Marketing On A Budget For Small Businesses

In our previous published article, Marketing on a Budget for Small Businesses, we introduced small business owners to basic, but effective marketing strategies such as leaving an internet footprint, handing out business cards on a daily basis, utilizing social media to target a wider range of clients, and sending brochures to prospective clients.

In this article, we will provide new basic, but effective marketing strategies, as well as elaboration on a few previously mentioned strategies.

1) In utilizing Facebook as a means of marketing, it is important to obtain as many Likes as possible. Remember, when a person Likes business XYZ on Facebook, for example, it is displayed on that person’s page. In essence, this is the case for your business. The more Likes a business page receives, the more your business name will be on others’ Facebook page.

But how does one obtain more Likes? Although it is easy to obtain more Likes, it is also time-consuming. One strategy is to ask friends and family to Like your page. After having them Like your page, ask them to refer 1 or 2 people to your business page and have them Like it. Let’s say you have 50 friends on your personal Facebook page. That will equal 50 new Likes. Having friends and family refer 2 new people to your Facebook page will render an additional 100 new Likes. In total, you will have 150 new likes. Not bad! But that’s still not enough, right?

Another method in which to obtain new Likes on Facebook is to utilize ladders. This method is more time-consuming, but can render thousands of new Likes within a 1-month time frame. A ladder on Facebook is conducted on various Facebook pages. Our favorite page to conduct a ladder is on Silent Tagging Fan Page (community page through Facebook).

Here’s how the ladder works: you must Like Silent Tagging Fan Page. (Note: you must be logged in to Facebook as the admin, not through your business page). Silent Tagging Fan Page will hold several ladders throughout the day. They will post a ladder notice roughly about 30-minutes before the ladder starts. Within the 30-minute time frame you must post Silent Tagging Fan Page as your Facebook status to let others know there will be a ladder on Silent Tagging Fan Page. Note, the more businesses involved in tagging, the more Likes one can obtain. Once Silent Tagging Fan Page places their status as “Tagging Now In Session” or a status of that nature, you must comment under that specific status with (example) @businessnameXYZ and click on the link to your business page. For example, for Eminent Security Force, LLC we will comment @Eminent Security Force, LLC.

At this point, a Facebook link to our business page will appear automatically. We then click on our highlighted Facebook business page and place that as our comment. This comment/link will be utilized by other businesses to visit your page. Rapidly, other businesses will also place their Facebook business page above and below you hence, the term ladder. You must then click on however many other business Facebook pages are posted under the comment section and Like their page. (Note: this will happen very quickly). Once on their page leave a link to your Facebook business page so they can use it to refer back to it and Like. You will notice that your Facebook business page will gain more Likes within a matter of minutes.

On a single session of a 30-minute ladder, we gained 44 new Likes. Imagine how many new Likes you can obtain if you make use of this method every time there was a ladder? Or a few times every day?

There are usually over 100 business owners at any given time liking other pages. The number of other ladder users can vary depending on the time of day and day of the week. These ladders normally run for about 30-minutes, but can range in time. There are some sessions that last 10-15 minutes, and others that last a matter of seconds. If you employ this strategy, please read the rules posted on Silent Tagging Fan Page’s page so you can avoid being banned.

(Hint: ask close friends and family to help you maximize your Likes by tagging more pages as you work together on the same ladder; different computers; same Facebook business page link. In addition, open multiple Facebook tabs on your internet browser to Like even more pages.)

2) Publishing articles through publishing companies is also useful in referring prospective clients back to your website. We are currently utilizing Ezine Articles to publish articles for FREE. You will have to create a free account in order to publish articles. Many people, especially home-based business owners, dislike writing because they are unsure what to write about. Keep in mind that you’re considered an expert in your field, whatever your field may be. With that in mind, write about your field. For example, we recently wrote an article on Emergency Survival Kits, in which we provided readers and prospective clients an itemized list of what should be included in an emergency survival kit. So be creative in what you write about. (Note: EzineArticles will make necessary corrections to your paper for you, so take advantage.)

3) Attend mixers (FREE) and bring marketing material to the mixer. If you bring 20 brochures to the mixer, DO NOT leave the mixer until you’ve distributed all your material. Meet Up is a great resource for finding free mixers near your area. If there are no mixers in your area, create one.

You will have to create a free account with www.meetup.com. These mixers usually vary in time. The last mixer we attended lasted about 2 hours, but you are free to leave whenever you desire. During the two hours, there was time to practice pitching businesses in front of other business owners. The business owners then provided feedback on the pitches. There are other mixers in which they provide a Power Point presentation to benefit your business. This is also a great way to reach out to prospective clients.

4) Aside from attending mixers, attend tradeshows, exhibits, conferences, etc. In attending these, make sure to bring marketing material and DO NOT leave until you’ve exhausted all your marketing material.

5) Ask for referrals from previous clients. Do not be afraid to ask. What is the worst that can happen? Once people have done business with you and are satisfied customers they will be glad to refer other clients to you. Think about how many times you’ve asked a friend for a good restaurant? Or a reputable mechanic? You are more likely to follow a friend’s recommendation, right?

6) Vista Print is one of our favorite places to obtain FREE marketing products as well as discounted products. Use Vista Print to obtain various marketing material. We recommend you try varying your business cards or marketing material to determine which one is more effective. For example, if you use black, red and blue on business cards, make another set of business cards with different colors. Vista Print offers a limited number of FREE business cards. Use them to your advantage!

7) Ask a local newspaper to write an article about your business. Although newspapers are becoming obsolete, as it appears, thanks to the internet, they also have internet articles and blogs in which they can place your information. Remember, you need to reach as many potential clients as you can. Every bit helps.

How to Start a Home Based Business and Grow It to Profitability

In this discussion, we are going to focus on issues pertaining to how to start a home-based business. Many of the most successful businesses were actually started it in someone’s home. We’re all familiar with the many fables and legends of individual starting multi-billion dollar enterprises in their basements and garages and certainly you can develop a highly successful business that is based from home. Of course, only a small and almost infinitely small fraction of the use of home-based businesses will become as successful as the next Microsoft were Facebook, however, you can develop a secondary income for yourself to the development of a home based business. In fact, over time, your home-based business may become your full-time job. When you are starting a home-based business, the most important thing to do is to first determine what type of business at you ultimately seeking to start. Many people, with the advent of the Internet, have taken the starting small e-commerce businesses were small blogs are able to generate a modest amount of income on a monthly basis. As such, we fully recommend that you harness the power the Internet when you are starting your home-based business. However, not all home-based businesses need to be based on the Internet or have a nationwide presence. For instance, if you are very good with numbers and have a strong background in bookkeeping, then it is very common for you to open up a part-time bookkeeping practice that is based solely out of your home.

One of the downsides to opening a home-based business that operates with local clients if they can come off as unprofessional that you simply work out of your home as it pertains to the services that you render. As such, you may want to work directly with the client at their location or providing services such as bookkeeping or other personal services that do not necessarily need to be rendered within your home. Over time, you may want to be to able to afford a small office space that will allow you to give your business and more professional look as it pertains to working with local clients.

It should be noted, on a side discussion, as it pertains to financing a small business it is somewhat typical. The small business administration typically does not allow for loans made to home-based businesses. This is primarily due to the fact that one of the reasons why the small business administration was created was so that traditional businesses could be launched and individuals would hire other people within their small business facilities. As such, you may be an excellent candidate for a SBA loan however you are going to need to move into a traditional facility before you’re able to receive this type of financing. However, there are a number of other types of financing methodologies available to you. This may include using some of your own savings, using some income from your 401(k) or IRA accounts, taking out a personal loan, using credit cards, or working with a potential investor that can provide you with the financing that you need in order to launch a business. Of course, there is no proper way to ever play in the business, there are a million ways to skin a cat, and as such you may want to tap some unconventional means as it pertains to obtain financing for your home-based business. As it pertains to using credit cards or personal loans in order to finance your home-based business, this can be a very expensive endeavor. Most personal loans are unsecured by any type of tangible property more tangible asset typically has a substantially higher interest rates in the back associated with a secured loan. In most cases, your interest rate can vary anywhere from 9% to 20% per year depending on your overall credit score. As such, it is absolutely imperative for use loan financing in order to start your home-based business recommend that you very carefully to all potential financing options for using personal loans or credit cards. In time, there are other types of lending facilities that you can use as it pertains to receiving the financing that you may need on the ongoing basis.

After you determine which type of home-based business one a start, it is time to start the preparation of your business plan. Here, you’re going to want to create a blueprint of how you intend to provide your services or products the general public, how you will integrate certain procedures and protocols into your day-to-day activities relating your to your home-based business, developing a well focused financial model that has a profit and loss statement, cash flow analysis, balance sheet, pregame analysis, business reaches page, and general assumptions page that will be used in conjunction with your company, and a detailed overview of how you intend to market your business.

As we discussed before, you can use the power of the Internet to market your business, even on a local level areas many home-based businesses are now also turning to popular social networking websites such as Facebook, Flickr, tumbler, and other popular portals in order to get the word out among people they know. You have a number of contacts within your local area that have a specific need for a specific type of service then you may be able to reach out to them directly by being able to directly contact them via e-mail and through the affirmation social networks. In fact, we strongly recommend that you create a Facebook page and work-related social networking page that showcases your home-based business in exactly the services that you provide as it relates to your company. If you are engaging in e-commerce operations, then it is extremely important for you to invest heavily in promoting your business through social networking media, search engine optimization, and pay per click marketing. In time, you’ll find a number of people are able to find your e-commerce platform very quickly and that your infant every turn over rate will be extremely high. Although this is somewhat of a general article pertaining to how to start a home-based business, you are, again, engaged in the business of selling products on an e-commerce basis than we strongly recommend that you also use very popular third-party selling platforms such as eBay and Amazon so that you are able to, again, had a very brisk inventory turnover as it relates to your overall operations. In the following, that at the onset of your home-based business operations, you are typically able to sell more of your e-commerce-based merchandise through Amazon and eBay versus through a proprietary e-commerce site. Additionally, as it relates to e-commerce, these websites often charge minimal fees as it pertains to showcasing the products that you have for sale to the general public. As such, if you are selling products that you are either acquiring or producing on your own that you may want to check out this type of third-party sales platform in order to further your sales as time progresses. Of the utmost importance that you developed a very strong marketing plan especially to if you are engaged in e-commerce selling activities.

Relating to our discussion as it relates to financing ongoing business operations, once you have established your business then you may want to consider the possibility of taking credit cards. If you are heavily engaged in e-commerce, you can usually secure a line of credit based on your amount of money that is coming in through the credit card receivables that you receive. For instance, if you operate an e-commerce website that generates $10,000 a month in revenue then you can typically obtain a credit line equal to approximately $10,000-$20,000 depending on the specific lender. This is commonly known as merchant financing and it can be a very good way for you to manage your cash flow on a month-to-month basis as you plan on starting a home-based business. However, unlike in SBA loan that were conventional business loan, merchant financing based on credit card receivables is typically very expensive. As such, it is strongly recommended that you use this type of marketing sparingly as it does cost a significant amount of money. Typically, work in financing is approximately the same interest rate costs associated with a personal loan or credit card.

Also, you’re going to want to think about whether or not you shooting for your business or create a limited liability company to manage your business operations. If you do decide to incorporate create a limited liability company then you will have the ability to create a bank account in the company’s name, and don’t conduct business under the company’s name, and have that company almost act as a third-party as he progressed business operations. Additionally, there are many tax benefits associated with incorporating as you will be able to more effectively receive and deduct certain expenses for your home-based business. On a side note, and home-based business should ever be started for tax savings purposes. In fact, the IRS has cracked down substantially on individual entrepreneurs have created a home-based business solely with the intent to write off a substantial amount of their ongoing living expenses were ongoing business expenses. As such, you need to ensure that you are operating this as a legitimate part time business it is simply based out of your home. When you’re starting a home-based business, we strongly recommend that you have a certified public accountant or tax attorney work with you so that you can properly plan out how certain normal expenses within your home will be deducted if you were Corporation or your limited liability company. Of course, you do not necessarily need to start a corporation or limited liability company in order to larger business operations. At the onset of operations, you can decide to work as a sole proprietor which means that ultimately everything that you do as you conduct business is through you as an individual and not as appropriate. However, with this comes the risk of unlimited liability if something should happen or if you are sued. For instance, many business experts often recommend that a individual business does incorporate into the fact that it should something go wrong be litigating party can typically only go after the assets that are held by the corporation. However, if you were acting as the sole provider, any leading party can come after all of your personal assets including your home, vehicles, retirement accounts, and other issues and assets that you may have been held by your person. As such, you should make a determination as to whether or not you will be engaging in any type of activity or selling any product that ultimately could have some potential for you don’t wind up in court for one reason or another. Again, we always recommend these speakers with attorneys for all of the advice as it pertains to these matters.

This business can be a fun activity and certainly can provide you with a very good source of secondary income for the ability to eventually turn your home-based business into a full-time job. Again, in summation, you need to always ensure that you are starting a home-based business for the right reasons. The wrong reasons, as we discussed throughout this article, include simply starting a home-based business with the intent of paid tax deductions. The best reasons for starting a home-based business are typically because you want to have a business that provides you with ancillary income that this is your passion and that you want to create a full-time business out of it in the future.

Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan will describe the internal and external environment of a company. Its aim is to inform internal and external stakeholders, individuals or groups of individuals internal or external to the company. Usually it will include information about the strategic position of the business, plans for the future, the management, products and services offered and the financial position of the business. In a few words it will give a detailed description of the business.

A simple business plan structure:

Executive summary: A short description of the whole business plan. Many stakeholders may read this part only, because of the lack of time or because they may not require a deep understanding of the business. For example consumers will not care about the financials of the business but will only care about the products and services. Thus, its best to use rich information based on the stakeholder the report will be given to.

Business description: An overall description of the business’s history, the basic market sectors the business is part of, and what the business main products or services are.

Competitor analysis: Describes who the main competitors of the business are and how they can affect the business’ performance.

Market analysis: Describes targeted consumers based on their demographics, geographic location and psychographics.

Marketing plan: How targeted consumers can be reached based on their demographics, geographic location and psychographics.

Management summary: Introduces people who hold the key management positions and shows their responsibilities and their prior business experience.

Financial Analysis: Shows whether the business is profitable, whether current operations are profitable and the current value of the business by providing a Profit and Loss, Cash Flow and Balance Sheet Account.

Why create a business plan?

Many stakeholders will require having a look at your business plan in order to initiate different actions that have to do with your business. For example, a bank will require checking the financial position of the business in order to assess whether a loan can be issued to the business. The bank needs to know if the business is able to survive in the future and thus, receive all the loan payments. On the other hand, investors will need to consider whether the business will survive in the long run and thus, provide a return on investment. The business plan can help investors determine whether the firm has a competitive advantage over competitors, whether its financials are healthy and whether the management is able to run the business successfully.

The Business plan should be created based on stakeholder preferences in order to make it easier for them to take fast decisions. If stakeholders find your business plan easy to read then the chances of receiving a positive reaction are increased. Imagine trying to find relevant information among a large pile of irrelevant information. The chances are that you will stop looking and reject the business. In Conclusion, the most important factor for a great business plan is to include rich information about the business that is related to the needs of the stakeholders.