Read these 21 Building Your Business Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Entrepreneur tips and hundreds of other topics.
Before you create your product, you need to do some research to see if there is a hungry market for what you are thinking about creating. One way to do that is with key word research. Look for key phrases that suggest the searcher is looking to buy. Phrases that are at least three words long are more likely to be used by buyers. Also, words such as "review," "how to," and "tips" can be a good indication.
Price is not a good point to compete on. You'll only loose that battle eventually. So how do you differentiate yourself from the competition? Have you thought about customer service? Customer service can be a top factor in your business' growth. Make your customers' satisfaction your number one priority: Send birthday cards (or half-birthday cards to be different), holiday gifts, frequent emails to check in. Answer questions swiftly. Make mistakes right. Listen to your customers and respond. You'll be rewarded with multiplying sales!
Some people will say that you need to beat your competition to succeed. And, to a point, they are correct. However, what you are really trying to do is to stand apart from the competition in the eyes of your ideal clients. This doesn't mean your ideal won't go to your "competition" for something else ... you need to focus on them coming to you for what you do. As a small business owner, this may come down to personality, but it may also include convenience, quality, method of delivery, packaging, timing, customer service and others. Avoid competing on price for that way madness lies.
Forging partnerships with your vendors and suppliers can be a very wise business move. These partnerships can lower your costs, help you provide more valuable products and services and even garner you some extra visibility. Some ideas for creating these partnerships include offering ad space in exchange for a discount, co-creating a promotion or product, and developing mutual endorsement campaigns. Be creative and you might find your vendors are also your best clients and promoters.
Create a blog for your business. Use a self-hosted blog rather than something like Blogger or LiveJournal so that you can better create branding and have control over your content. Blogging can increase traffic to your website, showcase your expertise and help build the "know, like and trust" factor for your business.
Creating an affiliate program that generously rewards people who market your products and services is a wise business decision. Creating a fair and equitable commission structure, adding in opportunities to receive bonuses and creating an "affiliate of the year" reward program and make your affiliate program a winner for both your business and your affiliates. Being an affiliate can feel isolating ... but if your business makes the effort to better support your affiliates, they will promote your products and services better and more often. Make them feel a part of YOUR team -- because that is what they are. Remember, their success is your success.
Have you done the same types of marketing for years? Are you still using the same marketing message you always have? Is this strategy still working for you? If yes, congratulations! You've stumbled upon something evergreen ... a rarity in marketing. If not, then its time to try something new. Maybe its time to re-vamp your niche? Maybe its time to refresh your marketing message? Experiment. Test. Expand into new markets. Think outside the box you've been marketing in.
Imagine your company getting so much business, you run out of room in your warehouse. Your restaurant has an hour-long wait for seating every night. This may mean your company is ready to grow. But how do you expand while maintaining the level of service your clientele has grown accustomed to? The answer may be to replicate your business. Open a new warehouse, new factory or a new restaurant. So, even when you are small ... be prepared for your eventual growth and plan for it ahead of time. Ask your advisors about the possibilities of replicating or expanding your current businesses without getting ahead of yourself.
Keep clear records of what you buy and what you make. Create a budget you can work with. Don't depend on money that is not there. Only work with what you have in the bank right now. Invest in a quality bookkeeper for your business. You will save yourself time and trouble by letting someone qualified handle your finances.
An asset is anything that has value, and you can exchange for cash. An assess can also be an item that continues to make money while you own it. Re-evaluate your idea of an asset. It could be important to the success of your company. Let go of anything that isn't an asset. Is there something you are investing in that isn't paying off? Is a new product not working out as well as you thought it would? Change it or cut it out. Grow your assets while reducing your liabilities.
What is your business about? Define it specifically in your business plan. If your business is about selling books, do you find yourself trying to write the books and package them as well? Let go of jobs that are not what your business is about and focus on what you are supposed to do. When you focus on your strengths and outsource the rest, your business can flourish much more easily.
Sometimes an increase in sales too quickly can ruin a business just as much as no business at all. Small companies may not have the staff or capital to handle large orders too soon. Reach out for help. Take control of your business growth and make sure to plan out what you can do to handle a sudden increase of business. Contact suppliers and ask how prepared they are for an influx of orders. Being ready ahead of time will make it easier to handle rapid growth in your business.
Don't confuse assets with liabilities. An asset is something that can make you money ... a liability is something that can cause you to loose money. But, when something that might be considered an asset in one case is a liability in another, people get confused. For example, if you are still making payments on your company car, computer or desk ... it is a liability. If you don't make the payments, you'll looses that "asset" without making money. So, if you find you are confusing your assets and liabilities, make yourself more aware of this and change your perspective. You could be saving yourself some trouble later by being very clear on what is making you money.
The more you can automate the tasks in your business, the more profitable your business can be. For example, if you take orders online, find out how you can simplify the process using software specifically geared toward your business. Make it easier on yourself and your customers. Can the order process be simplified? How about fulfillment? Saving time and effort saves money ... and can even increase profits beyond that.
You don't need to do this in everything you write, but sharing your experience with a topic can go a long way to convincing your readers that you know your stuff. For example, in an tip like this one, I might share my more than 20 years experience as a writer for a wide variety of companies. Maybe I'll talk about the time I was writing a press release and had to go through 20 revisions before I got it just right. And, how that press release was picked up by the Baltimore Sun ... they even used my headline! (It was "Training Fish Like Pavlov's Dogs," by the way.)
If you've got a big enough list, you could do a survey to see what people on your list really want. Just be careful that you get a large enough response for it to be statistically sound. If less than 1% of your list respond, you've probably asked the wrong questions or missed the appropriate hot spot. Once you know what people want, you can develop a product that will be sellable.
Look through forum posts, group posts and even Q&A sites to see what people are asking questions about. How are their questions phrased? Are there a lot of people asking the same basic questions? Can your product answer (or be tweaked to answer) these questions?
The first step in creating a back-end marketing strategy is understanding how your current products interrelate. What products and services logically balance each other? These are the products that you need to set up a cross-selling system for. Use the features in your digital shopping cart to suggest these products when one is placed in the shopping cart. Include promotions for these products in your follow-up autoresponder sequence for those who buy one of the products. Plan it out, implement and let it run on autopilot.
Back-end marketing doesn't stop once a transaction has been completed. It also includes any and all follow up you do with your prospects and customers, such as email marketing and post card marketing. Much of this can be automated, which makes it all the more attractive. Make sure that you are able to segment your list between those who have purchased something from you and those who have not, so you can tailor your messages accordingly.
Back-end marketing is the marketing you engage in as part of the sales process. It is when you suggest other items when someone adds something to their shopping cart (cross-selling). It is happens when someone leaves your sales page and you give them a one time offer for something of a lower price (down-selling). It happens when you suggest adding something to their purchase, either another full product or service (up-selling) or something small and complementary (bump).