Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Brick And Mortar Stores Vs. Virtual Stores

We live in an age where new technology is constantly supplanting old ways of doing things. This phenomenon has had a largely positive impact on commerce, increasing efficiency and aiding the spread of new information and products. But it has also complicated the choices available to those who are starting a business for the first time.

Many new business owners are wondering: “Is having a traditional brick and mortar store worth the trouble?” To provide some context, and make the decision-making process a bit less agonizing, here are some of the pros and cons of tangible brick institutions versus virtual business models.

Brick and Mortar Stores: The Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Humans are material beings. Prior to purchasing, many consumers like to be able to physically touch and inspect whatever it is their buying. For a certain set of people, this principle holds true whether they’re buying a car or a dining set. A physical location allows consumers this option.
  • A brick and mortar store can serve as proof of legitimacy. There are plenty of fake businesses on the internet set up by scam artists. So consumers will be reassured that they won’t end up getting ripped off when purchasing from an actual, in-the-flesh business.
  • Few people stumble upon a website truly at random. With a physical store, there’s the chance to pick up extra business on a walk-in basis. This especially holds true for businesses in highly populated areas.

Cons:

  • Opening a brick and mortar business requires a great amount of overhead, even if it’s set up in a suitable and preexisting building.
  • Establishing a physical business requires much research, as location can dictate profits. Even then, it’s something of a gamble. What may have seemed like a good location might not turn out to be, and relocation is expensive.
  • Businesses that operate at a physical address are limited in the hours that they can serve customers. After all, if a business has closed for the night, it can’t serve customers.

Virtual Business: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • If set up correctly, an online business will operate at all hours of the day and night, and there’s no need to hire clerks, security guards, or cleaners. This grants consumers constant access, allowing them to buy whenever they feel truly ready or when the inspiration strikes.
  • Although they still involve quite a bit of time and work, online businesses are very inexpensive to start-up.
  • A virtual setup allows access to a much wider pool of potential clients. This international clientele pool is even wider than that seen by a brick and mortar business, located in a bustling metropolis.

Cons:

  • Competition in the virtual business sphere is fierce. Instead of competing on a local level, a virtual business has to compete with international competitors right off the bat. Online businesses may be easier to put up, but also easier to knock down.
  • A virtual setup can severely limit personal interaction. This can make it more difficult to establish a relationship with customers and create a positive brand identity.
  • Unless the budget is already in place to hire an IT staff, setting up a virtual store will require the development of a skill set which is likely new for many would-be entrepreneurs.

Justin blogs about business tips, as well as how to start and market a business on behalf of Kwikkerb, and also provides information on the Kwikkerb business opportunity.

Starting Your Own Freelancing Business – What You Should Know

Owning and operating a small business is exciting, stressful and fun. However, there are many things to keep in mind and constantly consider. Small businesses have tremendously changed over the past decade and especially over the past few years.

As the internet evolves, people are changing their ways of doing business and making money. You no longer need to open up a business, or work for a corporation to earn a steady income. The internet has allowed average people to take their skills, turn them into services, and get clients.

Creating a Name

You may be wondering whether or not you should personalize your business name or not. For example, if your last name was Smith, should your business be named “Smith’s Writing Services”? Creating a business name is one of the most exciting things you get to do.

Think of something catchy, short, and effective that will best describe your area of work and stand out against your competition.

Finding Work

If you aren’t already familiar with the freelancing industry, you may be unaware that there are many sites from which you can find work and begin developing clients. These websites are specifically designed for freelancers and clients online looking to outsource work. You no longer have to go out in the field to hunt down clients and work.

In fact, you don’t even have to call and talk to them on the phone! Most freelancers only deal with their clients and contractors via email, or once in a while on Skype.

Go Old School

Consider reaching out to some small brick and mortar businesses in your area. Most people are so focused on the internet and outsourcing, that their communication is always through email. Consider walking into a business with your portfolio or even sending them a brochure.

Even when on freelancing websites, consider leaving your phone number so the client can reach out to you. Many freelancers don’t use this tactic, yet it can be beneficial to standing out.

Your Competition Is All Over the World

Unlike small brick and mortar businesses whose competition is usually the big corporate stores or other small business in their area or town, online, you are competing with people in countries you may have never even heard of. It’s best to be prepared and ready to show clients what you have to offer.

Price doesn’t always have to be a factor, as some clients want to work with people in their area, so stay focused on your businesses qualities and understand exactly what your client wants and needs.

Robert is a sports writer for several local news papers. He built his experience through college and freelancing. You can contact him through his Enthuse profile.

How Vagueness Can Hurt Your Online Business

Any time you become convinced you have to try a new product, it’s because you got excited about the results it offered. Think of the infomercials on television showing how a product is used, how it compares to the competition and the convincing user testimonials. All these things build up your expectation for your own results. Then there are some commercials that are so vague, you have no idea what the company sells, life pharmaceutical commercials. If you’re creating a new online business, you need to be able to clearly define what your unique product or service promises. Vague, mysterious and fanciful wording won’t deliver that message. If people can’t visualize how your product or service is better or offers some type of benefit, it will be difficult to draw people in.

Example 1

An organization was formed to offer teaching in a food industry, promising a degree. The curriculum was not complete at the time the website was launched. There was no clear explanation how the person paying for the classes would benefit. The most you could derive from the offer was that you’d receive a piece of paper to hang on the wall. This same organization had a store selling related products, diluting the effectiveness of coming across as a reputable learning organization.

The idea did not go over well. There was plenty of excitement and expectation, but when launched, it fell flat. There was no clarity about the classes and the type of career it would lead to. This organization used the words “prestigious” and “accredited” frequently without any evidence to back them up.  Wrong language.  Wrong promises.  Wrong approach. What it could have done instead, was demonstrate the benefits over other, similar learning methods and provide proof of results.

Example 2

This next business relied on referrals to survive. Their website used such vague language that no one could tell for sure what type of seminars they offered. Vague promises of achieving and doing amazing things with your life after taking the seminars did little to define what they offered. This approach led to their being perceived by outsiders as a “cult.” That cult reputation led to bad online reviews;  their lack of an online presence did very little to refute the claim. As a result, this business has been unable to grow and recently closed a location.

If people have to physically see or experience your product or service in order to be convinced of its value, your website is not doing a good job of selling. It’s one thing if you are selling something people use on a regular basis. You do not have to convince consumers that they need the product. You just need to convince them they should buy it from you. But, when you are bringing a unique idea to the market, your vision is not enough to make it succeed. If you can’t get others to visualize the end result, the idea will fall flat on the floor.

Unique ideas require research and a vision is not research. Research requires analysis of information available about the target market, the existing market and the potential for growth within that market. This research will provide you with the information you need to understand your market’s needs. From there, you need to develop language and a selling point that appeals to this market. If your wording is just grandiose, like your vision, people won’t see it. If it sounds too good to be true and doesn’t provide proof of results, the wording doesn’t sell.

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works with NameFind.com where you can read more online business tips here: Name Find Blog

Ingredients For Cooking Up Your Homemade Business

Could 2013 be the year of the entrepreneur? It certainly seems like it could be! The sound of a home based business to many is of pure perfection, especially when they consider the perks that come with one.

The biggest is of course that you are at home and are always close to your family, yet other big perks include being able to work on your very own schedule and there is of course the savings you can make on everything from travel expenses to  buying food on your lunch break.

A small business can turn into a large one with hard work and the correct planning; however some people do like to keep them small. So whether you are planning world domination with an offshore company formation set up or just looking to do something you love, it has to start somewhere.

Though a home based business sounds like a dream come true, many people make a variety of mistakes that can eventually result in their business turning into a failure. These mistakes often range from not making sure they are complying with government regulations, not putting into practice an effective marketing strategy and simply not having the correct business plan in place.

For this reason I am going to warn you of the mistakes you should be avoiding if you are seriously contemplating starting a home based business.

Mistake Number One – Ignoring Planning

Many people dive into a home based business without drawing up a business plan; they play it by ear and often get themselves into trouble. A business plan can be instrumental in helping you to find much needed funding, keeping you on track during the tougher times whilst also ensuring that your business develops and progresses year on year.

If you do not get a business plan together you could find that your business will start to suffer financial loss and eventually fold.

  • Check with your local and national government to find out if there are any regulations your home business should be complying with and make sure you have everything from the correct paperwork to some form of business insurance set up.
  • Take time doing some competitive research, which means finding out who you competition is going to be. Look at what they seem to be doing successfully and what they are not doing as well at as they should be.
  • If you are hoping to get some form of business loan, a business plan is essential. You will need to ensure that it is well presented, thought out as well as being completely accurate and honest. It will need to include any research you have done on your competition as well as your profit and expense forecasts.

Mistake Number Two – Borrowing either Too Much or Not Enough

In instances where people want to start a home based business but do not have the capital to do so, they will have to go down the route of looking for loans, finding some investors or even getting a business credit card.

  • If you do have to borrow money, ensure that you get the amount right. Do not overspend on things you may not need, as having too much debt when setting up your company can end up putting it in jeopardy. On the other hand, not having enough money when starting out can cause plenty of problems too.
  • Only purchase what you really need. Make sure that what you are buying is going to be needed early on, things such as additional equipment and materials can be purchased later on when your business starts turning some good profits.

Mistake Number Three – Not Enough Marketing

Marketing is of massive importance for any new home based business, which really does not have to cost an arm and a leg. A very effective method is to make use of the many free or low-cost resources available to get your word out to your particular target audience, with these generally being via social media, blogs and of course radio stations and your areas local newspapers.

  • Get help from your friends and family by asking them to spread the word for you. They could do this verbally or through their own social media outlets.
  • Make use of the biggest social media devices that are free, like Facebook and Twitter.

With these tips of what mistakes to avoid in mind, you should be in a better position to ensure that your home based business turns into a success.

Bill Jobs has been an expert in business for many years and likes to share his thoughts through writing his own guest blogs. Whether you need advice on offshore company formation or simply want some tips on how to market your business more effectively, he is the man who can help you.

When A Business Starts Over Online

Right now, I’m helping a business get through a difficult transition. They operated as a branch of a larger business and the CEO decided that they could not afford to maintain this branch of the business. Rather than close the doors, the manager decided to take over the lease and continue the business under a new business name. This meant splitting up the contact list, filing for a new business name, new signage and a new domain name. They are starting from scratch and must begin from the bottom to establish an online presence. For most this would seem dreadful, but starting from scratch does provide the opportunity to fix the things that were done wrong on the original site. Here’s how the new one will benefit from the change:

Better Domain Name

The original domain name targeted a very broad keyword, one that truly didn’t describe the business properly. In fact, it was a keyword that barely described the business at all. The new business’ domain name includes the business name plus keywords people actually type into search when they are looking for this type of service.

Fresher Website

The old website had fewer than 10 pages and gave people no reason to return to it. The member filled out a form online and didn’t even make payment on the site. Payment was taken in person at the facility. The website was not optimized for any keywords and despite being around for 10 years, hadn’t accumulated a single solitary back link. It did not link to any of the social networks, did not collect subscriber emails; it simply provided an overview.

The new business’ website is being set up to not only lure local traffic for which there is no competition, it will contain a blog featuring popular guest posts who can attract their own blog and social network followers. The site is being set up with keyword optimized urls and engaging content, an email subscription field and online payment.

Greatest Benefit

The old company’s listing was followed by bad reviews in the SERPs; reviews which they had paid $5000 to push down and were unsuccessful in doing so. The new company has identified the reason for the bad reviews and is setting up their business to avoid having the business perceived the same way. Their clean slate means they can send their happy customers to the review websites and ensure they receive enough positive feedback to counteract anything negative that may be posted down the line.

To the company’s advantage, they are planning to expand this location’s offerings by bringing in well-known talent with credibility. This advantage alone merits coming to the new business versus going to the old one.

Is starting over a hassle? Sure. But, the positive is that you get to fix anything that was broken and improve on anything that worked. In this case, the trust an older domain should have offered was barely a factor in pulling in traffic and back links. Doing everything right from the beginning should naturally build the trust of the new site and quickly out shine the old one.

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Theresa Happe works with Namefind.com where businesses can find domain names and their available social handles. Visit site.

Ways In Which Companies Are Streamlining Business

Time is money.  It may be cliché, but in the world of business, this will always be true.  With technology making communication as quick as it can, anyone who doesn’t use it to their advantage is not maximizing their own potential.  Different industries use advancements in technology in different ways, so whether you are an ad agency using virtual screening rooms to show your client the latest version of a commercial, a medical facility using EHR to keep records digitally, or a customer service center using private online chat rooms to help customers in need, streamlining your business is a great way to stay ahead of the competition.

Ad Agencies Are Using Online Screening Rooms

In the old world of advertising, the process of editing a spot meant spending long times in the edit studio for just about everyone involved.  Now, with the help of virtual screening rooms, an editor can upload the current revision of the spot to a secure site so that the client can view it from anywhere in the world.  The only wait time it will take is the time it takes to upload the file.  This innovation can save a lot of man hours, allowing any one that needs to see the commercial go about their business throughout the day instead of waiting around in an editing room.

Medical Facilities Keep Records Digitally

It used to be if a medical facility needed to pull up your records, they literally had to go into a filing cabinet and pull it up.  Thanks to electronic health records, or EHR, medical clerks are able to bring up your medical history with a click of a button.  Wait times are already long enough at the doctor’s office; minimizing tedious wait time that includes trying to find your information is a great way to get patients attended to in a much more timely manner.

Customer Service Now Done Via Live Chat

Calling a customer service help line can almost guarantee that you will be on hold for the remainder of your day.  The truth is, the more global a company happens to be, the more their service line will be flooded from people all over the world.  Nowadays, companies institute a live chat function to their customer service.  In this instance, you ask your question in a private chat room to a customer service representative, who can answer your question in real-time.  The perk of this way of assisting you is that a representative could hold conversations with multiple people at the same time, thereby minimizing queue times and greatly improving the overall customer service experience.

If you’re slower than your competition, chances are you won’t be in the competition for long.  Keeping things streamlined by using technology to your advantage is the best way to keep your company in the game.

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Eric Regan is a writer with a keen interest in travel, cars and technology. He has written for blogs covering all of these topics and much more

Turning A Great Idea Into A Multimillion Dollar Company

Everyone has a dream.  Many of the world’s greatest inventions of the past and present have started out as simply an idea. When an inventor comes up with their idea, there is no guarantee it will always work. However, as the saying goes, you won’t know unless you try.  Some products or industry ideas need to be reconfigured multiple times before they successfully launch. Others take off the very first time. Persistence and a hard work ethic are crucial for anyone looking to introduce a new version of an existing product or a brand new product all together. It is possible for a dream to turn into a multimillion dollar, multinational company.

General Electric

One of the oldest American companies to have a global impact is General Electric. The company was originally formed in 1892 when Edison General Electric Company and the Thomas-Houston Company merged.  In the century plus since it was first formed, the company has had a hand in creating many of the creature comforts we enjoy today. For example, lighting supplied by GE let the first baseball game be played at night. The game took place in 1935 with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.  107 years after the company was first formed it went global for the first time in 1999, opening GE Global Research in Bangalore, India.

Henry Ford

The man behind Ford Motor Company was instrumental in helping design the automobile assembly line which reduced the amount of time it took to assemble cars. Ford Motor Company was founded on June 16, 1903. Less than a month later on July 15th, the first Ford Model A is sold.  Just over a year after its original formation, Ford began its first international operation on August 17, 1904, building cars in Canada.  One hundred and ten years after the first Ford was sold, the company is still going strong.

McDonald’s

One of the most recognizable logos in the world is the golden arches belonging to fast food giant McDonald’s. The now worldwide company first began from humble roots in 1948 by Dick and Mac McDonald as hamburger stand.  In 1955, Ray Kroc opened his first restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. Presently, the golden arches of McDonald’s are located in 119 countries.

Alexander Bouri

The only non-American citizen on this list, Alexander F. Bouri is both Greek and Lebanese. In the 1950s he invented one of the first types of renewable building materials in the form of cement. Since then his company has grown and now encompasses many other companies in a number of nations.

These success stories demonstrate that anyone can achieve their dream. Turning a dream into a multimillion dollar company takes time and hard work. However, both will be well worth it in the end.

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  •  License: Image author owned

Jillian Johnson is a professional content marketing writer and blogger with a particular interest in writing about business and marketing. To read more writing by Jillian, follow her @MissWritey.

Making Your Business Successful In 2013

If you found that 2012 was a difficult year for your business, then you may well be determined to ensure that this year is that bit better. Despite the tough economic conditions, plenty of small business owners are reporting that they are already seeing some good results this year.

That’s excellent news, as it shows that there is certainly scope for you to be successful too. There are plenty of people out there with negative mindsets, but my own feeling is that positivity pays. It tends to lead to better results and can actually increase income levels too.

Part of being positive about the future involves planning for success, rather than expecting to encounter problems and failure. If you are feeling a little down about past performance levels, then it’s important that you should put such negativity to one side. That doesn’t mean forgetting about past mistakes, as there are often lessons to be learned there, but it does mean making an effort to concentrate on what is possible right now.

Reviewing a business plan

My own experience suggests that many entrepreneurs begin by writing an extensive business plan and looking to implement it in full. That comprehensive plan will often dictate the initial success of the business, but there’s a danger that it will then get filed away, never to be looked at again.

It makes more sense to review the plan and to update it on a regular basis. In effect, it serves as a simple check for you, ensuring that everything stays on track. If you start to encounter problems, then you’ll know that this represents a weakness in your existing strategy.

Does this ignore the fact that an effective strategy isn’t always written down? There are plenty of business owners who would say that they don’t feel the need to have a written document of this type. If you fall into that category, then I would suggest that you may find it that bit more difficult to carry out a successful analysis of the situation.

Listen to employees

I’m quite sure that you already talk to your employees a lot, but do you really listen to what they have to say? Your employees shouldn’t simply be seen as being present in order to carry out your instructions. It’s important to realise that they also have an interest in the future of the business and many ideas that can contribute to success in 2013.

How you go about finding out about their ideas will largely depend on the individual approach that you choose to take. You may feel that the best approach involves having formal meetings, where everyone can have their say. As an alternative, it’s perfectly legitimate to have informal conversations every once in a while.

A critical element here is that you need to be objective and to make it clear that you are willing to listen to criticism too. If employees are afraid to talk about existing business processes, then you’ll find that the value associated with such conversations is limited.

Keith Barrett knows, from his work with Decisive Mediation, that there is scope for conflicts to arise within any business. Maintaining harmony will be central to your hopes for success this year.

Opening An Online Jewelry Business The Right Way

Opening an online jewelry business is easy, almost too easy, with services that offer the creation of websites and the option for conducting e-commerce in less than one day. However, while it’s easy to open them, maintaining them, gaining a reputation and actually making a living by operating them is an entirely different story.

Many beginners make the mistake of opening a new online jewelry business without doing enough research and without understanding the importance of deciding about clear policies and customer service guidelines in advance.

As someone who can humbly claim some level of success in the online jewelry business, I would like to share some of the personal guidelines that I’ve maintained over the years and that helped the growth and success of my business.

Start Small and Experiment Till you get it Right

Don’t invest a lot of time and effort in opening your own website before you really know which of your designs and ideas actually sell. The best way to do that is to begin by selling your stuff through various services that offer you opportunities to open an online store.

Once you establish your presence in two, three such services experiment by trying to sell various designs. Keep track of everything that sells and try different pricing options. Once you realize what the ideal pricing system is and which ones of your designs are the most popular, you are on your way to creating your own personal website and establishing your reputation.

Build your Online Reputation from the Very Beginning

Even while in the early stages of experimentation by selling via other e-commerce service, it is of the utmost importance that you maintain a spotless reputation. It is impossible to stress the importance of positive online reviews enough. Positive reviews are worth their weight in gold for anyone dealing with e-commerce. Most shoppers will prefer to buy from a seller with positive reviews even if he is a bit more expensive than a seller with some negative reviews selling the very same product.

This is why you need to do whatever it takes to keep each and every online customer happy. When I say do whatever it takes, I seriously mean that you need to be willing to lose some money on a particular deal if this is the only way to keep the customer happy. In the long run, a negative review will be much more hurtful than losing a few dollars. By creating and maintaining an impeccable online reputation you will be able to advance your newly opened business in a short period of time and start making a living by selling and designing jewelry.

Doron Heifetz is an expert designer, jeweler and the owner of the gold monogram necklace website.

3 New Business Trends In 2013

As the world is constantly changing, so are business trends. Many factors influence business trends for any given year. New technologies and innovations may make certain products obsolete or put more emphasis on specific features. Changes in the economy may force employees the reshape their views of how they can work and provide for their families. World events may even call for a new type of product or service. However business may change in any given year, the success of a company largely depends on its ability to adapt and take advantage of these trends. Here are three trends to watch out for in 2013

Freelancing

Because the United States economy is currently in a recession more and more people are unemployed. As a result, they are looking for other ways to make money. The common 9-5 job is slowly being replaced by freelance work. This benefits both companies and the unemployed. The unemployed can seek out work and maintain an income while still looking for long-term employment. Company owners can hire people for specific projects and not have to worry about overhead.

A great example of the increase of freelancers is the company TaskRabbit. This company allows people to list their skills on a user-friendly website. The employee lists the time and price they require. Companies can then find the people they need to complete a certain project and hire them through TaskRabbit. You can use people to do anything from assembling furniture to grocery shopping.

Narrative As a Way of Selling Products

It’s impossible for anyone to go through their day without being bombarded with advertisements. As a result it’s becoming more and more difficult to really catch the attention of potential customers. One trend in 2013 will be the use of stories to advertise. Stories shape our world and help us define who we are. Our very lives are stories and the decisions we make reveal where we want our stories to go. Companies need to be able to convince a customer that they can play an important role in that story. They also need to be able to tell their own stories so people have a clear idea of the purpose of the product. People are becoming more and more selective with where they spend their money and are looking for companies that both share their values and will help them get to a specific place in life.

Establishing Brand Loyalty

In today’s globalized and internet-based world, there is no shortage of logos and slogans for people to keep track of. With so many options out there, the decision of whom to buy from can be daunting for any customer. To avoid the burden of these decisions people will often stick with what they know works. Customers want to know that the company they are paying shares their values so they can leave some of the decisions about the products up to them. Establishing trust and brand loyalty will be a must for any successful business in 2013.

Although these are just a few of the many, many upcoming trends for this year of opportunity, staying up to date and current with the business world is crucial. This could be the key to you staying ahead of the trends and capitalizing on a prime opportunity, or picking up the pieces after the time has come and gone. Small business news can be found all over the internet, subscriptions to magazines and the latest business books.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finances. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching and small business consultation.

Becoming Self-Employed: Making The Jump To Being Your Own Boss

Making the dream a reality

Many people dream about what life would be like if we didn’t have to work for someone else. And while it’s a nice thing to dream about, I’m fairly sure that for many the idea of being self-employed is a realistic one in terms of what’s involved. We all know that business owners really put a lot of time in to what they do, and have a very important and serious commitment to their job.

So while it’s a great thing to consider dream, it’s also not something that many of us would imagine is going to be a breeze!

But how do we make the dream a reality? The most important thing of course is to have a very definite idea of what you’d like to do. Then it’s a matter of researching the market and finding out as much as you can. There’s no point starting up a window cleaning business in your area, for instance, if there’s going to be a shortage of clients or if the market’s already very crowded.

So the first steps are finding out all you can about what product or service you want to offer, and who is going to buy those products or services.

Once you’re up and running

When you’re in business as a sole trader, you may find there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, and this is where some of the reality feelings will kick in. Tax returns and other paperwork will now be your sole responsibility – although of course while these can be time-consuming it’s worth remembering that there are more people in the UK who are self-employed now that at any time in the past –  so you’ll be far from alone in having this extra work on your plate.

For helpful guides to tax for the self-employed, the Which? Consumer website and the HM Revenue & Customs site provide good detailed information and overviews.

Health and self-employment

Health should be a big priority for anyone who is going it alone in business. There obviously won’t be an HR department behind you anymore, and also there won’t be the possibility of colleagues to stand in for you if you’re the only employee. So it’s worth taking a look at all the things you can do to ensure that any time off is as short as it can be. Health cover is especially useful as it means you’ll be able to avoid waiting lists for any treatment covered under the policy, meaning you’ll be treated sooner and back at work as quickly as possible.

About the author: J Jones blogs on self employment insurance and workplace health.

Small Business Health: Tips For Managing Inventory

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to successfully running a small business; properly evaluating your inventory needs is a huge piece of that puzzle. Not having enough of what you need costs you customers; having more items than you need can eat up working capital and put a serious crunch on cash flow. Here are some inventory management tips that can help boost your bottom line.

Avoiding Inventory Overload

If you do not carefully track the process from receiving items to getting them into the hands of customers, you may be putting a serious dent in cash flow by ordering stuff when you do not really need  it yet. You may also be overstocking certain items that are not selling as well as you perceive them to be. Carefully studying past sales patterns can help you more accurately forecast how much you will need in the future. If you have been selling 200 units of a particular item each month, it is a good chance you will need close to that this month as well. You want to also evaluate spikes in sales, such as during the holidays or during a particular season. Poring over your past sales will also help you identify less obvious patterns. You might also find that you can cut down on variety. If you offer a dozen different types of soaps in your store, but find that only a handful are really moving, you might consider cutting back.

Familiarize Yourself with Lead Times

Lead time is the time it takes to receive an order from the time you placed it; this can vary significantly among suppliers. Familiarizing yourself with this is important for a couple of reasons. First, it will ensure that you are not missing out on customers because you do not have the goods on hand. Secondly, by figuring out when you need to order certain items to ensure they get delivered when you need them, you will be able to better manage your cash flow; you may be able to hold off on certain orders for a bit and use the money for something else, while at other times, ordering that shipment will have to take priority over another planned use for the money.

Prioritize Tracking Efforts

If your business is like many others, about 20 percent of your stock will account for 80 percent of your sales; naturally, you want to focus your inventory management efforts on these best-selling items. Then you can move your attention to the 30 percent of items that generate about 10 percent of your sales, and lastly, your ‘’C’’ items, which generate that last 10 percent and comprise about 50 percent of your inventory.

More Efficient Tracking

You may rely on a simple spreadsheet to manage inventory, but this poses many problems; accidental deletion and unsaved changes are all too common. It is also makes for a difficult situation if there are multiple people with their hand in managing inventory. You should invest in software that allows for centralization and various features that make it easy to enter data. Good examples include Peachtree or Quickbooks—while they are primarily accounting programs, they have very useful inventory features.

Closing

The death knell of many businesses is not lack of profit, but poor management of cash flow; shoddy inventory management is a major contributor to this problem. If you are experiencing a cash flow crunch and need an infusion while you get your inventory and other ducks in a row, receivables factoring may be a viable short-term solution to help you meet your immediate cash needs.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has blogged about various business topics.

3 Ways Small Businesses Can Make More Money

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The United States plays host to all sorts of different small businesses, which provide a wide variety of different services and products. That said, whether it’s big or small, every single company seeks to accomplish the same goal: increase profits by carefully managing overhead and expanding its pool of customers. Unfortunately, every day countless American businesses owners make mistakes that get in the way of their overall mission. If you own a business, learn three ways your company can make more money by eliminating waste.

Focus on Employee Management

The lifeblood of any strong enterprise, employees are valuable resources which play a big role in determining whether a company will profit or fail. Unfortunately, when they aren’t managed correctly, employees can be like anchors which pull a business down and preventing it from succeeding. If you want a profitable small business which functions like a well-oiled machine, it’s time to focus on better ways to get the most from the people you pay.

Don’t Tolerate Mediocrity

Far too many small business owners simply put up with underperforming employees, who have no real interest in whether a company achieves success. This can be especially commonplace in businesses which have expanded to the point where they employ a relatively large amount of workers. Savvy business owners always pay close attention to what their workers are doing. They know all of their employees’ responsibilities and closely monitor how each is performing. Many use motivational tools, such as bonuses and recognition awards which prompt workers to put forth their best efforts on a daily basis. These types of positive steps can help generate a good amount of healthy competition between workers. With all that being said, the most successful business owners aren’t afraid to send a message by trimming the fat every now and them. While it may not always feel nice to play the bad guy, it’s important to send a message when necessary; and a well-deserved pink slip has a way of getting other workers’ attention.

Address Productivity Killers

Obviously, no business owner wants to see his or her employees wasting time by socializing through Facebook or by texting; however, countless employers fail to recognize other more profound productivity killers. According to research conducted at Harvard Medical School, U.S. businesses lose billions of dollars annually due to employee exhaustion related to sleep problems. Sleep-related productivity problems have led numerous larger corporations to employ strategies which help workers get more sleep. The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co have both put large amounts of money into programs which provide workers with everything from sleep-hygiene courses to lighting which regulates melatonin production, all in an attempt to increase worker productivity.

Unfortunately, these particular strategies can prove too costly for small businesses, which operate under tight budgets. With that being said, if you do own a small business, talk with your employees to find out if they are having problems. If you learn that one or more is showing common symptoms associated with sleep apnea, such as daytime fatigue, frequent waking or snoring, encourage them to get tested. In the end, it may be smarter to invest some time and interest in an irreplaceable worker than on his or her less capable replacement.

Don’t Overstaff

Countless smaller businesses spend too much money on workers they can live without. Often, these companies can significantly reduce their overhead by getting more out of fewer employees. Sometimes employers under-utilize their workers, because they just don’t know that much about them. Does your office manager do some freelance writing on the side? Use this to your advantage if possible. Does one of your company’s customer service reps know how to design websites? Take advantage of these talents. Small business owners can reap all sorts of benefits when they get to know their employees better. They can also save a bundle by outsourcing whenever possible.

The Benefits of Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a great way for smaller businesses to eliminate costly overhead expenses. Some do this by working with freelancers and contractors in place of in-house employees which aren’t really needed full-time. On the other hand, more and more small business owners are increasing their profit margins by outsourcing their customer service needs to professional call centers.

Because incoming call volume can be so unpredictable, smaller businesses generally can’t afford to pay full-time customer service representatives and technical support specialists, who may sit idle at various points during the day. On the other hand, reputable call centers provide professional, courteous agents who can provide customized support at a moment’s notice. When call volume surges, these experienced agents are at the ready; when call volume dwindles, they won’t be sitting around your office getting paid for doing nothing. Additionally, because agents are available 24 hours-a-day on weekends and during holidays; these centers can help increase a business’s income by allowing them to take advantage of opportunities they might normally miss out on.

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Cassie Lummus is an independent writer for http://www.answeringserviceunited.com/.  She is an expert in call center outsourcing.

Starting A Family Owned Business

Today, family owned businesses are becoming more and more popular, and many people have been choosing to support these smaller businesses. A lot of parents choose to start a business in the hopes of passing the business onto their children to become successful. Ideally, the business will stay in the family for generations to come, creating a profitable and comfortable life for all of those involved. Large, successful businesses such as Seament, started by Alexander F Bouri, are family-run, and what started off as a small company has turned into a large, international company. Such success stories are what drive families to begin their own business, which can be an exciting and rewarding experience for the whole family.

What are some of the benefits of creating a family owned business? Family owned businesses cost much less to run than hiring outside workers. You also have the opportunity to work towards success with your loved ones. A family-run business must be very well planned out from the beginning, including contracts to avoid any confusion and disagreements later on once the business is up and running. The stress of a workplace with many different types of people and ideas can change the way people act and think, so it’s important to understand that disagreements will happen and they should be solved in a mature and official manner.

So what are some tips in creating a family owned business?

  1. You must first assess your family members’ skill sets and talents. Is someone very experienced in marketing while another is successful in finance? Take these things into consideration when forming your business to ensure everyone will be playing the proper role.
  2. Discuss the risks with everyone involved. It’s important that everyone in the family is on the same page about the risks taken when starting up a business.
  3. Ensure that everyone’s personalities mesh together. Two headstrong people will inevitably butt heads, and if you think this is not something that you can work with, you may want to consider starting the business or including certain people. Make sure that everyone involved is enthusiastic and committed to making the business successful.
  4. Make sure you have structured the business soundly from a legal standpoint. You should have a lawyer involved to draft up any business documents to ensure that they are done correctly.
  5. Separate your work life from your family life. This is very important in order to maintain a balance in home life and work life. Don’t let the business get in the way of your personal relationships.

These are just a few tips to follow in order to create a successful family owned business such as Seament, originally started by Alexander F Bouri. In order to become successful, it’s important to understand and accept the risks and ensure that everyone is on the same page with one another.

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Lynn has worked for plenty of successful businesses and know what it takes to build a good business from the ground up.

Obtaining ISO Accreditation

Before finding out why so many business owners struggle to obtain ISO accreditation, it’s essential to understand what ISO actually is. ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization that issues international management standards. ISO standards are divided into ISO 9000, ISO 9001, ISO 14000, ISO 17025, ISO 22000 and many others. Providing specifications for services, products and good practice, these standards make industries more efficient. The role of ISO accreditation is to prove that a business complies with certain ISO standards. To become ISO accredited, your business needs to pass a physical certification audit performed by a registrar.

If you wonder why getting ISO accreditation is so important, you should know that ISO certification comes along with numerous benefits, such as:

  • Increased Customer Satisfaction: ISO accreditation confirms that whatever you produce works as your customers expect. This means that you’ll be able to meet not only the stated requirements of different consumers, but also their hidden desires. Evidently, this leads to increased customer satisfaction and fewer complaints.
  • Improved Product Quality: Since all ISO standards link to the quality of every product and process, you can obtain ISO accreditation only if you have an improved quality management system. Improved product quality will help you not only to obtain ISO accreditation, but also to defeat your competitors.
  • More Revenue: ISO certification guarantees that you’re able to meet the needs and demands of all customers, regardless of how exigent they are. As a result, you’ll get more customers and, implicitly, more revenue and business.
  • Improved Efficiency and Productivity: ISO standards allow you to control different processes and maintain a particular target output. This leads to improved consistency, which enables you to provide services and products with similar characteristics – same output, same tolerances, same weight and same dimensions. Improved consistency will have a positive impact on efficiency and productivity.
  • Proof of Competence: Although most business owners know that ISO 9001 accreditation proves their competence and the quality of their products and services, only a few of them are aware that ISO 17025 is actually the most appropriate standard for competence. While this standard is typically appropriate for the organizations or businesses that produce calibration and testing results, its specifications are closely aligned with the specifications of ISO 9001. Therefore, if you prepare your business for ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, you can also get ISO 9001 certification.

ISO accreditation also allows you to achieve international quality recognition, develop better employee morale and professional culture, focus on employees and management more than before, reduce waste and save money. In conclusion, obtaining ISO accreditation is the best thing you can do to become successful.

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Heather B has been helping people further their education and certification by providing them with useful information they can actually use.

Leading Through Uncertainty – How Executive Coaches Can Help

Stressful situations make ordinary leadership tasks more difficult. In an economic downturn, employees look to their employers to ensure that their jobs, salaries, and benefits are secured. Even if the results are less than optimal, employees want to be certain about their futures. Unfortunately, difficult decisions may take weeks or months to be finalized, which can cause employees to worry. Leading a troubled workforce through times of uncertainty requires a careful and measured approach. Executive coaches can help managers and executives prevent uncertainty from cascading into a full-blown crisis.

Specific Skills Training

Ensuring organizational efficiency in times of uncertainty requires sophisticated interpersonal skills. Among other skills, projecting an air of confidence is important. If the uncertainty is nothing to worry about or if the extent of the uncertainty can be downplayed, employees will be more likely to accept the ongoing situation. Sudden changes in receptiveness, demeanor or organizational policies are likely to alarm employees.

Managers must identify and resolve employee concerns as quickly as possible, but this requires a fine balancing act. While getting ahead of employee concerns is required to ensure a smooth workflow, managers must also ensure that they do not plant fearful notions into the workforce. Constantly reminding employees about how there are no updates and about how there is nothing to worry about will tend to worry employees, as non-events usually do not lead to any substantial discussion.

When the uncertainty is resolved and it becomes time to inform the employees, it may be necessary to deliver unfortunate news. Challenging economic times often result in hard choices pertaining to benefits or staffing levels. Notifying employees of an unwanted market adjustment can lead to decreased morale and productivity as well as increased turnover. Whether your mentor is an executive coach in NYC or Sydney, they would tell you such news must be delivered delicately.

In these situations, you coach can teach you and your managers how to minimize this loss in productivity.

Organizational Planning

Executive coaches traditionally focus on interpersonal skills. Larger organizations must ensure that these skills and the messages communicated to employees remain consistent between managers and executives on various strata; if a single manager makes an errant remark that causes his or her employees distress, the message will be communicated all throughout the enterprise. Ensuring that nothing is conveyed to employees before the decision has been finalized is very important.

Ensuring this unity of command requires consensus-building skills with one’s colleagues and superiors. Clearly communicating objectives and working with others will help gain compliance and avoid harmful speculation and errant commentary on unresolved issues. Through careful teamwork, managerial staff can ensure that they remain on the same page and avoid actions that will harm productivity and morale.

Minimizing uncertainty is the ideal, but changing market conditions make it impossible to eliminate. All managers and executives will eventually be forced to address the issue. Managing uncertainty requires managers, executives and business owners to act quickly, demonstrate empathy and ensure that the employees do not receive mixed messages. Executives who fail to manage uncertainty in a proper manner may find productivity and morale falling while turnover rises. 

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Author Georgina Clatworthy is a former business management student and entrepreneur. Navigating difficult economic times can be a struggle for any business, big or small, which is where professional coach directory can help. By connecting business owners with an executive coach NYC or any one of 30 countries, Noomii(dot)com can arm you with an essential tool for getting through difficult times and moving toward your restructured goals.

How Contract Logistics Can Improve Your Business

How Contract Logistics Can Improve Your Business

In business, distributions can take up a larger portion of the supply chain expenses if not well maintained. Smooth, fast and efficient distribution capability can mark your business out from all the others and should be seen as an important part of the way your promote and market your brand. In some cases, distribution is the core competency for a business but for most, logistics are only one aspect of the company’s operations. For this reason, it is worth considering whether contract logistics might be something that could help your business focus its energies where it needs them most.

Securing a good logistics contract can introduce a good deal more flexibility and economy to a business’ supply chain. This in turn can lead to an increase in revenue, improvements in sustainable outgrowth, proactive risk handling and enhanced client services. It is important to choose the right contract logistics provider for you business however, not all professional logistics are equal and getting the right one for your company’s specific needs can take some research.

What Will A Contract Logistics Provider Do For My Company?

A decent logistics provider will initially undertake a full assessment and comprehensive evaluation of the entire business operation before attempting to ascertain the correct resolution to a company’s logistics requirement. In most cases, Contract Logistics provider will need to introduce schemes and strategies that assist in delivering useful, accurate and timely information and services.

Generally, managing the transportation of supplies from source to the point of consumption with the help of a contract logistics service helps a business achieve a maximize profit, cash flow and optimize invested capital. In addition, it significantly improves speed to market, market share and maximizes revenue growth as well. It can be a real eye opener just how much securing a contract logistics provider can improve a business’s visibility and control throughout the supply chain.

Nowadays many large businesses are going for contract logistics to maximize the speed and scale of their growth and development.  A lot of the benefits of contracting out the logistics side of things kick in simply because outsourcing the supply chain allows a business to focus on its core competencies. Retailers in particular have been behind a lot of the overall growth of contract logistics, due to manufacturers’ increased insistence on rapid response inventory replenishment. Many competitors fail to understand the reason as to why many businesses buy contract logistics although actually there are many benefits. The benefits can generally be grouped to as relating to either the optimization of distribution, or the outsourcing of distribution.

The benefits of contract logistics

The benefits of optimizing distribution are immediately effected once you secure the services of a contract logistics provider. Logistics are what they do and they do it better than anyone for whom logistics is only one element of the business’ undertakings. Beyond the immediate benefit of turning logistics over to the experts, outsourcing distribution to a third-party leads to another set of benefits. Firstly, contract logistics services significantly help a business save on distribution costs. Moreover, a company gains greater control of business when the supplies are easily accessible during distribution, giving room to respond to complaints or venturing into new opportunities.

The business can also be relived of huge manufacturing or assembling costs, depending on the nature of the business. Here the business is able to make huge savings as well as improving customer service and satisfaction. On the other hand, outsourcing distribution frees the business from transportation and warehousing activities, which can represent a significant financial gain to your company. Perhaps most significantly, the business is free to focus on its core activities and can concentrate on expending its energies in areas of potential growth.

David Hamer is a writer working for Vision Logistics. If you are interested in securing the services of a contract logistics provider you should check them out.

Four Great Ways To Boost Work Productivity

Work productivity is sometimes a difficult thing to achieve but is incredibly important when it comes to getting what you need done at work, and essentially for your success. There are many articles out there offering tips on how to improve productivity at work which have valid points but in this interesting and informative article we look at some different tips relating to increasing work productivity that really works.

How To Improve Work Productivity

Passion

This is one of the most important tips when it comes to productivity at work. This is one of the tips that you cannot simply learn,  to be passionate about what you do, needs to come naturally. Passion is one of the best ways to keep you productive. Passion will be the strongest driving force pushing you to be motivated and productive. If you are not passionate about something there is a high chance that you will completely lose interest and you will become very de-motivated and unproductive.

Do your important work when you are most productive

This is not really a tip to increase work productivity per say, it’s more a way of harnessing your productivity to get the most out of it. Everyone is different, so the times when they are most productive will vary. Many people feel productive in the morning. Either way, a great way to capitalise on your productivity with work is to do the most important work you have in that time period. This will ensure that the most vital work that needs to be done will get done.

Cut back on meetings

Meetings have become one of the worst time consumers in the work place. If you really want to boost your productivity then you should really look at cutting back on unnecessary meetings. There are some meetings that are really important and need to be attended but there are also meetings that do not require you to be there. Delegate what you can as this will do wonders for your work productivity and increasing it.

Cut our social media

This is one of the most prominent tips when it comes to improving and increasing productivity. Social media can significantly distract you and lower your productivity at work. Studies have proven that individuals that do not log onto any of their social media accounts have a 20% increase in productivity. If you are unsure about the amount of time you spend on social media, there is a program you can install on your computer to track it. Get off the social media sites and your work productivity will shoot through the roof.

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Jemma Scott is a freelance writer who provides information on how to find office space, as well as work tips.

5 Of The Most Unique Ideas In The Business World

Becoming an entrepreneur requires a certain amount of thinking outside of the box and that has certainly been displayed by the people who came up with the ideas in this list. Starting a business is a tricky thing to accomplish and some people say that you have to be born with the inherent ability to succeed in such a dog eat dog environment. However, creative thinking is a powerful thing and whether you are born with it or not; the ability to display it is sure to put you in great stead to become a successful entrepreneur.

So what are some of the most innovative business ideas out there at the moment? You may have already heard of some of these but there is no doubt that the lateral thinking involved in their creation will soon have them firmly on the map.

Ready, Steady, Goat –

Among the businesses that rent things out to their customers there is the car hire industry, holiday rentals and suit hire but none of these are as of the wall as this first idea for starting a business. Back in 2009, in the US state of Idaho, Tim Linquist and Linda Wilhite decided to become entrepreneurs in the most bizarre way possible. Combining their love for goats, yes goats, they set about starting a business which involved renting out goats to consumers. The goats are great for removing annoying weeds, creating fire barriers in grassy areas and even clearing the land around a golf course.

The No-Water Wash –

A group of innovative entrepreneurs working for Xeros have come up with a washing machine that can use up to 90% less water than the ones we use today. With environmental issues becoming increasingly more important there has been a call for companies to come at things from a far more eco-friendly angle and Xeros have done just that here. Their washing machine uses a small amount of water and plenty of nylon polymer beads to get the desired results.

It’s A Mystery –

Have you ever wanted to remove the planning from present buying? Or have you got someone in your family who leaves you in the situation where you just don’t know what to buy? Well now you can take a lucky dip. The creators of Something Store have capitalised on the fact that everyone loves a surprise and have created a website where you never know what you will get.

The basic idea is that everyone pays the same amount ($10) and then you are sent a random gift from their stocks. It may sound like a risky business venture but the fact that over 85,000 ‘somethings’ have been dispatched since the start means a lot of people like the idea.

Create Your Own Battery –

It seems that a large amount of the technology that we use today is portable and this creates a problem when it comes to battery power; especially when some of the batteries only last a few hours. Well now, thanks to the people at nPower® Peg, you can create you very own battery purely from the energy your make with your movements. The Peg device stores the energy up over time and it can then be used to charge a mobile phone or other device.

Man-Sized Treats –

The cupcake industry has grown almost as much as the high-street coffee shop industry in recent years and so the entrepreneurs at Butch Bakery have taken advantage of this but found a unique gap in the market. Instead of using pink icing and butterfly shaped decorations they use ingredients such as beer, bacon and peanut butter to create a range of cupcakes specifically aimed at the male market. The company has grown well in its infant years and now has 12 different flavours available and is developing its own line of T-shirts.

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Chris Mayhew knows exactly what it takes to succeed in the business world and loves to see success created through innovative thinking. He is working for New Business who offer important business advice to any entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business.

5 Creative Ideas For Building A Family Fun Restaurant

When it comes to having kids, everything in life changes. You suddenly have to consider the children whenever you go out. As a business owner, opening a family fun restaurant can take a lot of the worry off the parents’ shoulders and prove to be a lucrative business venture for you. How do you create such an environment? Here are some great ideas to start with.

Include an Arcade

While the idea of building an arcade within your restaurant may sound like an expensive thing to do, kids will be greatly entertained, and this can bring in a lot of cash through those machines as the kids beg for more. Also, you can find lots of arcade machines for sale online, both new and used, saving you a great deal on the initial cost.

Add a Play Place
What do McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese have in common? Kids beg to go there! Whether you choose to have a small playground that’s outdoors for the kids like McDonald’s or to build an indoor play place like Chuck E. Cheese, you create an atmosphere where parents are comfortable eating while their kids go back and forth between grabbing a bite and running out their energy in the play space. Plus, it’s a highly social activity where kids can meet other kids.

Have Entertainment
Another reason kids love Chuck E. Cheese is because there’s a show to watch. While you may not want to invest in animatronics, you can have a family-friendly show that both parents and children can enjoy while they eat. It also helps keep the atmosphere a little quieter and less rowdy.

Kid Activities
Most restaurants have kids’ menus. However, not every restaurant has an entire activity book for kids. While you don’t have to have an expensive magazine, you can hand out small activity books with puzzles and stories, even self-printed ones, that will keep kids focused and occupied while waiting for food. It’s also a great way for parents to interact with their children in an educational manner while enjoying family time.

Televisions
Sports bars have them, which leads to a fun environment for adults who enjoy football, basketball, and other televised sports. Why not include TVs as part of your business operation? Play movies and shows that are family friendly in your restaurant, and have both parents and kids entertained while they devour their meals.

Whether you choose to hunt down arcade machines for sale or find another method, opening a family fun restaurant is a great way to provide easy options for parents so they can get out with the kids. It’s also quite profitable, meaning money in your pocket!

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Jillian Johnson is a professional content marketing writer and blogger with a particular interest in writing about business and entertainment. To read more writing by Jillian, follow her @MissWritey.

David, Goliath, And Your Small Business: How To Compete With The Big Guys

It’s every small business owner’s dream to one day develop and expand their business to defeat the big conglomerates that have ruled the economy and market share for years. Not only do you want to bring great service to your customers, provide them with the best products, and maybe even churn a profit or two, but you also want to make sure the world knows that your homemade, grassroots, small business is bigger and better than the competition. Yep, I think that pretty much has it covered.

Unfortunately, most small business owners only have a few resources and a limited budget. Hardly the materials required to beat out the big box companies with the wide reach and deep pockets. Or is it? Can your small business muster the strength to fight off the Walmarts, Best Buys, and Fords of this world? Well, if you’re looking for a little inspiration, just think of the story of David and Goliath. A little guy defeats the big guy. Plain and simple. And your small business has the ability to follow in David’s footsteps.

In the story, David had five smooth stones that he was ready to chuck at Goliath, although in the end, he only needed one. Below I’ve outlined five major points of differentiation that any small business owner can use to take out their competition. You might need more than David did, but adopting a few of these strategies for your small business just might be enough to help you compete against the Goliaths of the business world.

Stone #1: Your Customers

Your customers are going to be your most powerful stone. As the lifeblood of your business, you need customers to not only buy your products or service, but to recommend them to their friends, to share their experience online, to come back when they need a refill, and so on. Your customers make your business go round. Reach out to your customers, involve them in company decisions, ask for feedback, offer promotions, and give thanks. Keeping your customers happy will lead them back to your shop each and every time, even if the competition can do it for cheaper.

Stone #2: Finding A Niche

Every company wants to be a Ford or a Best Buy, meaning a company that has something for everyone. Whether you need a truck to get the job done or a speedy little car to get around, Ford has you covered. Likewise, whether you’re shopping for a new printer or picking up some headphones, Best Buy can help you out. And while you can aspire to turn your company into a warehouse of anything and everything your customers could ever want, you’ll only end up stretching your small budget too thin.

Instead, find your niche. For instance, Aston Martin might not have a car for everybody, but they have the right car for those speed and luxury enthusiasts. Furthermore, Apple computers doesn’t make devices that fit every budget or offer every program available, but they found their niche as a manufacturer of top-of-the-line hardware that supports the most creative endeavors. Neither of these companies offer something for everyone, but the customers they do cater to sure are happy. Find your niche and make the customers you do have extremely satisfied.

Stone #3: Embracing Localization

Global companies like Walmart are everywhere, and that makes them hard to compete with. But your small business has an advantage they don’t: being local. There has been a huge economic shift to focus on local businesses, local suppliers, and local shops. These places have a more down-to-earth feel, a more honest approach that makes consumers feel comfortable, like they’re right at home. So instead of being everywhere, embrace the local aspect of your business. Advertise in local papers, on local channels, and through local events like farmer’s markets. Your customers will feel the warmth your small business has to offer.

Stone #4: Being More Than Social, Being Personable

Small business and large corporations alike have been turning to social media to connect with their customers, but again, your small business has the opportunity to do so much more than your large competitors. Not only are you free of corporate policies and high-paid marketing managers, you have a friendly and approachable demeanor that you can use to give a voice to your social media brand. Connect with your customers as you would in store. Offer funny content, have a contest or two, and feature a new customer every month. Your small business has a voice unlike any major corporation out there.

Stone #5: Search Engine Marketing

While you should already be doing search engine optimization (SEO) in order to compete, you should explore search engine marketing (SEM), as well. Also known as paid search, cost-per-click, and pay-per-click, programs like Google AdWords allow your company to reach the top of search results pages that are relevant to your business and keywords. This is a fast and efficient way to get your company’s name out there, right along side if not in front of the big guys. Explore SEM to start getting your company to the top of the list.

The little guy defeating the big guy is a tale as old as time. David was able to defeat the giant, Goliath, and so can your company overcome the big box competitors.

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Pete Wise a blogger working for Blue Onion. When I’m not posting to my Facebook page I’m working to make the web prettier as a Denver website designer.

4 Reasons Your Corporation Might Not Be Protecting You

Every business owner hears it.  You have to incorporate in order to be able to protect your personal assets from business liability.  Often, though, many small business owners do not actually take the time to research and investigate what it means to be a corporation and what the requirements are to have your business operate as a corporation and receive that liability protection.  Here are 4 common things that small business owners are doing that may place the treatment of their business as a corporation in jeopardy:

1) Failure to Properly Organize the Corporation

This is probably the most common mistake that I have seen small business owners make.  Especially in a state like Florida.  Many small business owners either file their information with the state themselves or use a service like LegalZoom to do the filing for them.  What they don’t do though, is sign organizational documents or even create them.  In most states, you are required to have some basic formational documents signed by the individuals involved in setting up the corporation.  If you have not created or signed these documents, you have not properly formed your corporation and run the risk of losing that liability protection.

2) Inadequate Organizational Structure

Each corporation is required by statute to have certain ‘management’ positions filled in order to be treated like a corporation.  For example, the shareholders should elect a board of directors who in turn will select officers of the company.  These positions need to be filled even if your corporation is very small.  Take a look at opportunities to build a board of directors with people who are motivated and connected.  They will be a great resource in moving your business forward and will help you meet the legal requirements of your corporation.

3) Lack of Ongoing Documentation

Corporations are also supposed to maintain corporate books.  This means that there needs to be a document recorded for each shareholders meeting and board of directors meeting that you hold.  Major actions of the company should be documented by resolution and filed with the company books.  Your annual report should also be documented as well as any additional compliance documents.  Most small business owners are not properly maintaining their corporate records and run the risk of losing their corporate status.

4) Acting Outside the Scope of Corporate Authority

Finally, you need to be careful of the actions that you take when acting on the behalf of your company.  If you do things that are outside the scope of your corporate or business responsibility, they can create the risk of personal liability.  Each company, area and industry is different, so this needs to be managed on a case-by-case basis.

By way of disclaimer, each situation is different as the laws differ from state to state and industry to industry.  This article is written with a general audience in mind and should not be considered as personal legal advice.  If you have a question or concern about your own compliance, I would highly recommend contacting a business attorney in your own state.

Dealing with Critics, Bailing Out Detroit and Other Small Business News

This is an edge of your seat sort of week for a lot of business owners with discussions of the sequester happening nationwide (except in Congress).  Here are some other pieces of business news to think about as small business owners:

Seth Godin on Dealing With Critics and Rejection

Criticism Seth Godin Quote

This article is a part of a series of interviews that Entrepreneur magazine did with Seth Godin, marketing guru, about some of the lessons that he has learned in business and that are presented in his upcoming book.  One of the quotes that stood out to me from the article was:

“Fear of shame is a powerful tool to modify behavior, and those in power have been using it for years. They want to be able to change us by delivering shame and we’ve been taught to listen it I, believe it, and swallow it.

It’s fine to acknowledge that there are those who will seek to shame you. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept what’s given. We don’t work for the applause, and we’d be foolish to read the anonymous comments on Amazon or the tweets coming from the back of the room. That attempt to quiet you down and make you conform doesn’t belong to you unless you want it to.”

We are in control of how we react to criticism and rejection.  It is important to be able to learn how to manage the feedback that we receive and seek to unify that with the underlying motivation that you had in the first place.  Remember why you are doing what you are doing.  Don’t let people who do not understand or care about that dictate how you are going to act.

19 Things Successful People Do On Social Media
 

Odds are, you are using social media.  The question though, is are you using social media effectively?  There is a lot of noise out there and it can often be difficult to filter to between what is real and useful and what is not.  In order to offer some guidance, TJ McCue, presents some of the things that successful people do on social media in this article for Forbes.  The list is very comprehensive and includes insights from some great social media thought leaders.  Here is a little teaser:

#15: Success in social media demands that you get personal.

I find it laughable that CEOs join social networks only to post about their companies. There are , no doubt, some high profile CEOs that people follow regardless, but most knowledgeable executives understand you have to get personal. That above lighthearted joke about what you had for lunch is not what I mean. “People don’t fall in love with hex colors and logos — they fall in love with people”@RedHeadWriting

Also, I have included at the end of this post a great infographic that outlines a great roadmap for managing what you do in social media.

 
Who will bail out Detroit?
 

There is no way around it.  Detroit is in trouble.  Numerous factors have led to it, but what are the things that need to be done in order to be able to assist the city in getting its feet back on the ground?  Here is an interesting video from CNN Money that discusses just that:

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2013/02/27/n-detroit-bankruptcy-bail-out.cnnmoney

Personally, I think there are three things that any municipality can do to stay solvent. 1) Play to your strengths, 2) encourage innovation, and 3) using the community to provide a great quality of life.  What do you think would help cities like Detroit?

Social Media Infograph - Final