5 Secrets That Will Thrust Your Small Business Into the Big League

There are 28 million small businesses in the US. The sad reality is that most of them fail within the first few years of operation. The small percentage that survive stay small forever. A select few manage to grow into huge businesses. But why them and not the others? What are the factors that enable unknowns to become household brands? One thing for sure that it takes much more than hard work, luck, and timing. Read on to see if your small business has what it takes to make the leap into the big league?

Systems

Many small business owners’ lives are chaotic due to lack of systems. Systems are hard, but they enable small businesses to scale. Systems are not glorious like sales, marketing, or research and development. Some say that systems are boring, after all, it is a back office function. Systems separate struggling small businesses from those that grow by leaps and bounds. Creating systems can be a daunting task, and for many, the prospect of taking on yet another project is out of the question. For some, it is a catch-22 situation. You may say “How do I carve out extra time from my already hectic schedule.” The correct way to think of systems is that creating them is an investment in your business.

One of the greatest challenges that small business owners face is that the they are perpetual decision makers. The owner is involved in everything from sales, customer service, research and development, bookkeeping, so an and so forth. Creating systems is the first step toward a business where not every decision is dependent on the entrepreneur. Systems allow people to plug in and go. Systems include operating procedures and manuals that can bring a new team member up to speed in no time. It is what takes small out of small business.

Franchise businesses are often more successful than independently operated ones simply because they are built on systems. The franchisee may be paying a premium in upstart costs compared to an independent business, but it makes sense for many because they don’t have to worry about developing systems. Someone already went ahead and created the necessary systems for success. When you buy a franchise you are taking a system that has been proved to work. Does it mean that you have to buy a franchise to succeed? Absolutely not, but you have to think of your own independent business as a franchise. Create procedures for everything. Don’t leave anything to guesswork.

Most small businesses do without systems, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. While you might get away with it in the beginning the lack of systems will create huge bottle necks down the road. The lack of systems will reduce your profits. Why? Because you and your employees will have to reinvent the wheel day in and day out. systems minimize the element of surprise. With systems in place your team is able to deliver consistent service. Businesses with consistently good service will outperform those with fluctuating quality service.

In addition to making your life easier, systems also increase the value of your business. Buyers want to buy businesses that are built on systems. The presence of systems tell buyers that the business doesn’t entirely rely on you. Creating systems help you create a turnkey operation, appealing to buyers. Business systems are assets that enable your company to run without you.

Scalability

Investors love highly scalable companies because they have the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost. You simply can’t substantially grow a business without cracking the scaling code. Some business are built to scale while others are forever destined for small business status. Unfortunately, many professional service providers are not scalable because they rely on personal output. So, if your goal is to build a big company avoid consulting types of businesses. A software company, on the other hand, is a highly scalable business model. Once the software product has been completed it can be sold millions of times with minimal costs. In other words, their increased revenues cost less to deliver than current revenues. What this means is that a scalable business will be able to increase the operating margin as revenue grows.

A highly scalable business requires small variable costs that the company can control. Variable cost changes with the volume of business. Fixed costs do not vary with sales. For example, for a software company fixed costs include the cost of the office location, computers, and furniture. These cannot be quickly added or liquidated. Salaries on the other hand are a variable cost since workers can be hired and fired relatively fast.

Most consulting businesses like marketing agencies are not scalable because they are unable to substantially increase their revenue without greatly increasing their variable costs. Such businesses are considered poor investments.

To build a scalable business you should start with a scalable idea. Scalable businesses have high margins. They require low support and staff expenses. Scalable businesses allow you to work on your business as opposed to working in your business. If you find yourself constantly working in your business your business is either not scalable or not yet ready to scale.

Truly scalable businesses are highly automated. Automation helps you reduce variable costs such as labor. It is at this point when scaling and systems begin to work together. If you truly want to become a market leader or dominate your industry, scalability is the only way to do it without a miracle.

Board of advisors

If your goal is rapid growth, you must have a board that you can rely on for your big audacious goals. The life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Often you feel like you are all alone with all the decisions you have to make. Your board will share some of the burdens of making key decisions and it will tell the outside world that you are systematic about your business, and that you understand that you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Your board will help you with large strategic goals. It can help with your overall business plan, policy issues, financial questions, strategic partnerships, and more.

Your board shouldn’t be utilized to deal with routine tactical challenges. Don’t waste the boards time on daily employee issues or what color the chose for your new office. Rather, let your board help you with strategic advice, or by helping you with making introductions to strategic partners and recruiting talent.

Fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders make excellent board members. Before you build your board you should have a clear understanding of what areas you need help with. Ask yourself what skills do you currently lack that you need to take your business to the next level? Is it marketing, intellectual property, or finance? Whatever it is you need help with should influence the ultimate makeup of your board. You could hire a recruiter, but they are expensive. It is best if you perform the search yourself.

Your board is not a group of your closest friends. It is a group of professionals, each with a respective specialty. One might be an IP attorney while another a retired CEO. You are not looking for a group of yes men. If you build a great board, each member will have more experience than you and each will know much more than you. If you feel like the dumbest person in the room, you are on the right track.

Your board of advisors will not join you for the money, but there are costs involved. It is a good idea to compensate your advisors. At least, you should cover their expenses. Do they need to travel to your board meetings? Are there hotel and other expenses? It is also advisable to pay a per meeting fee that might be a few hundreds or a few thousand dollars. In addition to monetary compensation, you could chose to offer stock as payment.

IP (Intellectual Property)

Most small business owners care most about time and money. Some understand that IP is as good as money in the bank. It is considered one of the most important assets of some of the most valuable companies in the world. Even though IP is an intangible asset, it’s almost impossible to build a hugely successful business without it. If you are going to dominate your industry or at least be one of its key players, IP is a must. You can often read about huge business acquisition deals structured around IP. Often, IP is the reason companies are bought and sold for huge multiples.

Simply put, IP makes your company more competitive. Without IP you end up competing on price and efficiency, a tough way to build your business. When you compete through IP you often set your own price, a luxury most businesses never experience. Since innovation is the main driver in business, developing IP should be a key objective for all companies that want to enter the big league.

If you are an early stage company wanting to attract investors, your IP might be what closes the deal for you. Investors look at IP with regard to the level of income it may generate through its life. Some companies bet their futures on IP. Richard Thoman, the CEO of Xerox, declared that the “management of IP is how value added is going to be created at Xerox.” An excellent example of IP management is IBM; it managed to generate about $1 billion from IP by 1990. IP is the intangible asset that can become your free cash flow.

When IP is properly managed it can prevent your competitors from copying your products or services. You can avoid wasteful investment in R&D. IP is a revenue generating profit machine that makes your company more valuable and competitive, getting you ever so closer to market domination.

Brand

Many small business owners, wrongly believe, that brand building is reserved for giant corporations. But, building your brand should be a key focus from the very early stages of your company’s life. Your brand is another intangible asset you can’t build a market leading company without. It is your brand that may enable your business one day to avoid competing on price only. It is your brand that may one day help you dominate your market. It is through the power of your brand that you will be able to minimize your new customer acquisition costs.

Successful brands are easily recognizable. Virtually all fortune 500 companies have managed to build a strong brand image. Powerful brands instill certain images in consumers from tradition, to quality, to innovation, to any number of thoughts and feelings. As competition increases, so does the importance of building credible brands.

Brands are not born out of thin air, they are strategically developed. Building your brand is no less important than developing your sales strategy or R&D. The process of building your brand is a never ending job. There is no such thing as a finished brand. Finished brands are for businesses that are finished. You can never think of brand building as a project with a beginning and an end.

While advertising is important it is not advertising that creates your brand. Your brand is a reflection on everything that your company does. Your brand is the quality of your product or service. It is also the way you treat your customers, and even your employees. Your brand is shaped by how the world perceives you.

The value of each brand fluctuates. Your company scores big on your latest product and the value of your brand rises. One of your employees publicly ridicules one of your upset customers and your brand suffers. The good news is that for the most part, you are in charge of your brand’s destiny.

Even the worlds greatest brands are not always on an upward trajectory. Strong brands can help your company survive disasters. Recently, the Toyota brand had been plagued by millions of recalls, yet the company managed to come out of it all with an even stronger brand.

It is true that not each small business wants to become an industry leader. But, it’s also true that there are no accidental market leaders. Most small businesses are family owned and operated, and there is nothing wrong with that. You can be happy, fulfilled, and wealthy running a small business. But, if your choice is to grow your business into a true market leader you have to build your business on systems. You have to be able to crack the scaling code, so you can dramatically increase your revenue with minimal expenses. You will need trusted advisors that are smarter and more experienced than you. It will be an uphill battle, or perhaps even impossible without proper IP management. Your brand will soften the blow when you are hit with disasters. Of course, there are other factors such as luck and timing that transform small businesses into huge success stories, but the above five make for a good start.

Office Furniture Comes in a Wide Variety of Styles and Prices

Furniture is important to any home or office, and companies that sell commercial furniture in particular have a very important job. From the time clients enter an office building, the décor and overall look of the room has an effect on them. First impressions are everything, and the look of an office or industrial facility can affect a potential client either negatively or positively. This is one of the reasons why so many professionals hire experienced decorators to come into their office and design their office space. Everything must work together and complement each other so that the look comes together and looks cohesive. If you choose to select furniture on your own, there are still many stores that provide professional-looking furniture that is attractive, functional, and reasonably priced. Furthermore, many of these stores have an online presence, which allows you to research and view their products at your leisure before deciding which ones to purchase.

Office Furniture Offers Many Styles and Types

Furniture for the boardroom is extremely important, because whether you use this room for regular meetings or for board of directors’ activities, it must look professional and attractive. Whether your office is small or large, contemporary or traditional, you deserve to have furniture that matches the décor of the room and that is functional as well. One Stop Office Interiors boardroom tables include a variety of styles, and range from basic wood tables to tables that are white, black, and even multi-coloured. Tables come in a variety of sizes and are suitable for any company’s boardroom, regardless of the room’s size or design. From casual to formal, companies such as this will have exactly what you need for your particular boardroom.

Furniture companies will also offer products to go along with boardroom tables, such as chairs and matching desks, as well as a variety of accessories that are designed to give the room a more cohesive look. Naturally, purchasing the entire room full of furniture at the same time is the best option, but even if you purchase them separately you should still be able to find what you want.

Advantages of Going Online First

When you visit these companies’ websites, you gain access to full-colour photographs of their products, which means you can review them at your leisure in the privacy of your own home or office. When you are ready, you can visit the store in person, and most of the salespeople can assist you at any time should you have questions or need assistance choosing the products that will look best in your facility. Furniture companies are staffed by experts in the field, and they offer a wide range of products, personalised services, and very reasonable prices.

Whether your office is small or large, is a new business or has been around for decades, purchasing new furniture is an easy task if you start online. These companies can even custom-design an entire room for your office or retail facility, which allows you to get a turn-key experience so that in the end, you get exactly what you are looking for and will be pleased with the results.

Top 10 Marketing Books for Small Business Owners

Unlike big business owners, small business owners have the burden of taking care of every single aspect of their business – recruitment, marketing, finance, accounts, managing employees to managing vendors, and so forth. But here we focused only on books that can help you gain marketing knowledge and skills. Here are the top 10 books on marketing which we believe are helpful for new as well as established small business owners.

Book # 1: The New Rules of Marketing & PR – David Meerman Scott

In the new marketing scenario, the methods such as ad copy, etc. do not bring results for your business. With the popularity of smartphones and other devices and proliferation of the Internet, new methods, rules, etc. of marketing have evolved. This book discusses the importance and benefits of using such techniques.

David M Scott provides fresh examples of success from various industries and businesses across the world. He highlights the new tools and techniques that marketers should use to communicate with their buyers directly – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. In short, this book is a guide that offers actionable strategies and insider tips that can be implemented immediately.

Book # 2: Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking – Andy Sernovitz

This book by Andy Sernovitz emphasizes the use of word of mouth marketing for businesses. The book elaborates purpose of blogs, social media, viral emails, etc. – when to use them and how to make them work.

Word of mouth is an effective tool to share information quickly and easily to promote businesses. It is an effective tool that can promote your business via your customers, friends and relations.

Book # 3: Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business – Jay Conrad Levinson

This book furnishes strategies for Internet marketing, tips on using technology like pod-casting and automated marketing, programs for targeting prospects, cultivating repeat, referral business, management lessons in the age of telecommuting and freelance employees, etc. – exclusively for small businesses.

Book # 4: Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide – John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a well-known expert in small business marketing. In the book, he discusses all the proven tools and tactics together in a step-by-step marketing system. This road map helps small business owners in knowing what they need to do to market their businesses.

Book # 5: Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business – David Siteman Garland

This book provides strategies for building, marketing and promoting businesses. These techniques are smarter, faster, cheaper and therefore save your time and money. The book is equally helpful for start-ups as well as those who are already in the market for sometime.

Book # 6: Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed: Leverage Resources, Establish Online Credibility and Crush Your Competition – Patrick Schwerdtfeger

This book provides effective practical strategies and tactics – a complete tool kit to use resources sensibly, to establish online credibility. If you apply these strategies, you can get good results for your business within a brief span of time.

Book # 7: Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide – James Stephenson

This book is an essential guide for every business owner. James Stephenson presents in this book 1500 great marketing ideas that are sure to boost your sales revenue, profits and customer loyalty and also to help you stay ahead of your competitors.

Book # 8: Web Marketing for Small Businesses: 7 Steps to Explosive Business Growth – Stephanie Diamond

Marketing for small businesses was difficult in the past. But today, it is not the case. Web marketing enables small businesses to take advantage of marketing opportunities and win new customers.

The book ‘Web Marketing for Small Businesses: 7 Steps to Explosive Business Growth’ focuses on different ways of marketing with a detailed strategy to put them into action. The main content of the book comprises checklists – niche, brand, story, search, content, social media tactics, traditional tactics and results. This book helps you implement web marketing strategies.

Book # 9: Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook – Dave Kerpen

This book is a key to unlock the door to new opportunities. It tells you about how to build brand awareness by engaging customers in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and other social media networking sites.

Book # 10: 500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and More! – Andrew Macarthy

This book is a guide to small businesses. It provides 500 social media marketing tips covering all the web’s biggest players like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and others. These tips will help you build brand awareness in social media networks, attract and engage your customers and ultimately help you increase sales.

Having A Profitable Online Business

An online home business may seem to many the perfect solution for working at home and running their own business. For many it is. However, an online home business is just as much work and perhaps even more than a brick and mortar storefront business. It takes as much forethought and as much business planning, though probably not nearly as much money.

What can be frustrating about an online business is learning the technical ins and outs of getting the business Web site set up, buying the right hardware and software,learning the jargon and finding the right people to keep it running when the owner often doesn?t know what to even look for in a technical specialist.

If someone is not a geek, but knows the basic of computer use and computer language and has a good idea with sound business planning, they can succeed in an online business.

According to extensive research, the things that sell best on the Internet are computers and computer-related products, books, travel and travel-related businesses, clothes, music, gifts and financial investments.

Someone might start an internet business selling e-books or print on demand books ? especially in the areas of self-help or how to. They might sell consulting services, information about entertainment and local or regional getaways or offer products in an online auctions. Another lucrative online home business is writing for the Web.

Many manufacturers have ready made small ticket items that they offer for distributorships and some even help the entrepreneur set up her or his Web site. Many even offer drop ship services so the start up home business owner doesn?t need to go out and buy an extensive inventory when he first lunched his home business.

What?s important to know about an online business before an entrepreneur makes the decision to start one is the startup costs involved, how much labor and the type of business, the quality of the manufacturer?s products if selling someone else?s products, the competition the firm will be facing, the size of the market, how profitable it is likely to be, the customer support that would be needed, the regulatory and licensing issues, the costs of such things as inventory, shipping, maintenance and repairs, the likelihood of repeat business and loyal customers and the potential for cross selling and upselling.

The bottom line, of course, is that an online home business should be about doing and selling what the owner believes in and enjoys being a part of. That?s what makes it rewarding.

To Your Success

Best Small Business Tips and Ideas

Deciding to start a business can be one of the most exhilarating decisions you make in your life. We are living in a world wherever everyone wants to make extra money and add to his income. Most people have achieved this by acquiring great business ideas. When one starts up a company, he must be ready to meet competition. It is important to note that you would not need to become rich or popular to succeed in business but have to think smartly. But there are a lot of moving parts and many different elements to consider.

10 basic tips essential to start a business successfully.

Tip 1: Get inspired and Love your idea

Every business begins with an idea you may have imagined of opening your own business for years, or motivation may have hit you suddenly. Nevertheless of the source, the first step of starting your own business is coming up with a business idea. And as important as your idea, you must in love with the idea.

Tip 2: Do Your Research / learn everything about the business

You’ve recognized your big idea, now it’s time to balance it with the reality. Are you truly ready to start a business? Answer the questions below and see what you need to prepare yourself for business. For a small business succeed it must fulfill a need, solve a problem or offer something the market wants.

You can identify this need in many ways by doing research, focus groups, and even trial and error.

As you search the market, some of the questions can be:

• Is there a need for your anticipated services or products?
• Who needs it? (Target Costumers)
• Are there other companies offering similar services or products right now?
• How is the competition?
• Can or how will your business fit into the market?

Tip 3: Make a Business Plan

You need a business plan in order to make your business idea a reality. If you expect to seek monetary support from an investor or financial organization, a formal written business plan is a must.

Even if you don’t need monetary support, a simple business plan can give you precision about what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to do it.

In overall, your business plan should summary your business goals and the inspiration behind them, as well as your plan for realization of your goals in terms of marketing and funding.

Tip 4: Planning Finances

Opening a small business doesn’t have to involve a lot of money, but it will involve some investment.

There are a number of methods you can fund your small business:

• With Small business grants
• By Financing
• With Small business loans
• Or Angel investors

You can also attempt to get your business off the ground by bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start your business.

Tip 5: Business Structure

Your small business can be an individual ownership, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The business structure you might choose will impact in many factors from your business name, to liability, and how you file your taxes.

You can choose an initial business structure, and with time re-evaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs to be changed.

Tip 6: The Business Name

The name you choose plays a role in almost every aspect of your business, so you want it to be a good one. Make sure you think through all of the possible consequences as you explore your options and select your business name.

Once you have selected a name, there is the need to check if it’s trademarked, currently in use and if stills free you will need to register it. A individual proprietor must register their business name with either their state or county clerk. Corporations, LLC, or limited corporations usually register their business name when the creation paperwork is filed.

These days you need to have a website, so please don’t forget to register your domain name once you have selected your business name. The best domains and more valuable online are the ones ending with .com.

Tip 7: Licenses and Permits

There are a range of small business licenses and permits that may apply to your situation, depending on the type of business you are starting and where you are placed. You will need to inquiry what licenses and permits apply to your business during the initial process.

Tip 8: The Business Location

Setting up your place to work is essential for the operation of your business, whether you will have a home office, a shared or private office space, or a retail location. You will need to reflect about your place, equipment, and overall setup, and make sure your business place works for the kind of business you will be doing.

Tip 9: Accounting System

One of the most essential systems for a small business is an accounting system. Your accounting system is essential in order to build and manage your budget, set your charges, conduct business with others, and file your taxes. You can set up your accounting system by your own, or hire an accountant to take away some of the work.

Tip 10: Promote Your Small Business

As soon your business is up and running, you need to start attracting customers. You’ll want to initiate with the essentials by writing a single selling offer and building a marketing plan. Explore as many small business marketing ideas as you can so you to choose how to promote your business most successfully. Completed these business start-up actions, you will have all of the most important small business bases protected, and be prepared for small business success.

15 Business Ideas to Generate Extra Income

If you want or need to start a side job because you still need to wait a little bit longer to start your own business, here are 15 suggestions for you.

1. Make money Blogging

If you enjoy writing, find a theme you’re passionate about and start a blog dedicated to covering that theme and anything else interesting you enjoy to talk about. All you need is a laptop, some time, and inspiration to consistently write. It can start as a hobby and turn into a business over time. Creating a blog is free, but if you want to look professional it can cost less than $ 12 per month.

2. Buying or selling on eBay

Thanks to internet there are more opportunities to make money than ever to buy and resell products for extra money. There are lots of people buy at a discount and resell them on eBay for profit.

3. Freelance writing

If you’re great with words, you might be capable to find some work as an online freelancer. A variety of publications need online content in the form of product, stories, service descriptions, and reports, and if you have the talent and ability, you could easily be the one to create them. Luckily, all you need is a computer and Internet connection to get started. You can start here freelancer.com

4. Social media expert

Now a day almost everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, but did you know that many companies are willing to compensate people to support them managing their social media accounts and sometimes you can do it part-time from home. If this appeals you, to find social media jobs you can start by writing companies with a social media presence and visiting sites like Elance.com for opportunities.

5. Proofreading and editing

Do you have strong English skills and outstanding grammar? You may have chances to work as a proof-reader from home. Marketing for this can be hard; seek out those who might actually be able to use your services and advertise directly to them.

6. Virtual assistant

Many companies and individual professionals like having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, someone who can update their calendars, and perform other administrative tasks, with minimal communication. The best of being a virtual assistant is that you can offer this service from home with a good Internet connection.

7. Website design

If you know a little bit about web design you can approach small businesses in your community, as they could use a very basic web presence to tell others about their business. These businesses usually don’t have a large budget for websites and create a great yet simple website is for you, get a bunch of clients from your local community, create sites for them, and maintains them for a small fee. You can easily get enough businesses to have a nice side business of your own with a low investment.

8. Affiliate marketing

Certain types of online businesses will pay you to promote their products and encourage sales. If you’re interested in learning more, check out affiliate marketing programs such as Click-bank, Commission Junction, and these websites are trustworthy and you can earn money by posting their products in your blog, website or Facebook. The secret of online business is all knowing targeting the right public and marketing efficiently. It can be overwhelming with all the information available online as more than 50% of the information is just a waste of time.

9. Become a business or life coach

If you are a good speaker and passionate about the business world and able to inspire and encourage others in a unique way, you could marketing your services as a business or even a life coach. Take your passion and expertise to the next level giving advice and suggest actionable steps people can take to progress their professional and private lives.

10. Start a resume writing service

If you’re excellent at writing remarkable resumes that in the end result in people getting the job, contemplate advertising those services. Most of your work will spin around writing, editing, designing, and proofreading, so you will only need few supplies outside of your computer and basic software to get started.

11. App Developer

Web app development is the creation of application programs that reside on remote servers and are delivered to the user’s device over the Internet. Now a day you can do apps with software’s you don’t really need to be a weirdo to do it, you can be an app developer for Facebook for instance and of course you can do it part-time and home based.

12. Business Consultant

If you are high organized and skilled being a good problem solver this job is for you. Companies bring Business Consultant to identify their problems, provide solutions and optimize companies. The only investments are your skills.

13. Data Entry Service

Many companies and online businesses require some type of manual information tracking, creating a vast amount of data entry work. Although there are many work-at-home scams related with data entry work, there are a lot of genuine chances available for genuine data entry businesses. If you are an excellent typist with an eye for detail, a data entry business is a great idea for you.

14. Freelance Writer

If you have the skill to write and inform people in a certain area, you can write small books or guides and sell them online, the biggest books platform is Amazon.com, where you can display your books for free and when they are sold, you will receive a percentage from the selling. Payments are made every month depending on your sales. Investment is only your time to write and imagination.

15. Internet Researcher

The Internet provides a vast amount of information. If you can quickly and efficiently navigate through that wealth of information, and essentially find a needle in a haystack, you can create a very successful business as an Internet researcher. Search for this kind of job online or about a company which is looking for this of service.

I give you only a glimpse what you could do, and these are just a few ideas, but many ideas were left behind.

First of all I advise you to think what you like to do as a hobby or in your free time, why don’t you make profit from what you are doing already?

You have the world as your disposal, but for a business to work out the first thing from all things is, it doesn’t matter what you intent to do, but you have to love it. If you love what you do it doesn’t feel like a job, you will be doing it with joy and this way you will be successful.

There are some side business opportunities that have grown more common in the past few years. And thanks to internet you have much more opportunities, ideas and help to develop your business.

What Does It Take To Start An Online Business

The Internet has introduced many changes in our lives and brings information of all kinds to our fingertips. The Internet is also responsible for introducing brand new business opportunities that literally allow people to reach around the world to their customers. We will explore some of the attributes you will need, to start an online business in this short article.

Like any other business, starting an online business requires a number of skills and equipment which you can either learn or hire someone to provide to you. Many people start out with an idea that takes them into uncharted territory and they must make a decision. You either acquire the skills yourself or you find friends and business associates that can help you with your online business.

There is the usual list of items that you need to consider. These include a business plan, financial cash flows and financing considerations, marketing, sales, fulfillment and customer support. While an online business will vary a great deal from the brick and mortar businesses of old these elements are still a necessity if you are going to select the right online business and make a success of it. All you need to do is take a look at the technology meltdown that took place in 2000 and 2001 to understand this issue.

An online business requires other unique items in addition to the above items. Computers of course are a big requirement along with the software or applications and the skills to use it effectively. Next comes storage for your content and the ability to present the content in an attractive manner so you can turn it into revenue. Content is probably the single most important element of the entire online presence. If you do not generate good content that changes on a regular basis to attract your customers, chances are that your millions of clicks that you need will not materialize.

Once you have good content, you have to be able to advertise and ensure that people all over the world can find you on the net. It is not good enough to just have a web site. Capabilities such as search engine optimized content, submission of articles to various agencies, generating links to your web site, posting to blogs and operation of your own blogs are a few of the areas you will need to pay attention to.

All of these areas need to be thoroughly investigated and a well thought out strategy for your online business developed to ensure a successful and profitable endeavor.

7 Things Successful Small Business Owners Do

If you’re stuck wondering how to be a successful small business owner, know this: running a small business often simply means making good use of successful small business ideas. Successful small business owners face many ups and downs throughout their work. They know that small business ideas cannot turn out successful unless they use the proper approach and strategies.

If you want to be one of the few successful small business owners, remember that having a good strategy is crucial. Without the right strategy and a proper approach, you are not likely to achieve your goal.

Some small business owners manage to overcome their everyday challenges, while others seem to give up after a while. So, let’s find out what successful small business owners do differently from the unsuccessful ones. Let’s turn their experience into your success through your small business ideas.

1. MAKE ANNUAL REVISIONS OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN AND BUDGET

Every business goes through changes every now and then, including your small business. For this reason, your business plan and budget should be somewhat flexible to bear such changes along with your business goals. Without revising your business plan and budget, you shouldn’t expect your business to flourish and expand.

The flexibility of your business plan will help you avoid and overcome the eventual unpleasant surprises on the market. Also, such flexibility will give you some time to adjust to certain changes you may experience on your way.

Every business experiences both success and failure points each year. In order to detect and estimate these points, you should revise your budget and business plan every year. While revising, you should check if you are still going in the right direction. If not, you may need to make some changes and adjustments to achieve better results in the upcoming period.

Successful small business owners don’t hesitate to reallocate funds, if that is what it takes to achieve success. In order to increase profits, after they conduct a business revision, smart business owners define and implement the necessary changes immediately.

2. UPDATE YOUR OFFER AND ADD VALUE TO IT

People change, as do their needs and habits. As soon as you notice that you aren’t selling as much as you used to sell before, it is time to make changes. If people aren’t purchasing what you currently have to offer, that’s a clear hint that something needs to be done.

A simple price cut may be the first thing that comes to your mind. As much as lower prices may seem more appealing to your customers, they also point to a devaluation of what you offer. Devaluation of your products or services is never a good thing, so try doing just the opposite – add value to your offers.

The best way to update and add value to your products and services is by developing new offers. If possible, try to offer something completely new to your customers. You could offer product bundles, training programs and workshops, and so on.

3. DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

Most successful small business owners believe in daring to be different. They know their target consumers. Trying to target everyone and anyone as a consumer will get you nowhere fast. Instead of trying to make products for the masses, focus on a clearly targeted community and grow with it. Once you target your consumers, it is easy to understand their needs.

Understanding your consumers is the secret to a successful business. When you know their needs, you can modify your products and services in order to satisfy them. Satisfied consumers will not only become your regulars, but they will also spread the word about what you offer. This may become the best marketing strategy for your business.

Spreading the word about your products or services is called a referral marketing strategy. It’s been proven that most of the faster growing small businesses turn to this kind of marketing rather than relying on traditional advertising.

4. KNOW YOUR COMPETITION

Successful small business owners know their competition. They know that keeping an eye on the competitors and understanding their policy and pricing is crucial to the business. It is wise to consider your direct competitors in your area, as well as indirect competitors.

A direct competitor offers the same primary services to the same target group as you, and they are easy to follow on the market. However, an indirect competitor company offers the same or similar products as a segment of a wider product or service offering.

In some cases, the indirect competitor may offer a product that is an applicable substitute for the original product. Successful small business owners know how to position their company against the indirect competitors. They take both types of competing companies seriously and they account for them in their annual business plan.

5. HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Even though hiring the right people for your business sounds obvious, it can be a really tough job for small business owners. Also, not hiring the right people could be a huge downfall for a small company. People who don’t share the concept of your business approach and goals are not the type of people you want to engage in your business.

Candidates who don’t have the right temperament, skills, or talent for the job position that you offer can be too pricey for your company. Having the right people in the right job positions can make your company outstanding. Exceptional companies recruit exceptional people.

6. ACCEPT TECHNOLOGY CHANGES

Technology changes on a regular basis nowadays. Successful business owners are very well aware of that, so they change accordingly. Doing things the way they were done years ago will not provide the same success nowadays.

Accepting technological improvements can help your company become more effective and efficient. Keep yourself informed about the latest in new technology, and the improved solutions it brings. Choose the most appropriate ones for your business and adopt them. Your customers will be grateful and you’ll experience great benefits.

7. TRUST YOUR INTUITION

If you believe your intuition has been serving you well so far, listen to your inner voice carefully. Your instincts can lead you a long way. If you still feel strongly about something, regardless of the lack of facts or data – act on it. What seems right for other businesses doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you as well.

Relying on intuition is often the first step out of your comfort zone, and the first step towards becoming a leading company on the market. While you watch your business grow and spread, remember that having faith in yourself and the business you are running is crucial. Being aware of your inner voice can lead you to making business decisions with more confidence and a greater success rate.

Torchlite is evolving the way businesses go to market. By seamlessly connecting digital marketing experts and business owners through our application, we make building effective digital marketing campaigns easy – driving leads, online traffic, customers and revenue. Let’s get ignited.

Small Business – When Government Stacks the Deck Against You

We expect a fair degree of corruption, arrogance and drooling self-interest from our elected officials. After all, in the last 206 years, we have fallen a great distance from the days of the “virtuous republic” that existed-or was thought to exist-in that first decade after the Revolution. Yes, we expect it, but I would have more respect for the operatives, the party-men and the politicos themselves if they could be just a little intelligent about it. The current issue with the Bush Administration, Congress, the SBA and the awarding of a great deal of money earmarked for small business, is a case in point.

When Big Business Seems Small

It is illegal, a felony that comes with fines and a prison term, to try to pass your big business off as a small business to get one of the 23% of Federal contracts reserved for small businesses. Yet, it happens all the time. According to the American Small Business League, a non-partisan watchdog group, some $60 billion in Federal contracts go to major corporations each year. How it happens brings us to the question of how you decide that a business is truly small.

Counting Heads

What is a small business? How do you measure it? Is it revenue? Sales? Staff size? Any one of these could be a viable measure, but for the most part the matter is decided with staff size. Depending on the industry, you can have a maximum of 1,500 employees and still be considered a small business! (Federal Regulations Title 13, Part 121, Section 201)

These larger “small businesses,” with 1,000 to 1,500 employees, deal in oil, aerospace, rail transportation, textiles, and chemical and rubber products. Wholesalers, regardless of their products, are capped at 100; information technology value-added resellers are capped at 150 (a very recent change) while the rest are capped at either 500 or 750. In 2005 (the most recent data available), there were 5,966,069 firms in the U.S. with 500 or fewer employees and they employed 58,644,585 people out of a total employment of 116,373,003. That is 50.3% of the working population working in what could easily be described as legitimately small businesses. If you add up the firms with larger numbers of employees, you find that there are 11,546 of them and that they employ 9,475,180 people, 8.14% of the workforce.

Call me crazy, but a firm with 1,000 employees doesn’t seem to be very small to me! It may be small when compared to the giants in its industry, but it is a giant compared with the vast majority of small businesses. In 2004, there was an effort to bring the number of employees down from 500 to 100 for a business to be classified as small. In spite of a great deal of support for the measure-including U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who said: “By working to change the definition of a small business for government contracts from 500 to 100 employees, federal contracts specifically designed to ensure the success of American small business would go where they belong – to support Americans, not big companies dressed in sheep’s clothing.”-the effort was killed by the SBA itself. That, however, is only the beginning. Another has to do with how small businesses are certified.

Finding a Certified Small Business

The question of how many employees a small business can have is complicated even further when we see that the government has been rather lax in enforcing the contract award rules for small business. In fact, in 2005, some $49 billion in Federal contracts that were set aside for small business were actually awarded to the 13 largest government contractors. This lax enforcement has led to cases where the small business in question is actually a subsidiary of a much larger company, where businesses have outgrown their small business status, where big business misrepresents itself as a small business and where government procurement offices, such as with the military, simply disregard the rules and do business with who they like.

The Small Business Front

Two of the most prevalent ways that large companies can maintain a small business front are through the legal loopholes that allow a small business to retain its status throughout the life of its original contract-and bid on new business as a small business-no matter how large it grows and even after it is bought out by a large company.

In either case, what the company in question is doing is, in fact, legal. Their actions are also limited by the fact that the loophole is based on the length of the small business’ initial contract. For example, if a small business wins a 10-year contract to provide computer hardware, it maintains its small business status for the full 10 years of the contract regardless of how large it grows or if some huge conglomerate buys it. This has been an issue for some time. Consider the following:

According to a 2006 report on the U.S. Government Accountability Office: Commerce Information Technology Solutions (COMMITS) Next Generation Governmentwide Acquisition Contract, “We found that many of the 55 COMMITS NexGen contractors have grown significantly or have been acquired by larger businesses and may no longer meet small business size standards. We also found that a significant portion of the task orders intended for the smallest contractors were issued to larger, incumbent contractors.”

Incumbent contractors tend to get the lion’s share of the government’s business. A 2004 SBA Office of Advocacy: Eagle Eye Publishers’ Report said that: “Of the top 1,000 small business contractors in FY 2002, Eagle Eye Publishers’ analysis found 44 parent companies it identified as either large firms or ‘other’. Contracts to these two groups taken together had a total value of $2 billion.” The report continued, saying that: “The Department of Defense and the General Services Administration accounted for 79 percent of the contract awards found to have gone to large businesses.” One of the conclusions drawn from the report was: “As a result of this lack of transparency, many awards that should be reserved for small firms go to large firms unchallenged.”

Disregarding the Rules

Rules can be broken either directly, by a willful disregard on the part of those the rules were intended to regulate, such as a company that purposefully misidentifies itself as a small business in order to get a contract; or they can be broken indirectly by a lack of oversight and enforcement that creates an atmosphere in which the rules can be ignored. One of the problems sited against the SBA is oversight. “SBA did not review the majority of reported bundled contracts that we identified, though procuring activities must provide, and SBA must review proposed bundled acquisitions. As a result, 192 contracts identified by procuring agencies as bundled were awarded without SBA’s review. If all of these are actually bundled contracts, a minimum of $384 million would be potentially lost to eligible small businesses, based on minimum dollar reporting requirements of $2 million.” (SBA Office of Inspector General: Audit of the Contract Bundling Process, May 2005) And consider this from the SBA Office of Inspector General: Audit of Monitoring Compliance with 8(a) Business Development Contract Performance, March 2006:

“Though SBA delegated 8(a) BD contract execution authority to 26 procuring agencies, SBA did not ensure that procuring agencies monitored whether companies complied with 8(a) BD regulations when completing 8(a) BD contracts . . . SBA has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that companies comply with 8(a) BD regulations”

The SBA is the final oversight authority for these contract awards and yet through their lack of enforcement efforts, it is easy for large businesses to slip through. Why is this? There are two likely reasons. The first is that the Bush Administration, when it came into office, cut funding for the SBA. At the end of the Clinton Administration, the budget for the SBA was about $1.1 billion. By 2006 it was down to $456.5 million. Funding has increased since the 2006 low; for 2009, that number has increased to $657 million, mostly due to funding for disaster relief loans; but the agency has nowhere near the budget it used to have. Generally speaking, if you cut funds to an agency, certain things start to slip and that is not a message that the SBA, or the Bush Administration for that matter, want going public.

However, it already has.

An audit by the American Small Business League (ASBL) and two independent experts showed that even while the SBA was saying that it is a “myth that large companies, including large, multi-national corporations are taking away federal contracts specifically intended for small businesses,” it was discovered that the Bush Administration had in fact included billions of dollars in awards to Fortune 500 corporations and other large businesses in the United States and Europe in its small business contracting statistics. Also, the Bush Administration failed to comply with the congressionally mandated 23% small business contracting goal by including such corporate giants as:

  • Dyncorp
  • Battelle Memorial Institute
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Government Technology Services Inc (GTSI),
  • Bechtel
  • Lockheed Martin
  • General Dynamics
  • General Electric
  • Northstar Aerospace
  • Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
  • Raytheon.
  • British Aerospace Engineering Systems
  • Buhrmann NV (Dutch)
  • Thales (French)

More than that, ASBL’s research also found that the government was forced to systematically increase the volume of contracts awarded to small businesses in order to balance out those that were going to inappropriately large companies. In addition, awards to legitimate small businesses were systematically inflated to equalize the reduction of small business contract dollars awarded to Fortune 500 corporations. The ASBL found that according to SBA numbers, Circle B Enterprises Inc. received $887.5 million during 2005. However, the government’s own figures indicate that Circle B Enterprises Inc. received $287.5 million during 2005, which represents a discrepancy of $600 million. The ASBL audit found several other instances where the contracting numbers of legitimate small businesses were also significantly inflated.

The Bottom Line

The government decided to play fast and loose with small business contract money and they got caught siphoning it off to some of the largest companies on Earth. There are those that will only see the damage that this will do to McCain in the fall, yet another Bush Administration failure/debacle/betrayal-whatever you like best. That, however, is not the point. The point is why was the SBA hamstrung and placed in the position it has been in by the Bush Administration? More than that, why has this abuse been allowed to go on for so long? Call me a political cynic-I am from Chicago so I come by it honestly-but the only thing that makes sense to me is that government officials are paying back the people with deep pockets who helped to get them elected and they are doing it at the expense of, well, YOU. True, paybacks are a time-honored political tradition, but by stealing the money from small business, the U.S. Government as a whole turned its back on the overwhelming number of U.S. employers and employees in favor of a handful of major corporations. I urge you, as a small business owner; and you as an employee of a small business, to write your senators and congressmen, and to write to each of the presidential candidates, McCain and Obama, and their respective party chairmen-Republican and Democrat alike, and tell them that you want this to stop. Remember, small business contract set-asides are for YOU, not major corporations. It is time to remind Washington of that.

Setting Up an Online Business

What most people don’t have is the backbone and drive to make a home based business successful. I am a member of many forums on the internet and believe me if some of these newbies don’t make a grand the first week they are ready to give up. Most new entrepreneurs are not prepared to invest the time and additional money in their business to give it a chance to succeed. The acceptable thought is if I build it they will come and spend their money. I had the same thought several years ago when I began my first venture. I woke up the second time around.

Running and building your home based business takes time. To skyrocket your business you must prepare to spend advertising money in addition to the free advertising that is available. All of it is important. It takes several weeks to make a huge move in the search engines. Most people who are looking for a product or service generally uses the search sites. If your site doesn’t make the first three pages then, it probably won’t be seen by that person doing the search. So it is very important to use the tools necessary to get your site listed at the top of the search engines. There are many tools available to you some are free and some cost but you must make an investment in time and money. Remember your site is not brick and mortar you find on a street corner which is very visible, you must make it be seen. You are not paying rent for a building so why not invest money to make it successful. If you can’t afford to invest to build your business you are going to be very frustrated unless you understand the old adage “it takes money to make money.” It doesn’t take a lot but you must be prepared to spend some to give your business a winning edge.

It has been said that only about 5% of home based businesses really make more than they spend. The primary reason is most entrepreneurs wannabes don’t give it a chance to succeed. Most wealthy people have failed and have had numerous setbacks before they reaked in the success. Donald Trump was bankrupt after becoming a millionaire and become a multi-millionaire once again after bankruptcy. He could have given up but he knew how to make money. Tom Hicks, the owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, became bankrupt and became successful once again. It is has nothing to do with what type of business you are in. It is the person behind the business that will either make it succeed or fail.

Perseverance, persistence, dedication and a positive attitude make all the difference in any endeavor. A book to read is Napoleon Hill’s “Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude.” Be prepared for setbacks and knockdowns but get back on your feet. Read all the information you can from those that are successful. They will all share their ideas and skills. You and I know that all their trade secrets will not be revealed but at least you get some ideas of where to start and what to do.

You must be a risk taker but not a sucker. Take an idea or business and run with it. Where many people fail is that they start something and do it for awhile and then start another business and work it for awhile and don’t get the bang they are looking for and move to something else without giving any of it a chance to succeed. It becomes an endless cycle. These are the ones grouped in the 95% that don’t make it.

If you are serious about an online business, do research. Look for a business that offers multiple streams of residual income. Residual income is money that is made over and over from the same action. In other words, if somebody signs up for a product or service you are paid repeatedly while they are a member. Make sense? If you had several of these types of businesses just think of the money you could be making if you promote it and advertise and work at it. Locate opportunities that setup your website and train you in a system that has proven to work. Again, research it. Who is behind the business? You should avoid anything that does not put their own personal stamp on it, in other words their name. Type their name in any search engine and find out who they are and if you can trust them.

Starting your own online business or trying to make an existing one work, persistence and a great attitude is a strong beginning. Take some action each and every day to build your business. Be prepared for setbacks but don’t allow them to overwhelm you or stop you from succeeding.

How To Succeed With Online Business

Success is not instantaneous for anyone. Even the most thriving business owners knew how to succeed with online business before they started out by having a plan in place to take them from novice to seasoned professional in the shortest amount of time.

The first thing you want to do when discovering how to succeed with an online business is some preliminary research and investigation into your niche. It doesnt matter if youre selling items on eBay or writing information products for instant download. You have to know what the needs of your target audience are so that you can cater to them and reap the financial rewards.

Once you know how to reach out and grab the attention of your market, you want to create a product or sell items that make them develop a loyalty to your brand. If you really want to know how to succeed with an online business, the key is in creating an empire of insatiable customers hungry for whatever it is your business produces.

This takes lots of determination because many people give up or get sidetracked with new ideas. This is certainly not how to succeed with an online business. You have to follow through with a single idea, monetize it, and then move on to your next profitable endeavor.

If your business is online, then youll probably be pursing life as an Internet marketer. Even if youre selling items on eBay, you still want to drive large quantities of targeted traffic to your offer. Traffic is the primary concern youll have when seeking methods on how to succeed with an online business.

When you have visitors coming to your page or site, you want to test and tweak your offer until it performs at its very best. If you have headlines or free offers, then switch them out so that half of your visitors see the original and the other half see your new offer.

This is one secret on how to succeed with online businesses that many marketers dont want you to know because if you continue promoting a single idea, your business wont grow, but will grow stagnant instead.

As your companys profits begin to take root, you want to continue discovering how to succeed with an online business because there are always new opportunities and techniques you can try. Expand your empire and saturate the market with you positioned as the resident expert before moving on to monetize a new niche.