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Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Common Pitfalls to Be Avoided In Small Business Budgeting

Common Pitfalls to Be Avoided In Small Business Budgeting
By John Karthikeyan

For some business owners, budgeting might seem like an overly hectic task. But when the priorities are clearly established and realistic estimate of the whole business is made, there will not be any hidden demons in the whole budgeting process.

Below listed are some of the common pitfalls that are to be avoided in the process:

Under Estimation of Costs:

Any type of businesses has a set of ancillary or supplementary costs that usually do not make it up to the budget and most often go unnoticed. For instance, when software equipment is purchased, we often take into account only the cost of the equipment and tend to avoid the other associated costs like maintenance, installation and training costs. This in turn will lead to under estimation of the cost.

No budgeting:

The major mistake of all budgeting process is going on with the business with no idea of profitability. Checks go out and bills come in. It would become a monotonous process.

Business with no objective:

A concrete business plan is very important before the company incorporation. If there is no proper planning, then the business is more likely to go waste. So goals have to be set with utmost care.

Making the best choice of all expenses:

For a small business, there will be many expenses. One needs to scrutinize all the expenses accordingly and compare the estimates to actual-pay outs. For example, if you have decided to set up a website for your business and the website maintenance costs around $1000 a year. If the similar service is offered by another service provider at $500, time should be taken to scrutinize both individually and decide on the right one that suits the budget.

Cash Flow Monitoring:

For a small business to be successful, the inflow and outflow of the cash has to be monitored. Ignoring the revenues and emphasizing only on the expenses will yield very bad results. In order to avoid to the major disasters, a periodic check on revenue and expenses have to be made and should be recorded.

Focus on most important item:

During budgeting in a small business, equal amount should not be spent on all the items. Instead money should be spent on the profit driving item.

Flexible Approach:

A good business is the one that is more flexible. Sometimes the small business will not yield the expected revenue. During that times the business should be flexible so as to trim down the expenses and bring the budget under control.

Budget: Limiting exercise not limit:

It is well and good to stick to the budget. But it should not be seen as a hindrance to spending. For example, an unplanned trip to a trade conference can be seen as a big expense in budget. But through the trip if you can get precious contacts by which you can expand your business it should rather be seen as a valuable investment than just spending money.

For nearly 10 years, G.K. Management Services assisted entrepreneurs within service and contracting small businesses to increase their return on investment by advice on business incorporation and on budgeting. Visit http://www.gkmtax.com to contact them or learn more about their services

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Karthikeyan

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When Business Owners And Entrepreneurs Face That Fine Line

When Business Owners And Entrepreneurs Face That Fine Line
By Cindy Hartman

There is a very fine line between success and failure. Many entrepreneurs and business owners have walked this line many times. It is evident when you see two people start a similar business at about the same time. A few years later, one is building the company of his or her dreams while the other has not. What makes one person successful, and the other not able to achieve the same desired result?

Often success is as close as just doing something one more time instead of stopping. Giving it one more shot before closing the doors for good might be that extra special push that is all you needed. If you're facing some struggles, not quite achieving the success you are working towards, how long do you keep going? Or, possibly a better question, how soon is too soon to stop the pursuit? Often the difference between success and failure can appear to be a massive brick wall. However, in most situations, it's really just a fine line.

Before choosing to let your dreams stay dreams rather than becoming reality, ask yourself one question.

Instead of settling for something less because it might be the easier road to travel, ask yourself one question.

Rather than giving up and walking away from all that you've created so far, ask yourself one question.

If you're ready to give up, consider asking yourself, "What if I just give it...

... one more sales call?"

... one more phone call?"

... one more offer?"

... one more letter?"

... one more step?"

... one more email?"

... one more introduction?"

... one more minute of my time?"

Being persistent can make a world of difference, as demonstrated in this statement that is credited to Calvin Coolidge, "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

If it's in your heart for success, don't wonder what might have been. There is always "one more" in you when success is in your heart. Give it that one more before the end of the day. Then, tomorrow, give it that one more again. Let persistence be your guide so you don't live the rest of your life wondering what would have happened if you just gave it one more!

Cindy Hartman is President of Hartman Inventory, a company that helps business owners and homeowners protect their assets. She is also owner of Nationwide Inventory Professionals, an inventory business package and licensing agreement. Start and grow your business with their professional assistance. Details at http://www.NationwideInventoryProfessionals.com.

Always giving just "one more," Hartman is also the owner of National Inventory Certification Association, the certifying entity for the asset inventory industry. http://www.NationalInventoryCertificationAssociation.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cindy_Hartman

Saturday, November 23, 2013

How to Get More Customers - Budget Marketing Idea

How to Get More Customers - Budget Marketing Idea
By Melody Campbell

There is a part of the human brain called the Reticular Activating System, also known as the RAS, designed to do half of your marketing job for you. Yeah that's right. This fabulous brain feature has the job of filtering all in coming stimuli and making the decision as to whether we pay attention to or ignore something.

So how does the RAS do half your marketing job for you? Your customer's RAS is focused on their needs, wants and desires. Your customer's RAS filters out and ignores everything else. Your customer's brain is seeking a solution like a heat seeking missile targeting their desires with pin point accuracy. Whenever there is a solution in the sphere of awareness held by your customer the RAS zeros the customer's attention to the satisfaction of their desires making the solution impossible to miss.

If your product or service is the solution to your customer's problem - the object of their need, want, or desire - your customer's RAS will draw them right to you. Bingo! Half the job of marketing!

The question is, how do you show up on your customer's RAS radar so you are not ignored and filtered out? That's the purpose of target marketing. Let me turn that phrase "upside down" in your thinking. Most gurus will tell you to find YOUR target market - YOUR ideal customer. I say to you - become your customer's target.

How to become your customers' target

  1. Conduct a needs analysis of the people you serve or want to serve
  2. Design your product and/or service to be the target for those needs discovered
  3. Design your marketing material as a target that your prospects RAS will easily identify as the solution.

So in simple terms - using an example we've all heard before - focus on presenting the �" hole, not the drill bit - the sizzle, not the steak.

Emotions vs. Logic

Sales psychology describes a phenomenon in which buyers make buying decisions based on emotion and supports those emotional decisions with logic: therefore your marketing must use emotion to sell what people want, not what you think they "need" or want them to need.

The function and focus of the RAS is increased when inspired by strong emotions. When you are able to inspire a strong emotional state of mind to propose the logical benefits of your product or service you make it nearly impossible for your prospect to deny him or herself the object of their desire.

This is a subtle change of perspective but If you will think in terms of being the target that your customers' RAS is focused on finding, instead of targeting your customers, you will be working with your customers' brain and have half your marketing job done for you!

See if you qualify for a $5000 educational grant for select small business owners Apply for Grant

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Melody_Campbell

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bootstrapping Your Small Business's Working Capital Needs For Free

Bootstrapping Your Small Business's Working Capital Needs For Free
By Joseph Lizio

Can you image a way to finance your small business's working capital needs - like purchasing inventory, supplies, materials, labor etc - and not having to pay a dime to do it?

Well, not only can it be done but you might have the ability to do it right now.

Working Capital

Let's start by looking at working capital. Working capital is essentially money that a business uses to manage its operating cycle. A retail business needs inventory to sell. It purchases that inventory up front - then works on selling those products over the coming days, weeks, months, etc. But, the business cannot pay for that inventory until it sells those items. Thus, in the mean time, it has to expend some working capital to purchase those products until it can sell them and recoup its money.

The same with service businesses. They need materials, supplies and even labor to get a job done for a customer. But, the business does not get paid until that job is done. However, it still has to cover those materials and wages in the mean time. It does so with its working capital - paying up front and getting reimbursed when the job is done.

Lastly, working capital for a manufacturing business is its life blood. The business receives an order and has to purchase needed materials to complete that order for the customer. Plus, the business has to pay for utilities, supplies and labor to convert those materials into a finished product and it has to do all of this before it gets paid. Thus, it has to have working capital on hand or it has to refuse to take that new order.

Now, most small businesses, instead of using their own money, like to apply for bank lines of credit to cover their working capital or operating capital needs.

The reason is that they offer a great benefit like the ability to draw on, use and then pay that line back throughout the year - as it earns revenue from its operations.

However, bank lines of credit - especially unsecured one - are very hard to get these days. Banks and many other small business lenders either no longer provide lines of credit or make them too hard to qualify for. Plus, if you can get one, they charge high interest from the moment you draw the line as well as huge fees just to have the line available.

And, if you can't get a bank line of credit, what do you do then?

Well, you bootstrap of course and if you do it right - you can get all those same benefits without any of the cost.

Bootstrapping Working Capital

Bootstrapping is about using personal resources to start, grow and manage your small business. It comes to businesses that have no other options - meaning that they can't get business loans. So, they turn to personal resources - like savings, home equity or personal credit cards. And, it is the latter that will provide the greatest benefit for working capital.

Credit cards - personal credit cards - are used by nearly 65% of all small businesses (not just new businesses but all small businesses).

The reason is that these cards provide:

  1. The same ability (benefit) as bank lines of credit - meaning that you can draw on the credit card line, pay it back and draw again.
  2. They are so much easier to get then business loans.
  3. They are unsecured - so no collateral is required. And,
  4. They can be used in your business to cover your operating capital needs.

Most personal credit cards do not have annual fees or any fees for that matter. They do not have to be zeroed out each year (meaning that you don't have to pay them off and replay every 12 months). And, many provide cash back or other rewards - all things that you cannot or will not get with a traditional line of credit. But, their greatest benefit is that they provide billing cycles and grace periods before interest is charged.

Most credit cards have a 30 day billing cycle. That means that if you make a purchase today, you will not get charged any interest until after the billing cycle is completed. Thus, let's say that your billing cycle ends on the 15th of each month. Now, if you make a purchase on the 16th of the month, you will not be charged interest on that purchase for at least another 30 days (until the 15th of the next month). And, if you pay that balance in full before the 15th of the next month - you will not be charged any interest at all.

Additional, many credit cards also offer a 25 day grace period to pay after the billing cycle ends - increasing the time until you get charged interest or have to make payments.

This means that you can make purchases on your card and, not only do you not have to pay for those charges for nearly 55 days (almost two months), but you can use that time to run through your operating cycles, get paid from your customers and pay off those purchases - before you get charged any interest at all - and as long as you pay that card off in full, it will cost you nothing.

Credit Cards For Cash Flow

Let's look at some examples:

A retail business needs to buy $5,000 in inventory and plans to sell those products over the next 30 days. But, it does not have the cash on hand. So, it puts those purchases on a credit card, sells the inventory over the next month. Collects payments from customers - say $15,000 as their mark up is 200%. Then before the card payment is due, take $5,000 from those sales and pays off the balance. In this case, they covered their working capital needs and did not pay a dime in interest or fees for it.

A service business has a new customer that will pay $20,000 to get a job done. To do this, the business will have to purchase $10,000 in supplies and added labor to complete the job. The company does not have that cash on hand and puts those charges on a credit card - completes the job in the next two weeks and collects payment from its customer. It then, before the end of the credit card's billing cycle, pays the balance off with part of its customer's payment and ends up paying nothing in interest or fees.

Lastly, a manufacturer needs $7,500 in raw materials to create $30,000 in finished product that it has customers lining up for. But, it does not have the $7,500 on hand and uses it credit card to pay its suppliers. Then, when the production run is done and the business gets paid - it promptly pays off the card's balance and pays no interest, financing charges or fees.

And, there are as many examples as there are small businesses needing operating capital to grow their companies.

Keys To Success

There are two key factors here:

  1. You have to be able to complete your business cycle within that 30 day billing period. If it takes you more time then that to get paid by your customers - then you will start to accrue interest. However, paying interest for a month or two may not be that bad given that if you did not come up with the working capital in the first place, you would not be able to get the inventory or materials needed and would have to turn away those customers. (Just as long as you can earn more from the job or sale - then the product and any financing would cost).
  2. Be able and willing to pay those charges off in full each month - when paid by customers.

Conclusion

There are times that banks and traditional business financing is not the best option for growing small businesses - especially if those banks and financing companies keep denying loan requests.

So, business owners have to find ways to bootstrap. However, bootstrapping does not have to be either hard or expensive. And, like the examples shown, if managed properly, some of the alternative financing options that many small business owners try to avoid (like using personal credit) can turn out to be an inexpensive blessing in disguised.

Joseph Lizio holds a MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship and is the founder of Business Money Today - a website designed to help entrepreneurs find the unsecured business loans and small business working capital they need today.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joseph_Lizio

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Power of the Mind and Small Business Ideas

The Power of the Mind and Small Business Ideas
By Rhett Kniep

It is common to think of a lightbulb when thinking about "ideas." It is so common it is almost cliche. You know, the lit bulb in a picture showing someone thinking or coming up with a solution or discovering something.

There are likely many reasons for it, but I would assume much of it comes from the father of inventors, known to us as the great Thomas Edison. Edison was a prolific inventor, and has a intriguing story. The truth is, Edison did not invent the first electric bulb, but he did develop a systematic way of producing an incandescent bulb that was commercially practical. In 1879, he patented a carbon filament method of producing light. The bulb lasted a mere 13 and 1/2 hours. But it was on a fishing trip to Wyoming where Edison came up with the idea of a carbonized bamboo filament. He was relaxing on the shore of a fishing lake and examining threads of his bamboo fishing pole when it hit him, and back at his lab he applied the bamboo filament idea and was able to achieve 1200 hours of light. This idea of Edison became the first major breakthrough for his development of commercially feasible electric lighting.

Now consider the situation. Edison was on a trip, a vacation. He was there to relax, fish, and see a solar eclipse. But there was one other thing that he was doing; a very important thing... HE WAS THINKING. He was thinking because that is what Edison did, and he understood the power of the mind. One of the greatest human inventions of all time resulted from a man relaxing and looking closely at his fishing pole... and thinking.

The world is a better place for Edison having lived because he knew how to think, and act on his thinking. Edison acted on his "business idea" and put it into motion by developing systems to produce his ideas. During that time he had started Edison Electric Light Company with the assistance of JP Morgan and Vanderbilt as financiers. No doubt the development of an idea, the pitching of the idea, and the forming of a company based on a novel concept took a lot of work. Those things always do. But it had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was the mind of Thomas Edison.

Money, position, resources, intelligence, talent... you name it... they are all necessary at some point in the process to develop an idea. But they are not necessary at the inception of the idea. There is only one thing necessary to get the idea, and that is IMAGINATION.

Albert Einstein said "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination."

He was right. The inventions of the world that have blessed and bettered the lives of untold millions did not come from merely knowing things, but from thinking things. Thinking is the Power of the Mind, and it has utterly limitless potential to solve problems and create solutions.

So why don't more people actually think? I mean if thinking really is the solution, why aren't there more solutions?

Edison had a placard in his lab (where he did all his developing of his "thinking") which said it best. It was Sir Joshua Reynolds ' famous quotation: "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking."

The real problem people face is not the inability to think, it's the lack of desire to think. Television, Internet, cell phones, I-pads, video games, and every other device designed to entertain and wow us throughout the day are waging war on our minds. They demand that we not think, but that we zone into whatever unreal territories they lead us. There is no original, creative thought when reacting to the flickering lights of a multimedia gizmo. (And what sad irony there is in that) But there can be and is creative imagination when we set out to foster our own minds.

We foster our minds when we focus with our minds. Instead of letting things happen to us, reacting to stimuli, we must aggressively and purposely pursue ideas. Ideas are generated by other ideas, which are generated by other ideas, and so on and on. It is a progressive process which ultimately leads to great ideas, and great solutions.

Reading, writing, building, calculating... these are activities which foster creativity. Whether they are entertaining or not is unimportant. The real question is: do these activities engage my mind toward creating a solution to a problem?

If you want to develop a successful small business, you must foster small business ideas. You find small business ideas by studying, engaging, interacting, and working in any area of interest. That area of interest is virtually limitless. It can be making home-baked goods to sell at your neighborhood street corner. It can be setting up a lab to design and manufacture mechanical devices. It can be anything you can imagine. But know this: all great businesses begin by a creative person engaging his or her mind to solve an existing problem through the means of their imagination.

This is the genesis of small business ideas and the genesis of small business success.

Think, design, plan, sketch, organize, coordinate, and create. And who knows, a light bulb may turn on. :-)

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rhett_Kniep

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Characteristics of a Good Small Business Website

Characteristics of a Good Small Business Website
By Cliff M Curtis

Having a website has become very essential to every business today because of the growing popularity of the Web technologies. Under these circumstances to survive competition, a small business should have a good website. A good website is one that helps you realize the object of doing business without compromising on quality and standards. A good website helps your small business attract the targeted traffic, and ultimately helps you grow in business.

Following are some of the major things to be taken care of while creating a website for your small business.

• Structure of a website

Structure of the website needs to be well organized and designed. A website with good structure increases the usability of the website to the users.

Pleasant theme, good colors and relevant images must be used and should be appealing to the users.

All the content must be placed according to the categories and name them with short and apt names.

Internal linking must be easy and sequence of hierarchy must be followed in placing the content of the webpages.

• Content of a website

Content in the website is the king. In other words, content is more important than any other aspect while considering usability of the site. It shouldn't be too short or too big and should convey useful information to the user.

Content posted on the website should be informative and free from errors. The content should convey all the useful information about products, services, the company and the brand.

Content should be fresh (updated regularly) with genuine and relevant information.

In short, content of an ideal website needs to be informative, authoritative and persuasive.

• Relevant images

Images of the products or any relevant images will help the visitor understand the product well, that gives the customer a visual knowledge of the products/services.

In situations, where a visitor doesn't want to spend much time reading the description of the products, images are helpful.

Posting irrelevant images for attracting the visitors is a bad idea. Visitors come to your website to find useful information on the products/services, the company, etc. Visitors' attention gets distracted by irrelevant images.

• Easy navigation

Easy navigation would make browsing easy to the users of any category.

Navigating your website should be simple and easy to execute for your audiences.

Navigation should be clear and it should guide the visitor through the internal webpages properly to access the information that he/she is willing to browse.

• Theme of a website

Theme of a website must be simple yet, attractive.

Theme of a website should be pleasant, clear and should not be so bright to obstruct user reading.

Theme should be consistent throughout the internal webpages.

A good website should enable the small business owner to promote the business online effectively, to reach the target audience and convert them into loyal customers. From users' perspective, it should enhance user experience and thus should keep them engaged.

SMB Corner started to share insightful and honest opinions, tips and issues on various topics related to small businesses. We create and publish various small business tips, small business news after rigorously analyzing the information for the usability of our visitors and SMB owners.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cliff_M_Curtis

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How To Get Started With Designing Your Small Business Marketing Strategy

How To Get Started With Designing Your Small Business Marketing Strategy
By A. MacDougall

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, your marketing strategy is extremely important in that it drives the sales that keep the lifeblood of your business flowing - cash. Therefore, although it might be something that seems quite boring initially, it is very important to invest some time and creativity in developing your go-to-market plan.

Just like every other entrepreneur and startup, it's crucial that you have a great marketing strategy in place to ensure your business success. However, this is often easier said than done. Firstly, no-one really likes putting plans together to begin with, and then when you do get down to it, there are so many options and possibilities that it's starts to get very confusing, very quickly.

With that in mind, I thought I'd write an article with a few pointers to help you get started. Here goes.

1) Before You Do Anything, Make Sure You Identify Your Target Market

Although this may sound beyond obvious, you'd be surprised at how many people don't think about this. If you don't think about this early on - or not at all even - then you'll soon be wasting precious time, effort and budget. It really is worth figuring out who your target market is so you can target them with razor sharp and relevant marketing.

Here a few pointers to help with this:

  • It is best to be excellent at designing great marketing campaigns designed perfectly for a smaller audience than it is to poorly target a wider audience
  • Don't try and be all things to all markets - know who your target market is, what they want and put all of your attention in that direction
  • It often pays to look at what other businesses in your sector are up to and who they are marketing toward. You might also be able to learn a few things by joining their online communities and email/lead nurturing lists

2) Then, Make Sure You Know How To Reach Your Target Market

After you have squared away the point above and you know who your target market is, you should now spend a bit of time figuring out the best way of reaching and delivering your message to them. Although it seems like we should all be active on every new social network or platform that comes our way, this really isn't the case. All that matters is that you find out where your intended audience is and that you meet them there.

For example, if your business is B2C focused and you only sell to individuals/consumers, you may well find out that social media networks are the perfect place for you to connect with your market. Or, it might be that your research says that operating a stand at a local market is the best way for you if you are a local small business. On the other hand, if you are in the business-to-business (B2C) markets and you supply clients across the country, you might decide that a telemarketing campaign or a presence at an industry trade show is the way to go.

In reality, you will most likely need mix of marketing channels to reach your audience - just remember the crucial thing here is not to chase every shiny new social network or marketing strategy that comes your way, but to make sure that you judge everything properly and only invest in activities that fit your goals and industry

3) Finally, Make Sure That You Keep Your Marketing Strategy 'Agile'

The last tip here is to say that in this day and age, it's really important that you adopt an Agile marketing approach to your overall strategy. Basically, the concept with this is that modern, digital marketplaces change incredibly quickly and we therefore have to be in a position where we can quickly adapt our marketing strategies to keep up. Remember the point above about not chasing every shiny new network or strategy that comes your way? Well that's only really half of the story. The other side is that you also have to be in a position to accept that things often change and that your strategy will probably have to adapt from time to time too. An Agile marketing strategy allows you to achieve this by encouraging you to analyse and measure your strategy on a regular basis, rather than every 6 or 12 months as would be the case with a more traditional, rigid plan.

So, the important thing is to have a degree of flexibility in your plan so that you can effectively adapt to shifting markets and customer requirements. That way, your business will continue to be able to find leads and bring on board new customers, even during difficult and unpredictable times.

For more information on designing your small business marketing strategy, please take a look at: my blog - thanks for reading!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=A._MacDougall

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Learn From My Experience - First Year Tips For Small Business Entrepreneurs

Learn From My Experience - First Year Tips For Small Business Entrepreneurs
By Keith M

The Number One first year tip - it's ALL about finding customers and keeping them happy

Whether you are at the feasibility, seed, or launch stage, you need customers!

If someone is showing interest but is not asking about prices, then you may have a new hobby, which is nice, but not a business.

Why? Ideas and plans are a dime a dozen. Cashflow is King. A potential customer is proof positive you may have found a genuine demand or gap in the market - but only when they start talking price.

A vision means squat without a plan for customers.

"A customer base equals capital"

Attracting investors will be much easier if they can see you are already generating a cashflow.

Also customers will attract people interested in working with you - and eventually you will need a team to go anywhere significant.

A customer means you are not dreaming!

Don't wait for qualifications

You could be forgiven for thinking that in the 2010's you need a string of qualifications and / or an MBA before making a move. It's not the case. Examples abound and if necessary you can hire to cover the gaps. Rather, try to emphasise product, ideas and team.

Which book learning are we skipping over here? What are some of the nice to have's you might defer?

In the initial stages of a business there are marketing skills - be content with seeing the original gap and creating a product to fit. Then finance skills - skip high finance and stick to the basic organisation of personal and business finance to cover risks, and finally time management skills where the essentials can be mastered quickly.

Later in the development phase we have operations - leadership, management, IT, property, culture/psychology, teamwork, loyalty, communications and regulations - the list goes on.

While it may seem heresy to some, the fact is there are many successes in business who started young with no management training.

Beware Franchising

Starting out under the protection of a franchise is a seductive option. Beware! While it may be a way to start-up with less risk, pay particular attention to:

� The franchise sale

Franchise operators are very good marketers - of their franchises. Be wary that you are not sucked in too much by the promises and pictures. Seriously, it's their job to sell you, just make sure they have a viable plan and you can sell their product.

� Your independence

The bottom line is that you have decided to become an entrepreneur, for reasons which quite likely include working for yourself, and by signing up with a franchise you have immediately given that independence away.

Will you be happy working for a head office? How much input to the business do you really have? Have you just bought yourself a job?

Take a real close look at your marketing plan

How are you going to find and reach customers? Your first job is to run like mad just to find them:

First, are you in an active sector and do you have a ready path to market? Where are you sourcing your leads - today?

Watch out for your own psychology. When starting out you may want to just go with the first half decent opportunity you come across. Relax; try to look at things objectively.

Beware of the "1% of the market is huge" syndrome. Yours may be a billion dollar market, but how do you get any of it? What do you think the competition is doing right now?

Any idea of the cost of acquisition of a new customer? Will your model develop repeat customers? If not you will be forever selling, and this is not a good place to be.

Most forms of marketing except word of mouth are very expensive. When starting out there is no doubt the best marketing model is word of mouth.

Branding. Despite the hype it's nothing new. Don't even think about mega-brand style exposure. A start-up is about a reputation, person to person sales and keeping a handful of customers happy.

What is the shelf life of your idea? How are you going to protect it in the internet age?

How smart is the business model?

A business model is the way we do things - how we find and reach customers, differentiate the business from the pack, price, sell and deliver our product.

But there is more. Other desirables include a residual structure, one that compounds growth, and which is leveraged either in time (employees) or money (loans).

Is it going to be a dynamic business or a job?

Realistically - are your finances strong enough for the first year or two?

Being an entrepreneur is a gamble and you must be prepared for the worst if it happens. How do you view losing money? Perhaps try investing on small bets in the stock market and see how it feels before investing in your own ideas.

Don't get into debt you cannot handle. We should be bold but not take risks. Avoid betting your lifestyle, limit the investment to what you can "afford to lose", then do everything to make sure that does not happen.

Entrepreneurs should always have backup plans. Not everything will work by any stretch of imagination.

How many hours are you working?

Have you really planned your diary? How will you fit everything in? Not all of us can survive on 4 hours sleep per night.

Remember the working rule - hard and smart.

And if you do work all hours, what is your effective hourly rate? Planning any time off?

Do you have a good business partner?

If you aspire to anything other than a micro business, you will have to think "team". The synergy gained outweighs potential downsides. While a committee of one gets things done, eventually you need others in your corner.

Are you ahead of trends?

No business can ignore trends. Try to have an eye on the picture three to five years ahead.

As a qualified accountant with a strong interest in new ventures Keith is well placed to advise on building for future growth.
He's an expert in Excel and financial modelling. Find out more at http://www.teamasiaconsulting.com or http://www.introofferteamasia.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Keith_M

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Small Business Failures...6 Pitfalls to Avoid

Small Business Failures: 6 Pitfalls to Avoid
By Tiffaney M Graham

Everyone wants to share the upside of small business and entrepreneurship. It's easy to find helpful hints and inspiring success stories, but what about the dark side - the real insight into entrepreneurship, the mistakes! Small business failures occur every day - actually about 50% of them fail.

1) Venturing Out Alone

So often I find that business owners want to start and remain as a one-man show. Some entrepreneurs trust only themselves, a partner, or a spouse when facing key decisions. However, it is vital to avoid small business failures to have a team supporting you. They should include, an attorney, a CPA and a financial advisor/banker. This team of advisors should be dedicated to helping you succeed and communicating with each other to accomplish this goal.

2) Wearing All the Hats

"A jack of all trades, is seldom the master of one." One sure way to quickly hit the "small business failures list" try to do EVERYTHING yourself. Cash-strapped startups often begin this way because it is well it, cheaper. However, as your business grows, it's essential to get help. Responsibilities such as bookkeeping, taxes and payroll take up time you could spend serving your customers. Even more importantly, getting them wrong can be dangerous. Hiring a professional not only helps prevent errors, but shifts much of the risk to someone else.

3) Keeping Your Head Down

Business owners also need to make time to seek wisdom in the wider world. For example, some business owners may not be aware that there's a fairly simple way to get their website ranked higher on Internet searches.

If you are seeking wisdom every day this is the kind of useful information you will find. Research and planning for the future can't seem like secondary concerns, especially when you're not sure where to go for information.

Numerous small business failures occur because business owners aren't willing to take advice. Whether your quest for knowledge includes online research, trade shows, Chamber meetings, or networking with peers, it's out on ways to improve your business, such as funding opportunities for small businesses or educational resources to help you tackle tomorrow's challenges.

4) Running Lean on Cash

Keep at least three months of cash flow on reserve to be ready for season fluctuations of the inevitable dry spell. It is often difficult to do so, especially if you developed frugal habits when you just were getting started. Use automatic drafts to ensure your commitment to saving monthly. Think of it as a sort of insurance policy.

5) Avoiding Credit Applications

This small business failures tip is closely related to Step #4. Minimizing your debt mat be a good goal for your personal life, but most businesses will require some level of borrowing capacity at some point. You have a fresh credit profile with your business, use it! In many cases, if you wait until you actually need credit it can be harder to get.

6) Combining Accounts

Not separating business and personal accounts may be one of the most common small business failures of all. Like any other situation, when it comes to banking, keep your business & personal life SEPARATE! If you are mixing funds, it is hard to keep track of your business cash flow. Building a credit history in the business' name, which can make it easier to secure financing.

Do any of these sound familiar? To avoid small business failures take a long look at the way you work and follow practices that will keep you moving forward.

Remember, You Can Avoid Small Business Failures

I'm headed for the top, I know you're coming with me!

If you have other concerns about small business failures, especially in terms of marketing your small business, then connect with me at http://www.earnwithtiffaney.com or tiffaneygraham@mega-women.com.

Please share this article with your circle!

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