Projects to complete while hoping for spring

Updated 3/9/2015 7:44 AM

There are some business tasks to tackle while you're waiting for that first daffodil:

• Organize your email lists. Email messages, especially those appropriately understated messages promoting your business, matter. But if sending emails is a hassle because your unorganized 2,000-name list has, well, 2,000 unorganized names, then it's time for some list management.


Begin by creating categories for all those names. Clients are probably your most important category. Customers should be the first to know of improved processes, new services, staff promotions and the like. Prospects? You'll share much of the same information with prospective customers, though the message context will be different. This is your second most important list.

Referrals are your keep-the-pipeline-full list. Who's on the list depends on your business. Satisfied customers? Absolutely. CPAs? Of course, if you offer a service or product they or their clients might need. Lawyers? Same thing.

After a decent sorting, you could wind up with 10 or 15 lists -- or more. That's OK, if each list has a specific role in your business development plan.

• Get your financial data in shape. At least some banks have low-cost money available, but getting a loan requires more than just asking. Bankers, says banker Chris Rudolph, want to see some operating history.

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Managing director at First Bank & Trust's commercial lending office in Itasca -- the bank is headquartered in Evanston -- Rudolph says bankers want to review at least three to five years of operating history before they will consider lending money to your business.

A 10-year history would be better. And, of course, the numbers must add up.

Logic suggests your data should be presented in as professional a format as possible. There's nothing wrong with a financial software program that tells us -- and our banker -- how we're doing, but it seems to me that a CPA, temporary CFO or an in-house bookkeeper who can put context around the numbers may be a better investment.

• Take the podcast plunge. Podcasts can be an efficient way to touch your marketplace.

They're pretty cheap to produce, too.

Two phones and a free recording service can be enough. Podcaster Pat Helmers, who has spent the past year podcasting his Plano-based SalesBabble into a viable sales teaching business, has spent all of $200 on equipment.

Develop a podcast strategy based on what you want the programs to accomplish. You can follow Helmers' path and use podcasts as a key business component, or you can use podcasts as a tool that indicates, for example, your grasp of industry issues and solutions -- and makes your business a source of information and ideas.

Target your audience. Notify your targets by email when a new podcast is posted on your site, sending instructions about how to listen to the material; send a link that connects directly to the individual podcast; or email an MP3 with the podcast attached.

• Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Listen to Jim's Business Owners' Pod Talk at 2015 Kendall Communications Inc.

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