Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thinking of starting a business?

Do you have a great idea for a business, but not sure how to turn that dream into a profitable business?  The first step to all things great, is certainly a dream however, starting a business takes more than that.  You need to have some money to get started, a creative and comprehensive business plan, perhaps employees and it might be necessary to contact an attorney and/or accountant.
Sounds scary?  It doesn't have to be, as long as you plan well.  Here are a few things to consider:
1.  Are you "in it to win it".  Starting your own business requires deep commitment, dedication and a lot of patience!  Make sure you have really thought this through.  Are you ready to get to work and perhaps make some sacrifices?  Do you realize the amount of time it will take to establish the business and really get it to a profitable state?  Do you have another source of income in the meantime?  These are some of the most important questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge.
2. What is your plan? A good business plan will detail the current structure of your business, the plan for its growth and a way to develop further opportunities.   While business plans will vary from business to business, a well-formed business plan will serve as a guide to help get your business up and running.   Your plan should continually evolve and be influenced by factors such as the economy and sales growth.  Most business plans consist of an executive summary, a description of the business, a marketing and distribution plan and financial and sales projections.
3.  Don't go it alone.  Don't start your business without the proper help.  Seek the advice of qualified professionals like successful entrepreneurs, coaches and mentors.  These people can give you insight and important information that can save you a lot of time, money and even heartache down the road.

4.  Location!  Location!  Location!Where do you want to establish your business?  If you service walk in customers, what kind of building is suitable?  What town or county do you want to be in?  What kind of money do you need for rent, expenses, etc?   What is most convenient for your clients?  Where will your office be?  How will it be set up?

5.  Finances What are your start up costs?  Many new business owners underestimate the amount of money needed to get their business off the ground.  It is really impossible to start a business with no cash investment.  There will always be things you need and you will always need a way to fund them.  First step is to make a list of all projected expenses from business cards to computer systems.  Once you have an idea of what you need and how much it will cost, the next step is to figure out a way to fund it.  Some ideas for funding include your own personal money, investors, a loan from the bank or perhaps a grant.  There are a lot of grant opportunities available from the state as well as private sources.
6.  Legal Matters What is the legal structure of your business?   Will you operate as a sole proprietor or will you be forming a corporation?   Should you be a LLC or an S corp?  An attorney can help you sort out the details in order to make the right decision.
7.  Pick a Name Unless you plan to operate as an independent contractor the name of your business is extremely important.  It is the first step in establishing your brand, so pick a name that suits you and your product or service well.  Once you have a name, protect it; so the next step is to legally register it.  Your registered name must appear on all government forms and applications, including licenses and permits.
8.  Get a tax ID number All businesses must pay federal, state, and sometimes local taxes. Most businesses will need to register with the IRS as well as state and local revenue agencies to request a tax ID number or permit to determine what taxes you owe.  Consult with an CPA if you have any questions regarding your taxes.
9.  Licenses and Permits Depending on the type of business you plan to operate, you might need a license or permit on a federal, state or local level.
10.  Know your BIG Why Operate your business with passion, clear intention and a deep understanding of your BIG why or purpose.  Your purpose is what will keep you going everyday.  Your passion for what you do will help you leap out of bed every morning to embrace what comes.  It will give you the fuel you need so that you are not living to work but rather working to live.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Tips for Greater Focus

While the things you need to do in any one day gets bigger, realize you only have so many hours in a day to do it all.  The other thing to consider is how well you can focus on what truly needs to get done.  The ability to focus on the priorities will make all the difference.
Here are 5 ways to increase your focus:
1.  First comes clarity then comes focus.In order to have greater focus you must be crystal clear on what needs to be done and what is important to your current plan for life and work.  Making clear decisions on what your goals need to be will help you develop a better process on how to get there.
2.  Simplify your environment.  Your environment is crucial and it should support you and your goals.  From the comfort of your chair to the clutter on your desk.   In order to be more productive recognize the impact your environment has on you.  Your environment consists of those physical things like space and lightening and it also includes external elements such as people, piles of paper on your desk, phone calls, emails and other stimuli that can distract you from what should be your focus.
3. Stop Multi-Tasking Chronic multitaskers may have weakened their ability to focus.  The truth is that multi-tasking is a myth!  We really can't do more than one thing at a time and do it well.  Set aside a block of time to handle each item on your to-do list and focus on only that task until it is done, then move on to the rest.
4. Don't Make it Too Easy Sometimes we give up on difficult tasks or avoid them all together in order to escape to something easier.  Instead realize that a project or task that  takes mental energy, critical thinking and creativity or effort is not only going to be somewhat "painful" but it will also more than likely have a positive and maximum impact on you and your goals which means it will allow you to grow both personally & professionally.
5. Take breaks!  Yes, sometimes the key to getting more done is to take a short break in between tasks.  Most of us can only work and concentrate for chunks of time and then we need a little time to rest.  Some ideas for "break time" might include taking a walk around the block, or reading something inspirational or eve just to step away from your desk for a few minutes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

10 Quick Tips to Be Successful with Facebook Marketing

1.  Create a business page to promote your business. Profiles are meant for individuals, pages are meant for businesses. These pages have different features to them that make them incredibly more valuable for a business.  A business page is public, no one needs to ask to be your "friend" the page can be "liked" by anyone allowing more exposure for you.  The things you post on your business page can be shared by your "fans".  Also, business pages come with analytics on engagement so you can understand your reach and marketing effectiveness on Facebook.  A business page allows easy access, participation and visibility.
2. Be Social - Social media, especially Facebook is a natural match for sales people who want to reach more people to do business with.  Businesses can thrive on word of mouth advertising, relationship building and active participation.  Facebook allows you an opportunity to share your excitement about your business.
3. Be Engaged - Be there and be there often.  Participate in conversations because Facebook allows you to network, prospect, build relationships and market your services to new customer opportunities as well.  Engagement is regular interaction with the people you are connected to on Facebook.  The biggest draw to Facebook is the fact that it is interactive and information is constantly changing through the news feed; so be a part of it.  Don't just focus on what you can say through your status updates but spend some time to "work the room"; peruse the news feed and see who you can interact with.
4. Provide good content - Once you create your business page; go beyond the social aspects and provide good, valuable content.  Share articles on topics that relate and support what you do for a living.  The articles can be blogs you have written or you can share articles from others.
5. Use video - Video is a hot way to add a new dimension to the content you share on your Facebook page.  You can create powerful, relevant content with video such as a short 3 or 4 minute video blog (people love to watch what you have to say rather than read it sometimes) you can also record video testimonials or "how to" videos to highlight your product or service. 
6.  Update often- They say 98% of all interaction on Facebook happens in the news feed.  Which means most people are not going to visit your page directly unless you catch their attention by posting often so they see your update in the news feed.
7.  Make it interesting - Share a variety of information so that your audience is looking forward to your next post.  If you update your business page with interesting content, your users are more likely to engage with your page, and remember their interactions can be seen by their networks, which allows you more exposure!
8.  Don't turn off your wall - Facebook is SOCIAL media marketing!  It should allow for interaction and you want that if you are looking to cast a bigger net and gain more clients.  Turning off wall posts or comments on your page is like saying to your customers, I don't want to hear what you have to say.  Should someone say something negative on your wall you can choose to respond or even delete the comment.
9.  Don't Sell on Your Page - I know I sound like I am contradicting myself right now, but what I mean is use the power of Facebook to engage and make connections to build relationships that will lead to sales opportunities.  But to sound like a commercial everyday; "buy what I sell" or "use my service" will lead to eye rolling and avoidance.  Instead show me who you are and why you are someone I might like to do business with.
10. Stay Focused - Facebook can be a powerful tool in your marketing plan but it can also be a time stealer if you let it!  Time block 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon to network and post on your page.  Save nights and weekends to chat with friends and look at the pictures of your niece's dance recital.