How Small Businesses Benefit from Strategic Alliances

how small businesses benefit from strategic alliances
In a competitive, complex business world, there are few companies that have the capability to do everything alone. The skills and technology necessary for success in business today, many times, mandate that companies work with other companies that possess complementary skills for the mutual benefit of each. Regardless of the alliance partner or how the alliance is structured, strategic alliances can bring significant benefits to each partner, especially small businesses.

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A Better Way to Start Small Business – Consulting

A better way to start business - consulting
Ask anyone who works for a small business and he will tell you he wants to run his own business some day. Many of them have a great idea – or think they have one – and only if they ventured on their own they could become a successful business person. Some of them also think they can do better job of running the business they work for than their current owner.

While the thought of starting and owning your own business is certainly admirable anyone who has tried to do it will tell you that it is not as easy as it sounds. As Chief Everything Officer you will be working on many different fronts at the same time and under tremendous pressure. There is no guarantee that you will eventually succeed after spending so much time, money and effort. So, is there any hope for someone who has the passion to start his own business, but is not sure how to go about it? I think so. Let me explain how.

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Too Much, Too Fast – Lessons from JC Penney Failure for Small Business

Too much too fast - lessons from JC Penney failure - 2
By now, most in the business community have heard about the ouster of Ron Johnson as CEO of JC Penney after only 17 months on the job. This was a stunning reversal of fortune for Ron Johnson who was regarded as retail Guru based on his accomplishments in transforming Target to “Cheap Chick” retailer and hugely successful launch of Apple Stores. When he was hired at JC Penney he was viewed as a savior who would rescue JC Penney from the downfall it was experiencing for several years.

However, things have not turned out to be that way. In 17 months JC Penney has been in complete turmoil. Sales in 2012 declined 25% compared to prior year representing a staggering $4.3 Billion in lost sales. In 2012 it recorded loss of $1 Billion. No other company has seen such a precipitous loss of value in this short time. So, what went wrong and what lessons can small business owner learn from this?
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Blockbuster Failure!! How Can You Avoid Similar Fate

Blockbuster Failure! Hot to avoid similar fate
Blockbuster, the ubiquitous video rental chain of the bygone era, announced recently that they will close 300 stores in U.S. and lay off 3,000 employees. This is after they have already closed hundreds of stores over the years. The latest round of closing will leave them with only 500 stores, down from 9,100 at the peak of their business. This is one of the blockbuster failures in the American business history!  To be fair, they are not alone. Recent times have seen number of successful retail businesses wipe out from the landscape – Borders, Circuit City, the list goes on.

Blockbuster was one of the great success stories in how to build an empire by putting number of small rivals out of business throughout the country. Starting with a humble beginning they went on to consolidate the video rental industry to be the eight hundred pound gorilla. And yet, they were not immune to the law of natural business cycle when new competitors came along. There are important lessons to be learned from Blockbuster to ensure your small business does not meet the same fate.
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What can Subway Teach you about Growing the Business


Trivia question: Name the franchise with most number of locations in the world. If you answered McDonald’s you are wrong. The new king of the franchise world is Subway. It surpassed McDonald’s in 2011 with 33,949 worldwide locations compared to Mickey D’s 32,737. The franchise that started with mere $1,000 by Fred DeLuca in 1965 has seen phenomenal growth in the last 10 years.
Subway has been able to grow consistently year after year by following principles that can be applied to any small business. We have studied and analyzed those principles and present them below for small business owners to apply to grow their business in a similar fashion.
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Factors that Influence Pricing


Pricing is both an art as well as science as we discussed in earlier post on Ten Commandments of pricing. There is no one right way to determine the price of products or services you are selling. To a large extent, the price is based on the value customers perceive to get from the product and what they are willing to pay for it.
The law of pricing says that you should charge each customer the exact amount he/she is willing to pay for it for maximum profit. This is how auction system works. You let each customers announce how much he wants to pay and pick the highest bid. While it would be ideal to determine the price in this fashion, in practice it becomes a challenge to sell your products this way. That’s why it is necessary for business owners to come up with an advertised price and augment it with other ways such as coupons to attract more customers.
So what factors do you need to consider when pricing your products and services?
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Ten Commandments of Pricing


Pricing a product or service is one of the most complicated yet important decisions that can determine the fate of your business. Most small business owners tend to price their products and services lower than the customers are willing to pay for out of the fear that increasing the price will make customers flee. However, it is possible to increase your price, and have customers love you for it. It is not only desirable, but imperative that small business owners understand how to properly price their products. After all, it is much more fun to compete on value rather than price Look at how Apple is able to charge premium for all its products
Based on our own experience and feedback from our readers we have compiled a set of rules that will help you in pricing your products. Here they are:
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How does Apple do it? Case Study on Premium Pricing


In the previous post we discussed how you can charge premium price without losing sales and still have customers love your products. No one does this as well as Apple, the most valuable company in the world by market value. Apple never competes on equal playing field with their competitors. They write their own rules and come up with innovative products that no one has dreamed off year after year. Their slogan explains how they have been able do this – Think Different! As a result Apple has been able to charge premium price for all its products and enjoy remarkable sales growth and margin for a long time.
What is their secret sauce? In this post we attempt to decipher their strategy by understanding how they apply the rules of premium pricing we described in the earlier post.
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How to Charge Premium Price (and Have Customers Love you for it)


Do you want to increase prices for your products without getting a hit on your sales? How about customers thanking you for charging them higher price? You probably think we have lost our minds, but trust us; it is possible do just that! We will show you how in this post.
It seems counter-intuitive to say that you will be able to improve customer satisfaction and increase sales while at the same charging more. Conventional wisdom says that if you are not doing well lower the price and customers will flock to your business. As natural as it seems, this is simply not true. Competing on price is not a sound business strategy for small business owners as explained in the previous post.
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Tools you can use to Uncover Customer Needs


Finding and serving the “right” customers is the most important step you can take to improve your sales. Many small business owners feel that the task is easier said than done. As a result, they fail to align their business with the right customer segment. Even when they do attempt to do it they either go about finding the customer needs in ad-hoc fashion or they use wrong tools to segment the customer base.
As we have noted earlier, we firmly believe that segmenting the customers based on their needs as opposed to demographics or location can improve your sales significantly. But how do you go about finding what customers really need and want?
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