Get Your Biz Busy For Small Business Saturday!

When the holiday season ramps up, as it is now, it is easy for the small business owner to feel a bit “lost in the shuffle,” particularly when large businesses have enormous advertising budgets that afford them a lot of visibility. Thankfully, there is a day that has been set aside to remind people of the importance, as well as the benefits, of shopping small (as in small business).

Launched in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday will take place this year on November 30, and is “a day dedicated to small businesses across the country.” Members of local communities are encouraged to get out and “Shop Small” the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, right in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When you visit the Small Business Saturday website, you will find numerous resources that can be a great help to you, such as:
- Put your business on the Shop Small map for American Express Card Members
- Link to the OPEN Forum to see what other businesses are doing right now
- Download customizable signage to print for your store
- Access sample social media posts and email campaigns
- Get online banners and Shop Small logos

Whether your business is conducted in a visible shop or whether you work from your computer at home, you can make this special day work for you.

  1. Rev the search engine. You can be sure that American Express is putting a lot of information on the internet to promote Small Business Saturday, so make sure that your website follows suit. By talking about it in your blog or by mentioning it in the content of your homepage (or a specially designed page), you increase your chance of search engine visibility.
  2. Check (and double-check) for accuracy. Ensure that all of your information on your website, as well as all listings for your business throughout the Internet, are correct. An incorrect address or phone number could keep countless potential customers away.
  3. Be sure your shelves are stocked. It would be a shame if people showed up to shop and your cupboards were bare! You’ll make a great impression on new visitors to your business if your store is well stocked and adequately staffed. Don’t think that this tip only applies to businesses with physical locations. If you work mainly from a website, make sure your products/services are displayed prominently. Also consider putting some holiday gift certificates front and center!
  4. Promote! Promote! Promote! Get the word out about this big event by using the materials found right on the website! Use the logos, signage, and the email and social media templates to help create awareness of this day and attract shoppers your way.

The website also offers you the chance to connect with other local business owners online so you can share ideas, get inspired, and prepare for the big day together. What a great way to network and promote the small businesses of your area!

Small Business Success – Organisations and Professionals Who Can Help You Make it Happen

Starting and operating a successful small business requires a great deal of determination enthusiasm and motivation. The success and failure of your small business will greatly depend on your choosing the right business to start with. Having chosen the right business what next? The advice and help you are able to secure from various professionals and organisations will indeed play a vital role in the success of your business.

1. Banks

Your Bank will naturally be playing the pivotal role in financing your small business and giving you all the necessary advice and assistance to help you run your business successfully. The bank will constantly monitor your business and advise you.

2. Small Business Association (SBA):

In the United States they help small businesses start, grow, and compete in global markets by providing quality training, counseling, and access to resources.

There is a misconception that the SBA grants loans to Small Businesses

The SBA only guarantees loans made by banks and other private lenders to small business clients.

Similarly most countries have their own Small Business Associations to help and advice small businesses.

It is advisable that new entrepreneurs seek their advice and help when starting their new business.

3. Business Mentors:

Mentors are useful people with vast experience in starting and running a successful business. Very often they are people who have gone through the mill and their advice can be very helpful, especially if you have had no previous business experience at all.

4. Accountants:

Proper accounting procedures have to be adopted right from day one to ensure that your business is running profitably. For this the services of an accountant is absolutely essential. Negligence of this can end up in disaster.

5. Business Associations/Organisations:

Many new entrepreneurs are unaware of the advantages of joining an association that represents their business. For that matter being a member of any business or trade association will be enormously beneficial to your business. These associations provide their members a vast range of information such as sources for raw materials and markets for their products. Workshops and seminars conducted by them exclusively for members provide useful tips, know-how and other valuable information. Membership of certain associations also adds prestige to your small business.

6. Libraries:

Libraries are a great place where you will be able to find a vast range of books and periodicals relating to starting a business, marketing, accounting and other allied fields. Many successful entrepreneurs make good use of the libraries to gather vital information or to update their knowledge.

7. Internet:

Today the Internet is the source for information on anything and everything under the Sun. You can ignore anything but certainly not the Internet. You just have to visit the the big three search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN and type your query and lo and behold you get your results immediately. You may at times have to wade through unwanted and unnecessary results but nevertheless it is a goldmine you simply cannot ignore.

Conclusion:

You have started a small business with the sole objective of succeeding in you business venture. The usefulness of these organizations and the expertise of these professionals are beyond question. How soon you can establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur will depend on how best you make use of them.

Small Business Secret #3 – Seven Documents All Small Businesses Must Have To Be Successful

When many small business owners start out thinking about building a small business, they are often mislead into believing that the only document that they need to succeed is a Business Plan. In fact this plan is only one of seven documents every small business should have if they ever expect to survive let alone succeed.

Let me explain …

Doc 1. Business Plan

The Business plan, which is what most accountants, lawyers and business coaches will say is the only document that you need is the first document you must complete. I certainly do disagree totally that this is the only document you need, because the actual roll of this document is to summarize the other six mandatory documents that you must have.

The size of your Business Plan document will vary depending on the size of your business that you are either buying or building. Your business plan should contain details on how your business will be run, how you will finance the business, what sort of profit you will make, how you will advertise and market your business, what your exit strategy will be from your business, what form you business will take, where it will be located etc.

If you are going to be buying a Business rather than starting up a new one from scratch, always ask the previous owner to see their business plan. This will give you a good insight into the inner workings of the business and how it got to where it is. One thing to note though, always make sure that regardless of whether you are buying an existing business or building your own, that you create your own business plan so you have a clear understanding of where you are going with this business.

Doc 2. Business Model

A Business Model is usually built using tools like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access. The model allows you to apply various scenarios to your business model to see what sort of outcome will occur. This is a fantastic tool for running scenarios and seeing what the outcome would be if certain conditions might occur, like your truck broke down or what would happen to your profit if a certain piece of machinery broke down for a period of time.

The Business Model is also very useful when dealing with organizations like banks or finance institutions. If your business model can show what impacts various factors might have on your business and that you can still survive, then the banks and finance institutions are more likely to give you the money you need.

Doc 3. Marketing Plan

The Marketing Plan document sets out how you are going to market your business. It includes information on the brochures you are going to use, the types of adverts you may use, the frequency of the campaign, the medium you will be using and so forth. The marketing plan provides an in depth look at how you will be marketing your business. Your marketing plan should represent 12 months of operations, that is, you should have developed all of your marketing strategies so that they flow on and build on each previous marketing campaign over a 12 month period.

Doc 4. Operations Plan

Your operations plan is designed to define exactly how your business is to be run. The operations plan should include how to do every task in your organization, checklists on what needs to be done every day, week, month and year. Essentially the Operations Plan defines how your business actually works.

The key advantage of your operations plan is that if at any time you lose a staff member, you can use the operations plan to teach your new staff members the tasks that they need to complete each day.

Doc 5. Sales Plan

The Sales Plan outlines how sales will be undertaken on a day to day basis. How you will be selling your products and services, who your target markets are, your approach techniques to new clients, any clients that you need to contact on a day-to-day basis and what your contact processes are. More so it should define what step-by-step process you follow to convert a prospect into a customer.

The Sales Plan should use flow charts and should also include any letters or marketing material that should be used for a particular sales process.

Doc 6. HR Plan

The HR Plan, sets out the Human Resource structure of your organization. It should include information such as position descriptions, who each person reports to, who they are responsible for, what tasks they are responsible for and any special duties they might have to do during the year.

The HR Plan should also have information in it such as Job Advertisement Templates, approved Position Descriptions and templates, Hourly Rates, Acceptable Work Practices and so forth. The HR Plan sets down how your staff must engage at work and what you define as being acceptable workplace behaviors in your workplace.

Doc 7. Style Manual

The Organizations Style manual sets out how you are going to present yourself to your customers. The style manual includes information on your logos, your business cards, the colors your business will use for its logos, banner layouts, how to place newspaper adverts and what colors must be used, what fonts must be used in Letters or Faxes. The style manual will also set out what information will go onto your business cards, where the logo will sit and what information must be contained.

The Organizations Style manual sets out how you are going to present yourself to the public and what standards you will use. If you have never seen a Style Manual before simply go to any large corporation’s website and type in ‘Style Manual’ and you will generally find one available for review.

After 10 years in small business and a number of small businesses under my belt, the one thing I have learned is that if you do not have these 7 Plans and Documents done prior to creating or building your business, then they will never get done. The simple fact is that small business is incredibly demanding on the small business owner and once the business is up and going, it is highly unusual the owner will ever get the time to go back and create them. Without each and every one of these documents your business will lack focus on what you want to achieve and that is why 70% of all small businesses around the world fail in the first 12 months.

To finish off, I would like to take a moment to summarize the seven documents all small business owners should have before contemplating a small business…

1. Business Plan

2. Business Model

3. Marketing Plan

4. Operations Plan

5. Sales Plan

6. HR Plan

7. Style Manual