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How Not To Blow It In Business

Being in business can be a great thing. It can afford you the opportunity to not only work for yourself but to accumulate wealth and riches you may never see working on a job.

If we look at what has been happening in the world of business the last 15 years we see people who were in business and blew it. Some ran billion dollar companies yet in the end the company was shut down, thousands lost their jobs and many investors were wiped out.

Here are some guidelines of things to not do if you want to remain in business;

1) Always remember how you got there in the first place – a lot of businesses are the result of sacrifice, blood, sweat and many tears. Once you get some success it helps to remember that your present success came from past sacrifices. This helps to keep you humble moving forward and watching your business prosper.

2) Staff according to your weaknesses, not your strengths – no CEO can do it all. The things you excel at won’t require someone else to do when you can do it. You may be creative, technical in your approach, imaginative or practical. Know your strengths so that you can staff to what you are weak at.

Don’t surround yourself with people like yourself because they are comfortable to be with or people who are your friends and need a job.

3) Stay true to your original intention – when a business starts the CEO does so with an idea. As your business grows you must beware of being involved in businesses that take you away from your core. Years ago Sears owned an Insurance company, real estate company, mortgage company, and investment banker. As they returned back to their core business of retail they divested themselves of all of these businesses that were not in line with their core business.

Can you diversify? Certainly. But stay true to your core business because that is the only reason you are in business.

4) Watch your cash- as your business earns more and more money, there will be many temptations to spend it. Resist the urge to splurge just because you can.

5) Minimize debt obligations – a lot of businesses grow through debt accumulation. Work to maintain an acceptable debt level that will not wreck your company should the market experience a downturn (remember the real estate market in 2007-2009)

You can build a successful business that endures the tough times if you plan it right.

Use Online Business Directories Effectively to Promote Your Small Business

Online local business directories are very important tools that are becoming increasingly popular among small businesses for strengthening their presence in the regional markets. When you get your business listed in such directories, you must remember that your competitors are also probably doing the same.

In that case, you must do something that helps your business stand out from the competition and makes sure that it is your listing that gets more attention of the potential customers. The following tips for proper business directory listing will definitely be useful for promoting your small business effectively.

  • Customers usually make category-based search on the business directories. These categories are defined by the products and services offered by the listed businesses. To make sure that your prospects find your business profile, you must see to it that you are listed under the proper category. If the option of additional categories is available, make sure to include as many relevant categories as possible. You should also incorporate the correct keywords and meta tags to describe the business. This will help the listing be found easily on search and increase its views.
  • The listed profile is often your first introduction to a new customer. Make it an impressive one by putting in a striking, well-written and comprehensive description. It should be such that the readers are convinced to do business with you.
  • Each and every piece of information included on the listing must be accurate. The name and address of the business should be correct and only the current phone numbers that are working should be given. Customers rely on this information; any inaccuracy can breed distrust and turn them off your business for ever.
  • Give as much information as possible in a concise form to your prospects. Try to add all that a customer might want to know about you, such as the offered products/services, hours of operation, areas served, payment methods, etc.
  • Make sure that the website and other links that have been provided are working. Dead links defeat the very purpose of the directory listing, that of bringing in leads to your website.
  • If photos and video clips are added, they will help give a definite personality to your business and make a strong impact on the customers.
  • To give more authenticity to your business, you should encourage the customers to post reviews of your business and rate it. This will help in convincing new customers. Any negative reviews should also be given due attention and handled intelligently.

Business directory listings can be wonderful marketing tools for your small business. Pay attention to the above-mentioned tips for maximizing your leads and sales.

Business Networking – How To Make Successful Connections

It’s funny… the things you remember about people.

I only met him once, although I didn’t actually meet him. It was at an engagement party, and this well-dressed 20-something, a friend of a guest, had put himself at the center of the conversation. I stayed along the perimeter of his circle of polite listeners as he pontificated about his business. I couldn’t tell you much of anything he said, except for one thing:

“You’re really on your own. If someone isn’t bringing me business, they are useless to me.”

I was only a teenager, but even I knew enough to realize that this big shot was not only boorish, but also tremendously shortsighted. As I grew older and eventually started my own business, I always remembered the importance of developing relationships.

Networking has added much to my life, as well as my business. We are fortunate to be entrepreneurs in a time that offers so many opportunities for networking. Whether in person or online, the chances to make connections are numerous. Keep in mind, however, that these opportunities can cut both ways. Used well, they can offer you many business relationships that can last for years. Used poorly, they can result in you doing your business far more harm than good. It is crucial to understand what networking is… and is not… to be able to do it effectively. Remember this:

Networking IS building relationships and developing trust. It is about meeting people, asking questions, listening, and getting to know people. It is about helping and sharing.

Networking IS NOT an opportunity for a sales pitch. This is neither the time nor the place for the hard sell, nor is it the venue in which your primary thought should be snagging new clients.

So how do you network effectively? Let’s start today with the valuable opportunities that present themselves in the form of live events (clubs, seminars, local events, etc.). You begin before you even enter the door.

BEFORE YOU GO

• Decide which events are best for you to attend. Not all events are a “fit” for you or your business.

• Attend with an open mind. Going in ready to learn something new is not only a healthy attitude, but it also keeps you from talking too much about yourself.

• Make sure that you are dressed appropriately and have your business cards readily available.

• Turn the cell phone to vibrate! Nothing turns people off quite like an incessantly chiming cell phone. Do not plan to take any non-emergent calls during this time.

ONCE YOU ARRIVE

• Stop and look around the room. This will give you the chance to take a breath and focus before approaching anyone.

• Break off from people you know. You are there to meet people you don’t know.

• See someone alone? Approach them and introduce yourself. It is very likely that they are nervous in this setting, and your reaching out to them will be appreciated and remembered.

• Since it will be difficult to remember everyone you meet, make an effort to connect very well with two or three people.

• When talking with someone, be mentally and physically present. Listen so that you can ask relevant questions. Maintain eye contact while engaged in conversation. Letting your eyes wander around the room while talking or listening suggests to the individual that you are bored with them and looking for your next contact. Often people do not realize they do this, and yet it speaks unpleasant volumes about them!

• Speak pleasantly, confidently and clearly. Without making it into a sales pitch, let people understand how you can help them, even in a non-business way. For example, if the person with whom you’re speaking is a theater buff and you have access to discounted tickets, this would be a wonderful way to start a relationship.

• Disengage in a polite manner. For one reason or another, you may have to end a conversation. Some individuals make that easier for you to do than others. You can simply excuse yourself to the restroom. You can tell them that there is someone with whom you need to have a word. You can explain that you do not wish to take up all of their valuable time. Always remember to thank them for their time to ask for their business card. Deftly done, you can leave a conversation in a positive manner and with no hurt feelings.

AFTER THE EVENT

• Send along a note (handwritten is a nice touch) to the people you met. It could be to thank them for their time, to express the pleasure you had meeting them, or to offer to schedule a meeting, coffee, or lunch.

• When you do offer to arrange a one-on-one meeting with someone with whom you really connected, be sure to call and follow up on it.

• Put the email addresses of those people you met on your email, newsletter, or ezine list only if they requested that you do so.

• Do not forget to fulfill any promises you made to someone you met there (Remember the theater buff and your discount ticket connections?).

While your goal as an entrepreneur is to improve your business and increase your sales, these are not the first fruits of business networking. What comes initially are the relationships that develop with people we can help and who can help us. Ironically, when we de-emphasize the selling aspect, these relationships will, in one way or another, lead to increased sales over time. Even that business owner who may not seem to have much to offer you today, may be the connection who, tomorrow, brings business to you in ways you hadn’t foreseen. Networking takes time and effort, but it proves to be more than worth the investment, sometimes in ways we hadn’t imagined.