Small Business Tips

August 2017 Archive
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”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 31st, 2017 @ 12:03 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?”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 30th, 2017 @ 12:00 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”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 @ 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)”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 28th, 2017 @ 12:06 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”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 27th, 2017 @ 12:04 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”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 26th, 2017 @ 12:01 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”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 25th, 2017 @ 12:09 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”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 24th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law, Money |

Getting Your Invention on the Market

You’ve brainstormed for uncountable hours. You’ve killed a dozen trees working through designs and specs. And you’re in the process of registering patent. Now you need to sell this new invention of yours, but how?

The Patent
First of all, don’t go for a full-fledged patent of your invention just yet, because, though you think it’s the greatest invention known to this generation, there may not be a market for it. Have you ever watched ABC’s American Inventor? Did you notice how many people thought the world of their inventions and spent gobs of money “perfecting” them, but were completely wrong about the consumer’s actual need for that product.

Instead of getting a patent right off, and spending quite a bit of money to do it, take the safe route and get a provisional application patent (which is approximately $100). This protects your invention from being swiped by someone else with a “patent pending” status (ever heard that phrase on a commercial?) for a period of one year. Before that 12 month period is expended, however, you must file for a full patent of your product.

Continue Reading: “Getting Your Invention on the Market”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Startup, Technology, Ventures |

What’s in a Domain Name?

One of the foremost aspects of starting a business is deciding on the name. You want something memorable, but also something that embodies the services you provide as well as the ethics you stand for.

However, what makes the process even more difficult these days is the difficulty in finding a domain name for your company’s website. And choices are becoming limited, especially when it comes to the .com domains. There are more than 71 million .com domains out there, which is nearly three times the combined total of the other domains, .net, .info, .biz and .us.

Nearly every single word in the english language is already spoken for as a domain name, and many of the obvious phrases associated with those word. This causes a bit of a problem for new businesses, as most want a domain name directly associated with their company name or the service they provide.

Because having a website is so important to the success of a new business, some are even revamping their business name in order to find a domain name that fits. The new hit these days is four-letter business names, which mean the same four-letter domain names. Take, for example, Bebo (a social-networking site), Etsy (an online crafts store), Lala, Lulu, Ning or Zing. Still yet, many businesses are choosing four-letter domain names which aren’t words at all, but simply acronyms for the business.

What’s the appeal of a four-letter domain name? Many say the like the idea that their site is easy for customers to remember. It means less of a chance the customer will spell the website wrong when attempting to access it, as well as faster access to the site (four letters is a lot quicker to type than 15).

I think it all comes down to the fact that, what’s in your domain name should be secondary to your actual business name. That’s more important. And people who are actually interested in you are more interested in the quality of the services your provide, not whether your website domain name is easier to remember. If they want your services or product, they will access your website regardless of the name.


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Startup, Technology |

What Successful People Do – Part 2

Last week I began summarizing the 9 qualities successful people portray, according to Dr. Henry Cloud’s book 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Success in Love and Life. Today we will be concluding this topic with qualities 6-9.

Successful people . . .

6. Use Their Anger
Many people bottle up anger and dwell on how someone did them wrong. They allow it to fester and infiltrate their attitude in a negative way. Successful people, however, know how to use their anger and disappointment and make something with it. They don’t hate the person, but, rather, hate the act of dishonesty, deception, etc.

Take, for example, the recent Bad Customer Service Experience that I vented about. I used my anger as a means for learning what quality customer service is, and shared that with the blog readers in order to assist them in establishing that quality in their own businesses. Rather than dwell on it (though, mind you, I did write a letter to the owner of the restaurant), I did something with it.

Continue Reading: “What Successful People Do – Part 2”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 21st, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation |

What Successful People Do – Part 1

Successful people have a lot in common. It’s usually not their background (poverty or riches), where they came from (LA or middle-of-nowhere Kansas) and what they’ve been through (lavishly spoiled or battered and bruised). It’s usually not how they were raised or who they rely on. It all comes down to the choices they make.

According to Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, successful people exude similar qualities that make them a success. Today we will touch on qualities 1-5.

Successful people . . .

1. Pursue Their Dreams
I’ve touched on this topic before in Seeking a Dream and Focus on Your Strengths. Successful people know what they’re good at and that’s where they place their energy. They have dreams and find ways to pursue them vigorously.

Continue Reading: “What Successful People Do – Part 1”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 20th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation |

Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration

United States Patent and Trademark OfficeThe House endorsed a bill last week that would mark “the most significant changes in patent law in more than 50 years.” The last major change to patent law was in 1952. Supporters of the renovations include consumer groups, major high-tech companies, financial associations and farm groups.

The most significant change is duplicating the patent process already established in many overseas countries, such as Europe and Japan, of “first to file” as the patent holder. Currently, the U.S. is the only major industrialized country in the world that still holds a “first to invent” policy.

Of course, these changes would need extra protect from fraudulent inventors who file a patent but have yet to invent the actual product, while someone else has invented the product but was second to file the patent.

Continue Reading: “Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 @ 12:10 AM CDT

Business Law |

Hard to Find Employees

It’s getting harder and harder to find good help these days. And there are many factors contributing to the problem that you, as a business owner, need to be aware of.

First of all, there is an increased number of young people seeking jobs that require more brain skill than brawn skill, which is making an increased shortage of employees for the manufacturing industry. Mechanics, engineers, freight and delivery truck drivers, machine operators and construction workers are some of the hardest positions to fill.

Another issue is a lack of adequate compensation for the demanding job. Teachers, for example, on a national average really get gypped when it comes to their annual salary and benefits. Though many seek a teaching career for the joy of the work, rather than the pay, there is also a lack of valuable, qualified teachers all over the nation because many just can’t afford such limited pay to support their own families, no matter how much they love to teach.

Continue Reading: “Hard to Find Employees”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 18th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |

How and When You Should Pay Yourself

As a business owner, there are many things you have to worry about. Bills, supplies, meeting customer demand, hiring employees you can count on, choosing the right price for your product… the list goes on and on. One thing that may seem to be moved to the back burner in the midst of all of these concerns is yourself, more specifically, the personal funds you get out of the company.

So, how and when do you pay yourself for all of your hard work? Let’s first focus on the when.

When
To make things easier on your company’s budget, it’s best to pay yourself when you pay your employees. For example, if you pay your employees bi-monthly, then you should be paid on the 15th and 30th as well. This makes for easier accounting for the business, and leaves no doubt as to what you can expect.

Continue Reading: “How and When You Should Pay Yourself”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 17th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

Strengthen Your Voice

Speaking EffectivelyWords aren’t the only thing that make a good impression with clients, investors and partners. How you sound, the power of your voice, also says a lot.

So how do you refrain from cracking your voice in nervousness or melodically putting people to sleep? Here are some tips from Douglas Anderson of Entrepreneur.com:

Practice Breathing
That’s right, you need to practice the one thing that comes completely naturally. The best way to go about it is to practice your speech, greeting, sales pitch, etc. in front of the mirror and watch how your shoulders react. Do they rise and fall when you breath in and out? If so, work on that and try and get your body to react to breath through your abdomen/waist, not your upper torso. When your shoulders move while you talk, it portrays nervousness and a lack of confidence.

Sit/Stand Up Straight
How many times did you mother tell you that growing up? Well, it wasn’t to torment you, it was to help you look presentable, and you should thank her. Additionally, sitting or standing up straight when you’re on the phone, even when the other person can’t see you, makes a world of difference in the way you sound. Good posture doesn’t only portray professionalism, but it allows you to breath more freely, making it easier for you to talk with more power and clarity.

Continue Reading: “Strengthen Your Voice”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Motivation, Networking |

Leaders Can’t Do It Alone

The term leader is defined as “a guiding or directing head,” which indicates that, as a leader, you must have people to guide and direct. Leaders can’t be leaders without followers.

In other words, you can’t be a leader if you’re not bringing people along for the ride with you. Whoever coined the phrase “it’s lonely at the top,” was not a true leader. There should be no loneliness if you are leading correctly.

As John Maxwell explains it in his Leadership Wired e-newsletter article titled Rising with Your People, a leader is either like a travel agent or a tour guide. Travel agents make your travel arrangements, hand you brochures and even help you plan your daily activities for your vacation; all to a place the have, more than likely, never been. Tour guides take you along with them, show you the sites they’ve already seen, know the best places to eat, sleep and have a good time, etc. True leaders should be like tour guides.

Continue Reading: “Leaders Can’t Do It Alone”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation |