5 Tips for Small Business Success

As a small business, we face certain challenges that can add stress and anxiety to our daily lives. It is not always easy meeting payroll, hiring, figuring out what platform to market on and managing the finances. But, millions of small business owners do these things every day and their businesses thrive.

Here are 5 Tips for Small Business Success

Write Down Why You Started

As a small business owner, you may find yourself living on a rollercoaster. Some days you feel like you are going to take over the entire universe while other days you fire yourself and walk off the job. And, early on in the small business process, you have more firing and walking off the job kind of days. It is in these days that you must remember your “why.” Why are you doing this? Why are you so passionate?

During the days that you are “taking over the universe” and are more clear minded, write down the answers to those question so when you get discouraged you will remember why you started and you will be less likely to give up. List out support systems and create vision boards so that when times feel dark, you know who you can reach out to and have a physical vision of the direction you want to go.

Step Away

As a small business owner, you probably take your work home, talk to your partner about it, and answer calls on the weekends. But never taking a step away can lead to burnout. The last thing a business owner should do is make decisions based on feelings like stress, frustration and impulsivity. Working on you and/or your family independently of your business is a great way to refresh and gain clarity so you can be even stronger in your business. Successful people take breaks.

Give yourself at least one day a week where you step away completely. Set boundaries with clients or customers and they will respect your time even more. If you really feel that you cannot take one day, start small with time away. Take 30-60 minutes at least one time per day to do something that clears your mind. Do not answer business calls during this time, instead, try something like getting in touch with nature, taking a bath, or working-out. The better you are to your mind and body, the clearer decisions you will make for your business, clients and customers.

Hurdle the Tough Times Quickly & Learn From Them

As a small business owner, you are learning something new every day. Business owners switch hats all the time; from finances to legal to day to day operations to HR. And, it is no secret that mistakes will be made.

If you want to be successful in business, don’t ruminate, internalize and dwell on those mistakes. Instead, chop it up to a learning lesson and press forward being cautious not to make that mistake a second time. Hurdling barriers and setbacks quickly will help you to minimize your stress and preserve energy in order to continue growing your business.

Get a Mentor

So many people have been in your shoes before you. They know the puddles you should not even try to step in and they can also give insight into decisions you are facing.

Reach out to these people and ask them for their mentorship. If you do not have a mentor, try networking to meet likeminded people that can share ideas with you. However, as your business grows, if you do not have a mentor, keep your eyes open for someone that you can call on for support. Most successful people want to help you grow and develop and will be glad to guide you. Just make sure that you are open-minded when your mentor talks with you and that you come with questions or a direction to the meeting as to not waste their time.

Make Sure You Have Financial Options

While you switch hats, ride the rollercoaster, take calls from customers on days off, and try to somehow maintain life balance, the one thing a business owner must have peace of mind and security with is finances (personally and professionally).

As a small business, make sure you work with a banker or company that is transparent and that you can trust. As your business grows, there will be growing pains, and that is a good thing, especially if you have a banker or lender who supports small businesses and simplifies things. Be sure to speak up to your lender about various types of resources, loans, business credit cards, and cash advances that best fit your niche.

Why Small Businesses Fail

The reason so many small businesses fail is usually because of someone’s ego. Ego’s have started wars, crushed economies and caused more problems than any other underlying factor. That’s where the saying “pride goeth before a fall” came from. But what does that really mean anyway?

If you’re a small business owner and you believe you are always right, whether it’s true or not, and you refuse to listen to anyone else’s views but your own, you might want to pay attention, because if you don’t, the next fall might be your own. The reality is, no one is always right and there are always other ways, perhaps better ways, to get things done.

Do you recognize a bit of yourself in the above statement? If so, that’s OK. The first step in change is recognizing that it’s possible you might have a bit of an ego problem.

Here are four ways to work with your ego instead of against it.

1. Identify What You’re Good At
No one is an expert at everything. Stop right there, if you think you are. That’s your ego talking so just ignore it. OK, now that you’ve cleared your mind, think of the things you know you are truly good at. Those are yours and those are the areas where you are likely right, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong. You should always listen to the views and ideas of others. It’s very likely they might have thought of something you didn’t, maybe even something better.

2. Count to Ten
Remember when your parents told you to count to ten when you were mad so that you had time to think about what you were going to say before you said it. The count to ten exercise was designed to keep people from saying or doing something they would later regret. Well, the same goes for your ego. Get into the habit of stopping and thinking about what you are going to say before you say it. Better yet, sleep on it. Then address the subject again the next day with a clear mind and a better attitude (hopefully). This will almost always keep you from saying or doing something you will later regret, which is important in business because once something is said, it can never be taken back. You might ultimately be forgiven, but it’s highly likely that the issue will never be forgotten. And that’s not a good thing.

3. Always Think About the Big Picture
As a small business owner, you will always want what’s in the best interest of your company. However, if you are constantly undermining your partners, employees, and others, you will have created a toxic environment in which they (and you) have to work. Statistics show that people perform better when they work in a pleasant atmosphere where people are happy and teamwork is practiced versus an atmosphere of stress and fear of saying or doing something that would bruise someone’s ego and get them all disjointed. No one wants to walk around on eggshells every day. Nor do they want to always have their ideas and opinions smacked down on a daily basis. This isn’t good for you, your employees or your business.

4. Exercises for Checking Your Ego at the Door
Here are several great ways to check your ego at the door.

  • Focus on your goals as a team, not as an individual.
  • Learn to listen and engage with people who are more talented in certain areas than you are. Always be honest with yourself about your true strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learn how to understand and appreciate those who are less astute than you.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. Always solicit and apply helpful feedback.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Spend more time listening than you do talking.

Small Business Owners: Utilizing Technology to Improve Profits

If you really want to become more profitable and improve operations in your company, you have to shift your focus from the following limiting thoughts about technology.

  1. If I buy the latest production software we will be in good shape
  2. We don’t do that here
  3. We are unique, we don’t have competition that use technology to help them generate profits
  4. The plan is in my head, people will steal it off the computer
  5. All I need is more sales to make more profits

You’ve got to get the right mindset by eliminating restricting thoughts, and then you’ll be ready to improve people, processes and profitability.

Do you ever wonder how a company can start out with just one idea, a passion and a vision, then 10 to 20 years later have thousands of employees and millions in sales?

  1. What did these companies do to become so successful
  2. Are the owners smarter than you?
  3. Do they work harder than you?
  4. Did they have better equipment or people than you?

No. But they do use better technology tools to drive operation (the people and the process). Operations represent about 60% or 80% of all your overhead costs but they’re the least understood by US businesses.

For decades, the Japanese have focused on operations that have driven innovation and a culture of continuous improvement. In the right small business owner hands, operations and technology can be a competitive weapon.

Now, ask yourself how can your small company— with just a handful of employees and limited resources — turn operations and technology applications into a powerful weapon to beat competition and learn to grow and thrive!

Why invest in technology / What are the benefits

The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from tight cash flow, exhausted lines of credit and top-line growth, then you have weak operations and have underutilized the technology applications onsite or off-the-shelf that can help you.

First step to rapid profit improvement is to start by questioning your employees. They usually know where costly blocks and bottlenecks are hidden.

Technology can store employee survey results that help you to plan profitability.

Employee Questionnaire(sample)

  1. Are your interests and ambitions being challenged
  2. Does each department in this company have measurable standard designed to increase profitability? Does each area have documentation of process flows and procedures of how it should work?
  3. Does everyone in this company share the goal of improving the company profits? Does the CEO hold town hall meetings about ‘planned profits’?
  4. Are you regularly told when you do good work?
  5. Do you get the help you need to do a good job?
  6. As an employee, do you feel you can trust your direct supervisor/manager?
  7. Are owner/managers open and honest with employees?
  8. Does the company provide you with continual training in areas that will make you a better employee? Has it trained you on how to cut operating expenses or increase revenue to improve profits in your area?
  9. Are your responsibilities generally explained, well planned and organized?
  10. Is poor performance tolerated by management? i.e., worker performance, operations bottlenecks and customer relations.

The following are other ways business productivity software drives business processes more efficiently to gain optimal results:

Create an open and communicative environment.

By storing appraisal information within a formal database, managers can more easily communicate business strategy and create measurable goals for their employees that will support overall company objectives. In allowing employees to see the whole picture and understand better how individual goals fit into the company’s business objectives. This can create a energized and engaged employees, thereby raising the business productivity of the company.

Motivate your employees using technology.

Based upon the information gathered in an online performance evaluation, managers can compare current skills with those required for advancement or other recognition or reward opportunities that present themselves as the manager tracks progress on employee goals throughout the year. You may also find you need to redirect employees to different departments if you feel their business productivity could increase elsewhere. If there are impediments to better performance, the company should review why it is happening and try to eliminate these through better allocation of resources or additional training.

Monitor business productivity and employee progress on goals.

Business productivity software solutions enable managers to more easily track progress during every phase of goal completion and offer immediate reinforcement or coaching to keep performance and deadlines on track in daily operations, and utilize performance measurements for strategic planning.

Electronic Commerce

There are many business applications related to e-commerce, from setting up your online storefront to managing your supply chain to marketing your products and services. These technologies fall into three main categories:

Business to Business(B2B)

  • Purchasing indirect supplies
  • Look for catalogue-based websites offered by suppliers for corporate purchases, similar to business-to-customer websites, for purchasing indirect supplies such as office furniture, pens, paper, and general office equipment.
  • Leveraging your existing Web presence
  • Improve your existing business-to-customer e-commerce website. Greater sophistication can be added into your online store to target your business clientele.

Business to Customer(B2C)

The global reach of the Internet has allowed many businesses to sell their products and services online, both at home and abroad. An electronic storefront is a website with many pre-built e-commerce components like electronic shopping carts and secure payment gateways that you can use to set up an online store.

Internet Marketing

Everything you do to promote your business online is Internet marketing. For example, Internet marketing strategies include (but are not limited to) website design and content, search engine optimization, directory submissions, reciprocal linking strategies, online advertising, and email marketing.

How to Implement Technology to increase profits

IT implementation can be a valuable tool for increasing workplace productivity, but without a careful selection of the right technologies for your specific industry and comprehensive employee training, it can also serve to reduce productivity, profitability and employee satisfaction. The return on investment will depend on whether the technologies implemented are right for a given business’ needs and how prepared employees are to use them.

Step 1

Brainstorm a list of business process improvements you may be able to realize from a technological implementation. Your list should include three categories: improvements that you know to be possible, and which are core requirements for your expense; a wish list of things you would like to have, but which may be future development efforts; and a list of things which would transform the way you do business, but which may not be possible. These three targets provide you with a present-day implementation goal, as well as a future development target–and it may be that your transformational goals could be far easier to reach than you expect.

Step 2

Determine whether you intend to develop these technologies using in-house resources, or through outside consultancies. Nearly every major workflow technology requires extensive customization, implementation procedures and training. Small businesses can sometimes get by cheaply using staff members technologically proficient–but mistakes made at the beginning of the process can ramp up costs later on when you turn to professional outside support.

Step 3

Avoid specifying particular technologies if you do not have the technical expertise to evaluate them properly. The purpose of the managerial process at this stage is to define goals and budgetary constraints; non-technical managers who wed themselves to specific technologies too early can miss out on substantial cost savings, and choose a technology not the best suited for the work.

Step 4

Circulate your request for proposals among outside consultants and implementors, or establish an internal process for doing the same among your staff if you are keeping the work in-house. Major technological implementations will not succeed if they are added to the existing workload of an employee. Proper technological implementations can be more than a full-time job in and of themselves. Staff members shifted to technology implementation should have their existing duties moved to other staff resources.

Step 5

Negotiate a time frame, budget and implementation benchmarks with your external or internal staff resources. If you are working with an outside consultant, your contract should include protections against running over budget and over schedule. Likewise, the consultant will protect his own firm by setting specific terms of the work to be completed, and charging you extra if you change them over the course of the contract.

Step 6

Develop an implementation timetable, including the following steps: test deployment to review the work; training, if necessary; a transition phase from the current workflow to the new technology; and production deployment of the completed technology. This last phase is typically followed by an iterative process, in which improvements to the technology are collected from the staff who have direct experience working with it. When budget and time allow for it, apply a new cycle of upgrades to your technology to ensure that you are getting the most out of it.

The Recipe for a Successful Small Business

Every successful dish starts out as a trusted recipe, if the recipe is followed, the dish is successful every time. It is almost impossible to determine the amount of money lost through small business failures during the last five years. In 2009, the Kauffman Foundation estimated the start-up cost of a small business at $30,000, while the US Small Business Association estimated the start-up cost of a home based micro business at $1,000 to $5,000. In 2013, approximately 28 million small businesses in the USA. Assuming a one to one ratio of success and failures, it is clear that US entrepreneurs loose an enormous amount of money to failed businesses. If there was a recipe for a success in business, it would include outstanding customer service, strategic partner selections, strong processes, effective marketing and monitoring.

Outstanding customer service: Small business owners must be mindful that customers have the right of choice and a wide range of options from which to choose. Therefore, outstanding customer service must be both a defining principle and a clearly defined goal. Satisfied customers are your best referral and advertising tools.

Strategic partner selections: No one succeeds alone, the relationships we form are critical to our success. Whether business partners, team members, referral sources or key vendors, entrepreneurs need to be deliberate and strategic about these relationships. All of these relationships have the potential to affect customer service and profits.

Strong Processes: A good business process cuts across many, areas of business operation. Therefore, it creates efficiency, lowers costs and improves customer service. Business operations are impacted by people, technology and, processes; with processes working as the glue that holds the people involved and the technology applied, together.

Effective marketing: Understanding the difference between being a business owner and a technician is critical to success. A business owner’s time is better spent working on the business. But most entrepreneurs cannot afford to relinquish all technical responsibilities. A workable solution is for small business owners to set aside at least 30 percent of their time to work on marketing and monitoring. Marketing can impact current and future product and service offerings, it requires interaction with existing and would-be customers, improve customer retention and loyalty and add to profits. Monitoring is equally important as there is no other way by which to measure business goals and make timely adjustments which can result in minimizing losses in customers and profits.

7 Amazing Secrets to Attract Investors for Your Small Business

A good team of investors can play a great role in the success of your small business, but a bad choice of investors can obliterate even the strongest ideas to execute. Believe it or not, investors provide more opportunities to your business, while becoming resources for creating effective marketing ideas. Knowing what to consider while selecting investors and being able to attract the right type of investors are vital skills for established and emerging entrepreneurs.

If you are a small business owner and finding trouble getting convincing investors, here are 7 secrets that will help you attract the eye of an angel investor or venture capital, while making your business a more appealing investment.

1. Get the Most Out of Networking

Networking is the best way for entrepreneurs to pitch their startup in a less formal and organic way. If you are building a great business, networking within the local startup and investing community can be the best way to meet and find the right type of investors.

If you find investors interested in your business, keep the meetings going and let things happen organically for optimum results. Let them consider your business, after all, you are not only conveying your idea, you are actually relying on the social capital built through the networking process that impact the investment decision.

2. Be Practical, Get Real Paying Customers

You need investment to attract customers, but you need customers to acquire money. It is always worth making an effort to get customers prior to approach an investor, instead of seeking funds first and customers second. It is advised to create a plan to acquire customers first that doesn’t need a very huge investment.

This is very important, particularly for emerging entrepreneurs, it will become easier to get investments on good terms. Investors always want proof that your idea is effective enough and will work, and nothing will satisfy them than having real paying users.

3. Find the Right Co-Founder

When you find investors, you are not only selling them your business in terms of products and services, you are selling them on your team. Opting for the right leadership team for your small business is an important process and having the wrong co-founders can be more dangerous for your business than having no co-founder at all.

However, finding the right co-founder can make the process easier, even beyond attracting investors. As having partners will allow you to rely on them, which can be a huge boost for your startup.

4. Get a Better ROI

Though investors may start believing in your business, the purpose for their investment is to make money. Therefore, it is important to highlight what they will actually gain from investing in your startup.

No matter if you are approaching an angel, VC or a rich person, it is important to show how you are going to get their investment return. It is alluring to focus on yourself and your business vision, but at the end of the day, investors want to know what is in it for them. Therefore, the best way to standout and get interest is to clearly explain how and when you will get them a return.

5. Take Benefit of the Online Fundraising Market

Networking is important, but your location should not be you’re the restricting factor when it comes to securing investment. There are different fundraising platforms available and you are no longer restricted to only being able to raise money. If your company has best-in-class metrics for your industry, you will be definitely able to double your money. Post your business’s best metrics and find investors on the platform related to your industry.

6. Pick the Right Investor

In order to attract attention of the right investor, make sure your product solves real problems. As a lot of entrepreneurs only attempt to reinvent the wheel, therefore, it is advised to highlight the qualities of your product to attract the real investor. Doing so will get users and revenue. Think outside the box and do something wonderful.

7. Graduating from a Top Accelerator

Emerging and first-time entrepreneurs are advised to apply to reputable startup accelerators that will lead their credibility to your company. Joining an accelerator can be greatly helpful for rising startups, though it doesn’t guarantee that you will get investment, it does make your startup a more appealing investment candidate. As graduating from a reputable accelerator guarantee funding and can greatly improve the chances that you would raise a favorable valuation.

Small Business Benefits of Training Employees

Small businesses aspiring for growth need to keep an eye on performance improvement through online business training courses. To measure up to the ever evolving business world, small businesses need new skills to facilitate workforce gains and to generally meet the competent needs of operations in tandem with its competitors.

Small business training for employees provides an additional skill and exposure to the individuals and to the business. It is more flexible and less strenuous to do an online business training course. This consequently improves your company to continue effectively. Most small businesses fail to recognise the beneficial aspects of training its employees. Among many other advantages that come with training are the following benefits:

To Effectively Improve Your Company’s Competence

Training your employees will result in a better customer service, improved business skills, and growth in productivity. This ultimately makes your business more competent and competitive in the market. It is important to always advance the skills of the employees as the business world is dynamic and overly competitive. The direct tragedy of non-trained employees is the incompetence to match up the necessities of a contemporary society. It is important to consider an online business training course if the difficulty is time or cost of doing a recommended training.

Improving Loyalty and Staff Retention

As a business, staff retention is a saving to the business and its future prospects. Employees have their own aspirations for growth and they may want to venture out to look for that satisfaction. However, if the training opportunity is available to them, they find their professional growth in the business and are likely to stay longer. It is a fact that such training will definitely add them new skills and promote their contribution to the business as well as building their self-esteem. Giving them a chance to improve their skills makes them realise that you value them enough to invest in them.

Improved Business Prospects and Profits

The ultimate objective of running a business is to maximise an opportunity to make profits. Training employees makes them more competent and qualified to promote your business in the marketplace. This will have an effect and an increased business means more profits.

Makes Your Business Competitive

Stagnating is the worst effect that can kill your business, so by ensuring that your staff are constantly advancing, you continue to grow in business and remain competitive within the industry. It is expensive and very disorienting to employ new staff. An online business course for your employees can make them more eligible for internal promotions. Unlike new employees, you will have the benefit of a complete and knowledgeable staff for your business, who are people you know and you can trust.

Exposes Business Weaknesses and Skill Gaps

Training makes the business realise what they have been doing wrong and henceforth, the business can more easily identify any skill gaps in the market and even within the existing employees. This will propel your business to work on filling the gaps which will assist the staff to fulfil their role effectively.

Conclusion

Training is therefore a valuable and profound investment for the business. For the many businesses that may not have adequate time, an online business training course would be more appropriate. The staff will have a much higher sense of job satisfaction, which will improve their motivation towards their work and the business generally.

Starting a Startup Business? Choose the Right Business Consulting Firm for Success

Being your own boss is the dream of many and lately, the instinct seems to be taking the world by storm. People are now more inclined to start their own firm, it seems to lure many people and running an own business shows the larger than life picture, however, the reality is a bit different. As an entrepreneur willing to start a new business you need to understand the market, do the need analysis and many researches before executing your plan. You might be budding with business startup ideas but mere planning will not help you succeed, rather you need a right plan of action to succeed.

The upsurge of small business consulting firms has proven to be a panacea for startups. They offer the consultation and startup mentoring services which work as a guide for entrepreneurs to successfully implement and execute their business plan. Not only it supports the Business Startup Ideas but provides feedback to improve the business plan which helps in removing bottlenecks usually faced by startups.

Why do you need startup mentoring?

There is no denial to the fact that many startups fail in their nascent stage, and they may have a number of reasons for the same, the likes include entrepreneurs being naiveté and lack of supportive startup ecosystem, lack of funds, poor market conditions and much more. But, the most important factor that most of the startups miss is a lack of guidance, inspiration, and feedback from small business consulting firms and no startup mentoring. It might sound absurd to a few strong-headed entrepreneurs to take the support of a mentor to execute their business plan but these firms are a must to make your business successful.

Startup Mentoring – your ultimate supporter and motivator

In the lead to succeed, most of the entrepreneurs break rules or make mistakes which they are not even aware of, these mistakes, however, can adversely affect their business. Also, many times as an aspiring business builder you find yourself stuck in a situation where you don’t know how to proceed. Startup Business Consulting firms and mentors work as a savvy guide who constantly provides you feedback.

Initially, you may be having a lack of confidence but with the mentorship of a good startup mentor, you can move ahead with confidence and without hesitation.

How to find the right startup consulting firm or a startup mentor for your company:

You are entrusting your faith and vision on a person who will be your mentor or support or guide, hence, it is very important that you have a strong relationship with them and at the same time, it’s important that your startup mentor’s or consulting firm’s vision should coincide with yours. A good startup has the following qualities:

  • An expert-level experience
  • Already a successful entrepreneur
  • Are patient and action oriented
  • A harsh critic yet supportive

Before moving ahead and getting associated with any firm or person, as an entrepreneur you should check for the aforementioned qualities.

What does a good startup mentor do?

A good startup consulting firm or a mentor will:

  • Listen to your concept and give honest feedback
  • Will give you time and talk through your areas of difficulties. Since they carry with them good amount of experience, they also share their experience which helps you understand your problems and come up with right solution
  • They are action oriented and hence, always suggest practical ways on how to start a business by making optimum use of available resources

Takeaways-

You must accept the fact that it takes a village to become a successful entrepreneur, of course, your vision and idea is important but what’s paramount is its right and timely execution which only comes with the right support system. The upsurge of companies like Virgin startup is a move to support and guide the newbies in the business world to succeed and survive.

Let Us Bring Back Small Business By Reducing Regulation From the Bureaucracy

A few years back our think tank was discussing what we needed to do to bring back our economy and the jobs we need in the United States. We addressed the issue of our ultra-slow growth under the Obama Administration and the dismal economic recovery. One of the members of the think thank was busy listening to the in-depth dialogue and stated;

“Let’s entertain the idea that both Congress and the president’s office are conservative by a great majority. Both government branches could make all of the changes in the world to standardize business as they deem necessary and most efficient. What is to keep an extremely liberal party from taking Congress and the White House, and reversing all of the good the other party did? There isn’t really anything as long as there is a majority vote.”

She then talked about the ‘pendulum of politics’ and how one party is in power then the next and how the policies reverse over and over again and how this continues the challenges with uncertainty which slows our economic growth as money, investments and capital sit on the sidelines.

Indeed, this is true, however, shouldn’t we all agree that politics can’t keep its hands of Free-Enterprise. The Democrats want to hijack the flows of commerce; labor, efficiency, capital, and profits for their special projects, which usually involve buying votes with socialist populist gifts, and the Republicans have allowed themselves to get so deep in crony-capitalism (Democrats also) that they hardly notice they are destroying the efficiencies of choice and free-markets, while they pretend they are doing positive things for our nation.

Basically, both sides are doing good for themselves and their ability to stay in power. Yes, the system is broken, thus, the power should taken back until they all grow up, and start doing what’s best for the nation, and serving the people and this great nation and not serving themselves at our expense. But, I digress, because I am not allowed to say that, nor you or we both end up on “watch lists” so yes the system is rotten. Even good people in Washington DC are only good they say for about 18-months, the best of them maybe 36 max, as the system corrupts.

Uncertainty is therefore guaranteed, but some say that the reason that government moves so slow in the bureaucracy is because it was designed that way to protect the people from it moving too fast in one direction which is dangerous to all, including the businesses, even the future of the country’s stability, which is extremely important in complex systems.

5 Tips Small Businesses Can Take Away From The Tiny House Movement

What on earth could small businesses learn from the tiny house movement if your industry is unrelated? It comes as no surprise that the growth, mission, popularity and purpose of the tiny house movement have grown over the past decade. People are joining this movement for financial freedom, environmental and leisure enjoyment. These owners reduce skyrocketing maintenance costs and living expenses that come from soaring mortgage payments of capacious houses. This movement also frees up more time to spend with family and travel.

Over the past decade, we have seen the increase in restructuring, downsizing and corporate dismantling by many large firms. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small businesses. While this percentage is an impressive number, there are some great tips many small businesses can take away from the tiny house movement.

  • Compact and mobile: Owners of tiny houses downsize to reduce the overabundance of clutter, high mortgage payments, and freedom to do more things they want to engage in. They have the capability of hitching their home on the back of a vehicle and can save money on hotel costs when traveling. Depending on your type of business, with the ease and digitization of many applications and smart devices, you can mobilize your business and take it anywhere. Even if you relocate, your business can be just as portable. Small businesses may be compact in scale, but can be substantial in their return on investment.
  • Energy and cost-efficient: Tiny house owners save money by lower operating costs, energy usage, and maintenance costs. You will find innovative ways to curb your budget in certain areas that will free up money for other important business investments to grow your business. Small businesses may not use up as much energy and power as larger organizations. You can operate more efficiently as well as effectively.
  • Environmentally conscious and sustainable: Tiny houses may be built using environmentally friendly and repurposed materials. They are built to last but are as unique and aesthetically appealing as the details in a larger home. Small businesses can apply similar eco-friendly elements and recycled supplies to their organization. Make a statement with personalized and customized brand installations on a smaller scale, but with great innovative curb appeal.
  • Technological advantages: Technology is not as big and bulky as it once was. Tiny houses can embody the same level of digitization as larger homes, just on a smaller scale. At one time, big businesses had the upper-hand with harnessing more advanced applications in technology. Nowadays, not only is technology more advanced and constantly evolving, many elements are far more affordable than they’ve ever been.
  • Innovative: While tiny house living is not a new phenomenon it is increasing in popularity. The idea of living a quality life on a small-scale pushes us to new levels of residential creativity. We are inspired to try something new, creative, and innovative that will make us stellar in our industry. Since many quality products and services are more affordable and reliable, small businesses can make quality purchases and outsource services that will save on equipment and personnel budgets.

Just because a small business may adopt a few ideas from the success of the tiny house movement, some of these applications may not be feasible or appealing to your particular industry. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability. Small businesses have the power, however, to promote their business with creative, personalized and exceptional customer experiences, regardless of size and budget.

18 Easy Tips to Start Your Business

Blueprint to starting a business -from ideas to implementation.

Starting a business, where do I begin? Information overload. I’ve complied what I’ve learned over the last 8 years of being on the internet.

    1. Write down a list of services in your area that could be filled.
    1. Write down a list of what your hobbies, interests are.
    1. Research and see if there is a need for the service. Check if there is competition. If there is, see if you can do something easier/better/different. Is there a problem you can solve for your customers? In our area, I would love a delivery place that offered healthy foods such as good old-fashioned green beans with a hamburger instead of fries. Research a need in your area and see if you can fill it. Research the laws in your state. If you’re thinking of starting a bakery, check with your local health inspector to find out what is allowed. If you’re thinking of running a business out of your home and will have customers pick up orders, make sure and check with your local business zones. Some areas may not allow excessive traffic, it’s best to do your research.
    1. Once you’ve decided what you want to do, research the business name and make sure it’s available. You’ll need to register it with the state. Most states allow you to do this online for a minimal fee.
    1. Taxes- get legal. If you’re selling a product, see if you need to collect state sales tax. In my state, I collect taxes on products purchased in my state only and then forward to the Department of Revenue once a year.
    1. Buy a domain name with your business name. 1and1.com and GoDaddy offer domains. This usually costs less than $10 for a year.
    1. Hosting-ask friends and family for referrals. I love my host. Uptime is very important as well as response time. I host with a smart entrepreneur who owns her own servers and monitors them regularly. If there is a problem or I have a question, I know that she is one email or phone call away. I don’t get referred to another person for another issue.
    1. Create a website. There are tons of ways to do this. There are many templates you can find, both paid and free. I’ve used both, plus created mine from scratch as well as paid to have my website created from scratch.
    1. Shopping cart-How are you going to sell your product/service? There are as many shopping carts out there as there are ways to start a business. A free shopping cart that is easy to use is Mals-e. It integrates easily with Paypal.com. PayPal also has their own shopping cart and buy now buttons. When considering a shopping cart, look at the features that you are going to need. Are you selling 20,000 different products? If so you’ll need a shopping cart that lets you use Excel or other programs to upload information. If you’re selling 10 or even 50 items then Mals-e will probably work for you. Mals-e creates a HTML button to insert into your page. The customer is taken to a secure form where they input their payment information.
    1. Are you secure? If you will be accepting credit cards, you will need to be certified PCI compliant for credit cards. Some shopping carts take care of this for you. I currently use Ultracart and they offer PCI compliance with their cart. I have a SSL certificate that I pay a yearly fee for. To get the certificate, I had to prove who I was and get it verified. This protects both you and your customer.
    1. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-Learn it and keep learning it. This is how you get the best search engine results, which can mean the difference between your business making a profit or losing money. If your website is optimized correctly Google and other search engines will find you and send traffic to your website, resulting in more sales. Cricket’s search engine optimization class is the best and it’s free!
    1. Now that your website is up and running and you have a working shopping cart, it’s time to advertise. When you built your website you used keywords that others would find you with, right? It’s important to understand that just because you have a website up and running, it doesn’t mean customers will magically find you. There are many new websites going up every day so yours has to stand out. You can start by adding original, unique content using your keywords. To find your keywords, use a keyword finder. Google has a free one. Another way is to brainstorm. What would you type into Google to find you? Who needs your services? Who is your target market? Where can you find them?
    1. Accounting- set up a method to keep track of sales and expenses. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or even old-fashioned pen and paper. QuickBooks is a popular program that is easy to set up and maintain, just do it from the beginning or you’ll spend time backtracking to put information in.
    1. Marketing plan-Create a map of where you’re going and how you are going to reach your goal Get your free business marketing plan workbook.
    1. Ideas- Keep track of all your ideas. I write them down and put them in my folder of ideas that could be implemented with time and money.
    1. Have a support system. I have a fabulous group of women who have their own specialties. I’ve learned so much from them. When I’m having a bad day I can go to them and vent. It’s extremely important to have a support system in place. Realize that you can do this but it will be hard work, long hours and little pay up front.
    1. Work, Love and Enjoy- My best advice comes from Kay Green, work your business like a business every day. Set up a business schedule and stick to it. Work on your business every day. My friend and mentor taught me this. She went from one product to having a storefront and being a leader in child safety and baby products, all within less than 10 years..
  1. Read these tips, make notes and read it again. Remember that although this is step by step, it can be accomplished by doing more than one thing at once. When you’re an entrepreneur you will wear many hats. If there’s something you don’t know, reach out to your network and ask for help.