Category — Small Business Advice
There was a time when giving gifts to business associates and clients was an all or nothing proposition. Either you gave them nothing, largely because of the cost, or you limited gifts given to only “special” clients, also largely due to cost. Fortunately, thanks to a lot of creativity, not to mention technology, today you can give gifts that can be obtained at reasonable cost, thus enabling you to give some sort of gift to practically everyone on your client list.
Let me tell you about Bob. Bob didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but he prided himself on liking all of his clients and wanting to prove it with some sort of Christmas “gift.” The result was a chance encounter with an advertising specialty salesman who told him about a wide selection of gift ideas that would literally allow him to control his bottom line for gift giving, thus allowing Bob to give something to everyone on his client list.
One look at an ad specialties catalog and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of items that can be personalized with the name, address, logo, and phone number, along with some other line of greeting or slogan of your business.
Ad specialties are an excellent method of giving gifts for special occasions. It’s also worthy of note that tailoring your needs and budget to a gift is the specialty salesperson’s stock in trade. And fortunately, the flexibility offered by specialties can work with one more important variable: delivery.
How you are planning to deliver your gift to the recipient is an important consideration when selecting a gift. For example, one friend of mine will not send a mailing promoting his gift without including some sort of premium inside. Of course, this necessitates that the item be lightweight and flat so that it fits inside of an envelope. Items such as nail files and large plastic paper clips are perfect for this use.
The method of delivery was also an important consideration when another businessman friend wanted to give away coffee mugs to clients who visited his office over the course of the holidays. This gentleman had a clientele that frequented his office on a regular basis, so when it came time for an appointment, each client was offered a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, which came in an attractive mug that, when emptied, became a gift. This unexpected gesture was a very welcome surprise, even if it did have the giver’s name, logo and contact information attractively printed on the outside.
All of this goes to show that with a little effort, patience and creativity, gift giving to practically all of your clients can be fun, useful, and very economical. It should also be noted that with a special gift in hand, a client who visits your office or when you visit his, can turn a business call into an unexpected pleasure.
November 30, 2010 No Comments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phoenix, AZ – November 2010 – This month, leading online B2B wholesale distributor DollarDays introduced a partnership with Superior Financial Group to help business owners secure Small Business Administration loans.
DollarDays is the premiere online wholesale and closeout company that helps small businesses to compete against chain retailers by offering more than 140,000 high-quality goods at prices close to those at which large enterprises purchase. Through this new lending program, people will be able to access the application for a small business loan ranging from $5k to $25k directly through the DollarDays website. The loans, provided by federally licensed SBA lender Superior Financial Group, are geared towards start-ups, home-based businesses, and small businesses.
“With lenders giving preference to larger businesses with more assets, there are less dollars for small businesses like start-ups and mom & pop stores,” says DollarDays Founder and President Marc Joseph. “DollarDays’ main principle is about helping small businesses stay competitive with larger retailers, and this program offers a solution many business owners can’t find elsewhere. It’s an affordable way to help people secure SBA-backed loans of up to $25,000 and continue to grow and scale their businesses.”
There is no collateral required to secure a loan, and it is possible to get funding within days of completing the online small business loan pre-qualifier application. There is no risk obligation, no prepayment penalties, or balloon payments, so the loans can be paid off at anytime. There are also special loans available for Export business.
“We are excited to be teaming up with Dollars Days and help provide much needed capital to help small businesses grow in these challenging economic times,” says Tim Jochner, CEO of Superior Financial Group.
To apply for a small business loan through Superior Financial Group, you can visit the DollarDays website and click on the banner in the right margin to apply. DollarDays members can also apply for a loan through the fast and easy SBA loan pre-qualification process.
DollarDays International is a Web-based virtual warehouse, where small business owners and charities can find great deals on small business-sized orders from more than 140,000 consumer products, like wholesale jewelry, wholesale clothing, household décor, electronics, and seasonal merchandise. The company’s unique, innovative business model enables small business owners to offer quality merchandise, membership free, while reaping the same kinds of discounts and margins routinely offered exclusively to the largest retailers. In 2006, DollarDays made its debut at number 158 on Inc. Magazine 500 list of fastest growing private companies and recently was named one-of-50 second-stage Arizona “Companies to Watch” by the Arizona Small Business Association. Feel free to contact DollarDays at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-837-9569.
November 16, 2010 No Comments
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many small business owners are looking to do something special for their employees, something for their customers to carry on the holiday spirit. Beyond being fun, beyond being an effective way to further endear your business to your clients and employees, this also helps to sort of “legitimize” a newer business.
Think about it. Suppose it’s December fifteenth and there are two local shops that only opened their doors for business a few months ago. One has their Christmas decorations up, the other doesn’t. Clearly the one with some decorations up is going to look a little more professional than the other, a little more like the management really cares and is trying to put every effort into their business.
So, if you’re looking for something special to do but can’t make up your mind, take one of these suggestions and see if you can work it into your own plans. These are all designed to go a step beyond simple decorations to spread the holiday cheer, but without forcing you to dig deep into the corporate account.
Red and Green Paper
This is just a little thing, but you might be surprised what a difference it makes. Clearly you’re not going to replace all the printer paper with red and green Christmas themed stationary, but if you get a roll of red or green receipt paper, some red and green post-it note pads and so on, it can really brighten up the atmosphere around the office.
Secret Santa Gifting
The whole secret Santa thing is a longstanding workplace tradition. The anonymous gifting allows workers to give away only one present, as few people can really afford a present for each and every person at the workplace on top of all of their own family and friends. The Secret Santa tradition gives employees something to look forward to when they get to work and encourages a friendlier atmosphere around the Holidays.
Thanksgiving Office Pot Luck
The problem with the holidays is that people tend to skip right from Halloween to Christmas when it comes to decorations and parties and so on. Other than the family feast, you’d almost think Thanksgiving was just another Thursday. Well, with an office pot luck as a warm up dinner about a week or so before the big day, it’s easy to encourage the notion of treating your co-workers as family and boost the office morale. Just provide the paper plates and maybe a treat of your own and you’re good to go.
The bottom line is that running a business can’t all be boiled down to spreadsheets and numbers and business intelligence and so on. There’s also a human element that is often neglected, and the holidays are when that human element becomes very important. If you have employees and clients who are happy around December, you can consider office morale to be far above and beyond average.
November 8, 2010 No Comments
With the holidays fast approaching, retail stores all over are preparing to cash in on the biggest consumer shopping months of the year. November and December are huge shopping months because of the day after Thanksgiving sale (black Friday), and of course the commercialized Holiday of Christmas. But retail stores aren’t the only establishments cashing in on the Holiday spending.
Small businesses have in the past taken advantage of consumer shopping around the Holidays, and the best opportunity for success is via the internet. The internet makes it easy and very convenient for small businesses to reach out to new customers. In fact, with just a simple website and a few advertising campaigns, new customers will be just a click away.
Most brick and mortar businesses are your small independent mom and pop shops, and usually only do business with their local customers. This can prevent the business from growing, but with the internet, customers can come from all around the word. And this will definitely expand any business into a global company. Now with the Holidays coming up, this is the perfect time for small businesses to cash in on the billions spent this time of the year.
A website can easily be created online, and the prices to get the site up and running will vary based on the features the website will need. For example, a small business that carries hundreds of products and want to display their catalog online, may require database functionality. This will be more expensive to create than a standard website. The idea is to have the website represent the business perfectly, so that when someone visits the site, they will want to make a purchase.
The internet is huge enough for any and all products to get noticed, and this is why small businesses have such great success online. Consumers want options and when they are given options, especially for Holiday shopping, they spend a lot more money. So whatever your small business has to offer, get it up online and join the other small businesses this Holiday season. Remember, your business may be local, but with the internet it’ll have a global effect.
- Check out DollarDays Build an Online Store feature.
November 1, 2010 No Comments
Owning a small business can be a fun and exciting challenge, full of promise and adventure. Whether it’s a part-time gig or an up and coming franchise hopeful, a successful owner never stops learning about ways to improve business. There are several helpful pointers that could benefit business owners for fall and the upcoming holidays.
It’s no surprise that fall is arts and crafts season. All around are signs of the season, from scented candles to decorated pumpkins. With Halloween coming up, it could be an opportune time to step out of that comfort zone. There are many businesses that thrive just by placing decorated pumpkins or a scary ghost in the window. These are just some ways of attracting the customer’s attention.
Obviously, the goal of any business owner is to maximize profit and minimize overhead cost. One way to save on supplies is to buy them wholesale! Often times the only difference between retail and wholesale is the price. Thrift stores can be an excellent resource for buying desks, chairs, staplers, books, and signs that are of comparable quality to many retail stores. Also, one could find many free items and bargains in the Classifieds section of their local newspaper. A business owner might also save money by doing his or her own signs, or by hiring a local up and coming artist to do it cheap.
There is a lot of talk these days about how websites are ingenious marketing tools. However, nothing compares to one-on-one interaction with customers. Set aside a few days in October, put up that tent, and talk to people. There are many events and festivals in the fall that cater to this type of promotion. This would also be a great opportunity to hand out business cards. Another idea is to pass out flyers door to door. One would always want to first check with the local city hall or other authority to make sure this would not violate any laws, of course.
These small suggestions are aimed to help the business owner approach their business from another perspective. Marketing, saving money, and customer service are all factors that contribute to the success of a small business. With a little creativity and proper resources, a small business can soar to new heights.
October 25, 2010 No Comments
Most small business owners understand that inventory is an asset, but few understand what role the daily cost of money plays in reducing the value of that asset over time. Small business owners need inventory to sell in order to meet customer demands, improve customer loyalty and capture sales. While it’s understood that inventory is an important part of business success, a number of small business owners often become too attached to their inventory. What does this mean? Simply put, a number of small business owners are reluctant to do what it takes to liquidate slow moving product. They retain original values to the inventory regardless of how long it’s held and rarely take the time to understand how the cost of money reduces the value of that inventory over time. Instead, they see the value of the inventory as constant and are therefore unable to reconcile selling the inventory for lower than its original cost. What they lack is an understanding of how the cost of money reduces that value. So, what is the cost of money and how does it reduce the value of inventory?
The Cost of Money Plays an Important Role in Inventory Value
Most businesses finance their inventory with loans or credit lines. Like any loan, business loans have a yearly interest rate that borrowers must pay for being able to draw upon cash reserves. When it comes to understanding the daily cost of money, it amounts to taking this yearly interest rate and dividing it by the 365 days in year. Doing this will provide businesses with their daily interest rate. Since inventory is financed through this daily interest rate, every day inventory is held and not sold is a direct cost of inventory. Hold onto inventory for too long and the costs simply add up. When looking at your inventory, ask yourself the following questions.
- What is my yearly interest rate on business loans and credit lines?
- What is my daily interest rate and cost of money?
- How much of my inventory is slow moving?
- What is the daily cost of not selling that slow moving inventory?
When looking at your inventory, understand that its value changes over time. It can never retain its original value. When thinking about slow moving inventory, think about how retailers immediately liquidate their inventory at the end of a given season. If they don’t, they’ll retain that inventory for too long and its value will eventually erode to an even bigger loss.
October 18, 2010 No Comments
Whatever the business, one thing is certain: people are becoming increasingly immune to direct solicitation. Ads are simply tuned out or DVRed away. No news there. Break through the clutter twelve times and a consumer MIGHT register the advertisement — doesn’t mean they will buy; just means they will remember it.
To be successful, businesses must advertise without advertising.
1. Entertainment. Zipit created a new age advertising campaign of legend when they hired Youtube sensation Fred to make short episodes of his online show that showcased the texting tool. (View it here.) Reportedly, they paid him in the mid five digits and enjoyed a 1000% sales increase. Businesses without that kind of money should take more note of the method: Find someone within the company with charisma, buy a $500 HD video camera, and do it guerilla style.
2. Expert Status. An essential component of any online campaign, especially those of small business, is the blogosphere’s perception of that business. The new word of mouth is done on messageboards and in forums. Time and manpower should be focused on finding, joining, and becoming known in these forums, and writing expert level articles on business topics to be published online. Businesses can place links in their signature or in their profile, and if the messages and articles are good, people will click on those links of their own free will, without direct coercion. If a business has time, it should start its own blog.
3. Free Stuff. However unwarranted, people like and expect free stuff. This isn’t necessarily all bad — giving away things showcases a business’ confidence and financial security. The trick is to never give away the same thing that is being sold, and to keep the giveaways relevant. The calendars and pens are overlooked and unappreciated these days. Put the business logo on products that draw the service to top of mind. (If the business sells nails, give away the hammer with the business logo on it.)
Indirect advertising works wonders where direct advertising only annoys. Successful businesses will continue to innovate not only their products and services, but also their advertising. Good luck in your business endeavors!
October 11, 2010 No Comments
While it’s possible to spend an arm and a leg on Halloween decorations to give your home a spooky, scary appearance during the month of October, you can be creative and frugal at the same time by using items that you already have around your house to get your friends and family in the Halloween mood.
The colors that scream “Halloween!” include black, white and orange. Drape black and orange streamers from across interior doorways. Cut out black bats, orange jack o’lanterns and white ghosts out of construction paper and dangle the shapes from the streamers with yarn or thread. For extra fun, print and cut out images of black cats, witches on broomsticks or haunted houses that you find online.
If you have an old quilt or comforter, take out some of the batting and separate it into strands to use as faux spider webs. Hang these in the corners of your home and add cheap plastic spiders or spiders that you have made out of black chenille stems.
Make translucent ghosts to hang on an outdoor tree during dry weather. Blow up one small (2″) balloon for each ghost. Unfold gauze from your first aid kit and drape it loosely over the balloon. Paint with a mixture of white glue and water, and add more gauze if necessary. Allow the glue to dry overnight, then draw on spooky features with a permanent marker. Pop the balloon and remove, and hang from branches with fishing line or clear thread.
As it gets close to Halloween, your local fabric shop may put the Halloween-themed fabric on sale. If yours does, pick up a couple of yards of a cotton blend. Hand- or machine-stitch a hem on each side and use as a tablecloth on the days leading up to Halloween. Once the holiday has passed, put the tablecloth away and remember to bring it out next year. You will have a Halloween tablecloth that you can use year after year for roughly the same price that you would have spent on a cheap vinyl one that you would likely throw away.
Decorate your table with glass jars filled with plastic bugs, spiders made from chenille stems or gummy worms. Place black, orange or white candles on the table. Another option is to carve jack o’lanterns and use these to decorate your dining table for a few days. You will need to place them outside after a couple of days have passed in order to keep them fresh for Halloween.
October 7, 2010 No Comments
If you own a small business, then you need to do everything possible to get noticed. After all, businesses are opening up left and right. To be noticed, it is important to really get your name out there. This means running promotions that lure people into your organization and taking the time to make and maintain a budget. The following are some tips for how to promote and market your business so that its profile increases.
First off, get in the mood for fall and really tailor your promotions to suit the season. For example, invite people into your business by offering them pumpkin-spice lattes or warm apple cider. The details really matter when it comes time to lure potential clients or customers into your store. Half the battle is just getting people to make the time to see what you have to offer. This means that you should decorate your store so that it has Halloween-inspired items around it or so that you play with the fall foliage theme. Such details will make your store or business stand out and will really make people feel at home when they walk in.
Additionally, be sure to customize your fliers and coupons so that people remember them. For example, you could put black cat clip art on the corners of coupons, or you could include a nice seasonal greeting on the tops of fliers. People like to think that such promotional materials were made with them in mind. The smallest of gestures can really have some great results.
Lastly, make sure that your business has some sort of online presence. You want to make sure that your website is easy to read, informative, and has incentives like coupon codes or promotion information. Personalize the website by changing it slightly to reference the changing seasons, too. This could be something small like placing a small pumpkin in the corner of each webpage, or it could mean including a special message at checkout or on the website’s homepage.
The details matter when it comes to your small business. Be smart about the promotions, decorations, and website design so that you personalize your business and make it stand out amongst the competition. It is important to consider the details so that people notice you. Make the most of the seasons and really consider them when shaping your promotional materials. Every decision counts when it comes to building your business!
October 4, 2010 No Comments
In these times of constantly upgrading technology, it is not uncommon for the average shopper to check out a business online before actually visiting. An online presence, or website, is imperative in building your small business, regardless if it is local, national, or even international. The internet is your key to introducing your business to the community.
Initially, there are plenty of options for websites. There are certain free website hosts online that give you a free web presence, as long as you don’t mind having ads on your site. The other option, and one that is most utilized, is that of hiring a professional website designer or design company to build your site. This gives you the ultimate freedom for your site design, as well as professional experience to back it up.
Starting out you have to have a good idea of your target audience. For example, a toy retailer would be oriented towards children and parents. A business dealing with the stock market, on the other hand, would be oriented more towards the white collar crowd. With a good feel for your customers, you will have a good ideal of the style of website you want. You can have a clean simple site, a flashy cutting edge site, a professional looking site, or anything else you would like. The imagination of your web designer and yourself is your only limitation.
One important factor to remember is that you don’t want to overwhelm those looking at your website. If, for example, you own a store, you won’t want to have every single product listed on the website at the front page. This is simply too much to take in. It is a proven fact that teaser pages do better. A teaser page is a webpage that tells a few of the more high profile items or services you provide. If you can appeal to the potential customers’ sense of curiosity, you will likely end up with a new customer.
There are certain pages that you will want on your website. Never settle for a single “landing” page. Regardless of the size of your business, one single page website will make you seem small. Of course, you will have your front page where you will identify your business and build the customers curiosity. Next, you will want a contact page with your actual address, phone number, email, and any other pertinent contact information, as well as your business hours. Next, have a page with actual photographs (professional) of your business, inside and out, and your employees happily doing their jobs. This will give your business a nice comfortable atmosphere to the customer.
These are your main pages, but the list of optional pages is limitless. You can have a history page, a coupon page where customers can print out coupons, a calendar of events if your store holds certain community events, an about us page describing the inner workings of the business, and the list goes on and on.
Once you have your website set up and going, it is important that you spread the word about it. Be sure and put your web address on business cards, newsletters, and advertisements. Make sure your employees spread the word about your new site also.
Websites are a proven success for any business. If properly created and managed, in many cases, websites have brought in more customers and sales than actual storefronts. Consider the concept of a door. Before someone walks into a building, they have to go through the door. A website is a metaphorical door for your customers to get to your business.
September 27, 2010 No Comments