Small Business

5 Challenges Facing Established Small Businesses

Here is news for all you start-up entrepreneurs: you may think that after you get things rolling for your small business that everything is a bed of roses. Beware! You can never give up your vigilance or your competition will slip in and grab your customers when you least expect it. There are five big challenges an established company faces every day, and in the end it will pay to include them in your daily tactical planning.

First Challenge

The first big hurdle you will face it trying to do everything yourself. Small business owners can get very possessive about their products and manufacturing methods. You can’t expect to grow if you don’t learn to duplicate yourself well and leverage your efforts by hiring employees. Remember that as you bring new people into the team, you gain the benefit of their skills and talents.

Second Challenge

You’ll become so busy going after new customers you’ll forget about maintaining your current clients. Never ever forget the people that have helped you build your business to this point. Nurture them by maintaining lines of communication. They will give you repeat sales and refer other buyers to you. They are the foundation of your company.

Third Challenge

Gaining a false sense that everyone knows you exist so you relax your marketing and promotional campaigns. The golden rule of being in business is you always must “promote, promote, promote!” Exchanging your products and services for cash is the life blood of the company. Without sales you’ll spiral down very quickly. So, keep up with the promotional campaigns that have been successful.

Fourth Challenge

You decide to modify your product or service because you have been itching to make improvements. Progress is a good thing, but you may be forgetting your consuming public that is accustomed to the way your product is now. Before you make any changes that shock them so badly they stop buying it, ask their opinion. Never make a move like this without surveying your market first.

Fifth Challenge

You’ve got a little cash flow going on, so now you think it’s okay to blow it by investing in some type of expansion. Don’t be so foolish as to use up your cash cushion – you’re putting your business in danger. If you want to expand, set aside a percentage of sales or find an investor that wants to work with you. Don’t allow your cash flow to dry up.

More from this contributor:

How to Stop Wasting Money This Year

10 Low Cost Ways to Advertise Your Business Locally

How Networking Changed My Local Economy

Why Teenagers Should Become Young Entrepreneurs

Using the excuse “because I am young” is a great opportunity to explore opportunities beyond your boundaries. Being able to explore past your boundaries because you are young is what can make a young entrepreneur ideal and fun.

The advantage of being a teenager is having less responsibilities and being able to waste time. This is what sets you apart from your parents. If you have ever watched or listened to your parents, you know they are trying to cram more ways into their life to make money for the family. Even though being young has the disadvantage of lack of experience and knowledge, you can use what you do know to start being an entrepreneur.

Being young between the ages of 16-21, and a new young entrepreneur, are showing more perseverance and vitality to jump into a marketing many industries that are profitable. The minds f teenagers are developing as fast as cell phone companies are rolling out their new brands of cell phones. For the above average teenager they can earn $50 a day in a hot business market.

Rather than using a product from the past to create a new line of something that is retro, think about what the group of people you hand around with are always talking about. Use what they want from these conversations and figure out how to make it become a reality.

Being a teenager with a curious mind and an enormous amount of determination and drive, you could become the next Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or Oprah. These people didn’t let anything get in the way of their dreams. Why should you as a teenager?

As a teenager, you should consider becoming an entrepreneur because you have the fast track to many new product and service ideas. You are aware what your friends and yourself are wanting in tech gadgets and other services, like youtube and facebook, that meet the needs of your generation.

Earlier I mentioned something about teenagers and wasting time. Think about what you do to waste time between classes, what you watch on TV, and what you do on the internet. Think about what you have a hard time finding and go from there with a business idea for yourself.

Keep track of what your friends and yourself want to see come to life in your real world. Make a business plan and make it happen. Taking action to complete the steps of your business plan can make your business come to life as a teenager. The hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur is completing the tasks needed to make your business dream a reality.

Small Business Grant Money: Get Your Grants for a Business Now

Small Business Grant Money: Get Your Grants for a Business Now

Small businesses are the backbones of the community. Even the government understands that. For this reason, several different kinds of grants are available for small business owners and entrepreneurs. These millions of dollars worth of grants are open for anyone to apply for, and they can be a valuable resource for a business owner or entrepreneur that needs a little boost with their business. By learning a few important tips, individuals will have a better chance of receiving small business grant money.

Contact the Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration or SBA can be a valuable resource and ally for individuals seeking small business grants. This highly reputed organization was created by the government as a way for individuals to stay in touch with the latest funding and grant opportunities available from the government. The SBA keeps individuals informed on the latest business grant opportunities and also offers low to no interest business loans that can really help put a business on its feet. The SBA has branches in each state, as well as an official website where individuals can learn more.

Consider Community Benefits

Those businesses that will offer benefits for their community may have a better chance of receiving government grants. Grant review panels look at all aspects of the business, as well as the benefits that will result. For instance, if a business will provide several more jobs for the community, it may have a better chance of receiving a grant than a business that will offer only one or no jobs for the community. Individuals should seriously consider the benefits their business will offer, so those can be conveyed to the grant review panel.

Write a Business Plan

A business plan can greatly help focus a business owner, and can be beneficial for conveying benefits as well as obtaining funding for the business. Business plans are like guide books to the business. They outline important information about the business, such as the products or services, target market, expected costs associated with the business, projected profits and much more. Business plans are often used in lieu of grant proposals for businesses and can be very effective in helping the business win a grant. Individuals can learn how to write business plans or hire a professional writer to take care of it for them.

Use the Internet to Find Grants

There are a number of helpful websites that allow individuals to find grants for business. While individuals should proceed carefully, as there are many scam websites on the internet, it can also be a valuable resource. One should never have to pay for grant information, since it is available for free on websites like Grants.gov and Business.gov. These websites maintain up to date listings of government grants for business and other needs. These should be book marked and checked often as new grants are posted and old ones are removed.

With the above information, individuals can find and apply for government business grants that will help them find success.

Starting Up and Running a Successful New Business Affordably

Starting Up and Running a Successful New Business Affordably

Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

A third and more affordable solution for the aspiring business owner is to set himself up as an affiliate marketer, selling the goods and services of other companies in exchange for a commission. Many top companies have their own affiliate program, such as Amazon and Ebay. Other leading brands are members of an affiliate marketplace network, in which the business owner can register for multiple companies and get paid in one regular commission check at the end of each month.

Similar to the business owner who wants to sell something they have expertise in, the affiliate marketer should choose products based on a niche and/or sub-niche they wish to explore. They will already have a computer and be able to do the research online to find affiliate programs they can join. Once they register and enter their bank details and are accepted to at least a couple of programs, they can start building links with their special code through the affiliate program. These links will be special only to them in order to make sure that they are credited for each sale they drive to the site/s they are affiliated with.

An affiliate marketer should also have a website of their own, a business bank account, and a PayPal account to be able to accept and process secure payments. Iceland in 8 Days is a perfect example of a fully operational and active affiliate site. They might also wish to have an email marketing program to help capture email addresses of people who visit their site, in order to send them a free newsletter and other promotions containing their affiliate links. They can also spend time rather than money by producing free special reports to give away in exchange for the email addresses. Finally, they may wish to write reviews of the products that they are selling, especially if they have personal experience of them.

Marketing a New Business Affordably

Marketing a new website usually takes more time than money, through link building, referral links they can post on forums, blogs and in their email signature files. For those who can afford a marketing budget, Pay Per Click through a large search engine like Google can help drive qualified traffic very quickly. This can help test the market and how well the sales pages on the affiliate site will sell.

For high-ticket items in particular, there may be a great deal of competition and the cost of the ads will be higher. Yahoo, Bing and Ask PPC prices tend to be a fair bit lower per click but there will not be as much traffic. However the key is conversions to a lead (email address) or sale, so if the sales letter page is not showing any results after a day or two, turn off the PPC, adjust the page and try again with new ads.

However, if there are still no sales, then try to re-write the sales letter to make it more compelling and post to one’s own site and drive traffic there instead of the affiliate’s sites, for better tracking of results.

A new small business can be an investment in terms of money and time but thanks to the opportunities offered by the internet, new business owners can get started running their own company quickly and affordably no matter what they decide to sell. They can certainly also market their company affordably by making the most of all the tools on the Internet to drive traffic and gain customers.

Get Government Grants for Small Business: Business Startup Grants Can Be Yours!

Get Government Grants for Small Business

Government grants for small business are a valuable resource for small business owners. With the money to purchase supplies, hire employees or advertise the business, small business owners will have an easier time with their start up. While they’re not widely advertised, there are many different government grants to help entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

Create a Business Plan

The first thing entrepreneurs should do regarding their business is create a business plan. A business plan highlights the company’s goals, mission, services and products, target market, and more. This can serve as a helpful guide when it comes to applying for grants and can often be used in lieu of a grant proposal, though both are helpful as well. A business plan should be well organized, factual, easy-to-read and understand, and free of grammatical and typographical errors. The Small Business Administration offers helpful hints for writing a business plan at the SBA.

Work with the SBA

The SBA or Small Business Administration has an official website as well as chapters in each state. It is a highly reputed organization that offers business grants and startup loans at lower interest rates than normal. The SBA also offers a number of tips, suggestions and other forms of help for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Individuals working with the SBA will have a better chance of finding grants that will help them start their businesses and make them successful.

Visit Business.gov

Business.gov is a direct link to the US government that can be quite helpful for entrepreneurs. They provide an up to date list of all startup grants and loans as well as other programs from the US government. There are many different kinds of advice, suggestions, and tips available on this website as well. This is a great starting point for anyone who is searching for government business startup loans or grants.

Consider Business Start up Benefits

Individuals should consider how their business will benefit the community and surrounding cities and towns. Those more likely to benefit the community will be considered differently than those that are not. For instance, if one business will create twenty new jobs in the city the business is started in, it will probably be more likely to get the grant than a business which will only offer one or two jobs. By considering the benefits of their businesses, entrepreneurs will have a better chance at receiving startup business grants.

Check out Government Grants at the State Level

It’s important for entrepreneurs to check at the state level for startup grants and funding. While there are business grants available from the federal government, entrepreneurs are much more likely to find a program or grant within their own state. Check with local organizations and associations that typically offer grants for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Learn more about checking at the state level at US Gov Info. By using the tips and information above, entrepreneurs can successfully fund their small businesses with start up grants or low interest loans.

Free Online Resources for Small Businesses

Free Online Resources for Small Businesses

Operating a small business is not easy, but you don’t have to do it all alone. There are excellent resources available through the internet that won’t cost anything but time. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of others who have put together guidance for small business success.

Business.gov from the Small Business Administration

This site offers a wide range of business information for businesses of all types to help them understand legal requirements and locate government services. Find out how to organize or form a corporation. Find out what business licenses are necessary for different industries. Get statistics and market research data. Learn to how to bid on government contracts. See what grants or loans may be available for your business. This website has links to many different government departments and agencies. Visit the website at Business.gov.

 Small Business Training Network

Another initiative from the Small Business Administration, this resource offers a variety of online courses on topics such as how to write a business plan, technology, marketing, and dealing with a slow economy. Courses require a simple online registration and take about 30 minutes to complete. The site also offers publications, podcasts, business forms, and newsletters. Visit the website at sba.gov.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)

The more than 12,000 experienced and well-informed members of this volunteer organization are current and former business owners and managers with a wealth of knowledge to share. They donate their time to help small business owners overcome the obstacles to growth and profitability. Contact them online or make an appointment for a personal meeting. Attend a workshop or webinar. Sign up for a business newsletter. With more than 300 offices across the United States, SCORE is likely to have a branch near you. Visit the website at SCORE.org.

The Small Business Page at OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers guidance to small businesses about safety and health training and programs, guides for OSHA standards, and OSHA “eTools,” interactive Web-based training tools on safety and health topics. OSHA provides many publications that can be ordered online and compliance assistance to help business owners understand which OSHA standards apply to their businesses. Visit the website at osha.gov.

Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

The Internal Revenue Service provides information for businesses to comply with tax laws. View a virtual workshop to understand federal tax obligations. Download forms and publications for employers and employees. Register for a federal tax identification number. Find an A-Z index of tax topics to answer questions on just about any aspect of federal taxation. Visit the website at irs.gov.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ just over half the nation’s private workers and include almost 30 million individual businesses. The government wants small businesses to succeed, so it has created a variety of resources to help. Take advantage of these free resources to support and grow your small business.

Small Businesses Must be Tougher with Mobile Phone Suppliers

Small Businesses Must be Tougher with Mobile Phone Suppliers

A survey of 1,000 small business leaders reveals that many walk away from negotiations with mobile phone or cell phone suppliers without trying to haggle, despite ongoing needs to control costs. The new research suggests that SMEs and other smaller companies can do more to get a better deal from mobile phone companies if they are prepared to negotiate hard.

The survey, conducted by T-Mobile, and released on Wednesday May 5th 2016, shows that 63 per cent have walked away from a supplier who has quoted an unreasonable price and a third of small business leaders do not see themselves as natural negotiators. Added to this, 71 per cent of small business leaders believe suppliers often offer better deals to large enterprises

Opinium Research carried out the survey of 1,069 UK SME Business Owners/ Senior Managers from Thursday 18th to Wednesday 24th March 2016 on behalf of T-Mobile.

Businesses Need to Negotiate on Mobile Phone Contracts

Nearly a third of small business owners or managers do not see themselves as naturally strong negotiators while 38 per cent of small business leaders expect suppliers to quote an unreasonably high first price and 63 per cent of small business owners or managers have walked away from a supplier who has quoted an unreasonable first price.

Alexander Ehmann, Head of Enterprise Policy, Institute of Directors, in a press release issued with the findings: “UK commercial growth remains fragile and small businesses continue to face serious pressures. In order to survive and grow their companies, business leaders need to keep control of their costs, which often involves negotiating with suppliers. If this is not an option, then it is up to suppliers to offer the best deals possible to support small businesses, which form the backbone of the UK economy.”

T-Mobile’s Head of Business Marketing, Max Taylor, commented in an interview: “It is understandable that business leaders find negotiations a drain on their time. However, it must be frustrating for them to miss out on the best deals available. If we can sidestep the negotiations process, it relieves managers of this additional pressure. This is why it is important for suppliers to offer good value, upfront deals to the UK’s small businesses. At T-Mobile, we offer a mix of straightforward business plans that do not restrict people from doing business in the way that best suits them.”

Good Mobile Phone Packages are Available

Where they have been prepared to haggle, SME have got some good deals from mobile phone contractors. The most impressive business deals include: £1,500 worth of free photography, a saving of £5,000 on annual office rent, a conference room within a hotel negotiated from £200 for three hours down to £40, rent brought down by £7,000 a year, free printing of marketing materials worth approximately £400 and full hospitality at British Grand Prix.

With the effect of the recession still being felt by many small and large businesses and profit margins still narrow, it is clearly essential that companies get the best deal they can. This research clearly indicates that SMEs can get a better deal on their mobile phone or cell phone contracts if they work a little harder.

Free Accounting Programs for Small Business

Free Accounting Programs for Small Business

If you are an owner or manager responsible for accounts and cash in a small business, you’re probably looking for a way to save money. Although you could purchase expensive software packages or do all of the math by hand, downloading free accounting programs online may make a lot more sense.

Tracking Accounts and Expenses

Businesses must be able to track accounts and expenses at all times in order to identify trends and reduce costs. If you are a CPA, you may want to keep the books by hand as a cheaper option than purchasing software, but bear in mind the amount of time required to research tax updates and calculate interest, among other things. Regardless of cost, however, your goal is to find a method of accounting that provides for the bookkeeping needs of your business. If you choose to use software, look for features such as local and cloud data backups, the ability to access information from multiple computers, data security and real-time updates of tax information.

 Accounting Software for Businesses

Business accounting programs, such as QuickBooks, Quicken and Microsoft Money, are robust compilations of various software functions. Most packages include telephone support and yearly upgrades. Common features include:

  • Online software updates: Install software patches or other updates with an Internet connection.
  • Online tax rules updates: Update employee and sales tax information as necessary via the Internet.
  • Mobile access from a PDA or SmartPhone: Get access to account information, invoices or any other necessary data remotely with an authorized device.
  • Invoice templates: Create professional invoices for your customers.
  • Alerts as bills become due: Don’t miss another payment – let the software let you know before you’re late.
  • Budgeting templates: Let your software walk you through creating a budget, and start saving money.

Free Accounting Software Packages

There is a middle ground between doing all of your books by hand with bookeeping templates and purchasing a top-of-the-line accounting package. Quickbooks and Quicken both offer an online version of their software at no cost with many of the same features as the regular version of the software. Although Quicken only offers its personal money management software in an online version, Quickbooks actually offers a free online money program for small business. There’s no download, just click to sign up.

Small Business Accounting

There are a number of factors that can affect your decision as you choose a method of accounting for your business. Weigh the cost of the program, the time of setup or maintenance and the ongoing effort it will require against other factors, such as data security and ease of access, to determine which program will work best in your situation. Remember, you can always change your mind later.

Advertising Strategies for Small Business by Patrick Mackaronis

Advertising Strategies for Small Business

The following is a guest post from Patrick Mackaronis, director of business development for New York City social network startup Brabble. For further reading on Pat’s ideas, please check out Home Business Mag’s piece Patrick Mackaronis Reveals Six Options for Ideal Startup Investment.

You’ve got a great business that can be very beneficial to many people. You know that advertising is the key to a successful business and the best way to promote your product or services, but can be rather costly, especially for a small business. You need direct advertising ideas that work well, and don’t come with the high price tag that big companies can afford. Here are some strategies that may work for your business.

Advertising can be as simple as word of mouth, and as varied as in print, online, by radio, and through television. Before you advertise, whatever the medium, make sure you know who your target market is so you can direct your advertising efforts in the right direction. Then you will best know the medium to advertise in, whether it be local or across the Internet, or both.

The Yellow Pages for Offline and Online Advertising

Your local Yellow Pages are still the best way to advertise, especially for new businesses. You want people to be able to find you. Many people still look in the Yellow Pages when they want to find a business. In today’s time, not only is your ad in the printed version, but it also includes your ad being available online at the main website where people all over the world can view it. Get the biggest ad you can afford, without overstepping your budget.

Some areas have more than one telephone book. Put your ad in as many as you can. A lot of the telephone companies will give you a discount for putting your ad in more than one listing or phone book.

There are also a few different types of “yellow pages” online where you can put your ad that is relatively low cost. Check out:

  • Yellowpages.com
  • Yellowbook.com
  • Superpages.com
  • Advertising.brightpages.com

Newspaper and Newsletter Advertising

Another excellent way to advertise your business is in your local newspaper. They offer box ads and advertising inserts. Some local newspapers will offer you special advertising to feature your local business. You will likely find discounts for agreeing to list your ad for multiple weeks or months as well.

If you have a new small business, do not neglect to put out a press release. These are usually free of charge, and it will introduce your business to the community. Check with your local newspaper for rates on press releases and any specials they may be running.

There are also lower cost newspapers, sometimes called Pennysavers that you can advertise in as well. These types of newspapers do not offer quite the exposure of metropolitan papers, but they are still quite effective, especially if you are a local business interested only in local customers.

Special interest newspapers can provide you with a target market as well. For instance, if you are selling medical equipment, a hospital newspaper or newsletter could be a good choice for you to advertise your business. Also check out rates on special interest websites that allow advertisers for their online newsletters.

Tip: Repetition advertising is very important. One-shot ads just don’t work very well.

Advertising through Direct Mail

Direct Mail is another option. There are a few places you can purchase mailing lists targeted to your market. If done properly, it can be very effective. You can mail promotional materials like “10% off” coupons, buy one get one free coupons, etc. Talk with your local postal office to get rates for Direct Mail, and the United States Postal Service website offers many great ideas for making Direct Mail a success.

Offering Promotions

Any time you send out an invoice, thank you card, or any other type of correspondence, put advertisement inside. Get customers coming back as well as new customers. Have them bring a friend for a discount. Put in discount coupons.

Do something a little extra for your existing customers. Give away little freebies. Customers really appreciate that, and will keep coming back. For example, you can set a bowl of candy at the checkout counter. If you sell artwork or do framing, give your customer a picture hanger for coming in or using your services.

Other Ideas

  • Hand out business cards.
  • Join a business organization in your area like your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Vehicle advertising with large magnets.
  • Magazines and Ezines
  • Booths at trade shows

There are literally hundreds of ways to advertise your small business effectively, and within your budget. See what other small businesses are doing as well. And, never, never stop advertising. “Out of sight, out of mind” can kill your small business in a matter of time. Don’t let this happen to you.