Featured Post

Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

This video shares examples of a few veteran owned small businesses. Feel free to comment and share your own examples with website link belo...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is Now A Good Time To Start A Business?

When is the right time to start a business?

Let me ask you .... what do the following have in common?

Hyatt Corp
Burger King
Hewlett- Packard
The Jim Henson Company
The Dyson Company
Fedex
Microsoft
CNN
MTV
Walt Disney Corp

Yes....they are all successful businesses. Yes....they are all world leaders, their names as familiar in Beijing, Dubai, and Mumbai as they are in London, Paris, or New York. Yes…their brands are synonymous with the best in the business. BUT... did you know they were all born out of world recessions? In fact Disney was incorporated in 1929 the year of the Great Depression....and he even called it "The Magic Kingdom". That shows courage!

Great companies are born when they are born....great ideas, great leaders, great vision equals great success. BUT, it all starts with a great attitude .

The same is true for us as individuals who are not running a multi national corporations. Yes…we are certainly living in uncertain times and it easy to become discouraged by the media, by politicians, by the ‘bad news’ stories and even by those around us. Remember however that even the most successful people have traveled a hard road. Did Bill Gates or Walt Disney face difficulty and challenges – you bet they did. Did they ever give up. You bet they didn’t.

Like Michael Jordan,the successful sportsman says ‘ I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.’

Hardship and failure is never a barrier. Attitude is all important....and I am talking from personal experience.

My question to you is....do you want to do it too? Do you want success?

To start off your success mind set here is my request....

From now on banish the word "can’t" from your vocabulary, your thoughts and beliefs. What do you feel when you say the word "can’t"? Weak? Powerless? Negative? Despondent? So why keep saying it?

Repeat "I will find the ideal partner", "I will find the perfect job", "I am ubelieveably fortunate", "I will drop 20lbs". Now how do you feel?

All the creators of the businesses we have spoken of have a success mindset. Start cultivating yours today and you’ll soon see that the "magic" is not only reserved for the Disneys of this world.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Skills Every Small Business Owner Needs

Bearing in mind, that almost 80% of new businesses fail within their first 5 years, it's smart for every small business owner to find out what they can do to try prevent this happening to them.

From my perspective, I believe the vital skills that new business owners need to have are effective financial management skills and excellent strategic marketing skills.

Many will say that having sales skills is vital, but sales is only one aspect of marketing and at times you may not even need a hard sell approach.

Marketing is about looking at every aspect of your business to ensure that you are customer (or consumer) focused in order to make a profit. Keeping in touch with your customers regularly to find out if they are still happy with your product / service is vital and can also help you build your business by getting new product idea's or different ways to do something that will add more value to your customers as well as to your business. Too many small businesses get arrogant or complacent and think that they are doing a "fab" job and that all their customers love them. 2 years later when they don't have half the customers they used to have & they don't know what went wrong. What went wrong was that they were not on top of their customers feelings about their product / service.

Marketing is also about finding effective ways to promote your company so that your target market finds you, or you find your target market. There are many ways of doing this eg. advertising, selling, PR, promotions.

So my advice is to make sure you research your product extensively with consumers to make sure it is supplying a very real need, make sure that you can make your required profit (even if it is in a couple of months time), check that there is not too much competition, promote your business effectively and efficiently and then when your business is up and running, make sure you do regular research with your customers re. their satisfaction (make sure you allow them to make comments which could enhance their experience with your company)

I would highly recommend that you do some research regarding strategic marketing or even one of the courses that the IMM (Institute of Marketing Management) has, or find someone who is knowledgeable on the subject. (Marketing skills are skills that would benefit every person in an organisation as well as the company itself)

Remember it can take up to 2 years to see a business running successfully, so don't give up if you are doing something you love and that other people really need.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Print Advertising For Small Business .... Is It Worth It?

If you are considering advertising in the newspaper or other publications, first you need to determine if your target market is actually reading the publication. Newspaper advertising is for companies looking to reach large audiences across numerous demographic groups.

Second, ask yourself if you will be able to profit from the ad if only 5% of the readers respond to it and purchase from you. A $2,000.00 ad should at least make you a profit of $2001.00 or else it is a costly choice.

Finally, make sure that the advertising you choose is right for you and your potential customers. Many advertising sales people will gladly sell you what they think you need, but only you truly know your customer.

I would definitely choose web-based advertising over print, but that will usually be just as expensive if it does not work. So, choose something that your customers will respond to positively and in large numbers.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is about control.

Print advertising, is fixed, and cannot be adapted. Whether a potential client looks at the advert or not is almost entirely down to good layout and positioning message, plus large amounts of luck.

Say a client does take a look. Are they motivated to find your website, or pick up the phone? What contact details do you get? Will you ever know that your advert was read? The answer to most of this is NO!

You can only take control of a discussion, once a dialogue has been initiated by the client. This means that you are not master of your own destiny. My preference would be to explore some of the many online options that are likely to get you some kind of feedback, if not any more sales. Statistics on the attention your advert got, if nothing else, will allow you to position your next ad in a different way, that may this time hit the mark.

The trouble with print advertising is that it is expensive and guarantees nothing. This is generally not yet recognised in the pricing.

Never underestimate the power of referral. As an established business, you are likely to already have a database of past clients and potential clients that could be leveraged through a direct marketing campaign. This may be more fruitful than any of the above.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tips For Starting A Small Business

When starting a small business there's much to think about. Here's a few tips to help you focus in on what is important.

Understanding your market is important, in that by doing so you will not only generate business, but understand how much profit you can expect to make on your sales.

Don't be shy about making a profit- it's why most of us are in business. If, for example, a customer says they can "get something cheaper at XYZ giant retailer", explain to them the advantages of your products/services, and that you are not in business to compete with XYZ. Even if the products you offer are similar, you probably have advantages in personal service, location, shopping convenience, etc. If the customer is insistent that price is the key to their decision, as a business owner you need to decide if their business will generate an acceptable profit, or if you should walk away. Keep in mind that if you cut your price word will spread and it will be difficult to recapture your present price level. Generally our policy is to offer specials on a limited selection for a fixed time, to generate new business. We don't cut our prices in response to isolated comments.

If you are a retailer, do invest as much as you can afford in a point of sale system, preferably a fully integrated one. A good system enhances your ability to manage your business in several ways- customer service, inventory management, and pricing to name a few.

Do gain a good handle on your business processes- purchasing, accounting, inventory control, pricing and gross margin. Marketing and customer service are critical, but increasing sales doesn't benefit the business unless those sales are generating bottom-line profits. Set realistic goals not only for sales volume, but also for average gross margin, inventory turns, shrinkage, spoilage/obsolescence, operating expenses, etc. This will refer back to the business plan George mentions above. Monitor at least quarterly, if not more frequently.

Engage people with complimentary skills in your business. If you are a marketing/customer service oriented creative person, engage a number cruncher. You'll enjoy the business more and avoid pitfalls.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Small Businesses That Don't Have A Website .... Why Not?

If you're one of the small business owners who doesn't have a website and you're easily offended, don't read on.

Now, the more I think of this, the more I realize that the small business owner is still thinking like a car-repair guy, like a contractor, like a lawyer, like a pizza man, like a limo service guy, and they're NOT thinking like a BUSINESS MAN/WOMAN.

THEREFORE, they do not recognize the OPPORTUNITY that this TOOL (called a web site and the internet) represent. They are not thinking about the business benefits, not doing a cost/benefit analysis, not researching what a low cost of customer acquisition this can provide, etc. They're not thinking about gaining another customer, increasing customer value, increasing customer purchasing frequency... What they ARE doing is trying to make a better pizza, install a roof faster and more securely, learning about building code, trying to win that case in court, etc.

THEN, they're thinking, "my product/service is so good that it will sell itself. My business runs on word of mouth." Not realizing there's no such thing. The customer will go to the next pizza joint if it's just as good, but more convenient, cheaper, or whatever. The customer will ALWAYS go to the business that markets itself to the prospect in such a way that the prospect is persuaded to come in and then satisfied beyond expectation, and then GUIDED through a carefully thought-out process to bring him/her back, and a system of generating referrals.

THAT, my friends, is what I see as the main reason why small business owners don't have a web site. They're not thinking like a business person, but rather like the best (fill-in-the-blank) at what they do. So, since this tool doesn't help repair shoes, install roofs, solve cases, kill disease, or make a better burger, it's a topic they'll put on the back burner until... well... they have more time. And nobody ever has more time.

The job now is for the small business owner to realize he/she needs to put on their business hat, and discuss business, and what he/she needs/wants to accomplish with their business, and then find a website services that can help them accomplish that.

Once he/she puts on the BUSINESS hat, then the topic of having a web site, designing it right, having the right tools attached to it (autoresponders, contact info capture page, upsells/cross-sells/downsells, special offers), having the right promotional strategy (SEO, PPC, articles, video, blogs, social media, etc) ... THEN this will make sense to him/her, and then they'll see the real beauty of having a website presence because their small business will flourish!

Put on your business hat and take advantage ot this resource ... it'll help you get online quick, easy, and cost effectively:

Small Business Website

Monday, March 12, 2012

Does Your Small Business Have A Website?

As a small business owner you need to seriously consider having an online presence. If you don't have a website for your small business you're losing customers.

I've read statistics of anywhere from 65 to 90% of searches for information/pre-purchase is online. Even if you are really conservative and say 50%, that's half of your potential business who will likely not find you if you aren't online. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy for many businesses, but it does need to answer the basics and give a sense of who/what you are. Are there those customers who never hit a keyboard? Sure, but the question is, can you stay in business by only serving that group?

A website is a MUST in today's economy and integration with social media is a tool that gives even the busiest professionals real-time access and the ability to market themselves both locally and globally.

I believe one of the main reasons small business have avoided a website is cost and time. I've seen in the past web designers/developers charging a premium that scares even me...never mind shoe-string-budget minded organizations. A simple site should not require a second mortgage! And tools can be set up to help integrate social media and keep content fresh with ease of use.

Building a simple site that enables as much hands on as possible, with integration of widgets and editable areas, is key. The challenges small business owners face are real and I can relate. But opting to not have a presence in today's economy is not a viable option.

I ask small business owners all the time why they don't have a Web presence and why they are not taking advantage of all the free advertising available to them on Local Search Directories - they're all still free IF you know how to get to the free options - and they just don't "get it". They don't know how a Web presence can benefit them or why they need to make themselves easy to find.

Building a web site (small and simple or super-complex with all the bells and whistles) will do absolutely nothing for anyone if it is not built implementing basic fundamentals of marketing and SEO. This requires thinking about the domain, tags, site description, media used in the site and file names, promoting the site (can be done for free), submissions to search engines, directories, etc... And, of course, the COPY and having the site designed specifically to accomplish what the owner wants it to accomplish.

If a site is just built, and those things are not taken into account, I sometimes make the comparison to having a beautiful brochure advertising the best product... at a trade show where you paid $ to have a booth... and your booth is a 3x6 table off in the back corner of the convention center between the loading-dock door and the staff restroom. NOBODY will find you. The WWW is a HUGE universe, and it takes thought to make it to the front of people's eyeballs if you have a product or service.

BUT .... not to worry. Here's a resource that makes it VERY easy and VERY cost effective to get a quality HIGH PERFORMANCE business website up and running. Simply click on the link and read all about it .... it's sure to put a smile on your face.


Websites For Small Business

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Every Small Business Needs A Website .... Period

Every small business needs a website ... period. I can't say it any plainer than that.

Think of it this way .... you spend money to get business cards and people toss them or lose them. You advertise in the newspaper or by mail .... and few read it. By contrast almost everyone today who searches for any product, service, etc. does so online. The number of potential customers you can reach at little cost is mind boggling. So missing out on this area is foolish.

Small business owners can think of their websites as their tireless, at-your-service, always-available, 24/7 "Online Sales Reps," able to continuously market their products and services on their behalf. If done well your website is a 24/7 on-demand and requested advertisement for what your company offers.

I am a total believer in the "every business needs a website" meme. But we also have to help small business owners realize that it won't cost them a lot of money--and time--to build and maintain their sites.

The bottom line is any business owner who cites price as the reason they don't have a website, haven't done their homework, or are just using it as an excuse.

The entire concept of business is ever evolving. What worked 5 years ago is not what works today if you want to keep up.

The internet is a business tool that builds on every aspect of marketing... being found, controlling your marketing message, engaging with customers, feedback, reviews, etc.

If you want to stay in the game, you need to welcome technology, learn how to use it and keep evolving. Does Home Depot need QR codes on their labels to do business? No. They do it to make it easier for a buyer to get information they are looking for that will make them pull the trigger to buy.

Does every type of business need to use all options there are out there? No, they need to figure out what works best for them and capitalize on it. Do they know what this is or how to do it? NO and that's why they need resources like this one that make getting a small business website up and running easy ....

Websites For Small Business

Monday, March 5, 2012

Small Business Website Resource

What I often hear from small business owners is that they don't believe they need to be online for one of two reasons:

1) they are a local business only and perceive the web as a tool for businesses who do business beyond their local area or ....

2) they think that since they are not actually "selling" anything online, with an e-commerce platform, that a website would be overkill for them ....

3) the belief that websites are simply too costly or difficult to design and maintain.

Over half of small business owners do not have a website, something I find shocking! With the ridiculously low barriers to entry in having a site (low costs to design, publish, and host), there's truly no excuse - other than lack of understanding.

Simply put .... the potential benefits to having an online presence are just too great to ignore.

So... the challenge is in the continual need to provide education within the small businessz community. It appears that we cannot overemphasize the importance / need for ALL businesses to have an online presence, and that we also need to help direct small business owners to the easy and affordable resources that exist that will help them join the online community.

Here's one highly regared resource I recommend without reservation ....

Websites For Small Business

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How A Local Small Business Can Have A Website

For a local small business the bottom line on having a website is ... "you need to do this". The benefits to a small business of getting online with their own website far and away overshadow any argument for not having one. Quite frankly ... there's nothing to be afraid of.

For those so inclined I can recommend at least 1 cost effective potential resource with both DIY (do it yourself) and custom (do it 4 me) website development options here ....

Website For A local Small Business

It's targeted to just the audience least likely to "get it" .... local businesses. The link includes sensible reasoning why a website is value added for the local business owner. Maybe reading the dialogue there will help a few to see the light.

I also have to state that ... 5 figures or high 4 figures for a basic business website is absurd. With the link above you'll get a high performance small business website at a price that will make your jaw drop ... in a good way.