM channel you are using. The most effective use of hashtags are on Instagram, then Twitter. Facebook gives very low value for hashtags. Use a hashtag that is memorable and associated with your business specifically like #RickCooks for Rick’s Restaurant or #AcmeCares for Acme Products. Using a hashtag too generic like #Marketing or #Hamburgers will not be directly associated with you or can be hijacked by competitors or trolls.
The 2 most common Social Media mistakes are 1. always selling and 2. “one and done” approach to messaging.
It’s Social Media, not Selling Media. Tell a story, give an experience, create an attitude, embrace a lifestyle. Connect with your audience in deep, powerful ways for true loyalty. Once they like and trust you, they will want to buy from you with no hard sell needed.
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Don’t stop at a single posting of a message, link or idea. In fact, repurpose the same content over and over again. Long version pages or blog post, short versions, pull quotes for SM, links with different headlines, etc. to keep using the same content, messages and ideas many times over. Major brands run the same TV commercials and print ads over and over, short and long versions. Do the same with your social media content. The key is consistency in topic and approach. Stick to core topics and always keep the same “voice” for your brand. This can be serious, funny, helpful, sarcastic or any other style that matches your brand identity. 
  • The rules for Facebook change more than other platforms. Keep up with what FB is currently giving value to such as photos, video, live streaming, etc and use these tools as much as possible.
  • Twitter is much more consistent. A/B test tweet subjects, time of day and number of post per day until you find your audience best engagement points.
  • LinkedIn users want post to be professional and business-like. Keep this in mind at all times. You can receive a lot of negative feedback for trivial or personal post. Utilize LinkedIn articles to repost and repurpose content from your website or blog.
  • Instagram is a visual platform, but your text is just as important. Start with a great image, but experiment with short, medium and long text post for engagement. Don’t forget the #hashtags, Instagram users are most likely to find SM post from accounts they are not following via hashtags much more on Instagram than any other platform.

Our CEO Kyle Golding is quoted (twice!) is this informative post on the Insureon Small Business Blog. Read his full advice for using an e-newsletter to build audience below and then read the full blog post here.

Query: I’d like to hear from marketing consultants who specialize in email marketing.1. How do newsletters help a small business grow?

Creating a newsletter (print or electronic) gives small business the ability to communicate directly with their audience with complete control of message, timing, repetition and customization. Direct marketing, such as a newsletter, allow a small business to make multiple variations of information, offers or other parameters specific to each recipient group.

2. Are there signs that a business could benefit from sending out a newsletter? 

If your product or service is unique, has a loyal following, benefits from word-of-mouth promotions you should consider a newsletter. If your sales cycles are highly seasonal, newsletters can capture audience attention during peak times and push offers, promotions during slow periods. If your business benefits from being front-of-mind with consumers, newsletters are a great tool. 

3. What are the important elements to include in a small business newsletter? 

The essential elements to a great small business newsletter include consistent branding elements, contact and location information, hours of operation, social media and other digital links. These elements should be part of a template. Next comes compelling content, not just promotional information. Give your audience great reasons to read the newsletter outside of “what’s on sale” spam messaging. Communication is a two way street. Incorporate audience feedback such as surveys or polls. If your newsletter is interesting and helpful, the audience will want to share it and the content with others. Make it easy to share content and sign up information.
Communication is a two way street.
From Blogger Virginia Hamill: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on email newsletters for small business. I think my favorite part was the comment about communication being a two-way street. That’s always been true, but I doubt many SBOs think about that when creating their marketing plan.
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