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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...

Monday, November 28, 2011

10 Tips On Impressing Your Customers And Growing Your Business

1. Do not promise what you cannot deliver

2. Do not overextend your resources and get a reputation for poor performance.

3. Do not tell the customer what he or she wants to hear. Tell them what they need to know. They will respect you for it.

4. Network constantly on professional sites such as Linked In. Hit the "Answers" feature and accumulate an "Expert" rating from your peers in your field.

5. Blog like there is no tomorrow. A blog is quite different than a web site. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days.

6. Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will be in demand for follow up business.

7. Quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him (in content and resources).

8. Be dedicated to working yourself out of a job with a specific customer and having your client take over by training him. He will remember you and recommend you to 10 others.

9. Remember growth is a function of persistence and foresight. Know where your market is headed and get their first - then write and speak about your success indirectly by helping others. Demonstrate humility and a satisfaction in helping others succeed. They will find ways to give you credit. There are ways of tooting your horn without making peoples' lights go out.

10. Word of mouth advertising from pleased clients is a sure ticket to success.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Entrepreneur Connect Groups: Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

1. Resting on your laurels. Just because you have what you think is a good marketing plan in place today doesn't mean it'll be right tomorrow. The pace today is so accelerated, you must stay ahead of the game. Constantly research what your competition is doing. Surf the Internet to see what's new out there.

2. Hype. Sooner or later hype will catch up with you. Being superficial and underestimating the consumer is first of all poor taste, and second of all, it's bad business. Avoid the jargon and the pat phrases and give substance.

3. Not having an R&D Team, focus group or feedback source. Test your ideas on others. There are some absolutely wonderful ads out there that people remember, but they don't remember the name of the product/company. For example, there was a great ad out awhile ago that talked about the Bank of the Northern Hemisphere. Very clever; everyone remembered it. The problem was, they didn't remember the name of the bank you were supposed to use instead.

4. Not trusting your marketing person. If you hire someone to do your marketing, hire someone you trust and then let them do their job. With 20 years marketing experience, I had many interesting jobs and some interesting job interviews. One corporation asked me, "Can you stick with a plan once it's in place?" Red flag. Any marketing campaign must be constantly monitored and you need to be able to switch on a dime. An experienced marketing person can titer what's working and what isn't. It becomes almost a sixth sense. Why would you throw good money after bad just because changing it is an inconvenience?

5. Not giving it time to work. It's an adage in marketing that if you're going to say it, say it at least three times. I've consulted with individuals, particularly, who send out a brochure, no one bites, and they want to abandon it. Generally it takes three "hits." People run through their emails rapidly and delete things they wish they hadn't. Make their wish come true! Give them a second, third, fourth chance. The formula is--when you're sick and tired of it, the public is just beginning to hear it.

6. Being timid. There really is no such thing as bad publicity, and things will happen. You have to have been through this to know. Several years ago I was marketing an apartment complex and the manager miscommunicated an "early bird special." The whole unfortunate event made the front page of the local newspaper with stories about parents not being able to buy school clothes for their children, because... 6 months later the apartment complex was filled to capacity. People remembered the name of the apartment and nothing else. Carry on!

7. Not being curious. If you have an ezine edition that had a large number of click-throughs, don't just pat yourself on the back, ask yourself why. Figure out what was different about it. Was it on a special day? Was there something different? More graphics, no graphics? A catchy subject line? A new layout? Don't forget, you can always ask someone who clicked-through!

8. Thinking you have to pay for marketing. Use the free options liberally. Establish yourself as an expert on a subject and let the press know you're willing to be interviewed. When a national news event breaks, make it local. For instance, I'm a coach, and when 9/11 happened, I contacted the press to let them know what coaches had to offer at such a time.

9. Leaving it at home. Prosaic, but we all do it. Your business cards and brochures do absolutely no good sitting in the office. Take them with you!

10. Following the rules. Be as thorough as you need to be. The rule is 'be brief,' but say what you need to say. One of the most effective mailers USAA ever did was a 5-page letter. Know the rules. Then break them.

Entrepreneur Connect Groups: Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Technology For Small Business

Let's deal with the basics:

Every small business owner should have a CRM, a customer relationship management software platform. This software gives the ability to schedule e-mail to respond to essentially manage every customer and prospect that the company has. It's a fundamental. If you don't manage your customers effectively you don't have an effective business.

Secondarily, every small business owner should be on QuickBooks at least, with a professional advisor helping them set up their chart of accounts and linking this to their payroll and tax reporting. It is very simple to set up in the early stages. It's a total pain in the butt to do after the fact.

Thirdly, every business in today's world needs a website, and with the website it needs good analytic tools, the basic analytic tools are from Google,

Fourth, communication is essential in every business. Google apps are great for this.

Fifth, many early-stage businesses operate virtually. Two technologies stand out; free conference call.com, and GoToMeeting.com, which allow for virtual organization management and communication.

Sixth, VoIP, allows management of communications in a way that was not available years ago. Google voice is effective, and many of the providers now have the ability to have one telephone call routed via the Internet to whomever is appropriate.

Seventh: use guru.com, a place to find freelancers to get done all of the things that you think you can't get down at a reasonable price. It accesses the vendors from all over the world where you can receive quotes for things like logos and business cards and copywriting etc. it comes with guarantees, etc.

All of these technologies are easy to access and use.

Courtesy of Stewart Borie

Monday, November 21, 2011

Technology Tips For Small Business

Before talking technology I think it is imperative that all small business owners develop basic computer literacy. As a small business coach, I never fail to be amazed at the number of business owners who wear their ignorance of technology as a badge of courage! Statements like "I only use the Net when my kids force me to" are shockingly common. Yikes.

Being able to keyboard, surf the net and manage e-mails are the "3r's" for us the way reading, writing & 'rithmetic were for our parents.

That being said, I think the field is pretty wide open. As some others have suggested, technology needs are largely driven by the industry sector you work in.

Most of my clients are in the professional and consumer service delivery arena so the technology I'm most familiar with has a strong marketing component to it. I find that cloud services like Dropbox and Smilebox are extremely helpful for many.

Dropbox, for example, means that I can keep all my working files 'in the cloud' so that no matter where I travel I always have access to the most up-to-date versions. It also allows me to share large files with files & vendors (i.e. my PDF'd e-book is massive yet I can readily have clients download it via Dropbox).

Smilebox allows me to develop great visuals to support my retreat business and stay in touch with clients/prospects. I've got a client about to start using it to provide highly customized real estate packages for his clients.

On-line newsletter services such as offered by ConstantContact also make a huge difference in their ability to stay connected with clients.

Send-out cards ended up not working for me; I'm not that well organized. But I know several clients who love the service and use it very effectively as part of their marketing mix. I think it is definitely worth consideration by any business owner who has a need to acknowledge customers and stay connected at a fairly personal level.

On-line services like VistaPrint are not only timesavers, but for microbusinesses they can save the budget by providing high quality, low cost marketing and sales materials.

I could go on and on . . .and I haven't even addressed the social media technologies! But like someone else said, I think that we small business owners need to be ALWAYS keeping abreast of new things coming into the marketplace. It can be daunting but is absolutely essential in today's world. That's where I find that services like Twitter are extremely helpful. I follow a number of technology/social media/business specialists and their posts help me stay on top of new technology and market shifts.

Courtesy Of Gwen McCauley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Insight On Technology Tools For Small Business

It's very astute using the term "Tools". That is indeed what they are and they are proliferating. I embrace these assets and use them myself.

But as a small business counselor I always ask one strategic question of my clients "How to you select the tools to work on your car (simile for business)?"

Answer: One needs to know the make, model, the part of the auto that needs the work and the ultimate objective in working on the vehicle at all.

There is a new kind of monkey these days the technology monkey. That sucker will bury us if we don't learn to deal with him. We are so busy tending our gadgets that we lose site of priorities, get wound up in minutia and end up with a meaningless zoo.

I have noticed the symptoms of the technology monkey, particularly among the younger (Generation X and Y) entrepreneurs.

There seems to be a belief that automation, the Internet and social networking can make the business succeed when in fact the real design of the enterprise itself is lacking (niche, market base, business plan, competitive analysis and financial forecasting)

I hear from many clients who ask, "What Now?" having launched an enterprise that is going nowhere because they are driving the tools and not the car.

I take them back to the garage, design the auto to see if it can run and then apply the wrenches retroactively if that is possible. It is usually a traumatic experience and could have been avoided with strategic and business planning before launch.

Courtesy of Kenneth Larson, SCORE Advisor

Monday, November 14, 2011

High Tech vs High Touch Marketing For Small Business

There's an app for high tech, not high touch

"There's an app for that."

This marketing slogan refers to a mobile app. A mobile app converts content and resources that otherwise would have been consumed through a browser on a computer desktop, to the much smaller and variably shaped screens on the many different kinds of hand-held devices. Mobile apps are proliferating because they are almost always handier and sexier than their website counterparts.

In 1998, broadband Internet connection was in less than 4% of households and almost no businesses. Reporting on this emerging capability, I made the macro prediction that the world would change when broadband Internet became ubiquitous and broadly adopted. Well, broadband ubiquity, today thy name is mobile. The proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks we know as 3G and 4G, has spawned mobile apps which are at once exciting and disruptive.

A generation before my broadband prognostication, a real prophet, John Naisbitt, published his landmark book, Megatrends, in which he prophesied, "The more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want." In the 21st century, Naisbitt's Law, balance technology and humanity, must be the North Star for any successful small business strategy.

So, how does a small business maintain a competitive advantage in the face of pressure from high tech innovation and the primordial human desire for high touch connection? The answer, as with so many 21st century questions, is not either/or, but both/and.

If you want customers to keep your business at their fingertips wherever they are, there's an app for that. If a customer relationship would benefit from a welcoming smile, there is no app for that.

If a product tutorial video posted on your YouTube channel would help a customer in the field, there's an app for that. To be able to interpret the troubled look on the face of a customer as a clue that you haven't yet healed their pain, there is no app for that.

If customers want to check the status of an order they placed with you, whenever and wherever they are, a mobile app can be built for that. If customers do business with you because you remember their face, name and what they like, there is no app for that.

Remember Naisbitt's Law: Blend and balance the power of high-tech with the humanity of high-touch.

There's an app for high tech, but there isn't one for high touch.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top 3 Pain Points When It Comes To Marketing Your Small Business

If you have to narrow it down to three points I would suggest the following ....

1. All good marketing starts with the customer. You must have a solid understanding of the needs of your customer and how you can deliver value to them. To get to this point you need to engage in marketing research and segmentation efforts. While these are basic tenants of marketing they are tough to do well.

2. Once you have an understanding of the customer you must have an understanding of the market. The vast majority of companies never do manage to put together a market map. A market map details the relationships and values found within your market. The market map plays an important role in helping to identify market segments, positioning, and competitive presence. All of these elements need to be understood in addition to the customer knowledge noted in point one. Completion of the first two steps helps to build a situational analysis. Basically you cannot go forward until you understand where you are.

3. With an understanding of the customer and the market in place as a startup the final piece of the puzzle is your people. Understanding where you are and where you want to go is terrific but you need the right people to get there. Hiring the right people to lead your marketing efforts is a challenge that must be met in order to be successful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Frustrates You The Most As A Female Entrepreneur?

I'm the female half of my company and I often find that though most clients have no problem taking me seriously and they understand my areas of expertise and I quickly prove that I know what I'm talking about, some still pull stunts like seeing how far they can push me and how much they can get for free when dealing with me, but wouldn't dare do that when they speak to my partner/husband.

It feels like they assume I will be a softie - a pushover - just because I'm a woman and I *do* go out of my way to make sure they are well-taken care of.

I just get frustrated when some clients try to manipulate me and I see it coming from a mile away, but they don't realize I know what they are doing.

That or they think I'm merely the secretary!! (sigh)

So perhaps you could help women find creative ways (that suit their personalities and positions), to empower themselves and to subtly keep that power when dealing with certain types of clients - while at the same time still being of service and bringing relief to the client. Sadly, they don't teach this in schools - and experience can be a painful and embarrassing teacher!

Courtesy Of Michele O'Riley Eliseon.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Small Business Opinion On The Obama And Liberal Democrats Agenda ... "They Told Us"

We at Small Business Resources Cafe represent all corners of America. That said we are all fed up with the incessant over regulating, big goverment, unconstitutional, incursion into both our business and personal lives by the liberal progressive Democrat "agenda". They told us lies ... and it's time to call them on it.

They Told Us

They told us that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons would turn our streets into rivers of blood.

They told us that taking trillions of dollars and giving it to those “who truly needed it” would cure poverty.

They told us that giving home loans to those who couldn’t afford them would make the American dream achievable for all.

They told us that paying into the Social Security “Trust Fund” would guarantee a comfortable retirement for everyone.

They told us that allowing teachers to unionize in public schools would help inner city students reach for the stars.

They told us that the federal government could run a guaranteed, affordable health care program for seniors forever.

They told us that the new employment paradigm consisted of millions of “green jobs”.

They told us that their support for immoral and criminal behavior wouldn’t result in the breakdown of the two-parent family.

They told us that spending trillions on Stimulus programs would heal a damaged economy.

They told us that raising taxes on corporations and “the rich” would create more jobs.

They told us that our borders were “as secure as they’ve ever been”.

They told us that intentionally restricting access to our own sources of energy would reduce dependence on foreign oil.

They told us that spreading unemployment benefits and food stamps far and wide would help the economy.

They told us that, despite other failed government health care programs, they could successfully take over the entire medical system.

They told us that their record-breaking borrowing could never result in a downgrade of the United States’ AAA credit rating.

They told us that “the Constitution doesn’t matter”.

They told us that anyone who opposes their unconstitutional, un-American, reckless and failed policies are racists.

Well ....Everything they told us was a lie.

Everything they told us was wrong.

Intentionally, diabolically, criminally wrong.