Ramon Ray, small business guru, has quality insight in the makings of a successful small business. Through tried and true trial and error, Ramon has found what works for small businesses and what doesn’t. While the list of tips and tricks could go on forever, Ramon answers 7 important small business questions with his insight into what makes them successful.
1. First of all, who is Ramon Ray, and how did he become the successful businessman he is today?
Ramon got started on his way to success by starting four businesses. Two of these are still his today, including his web-based business, Small Biz Technology, and his magazine, Smart Hustle Magazine. Small Biz Technology is an online resource that small businesses can use to find out how to best use technology in their favor. Ramon mentions that he “works with large brands to help them better reach small businesses.” Essentially, Ramon works to connect small businesses with large corporations so that both benefit.
2. What is the number one most important thing that all small business owners should know based on what you’ve learned along the way?
Ramon admits that small business owners don’t always understand their audience. In order to correct this problem, he says that small business owners need to learn who they are targeting and make sure that their company is niche oriented. Ramon mentions that it isn’t a bad thing to begin small and expand later. An initially narrow market can be broadened later once a certain level of success has been reached. Starting a business on too large of a scale could end up being overwhelming and backfiring in the long run.
3. Between marketing, sales, and operations, or another aspect entirely, what area should a small business owner master before all others?
Ramon says that due to his own experience, he struggles with the right answer to this question. He says that he “normally would say sales or marketing,” but has discovered that operations is truly the root for all areas of the business to grow from. Without a solid system in place for your business, there is no room for growth. Small business owners need to have a solid foundation so that sales and marketing can be orchestrated in an organized and productive manner from this base. Ultimately, having the operating system for your business established will allow your business to run like a well-oiled machine.
4. What sales and marketing tricks would you share with small business owners to help them better those skills?
Small business owners must focus on the purpose and intent of their business first and foremost. They need to have a solid understanding of their goal, whether this is to sell a product or to simply get people into the sales funnel leading to sales and memberships or subscriptions.
Ramon mentions that it is also important for business owners to know where to best market their business. He isn’t on Snapchat himself, as his clients and network all tend to use other platforms, but Ramon says if your clientele are all on Snapchat, then go there for your marketing. If you see a large interest in your product or service on Twitter or Instagram, use those platforms as your marketing focus.
It does you and your users no good to market on platforms where there is little to no interest. Lastly, Ramon says that small business owners should experiment as they are growing their business, and if they aren’t able to spare the funds to do this, then they should reevaluate how their business is going altogether and regroup if necessary.
5. How can a small business owner best optimize their time?
Here, Ramon lets us in on his “day to day secrets no one else can know.” This advice is geared more towards those very small businesses – he says – those that have one to ten staff members. Ramon says that a small business owner needs an assistant. He says this is so important because this person can help you manage your calendar, make important phone calls, or just simply help to keep you on task so that you can best manage your time.
Next, Ramon says to build a team. Adding people to the administrative side of things can allow you to spread out the necessary tasks so that they aren’t all on your shoulders, which then works well with the tip to learn how to delegate duties among your team. A business owner cannot do everything themselves, and it is just fine to ask your team to take on some of the duties to clear up some time. Ramon also mentions that he personally uses a task management tool to keep everything in order for his day-to-day.
Most importantly, Ramon says that it is ok to learn how to say no. While we may not always want to, it is important to recognize when to postpone something or turn down something to save time and better utilize your time for business growth and development.
6. What are some common mistakes made in small business startups and how might others avoid these as they begin their journeys as small business owners?
Ramon states that he learned from being through the ringer himself that not planning ahead was the biggest mistake he ever could make in the business world. He mentions that he is very much a “shoot first, ask later…shoot first, aim next” type of person. To avoid doing this, Ramon advises that small business owners deliberately plan out their projects and be thoughtful in their goals.
It is important to take baby steps to get somewhere rather than running headfirst into something without having thought out the process first.
Second, Ramon says that another big mistake that a business owner can make is not being financially literate, or being irresponsible with their money. Small business owners need to have a focus on their accounts and funds at all times. If you aren’t aware of where your business stands financially, you take many a great risk with your business falling under. While you can hire an accountant or bookkeeper for your business, it is wise to be very involved in this process yourself as well.
7. Is there any additional advice you can provide for the small business owners looking to make their way in the business world?
Ramon says that most importantly, you should be having fun with your business! He says that we all get into small business to do something we are excited about, that we want to do, so you must be having fun along the way to balance out the harder times. Ramon also emphasizes the importance of constantly learning while growing your business. While he says that he is just naturally curious, Ramon says that being able to continually learn in the process of your business will only better serve you and the business for time to come. Last but not least, Ramon says that it is imperative to network. He tells small business owners to leave their comfort zones and get to meeting people. You never know where connections could lead.
To see OnDeck’s Facebook Live interview with Ramon, click here.