Monitor Your Small Business With These 4 Valuable Tips

“Never a dull moment in the small business world either,” that’s what I say…

As I was reviewing my own small business plan during the last few weeks, I came across one aspect I felt was important for my success and would like to share it with you. Whether it’s the New Year, spring, summer, fall, etc., any time is a good time to consider this business aspect that may have fallen by the wayside. You and I are bombarded daily with higher business priorities, or so we may think some have higher priority.

But, let’s think again!

As small business owners, some of us may be neglecting the aspect of monitoring our small business. If you’re feeling a bit behind on your monitoring department, following are some tips that may help you get back on track.

  1. Monitor your client and/or customer relationship: Your client and/or customer relationship is an important building block of your business foundation. Neglecting this aspect could cost you the loss of some excellent client referrals.
  2. Monitor the needs of your target audience: Make an effort to stay in touch with the needs of your target audience. There are several ways of doing this, my favorite is via Survey Monkey, and yes, there are many more survey resources available to us.
  3. Monitor your business integrity: Avoid the pitfall of cutting corners. Cutting corners only creates excuses that will snowball into something you don’t expect, and maybe didn’t even imagine. It’s not worth the time and energy in the long run. Besides, you’ve got better things to do than to create more stress for yourself.
  4. Monitor your business plan: Every other month or every quarter, set aside some time to see where your business stands in regard to your goals. Check your current status against your business plan. Are you tracking? Are you even close? What changes can you make? What metrics can you use?

Monitoring your small business may seem time-consuming and/or boring at times, however, you must keep in mind that without this business aspect, you may be flowing down the wrong stream without a compass. Bad idea!

Incorporate these four tips into your small business practice and reap the rewards of your future successes!

Best SEO Tips For Small Business Owners

Owning a small business is no mean task. Promoting it online is harder still. If you have a small business with an online presence and you want to promote it in order to attract more people to it and hence result in greater profits, getting your SEO or Search Engine Optimization right is your best bet. If you are planning to go for a DIY approach, then you should be careful of getting the basics right. The idea is to create a website that will lead to higher search engine results. Here are some of the best SEO tips for small business owners.

Find out your targeted audience: This is the very first step of SEO. Finding out exactly which audience you are targeting will give you a good idea as to how to have a website that attracts them. Just using your business as the basis of SEO won’t do, you need to find out the audience for it so that you can create content suitable for it.

Explore keywords: Understanding keywords and how they work in SEO is essential if you want to attract more people through search engine results. The keyword you may type in for a certain something may be completely different from what the next person types in for the same thing. And that is why researching keywords using popular keyword researching tools is a great idea. Since they are free, you don’t put a dent in your profits.

Connect pages of the website together: Web pages should be such that they should connect effortlessly to one another. This means that when a visitor lands on one of your pages, he should be taken effortlessly to other parts of the site. This results in domain authority and ultimately higher search rankings.

Change your keywords: Just having one keyword for your business won’t do. Just because you are a small business owner does not mean that you cannot have more keywords for it. When you put your focus on more keywords, people searching for your products or something near will land up on your website.

Good content: Yes, no matter how many times you hear it, ”Content is King”. In SEO, nothing ensures good search engine rankings than having great content on your website. Use fresh and interesting content that makes people want to read more and ensure that search engines love your site. Make content your primary SEO strategy. If your content is sub standard, no amount of ‘tips’ will help you

Use social media: Social media is a big boon for small business owners as it makes them reach their target audience at little or no cost. Use social media vociferously. We are talking about Facebook, MySpace, Digg, YouTube and the like.

Use Pay Per Click advertising: Using PPC advertising is a great idea if you are the owner of a small business. You don’t need too much to set it up and you can definitely use the publicity it garners you.

4 Key Tips to Help Increase Your Chances of Getting Small Business Financing

As a small business owner your ability to secure small business financing will in fact determine how successful you are. Unfortunately, few business owners know how to improve their chances of getting a business loan which is why when the time comes they are not able to secure the loan they need to keep their business running.

Tip no. 1: Familiarize yourself with the bankers in your community’s financial institutions

Prior to applying for a loan you should find out exactly which institutions in your community issue loans to businesses like yours. Not every bank specializes in giving business loans and those that do may only lend money to businesses in certain industries. Some lenders only lend to businesses that are at a certain stage of their business cycle. This is why it is important that you only work with bankers who are familiar with your industry. One big reason why you should work with banks that know about your industry is because they can give you some solid business advice. This advice stems for their experience working with other businesses in your industry and so they have come to understand the problems they face.

Tip no. 2: You should be able to easily describe your business’s “Value Proposition”

You need to able to clearly communicate what value proposition you have. You should work on drafting a business plan that outlines three main scenarios i.e. worst case, most likely, and best case. You will want the banker to clearly understand all three of these scenarios. You should also be ready to discuss in great detail the assumptions that you make in each of these scenarios.

Tip no. 3: Weigh risks and benefits

If you want to get small business financing you need to start seeing things from the bank’s perspective. Banks see things in terms of risk and benefit. You need to have a solid and viable plan which will mitigate the risks. Bankers do risk analysis regardless of if you do it or not but being prepared for it means that you stand a better chance of being considered.

Tip no. 4: Two ways to be able to repay the small business loan

Bankers always like small business borrowers who put forth a primary and secondary source of repayment. As a small business owner you are in the best position to determine all possible repayment alternatives. However, you should discuss the options with your banker. Secondary sources of repayment include the pledging of personal or business collateral. The more certain a banker is the higher your chances are of getting the loan.

Applying for and getting a small business loan can be a time consuming and tiresome chore. However, all business owners will have to apply for a business loan at least once during their time as businessmen. So, it is always a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into prior to applying for a loan.

Five Wise Tips to Get Cash For Your Small Business (Without A Bank)

Rhetoric about the importance of small business to the U.S. economy abounds. Yet our politicians continue to create policies and programs that make life difficult for those who run, or are trying to start, such a venture. Raising capital and maintaining profitability rank among their most frustrating – and debilitating – challenges.

Help is out there! It just takes some creative thinking and willingness to look beyond traditional methods of financing. Following are 5 Wise Tips to stimulate your thinking and produce lucrative leads:

  1. Use the SBA to best advantage (which isn’t cash): No – the SBA is not going to give you a loan. And it does not award government business grants to entrepreneurs. It does provide valuable information, assistance and direction — often at the local level. Learn more about their site and their services to use your time well.
  2. Take advantage of free services for small business owners: To be competitive as a small business you must have a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to exist. Lots of organizations, including major companies like Google, are offering free resources to small business to accomplish that goal. You don’t have to be technical — just take the time to see what’s out there and get online!
  3. Enter Local Competitions: All over the country there are examples of local corporations and other organizations like libraries that are offering serious cash awards to entrepreneurs. Do regular internet searches for such opportunities, watch for small business competitions in your area, and visit websites that offer current information about these opportunities. Even more importantly, keep an open mind about new ways to raise money
  4. Consider Crowd-funding: Why not turn to the public to help fund your good idea? Recent legislation has added to the awareness and availability of this type of funding. If you have a good story to tell you can raise considerable amounts of money on crowd-funding sites. There are a variety of sites to choose from depending on what sort of business or project you are promoting.
  5. Hire Wisely: Taking on employees is a great thing to do but it can also be a financial and paperwork burden. By hiring qualified veterans you can take advantage of recently extended programs providing tax incentives to employers who hire veterans. And President Obama’s goal in the 2014 budget is to make these tax credits permanent so you may be able to budget with a higher degree of certainty about the future.