Small Business Development And Marketing Strategies

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:

* Advertising
* 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.

Questions to Ask When Searching for a Small Business Banking Account

The bank a small business owner chooses to bank with is critical to the success of a business. Choose a bank that takes too many fees out, or one that doesnt offer the services a small business needs, and the success of the business is on the line. Conducting research before choosing which bank you use for your small business banking is critical. If you are in the beginning stages of your bank research, the following questions can help you determine if a bank is right for your small business.

The first question you should ask is what banking options the bank provides your small business. Every small business is different, and the banking options one business needs will vary from another. Determining what features are offered, and how they help your small business can help you determine if a certain bank is right for your small business banking needs. Some questions to consider asking include if a bank provides online access to bank accounts, the ability to choose remote checking, and the option to directly deposit checks and money remotely. Once you have determined what features and banking options are being offered to your small business, you can determine what bank offers you the most.

The second question you should ask is what, if any, potential is there for accessing small business loans. Some banks include in their small business banking features the ability to easily gain access to small business loans. If there is reason to believe that your small business may need to apply for a loan sometime in the future, then a bank that offers easy access to a small business loan might be beneficial. If a small business loan is not on the horizon, then the small business loan feature doesnt affect your decision on which bank to use.

The third question you should ask is what bank fees will your small business occur over time. Small businesses will sometimes incur thousands in bank fees over a period of time. Asking what bank fees are can help you assess whether a particular bank is right for your small business banking needs. Banks fees to consider include account holding fees, fees to access online accounts, transaction fees, debit card fees, and remote banking fees. Once you have determined what fees are being assessed by which bank, you can determine which bank is the best choice for your small business.

Small Business Telephone Systems For Effective Communication

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.

Mobile Marketing and Advertising for Small Business

The mobile marketing and advertising news-wires are abuzz and more and more companies are jumping into the game on a daily basis. Powerhouses like Google and Apple are building their arsenal for the mobile advertising phenomenon that is all the talk right now.

Companies large and small are jockeying for position within their target markets and local niches in an effort to get a first mover advantage in the inevitable transformation to the Mobile computing tsunami that is already taking shape.

What this means to the Small Business owner and in-house marketers is that the mobile marketplace has gained momentum. A solid mobile strategy can provide a huge advantage and be your secret weapon for success among a targeted niche audience or in a localized small to medium size metropolitan area.

You see, we understand that you don’t have the time to keep you ear to the ground on all of this Mobile mayhem, because you are busy with your two hands on the wheel with your companies. What we also know is that you rely on other small businesses to provide you with the knowledge and the tools to make sure that you are keeping you marketing and advertising efforts relevant and effective. In the ever evolving multimedia e-marketplace, you need solutions and you either need them to be service based and low cost, or you need them to be extremely easy to understand and integrate on a do it yourself basis.

After all, one of the coolest things about being a small business owner is the adventure of wearing a variety of hats and learning the latest and greatest techniques to stay ahead of the competition. Today, Mobile Marketing might be one of the most effective and efficient means to push your business out ahead of the pack. Whether you are a retail shop, professional service, restaurant, hotel, craftsman or independent artist, you can engage your customers like never before.

The tools, knowledge and abilities to put this into motion for your specific marketplace are right at your fingertips. Although this might seem like a complicated technological maze, you’ll be pleased to find that many other small companies within the Mobile Marketing industry have brought forth some interesting and easy to understand guidelines and tools that you can utilize today in efforts to launching your company into the Mobile arena.

Checklist Before You Hire Someone For Small Business Websites

All types of businesses, be it home based, manufacturing or a start up business, must have online presence today. Small Business Websites have the possibility to appeal new customers and have many growth opportunities.

What is needed is to make these websites attractive to project a very good image of the business and they should be able to present the exact business activities in a very professional manner. For this, the content material must be full of important information.

There are quite a few website designing companies that provide professional service but out of those companies, choosing one such company that would serve your requirement is tough. Prior to getting into any kind of agreement with these web designing provider, one needs to be certain of the quality of services in the long run and also availability of the support staff. The contract need to be handed over only if the business owner is comfortable with everything the firm offers.

The most important thing to have Small Business Websites would be that the firm developing such websites should have a knowledge of buildig websites for small businesses, SMEs and individuals so that their performance and competence could be checked. It is important to make sure that they look after the needs of the small business and listen to the marketing aspect also.

Such websites hold the ability to create recession proof business so that in times of volatility the marketability of businesses doesn’t get affected. The design of the website can be optimized for the search engines and are accountable to rank high in SEO parameters.

Since a designed website gives the initial impression to a customer about a item, it should be created very carefully. The first impression to website visitors with well designed websites is far greater than that of an in house website and thus it can bring in much greater business.

The cost factor is also accountable for driving a website. The setup and maintenance costs should be estimated properly and competing prices should be compared thoroughly prior to engaging a firm to build a website. It’s prudent to compare the prices of few other web designing agencies to select one that designs Small Business Websites at a fair price and one that understands how to market your business.

One more essential thing to consider is the after sales support. Also, they are supposed to give one month free post sales service to make alterations if needed. Even there should be provisions for add-on features like ecommerce, SEO and others.

Great Small Business Event Marketing

For more going on fifteen years, I have been helping business owners and organizations hold events. The events ranged from races, to fairs, to concerts and dinners. Though the attendance varied greatly between them, the goals of management were often met and exceeded.

Events are the best way to:

get prospects to visit your store for the first time

build upon existing relationships with customers and vendors

grow existing lines of revenue

rally and motivate workforce and volunteers

expand branding

grow online presence and position

have a great time!

Events are very community oriented, and driven by the same. Bringing people together creates buzz.

There are three major areas of an event: event marketing (getting the brand out), event management (making sure the day is planned well and executed successfully), and event planning (getting all the details together to meet the event vision). Working together, these three items, thought out and coordinated, make great events.

I am often asked questions related to any of these three items. The questions I hear range from band and entertainment to how to use Facebook. Small businesses can do a lot with a little encouragement and direction. They can go really far with a little help from someone in the event industry. Small businesses and Organizations have a lot of gusto. They are ready to go all the time. And when they can see that something will get them further, they often grab the opportunity.

Small businesses are flexible. They can have a simple, low cost event marketing schedule coordinated with other ongoing marketing. Pairing an event with current expenditures creates broad public awareness. With current promotions are paired with a chance to experience a business or product, customers have incentive to participate.

I have often seen this occur. In one case, a restaurant advertised their foods as well as an evening with live music. Some monies from the night would be donated to the city fireworks fund. This night brought some business and money for community fireworks. The result was the night of the fireworks show, the restaurant was full to the brim. They had one of their best nights ever.

The power of small business event marketing is understated. Giving customers a reason to experience a small business in the form of a party invitation has leverage. As a small business owner, having an event can be fun, rewarding, and valuable to sales overall.

VoIP 5 Tips to Improve a Small Business

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a method of electronic communication that is rapidly increasing in popularity. Used to make phone calls, VoIP technology uses a computer’s internet connection, rather than a cellular wireless or traditional wired telephone line. This technology is used not only by personal consumers, but also by businesses small and large. Here are 5 tips for using VoIP to improve a small business:

1. Use One Company for Internet and Phone – Any modern small business has a website and is likely already paying an internet service provider (ISP) for access to the internet. Rather than negotiating prices and dealing with customer service for two services, a company can save time, effort, and money by using their internet connection as their phone service provider as well.

2. Save Money on Long-Distance and International Calls – Unlike traditional telephone companies, VoIP services work regardless of the distance of the call, so pricing is not dependent on the number of local, long-distance, or international calls. This means that international calls, which can be especially expensive, can be handled without incurring additional costs. For small businesses that do business internationally or have business partners overseas, this can mean an enormous cost savings.

3. Better Voice Quality – Because of the nature of the medium and the wires that transmit the signals, VoIP services can provide cleaner, better-sounding phone calls than traditional phone companies. While it might not seem like a big change, having crisper more professional phone calls can be the edge a small business needs to win over customers or seal a big deal. Dropped calls or poor-quality calls, on the other hand, can devastate a company’s business.

4. Simplify Things for the Technical Staff – For small businesses, the internal technical staff is usually stretched thin at all times, and should be outsourced when possible. Keeping a business up and running smoothly 24/7 is no small task. Consolidating one’s internet and phone systems can provide a significant advantage, in terms of time and sheer number of technologies to monitor, to a company’s technical support and services team. For small businesses that don’t even have a dedicated technical staff, having a single number to call for technical support, rather than multiple numbers, can simplify things considerably. Prompt service and skilled technicians are key.

5. Additional Features Included At No Extra Cost – For starters, useful calling features like conference calls, call forwarding, and caller ID are all included for free. Additional features like video calls and video conferencing are also easy to add to VoIP services.

Unsecured Small Business Loans Easy Financing Without Collateral!

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.

What More You Need to Know About Small Business Cash Advance

Small Business Cash Advance is almost similar to a small amount of business loan your business house applies and receives the funding and can utilize the funds for various uses in the business and your business house needs to repay the advance. However, there are substantial differences.

The Small Business Cash Advance is by nature, unsecured. The approval for business cash advance is not subject to the investigation or scrutiny that is undertaken in the case of a small business loan. You do not need to prove your credentials or demonstrate your plan.

Additionally, Small Business Cash Advance does not require any kind of share in equity ownership in the business house and the business house is free to utilize the funds in any manner whatsoever, as is required. The lenders of Small Business Cash Advance determine the amount of Small Business Cash Advance based on the amount of cash flow from the monthly credit card charges.

The approval rates of Small Business Cash Advance almost ten times higher than that of a regular bank loan. This is mainly because of the multiple barriers and the long winding application cycles and processes banks thrust upon the loan applicant.

If you want to procure a Small Business Cash Advance from any of the institutional lenders, your business house will have to accept the credit cards as a standard mode of payment.

The applicant of the Small Business Cash Advance will have to process a minimum amount as credit card sales every month, and additionally, the business must have been operational for a period of at least a year. There are usually no fixed payments decided; you do not need to bear any upfront costs and no need to bear any closing cost.

The biggest advantage is that the funding is made steady and is always consistently available to the applicant business house so that at no point in time, lack of cash becomes a hindrance in the development of the business and puts the business house in difficulties.

Small Business cash advances can be repaid by credit card sales and the repayments are usually processed through the merchant account of the business house. All other kinds of payments received in the form of check, cash or any other means are not accepted for repayment. There are usually no fixed payments decided; you do not need to bear any upfront costs and no need to bear any closing cost.

The biggest advantage with the small business cash advances is that they are hassle free and the business houses can procure such loans or advances very easily and with minimal documentation. The only downside is that these advances are unsecured and unsecured business cash advance can tend to become a liability.

Small Business Computer Consulting Appropriately Setting Your Rates

In small business computer consulting, $100 an hour can be a reasonable and livable rate. Why can setting your rates at $100 an hour make all the difference in the world?

Take the $100 an hour and multiply it by 1,500 hours a year. This is reflecting a 75% utilization rate; or 75% of a typical forty hour work week as billable time. Now youre at $150,000 a year gross.

Salary and Affordability

As a small business computer consulting firm, you will want to take a third of the gross and plow it into sales and marketing. Therefore you can afford a $40,000 base salary for your sales account executive. So, of that one third of your gross small business computer consulting income, $40,000 can go to the base salary and $10,000 can go to related marketing expenses.

Additionally, one third will take care of taxes, insurance and overhead items for the most part, and you have a third of it or $50,000 left to pay a technical staff salary.

Surpassing $100 an Hour

You may be considering exceeding a rate of $100 an hour for your small business computer consulting firm. At that point, you can hit what we call the not-so-imaginary-hourly-billing-rate ceiling.

Needless to say, if your small business computer consulting clients are paying $110 to $125 an hour, it gets even easier to be able to afford really bright, motivated, highly qualified sales and technical staff.

Higher Rates Equal Bigger Businesses

However, if you want to charge above $100 an hour in your small business computer consulting firm, youll almost always need to move above and beyond sweet spot small business clients into really large small businesses, medium size businesses and enterprise-sized accounts that require a different business model and technical skill set.

Once you do that, youre going to be operating under a completely different type of business model. And you will need even more polished and seasoned salespeople to be able to handle those accounts.

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