All posts tagged Entrepreneur

4 Tips for Effective Online Marketing

4 Tips for Effective Online Marketing

4 Tips for Online Marketing from http://dsef.orgOnline marketing can be a powerful tool for small business owners, when it’s used well. The tools are essentially free, costing you only your time and effort. However it’s important to be sure that you are strategic in your use of online marketing, so that the time and energy you invest isn’t wasted effort. Here are some tips to ensure that your online marketing brings results:

  • Start with a Plan: Too many business owners set up social networking profiles for their businesses without a plan. Then they simply post each day or week without a clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve beyond followers. But your social networking presence can be so much more than that if you put a little thought into it. So spend some time first thinking about what results you would like to see as a result of your online presence. Would you like to have more people become regular customers? Then focus on posts like specials that may attract first-time customers, and then following up with great information and excellent customer service related to what you have to offer. Would you like to be seen as a valuable part of the community? Then focus on highlighting local community service efforts which can lead to loyal customers. The point is to think about how you want to be perceived and who you want to attract, and then share content that’s related to your goal.
  • Less is More: Most small businesses do better with just one or two online presences, rather than trying to be on every social network that exists. So pick the social network(s) where most of your target market and customers spend their time, and put some solid effort into engaging there, rather than spreading yourself too thin. You’ll be more likely to develop quality relationships that lead to additional business.
  • Think Beyond the Promotion: Too often local businesses simply talk about their products and what they have to offer. To set yourself apart, focus on your community. Highlight a “fan of the week” and promote that individual and THEIR business or cause (they may send people to you that you wouldn’t reach otherwise.) Share content that will make your community think or laugh. Highlight community issues that are of interest to your followers. Become a source of useful information that people want to read and share, instead of just being a constant commercial. You’ll find your presence grows more quickly.
  • Plan Ahead: It’s harder to produce good content if you have to think of it while you’re trying to do twelve other things. So create an editorial calendar each month, and set aside a solid block of time to write your content for the upcoming month. Then you’ll be more likely to build up excitement around promotions in a logical way, and have a chance to do the research to find content your community will appreciate. By taking the time to plan, you’ll be more likely to engage your community and grow your online presence.

Online marketing can be a great way to find more customers and prospects for your business. By following these tips, you’ll have a more strategic presence that leads to growth.

Do you market your business online? What’s your best tip for growing your online presence? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Making a Difference With Your Business

Making a Difference With Your Business

Making a Difference With Your Business from http://dsef.orgOne of the benefits of owning your own business is the fact that you can use that business to make a positive impact in the world around you. Many of the most successful businesses have a “giving back” component built right in. Not only does giving back create a positive perception of your business, which helps build your business, but it also makes your daily business activities more satisfying.

Now if your business is part of a larger organization, it’s likely that your parent company has a philanthropic component built in. But whether it does or not, you should also consider what you can do as an individual business owner to make a difference. Here are some tips:

  • Fundraising for Local Organizations: You can help local charities by offering fundraisers through your business. The organization promotes your business, and you in return donate a percentage of sales that result. It’s a win-win!
  • Sponsor Local Races or Other Events for Charity: Many charitable organizations hold 5K runs and other fundraisers to generate funds and create awareness. Often these events need sponsors that donate to the event, and in return the sponsor’s name or business is promoted along with the event. This is a great way to help these organizations, while also generating additional exposure for your business.
  • Promote Local Causes: Your business often puts you in front of lots of people. Use this opportunity to let people know about a charity that you support. Put up or distribute a flyer to customers, tag a cause on your Facebook Page, or mention the cause as appropriate when meeting with customers. It’s a great way to do some good, and build good-will for your business, too.
  • Volunteer: Get yourself a t-shirt with your business on it, and then get out into the community and help out! Whether it be helping to plant bulbs to beautify your town, cleaning out an empty lot, or building a house for the homeless, there are lots of opportunities in your community to make a difference. Use these opportunities to get to know people who may become future customers of your business, while also demonstrating your business’ commitment to making a difference in the community.

Business owners often report that the good that they do with their business is one of the most satisfying parts of being a business owner. So get out there! It’s a great way to build some exposure for your business while making a difference. What will you do to make a difference? Please share with us in the comments!

How to Choose a Legitimate Business Opportunity

How to Choose a Legitimate Business Opportunity

The prospect of starting your own business can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time! Freedom, independence, the chance to call the shots…these are all the things you hope for. But at the same time, there is risk involved, and choosing a business wisely is a huge part of your ultimate success. You have many options when starting a business…doing everything completely on your own based on an idea, investing in a franchise and following the rules laid out by the parent organization, or starting a direct selling business by purchasing a business kit and following the training plan laid out by the company and your sponsor, to name just a few.

All of these options have led to success for some people, while others have not been as successful and have lost time and money. Choosing your business wisely, therefore, is essential. And avoiding the scams that pretend to be legitimate is even more important. How do you know what is legitimate and what is not? Here are some tips:

  • Do your research – Look up the company online, and talk to people that are actually in that business. If the business has a social networking presence, find out what people are saying there. Check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the business, and/or the Direct Selling Association (member companies in the DSA agree to comply with a code of ethics.) Realize that you may find some negative comments about any business you consider, since it’s rare to find a business where everyone who tries it is successful. Some people are just more suited for a particular business than others. But are there more positive reviews than negative? What do people who are currently in the business say? What about the people who have left it? Understanding both sides will give you a more realistic picture of what’s involved in truly succeeding in the business you’re considering, and the type of people in the business who are successful.
  • How will you learn the business? – Does the business you’re considering offer training? Or will you have to learn everything on your own? Is training included or will you have to spend additional money to learn? Remember that learning the steps you need to follow to succeed is a critical component in your overall success, so be sure there’s a plan in place to give you the education you need and that you consider it as you plan your overall budget and investment in the business.
  • Consider the investment – What is the initial investment in the business, and can you afford to lose it if you’re not successful? A franchise is going to cost you a lot more than a direct selling business, and a business you start from scratch might cost less than a franchise initially, but doesn’t give you any support at all. How much will it actually cost you in the first year, second year, fifth year, and so on? How much can you realistically make in that time frame, and when can you expect to begin seeing profits on your investment? Is it worth the amount of time you will put in? Think about how much time you can realistically put in to make your business successful, and then base the amount of money you can make on what you can earn in that time frame.
  • Make sure you understand the business – Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand the work involved in becoming successful (and be sure you’re willing to put the time in to do it.) One of the biggest reasons people are disappointed (and unsuccessful) in a business they start is because they did not realize what they would actually have to do to be successful. They believed the hype instead of learning the facts. Lay out on a calendar the work you would do each day in your new business, and the amount of time you will need to invest. Consider the time for finding customers, marketing,  sales presentations, learning, follow-up, etc. Will you be happy spending your time this way? Are there any questions about what you would be doing? Ask questions, and make sure you go in with your eyes wide open.
  • Does it sound too good to be true? – If you’re led to believe that you’ll make a lot of money with very little work, be wary! Legitimate business opportunities lay out clearly the work that’s involved in becoming successful, and it always takes effort. If a business opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (Do your research!)

Owning your own business can be incredibly rewarding. But be sure you go in with your eyes wide open so you don’t spend more than you can afford and wind up disappointed. With a little bit of research, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and enjoy the experience of being a business owner!

Are you a business owner? How did you research your opportunity before getting started? Considering a business opportunity? What questions do you have? We would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

The Power of the Success Mindset

The Power of the Success Mindset

As a small business owner, you work hard. But sometimes it seems that no matter how much effort you put in, your business is not growing in the direction you might hope. So you work even harder, but don’t get the results you’re seeking.

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why?

It’s because the act of simply doing things isn’t enough to grow a business.

So what else is missing? What does it take to build a successful, thriving business (without killing yourself in the process)?

It’s about mindset.

You see, it’s very easy to be busy all day. To be a “reactionary” business owner that responds to each situation as it comes. But that’s not what successful business owners do. Instead, they are very intentional about setting each day’s agenda so that it corresponds with their goals. It’s not that they don’t deal with things that come up. But they choose the tasks and the direction most in line with their goals. Without taking the time to do this, you will never grow in the direction that you hope to.

So where do you start?

Fortunately, we at the DSEF have produced a free downloadable workbook that will help you with this process. Simply complete each of the activities in the workbook to focus your business efforts in the right direction. This is an essential activity for every business owner.

This workbook will guide you through the following steps:

  • Defining your why
  • Tuning out negativity and committing to positive self-talk
  • Making a plan
  • Building in accountability
  • Using visualizations
  • Making a plan for when you fall
  • Focusing on excellence instead of perfection

By printing out this workbook and completing each of the activities, you will find that you are much more intentional about each of the business activities you choose, and will find that your business grows in the direction you desire.

Download the workbook for yourself from our Facebook Page, and share it with your business associates and loved ones. It’s an incredible gift you can share. Here’s a link you can share with your friends, so they can get their copy too:

How do you create a mindset for success for your business? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

p.s. This is just one of the many free business resources we at the DSEF provide, no strings attached! We are committed to helping entrepreneurs with the resources they need to build strong, ethical businesses. It’s one of the cornerstones of our non-profit Foundation, so we hope you’ll enjoy this free resource, and check our Facebook Page daily for even more free resources and tips. Here’s to your success!