Entrepreneurship has long been the backbone of business in America. As increasing numbers of professional workers leave the corporate workforce to strike out on their own as entrepreneurs, a key worry can be finding enough opportunities and connections to create a sustainable income while meeting career objectives. Although competition is fierce for clients and customers, businesspeople can follow five simple ideas to stand out from the crowd and create their own opportunities for success.
No matter what industry or field you work within, you need to appropriately brand yourself to capture the attention of potential partners and clients. Whether you will be approaching individuals or executive business teams, they will need to understand who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart from the crowd. Between naming your company and representing yourself through graphics, taglines and reputation, ensure your brand is well representative of who you are. Your image is a huge part of how clients will see you, and it’s important to make a good first impression. Need help protecting forth an image you want potential clients to see? You can always take leadership coaching in Cleveland, or look at other brand image services from Nutter Consulting.
As an entrepreneur, marketing is one of the most important parts of your business. Over the last decade, social media has “liked” and “favorited” its way into being a critical means to reach an online audience, regardless of industry. Rather than hiring on another full time W-2 employee, consider hiring a social media freelancer to help unlock your brand’s social power.
Work your network
More than ever, there are people qualified to manage social media channels for a small business. There are most likely people within your own network to work along with, especially freelancers who handle multiple clients. Feel free to use sites like odesk.com or freelancer.com, but a referral is always best.
Both large and small businesses struggle with finding the best way to market their products or services. While all kinds of companies use similar marketing techniques, the way small businesses apply the techniques will be different due to the smaller demographic and customer base. There are five basic ways small businesses can market themselves effectively.
1) Give your customers free stuff
The customer should be rewarded for their loyalty and support by getting free or discounted stuff. Businesses can put coupons in community mailers or offer coupons on receipts for future purchases. Coupons in mailers can help draw new customers to your business while receipt coupons keep customers returning every week to get deals and free items. Use these methods to offer customers free trials or free samples as well. Offering customers the chance to try out a product or service will make them more comfortable purchasing it in the future.
Not everybody is attracted by prospect of jobs with fat pay packages, especially if they have a desire to live life on own terms. There are numerous examples of people starting small sized ventures at home which blossomed into large companies in long run. PC giant HP’s founders started operating from a garage in Palo Alto and it grew into one of the world’s leading IT giants. If you have an entrepreneur’s spirit and teamwork and customer service skills, starting up your own business may be the best option.
However, you may want to try venturing into lesser known niche areas to make a mark for yourself and the company. Rather than joining an industry laden with cutthroat competition, changing taste of consumers and other hiccups, you may tread into uncharted territories and tap the potential.
Here at MyCorp we’re always happy to see businesses succeed and love to hear about the keys to their success, which more often than not includes making good decisions and repeating them in the days, months, and years to come for the company. As we wrap up the end of the year, today we interviewed 13 business experts to get their feedback on the best business decision they made in 2013 – and how they plan on repeating it in 2014.
1. “The best business decision I made in 2013 was joining EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), a global business network of about 9,500 business owners with a very personal flavor. It’s something I’ll definitely stick with for 2014. I am a partner in a 13-year-old boutique advertising agency in New Jersey, and we have reached a steady size and comfort level, but we know we can be more. EO has a unique component called the ‘Forum,’ which is a small group of 6-10 business owners from different disciplines. Forums meet monthly and grow very close, which among other things enables them to serve as a de facto board of directors. Forum members hold each other accountable for business and personal goals, provide feedback and insight, share experiences and sometimes just offer emotional support. The monthly influx of ideas and enthusiasm is invaluable, especially for an entrepreneur like myself who started a business with professional experience but without business training. In addition to the Forum experience, EO holds learning, inspirational and just outright fun events that continuously sharpen the tools I need to be a more effective leader in my company.”
- Adam Schnitzler, Chief Creative Officer, The S3 Agency
2. “Outsourcing is the best decision I’ll remake. Outsourcing web development and SEO this year freed up time to explore other investment opportunities and meet with prospective clients. I’ll continue to invest in outsourcing in 2014 as a means to be able to focus on activities that allow us to continue to grow our business efficiently.”
- Michael Lallana, CEO, Mila Venture Group
By David Ackert
Has business development started to feel a little dull? All those mixers, networking meetings, and lunches spent getting to know “business acquaintances” you don’t really care about. Be honest - if you knew for a fact that your referral sources would never refer you another new piece of business, would you ever talk to them again? Most of us wouldn’t, and that’s why it’s so difficult to sustain any enthusiasm around our networking activities. We market ourselves aggressively for a few months, then burn out and hibernate, then panic when our pipelines get lean, and force ourselves back into the fray.
If any of this sounds familiar, here are three ways you can put that “spark” back into your work life:
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Working for yourself is great, but at some point you’re going to miss the chance to talk to people who understand what you’re going through. If you don’t have a community to commiserate with occasionally, you can start feeling alone in your ventures.
While it may seem a little strange, you actually want to hang out with your competitors. Why in the world would you ever want to do that? Because, more than anyone else, they understand what we go through everyday. In the end, making nice with your colleagues can help spur friendly competition and keep everybody sane.
Not sure how to go about getting everybody together? Here are some ideas.
By David Nilssen, CEO & Co-founder of Guidant Financial
As “chief cook and bottle washer,” America’s small business owner has enough on its plate. Tax time only increases the workload as many frantically pull together their financial records so that they can maximize their deductions. While I’m not a tax professional (this is my disclaimer that this is for educational purposes and to not misconstrue this as advice) my company has worked with over 8,000 entrepreneurs and I’ve noticed common mistakes that many small business owners make in regards to their financials.
Here are just a few of my observations:
Location, location, location. We hear these words constantly from real estate consultants and it couldn’t ring more true. The location of any commercial business, whether big or small, can have a huge impact on its success and productivity.
If you find an ideal office space at a great price that’s 20 miles from the area where you conduct most of your business, you’ll probably find that it’s not such a great deal after all. Ideally, you want your headquarters to be in a place where you can attract both clients and employees and in a location that offers amenities and networking possibilities.
When a small business owner looks at hiring a new manager, the hiring cost can seem discouraging when the prospective employee has an MBA. There is a strong assumption that MBA students are trained too generally and that they lack decision making skills from a lack of real world experience. Can they be trusted when left unattended with helping to run your business? These are undeserved and unfounded assumptions as MBAs bring real value to small businesses.
The EMBA Advantage