SUCCESS STORY: SOS Sales Help
BEATING THE ODDS IN A DOWN MARKET
“I am amazed by the ever-increasing amount of business we are getting,” says Jason Siefken, President and Owner of “SOS-Sales Help™,” a newly created Cedar Rapids area business. Despite starting his firm in October, 2008, one of the worst times for business in the last one-hundred years, SOS is defying the odds in this “bear” market.
What’s the secret to Jason’s success? “We cost-effectively identify sales prospects, allowing sales people to focus on bringing in the revenues,” says Jason. “We reduce customer acquisition cost.” A real business need, it seems.
Sounds simple now. But getting to the great idea took planning—and some help from SCORE®.
In early-July, 2008, Jason came to SCORE® armed with an idea and an aspiration to be in business in 30-60 days. The SCORE® counselor at the time recalls feeling his jaw drop. Businesses normally require a minimum of 4-6 months of planning, if not years. This is the story of how confusion turned into a great kickoff success in record time.
Like most entrepreneurs, Jason started with the belief that always precedes determined independent business action: he was convinced that he could do something “better.” After working in larger customer acquisition and service companies for years, he truly believed he had a better approach. He also had the confidence and the drive every successful business person needs. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he recalls.
A Cedar Rapids native and graduate of Linn-Mar High School, Jason attended Kirkwood Community College for his business management education. He then worked at MCI, APAC, Toyota, Yellow Book, and Stamats, Inc., where he held management positions in business-to-business (B-to-B) sales, customer services, and setting up call centers. At Stamats he helped build an inside “B to B” sales team, growing it from one to 17 people. These experiences prepared him for his new start-up.
After acquiring all that experience, Jason felt ready to break into the world of personal business ownership. But like many entrepreneurs with a great idea, he had trouble focusing on specifics: how to start his new business, how to identify the important initial priorities, and how to overcome the fear of the “business plan.” Fortunately, he had the conviction and courage to ask SCORE® for help. He soon discovered how simple these things can be.
How it came together
“SCORE® helped to make the business planning straightforward and easy. It gave me a layman's approach I could understand.”
Jason’s SCORE® counselor, Greg Tomsic (at right), introduced him to the four (4) basic parts of a business plan. He explained to Jason how to do each part quickly and in what order.
Jason and Greg began by creating a draft “marketing brochure” to surface and hone the new business's strengths and pitch. They followed this with the approach to and creation of an 18-month forecast.
“If you take the time to do an 18-month forecast and you get it right, you cannot help but succeed,” suggests Tomsic. “This forecast is the secret. Jason was one of the best I have seen at this task.”
Jason's “knacks” in forecasting and market sense allowed him to begin his business in under 60 days. He did this by unrelentingly dealing with each planning step and doing it well. And, he did it on about four (4) pages.
Jason also learned to be frugal with money. Rather than establishing a fancy storefront, Jason began his business in his home with minimum investment.
“Minimize expenses. Don't take on debt,” Jason advises others who are just starting. “Most people know that quote 'If you build it, they will come.' Do the exact opposite,” he says. “When they come, you can build it.'”
Jason's business is doing better than he expected—better than his plan. He has found that providing high-level executive leads to clients is greatly appreciated. “We facilitate successful sales and our clients are responding.”
Jason has bigger plans for the future. He foresees a number of other services he can provide to help small businesses understand their customers better, secure them and grow revenues. And happily, he prefers working with small businesses with revenues in the $0.5 to $2.0 million. “I want to help businesses like mine grow.” SOS and its team are there to help the little guy. This could prove a great benefit to our community and others.
TIPS for success -- from this month's "Success"
Start with something you know.
Keep it simple
Understand your market.
Minimize expenses. Don't take on debt.
(Start in your home if you can.)
Make maximum use of technology to ease the workload, frugally.
Ask SCORE® for help. (“The quality of help I got from SCORE® was far superior to any I could have imagined.”)
Get a good accountant. “I went to the one in a recent SCORE® Success Story, and they are wonderful to work with. Classic Tax of Marion understands the little guy.” This is another lesson learned from SCORE®.
A useful business lesson:
Any business can benefit by asking firms like 'SOS Sales Help™' to do customer surveys or lead development for them. It can be a cost effective way to understand your customers better, figure out how to reach them and grow. And, many companies think this month's Success Story is 'one of the best' at this job. Food for thought.
How SOS Can Help You
Have a small business that needs new customers?
Want to discover what customers think of you and your strengths?
In need of a someone to help you identify and document prospects?
Want to test your marketing ideas or assess a new product?
Call (319) 550-8203 or visit SOS on the web at:
http://sossaleshelp.com/ OR CLICK THE CARD BELOW.
1616 1st Avenue NW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52405
MORE ABOUT THE 4-PARTS OF A BUSINESS PLAN: