We’re all about supporting local businesses here at Strictly Business – after all, it’s in our name. To further that effort, we are dedicating one of our features this month to exploring the ways business owners in the local market can grow their brand. From commercial real estate to networking to business consulting services, we’ve covered so many of the different factors that go into growing a business; take a look at the amazing local resources we have in our community to help your business continue to expand in 2022.
McCombs Commercial Realty LLC (mccrealty.com) is a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and development firm founded in 2003 and headquartered in Lincoln. The founding partners, Bennie McCombs and William Langdon have used their expertise and knowledge to build a real estate brokerage and property management firm based upon hard work and fair treatment for all parties involved in any transaction. Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or lease, McCombs Commercial Realty can help you.
“We also offer property management and will work with real estate owners to provide them with a sound return on their investment,” shared Mary McCombs, residential and commercial sales. “We provide full service commercial property management with a focus on meeting each owner’s objectives and keeping properties running smoothly. Services include leasing and tenant retention, building and grounds maintenance, and lease administration. To ensure we provide you with top notch service, we utilize professional property management software, provide a proactive maintenance plan, and ensure we have a thorough understanding of both your industry and your commercial space.”
Accounting and Consulting Solutions
To successfully run and grow a business, you need to know how to run your business efficiently. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a few of the reasons businesses don’t succeed include lack of experience, insufficient capital, poor location, and poor inventory management, among others.
These are all items that Cruise & Associates (cruise-associates.com) are here to help with. They are an accounting and consulting firm that works with small to mid-sized businesses. Their goal is to make sure your business is working for you and not against you. They also have programs that can help you start a business, improve business operations and efficiency, succession planning, selling a business, and much more. Cruise & Associates’ President Robert Cruise shared some advice on how to grow your business.
“In order to grow your business, make sure nothing is getting overlooked by writing out your goals,” said Robert. “If you don’t know where you are going, you aren’t going to know how to get there. Some key areas to look at when coming up with goals include sales and growth, re-evaluating inventory, and adding new products or services. It’s also crucial to keep in mind the laws of the country that are ever-changing. It’s important to meet with your accountant to make sure you understand current and new laws and ensure that they won’t negatively impact your business.”
Unique Businesses Require Unique Solutions
Guiderock Commercial Realty LLC (guiderockrealty.com) is a full-service commercial real estate agency with a core focus on helping business owners learn about commercial real estate so that they can make the best decisions for where they should be (which also happens to be what they love to do most!).
“Every business is different in terms of what amenities they need, which location will work best, and their budget,” shared Sales and Leasing Agent James McCombs. “We’re here to talk through those considerations, develop a range of options, negotiate the best possible terms, and ultimately get the option that is closest to our clients’ needs.”
James explained that historically, Lincoln has fared better than the nation as a whole, and this year is no exception. Guiderock is still seeing strong demand for most types of commercial real estate, though the industrial market is currently more active than retail or office, due in part to the city’s growth and subsequent need for new construction. However, James also said that there are early signs that increases in construction costs and interest rates are negatively impacting some transactions.
“The right time to look for a new location is different for everyone; it depends a lot on the type of business, whether the business is in a growth phase or more stabilized, or if what they need for a location is readily available or needs extra time to be built,” James said. “We typically recommend having three to nine months lead time, which allows businesses to get out to see some spaces, refine what they need to have versus want to have, negotiate terms, and still have time to remodel if needed.”
Collecting Past Due Accounts
When you outsource your accounts receivable, you will be able to focus on doing what you do best while simultaneously bringing in more funds that will be instrumental in the growth of your business. To learn more, we spoke to Aaron Newell, founder of AR Solutions (arsolutions.inc).
“In addition to offering past due accounts receivable collections, we can also consult with clients to help them set up their receivables process to increase their in-house collections or to prevent future issues,” said Aaron. “I often use this quote: ‘Do what you do best and pay for the rest.’ It is as simple as being able to communicate with the consumer at a specific date and time. If you are not able to communicate with them at that specific time, you may not get a second chance. Collecting past due receivables is all we do…and if we don’t collect, we don’t eat.”
Aaron advises to gather as much information as you can on your customers before the transaction is complete, and to also keep in mind that not all customers are going to pay on time, or pay at all. At some point, you may need to use a law firm or collection agency to pursue payment on past-due accounts. By outsourcing this job to a third party that you trust to uphold your reputation as an extension of your business, it takes the emotions out of it and you don’t have to be the bad guy.
Commercial Realty Veterans
Eschliman Commercial Real Estate (ECR, ecrproperty.com) is quite knowledgeable about the local market, with a 30-year real estate veteran and 40-year former retailer leading the business. Robin and Ted Eschliman know the commercial space terrain and monitor the changes to keep current on availability, both on- and off-market. Their 11-year-old Grow Lincoln radio show and podcasts keep their fingers on the pulse of Lincoln’s unique economic development.
“If you’re expanding your space, it’s important to think numbers,” shared Ted Eschliman. “What a space generates per-square-foot in income doesn’t always scale up if you don’t have the labor, supplies, or enough hours in the day to produce and maintain that over the term of your lease commitment. We encourage factoring net (not gross) income when calculating new space needs – and we can help a tenant with that.”
ECR has seen a huge demand for leasing smaller spaces in the 500 – 1,200-square-foot category due to popular transition to tele-commuting and the need for less space. However, certain retailers are on the flipside of this due to growing demand for their services; you can see this in businesses that offer something you can’t get on the internet, such as beauty salons or niche products like vape and CBD.
“I also want to bring up that the commercial market is currently a seller’s market,” said Ted. “If you’ve been thinking about selling, now is a great time to transfer the business to a partner or let the next generation of your family take over. We can help you evaluate the business’s value and how to best sell it in today’s crazy market.”
Have a Support Team
At SP Group, P.C. (spgrouppc.com), they want to not only help you grow your business, but to help you as an individual and family in the long run. That may require, for example, setting up the right retirement plans for your specific situation, saving for your kid’s college education, or legacy planning for your business and the eventual transition of ownership – just to name a few.
“It takes a lot of work and long hours to successfully grow a business,” said CPA Ross Reynolds. “It also won’t happen on your own; you need a good team around you that also cares about your goals and success. That starts with hiring the right people. You want to work day-to-day with people that have the same goals and ambitions as you and also want the company to succeed and grow. A good relationship with your CPA, attorney, banker, etc. is also vital to the success of your business and to put you in the best position to grow. We love nothing more than seeing our clients succeed and we want to be on that ride with them.”
Ross explained that investing in yourself and your team is one of the best things you can do to put your business in a position to grow. There will always be roadblocks and setbacks, but if you have an emphasis in continuing to educate yourself and your team, and a willingness to learn new things and adapt, you will put yourself in a great position to overcome those hurdles.
“Tax season is a crazy time of year for us and extremely busy, but in the offseason, we put an emphasis on growing ourselves as individuals and taking that time to learn, which in turn helps the company grow and succeed,” Ross shared. “This is true in any business or field as well. The perfect example over the past few years was in understanding all of the various government assistance programs and being able to stay on top of all the changes and updates in order to help our clients get the funds they needed. Some of those programs truly saved businesses. Many firms were overwhelmed and not able to help their clients due to not being properly prepared. We take pride in the fact that we have invested in our team and were able to help our clients succeed and grow through these changes.”
Have Your Interests Represented
When looking into what commercial space is available, John Linscott with Greenleaf Commercial Real Estate (greenleafcommercial.com) suggested that one of the most important services a real estate agent can provide a client is representing the tenant’s interests during lease negotiations.
“Because of the intricacies of leasing a space, you certainly have to understand what you are getting into,” John cautioned. “A commercial real estate agent will represent the tenant and help them with site selection and lease negotiation.”
Real estate agents can help locate the best options available on the market, and by comparing properties, they can ensure they are being leased at a fair market rate.
“One of the most important things to be aware of is the details of the lease concerning maintenance and repairs,” John informed us. “This is the kind of thing, unless you deal with leases all the time, you might not pay attention to. For example, you may not realize when you sign up that you are responsible for equipment replacement, which can be a $5,000 to $6,000 bill.”
After narrowing down the best options available, agents will often perform site visits, help their client write a letter of intent, and enter lease negotiations. A lot of people don’t negotiate leases, so they don’t know what to look out for or what’s a good deal and what’s a bad deal. For most business owners, unknown expenses are something to be wary of.
Led by Thomas Kubert, MAI, CCIM, Kubert Appraisal Group (kubertappraisal.com) brings many years of appraisal experience into every assignment. Their clients benefit from their collective experience and professionalism in providing quality real estate appraisal services. In addition to general real estate appraisal service, Kubert Appraisal Group provides specialized appraisal services such as appraisal review services; property tax assessment issues; eminent domain valuations; conservation easements; insurance values; estate planning; gifting and IRS purposes; portfolio valuation; real estate market and feasibility analyses; as well as litigation support, including expert witness testimony.
“Appraisers are an important step in the commercial real estate buying and selling process for several reasons,” said Thomas. “First, an appraisal confirms the market value, giving the buyer and/or seller an indication of what the market value is on the date of the appraisal. In addition, the appraisal assists the lending institution with underwriting commercial loans properly, and also provides an idea of the earning potential of the commercial property.”
Thomas holds the MAI designation of the Appraisal Institute, which is the highest level of experience in the valuation and evaluation of commercial, industrial, residential, and other types of properties. His business also holds a primary focus on commercial real estate, so you can be sure that you are getting accurate numbers when you work with Kubert Appraisal Group.
Ready-to-go Office Suites
HIP Realty (Holroyd Investment Properties, hiprealty.com) offers commercial “executive suites” that are in high demand and a good fit for times of uncertainty. HIP leases an office in these suites to a professional—everything from attorneys to stockbrokers to therapists—and then provides shared common areas, like a kitchen and conference room, as well as providing a shared receptionist to answer calls and welcome guests.
“The demand for these type of services in an office is strong,” said Founder and President Michael Holroyd. “And it rolls well with the trend that has more people working remotely, especially now. We have options that allow people to work from home but basically lease a receptionist and a professional address for their business. It’s a perfect fit when uncertainty and remote working are the norm.”
Invest in Technology
Panology Tech Solutions (panologyinc.com) makes technical support and cloud services accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses. By lowering the barrier to cloud adoption through automation, you can begin (or accelerate) the movement of your workloads into the cloud with ease, increase your agility, and keep the technology that your business relies upon running while you focus on what your business does best.
“As a business grows, so do the demands upon their technology,” said Darren Lichty, owner. “It is at this point that small nuances can become major problems. Worse yet, the technology that is serving your business needs fine today can, and often does, hinder your business as it grows. This can be avoided if you have a trusted partner who will explain these things to you in a way that you understand.”
Darren explained that sometimes, it’s the little things that can have the most impact on a business’s growth, especially for small businesses with limited resources. Take, for example, something as simple as Google’s G Suite. It’s perceived to be more professional and there’s a higher trust and credibility factor with an email that uses your domain name as opposed to @gmail.com or @yahoo.com. You can also take advantage of improved email security, a full suite of productivity apps, and accessibility from anywhere on any device.
“The pace of innovation keeps increasing. This is not only true in the technology field, but in businesses of all varieties,” Darren shared. “The key to keeping up with this pace is continuously challenging yourself to try new approaches. Continuously making small bets can add up to big wins. Just as important is continuously measuring the success and failure of these steps along the way. That said, prepare yourself to be uncomfortable, as it is an indication that you are moving forward. Don’t fear failure, as it is a very powerful tool. Thomas Edison once said, ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ He also said ‘Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’”
Unlock Your Potential
Sometimes we aren’t sure what the next step is for our business, and we don’t know where to look for help. Other times, we might be feeling a little lost or low on confidence. If you feel like this describes your current situation, we encourage you to schedule a session with Leadership Harbor (leadershipharbor.com). Their mission is to empower people to realize their potential with confidence and influence.
“Everything we do can help business owners figure out how to move forward in their business and continue to grow,” shared Kris Peterson, a certified leadership, parenting, family, and youth coach with Leadership Harbor and an executive director with The John Maxwell Team. “Our coaching will help you to unlock your potential and think through what you want for yourself and your business. We act as your ‘thinking partners’; we don’t need to know the specifics about your business, we just ask the right questions to help you figure out the path for you. Ultimately, we teach you to lead yourself so that you can better lead others, including clients and coworkers.”
Kris believes one’s leadership ability is a determining factor in how successful they will be in growing their business. She makes it clear that by leadership, she’s not talking about their position, but rather their values. As a leader, you have to have the best interests of the people within your business.
“It’s important to consider the resources you have available to you when it comes to great decision making,” said Kris. “There are constant pivots in a business, and you are going to have to make decisions fast and understand how you communicate in addition to how you serve and value people – the customers – in order to make great decisions quickly.”
Businesses that have gone through coaching with Leadership Harbor have reported back a 20–30% growth rate after their sessions. In addition to growing your business, you can focus on growing yourself through their Speakers Club, where participants will learn how to present their elevator pitch or present themselves to clients.
“I practice what I preach,” Kris concluded. “Coaching has made a difference in even what we do here at Leadership Harbor.”
Blast Your Brand
Brand recognition is also an important part of growing your business. Amy Doele, owner of Flicker Promotions (flickerpromotions.com), can attest to this fact. She has built her business around providing other businesses with customized, printed promotional items that will help you get your name out there in the community and perhaps even beyond!
“I believe that the customized promotional items that we provide can deliver lasting value by generating recognition between our clients and their prospective clients,” Amy shared. “Sometimes, it is hard to track ROI when it comes to advertising. This is frustrating, but it’s true. Someone may call your business and you can ask them how they heard about you, and they’ll say online or that they don’t know. Chances are, they’ve seen your logo or heard your business name enough that they thought of you when they came to a point where they found themselves needing a good or service you provide. It was an unconscious decision. The point is, get out there and make sure people are seeing your brand.”
Sometimes, a rebrand may be part of your growth plan. Having recently gone through a major rebrand of their own, Flicker Promotions has first-hand experience when it comes to wanting to spread the word about your business’s makeover. Their team brings an intensity to their work to reignite your brand, so you’ll shine brighter than the competition.
Expand Your Network
A vital part of growing your business is developing a network and building relationships. If you don’t know where to start – or even if you believe to already have a solid network in the business community – we suggest joining Center Sphere (centersphere.com). Center Sphere is an established network that any business owner, manager, salesperson, account representative, etc. can join. Center Sphere consists of many different local chapters that regularly meet, and each is made up of about 10–35 other professionals from different industries. New members are encouraged to visit a few different chapters to find a group, time, and location that works best for them. When we talked to Ronda Armstrong, the area director for Lincoln Center Sphere, she talked to us about how important meeting people face-to-face is.
“Our vision is to be a catalyst for growth for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits within their communities,” shared Ronda. “We are committed to authenticity, consistency, and innovation as we deliver the best possible experience to our members and those they serve. Center Sphere isn’t about us, it is about our members.”
Center Sphere is unique because they don’t tell you how to network. Instead, they provide you the platform to be able to build the networking experience that works for you and your business. As a member of The Network, you get access to all benefits of membership and can pick and choose what you want to plug into, including: an independent membership, industry exclusive chapters, Center Sphere Academy, Industry Collaboratives, the Member Perks program, access to all members nationwide, unlimited one-to-one meetings, local and regional events (both live and virtual), and much more!
The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (lcoc.com) is another great connection tool. The chamber is a key player in the efforts to grow businesses in Lincoln. They work with lawmakers and local officials to advance important policies affecting the business community and start conversations for needed changes. The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce hosts monthly events to bring business leaders together and ignite collaboration. Through networking opportunities before and after work such as The HIVE and The LNK, members of the business community are given the chance to share their mission and ideas with like-minded individuals.
You may ask yourself if joining the Chamber is a good idea as a growth strategy for your business, and the Chamber can assure you this is true. They are Lincoln’s leading business organization, with over 1,300 businesses with one strong voice for business advocacy and growth. They want you to be part of their organization, and they’ll go to work to help you grow your business as they advocate for a positive business climate in Lincoln.
Last but not least, Strictly Business (strictly-business.com) is an awesome marketing tool offering services in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, and we would love to partner with you to promote your brand and help your business grow. Not only do we offer advertising in print, digitally, and on social media, but we have also recently launched a brand-new IN THE ISSUE monthly email blast that is designed to break down each issue of Strictly Business in a clean, concise, and easy-to-digest digital format. Our goal is to get in front of even more people in this ever-growing digital age and to further promote all of the local businesses that we love and partner with. Be sure to check out Paige’s Letter from the President on page 2 to learn even more about this great new tool!
Ready to grow your business? Contact these Lincoln professionals to learn how they can help you expand your brand throughout the community and beyond.