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Online Marketing: Why Social Media is Good, But Not Enough

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Are all of your eggs in one basket?

In the past three years there has been a whirlwind of marketing activity surrounding social media. Marketing Agencies across the globe have been embracing it, Brands have been utilizing it to create “Brand Advocates”, and small businesses everywhere have been flocking to it.

Social Media has to some degree turned marketing on its head and yet while many of the same core principles remain, Social Media, as any other marketing tool, has its own peculiarities and specifics.

It is an excellent tool for brands and businesses of all make, model and size and we have vouched for it innumerable times on this blog alone.

Social Media, however, it is not the end all be all and it is not a stand-alone method for your business. Every business needs to marketed in a manner that is specific to their industry and their customer base. This is especially true for SMALL BUSINESS.

This type of marketing has a couple of different faces and a names, but for sake of simplicity we will refer to it here as “NICHE MARKETING

Work Smarter not Harder

Work Smarter not Harder

Anyone operating a small business can tell you that profit margins can be tight and as such, marketing budgets can be even tighter. The small business owner must market smarter, not harder. They cannot afford to waste even nickles on anything that won’t generate sales leads and potential.

“The small business owner must market smarter, not harder”

Niche Marketing.

Niche Marketing is not simple, but it is also not as complicated as many fear. What it really boils down to is knowing who to market to. What is interesting is that many times the audience you should be targeting is not necessarily the one you would first assume.

Here is an example from our own personal experience at Transition Marketing last year.

“A Surprising Local Demographic”

We sat down with a real estate agent locally to asses their situation. They were doing well, but were ready to make the next big leap in market share. Living in the Okanagan, there is a large amount of vacation property available. Many would assume between that and local young families, that the dominant target market would be obvious.

It turned out that in the specific region we were dealing with, the most untapped market was in fact a split between older retiring citizens (65+) and elderly population looking to downsize.

Now of course. one does not necessarily want to rely solely on Social Media to chase down a target market such as this. Greater success was made using the medium most accessible to them – printed advertising. Newspapers, buy & sells, coffee shop readers and so on. Quaint, archaic perhaps, but effective and by utilizing this relatively inexpensive medium, we were able to address an often overlooked demographic to great success.

Niche Marketing is all about specific, focused efforts to reach a specific audience. To do so, one cannot rely on “blanket strategies” or “mass marketing“. Likewise Social Media is an excellent tool, but it cannot stand-alone. It is a resource best used in conjunction with other efforts. This may include more traditional avenues such as print, radio and video, or networking events such as trades and sales shows.

There is one area that all Niche Marketing has in common. One that in this day and age cannot be overlooked… a website.

A website is a necessity, not a suggestion.

Fishing for leads is great... if you have a place to land them. That is where a website comes in.

Fishing for leads is great… if you have a place to land them. That is where a website comes in.

It is the 21st century, the year 2013 and businesses that want to success need to recognize the importance of an online presence.

Online searches are the primary means of locating businesses, products and services and online searches while on the move (mobile) are quickly becoming the norm.

Consider these recent statistics:

    • By 2015, mobile internet usage is projected to overtake desktop usage. (Microsoft Tag)
    • Mobile traffic increased to over 16% of overall web traffic. Mobile web traffic increased 27% in 2012. (Marketingland)
    • Mobile data traffic globally in 2011 was 8 times greater than in 2010. (Econsultancy)
    • At time of report, there were 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them owned a cell phone. (Search Engine Watch)
    • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour (Social Media Today)

    • Use of mobile search has grown by 500% over the past two years.(Econsultancy)

    • Average smart phone usage almost tripled in 2011. (Econsultancy)

    • 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. (Microsoft tag)

If your business does not have a website, how many sales leads are you missing out on? Search engines do index some social media material, but these search results do not come close to touching what the indexing and results that a good website will provide. Here is an example:

I am on a lovely vacation to the south Okanagan Valley with my family. The Okanagan is considered a bit of a tourist hot-spot and many of the local Okanagan businesses benefit from the summer tourism surge.

I have a little spending money and I am looking to sit down and enjoy a nice meal locally with my family. After that I think I will take in some of the local entertainment and maybe do a little shopping.

But where do I go? I suppose I could use a Yellow Pages directory… if PayPhones were still a thing. Let’s face it, I have my smart phone so I am going to just pop in a Google search and see what comes up.

Will it be your business?

Social media has been proven to increase SEO (Search Engine Results) for websites. By using a combination of Social Media WITH a website, you are increasing you websites opportunity to be viewed and (if you are using Social Media properly) you are also engaging your customer base.

Social Media is in itself not a stand-alone marketing strategy. It is a tool to be used in conjunction with more foundational marketing. Its use in online marketing is only truly effective if you have a website.

“Fishing for leads is great… if you have a place to land them. That is where a website comes in.”

If marketing is fishing than consider Social Media to be the fishing line and your website to be the boat. Social Media can reel in leads, but where will you direct them for further information?

Websites are a home base. A place where customers (should) be able to get everything they need to take action immediately. Whether they get there by search engine, referral, social media engagement or other… the website is where they need to land.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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Small Business: 5 More Great Marketing & Promotional Tips

Image Source: 123rf.com

Image Source: 123rf.com

1. Consider Your PR.

PR (Public Relations) is the path to success. Many marketing firms will focus solely on lead generation, gauging their success based on those numbers alone. While lead generation is important, a focus on PR ensures that a business also generates image and brand recognition. As any first year marketing student can tell you, this in itself is a means to generating leads.

PR can take a multitude of forms. One of the most common is the “Press Release” which often takes the form of new product or service announcements. This is a highly budget-minded means of generating strong leads.

“Once, for less than $100, I wrote, printed and distributed a new-product release to 100 trade journals. Within six months, the release had been picked up by 35 magazines and generated 2,500 bingo-card inquiries. -Robert W. Bly (SOURCE)”

Take advantage of press release materials by posting the content in a media or press section of your website (blogs work). Remember to consider SEO and optimize the press releases with key word and phrases to draw in organic search traffic.

Another means of generating good PR, is to back a not-for-profit (charity). Involving oneself with community and charitable events is an excellent means of creating a positive image for a brand. Consider pledging corporate support to local food banks, children’s clubs or other community minded initiatives.

Image Source: humor-kings.com

Image Source: humor-kings.com

2. Don’t Pay Too Much For Outside Talent.

It can pay off very well to hire freelancers and consultants. BUT ONLY if they can get results. Always, ALWAYS check credentials. Do not overpay amateurs.

Take time and research contractor fees. It is the 21st century, the internet exists and there is no excuse to not do the homework. For instance at the time of this writing the best advertising photographers, are making $1,000 a day at minimum. Are they worth it? The short answer is yes…. if the business is a fortune 500 and looking at running in Forbes, for just about anyone else it is like dropping a nuke on a cricket – a classic overkill.

“It is the 21st century, the internet exists and there is no excuse to not do the homework.”

As stated above, it is the 21st century, the digital age and there are numerous photographers that can do a good job for a reasonable price.

The same can be said for designers, content consultants, artists, copy-writers etc.

Look for someone whose expertise matches the specific need and budget at hand. Do not overspend.

Image Source: 123rf.com

Image Source: 123rf.com

3. If Possible (Learn To) Do it yourself.

Many tasks related to marketing, advertising and promoting a business can seem daunting at first. However the business-man on a budget must be willing to tackle them himself.

Distributing press releases, operating social media, updating company profiles or creating newsletters and other paraphernalia almost always be done in-house at a lower expense. Save the outside hiring budget for tasks that require special expertise.

“The business-man on a budget must be willing to tackle certain tasks himself.”

Very few small businesses have the budget to hire a full-time marketing manager. Instead consider contracting out certain marketing essentials (website updates, SEO, branding) to proven firms at a steady rate that you can afford. Then look at hiring a full or even part-time administrative assistant to handle the day-to-day details related to keeping communications flowing.

4. Fully Use All Existing Content.

Whether photos, illustrations, videos, articles, layouts and even onetime promotional copy can be used and then re-used elsewhere to hack back creative marketing costs.

For example: If you have paid for good product photography, use it everywhere possible, product catalogues, website images, monthly report covers, even stationary and email signatures. 

Don’t just toss away anything, If you gave thumbnails, concepts, sketches or layouts that weren’t used for “this project”

Small-Business-Marketing

time, hang on to them and use them with the next project. It will cut back the costs to develop from scratch.

5. Pay The Bills.

If this isn’t obvious, you will ALWAYS save money with vendors whom you have strong relationships with. Keep you vendors happy and they have a reason to protect your account. Not to mention saving the interest on late payments.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Small Business: 4 Valuable Tips To Remember When Developing Marketing & Promotions

Okanagan

Pennies still matter, even if they don’t exist anymore.

Marketing Small Business On A Budget.

We have yet to meet a small business that did not consider their budget to be one of their primary concerns. Let’s face it, our budgets are modest and we need to make every penny count. Here are 4 crucial things to consider when developing your marketing.

Four Points To Ponder:

1. If It Works, Keep It Up.

 New and fresh is good, however if one is achieving success with a specific promotion, don’t scrap it! Too often we scrap our promotions because we are bored with them. This is a tremendous waste. One should not spend their budget implementing new marketing directives if their existing ones are working and effective. Run with an ad or promotion for as long as customers are engaged and reacting.

“How long can ads continue to get results? The Ludlow Corp. ran an ad for its erosion-preventing Soil Saver mesh 41 times in the same journal. After 11 years it pulled more inquiries per issue than when it was first published in 1966. SOURCE” 

But how long can an ad get results? Isn’t fresh content important? Yes fresh is absolutely important, however so is keeping within budget. If a specific ad or promotion still has selling power but contains stale content or information, don’t just throw it out or begin over, instead move forward with updates.

2. Don’t Over Do It.

It can be very easy to suddenly find oneself over budget, “a few extra bucks and you get the extra two pages”, “a few more and you get embossed mailers”. Quality matters yes, however it is easy to quickly over do it.

One must make their marketing decisions based on the realities of their budgets. Do not try to imitate big-budget corporations who go for broke on their materials. Remember that ones promotions and image needs to be dictated by THEIR products and THEIR market, not necessarily by what businesses in unrelated fields are doing

Producing materials that are too fancy or far-reaching for its target audience is simply a waste of money, not only that but it can damage your brands image and integrity, as the consumer base will see the flash and pomp and will immediately question your understanding of their market and needs.

3. Modular (Adaptable) Product Literature.

Image Source: Speedycopy.ca

Image Source: Speedycopy.ca

A common budget oriented concern is how to promote a product or service to multiple markets. Every market presents a different need and the product or service has to be presented differently to each. So how does a small business with a small budget afford multiple variations of their sales literature?

“Module Literature” is essentially promotional literature that is built-in sections.See, a basic brochure layout is created with sections that are capable of being quickly altered  for specific market needs. In a modular layout, the standard sections remain unchanged, but new text can be laid into the one or two necessary sections to create more niche directed literature. By using the same basic layout, artwork etc, one creates literature directed at multiple niches, all from the same basic design.

Most brochures and literature consist of sections. Some, like “Contacts”, “About Us”, “Product Operation” etc. are static and can remain the same from customer to customer. The one or two more sections that focus on specific niche customers can then be adapted and changed as necessary.

By proceeding in this fashion one is able to target multiple customer bases, while saving substantial money and time.

4. Using Re-prints For Niche Literature.

Re-prints are so useful that we actually ran a post last week outlining nine great uses for re-prints of existing advertising and marketing literature (here).

Is is not unusual to see a wide array of request for specialized, “incidental” pieces of product literature:

  • Data sheets.
  • Draft drawings.
  • Specialized sales literature.
  • Product summaries.
  • Product comparisons.

The list goes on. Each of these specific pieces serve a good purpose, educating and servicing customers. Yet trying to keep up and produce multiple copies of varying materials can be both time-consuming and expensive. Simply put, trying to produce literature for every need ones market may hold is far too expensive.

Instead, consider using already bought and paid for advertising and article reprints as sales literature. In the same way that Modular Literature works, one can use existing literature as a cover sheet, while providing inexpensive additional inserts specific to the recipient.

The inserts do not have to be fancy, as the re-prints of existing literature will offer a nice cover page to the valuable information they provide.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Small Business Sales: Equipping Customers to Find Your Business

Finding-Customers-Small-Business

Finding Small Business Customers.

You finally did it, struck out on your own. You went from “wantrepreneur” to small business owner. You have the products and services, the passion and maybe even some sort of budget!

Now what?  Time to succeed!

Time to impress consumers, make sales and create a sustainable income. Ok! sooooo…how does one do that? How does one equip their small business for long-term success?

Let’s face it, the key to succeeding in small business is the same as big business.

Sales.

Without sales, there is no revenue and without revenue it can be difficult to pay the bills, much less grow.

There are many differences that separate big business from small. For example how those sales are made, who they are made to and the approach behind them. However the same truth applies: “to make a sale, you must have customers.” So how do you get customers?

Let’s break this down to elementary school basics.

Making a Sale for Dummies:

  1. To make SALES you require CUSTOMERS.
  2. CUSTOMERS are simply CONSUMERS (people shopping) until the sale is made, ergo to start you must find CONSUMERS (people shopping).
  3. To find CONSUMERS, you must make your business accessible, easy to find and easy to connect with.
  4. Once you have connected with a consumer base, you can work on making the sale.

For many small businesses, making the sale is only half the problem, first they need to find and connect with the consumers (potential customers), because “Without someone to sell to, sales can be a little tough.”

The first thing any small business must consider, is HOW to make it easier for consumers to find them. If your business is not easy to find, then that must change immediately.

There are many resources available with which to connect your business to consumers, however the most commonly overlooked (and feared) are the online tools.

Creating A Visible, Accessible Small Business, Online:Small-Business-Website

When determining how to connect and market to a specific body of consumers, we always attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are attempting to reach. Doing so can give you great insight into who they are, what they are looking for, where they are looking and how they are doing it.

Recently Todd Ebert, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for the online marketing firm ReachLocal, was quoted as stating the same thing: Put yourselves in the mindset of the average consumer. Think about how you buy things – and how people might find your products or services. (Source)

There is value in utilizing offline resources like the YellowPages, business directories and print medium, however small businesses must also dedicate resources to building their online presence. It is the era of online research. By default almost every consumer begins their search for products and services with Google.

Online searches provide consumers with all of the results, reviews, recommendations and refusals they could possibly need.

You typically start with a Google search. You look for reviews, informative videos, comments on social media sites and recommendations from friends and family. You visit relevant message boards and online communities to learn about the experiences of other consumers. You try free samples and trials when you can.

How your business places in these results – or whether it even places at all – is directly determined by the amount of effort you put in to your online presence. Yes this effort represents a cost and a sacrifice to you, however it is a necessary one. Newly established small businesses cannot afford to shun the online world.

Knowing where your consumers are looking, and what search results are most prominent, can provide you with the insight as to where to concentrate your efforts.

Okanagan Marketing1. Website:

First and foremost get a GOOD website. If you cannot build one yourself (most cannot) then pay for one. It will be the best investment you ever make.

This is your online home base, the centre of your online presence. All of your other online resources should link back to this. If you have ever heard the term “landing page”, that is what this is referring to. You websites homepage is where the consumer will land with the click of a mouse.

  1. Use this landing page to control the consumers first impression of you.
  2. An effective landing page is built to be clear and easy to navigate.
  3. Ensure it is professional looking.
  4. Avoid clutter and avoid too much immediate information.
  5. Instead create a website with the intention of immediately equipping the consumer base with what they need then and there.
  6. Use your homepage to engage and draw the consumer in (they can get more info on your websites additional pages).
  7. Populate the homepage with clean, easy to understand and aesthetically pleasing content.
  8. Provide easy navigation. When laying out the website, consider WHERE consumers will want to go to from each page.
  9. Ensure tabs to other pages on the website as clearly labelled. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they will quickly need to know where to go next.

2. Social Media:Small-Business-Social-Media

Yes, social media is necessary. Some still struggle with the concept, yet it has become an essential part of any online presence.

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and the vast array of other social sites, play a huge role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Web Traffic, Page Ranking and Page Results.
  2. Think of it this way. Your website is a dot, a Facebook profile is another dot, a Twitter profile is a third dot. The dot’s alone are tiny, however if you connect each dot with a line, you have a larger triangle. This is how social media effects online presence.
  3. Beyond simple page ranking, these sites offer an unprecedented opportunity to directly engage consumers, giving small business owners one more avenue to find and convert to customers.
  4. Social Media is just that, social. It is an endless conversation between people spanning ages, cultures, societies, demographics and target markets. With 180 million users on Facebook alone, a small business owner would be rather silly not to put the effort in.

For more on the ins and outs of Social Media, consider visiting our following posts, or Google it and see what others are saying.

 

Online Advertising.

Online advertising can be surprisingly cost-effective, however one must take care to ensure they are doing it correctly. Remember that the world wide web is a very VERY big place, and any advertising efforts on the part of small business need to be highly targeted.

The good news is that most avenues for online advertising provide for this. Google Adwords is a great example of intuitive and price competitive online advertising. Other options such as Facebook Ad’s, AdRoll and YellowPages360 also warrant investigation.

It only takes one or two sales and these ad’s are quickly paid for. What is more, they are very easy to set up. Google Adwords will take you by the hand and walk you through the entire process.

Conclusion.

Remember to monitor the results of your online presence. Search online regularly and see what showing up, is it what you want? if not, then take the time to adjust.

Check up and see what people are saying about your business. Read reviews, watch the social media channels. Take all of this information and use it. Use it to adjust, to react and to plan your future strategies.

Will you make some mistakes along the way? YES! It is a process, with a learning curve. Stick with it, take your lumps and learn the process, it will take your business to the next level, instigate business growth and save your business on overhead.

Create an online presence, provide your consumers with a place and the tools to connect with you and you will be on your way to converting consumers to customers, thereby driving sales.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

 

A “Want To” – The Hidden Propellant of Small Business Success

Small-Business

Start-Up and Shut-Down

Too many small businesses start-up only to falter after a year. Some of this is related to budget, some of it is related to economics, some of it is completely out of our control. However, there is an even more common reason behind this failure.

Lack of “Want To“.

Lack of passion.

The fact is that many entrepreneurs start their small businesses because they want to own a business, however they are not necessarily interested in the industry that they are starting up in. They do not want to do what the business CONSISTS of.

I recently chatted with a coffee shop owner whose partnership is dissolving as a result of this very thing.

Her partner in the business was interested in business ownership, however was not interested in the least, in coffee shops or any of the atmosphere that goes with it (good coffee beans, conversations, art, baking) or any of the other elements related to coffee shop success. They wanted to own a business, to be self-employed, but they hated coffee shop routines.

FACT: You can be self-employed and not want to go to work.

And that is a serious issue.

“Want To” is almost always hinged on “Passion”. If you want to start a business, ensure that it is in an industry you are passionate about, then your desire to succeed will be propelled by your natural enthusiasm and reinforced by your need to stay in the business you love.

Start a business, but start one you are passionate about, and be wary of partnerships with people who do not share that “want to”.

Okanagan-Small-Business-Marketing.jpg

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

 

Attitude: The Unseen Key To Success & Business

That Aspect Of Success That Cannot Be Bought…

In previous posts we have discussed the many different tools and resources available for success in small business: Targetted marketing, branding, SEO, social media, customer service, communications and so forth. Yet one key factor in the success of any business effort is attitude.

Your attitude.

Yes knowledge, skill, effort, talent, connections and background all play a big part, yet the one thing that you have, that your competition does not, is your attitude. If you want to stand out, to set yourself apart and to lead the pack, then you need to have a grasp on how this crucial aspect plays into your business.

Success in business, as with art, athletics, politics and relationships is determined by attitude. Your mentality, your attitude and your passion are of absolute importance. This concept is demonstrated every time the underdog overcomes the favored opposition. It is what drives success despite the odds.

Attitude – Your Attitude.

Maintaining a good, positive, driven attitude, however, can be difficult. Here we will outline 13 key attributes that you can use to straighten out your mindset for success.

13 Attributes Of A Successful Attitude:

1. Passion – Possess It!

Why did you go into business for yourself to begin with? Work does not need to always be a drag and nor should it. Work should be fun and your passion is the key to this. Obstacles, doubts, moments of difficulty, can all be overcome with a passionate attitude.

Passion is infectious. It will persuade and win people to your side. It will draw people to you and therefore to your business.

This is an attribute that cannot be taught. If you are not passionate about what you do, ask yourself why? Keep in mind that difficult times will stress your passion, it will weaken it, and you may call it into question, you may call your entire business into question. During those times – take a break! – and remember all of the reasons why you do what you do, and why you will keep doing it. This break may take an hour, it may take a week, but regaining your passion for your business is crucial.

2. Believe – Have Confidence!

Possibly the most important attribute. You must believe in yourself, in your vision and in your business. People are drawn to confidence, it is a defining characteristic of a good leader. Exude confidence

Do not let doubts in. Squash them early on. Doubts will weaken you, they will cause you to avoid decisions and to eventually make poor ones. They will also push people away.

Believe in yourself.

3. Failure – Laugh At It!

It is a cliche to be sure, but failure truly is an opportunity to learn. The first impulse is to get mad and discouraged. You may even be tempted to give up – don’t. Shrug it off, learn from it and do not let it scare you from trying again.

Learn from it and figure out what went wrong.

  1. If it was in your control, change it for next time.
  2. If it was not within your control determine whether it can be adjusted for next time.

Sometimes situations are nothing more than the result of variables beyond our control. Do not count these as failures, but rather, as the storms you must weather.

4. Moral Compass – Own One!

People can and will always sniff out trustworthiness. Being upstanding and morally respectable will not only draw people to you, it will keep them there. People want to know they can trust you whether for their products, for their services, or for their employment.

Repeat business is based on consumer trust.  People are drawn to trustworthiness, so to are consumers. Give them a reason to follow you, to stay with you and you will do well.

Set an example of trust to other merchants and businesses. Be the example people refer to when they talk about service. Create a brand recognition of trust and remember that it is the little things. Create a brand that other businesses can learn from.

5. Flexibility – Use It!

Times change, plans change, strategies change and so too will your small business. Adjusting to new ideas, new products, new services and new competition is all a part of owning a business. Luckily small business is far more flexible and adaptable then its larger colleagues.

Adjusting is all a part of the equation, and your attitude should reflect that. The key here is to be flexible, yet  no matter how easy the sale, no matter how small the adjustment – never change your morals. Be upstanding and refuse to be anything less, even if it is the easier road.

The moment you bend your morals once, it will be that much easier to do it again.

Do not hold out against new ideas or opportunities. Always be open and give everything a fair chance.

6. Decisions – Make Them!

It is alright to go with that gut feeling once in awhile, (unless you ate a bad taco the night before, then give it a pass).

Planning and forethought are good, yet delay can mean missed opportunities.

Your Attitude Needs To Mean The Ability To Make Decisions

Your attitude needs to include the ability to make decisions

7. Value – You Have It! 

Working a 70 hour work week can actually damage your efforts. You are better to be well rested and making sharp, informed decisions for 40 hours instead. Keep your health in mind, take care of yourself. You are quite literally the brains of the operation and if those brains are drowsy, it is going to affect everything.

No machine, no computer, no app, nothing is more important to your business than you yourself. It should never come down to choosing between family and business, work or play, sleep or espresso (mmm espresso….). Maintaining your health is crucial to your businesses long term success.

8. Your Ego – Shut It Up! 

By spending your profits on toys and gear to impress the world you are setting yourself up for failure. Did you make a good sale this week? Skip the Porsche and set that cash aside. A few bad weeks and you could be handing that Porsche back – along with the keys to your business.

Instead, reinvest a portion into the business and set aside another portion for the unexpected. Having a nest egg set aside for a rainy day, or a great new opportunity is invaluable to long term success.

Transition Marketing - Reinvest Your Profits Into Your Company Not Your Toys!

Don’t be tempted into wasting profits on toys when your business could profit from and investment.

9. Mistakes – Admit & Accept Them! 

Create an environment that allows for the ownership of mistakes. You will make them, your employees will make them, your suppliers will make them and your customers will make them. By acting graciously towards others, they will return the favour to you. As long as humans are involved in anything, mistakes will happen, one is better off learning to deal with it, then stressing out about it.

It is better to encourage your employees to disclose mistakes then to have them attempt to hide them. For one thing, knowing the mistake early on means addressing them quickly.

This gracious spirit needs to be reinforced regularly. Stating it once and putting it in a generic company policy will not make a difference. People need to see it, and experience it.

10. Criticism – Take It! 

One of the most difficult attributes you need is the ability to accept criticism. Anyone with a fragile ego is tempted to get angry or even to lash out. This is the opposite of confidence and will quickly undermine your leadership. It will alienate employees and customers alike.

Learning to take criticism is all a part of growing up. It will reinforce relationships, build trust and heck, you may even learn a thing or two!

11. Strong Work Ethic – Exemplify It!

Show a strong work ethic and others will follow suit. As the head of the business, your example means the world to your employees. If you work hard, they will as well.

If the head creates an example, the body will follow and soon you will be outworking your competition. On the flip side, if you do not put your back into it, do not expect your employees to either.

12. Don’t Look Back – Bounce Back!

You will meet obstacles along the way. Building a business is not an easy task. Push forward, learn from mistakes and do not dwell on them. Until we have reinvented the DeLorian we will remain unable to change the past, so move on.

13. Your Comfort Zone – Get Out!

There will be opportunities that require you to step out of your comfort zone. It is the nature of business to have to change, adjust and evolve and this will require making difficult or uncomfortable decisions.

The key is to do it. Do not let your comfort zone prevent you from implementing necessary or high potential changes to your business. In order to grow, your business will need you to step up.

Take some time out of your day each day to remember what it is you are doing and why

Every business will have a certain level of skill, smarts, talent and background but none will have your attitude. Use this to your advantage! Become the boss you always wanted to have and drive the business you always wanted to be a part of!

Attitude – it’s what will lead you to success.

Transition Marketing Services - Okanagan Small Business Marketing Solutions

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

 

Starting A Small Business Part 1

Okanagan Valley Marketing - British Columbia

Thinking of starting a small business? Great! make sure you know what to expect. (Image Source photospin.com © 2001)

Small Business On The Move.

With the changing of the economy, we are seeing more professionals seeking to be their own boss. While some seek entrepreneurial freedom off of a new idea or innovation, many seek to begin a business within the industries they are most familiar with. It can be a difficult road to pursue, yet extraordinarily rewarding.

Success and failure often seem to balanced precariously on a knives edge at times. Many factors come into play, some within our power – many outside of it. The fact is that no sure-fire way to succeed exists, and beginning a business will always represent a risk.

That said, there are certain means and methods one can take to increase the odds. Understanding some of the rules, and knowing the tools that exist can help reduce the headaches, and the failures.

Below we will dive into the first of a two part series examining tips and resources for start-ups.

Make A Plan.

1. Fulfillment.

First, decide what business type makes the most practical sense, given your temperament, abilities, background and passions, for you to pursue. While many start-ups begin as a result of a passion for a specific business, others begin due to a desire for freedom. It is important to truly contemplate what it is you want to do.

Much of small businesses long term success is determined by the level of fulfillment it gives the owner.

2. Finances – Breaking Even?

Create a budget vs start-up costs analysis and be honest! If you will not be breaking even immediately, how long? Determine your long term plan. How long can you survive without making the necessary sales? Remember that it may take a while to generate profit and you need to be able to sustain not only your business, but yourself, your family etc.

3. Finance – Sales & Profits.

Simple, but easy to miss. Making sales is great, but making profits is better. Determine within your plan, how long it may be before you not only break even, but generate increased cash flow.

4. Goals – Make Them.

Set three or four key goals for your business, in relation to your costs, budget and sales plan. Keep them simple, keep them achievable but keep them relevant.

  • What promotional materials need to be in place before you open your doors?
  • By what date do you intend on making x number of dollars?
  • How many customers do you intend to have contacted within your first month?

5. Business Plan.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing and Business Plans

Devising a proper and well laid out business plan at the start, will save loads of work later on.

Write a business plan – many resources exist online and at career institutes to assist you. Include your budget vs cost comparison, your profit forecast or cash-flow analysis and the goals you have set.

6. Search Out Business Financing Resources.

There are people who will finance your business. Government grants, financial institutions…Grandma.

Ok maybe not Grandma, but a quick search can turn up some surprising cash oriented resources that can make or break you efforts early on.

7. A Marketing Plan.

  • How will your promote you business in the beginning?
  • What type of materials will you use?
  • Who will you target?
  • What message will you target with?
  • How does this fit into your budget?
  • What will give your business the most bang for your buck?
  • What is the timeline for your business cards? your website? your vehicle decals? etc etc.

Decide On A Legal Structure For Your Business.

8. Consider The Various Forms Of Business Structures.

Explore the pros and cons. Here are a few of the ownership types you will come across:

  • Sole proprietorship (single owner)
  • Partnership (multiple owners)
  • Co-operative
  • Corporation

9. Key Factors That Affect Business Structures:

  • What is the simplest business format for your industry?
  • Does this structure fit for future needs?
  • How many owners will be involved?
  • What type of start-up capital will you need?
  • What are the personal pros and cons regarding liability and limited liability?
  • Do you stand to gain from selling stock?
  • How should your business be taxed?

10. Discuss Your Business Structure with a Lawyer.

Answer the necessary questions for yourself first. Devise a business plan and ensure you have done adequate research to reduce any legal consulting time needed. There are numerous resources available for this, search online or check with local career centre. Once you have done what leg work you can, consider discussing your plans with a lawyer.

We explore the pro’s and cons related to the business structure options in depth in our posting on Canadian Business Structures

Transition Marketing Services Okanagan Small Business Solutions

Make a list of potential names then check the availability.

Name Your Business.

11. When Naming Your Business Consider:

  • What service or industry are you in?
  • Does your name make sense for this industry?
  • What are some of your competitors names?
  • What will grab attention?
  • Is the name similar to others out there? It may impact availability, and your ranking in phones books and even search engines.
  • What will work with slogans, marketing and promotions?

Consider names that make use of standard industry terms, of your geography and your brand promise, also consider creativity and fun.

12. Are Your Considered Names Available?

The name may be awesome, but it may also be taken. Business name availability will depend on a number of variables:

  • The industry: An industrial plastics business will have less existing businesses then a hipster coffee shop.
  • The location: Including location terms like “Western Canadian, British Columbia, Okanagan” etc. can reduce availability – so double check.

You need to also consider where you will be doing business. Verify all the key areas for availability including:

  • Online: Check to see if your business name is available as a website domain. (Hint: You can try purchasing the domain rights from the owner, however that can be expensive – if it is already taken, consider a minor deviation to the name).
  • Local Community: Verify with the local authorities to see if your proposed name has been taken. It may be used by a genuine business, or even a fictitious one. Either way if it is taken, it is taken. (Hint: Here again you may be able to purchase the rights, or may want to consider a minor deviation to the name – Example: Spelling etc).
  • Provincially & Federally: Run a trademark search on the considered names on your list. Keep in mind that using a name that is trademarked elsewhere could simply confuse the customer.

13. Choose A Name.

Use the above tips to slowly eliminate names from your list. Choose one of the remaining that fits well with your business, desired image and personal preference.

14. Register The Name.

Register your name locally and as a domain etc. Doing so will eliminate any messy legal issues that may arise in the future from others attempting to use the same name. If needs be register it federally or as a trademark as well (this may be unnecessary for start-ups).

That sums up the first of our two part series. We will finish up next week by looking at Business Locations, Permits, Insurance and more! Exciting stuff so stay tuned!

Transition Marketing Services - Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.