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Since most small businesses have suffered during the past several years due to declining sales generally caused by a chaotic economy, it should be helpful to explore the most practical and realistic marketing strategies available to them. Improving business development efforts is desirable during any financial and economic environment, but there are extra benefits to doing so when sales have declined for whatever reason. Because a typical small business owner does not have the luxury of choosing from many strategies available to larger companies, the marketing improvement process for small businesses is necessarily restricted to a relatively short list of business development alternatives. While the choices will vary from case to case, here are three marketing and business development strategies which will often be considered by small businesses:
* Increasing sales staff
* Business proposals
For most smaller companies, declining revenues have led to some financial challenges and the need to reduce operating expenses already. Therefore it is likely that a common limitation and goal in any marketing decision will be to keep the costs reasonable. When dealing with limited funds, small business owners should evaluate which marketing strategy is the most cost effective method. Business proposal writing usually emerges as the leading choice for small companies when cost effectiveness is taken into account.
There are several kinds of business proposals, and not all of them will be realistic options for each company. Here are the two business proposal types which are likely to be worth reviewing closely:
* Formal proposal solicitations
* Informal and unsolicited proposals
Of these two types, the second (unsolicited and informal proposals) usually deserves the most attention by small businesses. Formally solicited proposals are typically announced by a Request for Proposal (RFP) process and are subject to more public awareness and competition by other companies. Depending on competitive circumstances, it is certainly possible that responding to an RFP might be well-suited to some small business situations. In other words, look carefully before deciding to ignore the RFP possibility.
An informal or unsolicited proposal process potentially offers the most freedom for a small business. Timing is frequently a major problem for an RFP because the company or government agency issuing it determines in advance when it will publish the Request for Proposal and in turn will also determine the deadlines for responses. The timing for unsolicited and informal proposals is effectively under the complete control of the small business which is preparing a proposal. The combination of reduced competition and scheduling flexibility usually makes this a compelling approach to business development and proposals.
Small businesses owners often find that there are certain times of the year when cash flow is not as healthy as it could be. This could be due to the fact that the business has seasonal customers, money being spent wastefully or through outmoded business practices. Regardless of the reason as to why money is being lost one thing is for certain good business owners and managers are all looking for a way to save the business money.
One way to save money in a small business is to implement small business management software. Software such as this enables a business with less than 50 employees to be operated via one software application. By being able to switch to one application a small business owner can save thousands every year as all other applications that require a monthly or annual fee to be discontinued.
As soon as they see just what small business management software can do many business owners and managers are keen to start using it. Not only can small business management software save a business money in terms of slashing the number of applications a business has to pay for it also saves money in other ways such as:
Increasing the number of leads that are converted into sales with ease. When using small business management software an employee can create a quote and save this to a customers file. This will contain their contact details and other relevant information. If this quote is not accepted within a certain period of time, this lead can then be chased up by the sales department.
By ensuring that projects are always completed on time a business will not lose customers. With small business management software projects can be assigned and tracked in real time. Managers and owners can quickly and easily check on projects that are nearing their due date in order to ensure that they are progressing as they should be. By utilizing this feature projects should never be behind schedule ever again, which means that money will be saved in the long run through customer retention.
Small business management software also allows employee calendars to be seen by owners and managers at a glance. This means that projects and so on can be planned with regard to staffing numbers. Money is therefore saved by ensuring that all employees are working to capacity and not being diverted to projects which are already fully subscribed.
As small business management software is web based it means that it can be accessed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. So if a manager or owner is away from the office on business they can access the application and get any information that they need. This saves business money as laptops and mobile internet is not required when an owner or manager visits potential customers.
These are just a few of the ways in which small business management software can save a business money each month.
Implementing an efficient telephone system can definitely improve the way you communicate with your customers and business associates. Small business telephone systems are a great option for budding business enterprises to maintain effective communication.
Convey a Professional Business Image
Repeated breakdown in your communication system and improper call management can adversely affect your business image. Small business telephone systems offer organized call management and professional business communication. The enhanced communication experience that they offer would certainly attract more customers and enhance your sale leads and revenue. These phone systems come with high-tech call handling features including find-me/follow-me call forwarding, call conferencing, music on hold, voicemail, fax to email, voice to email and more.
The auto attendant receives calls in a professional manner and is programmed to transfer them to extensions, mailboxes, call queues, groups and conference rooms, as directed by the caller. The virtual receptionist manages several calls arriving at the same time with incredible efficiency.
Manage your Business from Distant Locations
Business establishments with more than one office and/or a mobile workforce benefit a lot from this small office telephone system. The advanced call forwarding feature routes calls to landline numbers or cell phones configured as extensions. Your business can be easily administered from other locations and you can stay connected to your clients and workforce all the time. Using a broadband connection like DSL, Cable or FIOS, your mobile workers can become an extension of your business PBX phone system.
Powerful Voicemail System
Modern small business telephone systems minimize the odds of missing calls and messages. Unanswered calls are instantly routed to the voicemail system, so that the callers can leave voice messages. This facility helps focus on core tasks without worrying about not taking customer calls during busy business hours. Voice messages are forwarded to your email account as audio file attachments. Whenever a new message arrives in your mailbox, it is promptly alerted on your cell phone.
With these diverse capabilities, small business telephone systems facilitate effective communication with your business clients. To enjoy all the benefits of these phone systems, it is important to get the service from dependable providers. This would assure the smooth functioning of the system, structured services and advanced PBX features at reasonable monthly charges.
Small businesses are often beaten out by larger competitors because the bigger business has better practices than the small ones do. The good news is that there are many of the business best practices that are used by big companies that can be translated for small businesses.
These business best practices are some of the best kept secrets and will in the long run make a business more successful. Here are a few ways you can use these business practices to fit your small business.
One: Borrowing ideas from other companies is one business practice you can use in your small business. This is known as best practice benchmarking and it can lead to vast improvements in your business structure if it is done the right way.
Most small businesses have a tighter budget than the big businesses do so the business practices that you learn can save money and can be even more beneficial to you than it would be for the big business. When you emulate another business and how they cut costs, you will be able to do the same thing they have done in a much shorter time period.
Two: You have to have a clear understanding of business methods if you are going to borrow their business practices. You need to do some heavy research and ask questions. This will help you figure out how others were able to get the job done to get them to their goals.
This is imperative if you are going to have success using these practices with your small business. One helpful way to find out the information you need is to send surveys to businesses that are successful in the business field you are looking at.
Three: Once you have studied the business best practices and you know how that business uses them, you will need to translate them to fit your small business. Before they will work for your business t want business practice you can use in your small business is borrowing ideas from other companies here may be some crucial modifications that need to be made.
Four: One business practice that is imperative to the success of any business of any size is to have good communication in your business. This means that you need to communicate on a regular basis with your employees.
You have to do this to make sure that everyone is on the same page business wise. Otherwise, you may find problems cropping up that you will have to deal with.
Emulating business best practices is fine but you want to make sure that you don’t steal their practices outright. Always do your research and use the business practices that you can modify to fit your small business. Don’t do anything to get your business in trouble in the future.
Wondering if your business is too small for a group retirement plan?
One of the keys to attracting and retaining top employees is to offer a high-quality retirement plan. A group savings plan conveniently helps employees save money for the future while reducing and deferring taxes today. Plus, the investment you make in a group retirement plan is an investment you make in your organization, your employees and your reputation. Everyone’s a winner.
Three options stand-out depending on what you want to accomplish with your plan and how much flexibility you need. These are: 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs.
The 401(k) Offers the Most Flexibility and High Contribution Limits The traditional 401(k) is probably the most widely known retirement product on the market. It’s the fully loaded, high performance SUV of retirement plans. It’s generally defined as one that enables a business owner and employees to make consistent, tax-deferred contributions during the length of their careers.
SEP IRAs are Pretty Easy to Start and 100% Funded by the Employer Simplified Employee Pensions, more commonly referred to as SEPs, are also a popular retirement plan choice as they offer a contribution limit that’s similar to a 401(k). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a 401(k) plan, but it’s got a good engine under the hood. One of the most important things to understand about SEPs is that 100 percent of the contributions made are by the employer (no employee contributions allowed) and these dollars are immediately vested for the employee.
The SIMPLE IRA is a Solid, Affordable Third Option
The SIMPLE IRA’s name is a bit misleading (it actually stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees). While both employer and employee can contribute to the plan, the employer must match and matching is vested immediately.
If you do decide that you want to offer a retirement plan, you are definitely going to need some professional advice and guidance. Pension rules are complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing.
As a financial planning and wealth management professional firm, Mintco Financial has been helping its clients effectively plan for comfortable retirements.
Michael Minter, as a managing partner of Mintco Financial, is a trusted investment management professional who carries more than 16 years of experience in this challenging career field.
Throughout his professional history, Michael Minter has gained strong insight into what skills and knowledge is necessary to perform investment management, wealth building services, small business development and retirement plans.
Michael MInter is also author of the book I-Plan, a guide for your financial security.
Call Michael Minter at 813-964-7100 at Mintco Financial.
Retirement Planning for Small Business
When running a small business, marketing your products and services is an important aspect your must consider and plan for. No matter what industry you play in you will no doubt have competition. Even if you provide a better service or product you still need to stand out so consumers know. Marketing can be a big cost but there are also many affordable alternative to advertise your business.
Here are three simple advertising ideas and suggestions to give you high visility.
Vehicle back windows
A rear car window covererd with a sticker of your business is an affordable option to promote your business. Whenever your car is being driven around your business is being seen. For as little as one hundred and fifty dollars this is a small investment. Depending on how many years your sticker last, the breakdown cost of purchasing you rear window sticker works out to be even less.
Don’t overload the sticker with too much details. Keep the sticker bright and colorful. Avoid a cluttered look with too much details. Keep it simple. Don’t put more than three items of information. Your logo with business name, phone and tagline is all you need.
Large car magnets are another cheap alternative. These magnets are strong enough to withstand high speeds. To repeat – keep the design simple. Order many at a time and hand them out to your friends for their cars. You can purchase four magnets for as little as fifty dollars.
An alternative to magnets is use multiple smaller sized ones. A stack of twenty five magnets can be bought for about thirty dollars. Get people to take notice by scattering you car with these. When people take your magnets you know they’re working.
Ask your signwriter to print you a large banner. The cost of a small banner can be as little as one hundred dollars. We’ve even seen banners from as low as six dollars.
Use the small banners effectively by parking at the front of a busy event or location. Hang the banner from the side of your car. Your car and banner can’t be missed.
These are three simple advertising ideas to kick start your marketing on a budget.
Click Here to see Ryan Johns working these advertising ideas
Small business literally means those where the total workers are less than hundred and the capital is also less than a million. This definition varies from country to country but the key point is that it indicates the small scale business or personal business. The small businesses account more than fifty percent of the GDP for a country. Therefore each country put a lot of its concentration in the development of the small businesses. But there is still a problem that every entrepreneurs face at the initial stage, that is finding a start up business loan.
For a young entrepreneur, raising a fund is the most crucial part. This is because most of the people can come with the creative business ideas but when the question is the investment, more than ninety percent entrepreneur does not have the ability to fund the start up cost. And for them the most common solution is the bank loan. But the worst thing is although there are many schemes offered by the banks and other financial institution, getting a loan is still hard like before.
When a person apply for the start up business loan, the bank authority show little respect about his small business ideas and act like that the person will never going to pay the loan. This kind of obstacles often makes the situation hard for the young entrepreneur.
On the other hand, other resources for funding are also limited. Most of the people do not have enough money or property of their own to be self funded. There are different financial organization but, they have a higher rate which is not favorable for the small business. Therefore the bank loan is the most suitable for funding the small businesses.
The SME loans of different banks should be easier to get for the young entrepreneurs. And also more attractive offer should be created from both the bank and the government to aid the small businesses. This will be beneficial for the economy because according to the record, the new employment rate is higher in the small business industries. Also the revenue is also higher from the small and medium businesses.
As February rushes by, those New Year resolutions may be turning into distant memories if not forgotten dreams. Except for that one significant promise, to become master of your own destiny and invest in your own business.
If you are dreaming of owning your own business, there are some trends in your favour. Slow to moderate overall economic growth in many countries hard hit by the recession is forecast to continue through 2011. In the US, the small business sector remained in recession in 2010, lagging in recovery, and is now predicted to see stronger demand and better business conditions this coming year. Key trends seen as driving the growth of small business are
small manufacturing businesses in niche markets aided by technology making barriers to entry lower,
the weak dollar aiding US manufacturing cost competitiveness,
the internet becoming more widely known to small business as a low cost way of sourcing and selling goods and services.
Small business growing more familiar with and making greater use of social media in their local marketing efforts -think Groupon Inc and its highly successful coupon business supporting local deals!
When time is not on your side, the resilient and proven franchise business model allows you a faster and often comparatively risk adverse track to generating positive cash flow. Although its your own business, you don`t have to go it alone making a proven franchise operation a smart choice. Strong viable franchise opportunities are there for the qualified buyer, so how to join that select group?
Access to financing from traditional sources is expected to remain tight in the US throughout 2011, in spite of the Governments continuing efforts to support small business through tough times. We recommend that potential franchise buyers be cautious when selecting companies to do their 401(k) rollovers or when selecting a financing company with all of the fraud that has occurred in the banking sector over the last several years, finding a reputable company to provide your financing is more important than ever and a winning point in your favor with franchisors.
MatchPoint Franchise Consulting Network was founded in 2006 with a mission of helping companies expand their franchise networks and improve their system. The advice offered freely to franchise buyers by MatchPoint consultants is vital to the buyer in making a better, prudent, buying decision. The advice offered by our consultants does not make us lawyers; it is there to help the investor with a high quality due diligence process.
MatchPoint consultants know the red flags in the investment field. It takes the very few promoters that practice business fraud to taint the dream of the franchisee and their family.
That`s where seeking the independent advice of an expert franchising consultant is prudent and invaluable.
A business credit card offers many benefits to a small business. A business credit card helps to keep business and personal expenses separate. Having a credit card solely for business use can make a lot of difference in the business finances. Many small business owners do not understand how beneficial a business credit card can be.
Establish Credit And Creditworthiness
Just as you personally want to establish credit, your business needs to establish credit. It is common for small business owners to use their personal credit for their business credit, but this can get rather tricky. When it comes to taxes and financial liability it is much better for the business owner to keep personal and business credit separate.
Easier Accounting Saves Hassles
A business credit card will help simplify accounting. There will be no need to sort through papers to figure out business form personal expenses. Using a credit card, the purchases for the business are all in the statement. These figures can be easily transferred to the books. This helps to make accounting much easier by keeping expenses streamlined.
A small business owner may find himself having to okay purchases or write out checks for purchases made by employees. With a business credit card, the owner can get additional cards for those who have spending power. This will help cut down on time wasted getting purchases approved and also save money because far less checks will have to be written. It will make the business more efficient.
There are many credit cards that offer rewards for purchases. With a rewards card a business owner can get an additional incentive by earning things like free airline miles, gasoline and even cash back on purchases. This is something that can be very helpful to a small business. Rewards are earned through purchases, so a business is earning something for money they would have spent anyway. It is like getting double for your money.
Business credit cards are a great idea, especially for small businesses. Many small business owners do not understand just how beneficial they can be, but as you can see they offer many perks. A small business owner would be very smart to get a credit card that will make it much easier on them in the long run. They will find they save money, save time and make the business more efficient and run smoother.
Statistics prove that the demand for unsecured small business loans have been rapidly increasing over the past few years. The idea of an unsecured loan creates new financial horizons for individuals that may not have collateral. This is also of special interest to new business owners that are interested in entering a new business venture. Potential business owners are always interested in a business loan to provide working capital for their new endeavor.
The paradox when applying for most unsecured small business loan programs is that a new business owner does not yet have any collateral. This can quickly shatter a business dream. The only other consideration such an individual can have is to use his or her personal assets to secure a loan. But new business ventures have a risk associated with them, once that many people are not willing to transfer to their hard earned assets.
Collateral is often the biggest obstacle to the prospective business owner. Not only does a new business not yet have any commercial collateral to provide; but it is asking a lot for an entrepreneur to put his hard earned personal assets at risk in order to start a new business venture. Yet, without collateral, getting a business financing can sometimes seem impossible.
Small entrepreneurs, who do not have collateral to offer, find unsecured small business loans as an alternative, which help them expand their business to new horizons. They are only required to make regular repayments to the creditor without any apprehension of their business assets being repossessed by the lender in case of defaults. At the same time, small businessmen who opt for unsecured small business loans should be prepared to pay a little higher interest as compared to other credit options. However, interest rates may vary depending upon the credit history of the businessmen.
No collateral unsecured small business loan products are now available through select lenders, although they can still be relatively difficult to find among traditional banks and lenders. The revolutionizing force is coming from a plethora of web based lenders that are offering innovative new financial solutions, including no collateral loans. A variety of unsecured loan products for business and personal needs can be found via web based financial companies.
Applying for unsecured small business loans is easy, all the business owner need to do is just go on line and submit their loan details. Then the lenders will refer back to you with the loan decision in a few days.