Startup & Small Business
Written by Brandi Bennett
Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Gallup has shown that the world’s countries will need to add 600 million new jobs within the next 15 years. These numbers may seem ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is that these 600 million jobs will only allow the world to maintain current employment rates. These numbers seem staggering and that’s the truth. How on earth are we to manage this?
Entrepreneurship is the Answer
According to this same Gallup report, 64% of new private sector reports are being created by small businesses. The individuals that open their own small businesses are deemed entrepreneurs. What does this mean for you? It means that now is the time to start that small business you have always dreamed of.
Now is the time for you to sit down and write that business plan in order to determine what you will need in order to get your small business off the ground. Studies have shown (for more information on this same Gallup study, please see the link at the bottom of the article) that there will be no shortage of workers, and the fact of the matter is that these workers will need your business in order to have a job. They will be relying on you, much as you are relying on the company you work for to provide you with an income (or as you are relying on yourself, if you have a start-up for which you are the current and sole employee).
Now is the Time
Now is the time to work to develop your small business idea or work to further your start up. Now is the time to determine what you need in order to make your business grow, and now is the time to get started on that idea.
In order to be successful, your business will need to grow. You are just one person, you can’t do it all yourself (much as you may want to). You need a support staff, working to assist you in bringing your vision to life. With the right foundation, the right setup, and the right product or service, you will be able to manifest your dream. Why? Because you are getting in at the beginning.
You have the foresight to know that now is when you will need to develop your business, so when the time does come, you will not only know what to capitalize on, you will be ready to capitalize on it. Your business will have been developed enough to need those additional employees, and your organization will be poised for growth. All you have to do is get started. Entrepreneurship is showing itself to be the wave of the future. Catch the wave before it crests.
Written by Brandi Bennett
Monday, January 5th, 2015
Starting a Small Business
So you’ve decided you want to start a small business of your own; you’re ready to stop working for others and start working for yourself. This is great! Yes, you get to set your own hours, and yes, you get to do what you would like to do; however, when starting up a business of your own, you need to have the available capital to do so, and the time it takes to get it done. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Ways to Accomplish This
You’ve decided to start your business online. There are lower associated startup costs, and you don’t have to wear pants to go to work, both of which are decided bonuses! The problem is that it still costs money. You need a hosting plan, and you need up front capital to be able to get your inventory started, regardless of whether you are making something yourself or whether you are selling pre-made, manufactured products. How would you go about doing this if you don’t have the money saved up yourself? Well, there are several ways. You could find an angel investor, a set of investors, get a loan from the bank, or you could turn to the latest in funding – investment sites like Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a site that people may go to in order to present their ideas to the general population. Individuals read through the proposals, some of which include bonuses to those who donate x amount to their cause, and then donate. Yes, that’s right, people just give you money because they like your idea and want to see it come into existence.
Now keep in mind that your idea must be a good one, as defined by the population at large, and that not all Kickstarters work. If the proposal is not written well, the likelihood of gaining funding decreases dramatically. Included below is a link to a very helpful article that discusses the progress of one small business; how they took their idea from just an idea and turned it into a successful business using funding gained through Kickstarter. That’s right, someone is being helpful just for the sake of being helpful. This increasing amount of transparency in companies serves to benefit you in that it teaches you one possible path to walk, providing you with the information necessary for your business to potentially succeed in the same manner.
While not all Kickstarters are a success, as we have mentioned, there are those that have the potential to become quite successful (such as Amanda Palmer’s ground-breaking Kickstarter campaign). While it is true that you must obtain the knowledge yourself instead of building on top of the knowledge of others, you are able to take information, such as this, and use it as a means of working to increase your knowledge base, providing you with insight on how to succeed, and the different pitfalls to avoid. So, what are you waiting for? Get going! Start your own business, and start reaping the success of your own hard work.
Image Source: Kickstarter.com. (2014). Start your project — Kickstarter. Retrieved 26 December 2014, from https://www.kickstarter.com/learn?ref=hero
Written by Jeremy Jensen
Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Running a small business can be compared to a very delicate and complex form of art. Our time has become increasingly more valuable, and maintaining a successful company requires implementing diverse and complicated marketing strategies.
While it’s beneficial having access to an array of varying platforms to reach our audiences, it can also be time consumptive and difficult to keep up. It’s no wonder the largest demographic seeking the benefits of marketing automation are small to mid sized businesses.
Can your company use some extra time? Let’s find out.
First things first. What is Marketing Automation?
Considered one of the fastest growing solutions for sales and marketing professionals, marketing automation refers to technologies and certain software platforms designed for businesses to more effectively market online through multiple channels and automate recurring posts.
These services seek to optimize visitor/customer retention, improve conversions, cut marketing costs and perhaps most importantly revamp sales operations.
Marketing processes that would have otherwise been done manually, can now be streamlined to make new processes possible and make old task more efficient.
Taking a look at common product features
Marketing automation is still a relatively new tactic to most businesses, and for that reason it’s important to know which features will best serve your immediate and long-terms sales problems. Below are the most common found in the leading software:
- Lead Management – Leads are the lifeblood of a business; therefore, it’s easy to see why this is considered the greatest challenge and number one goal of marketing pros.
- Lead Nurturing- Increases the upsell-rate by retaining customer engagement, while also automating the qualifying leads process.
- Lead Scoring - Applying metrics to leads and prospects
Web Analytics - Using quality analytic data will allow you to pursue leads based on their web browsing tendencies.
Email Marketing – This is all about sending the right e-mail at the right time through the use of email scheduling. Schedule email blasts to disperse at the optimal time and save time by setting up autoresponder emails.
CRM Integration - Otherwise known as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), this feature is an application that is designed to assist you and your business by organizing all the data that you have on your customers. CRM Integration then is building your website to function seamlessly with your CRM.
As a small business, this is probably the section you were waiting for. When used correctly, marketing automation allows a staff with limited resources the ability to run successful marketing campaigns in a highly personalized fashion that may have otherwise been difficult to do manually. The major benefits include:
- Huge Time Saver – We all have days with less going on and marketing automation allows you to make use of that extra time to create an entire month’s social media posts in one day, so when deadlines are approaching you won’t need to worry about posting content manually.
- Maintain Consistency – Chances are you’re trying to maintain multiple platforms for social media posting, and for good reasons. The spread of our customer demographics have different preferences for social media use and if you’re forgetting to maintain one of them it may be a sign to your followers that your business cannot manage its customer communication or doesn’t care to.
- Easy For Everyone – A large concern for anyone looking to adopt a new technology is, “will it be user friendly?” And the answer is yes. Marketing automation is simple even for those who aren’t technically inclined. Most applications are equipped with easy to use editors, templates, and helpful guiding interfaces.
- Detailed Reports – Automated solutions will keep track of every social media post. Text, email and provide detailed graphs, statistics and other useful data to help you optimize future campaigns.
Selecting A Marketing Automation Platform
Before selecting a provider, here are several questions to consider:
- How Long is the minimum license period?
– Many ask that you sign up for 1 year, though you may want to look into monthly installments.
- What is offered in the minimum license fee?
– Certain platforms cap once you reach a certain amount of contacts in your database, this detail is very important as you expand networks.
- Is there a training manual and customer support?
– Nowadays the number one do not in licensing subscriptions is getting involved with a company/platform that doesn’t offer customer guidance.
There is no software or automation tool that can replace good planning and strategy; however, once you learn how to define goals marketing automation can take on the repetive and analytical taks for you in order to achieve a sustainable marketing plan.
Image Source: http://www.justaminutellc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/5-13-marketing-automation.jpg
Written by Kevin Wood
Friday, December 19th, 2014
If you’ve ever landed on a website only to feel overwhelmed and confused, then there’s a good chance that website wasn’t in alignment with their business. Often we have expectations when we visit a website, and if those expectations aren’t met then we’re probably hitting the back button.
If your business and website aren’t speaking the same language, or if your website is undefined and ambiguous you could be missing out on potential subscribers, business leads, and sales. We’re going to dive into the power of alignment, what it means for your business, and a few steps to get you going in the right direction.
To Whom Is Your Website Calling Out?
Whether you’re building your own website, or working with a web designer, it can be easy to build a website that’s catered to your needs. After all, building a website is an incredibly fun process and it can be easy to get caught up in the beauty of it, as opposed to focusing on making it functional and efficient.
It’s not the most beautiful website’s that are the most successful, but the website that serves its customer’s needs the best. Throughout the design process it’s easy to get wrapped up in adding all kinds of widgets, interactive elements, and fun features. But, if these elements exist solely for your own entertainment, then you’re just contributing to the noise that already exists on the web and are distracting your users.
Your website needs to be aimed at a single person. This single person will be your ideal customer. Although, no single customer will have all of these traits, there will be enough overlap so your website speaks to your core group of customers. When designing, or even writing for that matter it can be useful to hone in on a single person, as opposed to an entire group of people.
Know this person from the inside out, and create the perfect website for this single soul.
Time To Run A Compatibility Check
Are your business and website one in the same? You see this a lot with small businesses who have storefronts and are just beginning to dive into the online space. Often, you’ll find their website online, browse around for a bit, and finally make the decision to visit their storefront.
When you get to their store the vibe is entirely different and their branding doesn’t match up. Usually, you won’t turn around and run out of the store, but it might leave you feeling a little confused.
On the other hand, let’s look at Apple. Their website and storefront are virtual matches of each other, and they both perfectly embody the principles of their brand. You can go from one to the other and the brand is very consistent. You may even experience the same feelings on their website that you do when visiting their storefront.
Your website needs to be seen as an extension of your brand. If you do business solely in the online space this is important as well. As the way you conduct business, what you’re selling, and what makes you unique will influence how your website and business reflect each other.
How To Align Your Business And Website
If your website is confusing and doesn’t align with what your selling, or doesn’t feel like an extension of your storefront (if applicable), then it’s time to tweak and adjust what you currently have up:
1. Define and Refine
Once again, you need to know to whom you’re selling. If you just randomly created your website last time without this person in mind, then it’s time to go back and define. Once you can imagine what this person looks like and how they act, then you’re ready to move forward.
2. Upgrade Your Existing Site
Once you’ve taken the time to “get to know” your ideal customer it’s time to build them a website. This can either be implementing simple website tweaks, or building a new site from the group up. Also, make sure you upgrade your existing copy to suit the needs of your ideal buyer.
3. Seek Wise Counsel
Once you’ve updated your site so it’s better in alignment it can be very helpful get a second pair of eyes on your site. This can help to buff out anything confusing or unclear that remains. Obviously, the closer this person is to your ideal customer the better.
Making sure your website and business are on the same page can be a little time consuming, but it will have a positive impact on your relationship with your customers, as you’ll be providing them with a better experience. In the end, it’s all about service.