The place to start and grow your business



5 Truths You Need to Know About Social Media for 2012»

Many small business owners approach social media like a Whac-a-Mole player who swings the mallet wildly. Rather than launching an assault on social media like a hit-or-miss game, plan out a strategy. Because without preparation, your social media efforts can quickly fizzle. Before you embark on a social media campaign, consider these five practical truths about social media that will help you develop a winning strategy.

a picture is worth 1000 words

How to Optimize Images to Improve Your Website Visibility and Traffic»

We’ve all heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a 1000 words.” But in the case of a website, this only holds true if you use words to describe your image to search engines. You see, search engines can’t really “see” your images. But they can read what you say about an image through text.

This information can be conveyed several ways, including:

market research

Can I Sell My Products or Services?»

“Can I sell my products or services?” “Who will buy what I sell?” and “How do I know if my products or services have value?” The answer to all of those questions lies in market research.

“Market research” is a term used to describe a broad range of ways to find out information about target customers, competitors and industry. When doing research, it is important to be clear about which aspect of the market is the subject of the research: customers, competition or industry.

niche marketing

What is a Market Niche?»

A niche is a narrow subsection of the market that is not being served or not being well served. Even though it is narrow by nature, it should not be so narrow that there are not enough customers to sustain a business. The most profitable niches are low on competition and high on demand. The next question might be, “Why is it useful to carefully define a market and focus on a niche?”

How to Choose the Best Legal Structure for Your Business

How to Select the Best Business Entity for Your Business»

Prior to starting a business, it is critical for the owner(s) to determine how she/he wants it to be structured (legal entity). Choices include Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Company, C-Corporation, and S-Corporation. Each entity has a set of characteristics, benefits, and limitations that should be considered thoroughly before selecting it.

fulfillment center

Could Your Business Benefit from Using a Fulfillment Center?»

Retail businesses usually have storage rooms to accommodate an increase in merchandise, but may not be prepared to grow the business by square footage (due to long-term leases, high rent costs, etc.). Home-based businesses or selling online might require additional space as well (especially if the garage and storage units are full), but cannot handle the increasing costs of rent, staff and shipping. So what is the answer for moving the merchandise (which is necessary to increase cash flow) without breaking the pocket book? The answer may lie is a simple notion of outsourcing shipping, packaging, and warehousing via fulfillment centers.

cash flow

How to Manage Your Cash Flow (and Keep Your Business Afloat)»

Money, or the lack of it, seems to be the main issue that constantly confronts small businesses. Whether the business is just starting or has been in business for awhile, they all need operating cash flow. Simply said, businesses need available cash to pay monthly bills, unforeseen expenses and for operations (keeping it afloat). Without cash flow, business owners could easily be out of business within a short time.

Hire a college intern this summer to supplement your workforce and save money.

Expand Your Workforce by Hiring a Student Intern»

Is a limited budget keeping you from hiring staff for your small business? One of the best ways to add staff that’s a win-win situation for all is to hire a student intern. Students gain some real world work experience, expand their resumes, and may earn additional income, while you can gain a valuable new member to your staff. Here are the three basic steps you’ll need to follow to hire a student intern.

Life as a Small Business Owner: Love it or Leave it

Life as a Business Owner: Love it or Leave it.»

Often times, after paying taxes, struggling with employees and the bottom line, the tired business owner asks, “Is it worth it?” Undoubtedly it is or businesses would be closing left and right (aside from what the economy forces upon us). Nevertheless, business owners that can stay in business, after wrestling with direct and indirect obstacles, must really love what they are doing. In fact, that love and passion will be the driving force to keep the business afloat and the owner sane.

Have Customer Service Paradigms Shifted?

Have Customer Service Paradigms Shifted?»

Nowadays, we live in a relaxed environment. Granted, we are higher tech (cell phones instead of party lines, lap tops instead of manual typewriters, and wide screen, HD TV instead of 12” black and white), but can we say that our lives are better? As an observer, I’m always amazed at people shopping in pajama pants, flip flops, and oversized t-shirts (those are women). In businesses, I’ve been waited on by clerks who literally looked like they had just stepped out of bed (hair scrunched up, wrinkled clothes, and far too casual for my taste). We’ve all been met with indifference, rudeness, and a lack of care for the customer. Little if no training goes into how the customer is treated or to what extent the customer is right. How many times have we asked a clerk for a size, color, or item to be told, “Everything we have is out there; if it isn’t, we don’t have it?”