Tips for Small Business Owners



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Being your own boss is a dream that many people have. They would love to own a successful if small business of their own and nurture it till it grows into a large company. However, launching and operating a small business profitably and successfully isn’t always easy and there are several contingencies that owners need to be prepared for if they want their business to survive. Here are some tips on how you can make your small business last!


  1. You should try to invest as much of your own money into your small business as possible. If you entirely depend on loans taken from third parties, most of your profit will be spent in repaying loans with interest. So plan in advance, work hard and try to save up as much money as possible to invest into your business.
  2. People would love to have a grand office with designer interiors but small business owners need to keep their spending small too! It isn’t difficult to get a great looking office with economical interiors. Small business owners need to watch every dollar they spend as they are going to need all the funds they can get to keep the business operating. So set up your office wisely and grander things will follow!
  3. Small businesses can be risky, especially since most of the funds invested are your own! Should things go terribly wrong and the business incurs too much debt, there is a chance they your personal assets may be seized for repayment. Get in touch with a business lawyer and find out how you can minimize the risk of your personal assets being seized.

Tips to Take Your Business to the Top

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Starting a business can be exciting, but scary. Even the smartest, most business-oriented people can be a scary thing. Luckily, you can draw on experience that others have gotten to develop your own business.

Every business needs a hook. Make your company original if you want to attract customers. If you are seen as “just another business,” you will have trouble making yourself seem attractive to many potential customers. You may be amazing at what you do, but that only helps if you can get enough customers to convince people of your skill and efficiency.

You should also have a well-defined image. You don’t want to be all over the place, claiming to be “the cheapest, best, nicest, etc.” When you make all these claims, people are likely to think you are none of the things you claim to be (and chances are you are not all those things). Find an image and a target audience, then focus on that. People know what they are looking for and you need to attract as many customers as you can in your target audience.

A genuine care for your customers is also necessary in the competitive field of business today. If you really want what is best for your customers and try to meet their needs, they will respect you and will be loyal customers.

Every business is different. There are many general tips that can help a growing business, but many things can only be learned through experience. Starting your business is only the first step in becoming a successful business.

Business plans for financing through banks

There are a lot of things that you need to keep your business running smoothly. However, money is something that you need from the word go and keep needing it if you want your business to grow. Some people manage to save up enough money to fund their own business. In most cases though, your idea for business will require funding from external sources. One of the most commonly used sources of financing are banks. Several banks offer special schemes for small business owners than allows them many conveniences and ease of repayment. However, you first need to convince the bank that your business has great potential for success and profit. It is for this purpose that you will need to submit a detailed business plan to the bank for getting a loan. Here are some tips on how to make a convincing business plan:

1. It’s important for the bank to know that you have a clear idea on what your business is going to be. Create a clear, short, two sentence statement on the purpose of your business. Make it sound appealing yet professional.

2. Mention the name of the owners of the business and then describe why they believe the business will be successful and how it will function.

3. Follow this by providing details such as what the product is, what is the target market, what is the level of demand, who are the competitors and what gives you an edge over them. Make sure these details are well researched as they bank will check them before approving the loan.

4. Provide detailed income, cash flow, sales etc projection for next three years. The forecast for the first year should be monthly while the rest can be quarterly.

5. Give references of would be clients, creditors and so on.

How to interact with people at work

Your success in the corporate world depends a lot on the level of cooperation you get from the people who work with you. Whether it is subordinates, colleagues or superiors, having the right kind of interaction with them will go a long way in helping you get your work done quickly and efficiently. Here is a look at some character traits that make for good interpersonal relationships at work:

1. Say Hello: People always like it when you greet them first so make sure you make the initiative. Not greeting people when you see them or meet them in corridors will give you a reputation of being ‘stuck up’. Make sure your greetings are warm and courteous and don’t appear fake and plastic.

2. Chat up: When you go to the canteen for lunch or to the pantry for a coffee break, start off conversations with colleagues around you. It doesn’t always have to be about work. You could discuss sports, movies, real estate or anything else that interests everyone in the group. The more the people involved in the conversation, the deeper reach you will have.

3. Listen and acknowledge: When you are trying to have a friendly image, people are bound to approach you to share views or even grievances. Always listen attentively and if you are not comfortable with what is being said, don’t just walk off or cut the conversation short but listen politely. People like listeners!

4. Don’t be a groupie: Office politics can be dangerous and you should try your best to stay away from becoming part of a group. If a person is bad-mouthing a colleague, listen but never contribute your own two cents. Always remain unbiased and stay away from negativities.

5. Body language: The way you carry yourself makes a huge difference to how people perceive you so always portray a confident, self assured image.

How to develop effective business policies

The effectiveness of your policies can be the defining factor between success and failure of your business. Policies underline how a business is run and how it operates. A good policy framework means your business has its processes streamlined and is better prepared to meet future contingencies. You need good business policies to make sure your business runs smoothly and maximizes its profits. Here is a look at some of the things you need to keep in mind in order to form effective business policies:

1. Different stages of the business setup required various policies to be in place. You need to figure out which policies you most urgently need. During the initial stages of a new setup you would need to decide on a mission and vision statement and what are the terms you want your business operating on. Later, of course, you would need to formulate payroll, performance management and other HR policies.

2. Often businesses make the mistake of attempting to form policies only after they get hit by a crisis. Don’t wit for errors to happen. Instead, keep an eye on the future requirements of the business and plan policies in accordance so that you avoid crisis situations.

3. Brainstorming almost always leads to better policies. You may miss out on key points if your try to frame policies on your own. So take feedback and inputs from employees, advisors, board of directors and other stakeholders in the organization to form policies that cover maximum ground.

4. Communication is the key to effective implementation of policies. Employees can’t follow policies if they are not aware of their existence! So make sure that everyone involved in your business knows and understands the business policies well.

5. Businesses change over time and their policies need to be changed likewise. SO review your policies at least once a year and update them according to current and future requirements.

The Buy Cycle is not a Ride-on Toy

Ever heard of the ‘buy cycle?’ It’s a four-step process businesses go through on deciding whether to buy something or not, and everyone goes through it in some form or another. Companies are no different, especially because they make bigger decisions and spend larger amounts than most individuals do.
Companies and Individuals Buy the Same Way

  • Step 1: Realizing there’s a need for a specific product or service necessary to be able to complete a task or operation. This usually comes at the time it’s needed, but business owners should try to anticipate these needs ahead of time. Having a company ready and waiting in the rolodex when disaster strikes is half the task done.
  • Step 2: Research is the next step. This is where the potential buyer looks up the products/service to see what’s available and which vendors can solve the shortage at hand. The buyer might compare prices or service packages and look into payment plans.
  • Step 3: Consideration and Comparison. Information has been distributed and the buyer has contemplated which model or brand is wanted. Buyers begin narrowing down the choices, dropping vendors that can’t meet their needs and listing the potential of the ones that do.
  • Step4: Procurement. This is the last step, the one where the buyer actually makes a decision and purchases the item or service and arranges for delivery. It’s this point that the salesperson can finally relax, the work has been done and the cycle has been completed.
Businesses use the ‘purchase funnel’ to show how the system works. It’s wide at the top of the funnel, where awareness of the problem comes to life. Narrower is the research part of the buy cycle. Below that, and smaller, is the Consideration and Comparison, and finally, the Procurement near the spout of the funnel.
Individuals also go through this same process when making major purchases, like a car or large appliances, they just do it faster than a business might. But, the cycle is the same.

Creating a Successful Business Through Online Surveys

Successful businesses are ones that pride themselves on having a high level of customer interaction and listening to their customers when they offer feedback. While this is a formula for creating a successful business, many online businesses struggle with how to provide that level of customer and client interaction through the Internet. The best solution that online businesses have come up with is the use of online surveys.

Online surveys are a great way to get up close and personal with your customers and get your company all the feedback that you want or need. While it might appear hard to create an online survey it really isn’t. There are various programs that allow business owners to plug in the questions that they want to ask and send out the survey to their customers or clients.

If you are considering using a survey software company or program you will want to keep a few things in mind so that you get the right company or software for your business. The first thing to consider is how the survey is programmed. Look for companies that offer surveys in programs that almost every computer user uses, such as Flash or JavaScript. This will get you a high number of survey returns as all customers can answer your surveys.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the surveys will be compatible with your website or blog. Try to figure out if the company will use surveys that can be used on Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr or other platforms that you use. If the survey isn’t compatible then customers will not be able to give you any feedback.

Online surveys, when set up properly can be an important asset to your online business. Surveys offer you a chance to interact with customers, who can offer feedback on how your company is doing. In return, you can provide the customer with the service that they want.

Being Cross Trained is a Value Today More Than Ever

Workers around the world are being shared, cut back and overloaded all at the same time. The global recession has affected everyone and small companies aren’t able to hire qualified people because of the cost of wages and training. People need their jobs as well as employers need others to work the businesses, so job sharing has become a thing of the future, saving businesses money on training and hiring and saving people their jobs.
Being a cross-trained employee makes someone very valuable these days. Someone who can work well at more than one place or in more than one position is just what the recession ordered. It enables such a person to keep working steadily, instead of being laid-off or getting hours cut so far back that they can’t make a living. It also enables businesses to keep staff working so their businesses can operate and possibly make a profit.
Don’t Toss out Those Old Skills

Keeping up on skills of old jobs is a good thing. As time goes by, people forget little things or the nuances of a skill, but if kept in practice, it can become useful in the present. It not only adds to the list of things one can accomplish for an employer, but it adds to their hire-ability.
For instance, if someone works as a waitress for ten years and then attends and graduates from bookkeeping school, a new employer might see this new hire as an asset who can handle the books and know how to treat customers at the same time. This person could be put on the desk and then spend half their hours dealing with customers, having honed the skill of communication while a waitress. This person also knows how to up sell products and services, and can make the business more money in the long run without having to hire salespeople.
Employers have to look to the future more than ever before these days, but looking at an applicant’s past can help to see the future in the green.

New Term Coined; Customer-Centricity is Here

Customer-centricity; a new word meaning customer-oriented business practices in which the customer is put at the center of everything. Demographics have been taken at the point-of-sale for many years, telling businesses about buying trends, age ranges of customers and where they live. But statisticians are saying those are the wrong data to collect; they are useful to the business but they give no interaction with the customer, no follow-up stats are available as well as no reason for the purchase was given.
The company can’t ask enough questions about shopper’s choices and the whys of their decisions, but the demographics of location and level of education don’t matter. But, a successful business will learn to predict the customer’s next move and that can only be done through studying previous habits and activities. Learning the people that keep the business profitable can only behoove the company and make for a better experience for the customer.
Who is Buying Your Products and Why do They Want Them?

Getting to that customer as a person; a thinking, feeling entity to be revealed; that’s what metrics need to be about today. What motivates a person to make certain purchases and what moods come out in shopping habits? This would be good to know.
It’s safe to say that 20% of a business’s clients create 80% of the profit. Sometimes 90% of the revenue is realized by 5-15% of the customers. Understanding those customers is at the heart of each business’s goals, and wise business decisions and investments should depend on the behaviors of the clientele; which ones deserve investment and which ones are worth differentiating a marketing strategy for.
Many businesses still don’t get it; focusing on the customer has always been good business practice, but few companies put the customer in the center. In fact, in a recent study done by Forrester Consulting they showed that 44% of the responders think their business is customer-focused more than brand-focused, and although they all think they’re customer-centric, it’s a fallacy of wishful thinking.

Bus Company Wins Awards and a Grant

New Flyer Xcelsior bus seen at the 2008 Americ...

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New Flyer Industries, Inc. based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the leading heavy duty bus-making company in the US and Canada and they announced fourth quarter 2010 earnings to be just under $140 million. This figure includes new orders and current customers’ orders for an array of bus designs with different propulsion systems. About 34 percent of those bus orders were for ‘clean’ vehicles, like compressed natural gas (CNG) systems, diesel-electric hybrids and clean-diesel for 35’, 40’ and 60’ buses.
For the sixth year in a row, New Flyer has been listed in Canada’s best 100 businesses to work for.  New Flyer has made a priority of being a ‘Great Place to Work’ and was selected for top industry practices like emphasis on teamwork, reward programs, matchless training opportunities, worker contribution, benefit and retirement programs and company-wide social events.
Company Finds Security for Three Years
In Crookston and St. Cloud, Minnesota where the company manufactures a lot of these buses, the state’s Dept. of Employment and Economic Development has given New Flyer a $260,000 award under its Job Skills Partnership Program to train workers for a New Flyer of America Inc., plant. It will keep 777 people working for at least three years and employees will get practical training with interpersonal and management skills through classes at local community colleges.
New Flyer was also awarded first place in the Electronic Media category of the 2010 AdWheel awards for it’s employee intranet forum called iBus. It’s an online location where employees can meet and discuss news about the company, products or anything else and it offers templates and other simple tools. New Flyer won another grand prize in 2009 for an employee campaign for Earth Day.
New Flyer seems to be one of the most award-winning companies a person can work for. They spend a lot of money on their employees and have good compensation programs in place, and employee turn over is low. No wonder they’re winning awards.