Numerous Small Business Resources Available Online

If you are considering starting your own small business, or you are already established in your community but could still use the occasional pointer, then you should definitely be using the internet to find some of the available resources. There are ways for business owners to ask free questions, order information, find funding, learn about their responsibilities, and learn what expectations to have for their employees. It does not matter what type of business you have, there are resources available to help you get the information that you need.

One of the best resources that all small business owners should take full advantage of would be the Small Business Administration. If you go to their website, you can find some really great information. You can locate loans and grants that would cover the needs of your small business, and you can find resources that are there for answering your everyday questions. You can locate resources in your area by putting in your zip code, or you can find training that will help you learn and understand the in’s and out’s of any small business.

Another small business resource is Business USA. This is a government website that offers very similar resource opportunities to the Small Business Administration, but there are answers here that some small business owners cannot find anywhere else. This is a website that was started as a conglomeration of information from nearly all government agencies, and has steadily grown since its inception. If you need to find information from a government source, there is a way to link up with that information through this newly renovated website.

If people started using the opportunities at their fingertips, more people would come to realize they could start their own business. Current small business owners may even be missing out on some incredible resources they did not even know existed, especially in today’s harsh economy. If you have the time to look up ways of helping your small business, or if you have an idea to begin a small business, then please use the resources available to you. This country thrives off of small business, and if you strive to accomplish success, then you are helping the overall picture of America at the same time that you are helping yourself.

How to Keep Your Business Moving Forward

It can be difficult to find ways to keep moving forward when financial or economic troubles strike. A lot of small business owners take the brunt of these types of hits initially as this hardship travels up the ladder to larger businesses. Do not lose hope or confidence in yourself or your business, there are things you can do to keep moving ahead and weather the storm.

One of the easiest things you can do it is make sure you frequently update and monitor your social media outlets. If gives you a chance to stay in touch with customers and find out what types of things may help attract more customers to your business. It will also give you the ability to see what types of promotional offers you may be able to use to attract more business. These outlets have been very important to small businesses, and learning to use them properly can make a huge difference when faces with financial hardships.

You can also look into finding another local business to partner with. You would want something that compliments what you do. For example if your business is centered around home remodeling, it may be beneficial to look into partnering with a painting company or an interior design company. You would be able to take advantage of any work that can be thrown your way from these partnerships, as well as forward work onto them. This would give both businesses a more well rounded and complete package type of feel to prospective clients.

Do not lose your companies identity. It takes a very long time to build your reputation and establish your own identity in the business world. It is important not to lose that during an economic struggle. If you change who you are or what you do, it could hurt you more in the long run. If you change your image and style to conform to the current situation, the reputation you have built can be lost. This can affect your business after the economic situation has passed. You may not get the same style of clients and may have gotten a reputation as a cheap solution to the quality services people are looking for.

Ideas for Starting a Small Business

If you have ever thought of starting a new business, then you have probably been to one extreme on ideas or the other. Some people have a million ideas flood their head the instant they think about small business, while others have one idea trickle through their mind after giving it a week of thought. For people who are on the latter end of that scenario, there is help. There are quite a few ideas that can be building blocks for a new business to spring from, and maybe a few of these ideas will help inspire your creative juices.

First of all, there are small business ideas for the creative people in the group. Businesses such as making custom jewelry and clothing is something that is always selling between local markets and the online environment. This allows for new business owners to work as much or as little as they want and be able to sell their wares as they have the time.

Second, there is a huge demand for household labor. If you want to help out people in your neighborhood by doing some of the not-so-pleasant chores for them, you can make a great deal of money and have a thriving business in a very short amount of time. Chores such as cleaning out a garage or attic, or organizing an entire household are highly sought after because it is always the chore that is pushed to the bottom of the list. There is always the option of hanging pictures, putting up wall paper, painting, or other custom jobs along with the main part of your business to be able to quickly expand your customer base.

Finally, there are many people looking to hire people with skills they do not possess. For instance, if you know how to teach something unusual, then your skills will be in higher demand than someone who can only teach the basics of any topic. You can teach people how to read, use computers, or even exercise properly, all from the convenience of your own company. You get to make the rules, and you get to choose what you do. Even if your skills fall into a category that is not quite standard, you can be easily utilized. If you are able to grow plants really easily, for example, then you can start a business tending to plants for people who have less than a green thumb.

There are basic ideas that almost anyone can use, and make a small business that caters directly to the skills that the owner already has. It does not matter what type of skills you have, there is a way to make a successful small business from it. All you have to do is to believe in yourself and learn how to market your skills. Once you come up with the perfect idea, then you are definitely heading in the right direction and have the groundwork started to become successful.

Saving Money when Starting a Business

When you are looking into starting your own new business, you have to figure out a way to come up with the initial funding for all of your equipment and supplies. There are numerous places to go to find this start-up capital, it is just a matter of finding the right ones for you and your situation. Even if you look beyond the normal avenues of family, friends, grants or even credit cards, you can still have quite a few options available that can help you make your dream of entrepreneurship come true.

One option of coming up with start-up capital would be to apply for a loan. There can be options through home-equity loans or small business loans, depending on your current situation and credit. Banks have very specific requirements for their loans, so make sure you have all of the appropriate information before you ever head to the bank. You will need to give them quite a bit of information about the starting of your business before they will consider giving you a loan, but if you provide good ideas, then you will be able to walk out of the bank knowing what type of funding you will receive. If a bank turns you down, there are also the same styles of loans from peer-investors, which have much different terms to loans than banks do. This is a great idea for people to consider when they do not have the best credit history and only a short example of having gotten back on the right track.

Another option for this money would be to consider angel investors, which are people who will invest in your company with specific requirements and expectations on returns. It is often wealthy people who are looking for easy investments that require no actual action from the investor directly. The only advice that goes with these investors, is to make sure you have everything put into a legally binding document. You want to make sure that you have what your expectations are in writing, just as much as you want to make sure you know exactly what to expect in return. Some of these investors will require partial ownership of your business in exchange for giving you the money, so you will want to make sure you know every detail before accepting the money.

If you are seriously considering starting a new business, then you need to make sure that you know where your money is going to come from. You can look up many different sources of money, but none of them are going to guarantee success. Making sure that you know and understand exactly what you need to do with your business is going to give you a much better chance at prospering than anything else, so make sure you know this before seeking out any type of financial gains. You have quite a few different financial options, so explore them all before deciding on what is going to be the best. This will help you get the right foundation to begin building your new business upon.

Building Relationships to Expand Your Small Business

A lot more small business owners need to begin utilizing the potential of the Chamber of Commerce. If a small business joins forces with a local Chamber of Commerce an entirely new world of opportunity can open up for the business. The Chamber of Commerce sets goals for itself, which are designed to help find customers for local small business owners and increase their odds of success. The Chamber of Commerce is a very good place for small business owners and potential business owners to collect information on running or starting a business. Depending on your local Chamber of Commerce, it may also offer programs that will share invaluable business tips and the commonly forgotten steps to success.

You can become a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and request to sponsor a mixer at your location. This will benefit you in a multitude of ways. You will be able to put on a demonstration of your products and services for other members of the Chamber of Commerce to see and experience. This is going to be a great way to get your name and product out to other small businesses that may be able to utilize the talents and products your company has to offer. It also allows you to see what other options are available for you in the area. You could in theory also scout the competition if you wanted, during this event.

The mixer will also allow you and any employees that you have invited to the event, to do some networking. Networking is a great way for a company to expand its resource base. It is always beneficial to have additional contacts that would be willing to help or offer advice if you are ever in need. That is one of the aspects of the Chamber of Commerce that make it such a power resource for any small business owner. Giving you and your employees other people to contact and learn from while your business starts to grow is nothing short of life saving at times. You are also going to be able to bounce around ideas between some of your contacts and find out what is going to work for your business and what will not.

Finding Creative Ways to Expand Your Business

One of the hardest thing for most small businesses to do, is market properly. I am not saying that these small business owners are doing a bad job, I am just suggesting they think outside the box. Most small businesses try to market as if they are a large business. Large businesses will market for the future and are attempting to increase the recognition of their product line or company name. Smaller businesses need to focus on marketing the services and products they can offer now. Taking the time to evaluate your marketing strategy might increase your revenue as well as decrease your overhead.

Instead of running larger local ads, trying condensing your ad down and remove a lot of the flash and glamor from it. This approach will allow you to run multiple ads for the same cost as trying to run one larger ad. This will generate a better overall response to your advertising attempts as well as expanding your customer base. Keep in mind that the more information you can get out about your business, the more success you are going to have in the long run.

If you feel that you still want to explore more options for marketing, you can also try to get in touch with another company and form a type of partnership. Obviously you would want to find a company that has products or services that complement your own without taking away from yours. It can be difficult to find another small business that is not going to be in direct competition with you, but once you do find one the potential is unlimited. You can refer current clients and customers to one another to increase the profits from both businesses. This partnership could easily double your current customer base, as well as get more people aware of your services and products.

You will also want to review your services and products, plus consider adding to them. You will find customers who are more concerned with cost, over the quality of what they are getting. So having a cheaper version of what you are offering, will help prevent the loss of sales. You will also want to consider adding a more premium service or product for those who are more considered with quality over the cost. These types of customers are more concerned that they will get everything they need out of the product or service, that it gives them piece of mind knowing this.

You could also consider adding an incentives program for existing customers. Allowing them first notification of new services and products before they go public. You could also use some sort of a rewards program for them. Giving them a discount or some sort of reward for referrals that generate sales for the business. It is a far cheaper way to advertise and promote the business than most other means, and it allows your clients to work for you and strengthen your companies reputation. Nothing beats word of mouth advertising and finding a way to take advantage of that is something every small business owner should be looking into.

Why Social Media Outlets Are So Important To Small Businesses

One of the biggest marketing tools most small businesses fail to really consider resides in social media. Today you can find just about everyone using one form of social media or another. I am sure most of you have used Facebook at one time or another. Even if it is just used to share information with family or friends from out of town on a regular basis. Social media can be your best friend, as long as it is done right.

When building a website for your company, have the design incorporate social media into the site. They will have to be asked to create social media accounts for the site, but this is the stepping stone your business needs to really elevate itself to the next level. These social media outlets allow you have to customers give feedback and share with their friends, how much they like your company. The simple action of someone clicking the small “like” button can be the difference in thousands of dollars in revenue for your business

If you do not currently have a website for your company and are looking to build one in the future, considering hiring a company who has a proven record in results. Make sure that they have experience with social media as well. While it is not difficult to create a social media fan page, it can be difficult to get it running properly. Remember, first impressions are everything and catching someones eye right off the bat can be the difference between gaining or losing a new customer.

If you already have social media incorporate into your website, make sure you are utilizing it properly. Put someone in charge of managing the business end of the site. Have them interact with the people on the social network, by posting relevant information about what is going on with your business as well as responding to comments that are made on your page. This will in turn show the people viewing your site, that you are in touch with your customers and it gives a more personalized feel to people who are viewing your site.

 

The Benefits of Multi-Trained Employees

I have spoken with several people that I have interviewed in the past talk about how they were often responsible for additional tasks, rather than the ones they had been hired for. While I can see the obvious benefits of having more than one person trained to handle the daily tasks, I would not recommend running an entire business where you would try and condense multiple positions into one new position. While on paper this can look like a very appealing option that could help save you money, but the risks that are involved need to be considered as well.

I think that having several people trained to handle various tasks throughout the office or business is a great idea. If you ever have a day where one of your employees is sick, and you have someone else who can cover the basic’s of that position it helps prevent the work from backup too badly. The person filling in will not be as quick or knowledgeable as the regular employee, so do not expect perfection but the added support they offer will be an incredible asset to you.

If you decide to go the route of trying to condense various positions to try and streamline your business, keep in mind that this can also have dire consequences. If one of the employees that you have trained for one of these re-invited positions is sick, quits, or is terminated you are not left with several jobs that now need to be filled and quickly. It is going to be difficult to fill the void that is left by that employee. You may not have extra employees who have the ability, training, or time to complete the tasks of that position.

A great example of how I would suggest someone do this would be to look at the medical billing and coding jobs that I am sure everyone has heard about at one point or another. It is becoming more common to find that offices have split this into two singular positions, a medical billing job and a medical coding job. While they often will one employee to handle to handle each specific job, they will make sure that both employees hired are trained for both. That way they are insured that if something happens, someone is able to fill the void.

Hard Facts About Small Businesses

A lot of people are concerned about the risks involved with starting their own business and try to weigh the pros and cons before hand. It is not hard to find someone who is willing to give you a negative opinion about starting a small business, even though you may have a great idea. You constantly hear that small businesses are hit the hardest whenever the economy takes a turn for the worse. I will admit that while it can be scary to face the fact that you run the risk of losing your investment, there are some key things to remember which can help put your mind at ease.

When you look at it on paper the survival rate of small businesses can be a bit overwhelming and deter some people from following through with starting a business. Roughly two thirds of all small businesses survive for at least two years, half will make it about five years, one third will make it about ten years, and about a quarter of all small businesses will survive for fifteen years or more. While some people will shy away from these numbers saying that the risk it too great, they lose objectivity and dismiss the fact that the reward can be worth the risk.

I want to take sometime to point out the things that commonly get overlooked for example, from 1993 to 2009 small businesses accounted for nearly 10 million new jobs. That was roughly 65% of all jobs created to bolster the economy verse various government programs. The small business company is also responsible for roughly half of the private payroll for the entire United States. Our economic state depends on the ability for small businesses to thrive. Also, approximately 43% of all high tech workers in the United States are employed by small businesses.

These are just a few of the reasons why small businesses are so important to us all. If you are considering the idea of starting your own business, look at all the facts. Yes there is a chance that things may not work out favorably, but the long term rewards for those who make it are incredible. Also the impact that every small business has on its local community is astounding. No matter what products and services your business will be offering, keep in mind that you are a respected and valued part of the United States economy and nothing can ever change that.

Is Micro-Managing Right For You?

A lot of young business owners often take it upon themselves to try and oversee all aspects of their business. While I can not blame anyone for doing this due to the financial invest and commitment that is required, it is not something that everyone should or can do. If you drive head first into every single project or task your business is responsible for, you not only risk personal burn out, but also burning out your employees. If you are going to try and micromanage your business make sure you are still giving your employees, namely those who are in positions of seniority or authority, the ability to do the job they had been hired for.

Some employees often feel under appreciated when put in an environment that is micromanaged. After awhile they can begin to doubt themselves or their abilities and this is something that can bring chaos into the work place. They may begin turning to you to answer all their questions on what steps to take or what things to do instead of having the confidence that they know what to do. I do recommend that all business owners know what is going on within their business and take steps to remain an active part of it, the trick lies in finding a balance that allows you to still have control of your business while giving your employees the chance to shine.

One thing I can suggest, if you are going to be a more active part of various departments or areas of your business, is regular meetings. Use these meetings to get the feedback that you want and offer any suggestions you may have. In the end it boils down to what you want or think is best anyway, but giving your employees a voice and ability to do the tasks assigned to them helps give them the sense of worth that so many are looking for. It is also important to keep in mind that you hired these people to do a job, and you feel they are skilled enough to handle it. So if they have an idea or suggestion that is worth considering, let them know that. Even if you do not decide to support or use the idea, you have at least given them the sense and approval they crave from management.