Small Business Marketing Hacks Every Business Owner Should Use

There’s a lot that’s changed recently with online marketing. Most people now go straight to Google to search for something they want. The phone book is out and Google, or search traffic is in. If you are a small business owner you can benefit from the internet as a source of business. What’s even better is that you can tap into this resource for free if you have a physical business.

Google Places

Google Places lets you advertise your local business for free in the search results. When someone searches for a local business in your area, your results will come up first for many searches. This is a simple cost effective strategy you should definitely be employing in your business. With Google Places, you list your local business and Google will send you a confirmation postcard with a Google verification code on it. Once you have verified your listing with this code, Google knows you actually reside at this address, or run a business from it.

Google Places works wonders for small business owners who work from a certain location. If you’re not on it you are definitely missing out on business. Plus, your competitors could be using it which means they could be taking your potential customers. To use Google Places just do a quick search for it on Google and it will take you through the setting up process.

Bing Places

Bing also offer this same listing on their own search engine. It’s just like Google Places so not much to add here really. Simply fill out your details on the online platform and verify your listing when you receive a code in the post. When you create your listing you will have to list your business within a certain category, or two. Look through the existing categories and find the one or ones which are the best fit for your business. This is the same as Google Places. By listing in more than one category, if the platform allows, you can benefit from a number of searches within your local area.

Other Listings For Free

Yell and Yahoo also offer free listings for businesses too. Also do a ‘Google search’ for local directories and free listings and you will find a range of sites which offer free business listings in your area. In some cases even the extra links back to your website can make a difference to your ranking, even if the link itself doesn’t bring you more business.

Blogging

You may well not have the time or inclination to start a blog. However, in some business areas blogging is a good way to increase your business reach online in a fairly cost effective way. Depending on your business, and whether it opens itself to a blog, you can get some good results by targeting some keywords in your business niche, or simply writing compelling content and sharing on social media.

Keyword Research

You can use Google’s free keyword planner to search for terms which are already getting hits on the search engine. By finding long tail keywords in your business niche and writing good content for them, you stand more chance of being listed on the search engine. If you can find untapped keywords which bring in customers to your business, you can write articles which will bring in customers for free for years to come for free.

Paid Advertising

After you have exhausted the free methods of advertising, you can start looking at paid advertising methods. Many business owners try and fail with paid advertising. This is why it is worth learning properly the do’s and don’ts of paid advertising.
Pay per click advertising can make a massive impact on your business. But you should also be very careful. Make sure you start out with a small budget and get properly educated on how to create adverts and which keywords to choose. In particular look at the different types of keyword matches. Get this wrong and you can easily burn through your budget and list your advert for entirely the wrong audience.
However, paid advertising is remarkably scalable. Once you have a campaign which works you can easily increase your budget and you are in a position to pay for new customers.

Return On Investment

When I started with pay per click I didn’t understand return on investment. I ‘dipped my toe in’ and dabbled very tentatively. If I didn’t see an immediate profit, I stopped altogether. This is a mistake. Initially there is a lot of testing and measuring to do with paid advertising. After a while you get an advert which successfully brings you customers. However, knowing the return on investment from successful doing this is a game changer. If your customer goes on to purchase again and again, how much are they worth to your business over a year, or 10 years? Knowing this is a huge key to having the confidence to put money into an advertising campaign. Even if you lose money in the short term, your new customers will bring you new business over the long term. Learn the average spend from each customer over a year and then 10 years. Then decide what each customer is worth in terms of advertising. Does this change your view on what you can afford?

Paid Advertising Methods

There are various paid advertising methods available to use for small businesses online. Start with one method and become good at that before moving on to the next. Facebook advertising lets you target potential customers down to their interests, location and other variables. Pay per click advertising lets you target intent driven adverts. With pay per click you start with the keyword your visitor is looking for online. Once you have tested and measured an advertising method and you have a profitable model, you can leave it running and scale it easily. Then move on to the next one.

Even if you only use a couple of the methods suggested in this article, you can dramatically improve your business with only a small amount of effort. Once you have learned all these methods, you will know how to scale up your business and increase your profits. You can then invest in other forms of advertising, testing and measuring as you go. Whether these are on the internet or offline, using the same strategy (which lets you measure the response of a customer) means you can gradually improve all your advertising methods over the long term, increase profits and grow your business.

10 Reasons Why You Should Start An Online Business

Whether you are attracted to an internet business because you hate your current job, want to improve your circumstances, or would like a more flexible lifestyle, the internet offers all these opportunities.

Why An Internet Business?

1- Flexibility

Many people come to find themselves with an internet business through necessity rather than deliberate creation. For me, I needed a flexible job which I could work around contract work. It didn’t come in often but when the phone rang, I needed to take the work. This presented all kinds of problems. Normal work didn’t pay as well and employers didn’t want me taking large chunks of time off when the other work came in!

I tried juggling several jobs over a number of years but nothing seemed to fit. At around the same time I was attempting to use e-bay to buy and sell for a bit of extra money. It wasn’t until later that I discovered affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing, for those who don’t know is a kind of referral selling. You point links from your website to other people’s goods and services. The link is tracked so that when you make a sale you are rewarded for it with a commission.

Once you know how to do this you can set up links from your online content to other people’s products and services. You can also use paid advertising to find people all over the world to sell to. This was perfect for my work because I could take my laptop anywhere with me and as long as I had an internet connection I could work. It didn’t interfere with the work when it came up, I had no boss to answer to so it was the perfect solution.

2 – Automation

There’s also a number of other reasons why I chose an internet business – and why you should too! The flexibility of the business was my primary concern. I wanted to be able to choose my own hours so I could take work when it came without any complications. But the other reason I chose this particular model was the ability to use technology to ‘leverage’ my time and income.

Once I had a website and content up and running, it kept going and I was able to make sales and deliver products without being physically present. This is the ‘magic’ of an online business. The automation involved with an online business means that you can do the work once and let that work keep running in the background. You can make sales and deliver products over and over through the same piece of content or advert, which can run an virtual autopilot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

Each piece of content you create can send people to a landing page and sell a product. By creating many pieces of content and sharing them online you can build multiple sources of income which can all run continually, working as your own ‘automated sales team’.

3 – Ability To Scale

Along with this amazing automation is the ability to scale your business. Because there is no human intervention in the ‘sales loop’, multiple sales can happen instantaneously through the same platforms. Your content and advertising can be grown over time and scaled instantly (in the case of paid advertising). As your content gets more shares and more people flow through your website and content, your sales grow as a result. If you use paid advertising you can also scale a profitable campaign up easily by increasing your daily budget.

The automation of an online business makes it very easy to scale. In the case of a physical business this often means more staff, sales tools, larger office space and a whole lot more expense and hassle. With an online business everything is already in place. You simply need to send more customers through the automated sales systems with content and/or paid advertising methods.

4 – Low Startup Costs

When I started an online business I did it from my own pocket. I didn’t need a massive loan and I worked at a level which suited my budget. An internet business is very cost effective and you can start from scratch from pretty much any budget. If you have more to invest you can grow it faster with paid advertising. But, if you are on a budget like I was when I got started, you can get started easily and cheaply.

With a regular ‘bricks and mortar’ business there are many overheads to consider. Your costs include a business premises, staff, hardware and stock. Then there’s advertising and delivery costs. With an online business you just need a laptop and an internet connection – two things many people already have. Your main cost is getting the right education and learning the best strategy to build on.

5 – Simplicity

Technology has made it much easier than was previously possible to set up your own website and learn how to use simple online platforms to connect people to products and services. Advertising and content creation is now available for anyone to use. Websites can be set up with a few clicks and anyone with an email can learn to use the tools and strategies of online marketers.

Whereas previously website building was the domain of the tech savvy programmer, now anyone can use simple user friendly platforms and programs. An online business sounds like something for a technical person, but anyone can now learn the skills needed to build their own online business.

6 – Control

An internet business gives you control over your life. Of course it takes time to build up to a stage where it can replace your current income. But the flexibility of an internet business means you can work it around your existing employment until you can make this happen.
Once your income is beyond that of your employment, you are in a very good position to take charge of your life. You don’t have to do the daily commute, or put up with an uncomfortable working situation. If you don’t like your job you can quit. Don’t like your boss? Fire him/her!
One of the very best things about an internet based business is the control it gives you over your life. You can also build your work around your lifestyle, rather than the other way round. Most people are forced to put work first in everything they do. Family time, holidays and hobbies all tend to depend and evolve around work. An internet business allows you to prioritize the things in your life which mean the most. It can put you back in the driving seat of your life, both in terms of what you earn and how you spend your time.

7 – Work From Anywhere

Not only does an internet business offer great flexibility in terms of working hours but it also offers you the choice to work from anywhere globally. This appeals to many people who would otherwise be more trapped by conventional work in a localized workplace.
For me, it was the flexibility of being able to choose my own hours and not have a boss. But for many the ability to travel anywhere globally is the most important factor to owning their own online business.
Take your laptop anywhere with an internet connection and work while abroad and travelling.

8 – Learn Life Skills

The skills I have learned from building my own internet business also make me much more employable. I also worked for an internet based company with the skills I learned from my laptop while sitting at home!

Being able to reach people globally and target specific types of people is a great skill and very desirable in business too. I was also able to use the knowledge I learned online to build one of my other physical businesses much more quickly by using both my website building skills and paid advertising.

The internet is a fantastic opportunity for anyone to be able to improve themselves, learn new skills and build another source of income. Skills learned are yours for life, whether or not you continue down the path of building an online business.

9 – Independence

We might believe ourselves to be independent but many of us are very dependent on our work for income. As such, our employers tell us how much we can earn, how much holiday we can take and what we will be doing while at work. Financial independence is the ultimate freedom.

When we are financially independent we can take a holiday whenever we please and work in our own time and on our own agenda. An online business gives you the automation and independence to live life on your terms, without the agenda of an employer running your life.

10 – Sovereignty

Being an owner gives you sovereignty. The ability to call the shots in your business is what many entrepreneurs aspire to. As a business owner your actions determine whether you make a success of your business or not.

Having a successful online business gives you the kind of freedom which most people will never see in their lifetime. The ability to create your own life on your terms is the reward of having worked hard on your business and on yourself.

How to Evaluate the Performance of Your Company Based on Your Business Plan

A business plan is one of the most important documents that is needed for the betterment of the business. It includes all the need to know strategies, marketing techniques, sales techniques and financial forecasting methods that will be used to increase profits and revenue of the business. However, writing a business plan is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of time and concentration and is one of the biggest responsibilities that will be undertaken. For this crucial task there are dedicated people called business plan consultants. They will be the people who take the ideas that the entrepreneur has and converts it into a document that will be viewable by the whole world. Since this is a very big responsibility business plan consultant fee is a bit high. There are many factors that affect a good business plan and a great business plan will help the business clarify the business idea, identify potential problems in the business, find out objectives of the business and monitor the progress of the business. Since this is a very important document it is vital to keep a keen eye on the following factors when writing the business plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the highlight and the brief description of the entire business. This has to be highly detailed but short enough so that a potential investor is able to read and understand the status of the business. It does not mean that it has to be limited to one or two pages.

The executive summary will include the highlight of the business concept which will describe about the product or service and the market that they are being offered. Then there are the financial features which talks about all the sales, profits, return on investment and cash flow. Then the summary has to mention about the financial requirement that is need to invest in the business and talk about the capital and how to expand the business. The current position of the business will be stating about the business’s present state and how it got here. Finally, the major achievements of the business is needed to be mentioned so that the potential investors could be impressed by the achievement that the business has done.

Business Description

The business description is about the details of the business. This should not be a highlight about the entire business like the executive summary but the in depth analysis of the business. The description has to start with a short introduction which states about the past, present and future of the industry. Here you should mention about the markets that the business will be interacting with and the future market places that business will be willing to interact with. The products or services that the business is still developing should be thoroughly discussed here so that the potential investors who have got an idea and are willing to invest in the business can get a thorough knowledge about it.

The structure of the business has to be described in the business description. The hierarchy of the business and the business places should be described in detail. The legal considerations of the business should be thoroughly stated so that there is clarity for everyone.

Market Strategies

When developing the market strategies there has to be a lot of market research done on the market place. This will give the business entrepreneur a very good idea about the potential market and how he can use the market to increase the profits of the business. After observing the market the company will be in a position to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business and will be able to develop a system in order to identify the potential opportunities and threats. These studies will also be able to develop strategies to forecast the market place’s prices and when to supply more goods and services. These has to be clearly mentioned in the business plan so that these strategies can be used when necessary.

Pricing and Distribution

The process of pricing and distribution has to be clearly detailed in the business plan. The descriptions about all the prices must be mentioned in detail in this section. How the business can lower the prices when necessary and how t react to the fluctuating prices has to be mentioned in detail. The process of distribution of the products until it reaches the hands of the customer has to be clearly stated.

Small Business Benefits of Training Employees

Small businesses aspiring for growth need to keep an eye on performance improvement through online business training courses. To measure up to the ever evolving business world, small businesses need new skills to facilitate workforce gains and to generally meet the competent needs of operations in tandem with its competitors.

Small business training for employees provides an additional skill and exposure to the individuals and to the business. It is more flexible and less strenuous to do an online business training course. This consequently improves your company to continue effectively. Most small businesses fail to recognise the beneficial aspects of training its employees. Among many other advantages that come with training are the following benefits:

To Effectively Improve Your Company’s Competence

Training your employees will result in a better customer service, improved business skills, and growth in productivity. This ultimately makes your business more competent and competitive in the market. It is important to always advance the skills of the employees as the business world is dynamic and overly competitive. The direct tragedy of non-trained employees is the incompetence to match up the necessities of a contemporary society. It is important to consider an online business training course if the difficulty is time or cost of doing a recommended training.

Improving Loyalty and Staff Retention

As a business, staff retention is a saving to the business and its future prospects. Employees have their own aspirations for growth and they may want to venture out to look for that satisfaction. However, if the training opportunity is available to them, they find their professional growth in the business and are likely to stay longer. It is a fact that such training will definitely add them new skills and promote their contribution to the business as well as building their self-esteem. Giving them a chance to improve their skills makes them realise that you value them enough to invest in them.

Improved Business Prospects and Profits

The ultimate objective of running a business is to maximise an opportunity to make profits. Training employees makes them more competent and qualified to promote your business in the marketplace. This will have an effect and an increased business means more profits.

Makes Your Business Competitive

Stagnating is the worst effect that can kill your business, so by ensuring that your staff are constantly advancing, you continue to grow in business and remain competitive within the industry. It is expensive and very disorienting to employ new staff. An online business course for your employees can make them more eligible for internal promotions. Unlike new employees, you will have the benefit of a complete and knowledgeable staff for your business, who are people you know and you can trust.

Exposes Business Weaknesses and Skill Gaps

Training makes the business realise what they have been doing wrong and henceforth, the business can more easily identify any skill gaps in the market and even within the existing employees. This will propel your business to work on filling the gaps which will assist the staff to fulfil their role effectively.

Conclusion

Training is therefore a valuable and profound investment for the business. For the many businesses that may not have adequate time, an online business training course would be more appropriate. The staff will have a much higher sense of job satisfaction, which will improve their motivation towards their work and the business generally.