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30 Do’s And 20 Don’ts In Starting A Small Business

Small scale businesses are easier to set up compared to the middle or large scale businesses that require more time, feasibility reports, ad...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Affordable Business Travel For Small Business

What is the primary purpose of business travel? Doing business, of course!

Let Horizons Aloft consultants show you how a private aircraft can make your business more competitive.

Every major corporation has access to private aircraft. They understand that all the problems associated with airline travel costs the company productivity and therefore, money. It's time for small and medium businesses to leverage aviation like the biggest companies. And just like small companies are more agile with lower overhead than their larger competitors, smaller aircraft are likewise more agile and less expensive than their jet-powered cousins.

Horizons Aloft is an aviation consultancy that specifically shows small businesses all the ways that aviation can help realize savings in time and cost, while offering the highest quality in safety. Commercial airlines are in the business of moving a lot of people efficiently, which is not necessarily the most effective and/or efficient for your company. Aircraft brokers, dealers and self-appointed experts often have hidden agendas, however at Horizons Aloft your business and its unique needs are our only concern.

They understand the challenges and opportunities that are unique to the small business community. There are cost effective ways to get into aviation without having to spend millions on a private jet and professional pilot. Their mission is to find the perfect fit between the travel needs of your business and its travel budget. With a multitude of ownership, rental, and charter opportunities, there is no need to continue using a travel system that is not designed specifically for your needs and the needs of your customers.

For more information go to: Horizons Aloft

Monday, December 28, 2009

Small Business Sales …. How To Improve Your Numbers

Here's a question I've been asking lately:

If Sales Meetings Were Optional Would Your Sales Team Attend?

If You Only Charged $1.00 Admission Would Anyone Pay?

Sales managers are busy. I know. I’ve been there too; scrambling around at the last minute for something to talk about that’s positive, motivational, relevant and most importantly, valuable.

Sales meetings should be a place for mentoring, sharing, teaching, discussing and learning.

But far too often, sales meetings become mere housekeeping sessions - a platform for marketing, accounting, manufacturing, shipping and other
department heads to complain.

That's why any business with a sales team needs to read the latest industry insiders' report: “Get ‘em Good or Get ‘em Gone! - Instant Sales Strategies for Time-Starved Managers.”

The report is a no-nonsense, real world, industry insiders’ perspective for sales managers who want to dramatically improve their sales teams today!

How To Improve Your Sales Numbers

Friday, December 25, 2009

Weekly "Open House" Presentations For Training On How To Build A Custom Small Business Website

SBI's eLearning is made for the large and growing market of people who want to learn how to start a business online in live course format -- those who get the most out of learning when they are in a classroom setting, with all the advantages of a weekly SCHEDULE, one-on-one instruction and help, the social interaction of a group (they tend to keep in touch), and so forth.

Now, to help you see what eLearning is all about, SBI is offering a free, short, 30-minute, live webinar at .......

Learn To Build A Custom Business Website

..You can now be part of a live, group presentation.

These live "open house" webinars are offered twice a week and at times that suit a large number of time zones. The focus is to help you understand how you can build a successful online business.

You can ......

1) read, learn enough, and decide if eLearning is for you

2) ask some 1-on-1 questions at ..... Website Questions

- and now -

3) attend a 30 minute Webinar

Different people acquire information in different ways. By giving you access to a live Instructor and classmates on a regular basis, SBI! eLearning opens up the rewards of online business success to literally EVERYONE! The SBI eLearning value is insane compared to other online ebiz "courses" which provide no tools, only information and cost thousands.

The free, short, 30-minute, live presentation will help you get familiar with the SBI! eLearning classroom setting and curriculum .... while ultimately helping YOU open up a whole new world of income opportunities from owning your own business website.

the SBI online business-building course is based on a SiteSell Education program that is taught in over 30 colleges and universities all over the world (now approaching 40) ....... Universities

This is the perfect example of "Show And Tell".

Not only will you review what will be covered in each lesson ... but the SiteSell Education Team is on hand to answer your questions live!

You'll be motivated to learn by...

* Interaction with classmates and an Instructor who gives suggestions on Site Concepts for YOUR specific business website .

* Watching your business Web site and those of classmates evolve in just 12 weeks.

* Meeting deadlines for assignments and lessons that help your progress

* Asking questions and getting immediate feedback

* Learning bit by bit over a few months and not feeling like everything needs to be done all at once

The fact is...

There are as many reasons to enroll in SBI! eLearning as there are people who are interested in attending!

We're all a little different...but we all want SUCCESS!

Ask yourself what success looks like to YOUR business ..... and how eLearning can help you build a business to help you be successful...

Bottom line?...

You'll LEARN how to EARN .... and put that learning directly into practice!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Musings On Health Care Reform And The Affect On Small Business

I could go on forever...so much information to consider and opine upon. Who says the system is broken? The US has the quality AND level of care that nearly everyone in the world looks to with envy.

The problem is not CARE ... it is COST. So why is the proposed "solution" labeled Health CARE Reform.

Because it is care that will be affected ... not cost. Unless you consider higher costs as the outcome of the "reform" you were looking for.

HALF the reason our costs are so high is because of the quality AND level of care that (nearly) everyone gets. No other country pays for such aggressive cancer-fighting treatments, heart transplants, quadruple-bypass etc in the "average Joe" -- even if you're 80 years old or 100 pounds over-weight. In the US, it's joint-replacement surgury for everyone!

The other HALF of the reason our costs are so high is because someone will pay the price. The health companies would not charge such high rates if someone would not pay them (with government collected taxes, or by forcing businesses to pay). The critics say that already no one can afford health care. Well that is not true or the companies providing the services would not provide them, or they will lower their costs.

Is it just me, or is the plan to have the government throw more money at the problem the wrong way to go? Stop subsidizing health care with so much tax money and prices will come down. Stop increasing the burden on businesses and the prices will come down. Stop encouraging everyone to have an MRI every time they have a headache and the prices will come down.

Only problem: Perhaps the health-care industry will not be able to employ 11% of the entire work-force. But then, is it really necessary for one in every fifteen people (6.8% of the total US population) to be working full time to care for the rest of us? Then again...maybe we wouldn't need 10% of the entire population (15% of the work-force) employed in government either. That's right! Fully 25% of everyone working in the US is employed in either health care or government. What are the chances of "right-sizing" that mess without a full-blown default?

there are many people (perhaps a majority?) that feel entitled to get more of a share of the national wealth than the fair market value of the work they do, or capital they can invest, in return. They feel that the well off should be obligated to pay for the not-so well off. Government as "Robin Hood" -- take from the rich and give to the poor. Whether it's health care, unemployment insurance, social security, or food stamps -- the majority want more than they can afford. It amounts to welfare. And most have no concept of what it takes to pay for it, or the social costs.

Of course Dear Leader (sic Obama) and his cronies will push forward an agenda that will give some people subsidized health insurance with what appears to be lower premiums .... as a big portion of the premiums are paid not by the policy holders themselves, but by the rest of us. Private health care does not have that option of taxpayer subsidized premiums, so of course the playing field is not level. In doing this, more people will be lured to government programs and when private insurance cannot stay in business any longer ..... we will all either have no insurance or government insurance with few actual benefits, not because medical care isn't covered in theory, but because there is no incentive anymore to provide quality health care since doctors and nurses will become government employees.

Here a few simple solutions I think should be part of any reform plan .....

First, shut off access to taxpayer subsidized health care to illegal aliens.

Second, limit the payout on malpractice lawsuits.

Third, everyone has only a major medical policy, meaning everyone pays out of pocket all basic doctors and prescription costs, causing a market shift in doctor visit prices and cost of prescription drugs based on what the market will bear.

Fourth, elect small government members of congress in 2010 and elect a President in 2012 who believes in capitalism.

We just can't fiscally sustain this huge ramp-up in government programs and expanded control from the Democrats; it'll bring the country to where we are now in the state of CA, on the brink of financial ruin. And once these Federal programs are passed, they never go away. They only grow and inefficiently spend more & more money as time goes on as Congress approves additional programs requiring higher taxes.

This administration is not about fixing the economy; it's about expanding government control of our everyday lives and raising taxes to redistribute to the general populace to increase dependency on the gov't. They know how to grow the economy, and they're intent on doing just the opposite.

I agree that something needs to be done to fix healthcare (err costs) .... and I'm hopeful that 2010 will be an election year when it becomes clearly understood that the kind of change we've gotten in Washington D.C. ..... is not the change that we wanted.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Best Way To Build Your Own Small Business Website

Times are tough all over. Unemployment is sky-high. People are either losing jobs or afraid of losing them. So many are forced to work harder for the same paycheck. Or in the case of potential retirees, LONGER than they ever wanted to.

For those wanting to start a small business ... either from home or a commercial property ... you already know (or should) that a quality website must be part of your overall marketing strategy.

It's a fact that maybe the most cost effective "bang for the buck" in your marketing arsenal is a website. I won't get into all the specifics here (peruse the archives for more detailed articles) .... just know that your branding, market reach, and communication to/with customers and prospective customers will all benefit immensely.

To that end here's a suggestion ... take advantage of the business website development tools from SBI. Their "do-it yourself" package walks you through step by step (with live support available anytime you need it) to constructing a high quality website specificly designed to bring you interested ready to buy customers ... and keep them coming back. Your website won't just look good .... it will be a favorite of the search engines AND improve your sales conversion rate (sales ... that's why you're in business right?!).

To make it even easier .... if you've long wanted SBI! but just didn't have $299, your wait is over. During these tough times, they are introducing a time-limited monthly payment option... only $29.99 per month. Even more cost effective with the same "over deliver" approach to getting you up and running on the internet.

Here's a news flash too ... SBI has a Holiday Season Buy-1-Get-1-FREE special running. You can set up 2 business sites for the price of one. Target a specific niche market, special product line, unique service, whatever you wish. Get twice as much business .... at no extra cost.

For more information and to get started check this out ..... Build a Small Business Website


You can even ask questions here ..... Website Questions

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Ultimate Guide to Creating or Updating Your Small Business Website

Many small business owners and sole proprietors struggle to create a website. It’s simply not something they know a lot about and it’s usually far outside their own area of expertise.

Often they waste thousands of dollars on design and development to build a website that shows lots of creativity, uses the latest technological bells and whistles but doesn’t serve their business well, because they (or their web designer) did not know enough about marketing so they end up focusing on appearance rather than effectiveness.

Copying what others are doing is not the solution. Building a site that pleases your friends and family is not the solution. What if they are wrong too? And to make it worse, there's a lot of misleading information out there.

Fortunately “The Ultimate Guide to Creating or Updating Your Small Business Website” was created to help those people get off on the right track.

This is a guided program that takes you step by step through the foundational information you need to create a website that works for your business. Then you can go to a designer with all the relevant information - including your content - already defined. It increases your chances of creating a website that really makes sense for you . It saves you time and money along the way as well, and reduces frustration.

Here’s the link to find out more:

The Ultimate Guide to Creating or Updating Your Small Business Website

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Effective Google Advertising For A Small Business

You have many options for marketing your small business using Google .... search engine marketing is just one. That is .... optimizing your website to show up high in searches on specific key words in your website content that target your niche market. You want to get on to the first page when people search for your product/service using Google.

Keep in mind that if you optimize your website for searches on Google .... it will also likely do well in searches on other web directories like Bing and Yahoo.

You can also use Google Adsense or Adwords and choose between an image advert or text. The Image advert is more effective especially if in a prominent position on a web page; it is however more expensive. Your advertisement will be displayed on pages with keywords associated with your product or service. So say you sell wine. Then if the word wine is on the page, your advertisement will be displayed there.

The choices are quite complicated but Google has lots of information and videos on the use of Adsense and Adwords. Choose your words carefully. Keeping with the wine theme ....some advertisers will be advertising wine making equipment and supplies. They will go on pages that mention wine making. . Wine is obviously a key word that matches your product and also other words that wine drinkers are familiar with obviously.

Here are a few more suggestions ....

Only start using AdWords if:

1. You know exactly who you are trying to target. What do they like? What can't they stand to live without? What is compelling to them?

2. You have a very compelling proposition for those people. If you do, then you might be able to have success using AdWords.

--Make sure before you start the campaign, you know exactly what your goal is. (E.g: make a sale, get people to opt in to your newsletter, get somebody to call you, etc.)

--Research the words that match up exactly with the product/service you are trying to sell/promote. (Google keyword tool and traffic estimator can help you with your research. Sign up for an AdWords account so you can access them both.)

For instance you wouldn't want to use 'wine' as your keyword. That's way too general and you'd pay for irrelevant clicks. And it's all about relevance at Google. Perhaps 'chardonnay' is a good search term? That part you'll have to figure out with your knowledge and the Google tools.

--Make sure you use your keyword in the ad's title, in the first line of copy, and also that your landing page contains that keyword. Having these three (search term, ad, and landing page) match up is very important and affects your pricing and placement.

Use the AdWords Learning Center as much as possible. They have extremely good tools to help you become successful. Here's the link .....

Google Learning Center

Monday, December 14, 2009

Live Sales Support For Any Small Business

At webgreeter.com they provide a live sales support service for small to mid sized businesses.

Here is a brief description of their service .....

Live WebGreeter present on your website will provide immediate personal attention for your customers.

* Visitors no longer have to wait for email responses.

* Compare this with your competitor’s website who responds to emails generated on their website in 24
to 48 hours. Webgreeter on the other hand does it instantaneously. A dedicated team of Trained and Qualified Greeters who can handle multiple chats at a time; proactively greeting your visitors and offering assistance of any kind.

* Compare this to a phone support person, who can only take one call at a time. Their Automated Notification System will alert you of a problem or lead as soon as one is received or generated which means you can react instantly.

* No forwarding is required.

* The right person receives relevant information at the right time.

* Fully customizable chat integration: Personalized chat window and push buttons especially customized to integrate with your website and your brand Scheme. They become an integral part of your website and are viewed
as your own business unit.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Will Small Business Lead The United States Out Of This Recession?

Non-profit visionaries and small business know the course that must be taken and they are taking it.

These "Action People" are not in our government. They are more practical than that. They are the communicators, the true venture capitalists setting up worldwide non-profit foundations (Gates and Buffet for example). They are like the Bill Moyers, perpetually exposing waste fraud and abuse and then going one step further to fix it from the inside. They are the young inspirational members of the small business base in this country that will be tasked with picking up the pieces and re-inventing the future so our government can follow along.

We'll see every form of unique small business inventiveness imaginable - efficiently created, using technology to the max, and not seeking financing to the hilt - only the opportunity to succeed.

Small business has been the historical driver in recovery from recessions. This recession should be no different ..... except the support normally afforded these small business endeavors by the financial industry is lacking.

Existing small businesses with opportunities to expand are hampered in their efforts to grow .... and business startups, while still there are starting with little or no cash dramatically increasing their chances of failing.

I am not an economic expert, but it seems that while lip service is given to support small business by the government and financial sector .... the available credit is going to finance the government itself and those industries chosen by elected officials.

I do worry that these efforts by our Federal government (sic Obama Administration) will slow down if not totally negate any growth we could realize from the small business sector.

In order to return us to economic stability, the US will have to create 250k jobs PER MONTH for the next FIVE YEARS. There is no way that large corporations are willing to create that many American jobs. We're going to need small business.

The strength of the American economy has always been thriving small businesses - not mammoth multinational corporations or "too big to fail" banks. I think the choice is obvious...

Small business and entrepreneurial spirit is the true reflection of authentic American ideals. Those who think all business and capitalism is bad should live accordingly. Go live alone somewhere in the wilderness and attempt to survive strictly off the land for just a week...

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are key...and to do that government needs to get out of the way.

For government to get out of the way we need the conservative revolution to kick the Dem's out of control ..... and kick the Republican party bosses out so we can get back to the values of small government and personal responsibility.

The problem, folks, is job loss. The solution is "real" private sector job creation; not more government service jobs -- which are at best a short-term fix and a long-term liability.

Small business will lead us out of this recession. Small businesses have the speed and flexibility to react and adapt to changing markets and economic conditions ..... and will find a way to succeed.

The little guy with everything to lose does not have government lobbyists, or get bailout money. Instead they survive or fail in the market as it is this month, this quarter, this year. This makes small business much more motiviated to find a way to succeed.

In contrast, big business lumbers through a recession and hopes to weather the storm because they cannot react or change quickly enough. Instead, they complain in the media and get their bailout money to finance "business as usual." This lack of adaptability also killed the dinosaurs.

So our best hope for a sustained recovery ..... comes from small business and entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Small Business Can Benefit By Going Bilingual

Because of the increasing cultural diversity in America today, learning Spanish will give you the edge to successfully reach the Hispanic Market.

Currently 11.5 % of the US population speak Spanish at home. By 2050 the number of Spanish speakers is expected to increase to 530 million with the Spanish speaking population of the US alone currently increasing at more than 1 million per year.

Companies should realize the importance or reaching this fast growing Hispanic market. If your business has bilingual employees, the Spanish speaking community won't hesitate to do business with you. You will be able to service their needs without making them feel out of place.

In the private sector, Spanish speakers in an organization have a distinct competitive advantage in the work place. Our Hispanic population continues to grow with no intention to abandon their beloved language. A need for Spanish speakers in the private workplace is a fact.

In the public sector (government and education, for example), Spanish-speaking employees are especially valued. Spanish speakers who handle customer service with a large Hispanic client population can be the difference between a good first impression of the organization and a negative experience.

Having employees learn Spanish can be a great benefit to your business. If you own a business, consider going bilingual and you won't be sorry you did.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why Is Smaller Government Better For Small Business?

In a nutshell smaller government means less regulation and hopefully lower taxes.

This allows small businesses to spend less of their potential profits on compliance and taxes .... and use more of that to grow and avoid the pitfalls that come with living on the edge.

That is why businesses tend to go where government regulations support them and get out of high tax, high regulation states and municipalities (or countries).

Small business is leading the way to smaller government in the US.

It is becoming apparent that the 81-agency US federal government ..... combined with spending at the level the Pentagon consumes ..... simply cannot be afforded any more. It is also becoming apparent that big business, Wall Street, and the existing US federal government have been .... and still are .... in tremendous collusion.

World economics, the current recession, and events such as those in Dubai will restructure the mammoth government industrial complexes that have been growing since World War II. And small business will be there to fill in the gaps, pick up the pieces, and lead the way to more efficient and affordable approaches.

It is a hard way to go but it will happen by default. It's called going broke - printing money until its value is shot - taking credit from others until the risk is so high they take their assets and walk away - becoming a third rate player because the necessary foresight is lacking.

The future is bright for small business. . They are the inspirational members of the greater/industrial business base that will be tasked with picking up the pieces and re-inventing the future. So our government can follow along, using every form of unique inventiveness imaginable - efficiently created, using technology to the max and not seeking financing to the hilt - only the opportunity to succeed.

Put simply ....... small government is better because:

* It means that the government has less power to interfere.

* It means that it has less power to tax or commandeer your income.

* It means that the government has to be more responsive to the citizens and their needs.

* It means that you can keep more of the profits that the company generated.

* It means that you have more freedom to decide what is the best policy for your company rather than the government make those choices for you.

* It means that you have greater freedom on deciding who to hire for your company.

Bottom line .... with less government involvement, you have the power to decide how best to run your business.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Much Better Than Business Blogging .... SBI 2.0

Lets get into how you can use C2's (Content 2.0 or SBI 2.0) unique benefits to create an online business presence that will simply conquer your competition .... with cold facts and the warmth of possibility.

You'll see that NONE of these points can even remotely be considered "blog-like"...

1) SBI! 2.0 is MANY-TO-MANY.

Your visitors do 99% of the work. All you do is review, edit, even optimize. Blogging is ONE-TO-MANY, where you still do all the content-writing.

Blogging is hard work, oft-described as a "monkey on your back." It's fine for a small percentage of users. The rest use it because "everyone else does."

Now, with SBI 2.0, the SBI edge is greater than ever... assuming your goal is to build a profitable e-business.

2) Content 2.0 (C2) Synergizes RSS/Blog It

(Content 2.0 is the new module that converts SBI into SBI 2.0. We tend to use the two terms interchangeably.)

As C2 pages are contributed to the content base, Blog It automatically adds these new pages to the site's RSS feed, pinging every major feed directory.

Subscribers visit. They read and comment. They don't just come to a blog and read YOUR most recent blurb and leave. They explore a full site, not a journal.

Others will then spread this content across sites like Twitter and Facebook, bringing new traffic back to the original SBI site.

Think of C2 as a super content syndicator!

3) SBI 2.0 Lengthens Your Long Tail

50% of any site's search engine traffic is made up of unique keywords. Meaning, only one visitor reached the site by one unique (often obscure) keyword phrase. This is the EXTREME end of Long Tail Traffic. If you include searches that find you a few more times, the majority of traffic is long tail. But it's work to create that much content.

Because C2 explodes the content base, the amount of Long Tail traffic keeps increasing. Diversity of content comes from MANY contributors, not one (you). And diversity means long tail traffic.

For a full explanation of the Long Tail, check out this ....

Long Tail

4) SBI 2.0 Builds Up Under-Utilized Areas Of Your Site

Because SBIers can choose which pages to include C2, they can decide to build traffic and interest only in certain areas of their site. In those areas where they don't want or need visitor contributions, or for those articles where it does not make sense, don't use it.

5) SBI 2.0 Keeps Your Site Active And Vital With REAL Content

Because your visitors churn out lots of free content, your site is frequently updated, even when you're too busy. So each SBI site remains active. The best part is, it does so without any involvement from SBIers.

And with that kind of inertia, visitors can't help but come back again and again. Ditto for the engines.

Ditto for your income.

SBI 2.0 is like an automatic traffic machine!

6) SBI 2.0 Is So Much Cheaper Than Blogging.

So why DO so many people choose to blog?

Because blogging software is free.

But hosting costs $100. And that means you get everything else in SBI, all of which is about building a BUSINESS, not a site or blog, for only $199. And that includes Content 2.0, which enables your visitors to build REAL content, not just comment on what you've written.

Review everything that is in SBI 2.0 .....

SBI Tools

You just can't get all that for $199. Not anywhere.

Blogging marketers tell you that all you need is cheap hosting and free blogging software. But over the following months and years, they'll sell you tools "to make it easier or more effective" that cost you thousands of dollars more.

Meanwhile, for $199 more, SBI provides the invaluable...

A brainstormer that helps you find a niche that is right for YOU, a SMART brainstormer like Brainstorm It, is worth hundreds of dollars. The Google Keyword tool is useful, but it's not made for PUBLISHERS. It's not made to help you make YOUR decisions. You can't buy SBI's features anywhere.

SBI's automated site-blogging combines all the power of a theme-based content site with RSS distribution. You get the best of both worlds, the worst of neither.

The constant updating of information. We delete out-of-date info, update only with what's important. YOU save time and energy, which you can put into your BUSINESS.

Form Build It, E-zines, Sequential Autoresponders, Socialize It... the list goes on and on.

From small things like Link Fix It that makes sure you never have a broken link to big things like the very best small business forums in the world, where you can get all the help you need...

There is simply nothing like SBI 2.0, not at any price.

And that is why...

If you're serious about an online presence .... you need to get started before your competition does:

SBI 2.0

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SIM Card For International Business Travel

If you do any international travel for your business .... reliable communication is often crucial to a successful business trip. The prefered method of staying in touch is usually a cell phone .... meaning you'll need a SIM card for each location you travel too.

Or maybe not ....

OneSIMcard is a prepaid international SIM card that allows you to take your GSM mobile phone overseas, without incurring high roaming charges from your current wireless service provider.

It is VERY SIMPLE - all you need to do is replace your phone's existing SIM card with international SIM card when you travel. Save up to 85% compared with your regular mobile phone service and even receive calls for FREE in more than 54 countries. OneSimCard international mobile service works in over 150 countries.

If you are using a T-Mobile or AT&T cell phone, chances are that your handset is equipped with a SIM card. A SIM card is a small smart chip that acts as an identification card for your GSM handset.

Your SIM card is smart because it can store phone numbers and even text messages. All SIM cards have unique serial numbers that contain your account information for your wireless service provider. You can take the SIM card out of your GSM phone, and insert it into any other compatible GSM phone, and bingo - your number along with your subscriber information will register with your wireless service provider.

You may already own an original or aftermarket cell phone that you purchased while traveling overseas. If your phone is tri-band or quad-band, it is capable of international mobile roaming. All you need is prepaid GSM service and you're good to go to any of the 150 countries they cover.

To find out more about easy this can be for you go to:

International Cell Phone

Monday, November 30, 2009

SBI 2.0 ...... How To Get More Money (Sales) From Your Business Website

What would you say if you could grab hold of some very lucrative long tail traffic to your business website ..... while building your content base to levels you could never achieve by yourself .... thanks to thousands of interested visitors DAILY?

What if you made a few simple adjustments to your online business presence which achieved the following ....

- 500,000 MORE visitors per month = 17,000 MORE pairs of eyes EVERY single day.

- 1.5 MILLION visitors per month = 50,000 people visiting every DAY

That's right! An extra 50,000 people per day, every day, 24/7

That's exactly what resulted for this example business .... read about it all here:

Increased Website Traffic

Yep, C2 (Content 2.0) has kicked Elad's already hyper-active Web business into overdrive. When he talks about 500 new C2 submissions, what he's really saying is an additional 500 PAGES of free, user-generated, original content.

All Elad had to do was set it loose... and C2 just HAPPENS!

THAT's the true power of the all-new SBI 2.0.

What is C2? Read and be amazed ....

SBI 2.0

It's explosive. Visitors love it. Search engines love it.

And .... you'll love it. Rather .... your business and your bank account will love it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Can Video / Podcasting Help Market Your Small Business?

This is an easy one … the short answer is yes.

Video is great for marketing and driving traffic to your business website.

Video, only if done right, can help with:

1 - Raising awareness about your business/product
2 - Getting your website on the first page of Google (based on keywords selected)
3 - Increasing customer retention

Video offers a more personal strategy for prospective clients to feel familiar with you. It also helps your website get a better search engine ranking.

Video Podcasting is an underused and powerful tool that can pay for itself and market products at the same time. The revenue from podcasting is doubling every year while the costs are staying the same. 100 million people are d27nloading podcasts from iTunes every year.

Perhaps most interestingly, advertisers are starting to fall over themselves to sponsor podcasts. Although they realize podcasts’ audiences are small, they also realize they are niche and very loyal.

If someone has bothered to go to iTunes, download the podcast, transferred it to their iPhone, and then watch it …. they are pretty likely to be interested in whatever the podcast is about, and therefore also interested in related products.

In one very successful podcaster’s words …. why spend a fortune on advertising on a TV show with an audience of 5million when you really only want to reach the 100,000 people interested in your product? With podcasting you are spending a fraction of the money on a show that reaches your targeted 100,000 people in a much more measurable way.

If businesses create a regular show around their brand that isn’t the traditional business podcast (i.e. what has our company been doing this year) ….. but is a piece of entertainment based around their brand …. they will get a wider audience riveted. Once you get them drawn in … you can strengthen the relationship via a mailing list (have a way for them to opt-in). You can also link directly to some specific product or service related to the podcast. They’re interested in the “subject” after watching your “show” … and are now primed to take the action you want. Buy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Basic SEO Tips For Small Business Websites

The three most basic SEO tips are: (a) write to and for your customer because (b) if you write interesting content people will voluntarily link to you--Google loves that--and (c) if you don't write to and for your customer, you may be first on Google but you'll be last on closed business. Reciprocal links that are established with any and all comers, regardless of their business relationship to you, are discouraged by Google.

Keep these 3 tenets as the basic focus of your SEO efforts ….

1. Keyword Research is Critical - choose keyword phrases for each page of the site, each page should focus on different content, so therefore have different keywords.

2. Develop Ongoing Content Strategy (blog is easy) - create content around the keywords you are trying to rank for, and be consistent with publishing content, tag this content, and write it using the keywords (naturally though, don't try to hard with this).

3. Focus on Relevance in Your Content - you can optimize your site all you want, but in the end it's a matter of how relevant you are to the searchers queries. Blogging will contribute to your site being indexed more frequently, so if you stay relevant, you have a greater opportunity to rank higher.

At a very high level, SEO is comprised of linking, on page/meta data content, and other website mechanics (e.g. redirects, trusted URL, etc.). IMHO the page content aspect of SEO is the most crucial.

Start by examining your keywords. Most companies underestimate the importance of this exercise. From a marketing standpoint, nailing your keywords and phrases is the foundation for your online marketing communications and content strategy.

Here’s a link to a newsletter on keyword selection where you can download a worksheet to help you decide on the right keywords …..

Keyword Selection

Then make sure your website pages are optimized for the keywords and phrases—and not all on one page. Group your keywords and phrases so that any given page is optimized for 3-5 keywords. Make sure that your meta title tags and description especially included the 3-5 keywords/phrases for which you’re optimizing a given page.

For more about page content, see this article on boosting natural page rank ….

Boosting Page Rank

Finally, connect with the SEO experts. Follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their blog posts. There’s a Twitter list of SEO folks already set up at @copywriter4u/B2B-SEO-pros …. go follow the list.

Below are a few links with information on good SEO content.

High Rankings

Interleado

SEOMOZ

Search Engine Land

SEO Traffic Spider

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Twitter Part Of Your Small Business Marketing Strategy

The interesting thing (to me) is even though there are so many Twitter users, less than 10% are active on a regular basis. In fact, I read most users have less than 10 posts and same for followers.

Even if Twitter is included in your marketing strategy, without commitment and regular contribution to build a following it isn't really a strategy. Twitter should be included in your marketing mix, but not how I see many people using it.

So many times, I see people using Twitter to send automatic direct messages (DMs) when someone follows them promoting their product, or they have automatic tweets set up to go out at the same time, everyday, that say the same thing.

This is not how Twitter is used effectively and to most, these methods are seen as spam.

While tweets can be set up to automatically post, there is a way to set them up so that they aren't seen at the same time day after day. You can stagger your messages throughout the day and at different times on different days.

But you can't just use automatic tweets and believe that Twitter will be a successful medium for you. Twitter is a part of social networking. The key word is networking. Twitter is a means to connect and build relationships from all walks of life and from around the county. For a business owner, or company, it's a way to branch out from Chamber Mixers or BNI meetings on a local level. Don't just tweet or read. Reply. Retweet. Talk.

In my opinion, and based on the experiences that I've had with Twitter, the strategy that you come up with and implement includes finding followers and following people who you can connect with ….. and then after striking up a relationship on Twitter, moving the conversation to email, phone, or in person.

Social media is all the buzz. I encounter many small businesses who are allured by the fact it is 'free'. They think they can ditch all other marketing and focus exclusively on Twitter and Facebook. (Most will be very disappointed.)

I think Twitter can work to support a sound marketing plan. (That means actually having a well-planned, diverse marketing plan.) However, too many just tweet silly things without thinking about relevant keywords that may lure new followers.

It's important to think about your customer/prospect base. It's not what YOU think is important, but what your customer/prospects do.

The bottom line is to figure out what will build loyalty and increase sales.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How To Find A Reliable Supplier For Your Small Business

SupplierEvaluations.com is a web-based, business-to-business community of buying professionals dedicated to collecting and disseminating supplier performance evaluations based on the peer input from their community members. They mainly focus on the overseas suppliers in Asian, Eastern European, and Latin American countries ..... and their small and medium size business customers in the countries such as the US, Canada, countries of the European Union, and other developed countries.

In today’s competitive global economic environment, the pressures of lowering costs throughout the supply chain are enormous. But access to supplier performance information about overseas suppliers remains limited. At SupplierEvaluations.com, they want to close this performance information gap by collecting the supplier performance information from the businesses with actual experience.

By doing so, they believe that SupplierEvaluations.com promotes excellence in suppliers ..... and enables better visibility for the members in their supplier selection, sourcing, and buying processes, as well as in partnering with potential suppliers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Do You Start A New Small Business ....

This is not meant to be all inclusive advice for how to start a new small business .... but it will definitely get you pointed in the right direction with a practical roadmap to follow.

To illustrate the actions you need to commit to I'm going to use opening a new restaurant as an example. It's easier to relate to a real life tangible example than just a bunch of esoteric thoughts and "tips". You can glean the basic ideas from this real life example and adjust as necessary to fit your chosen specific business .......

First, understand how much money you have to invest .... and assume you are going to need twice as much or more--so aim lower in your initial investment expectations.

As you probably know, the restaurant business is in severe recession right now. Restaurants are closing their doors all over because dining out is considered a luxury and we are in a back-to-basics economy.

That said, how do you get started? Here's what I recommend.

1. With restaurants withering all over, there are many for sale right now. You can get a already running operation with all the equipment on the cheap right now. You might even get landlords to renegotiate rent rather than losing a tenant for 6 months to a year or more. Buying an existing operation gives the advantage of being able to get revenue right away and not spending 3-6+ months on build out, getting permits and licenses, etc. Also, there is existing staff. The downside? If they're failing, you need to fix stuff and grow. If you are buying an existing operation, it's a buyer's market--you are in the drivers seat; don't overpay.

2. Talk to a business broker about what's available in your area. Check businessesforsale.com or bizbuysell.com for listings. Commercial realtors may also have some listings. You might want to check the local classified section too.

3. Spend time with a commercial realtor checking out real estate locations to understand traffic, rent tiers, physical locations, structural design issues, etc.

4. Talk to your local city about licensing and permitting requirements. You may get quite an adventure if you intend to serve alcohol. I have seen restaurants take 6+ months to get occupational or health licenses before opening. That's a lot of rent to pay while waiting for the government.

5. Talk to your bankers and local restaurant supply store management. They can probably tell you who has restaurants with good potential/track record of success but are experiencing difficulty in the current economy.

6. As with any small business, controlling costs is vital to survival. Avoid fixed expenses as much as possible. Negotiate for deals on everything. There is plenty of used restaurant equipment and supplies out there--no need to buy new when you can get stuff for 10/20 cents on the dollar.

7. Read everything you can about marketing and promotion. When you are ready to open, you need to drag people in and let everyone know you're open. Read the articles "How to Advertise Your Small Business on the Internet," "How to Build a Really Good Website for Under $100," and "How to Write and Issue Press Releases for FREE" on smallbiz123.com.

You will also need to establish a compelling brand for your restaurant. Great Name, Logo, signage, business cards, menues, promotional flyers/ ads, website and markeking plan.

The most crucial part of starting a new business is creating an appropriate brand Identity that represents the desired attributes of your company's services .... and puts in play creative initiatives that will attract your target market.

Unfortunately, too many new business owners try to save money and make the mistake of trying to create their own brand ..... which in the end doesn't pay off.

Brand Identity is the foundation of any business or product, and it should always project a highly professional image. I strongly suggest you hire a professional to do it. This will ensure that your business is started the right way with a strong foundation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Marketing Ideas For Small Business

Startups and small businesses face the ultimate chicken and egg situation, they need to grow their businesses but don't have any cash to spend on marketing. The solution is mastering free marketing such as search engine optimisation (SEO), public relations (PR), email marketing, affiliate marketing, guerilla marketing and partnership marketing.

Marketing doesn't need to cost thousands when you can do it yourself .... and freemarketingexperts.com provides a wealth of resources in how to wield the power of free marketing.

Written by marketing experts who have worked for leading brands such as Sainsburys, Halifax, The Sun and Thomson Holidays, you can learn everything you need to drive sales for your new business and even have telephone access to your very own marketing director if you need further advice.

If you want to get your business off to the right start without spending any money on marketing, start with these 10 free marketing ideas that won't cost you a penny...

Free Marketing Ideas For Small Business

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time and Expense Management Solutions For Small Business

Replicon is a market leading provider of SaaS based time and expense management solutions. Currently, Replicon has more than 6700 companies (totaling over 1.2 million users), and the client list ranges from <5 user companies to 30,000+ user companies.

Replicon’s solution would fall under your Business Software and/or Project Management categories as our flagship program, "Web TimeSheet" comes in both a time tracking oriented version (Time & Attendance edition) and a project-oriented version (Project & Billing edition).

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Web TimeSheet Project & Billing edition is designed to track hours against projects and tasks for the purpose of managing project timelines, and monitoring project costs and billing:

* Track time against clients, projects, tasks
* Compare actual vs. estimated hours/costs
* Remind users when timesheets are due
* Set up multi-level approvals
* Get real-time reports on project hours/costs/billing

The Web TimeSheet Time & Attendance edition allows you to track your employees' work and time off hours, monitor employee attendance, and collect the data you need for payroll:

* Log time with the easy-to-use timesheet
* Book/approve time off in a calendar view
* Remind users when timesheets are due
* Set up multi-level approvals
* Get real-time reports on time/attendance

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As previously mentioned, companies using Web TimeSheet range in size from < 5 users and up. It is a very scalable solution and does not require an "enterprise" or "professional" package. It has proven ideal for start-ups as it's a solution that can grow as the company grows.

It also doesn't require a company to purchase a "packaged deal" and pay for features they will not use. Each software product from Replicon can be used separately as a standalone solution, or can be seamlessly integrated into a full software suite.

For more information go to ..... Time Tracking Software

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Small Business Development Resource

The Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) represents America's Small Business Development Center Network -- the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories.

The mission of the network is to help new entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership, and to assist existing businesses to remain competitive in the complex marketplace of an ever-changing global economy.

Hosted by leading universities, colleges, and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately 1,000 service centers are available to provide no-cost consulting and low-cost training.

To find your local SBDC visit Small Business Development Resource

Monday, November 9, 2009

Small Business Tools For Basic Project Management and Accounting

SME business owners should have access to basic project management and accounting tools that allow them to easily manage their projects and automate their team's data entry for things like time on activities, expenses, distance traveled, and products sold on the road or at the job site.

BillZone is a product that allows small business owners to automate all these activities so that more time can be spent on their business. Employees and contractors simply enter their information using computers or PDA devices, and the employer or the bookkeeper can run all the customer invoices in a single day instead of managing hundreds of timesheets.
One of its strengths is that it is designed to work with Windows, Mac, and Linux, and with most browsers available on those platforms. All financial reports are in PDF format, delivered right to the desktop. Since it is Software as a Service (SaaS), there is no setup or expertise required by the business owner.

The software was also designed to deliver simple project management tools, so that owners can set up projects and then run reports to see project statuses in real-time (how much has been burned vs estimated as of today) and see how well they have done over time.

For more information look over these sites .....

* Bill Zone

* Why Basic Project Management Tools Are Good

Friday, November 6, 2009

Functional Visibility Branding .... Real Life Example

In one pet grooming and boarding business, they use large soft plastic key tags (advertising specialties) imprinted with their business name and their telephone number. The tags are large and bright yellow, and they use them as dog tags.

Customers are told that, while they are away, if the dog gets out (although they haven't had an escape in 20 years!), the regular dog tag with owner's phone number is useless (because the owner is away from home). And even when the owner is home and *they* lose the dog, their phone number is still uselss because they will be out trying to find the dog. In either case, they need to keep the businesses number (sic dog tag) on the dog at all times.

Also, these tags are large and bright and the grooming and boarding business tells the owner that people may not stop to pick up a stray dog without a tag. But will stop for a dog wth a tag - and their tag is easy to see.

They give these keytag/dogtags away free and leave them on the dog's collar when it goes home. At the dog park or on walks, other owners see the tags, enquire and they get a constant stream of new business, both for grooming and for boarding.

It's easy to see why this works. This business gives something away that is useful for dog owners to ensure they use it .... and while it helps them it also helps promote the dog grooming and boarding bsuiness at the same time.

This is a perfect example of how creativity is an important marketing skill.

So ... what creative ideas can you come up with for YOUR business?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Small Business Advice .... Add That Personal Touch

Every small business should heed this advice .... add that 'personal touch' and a sense of genuine caring from you so that your customers feel important.

This type of 'personal caring' hasn't changed in centuries, and I doubt it ever will. People will always want to feel listened to and expect top quality for their dollar. Your customers/clients are no different.

Keeping them on the radar...and making them FEEL as if they are still on your radar is of utmost importance.

With regard to your business, you could ......

* Send out postcard reminders. A great site for this is SendCards.com. They actually send out some really cool cards in direct mail based on what you've written. I really like their service after testing them a few times.

* Make a quick phone call or send an email shortly after your engagement .... just to confirm that you are interested in this client and that you care about their needs.

* Start getting involved in social media marketing. Since you want to promote your goods/services, I recommend that you start tweeting on Twitter and have a profile on LinkedIn and/or a 'page' or 'group' on Facebook. In these venues, you could have special coupons or giveaways solely for your followers that would give them a heads-up preview and make them feel special.

You also have the opportunity to answer specific questions and establish the concept that you are the go-to person for your specific goods/services.

These social media sites will also help you develop a more personal relationship with your prospects and/or clients.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I am still a big fan of the thank you card , with a few business cards in the envelope and a discount offer, or free "something" with a referral.

Actually I like (1) business card refridgerator magnet, and (10) business cards.

I just think that, especially in an age when many people may have clients that you will never meet, or are in another city, that people will carry your card to pass along if they are happy with your service.

I know it sounds "old school", but how else do you get people in another city to remember you at a moments notice when their peers say, "Hey, you wouldn't know anyone that does_____, would you ?"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tip For A New Small Business .... Free (or Low Cost) Marketing Ideas

I don't believe it is impossible to succeed in business without an advertising and marketing budget. How much you need to spend will depend on your business and your industry. If you are a retail shop then a certain amount of advertising will be necessary, perhaps. If you are a service business, you may need to spend some money on marketing.

In the construction industry, for example, you are likely to know people in the industry before you start your own business, and a few telephone calls to a few acquaintances may be all that is necessary to get the ball rolling. After that maintaining contact with as many industry people as possible could get you all you the business you want.

In fact, I would encourage a small business, regardless of the amount of money they have available, to leverage their friends, family and acquaintances. Make a list of everyone you know (or, more importantly, who knows you), call these people and ask for their help - tell them briefly about your business (in no more than 20 seconds) and ask them who they know who could help you get started or expand. Ask your friend to speak to their friend and tell them something about you, then call your friend's friend and ask *them* if they know someone who could help you.

As long as you are asking for help, you are likely to get help. Start selling and trying to get an order and people clam up. That sort of thing makes it a cold call and people don't like cold calls these days. But ask for their help and people are less likely to blow you off. If they can help you, they wll pass you on. If they want what you have to offerf, they will tell you, "Hey! I need some of that. Come and see me!"

I guess you could call it networking - I call it leveraging.

Here's some other simple ideas ..........

* Good Base Materials (business cards, brochures, flyers, website) are the first thing I would invest in.

* Then Public Relations (Press Releases & Other Media Marketing, local Chamber of Commerce, community events/activities)

* Establishing great lead generation (special reports, listbuilding, customer referral programs)

For most small businesses these activities can be done for relatively low cost .... and can create enough of a return to start costlier marketing efforts.

For example ......

1. Business Cards - To get 250 or 500 business cards, even if they are just black and white with your name and address and business details, should cost less then $50. Give them to everyone you meet. If you think that someone you meet may know someone who needs your services .... then give them two and ask that they pass it on to someone else who they think may need your services.

2. Flyers - If this seems like a suitable means of advertising for your business it can be done for very little. Copies can be had for about 6cents a page or less, in black and white. So for 500 A4 flyers this is $30. Or do A5 and get twice as many for half the price. Getting them into mailboxes or hung on doors is another thing. But sometimes you need to invest a little time to get some return. Later on it may be smarter to pay someone else to drop them off. But if you are really scrapping for dollars .... doing it yourself is low cost.

3. Public Notice boards - Many shopping center's have public notice boards. Some require that you use provided cards to write your message on. Others allow whatever to be put up. While sometimes they start to look messy, it can be a way to get your name out a little more.

4. Classifieds - Often it can be quite expensive to buy display ad space in newspapers. However placing a classified add can be relatively cheap. Most papers have a section that has business categories, and you can advertise in the most relevant category. It is lower cost, and you may be advertising alongside other people in the same type of business, but I think the response to a lot of classifieds are pot luck mostly anyway.

5. Adwords - While many people do send hundreds or thousands of dollars per day on adwords marketing, It is by far the lowest cost way to get into search results (admittedly to the side and not always at the top) and take advnatage of online markets. But if you have a fairly low competition market, spending $1 per day at 9cents a click is hardly going to kill you. That is just $30 per month, assuming that you use the full $1 budget each day.

6. Joint Ventures (partnering) - A small business could also partner with other small businesses. For example, a retail store could partner with two of their business neighbors. They could promote a special event together in the local newspaper. Say a 1/4 page ad costs $300 and they want to run the ad for three days prior to the big event. If one business were to do this it would cost them $900 but by partnering with the other two businesses it only costs each business $300. This would get them three days worth of ads at the cost of just one day .... and their event becomes even bigger by being part of a multi-store event potentially drawing in the other stores customers as well as their own.

7. Creative Marketing - Take full advantage of YouTube and start your own very free and very noticeable viral marketing campaign. All you need is the default Windows Movie Maker, perhaps a few sound clips of yourself (or video clips) talking about your business and images that give the viewer a proper and clear visual as to what you are trying to sell, promote, etc. Having a few of your blogging friends add your logo or banner to their website wouldn't hurt, either, that way two or three keywords pertaining to your business could be added to their site header making their blog show up in more results, meaning your ad would be given a wider audience. Everyone wins. Search the web for radio stations that only broadcast online, and check out how much they charge for advertising plugs on-air.

8. Give-Aways - T-shirts, buttons, magnets, mugs, bumper stickers, car door magnets and anything that the average person uses daily is another great way to promote. Spend a small part of your budget on any of the above and hand them out for free. You'll be remembered for it, and gain profits.

What's the best free or low cost marketing approach (OK ... in my opinion)?

The best and cheapest way to market a business is to use ones existing customers fully .... simply give them a “How’s things?” call every other month or two and you’ll be surprised at how much extra business this generates.

You should also ask all customers .... once you have fulfilled your promises to them .... for a couple of referrals. Ensure that they are good referrals and you’re closing average will be above average.

Here is a real world example of one small businnesses experience ......

My wife needed some work done on her car but didn't want to pay the high price quoted at the local dealer or garage. She was out running some errands and happened to pick up one of those "Thrifty Nickle" weeklys at the mall. You know those publications that advertise local businesses.

She found an ad in there for "JB's Auto Services". She called him up and "JB" came right to the house and fixed her car ... at a price she did somersaults over. JB has even found me broken down on the freeway and got me back on "my wheels". He's come to our house many times, found me on the freeway, gone to my daughter's college campus, caught up with my son's car in the parking lot at his work, and lots of other "going out of his way to take care of us". I could tell you a ton of stories where JB saved the day. Service, service, service ... caring about us and the situation. Doing whatever it takes to get things right ... at a cost much less than what it was really worth (in both quality and customer service).

JB now has his own garage and still will come to wherever we are with his "mechanic on wheels van". If he can't fix it onsite ... he now takes it to his very own garage. He gets the parts at best price, arranges for state inspections, works with insurance companies (if necessary ... do you have kids? LOL), and basically does everything soup to nuts ... at all hours of the day and night. Plus ... with a smile, a chuckle, a hug, and a "God Bless".

Needless to say we've referred probably 15-20 "new customers" to JB ourselves. Plus each of our friends has probably referred 5-10 apiece. That's just us and our experience too.

So from that one little ad in the Thrifty Nickle (which we found out later JB ran for only 1 day) ... we found our own personal "mechanic with a heart". Now JB has his own shop and a ton of referal clients just from us and our friends. We also have a good friend who is more than just "our car guy". He's become very popular in our community and his business is booming. More than enough work to keep him VERY busy..

Moral of the story ... from little acorns grow big trees. You can start small ... and no telling what you'll grow into.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why Do Start-Up Small Businesses Fail?

Below will give you an idea of why Start-ups fail a lot of times.

However, the first few points will also give you an idea of what VCs look for in a start-up venture before they consider investing. Apart from the below pointers, VCs also look out for the amount of skin the "owners" have in the start-up.

1. The Idea .... The foremost thing is the idea behind starting the venture (business). The foundation of this idea is of primary importance. If it's not given a comprehensive thought and planning .... then it will only see DOOM's DAY.

2. Execution of this plan .... Execution is critical. If done well then one can sail through with a little less money as well. However, this is where most start-ups are blown off.

3. Management .... Amateurs with lack of experience on planning both actions and money, lose out in the race. Most of the time they are at the losing end simply because they are too early in the business ... often because of ROSY pictures painted in their minds (unrealistic and unsupported expectations). This is still better than another worse condition. That being that too often some management of start-up companies have double standards. The idea shown is different from what they actually want to gain. It could be a short term loss making venture that is planned only for quick personal gains. This is the worst scenario.

4. Run-out of Money ..... It depends where the funding is coming from obviously. Venture capitalists today are known to take more than a year to go through the analysis of profitability of an idea. At the same time they are looking at an investment period of a max of 4-5 years and expect aggressive profits. This is a situation that puts pressures on the very vision and forces of the core management team to look for short term gains.

The consequence is, they lose long term vision and slip into "money drains". If the money is coming from conventional HNI investors, then they start looking for early results since there is no understanding of life cycle and the business both. The situation boils down to .... "You said, this would happen. So why has this not happened?" It generally comes within 3-4 months. Lack of patience and fading trust, stops the committed funds that were needed to survive.

5. Run-out of Commitment .... Usually, markets don't perceive new players as genuine long term players because there is so much generalization. This can be thoroughly demotivating. Pressures mount up and investors ratchet up more pressures. This makes the Management Team lose focus completely. So it also looks like they have lost commitment. However, this is not the case many times. It is just that the conducive environment for SUCCESS is snatched away.

6. Investors are those people who invest money for medium/long term gains. These gains have to be spread over time. The better the support system for any business, the better it performs. But, it is strange that no one understands this when it comes to investing in new ventures.

WHY do people not look at long term investment, when it comes to start-ups? All Fortune companies were also start-ups when they began. It is only over a long period of time that they have become so BIG. People will easily play safe by investing money for 25 years in a Govt. company / Fortune company but not start-ups.

There is lack of a belief system. This is one of the big reasons for dooming start-ups. A full fledged support system should be created to ensure success and over a longer time, not just 3-4 years. If the idea is right, SUCCESS is certain. Usually most ideas are good, if implemented properly and are need based. No doubt the risk is high, but gains are even higher.

7. Due to all these factors and a few others, start-up companies have a huge problem in attracting talent. So a big compromise needs to be made on this account. Also, technology may be a cause of concern since it costs a lot of money and returns are not as quick as one would demand.

So start-ups are constrained by these and several other factors, to ensure FAILURE. That may sound like a pessemisstic view .... but not really. I wanted to hit you between the eyes with some reality so you'll wake-up .... and put in the effort necessary to avoid the above pitfalls. Do that ... and you won't be a failure. You'll be one of the success we celebarte and point to.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Do Venture Capitalists Look For In A Start-Up Small Business .... Before Seriously Considering Offering Funding?

First, make sure you talk to venture capitalists who are focused on the area that you are in:. Understand their investment criteria including geographic and industry specialization, stage of company development, and size of investment preferences, return horizon, etc.

It is also important whether a fund will act as a lead investor .... and whether it has complementary or competing companies in its portfolio.

Then deliver on what they all typically require (you can ask them for any specific format they would like to see) ....

1. An innovative, differentiated business proposal, well spelt out in a brief and clear summary document and include .....

- what stage of development you are in, e.g. from 'no revenues/initial product development' to 'no revenues/product ready for launch' to 'product launched/some revenues.

- how you intend to protect and build your intellectual property from competitors .

- what is the specific purpose of raising funds, e.g. marketing, research, manufacturing, distribution, etc.

2. A clearly defined client group or market (and possibly hot client leads or research showing demand).

3. A first class, experienced and committed management team to make it happen (provide as much details as possible about past successes - having a great team is THE key requirement).

4. Financial commitment by the team members (skin in the game is very important).

5. A financial plan that shows exceptional growth potential and is based on realistic, justifiable assumptions (as this is your input into the valuation process).

A lot depends on the type of business and the situation however the first step is to ensure that you have a good proposition for any prospective financier.

OK… So what is a “good” application..?

1) You absolutely need to have a business plan. Without one of these you pretty much have no chance and as first impressions count, I wouldn’t suggest trying your hand without a business plan .... expecting that you’ll get a second shot by producing one and making another appointment!

2) You need to be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the business (or proposed business), your target market and the industry that you will be operating in.

3) The cash…. How much you need, why, how long will you need it for, and what you’ll be spending it on. It is important to state quite clearly how much you actually need.

For example if you ask for 100k when you actually need 150k .... but expect that the bank won’t go that high – the chances are that a savvy commercial lending manager will see through this. You’ll look as if you don’t have a true understanding of the finance requirements of your own business – and the answer won’t be the one you’re wanting to hear!

If you’re wanting the cash for use as working capital – ask yourself “Do I need all the money in one lump sum”? If the answer is no, then you can negotiate with the lender to release it in stages .... provided that you meet certain pre-defined milestones. This can be a more compelling business case for the lender as their risk is reduced in this instance.

In addition ....

Do you have anything that you can offer as security? This reduces the risk and makes the proposition appear more appealing.

Are you contributing any of your own funds to the venture? If so – again, this makes the proposition appear more appealing because it demonstrates your own belief in your venture. In short you are prepared to put your own assets on the line.

* Venture Capital – With VC’s they will want to acquire some equity in the venture in return for their cash (and may want to place someone on the board). However on the upside often they come with significant experience and contacts which can help to propel your business forward. They generally are less risk averse than the banks .... however their costs are higher. VC’s tend to want to keep the investment in the business for a relatively short time before harvest so they will want to have a clear exit strategy agreed at the outset.

Another option is Business Angels. They are similar to VC’s however they tend to want to assist new business ventures for more philanthropic reasons.

Finally, I’d suggest locating one of the government run business support agencies in your area. They are likely to have the latest information regarding grants and other funding that may be available ..... and may also be able to assist with developing a business plan and marketing strategy if you do not already have these in place.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Small Business Needs To Get Serious About Websites As A Marketing Channel

It appears to me that small businesses aren't taking online marketing and having their own websites serious enough. What a shame .... plain stupid if you allow me to be blunt.

I wonder if it is because of a lack of awareness .... or the technology tag ( admittedly sometimes scary for traditional businesses).

Personally I don't think it's really about technology awareness. Or at least it shouldn't be. If you don't embrace technology today you aren't going to survive. Period. If you refuse to "be aware" ... you're either stubborn or brain dead.

Rather, I believe many Small Businesses have websites but can't .... or more often than not don't .... rely upon them as a marketing channel to generate significant sales.

In these instances their marketing activities tend to be very tactical and personal. Such as relationship building, trade show participation, e-mail campaigns, distribution of product samples, proposal generation, cold calling, and traditional face-to-face sales calls.

All of these aren't bad and I don't mean to say they are. But a well done business website can compliment each of those activities IF it's done well. Plus, a quality business website opens up a whole new world of marketing potential .... that is actually more cost effective with a potentially much higher ROI. In other words reach more of your target market for less cost and result in more sales than "traditional" approaches.

We are seeing an almost explosive interest from small to very small companies looking to get their online marketing footprint in place.

Most are overwhelmed and don't know *how* to get started.

The web marketing firms I know that are doing extremely well landing small businesses as clients are spending time educating their prospects while dispelling the myths about online marketing.

Small business owners are typically street-smart individuals who frown on the pie-in-the-sky pitch from most online marketers. "Pay me $10k and I'll get you to page 1 of google" or "I can get you 10,000 twitter followers" or "I'll manage your PPC campaigns and drive you tons of traffic". Most of the people making these claims are not delivering so small business owners have tuned them out.

They are looking to do business with someone who can give them the facts, charge a fair fee and perform as agreed. If you can do that, you'll make a killing with the small business audience.

Now .... one resource I know that can meet that expectation is SBI.

I've friends and clients who are very pleased with their experience using SBI for web development and support of their small business website(s). The business websites they create for you are very reasonably priced, feature rich, and have SEO-SEM principles embedded directly into the design. SBI is also well known for their great customer support.

For more info go to: SBI Small Business Websites

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hosting Nation ..... Web Hosting Especially For Small Business

Hosting Nation is a phenominal service offering web hosting, domain names, and even web development. All for a very reasonable monthly or yearly cost. More than competitive with other available hosting services. I've even moved a couple of my websites to them recently.

Out of Parksville, British Columbia, Canada .... their portfolio of services includes web hosting, continuos data protection, web development, SEO, SEM (search engine marketing), web marketing, and domains to name just a few. Their web hosting and development services include over 80 tools and applications available for your use.

You should most definitely check out the Hosting Nation blog too (accessed through their main website). Sean Enns writes very informative pieces on Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Web Development, Web Marketing, Web Programming, Graphic Design, and more. You can get quite an eye opening education from Sean's insights and suggestions .... applied to your online efforts you'll see a definite postive impact too.

They have monthly and yearly hosting packages much cheaper than you'll find most anywhere else. I've shopped around ... and Hosting Nation's prices are more than competetive in an admittedly dog eat dog industry.

What follows is directly from the Hosting Nation website .... and will give you an idea of what is available as far as hosting accounts go. For you true technogeeks it has all the technospeak buzzwords you'd be looking for ;) ....

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Our shared web hosting packages each come with a ton of tools and applications for only *$6.95 per month as well as plenty of space and bandwidth. Each shared hosting account comes with the following:

* 5 Gb of disk space
* 50 databases
* 50 Gb of bandwidth
* 50 FTP accounts
* 50 email addresses
* 10 mailing lists
* 50 parked domains
* 50 subdomains

Our server technology is modern and fast, we lease quad core Xeon 5430 servers from the SoftLayer datacenter in Seattle. The servers run CentOS Linux 5 and Apache version 2.2 and supports PHP 5, Perl and up to 50 MySQL databases.

Each hosting account also includes cPanel version 11 and the RVSkin theme. You will have access to over 80 applications, frameworks and libraries through Fantastico and Installatron including the popular Magento, Joomla and Wordpress platforms. You'll also receive real time log analysis with AwStats and our robust backup and data recovery system. Backups can be done manually every day, or you can use the R1Soft continuous data protection console to select from 15 different snapshots of your site to restore a database, a single piece of data or your entire site.

Uptime monitoring is provided in real time by Hyperspin and each account comes with both SpamAssassin and ClamAV virus protection.

Switching hosting is very simple, when you transfer your site to Hosting Nation, we'll move your site for you. We'll also give you a credit towards any hosting remaining on your current plan up to one year.

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Now that you've heard about it ... go look for yourself at Hosting Nation

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How To Get Your Small Business Listed High In The Top Major Search Engines .... Custom SEO With A Guarantee

Getting a high search engine ranking for your business website can be time consuming, frustrating, expensive, and often with results no better than taking a shot in the dark.

What if you could have it all done for you ... with a guarantee of results at a price that'll have you doing backflips?

WebBizClicks.com will help you get your business listed in the major local search results. Get listed locally with Google, Yahoo, MSN, Yellowpages and other top search engines with their monthly data feed.

They create a profile for you that tells the search engines who you are, where you are located and what you offer. Your results appear based on keywords and phrases typed in by consumers. You can update your business profile once a month in one location and they will make the change in over 180 locations in your local area.

They also offer a guarantee ... you pay only when and while you are listed 1st page top 10 in searches for the key words you choose.

If you are interested in learning more ... I suggest you first use their Quick Contact form (on their website) to talk it over with a marketing professional. Then they'll know exactly what you need from them .... and you'll know exactly what they can do for you. This will enable you to move ahead with confidence and a complete understanding of how the process will work for you.

You can see all this for yourself here: WebBizClicks

Monday, October 19, 2009

News For Business Women ..... Women of Today Goes Global!

Women of Today Inc., a professional group for women in business that focuses on supporting their members market their business has just announced they are now open to International members.

Women of Today was started by Sherry Simoes in 2005 in her small town of 1900 people as an attempt to connect the local business women. It went over so well that word spread and they quickly grew to 5 area chapters and over 100 local members.

Marketing comes natural to Sherry and it is her passion to help women connect and grow in business. She also started Women of Today Magazine, co-op magazines (online and in print) as one way to give the members a professional and affordable way to promote their businesses.

The group offers marketing support, co-op advertising, educational workshops and tools and resources to help the members succeed in their marketing efforts.

Now women across the globe can enjoy the same benefits as the members who join a physical chapter. Although currently the majority of the members are Canadian, women are beginning to join form the Us and the other areas across the globe.

Sherry has experienced the power of networking globally and feels that it is a valuable aspect that has been added. She has plans to guide the members through the process so they can learn the art of social networking.

Women of Today also coaches the international members on how to start a networking group in their area and has a system set up for success. The first group will be getting started in California very soon.

They have just implemented a 30 day free trial so you can experience what they have to offer. You can start your free trial today at Women Of Today Inc.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Open Source Software Applications For Small Business

For small business, business process and access to information is critical. The ability to respond to a customer and solve their problem in a timely professional matter is why they're in business.

I am writing with regards to the technology of today that will enable a small business to do just that. I want to make you aware of open source software applications and why it should be what all businesses small and large should be migrating to.

Open source application's code is available to the entire community and are free to all users, "bugs" are identified and corrected by the community of users, enhancements can be made by anyone in the community and then returned to the community for everyone's use. The codes is never "not supported" anymore by the MFG (such as a Microsoft) requiring you to purchase a new version of it. And best of all, it is free to all users.

A small business needs an IT infrastructure, but normally does not have the resources to procure this need, such as an SAP, Oracle or other ERP solution. Which again, versions can be deemed no longer supported and code cannot be changed or updated by the users, only the MFG of the software.

One resource small business owners should take advantage of are the folks at CyberOptic Group who are business partners of OpenBravo, an open source ERP software application. CyOp provides enterprise-class commerce solutions to small to mid-sized businesses featuring: NO Capital Expenses, NO Licensing Fees, NO Technical Administrator Needed, NO Proprietary Vendor "Lock-In', Multi-Platform Web-Based Architecture, Highly Secure & Fault Tolerant Infrastructure & Rapid Deployment.

CyOp also provides a free business process assessment of how the small business processes their information and gives them advice of streamlining and integrating a fully automated system, enabling them to reduce costs, improve productivity thereby increasing revenue.

CyOp offers their service to help you drive your client's business into the future .... and would be happy to do a conference call with their technical staff to discuss this new technology with you. In these economic times, we need to change the way we do business and understand the future of technology.

For more information go to: CyOp

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Federal Assistance For Small Businesses

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are two competitively awarded, highly specialized forms of federal funding for small firms (less than 500 employees) to perform cutting-edge R&D that addresses the nation's (government and industry) most critical scientific and engineering needs. These needs span the technology spectrum -- from aviation and agriculture to medicine and manufacturing. Annually over $2.4 billion in contracts and grants are awarded to small businesses by the 11 federal agencies participating in these programs.

For small business and startups engaged in research and development of innovative technology applications and seeking information on the federal SBIR/STTR programs, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Business & Innovation Assistance Center has developed and placed online a series of useful presentations describing these federal programs and how to better compete in them.

These presentations cover:

* the differences between contract and grant agencies and what this means to the company and the development of the proposal;

* tutorials and basic framework for writing the Phase 1 proposal;

* elements of developing a cost/budget proposal;

* Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) and their role in the SBIR proposal/project;

* development of partnerships and contracting with universities, consultants and other companies to support the Phase 1 project;

* SBIR and related federally funded R&D efforts and their role in the company and its business plan; and,

* The commercialization plan and Phase 3 commercialization

The presentations are available at: USM/BIAC

Monday, October 12, 2009

Don't Just Advertise...PR Optimize.

Lamar Morgan of CDMM - Synergistic Business Marketing can take any size display ad bigger than a business card and turn it into a mini marketing campaign...for just double the price of the display ad. (That cost includes posting your ad in any publication for you.)

How is that possible? Answer: PR optimization. Lamar can link your display ad to an SMR (Social Media Press Release) that gets promoted through numerous social media resources - including Twitter, Facebook, and Squidoo, among others. With this effort viewership tracking is included. Plus, this online innovation makes it possible for the public to subscribe to future press releases concerning your business.

Want to see some SMR's? Just click My SMR's. Believe it or not, every display ad you run could easily become its own Social Media Release link.

Also, if you have ever needed to get an answer to an important question in a hurry, but did not know who to ask, I encourage to ask Aardvark. Here is a way to get answers to important questions from REAL PEOPLE around the world, usually in just FIVE MINUTES. Check it out at Aardvark

Remember, don't just advertise. Create more "buzz" for your business. PR optimize.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Fractional Marketing Department .... Help For Small Business Marketing Efforts

Today's small- to medium-sized business owner is slammed from all sides: The economy is in the tank, banks are not lending, customers are drying up, it's harder to get good peole to do their jobs. Running their business has become all they do.

Most understand the need for marketing, but it isn't a priority. Most would agree they could benefit from having a marketing manager running the marketing for their company, brands and products, but who has the cash flow to support them?

The answer may be in a new concept developed last year: The Fractional Marketing Department. Based on the concept first used by NetJets, the idea is this ..... The small businessman can't afford a full-time marketing manager, but they can afford a piece of one. Like NetJets spreads the cost of ownership of corporate jets among many buyers, this new company does the same for the cost of marketing talent.

The key is to actually take on the responsibility of managing the marketing plan for the company, not just consulting with the owner. The second part is to have a network of resources you can call on at the appropriate time to do the job that needs done. Need a new website? Got a website designer. The difference is that TFMD actually manages the design proejct for the small business owner. You pay the designer for the work done, but only for the work done. You know in advance what your website will look like, and what it will cost to produce it, so you can control your expenses. Having TFMD manage the project means you can spend more time doing what you does best: Running your business.

TFMD works on a project by project basis on most things, though they can also be put on a retainer to handle the day to day marketing needs of the client, such as maintaining website content, managing advertising placement and media buys, writing and distributing press releases, etc. They often tell their clients and prospects that their company is like a maid service for marketing. They only come in once or twice a month, but when they do, they make sure what needs to be done to promote the company's brands and products is being handled. They're also there when there's special jobs that need to be done, like a fall or Christmas campaign, or adding functionality to the website.

For more information go to: DMZ Marketing Network

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

eStudio .... Multi-Faceted Software Tool For Small Businesses

One of the first things you can do when you start up a new business, or help someone start one, is fire up eStudio from same-page. This is one of the best small business tools ever created.

Here is some info on it...

Same-Page eStudio provides project management software, document management software, calendar software and contact management software that improves workflow and enhances communication between workgroups and clients. eStudio is web-based groupware software; perfect for businesses, agencies, and organizations with multiple offices or for companies that have staff that works from home. eStudio is a scalable product that will grow with your business, and can be set-up in minutes.

It has a neat interface that allows you to use it with any 3G phone, its free for the first month and the basic suite is like $50/month for unlimited users.

For more information go to: Same-Page

Monday, October 5, 2009

Unique Promotional Item For Small Businesses .... Wire Names

Dave Maskin "The WireMan" creates a unique wire name promotional item at corporate and private parties, meetings, conferences, seminars, fundraisers, conventions, trade shows and by mail order. A unique addition to any small business marketing campaign.

Names stand up, creating a striking 3D keepsake that appeals to everyone

Helping ALL businesses attract potential clients with a unique approach to marketing, public relations and advertising .....

Increase your Trade Show ROI .....

Attract more potential clients to your trade show booth .....

Names are created from beautiful 14 gauge aluminum wire. Each name stands up, creating a 3D script name that appeals to everyone.

Great for all ages ....

Guests hold onto their Wire Names forever!

* 60 names created per hour. A caricaturist can only do 10 per hour.

* Other favors get thrown away. Guests place Wire Names on a mantelpiece, windowsill, desk, or breakfront where they see it every day.

* Each time they look at their wire name, guests are reminded of the event where they acquired it. Plus they are reminded of YOUR business.

Check out Dave's video here: The Wire Man

Located just outside of New York City and available for appearances throughout the USA.

For more information go to: WireNames

Friday, October 2, 2009

Startup Help .... Business Readiness Report & Workbook On Selecting A Startup Business .... All Free

LaunchX, the company offering the most complete step-by-step startup system on the market, now provides a free Business Readiness Report just for the asking.

The ten-question survey requests basic information about where you are in the startup process, such as how much capital is needed, where the funding will come from, which business issues are the biggest concern, and the like.

Within 24 hours, LaunchX emails a customized 20+ page report that thoroughly reviews your responses and provides advice on specific issues to consider. Obviously, the purpose of the report is to encourage the use of the LaunchX System for planning and launching a business, but the content is not merely an advertisement for the product but actually provides good advice and things to think about.

Currently, the link to this free report is included on every page of the LaunchX website at LaunchX

Also .... LaunchX now offers a free Chapter and Workbook on Selecting the Right Business For You.

Laid out in a similar style to the rest of the LaunchX System, the text provides suggestions for brainstorming business ideas and narrowing down the results to find an idea (or two) that work.

The Workbook pages provide the framework for working through the brainstorming process and evaluating the skills and experience needed to succeed.

Links to the free Selecting the Right Business for You Chapter are currently available on every page of the LaunchX website at LaunchX

Plus .... LaunchX now offers the LaunchX System in 5 separate Units.

Each Unit covers a specific aspect of starting a business and includes the appropriate portion of the LaunchX Handbook and Workbook, as well as critical small business software.

The full LaunchX System, which includes all five Units, sells for $1495, while the individual Units are listed at $349 to $399 each. Although purchasing the separate Units will cost more overall, it is a good option if planning the startup will take several months or for detailed information on only one specific area.

The five Units are:

• Unit 1 – Idea Into Action: The focus here is on developing your business idea into a basic plan for starting up and running a company. In addition, there is a heavy focus on preparing to be a successful entrepreneur with discussions on networking, time management, and organization. Unit 1 also includes the LaunchX Planner, featuring the fully customizable Uncalendar insert, and ACT! contact management software to encourage the development of a customer database during the planning stages. $349

• Unit 2 – Reach Your Market: The marketing Unit works through developing a thorough marketing plan from identifying and detailing the target market(s) to setting an objective-based budget for promoting the business. The Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the available promotional routes, including well-developed guidelines for working with a dedicated sales staff and encouragement to seek out free and low-cost opportunities. Includes website software with a free year of hosting and the Logo Creator. $399

• Unit 3 – Money Matters: This Unit is all about the numbers – budgets, sales forecasts, pro forma financial statements, and financing the business. The step-by-step format makes the financials very simple and clear, especially helpful for those who are not “numbers people” but also good practice for knowing what every number on the financial statements means. The chapter on financing your startup is comprehensive and emphasizes the capital-raising routes that most entrepreneurs use – bootstrapping, self-funding, family and friend investors – over those that are most often considered but more difficult to secure – bank loans, equity investments. With the tools provided here, any legitimate business idea should be able to find funding. $349

• Unit 4 – Hit the Ground Running: The emphasis in this Unit is to ensure everything is in place for launch – Peachtree Accounting, internal systems and controls, business planning, and the like. The Action section includes a comprehensive checklist of things to be completed prior to opening as well as detailed overviews of internal protections and SOPs that will minimize risk. In addition, there are in-depth discussions of how to review and evaluate both financial statements and marketing efforts, as well as worksheets to track progress and set objectives for improving overall profitability. Includes Peachtree Pro Accounting and OfficeReady document template software. $399

• Unit 5 – Employer’s Manual: This Unit is an absolutely complete guide for any entrepreneur who plans to hire employees. It covers every legal, organizational, and managerial issue related to hiring and working with a staff. There are discussions of different staffing options, such as temporary or independent contractor workers as well as detailed information on every aspect of staffing a business from recruiting through evaluations and termination. Includes Office Policy Manual software for developing a customized Manual for any business. $349

The overall system is very complete, with comprehensive, accurate information on just about every conceivable startup topic as well as easy step-by-step Workbook pages for every topic to work through specific business ideas.

For the first-time entrepreneur, the LaunchX System really does teach you everything you need to know and provide the basic software tools that every business should have. For seasoned entrepreneurs, the individual Units provide very effective coverage of their topics and can be ideal for building knowledge in weaker areas.