There are a lot of fears associated with starting your own small business. It's not easy and it takes a lot of work. That said, it's important to note that starting a small business is easier now than ever before. In large part, this is thanks to technological advancements that have lowered the threshold for entry into the entrepreneurial world.
Cost is a huge prohibitive factor that people face when starting their own small business. It's understandable when you look at the costs associated with buying into a business. Just theaverage franchise fee is $34,000, though it can be far less or far greater. It also doesn't take into account any of the other associated costs. It is possible to start a small business without having to spend that much money though. You can start your own LLC business for the cost of the license and fees associated with your location. If you're operating out of your home to start, you don't have to incur additional costs to rent a business location.
Technology has become an ever present force in our daily lives. Its accessibility makes it easier than ever to start your own business. Many small businesses use e-commerce platforms as their storefronts. Having a website is an essential part of running a successful e-commerce business. Not everyone knows how to build a website, but that doesn't make a difference today. Ready-made ecommerce platforms ensure that you can start a site without deep knowledge of web building. Getting your own website started has never been easier.
Identifying Needs is Easier
For better or for worse, people like to complain and a lot of them air their grievances online. In most instances, incessant complaining would likely be quite annoying, but for the entrepreneurially minded individual, it can be a huge opportunity. If you're going to have a successful business, you need to have a concept that can fill people's needs. Looking at the complaints people have about industries you're interested in can help you figure out how tomake your business stand out in the best way.
Entrepreneurship has enjoyed an increase in popularity over the years as more and more people ditch the 9-5 grind in favor of setting their own hours and becoming their own boss. Thanks to lower costs, accessible technology, and easier ways to determine consumer needs, starting a small business is easier than ever. The sooner you start, the sooner you can start to see the fruits of your labors.
Read this next: 5 tips for starting your own business
Sticking out among your competition is one of the best ways to gain new customers. Not only does it show that you have a unique product and atmosphere, but a positive impression of your company will inevitably lead to more sales. Here's how you can overcome a cluttered market and become more memorable.
Offer What Others Aren't
If your company doesn't offer a unique and high-quality product, you might as well close up shop now. Innovative companies keep intriguing potential customers and maintaining their current customers' interests. You do this by listening to customer requests, improving your product consistently, and switching up branding tactics.
According to Viima, when your company is battling out with several others for a bigger piece of the economic pie, you may want to think about moving your company to a less saturated area. Your business might not be the first of its kind in the world, but it can be innovative to a neighboring area. This can get your leg in the door before your competitors see it coming.
Invest in Your Website
According to Boro Business Lab, the quality of your website can determine your business's credibility. Most customers will initially see your business online—often looking for a service or product they need. A well-designed website can give off a professional appearance to new patrons, making it more likely they will want to become a part of your community.
Improving your website's interface is another way to help the customer have a positive experience with your brand. Spend time and money hiring people to add useful features, written content, and live chat. Making your website cohesive with your product can increase sales and raise your brand's credibility.
Show Your Values
One thing that will certainly impress your customers is the way you uphold your values. Business owners that go above and beyond to make sure their patrons have a quality experience will gain customer loyalty. According to Causely, making efforts to help other people through charity drives, fundraisers, and other events can make your company stand out.
Train your employees frequently. Ensure they have a smile on their face and are eager to help the people who walk through your doors. These training sessions don't have to be too frequent but can touch on the essentials every employee needs to know.
These three factors will help your business stand out among the competition. Making your company a positive and energetic place will help you develop loyalties with your customers. Add in an excellent product with great service, and you have a recipe for success!
Legal troubles can completely eradicate a business’s success. Keeping up with legal fees as well as bad press from the media can debilitate a company’s standing in the public eye. With the rise of cancel culture through social media, it has become more important than ever before to keep your business out of trouble.
Hire Legal Counsel
One safeguard you can implement to ensure you are not breaking the law is by hiring legal counsel. Business attorneys can help you analyze business practices and inform you when a law-abiding procedure is being kept or not. This can keep you out of hot water with the authorities.
Lawyers can help you frame your company’s rules in a stricter fashion, preventing employees from breaking safety regulations. Company lawyers can also help you with your taxes—navigating you through business tax codes and getting you the best tax cut available to you. While you could hire a lawyer full-time, it is often smarter to hire them on a contract basis.
Understand Business Law
If you don’t have the money in your budget to fund frequent legal counsel, you may have to take matters into your own hands. Fortunately because of the Internet, there are many websites that provide valuable legal information. You can learn about different forms of law and figure out where the blind spots of your business are.
There are also magazines and educational dissertations that can clarify and improve your understanding of business law. You can better understand why the laws exist, and make well-educated decisions accordingly. Additional education of the law can only help you as you delve into small business ownership.
Train Employees Frequently
You should not be the only one who is getting educated in laws applicable to your business. As the company owner or manager, you have responsibility over your employees to make sure they follow legal procedures. If they do not, your company could be under fire by social media pundits.
Hold regularly scheduled training. Make sure new employees are informed about safety and health procedures so they can keep themselves out of legal trouble. If one of your workers refuses to comply, you will probably have to let them go. This shows other people how important you take rules and regulations.
By implementing these practices into your business, you are creating a more secure legal environment for yourself, your company, and your employees. Respect the law, and make rule-following a practical part of your company’s environment.
Read this next: How to Reward Your Most Loyal Customers
When you work in sales, you can spend a lot of time trying to figure out the best ways to make more money. There are plenty of options available to help you maximize profits, but these few below are a great place to start.
Charge More for Services
This may seem obvious, but if you are looking to make more money from your sales, you may need to raise your prices. You may be hesitant to raise prices, but if you are undercharging for your services, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
When evaluating prices for your services there are many things you should keep in mind. Consider the costs you incur to make the service happen and the time you invest in each service. If you spend some of your time working on marketing, you may want to adjust your hourly rates so you are paid the rate you deserve for the whole week of work.
Avoid Time Wasters
Any time you spend on the job should be spent making your business run more smoothly, marketing, and providing services. Any wasted time ends up costing you money in the long run, and by removing time wasters, you can significantly increase what you are being paid for the time you are spending at work.
Some marketing techniques are a waste of time, even those that have seemed useful in the past. Cold calling is a common method but often requires a lot of time with little reward. Social media is super effective, but running several social media accounts can be a time suck, it is much better to choose a single social media platform to start with.
Market on Social Market
Social media can be a great low-cost way to increase your sales and increase customer engagement. By making videos with good content, you can bring more attention to your brand and encourage people to use your service or products. If you have a good following online, or even when you’re just starting out, encourage followers to like, share, and follow your page as part of a giveaway. You can also pay for social media ads which can be another fairly inexpensive way to increase your sales.
Making money when you work in sales can be a big task, but by taking action and avoiding wasting time, you can maximize your profits and minimize the extra time you have to spend on it.
5 tips for starting your own business
(BPT) - There’s no doubt the pandemic has hit small businesses hard. Even in its early weeks, February to April 2020, the number of active businesses plummeted by 22%, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research. And unfortunately, the consequences of the early shutdowns impacted minority-owned businesses even harder, with Black-owned businesses seeing a 41% drop, Latinx businesses 32%, Asian businesses 26% and women-owned businesses 25%.
Does that bad news mean that now is the wrong time to consider starting a new business? Not necessarily. Opportunities exist for small businesses today, including support and funding for start-ups — and especially for minority business owners.
If you want to start a small business, here are steps to get you started.
1. Do your research
First, make sure you understand the current market for your business. This step is crucial to turn an idea into a full-fledged business plan.
Ask questions like:
Ask other business owners about their challenges and rewards to explore whether this is a good option for you. Use market analysis tools recommended by resources such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) to get to know the market for your business.
2. Write a business plan
No business can find funding, investors or partners without a solid business plan. Learning to write a comprehensive plan also forces you to fully think through every aspect of your proposed idea. The SBA is a great resource to research types of business plans.
Enlist the help of other business owners during the process if you can to understand how their plans helped them and what to avoid.
3. Fund your business
Every business needs capital to get started. Your business plan’s financial section should provide a clear idea of the capital you need to launch. Most businesses rely on multiple financial sources, including:
SBA loans can be a good option. For example, Huntington Lift Local Business is a small-business lending program focused on serving minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses. Huntington is a top SBA 7(a) lender that has developed creative lending options and other features to help bring relief, recovery and growth to small businesses across the Midwest.
With Huntington's program, businesses can secure SBA-guaranteed loans from $1,000 and up to $150,000 with:
“The economic uncertainty sparked by the pandemic has highlighted the need for increased financial opportunity for everyone starting or sustaining their small businesses,” said Huntington’s SBA program director, Maggie Ference. “Everyone deserves a shot at success, and our program delivers a new solution to customers when they need it most, whether for a startup or an established business looking to grow.”
4. Develop a marketing plan
Creating a brand identity and communicating it well is crucial to success. Consider hiring or contracting marketing services to help you choose your business name, create a logo, build your website and develop a strategic marketing plan to get the word out about your business.
5. Take care of business
Dotting the Is and crossing the Ts is necessary for any business. Details include choosing your business location and registering your business, applying for all the required licenses and permits, including federal and state tax IDs — plus opening your business bank account. Also, consulting an accountant with experience helping small businesses can ensure you have your business and financial ducks in a row.
Starting a small business is a daunting challenge, but it can also be a rewarding opportunity. Taking the time to fully explore and utilize all the resources at your disposal can help ensure that your new business will be a success.
Injuries seem inevitable sometimes. But when it comes to workplace wounds, there are things you can do to prevent them. Here are three common injuries that occur in workplaces around heavy machinery and will help you figure out how you can prevent them.
When it comes to commonplace workplace injuries, broken bones are one of the first things to be aware of. When you’re working with heavy machinery like excavators, dump trucks, and compactors, seemingly small accidents can actually have devastating results.
In order to prevent broken bones in the workplace, be sure to define clear protocols for using each type of heavy equipment. When all team members are on the same page and know how to operate the different equipment, accidents are less likely to occur.
No matter what kind of heavy equipment you use, hearing damage is possible. In order to know exactly how to protect yourself and your team members from potential hearing damage, start by looking at the OSHA standards.
OSHA sets standards for how to protect employees at various decibels of noise. The standards can help you identify when protective gear is required and what kind to use. It can also help you identify how certain types of construction need to be divided up so that individuals aren’t exposed to excessively loud sounds for an extended amount of time.
Another common injury that can occur when working around heavy machinery is burns. Because heavy machinery requires high amounts of electricity, it can overheat and become dangerous. In addition to burns from overheating, you can also receive electrical burns from short-circuiting. In order to prevent the possibility of burns in the workplace, you should start by finding a way to reduce exposure to common sources of burns like flames and steam.
The next important preventative step to take is providing workers with flame retardant apparel when working around heat sources. Taking these precautions can go a long way in preventing possibly harmful accidents and burns.
When it comes to working with heavy equipment, injuries can happen. But figuring out how to prevent some of the most common workplace injuries doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you know where to start. Do your research about the other types of injuries that happen most often in your particular workplace and go from there.
Read this next: How to Make Your Employees More Comfortable With Risky Tasks
You want to have the welfare of your employees at heart but it’s difficult to know where to start when your employees provide their services in the homes of the clients they serve. One home might present completely different challenges than the next. This article will walk you through three things you can do to protect your home service employees.
Train for Different Situations
Make sure your employees are trained for different situations and risks that come with working in various home service roles. It’s important to think widely about different risks entailed to ensure that your employees will be able to feel comfortable and confident in whatever situation they are put in.
Just as it’s important to train an employee in dealing with a variety of different plumbing problems from leaks to broken pipes, it’s also important to train them in handling situations when a kid is home alone or when they personally feel unsafe. Establish company-wide policies for these incidents so that your employees feel comfortable and confident.
You have a responsibility to provide your employees with the equipment they need to protect their health and safety. In order to effectively do their job, they need not only the equipment required for the necessary projects but also the equipment that will ensure they are safe throughout the labor.
For example, pest control business owners should provide their employees with protection against painful insect bites and stings. Having these precautions is essential so that employees will feel comfortable enough to do their job. These preventative measures not only protect your employees but they will also protect you from potential charges.
In the age of the coronavirus, it’s especially important to think about specific COVID precautions to protect both your customers and your employees. For home service business personnel, they will be going in and out of many people’s homes and will resultantly come into contact with many different people and germs.
Think about what precautions you want your employees to take—including wearing masks at all times, wearing gloves, and using hand sanitizer before and after entering an individual’s home.
Making a plan to protect your employees that provide in-home service doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with these suggestions and work your way from there. Implementing even a few changes can greatly affect your employees’ work experience.
Read this next: How to Reduce Waste on Your Jobsite
Businesses need marketing. Specifically, they need marketing to be effective and to both convert consumers into customers and turn customers into repeat business. There are lots of tools available that businesses can leverage for effective marketing. Here are some essentials that you should have on your radar.
Online reviews can be a powerful marketing tool. A majority of people look to reviews before choosing a business for goods or services. What they see as far as reviews of your business can make the difference between them choosing you or your competition. Positive reviews can be a strong influence in this regard, as can how you respond to negative reviews. You can encourage your customers to leave reviews by offering incentives in exchange. This could be a one-time discount, points in your rewards system, or entries for a prize drawing. You can even just ask. A follow-up text or email after a purchase can be a great way to do this.
The Right Social Media Platform
Social media is pretty much everywhere these days. If you aren't using it as a part of your marketing strategy, you're missing out. Of course, with so many different platforms, it can be tricky to know which ones you should be using. Not all platforms are right for all businesses. When determining what platform or platforms you should be using, examine who your target audience is. Different demographics use different platforms, so you should be focusing your social media efforts on those that are most used by people you want to reach. Another thing to keep in mind is that different platforms work better for different kinds of posts. Once you choose a platform, cater your posts to the type and style that works best for it. This will give you the best ROI for your social media marketing.
Video is becoming an increasingly popular and important marketing tool. Many people find videos to be more interesting and engaging than written content, so if that's what your marketing needs to improve on you might need to add some video content. You can do videos that advertise your products and services while showcasing your company's brand and personality. How-to videos have recently seen a surge in popularity as well, becoming one of the ways businesses are striving to maintain consumer interest and engagement during the current ongoing pandemic. If that wasn't enough of a reason to use video, keep in mind that you can optimize videos to improve SEO rankings as well, which will also make it easier for your business to be found on search engines.
Blogs can be valuable tools for businesses. It's hard to overstate the importance of content when it comes to marketing and SEO, and blogging is a great way to add content to your site. It can also be used as a way to communicate with consumers, which can be great if that is one of your weak points. Blogging can’t fix all your communication problems, but it can enhance your marketing campaign. Quality blogs can help consumers see you as more of an authority in your industry, and adding a comments section at the bottom can provide you with an opportunity to engage in some dialog with them.
Email is another great way to communicate with your customers and can be an excellent marketing tool as well. Of course, for it to work, you'll have to get consumer email addresses to contact them with, but there are multiple ways you can approach that, so you should be able to find a method that works. Once you have email addresses you can use them to send customers personalized email marketing messages, which can help you generate repeat business. Personalization is key here, and is a huge factor in getting your messages read and keeping them out of the spam folder.
Data analytics is key to the success of marketing efforts. It's what allows you to understand and interpret customer data in ways that will be meaningful and helpful to your business. When used correctly, it can help you understand your target audience, know where to find them, and how best to reach them. It also plays a key role in your marketing personalization efforts. By understanding consumer habits and patterns you become better able to predict future trends and can use that information to guide your business practices. You can and should use data analytics to guide your marketing strategies, identify what is working and what isn't, and refine as you go.
Perhaps one of the simplest ways to market your business is to take advantage of online business listings. This is a great way to raise awareness for your business among your local consumer base. Most of the time when people are searching for a business, they prefer for it to be one local and close by. By claiming business listings you increase the chance that your business will be one of the ones they find. There are general listings that are good to claim, like Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and other industry-specific listings that you should also claim. You can improve your chances of being found even further by optimizing your business listings.
Browser Push Notifications
Web browser push notifications are great ways for websites to engage consumers. These notifications work by sending messages to consumers after they opt in to getting them. Some companies find that using a soft opt in approach helps them get more people to opt in. Once customers click on the notification they are directed to the page of your choosing. These notifications can be used to confirm transactions, link to informative pages, to offer promotions, or to mark different points in the customer lifecycle. They're a good way to repeatedly engage consumers and encourage future interactions.
There are a lot of tools businesses have at their disposal that they can and should be using as a part of their marketing strategies and efforts. These tools can make a huge difference in whether or not a business is successful, and how successful they are. If you aren't using some of these methods, give them a try and see if they work for you.
Read this next: How to Build a Business When You Don’t Know Where to Start
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