Loral was featured on Inc – check out her article on “Bootstrapping 101: 4 Ways To Launch Your Startup Without Cash” here …
Social media in your business
If you still haven’t come around to the idea of using social media for your business, you’re not alone.
Many can’t reconcile the “social” component with conducting business and turning profits. Well, it’s time to get past that hang-up because all your competitors are using social media and quickly passing you by. Here are the best sites to join immediately for better business success.
By far the least “social” of the social media platforms is LinkedIn.
While plenty of business is done on other sites, LinkedIn is only for business. So this is a great website for getting your business out in front of all types of people in all kinds of companies, many of whom may be key decision makers. The more you network on LinkedIn, the more likely you’ll be to end up in front of the right pair of eyes. Of course, when it’s time to hire, LinkedIn will make it easy for you to find the candidates your company needs.
Twitter is certainly used for plenty of reasons that aren’t remotely professional.
However, spend some time on this popular social media platform and you may soon realize yours is one of the only companies in the industry without a presence. This platform is exceptional at publishing information at the speed of light and using inbound marketing to bring in customers. In addition, you can’t do any better than Twitter for eavesdropping on your customer base. They’ll have conversations right out in the open and, if you play your cards right, you can make them about your company or product.
Although YouTube may not seem like a social media platform, strictly speaking, it’s crossed the boundary and nowadays most people consider it under the umbrella.
In many ways, YouTube may offer you the best possible option where social media is concerned. It does away with any confusion that can be caused by the written word thanks to the most popular medium currently available, video. Furthermore, unlike, say, Twitter, many companies still don’t have a YouTube channel. So, you may find none of your competitors are providing you any competition on YouTube, giving you an excellent opportunity to establish yourself as an authority and capitalize on the results.
There are countless other options where social media is concerned, but start with the above three for your business. Learn them; master them; and then move on from there. Other platforms like Facebook have plenty to offer as well, but you’ll have your hands full with the three above and they’ll provide plenty in return. Trust me, everyone’s on Facebook and some focus on it too much. So it’s best to hone in on the 3 above, as Facebook will come naturally to you and your team.
Quick Tips for Veterans Starting a Business
Starting your own business today is going to take quite a bit of work, but being your own boss is a great option that many find appealing.
Veterans are increasingly turning to entrepreneurship. With fewer jobs available right now, starting a business is the best option in many cases. Veterans know that when the easy opportunities aren’t there, you don’t complain about it, you make your own opportunities, and that is just what they are doing! Many people prefer doing business with veterans, so this is something that you will have in your corner, and that affinity that people have for veterans today is something that you will be able to utilize.
Veterans, just like other entrepreneurs, have to learn how to run a business though. They have to learn to market and close sales, and they have to believe in the business. Fortunately, veterans have the fortitude to tackle these types of problems, and should be able to learn everything they need. Here are a couple of quick tips that can help.
Have a Plan
What type of business do you want to start? Knowing the type of business you want to create is naturally the first and most important step, as it is going to dictate just about everything else that you have to do. Are you going to need a loan, or can you start the business with the money that you have now? If you need a loan, you can go through the U.S. Small Business Administration to look for loans for veterans. You will be able to use the loan for many different areas of your business – equipment, facilities, and other startup costs.
Whether you need a loan or not, you are going to want to write up a business plan. You can use this as a roadmap or guidebook to starting your business. You never want to go on a mission without knowing all of the details, and you should look at your business as an extended campaign. A good plan can get you where you are going.
Utilize Your Status as a Veteran
As mentioned, people want to know that they are buying from a veteran, and that should be a part of your brand. Your brand is going to define your company and you. Let people know your story, let them know that you are a veteran. You can even register with the National Association of Veteran Owned Businesses, and they will let you display their logo on your site and in your establishment.
Know Your World. Know Your Business.
Every once in awhile, I like to bring news to your attention to get you thinking. As Mitch Huhem said at the Yes! Energy Celebration – “You have to read to succeed!” Reading means knowing what is going on in your world and how that world might affect your business. Today, President Obama called upon Congress to help small businesses by giving them tax breaks and assist start-ups by making it easier for them to raise money.
According to the Associated Press, Obama said he would sign the legislation “right away.”
During a Cabinet meeting, he called on Congress to act on measures that would:
- Extend tax breaks.
- Make it easier for start-ups to raise money and go public.
- Permanently eliminate tax rates on capital gains for investments in small businesses.
- Add a one-year extension on the ability of all businesses to immediately deduct all of the costs of equipment and software purchases.
- Create a new 10 percent tax credit for small businesses that add jobs or increase wages in 2012. In addition, the legislation would make it easier for new startup companies to raise money and to go public.
- Expand a government small business investment program from $3 billion to $4 billion.
- Change the visa process to attract foreign-born entrepreneurs and high-skilled immigrants to invest in the United States or start new businesses.
“It is a symbol of how important it is for us to spur entrepreneurship, to help startups, to move aggressively so that we can assure more companies that create the most jobs in our economy are getting a leg up from various programs that we have in our government,” Obama said.
First, and most importantly, never put on the brakes waiting for what will or will not happen. The government isn’t running your business, YOU are. Don’t start polling yourself to death on the pros and cons of what they will or will not do an move forward in the way you think is best. There are plenty of naysayers out there who will look at the government, the economy, society, whatever and put a hold on their dreams until they know what these outside forces will do. DON’T BE ONE OF THEM. The future of your business is in your hands.
A good debate is a good debate, particularly when it affects you. As you move forward this year, filled with Yes! Energy and the desire to succeed, what will you do to determine your own destiny — aside from anything the government might be doing?
Small Businesses Hate Groupon
A story came out on Huffington Post today that I found interesting. According to the article, 70% of small-business owners hate Groupon. This is according to a survey by iContact. Although the article didn’t go into depth about the reasons that small-business owners hate Groupon, I can tell you a couple of reasons why they might. First, Groupon is complete price based. People see a low price on a product or service and they buy it for less than half or more of what it is worth. In essence, your business is being bought and sold as a commodity. One hair cut, one plate of food, one “Item A” at a time without any differentiation other than how low you can make your price. If you work it wrong, this tactic can cost you a lot.
Advertising on Groupon gets customers in the doors, but what happens to the customers after they get there? Businesses who use Groupon think they are driving awareness, but what they are really doing is driving cattle. Now, a GOOD cattle driver, perhaps one who has been to my 3 Days to Cash Workshop, will take advantage of the situation. They won’t let the cows wander into the barn and let them go to sleep. They will make sure they get some MILK! They will capture email addresses and phone numbers. They will upsell them the moment they arrive. They will push them into a sales funnel and do everything within their power to make sure there is more profit to be made. Do most small businesses do it? NO! They look at the Groupon numbers, smile when they see how many “units” have been sold and proceed to fulfill orders for their newly commoditized business without a second thought about how to retain those customers. Groupon doesn’t sell a business beyond a one-time discount. That business must PROVE they are more than that. Is it Groupon’s job to retain those customers? No. They have done their job by driving the cattle. It’s up to THE BUSINESS to milk it.
If you put yourself on sale, you NEED to be prepared to KEEP selling! Marketing is not a light switch. You don’t just turn it on and BOOM you have business. It takes work. You might outsource that work to someone on your team, but the work must take place. Dig deeper. Do Less, Make More and become a team made millionaire. Get the nuts and bolts business advice, accountability and support you need with Fast Cash Coaching. So, if you DO decide to do a Groupon, you will know what to do with those customers once you have them.
Business Steps – From Idea to Marketplace
I’ve mentioned before that a lot of people want business steps laid out to take them from the idea stage to the marketplace. If you’re one of those that would like a plan consisting of business steps, try this on for size.
The very first of your business steps should be to test your fundamental business idea. Don’t move on mere speculation or assumption. Why? Just look at the meaning of these words:
Assumption – something taken for granted
Speculation – conjectural consideration of a matter; conjecture or surmise: a report based on speculation rather than facts.
No idea is considered valid until you’ve tested your hypothesis. You need a solid foundation to build upon.
Consider: Is it a business idea that’s already being done effectively? Does it improve on a currently marketed product or service? Where is the market? Who’s buying and why? Is it a forward thinking venture or is it out-dated and overdone? Will customers respond to your changes and improvements? Do they want them? Will they even care?
Once you’ve arrived at the viability of your idea, you can move forward with the next in your series of business steps. Start small. Here’s where you move your ideas to stage one products or services. As you bring them to market watch how your customers react. They will give you important feedback and data to base your next business steps on. You’ll get qualitative and quantitative feedback (what they like and what they don’t like).
Think of your first products or services as experiments, nothing more. Success or failure isn’t the real issue here. It’s refining and adapting to market demands. This is a learning process.
Always get through your business steps as quickly and efficiently as possible. Don’t spend a lot of time fine-tuning and seeking perfection. You are likely to “guess” wrong about what your market truly wants. If it takes a long time coming to that verdict, you’ve wasted valuable time and money.
Eliminate waste! Don’t build castles in the sky.
- Test the viability of your idea
- Move forward on a small scale
- Adapt to feedback and move forward
If you follow those three business steps in the very beginning, your chances of success greatly increase.
How do you test the viability of your product or service? How can you scale back your idea temporarily so you can get your stage one product or service to market quickly and efficiently?
The Sequence of Business Steps
A lot of people are seeking “business steps” as if they were the holy grail of crafting the perfect plan. They want a “business step-by-step” guide or book or course. Okay, there are certain steps you need to take in sequence, but we’re not talking rocket science here.
Here are the most important business steps I can recommend:
- Stay focused
- Take Action
You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t take action. Everything will remain the same if you do nothing.
The reason so many people don’t take action is because they get stuck in analysis paralysis. One reason for this is indecision. Most people have lots of ideas for starting businesses. The obstacle comes in deciding which idea to go with. They can’t seem to narrow their focus to one niche market. Many times, the would-be entrepreneur moves from one idea to another, never taking action on any of them. They get stuck in the idea stage. There’s definitely more business steps to take but in reality the underlying cause for never taking them is often fear of failure.
The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure. – Sven Goran Eriksson
It’s not enough to get an idea, research it, and plan it, which are good business steps, but it’s where a lot of people get stuck. You have to go from idea to implementation as fast as possible for a number of reasons, for example: viability.
The problem with this business step is when they start researching all of their ideas to find out if they are viable, they become more confused. The information they accumulate becomes overwhelming. At the same time, they become frustrated that they still haven’t found the one magic bullet they’re seeking.
Does that make you wince?
Then you need to focus on one business idea at a time and take action as quickly as possible to discover its viability. If it is a viable idea, take more business steps and keep moving forward.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to accomplish today to further my (idea, business, success)?” Not tomorrow or next week or next month. Today! Not “What do I need to consider?” but “What do I have to DO?”
You’ll never reach the level of success you crave without taking the specific daily business steps that will get you there. Yes, it’s easy to lose your focus on today when all you’re thinking about is tomorrow. But you’ll never get anywhere that way.
To build a successful business, you need a specific and clear vision. Break that vision into small business steps and then lay them out as daily tasks and stay focused on them.
Each of your business steps lead to another – there’s a sequence — and if you don’t let obstacles get in your way, you’re bound to bring your vision to life.
Quiet those negative voices in your head that make you feel like it will never happen. Believe in yourself. And it that’s hard for you to do, fake it until you make it. It works. Fear and self-doubt are a part of us but we can’t let it control us. Like I’m always saying, you CAN do this! Make it work. I believe in you, now believe in yourself!
Again, here’s my advice to your quest for “business steps”:
Stay focused and take action!
Startup America – The Time Is Now
“Startup America [is] a national campaign to help win the future by knocking down barriers in the path of men and women in every corner of this country hoping to take a chance, follow a dream, and start a business.” – President Barack Obama, January 31, 2011
In January 2011 Startup America was officially launched, but it’s only now that a major part of the initiative has really taken off. The program is designed to improve the environment for high-growth entrepreneurship, in five key areas:
- Unlocking Access to Capital
- Connecting Mentors
- Reducing Barriers
- Accelerating Innovation
- Unleashing Market Opportunities
The Startup America Partnership
Would you be able to get assistance from the Startup America program? If you think you need it, give it a try. Those who might qualify must be a for-profit startup with at least two people (founders + employees) founded since 2006 or a for-profit ramp up or speedup with at least six people (founders + employees) founded since 2001.
On Starting a Business
Entrepreneurship is the backbone of our country and our economy and it’s your best chance for a future of financial independence and satisfaction.
And starting a business, with or without the help of Startup America, can be successfully done by anyone once they learn the basics and gaining clarity on things such as viability, costs, positioning, and strategic marketing. All teachable!
The problem is that people are not only scared of today’s economy but also the potential for continued instability in the coming months and years.
But here’s another way to look at today’s situation:
Authors of the book, “Economic Turbulence: Is a Volatile Economy Good for America?” state that while any number of events — shifts in consumer demand, changes in technology, mergers and acquisitions, or increased competition — can contribute to economic turbulence, our economy as a whole is, by and large, stronger for it, because these processes of creation and destruction make it more flexible and adaptable.
Being adaptable and flexible in business are key ingredients to success and small businesses and entrepreneurs can work that magic like no big business can.
Back to the premise of Startup America, with the labor market struggling in recent years, small businesses are a logical group to look to for job recovery. They have such a large role in net job creation. Startup America is looking to small businesses to help lift us out of these down times.
This concept is partially proved by the SBA.gov report that states “firms with fewer than 20 employees accounted for [only] 24% of the net job loss from 2008 to the second quarter of 2009; firms with 20 to 499 accounted for 36%; and firms with more than 500 employees accounted for 40%.”
The greatest contributor to unemployment is big business. Again, that’s something Startup America is well aware of and why they are encouraging entrepreneurship.
It’s the entrepreneurs and small businesses that change the world – for the better.
If you’re interested in learning more about Startup America, click here.
If you’re interested in learning how to start your own business in only three days, click here.
Boost Your Small Business Economy
One of the “secrets” of succeeding in business is learning how to take advantage of trends to boost your small business economy. To take advantage of those trends, you need to watch for them.
An article that appeared in the Washington Post a couple of days ago got me thinking about this. Here’s part of what I read:
For the first time, lawmakers, businesses and even White House officials are courting consumers from cash-rich countries such as China, India and Brazil to fill the nation’s shopping malls and pick up the slack for penny-pinching Americans. They are wooing travelers with enticements such as coupons, beauty pageants and promises of visa reform. The payoff, they say, could be significant: 1.3 million new jobs and an $859 billion shot in the arm for the economy over the next decade. [Read more]
There’s an emerging trend to pay attention to! The Post is reporting on what the government is doing to boost our economy. You need to think of ways to boost your own small business economy.
It’s a good thing the Internet has leveled the playing field for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Most of us are taking advantage of that fact. We’ve taken our small businesses online. But have we fully used the Internet to improve our own small business economy?
Today we can compete on a global scale and in a global marketplace. Are you taking advantage of that fact? I don’t think many are. It might be a little difficult to wrap your head around it but you need to.
For instance, what if the U.S. succeeds in attracting travelers from around the world? And other countries are bound to get on that same bandwagon.
How can you get in on a piece of that International pie? You may not speak another language well enough to court consumers in other countries, but you can think of marketing campaigns aimed at them as travelers in your country.
Think about this:
In section deeper into the article, a young family from China had traveled to the U.S. to visit areas of interest while on vacation. They spent quite a bit of money on rental cars, hotels, restaurants, activities, attractions and shopping. They bought all kinds of everyday items as well as things they could have purchased in China. For instance, the man said he bought a pair of Adidas for only $25 at an outlet mall. In China they would have cost a great deal more. He also bought t-shirts and a laptop.
Get your brain working on this. Think about your own small business economy. How could you attract a vacationer from another country with any of your products or services? Could you expand what you have to include something to offer them?
From services to attractions to sundry items and casual purchases, the traveler already has his or her wallets open. How can you entice them to spend with you?
Marketing is all about creating a message that your target market relates to and gets them to takes action. How can you be ahead of the curve on this deal?
“Those shifting dynamics have spawned a movement to encourage foreigners to spend their newfound wealth in the United States, placing the country in the unfamiliar role of supplicant.” Get familiar with this. Your small business economy depends on being flexible and taking advantage of opportunity.
Further this article reports, “This year, [foreigner] spending is up 13 percent compared with last year, to nearly $87 billion.”
Watching trends helps you find the low hanging fruit and move your small business economy deeper into the black.
How could you capitalize on this idea?
What trends are you watching to improve your own small business economy?