Tag: Business

How to Get Help with Your Small Business Plan

No one has it all figured out. Being on your own, especially when first composing a business plan, results in a lost opportunity to avoid the mistakes others have already made. You can get a lot of advice in the age of the internet, of course, but finding true help usually takes a bit more effort. When drafting your small business plan, you’ll cover all your bases by getting help through the following avenues!

Find a Mentor

The best and hardest way to find help is personal mentorship. That means not just searching up articles on business strategies and plans, but having a real professional look at your plan and analyze it personally. While you can hire someone, there are lots of ways to do this organically—such as going to local networking events, going to small business development centers, joining a professional or trade association, and even connecting with volunteer mentors through nonprofit organizations such as SCORE. Rebecca Radice recommends networking over social media as well! Really, there are a lot of options and a lot of opportunities to take advantage of, if only you put in the work for it.

Loan Programs

When putting together a business plan, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is funding. If you’re struggling in this area, a great avenue of help are the Small Business Administration (SBA) loans available for most startups. According to Franchise Gator, SBA loans are backed by the government and tend to come with better rates than many banks. While there are many kinds, generally they require a minimum credit score, no recent bankruptcies or foreclosures, and at least a 10% down payment from the business. In return, interest rates are lower, repayment terms are longer, and $30,000 or more is available. This can be a big advantage to a business plan that requires a lot of capital.

Research Professional Advice

While you can’t trust everything the internet tells you, you can find a lot of helpful resources in certain places. Following professionals on social media and subscribing to newsletters and blogs in your field can give you insider knowledge about the industry you’re going into even if you don’t know anyone personally. According to Time Doctor, business podcasts can be extremely helpful as well. You can even take accredited classes online to help you model the perfect business according to your vision.

In the end, it’s up to you to make the best decisions for your startup. Ignoring help is never a smart idea, however. If you’re searching for help with your business plan, look for it in multiple avenues—you never know what resources and programs are out there!

Read next: What New Entrepreneurs Should Think About Before Starting a Business

Why Training Should Be a Top Priority for Your Business

Businesses take a lot of work to be successful. No single person or group within the business is typically single-handedly responsible for the level of success a business achieves. It tends to be a group effort, which means that the group needs to be on the same page and prepared for the work that needs to be done. That means that training needs to be a top priority for your business.

Improve Competency

The more competent your employees are, the better their work will be and the better off your business will be. It’s pretty normal for businesses to do some training as a part of the onboarding process, but unless job responsibilities change, that’s often the end of it. The thing is, most, if not all employees would likely do better at their jobs if they were trained on how to improve. It may help to assess employee performance so you can cater the training to their needs.

Improve Safety

Depending on the industry you work in and the type of work your business does, you may benefit greatly from regular safety training. Businesses that work with safety labels especially need to put safety first. Employees need to have a solid handle on what the different aspects of safety labels signify, the risks that they can expect to encounter during the course of their work, and how to deal with them when they do. The more familiar they are with these things, the less frequently you should see accidents and injuries in the workplace.

Improve Culture

The culture you cultivate at your business will impact how well you retain your employees and the experience your customers have with your business. If yours isn’t quite the way you want it to be, training your employees may help improve it. Training meetings give you a chance to make employees aware of your expectations. Knowing what is expected of them is the first step to delivering on those expectations. The next step is to give them the tools they need to meet those expectations, which is where additional training will come into play.

Making training a top priority for your business can provide multiple benefits. It can help improve employee competency, make the workplace safer, and improve the culture of your business. Start identifying what areas of your business would benefit from more in-depth training and setting up some training programs so you can start enjoying the benefits that come from them.

Read this next: Social Media Platforms Your Business Should Be On

Social Media Platforms Your Business Should Be On

As more and more people have constant access to the internet, it is increasingly important for businesses to develop multiple online, social media platforms. Nevertheless, you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed with so many different platforms to choose from. Here are three different social media platforms that your business should get on as soon as possible.

Facebook

Facebook is a great option, especially for newly emerging businesses: Facebook is relatively cheap for those without a large marketing budget, and it also allows new business owners to expand their outreach and gain much-needed customers. Furthermore, since Facebook posts can incorporate a variety of different types of media (i.e. videos, pictures, etc.), posting on Facebook can increase customer engagement and help customers learn more about your brand. Encourage customers to leave a positive review of your business on Facebook so that you can increase your brand’s visibility.  

Instagram

Instagram is one of the best influencer platforms because it has over one billion users around the world. It is also the perfect place to connect with the younger generations, which can be especially critical if your services and products are intended for younger populations. Instagram also allows you to embrace the visual elements of marketing. As you develop a business identity on Instagram, be sure to incorporate a lot of videos and photographs that are eye-catching to users. Lastly, Instagram offers many advanced tools for businesses who would benefit from elements such as selling products directly through their profile and auto-publishing.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn may not be the prime space for customer outreach (although it can be, depending on who your audience is), but it is a perfect place for networking and finding potential employees. The more that you expand your professional network, the more you will be given access to potential business opportunities that you may have not otherwise had. Through LinkedIn, you can also monitor your competition and learn from industry experts. Through direct messaging, you can connect with people who may be interested in what your business has to offer. Furthermore, if you need business partners or employees, there is a free job posting option.

Social media is the current best place for businesses to be. Other forms of marketing are being pushed into the past, so you will want to start transitioning your marketing and outreach tactics online as soon as possible. Doing so will provide you with opportunities to engage with your target audience more than you ever were able to before.

Read this next: How to Build a Reputation for Customer Service

Meaningful Steps to Building a Powerful Marketing Strategy

Creating a strong marketing strategy takes a lot of preparation and research. Before you can expect customers to enter your business, you have to get the word out that your business exists. Carefully presenting your brand will impact the kinds of customers you have, how you communicate with them, and how easy your product keeps them coming back.

Build Backlinks

One solid way to help people find your products is by building backlinks. Links to your business website from other peoples’ websites can help you get more exposure. Your website should have interesting content that demonstrates how worthwhile your service or product is.

Talk with other companies and see if you can strike a deal. Collaborating with another company can be messy, so you should find a great lawyer who can help you establish the business deal. Consistently refer to other peoples’ websites as a form of advertising, and they will to you as well. This is one great way you can use links in your marketing.

Increase Positive Reviews

Earning positive reviews from customers is the perfect way to expand your company’s reach. Reviews and ratings online play a significant role in your marketing strategy. If your business has a 4+ star rating, more people will be willing to give it a chance. You can also use some of these reviews in your advertisements—especially if they are public figures.

When you receive negative reviews, you shouldn’t ignore them. Instead, you should respond immediately asking what you could do better. This not only will give your business a chance to set things right, but it will also show humility to customers looking into your business.

Be Creative

Any company can make an advertisement. But making an advertisement someone will want to watch is much harder. Because digital media is all the rage, your advertisements need to be quick, informative, and entertaining all at once. It may not score you a buy instantly, but it will create a fun image of your brand.

Work with your writers to create a work environment where bad ideas can be improved. Be extreme with your advertising and tone it down if necessary. Establish an entertaining narrative that anyone could understand. Creative, daring advertisements are the best way to catch someone’s attention.

These steps will improve the marketing strategy you are considering. Building backlinks and working with other companies can increase exposure, positive reviews can build trust, and creativity can establish your brand. Each is important in its own right.

Part of a good marketing strategy is having a professional-looking website. Contact us so we can help you build one!

Top Workplace Standards That Will Enhance Your Business

In order to create a safe workplace, certain standards must be implemented and followed. These guidelines, often regulated by government agencies, are in place to provide organized safety for all employees. Other standards that exist may not have anything directly to do with safety, but they exist to protect the employee.

Institute Safety Guidelines

For a place to be deemed as safe, there must be guidelines set up and implemented. These are often called cardinal rules. They ask that every employee adhere to them in order to maintain a safe and efficient working environment. They should often include precautions that have been tested and are established as the safest means possible.

Establishing safety standards keeps people safe, increases efficiency, reduces potential risks, and offers several other important benefits to your company. Leveraging the right resources can help a safety manager easily access the materials needed to create a safe working space.

Create Communication Policies

The news of safety must be spread to all employees. How does one do it, though? The messages must be vibrant, consistent, and informative. The timing of a safety message should be weekly, and they should be discussed in all employee meetings.

Safety communication does not have to be a dry, lifeless piece of information. Make it fun and attention grabbing. Insert quotes from knowledgeable sources regarding employee morale. A communication can use an employee as an example of someone doing something safely. The main message of a safety communication should be relevant and timely.

The Importance of Safety Committees

Safety comes in numbers. A safety committee is, usually, a safety manager and employees who are dedicated and concerned about the safe practices in and around their work environment.

A safety committee is an excellent way to formulate ideas and action. The group can brainstorm ways to communicate safety guidelines and policies to the rest of the employee population. The direction of the safety group should be the benefit of all the employees, keeping in mind that the employees should not be dictated. The policies from a safety committee should be a cooperative effort between managers and employees. The safety committee is a great way to incorporate those efforts.

Safety guidelines are in place to make the work environment a safe and effective place to work. Once the guidelines are implemented, more communication policies can be created through the works of a safety committee.

Read more: How a Wellness Program Benefits Your Business

Her Why: Sunshine Marie Network Backbone

Her Why: Sunshine Marie Network Backbone

The year, 2009, my father whom was a retired Vietnam Vet and aspiring jazz musician was struggling to reach new potential customers for his St. Louis, MO based HVAC business outside of his immediate radius as illness started to dance around him sporadically. Bred into an artistic family of painters and musicians. I inherited the gift and love of the arts. Throughout childhood I always looked at almost everything with an abstract eye. I went to my father with the idea of creating a platform online for him that embodied the value of his HVAC business in the community and his character. I smile as I think about daddy’s response to me stating, “sunshine, you understand more than I do when it comes to computers. I am learning but you are creative and talented. Go ahead and create this for your dad.”

In remembering the year was 2009 at the time of this discussion, websites for small businesses were just starting to explode and not many in my area had thought of using websites to their advantage or saw the opportunity as financially feasible. Living in Colorado Springs, CO at the time, with excitement and intrigue, I worked on my father’s website after work in the evenings, caring for my children and tending to the house and on the weekends. My father was just as excited as I was. My heart since I was a little girl has and will always be with communities. With those who need help.

My heart was overjoyed to both hear and see the smile on my dad’s face when he would see the work on his developing website. Unfortunately, my father was not able to see his site completion as passed away both unexpectedly and tragically. I was with my father when he passed away and held his hand until he took his last breath. It felt like my soul dropped to the ground and everything haulted. I transitioned into shock and numbness and it took many moons to heal.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2011, the online presence I initially started for my father surprisingly started getting views from friends and co-workers. I began to get requests to build sites for friends who owned small businesses and those in the local entertainment community. From that point I created my first completed site “Taggleme (website for artists)”, releasing in January 2011. Developing the website name after my father, I embraced my thoughts of providing a forum for the world’s talent and community business without having to sift through extra additives. Since the inception of first entity, Taggleme, Sunshine Marie Network has grown into a hub following my nickname (Sunshine) and my Middle name (Marie) to include SMN Web Services, SMN Radio and new retail MARIEVINE.

Most importantly, the work that I do is not for me. When it is my time to graduate from this life I want to leave support and genuine love. The core of Sunshine Marie Network is in its philanthropic efforts. Our program “You Gotta Do This!” will provide free web development services to single parents in need via SMN Web Services by receipt of one page essay’s and “A Soul Left” is dedicated to individuals experiencing and fighting against homelessness.

SMN is still growing and I am very excited as my joy comes from being able to provide joy to others with their means of talent, expression, further business and support base, and doing more for others as things are so much bigger than ourselves. To learn more please visit Sunshine Marie Network at: https://sunshinemarienetwork.com

Tammy Ms. Marie Johnson - Founder and CEO of Sunshine Marie Network
Tammy Ms. Marie Johnson – Founder and CEO of Sunshine Marie Network