Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Networking is About Maximizing Opportunities

Any type of business owner needs to invest time and energy into networking.  Networking is simply developing relationships with others.  This process involves getting your name out there and meeting people.  Every contact you make is a potential connection to a new client or new job, so it is important to make a good impression.

Places to capitalize on networking opportunities include:

  • community events
  • churches
  • business openings
  • neighborhood coffee shops
  • gyms.
I think you get the point.  Anything you do and anyplace you go can be a networking opportunity.  So, be prepared. Always have your business cards (as in take them everywhere you go), so that you have a way to pass on your contact information.  You never know when someone is going to want to learn more or follow up with you, so it is important to have your information close at hand. 

Networking is Easy

Networking involves introducing yourself to others.  Let the conversation flow naturally and at its own pace.  There is no need to "oversell" yourself.  People will naturally ask what you do for a living.  Talk about your business with enthusiasm and confidence, and people will be drawn into learning more about your business.  A certain percentage will ask you for your business card. Pretty soon, your business and contact information will spread.  

Include your website, Facebook or Twitter accounts on your business card.  These online sites are excellent opportunities for others to connect with you and get to know your business.  

Two Key Points about Networking:
  • treat every contact as a lead to a potential client or job opportunity
  • always be prepared to present information about your business.
Building your own business is hard work.  It is more than just a 9 to 5 job.  It is your life, your startup money and your future.  Maximize all opportunities for networking because you never know which contacts will pay off at the end of the day.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ways to Save Money for Your Small Business

Many small business owners waste their limited resources on services/products that they don't need.  Here are some simple tips for how to save money so you are not going broke before you have even started your endeavor:

  • Open a FREE small business checking account at major bank such as Capital One that will allow you to open an account with a deposit of about 200 dollars.  Skip the credit cards if you know you will not have much money to start.  No sense in getting in over your head. 
  • Never order checks from your bank.  Waste of money.  Open the bank account and then go online to find cheaper alternatives such as Checks in the Mail or Checks Unlimited.   Just about any place has cheaper checks than your bank.  You really don't need a big, fancy binder for all your checks either.  Save your money.
  • Never buy deposit slips.  Just get a stack of blank counter deposit slips from your bank for FREE.  They work just as well.  You can still use them to make deposit in the overnight deposit slot or in the drive through.  
  • Keep a simple spreadsheet to manage your finances such as an Excel file or a simple Quickbooks program.  If you are starting off with little funds, you don't need the most expensive program on the market.  I bought an older version of Quickbooks for $9.99 off of ebay and it works just as well because I did not need their online services or expensive payroll programs.  I can easily reconcile my spreadsheet with my bank statements on my own.  When you are starting off small, it is easy to do it yourself. Upgrade as your business expands. 
  • Scared of doing payroll yourself?  No problem.  TKT Enterprises  offers a very simple and affordable payroll system you can download onto your computer that will help you do payroll.  The program calculates the taxes for you and helps you do your payroll tax deposits and end of the year tax forms.  All you have to do is input employee information and the hours they work for each pay period.   You can even do manual payroll checks and print out payroll stubs on regular paper to save more money.  This program is very affordable at $14.95 for the whole year.  If you stick with this software, than your yearly upgrade is even cheaper (about half price).  You can't beat the price and it works great. 
  • Consider using PayPal for credit card orders if you can't afford the high frees associated with processing credit cards.  Sure there are fees with PayPal that come out of the money you will collect.  However, PayPal is fine for online orders to start.  As you build your business, you can use the money you have made from PayPal to upgrade to other credit card processing services.  All of them are expensive, involve monthly fees, early termination fees and high charges for chargebacks.  Because of the costs, you want to make sure you are making money and can afford this investment before you sign that contract. 

Hope that these tips will help you save money in your small business. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Branding on Social Media Sites

A brand represents everything about your company ~ what you stand for, what you do and where you will be in the future. Branding is a way to spread information about your company to a wide audience. All businesses need to engage in some type of branding. There is so much competition for limited dollars that even your small business needs to work on brand development. Social media sites are a good way to spread your brand for FREE and to a large audience.

Keys to Developing Your Brand:  

In creating your brand, you need to think about what you want to represent. Vague concepts such as stating that you are "efficient" might not distinguish you from another company. Take a look at how other companies are describing themselves. If you are using the same or similar language, your company will not stand out as being unique or offering anything special. To make people pay attention, your brand has to contain a different message from your competition.      


Be consistent with your message. Make sure the Facebook, blog and Twitter accounts for your company spread the same message. Being all over the place only confuses your audience. Be specific about what you do and what your company offers and spread a consistent, unified message through all your social media sites. People will be more likely to remember your company at a time when they may need your services if you are consistent.

Respond to questions, complaints and other comments on your social media sites in a timely manner. The downside of being on a wide variety of social media sites is that people have wider access to ways to leave you negative feedback and it can be quick to get out of hand. Be aware of all of your networks and do not overreact to negative comments. Respond to complaints in a timely way so that others know you are responsible, block followers who are abusive and keep encouraging and rewarding those who leave you positive feedback.  In this manner, you will encourage positive comments and keep negative posters at bay.

Good luck on developing your brand.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How to Follow Your Dreams & Achieve Your Goals

How to Follow Your Dreams & Achieve Your Goals

Free Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business

Small business owners often spend a lot of money in advertising only to see very little return.  You don't need fancy, glossy brochures to legitimize your business.  You can get more clients right now but doing a few things that are absolutely free.

A web presence is a must in today's economy.  People go online first to find everything they need from hiring a plumber to ordering a pizza for dinner.  Too small or not enough funds or expertise to manage your own website?  No problem.  There are a number of free outlets at your fingertips.

* List your business on Yellow Pages online.   It is free to create a listing for your business.  You can list your location, hours, website and email.  It can take up to 10 days for them to verify your listing, but it is well worth the wait.  A listing on will give you added credibility.

* Social media provides a variety of outlets to get the word out about your services and expertise.  Create a Twitter and Facebook site for your business to post daily about special offers, services and success stories.  These accounts can quickly generate you hundreds even thousands of followers.  You can encourage your current clients to give you good reviews on these social networking sites and get their online friends to follow your sites.  Social media provides free press and an online presence, all without spending a dime.

* Put your flyers in neighborhood businesses, stores and churches.  A lot of places will allow you to place flyers about your business or services at their location for free.  It is simple to make a few flyers on your computer and post them around town.  You can make lots of flyers that people take with them.  Or, you can print one flyer with tear-offs at the bottom with your contact information.  Yes, this is old school.  But, it really works.  Even the busiest person has to go to the store and can pick up a flyer and will remember that personal outreach when they need your services.