Small Business Tips

August 2018 Archive
Seeking a Dream

We’ve all been there at some point in our life… flipping burgers, bagging groceries, bank teller, babysitting. Not that there is anything wrong with these jobs. Let’s face it, if people didn’t do them, then life would be much more of an inconvenience. And, though there are some that enjoy working the drive-thru at the fast food joint, many of us accept these jobs as a means of getting by, whether it be working through school or even because we have no other options and must simply earn a paycheck.

But, deep down inside, we all have a dream to do and be something else. Many of us want to work for ourselves. The ambition to be an entrepreneur is usually in the back of everyone’s mind. And though the numbers of entrepreneurs out there continue to grow, it is far too often that people have dreams and do nothing to pursue them.

You have a couple of options. The first is that you can be one of those people who has a dream his entire life, but never makes anything of it outside of an occasional hobby. Such people typically claim that life has thrown so many obstacles at them that it would be impossible to pursue their dream. And they are full of excuses, such as not having the means to get started.

Continue Reading: “Seeking a Dream”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Successful People Do – Part 1
Focus on Your Strengths
The Business of Dating While Owning a Business
Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom
The 411 on Schmoozing

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 31st, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Startup |

Expanding Your Business Overseas: Why and Why Not?

At some point in the self-owned business timeline, an entrepreneur will inevitably face the question of whether or not to jump in the deep end and go global. Some entrepreneurs, like myself and the photography business I started, don’t necessarily have the means or desire. I want to stick with my local market. Others, however, especially businesses who provide a tangible product rather than a service, could easily stretch their boundaries beyond the shining seas.

Why Not?
To some these may be excuses, to others, legitimate reasons to evade a risky venture:

• Language barriers.
• You may be unfamiliar with cultural practices and etiquette.
• You may be unfamiliar with local law and politics.
• Limitations of foreign labor laws.
• Time consuming and complex.
• Difficult to find a partner you can trust.

Why?
A list of reasons to overlook the risks in order to help your business grow:

• 95% of the worlds’ consumers reside outside the U.S. (according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative) – those are all potential new customers!
• Possible untapped market.
• Because if you don’t, your competition will.
• You don’t have to actually move overseas to do business there – the internet is your gateway to expansion.
• The risk, reward and challenge are appealing.

Whatever side you teeter toward, remember that going global doesn’t have to be a “right now” sort of thing. It’s always a possibility that you should consider, simply because you’re a business owner. If you are considering such an expansion, then there is a lot of work to be done before you begin. Be sure to check back the rest of the week as we continue discussing Expanding Your Business Overseas.

Pt. 2: Labor Laws
Pt. 3: Protecting Your Product
Pt. 4: Money and Taxes

Source:
• Inc.com: Gone Global (Inc. Magazine April 2007 cover story)


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Protecting Your Product
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Money and Taxes
How You Know It’s Time to Grow
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 30th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Operations |

Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing

Among the ever popular forms of marketing such as TV and radio ads, billboards, fliers and business cards, e-mail is another popular way to stay connected with current and future consumers. But how do you establish an e-mail list that won’t “spam” your incoming messages? And how do you keep people on that list?

List Sign-up
The best way to establish and keep a successful e-mail marketing list is to offer a list sign-up on your website and other marketing materials. That way, people who are interested in your product and special offers, and who want to hear about them, will be the recipients of your e-mails, which will help to keep them from being marked spam.

Continue Reading: “Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Defeating Spam and Phishing
How Accessible are You?
Direct Mail Marketing Tips (1 of 2)
Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research
Marketing Your Website

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Technology |

How to Fire an Employee

In the words of Donald Trump, “You’re Fired!” As a small business owner with employees there may come a time when you have to terminate someone’s income stream. It’s that dreaded day that some of us hope will never come.

If and when the firing time comes, be prepared by following these 9 steps:

1) Check your past feedback.
What are your relations with this employee? If on decent terms don’t fire immediately, rather, give them time for change under a new way of doing things to your standards.

2) Give them a warning.
Give the employee an ultimatum to change, else risk loosing their job. 30 days is a fair time span for change.

3) Focus on specific behavior goals.
What do you want them to change about their performance? Be prepared for your meeting with the worker to discuss the issues and ways to fix them.

Continue Reading: “How to Fire an Employee”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Independent Contractors
Inspire Your Employees
New EEOC Guidelines Expand Employee Protection
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Revitalize Your Stagnant Business

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Revitalize Your Stagnant Business

When you first started your business, the excitement was raw and tangible. With every step forward everything in you wanted to jump for joy, though you contained yourself (most of the time). Your dream was becoming reality. Your business was seeing success. Life was just plain good.

Fast forward a few years. Same dream, same business, but with a different feel. You’re still making money and still a success, but the excitement is all but gone. So, what’s the deal?

When a business is in its first years, you are establishing a structure. The problem is, once that structure is established, everyone thinks that it shouldn’t change — to stick with what you know (because that’s the easiest way). It becomes a comfort zone and no one wants to depart from a comfortable location. Besides, very few people deal well with change.

Continue Reading: “Revitalize Your Stagnant Business”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Seeking a Dream
How to Buy Back the Business You Sold
When You Feel Like Quitting…
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 27th, 2018 @ 12:13 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

Sign Spinners Turning Heads

I first saw them on the Ellen show this summer – her picnic in the park special. She used sign spinners to introduce each guest. And, frankly, I thought they were pretty cool.

Apparently, so do a lot of other people, as the sign spinning industry is growing at a rapid pace. Still not sure what a sign spinner is? Well, basically they are folks who carry signs around, shaped like arrows, advertising local businesses. But they don’t just wear the sign, sandwiched between two billboards hanging from their necks. Instead, they dance, spin, toss the signs… all to get the attention of passers-by (Still curious? You can see some in action on YouTube).

Continue Reading: “Sign Spinners Turning Heads”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing
New Advertisement Placement Ideas
Top Movies About Entrepreneurs
Startup Myths Keep Entrepreneurs Motivated
The Warning Signs of a Doomed Partnership

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 26th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Ventures |

Finding a Good Accountant

Ah, it’s that time of year again. Time to start worrying about getting your taxes filed. And if you own a business, taxes can be a really stressful burden. If you do your taxes yourself or have a friend/family member help, you may want to consider hiring a CPA. Having a CPA do your taxes can be much more relaxing and take some of the burden off your shoulders.

First, it may help to know what a CPA is (if you don’t already). It stands for “Certified Public Accountant,” though it may be more appropriate to call them Certified Professional Advisors, because their roles in aiding your business will often go beyond your accounting.

Continue Reading: “Finding a Good Accountant”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Professional Employer Organization Services
Benefits of Market Research
IRS Payments by Credit Card
How Accessible are You?
How and When You Should Pay Yourself

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 25th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Operations, Taxes |

Broadening Your Market May Save Your Business

On November 5, 2007 the Writer’s Guild went on strike. This we all know. But prime time entertainment is not the only thing suffering from the strike. Many small businesses in the Hollywood area are beginning to go under, since they cater to the Hollywood industry, providing equipment and services to movie and television productions. And they’re having to think of other ways to make it.

History for Hire, a vintage rental business in North Hollywood that provides props for shoes like The Office, Heroes and Cold Case, has seen a dramatic drop in revenue. The owners truly saw the strike coming and started making preparations, by not replacing staff members who left, letting go of part-time positions, getting rid of overtime and cutting their personal salaries. But all of their short cuts haven’t been enough and the owners are afraid they won’t be able to keep the 22 year old business running if the strike continues much longer.

Continue Reading: “Broadening Your Market May Save Your Business”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Obtaining a Business Loan – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 8 of 8
A Need for Pet Memorial Businesses
Building New Business Contacts: Networking 101
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo
Getting Your Product to the National Market

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 24th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Operations |

Business Instincts vs Data

As business owners, we face a constant battle when it comes to the decisions we make – should we go with our gut instinct or chose based on the facts? It’s an everyday part of keeping things running, and can sometimes cause a bit of stress if our instincts and the data don’t match up.

So which do you go with? Well, truthfully, either way you can risk failure or accomplish success. Your instincts are based upon experience, and you are more likely to feel comfortable doing something that has worked for you in the past. If, however, your instincts are telling you to go for something that has never crossed your mind before, it may be a hard step to take.

Continue Reading: “Business Instincts vs Data”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Holographic Storage Drives
Enhance Your Image Through Your Words
Tips for Dealing with Calls from Upset Clients
Avoid Legal Trouble
New Technology Leaves Spell-Check in the Dust

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

How to Issue a Press Release

A press release is a relatively inexpensive way (typically free, or close to it, depending on what you do with it) to get the word out about your business. But it is a process that many small business owners are not familiar with.

First, find a newsworthy angle for your press release that, in a round-about way, is related to the product/services you provide. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a topic, check your company’s online forum posts (or set one up if you don’t have one), which will typically lend some good ideas.

Your topic needs to be something that the public would be interested in reading about irrespective of your business’ involvement. Editors and reports are not at all interested in helping your business obtain new clients and increase sales, so don’t try and sell anything. They are simply interested in providing news to the public. If your press release doesn’t provide a newsworthy angle, they won’t release it – end of story.

Continue Reading: “How to Issue a Press Release”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Local Currency Helps Small Business
Is Your Business Online Yet?
IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption
The Importance of Branding
Getting Your Product to the National Market

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Good Listening Skills Mean Success

As the holidays come to a close, I’ve been spending my weekends around the house recooping from all the travel and excitement (which can be very wearing on a pregnant woman, eight months along). Yesterday I spent the majority of the evening doing a little sewing and watching television.

What I ended up watching was a marathon on TLC of a show called Say Yes to the Dress about Kleinfeld Bridal in New York. Basically, cameras follow sales clerks around as they try and sell that perfect dress to soon-to-be brides. A chic-show to be sure, but there was something in particular that caught my attention.

There is one “bridal consultant,” Claudia, who just can’t seem to meet her sales quota. At the time the shows in the marathon aired, she had been working for Kleinfelds over a span of 3-8 months. She just wasn’t getting it, and, despite many, many attempts by the owner and manager to work with her and help her be successful, Claudia continually asserted that there was nothing wrong with her or her sales style and she just kept happening to get clients who weren’t going to buy.

I found myself continually frustrated with Claudia because she just refused to see how she was harming the business. First and foremost, the owner and managers pointed out to her that she wasn’t taking the time to listen to the needs and desires of the client. Claudia insisted that she was a great listener and they just didn’t see the discussions she had with the brides. The viewer, however, knew better, and the owner and managers were right. Claudia continued to assert her opinions about certain dresses and why they would work for the bride, even when the bride disagreed.

I wanted to take the opportunity to make a couple of points from my critique of Claudia’s sales process that any business owner/employee should take into consideration:

Continue Reading: “Good Listening Skills Mean Success”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Connections Trump Contacts
Tips for Dealing with Calls from Upset Clients
Business Instincts vs Data
Grimy Entrepreneurs Rake in the Money
When You Feel Like Quitting…

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Customer Service, Operations |

Ways to Save on Technology in 2008

As each new year approaches, we all try and think of ways to make things for our business work more smoothly. And we definitely want to cut corners where we can and save some money. Here are some ideas to help to save some dough when it comes to your business’ technology needs:

Speed Things Up
Have your network bandwidth increased to speed up the overall processing time of your computers. The faster things move on your computer system, the quicker tasks get done. This means more time available for other tasks and, essentially, saving money because employees are getting more done for the same amount.

Consider Remote Access
If you have employees who are on the road a lot (including yourself), or even those who may be workaholics and would put in more time in their off hours if the had the option, then you may want to consider making your system remotely accessible. You will need to have a server that can provide for access by multiple users, or simply set up password-secure access to your service. Provide your employees with a laptop, a wireless card and an internet browser and they will be able to access your system and do extra work wherever a Wi-Fi connection is available. While it’s an investment, it will save you money in the long run because, again, more work will get done in a shorter amount of time.

Continue Reading: “Ways to Save on Technology in 2008”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Find a Financial Planner
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
Freelance Your Expertise
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 20th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Money, Technology |

Enduring in a Crisis

Ernest Shackleton, an explorer in the early 20th century, knew how to endure. His most famous expedition, known as the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition or the Endurance Expedition, proved that fact. Shackleton set out from London on August 1, 1914 with 27 crew members on the ship Endurance, in an attempt to cross Antarctica, Atlantic to Pacific, by way of the South Pole. However, the pack ice began to close in on Endurance, making in motionless in February and finally sinking it on November 21, 1915.

What happened in the months that followed showed great resolve from Shackleton in leading his crew. They had managed to salvage three small boats, cameras and meager provisions before the ship went down. The crew then trudged their way across the uneven pack ice terrain. After attempts at reaching various locations, Shackleton settled on Elephant Island, which they reached in March of 1916. Shackleton was determined to get his entire crew home safely and, despite the treacherous seas that awaited him, he and six other crew members took a 23 foot boat back to England. On August 30, 1916 they returned to Elephant Island with a ship and rescued the entire crew. Not one member was lost.

Shackleton’s ship was appropriately named, not because the ship endured, but because the crew never gave up. They showed great resolve in surviving through below freezing temperatures for nearly two years, with little provisions and, frankly, little hope. Shackleton was an especially strong leader and, without his help, the crew probably never would have had the resolve to survive. He knew how to endure in a crisis.

While something you may face with your business won’t be nearly as disastrous as the fate of Endurance, you can still come out on top just like Shackleton and his crew. When you face any sort of crisis, keep these elements in mind:

Continue Reading: “Enduring in a Crisis”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Elements of a Successful Business
Taking Time Off
It’s all in the Family: How to Setup a Family Business
But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)
Pulling Your Teen Out of the Financial Hole

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 19th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Motivation |

The Importance of Website Accessibility

>Did you know that the option to make your website accessible to the blind, dyslexic or deaf was even a possibility? I hadn’t even thought of it. But it appears that, eventually, we will all be required to accommodate the handicapped. I have no problem with this, as I find it totally necessary, but the question is, how?

Currently there is a software available coined a “screen reader,” which, is purchased by the PC user and put on their computer and, when the code on the website is correct, the program reads the text out loud to the user, using braille-enabled keyboard commands rather than a mouse.

That is one option that will probably be phased out, however, due to the current changes and technological upgrades of latest websites. Those that provide videos and visual/auditory content should be providing closed-captioning for hard-of-hearing users, but there isn’t much out there that can keep up with the current video technology. And what about those who have a hard time manipulating a keyboard or mouse? Currently, the options are rather limited.

Continue Reading: “The Importance of Website Accessibility”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research
For Vision Impaired Diners: Menus that Talk
Optimizing Your Google Search
New Technology Leaves Spell-Check in the Dust
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 18th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Customer Service, Technology |

Easy Return Policy Means Return Customers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday were a big hit this year. As usual, sales were up, despite the fact that many businesses feared that higher gas prices and the like would keep shoppers from spending as much money this year.

The unfortunate aspect of the Christmas season, for retailers anyway, are the returns. And returns are inevitable. You can’t please everyone, and gift giving is no exception. But, as an online retailer, if you want customers to keep coming back to you, then you need to provide an easy and clear-cut return policy.

According to a survey conducted by return processor Newgistics, Inc., at least nine out of 10 consumers cited a convenient return policy as important when shopping with a new or unknown online retailer. And 69% of those surveyed said that they wouldn’t use that online retailer again if the return policy is a pain or unclear.

So, what can you do to provide your customers with an hassle-free return process? Here are some tips to get you started:

Continue Reading: “Easy Return Policy Means Return Customers”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Customer Reviews Make Business Better
Last Minute Tax Tips
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)
Preparing for an IRS Audit
Why Small Businesses are Gullible to Scams

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 17th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Customer Service, Operations |

Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference

We all long for someone to tell us that we’re doing a good job… a pat on the back, an encouraging word, recognition for our efforts. And what we crave is more than the simple “thank you” or “good job.” We want to hear specifics – we desire to have our actions actually acknowledged – something heartfelt and authentic, without any ulterior motives behind it. An acknowledgment puts the spotlight on someone else’s talent, thoughtfulness, hard work, etc. You will energize and inspire that individual to work harder and keep doing what they do well.

But, the truth of the matter is, acknowledgments are a rarity, especially in the workplace, which is unfortunate. Most people spend the majority of their lives working – it takes up more time than anything else we do. Sleeping may come close for the ratio of time in a 24 hour day, but how many of us actually get those blessed eight hours of sleep anyway. For something that we spend most of our time doing (our job), you would think that the acknowledgments for a job-well-done would be plentiful. But they, quite often, are not.

Continue Reading: “Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Employees Want from You
Inspire Your Employees
Protecting Your Clientele
Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 16th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

Immigration Laws Proving Difficult for Business Owners

It’s not news that the U.S. is cracking down on illegal immigrants, though there is constant debate on how that should actually be done. It’s a focal issue among presidential candidates, and many people have a set opinion as to how this matter should be dealt with.

And it leaves very few people unaffected, especially business owners. In fact, the newest regulations have caused some new confusion. First, in August the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the implementation of a new “no-match” letter program, which would be a formal letter informing an employer that the social security number provided for an employee does not match that employee’s name. In October, the Northern District Court of California put this new program on hold, but in November the court suspended the injunction, giving DHS until March of 2008 to rework the program.

Continue Reading: “Immigration Laws Proving Difficult for Business Owners”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Labor Laws
Implementing a Wellness Program
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website
Small Business Loans & Grants
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Money and Taxes

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Business Law |

How to Improve Your Credit Score

We all know the importance of a good credit score. We know that, the higher our number on that scale from 340-800, the better chances we have of obtaining loans, buying a home or new car, or getting our business off and running.

While lenders may consider anyone for a loan/mortgage, individuals with credit scores of 700 or better are typically offered better interest rates and financing options. If your credit score is low, there are ways to improve it, but doing so first requires that you better understand how your credit score is calculated.

Your credit score is more or less calculated by the data of your credit history being punched into a program and that program coming up with a number. This is why your credit score may vary a bit between each of the three credit bureaus, since they don’t all use the same calculation program. While exact values are undetermined, the calculation of your credit score is broken down into these approximate values:

Continue Reading: “How to Improve Your Credit Score”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
IRS Payments by Credit Card
A Little Relief from High Gas Prices on the Horizon
How NOT to Fund a Business
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid
Debt Collection Strategies that Work (1 of 2)

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Money |

Obtaining a Business Loan – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 8 of 8

OBTAINING A BUSINESS LOAN
Okay, so your Business Plan has been edited, revised, perfected and now you’ve got your final packet ready to go. You’re ready to march into the world and present your business to lenders in hopes of obtaining funds to get your business moving.

But not so fast.

Before you walk through the doors of any bank, you need to know what else they will be looking for outside of your Business Plan in order to approve a loan.

Credit History
What potential lenders will look at most are credit records for both the individual owners of the business (the credit report associated with your social security number) and the business itself (the credit report associated with the business’ EIN or tax identification number). So, before you take your fund request to a bank, request a copy of your credit report from all three agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Examine each report for errors and resolve all discrepancies before applying for a business loan.

Continue Reading: “Obtaining a Business Loan – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 8 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8
Funding Options for Small Business
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 13th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Money, Operations |

Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8

COMMON BUSINESS PLAN MISTAKES
Even with all of the information provided in the first six parts of this post series, there are still mistakes to be made on a Business Plan. No one is perfect and your Business Plan won’t turn out perfect on the first draft either (and probably not the second or third). However, there are some common mistakes to keep in mind when writing and reviewing your Business Plan that will at least aid in attaining perfection.

Failure to be Clear and Concise
The most common mistake when preparing any document is a failure to convey what you want to the reader. There are two main elements that can contribute to this error.

Continue Reading: “Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 12th, 2018 @ 12:14 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8

THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The executive summary is the most important part of your Business Plan and, in fact, should be the first section. However, you can’t do the executive summary until you are finished with all the other sections, which is why I saved it for last.

The executive summary is exactly as it name implies — it is a summary of your entire business plan. You also need to include a brief history of your company. The entire executive summary should not be longer than four pages. Consider using a bullet system to highlight information and make a smoother read. You want to provide information, but you don’t want to bore potential investors/lenders from the start. This is what will either grab their attention or give them the urge to find a wastepaper basket.

Continue Reading: “Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8
Obtaining a Business Loan – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 8 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 11th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8

Welcome to the second half of my eight part post series on creating an effective Business Plan. I’m sure you enjoyed the break over the weekend, but are anxious to obtain the rest of the information you need. So let’s get started.

THE FUNDING REQUEST
The whole point of your Business Plan is to request money from investors and/or obtain a business loan through a bank. So, what would the Business Plan be without specifics on what funds your business needs? It’s one thing to request a dollar amount out loud, it’s another to specify exactly why you need that money and how it will be used. We’re certainly not talking about a few dollars here, so those that provide the funds to you want all the details they can get before making such a commitment.

Continue Reading: “Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Obtaining a Business Loan – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 8 of 8
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 10th, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8

MARKETING & SALES MANAGEMENT
Without marketing your business and your product/service, customers have no way of knowing that you’re out there. While the information regarding the organization of your business is important to investors, knowing your marketing plans is equally as important, since the marketing you do will generate revenue.

Marketing Strategy
You need to define your marketing strategy. Granted, your marketing strategy will often change, as you evaluate its effectiveness and changes in your business require changes in your advertising. But you do need to have a basic strategy in mind, which includes the following elements:

1. Market Penetration
In order to obtain customers, you have to make yourself known in the market. While you need advertising to do this, you also need to have a means. In other words, you need to continually develop new products and innovations to keep the customers interested. Market penetration requires using new products in existing markets and new markets using existing products. Explain in your business plan how you intend to penetrate the market.

Continue Reading: “Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Knowing Your Customers
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
Starting Your Own Business, Part 4 of 4
Investigate the Competition

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 9th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8

THE COMPANY DESCRIPTION
The next section of your Business Plan should contain a description of your company. Be sure to cover the following topics:

• Why you started the business.
• The nature of your business — what needs your business provides solutions for and how.
• What will make your business successful.
• The advantages your business has over the competition.

ORGANIZATION & MANAGEMENT
Following the Company Description is the Organization and Management section. You must show potential investors and banks that you are organized and ready to do business. If they don’t see that, they won’t invest.

Continue Reading: “Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Startup |

Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8

MARKET ANALYSIS

The Market Analysis portion of your business plan is a means for showing your knowledge of the industry your business is involved in. This is where your market research will come into play. And you’re going to have to do a lot of work for this portion.

Start by studying, very thoroughly, your industry market and gathering as much information as possible. Additionally, you will need to conduct market tests of your product/service and compile that information. While the data and information you collect is crucial, this portion of your business plan will only cover the highlights and conclusions of all of your diligent work. The bulk of the information, as we will later see, will be contained within the Appendix section of your business plan.

Continue Reading: “Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
4 Ways to Keep Up on Industry Trends

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8

OVERVIEW

If you’ve started a business or are thinking about doing so, then you’ve probably heard that you need a business plan. If you in any way hope to have investors support your company growth or to obtain a business loan, you have to have a business plan. You won’t even be considered without one. It is more or less the sales pitch for your business.

A strong business plan consists of ten essential sections:

1. Market Analysis
2. Company Description
3. Organization & Management
4. Marketing & Sales Management
5. Service or Product Line
6. Funding Requests
7. Financial Information
8. Executive Summary
9. Appendix
10. Table of Contents

Over the next two weeks of posts I’m going to cover how to create an appropriate business plan, elaborating on each of these sections. Yes, it will take two weeks. There is a lot of information to cover and summarizing it into a few posts will not be helpful enough for you to put together effective business plan that will win investors and banks over.

Continue Reading: “Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8
Define Organizational Structure & Management – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 3 of 8
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
Common Mistakes – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 7 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 6th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Connections Trump Contacts

We’ve all had them – those annoying telemarketing calls right in the middle of dinner and spending some much needed time with our families. Even with no-call-list registration, a call sneaks through the cracks occasionally. We get frustrated and often, the poor individual on the other end gets an ear full.

But have you ever taken the opportunity to put yourself in that telemarketer’s shoes? As a business owner, you should, since sales is an important part of every business. I sure do because I actually had a telemarketing job at one point. Albeit, it was only for four months, but that’s because it was horrible. I didn’t make a sale the entire time I was there. Call after call made for nothing. In a telemarketing job the focus is quantity – the more calls you make, the more likely you are to get a sale. That simply wasn’t the case for me – it isn’t for most. Just look at the turnover rate for telemarketing businesses and you’ll see the effects.

And why is that? Because the people I called were simply contacts – a name and phone number filled out on a piece of paper (most likely a drawing for some type of prize) for individuals who didn’t even know what they were signing up for. The reason cold call and door-to-door sales people fail more than they succeed at a sale is because they are making contacts, not connections, with potential clientele.

Continue Reading: “Connections Trump Contacts”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Saving Time on the Telephone
Building New Business Contacts: Networking 101
Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8
Tips for Dealing with Calls from Upset Clients
An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 5th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking, Operations |

New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy

>We’ve all faced the temptation to burn a copy of someone’s Beatles album or Microsoft Office program. Heck, when programs like Napster first emerged and provided free mp3 downloads, everyone was taking advantages and burning CDs for pennies on the dollar.

But, in recent years, industries like the Business Software Alliance have attempted to crack down on piracy. The anti-piracy ad that accompanies all rental DVDs and movie theater trailers has now become common place. And, in fact, piracy is one of the top issues involved in the Hollywood writers strike. Unfortunately, the attempts thus far have had little effect on piracy rates, which, according to BSA, have stopped falling.

Continue Reading: “New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Windows XP on Apple/Intel Computers
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
New Technology Leaves Spell-Check in the Dust

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 4th, 2018 @ 12:17 AM CDT

Technology |

Remembering Your Customers

Working on that Christmas Card list? Well, don’t stop at just friends and family. Be sure that you get some cards to send on behalf of your business to your customers. Yes, it may be a bit of added expense, but it’s well worth giving clients the reminder that you’re still available to provide them with quality products and services.

Before you do anything else, figure out how much you have available in your budget to send cards and gifts to clients. Just like with your personal Christmas shopping, it’s important to establish a budget and keep yourself on track.

Continue Reading: “Remembering Your Customers”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Buddy Networking: A Clever Way to Expand Your Network
Tips for Running a Successful Seasonal Business
Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative
How Likeable Are You?
Ideas to Generate Business on Valentine’s Day

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 3rd, 2018 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Customer Service, Marketing |

The Beneficial Chaos of Black Friday

Ah, the holiday season. Were you crazy enough to go out into the world and shop at the crack of dawn this past Friday? I did so for the first time. I wouldn’t exactly call it a joyful experience, but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Okay, it was close.

I already had in mind that I wasn’t going to spend the entire day pursuing every store in town for great bargains. After all, I’m seven months pregnant right now, and didn’t think that would be the best idea for me, especially by myself. So, I compared ads and found one location were I could get multiple items at a great price. Most of the items I bought were for my photography business, actually.

Continue Reading: “The Beneficial Chaos of Black Friday”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Internet Business Sees Holiday Shopping Boom
Easy Return Policy Means Return Customers
Getting Your Product to the National Market
Is Viral Marketing Effective?
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Operations |

Knowing Your Customers

There have been many occasions when I have discussed knowing who the target market for your product/service should be, what they’re looking for, etc. But the research and data shouldn’t stop at a marketing demographic. You need to get to know your customers individually as well.

A great way to do that is to develop a customer profile for each of your devote customers. You may be asking how you could get information on your customer without seeming nosy to them. Fortunately, most people are prone to talk to anyone that may listen, so it can really be easier than you might expect.

Continue Reading: “Knowing Your Customers”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What Do Your Clients Need?
Dealing With Angry Customers
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
Differentiate Your Business With Quality Customer Service
Advertising Quality in Your Product

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Customer Service, Marketing |