Even in todays media-driven world, there is no better form of advertising than word-of-moutha personal referral from someone whose opinions others trust and respect. Small business owners are among the biggest beneficiaries of word-of-mouth referrals, as they require no advertising and marketing budget.
Collecting on overdue accounts can be a frustrating experience for a small business owner, particularly during the start-up period when every dollar of revenue counts toward staying solvent and repaying debts. Its not the most pleasant part of being an entrepreneur, but not handling them expeditiously will almost certainly endanger your businesss cash flow and long-term viability.
Youre all set to start a small business. You have the drive, the desire, and the commitment to make it work. You lack just one thingan idea for the business itself. Dont worry. Even successful entrepreneurs sometimes have difficulty deciding their next move.
Market research is a valuable planning tool for businesses of all sizes and types. Whats more, you dont need a huge budget to gather data about your customers perceptions and preferences and how they make buying decisions. Market research can also help you with decisions about where to direct advertising and marketing resources. All it takes is a willingness to learn and some careful planning.
A marketing plan is an essential tool for business. Developing one will help you think about what makes your business unique and how to get the message out to desired audiences through a variety of channels.
Starbucks did it. So did Sams Club. For that matter, McDonalds did, too. They carved themselves a successful business niche. When Starbucks came on the scene, it raised coffee from a mere beverage to a culture in its own right. Warehouse clubs like Sams made shopping in bulk fashionable and before McDonalds, fast food was downright slow.
Are your marketing messages getting lost in the clutter of mail, email and advertising? Consider permission marketing, an exciting approach popularized by author and entrepreneur Seth Godin. Unlike conventional marketing strategies where you make a one-time pitch and hope the prospective customer responds favorably, permission marketing is all about building relationships with people who first agree to learn more about your company and its products or services. Because email is the primary vehic
How much should I charge? Thats a question asked by many new entrepreneurs. Charging either too little or too much may produce the same results: difficulty luring customers, poor cash flow and suspicions about the quality of your work.
A small business owner was looking for a few good employees for his alarm company. In the past, he advertised in the classifieds. Then, it dawned on him that the kind of employee he wanted probably wasnt sitting at home reading the help wanted ads. His best workers had always come to him with personal recommendations. Thats when the first brainstorm hit. He chose a select group of customers and sent them a letter asking their help with his recruitment drive. He got his referrals and the unex
For financing flexibility, nothing beats a revolving credit line (RCL). Structured much like your personal credit card, RCLs allow approved borrows to tap only as much as money as needed to stay atop seasonal and business cycle fluctuations. Application and repayment requirements are generally far simpler than loans and other common financing options.
Every once in awhile it pays to sit back and take stock of how youre running your business. Is the accounting software still the best for the job? Is the phone system meeting your needs? And most importantly, are you focusing on your greatest asset of all: your customers? Sometimes we get so caught up in the mechanics of doing business that we forget the reason were in business in the first place.
Youve probably heard a great deal about the rewards of running your own business. But you must also be aware of the trade-offs and sacrifices that come with being in charge. Over time, those long hours, missed weekends and pressure-packed deadlines may take their toll on your physical and emotional health, affecting relations with your employees, family and friends in the process. Fortunately, there are many good ways to keep business burnout at bay.
Whats standing between you and starting your own business? If its a lack of money, relax. There are a number of reasonable start-up capital options available to aspiring entrepreneurs. The key is planning. Your financing strategy must make sense to both you and your prospective lender.
Would you know what to do if your competitor opened up shop across the street? Your product was featured on NBCs Today Show? Or, what if your best employee just quit? Sometimes, an entrepreneur needs a sounding board with whom to discuss new business opportunities or looming problems.
Whether theyre on the medal stand at the Olympics or standing in line for a hotdog at the recreation league cookout, great athletes always credit their coaches for instilling the discipline necessary to achieve a goal, offering helpful tips to sharpen their skills or providing encouragement during difficult times. Likewise, an entrepreneur can benefit from the wisdom and insights of an experienced business coach. Finding this unique individual is easier than you may think.
One of the most valuable forms of publicity is the news story about your business. Of course getting positive press coverage isnt as easy as buying an ad. It takes legwork, patience and a lot of persistence, but the payoff is worth it.
Getting a small business loan is not as easy as saying you have a great idea and holding out your hand. While it is difficult to get a start-up business loan without a proven track record, its not impossible.
Todays customers have demanding expectations for quality products and services. To meet them and keep them coming back, you need qualified employees who are as committed to your business as you are.
Its been said before, but this is one maxim that bears repeating: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Your responsibilities multiply when youre running your own business. Unfortunately, the time available to handle them does not. Entrepreneurs must be effective multi-taskers to find the happy medium between being overwhelmed and constantly at odds with deadlines.
A common problem for small business owners is the struggle to maintain adequate cash flow levels. Without cash, a business must eventually close its doors. Understanding and managing your companys cash flow will help you measure the amount of cash on hand and prepare for cash flow shortfalls in the future.
Remember all the planning and research that went into starting your small business? Hopefully, that effort has paid off with results that are, at the very least, meeting your expectations. Now, you need to maintain that investment in research and analysis to sustain your short-term success well into the future.
Having respect for your customers will ensure their faith in and loyalty to you and your business. Studies show that it is nine times more difficult to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, so it is critical to keep your customers happy. Surveys, focus groups and questionnaires are among the ways to measure your customers perceptions of you and determine how to improve.
If you discover that a customer is dissatisfied, take action immediately to win back their confide
While on a limited budget you can still create a quality marketing plan, assuring customer satisfaction and a good image for your business.
When you organize your business and eliminate the clutter, you will feel reenergized. You will find that you are easily motivated to get straight to work when you dont have a mess to deal with. You will save time otherwise wasted looking through piles or searching for a missing document on your computer. Begin by establishing a plan. Prioritize your list, set a date with yourself and identify your motivation.
Paper, paper, paper. Its everywhere in a small business, from customer invoices and expense receipts to your licenses and annual tax returns. Without proper management, these records can gradually proliferate into a monumental mess, making it difficult to find what you really need amid the clutter.
Theres no place like home, especially when you get to work there too. While others deal with frustrating commutes and noisy cubicles, youre getting ahead and getting things done. Or are you? Without proper planning and organization, your home office may do more to hinder your productivity than enhance it.
Good help may be hard to find, but your work as a small business owner is not finished after they accept your job offer. Every employee, regardless of experience, must transition from new hire to fully integrated staff member. A well-designed orientation and training program can help expedite this process, and reduce the likelihood of turnover.
Youve put a lot of time and effort into your business plan. What happens when its done? Think of your business plan as a living document and refer to it and review it often.
No two business plans look alikenor should they. While many small businesses launch without a plan in sight, if you are bent on seeking funding, whether from a bank, angel or venture capitalist, youll need a business plan.