Better than a Side Hustle: Buying and Scaling a Business

Better than a Side Hustle: Buying and Scaling a BusinessMany Americans have come to realize that the economy of today moves lightning-fast and can change in an instant. Because of this, many workers have started looking for alternative methods of making money, and one of those methods is to start a small business as a side hustle.

What many Americans do not realize, however, is that a side hustle can only be life-changing if you can convert it into a full-time focus. It takes a bold person to walk away from the stability of a career and move into working for one’s self as an entrepreneur.

But what if you don’t want to walk away from a career to build a business from the ground up? Then, you might buy an already successful business and add your skills to take it to the next level.

Get to Know the Market

So, what are the types of businesses that are doing well? What are the brands that are getting a lot of attention but might be overhyped? What are the underrated buys no one is talking about?

Research on the Internet is helpful (that’s where you found this article, after all), but this is also where getting to know a business broker can pay off. Reaching out to those who specialize in helping individuals or companies both buy and sell businesses is a smart first step into finding the right kind of business. You can get their inside knowledge of current buyers who may be looking to buy up small businesses and identify what their key purchasing points may be.

Making those connections early is like finding a map when you are lost in the wilderness. It can guide you to safer areas.

Set the Foundation

Once you know what buyers are looking for in a small business, you need to consider your skills and interests. Sure, if you have a degree in accounting, that’s an obvious skill set, but think about all the things your colleagues praise you for that don’t fit neatly into a resume and, thus, aren’t top of mind when you think about skills. Are you great with communicating ideas to outsiders, or are you the person people look to in order to shepherd a project from start to finish, or are you the detail person everyone counts on to pick up that missing line of code or catch that typo? These sorts of skills are invaluable for business ownership.

Buying and scaling a business will be something that consumes a lot of your time and energy, so going forward with something that interests you will help sustain you through those moments that break other business owners. Being a great accountant won’t get you through back-to-back 16-hour days unless what you are doing provides you with satisfaction or engages your sense of wonder throughout the process.

Find the Right Fit

You’ll want to stay patient through the process. You need to find the right fit for your skills and your budget. You might be looking to slowly replace your full-time income or you might be ready to jump in and scale the business to the moon. Excitement and motivation won’t be enough. You’ll need to look at opportunities.

Some of these opportunities include:

  • Areas of internal improvement the seller didn’t explore sufficiently (or at all)
  • Products and services the seller didn’t have capital to create and deploy
  • Basic best practices in digital marketing that the seller never implemented

Ultimately, diversifying your income through buying and building a business is a smart way of insulating yourself from a rapidly evolving and fluctuating economy. Once you have the right partnership and the right systems for building and scaling, you can put them to work making sure your time on the economic roller coaster of today is a joyful and rewarding experience.

If you are looking to skip the start-up and buy into a business that has already proven itself, give us a call. It’s what we do.

Fact or Fiction: Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

Fact or Fiction: Marketing Tips for Your Small BusinessIt’s no secret that marketing is essential for any type of business, no matter its size. Small business owners may be hesitant to enter the space — preconceived notions about the cost of marketing (and the effort required to keep up with it) abound. Sure, some organizations pump thousands of dollars per month into their strategies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a middle ground that fits into your budget.

In the spirit of decoding the wild world of marketing, let’s discuss what’s fact, what’s fiction, and everything in between.

Fact or Fiction: Word of Mouth Advertising is Enough

You may be tempted to build your business purely through word of mouth — and it could work for a time — but it’s not a sustainable strategy. Your business might be able to rely on this type of advertising if you live in, say, a very rural area, but even so, you won’t be able to bring in new customers unless you’re very focused on it. There are going to be a lot of people who have no way of knowing who you are and what you do unless you invest in some serious boots-on-the-ground marketing. And, if you’re focused solely on that, other areas of your business will inevitably fall by the wayside.

While word of mouth can be potent, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Small businesses need to complement it with active and proactive marketing strategies to reach new customers who might otherwise remain undiscovered.


Fact or Fiction: External Marketing is Too Expensive

Every business, regardless of its size, should engage in some form of marketing. The key lies not in being able to afford an entirely outsourced agency, but in planning and budgeting for marketing as an essential activity.

There is a wide belief that only businesses with deep pockets can afford external marketing. The truth is that there are solutions out there for every budget — determine your own. That could mean cutting corners elsewhere so that you can hire an agency, or making an effort to learn all you can on your own. There are a ton of great resources out there (check out Udemy, Coursera, or Skillshare) that you can lean on.


Fact or Fiction: The 2% Revenue Rule

Should you dedicate 2% of your revenue to your marketing strategy? Not necessarily. If you have a healthy budget then spending 2% of it on a good marketing budget would be wonderful — until next year when your revenue is down. In that case, you would be spending less money on marketing because it’s only 2% of whatever your revenue is, at a time when you should be spending more than that on bringing in more (paying) customers.

If you follow this ambiguous 2% rule, it quickly turns into a downhill slide: you’ll continue to lose money because you’re spending less in marketing.

Assess your business’s individual needs and invest in marketing based on your unique circumstances. It’s a personalized approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.


Fact or Fiction: You Have to Pay to Get Visibility on Facebook

Unfortunately, you do. Facebook is also a business with the aim of generating revenue. Only 2-5% of your followers see organic posts, which means that paying for placement is essential for broader reach. There is value in organic social, but businesses need to allocate funds for specific messages they want to be seen by many.

Ruling: FACT

Fact or Fiction: All Marketing Agencies are the Same

Not all businesses are created equal, and the same goes for marketing agencies. This is good news for organizations that are looking for solutions that don’t require them to go “all in” on an expensive package filled with things they don’t need.

It’s important to tailor your marketing approach to fit your unique needs. Seek out agencies or even freelancers who are willing to work with you to give you exactly what you’re looking for. Some will specialize in Facebook, others in SEO. Don’t be afraid to shop around, conduct interviews, and reflect before you decide on the solution that works for you and your business.


Marketing may seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be if you bring on the support you need. Integrate it into your budget as you would any other important operation, such as HR, IT, or bookkeeping. In the end, it’s not about how much money you spend, rather, it’s about the strategies you implement. Embrace the right ones, and you’ll flourish — ignoring the need for marketing altogether is a recipe for disaster.

If you want to learn more about marketing your business with the hopes of selling it one day, that’s where we come in. Give us a call.

Harnessing LinkedIn to Share Your Story

Harnessing LinkedIn to Share Your StoryLinkedIn is a tool that can help your business in many ways, including as a marketing arm and research tool. But how do you maximize the effectiveness of your usage to ensure that you build a following of loyal customers?

Marketing agencies can help with your outreach via other media, and the decision to use such an agency for targeted advertising and definition of your optimal customer base could pay dividends to your business’s growth. However, no one knows your business better than you do. The importance of telling potential customers the story of how your business came to be, and what it exists to do, is undeniable.

So how do we harness the power of connection through LinkedIn to raise awareness about our story and purpose?

Attention Grabbers

Part of telling your story is grabbing the interest of the audience in the first few seconds. In a world of scrolling FOMO drones, give the audience something to make them stop and pay attention. Visuals are typically the most responded to addition to any LinkedIn post, and that includes the visuals of your business and its people.

As a storyteller and representative for the business, make sure your profile photo is professional and sets the tone for what you represent. A head and shoulders photo of you looking directly into the camera is best, and make sure it currently represents your day-to-day appearance.

Additionally, you are going to want to make your profile photo stand out by enhancing it with the cover photo for your profile. A photo of the Grand Canyon is great, but it doesn’t exactly tell the viewer what your business is about unless you are selling donkey rides into the Grand Canyon. Aim for a photo that immediately conveys what your business does or where it does business. You can even forgo a photo and replace it with a graphic that supports your story with text, but minimize the number of words and utilize complementary colors that match the photo and format of your profile.

After your visuals are set, it’s time to use your keyboard as a paintbrush and illustrate the essence of what you do with words. A professional headline is what people will see first, so make sure you include two or three brief descriptions of what you do for the business, as well as two or three personal details that will help you be memorable and provide a talking point when first making contact.  Make sure to use “I” language in your About Me section as well, so that the reader feels that you are more personable and approachable.

Focus The Attention On Your Message

Once you have your audience’s attention, and you have helped them become familiar with yourself and your business, it is time to focus their attention on your message. You want to create an awareness of your story and your goals. You need to convey how you and your business can help serve their own goals and purpose. To do this, you must give the reader something that resonates with them. And nothing resonates with an audience like authenticity.

Sharing your story on LinkedIn allows you to become more than an enterprise fighting for the dollars of the public. There are many unique ways to spread your message, including short and impactful posts. Links to long-form content hosted either on LinkedIn or a business website or blog, allow for even more insight into who you are as a business. Video content, polls, and how-to posts also help in spreading your message through more attractive and interactive outreach. Providing value to a potential customer is the best pursuit strategy for gaining their business, and LinkedIn is a free resource that is invaluable in introducing yourself to those customers at minimal cost.

Quality of Connections

There are many approaches to take when trying to woo an audience into your network. Consistent content is a necessity, but consistency doesn’t connect if the message isn’t personable.

To connect with your audience you need to make them care. Customers who care are customers who spend.

People want to spend their money with people or businesses that they like and know. Using LinkedIn to let the customer know about you is effective, but connection is a two-way street. To build a relationship that grows into a partnership, you need to know about the other party as well. Today’s social media and scheduling apps are great at reminding you about birthdays or events in the life of a contact, but everyone knows that the generic greetings are done as a task and not a genuine act of appreciation or well wishes.

Taking the time to make your messages personal is key in letting the customer know that you recognize them as something more than just a business contact. That builds a stronger connection with the customer which can be impactful for years to come.

Looking to tell your business story? We can help with that. Give us a call.

Use December To Win In April: Thoughts For Year End Tax Strategy

Use December To Win In April: Thoughts For Year End Tax StrategyThe end of the year can be very hectic for business owners. They spend their time ensuring their projects get completed, customers get billed, and that there is enough time left to spend with family and friends. One task often overlooked during December is an end-of-year adjustment for tax strategy. Optimizing the business’s financial position for the coming year while minimizing its tax liability is a critically overlooked opportunity. With that tax strategy, consideration must also be given to how it may affect the viewing of the financial reports for the business. Potential buyers will want to know that the business is fiscally strong and that the tax history and reporting are accurate.

This is where a close partnership with an accountant can pay dividends in making sure that the business is prepared in advance and taking full advantage of the legal options available for reducing what taxes are owed in April. Having the benefit of a knowledgeable team can provide the business with the best direction and actions to pursue.

There is nothing worse than enjoying the Holiday season with the expectation that you understand and know your tax picture, and then coming across a nasty surprise come April 15th. Tax planning, in the right hands, should be a strategic tool providing valuable insight into how best to close the year and adjust in the future. Some basic strategies to discuss with your accountant include:

  • Tax loss harvesting
  • Reasonable compensation analysis that protects you and maximizes the Qualified Business Income Deduction
  • Timing capital expenditures and when to accelerate or to defer to land your deduction in the proper tax year

Take Advantage of Shelters

Some exclusive offerings are available to business owners that can help provide some relief from taxation while still keeping you financially solid and prepared for your future as a retiree. One example is the Solo 401(k) which is specific to business owners. The Solo 401(k) allows you to put business income as eligible compensation into a 401 (k) account for the business owner, which lowers overall profit for the year of the business, thus lowering the business’s tax liability. Other examples of eligible shelters are SEP IRA, Simple IRA, and a traditional 401(k). Another option for business owners is utilizing Deferred Compensation plans to greatly reduce taxable income.

Business Entity Changes

Depending on what type of entity your business currently operates under, there may be some benefit to changing from a sole proprietorship to an S Corp or LLC. It’s also time to toss the C-Corp and move to an S Corp or LLC! Each entity will have a variety of tax benefits and liabilities that they may offer to your current business model, so making sure you get the expert advice of an accountant is key. Christopher Royalty of Solopreneur Sherpa has noted that sometimes a late S-corp election is just the right move. “This sort of thing requires a complete understanding of the tax code, payroll requirements, and other issues, but more than once it’s been perfect for a given client.”

The entity type will also make a difference when it comes to courting prospective buyers, so partnering with the experts here at Apex can help make sure that your business is desirable for purchase when you are ready to sell.

If you want to know more about how the selling potential of your business may benefit from an improved tax liability strategy, give us a call.

Should You Hire a Marketing Agency?

Should You Hire a Marketing Agency?No matter how small or large a business may be when starting up, it will always face the question of how to get more awareness for its brand. Most companies lack substantial marketing or advertising budgets to begin with. They find their customers in the most organic way possible through one-to-one outreach. What happens when that route has grown stagnant?

That is when the business owner typically considers paying others to market and advertise for them. With that option comes many questions that can lead to paralysis by analysis. After all, there are a lot of aspects to consider when defining the approach your company will take to reach its next level of growth, including what its value may be currently and what its potential value may be with the correct marketing approach.

Word of Mouth or Word of Agency

When you are ready to spend money on additional advertising, you will look for the most impactful method available. You will find yourself questioning what your best options are for achieving customer growth.

You can continue to pursue sales the same way you have been and redirect any marketing stipends toward product improvements or infrastructure enhancement. After all, your business has reached its current level with only your hard work since you are far from being an absentee owner. Word of mouth has been your marketing approach so far, which has worked. Can a marketing agency make that much of a difference? Well, that depends.

The first question you will ask yourself is if your target customers are in a very narrow or niche market. Will they only respond to a very technically savvy or experienced approach? If your answer is yes then you can continue growing your business through a self-directed approach. For example, you can attempt to gain traction through organic advertising on social media sites. However, only two to five percent of your fans on a site like Facebook will see your posts in their feed unless you spend money with the host to advertise. That is where a marketing agency can be very useful for a business with a narrow market. They can keep you from wasting your money on low-impact pursuits and instead leverage your cash for higher-cost but more impactful advertising.

Ready To Hire

After evaluating your market and realizing that you need to gain new customers and not just repeat customers, you decide to move forward with getting some outside marketing help. A common question for small business owners at this point is at what level of revenue they should hire a marketing agency. Again, it depends. The cost of hiring an agency can vary from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. You will need to evaluate what it is exactly you require so that you can get an idea of the cost.

The thing to remember when evaluating the need for hiring an agency is if you are looking for targeted areas of advertising or if you require a more holistic pursuit of marketing your business. As your need for more variety grows, so will the potential benefits of an agency.

Best Avenues

Marketing is a scheduled activity that you plan for that is repeatable. If that planned activity is for paid search or SEO, finding an expert in that specific discipline will be more advantageous. You can spend more money on a singular targeted area with an expert than you would be spending for an umbrella of marketing services that you would find from an agency. The downside of choosing a specialist is that you won’t know how effective your advertising budget could be if spent on other approaches.

Another option is to find someone who is very skilled in multiple disciplines of advertising and hire them as an employee. That allows you to have your marketing handled in-house, with all the benefits of having them as an employee. These types of candidates can be difficult to find, however, as it takes years of experience and a gifted person to excel in multiple marketing skill sets. Even then, they are likely to be proficient in all areas of advertising. You will also have the added concern of them being poached by other companies, leaving all of your marketing pursuits unattended.

A final option for bringing in marketing help is to go with an agency that will typically have top-level talent in each area of advertising method. You will likely pay more for these services, but you can utilize their expertise in multiple campaign directions at a single package price.

Deciding how to proceed in improving your company’s reach is not an easy task. Knowing your growth goals and your available budget for hiring assistance to achieve those goals is critical to making the correct decision.

If you want to know some names of agencies we trust to help with your digital marketing, give us a call.

How LinkedIn Can Help Your Business

How LinkedIn Can Help Your BusinessThe small business owners of today must wear many hats. Even with the introduction of AI technology and an abundance of options for virtual personal assistants, the day still has more tasks than time. So why should you add LinkedIn activity to your daily calendar?

All small business owners should be active on LinkedIn because no one has done more for their business to grow and get to where it is than the owners themselves. They have made the connections, pursued the clients, and delivered the products. They have done all of the hard work already. Letting all that hard work and goodwill wither because of a lack of regular communication is bad for business.

The key to accepting what LinkedIn offers to a business is understanding that it isn’t just another task or to-do item. Posting on LinkedIn is a way to say hello to your friends and colleagues. Posting updates is a way to remind everyone of the services and products you offer and make relationships through connecting personally and on a business level.


The great news about engaging in LinkedIn is that it doesn’t take much time. The key is to plan and develop a content posting plan that uses singular content for multiple platforms or posts. For example, if you prefer to make a video instead of writing out a blog post, you can host that video on YouTube and your business website. You can then share those links on LinkedIn. After two to three business days, make a follow-up post for your connections that may have missed the original.

Once you develop a content plan, you can identify how much time per day or week should be devoted to LinkedIn and realize that the value of the additional eyes on your content far outweighs the time spent posting. In addition to your weekly content, spend five to ten minutes each day reaching out to your connections and commenting on their posts. Ensure that if any of your content may apply to their posts, you share it with them. That is a great way to get additional viewers and invite new connections for your small business.


Many small business owners enjoy the black-and-white of business operations but shy away from the creative aspects of building a business. So, the idea of creating content for LinkedIn can be daunting. What must be realized is that the purpose of content creation for LinkedIn is the act of simply saying hello to your customers and friends. You are using your voice to remind them of your services and your products. If you have a good business then you will have happy customers. So think of content creation as reminding those customers that you have provided something that helped them. This will spur them to re-use your services and share their positive experience with others.

The real focus of content creation is providing something to the reader or viewer that resonates with them. If you want to tell a story of a big win for your business, make sure that the story is structured to provide enough detail to engage the reader without providing too much or too little information that may lose the reader’s attention. If you want to get very creative and add top-notch videography or music then feel free to do so. However, make sure that you don’t lose the message in the details.


Now that you have your content creation plan and style identified, all that is left is to execute your strategy. This is where daily activity pays dividends. For a small business owner, a once-per-week posting is probably too sparse. Ideally, you are going to want to post updates two to three times per week but engage with your connections daily.

Also, feel free to add your personal life to your posts. You don’t have to stick to only business-focused updates because that squanders any sort of personal relationship you may have with your connections. You are hoping to build connections. Sharing some of your personal life, such as hobbies or interests or even things you are proud of, is an ideal opening to build rapport and find commonality. Providing a personal touch to a story makes you memorable and relatable. The business-related topics you discuss provide value. Combine the two and you become memorable as a person of value to your readers.

Remembering that LinkedIn is just another approach to marketing for your small business is the key to understanding the advantageous ratio of exposure to time invested. People who you have a relationship with want to send you business. Staying top of mind with them through LinkedIn posts helps create those opportunities. Make LinkedIn use easy for yourself by planning your approach, making your content relatable and memorable, and then executing your strategy with regularity. If you can adopt this approach, LinkedIn will be the new tool for your business that helps it to excel.

Need help with LinkedIn strategy for your business? We know people who can help. Give us a call.

Using Tyson’s Recent Struggles to Examine Your Business

Using Tyson's Recent Struggles to Examine Your BusinessWe may not think about it too often, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into making sure Americans have chicken, beef, and pork waiting for them when they walk into grocery stores to buy. The pandemic threw a curveball at US producers, who didn’t want to miss out on current demand but also needed to forecast into the future. One of those producers who’ve been getting a lot of attention recently is Tyson. We’re going to take a look at the multiple factors affecting their performance and what we as small business owners can learn from a big business like theirs.

Prices Matter

Tyson has been dealing with consumer pushback on higher prices. These higher prices have been caused by two pressures on Tyson:

  • Labor shortages have caused wages inside Tyson to rise
  • Lower supply of meat from producers have led to higher acquisition costs for Tyson

We’ll talk more about both of these issues in a moment, but in the medium term it seems that consumers do have a limit as to what they are willing to pay for meat and Tyson is finding that out firsthand.

Small Business Lesson:

It’s important to get the pricing right for your products and services. What are your competitors charging and how do those prices relate to yours? What is coming up in the short and medium term future that should lead you to consider a price change? What event(s) could lead consumers to buy less from you?

Employees Matter

The pandemic reset a lot of people’s expectations about work. Broken from the spell of the daily grind, many stopped to ask themselves what they were doing with their lives and they sought better answers than what they had been previously pursuing. This has led to a still-visible impairment in the service industry and the same is true at Tyson, though it had already suffered reputational damage for poor employment practices for years prior to this.

Small Business Lesson:

If Tyson hadn’t been so relentlessly focused on the bottom line and realized that there are actual people, not only robots, working in their plants, they would have put together a long-term strategic plan to raise wages and compete for labor, creating a culture that makes people want to work at Tyson, not have to work at Tyson.

Small Business Lesson:

Have you been creating a culture for your employees that makes them want to work there, not just have to work there? If not, why not?

Vendors Matter

Often Tyson is the single largest buyer of meat in a given geographic region, giving them powers resembling a monopoly, which they have abused, both when they buy and when they sell (as lawsuits have proved). Frustrated by long-term issues with the company and the already-thin margins they deal with, many small producers have headed for the exits, leaving Tyson with fewer options to deal with consumer demand.

Small Business Lesson:

Do you show appreciation for the vendors that help your business exist? Or do you just take them for granted, or worse, like Tyson, take advantage of them?

Accounting Matters

As its stock price has cratered as a result of its net operating income losses (the first seen at the company in many years), Tyson has used a one-time goodwill impairment charge to deal with some of its losses. What that means in English to those of us who don’t do accounting for a living is that Tyson took a slice of their intangible goodwill and charged it off to make a quarter not look as bad on paper as it was.

Small Business Lesson:

Small businesses don’t have to be accountable to stock price fluctuations, so they don’t really ever have to worry about writing off their goodwill. But do you know what the value of the goodwill in your business is? You would if you did a valuation. That’s a key step in getting any business ready to sell.

Predictions Matter

It’s tough to navigate the market as a big business, particularly in the industry that Tyson serves, which has to account for multiple inputs that have proven to be less predictable over time. Tyson’s production ramp-up during the pandemic has turned out to be a mistake and they are paying the price for it now in stock, sales, and reputational damage.

Small Business Lesson:

It’s not possible to get every prediction right as you try to navigate the waters of your industry. But too many business owners get excited about the upside and don’t prepare well enough for the downside. As you make big moves for your small business, always remember to cover that downside.

If you need help examining these lessons for your small business, we’re here for you. Give us a call.

How Sports Documentaries Can Help Us Storytell for Our Businesses

How Sports Documentaries Can Help Us Storytell for Our BusinessesThe sports documentary is everywhere these days. One of the most popular editions in the genre was 2020’s The Last Dance, a masterful storytelling of the final season of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. A year before that, Netflix premiered Drive to Survive, widely credited with significantly growing the F1 fanbase in America across its now five seasons. Most recently Quarterback premiered, taking us into the personal lives of three NFL quarterbacks, including that of reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. These sports documentaries are a pleasure to watch, but they also showcase a lesson we can take back to the office and our companies: people love stories. You’ve got plenty of stories to tell about your business.

There Is No I in Team

All three of the documentaries mentioned above underline the fact that there are so many people behind the scenes that support a team sport. There are people who work behind the scenes whose names you’ll never know, who provide key support that helps bring everything together. While many of us come away from these documentaries even more in admiration of the stars they focus on, we also see (and hopefully appreciate) all the people who keep them at the top of their game.

Storytelling takeaway: who are the people in your business who should be recognized? Team members are obvious ones, but what about your vendors, your landlords, your insurance providers? By recognizing the broader members of the “team” that delivers your products and services, you give insight to your customers about all the moving parts that come together to give them something they love.

Lift the Hood

One of the more fascinating segments in the Quarterback series was listening to the quarterbacks explain the process of memorizing plays, which change from week-to-week and from opponent-to-opponent. Marcus Mariota was even featured repeating back the plays to his wife, who helped him in the memorization every week during the season.

Storytelling takeaway: do you share the process with customers? Here’s an example from The Wrap Agency putting up a wall wrap for a customer. There are many ways and formats you can share how you do what you do. Curious customers will share this with others, potential customers will love your transparency and willingness to reach out.

Be Vulnerable

While we often hear “they’re human too,” it’s fascinating to see elite athletes deal with professional ups and downs in their personal lives. That willingness to speak about adversity on camera is attractive. No one wants to hear from someone that he/she is never afraid and never fails. Most folks aren’t going to believe that narrative anyway.

Storytelling takeaway: what are some challenges your business has faced that you can share with the public? Obviously sometimes circumstances don’t allow for talking about every situation, but the stories you can tell of overcoming adversity will help the public realize what it took not just to create a company, but keep it going through challenging times.

By getting in the habit of talking about these aspects of your business, you’ll not only better promote your business now, when it comes time to sell, you’ll have a locker you can go into to give buyers a kaleidoscopic view of how you got started, who helped you get here, and what the future may hold for them if they buy it from you.

Need help telling the story of your business? We specialize in that. Give us a call today.

X Rebrands, Threads Flops

X Rebrands, Threads FlopsOne of the big social media giants, Twitter, recently rebranded as X, and another, Instagram, launched a product called Threads. We’ve talked in the past about rebranding (and how not to do a brand refresh) and launching new products and we thought these two recent high-profile happenings offered some helpful general reminders for all business owners.

X Marks the Spot

To understand “why X” you have to go back in Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial journey, almost back to the beginning.

In 1999, Elon had just sold a city guide website called Zip2 to Compaq, who wanted it for its search engine. He made $22M on the deal and put $18M of it to, which was to be an online hub for every kind of financial transaction in the world. He would eventually merge with another company called PayPal, which soon became the name of the merged company when Musk was ousted. He bought back the domain from PayPal in 2017 “for sentimental reasons” but clearly he always felt there was unfinished business.

So now that you know there’s a history of “X” with Musk, you have to see his purchase of Twitter as simply an acquisition of a very engaged customer base to offer more products to. His vision of the new company is not simply a messaging, “tweeting” application (which has limited monetizable value) but an “everything” app similar to Grab and WeChat in Asia, offering messaging, social media, food delivery, and crucially, payments. 

Musk wants to create a content hub, then pay the creators in an ecosystem they (and users) can then spend the money in. Business professors who have often never built a single business in their lives are roasting Musk for “destroying Twitter’s brand value” but that brand name wasn’t equipped for what Musk planned to do. So he got rid of it.

Key small business lesson:  If your brand is aligned with your future, don’t change it! But if your brand can’t take you where you want to go, you’ll have to change it, perhaps radically, and try to get your customers to come along with you.

Threads Already Unraveling

Long before Musk revealed the new name for the former Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg had a team working on an app called Threads, which was supposed to be a Twitter killer. Zuckerberg had smelled blood in the chaotic takeover of Twitter that Musk was involved in and rushed to create an app to capitalize on that.

Its launch in early July 2023 was promising. Since Threads used the Instagram infrastructure, users could simply import their account info and would get a feed similar to what they were used to on Instagram. Within seven hours of its launch, Zuckerberg claimed 10M people had joined the app and soon raced past 100M users. 

But six weeks later those numbers are a distant memory. The number of average daily users has declined steadily and as of the time of this article is hovering around 10M. For perspective, Twitter’s number of average daily users is north of 110M.

Apart from the first complaint most people had (“why do I need another social media app?”) Threads lacked functions that users associated with Twitter: search, hashtags, even a discovery page. People also were used to using Twitter to follow current events and pop culture, in which a popular TV show could be discussed side-by-side with political happenings. The experience on Threads seemed to be entirely disconnected.

It seems, oddly, that Zuckerberg may have forgotten how Google tried a “me too” social network some years ago to try to take on Facebook (Remember Google+? Yeah, most people don’t.) and it failed miserably because Facebook occupied that position well and Google miscalculated. People didn’t want to maintain two social networks, or if they switched away from the dominant one, they either needed most of their friends to follow too or they needed great features. Google+ delivered neither.

Key small business lesson: You shouldn’t launch a product just because a big player in your industry leads with one. It needs to make sense for your brand, but more importantly it has to answer key questions:

  • What does it offer that the competition doesn’t?
  • Why would someone switch away from another product to use ours?
  • Does this product integrate well with all our other offerings?

Threads isn’t dead yet, but it soon will be. Zuckerberg and his team will put in some more token effort so it won’t look like all their work was for nothing, but because they didn’t answer these questions, even with all the money behind them, their product launch failed. Don’t make their mistakes. 

We aren’t on X or Threads, but you can find Apex Business Advisors on LinkedIn, where we share relevant news stories and successes for our brokers and clients. See you there!

Kia’s New Logo and the Search for “KN Car”

Kia's New Logo and the Search for "KN Car"At the beginning of 2021 Kia launched a new logo as part of a brand refresh. Kia chose for symmetry and rhythm. This logo was meant to show a commitment to transformation underlining the new tagline, “movement that inspires.” Yet, while many people can recognize the “KIA” letters within its new look, there are still tens of thousands of searches for “KN Car” each month.

At the moment if you search for “What is KN Car,” you’re going to get a full page of non-Kia websites writing about the confusion regarding the logo. You’ll only find two Kia stories on page one of your search, both from savvy dealers who took the time to write SEO-winning content. These search results, more than two years after the logo change, represent a wasted opportunity for Kia, but some great lessons for business owners.

Know What Others Are Saying About You

Most businesses these days have to have a digital strategy, which includes monitoring what is being said about your business, either by reviews, inbound links, or general chatter (think of Google Alerts for various keywords).

It seems that early on that Kia knew people were confused about the rebrand, but didn’t really help those who were. Even now, as noted above, you only find a couple dealerships that have addressed the issue.

With a fraction of the budget that it spent on the brand refresh, Kia could have built some marketing campaigns to win the search results through paid and organic results.

Paid Strategy

Kia could have launched a keyword campaign to advertise for those searching for “KN Car.” These people were curious enough to ask the Internet after seeing the logo in real life and might even have been potential customers.

The advertising links could have clicked through to explainer pages similar to the ones done by the dealers we mentioned or to something more fun and self-deprecating (though the latter would have assumed some kind of humility regarding the logo failure).

Semi-Paid Strategy

Kia could also have written some of its own content, some of it serious and some of it fun, while encouraging it to be picked up by media outlets always looking for news. They may have tasked some internal assets with creating the content, while the organic reach that the content would garner would be free.

Don’t Abandon Your Branding

Perhaps the biggest mistake Kia made in this brand refresh was going from a globally recognizable logo to something abstract and asymmetrical. Worse, it was so strong a departure from the previous logo as to be unrecognizable for many. 

If we’ve learned anything in the era of Nike, Apple, and Chipotle, it is that consumers gravitate (understandably) towards simple logos. This also makes marketing easier, since complicated logos can be harder to reproduce in various sizes and formats.

If you’ve got something that works and your customers know, go for smaller changes rather than radical ones.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Were Wrong

Kia could have done what Gap did exactly six days after releasing their new logo in 2010: go back to the previous one. The backlash against the logo from allies of the brand and even neutral consumers was enough to realize they messed up.

While it didn’t mean Gap didn’t have egg on its face from the attempt at a new logo, it did mean that they at least began to wipe most of that egg away.

Are you thinking about a new logo or a brand refresh in general? We know some experts who can help you with that. Give us a call.