Small Business Tips

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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo

The idea was simple and logical. If an individual searches for golf clubs on the internet, it only makes sense that vendors selling golf clubs should advertise on a search engine to bring in more customers.

The recent demand for search advertising has produced serious competition between the two main internet search engines, Google and Yahoo.

Currently, search advertising is an $8 billion global industry, and its worth is expected to sky-rocket to nearly $22 billion in the next five years. No wonder the two major search engines are both still going strong. Both Google’s AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) offer search advertising by allowing advertisers to bid on space identified with keywords and adjacent to search results. The key to the development of their head-to-head lies within the differences in their network connections and business philosophies.

When Yahoo’s top executive, Terry Semel, joined the company four years ago, he brought with him a long list of Hollywood contacts, and Yahoo has recently starting building a headquarters in Hollywood. Semel is a no-nonsense businessman and doesn’t play around, implementing tough discipline in management into the company. Yahoo is beginning to lean more toward being a media company, rather than an innovator of technology. Their focus has, therefore, shifted to traditional, handholding partnerships with ad agencies.

Google, on the other hand, focuses on the individual potential of their staff. They depend on their engineers to come up with innovative ideas for the company, and therefore expect them to spend one day a week on a special interest project of their own. Google has some of the top engineers in the country under its belt, and continues to attract them. Their focus is technology and innovation, and the Google executives are well aware of the fact that they must remain innovative to stay on top.

Recently, as most know, Google acquired YouTube in an effort to expand its advertising market to video advertising. Now Google again expanding its borders and upping the ante. They are currently in the test phase of an online marketplace that will allow advertisers to bid on print-ad space in more than 50 major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times and Denver Post, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune.

And Google’s leaps forward are beginning to leave Yahoo in the dust. Though Yahoo had maintained an edge for some time, a Web tracking firm recently showed Google forging ahead of Yahoo as the number one search engine. Google’s stocks are currently only ten percent below their all-time high, while Yahoo’s stocks have plummeted nearly 40 percent this year.

Advertising agencies tend to lean toward Google based on the fact that Yahoo has a tendency to be a late-bloomer when it comes to innovations, such as blogs and video. For example, Yahoo’s much anticipated new search technology for advertisers, dubbed “Panama,” was due to take flight this summer, but has already been delayed with an unspecified release date.

Critics expect Google to eventually hit a rough spot as their innovations begin to dwindle. However, considering recent and upcoming developments in Google’s advertising industry, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon. If you’re seeking search advertising as a marketing option for your company, it appears that Google is currently the way to go.

What’s your experience with Google and Yahoo search advertising? Please share your experiences and comparisons.

Sources/Related Readings:
•News.com: Google vs. Yahoo: Clash of Cultures
•CNNMoney.com: Yawns for Yahoo, ga-ga for Google
•Business Week: Google’s New Frontier: Print Ads
• Forbes.com: Google vs. Yahoo!


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, December 15th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Operations |

Mompreneurs: Balancing Work and Motherhood

We are society of hard-workers, and moms are no exception. Unfortunately, because of a woman’s innate longing to care for her family, the combination of motherhood and work often produces a ting of guilt. Though every situation requires different solutions, here are some tips for helping to balance your job and your family.

Explore Your Options
There are a number of possibilities when it comes to working when you have children that you may not have even considered. If applicable, take time to talk with your spouse and consider the following:

• Can you revamp your work schedule by changing the hours or how many hours you work?

• Can you do part or all of your work from home? Is there another job opportunity that will allow you to work from home, or could you start your own in-home business?

• Look at your family budget — is there any way you can cut back on work during the first couple of years of your child’s life?

Become Forever Organized
Once you’ve determined that you are going to work, in whatever way that may be, it is very important that you get organized and stay that way. If you work at home, organize your work environment. Working at home does not allow for time to search through stacks of paperwork to find a specific receipt or to fumble through a desk of debris to find a pen. You can use all the time you can spare.

Get organized, such as using a filing cabinet, so that everything is easy and sufficient. And always be sure to childproof your home work space if you have little ones. Consider designing a play area in your office so that you can spend time with your children without crayon marks ending up on your papers.

You should also organize your schedule. Your time with work and family must be balanced; otherwise one or the other will be left wanting. If you work from home, you must first realize that you will usually not be able to keep normal business hours. Map out your time with a pocket calendar or blackberry that has both your personal and work appointments on it.

Make a list of your goals, both for work and family, for each month. Then, break your list down by weeks and then by days. Be committed to getting the things on your list done, tackling them one day at a time. This will allow for daily accomplishments that will aid in keeping your moral up. Also, consider scheduling a day, weekly or bi-weekly, in which you only spend time with your family. Work will always be there tomorrow, but each stage of your child’s life is short. Take a little time away from work to enjoy those precious moments.

Cut Yourself Some Slack
Don’t expect too much of yourself when it comes to having a spotless house and a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Your priorities are your family and then your work. Though you want to avoid becoming a slob, housework can usually wait until tomorrow. Don’t wear yourself ragged trying to get everything done at once. In order to relieve a bit of stress, consider doing the little things in the evening before bed, such as getting out the kids clothes for the next day or getting the coffee pot ready. You’ll be glad your morning is a bit less chaotic when that alarm goes off.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help, because, as we all know, that’s what family is all about. Sit down with your spouse, and even your kids (providing they’re old enough), and figure out a logical way for everyone to share the load. Determine what household chores could be done by other members of the family to give you a bit of a break.

Take Care of You
Be sure not to forget about yourself and your personal needs. Taking care of yourself is crucial because, if you’re not happy and healthy, then that reflects negatively upon your family and your work. Guard your mental and physical health by using your calendar to schedule “me time.” You may have to get up before everyone else to get in a little work-out and a bubble bath, but if that’s what it takes, it’s completely worth it.

Consider having an evening out with the girls once a month while dad stays home with the kids. There are lots of possibilities, and you must implement something for the well-being of you and your family.

These four steps are only the beginning. Keep in mind that balance isn’t always something that you necessarily obtain, but it should always be something that you are striving toward. And you’ve found a good place to start.

So how do you make it work? Share you thoughts.

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: 10 Tips for Balancing Work and Motherhood
• FindArticles.com: The Working Mother’s Dilemma

Resources for Working Moms:
Working Mother Magazine
WorkingMom.com
Working Mom’s Refuge


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, December 14th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Ownership |

Becoming a Government Contractor

A certain percentage of government contracts must go to small businesses as a means of providing aid for those businesses to build a stronger foundation. Any small business owner with the capabilities would willingly jump at this opportunity. After all, obtaining a government contract means an outrageous opportunity for your business to grow in exponential ways. But before you dive into the deep end of the ocean, it’s important to know what you’re in for.

Feel the Power
First and foremost, don’t underestimate the power that you are dealing with when working for the government. If you do something they don’t like, they are capable of exhausting all resources to get you to pay for it, most of which you will not be able to fend off. Your intentions should be of strict honesty and reliability — as a goverment contractor, you will likely be audited on a regular basis.

Know the Rules
The rules of government contracting are lined out in the 1,000 plus pages of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), which were created through decades of the government’s experience with contractors to counter every viable scandal or corruption that any business can throw at them. Intimidating? Well, that’s the idea.

You won’t be expected to memorize the FAR, but you should familiarize yourself with it. Specifically, you need to know Part 12, which relieves contractors and subcontractors who provide “commercial items,” or products rather than services, from many of the federal contract requirements (and paperwork). You need to know whether or not this section applies to you, and, if it does, you will probably need to occasionally remind the people you deal with once you’ve obtained a contract.

Register
In order to do anything with the government, you will first need to register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). There are also more opportunities available to your business if you are of the minority, such as woman owned. If that is the case, you should also consider becoming certified as part of organizations such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) or the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

Also be aware of the fact that, in order to apply for a contract with the government, you will need to supply your D-U-N-S number, which, if you do not have one, can be obtained at Duns & Bradstreet. Also, on your application for a contract you will have to classify the products/service you provide with a classification number. You can determine what that number is by accessing the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Past Performance
The government relies on references, or past performance in the government industry, as a basis for narrowing down their contractor options. This makes it rather difficult to obtain a first time contract. You may want to consider starting as a subcontractor, working for another company that has already obtained the prime government contract. There are established Mentor Protégé programs that are worth looking into, in which a large business helps a small business get started in government contracting. Another option is partnering with another company to combine the services you provide, thus strengthening your resume.

Research
You will then need to find out what the government is looking for. There are many sources for this information, some of which have been listed below for your convenience. Also, consider state and local governments as an alternative to the federal government directly, especially if you are just getting started. Cities, counties, districts, etc. often contract more goods and services than the federal government, opening up more opportunities for your business.

Once you have determined what contracts you will bid on, research the industry. Look into your competitors so that you have a better idea of what you can offer the government that they can’t. Also, research the government agency that you are applying with. The more knowledgeable you are about the agency, the better your company will look to them.

Please be aware of the fact that this is only a simplification of the process ahead of you in pursuing a government contract. There is a lot of information out there, some of which I have supplied below, which you should look into before pressing on. It’s a highly complicated and long process, so the more you know beforehand, the better.

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: Think Big
• Entrepreneur.com: Become a Government Contractor
• CapturePlanning.com: How to Become a Government Contractor
• Washington Business Journal: So You Want to Be a Government Contractor

Government Contractor Resources:
• Small Business Administration: Government Contracting
• U.S. General Services Administration: How to Sell to the Government
Federal Business Opportunities


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, December 13th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Startup |