Thursday, December 30, 2010
Ask 10 people and you will get 11 opinions. Personally, and professionally, I lean towards the S Corp for a new company, even a one-person company. I believe the S Corp provides all the benefits and more, and provides for more flexibility, and less conversion complexity, as the entity grows and evolves.
Here is a tool that you may find helpful to assist you in making a decision. It takes into account financial information, taxes, risk factors, and benefit considerations (e.g., health care).
Also, here is link to a chart that illustrates the key attributes and distinctions among the various business forms.
Bear in mind that these are just tools and you should discuss your particular and family situation with your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor.
Disclaimer: The above is not legal advice and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. Also, per IRS Circular 230, the above is general information and is not intended to be used, and it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Read the rest of the article by here:
Don’t Fight Technology
A good business coach will act as an accountability partner and supporter of their client. You want a coach who listens well and will help you go where you want to go - not where they think you should go. Those are very different things. A good coach will help you take a real look at where you are and where you want to go. A good coach will tell you the truth - even if it isn't what you want to hear. You are paying them to help you succeed - not blow smoke up your dress.
Expect a coach to help you create expectations and goals for yourself. Sometimes the coach will be a mentor, a teacher, a cheerleader, . . . The coaches job is as I said - to help you solve whatever is getting in the way of your success and develop strategies that will work for you.
I think a coach should be able to hear what you say and what you don't say and ask the right questions to help you get where you want to go.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Do you remember the game "This is a witch, this is a watch" from when you were a kid? Everyone sits in a circle and you passes one object one direction and the other object the other direction, everyone repeating the "This is a witch - a what - a witch" mantra (or watch depending on where you sat in the circle). Then when one person receives both objects at the same time and the cross-over begins....well....pandemonium reigns. This same reaction frequently occurs when small business owners grapple with which tool might best suit their current situation: strategic plan, business plan, feasibility study, or annual operations plans. I get a deer-in-the-headlights look when I suggest one tool as compared to another. Is it a witch or a watch; a strategic plan or a business plan?
Understanding the unique role that each of these tools plays is key. And as often as I’ve described these tools to people, nothing helps to crystallize their roles more than a visual. As you can see in the graphic, strategic planning is where the visioning takes place, values are articulated, and resources are brainstormed. What you want to be known for and what you stand for are key considerations. This graphic shows that strategic planning takes the long view, thinking 10 years into the future. Some strategic planning experts will tell you that with today’s rapid pace of business that it’s no longer realistic to plan 10 years out and have shifted this timeline back to 3 to 5 years. No matter the timeline, strategic planning is a great tool for “big picture” thinking.
Once you’ve developed your big picture, its best to test your direction. This is accomplished with a feasibility study. You’ve moved from forming the dream to articulating scenarios that will have the dream become reality. The feasibility study helps you to uncover roadblocks and determine which scenario provides the greatest likelihood for your success.
Following the feasibility study, a business plan is prepared to operationalize your best-case scenario. Business plans are usually prepared for a 3 to 5 year period. When you are looking for financial resources, funders may require 5 year projections, but also give a nod to the fact that anything beyond 3 years is hard to project with accuracy.
The final planning tool is the annual plan which, as its name might suggest, is prepared annually. You take a look at the year ahead, determine what your goals are, who has responsibility for them, when they will be accomplished and how much each goal costs. This provides accountability for your goals and a means to check in on them through the year to see how you’re progressing.
The process I’ve just described starts from the very beginning of a venture and moves through as though your business is a start-up. These tools are also applicable at various times throughout your business growth. Feasibility studies are good tools when developing new products and services. A strategic plan is a great tool if you’ve lost momentum in your business and need to renew early energy. Business planning should be engaged in regularly as your business grows. You’ll find that once you’ve prepared an initial business plan, renewing it is a much easier task. If your market changes or the economy changes, it’s also smart to redo your business plan to take the new conditions into consideration. So, whether it’s a witch or a watch, knowing which tool to use and when can move your business forward just when you need it.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
BUNDLE SERVICES TO CREATE PRODUCTS AND SIMPLIFY PRICING ....
Using your hourly rate as a base, you can package your rates into bundles or banks of hours for different services.
For example if you know that social media audits and top level recommendations takes you on average 3 hours to complete, then you could package this as a product and bundle your 3 hours together as a total price.
FLAT PRICING AND PRICE RANGES ....
Clients find it easier to understand what they are getting and have an easier time buying in to a service when you package services and outline what's included with a flat price or price range. Hourly consulting works better for ad-hoc requirements to offer flexibility.
BRANDING SERVICES TO CREATE EASY TO UNDERSTAND PRODUCTS ....
Other ideas for pricing tie into branding your services to make them more tangible to a client. For instance putting together a LinkedIn primer and strategy package where you show clients how to maximize results through LinkedIn.
The idea is to streamline your packages and service offerings so that they are easy to implement and replicate for other clients while being transparent to the clients in what they will receive.
INTRO PACKAGES TO GAIN MORE CLIENTS ....
You can use low cost intro level services to allow clients to see what you can do for them at a lower risk and then upsell them once you've gained their trust. So have a few smaller "products" priced at a lower cost to help you penetrate the market without having to discount your services.
FREE CAN BE A GREAT PRICING STRATEGY ....
You can also offer the equivalent of sample "products" such as 1 free hour of consulting or offer a free hour with every 10 invoiced - you get the idea...
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE ....
Offering clients a guarantee such as "If you're not happy working with me, you can walk away and not pay the invoice" can also help seal the deal.
Of course you want to be careful to limit the timeframe of the guarantee
to one package or the first month to prevent an unscrupulous client from unethically taking advantage of you. Most often though, hardly anyone will invoke your guarantee unless your services are really sub par.
As you can tell pricing is not a simple exercise, but there are many opportunities to find the sweet spot for both your and your clients.
My last parting advice is to always link pricing to value wherever you can because that's what you want your clients to see - the great value you provide at the price you're asking.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Please excuse the “pie in the sky” aim of this book’s title, this guide has taken about 30 years to write.
I have worked for many retail firms, been in the military, been married and traveled to several nations, from whose and which perspectives I “borrowed” to see how American firms can do better.
I have also been a small business consultant for 4 decades, doing far too much pro-bono work to help people get their business started, expanded or fixed. Sometimes, like a pastor, getting someone “there” has been more important for me than making sure I was reasonably and timely remunerated.
Philosophy of Reasons for wanting to be self-employed ....
According to your author (and other experts), the reasons you have for entering self-employment must be VALID if you are to have much likelihood for success. I'll now take you through an analysis of VALID vs INVALID reasons for entering self-employment.
Having valid reasons doesn't insure your success (the author can assure your success, but you must adhere to all the precepts of this book and any other directions the author gives you if you accept his offer of an assurance of success.)
Uniquely, having invalid reasons doesn't assure you of failure though it will likely hurt you over time as will be distinctly pointed out throughout this book.
Also, a "valid" reason will tend to assure you of a greater likelihood of success whenever things get "difficult." By difficult I mean when employees quit and suppliers change costs and availability at the most inconvenient times and when items are most in demand (for those of you carrying manufactured supplied inventory.
Professionalism in self-employment is anything but an '8 to 5 job." If you enter self-employment with valid reasons, you will weather difficult times much more easily than if your beginning reasons were invalid.
Truly, validity in entrepreneurship makes the difficulties simply doors to more opportunities. Invalidity in entrepreneurship, when things are 'going wrong' will make you wish you stayed in bed, just like you often feel when working for someone you don't really want to work with.
The reason 'validity' will help assure success is that you, the merchant-to-be, will be motivated to take corrective steps to solve problems before problems become serious. Invalid reasons for wanting to be an entrepreneur will likely contribute towards making you, the merchant-to-be, part of the statistics on failures that flood the federal bankruptcy courts nationwide.
This book then, could, perhaps, have an additional purpose; keeping you out of bankruptcy court. (Helping you put money into your pocket and keeping it there!)
A valid reason for anything means it has been thought through and is defended well and can therefore guide others (in self-employment, this includes counselors, attorneys and accountants) who can further guide you.
Valid reasons people have offered me/themselves, over the past 50 years, for wanting to enter self-employment .....
1. An increase in take-home pay.
2. A site preference.
3. A marketing plan to capture a certain percent (%) of a market.
4. Anger with the boss.
5. Have exclusive (a license for) use of a new technology.
6. Ideal work/employment field (area of interest) unavailable.
7. Am an alien.
8. Am retired.
9. Am handicapped.
10. Am a hobbyist (and just get a kick out of doing something).
These are all logical reasons for wanting to be self-employed, but are invalid by themselves! None of them yet speaks about what you are going to do for a "clientele base".
You have read 10 reasons why many people think of being self-employed. Let me disclose why most of these reasons, by themselves, are considered inadequate for wanting to open or buying a small business, why these reasons can't be defended.
"Why" must be defended and become "valid" (good)if you want your likelihood of success in self-employment to be high. Let's cover the defect in each of the ten reasons listed above and see how, if possible, these reasons can be modified or changed to become "valid."
The reasons people choose to become self-employed are ....
1. An increase in take-home pay. You need more! This is not, by itself, a reason for self-employment! For the first few months (or years) you can physically draw money from cash flow (gross sales). If you do so, you will likely hurt a business you start. If you buy a going business, I would wait 3-6 months before drawing a salary until you know how your demographics, your marketing and your management style are going to be perceived and accepted.
2. A site preference. Most real estate agents, both commercial and residential, will suggest that location, location and location are the three most important considerations in acquiring property (for rent or purchase). There are some good reason for considering the location of any property, but like the firm's innovativeness or pricing or any of the other "matrix" items of a business, no single consideration (location) can be considered significantly more important than the others.
Two examples will help demonstrate the exceptions to the rule of ideal or best locations.
When I was a pre-teen aged boy, my father worked for a bar named Charlie's Penthouse in San Francisco. It had only one entrance (a grand-fathered commercial site) and this was on an alley-way. If one weren't a resident (most likely with several years residency) of the city, one would likely not know how to find it. Did it make money? Plenty! Those who were natives knew where Charlie’s was and went in droves!
A second establishment was a restaurant and bar. I found this place by accident! I was driving home to Sacramento, CA., after visiting Folsom Lake, CA. About 10-20 miles south west of the lake, at a cross-roads in the middle of NOWHERE, sat this building with a restaurant and bar. Venturing into it, I found a reservation-only place of business and they were booked two months ahead of time! Again, those who knew passed the word around. It could have been located anywhere, it was simply where it was. People would have driven 50-100 miles to eat and drink there.
Therefore, a site preference for a business without having done one's homework as to type of business, a semi or formal survey to confirm customers exist who would consider doing business with you and that your atmosphere, price, quality are what customers want and enough would shop with you to make YOUR SITE and its accommodated business attractive and profitable, would be an invalid reason to be self-employed.
Answer or solve the above requirements and you turn the site preference into a bona fide reason for self-employment and your site reason becomes valid!
3. A marketing plan to capture a certain percent (%) of a market. A marketing plan may be the best reason of the 10 listed, to open a business, but a marketing plan to capture business by itself, like site preference, is inadequate. Let me explain.
Let's say that you have available an attachment to a solar water heater. This attachment allows water to have its temperature changed higher or lower within 15 minutes to 20 degrees higher or lower, and the device can be invented, perfected and be ready to compete with something else on the market that sells for 300% more and the profits will be 75% on sales (excellent!) Further research also discloses that only 25 solar cells are sold monthly, there are only 5,000 nationwide, and expected sales of the cells are 300 annually for 10 years. Capturing 35% of this market at a cost of $250,000 would be prohibitive if the profit is $35.00 for each item. The start-up costs would be high ($75,000 is our example), the time to reach your market would be long (3 years), and the total market (8,000) is insignificant to make it worth your while, even if you could sell to 35% (it was presumed you could capture 25% and the competition gets 15% now) of all the past and future users. (Not all users of these cells will use your attachment. If you sold them via a license agreement to the original cell manufacturer, you may be better off. Therefore, in this situation of capturing a majority percentage of a market is an inadequate reason for becoming self-employed.
For more you're just going to have to get Kevin's new book ... when it's available. ;)
Kevin Kemper is owner of Entrepreneurial Consulting as well as an adunct professor at numerous institutes of higher learning. If you're interested in tapping into Kevin's 40 plus years of experience as a management consultant helping small businesses and entrepreneurs worldwide succeed ... simply email him at email@example.com.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Here's a few reasons why companies want to create a business plan .....
1. Because that is what they’ve been taught or learned and it just seems like the right thing to do. These people are few and far between and really are not creating for the purpose of achieving goals as much as just completing the task.
2. Create for the purpose of obtaining money/working capital . . . and that’s what the bank/SBA says must be done. Again, while true that it takes a plan to obtain a business loan, the plan itself has very little shelf life as it’s not being created to drive the business, only the loan application.
3. To impress a new incoming partner. In this case a plan should be created jointly with the new partner.
4. The best reason .... To expand your business and make more money, etc. This is the best because you are creating it for yourself. You’re the one getting up early in the morning – this tells you why. You’re working hard – this tells you where. You’re selling products all day – this tells you to whom. You’re wanting more customers – this tells you how many.
The cost is a function of the time of the personnel involved. I do not advise hiring someone else to do it for you. That has not worked in my experience.
A business plan is the vehicle by which you conduct the research for your market, decide which individuals to involve in the sales of your product and validate your revenue and expense financial forecasts. It is the means by which you will convince first yourself and then others who can help you that your company has a road map to success.
New entrepreneurs should go to the SBA web site at SBA that guides them through the business planning process. They should follow the site presentation and note the factors to consider in starting a business.
For examples of business plans go to Sample Business Plans
Entrepreneurs can also choose a counselor at Score who is experienced in their industry and that they feel can help them. They should their plan out on the counselor. The counselor will put on a banker's or investor's hat and give them a reaction, then make suggestions to improve the plan and how to communicate it to a financial institution.
I suggesst you examine the guidance here and layout your own proejct plan, pricing the resources required based on what you see and your estimate to complete it once you have it scoped.
Above all - PLAN --- to Succeed!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Many small business owners and managers prefer comfortable problems vs. uncomfortable solutions. They are willing to live with the problems they have rather than try to re-think how they will change and adapt that business. Another words they just want to keep on doing things exactly the way they were doing them and expect things to get better. The old saying “if you keep on doing what you’ve always done – you’ll keep on getting what you always got” is no longer valid. The new saying is “if you keep on doing what you’ve always done – you will get less!”
One way to begin rethinking your business is to hold a retreat with all employees and managers.
The purpose of this retreat is to put together a new plan and prepare to implement that plan.
So how do we change our business paradigms? Paradigms are common. Every business owner or manager has a set of business paradigms that govern the way they think and act towards the situations they find themselves in. Paradigms are functional. They help us distinguish what is important and what is not.
Have you ever heard the saying “I’ll believe it when I see it?” Well, the paradigm effect reverses the common sense relationship between seeing and believing. Another words, our paradigms can cause us to “only see what we believe,” as a result, we are unable to clearly see the situation as it really is, but only as we perceive it to be. We must remember that there are several different ways we can tackle a business problem. We must be careful not to let our paradigm become “the paradigm” or the only way to do something. Paradigms, too strongly held, can lead to paradigm paralysis, a terminal disease of certainty. It is best to remain flexible in turbulent times and keep what author Joel Barker calls “paradigm pliancy“.
Tom Borg is a popular consultant, author, trainer and coach. He is president of Tom Borg Consulting LLC. He works with companies and organizations to help them attract and retain their clients and customers. He is the author of the book/cd “Making Service Count”. He has delivered his training and coaching in Canada, Saudi Arabia, and throughout the United States. You can contact him at 734-812-0526 email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at: www.TomBorgConsulting.com
Thursday, December 16, 2010
BUT WAIT! If you do not follow a few simple rules, this time of year can end up being the worse time for your business. So here are 3 tips to getting the most from your holiday networking.
1. Remember, the same people that you are being social with MAY be your next big client or refer you the next big client. Watch what you drink and say. Although you might be at a party, limit your alcohol consumption and be friendly, but stay professional. Avoid having too much and saying something or doing something that will hurt your reputation or leave the wrong impression in the minds of your new contacts.
2. Get to know people, but don't push business. People are more social now than any other time. Use this time to get to know them - not just about business. Ask about their family, holiday plans, favorite memories. Avoid going to a networking event with the typically networking attitude, slow down a little and learn about them.
3. Although it is the season to celebrate, don't forget about business completely. Find reasons why you might want to reconnect after the event and ask if you can contact them later. This will open the door to future business discussions when the time is right.
By using these 3 tips you will be able to meet more people, have them liking you and looking forward to talking with you at a later date.
Kimberly Deas is a Marketing Consultant that specializes in custom designing marketing strategies, providing virtual marketing assistants and an online marketing software for business owners. You can reach her at www.PromozillaMarketing.com.
1. Keep track of your day. You can’t improve your productivity if you don’t measure it. How do you know if your are productive or not?
You need to keep score of your productivity as if was a game. Don’t judge yourself on ‘how you feel’ at the end of the day, but actually keep track of your productivity over time.
Better yet, keep track of what you do every hour of the day. That’s what I do. I have a weekly time sheet on a piece of paper, and track what I did every hour of the week.
I give myself points for blocks of time that I did focus work. You need a similar rewards and measurement system too, if you want to increase your productivity.
2. Set goals for yourself. If you are self-employed, or a business owner then there are probably hundreds of things you need to do in a given week or month. Not all of these things are as important as those core things that will take your business to the next level.
Like what Stephen Covey says in his book “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”, there are urgent things, and important things. A lot of urgent things aren’t important. The things that gets lost are the important things that aren’t urgent.
The people who can do the things that are important but aren’t urgent are usually those who are successful. You have to choose what things are important to your business success, and focus on doing those things.
3. Set up time blocks in which to do your work. You have to be working on a consistent basis. You have to build habits of productivity and getting things done. There is no such thing as a lazy way to wealth.
You should schedule your work, throughout the day at certain blocks. This is called time blocking. Neil Fiore’s book ‘The Now Habit’, has a great time management, time blocking system. He says that you should try to do thirty minutes of work.
If you aim for at least 30 minutes of focused work, and have a lot of these sessions through out your day you will see an increase in your productivity. Make sure you do these ‘blocks of work’ through out the day.
The above article courtesy of Get-Success.Biz
Monday, December 13, 2010
1. Start a business venture you know more about.
2. Separate business income from personal income
3. Always save and spend less than the income generated.
4. Pay the tithe of your business.
5. Buy when people sell; sell when people buy.
6. Learn and gain more experience from your business.
7. Think before you buy!
8. Make discoveries; find out more about your business.
9. Give more time and attention to your business.
10. Hire the best staff for your business. No sentiments.
11. Always keep a daily record of income and expenditure.
12. Be a time manager; be punctual always.
13. Be courteous and show care and love to your customers.
14. Add more value to your products; give more.
15. Induce buyers with tempting offers.
16. Offer after sales service; the customer is a king.
17. Offer money back guarantee for your products.
18. Use the feedback to correct the mistakes. Listen more!
19. Set a standard for your business.
20. Get branded. Be known for your unique offers.
21. Train and re-train your employees.
22. Motivate your staff daily (reward progress & achievement)
23. Shower more praise and be economical with criticisms of staff.
24. Be a leader by example, not a “bulling” boss.
25. Think positively, believe in yourself and your team.
26. Show more love and attention to your workers.
27. Develop work ethics, use official line of communication.
28. Make your work your hobby; enjoy yourself.
29. Learn to delegate authorities; create time to think.
30. Register your business, pay tax and operate legally.
1. Don’t personalize your business; solicit staff ideas.
2. Don’t be over worked; create leisure time.
3. Avoid gossip, backbiting, and undue favoritism to staff.
4. Avoid compulsive purchases; plan and budget for the things to buy.
5. Don’t buy, if you only need it for a while; rent it or lease it.
6. Don’t be too bureaucratic in your operations.
7. Don’t abuse business goodwill; pay off creditors.
8. Don’t build castles in the air; don’t spend unearned profit.
9. Don’t kill the chicken that lays the golden egg; encourage growth.
10. Don’t be afraid of competition; be innovative and add more value.
11. Don’t be afraid to expand or diversify when necessary.
12. Avoid taking loans or overdrafts; always look inwards.
13. Don’t offer or take bribes; be professional and stand out.
14. Don’t rush into signing agreements, contracts, etc until you are satisfied or seek legal experts.
15. Don’t give out postdated cheques; it’s risky.
16. Don’t be too tight fisted; reward excellence in your staff.
17. Don’t be too rigid; encourage advertisement, publicity and training.
18. Don’t encourage family members’ interference with your business.
19. Don’t employ too many staff and owe; avoid duplication of activities.
20. Don’t create disputes for staff; have clearly spelt out organizational structure.
MONEY IN YOUR HAND
Money hate wasters; but love givers.
Money talks big; dumb when buried.
Money grow with thinkers; malnourished with wishers.
Money defeats poverty; but poverty kills the poor!
The above article courtesy of Get-Success.Biz
Thursday, December 9, 2010
You are going to make money in a business if you sell your products and services to the people that are looking for them. You should do a research on the potential customers that might be interested in buying what your business has to offer. Show them the product or service and give them a trial so that you can demonstrate how it can benefit them in return. This also increases their desire to buy what you have to offer.
It is easy to measure the success of a business and does not require rigorous auditing. Ask yourself the question “Is my business generating profit?” and then you will have the answer whether it is successful or not. To define profit, it is simply the money earned when forming, producing and delivering products and services which cost you finances from the start. In other words, profit is income wherein the net amount is greater than zero. You will know that you are going through a loss if your income is less than zero.
Successful business men know that there are four elements in the concepts for success that is necessary in a business. They know that if one of these elements are lacking, then the business is bound to fail in the long run. The four important elements are research and development, production, marketing and sales and finance. All these factors are needed whether you are running a physical business or a virtual one through the Internet.
Researching is the idea of finding out what people want and need in a certain time period. This is where you know who these people are and where they are. You will study facts whether your business will earn profit in this market or not.
When it comes to production, you need to research and develop a product or service that will benefit both you and your consumers. Once the product or service has been properly developed, you need to work out how you can produce them in a way that is cost-effective for you and is working in the right level of quality for your consumers.
Marketing and sales is where you find the people who want to pay you for the products and services you offer. It is here that you understand and deliver the communication which results in people purchasing from your business.
Last but not the least in the elements needed in the concepts for success in a business is finance, which in a shorter definition, is the proper management of your money. If you properly manage your financial resources, you can cover your costs efficiently and have money left over which is your profit. The higher the money you have left after everything has been paid for is the profit that your business is generating and this can be a basis of success for you
The above article courtesy of Get-Success.Biz
Monday, December 6, 2010
The good news is that there are quite a few and there is still a lot of money to be made out there! Hopefully this top ten will allow you to either branch out your existing business or start one from scratch. Even if your current business or idea has nothing directly to do with any of the popular business trends I list, I’m pretty sure you can find a ‘hook’ that will draw people to what you’re doing.
1. Economic Downturn
Who’d have thought that economic downturn could lead to economic upturn for some folks? Let me explain… More people who have found themselves unemployed, or on the brink of it, have decided to just bite the bullet and be their own boss.
This opens up a wealth of opportunity for business coaches, distributor agents (those who want to get people on their team to distribute products and services), as well as Virtual Assistants and the like.
The downturn has also meant that many new business start-ups are looking for ways to build their business on a minimum budget. This could simply mean getting special deals from companies to buy products or services for their business as well as joining with others to collaborate in projects so they can share leads, and both parties can build their business’s further.
2. Green Living
Do you remember years ago, say early 90′s, when people started to talk and use greener ways of living? Back then recycling wasn’t the norm and we weren’t as aware – nor did we care much about the fact that using energy like it was going out of fashion would harm our environment and strip our bank accounts with increased running costs.
You have to admit that most of us only paid attention to green living when we understood the environment better or when we realised our utilities bills had hit the roof. More people are recycling, down sizing, and getting to grips with self-sufficiency.
Green living is the 2nd most popular money-making business trend this year! What does this mean for you as an entrepreneur in this niche? Some smart utilities providers are cashing in big – saving people on their fuel bills to make them more economical to deal with – and whilst you may not think this is directly ‘Green’, putting all your bills on one piece of paper does help!
But there’s more – budding fruit and vegetable growers are advertising workshops to show people how to grow their own fruit and vegetables on small plots of land or indoors, and with ‘organic’ being the buzz word of the year they’re finding this as an amazing opportunity to make extra cash by selling what they grow.
Self-sufficiency courses were just making a mark this year, but they will be big in 2011 as more people leave the cities and branch out into the country. These courses are not just about growing your own fruit and vegetables; they also give information on keeping your own livestock and building your own barns and chicken coops to keep them in.
3. The old Folk
Whilst it may seem rather odd to put this on the list, the data speaks for itself. The ye olde folk spend money on lots of things. Not just health care and well-being products, but also on fun things too! Senior citizen dating for instance (why should the young ones have all the fun?), holidays, and keeping fit. And whilst it may be true that lots of elderly people struggle financially, there is a high percentage of them who are not and are living every day to the fullest.
Technology courses based in home or with transport provided, have been popular as more seniors find that email and social networking is a great way to keep in touch with their families and friends world-wide. But a word of caution to any business owners in this niche: It should go without saying, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway – treat the seniors with respect.
If your product or service fails to deliver, they won’t be scared to tell the whole world and its wife about it. More over, they deserve to be treated as well as you would treat any other customers – like royalty.:)
4. Retail Discount
Saving money in this economy has never been more important, so it stands to reason that retail discount is big business.
From voucher code sites to budget friendly stores, they are booming now, and if you’re in the retail niche it would pay you well to have something installed either in-house or online, which would give your customers savings on their purchases.
Once again, private utility companies are thriving as well as low-cost fashion and food chains. One entrepreneur I know offers the service of building a shopping program for families who want to save money on their bills and this includes taking them shopping and utilising coupon sites. What an excellent idea!
5. Buy Local
Small stores are seeing an increase in customers when they start to supply fresh, locally grown produce and goods. From vegetables to home-made wine, the local store who is stocking these things is seeing an upturn due to the ‘healthy living’ mantra and the boom in farmers markets popping up all over the place.
Consumers are realising the nutritional and cost benefits of buying their food and condiments this way, and there is also a certain satisfaction when you know these goods are grown and made in your own country. Even the big gun retailers are seeing an increase in profits in their ‘locally grown’ sections.
Once again, this all ties in with the greener way of living that many people are drawn to. If you’re unable to grow your own – buying locally grown is the next best option.
As I said before, the loss of jobs in the latest recession has meant that many people want to learn a new skill, so it makes sense that the education sector has seen an increase.
Depending on where you are in the world and the budget you have will dictate going back to university or doing a short course to learn what you need to. Interestingly enough, coaches like me are seeing the most growth when we actually teach people how to do something directly.
Passive coaching isn’t really needed as much as direct skill coaching. In effect, we are teaching people skills in areas we are well versed in – and of course we have the added benefit of goal setting with our clients and monitoring their progress. But let’s not forget we also do what many standard teachers don’t, which is to encourage and work at the pace of our clients’ attainment.
Education should really be higher up the trend scale, because as we’ve seen, all the trends listed so far have the potential to be teaching subjects themselves.
7. Parent Outsourcing
Hiring someone to coach your children in sports, tutor them in subjects or hobbies, cleaning your house, buying your shopping, as well as other chores such as laundry are not new but it seems now more than ever parents are finding they need extra help not only for their own benefit, but the benefit of their children – especially when it comes to one-to-one education tutoring.
The benefits are not only practical but also having these things done by someone else means you have a more productive day and are able to spend more quality time during the weekends with your family. These things are no longer considered a luxury either.
In the time it takes for someone to clean your home, help your child with their homework and pre-cook a few family meals, you could have sourced some leads and landed some clients which ultimately benefits you and your family long-term.
8. Health and Wellness
If you’re in this industry you should be laughing all the way to the bank. From exercise, natural remedies, to nutritional eating plans – be sure that this market is still doing well. If you’re not doing so well in this market, you need to re-assess how and who you are marketing to.
This niche is a money-maker and the key to success in it is to be passionate and authoritative when delivering your product or service to people.
9. Budget Booze
In a bid to save money many of us are ditching the pubs and clubs and heading home with our goody bag of cheap booze from the supermarket or local store.
Obviously in moderation, the odd bottle of what you fancy doesn’t hurt, but more over what are the opportunities to grow a business based on your expert knowledge of quality cheap alcohol (wine or beer for instance) and sell it on a larger scale?
I do think this niche needs further investigation and the entrepreneur who focuses on this target market needs to mix education and sales patter in order to find a long-term profitable business model.
We love our pets. I have spent no end of money this year on my tropical fish collection. Buying new tanks, equipment, ornaments, heaters, food, and aquatic plants.
They are living the life of luxury! It makes total sense that this industry is still doing very well indeed.
For job opportunities I would avoid the pet shop route and go for something that is either based online and enables people to buy pet based products (as well give them vital care information), or something more hands-on like training, vacation pet care, or pet enthusiast workshops.
Even a re-homing of pets that are abandoned or those that can no longer be cared for is a great market and would tie in beautifully with training and pet care workshops.
These trends and target markets are obviously the most popular, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own unique way to make them work. It’s all about stripping it down to the bare bones and finding the right audience to showcase what you’re offering. Good Luck!
The above article courtesy of Get-Success.Biz
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Today, direct mail (and email perhaps) needs to be extremely relevant and personalized. In the old days the ratio of importance might have been 60% list, 20% creative, and 20% offer. Now I think it's more like 80% list, 40% creative and 20% offer (I know the math is fuzzy but you get the point).
You also need to factor in that you're competing with tons of competing channels and messages, so consider digital printing to add personalization or dimensional formats to break through the clutter.
Also today you'd better be prepared to use direct mail as PART of an ongoing communication plan and not as an isolated vehicle.
Direct mail works very well, if you do it right. It's all about targeting and creating an engaging message. And, it doesn't just have to be about a discount. It could be sending a small gift to spark a conversation. We need to look at our written communications as sales starters, not always closers. People still like dealing with people.
To simplfy things what's working today is what always works:
1. A great offer.
2. Great copy.
3. Great list selection.
Direct mail is still the most trusted medium you can use to reach new prospects and existing customers.
The biggest problem facing direct mail is when one, two or all three of the ingredients above are missing.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
There's nothing quite like the local service industry. I love using my local electricians, plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, etc. etc. Service with a smile, first name basis, relying on the old fashioned Word-of-Mouth advertising, I know all about service industry, because I am one myself. While it was easy for me to decide to go digital, seeing as I am a site designer, repair technician, etc, but what about you? Have you considered having a web presence for your company? Here's how I look at it, not only is a web site a great advertising method, but I try to make a website try to make at least one facet of your business more automated.
Let's say your business has you on constant service calls. You're out working with a customer and your cell phone rings. You stop and answer the phone only to have the caller ask for your hours, your rates, what you do, some examples of your work, etc. Quite annoying isn't it? Now imagine you have a basic 5 page website with a home page, FAQs, Contact, testimonials, and portfolio. Instead of getting these little calls, they could instead go to your site and get this information.
A website also opens you up to local searches. Here's a test go to Google and search for your industry in your area. How many companies come up? How many of them have web sites? Are you on that list? Where are you on that list? All of these questions really impact your visibility as more and more people are looking for local businesses online as opposed to traditional means, i.e. phone book, 411.
Your company makes the best widgets you've ever seen. You're proud of your widgets and know they are a hit. They will make the world so much easier and help make whatchacallits run so much smoother and last longer. All of this may be true, but with no website, how will you get the word out about your widgets? I often tell people in every line of business not having a website today is like not having a phone in the 60's. It's the way business is done now.
I maintain a website for a small, local manufacturing company. I knew when we started his product was so specific, that he wouldn't get more than 50 hits per month. So instead I streamlined his ordering and payment process to make it easier for him and his customers. His existing customers love the convenience and as an added bonus, he has entered the market in China, Russia, Brazil, and Canada.
A website also gives you contact information, pricing information, as well as a showcase for your products.
If you own a shop that sells items locally, you may not think that you need a website. Once again, I offer you the phone reference in the above section. Also, what makes a website so great for your business is that it is a great advertising method. Think of it this way; I pay around $60 a month for a business card sized ad in our local paper. Our paper comes out once per week. So I pay $60 for an ad that someone will see once, turn the page and won't see again until next week. The best I can do is hope they have PC problems right then, or that it sets a small seed in their memory for a PC problem in the near future. A website, on the other hand costs a small monthly maintenance fee, (my fee is $40 for a list of services) that keeps your "ad" visible 24/7/365 that also doubles as a catalog. Pretty neat, huh?
A website helps you keep your business on patrons minds. You can spend a few hundred dollars every month to send out a monthly newsletter, or use your website to send out one per week if needed. An e-newsletter costs usually a few dollars per month (the maintenance fee covers one from me) and you can keep your customers up-to-date on sales, coupons, new products, etc.
A website also opens your business up for social networking. No one can deny the power of social networking, but it isn't fully customizable. If you have a website and a social networking page, you can link the two and keep many customers up to date with your company. Anytime you update on your networking site, place a link to your website, esp. the specific page. If you have a sale on product A, update your page to say "Great sale on Product A", then place the link to Product A's page. Place a link to where they can join your network on your website in key locations, so that they can easily join and follow you. A social network also allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level, which I love about small local shops. If they ask you about a product on your network, go ahead and set it aside for them so that when they get there it's ready to go, it shows you care and listen to your patrons.
This article is only scratching the surface of this important decision for your business. A lot will go into your thought process, as my next few articles will touch on. I open this up for questions or comments and you may use my contact information if you would like to ask questions for a more personal answer.
Lowry's PC Services
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Technology has rode shotgun with trends. Twenty years ago, most people didn't own a cell phone. Today, it's rare to find anyone over the age of 13 that doesn't own a cell phone. Twenty years ago if you wanted to find a local business, you either picked up a Yellow Pages or called directory assistance. Today, you use your cell phone or GPS to perform the same function. Savvy business owners, managers and executives have recognized the changes in trends and technology and have set up their companies to take advantage of business tools and applications that are now available.
Today, nearly everyone in the world has heard of Google and Facebook although neither company existed 15 years ago. A lot of businesses are currently spending a lot of time trying to improve their Google rankings and SEO performance but are not spending as much time crafting out their social media strategy. Many people may be surprised to hear this but Facebook currently gets more traffic than Google. 50% of the 500 million users on Facebook sign in every day. Do you use Google every day? People spend more time on Facebook than any other website in the world. Facebook can't be ignored any more than Google can be ignored.
Are you keeping up with technology and trends? Can I find your business on my cell phone? Are your customers or clients tweeting about the good (or bad) service from your company? Your customers and clients are keeping up with technology and trends even if your business isn't.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Make Your Small Business Memorable with Customer Testimonials
By Dave Ramacitti
The one overriding goal of a small business’ marketing efforts, especially for a start-up, is to be noticed, is to be memorable in the eyes of customers or potential customers. You achieve being memorable by finding something your customers or potential customers can identify with, an image that you can own. Then you deliver that image --- your marketing message --- in a unique and memorable way, that is, in a way that is different from your competitors.
One way you can present your marketing message in a unique way is to use customer testimonials.
One of the great things about using testimonials is their flexibility --- they are be effective in TV or radio ads, print media ads, even brochures and fliers.
There is always something compelling about a real person delivering a real story about how a product has helped him or her in some way. A good example is the blues great B.B. King, who is a diabetic, demonstrating the value of the One Touch Ultra testing equipment --- no finger sticks to interfere with his guitar playing.(Dave Ramacitti is co-founder and chief content developer for Marketing Over Easy, a new website dedicated to helping small businesses be smarter marketers. To receive a free copy of our special report "58 Free and Low Cost Ways to Promote Your New Small Business" visit us at www.marketingovereasy.com/signup Excerpted from The All-Important Stuff You Gotta Do First to Effectively Market Your Small Business © 2009 by David F. Ramacitti)
In a recession, now is a good time to look at those expenditures you've taken for granted. Renegotiate with suppliers for better terms, shop your insurance coverage, pay less for advertising, which leads to the next point.
I said pay less, not cut. In a down economy, you've got to get your name out there more. Look for alternative ways to do so. For the right business, a creative and strategic social media campaign can give incredible results at a fraction of the cost of traditional media. At the very least, a business should be able to renegotiate better terms with their existing marketing partners.
Lastly, form new 'partnerships'. Give other people and businesses a reason to promote you. Who has a vested interest in your company's success? What other companies out there are constantly looking for the same kind of client you are? Forming a strategic alliance with them can decrease your marketing costs while increasing its effectiveness.
Furthermore .... gaining a reputation for exceptional service is one of the primary keys to success in this economy.
Managing your costs, regardless of whether the product you are providing is service or hard goods, is critical.
Determining the optimum price point for your product or service, such that your customers and clients feel that they are getting “real value” for what they are spending.
… and I know that this is a 4th point, but …
Small business owners need to be adaptable to change in customers needs or wants, unless you are fortunate enough to “corner the market” on something unique or that is a necessity ... but that usually has a limited "shelf life". Whether you can influence the change in your customers needs or wants through being innovative in what you are providing, or whether it is the market that you are in which is changing, being proactive or responsive quickly to changes may be critical.. A small business cannot survive, even by providing the very best of service, if the “product” they are providing is no longer “relevant”.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Choosing Growth Over Failure
As solo business owners, we have so much on our plates. During the first year or two it may be okay to do most of the tasks ourselves and sometimes even flying by the seat of our pants may work. But if we are committed to growth and increased revenues we must be open for change.
First, we must grow as individuals before our businesses can grow. Learn from mentors, trainers and books.
Second and this is the most challenging for some of us. We have to let go of controlling all of the pieces our self. One way to begin this process is to take the assessment offered in the book Strength Finders 2.0. Once we have identified those strengths we should let go of the activities we are doing that do not fit into our strengths. Now this is just the first step in letting go.
Third, we can catapult our success by becoming great at creating and putting systems in place in our businesses instead of doing things haphazardly. This means looking at our foundation and ensuring it is solid. Then examining our business and marketing plans to make sure we are consistent and persistent in our marketing activities.
Certainly, business growth is optional and unfortunately many never survive beyond year two because they refuse to do things differently. That fear of change keeps them stuck. Remember if we continue to do things the same and expect different results, we will be disappointed. Look for the opportunities for growth within you and your business..
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Successful start ups do not not just happen. They are planned and the plan is executed for success.
CHALLENGE 1 ....
The organizational culture springs from a simple, yet precise mission statement for the enterprise.
CHALLENGE 2 .....
From the mission statement objectives are derived for the culture. An objective is an interim step or milestone by which one measures progress toward the goal. There are usually many objectives in a business plan, hopefully measurable ones, quantitatively and in time. The goal (mission statement) and objectives are specified in the first two sections of the business plan.
CHALLENGE 3 .....
The remainder of the plan contains the details for achieving the objectives in route to the goal, thus achieving the enterprise mission.
**Keys to Success
**Products and Services
**Market Analysis Summary
**Strategy and Implementation Summary
For guidance through SCORE on how to meet each of the above challenges please see the first two links below. You may also wish to download the Biz Info Library Article, "Are You Prepared to Succeed in Business" from the second vertical Box Net Reference cube in the left margin of the third link below. It is an excellent discussion of strategic vision and planning.
* Write A Business Plan
* Sample Business Plans
* Small To Feds
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The photo above shows a remote village in Oghna, India that changed my life.
In the fall semester of my junior year in college, I went to India through a School for International Training (SIT) program. As part of that trip, I had a "homestay" for 3 nights with a village family. We spoke with the villagers in Hindi and through translators, shared meals with them and helped them to dig an irrigation ditch under the hot sun with rudimentary shovels and tools. We also danced alongside them at night, played with their kids and babies, laughed at the goats and helped them shuck corn. Pretty much we lived the same way people there had been living for thousands of years. Except that their lifestyle and village were under serious threat.
The village needed the irrigation because they had had three years of severe drought. In addition, their river was drying up because of a dam project to provide electricity to a nearby city. Their corn crop was so dry that they were down to only eating one meal per day. But still they would feed us first and refuse to eat until we said that we had enough.
This is why I care about the water issue. Because I've seen first hand what living without sufficient water is like.
When I returned to Duke in the spring quarter, I realized that there were real problems out there. Problems that have solutions. Problems that need people to work on them and that can be solved if only people cared enough to do something. That's why I got involved in the first start-up that I worked like crazy for - Sun Dance Genetics. A professor at Duke, had created a technology that could create drought resistant corn. We had the seeds sent through the UN to drought regions of Africa and India. It was the first time I had a real impact on solving problems in a significant way. And I was hooked ever since . . .
So this year, I'm giving my birthday up.
Dec. 4th, I'm turning 31 years old, and instead of asking for gifts, I'm asking for $31 or more from everyone I know. It's not going to me, though. All of it is going to build freshwater wells for people in developing nations.
A billion people in the world are living without clean water - but how much are they really living? Millions contract deadly diseases from contaminated water. 45,000 people will die this week alone. The lucky ones won't, but still walk hours each day to get dirty water to give to their families.
My birthday wish this year is not for more gifts I don't need; it's to give clean and safe drinking water to some of the billion living without it. I want to make my birthday matter this year.
Please join me. http://mycharitywater.org/chuck
please note: Because of charity: water's unique model, 100% of all donations go directly to direct water projects costs, and each donation is "proved" and tracked to the village it helped when projects are complete.
Facebook is also a highly cost-efficient advertising medium as you can run highly targeted campaigns that have a high ROI as it has been proven that social media audiences have a higher conversion rate than organic traffic.
Additionally, you can also use Facebook Events to drive sales and increase brand awareness.
By Dave Ramacitti
The single prevailing goal of your small business’s marketing efforts, especially when you are just getting started, is to be noticed, is to be unique and therefore memorable to your customers or potential customers. You achieve that uniqueness by delivering your marketing message in a way that is different from your competitors.
And one way you can present your marketing message in a unique way is to use a jingle or musical signature. Jingles for national products like Coca-Cola --- “I’d like to teach the world to sing” --- and Kodak --- “Memories” --- became so recognizable they even successfully made the transition into popular songdom. You can get a professional jingle written and produced for around a thousand dollars.
Now this might seem like a lot at first, but consider that you will likely use that jingle for several years --- five years, more likely 10 or more --- so the investment on a per year basis is really quite small.
And while having a unique jingle written just for your business is the ideal, there are some much less costly alternatives. For example, there are generic (non-copyrighted) music themes --- sort of like musical clipart --- that are available for no cost through various websites. They are suggestive of many musical styles --- hard rock, soft rock, jazz, big band --- so you should be able to find one that fits your business’s personality. They are usually only 15 or so seconds long, but that’s enough to provide a musical signature to your radio or TV ads.
The disadvantage is that others may also use these themes, since they are available to everyone. So it’s important to select one that is not being used in your marketplace by someone else (i.e., a competitor).
The real secret to the success of a jingle is to use it, and use it, and use it, time and again, over a long period --- think many years here. For example, I’d be willing to bet that most of you can easily fill in the rest of this very famous jingle: “Oh, I wish I was an…”
Indeed, now that I’ve gotten you singing it, I’ll bet that jingle is going to be knocking around in your head for the rest of the day. And that’s the point here: A well done jingle (A) becomes absolutely your unique musical signature; and even more importantly, (B) becomes embedded in the minds of your customers and potential customers (i.e., is unforgettable).
(Dave Ramacitti is co-founder and chief content developer for Marketing Over Easy, a new website dedicated to helping small businesses be smarter marketers. To receive a free copy of our special report "58 Free and Low Cost Ways to Promote Your New Small Business" visit us at www.marketingovereasy.com/signup Excerpted from The All-Important Stuff You Gotta Do First to Effectively Market Your Small Business © 2009 by David F. Ramacitti)