Myths about Small Businesses

If you own or are looking to start up your own small business, you’ve probably already heard your fair share of myths about the small business world. These urban legends can be disheartening and negatively affect the potential for your small business’s success. They can lead you to make wrong or rash decisions and diminish the credibility of your company. While there are many to choose from, here is a list of the top 3 most commonly heard myths regarding small businesses.

 

Myth 1: I can start by business and receive a loan without putting down any money up-frontLoan money bag

Reality: If you’re not going to put down money, you’re going to have to put up capital (i.e. your property), and the normal amount is somewhere in the neighborhood of 25%. Additionally, business owners who invest money in their company up-front are more likely to feel as though they have more at stake and, as such, are willing to work harder to keep their business afloat. Also, lenders will ask you to propose your realistic cash flow projection to show how you are planning to repay your loan. This brings me to the second small business myth.

 

Myth 2: If I have a plan in mind, there is no need to write up an official business plan.

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Reality: No matter how smart you are or how good your memory is, this is never going to be a viable option. Without taking the time to sit down and write out your business plan, you are liable to omit important information that will, sooner or later, result in massive damage to your company. Laying out a foundation that includes your marketing strategies, funding options, organizational structure and anticipated revenue is not optional. And, drawing back to myth 1, if you are planning to receive a loan, lenders are undoubtedly going to require this information before investing in your business venture.

 

 

Myth 3: If my business is going to be a success, I need to buy an office before I get started.

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Reality: Many successful business owners either started or continue to work from home. It is not necessary to start your business in a huge, high rise office suite downtown. The less overhead you have to dish out, the better, regardless of whether it is coming out of your pocket or someone else’s. If possible, start your business from home. Later on down the road, you can decide if it is a good idea to expand into an office building or a free-standing suite.

 

Keep in mind that this is not a compilation of all of the false myths surrounding small businesses. There are many other myths that could harm your endeavor, so keep an eye out for false claims and be careful about what advice you take to heart and from whom that advice stems.

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Advertising your business on a small budget

Many small business owners are always looking for ways to stretch their advertising dollars.  And depending on your area of industry, this can often prove to be a bit of a challenge.  Luckily, we now live in the age of social media and the Internet.  So marketing your business is often much more affordable that with those older practices of flyers and newspaper advertisements.

Pay Per Click

 First of all, any business owner, small or large, needs to have a professional website today in order to remain competitive.  But attracting large amounts of traffic to your site is often where we need some help.  Cost Per Click and Pay Per Click marketing is a great way to spend only what you can afford.  This is a method of getting your link “special treatment” with the search engines.  You pay them to highlight your company website at the top of the page. But you only pay if someone clicks on the link!  Cost Per Click can cost only fractions of a penny, depending on your choices of keywords, the times of day that you choose to advertise, and other contributing factors.


Email Marketing Campaigns

 Email marketing is a great way for small businesses to remain in contact with their existing and potentially interested customers.  In the early days of the Internet, many of these strategies proved rather unsuccessful as emails would get lost in the recipients’ spam folders.  But today, there are some very affordable email advertising software and autoresponder programs that can guarantee a 99.9% deliverability rating.  Use your emails to offer discounts and promotional items, or market your business by giving away free tips and advice to keep your clients interested and engaged.

 

Social Media

 Social media is here to stay.  And best of all, these sites are FREE!  Facebook and Twitter are the most popular, but don’t discount other sites like LinkedIn and Instagram.  LinkedIn is great for developing Business to Business connections, improving your brand name recognition, and building a network of likeminded professionals in your industry.  Instagram is a social media site based around the use of pretty pictures rather than text posts.  This might be the perfect choice of small business advertising if you want to show off some of your past projects.

 

Why Our Company Twitter Account is Full of Profanities (Part 1)

PART 1   PART 2

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Two weeks ago at CyberStockroom.com we noticed that A LOT of people seem to be very, very, very upset about having to count inventory at work. REALLY upset. Well this is right up our alley! And although our service doesn’t totally eliminate inventory counting, we could certainly sympathise with this pain so we decided to give these poor souls their own soap box. We created a Twitter account @InventoryRage where we retweet the pain of those who have to do inventory.

We were shocked by the sheer volume and pure hatred that quickly accumulated (Take a look at it yourself!). In fact we were so awestruck we created some word clouds of the most frequently used words on our account. Here are our 4 favorite word clouds so far. We think that they make great posters to put in your Stockroom! Also don’t forget to follow our Twitter account so you can keep track of all the hate!

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Give Your Business a Makeover

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Want to give your business a makeover, but don’t know where to start?

Before you begin revamping your business, decide what it is you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to change your overall image to attract specific types of customers? What types of customers are you trying to attract, and what sort of image would best draw them in? Do you want to adjust your prices in order to keep up with your competition? If so, what is the average price in your community for the type of merchandise you are marketing? Can you still make a substantial profit if you decrease your price to meet the lowest price in your market?

Next, assess the current state of your business. What does your image say about your company? Check the designs on your fliers, posters, business cards, web page, etc. If you were a consumer, would you want to do business with your company?

Once you have decided what type of image you want your company to portray, it’s time to get to work! Enlist the help of other businesses or your own employees to design modern marketing materials. Vamp up your web design, your logo, your stationary and your business cards. Does your physical office-space need to be renovated as well? Choose a style that fits the vibe you would like your customers to feel upon entering your business. Check out some design websites or magazines to get a feel for what you like, and have fun with it!

Finally, direct your attention toward your employees. Is your staff educated on your business and products? Do they effectively communicate to your customers why they should choose to do business with your company or why they should choose your products over those from other local stores? Also, do they look the part? If your front-desk employees show up for work looking unkempt, no matter how much effort you put into your office renovation, they will still be the first person your customers lay eyes on. So, are your workers fitting into the vision that you have for the future of your business? If not, consider sitting down to talk with them about the image you would like to portray and ask that they comply with some new guidelines that you will put forth for all of your employees.

And try not to stress too much about your business makeover. Renovating should be a fun and exciting time! Think of this as a time for a fresh start! And remember, if possible, to take it slow. As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Big City, Small Business – How to Stand Out!

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Make Connections

You’ve heard it before: “It’s all about who you know.” Partner with local businesses to get your name out there. Hand out business cards, give away coupons, pass out fliers, and, most importantly, make friends with well-known companies. If you’re running a new restaurant in a big city, network with some of the local bakeries or clothing stores. Ask them if you can leave business cards or coupons at their checkout counter as gifts to their customers. It brings them business by giving them something free to give away, and it brings your business traffic by getting your name out there in the community.

 

Utilize the Internet

Make Facebook your best friend. In this day and time, it is one of the best marketing tools out there for new businesses. Create a Facebook page, and invite all of your friends to “Like” and “Share” it. Use it to post pictures of your new merchandise, advertise promotions and sales and offer special coupons to your “Facebook Fans.”

 

Be open during peak hours

Let’s say you own a gym. Unless you’re running a specialized gym geared toward specific classes or personal training, it’s likely that you’ll be competing against larger gyms that are open 24/7. That said, having your gym open from 9-5 isn’t going to be your best option. If running a 24-hour gym isn’t an option, hire staff members that are willing to come in at 5am, and hire others that are willing to stay until midnight. If you want a shot at competing with the big boys, you’re going to have to go the extra mile.

 

Market Your strengths

If your price is better than your competitor, get the news out there! If your products are handmade, whereas your competitors are made in a factory, make sure everyone knows it! As explained in #2, the Internet is going to be your best friend here. Also, word-of-mouth does wonders for small businesses! Spread the news to some of your gossip-loving friends, and your news will spread like wildfire.

 

Be active in the community

This one is self-explanatory. Attend as many community events as possible and market your business, your products and yourself. If people like you, they’ll buy from you.

Your Guide to a Successful Summer Sale

Want to run a special sale for the summertime, but can’t come up with any creative ideas? Here’s a list of just a few options that don’t force you to break the bank!

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Come up with a catchy Theme

Summer is known for so many things! Road trips, sweet treats, travel, beaches, nostalgia, the list goes on and on. Grasp on to one of these concepts and create a themed sale. Let’s use the nostalgia theme, for example. Market your sale prices as a “throwback” to when the products were less expensive. Or, say you decide to go with the road trip theme. Get creative and decorate your business with displays that highlight your favorite road trip destinations to create a fun atmosphere!

Giveaways

You may think that this option is more suited for an established, financially stable company, but possibilities abound. For every purchase made at your store during the promotional period that you choose, have your customers put their name into a drawing for some kind of a giveaway. Prizes can be large or small, depending on how much money you are willing and able to invest. They can range anywhere from a summer getaway trip to a free ice cream from your local ice cream shop. Check around with your local stores and see who would be willing to participate in merchandise giveaways!

Get out in the Community

Summer is the time for family trips to the pool, little league baseball and picnics in the park. Head out to your community’s favorite summer hotspots and network! Bring along fliers, business cards, coupons, free gifts, samples, etc. to market your business.

Have a Holiday Celebration

National Ice Cream Day, National Siblings Day, National Cousins Day, Fudge Day, etc. Any one of these could make for a great sale opportunity! On National Ice Cream Day, give out coupons to your local ice cream shop (or, if you are the local ice cream shop, offer free cones to your first 25 customers!). If you own a restaurant, on National Sibling/Cousin day, let one sibling/cousin eat free. You get the idea.

No matter which direction you decide to go, there are tons of options for hosting a great summer sale!

5 Easy Steps to Becoming an Environmentally-Friendly Business

Though it may seem like lightening your business’s footprint is an overwhelming task to take on, there are several small steps you can take to make your business a little bit greener without taking on more work than you can handle. This article lists some small measures you can take toward becoming a green business.

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Recycle

Never underestimate the value of recycling your used items. And it’s just as simple as throwing a piece of garbage in the trash can! Place paper recycling bins in easy-to-access areas around your office, for example, near the printer/copy room and the mail room. Be sure to place recycling bins in the break rooms and the cafeteria, if applicable. Also, if you have a cafeteria, think about investing in a compost bin and donating the compost to an employee or neighbor who enjoys gardening.

Reduce Junk Mail

Junk mail is an enormous source of waste, and it is completely avoidable. Research some of the free services that will remove your name from mailing lists you do not wish to be a part of, and remove your name from the Direct Marketing Association’s member prospect list.

Electronics Recycling

Paper, cans and bottles aren’t the only things lying around the office that can be recycled. When your old electronics no longer function, don’t just trash them. Implement a company policy that requires employees to recycle electronic waste such as cell phones, cameras and computers. Some computer manufacturers will take back programs from old computers, and the rest can be recycled for charity.

Partner with Other Green Businesses

If you’re looking to go green, it is likely that there are existing businesses near you who have already taken steps in the same direction. Do your best to network with these businesses and make an effort to use their services when needed. Look for green vendors with services such as business card creation, web site hosting or office cleaning tasks.

Make Use of Your Outdoor Space

While it may not be inherently obvious, planting trees and/or a garden near your office can make a difference in the environment. Also, if your business has a parking garage on-site, keep track of how long the exhaust fans run, and be sure to turn out the lights after hours. This will not only make a difference in the environment, but it will also decrease the amount your company spends on the electric bill.