Best Resources for Small Businesses

Being a successful small business is not easy. The five core challenges most small business face are time management, pricing, cash flow, managing growth and marketing / client acquisition. In order to succeed, you must arm yourself against these challenges. The good news is that there are a number of fabulous resources to help you with these issues.

Actively seek out the right small business information.
Many small business owners are so over-extended that they neglect staying informed about business trends. This is a fatal error. In today’s modern marketplace, you simply cannot succeed if you run your business on intuition alone. You may stay afloat in the short run, but you will eventually lose out to better informed competitors.

There are a number of incredible online resources that are both free and invaluable. Sites like Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com provide tips on just about everything from starting your business to navigating advanced legal issues. They feature in depth information on running your business, leadership / management techniques, sales & marketing tips, small business technology and finances.

Helpful Tip: Set aside at least 1 hour each week to review these sites. If you find that you prefer to read in bed, consider subscribing to a few of these magazines. This information will make you and your business stronger.

Know your industry and target market in real time.
In our modern age, trends shift at break-neck speed. It is important to stay abreast of developments in both your industry and your target market’s microcosm. After all, more often than not, what concerned your target market 3 months ago is now ancient history.

Subscribe to industry related publications and consume the same media as your target market. If you sell jewelry for eco-friendly women in their thirties and forties, spend an hour each week reading news and publications that are relevant to that market. Likewise, be sure to check industry news every week. For example, using the same eco-friendly jewelry analogy, you might read up on green product developments, new fashion trends or even ecological political issues.

Helpful Tip: Set two separate Google Alerts – one on your industry and one for your target market – to send you period updates on relevant news. Google will send these news stories to you automatically, making it easy to skim over the headlines and read through the meaningful stories.

Find the right on-line partnerships.
The proliferation of online office supply stores makes economically and efficiently stocking your office a lot easier than it was 10 years ago. Buying office supplies online takes less time and makes price comparison easy. Because of online competition, online suppliers are eager to earn your business. The good ones will provide a wealth of free information on their site and happily take your calls to field questions and offer advice. For example, if you are looking for discounted printer ink cartridges but are a little confused about toner versus regular stores like compandsave not only provide free yet invaluable printer cartridge information resource center but they also eagerly accept calls and offer advice on how to save on office supplies.

Helpful Tip: When you find a supplier with great prices and customer service, hold onto them for the long-haul. A good supplier relationship can save you thousands, streamline your operations and free up your time so you can focus on growing your business.

Small Business Marketing – Trends That Can’t Be Ignored

In our current market, changes are being seen everywhere and that includes in small business marketing. Small businesses realize that if they want to be truly competitive they must keep up with the trends and the main aspect of marketing that is getting a lot of attention is social media. Social media has completely changed the way that small businesses relate to their customers. It is becoming more and more obvious that small businesses need to adapt their marketing to become part of their customer’s lives instead of intruding on their lives.

Small Business Marketing is Meeting People Where They Gather

Once, marketing meant finding your way into people’s lives by intruding into their regular lives – while they were watching televisions, listening to the radio, or even the using the public washroom. It meant finding a way to get in front on them where they couldn’t get away. Marketing is changing, though!

Businesses are realizing that there are other ways to get their message in front of people without being intrusive. In order to do that though, businesses have to go where people gather. Today, that means getting involved in social sites. Sites like Twitter and Facebook were created to connect people – old friends, classmates, and family. Businesses have realized that they can interact with people on social sites in a way that is almost like the relationship between friends.

Sharing Information and Giving Advice

Businesses are doing more than just getting a message across on these sites. They are developing relationships with their customers. How? One of the main ways is by sharing information and giving advice. People who interact with businesses on these sites are doing so because the businesses involved have something to offer them.

Businesses are not selling things on social media – instead they are giving away what people really want. They are giving them ways to use their products more effectively, ways to make comparisons, and ways to make decisions. By doing this they are building relationships. By building relationships with customers and with potential customers they are increasing the trust factor, which goes much further than just selling a product.

Small business marketing is taking advantage of every tool at their fingertips and the trends are all pointing at social media. Social media enables businesses to build trust and trust lasts longer than any sales pitch that a company can make.