Saturday, September 21, 2013

Small business: Tips to start the new year off right

This time of year, many small business owners are looking at how their business performed last year and trying to figure out how they can improve in the New Year. Here are some tips to help you start the New Year right with your small business.

Look at how you operate your business and be sure you are truly focusing on your customers. Most small business owners would say of course they focus on customers. But it is easy to get busy with day-to-day demands and let yourself get into a rut when it comes to your relationship with customers.

Work to understand thoroughly who your customers are and what they need. Realize this does not always stay the same and you must be vigilant if you are to keep customers happy and coming back.

One way to do this is to seek feedback from customers often and in a variety of ways such as email or paper surveys, social media, or just asking them while they are in your store. Look at your competition and ask yourself why customers would come to you instead of them and vice versa.

Use this research and the customer feedback to sharpen your competitive edge and deliver outstanding customer service this year.

Put to use the financial information based on your business operations. Too many small business owners keep financial records just for tax purposes. But accurate and current financial records can be invaluable as you make business decisions.

So take time to organize and analyze your financial records and do not be afraid of the numbers. You need to understand and use your business’s financial statements to have a profitable and growing business. This year, use the insightful information in your financial records to better manage your business.

New York’s Top Lady-Led Startups

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, here are some of the female entrepreneurs bringing new business (and new jobs) to New York City.

Marleen Vogelaar of Shapeways

If you’re not ready to drop $2,000+ on your own 3D printer, Shapeways has 50 printers ready to churn out your masterpiece from their new factory in Long Island City. You submit your own 3D design for anything from jewelry to replacement parts, and Shapeways will deliver it to you. It’s the future of customized manufacturing – 10 minutes from midtown.

Lori Cheek of Cheek’d

Lori leverages technology to create in-person connections. Cheek’d gives members 50 sleek black business cards with flirtatious lines, their first name, and a unique URL. Slip one in the pocket of that cutie on the subway to spark a match without revealing your contact information.

Sara Chipps of Girl Develop It

Girl Develop It was the first programming class I’ve ever attended that broke down gender stereotypes and showed how coding can be a collaborative process that anyone can learn. Sara Chipps’ organization is now teaching female developers around the world

Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox

Subscription services for products are soooooo in right now, and Birchbox is one of the reasons why. Each month, customers receive a box of beauty product samples in the mail (men’s and women’s versions are available). Customers can then buy full-sized versions of their favorites from the Birchbox website.

Cindy Gallop of IfWeRanTheWorld

If We Ran The World encourages members to tap into great intentions and get help to follow through. Breaking down big goals into “microactions” that members can accomplish to chip away at audacious goals. I’d tell you all about her other company, MakeLoveNotPorn, but not while I’m at work

4 Things A Successful Startup Should Be Doing

Do you want to have a successful startup business? The start of a new year isn’t just the ideal time to focus on health-related resolutions (exercise more, eat right, quit smoking, the list’s endless), it’s also a perfect opportunity to stop being unhappy at your current job and start a business.

A new year means a new business or business plan for a number of entrepreneurs. But startups can be a difficult route. The path to profitability and success littered with the failed businesses that were unable to keep up with the pace of entrepreneurship in this country.

As overwhelming as it may seem, advises you to never be discouraged. The world of small business boils down to survival of the fittest, and in order to take your business from a minnow to the top of the food chain, you will have to dedicate your blood, sweat and tears – maybe even your sanity – to the cause. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, but if you have a driving ambition, separate your business from the pack and nurture your customer base, success will surely be within grasp.

Gain traction

Everybody has to start somewhere, but not everybody ends up in the same place. The key to winning the race is busting out of the gate with the intention to succeed at all costs. That’s why it’s crucial you build momentum for your startup.

Momentum can entail all sorts of things: customer awareness, engaging marketing, pitches to vendors and investors and general buzz, all of which can be accomplished on a budget. Want to get the word out? Recruit your family, friends and network to hype your business to people they work with or others they interact with on a regular basis.

8 Tips to Become An Outstanding Entrepreneur

Have you ever wondered what sets successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson apart from others? What do they do differently to guarantee success?

When I co-founded a start up boutique advertising agency I learned a few things about what it really means to be an entrepreneur and I’d like to share these with you today. I’ve discovered that entrepreneurs tend to have a few common traits and the good news is – there’s nothing to stop you from applying these traits this month, this week or even today.

In my opinion – entrepreneurs are a rare breed and they truly value productivity over the ‘number of hours worked’. This isn’t to say that they don’t work hard – because believe me you need a strong work ethic to succeed as an entrepreneur, the point is – they work smart.

I’ve always been a believer in the art of productivity – and I strongly believe that most people are not as productive as they could be. A lot of time is wasted when we are not focused on what we’re doing each day.

Entrepreneurs however, do not waste a single second. They have learned how to use their time to the max and this is why they can somehow achieve the impossible!

Instead of working by a set number of hours each day (ie 9 – 5), they apply a whole host of productivity techniques to ensure they get things done quickly and efficiently. I’ll share a few of their productivity techniques here with you today – the first is goal setting.

Entrepreneurs set goals because of the following reasons:

* A goal (with a deadline) creates energy that naturally motivates you to get things done quicker than usual. This energy powers you through to achieve things.
* A goal allows you to overcome any feelings of inertia or procrastination
* A goal allows you to really ‘focus’ on what you’re trying to achieve

7 Best Personal Branding Tips for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, your personal brand is just as important–if not more important–as your company’s brand.

When beginning a new business venture, it may be easy to focus on your company’s brand and completely forget your own. But the days of an invisible founder are long gone. We’ve now entered a time where a highly visible CEO is the norm, as well as a unique opportunity for growth and success.

When your sales leads, team members, and marketing materials are largely garnered from how people feel about you personally–it’s easy to see how your personal brand can make or break your business. Developing and maintaining your identity should be first priority, with your company’s brand following suit.

Here are seven tips to get on the right track to building an exceptional brand as an entrepreneur

1. Build your brand with a direction in mind. As an entrepreneur, your personal brand is tied directly to the business or businesses you’ve built. Developing a strong personal brand means positioning yourself in the direction you would–and your business–would like to go. When developing your brand, it’s important to highlight the key attributes and values which you hold close, but don’t forget to let your brand embrace those aspects you hope to attain in the future–like innovation or expert status.

2. Find your niche and dominate. Fitting in isn’t acceptable when it comes to your personal brand. Brand success is often related to the unique aspect which sets you apart from the rest. Defining and projecting what makes your personal brand different will help you stand out from the crowd. If you can’t find a category to stand out in, create your own and dominate it. Your business brand will soon follow.