Startup: It's All About Location, Location, Location

When it comes to starting your own business, it's all about location, location, location.  That location could be the ritzy retail location downtown or it could be the comfort of your own kitchen table. 

As you start to think about your business location, really give some consideration to how you will use the space.  Will customers come to see you?  Will they need someplace to park?  Can you work from home and still stay sane?  Will you be hiring employees? 

It is important that you are realistic when you think about your space needs.  If employees and clients are coming to see you, give a home office a whirl.  If a home office isn't really an option, take a look at what shared workspace options are available. If a shared workspace isn't available, look at month-to-month locations until you are sure your business volume will support the cost.

If you do decide that you are going to need a physical location, consider your current business needs.  Take into account the number of employees you plan on hiring, the equipment that you need to run your business, and the space that you need to grow. 

Take your time to look at all the options in your market.  When you find the right one, get ready to roll up your sleeves to negotiate.  Find out what utilities are included, if the landlord will do any improvements, and the length of the term of the lease. 

Startup: Determining Your Business Strategy

Once you have decided to start your own business and you've taken the first steps in determining what your business will be, it's time to get busy strategizing.  This is not the part where you figure out the step-by-step plan for your business, this is the part where you think in broad strokes about what you want to accomplish and a basic roadmap on how to get there. 

Mission.  Vision. Goals.  Targets.  Oh, my.....

The first step is to figure out what you will do as a business.  It is also the time to define what you won't do.  Brainstorm who your customers will be.  Determine how you will define success.  Decide how you want to grow and expand.

Setting the strategy is designed to help you focus on the items that are really important to you as a business owner and discard the items that are not.  It will help set the priorities on where you will distribute your startup budget and where you don't need to focus quite yet. 

The better you can define your roadmap early in the process, the easier your path to success will be.

Startup: Figuring Out Your Startup Business

Adulting is tough.  You need to make decisions.  Small business is tough too.  You need to make even more choices. 

The very first step is to figure out what you want to do when you startup.  Retail?  Service? Full-Time? Part-Time? There are so many choices, it can make your head spin. 

Before you do anything, you need to decide what you are going to sell and who you are going to sell it to.   First, figure out what you are good at and what you like doing.  Second, you need to decide what you consider a success.  Do you want to roll in the profits?  Do you want to give back to the community? Take whatever you are passionate about and make it the base for what you do  

Once you have decided what you want to do, you need to start looking at who your customers will be. Direct to the end consumer?   Business to business?  Start to define your target market and figure out how to reach them. During this early startup phase, the ideas will come fast and furious.  Write them all down.  You will find yourself revisiting them and fine tuning them as the business starts to take shape. 

Startup: Can I REALLY Start My Own Business?

To put it in the words of Bob the Builder, "Yes, you can!'  Anyone can realistically start a business with an idea and some hard work.  The U.S. Economy is not ruled by the big dogs.  Almost 99% of all businesses are classified as small businesses. Those small businesses in turn employ 80% of the American population. 

There is no special training or skills needed to run a business.  All it truly takes is the a dream and the ability to roll up you sleeves and get down to business.  You've got to be able to go outside of your own skill set to learn new things or be able to seek out the folks,that can help you execute on your concept. 

It doesn't take the next great invention to launch a business either. Just about anyone can come up with an idea to leverage their skills, interests, or expertise. When it comes down to it, starting a business is as easy as coming up with Ethel idea, making it official,and sorting out how to pay for it.   You can go sleek and simple on a shoestring budget or big and splashy with startup cash in the bank.  

You can even do most of the work from the comfort of home.  In fact, nearly 52% of all small businesses are home based according to the Small Business Administration. More and ,pew dreams are launched from the kitchen table, garage or home based offices than anywhere else. 

Once you can get past the fear of starting up on your own, you will find it surprising how easy it is to launch your own small business!

Digital marketing: Video Made the Social Media Campaign

 

Video killed the radio star!  It's also breathing new life into branded social media campaigns. 

According to a report by Statista, consumers feel more favorably about videos than nearly any other type of branded social media content.  Apparently 83% of consumers think it is "cool" when brands post videos on the various social media platforms.  On the flip side, most would prefer if brands skipped talking slang, politics, or talking down about them or the brand's competition.

Digital Marketing Tips to Help Launch Your Startup

10305060_10152095473496720_7355580136598125079_n.jpg

Entrepreneurship is on the rise these days.  With the rise of the internet and the growing emergence of mobile devises, businesses can navigate the path of modern startup with a few short keystrokes and clicks.  It has become relatively easy to get a website up and running through tools such as SquareSpace and Wix, but it is harder to drive traffic to that site to get the revenue ball rolling.

Digital Marketing is the new term for the increasingly important marketing channel to help kick off your business in modern style. Through the use of the growing array of digital marketing tools, you can launch your business and start reaching potential customers from day one.

Here are some strategies you can use to build your digital marketing presence:

Content, content, content:  Back in the good old days, it was all about location.  These days, business success increasingly relies on what you have to say.  By creating unique content, you will open your business to a whole new audience actively seeking out what you have to offer.  This evergreen content should be crafted to stand the test of time.  It will include information that internet surfers will want to read - articles, lists and general information that isn't subject to the ever changing fads - in order to bring a steady stream of new inbound clicks.

Get social:  Nothing can get the buzz going about a new business like social media.  At the same time you publish your website, create relevant social media accounts on sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Each social media channel offers free or cheap advertising directly to socially active readers on the hunt for products and services. 

Online advertising:  Unless you have endless hours to dedicate each day to developing inbound links to your site, you may want to invest in some online advertising options.  The big dog in the marketplace is Google Ads that allows you to target specific keywords to drive users directly to your website.  It's an affordable and effective way to jump to the front of the line when it comes to folks searching for what you offer.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This one is a critical step in all online marketing.  It's a critical balance to making sure that you target the specific keywords that users hunt for online without packing your site with language that drives them away in minutes.  Hit on your keywords in your title, content and tags.  Create a separate blog that allows you to use the words in a more organic forum and keep an eye on the marketplace for new / different ways to target consumers to your site.

Stash some goodies: It can get hard to constantly come up with new ideas for blog articles or content.  Social media and blogs aren't just for wasting time, they can be fodder for future content.  Keep a file of potential articles from some of your favorite reads and do your own original spin on them in the future.

Get them talking:  One of the most important steps in digital marketing and capturing new consumers is to actively engage with your audience.  Chat with them on your social media pages.  Ask a question at the end of a blog post.  Let them know that you are interested in them and you will quickly gain their interest too.

These are just a few simple digital marketing tips that you can squeeze into your spare time.  Spending a few short minutes a day on these steps will help you grow your online presence in next to no time. 

 

Move Over Millennials: Generation Z Is Ready to Launch

Move over Millennials, Generation Z is poised to take over the workforce and they are ready to hit the ground running.  In a few short years, those pesky kids born in the mid-90s and on will emerge onto the working and entrepreneurial scene with a unique set of experiences that has them ready to shake things up.

According to a national study conducted by Northeastern University, Gen Z has been seriously impacted by the financial downturn over the last decade and they are already planning for the future.  Looking at the future with realistic poise, 67% worry about affording college, 64% are concerned about getting a job, and 60% worry about having enough cash.

This realistic view of the future has cultivated a brand new entrepreneurial spirit that would offer them more control over their professional lives than the formerly comfortable corporate jobs – nearly 42% believe that they will work for themselves.  Generation Z has a new view of the education that they will need to achieve their entrepreneurial goals with 63% of them believing that entrepreneurship should be taught in college.

What do you expect to see from Generation Z as they emerge on the professional scene?

 

How to Start Your Business on a Budget

tech.jpg

We've all read the stories in the business blogs of the brand new startups that are rolling in the capital.  If you don't have an endless credit line or a crowd of angel investors lining up to help fund your dream, you may need to learn how to make your business dollars stretch a wee bit further. 

Here are some tips that can help you start your business on a budget:

Start virtually: An office may be a luxury for your startup phase. Thanks to the rise of the digital age, there are lots of online tools and apps that can help you navigate.  Take advantage of Google Docs for sharing of documents, Skype for voice and video communications, Toggl for time tracking, and Square for invoicing and payment processing.  If you don't have a need for a physical location for your business, it is a cost that can be put offuntil you grow enough to support it.  Restaurants, retail shops, and manufacturers will need a dedicated space, but many of us can work out a home office, garage, or local coffee shop until we start generating solid cash flow.

The cloud:  Not only is the internet good for online tools and applications, it has given us access to ample digital storage and reduced the need for expensive software solutions.  Rather than pay the upfront cost of pricey brand name software, a little bit of surfing can bring you access to free or inexpensive options available on the cloud.  All you need is access to a laptop, tablet or cell phone and you can use and access your documents just about everywhere.  Dropbox makes sharing of documents seamless regardless of size.  Google Docs doesn't just save documents, it gives you the functionally of Microsoft Office while allowing multiple users to edit them from anywhere.  Adobe Creative Cloud eliminates the hefty price tag by giving users access to their software on a subscription basis for a fraction of the cost.  Whatever your needs, odds are that you can find the software you need hosted somewhere in the cloud.

Outsource: There is no need to staff up as you get your business up and running.  Every hire should be focused on achieving the targets you set in your business plan and supported by your financial growth.  Most other business functions, can be handled by independent contractors.  Look for affordable skilled professionals on sites such as Upwork, Guru and even Twitter.

Get social: Online social networks are not just for entertainment, they can be cheap or free marketing tools that can spread the word about your business.  Build your profiles on whichever channels you feel would give you the best contact with your target market.  Then devote a few hours each week getting the word out about your awesome products and services.  Build a website blog using targeted keywords to drive more traffic to your brand.  A little hard work can help you reach those early adopters that can place the spotlight directly onto your business. 

Act like the big dog:  You company may be small, but you can convey the image of a big player.  A well-designed website is essential to give the illusion of big.  Wix and SquareSpace are affordable options that give you access to an eye catching collection of templates that are as unique as your business.  Make sure to spring for the customized domain email.  An email address ending with @gmail.com or @yahoo.com is a dead giveaway that you are bootstrapping. 

A small business needs to make the most out of every dollar especially through the startup phase.  If you keep a close eye on your costs, listen to your instincts, and take advantage of the small business edge that gets lost in the corporate culture, you can grow your company into a big dog in no time.