Small Business Tips

October 2016 Archive
Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees

Have you ever been to a business meeting that, though the intention was to come up with great ideas for the progression of the business, turned out to be a total flop? Attendees were bored, few ideas were shared, and everyone left the meeting feeling like it was a waste of time? Obviously, such events are a very little benefit to the development of your business, and there are few ways you can remedy that . . .

Meeting Time Equals Play Time
In other words, make the meeting fun. Don’t let everyone go wild of course. It needs to be organized play time, so to speak. For example, start things off with a game. As a suggestion, I read how one business owner asked his employees to write down something no one else knew about them prior to the meeting. When the meeting started, he passed out the responses and the employees had to guess who belonged to each, providing a little fun and humor to get things moving. Another employer brings tinker toys and tangram puzzles to get cognitive juices flowing. Not only do such ideas make the meeting more enjoyable, but they help your employees to relax and be more comfortable around each other and you.

Continue Reading: “Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?
Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration
Inner City Kids Learn About Entrepreneurship
Inspire Your Employees
Consider This When Hiring an Intern

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 31st, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations, Ownership |

A Market in Part-Time Ownership

In the U.K. the concept has become a normal way of life, and though it hasn’t wholly caught on here in the states, part-time ownership is slowly creeping into the market. What exactly am I referring to when I mention “part-time ownership?” Well, here are some examples of businesses that have tapped into the industry:

Flexcar provides a range of membership packages to people who only have need of a vehicle part-time. Members designate when they need a vehicle parked locally and, instead of paying $500-$800 a month to lease a vehicle they hardly use, they pay an average of $100-$200 a month to only use a car when they need one. The business initially targeted residential markets, such as Seattle, where many people walk to most outings anyway. But Flexcar soon discovered that there was a need among members of corporate world, as well as those who couldn’t afford to purchase a car of their own. Not to mention the environmentally friendly benefits of the business, by reducing gas emissions.

Continue Reading: “A Market in Part-Time Ownership”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Which Business Entity is Right for You? (Part 3)
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 1)
Universities Should Provide More Entrepreneurial Studies
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)
The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses (Part 1)

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 30th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ventures |

Getting Others On Board With Your Vision

As I have discussed a number of times through the past couple of months, we all have visions, and the businesses we start often stem from those dreams for the future. Many visions require the support of others, especially financial investors, in order to press forward toward the goal. Because your vision is yours alone, you have to convince others of the value it has.

Here’s how you can start on the right track to getting investors and other support to come along for the ride:

Have a Passion
The vision you have must be something you’re passionate about. If you don’t have a full-fledged passion for it, it will be difficult to convince others that the investment of their time and finances will be worth while in the end. However, when you are passionate about your vision, and intend to pursue it even if you have to go it alone, people will recognize that and it will be easier for them to begin to see the value of your goal.

Find Allies
When looking for support (whether financial or otherwise), it is best to first seek out those that don’t need much convincing anyway. You will know the people in your immediate of friends and family who would be most likely to share your vision. But you will also need to take that a step further and reach out to other companies and organizations that would likely take little convincing. For example, if you want to start a specialty school for children with disabilities, do your research and find organizations that have already contributed to similar causes.

Continue Reading: “Getting Others On Board With Your Vision”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Tips for Gaining and Impressing Potential Investors
You Cant Replace Face Time
Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?
Seeking a Dream
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 29th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Startup |

Inner City Kids Learn About Entrepreneurship

High school drop-out rates continue to increase across our nation. According to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, nearly one in every three high school students in the class of 2006 did not graduate. Many of those drop outs come from minority groups in inner city schools, where poverty and crime are part of the life they know.

But the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit organization out of New York, is doing what they can to change that. Though NFTE has been around for awhile (Steve Mariotti started working on the project in 1982), the benefits of the program continue to positively affect the lives of many kids across the nation.

Continue Reading: “Inner City Kids Learn About Entrepreneurship”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Universities Should Provide More Entrepreneurial Studies
The Cheapest Gas Prices in the Nation
Top Entrepreneurial Schools
Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom
Implementing a Wellness Program

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 28th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ventures |

The 411 on Schmoozing

Guy KawasakiGuy Kawasaki, the managing director of a venture capital firm, columnist with Entrepreneur Magazine and author of eight motivation books regarding business, says that schmoozing potential clients and investors is the best way to establish a business relationship. In his latest column, Get in Good, he provides the following tips for being a successful schmooze:

What’s the Point?
The ultimate goal of being a good schmooze is to do something for someone else. Granted, you probably have ulterior motives at play, but try not to let that be your entire focus. It should predominately be about helping others, so don’t be afraid to offer favors to your new business associates, and don’t expect anything in return. This, of course, is something I feel should be our goal in every aspect of our lives, not just in making new business acquaintances.

Go Public
Kawasaki believes that the best way to get in the door is to meet people in public at conventions, trade shows, seminars, networking events, etc. I agree that this is the best way to meet people and initially establish the business relationship. I do not agree with his statement that you can’t do so over e-mail or the telephone.

Continue Reading: “The 411 on Schmoozing”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Picking the Right Business Partner
How Accessible are You?
Saving Time on the Telephone
You Cant Replace Face Time
Stop Sitting on the Sidelines

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 27th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Networking |

Transitions are Like Remodeling

I heard something the other day that really got me to thinking: difficult transitions in any part of life are like remodeling your home. Let me explain. . .

Inconvenience
Remodeling your home is no picnic, especially if you are doing extensive work, like adding on a room or redoing the kitchen (very popular choices). There is the inevitable issue of dust all over every inch of the house – dust you can’t get rid of until the job is done no matter how many times you vacuum and wipe the place down. Not to mention having to navigate through tools, furniture stocked piled in one room to get it out of the way of the work being done, hired help (if you’re not doing it by yourself). A down right pain.

Difficult transitions in life are an inconvenience as well. Take, for example, moving to a new town, which includes searching for a new place to live, selling the house you’re currently in, packing and unpacking, finding a new job, on and on. Or, what about transitioning your business from a one man operation out of your home to a five person operation located downtown. There’s nothing convenient about that either.

Continue Reading: “Transitions are Like Remodeling”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Moving from a Home Office to a Commercial Space
The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses (Part 1)
Mompreneurs: Balancing Work and Motherhood
Strengthen Your Memory
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 3)

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

Saving Time on the Telephone

Many of us find that there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything would like to done. Any shortcut can help to make the minutes of the day go by more smoothly. Something that can often take up a lot of your time in any business are telephone calls. But, they must be made and time must be spent.

Here are few tips for saving some time on those necessary calls, and maybe freeing up time for other things:

Map It Out
When important calls need to be made to clients or investors, make an outline of everything you need to discuss before making the call. Draw up the points you want to bring up, including possible questions from the other end of the phone and your responses. Also, when the call is connected, let the client know why your calling – give them a run down of what to expect from the call. If he/she knows that you have an agenda in mind, that might help to keep them from making small talk or changing the subject.

Continue Reading: “Saving Time on the Telephone”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How Accessible are You?
The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses (Part 2)
Telephone Etiquette Tips – Handling Client Calls
Connections Trump Contacts
How Department Divisions Can Hurt Customer Relations

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Customer Service, Operations |

The Business of Dating While Owning a Business

You are a young and successful business owner. You already have many of the things you set you mind to accomplishing – a steady and lucrative income, success at a dream . . . there’s just one important thing still missing – a successful relationship in your personal life. But who has time to make that happen?

Granted, I can’t say that I understand completely where someone in that position may be coming from, since I started pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams after establishing my family. But many entrepreneurs start pursuing their business dreams so young (early twenties), that, by the time they feel comfortable with the path their business is on, they realize that they are still somewhat alone while many of those around them have gotten married and started families.

In all seriousness though, if having a family is something that is important to the future you see for yourself, the task at this point can seem arduous. Especially if your successful business takes up nearly every waking hour of your day. You may get noticed, after all you’re successful and easy on the eyes, but rarely do the dates turn into relationships.

If you’re at a point in life where you are ready to find a balance between running your business and finding that right person, here are some tips to get you on your way:

Continue Reading: “The Business of Dating While Owning a Business”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Picking the Right Business Partner
Flexibility is What Working Parents Desire
Mompreneurs: Balancing Work and Motherhood
What Employees Want from You
It’s all in the Family: How to Setup a Family Business

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 24th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Advertising Your Product on Stage

These days we’ve grown accustom to product placement in the movie theater. What used to be flashes of popcorn and fountain drinks as subliminal messages in the days of old has become an obvious flaunting of a Pepsi trucks driving down the highway next to the movie’s hero, who happens to be in the latest convertible to be released by Mercedes.

Product placement is expanding its borders. No longer something just for the movies, many companies are landing product placements on the stage as well. Broadway musicals are now incorporating products such as Red Bull energy drink and UPS express delivery in Stewart Lane’s latest hit, Legally Blonde.

Think having a product placed on the Broadway stage is way out of your league? Never fear, the theatrical product placement movement is really beginning to sweep the nation and many small local theaters are adopting the idea to help raise money in order to support their productions.

Continue Reading: “Advertising Your Product on Stage”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Ideas to Generate Business on Valentine’s Day
Getting Your Product to the National Market
Common Advertising Mistakes
10 Interactive Marketing Tips
Why Your Business Isn’t Growing

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?

Yesterday I discussed hiring an advertising agency for your business. Today, however, I’m going to touch on when it might be time to fire your current ad agency and hire a new one. If you’re considering this possibility, first you will need to accept the fact that every business relationship hits rough places in the road to success. These are things you need to work through, and to determine if that is even worth doing, there is one all important question:

Is my advertising agency still challenging me/my business?

An ad agency that agrees with everything you say and doesn’t seem to develop their own ideas is not presenting a challenge, nor do they have your business in their best interest. Challenge involves risk. As a business owner, you know that you cannot be successful at anything without taking some risks to get there. A good ad agency will be willing to disagree with your ideas (in a professional manner, of course) and will present ideas that challenge your way of thinking.

Continue Reading: “Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business
Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees
Getting Others On Board With Your Vision
Consider This When Hiring an Intern
Should You File a Patent on that Great Idea?

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business

It’s not something that every small business can afford, but those who can should give an advertising agency a chance. However, you may feel overwhelmed by the process of hiring an ad agency to market your product/service, because it’s not a eni-meni-mini-mo type of decision.

Here are some tips for finding the right ad agency for your business:

Avoid Putting Limitations on Prospects

Don’t restrict your search to agencies who are only in your area. Then you’re limiting the possibility of finding the right ad agency for you. Many agencies are more than willing to communicate over long distances, and with today’s available technology, not everything will have to be done in a person-to-person meeting. Overnight mailings, telephones, meetings over broadband… there are a number of options available for getting the job done just as well as if your businesses were neighbors.

Continue Reading: “Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?
Debt Collection Strategies that Work (2 of 2)
How to Find Good Employees
An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients
Transitions are Like Remodeling

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 21st, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Operations |

But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)

Every day we make thousands of decisions. What to wear, what to eat, when to leave, where to go, what to do first, which pen to use. . . the list goes on and on. Imagine, however, making any decision without exploring your options. Life would, first, be pretty boring if wore the same one shirt and one pair of pants every single day (what woman could survive?). And, when it comes to the more important things, it’s likely that life would be riddled with a few missteps.

Exploring your options is an important part of every decision we make. And especially when it comes to the big ones, such as how to run a business. This may seem like common sense to many of you. I know that I am an “option explorer.” I trek through the forest of who has the best price, climb the mountains of who will provide what I need, and wade the waters of what would have the best result.

Continue Reading: “But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Which Business Entity is Right for You? (Part 4)
Business Instincts vs Data
Telephone Etiquette Tips – Handling Client Calls
Finding the Right Franchise for You
Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients

You have a potential client that you know would be a great time investment for your business, but, no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to win them over. I’ve come across an interesting suggestion that just might work. However, this strategy works best for businesses in the service industry.

First, let’s take into consideration that most potential clients who are hunting for someone to provide them with a service have probably already been disappointed by another provider. They’re looking because they need someone who can meet their expectations and get the job done to their own standards. And, once they’ve been disappointed, proving that you’re the business they can count on can be a doozy of a task.

So, here’s the challenge: find out what the one issue they can’t seem to get solved is and offer to work at a resolution for them. That’s right, take on their number one frustration, the question that stumped the rest of them, see if you can’t find a way to make it happen.

Continue Reading: “An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Tips for Dealing with Calls from Upset Clients
Fire Bad Clients to Increase Profits
Getting Others On Board With Your Vision
Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8
Connections Trump Contacts

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Advertising Quality in Your Product

The number one rule for advertising quality in your product or service is to not use the word “quality.” Because this word is overused by the general business public, consumers ignore it. In fact, using the word “quality” can often invoke suspicion, much like when a business uses the phrase “you can trust me.”

Here are some tips for effectively conveying quality to potential customers:

Alternative Descriptions
The word “quality” in general is a limiting term, despite the negative connotations that it’s overuse has produced. It’s hard to do (I just caught myself using the term in my own advertising for my photography services), but instead you should go with alternatives like these:

premium, unparalleled, superior, impeccable, exceptional, unmatched, excellence, distinguished

Continue Reading: “Advertising Quality in Your Product”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
The Importance of Branding
Establishing Your Brand
What’s in a Domain Name?
Advertising Your Product on Stage
Marketing Strategies for Halloween

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

How to Buy Back the Business You Sold

There are many entrepreneurs out there who move on, selling the business they created from nothing to a larger company. The sale happens for any number of reasons: the owner just couldn’t make ends meet but there was a market for the product, the owner was ready to move on to something else, or the company had reached a plateau that only a larger company could overcome.

Often these entrepreneurs have a change of heart and want to buy their business back. Many times this is because they just can’t let go and are disappointed in the way the new owners are handling things. On the other hand, the new owners may not be as pleased with their purchase as they anticipated and may even offer to sell the business back. Regardless of the reason, an entrepreneur looking to buy back his previously owned business shouldn’t dive right back in without doing a little leg work first.

Continue Reading: “How to Buy Back the Business You Sold”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How and When You Should Pay Yourself
How You Know It’s Time to Grow
Revitalize Your Stagnant Business
Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business
Moving from a Home Office to a Commercial Space

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 17th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

When to Consider Bankruptcy as an Option

Truth is, most of us don’t want to EVER consider bankruptcy as an option to get out of debt looming over our heads, especially when it comes to our goal for a successful business. Filing bankruptcy, in the eyes of most, is like admitting defeat at our dreams, and no one wants to do that.

Unfortunately, however, there are often circumstances beyond our control, such as unexpected medical problems, which force us into a financial corner that, no matter how we try, we just can’t seem to get out of. If you’re in that corner, and haven’t consider bankruptcy as an option yet, maybe you should.

Consider the following to determine whether bankruptcy may be your only way out:

Map Out a Payment Timeline
Determine your personal average monthly income, and list your personal expenses (such as groceries, mortgage, etc.). Next, list your businesses monthly income and business expenses (utilities, supplies, payroll, etc.). Determine what you have left each month after expenses. No, list your debts, including monthly interest, and find a total.

Continue Reading: “When to Consider Bankruptcy as an Option”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Funding Options for Small Business
Personal Savings in Decline
Which Business Entity is Right for You? (Part 1)
Avoiding Cash Flow Mistakes
Pulling Your Teen Out of the Financial Hole

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Business Law, Money |