Entrepreneurship While You are 20-Something – Go For It!

If you just cannot fathom working for someone else and making them rich; if you are an independent sort who works best on your own schedule; if you have one or two ideas for ways to make money – things that you are passionate about, then you are probably ripe for being an entrepreneur. And there is no better time than now to pursue that dream. Here’s why:

  • Statistics tell us that only 39% of you 20-somethings are married. This means that you have not responsibility for anyone but yourself. So if you eat Ramen noodles for a while, at least you are not forcing anyone else to do the same.
  • You can be selfish right now – you are pursuing things that make you happy and fulfilled.
  • You are young and have the energy, the risk-taking mindset, and you know that if you fail, you have lot of options for the rest of your life.

Recipe for Success

Over half of small business startups fail within 5 years. You don’t want to be a part of that statistic, so here are some important tips that will get you on your way:

  1. Base Your Business on Something You Love: Perhaps you have a hobby about which you are passionate. Is it something that others will value? Suppose you love to cook up great stuff. Opening a restaurant may be a bit ambitious, but how about a food truck? Do you have a specialty food that your friends rave about? Colonel Sanders ran a gas station and cooked his chicken in the back, eventually selling it to customers. Jessica Eckstrom had a passion for kids with cancer when she began her Headbands of Hope company – a multi-million dollar enterprise today. And she began her business at the age of 19. Can you turn your passionate hobby into a product or service for others?
  2. Start Small: You will probably not be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. But you can begin locally and move to a larger audience gradually. Many small businesses have failed because they were too grandiose in the beginning. Start small, build gradually, and then look for investors. Suppose you develop a very cool app or game. This is known as a “pop up” business. Get it out there on the Apple store and then begin your marketing campaign. And that campaign can be almost fully conducted via social media, the cheapest way to go. You will need to become a bit of an “expert” on social media marketing, but there is plenty of education out there for the taking.
  3. Remind Yourself of Your Goals Daily: You became an entrepreneur for a reason. When you become discouraged, think about why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. Do you now want to compromise those principles and goals? Of course not. You may need to re-group; you may need to pivot a bit. But always keep in mind the overriding reasons for what you are doing.
  4. Embrace Rejection: You may not be an overnight success. Those to whom you try to market your product or service may not be receptive. J.K. Rowling had over 200 rejections before a publisher took her first Harry Potter Think about that when you get discouraged about rejections and move on. You are young and resilient, and that is certainly in your favor.
  5. Use Your Social Media Presence: More than all generations before you, you have grown up with a web presence. Learn how to promote your business on social media. You have the skills – you just need to learn the strategies. Again, there is a wealth of training for free at your fingertips.
  6. Make Connections with Other Successful Entrepreneurs: If you want constant support and encouragement, you need to dump those friends and perhaps family members who are negative and naysayers. You cannot be around those attitudes. Join networking groups of other entrepreneurs both online and in person. Once you surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs, you have a cheerleading section that won’t quit. And you’ll learn quite a bit.
  7. Promote Your Brand Everywhere: Never attend a social event or go to a bar without an “elevator pitch” and a business card. People will ask you what you do. You need an exciting and compelling 30-second pitch to present, along with your card. You never know who you may encounter. 

If you are really serious about this “being on your own” stuff, and if you have the passion for what you are offering, the rest is all detail. Get going on your dream now – you are at exactly the right point in your lie to do so.

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Expert Tips for Small Business Owners

Are you looking forward to having your own startup? That’s simply grand, as there are only a few things that are as liberating as being your own boss. However, now that you have left your job and eyeing the startup as your sole source of income, you have to be really strategic at every step. The post below details some expert tips that will help you to kick-start your new venture on a confident note.

Do what you are passionate about

Your business theme must circle around a theme that you are truly passionate about. Don’t go for a business idea simply because it sounds glamorous. A startup involves challenges and a great deal of hard work leading you to exhaustion at times – and you would soon lose interest midway if you are not genuinely interested about the theme. Life seems much easier when we get to do the things that we actually care about.

Enhance your knowledge

This is a vital tip when you are about to start something new. You have to increase your know-how on the business theme and follow the industry trends. Study relevant books, talk to experts in the business, keep an eye on the related news, and visit the business’ expos to enhance your exposure.

Create a concise sales pitch

Your sales pitch is an important tool when you have to create awareness about your business. You have to keep on delivering your business to customers, investors, and even potential employees to make them aware of the opportunities in your venture. But then, it’s a busy world today and people have no time to sit for prolonged sales talk. Thus, you have to bring up something that is both informative (with your main goals, mission, and service potential) and concise- the sales pitch must not exceed 30 seconds to a maximum of one minute.

Be frugal in the initial stage

Small business owners are usually tight on capital in their primary years and hence, you should act accordingly. There is no need to set fancy offices; watch each dollar that you spend and check all the expenses thrice. Maintain low overhead – your customers are primarily interested in your service, not how your office looks. You can obviously consider great decoration later on when you have enough profits to think of trendy shades for your office wall.

Hire smart

Your employees would form the pillar of your organization and hence, you must be really careful here. It’s obvious that you will look for seasoned tradesmen, but the experienced ones would definitely charge higher. So, added to the seasoned experts, you should also focus on potential freshers who would be eager to work at lower rates as well.

Workforce management is a big deal and thus, it’s smarter to invest in a workforce management software which can help with all important employee management activities like absence management, employee scheduling, time, and attendance etc.

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How Big is Your eCommerce Market?

After only 30 years of the internet, there are now just under 1 billion websites in the world. Of those, only 173M+ are currently active. That may seem like an overwhelming number when trying to find new leads online and quantify the size of your eCommerce market, but this task doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, writes Liz Fulham from SalesOptimize.

Do you know how many eCommerce websites there are in the world? Less than one percent of the active internet is eCommerce i.e. 1.7M websites and growing. For sales executives and businesses in all industries, it often feels like you’re searching for a needle in a virtual haystack the size of Mount Everest. A person can only qualify 100+ websites a day, which is a big problem facing companies when trying to find sales leads using conventional search engines.

How Does this Impact Your Business?

Let’s say a camera manufacturer, Max Speed, a jovial fellow, would like to know the true size of his worldwide market online. He wants to know how many websites in the world might be interested in reselling his Max Speed cameras.

The Average Joe Way: Max Speed enters “Camera shops” into a search engine and it returns about 624,000,000 results. So many of these results are duplicates. Remember there are only 173M + active websites. That’s an almost infinite amount of man-hours of work for the (no-longer) jovial Max and his newly hired team to sift through, pull their hair out and silently scream about.

Lead Generation – Where Do You Find Your Next Sales Lead?

After finding some quick wins using Google, Max’s team wants to find more sales leads. Businesses can look to LinkedIn, Kompass, Experian, Dun & Bradstreet etc. to do this. While these options are better than a Google search, the complete answer is still not there. The reason is that thousands of eCommerce sites are missing from these searches. eCommerce merchants live in the world of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter etc. How does Max and his team search these platforms for eCommerce sales leads?

New Options

The good news is that there are major developments in data mining and deep web analytics. This is a big investment area globally. Using some of the new search engines, Max and his team can now enter “Camera shops” into a business search engine and, in just a few seconds, they can find thousands of results for camera shops that are active and selling to his market right now. As a result, Max gets rich all by himself, keeps his hair and gets home early! He no longer needs to hire an army to search the internet to find quality sales leads.

It is estimated that 2015 saw over $1.7 trillion traded by online businesses. In the UK, Black Friday broke the £1bn ($1.4bn+) threshold in sales. When you look at the global sales opportunity of $1.7 trillion, only a very few of the large online merchants pull in more than $20 million a year. Instead, the large sales figures come from a combined larger number of online businesses (albeit lesser-known) that are consistently doing in excess of $250K a year.

Again, this goes to show that there are lots of sales leads out there still to be found – and a need for much more refined search engines/databases to identify those sales. Of the ones that are out there today let www.SalesOptimize.com be an option for consideration.

Finding new sales leads can be challenging for many businesses, but the advances in data mining and analytics means there are new opportunities for savvy business owners to narrow down their potential eCommerce market and identify leads to foster further growth.

Written by: Liz Fulham, Founder and CEO, SalesOptimize – helping businesses to quantify the true size of their B2B eCommerce market and identify new online shop leads.

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Steps to be Successful at Guest Posting

You have been writing guest posts for various blogs and websites and yet you are not getting the response you desire. You want to guest post; after all, there are a number of perks you can enjoy when you use this tactic. For instance, it can increase the traffic to your own blog or website, it introduces you to new communities that eventually helps your platform grow and not to mention how good it is for boosting search engine rankings. Yet, you are not able to reap any of these rewards because your guest posts are not being accepted or getting any response. Why is that?

It could be because you are ignoring some of the inherent rules of guest posting. You have to understand that you either have to hire an expert blog posting service or follow certain important steps to be successful at guest posting. Are you ready? The steps are outlined here:

Step 1:
First things first, you need to go over the guidelines carefully. Lots of established blogs, especially ones that accept guest posts regularly, have a list of guidelines set out for anyone who wants to post on their blog or website as a guest. You need to be aware of them and ensure none are being violated or else you will not gain the acceptance you are looking for.

Step 2:
Always choose a blog for writing a guest post after considerable research. You need to select a good blog where you know you can find your target audience. You need to research and find out the voice and tone of the blog and also look for topics that haven’t been studied as yet. This is important because you don’t want to be repetitive and you want to select something that you know will appeal to the audience and will give you a positive response. Furthermore, it could also convince the blog owner to publish your post if they enjoy the subject matter.

Step 3:
Once you have done your research, you can get in touch with the blogger. The best way to contact is via email and you should get right to the point instead of beating around the bush. You can simply pitch your idea or if you have already written a draft, you can send that in. Don’t waste your time with self-deprecation and don’t apologize. Avoid being arrogant as well.

Step 4:
It is time to create the best post possible you have ever done. You don’t just want to blow the blog owner away, but you also want to make a huge impact on the audience. According to experts from  blogger outreach services, the first opportunity could be the last so you need to come up with the right content.

Step 5:
You should give the blogger some time before following up. Usually, the guidelines will mention how long it will take for you to get a response.

Step 6:
If your post is published, you should remember to thank the blogger and then start working on your post. This means sharing, tweeting and emailing to get exposure.

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How to Create an Acquisition Strategy as a Small Business

Many start up companies hope to eventually get acquired but don’t have a clear acquisition strategy or plan on how to get there. In order to create an effective acquisition strategy as a small business, there are several aspect of their business that must be carefully planned out. While transparency is important, the particulars concerning the companies finance and legal aspects play a vital role in the success of the acquisition. In addition, there are organizational concerns, communication tasks and stakeholder assessments required. Let’s take a look at developing a good acquisition strategy…

1. Be Clear With Yourself On Goals And Motivations Before Developing a Acquisition Strategy

The first things you want to consider when positioning your company for an acquisition is your reasoning for selling your business and how you want that goal to be executed. Ensure that you understand the impact of the acquisition, and prepare the company for a smooth transition into that direction. Any company looking to acquire your start-up is going to be interested in understanding the vision you have and the potential you see in your respective industry..

If your vision is not visible to others, chances are you will have a difficult time attracting a complimentary investor or buyer. On the other hand, a clear vision could make the difference between thousands and millions of dollars. Elastica’s recent acquisition by Blue Coat is a perfect example of this.

2. Get Your Business Affairs In Order

The complex and lengthy process of the acquisition will require a full and thorough transparency of the inner workings of your business. Financial statements and other discovery documents will be vital as you make appeals to potential buyers and establish your company’s’ value. Do your due diligence by organizing all pertinent documents, ensure all taxes and licenses are current, and satisfy any outstanding issues that may be viewed as an encumbrance or threat to your company.

3. Get The Experts Involved

As an entrepreneur, your expertise is in providing your service or selling your product. Just like you seek the best personal doctor or the best hairstylist, establish a team of the best investment bankers, tax attorneys and advisers who are experts in their fields. An acquiring company will be impressed by the quality of reports that will be delivered, especially since it will be prepared by an outside expert, as it gives authority to the testaments given.

A business that is being micro-managed and macro-managed by the same person does not give the impression of a serious, established and profitable business worthy of being purchased, but rather more of an entrepreneurial endeavor that needs additional time to flourish before it is sustainable. Besides, if you allow the experts to handle those crucial tasks, that leaves more time for you to confidently focus on the other aspects of the acquisition.

4. Open The Lines Of Communication With Your Management Team

Create an open environment where your talented employees remain involved and informed. Prepare the team for the transition and encourage them to take a personal stake in the transition. By remaining cultivated with the best and brightest on your team, you ensure that you will retain their loyalty and dedication, which make the strength of the business as a unit more appealing.

5. Make Sure Your Key Stakeholders Are Aligned To Avoid Last Minute Crises

Make sure every member of the board and all key stakeholders are on board for the sale. Try to predict any conflicts that might arise at the least opportune time. Large corporations are easily scared away from strife within a company that visibly poses a threat to the companies’ potential success. They’ve seen businesses like Hewlett-Packard lose millions as a result of bad acquisitions, so naturally corporations want to proceed with caution. Any last minute disagreements can stall the acquisition, or even permanently dismantle the agreement all together.

6. Re-Establish Significant Partnerships and Clients

One of the most important reassurances that you can offer is that the current customer base is established, strong and loyal. Part of the process of nurturing that loyalty is to customers them selectively informed. You want to avoid scaring them off towards your competition after the acquisition. Your investors also may want to engage with the customer base to evaluate their level of support and loyalty. This critical assessment serves as a vital reference for investors and buyers when predicting future growth potential of a business in the aftermath of the acquisition.

7. Understand Your Company Narrative

When conveying your journey and passion to a buyer, your narrative will be more effective with it is compelling and credible. Every aspect of your company will be in the spotlight, and it is important that your narrative is inspiring, confident and convincing. The interested parties are not the only ones who need to feel your passion. The stake holders, board member, employees and customers all alike must be in sync based on your conveyance, Without that harmony, you will find it difficult to convince them to sign on the bottom line.

Once you have all of your business affairs in order for your business acquisition will become probable, but almost certain. You will attract the right type of company who will be able to envision your dream and implement strategies that will elevate the value and positioning of your business.

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How To Retain Customers Using Real-Time Adaptive Marketing

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if your favorite brand (e.g. a clothing company, a local restaurant, an e-commerce store) started treating you like royalty:

  • they remember your name, your preferences, and
  • send you personalized offers and recommendations based on your previous purchases, visits to their store/site, surveys and feedback

Too good to be true? Not anymore, thanks to real-time adaptive marketing technology that brings a whole new level of personalization to the game of business.

The Roots Of Personalization through Adaptive Marketing

Personalization is not new, it’s been used by local shops, restaurants, tailors and barbers for decades. In the old days, business owners knew each and every one of their customers personally. This degree of intimacy allowed businesses to understand the real needs and wants of their customers and provide deeper levels of attention and, as a result, retain those customers for life.

It’s through this type of commitment to their customers that local restaurants, tailors and even bookstores would always have stock of their customers’ favorite merchandise and keep them coming back again and again.

Mass-consumption, however, turned customers into anonymous Excel figures and the old-school customer care was gone. What seemed like the lost art of salesmanship is now making its way back into the digital market under a different hat: personalization.

Imagine your favorite e-commerce store displaying a popup message the next time you land on their site:

  • “Hey, welcome back! You were looking at these sneakers last night. Why not buy them right now?”
  • Hey Jeff, your X-Men t-shirt is still waiting for you in the shopping cart! Complete the order today and get a 20% off.”
  • “Hey Lynda! Your gym membership will expire in 5 days. Check-in on Foursquare and get 20% off next month’s bill.”

Or, what about letting your favorite restaurant know you’ll be arriving in 30 minutes and by the time you get there the head waiter has already prepared a nice table for you? All of this being done using a simple app that syncs your intention to buy a service with the in-house logistics.

Wouldn’t it be great if brands started implementing this level or customization in their communications and bring the targeting to this amount of granulation? Wouldn’t you be impressed by such a service? Of course you would!

And the future is here. In the SF movie “Minority Report” there’s a scene where Tom Cruise walks into a shopping center and immediately after his retina scan, the billboards start to talk directly to him: “Hey, John Anderton! You could sure use a Guinness right about now.”

Anticipating customer intent and interacting with customers with super targeted ads has already been implemented by giants like Amazon who believes they can anticipate what you’re going to purchase and will ship items to a regional distribution center before you even placed the order.

Personalization… Today

Here is a typical example of personalized user experience: you browse through the newest items added on your favorite home décor e-store and suddenly the store displays a personalized message for you saying “Welcome back! Buy this lamp in the next 10 minutes and you get 10% off.” The coupon code would fit perfectly into the context and has great chances of conversion.

How would you feel? I know I know I’d be excited that my favorite store acknowledged my presence on their site and enticed me to buy using some sort of urgency trigger. That would be a really intense shopping experience.

Another example is Flipboard, an app that allows people to customize the way they discover and consume content. Amazon displays “similar” products to people, based on their purchase or browsing history and even on the items listed in their “Wishlist”.

The beauty of personalization is that it gives people the chance to create their own experiences and choose the type and format of the content they want to consume. No more cookie-cutter template emails and ad copy. Just imagine what personalization could do for your own business, knowing that every piece of content fits perfectly on your prospect, just like a custom-tailored suit can.

Interconnectedness In The Digital World

Today, 80% of internet users own a smartphone, which means they are almost always connected and are interacting with their favorite brands via multiple channels. These users have become no only tech savvy, but they also demand more attention, they expect to be acknowledged and treated well.

Why? Because they know they have options and that your competition is eagerly waiting to get their money. These always-connected users are even willing to share a lot of information if that’s what it takes to receive personalized offers and services.

An Infosys study of 5,000 consumers worldwide (including 1,000 in the UK) revealed that 78% of British respondents would buy from brands that made them more targeted, relevant offers.

This is where adaptive marketing and personalization help you align your marketing with real-time events (e.g. #CecilTheLion). Adopting real-time marketing techniques can help you take the pulse of what’s going on in the world and leverage big social movements by putting your own spin on the situation.

How To Create Your Omni-Channel Infrastructure

Consumers are coming back and forth among multiple devices, from smartphones to desktops and from laptops to tablets to TVs. They can interact with a business in a physical store, on a website or mobile app, through a catalog, or through social media.

Here are the 3 core steps to create an omni-channel user experience:

1) Have a seamless and consistent messaging across your print, digital, social and mobile marketing channels.

A print ad might supply a QR code to drive viewers to your website or Facebook page. Or, an e-commerce retailer should strive to preserve items in a cart across devices – if you add an item to your mobile shopping cart, it should still be in your shopping cart when you log in on your desktop computer.

A great example of a brand that has created an effective, seamless physical and digital user experience is Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret Angel Card program allows members to share & earn points by shopping in-store and online. Cardholders receive personalized e-mails with special offers and promotions, free gifts and birthday presents and access to exclusive shopping events. Members also receive extra rewards for syncing their social profiles and sharing the company’s news, effectively unifying omni-channel experiences.

2) Understand your audience’s path to engagement or purchase.

The ability to track your customers as they flow and make purchases through all the channels and capture all this data from online and offline sources allows you to find various touch points (physical store, desktop site, email list, social media, TV, mobile site, mobile app, catalog, customer service representative, etc.) on your customers’ journey. Tying multiple channels together helps you to understand which data points are most useful to you and segment your audience / budget accordingly.

Today’s marketing automation systems all have omni-channel marketing automation. Platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Act-on, or Silverpop help you manage your data, automate your marketing strategy and keep track of your data across multiple channels.

3) Capture attention once you’ve reached your audience.

That’s where relevance comes into play. Create customized content to intensify the power of your messaging on every channel. For example, you can send recommendations for complimentary products (a shirt to a pair of jeans).

Adding social features like sharing, ratings and reviews, and comments to your website allows customers to easily interact with your brand and seamlessly share their actions and opinions with their peers. Generating an actively engaged user community and nurturing user-generated content boosts SEO and increases referral traffic, time spent on site, and, ultimately, lifetime customer value.

Here is how Macy’s uses the omni-channel marketing system.

Shifting From Acquisition To Engagement

Check out this innovative ad campaign from a Swiss advertising agency. This is a really cool example of what’s possible with the new adaptive marketing techniques. The ad promotes a remote ski resort in the Alps and it was displayed in live video format in Zürich’s main railway station.

This way, urban commuters could connect in real time with the person making the invitation and receive a free train ticket (printed on the spot) if they decided to hop on the train that would leave in 15 minutes. Great urgency factor! The man from the ad even agrees to talk to people’s bosses to get them a free day to go on the trip.

The Swiss ad is just a glimpse of what marketing of the future looks like, in both creative angle and technology. This will definitely stir some waves among creatives and make ads more fun, spontaneous and minimize friction.

The key benefit of real-time marketing is that brands can use content marketing to create stories and experiences around products or services – pretty much like what museum have always been doing. Create installations where each piece of art would take the viewer to the next one and guiding them on a path of discovery.

This approach to marketing will mark the shift from the information age to the conceptual, experience age, where ads will become integrated experiences that build upon previous user interactions with the brand and get them involved into meaningful conversations and transactions.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, personalization comes with huge benefits for both customers and brands. This is the beginning of more targeted ad campaigns, improved customer service, more sales and higher rates of retention.

Customers are already starting to look for the royal treatment and are very diligent with their money. The better you can acknowledge your customers, show them appreciation, nurturing and letting them know that their voice is important to you, the easier it will be to stand apart from your competition.

Brands that will build omnichannel experiences for their users and optimize customer interactions across all devices will rise to the top. Adapting to change is the key factor for staying in business and this time change means creating unique customer experiences and personalized journeys throughout the entire sales funnel.

What are your thoughts on the future of real-time adaptive marketing? How do you see your business adopting it? What kind of content works best for moving your customers down the sales funnel?

We’d love to hear from you and see how you’re adapting to real-time personalization to enhance your customers’ experiences.

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Shrewd Decisions To Manage Small Businesses Finances

As a small business owner, you must operate your company with limited resources. You have limits on your available cash, your equipment and limits on your staff’s time. If you don’t operate productively and manage your finances, your business may fail. Use these tips to reduce costs and to manage finances.

The benefits of cloud computing

Cloud computing allows you to store and manage data on remote servers. You can sharply reduce the need for paper files using this technology. By using remote servers, you can keep your data secure. You don’t have to worry about security breaches on servers in your office.

Businesses that use the cloud can operate more productively. Your staff can share documents, make changes and upload files by email. Cloud computing eliminates the need to fax or email documents.

Another great tool for productivity is an e signature for staffing companies. With an e signature solution, you can send a document and get a signature electronically. Once the document is signed, you can backup the document and send it over the cloud. This tool helps you turnaround paperwork quickly. Employee agreements and project contracts can be processed in less time.

Planning and monitoring your budget

Many entrepreneurs start selling their product or service without creating a budget. If you don’t take the time to plan your business operations, you may run short on cash or operate at a loss.

Think carefully about the costs you incur to make and deliver your product. Say, for example, that you manage a catering business. To serve your customers, you incur food costs, food preparation expenses and cost to deliver and serve the food. Invest the time to fully document the costs required to manage your business.

Using accounting software

Once you decide on a budget for your catering business, use accounting software to post all of your transactions. QuickBooks, for example, is an easy-to-use online accounting system. You can quickly learn how to post transactions and generate financial reports. A business owner can also input budget assumptions into QuickBooks.

At the end of each month, produce a set of financial reports, including a profit and loss statement for the month. Compare your budgeted sales and expenses to your actual results.

If actual costs are higher than you planned, think about making changes. Assume, for example, that your food costs were higher than budgeted. Consider ordering food from other vendors that can offer a lower price. Making these changes can help you keep your business on track.

Increasing productivity with mobile apps

Many business owners spend most of their time away from the office. The catering owner, for example, may be out marketing the business or meeting with clients. If you’re frequently out of the office, it’s important that you stay on top of your finances.

Consider using mobile apps to you manage your business. You can find apps to scan receipts and post them to your accounting records. You can also connect you mobile device to your cloud computing system. This technology lets you access and change any document without the need to be in the office.

Managing your small business can be time-consuming. Create a budget for your business and compare your budget to actual results. Use technology to keep your accounting records up to date. These strategies can help you grow your small business and generate a profit.

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10 Things That Pull You Down From Getting More Business

There are businesses that do well. There are ones that hold the edge. There are businesses that lead the competition. And, there are the ones which struggle with getting more business.

The number of start-ups, small & medium enterprises & heavy investment enterprises has grown exponentially over the years. However, with all the problem-solving ideas, innovative concepts, well-researched products, and customized service projects businesses these days are finding roadblocks. Their stuff remains unsold due to lack of penetrating marketing strategies.

For small business owners or self-employed individuals, the business revolves around their passion with scanty knowledge about marketing their stuff. On many occasions, it has to with the lack of intent to engage in a planned promotion or having an effective marketing plan.

Peek into few factors that kill sales and obstruct organizations and businesses from acquiring new customers and getting more business.

1. Undefined goals

Setting the goal is the first step to turning the invisible into the visible. Businesses need to clearly define the reason for their existence. A big chunk of start-Ups & small businesses does not document a clear vision statement and goals.

  • Write the vision statement that will help you ascertain the goals, the mission, and act as a guide to the core activities of the business, and help in the formulation of policies and taking an ethical stand.

2. Insufficient research & awareness about the markets

The obstacle to discovery is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge. Businesses think that they know swimming and get into the ocean.  And then they get drowned. The strategy that may have worked for you formerly may not work today. The markets are changing- If I correct this phrase, the customers are changing. Nowadays customers have access to information and pricing strategies.

  • A customer has grown smarter and is well informed about purchase decisions. In such scenario, businesses have to constantly be engaged in market and customers and be smart in terms of pricing, features, services and over experience selling.

3. Not working out on products

Clinging to a product or a service that may look attractive, may be economic to manufacture and easy to distribute but has no practical value is practically unsalable. Start-Ups & businesses need to understand what the customer needs.

  • Check out the relevance of the concept for the target audience. Also, verify if the target audience is well defined and correct. If required, conduct a pilot run & take feedback. Iron out the deficiencies into usability, features, pricing, competitiveness & offers.

4. Lack of proper sales process

The Company that doesn’t have a proper sales process is surely going to get stuck sooner or later. Lack of documented sales process & written sales presentation, Non-existence of staff training procedures, Inability to generate quality leads, Inadequacy in sales follow-up processes or Using inappropriate promotional channels is enough to screw down your business.

  • Define the products/services.
  • Create a sales presentation citing features & advantages, competitive edge & stress on how the customer will advantage out of your offer.
  • Identify the Sales resistances and develop answers and explanations so that customer is forced to purchase the offering.
  • Develop a well-trained sales staff and create options to generate quality leads.
  • Install a mechanism to monitor sales pitches & follow up procedures. When a deal is done, make sure you retain the existing customers.
  • While planning a promotional strategy, use those that maximize the outreach in the budgeted costs.

5. Inability to generate funds

The chief job of a business owner is to generate funds for keeping the business alive, whether via sales or through funding, loans or from capital markets. The biggest reason why start-ups fail is because of inability to generate the necessary resources that help the business tide through the tough phases and become strong to acquire new customers.

  • Consider friends, family or bootstrapping. Develop options to raise capital from Angel investors. Crowd-funding from social circle comes handy in such circumstances. If you are looking at a little larger picture then you can get fund from the micro-loan organizations. It may take time, but losing heart is definitely not one of the ways. Keep calm and move ahead.

6. Inappropriate management of Customer Data

Not managing the customer’s data properly can get even the biggest of the companies in trouble. Keep your customers happy and other things will become easier.

  • So, it is highly necessary to record analyze and manage customer data. Customers’ preferences, likes & dislikes provide an insight into current & future trends. This will help a correction in strategy & improvise the purchasing experience. Good quality crm software can help manage customer interactions, recording feedback and improvising relationships.

7. Overlooking the need of your own people

It’s not you alone who has set up the business. There are people you need to take care of so that they take care of your valuable business. The way customers are important to you, the employees are as much your priority.

  • Understand your employees for better. Communicate with them often and value their opinions & suggestions. Create a dedicated team that strives to achieve the set goals.
  • Train them, provide them with necessary tools, motivate them and they will do their best, always.

8. Weak online promotion strategy

Being absent on the internet impacts heavily on the scalability of the business. Being present without any promotional activity adds no good.

  • Businesses & Start-Ups should promote their business online through the website, portals, blogs, & Social media sites. Keeping the customers engaged by developing mobile games, & mobile applications are some of the good ways to being visible to customers.

9. Improper inventory & logistics management

The inability to deliver when the customer demands is one of the easiest ways to kill the business. The marketing team may have made promises, but the delivery & logistics has got the responsibility to deliver in a timely manner.

  • An impeccable way to make a place in your customer’s heart is to deliver the product on the date you promised. It is always an emergency on the customer’s side and inventory management, shipping process needs to be one of the selling points.

10. Restricting to a Comfortable geography

The home territory has a capped potential for any business. Beyond this, the businesses must look for newer geographies and probably think about exploring a newer market. Lack of such a planning can be enough to keep the business as a small player and deny the chances to acquire customers.

  • Slowly and steady, a business need to penetrate in the other geographical areas but before doing that, they need to study the market carefully, plan the strategy and do a SWOT. It is good to move ahead with a proper planning.

It is not the failure of one or other strategy that would eventually decrease the number of customers and lead to the business failure but yes, not willing to invest resources and hard work would.

A good business will keep customers at the top and would define every strategy around them. This is the easiest way to reach the goal you set for the business.


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Worst Social Media Mistakes

With the world we live in today becoming so reliant on online outlets, businesses need to make the most of their presence on social media. However, always remember to be careful not to misrepresent your image while using those social platforms. Read on for some tips to avoid making the worst social media mistakes.

Many social media pages are built to engage with people and build a decent depiction of your company, product or name. While many have wildly successful media operations set up, others have failed for various reasons.

We’ve seen it time and time again.

Avoid that misconception by reading just how a blunder can influence your media pages, and the most common mistakes that you can avoid.

Top Social Media Mistakes you Shouldn’t Make

Too many words. Stick to your point. Followers aren’t reading your feed to spend five minutes scrolling down a post with too many commas.

Using words you don’t understand. DiGiorno’s mistakenly used a trending hashtag to their marketing advantage on Twitter in 2014 to promote their pizza. #WhyIStayed was trending in opposition to domestic violence, and DiGiorno’s got quite the reprimand from its misuse.

Not keeping a focus. Just as your word count should be limited, be sure to keep the concentration on your topic.

Over-posting. Once you find your rhythm of posting, stick to it, if it is working well with your audience. Over-doing the frequency of updates could negatively impact your strategy.

Being a ‘Debby Downer’. Positivity spread from your social media manager is essential to the continued support of your company, and just good customer service.

A shortage of media. Balance the ratio between images, video content and plain text. You need to keep people engaged while reading your feed, but not overwhelmed with too much text.

Bringing in politics. If it doesn’t support the nature of your company, or bring guaranteed positive responses from your followers, then it isn’t worth the risk.

Not engaging in conversations. You’re on social media for a purpose. How can that purpose be achieved without maximizing opportunities to use your expertise? Communicate with the people in your network.

Pay attention to the responses from the users you are trying to engage with and use them to restructure your strategy, if needed. They will be your best source in the changing market.

Deleting comments that are inconvenient. If the comments are inappropriate or hinder your strategy or image as a company, by all means you withhold the right to remove them.

If the comments are not rightfully lewd, and the operator of the media page just doesn’t want to deal with the ‘hassle’ of handling the situation, then you have a problem.

Your presence on social media is contingent on responses you give to your followers, or any commentor. Don’t let an honest answer hurt your name; let your honesty speak for your reliability and morality.

Posting controversial topics. Why bother? Everyone is a heckler on social media. It’s unavoidable, but it is somewhat controllable.

Any hot topic is likely to get publicity over media, but if it is irrelevant to your intention and purpose of being on social media then avoid it. We all know what happened with Adam Goodes; why contribute where it may not be needed?

Lack of context. It doesn’t matter what you say if the context of what you’re saying isn’t connected in an appropriate way. Context is key. Isn’t it?

Lack of content. Amnesty International Australia used Tinder to launch a campaign to raise awareness for women in forced marriages. As a sensitive topic, presenting their ideas without an effective strategy in place would be useless.

In the case of Amnesty International, thousands of people clicked the link provided; their mission was successful due to the compelling content successfully integrated in their advertisement.

Not staying informed. With technology changing just as fast as world events happening, this is essential to executing a successful social media strategy.

Just as Nike had to revoke a t-shirt design after its significance shifted. The t-shirt started as a competitive baseball rivalry between New York and Boston, and quickly changed to an image that misrepresented the horrific scene in Boston in April 2013.

Nike had to react quickly. Once the directive dialogue over social media began, they immediately removed all t-shirts from their shelves.

No filters. We’re not talking about Instagram filters here but with regard to a chain of command.

Bloomingdale’s recent ad sparked major controversy and is now being referred to as a “date rape ad”.

How could such an inappropriate ad, which completely misconveys an acceptable public opinion on rape culture, pass through several stages of approval?

Dozens of people had to have seen this advertisement before it was released; Bloomingdale’s is no small business. Once it was published, the backlash began.

You can avoid this by refining your editing process: checks and balances.

Generating automated responses. This can backfire, and backfire quickly. In addition to installing checkpoints for potential media content, ensure that if you are using an automated response system always be aware of what is posted.

Forgetting to filter the extra noise. Stick to your strategy and your purpose of using social media services and get rid of the distractions. This will help with your time management in addition to increasing efficiency.

Rid your news feed and/or Twitter feed of pointless conversations. Fill those spaces with constructive outlets that will be beneficial to you, and will make your sites easier to manage.

Final Thoughts

Some mistakes are excusable, while others take a lot of time and money to fix. Take caution in what you post and remember to use the resources easily available to you. Including getting a second opinion on content, and making sure you stay caught up with current events.

Overall, social media services should hold the capability of making you more successful if used properly. Take advantage of the opportunities it provides and don’t waste time making mindless errors that are avoidable.

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Staying Local: Campaign Ideas to Target Local Markets

Targeting local markets has been a recommended strategy for businesses that want to tap into key demographics and build bases within specific communities. The concept of buying local is something that has continued to work for businesses in a very real and effective way. Companies who focus their marketing efforts locally stand to gain a better customer following, more efficient campaigns, and better customer retention. Read on for some ideas on how to target local markets…

Customize Your Website

One of the simplest ways to market your businesses locally is to create landing pages that are specific to specific cities and areas. If you own a large company with several offices, it’s best to let the manager and employees at each specific store provide their input for what their customers seem to want. Using IT services from Ottawa to help you set up the server to detect where someone is accessing your page from, can help to deliver customized and tailored results. These managed services in Ottawa are also great for protecting against virus and malware threats.

Tailoring Campaigns
Most people get their information about new businesses by going on the Internet. In the past, television and radio were the biggest source of advertising. Even older populations are active on the Internet, so you can’t afford to miss out on this key demographic. IT services can help you set up your website in such a way that search engines know you have a local business that might be relevant for the searcher.

Start Local Fundraisers
A classic way to advertise your business is by creating special events for select groups of customers. By creating VIP memberships and holding special events for your most valued customers, you can create an organization that puts a high value on customer loyalty. A special member’s page for customers who spend a certain amount of money per year is one way to recognize smaller groups. Starbucks offers a good example of this with their Starbucks Card Gold Card benefits program. Customers who buy a certain number of drinks per year get special rewards and incentives.

Be Picky
Too many marketing campaigns attempt to market to everybody. There are good ideas, bad ideas, and the right ideas. The good ideas may offer a novel approach to something, but cost a lot of money and provide little in terms of customer loyalty. Bad ideas can actually harm your company and are typically formed through poor planning, research and a lack of knowledge about the population you’re marketing to. The right ideas ensure that your campaign performs highly by providing real value to customers over an extended period of time.

Mass marketing no longer provides a suitable method of promoting products and services on a large scale. There is going to be some group that disagrees with your mission statement, so it’s best to find your niche and develop an intense loyalty in that group. By doing so, you can develop loyal and reliable customers.


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