Many people presume that buying an existing small business is less riskier than starting one from scratch. Unlike a startup, you save money if you buy an existing small business. It might have equipment and inventory already. The business already has a location and might have few more years left on the lease. The business will have employees already which you can actually keep or change. The business will have customers, where some will stick with you and where some will leave depending on how you change the business. The most important factor is that the business will have a track record for you to look up.
Although there are less risks to buying an existing small business, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. Therefore, there are five important factors that you should keep in mind before you buy that existing small business. According to an article from Entrepreneur.com by Cliff Ennico, you should always keep in mind of the following:
1. Demographic and political changes: See how the community is changing. Are there many business owners in town who are looking to sell? If so, why? Is the population increasing or decreasing in the community? Is the population skewing older or younger people? You must know how everything is changing in the community and how the law is changing before you sit in a meeting.
2. Owner’s Discretionary Income or ODI: The ODI is what the seller is making after he/she pays the suppliers, the employees, the rent, the overhead expenses and the taxes. If you cannot live on the current ODI or the ODI has been decreasing for several years, it is better to back off. You will go straight downhill if you buy the existing business with a declining ODI. If the ODI seems healthy, keep in contact with the seller but do not buy the existing business right away. You need to check to see if the ODI is stable and the numbers are accurate. To understand the actual ODI, you need to understand the seller’s expenses and the seller’s tax returns.
3. The location of the nearest big competitor: Small businesses always face competition with one big franchise company or so called “big box” competitor. It depends which retail or service business you are trying to buy. A big franchise company can wipe you off the map if they ever set one up near you. Know your competitors before you buy that small business. For example, if you decide to buy a local hardware store, call Home Depot and Lowe’s to see if they have plans to build a local store anytime soon.
4. Sales taxes: When you buy an existing small business, you need to know if the seller has been filing all state and local sales tax returns. Ask the attorney if you can receive a “clearance certificate” from the state tax authority. The only reason why you need to know if the seller is filing all the state and local sales tax returns correctly is because if the seller did not file all the state and local sales tax returns, you will be the one in fault after you buy the existing business. You do not want the authorities to come after you for what the seller did not pay.
5. Local business reputuation: You need to find out if the existing small business you are trying to buy is active in the business community. Do not rely on the “hard data.” Go to the library and skim through the local newspapers going back at least five years. See if anything has been written about the business you are trying to buy. Are there any negative publicity or any positive publicity? See if there were complaints about the service or about the area. Spend time talking with the locals and see what they say about the business.
(SOURCE: Entrepreneur.com article by Cliff Ennico)
Many people presume that success equals to money. But does it really? It is only a temporary emotion of happiness but not everlasting. When you start your own business, you want success but the success should relate to your B2C/B2B relationships, your relationship with your employees, or building your company’s brand. You want to create emotions that will motivate you to be successful. According to an article from Inc.com by Geoffrey James, you should ask yourself these 10 questions at the end of each day. If you do that, you are able to become more successful (Not a promise of wealth but a positive mentality to stay motivated and become successful).
1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?
2. Have I done something today that improved the world?
3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?
4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?
5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?
6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?
7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?
8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?
9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?
10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?
When you ask yourself these questions on a daily basis, your thoughts will start to focus. Having a focus will determine your results. It will make you evaluate what is really important in your life. Your business could mean everything but you want to have the right mindset to create a thriving business..
With so many small businesses opened these days, it seems many do not know how to satisfy their consumers. With growing competition, consumers are becoming very selective. If the consumers do not like one store, they are willing to try another store for the same product, service, or experience. Why are some businesses losing customers? It has to do with customer satisfaction. According to an article by Tom Egelhoff, author of How to Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less, there are six ways to build customer trust and confidence.
1. Stop being a cold impersonal business and start being warm and personable. It is not about “I” or “we”, it is more about “you” and “yours”. Your business is not about yourself, it is about the consumer that you will have or already have. Setting a friendly environment for your consumers will help your customer retention.
2. Be truthful. There are many salespeople that love to talk and sell the products. Some even raise the price so that they improve their commissions. Make sure your business is all about the truth. You do not want to scam a customer because they will spread words to others. The best policy for your business is to be truthful to your customers.
3. Some people say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s good to be an equal or better than your competitors but it is a total different matter to sound like them in your advertising. You do not want to have “lip service” written on your advertisements. You want your customers to feel that you are unique and special. Use truthful slogans in your advertisements to attract new customers to your business.
4. Spell out your guarantee. Build your reputation by standing for what you do even if it sometimes increases your costs. Everyone is familiar with Zappos for their customer service, which is suppose to be the best. There was a story where someone actually called Zappos and asked them if a pizzeria was opened anywhere near by. Although Zappos sell shoes and clothing’s, they actually found a pizzeria nearby for the customer to go to. Your word is your bond so make sure you stand behind what you say even if it hurts you.
5. Make it easy for customers to complain. Make sure to provide phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and any other ways that your consumers would contact you when there is a problem. If it takes a long time to resolve a problem, other customers will hear about this and become very dissatisfied with your company so make sure you respond promptly.
6. Build on your successes. Collect testimonials from satisfied customers or give out surveys. With these results, you can display them on your websites or advertisements. Let others see consumers’ opinion of your service from satisfied customers. This can help your business grow and attract new customers.
Sorry for the delay between posts. I have been quite busy as I get ready to start the next chapter of my life. I found an article this week which can helpful to small businesses. The article addresses the topic of website creation. Why do you need to create a website for your small business? It’s a way to create more opportunities to generate sales or advertise your business.
As you all may know, the Internet has made everything easier for all of us. Consumers are able to shop online, find local shops or restaurants, connect with people, and share information. Why not invest some time and energy to create your website. You will definitely see positive results. So, here are three SEO tips for small businesses.
1. Try out WordPress – If you are a beginner and want to start out with a website, you should definitely try WordPress. WordPress is one of the top platforms for setting up your website. It is very easy to use, up-to-date programming, and definitely not confusing. It is also a way to rank in Google search. Our website, ChaseThePaper, is also using WordPress.
2. Purchase a URL with a Target Keyword – To be ranked in the major search engines, you need your keyword in your URL. For example, if you are an insurance agency in New York, you want your URL to be www.ny-name-agency.com. If you have a large marketing budget, you have different ways of naming your website and buying different URLs. However, it is best to choose a simple URL with your keyword in it.
3. Create a Blog – Blogging has huge benefits that some of you may not know. First, by having many great, creative contents on your blog, Google will actually visit your site more often. Through this, your blog site will be stored in Google’s cache so that it can be found online. Each time you write a new blog post, you will have the chance to be found by potential consumers or people that are interested in the topics you write about. Each blog post is also an opportunity to target a specific set of keywords. Through consistent blogging you can generate followers and traffic over time.
I really recommend WordPress or Blogger for beginners that want to utilize SEO. You will need some time to adjust, but it is really simple. You just have to invest time with a computer. Through some time and effort, you will greatly increase your consumer base and generate more traffic to your website.
(SOURCE: An article from ISEdb.com by Mike Munter)
These days, both big and small businesses host events where there are great opportunities to learn about the trending topics and meet new people. The people that you meet in the events can be in the same industry as you or be in a completely different industry. Either way, meeting new people and exploring their expertise, can be very interesting. However, do not think about setting your goal as simply just putting your name or your business’s entity out in the open. Set your goal to create new business opportunities in the process by creating networks.
There is an 80-percent chance that you get can a business deal if you create a great network at such events. There is a much better possibility compared to cold calling prospects, where you might receive a harsh or cold rejection. What can you do to create networks? Here is a list of dos and don’ts for successful networking:
- Look friendly, credible, and professional.
- Plan whom you want to meet. Try meeting people who are relevant to your business.
- Plan what to ask.
- Be prepared to answer any types of questions. This could be about yourself, or your business, or business-related topics around the industry you are in.
- Take the slow and steady approach. Never rush in creating a business relationship.
- Limit your time you spend with a person unless you meet with someone you can learn from or do business with.
HELPFUL TIP: Make notes of each person you have spoke with on the back of their business cards, along with the date and event. It would recollect information when you try to contact the person later on.
- Do not talk about your business or about yourself too much.
- Do not talk to others directly on how you can help out their business or how they can help your business.
- Do not show boredom on your face. Be curious at all times.
- Do not look around or cut someone off when someone is talking way beyond your approach. You want to be interactive.
HELPFUL TIP: You do not know who will recognize you and have a business with you or help your business, please watch what you say and how you act in front of others.
Be proactive when you are attending events. Do not forget that people will not always come to you directly and ask about your business. It takes time so be patient or start approaching others. Networking is not always about setting business deals; it is also about learning and exploring each others’ expertise. It is up to you on how you want to bring your networks into light.
(SOURCE: An article from SiliconIndia.com)
Many people do not know the term “solopreneur” but many know what a entrepreneur is. So, what is a “solopreneur”? To simply put, a solopreneur is an entrepreneur who works solo. What advantage does a solopreneur have compare to an entrepreneur? Solopreneurs operate a business from the privacy and comfort of their home. This is an appealing business to many people thanks to the online marketplace that has been consistently growing. Setting a business as a solopreneur is very simple and requires a very little capital to get things started. Truthfully, it does depend what type of business you are trying to start at home.
Solopreneur is not a luxurious job title even though you have the opportunity to work at home with much flexibility. Once, you have a goal, you need to put endless effort into your business to create income, maintain, and expand your business. What does this mean? You cannot put in eight hours a day, Monday to Friday, to achieve your goal. By having your own business, you need to put as much time and effort that is possible. In fact, solopreneurs work more hours and spend their spare time building their network with clients.
So, how can you be successful as a solopreneur? According to an article from Inc.com by Marla Tabaka, you can not think solopreneur has a limit in growth because of the word “solo”, you must think “BIG”. If you think small, you will feel small and most likely stay small. However, if you are able to stretch your creativity and think “BIG”, you will expand yourself in the upcoming years. It won’t be simple but there are so much potential in a solopreneurship.
Here are some steps to become successful as a solopreneur:
1. Create a map for your business. Set a plan and a vision for your business. Ask yourself these questions: “What is my plan?”, “How will my business grow?”, “How can I plan for that growth?”, Will I add products or services?” and etc. You need to chart its progress along the way so that you know your business is going on the right track or if your business needs a detour to achieve the goal you want.
2. Building relationships. Do not limit yourself by working alone, this will limit your growth potential. You need time to build relationships so your business will grow or gain income. As you start, create a job description for yourself. You must realize that you can not do everything on your own. It is necessary to outsource some of the job duties so that you can create the time to bring in new businesses and build relationships.
3. Remind yourself of the long-term goal. Plans can change and there will be times when there are new opportunities for growth. At that time, you must remind yourself of the long-term goal that you have set in the beginning of your business. By doing this, you can chart a new direction to see if you are taking a detour or going straight for your goal. Your goal is the success of your business.
4. Do not compare with competitors. This might be one of the hardest tasks as a solopreneur. With Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites, you can follow your competitors or coaches. Obviously through your competitors, you can learn from them but this does not mean you can apply the same methods as they do. The more you follow or learn from them, you might fall into a slump. So, if you are going to keep an eye on your competitors, do it for positive reasons and strategic planning purposes. Never focus on their ideas or networks, but always focus on you, your plans, and your desires.
5. Do not measure your success in terms of money. We all know that business owners, small or big, always talk about money when it comes to how successful they are. Money is important but truthfully, your revenue will always change annually or quarterly. You do not want to demotivate yourself through money. Build your recognition by measuring your success through each little steps you achieve to get to your long-term goal. Celebrate your success on each little steps you achieve and build your recognition of success.
Many of you know that Google Inc. has released a social media service called Google+. Many have identified their competitors as Facebook and Twitter. As many big and/or small businesses use Facebook and Twitter to interact with their consumers, Google Inc. decided to release the Google+ brand page for businesses. How amusing is this? Now there are three social media websites to advertise and interact with your consumers. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ does not have many active users. Majority of marketers still focus their efforts on Facebook and Twitter but we should all consider using Google+.
According to Google’s senior VP of engineering, Vic Gundotra, “For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face.” You may think that businesses that use Facebook and/or Twitter are enough to interact and inform consumers. But there is some functionality on Google+ that are not available for Facebook or Twitter.
The biggest benefit that a Google+ brand page offers is its direct connection to Google search results. If you type a “+” before a brand name into a Google search, the Google+ brand page will show up. This also gives you the opportunity to search for the business or firm on Google Maps or Google News. Does this sound promising? I believe it does, because the better your search results, the more natural (free) traffic. Google+ activity has a positive effect through other Google products as well. This is very beneficial for small businesses!
The only downside about this at the moment is that Google+ is still new to the social media industry. Google+ will only be beneficial to businesses all around if it will grow and gain mainstream adoption. Don’t let this stop you from creating a Google+ brand page. Some critics believe that Google+ is more focused on business first and social second, compared to Facebook being more social first and business second, and Twitter is more of a mix.
To encourage small businesses to set up a Google+ brand page, here is a tutorial from Mashable.com. This step by step tutorial is easy to follow. Create a Google+ brand page as soon as possible and see the benefits of a new SEO strategy!
Lately, I’ve been researching about small businesses and entrepreneurship. Everyone wants information and wants to read about something interesting. Instead of offering only informative blog posts, I found an interesting article from Entrepreneur.com which you can test yourself to see what type of entrepreneur you are.
It’s very simple and this is based on a classic personality test which results in the following: the Advisor, the Salesperson, the Creator, the Diplomat, and the Doer.
When your results identify you as the Advisor, you can handle crisis in a very calm and secure way. You are very flexible with decision-making jobs even in a chaotic job environment.
When your results identify you as the Salesperson, you are very lively in a crowd. This does not mean you are supposed to be a “salesperson” but you are more fitted to make networks with others such as clients or business partners.
When your results identify you as the Creator, you are very creative to come with sophisticated strategies for the business. You are able to create ideas that can help your business improve or help establish.
When you result in as the Diplomat, you are patient and tolerant. You are a mediator who can negotiate any types of situation and understand your employees or clients.
When your results identify you as the Doer, you are industrious and disciplined. You are able to run your own small business with organizational skills and tenacity.
So what do these results mean to you? They can help you to understand what type of person you are as an entrepreneur and leader. I understand that these types of questionnaire are not 100% factual and the result can be wrong but it can still establish a baseline for your entrepreneurship traits. Try the questionnaire!
I tried this questionnaire on myself; I have two results which are the Salesperson and the Diplomat. Here are the steps, do question 1-25. After that, please add the results on the questions categorized by the Advisor, the Salesperson, the Creator, the Diplomat, and the Doer. After you finish getting the sum results, see which has the highest score.
(Source: Entrepreneur article by Gina Piccalo)
I found a very interesting blog post from Google where it will help small businesses to advertise. Google and American Express have joined hands to create a video event called “My Business Story”. “My Business Story” is a program for small businesses (or even start-ups) to tell their stories about their business through videos. How is this helpful? According to the Google blog post, “…Google research has shown that companies who use video can expect better customer engagement and retention, we are launching a new video tool so that small business owners can create personalized, professional-quality videos about their business.”
This gives you the opportunity to advertise and get clients/consumers to your business. Sure sounds nice for small businesses and start-up businesses. There’s more, after you finish creating your video, you can submit to a contest which you can receive an opportunity to appear in the YouTube homepage ad on Friday, November 25th 2011. Thirty six lucky small businesses will be featured in the ad and receive an online ad campaign of $5,000 from Google and American Express. For more info, check the blog post from Google.
This is a very exciting event for small businesses. Anyone should try this to get yourself out there. If you want to see some examples of others, check reelseo’s article.
This week, I found an interesting article about Microsoft. Sure, some of you may have read a similar article or because you use Apple products at work, you don’t care. BUT, I decided to spread the news anyway. It seems that Microsoft’s Rich Reynolds wrote a blog post explaining to companies (large and small) that their operating system should be updated to Windows 7 because Windows XP will no longer be supported after April 2014.
Well, what a surprise! Most of us still have Windows XP Professional running on our desktop computers at work. Although the operating system is old and slow, we still use it at our work place. We always wanted to upgrade to a new operating system, like Windows 7 or better. According to Rich Reynolds, Windows XP is 10 years old and yet, individuals and corporations still use Windows XP and Office 2003. It is 10 years old! Why are we still using technology from 10 years ago? Why experience the way we work from 10 years ago? Shouldn’t we be able to change and evolve how we work? Luckily, thanks to Rich Reynolds announcement, change we happen soon.
Some of you might be reading this and thinking, “Microsoft will release Windows 8 soon, why switch to Windows 7?” Well, Windows 8 might be released by the end of 2012 and if Windows XP will no longer be supported after April 2014, businesses have enough time to upgrade their systems to Windows 8. However, according to Rich Reynolds, businesses need time for any type of major migration. Planning, testing, user training, and the rollout will probably take a year or more. It is better to upgrade to Windows 7 and not wait for Windows 8 in the work environment. To back this up, Gartner has released a report called “Don’t Change Your Windows 7 Plans Because of Windows 8.”
Personally, it would be nice if companies upgraded their computers to Windows 8, but let’s not be greedy. We have done our work with old operating system and software such as Windows XP and Office 2003 for 10 years. Upgrading to Windows 7 and Office 2010 will be a huge change in all business fields. This will allow some change in the workplace. I am looking forward to this change.
(Source: CNET article by Lance Whitney)