Category Archives: Small Business

3 Ways to Become a Better Speaker

Entrepreneurs need to have a big skill set. You’re going to be running a business, with employees and investors and your own furniture and office space. You may not have to be an expert in all areas of entrepreneurship, but you should definitely hone your business skills before you get started. You’re going to be up in front of people, pitching, motivating, and explaining.

Here are our three ways to become a better speaker:

1. Ask a question that can’t be answered

Asking the audience a question can sometimes be a cheap gimmick. Is your audience supposed to yell out the answer? Are you going to answer your own question if they just wait? Who is this person and why do they want this information? But, if you ask an unanswerable question and admit you also don’t have the answer, it makes you more human. And, it might help you get your point across if you are seeking to answer the unanswerable.

2. Pause

The timing of pauses is an art form. If a pause is too short, it seems like you forgot something. Holding a pause for a long time shows it was intentional. Stop talking and hold that pause. It will make people pay attention. If they were distracted, you’ll reel them back in. It also gives you a bonus air of confidence.

3. You don’t have to always be closing

 Not every speech or talk you make is a sale. Of course, when you’re pitching, that’s a different story, but even then, you don’t have to be dragging the conversation by the nose back to your product. Before you get into your sales pitch, make a different point. Find a human connection. If people like you as a person, they’ll probably like you as a business. Getting the sale isn’t the only thing in the world. It’s good to remember that every once in awhile.

What are your tips on becoming a better speaker? Share in the comments below!

4 Things to Remember When Writing a Business Plan

You need to write a business plan before you get started with your business. It’s not just a document to pitch your idea to investors. It’s a way you get set goals and PLAN for the running of your business (funny how that works, isn’t it?). If you’ve never written a business plan or you’ve written three dozen, here are our 4 tips to remember when you write your business plan.

1. Cut the fluff

Remember when you were in high school and had to make that 5 page count? Remember how you pulled out the thesaurus and made every word as long as possible just to make the requirement? Even if you didn’t, somewhere in your past, you are guilty of pumping a paper with fluff. Be concise. Get to the point.

Plus, any potential investor will see through the fluff anyway. Don’t make them hunt through the clutter.

2. Be realistic

We all know that you have great expectations for your business. Great expectations don’t belong in your business plan. You need realistic expectations. I’m not trying to knock you off cloud 9, but if you’re putting your plan in front of potential investors, they’re going to want to see something plausible. Don’t try to sugar coat your numbers. If a realistic business plan looks like a mess, maybe you need to rethink how you’re organizing your company.

3. Break the template

It’s easy to go online, find a nice business plan template and fill in the blanks.

Don’t.

It’s okay to start with a template, but at some point, you need to incorporate some aspect of what makes you, your company, and your brand unique. Find a way to get that unique feel without pumping your plan with fluff.

4. Do your research

When you have the next big idea, you’re excited and want things to get moving. Don’t just jump into a business plan without doing your research. What are other people in your market doing? What do their numbers look like? What’s their business model? Another thing you can benefit from is looking to similar businesses that have failed. What did they do wrong? How do you plan to tackle the same monsters that defeated them? Even if answering all these questions doesn’t fit in a business plan, it’s still a good thing to know.

What are your business plan tips? What are things you would avoid? Share in the comments!

4 Business Expenses You Can Reduce Today

pennyBusiness expenses can get out of hand quickly. Sometimes, you forget to budget for things that can add up. We’re here to tell you what four business expenses you can reduce today.

1. Energy costs

Do you work in an office? How old is it? When was the last time the insulation was updated? Do you turn all the lights off when you leave?

As a Texas based company, we know that you can’t get much work done in the heat. But, if you use heating or air-conditioning in your office, you should make sure your air-conditioning and heating units don’t have to work as hard when no one’s there. Turn the thermostat up or down when you leave and adjust it again in the morning when you get it. Make sure you turn off computers and lights when you leave. And, if you’re just starting out an office, think of investing in  energy saving equipment, like more efficient monitors, modems, and even light bulbs.

2. Payroll

As an entrepreneur, you are working with a limited budget. Before you go out and start hiring employees, take a look at the projects you want those employees to handle. Are they all permanent or long term? If not, you might want to hire out on contract rather than having a permanent employee.

3. Research

Small businesses and entrepreneurs get a whole range of tax breaks, deductions, and benefits. We’ve mentioned some on this blog, like hiring your children. But, think about all the business expenses you incur, like travel, or business lunches, or conference fees. Are you making sure those are all reflected in your taxes? Take some time to research the benefits available to you and make sure you’re taking full advantage.

4. Shop around

If you find that you are in need of something for the office, don’t settle on the first price you find. If you’re looking for something like office furniture, you can always buy secondhand. If you need a modem or router, check more than one retailer. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever. You can also look for places that offer small business rewards programs or discounts.

What are some ways you save money around the office? What’s your biggest business expense you forgot to budget for? Share in the comments!

Interview: Christine White, marketing specialist of Infratel and MightyCall

Christine White, marketing specialist at Infratel, talks about MightyCall.

Listen to Chrstine’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

5 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

We all want more traffic. Especially if you’re an online business. There are plenty of ways to encourage people to come to your website. How many are you doing?

1. Get an email with your domain.

Websites cost money. They cost money to register, they cost money to build, and, sometimes they cost money to maintain. On GoDaddy, you get an email address when you register your domain. So, use it. When you send an email from yourname@yourdomain, your getting your web address out there with every email.

2. Encourage your friends to like and share.

When people like and share your website and content on social media, it becomes more visible on those social sites. And, the more fans you have on your page, the more people will see your content. Think about asking your friends to like and share before you start paying Facebook to boost your post.

3. Pay Facebook to boost your post.

Consider it part of your marketing budget. It may not work 100%, but it will get your content out there. Also, it allows you to pick the audience you want to see your content. Don’t disregard it as a money grab.

4. Email signature

Just like putting your domain name in your email address, you can also put it in your email signature. This helps your exposure, making sure people see your website address twice every email. They just might click through.

5. Tell the social media world where you work.

On your personal Facebook page, tell everyone where you work. There is a spot on Facebook where you can put your Education and Work. You can also put a domain name in your Twitter description. Make sure you have a LinkedIn company profile page that people can click on. Better yet, share your content on LinkedIn just like you would on other social sites. It might not seem like it encourages that behavior, but it’s actually a good place for driving traffic.

How do you drive traffic to your website? What are some things that you’ve tried and have failed? Share in the comments below!

Inspiration: 15 Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Have [INFOGRAPHIC]

15tools

Interview: David Troy, co-founder and CEO of 410 Labs

David Troy, CEO of 410 Labs, talks about their email program Mailstrom and how to get you to inbox 0.

410 Labs, makers of Mailstrom, is a lean product studio founded in 2010 by Dave Troy and Matthew Koll.

Listen to David’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

Inspiration: 7 Types of Employees You Should Fire [Infographic]

fire

3 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out

These days, we’re all looking for a quick way to get our business noticed. But, what if there’s a more lasting way to keep your business on the map? It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are our top three ways to make your business stand out and keep it that way:

1. Upgrade your website…and keep it updated.

You need to have a website, it needs to look like you made it in the last year, and you need to keep updating it. On the most basic level, it keeps the search engine bots happy. Your ranking in searches would be improved. Another reason you need to update your website is to make sure it is mobile ready. In January, 55% of Internet usage was on mobile technology. People will search for your business on their phones and mobile devices. You need to be where they’re searching.

2. Figure out what your customers want and give it to them.

I’m not talking about your products. You know what your customers are buying. In this instance, I’m talking about content marketing. If you make air conditioners, your customers might want to know about air conditioners, specifically the air conditioners you sell. Another way to do it is figure out what questions your customers are asking. How often have you typed a question into Google? Consider all the questions people are asking and see which ones you can provide an answer for.

3. Ask your customers for reviews

Your customers are your best advocates. If you have someone who is satisfied, you want them to shout your praises from the rooftops. Give them a forum to do that. Whether it’s a short video, a place on your website, or your Twitter account. Ask them to talk about you on Yelp or Foursquare. Get the stories out there.

How do you get your business noticed? How would you be an advocate for a business? Share in the comments!

 

Interview: Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots

Nikhil Arora is co-founder of Back to the Roots.nikhil

Listen to Nikhil’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

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