Browsing: Small Business

Do’s and Don’t For Your Business Website

The DOs

• Having a video on your home page can be an innovative point of difference in your industry and show you as superior to your competitors. It may be a short sweet explanation of your product, a call to action such as why they should make an appointment or answer a commonly asked question.
• It is important to have a picture of the business owner to build trust. This is also very important if you are targeting women as women psychology is they like to see who they are dealing with.
• Your website should reflect who you are targeting.
• Show testimonials on your website with pictures and name and where they are from. Visitors may recognize some of them.
• Check your website does display well on most browsers and smart device platforms.
• Check the performance of your website regularly, just as you do your profit and loss statement.
• Have a website update or overhaul at least every two years. Your business will change and keep your website in fashion.
• Have a blog on your webpage. It is a way to give away great information, educate and gain trust leading to a conversion your website. It will also help your long tail keywords SEO which is usually easy to rank, These keywords will assist your primary keyword ranking too. It may also give your entire website ranking a lift if you do update your blog regularly.
• A good website should have one simple objective such as to gain an appointment time, contact or sale.
• It should be easy clean and easy to navigate.
• Have a good website developer. Make sure others have referred them and can verify their good work practices
• Use your website for business efficiency, if you are getting a common query then put it on your website, then flick out the link to the next enquiries. Use it as a digital catalog.
• Align it with other social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Disperse your website content through all social media avenues.
• Have all the right things done to your website to assist it ranking on search engine websites such as keywords, sitemaps. Outsource this and get a professional if you know nothing about this.
• Target the correct keywords. Do the research on something like Google keywords tool and then use the best ones consistently through your website pages and post.

The DON'Ts

• There is nothing worse than a dated looking website that was last updated ten years ago.
• Try not to cram everything you do on, reduce the focus on key target message. Remove low value or non-core targets.
• Try not to waste money on a bad web developer. It is a critical purchase, so make sure you feel they are the right person. Check their previous work or testimonials. Easier said than done as most business owners have probably wasted some time and money on a poor or ineffective website.
• Many young businesses over rely on their website. They think it will automatically generate new business, but it may not. Make sure you have other marketing efforts to combine with your website.
• Avoid broken links, spelling mistakes, not working yet features or “under construction pages”
• If you have poor conversion, Be aware of it for starters. Do something if your website has poor conversion
• Do not be a business who does not regularly back up your website. Hacks and damages can occur.
• Never be a website with only words. Add pictures, links and videos.
• Do not forget to get offline leads too, they can have more transaction than online leads. They say a referral will always be a better lead than an online lead who offers to want a quick and cheaper quote without even meeting you.
• Avoid legal issues. Make sure you meet consumer guidelines and your industry guidelines.
• Do not build your website before you clearly identify your target client
• Do not spend money attracting traffic to your website such as Facebook ads or Google AdWords until you have a website that works and converts.
• Lastly do not spend a fortune on auto-responder software which delivers automatic email series to prospects. More often than not the conversion or opt in rate can be quite low.

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4 Tips to Help Find the Perfect Office Space

The process of finding the startup or upgradated office space is certain to be an exciting time and is seen as a great turning point for the future of a business. But, it is essential to be careful in the process of choosing an office to ensure it matches the specific needs. Any office space should have the ability to grow and thrive with your team. Here are four tips to help find the right office space:

Determine the space you need

A significant step to get the right startup office space is to have enough space. A basic rule is to have at least 1000 sq ft for every 4-6 workers. However, this may need to be expanded if the business has a lot of supplies or equipment. Also, the layout of the office should be able to match the type of business and needs of the employees.

Consider your employees

If you are planning to relocate the office it certainly benefits to be considerate to the employees. Try to get a basic idea of ​​where all the employees live and attempt to find an office space that is well-located and easy to reach on a day-to-day basis. An easy to reach or centralized location is certain to benefit a business in the long-term because the existing talent is more likely to continue working for you.

Look to sublease an office

For the startup business that is still in growth mode, there is the option to sublease for the short-term until you know the finances are more stable. Rather than signing a long-term contract with a commercial landlord, it may be possible to go with a month to month contract that can give more flexibility in the event of unexpected issues in the future.

Work with an agent

If you want to save time and make the search more efficient, it may benefit to use the services of an agent that you trust or has been recommended to you. Try to get personal referrals from those you trust in an effort to find the agent that has a track record for successfully finding the right office space. Plus, for those relocating to a new area, the agent will be more knowledgeable of the area and will be able to point out the best parts of the city or town. Plus, they will help find a location that has the right facilities and conveniences nearby.

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Merchant Services Can Make A Difference

Do you believe merchant services can make a difference in how you do business? You bet they can! M erchant account services can give you the means to conduct electronic commerce with the latest credit card processing technology. You may be able to manage your business with fewer employees to handle billing and collect payments when you implement the technical equipment needed for credit payment treatment that can save you time and money. Moreover, a merchant account will place you in the ranks of leading professionals in your industry, adding the status of stature (making you look professional).

Find out if your company's bank provides merchant services. If it does, ask about the acceptance criteria and consider making an application there. However, you can find dozens or hundreds of lenders who are looking for customers like you that they can offer merchant account services. The lenders charge fees that can take many forms, including an expenditure request online or annual membership fee; perhaps two or even more may be needed. Being able to hold merchant status, though, may be worth the cost of these fees, since you will be able to accept payments by credit card with the help of specialized technology and a gateway link. Your payment gateway (or terminal) processes each payment by credit card for you and the processing company deposits money into the bank account of your business. Your fee for this service may be charged or deducted automatically by the provider.

How Does It Work?

How can merchant account services help your business? For one, a merchant service account allows you to install a credit card processor (known as a payment gateway or terminal) in your place of business to accept credit payments on site. Many consumers today prefer the convenience of paying by credit card, and they will love the fact that your business is providing the convenience of current trends and technologies.

So Many Choices, What Best Fits My Needs?

Many business owners who want to widen the road to welcome new customers use merchant services from their company to set up a company website that can process payments. There they can view all products and price lists of the company, with a FAQ and testimonials that can provide customers with additional and useful information. Your website can become your company's window to the world to invite new potential customers to come and have a look around. Also, equipped with the merchant account processing services you could also complete payments online (without having the need to sell to the client / customer in person) If they decide to order, they can do it immediately, making it easier for them to get the price they want and you get paid for their purchase quickly. After a successful first “shopping day,” they are likely to come back several times, loving the fast and easy transactions.

Obtaining a merchant services account is a great way to get your business to the next level. Accepting payments by credit card will benefit your customers and is profitable for you too. We can help you to not only take payments, but to take them safely, cost effectively, and securely. Visit us by clicking this link now !

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7 Things Successful Small Business Owners Do

If you're stuck wondering how to be a successful small business owner, know this: running a small business often just means making good use of successful small business ideas . Successful small business owners face many ups and downs through their work. They know that small business ideas can not turn out successful unless they use the proper approach and strategies.

If you want to be one of the few successful small business owners, remember that having a good strategy is critical . Without the right strategy and a proper approach, you are not likely to achieve your goal.

Some small business owners manage to overcome their everyday challenges, while others seem to give up after a while. So, let's find out what successful small business owners do differently from the unsuccessful ones. Let's turn their experience into your success through your small business ideas.

1. MAKE ANNUAL REVISIONS OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN AND BUDGET

Every business goes through changes every now and then, including your small business. For this reason, your business plan and budget should be somewhat flexible to bear such changes along with your business goals. Without revising your business plan and budget, you should not expect your business to flourish and expand.

The flexibility of your business plan will help you avoid and exceed the unexpected unpleasant surprises on the market. Also, such flexibility will give you some time to adjust to certain changes you may experience on your way.

Every business experiences both success and failure points each year. In order to detect and estimate these points, you should revise your budget and business plan every year. While revising, you should check if you are still going in the right direction. If not, you may need to make some changes and adjustments to achieve better results in the upcoming period.

Successful small business owners do not hesitate to reallocate funds, if that is what it takes to achieve success. In order to increase profits, after they conduct a business revision, smart business owners define and implement the necessary changes immediately .

2. UPDATE YOUR OFFER AND ADD VALUE TO IT

People change, as do their needs and habits. As soon as you notice that you are not selling as much as you used to sell before, it is time to make changes. If people are not purchasing what you currently have to offer, that's a clear hint that something needs to be done.

A simple price cut may be the first thing that comes to your mind. As much as lower prices may seem more appealing to your customers, they also point to a devaluation of what you offer. Devaluation of your products or services is never a good thing, so try doing just the opposite – add value to your offers.

The best way to update and add value to your products and services is by developing new offers. If possible, try to offer something completely new to your customers. You could offer product bundles, training programs and workshops, and so on.

3. DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

Most successful small business owners believe in daring to be different. They know their target consumers. Trying to target everyone and anyone as a consumer will get you now fast. Instead of trying to make products for the masses, focus on a clearly targeted community and grow with it. Once you target your consumers, it is easy to understand their needs.

Understanding your consumers is the secret to a successful business. When you know their needs, you can modify your products and services in order to satisfy them. Satisfied consumers will not only become your regulars, but they will also spread the word about what you offer. This may become the best marketing strategy for your business.

Spreading the word about your products or services is called a referral marketing strategy . It's been proven that most of the faster growing small businesses turn to this kind of marketing rather than relying on traditional advertising.

4. KNOW YOUR COMPETITION

Successful small business owners know their competition. They know that keeping an eye on the competitors and understanding their policy and pricing is crucial to the business. It is wise to consider your direct competitors in your area, as well as indirect competitors.

A direct competitor offers the same primary services to the same target group as you, and they are easy to follow on the market. However, an indirect competitor company offers the same or similar products as a segment of a wider product or service offering.

In some cases, the indirect competitor may offer a product that is an applicable substitute for the original product. Successful small business owners know how to position their company against the indirect competitors. They take both types of competitiveness companies seriously and they account for them in their annual business plan.

5. HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Even though hiring the right people for your business sounds obvious, it can be a really tough job for small business owners. Also, not hiring the right people could be a huge downfall for a small company. People who do not share the concept of your business approach and goals are not the type of people you want to engage in your business.

Candidates who do not have the right temperament, skills, or talent for the job position that you offer can be too pricey for your company. Having the right people in the right job positions can make your company outstanding. Exceptional companies recruit exceptional people.

6. ACCEPT TECHNOLOGY CHANGES

Technology changes on a regular basis nowdays. Successful business owners are very well aware of that, so they change accordingly. Doing things the way they were done years ago will not provide the same success nowdays.

Accepting technological improvements can help your company become more effective and efficient. Keep yourself informed about the latest in new technology, and the improved solutions it brings. Choose the most appropriate ones for your business and adopt them. Your customers will be grateful and you'll experience great benefits.

7. TRUST YOUR INTUITION

If you believe your intuition has been serving you well so far, listen to your inner voice carefully. Your instincts can lead you a long way. If you still feel strongly about something, regardless of the lack of facts or data – act on it. What sees right for other businesses does not necessarily mean that it will work for you as well.

Relying on intuition is often the first step out of your comfort zone, and the first step towards becoming a leading company on the market. While you watch your business grow and spread, remember that having faith in yourself and the business you are running is critical. Being aware of your inner voice can lead you to making business decisions with more confidence and a greater success rate.

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Why Does My Advertising Not Seem to Work? 5 Lessons for Small Businesses

Advertising your small business is an important part of any growth strategy. But many business owners become disillusioned with its effectiveness, and question the investment when there are so many other more immediate expenses.

But often this is not an issue with advertising per se, but how it is implemented. The classic problems are:

1. Stopping too soon. People are exposed to so many advertising messages that you need to make sure they see it many times over for it to stick in their mind. This is just human nature – the more familiar we are with something the more we remember it. The rule of thumb is that you should run a campaign for a minimum of 3 to 6 months.

2. Weak creative. You have a couple of seconds, if you are lucky, to catch the eye. Your adverts need to bold, simple, and direct. Classic mistakes, and the lessons that can be learned, are:

– trying to put in too much information: stick to the core message

– fussy typefaces: keep simple sans serif fonts where possible

– bland colors: be vibrant

– no hierarchy of messages: lots of things of similar sizes so the eye does not know where to focus first

3. Poor message. Be clear on what you want to say because readers or listeners will not waste their time trying to unravel your message. Short, sharp and to the point is a good rule of thumb.

4. Bad targeting. This is a classic problem with print and radio, where you are sold circulation numbers or listener figures, but you have no idea who these people are. You could be spending a lot of money advertising to people who have almost no chance of being your customers. Do not just get driven by numbers, it's the quality of the audience that matters more.

5. Wrong time. Your busy day is a Saturday, but your print advert in a weekly newspaper goes out on a Tuesday. What are the chances you will still be remembered on Saturday? There are many mediums that are inflexible, and do not match your business pattern. The goal is to try communicate as closely to the time of purchase as possible.

So it's not that advertising does not work. It clearly does, but you need to do what's right and keep at it. And online advertising is opening up many more cost-effective opportunities which can overcome many of the barriers.

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Becoming a Successful Small Business Owner: The Dream of Many and the Fantasy of Most

Small business ownership is a simple concept. Ideas are easy and information is free. Implementation, however, is neither.

Fulfillment of ideas and the usage of information to pursue prosperity with your business is hard, some days very hard. And, if you're not pursuing prosperity, why have a small business anyway?

If you're a small business owner or are thinking intensely about a “dream business to own”, you're most likely swimming in a sea of ​​infinite ideas and surfing in an ocean of information.

There's just no end and never will when it comes to ideas and information. So, that brings us to the third part of the equation – implementation.

Implementation, the kind that is real, is a day in and day out, systematic powerhouse activity that separates the dreamers from the doers.

The word implement is both a noun and a verb. As a noun it means an instrument, tool or piece of equipment. As a verb, it means to perform, fulfill, put into action, satisfy or to complete.

One hundred years ago, an implementation when used as a noun was most likely a tangible object such as farm equipment that made the family farm more efficient or a printing press used by the local newspaper to get the morning paper on the stands. Even a sewing machine was considered an implementation for the industrious neighborhood seamstress working from home, sewing custom clothing for the well-to-do ladies in town.

Today, a piece of accounting software is an implementation for the industrious stay at home Mom doing bookkeeping when her little ones are sleep for hard-won small business clients or online based free image software for the graphic artist working weekends learning a full-time income in his or her part-time business.

Implement when used as a verb is where success wakes up and comes alive. It's also where you'll find the greatest temptation to instead retreat to the land of nod and drift away into a fairyland of ideas and information overload that quickly becomes your worst nightmare.

Some say implementation is hard but the reality is that it's easy. Very easy. Easy to do and easy not to do!

Participate daily in the easy to do version. Stay away from the other. Here are three examples for one and four for the other:

Easy to do implementation:

  • Create a simple written plan that includes numbers. Why? Because numbers do not lie. Numbers always tell the truth and show your full picture in a fast and concise manner.
  • Create three systems – one for acquiring and retaining customers, one for the production and delivery of your product and one for the financial administration of your business. Why? Because all wealth is based on systems. With wealth, your business has health. Without, it is dead.
  • Execute your written plan and systems daily. Be accounting to your numbers from MORNING TO MIDNIGHT.

Easy not to do implementation:

  • Succumb to fear and procrastinate by not acquiring new customers. Saying “I'll tackle that tomorrow”.
  • Search social media to “give yourself a break” or “A good laugh will help me now so I need to see that YouTube of a baby laughing”.
  • Starting your day with no system to follow.
  • Stay isolated and away from other like-minded individuals.

If you're reading this article and have gotten to this point, I congratulate you. You're serious about what it takes to implement (verb) and implement (noun)! I believe in you and that you can be successful.

Not sure what to do next? Sometimes a good business coach can direct you to the next step. Contact me. I'd love to give you 20-30 minutes of FREE business coaching. No obligation and no strings attached.

Remember this: “A business is a repeatable system that makes a profit. A healthy business is a repeatable system that makes a healthy profit.” Anything else is a bad dream.

If you're thinking about small business ownership, turn your dream into doing and wave goodbye to your fantasy as it flies out the window.

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Big Data and Small Business

Let's start with the definition. When the term “big data” is used, what does it really mean? Jon Miller, co-founder and CEO of Marketo, calls big data a catch-all term for very large and complex data sets that exceeded the processing capabilities of the typical available computer software. In general, big data refer to the compilation of everything that takes place over the internet: transcripts from Twitter comments or call center conversations, online videos, podcast uploads and visits, webinar broadcasts, all blog postings, all website visits, all credit card transactions , all ATM activity, all online purchases, online advertisements, music downloads and photo uploads.

As regards marketing, big data refer to all information that details retail sales, online sales, market share, website visits, blog and newsletter read from your website, responses to online customer surveys, online responses to special offers and online advertising, plus all marketplace and industry data about global, national and regional business conditions.

Whatever you need to know about your customers, the industry and the business conditions in which you operate is buried within big data. But in the avalanche of information, deciding which data to access and deciding how to interpret it is the marketer's challenge. Determining the right questions to ask is the primary imperative, as the late management guru Peter Drucker pointed out.

If you want to use big data in your marketing plan, then propose questions that will elicit the answers you need to fine-tune your marketing mix. Maybe you'd like to become more effective in converting website visitors into customers? A list of the names of prospects who visited your website, spent more than one minute reading your blog or newsletter, forwarded your post to someone and then tweeted some content about what s / he discovered would indicate a serious products or services. Big data can help predict which marketing activities are most likely to convert a prospect who has reached that level of engagement.

Google Analytics can reveal part of the game plan, but only big data can get seriously granular. For example, algorithm-based predictions can forecast the expected impact of marketing campaign activity on those who surf your website and suggest who should receive special offers via email or who should be invited to join a focus group. Algorithm-based predictions can also forecast the likely impact of marketing activity on revenue that will be generated in approaching quarters.

Based on what is learned through big data, marketers can make highly specific and informed decisions about customer groups that have the most sales potential, strategies intended to build brand awareness and loyalty, advertising choices and budgets, social media choices that are likely to create the most buzz, the ROI of that buzz and the marketing message that drives sales.

Who will become your best customers, why will they become your best customers and what will the average amount of money they will spend in your business? What amount of brand loyalty can you expect from those customers, what types of advertising will resonate with them, which social media platforms do they prefer and will those customers create good word of mouth for your products and services (still the best form of advertising) ?

So how can small businesses and solopreneurs access big data? It can be done by hiring a marketing firm that we most likely can not afford, I'm sorry to say. At this time, big data is the playground of big businesses. If it's any consensus, marketing firms are still trying to get arms around big data themselves. For now, traditional marketing analytics will have to suffice for the 99%.

Traditional marketing analytics remains useful and certain data we already own: sales data from our basic financial records, customer zip codes, popular service packages, pricing data and the number of Facebook and Twitter followers, for example.

Market testing is expected to remain a vital part of developing a marketing strategy, even when big data is used. Business owners and marketers will continue to measure the impact of their promotional strategies. Finally, whether large data or marketing analytics are used when devising a marketing plan, suggesting the right questions is the starting point.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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3 Days of Small Business – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: Developing a Long Lasting Business Mindset

You can spend every day from here to eternity finding words that define small business. Small business can be described as a culture, a tradition, an operation. They all fit.

Apply the person, what, when, where, why and how questions to small business and they open up another window-of-wonder that the dictionary alone just can not deliver.

The person of small business, the what, the when, the why, the where and the how – discuss those at length with a college and you'll both end up with the equivalent of a college degree. Each question holds its own enchantment … its own intrigue.

Devote some time with me now and we'll concentrate on the “when” of small business.

Rather than talk about the immediacy of time in practical means such as how long a given project should take or what hours your operation would be open to the public, etc – let's get creative!

What if we viewed it from a new and refreshing perspective? Using a different field of vision, let's concentrate it down into three easy-to-digest parts – yesterday, today and tomorrow. With each, there's a lesson, a summary that we've heard for years that can be applied to life generally:

  • Learn from the Past – Yesterday
  • Live in the Present – Today
  • Look Forward – Tomorrow

Using this model and applying it to small business, reveals hidden secrets. Secrets that can lead to making better decisions, a better quality product and a better bottom line. Most of all, secrets that your competition does not know about. Who does not want these things?

Let's start with the end in mind – tomorrow and looking forward. Assuming that you want to be in business tomorrow, what are you doing today that will make tomorrow's business better, more successful? Are you fulfilling promises today that you made yesterday? Are you checkinging off items on your to do list right now that you created before you finished yesterday? Do you have tomorrow's list started? Good, I thought you did !!

At this point, you're probably wondering “Hey, I thought we were talking about tomorrow – all you did was ask questions about yesterday and today”.

Let's continue with the beginning in mind – yesterday and looking back. The common line of thinking when the subject of yesterday comes up in conversation is all about mistakes we've made. Because we're being original here, let's take an inventive approach. Let's think of the things we did that were right and good yesterday and repeat them today. Repeat them tomorrow. Tweak them everyday and build up to the point that we can not wait to get them on tomorrow's to do list. What could that be you say? Well, it could be something as simple as answering the phone in a slightly more cheerful manner. Could even be getting one more handwritten thank you note out to a special customer. Maybe arriving ten minutes earlier than required and getting some emails finished and out-of-the-way.

Spend a few reflective moments and write down two things you did yesterday that were good for business. We'll refer to them as “past positives”.

Past positives are your secret weapon. Using your secret weapon over and over actually sharpens it.

When you identify and repeat your “past positives” day after day, week after week, month in and month out, from them you'll learn new truths about yourself and your business. This is what results – new energy will emerge forth into your business right away – TODAY. New energy gives our business new life. New energy brings excitement, current customers acting as ambassadors and bringing us new customers.

Use your secret weapon to breathe new life into your business – TODAY, TOMORROW and MANY YEARS TO COME !!

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Elon Musk and His Mission (Statement)

“If something is important enough you should try, even if the likely outcome is failure.”

-Elon Musk

The sort of lifestyle that I lead I tend to be always on the go, or trying to find ways to improve myself. As you may have already noticed reading my little blurbs, my nose is constantly in a book or my mind is set about trying to find a way to improve my business or life in general. I tend to leave the news and gossip to others. As Eleanor said let the “small minds discuss people”.

Of course there are names you just have to be familiar with even if you are anti-social or a bonafide recluse. Names such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Everyone knows. A name that has started to float around though is one by the name of Elon Musk.

I was vaguely aware of who he was and my perception of him was that he was that Tesla guy. I always remember hearing the possibilities of an electric car and such and, probably like many others, met with extreme skepticism. Cars run on gas. That's what a car is in my mind and many minds. There is so much business surrounding oil where it looks for some countries that 99% of their GDP comes from oil! Of course I'm being extreme on purpose with my numbers but it's just to rephasize just how big of an impact it has and certainly many with vested interests would like to keep it that way. So for me, electric cars seemed still quite a ways a way. Well fast forward years later to now. Hey. This Elon guy might be on to something.

It took some headlines and finding out just how cool Tesla has gotten that I decided to reach out for one of my latest readings: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.

So this post is not like my normal book reviews as I wanted to focus on a business concept in the book. Although I must say it's a fantastic read which I really enjoyed in learning the story behind one of our generation's greatest. As you read more and more books, similarities tend to arise. Business books down to the core will have similarities because doing good business is doing good business. I've been brushing up on SEO books and over and over again 20% of it may be a different and highly reviewed book, but really, 80% is all the same. Although not exact, there is definitely a high positive correlation.

With that said, after reading the biographies of such as Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet, it's not too much of a stretch to say that Elon Musk is this generation's rendition.

One of the things that stuck out most to me is Elon's passion coupled with his drastic approach to logic. There is a reiteration of how so many of our greatest minds are trying to figure out how to get someone to click on an ad instead of trying to create something really meaningful and helpful towards the advancement of humankind. This romanticism has played well for Elon though not intentally.

Elon believes as a specie to go on, we must find a way to steer away from fossil fuels. And so he invests and ends up running Tesla, and SolarCity which advances the use of Solar Energy. He believes that we must become an interplanetary specie in order to survive on the off chance that something happens to Earth, well then it's game over for us. So he creates SpaceX to advance this need.

The book reasons a huge part of his companies successes is the fact of how he is able to gather some of the greatest emerging minds in the proportional industries due to the passion of his mission. Why join the government program when you can build towards a mission that is to reach Mars. Why join another car company, when you can join the company that's trying to redefine the car.

The mission statement is something that a lot of business owners tend to overlook. What makes you different? Are you really passionate about your mission? It was never about the money. Elon simply took his passion and applied it. And people responded. Be passionate about your mission and people will respond.

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Tips for Finding the Right Small Business IT Support

Every business now talks in some way or another on IT to get the job done, whether it is a small business accountancy firm or a self-employed consultant in a specific profession. The use of technology can be restricted to the basics of communication – such as sending emails and documents to clients or associates – or can be far more complex.

Regardless of what IT is needed for, every small business needs some kind of IT support in place in order to fix problems when things go wrong. This is considered especially important for small businesses, as they can struggle to find the budget for an in-house provider of this kind of technical help.

With this in mind, it is important to do thorough research before looking for small business IT support, as this will ensure that each company finds a good match for them. Here are several pieces of advice to follow when on this search for the ideal service provider.

The first thing to remember when looking for an IT support provider for a small business is that it is best to look for one that specializes online in small or medium businesses. Indeed, every business is different, and size does have a major effect on the needs and preferences of the company.

For this reason, finding a service provider that is specialized in helping small businesses means that you are more likely to end up having someone who knows exactly what your needs and concerns are and is able to cater to them effectively.

If you are looking for IT support for a micro enterprise, look specifically for companies that offer this and have plenty of case studies and customer references to show it. You should be looking primarily for a company that has helped many businesses that are similar to yours, and has proof that they have been able to fulfill the needs of those clients.

Another tip is to look for IT support that fits your budget, and this is especially important when it comes to very small businesses and the self employed. The reason for this is that these companies are unilaterally to have a large turnover at this point in their growth, and there before it is important to be able to pay for these essential IT services.

Thankfully, there are many companies that provide low cost yet perfectly adequate IT support for smaller businesses, which can be a great relief for those on a tighter budget. It should be noted that not all IT support services are equal however, and you may need to search through quite a few options to find one that blends quality with a lower price tag.

The next piece of advice is to find a company that provides a high level of interactive customer support, and does this through the communication methods that are best for you. This is very important, as some people prefer to contact their support center by email, and others prefer by telephone.

You will also need to make sure that the company is able to respond to your questions and questions at all different times of day throughout the week. Although it is not always possible to get a reliable 24/7 service – and indeed this is not always needed – it is still important to find one that has good office hours and someone that can give you a rapid and helpful response during that time.

Finding small business IT support does not need to be complicated, but it is essential to find a company that has experience dealing with businesses similar to yours and one that is responsive, helpful and reasonably priced. When all these factors are in place, chances are you have found a great company to support you in your business goals.

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What Are Standard Operating Procedures and Why Do I Need Them?

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are written instructions or checklists to document how to perform a task. Many successful companies rely upon documented procedures to ensure consistency and quality in their products or services. It seems like a lot of work for some simple things. But the good part of SOPs is that when you review them, you can identify missed or forgotten things. If someone leaves the company, you do not lose the knowledge.

Retain Your Knowledge

If someone quits and they have not documented, it leaves a huge mess for the rest of the staff and the replacement. In fact, if someone is on vacation or out sick and a problem comes up, it can cause a pickle if something needs to get done and only one person knows how to do it.

Well documented procedures reduces your time on reviewing small detail work as an owner or manager, and frees you up to look ahead and find better ways of doing things.

The Person Doing the Work Should Write the Procedure

When a company gets large or has multiple offices, sometimes they make the mistake of letting someone else write the procedure. Or worse, the documents are written by committee. This will lead to very confusing documents where the focus is on protecting the company and those who wrote the procedures rather than actually being useful checklists. Often the procedures are wrong and there is no easy way to test them.

Sometimes supervisors or other staff members will write the documents. They are more familiar with the processes but are not as knowledgeable in the day-to-day tasks. The result are SOPs that are not based on best practices. Also, the document loses the “why” things are done that way and only document the “how.”

In the future as tasks evolve, it helps to look back and see why something was done a certain way. That way, you can change to new tools or processes to continue to streamline your business.

Have A Review Process

Sometimes people write procedures because they're so used to doing the job. The problem is that they may forget a step, or they may write in such a way that it does not make sense to someone new coming in.

By having someone with no knowledge come in and go through the procedure, you catch all of the problems. The reviewer will also bring up questions that can expand upon the “why.”

Standard Operating Procedures are a detailed checklist of how the tasks are completed in your business to ensure consistency and quality in your products and services. It's essential to have the person doing the work write the procedures and a third party review them. Procedures should be reviewed regularly to make updates based on new tools and methods.

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Small Business Ideas

As a business mentor with over 10 years experience assisting people to start their own business I thought I would put pen to paper and make a list of some of the small business ideas I have seen over the years, some I am sure you will have seen before and others may be more interesting and unusual.

If I tell you that I have spent two days a week for 4 years, with the Governments New Enterprise Allowance scheme mentoring the unemployed into self-employment and it has been a joy to behold, every week brings with it new faces, new ideas and abundance of enthusiasm to get started and become independent of the man.

Some business ideas are weak and ill thought through, others are a sound principle with good solid practical human skills behind them and they are destined to succeed.

My top 10 frequent flyers small business ideas in no particular oder are as follows:

  1. Cleaner
  2. Gardener
  3. Joiner
  4. Plumber
  5. Handyman
  6. Web Designer
  7. Painter and Decorator
  8. Crafter
  9. eBay seller
  10. Motor Mechanic

Fairly routine you may say and yes I would agree, however, the more time I spend with start-up businesses the more I realize that if in your past you have no experience of the skills needed to run your perfect small business idea, then it is doomed for failure.

For instance lets consider someone like myself. If I wanted to be a builder, joiner, plumber etc I would not have a hope or prayer as my DIY skills are terrible let alone to have the audacity to claim to be a professional, and yet I still see people who have come from a background working in travel and tourism and such like, who wants to convert without any training to working in the allied trades, or specialist professional sectors. What makes them think this is a good idea.

My advice is to write your business ideas in a pad, go to bed, sleep on it and if it is still a good idea in the morning then expand the thought process from an idea into a basic business plan. Just one side of A4 paper will do, covering the following sections, and do not forget to check out local resources to help you on the way.

What do you want to do?

Who will do what in your new business?

What has led you to this, and what skills needed to run a business like this?

Who are your top 5 local competitors?

How are you going to be different from them?

How do you intend to charge for your services or products?

What will it cost to get started?

At least then you will have a clear idea of ​​what you want, how much it will cost, if you have the skills needed, and will it make money.

Some more interesting small business ideas:

  • Blues Box Guitar Manufacture
  • Trampoline Center
  • Fine Artist
  • Mortgage Broker
  • Glassware Manufacture
  • Promotional Goods Manufacture
  • Internet Millionaire (PPC Sites)

So no matter what your small business ideas is make sure that you have clearly thought about it, and began to map it out on paper before you take the plunge and invest your money and time, in the hope that all will work out.

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Why Small Businesses Fail Number 1 – Starting a Business With the Wrong Motives

If you are starting your business because you want to make a difference in other individuals' lives, then you have a higher chance of prospering. To be effective in business you should in fact try to offer something of value that no one else is offering.

So does this come as a shock? Did you think that the motivation to be your very own boss would suffice to drive you to success? Did you think that wanting to make more cash would be enough to drive you on? Developing a company certainly takes perseverance and persistence, however this alone is typically not enough to stand out from the crowd.

Why Small Businesses Fail – Focus on the Right Reasons!

If you started your company for the wrong reasons then you are less most likely to succeed, however I believe that there is a caveat to this. There is no reason you can not shift your focus and start trying to find ways of making your customers lives much better. In reality, this could lead you to find an untapped market in your niche.

Can you provide something else of value to your clients that will actually cost you hard anything? For example, you might be able to offer supplementary info that not only shows your knowledge and builds trust with your clients, but also helps them in some way. Another example that might offer you the edge over the competition could be something as simple as streamlining the ordering and buying processes for your products.

Why Small Businesses Fail – Refocusing My Business Goals

I learned pretty quickly that a desire to produce a passive recording income stream for myself was not enough to actually get one! I began to understand that the success rates in my sector are fairly low because everyone tries to build their organizations in the very same way and it typically includes bogging friends and family! I understood that this approach was not for me, so I started running paper adverts and working the cold market instead.

I even had some success doing this, however it was difficult going and it had not been long before other reps from the company started competing with me! Other individuals started using my lead generation approaches and I could not always get ad space.

My first big development came when I realized that there were already people looking for the product and services that I had to offer. I just needed to teach myself Search Engine Optimization techniques so that they could find me!

I also noticed that it had not been particularly easy for consumers to order my company's products at the time. It would typically involve them getting in touch with an agent who would then put the order in directly with the company on their behalf. I did this for my new clients for a while, but it was obvious that when someone had made a purchasing decision they usually just wish to place their order. I vowed that I would assist them to do just that! This was the turning point in my business! I was doing something different and I had the ability to stay ahead of the competition by improving my marketing strategies and giving my customers exactly what they wanted.

That year I was the 11th highest customer enroller in the whole business (at the time they operated in 15 countries around the world). When I attended the company convention, I realized just how many individuals I was able to outshine by thinking in a different way, I got an award at the International Convention in Salt Lake City and. From that day on, I have known that in order to stay ahead of the competition I had to keep discovering new methods to make my customers' lives better in some way!

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The Potential of Change

I have found that in life and in business that if you are unable to adapt to change quickly, things will become very frustrating and you will find yourself lagging behind and eventually, become stagnant and quit. I find myself often forgeting people that change is the only constant; and it honestly is a constant that you can count on and oftentimes, you have absolutely no control over when change occurs. So, instead of feeling like a victim of change, let's become masters of it!

The Potential of Change – Are You Watching?

Very rarely will things change suddenly. Most of the time change will start as a gradual process that will begin to gain momentum and eventually, becoming the new constant until it changes again. You see this in sports, fashion, food, music, cultural norms and in business. There are so many people who hate change and for the most part, if you ask them why, they have very little concrete reasons why. Many people will tell you that it changed suddenly! But, if we are honest with ourselves, we saw it coming a long time ago but chose to ignore it hoping that something would prevent it from happening. Guess what? change still came!

Let's try this next time; let's become more observant, let's keep an eye out for any changes that might be occurring. Whether it is in your department, in your organizational structure, leadership, business model, marketing strategies or staff. Let's decide to get ahead of it so we are not “caught off guard”. Change is not a bad thing all the time, it is simply change. Look for it, embrace it and then, do something about it instead of trying to fight it. Being observing to anticipating orifts in your particular niche 'or vertical can mean the difference in becoming an industry leader or a “Johnny come laTely”. Change can really work to your advantage if you have the proper perspective. You just have to change your perception of change.

The Potential of Change – Change How You See Things

“What if it's a bad thing Dave?” “We do not want to embrace bad things Dave!” And you are absolutely right. But let's focus on the type of changes that pertain to our businesses and how we can change our perception of those changes. There had been many times when I thought changes in things like marketing for instance; inbound market sounded like making “Root beer” flavored potato chips and I do not think that will last long! But the truth of the matter is that inbound marketing is one of the best ways to market if you really want to scale your business and keep and expand your repeat, loyal customers.

Look, there are so many business owners that try everything that comes down the pike and have very little ROI to show for it; so now, when they see or hear about a “proven” marketing tool, they pass. If you read one of my older articles called “You Can not Stop Marketing”, you'll see that you can not do that. Things HAVE CHANGED and we need to learn how to adapt as business owners. So many small business owners are resistant to change and wonder why the own job (they spend 12 or more hours a day and make very little progress).

There are few successful business owners that truly invest in themselves. Rarely will a small business owner to go to a business workshop, spend thirty to forty-five minutes watching a webinar or become involved in their local Chamber of Commerce. These examples are just a few things that we can do that has the potential to pay huge dividends in our businesses but, they will require you to change. I think that many small business owners believe that if they change, it equates to being wrong and they can not admit to being wrong! Wow! That is a lot of pressure and pride working there. There is not a perfect person on the face of the earth! We learn from our mistakes (hopefully) and make the needed adjustments. Failure should never be the end, it should never cause you to throw in the towel. Learning from our mistakes and making those needed adjustments can be the difference in achieving success.

The Potential of Change – Change What You Do

Ladies and gentlemen listen, being resistant, adapting, overcoming, taking advantage of and looking for the next big thing to use to your advantage before anyone else does, is all a part of how we perceive change.

I really want you to be the best business owner that you can possibly be and to do that will require you to learn how to use changes to your advantage. I need all of you to be as innovative as you can possibly be. Innovation is the key! We have gone from rooms filled with one computer to desks, laptops, and even tablets. We have gone from using telegraphs to calling the telephone operator directly, to dialing direct, to cordless, to pagers, to massive mobile phones, to phones that fit in your purse or your pocket.

Innovation is a term that the business sector uses in place of change. Invention, Revolution, Modernization, Improvement, and Advance are synonyms of innovation and each word has an element of change in them. Let's not shrink from change out of fear but be the innovators that move things forward! Let's be the ones that are the front-runners, even how we interact with each other. You realize that competition does not equate enemy. The pie is so big and we can actually benefit from strategic (legal) collaboration from time to time. (That's for another article to come). So, can you change? Can you embrace change and become the master of it? Can you be the innovator that I know you can be? Can you change?

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Delivery Route: A Desirable Small Business

One desirable business that has become a gold mine in the franchising world is the delivery route. Delivery routes are profit generating investments which are very lucrative and industrial. They give you the opportunity to be your own boss. Most routes are not sold with just an established book of business but also with all the equipment needed to do the work. This means that the route starts generating income the moment it's bought. In most cases, you get to adjust your delivery schedule to suit your needs. The delivery business allows you to write off many business expenses and gives you the chance to add stops to your routines so as to help it grow.

Types of Routes

We have two main types: protected and independent route

Protected : This type of route comes with the protection of the location and a single supplier. It includes protected stops and protected territory. A protected stop means that the owner does not have a specific territory but only a specific location. The owner has the assurance that no one who distributes the same product can enter or sell to your specific location while a protected territory gives its owner the guarantee that nobody distributes the same product can enter the territory or geographic area of ​​the route. examples of protected routes that come with geographic territorial boundaries are Wised. Pepsi and FedEx which are usually household names.

Independent: An independent route comes with high flexibility. That can receive products from as many suppliers has it wants so giving the route ability to provide a variety of products at the different prices. Their diversity of products guarantees the best prices. Generally, independent routes offer higher nets for lower profits. Independent routes include vending machine, bread, snacks, meat, cakes, and provisions routes.

Finding a Route

Investing in a delivery business starts with the purchase of a route. the process of finding the best route to invest on can be pretty demanding and time-consuming. There are some websites which create listings and also provides leads for different types of business routes . However, if you have a particular route in mind, you can always purchase directly from the company.

Funding options for Routes

One major challenge which you may face when engaging in the business is funding. Once you have decided on the particular route you want to own, you will be faced with various funding options. You may decide to obtain a home equity loan, a personal loan, or a second mortgage. Another funding option is the use of the ROBS solution (Rollover as Business Startups). This solution does not only enable you to access your retirement funds but also tax-deferred and penalty free. The moment an established route shows profits, it's natural for owners to choose to expand to new territories. Thus, it's good to have funds readily available in other to be able to purchase new routes once they become available.

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