Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. Brand is your promise to your customer. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.
what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?
Your brand tell them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be. The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.
Brand Strategy & Equity
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too. Strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command.
The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. You can take example like Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.
Understanding laws and regulations imposed on businesses in a particular location is essential. As you look to grow your business, it can be advantageous to work with a small business specialist or counselor.
Choosing a business location is perhaps the most important decision a small business owner or startup will make, so it requires precise planning and research.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right business location.
Determine Your Needs
Most businesses choose a location that provides exposure to customers.
- Brand Image – Is the location consistent with the image you want to maintain?
- Competition – Are the businesses around you complementary or competing?
- Local Labor Market – Does the area have potential employees? What will their commute be like?
- Plan for Future Growth – If you anticipate further growth, look for a building that has extra space should you need it.
- Proximity to Suppliers – They need to be able to find you easily as well.
- Safety – Consider the crime rate. Will employees feel safe alone in the building or walking to their vehicles
Evaluate Your Finances
- Hidden Costs – Very few spaces are business ready. Include costs like renovation, decorating, IT system upgrades, and so on.
- Taxes – What are the income and sales tax rates for your state? What about property taxes? Could you pay less in taxes by locating your business across a nearby state line?
- Government Economic Incentives – Your business location can determine whether you qualify for government economic business programs, such as state-specific small business loans and other financial incentives.
Area Business Friendly
Check what programs and support your state government and local community offer to small businesses. Many states offer online tools to help small business owners start up and succeed.
What’s important to the success of small-business owners and entrepreneurs? Knowledge, skill and talent.
You have a passion, and you’d like to make it your profession. No matter how enthusiastic you are about your small business, though, it won’t be successful unless you have a plan in place for how you’re going to start and run it.
Most successful small businesses will need to have a break-even analysis, a profit-loss forecast and a cash-flow analysis. A cash-flow analysis is especially important since you could be selling your products like hotcakes, but if you won’t be paid for six months, you could still run out of money and have to close your doors.
Tips for a Successful Small Business :
You have a passion for your business
Work should be fun. Your passion will help you overcome difficult moments and persuade people to work for you and want to do business with you. Passion can’t be taught.A business plan is essential because it allows you to experiment with the strategy for your business on paper, before you start playing for keeps.
Determine how you’ll make a profit
Profit is, after all, the ultimate goal of any successful small business. You should examine your business’ expenses (rent, materials, employee compensation, etc.)
Be flexible, except with core values
It’s a given that your plans and strategies will change as time goes on. This flexibility for rapid change is an inherent advantage of small over large business. However, no matter the pressure for immediate profits, do not compromise on core values.
Keep your ego under control
Don’t take profits and spend them on expensive toys to impress others. Build a war chest for unexpected needs or opportunities. This also means hearing out new ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they sound.
What Is My Ideal Way To Make Money Online?
To help you understand what I was striving for, here are my main criteria when deciding what methods I use to make money online with. Bear in mind certain options only became available as a result of previous experience. Some things you can only do once you’ve done other things because you build on what you have done before.
As you will see in a moment when I reveal my top ten methods, some income streams have very slim margins, which means you must push through a lot of volume in order to make significant income.
8 Ways To Make Money Online
1. Sell On Ebay
All of these things were passions for me at various stages of growing up, but one thing remained consistent throughout each stage; I traded and sold toys and games I no longer wanted to make extra cash. before the Internet there was a newspaper called the Trading Post that was published every two weeks. It was an aftermarket for pretty much everything. Whenever I grew tired of a game or a toy I’d sell it via the Trading Post, usually in an effort to make enough money to buy the new toy or game I had in my sights.
Eventually the Internet came along and the Trading Post no longer commanded the secondhand market like it once did (though it did successfully transition online). It quickly became clear that eBay was the winner when it came to secondhand commerce online. As a result my first experience making any money from the Internet was selling old games, toys and electronics on eBay.
EBay is still I believe the best way to gain experience making money from the Internet for two reasons – transaction and Ebay traffic
You want to make big profit on every property deal you undertake, but sometimes you get the opposite result. You’re not alone. Many investors get burned one way or the other. Making big profit through real estate is no longer just for the privileged few.
So how do you ensure you get the profit you want on every deal you make?
There are three things I look for in a deal before I will take it on. These three criteria must be present for me to take the deal further. I will not compromise even if just one of the criteria is missing.
- Property must be under market value.
- Property must have strong cash flow.
- Property must have potential to add value now and have reasons for growth in the future.
Buy under market value
By buying under market value, you get instant equity that you can then use to buy your next property. This also means guaranteed, instant profit. You would not lose money if you sold your asset, because you have already bought at a discount. The worst-case scenario would be for you to break even.
How I estimate/calculate market value
The way I do it quickly is to look at comparable sales over the past six months. I’ll also look at recent sales and what properties are on the market. You need to make sure you’re comparing like with like to establish the amount the market is willing to pay for similar properties. You can then use this to estimate the value of a property.
How to spot an undervalued property
Cheap asking price. This can be tricky because a lot of agents engage in underquoting. But you can tell a genuine bargain when the agent is fairly negative about the property and is keen to take any offers to the vendor.
Are your business licences up to snuff? Now is the time to strike up a relationship with an insurance agent you trust. Be wary of agents who try to load you up with policies. The right agent will value a long-term relationship and will advise you to take out just the policies you need, no matter what your type of business.
Get Your Financials in Order
A common mistake among entrepreneurs is a financial planning. In order not to have a heart attack come tax time, spend some time up front locating a good CPA.
Where to Operate
The location of your business can make or break you — and some of the reasons why may surprise you. Consider all of these factors:
- State - states on how friendly they are to small business — check it out when deciding which state to set up shop in.
- Part of town – With retail and restaurant businesses, street traffic can make or your business, but even if you are not in those businesses, consider how rent and “curb appeal” will affect your business.
- City – Rent and other costs, availability of labor, taxes, regulations and government economic incentives can also vary greatly from city to city, even within the same state. It pays to do your homework!
- Type of location Do you need office space, retail or warehouse? Retail is generally the most expensive of the three.
Building Your Reputation
Building your reputation when you are first starting out can seem incredibly daunting. It’s the classic chicken and egg problem — you can’t build a reputation before you have customers and customers are what are essential for building a reputation.
Business Partner and Marketing
Almost every aspect in the today’s society is pretty much about consuming, growing, expanding and success. Making money online used to pretty much require you to have your own Web site, products to sell and some marketing savvy. I did a search on “make money online” and “making money online”, and much of the information out there is just promoting various infoproducts, mostly about Internet marketing.
Making money online isn’t as easy as people are sometimes led to believe. The truth is that people are becoming successful millionaires, but it requires lots of time and efforts to be successful.
There seems to be that a new online-millionaire is born every day and the great thing about it is that there are so many ways to achieve it. You just need to find out which one is right for you. Just to name a few well known cases: Mark Zuckerberg the Facebook founder, Drew Houston the founder of DropBox, Sergey Brin and Larry Page the two founders of Google, etc… the list is quite long, but these guys made it happen.
So, let’s start with simple ideas:
Small online tasks
Sites like ShortTask.com, UserTesting.com, connects online job seekers with providers. So by doing certain things that you are good with you might earn some money. Paid To Click is another online business model that draws online traffic from people aiming to earn money from home.
Sell your goods
Have you got an old mobile phone or computer and don’t know what to do with it? There are lots of opportunities to sell your stuff online.
Sites like amazon, ecommerce, could help you with this. You might create your own web site too and start selling stuff that you don’t need anymore. Why not extend this to buy cheap and sell expensive?
A cash flow statement can be one of the most important tools in managing your finances. It tracks all the money flowing in and out of your business and can reveal payment cycles or seasonal trends that require additional cash to cover payments. This cycle or pattern can help you plan ahead and make sure you always have money to cover your payments.
The cash flow pro forma is the most important single financial statement in your business plan. Every business needs an annotated cash flow pro forma reflecting its business idea. If you’re not familiar with cash flow here’s a key point you need to know about it: Positive cash flow = Business survival
Cash flow buys time (if necessary), builds assets and profits, and keeps suppliers, bankers, creditors and investors smiling. Without positive cash flow, business survival becomes questionable. Negative or feebly positive cash flow is painful and, unless corrected, will either kill a business or damage it so seriously that it never lives up to its potential.
On your cash flow statement, list all your incoming and outgoing cash items with the dollar amount for the next 12 months. For instance, some farmers do very well with cash flow that is strongly negative for 11 months of the year. So do some manufacturers (especially in the garment industry). The key is that they know what their cash flow patterns are—and take steps to finance the negative periods, offsetting that cost against the occasional strong positive cash influx from operations. Whether you’ve already started or intending to start, you’ll need to fill in actual or estimated figures against each item. If using estimated costs, you’ll need to label them clearly.
A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you’ve written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.
A business plan is an essential road map for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues. Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities
How To Write A Business Plan
The following pages will describe in detail the seven essential sections of a business plan: what you should include, what you shouldn’t include, how to work the numbers and additional resources you can turn to for help. With that in mind, jump right in.
The business description usually begins with a short description of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss the present outlook as well as future possibilities. You should also provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business.
Market strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A market analysis forces the entrepreneur to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales.
The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.
How you treat your customers can make the difference between a loyal returning customer who will, through conversations and story-telling, become an ambassador for your organization and a lost opportunity or negative influence for your company, somebody more likely to use your competitor’s services in the future. Without them, you run the risk of finding your business in an embarrassing customer service train-wreck, or simply losing customers as your service continues to let people down.
What is the most important thing you can do to improve relationships with your customers? The answer is as obvious as it is overlooked: improve customer service skills. A strong company will already have great customer relationships. But a smart company will always be asking “What is good customer service?” Your customer service team is often the face of your company, and customers’ experiences will be defined by the skill and quality of the support they receive.
Here are a few customer service tips for identifying ways to better serve customers.
Strengthen your customer service skills
it’s important to make sure that your customer service team has the right skills for your managing customers’ needs.
- Empathy, patience and consistency. Some customers will be irate. Others will be full of questions. And others will just be chatty. You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.
- Adaptability. Every customer is different, and some may even seem to change week-to-week. You should be able to handle surprises, sense the customer’s mood and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to learn– providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.