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

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Marketing Tips And Basics For New Businesses

What follows is courtesy of Dan York of Stellar-eMarketing ……

Hey guys when you start a new business, a huge, huge majority of your push should be marketing and advertising. If you're only doing it like 3-5 hours per week, you're killing yourself. It should be at least half of the time you spend. You'd better feel like you've worked on it when your done.

With all the marketing data and “gurus” out there now its almost as if you’re sifting through grains of sand at the beach to find the seashells that you’re really looking for. So let me give you a couple of pointers on the house:

As marketing has changed in the digital age, with its pluses and minuses, the underlying rules of engagement are still the same. So let's look at a basic:

Let’s define marketing:

marketing [mahr-ki-ting] –noun
1. the act of buying or selling in a market.
2. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.
Origin:
1555–65; market + -ing1

So as you can see there, marketing encompasses quite a bit. It’s not simply “getting the good word out”. When you look at Def #2 above, it should quickly become apparent that things like advertising or product delivery are just one of the many legs of your marketing relay-race.

So you need some real basics under your belt. Without those basics, all the marketing techniques out there can be fruitless. Case in point: remember a time when you met someone that you were attracted to. The package was good – nice hair, fit, well-dressed, maybe even a nice car and a giant wallet. But then…they opened their mouth. Out spewed the verbal vomit of their repulsive personality. You knew right then and there, without another second’s thought…they could never win you over. Not with all the sales jargon in the world. And so on with marketing. Forget "buzzwords", the market is immune to them now.

Here is what works - honesty, integrity, delivering a great product or service. Only then can you sell and market with conviction. Look at a used car salesman, he has to eat, and he knows he's selling junk half the time. And you perceive his lies a mile away.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What Makes A Press Release Newsworthy?

If you can craft a press release that ties in your product or service with a current event - or "creates" a current event involving your product or service that relates to current events, you'll often find that it attracts positive media attention leading to print, radio and television interviews.

Here's an example:

Two summers ago, comedic couple Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel were making daily headlines after breaking up.

At the same time, T-Dub Sanders was trying to increase his exposure for his new relationship book/guide on how to make up after a break up.

The following press release was crafted to create an "event" - an offer actually - that tied in his book in with this current event:

Jimmy Kimmel and Sara Silverman

Within hours, this press release began showing up on news searches related to the couple's breakup and also led to T-Dub being contacted by a large radio station for an interview on his book.

A long time expert in the field of publicity - especially with press releases - is Paul Hartunian. He's credited with being the first man actually "sell the Brooklyn Bridge" - he even got a mention on the Carson Show. Today he still teaches people how to get free publicity for his products and services. You can learn more about and from Paul here:

Paul’s Publicity Blog

The most timely is news relating to ….

1. Something that has happened.
2. Something that is happening right now.
3. Something that is happening in the future.

Some products are newsworthy (like Apple just announced new technology and you send out a press release that your next edition will include that technology).

Events are newsworthy. So are current trends.

Unless the person is a superstar or has a strong story, I don't think who you hired to be the new VP is that newsworthy. Neither is your new web site (put it in context of a bigger story).

I like studies, top tips, expert opinion relating to something that is going on right now in your industry, in the mainstream, etc. Want to take the temperature? GO to Search Twitter and type in a word relating to your news, competitor, industry & see what people are saying. That will give you a good idea what's happening right now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Tasks Should A Small Business Outsource?

I've seen many small businesses who try to start-up/build their business and think that they can (and should) do everything themselves. Before getting into business, you need to have a business plan and a financial strategy in place ….. and you should always recognize that the most important thing is building relationships, sales, and growth.

Your time is most valuable in those areas, so ideally you have to be prepared to focus on that, and leave the other stuff to experts. Build this into your business plan - have the financial plan to get a good bookkeeper, get a good computer guy, get a good marketing resource, etc. At first, this won't be expensive as you have limited work at the beginning, but it will then be in place so that you don't have to worry about it. You can focus on the important things, which are far more valuable to you.

Too many times I see businesses who can't grow because they're focused on doing the wrong things (and doing them poorly at that), rather than getting someone to help.

You may even outsource a few of the things that you know you could do yourself, but don't want to waste time on. This could be anything you have a particular skill at …. such as web design and branding. But it doesn’t matter. If it has the potential to distract from what you should focus your time and attention on (directly building your clientele, sales, and business growth) …. Then pay someone to do it for you.

It just makes business sense.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Referrals Are A Great Source Of New Business .... How To Work With Charities & Get Referals

Here is an idea to pump potential new customers into any small business … new or existing.

Approach charities in your local area to get a list of donors that already give to the charity. The United Way is a good place to start. Most United Way donors make advanced pledges or set goals to give a specified amount to the United Way.

Now approach the executive sponsor of the United Way donation drive and make a proposal. Propose that for every referral that is sent from their organization to your business, you will take a percentage of your sale and donate it to the United Way (or whatever charity they are affiliated with) in their name.

This partnering approach will work with most any charititable organization in your area. The bigger the better ... as the larger charities will afford you more visibility and referals .... but don't get hung up on size. It's more about getting your name out in front of more people. No matter who, where, or how many.

You brand yourself with the charitable giving community …. gain new referral customers …. and get a reputation in the community as being civic minded and involved with worthy causes. All in all … good for business.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How To Build A Successful Small Business Website

Every small business needs a website. Let me say that again ..... EVERY small business needs a website!!!

Why?

We are in the midst of the internet age ... and the entire world communicates and searches for information via the internet. People want information at their finger tips. If you aren't "there" .... they won't find you. If they don't "find" you ... your business suffers. If they DO find you ... your business soars.

So which would you rather be? Found .... or not found? Successful ... or failing?

The answer should be easy. Of course you want to be found and successful.

But how do you do that?

Again .... easy. Simply use the tools and follow the guide provided by SBI. Thousands of small business owners just like you are doing so today. They've learned "how to build a small business website" ..... and are reaping the benefits that come with that.

Here are some short testimonials from real SBI users whose lives and businesses have been changed by Site Build It! ......

* "Having the opportunity to share Vieques and Puerto Rico with so many people around the world is a great satisfaction. As a bonus, I get to go on a tax-deductible vacation every year. I can visit my beautiful island, ride my jeep, take lots of photos, meet great new people, and write travel guides about places I love. I felt that money would just be the icing on the top. Of course, I did not realize how much icing my cake would have."

~ Luisa Cupeles
viequestravelguide.com

* "The web site has allowed me to seed the market, prove the concept and create incredible buzz among the public who now go into stores demanding the product. This is how I was able to level the playing field and run around the big corporations to get my product to market."

~ Richard Bergman
Ideas-For-Deck-Designs.com

* "Actually, I'm more of a broker or a sales agent than a distributor. To my customers, though, I look like a large national distributor with multiple warehouses across the country.In fact, I do use several warehouses across the country, I just don't have to tie up any of my money in owning inventory because I let the "old school" distributors do that. I am a virtual distributor, a modern-day sales agency..."

~ Jerry Mack
Sonomahealth.com

* "My photography website is producing so much work offline it is stopping me from building more sites (which is what I want to do). I have started another which is also starting to take off, and now "work is really getting in the way of work." The beauty about everything I am currently doing, and plan to do for the next few years, is that my efforts will create passive and residual income. I am creating a pension that I can actually pass down to my kids. How many people have one of those?"

~ Nick Stubbs
All-Things-Photography.com

* "But the important thing I realized was that we could build, maintain and power the site by ourselves with little down. And, what was more important, we would be in control at every stage and could adjust the site quickly to our changing needs. Another big advantage is that SBI! saves not only time, but money, too. When I showed my colleagues the total expenses associated with the development of our English-speaking site, SBI! was nicknamed as an "Internet guerilla tool".

~ Nadir Burnashev
Chief Economist, Kazkommerts Securities

* "Frankly, I don't know much about online systems and technology but I do know about Audio, Video and Home Theater, and the SiteBuildIt! system let me focus on what I know best -- my business. I have been able to create a professional web site that gets significant traffic that provides us with qualified leads that convert into Axiom Audio sales which have an average value of over $800 per sale."

~ Alan Lofft
Axiom Audio

* "My puny little hand-built, local-dentist Web site broke the Alexa 100,000 barrier today and none of this would have been possible if it weren't for the power and effectiveness of the SBI process. (OK - I did put in a little elbow grease)"

~ Dr. John Burch DDS
DrBurch.com

* "I was able to reach the global market 24X7, rather than just the local market for my paving company that I was used to reaching in the past. I had left the manual-labor era and had become what Dr. Ken calls a digital worker... a knowledge worker who can reach the globe by using his brain."

~ Judd Burdon
Asphaltkingdom.com

Now that you've read what the SBI experience has done for your fellow small business owners .... would like to enjoy the same OR BETTER success yourself?

You can..... just watch this video tour and see for your self right here:

How To Build A Successful Small Business Website

Monday, July 12, 2010

Franklin Covey 's Business CRM

Have you heard about Franklin Covey 's Business CRM that works great for independent contractors?

As you are probably finding out there are numerous hosted CRM systems that provide you with a variety of features and services which may provide a full solution or a partial solution for every business.

I have heard there are more than 190 CRM solutions on the market today— (which I have never validated ).

A CRM technology which integrates Business Process Management (BPM) through an easy to define automated engine should be a serious consideration when seeking a solution. It also needs to allow for complete collaboration with decision makers in the process i…. for example customers, partners, affiliates, investors, etc. It should also have a module which allows for e-commerce capability and connectivity with Vendors ERP Systems.

More importantly you should be able to build the process ….. and the application does the work and keeps you and your team on track.

What else I have found to be a great CRM / technology is it needs to have Productivity Methodology applied to it. Tracking your Goals, Values and Priorities you get more done in both your personal life and professional life. This will not only empower you but your team as well . You have to have good proven Methodology with Technology for your team to know what their highest priorities are for the day, week and month without having to ask :)

With that said, you should look at Franklin Covey 's CRM PlanPlusOnline for business's.

Franklin Covey is a worldwide leader in organization effectiveness. It's technology with Franklin Covey’s proven productivity methodology that users are able to quickly adopt and use to prioritize their tasks, mission statement, values, goals, top priorities, and daily activities.

You combine that with typical CRM applications such as Sales, Support, Marketing, and Projects, and you end up with a solid online application that is customizable for any business process, including non-profit companies.

The following link will allow you to create a VIP account for a test drive of PlanPlus Online

Plan Plus Online

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Q&A Site For Businesses On Technology Applications

There’s a new Q&A site available for businesses to ask about Business Applications, SaaS, and Cloud Computing.

What does SaaS and Cloud Computing really mean for a small business? Which application should I choose to improve my business operations?

Have you ever thought, “I´d love to know from someone who went through that too”?

When it comes to a business software choice, everyone dreams of getting feedback from experts.

Asking a question and getting varying, useful responses from a large sample of users is just the best thing that can happen to a business owner.

This is why GetApp.com has launched a new Q&A site for small businesses: GetApp

The site has been up for about a month, and already numerous questions have been answered by almost 100 famous bloggers and recognized experts.

For example, recently a business owner asked about Client Management and Billing Software. Do you think you could contribute? Or benefit from the answers?

The real value about a niche Q&A site is that it acts as a very dynamic and specialized social media where you meet very focused subject matter experts. Not only the specialists who like to talk to other specialists ….. but people who are genuinely interested in helping small businesses with their operations and software choices.

Of course participation is free ….. but registration is required both for questions and answers in order to guarantee the quality of the discussions.

You can register and get started at: Register GetApp

If you feel like an expert, you can even get your own widget to display expert activity, Q&A from GetApp.com Answers on your website or blog:

GetApp Widget

I hope many small businesses will find the site very useful, let´s meet there.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Small Business Digest ….. Weekly Guide For Small Business Owners

Announcing the Next For Small Business Growth Digest, a weekly guide that delivers knowledge you can use right now … gleaned from the cutting edge of small business growth.

If you’re struggling with the challenges and overwhelmed by what always goes hand in hand with small business growth …..

If you’re approaching that $500k/year milestone of success and are having troubling finding the way forward …..

Or if you’re just looking to get that extra edge in your business so you can be less stressed and have more free time in your life …..

You’re going to love the Next For Small Business Growth Digest!

In it, you’ll discover the latest tools, tips, and tricks to keep you ahead of the competition by getting more customers easier, and keeping them longer.

Now you too can benefit from 63 years of combined experience helping small business owners achieve maximum profits and impact.

When you subscribe to the Next For Small Business Growth Digest, you’ll gain powerful, inside information on a wide variety of topics (and you’ll be able to read it all in less than 7 minutes on most weeks).

You’ll discover principles such as:

* How to uncover the leverage points that will explode your business growth (and root out major “business breakdowns” at the same time)…

* How to drive traffic to your website—using SEO, social media, PPC, affiliates, and more…

* How to create easy videos that pierce the noise in your market and grab the attention of your prospects…

* How to laser-focus your business so that it serves your ideal customers (so you can stop wasting time and money “casting a wide net”)…

* How to develop a focused mind and unstoppable spirit so you’re moving forward each and every day… no matter what your external circumstances!

* How to convert visitors into buyers (you’ll discover age-old principles that are overlooked by most small business owners)…

* How to sell with total confidence and enthusiasm, without scaring your prospects away…

* And much more…

Your Free Bonuses …………

You’ll also receive 2 special gifts just for signing up for the Next for Small Business Growth Digest ($47 value).

These special bonuses work together as a “one-two punch” to bring your marketing to the next level ….. no matter how long you’ve been in business.

The fact is, in their years of helping small businesses grow, the one thing SBD has discovered is what super-charges business growth like nothing else is pinpointing your ideal customer ….. and then serving them wholeheartedly and single-mindedly.

And most small businesses ….. even if they think they’re already serving their ideal customer ….. actually mess this one up and waste precious time and money because of it.

Focusing on your ideal customer is such an important part of growing your business that they’ve also developed a video guide and special report to walk you through the entire process.

To sign-up just go to: Small Business Digest


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Thursday, July 1, 2010

What Major Problems Are Small Business Owners Having Today?

One of the things that I have seen as a big issue today for small businesses is technology.

It seems that every company in there early days does 1 of 3 things:

1) They buy whatever they had at their old job because they are used to it;

2) They buy whatever the IT consultant tells them they need;

3) or they get whatever is free out there. Inherently there are problems with all of these models.

In option 1 normally the new business is not as fiscally mature as the company they left and in turn can’t afford the same solutions that the previous employer had.

In option 2 the tech consultant ..... even though he is going to try and give you the best solution for your company .... they are also trying to make sure they stay in the job. In turn they will purchase and install software with the planned obsolescence model in mind so they can make money on repair and support calls.

In option 3 though it is as cheap as possible (I mean really who can beat free) ..... it really can cut into the productivity of your company to work with tons of solutions that don’t communicate or work with one another. Let’s be honest in a small business time is money.

As a small business, if you had a list of technology that is recommended for x,y, and z .... I think it will really help you with this process. For example, looking to Internet based software (Cloud computing) is one great way for you to receive help at a much lower cost. There is traditionally no technology investment, like servers and other stuff. You can use whatever machine you already have and work directly from the internet. This also by default gives you the ability to work anytime anywhere. Which is great for any company during the beginning.

If you haven't noticed .... Small Business Resources Cafe works hard to get information into your hands to cover that "x, y, and z". You need look no farther than the Recommended Resources listed in the menu on the left .... and the many articles posted sharing various tips, ideas, solutions, and services .... many technology based. So by all means peruse the Recommeneded Resources list AND browse through the archive of nearly 300 information packed articles. Afterall ... they're all for YOU.

To point you in the right direction I'll even provide a link to cool technologies that are low cost and easy to get started with. See for yourself ......

FreedomFire Communications