A lot of first time small business owners face sometimes insurmountable obstacles in their inaugural year because they don’t address some of the basic fundamentals that are vital to long-term success. The most frustrating part of it all is that these problems can be avoided with some careful planning and learning to identify how or when you’re going to run into trouble well before you encounter it.
Some of these stumbling blocks are common; I experienced a few of them myself as I started my consulting firm. There are others that I was hired to help clients negotiate around in order to save their fledgling businesses from falling apart completely. Allow me to share with you the most typical difficulties that small businesses face and some advice on how to solve them before they do you in. (more…)
Some clients often wonder what I mean by running a Christian business. They’re sometimes concerned that I’m going to try to force my religious beliefs on them. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I say I run a business with Christian beliefs, it’s my commitment to honoring the principles set forth in the Bible in every facet of my daily life; and of course, that includes my business practices.
Any other way of doing so would be hypocritical. I certainly refuse to relinquish my beliefs just to make a buck, but I also understand that my clients come to me for a specific service – consultation – and don’t want to be lectured on Heaven and Hell. More often than not I find myself walking a very thin line between staying true to my self and trying to cater to my clients with the dedication and compassion they so richly deserve.
What it all boils down to is really three core beliefs that every Christian business owner strives for and works tirelessly to meet day in, day out. We don’t always succeed, sometimes we come up a bit short. Such as in life. None of us are perfect. But it’s important that every business decision I make adheres to the standards that God has set forth for each of us. Standards that are important to any business owner with a strong faith. The first of these is service. First and foremost, a dedication to give my clients the best service I am capable of offering. (more…)
Putting up your own business is no walk in the park. You need to have enough capital to cover your expenses, some money saved up for contingency, the right training for the management of your business, a product or service that would click, enough clientele that could avail, patronize and support the same, and trustworthy people under your employ. Without these at the very least, is best that you shelve your idea of putting up one, lest you fancy being bankrupt in case your venture fails. But let us say that you were actually able to successfully put up your business, what next? That is simple. Grow it.
If you are a first timer and don’t have much capital, you probably started out with a small business. As such, growing your business could really be tricky. For one, is there a need for you to grow it? If there is no increase in the demand on what your business offers, then the answer is no. The next question is, how then could you increase such demand? The answer is simple. Make your product or service known to more people. Entice them to avail of it. Persuade them to need it, even if they actually don’t. But let’s face it. This is easier said than done. With little capital, you cannot possible avail of big time advertisers to promote your product or service. Does this mean stagnancy for your business? Of course not! There is one great alternative for you to be able to reach out to millions of people, one that has been successfully taken advantage of by many – the Internet. Some even use this not only for advertisement but also for marketing and sales. Take for example the very successful string of shows of stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh. He has his own site where he promotes his shows and sells Daniel Tosh tickets. You can find more info about his shows here.
Aside from having creating and maintaining your own website, you can also make use of social media networks. Social media is probably the cheapest way for you to advertise your products and services. Online, you will find several sites that allow you to create profiles and pages for your business. Using these, you can now attract prospective clients and customers in addition to your current pool of patrons. You only have to be very careful in creating the content. Make sure that what you input is what the customer wants to read. However, you also have to ensure that whatever it is you promise or warrant online, you can follow through. Otherwise, you might end up destroying your business’ reputation or good will. Take note that the social media is also a venue where clients and customers vent and complain about their disappointment on the products they’ve used. Of course, you don’t want this to happen to you. But if it does, just take it as constructive criticism and find a way to improve your product and services based on the review.
With the Internet and social media helping you, there really is a greater chance of you growing your small business. You can even ask the support of your current customers in spreading the word about your product and services. You can engage them to share or re-tweet your posts, pages and profiles. In return, you can give them little incentives like discounts or small tokens. Remember, having little capital is not an excuse for you to forever shun the idea of growing your business. You just have to be resourceful enough and take advantage of what is available.
Setting up small business is becoming a trend over the last few years. This is because people are becoming more aware that the income they can get from being employed may be consistent but very limited. Getting into a small business allows one a more flexible income. However, managing a small business is not an easy thing.
Managing a small business can be very stressful. There are customer complains, late delivery of products, employee not showing up for the day, and many others. It would be safe to say that stress is something that many business owners are accustomed with these days. It would be a welcome reprieve for any businessman to look at the most common problems they have today and some workable solutions they can use.
Whether you like it or not, having a business means you have to compete. Competition is what keeps every business, small, medium, or large ones, growing. The thing with competition in business is that your small business may be competing with a large, well established enterprise in your area. How will you manage to compete against such businesses and get a fair measure of success?
In terms of finances, you can never best such competition. However, there are so many things you can do to even up the competition. One of the best strategies is going online. The internet is a free resource where you can do marketing. With the popularity of social media, it is now very easy to reach out to so many people. In the internet, you and your competition are on equal footing. Go take advantage of it!
Rapid growth of a business is every businessman’s dream. However, there are times when this growth comes too fast that managing it becomes too difficult. A lot of businesses fall prey to this. When they grow too fast, the ones that suffer are the quality of service or products they provide. Customers get disappointed and eventually will leave. Rapid growth can very well lead your business to close eventually if not managed correctly.
Be very sensitive in dealing with growth. One of the best ways to handle it is to hire more personnel along the way. You can do this when you are beginning to get stretched with the growing work. Hire people to handle other work in the business so you can focus on what is important in the business which is the product or service you provide. Rapid growth can be dangerous but should be welcomed at all times.
The problem with hiring more people is that when one fails to show up for the day, you have to cover for them. This means that you will be back to getting stretched with the numerous tasks you have for the day. This is where a good outsourcing can be very handy. Instead of hiring a full time, in-house employee, hiring a virtual one can be more productive. You can hire a virtual assistant who will handle clerical tasks such as handling calls, managing deliveries, and other secretarial duties. You can then focus on important tasks such as making sure the quality of your products and services are not compromised.
Stress is every businessman’s daily challenge. It can come in different forms and can really bring you down if you fail to handle it very well. Finding solutions for day-to-day business problems is just one way of handling stress properly. Taking a break is another helpful thing if you want to get stress off your system. A few hours or days away from the challenges in the business can work well for you and your health. A good way to do this is to enjoy Imagine Dragons concert. Buying Imagine Dragons tickets at http://www.musotickets.com/imagine-dragons-concert-tickets-tour-dates/ is a good start.
One of the biggest problems that I find with many small business owners is a complete lack of organization. First-timers and seasoned veterans alike, it’s prevalent in so many situations where clients find themselves awash in overwhelming levels of total disarray.
I’ve found incredibly inefficient practices in a variety of past situations where smart and savvy men and women were months away from losing their businesses. Organization is key and it’s important in just about every facet of your operation.
When I meet with my clients, I like to come prepared obviously. I have a whole collection of items that I bring along to every consultation. Documents, brochures, workbooks, a packet of do’s and dont’s, and then of course all of my personal notebooks for taking down pertinent information.
I pack it all up into this tactical backpack that I bought awhile back. I use that for two reasons; one, because I find it organizes all of the important belongings I need into specific, easy to access compartments and two, I use it as a visual aid to illustrate the ideal example of efficient arrangement. If I walk through the door organized, then my clients not only know that I’m someone they can trust, but they will want to follow my lead in their everyday business routines.
I walk in with that backpack and it looks professional. It’s about putting your best foot forward as well. Looks matter when it matters how you look. Someone said that in a movie once and it couldn’t be more on point. When you’re meeting a client for the first time, you want to look your best. If that person is going to do business with you, then right off the bat, you want to show them that they’re dealing with an individual who has their act together. Someone they can trust from the very first moment. Of course, I dress professionally and proper for the meeting, but my tactical backpack makes a good impression as well. It’s jet black, it doesn’t look garish, and one look at it and you can tell it means business.
I’ve gotten a number of compliments on it in the past, but I still can’t tell if they’re complimenting the bag itself or how organized it looks. It has five compartments, each one designed to fit different sized items. Mine has special pockets for documents and important paperwork, as well as exterior pockets for anything from pens, keys, my wallet, and larger areas for the pamphlets and workbooks I hand out to my clients.
They all comment on how good the bag looks, and that’s not necessarily because the bag itself looks good, it’s because it’s organized. If I showed up with that bag stuffed with everything thrown in there “willy-nilly”, then it wouldn’t strike as powerful an image and thus, a reaction. They’re more taken by the organization within the bag, instead of the bag itself.
Because organization is key.
By the way, if you’re interested in getting organized and want your own, you can find a variety of tactical backpacks at the site I linked to above. Check that out and see if there’s something there to help keep you organized.
Every small business should be utilizing the power of social media in all of its forms. There are so many different ways to connect, to go “viral”, to get the word about you, your company, your products; you really have no reason not to tap into this power.
But as I’m hired to consult for entrepreneurs who want to increase their web presence, it’s becoming increasingly evident that most business savvy folks just don’t know how or where to begin. They’re well aware of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and LinkedIn; but they’re not sure how to use them effectively. Social media can be a confusing place and I’m here to help my clients negotiate it successfully.
In order to do that, you need to strategize. Analyze the objectives of your business. Consider how social media can help you reach those objectives. You want to use it to drive awareness and create buzz. But what exactly do you want to post for the world to see? Consider the very information that most consumers include in their research when they’re shopping for a product.
Price is first and foremost. How much does it cost? Comparison is also an important subject. Shrewd consumers will always shop around and compare their options. Reviews. How many times have you been on Amazon and read the user reviews and ratings before you added that product to your shopping cart? I’m betting you’ve done it every time. You’re not alone. Your customers want to hear what other customers think of your product. Well, tell them.
Twitter can be a challenge for a lot of people. It was for me. 140 characters? How do I get my message out there in such a small space? The best advice is to, once again, strategize. Devise a game plan behind your Twitter account. Don’t just slap any such thing on there, define it with your content. Keep it straightforward and, most important, simple. Spotlight your strengths and make people want to follow you. Give them something easy to grasp and make it strong. Memorable. Now if you’re going to post messages on Twitter, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind. It’s all in how you compose your Tweet.
Don’t start it with a username, that cuts down on the amount of people who can see the Tweet. Starting with a username only allows the followers of BOTH you and the username to see the Tweet. Let me explain that again – if someone follows you AND the person who’s username you started the Tweet with, that means only they will see it. Any of your other followers who do not follow the person who’s username you used will not see the Tweet. You could be seriously minimizing the amount of eyeballs that read your message. Instead start your Tweet with a period, then add whatever username you want to include in your Tweet. That way all of your followers will see your headline.
These are just a few of the basics to get you started on the road to a successful social media presence.
When I tell people that I’m a consultant they aren’t quite sure how to react so I usually get a nod and a blank stare with an “uh-huh” at the end. What does consulting really mean? It sounds vague but it’s a very specific job that requires a specialized approach to a particular business practice. It requires bringing your A-game to every client and, in keeping with my personal Christian beliefs, striving for excellence in everything I try to accomplish.
The truth of the matter is; just about anyone can be a consultant. You just have to choose the right field. They say that everyone is an expert at something. The question is, can you make a living consulting on the thing that you claim to be an expert about? What is your particular skill set?
For some it’s accounting, computers, publishing, even gardening. There are a wide variety of consulting jobs out there, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a strong skill that other businesses find useful and my specialty is in social media and online marketing. I help businesses improve their web presence and I’m usually hired to enhance their social media outreach strategies. But I didn’t just leap into this career willy-nilly.
It took a lot of hard work and preparation before I was able to start a successful consulting firm. I had to become highly qualified enough to offer my services as a social media consultant. Networking is also a very important component of my job. These are where your customers are going to come from, identifying your target clientele and building a large network of contacts is vital. If you think you’re just going to sit by your phone and wait for it to ring, you’re going to be sitting and waiting for a very long time and you’re not going to make any money either. You need to get your name out there and you have to meet as many people as you can.
First things first though, identifying that target clientele. Step back a second, consider who you’re going to offer your services to and in what capacity will you do them the most good. I consult for small businesses that are based out of store-fronts as well as online. It didn’t start out that way, I created a business plan first and analyzed just who would benefit most from my expertise.
I then began to target those companies and business owners who fit in my plan. Your plan may be very different than mine and you may target a wider client base than I did. Just keep in mind there are various reasons why a company hires a consultant; and you can design your consulting service with some of these in mind. Companies big and small will have different motives for hiring you.
In the past, I’ve been brought on for my level of expertise and reputation in my field. I have strong Christian beliefs and that has also gotten me hired by like-minded business owners who share my principles and are actively seeking help with their social media presence. Other companies have brought me in to identify the problems they’re having in that department, some have brought me on as active staff.
Still other companies just needed a fresh voice and an objective pair of eyes to help them get out of the rut they currently found themselves unable to escape.
So what does a consultant do? A consultant just consults. That’s all. Sounds easy and it sounds vague but I hope you understand that there are some very specific guidelines that you need to follow if you want to pursue this kind of work. Serving other members of my community is very rewarding work and I offer my services to both non-profit and for-profit organizations. You can use my story to help get yours started and I wish you the best of luck.
What is Go Fishing Day you ask? Well, it’s a made up holiday, an unofficial celebration to take part in that wonderful pastime of fishing. There are all kinds of stories about the history of Go Fishing Day and most everyone has their reasons why such a day is important to them. For me, it’s a day where I can spend time with my family and take stock of what God has given us and be grateful for the things I’ve been blessed with.
The most famous story about the origin of Go Fishing Day is pretty simple. They tracked down the person who created this wonderful pretend holiday and they were going to ask him all about it, but when they got to his front step there was a sign on the door that read: “Gone fishing. Be back later”.
There are some other well worn tales about the origin of National Go Fishing Day. Some believe it was chosen for June 18th because that was the day of the very first American Fly-casting Tournament held in 1861. I don’t know if this is an accurate assessment of the reasons behind the origin of the day and it’s specific date because I don’t recall anything particularly noteworthy about this tournament in 1861. For me, personally, there’s more to this day than just a fly-casting competition.
As I said above, this is a day where I choose to reflect on my own life. Think about the things I’ve been blessed with and get a better understanding of the world around me. We all have hectic schedules that keep us from our loved ones, the people who truly mean the most to us. I think the day was really created because it offers us an opportunity to re-connect with friends and family.
But it also gives us a chance to behold God’s green earth. The water, the wildlife around us. The fresh air and the blue skies. These are all things that we take for granted each and every day. It brings us back to a simpler time before technology took us away from the Great Outdoors and kept us tethered to our work. It’s all too easy to be connected through social media and our fancy little devices that offer us everything in the world, except perhaps the world itself. Nature is one of God’s greatest creations and as much as I try to get out into it and go fishing, I find myself putting it off because there are other responsibilities I have to meet first.
But Man used to consider fishing a primal necessity. Without it he did not eat. Obviously, we have come a very long way since then, we can go to the store to buy a fish now. Yes there are other men out there sailing and fishing commercially, but when was the last time you caught your own fish and enjoyed its taste and nourishment from your own act of catching it? There are some people on this Earth who have never caught their own fish.
Maybe that’s the real design behind Go Fishing Day. It’s a day where you can leave the busy world of commerce and technology behind and just go catch yourself a fish. It’s one of the simplest things ever in this complicated world of ours and I am thankful for it.
With all of the complexities of life, I think we all need a day to re-visit the basic fundamentals of mankind. June 18th sounds as good a day as any to me.