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Dialing In on Mobile Apps for Small Business For More Fans to Become Customers

Posted on May 31, 2019 in Uncategorized

Once our mobile apps for small business are designed smartly for our industry it is time to turn our attention to our highest priorities – fans.

These are the people who may be today’s customers. With the right strategy you can soon develop tomorrow’s prospects. You can even expand geographically if it makes sense.

Target Audience – Target Needs

There are few businesses that can meet every type of group’s primary needs. Successful smaller firms often have an innate ability to attract a particular demographic group.

One of the keys to successfully using mobile apps for small business is to know the specific profile of your strongest demographic group.

Consider age, gender, income or even race, ethnic or faith considerations.

Next, are you primarily trying to reach current customers who already know your business and equip them to introduce your offerings to others?

Or, do want to engage a totally new group from the start?

Mobile apps for small business can easily be designed with loyalty and repeat business criteria.

Most mobile apps for small business primarily lead with something fun and engaging. Just be sure to keep the most dominant felt need your target audience is likely experiencing the most frequently.

Not sure what this is yet? This will be much easier to determine from your target demographic profile.

For example, a studio photographer targets early bird specials for high school juniors for the senior portrait market. Their mobile apps for small business targets busy working parents with attractive referral discounts as well.

One felt need that is often overlooked for mobile apps for small business surrounds status. Be sure to include a social forum where your fans can share what they are most proud of accomplishing.

Examples can include recognizing local sports teams and their fans championship season with a picture gallery. How about proud grandparents sharing their favorite pictures of special times with their grand kids? Don’t forget area alumni, chamber or association groups for posting professional awards and designations.

What Zip Codes Do You Want to Reach?

What is exciting about mobile apps for small business is that with a minimal budget you can literally reach anywhere in the world. Just think of the popular social media tools today that are a growing global phenomenon. Facebook is closing in on 1 billion registered users. Smart phones are forecasted to be at 1 billion users by 2016.

At the same time you can much more quickly become a local leader in your market with the right mix of mobile apps for small business.

In fact Silicon Valley recognizes this area as one of the hottest investments in the social, local, mobile market.

Here are some tips to help you grow your footprint as big as you want to.

Local – The local audience is fleeing traditional print sources such as yellow pages in droves. Instead the explosion of smart phone use makes mobile apps for small business the ideal place for your audience to find you. Be sure to really refine your unique brand and niche. The more you make it positive and interesting the more likely your new fans will want to share it with their friends.

Regional – If you have identified an unmet need with your brand and have an exceptional level of product and service why not look regionally? Do some important due diligence on the competition. Reach out to some local affiliate partners that can help you get off to a faster start.

It is often wise to have a clean and simple front door like a welcome or offer page on a regionally branded web site or landing page. Just be sure your regional brand identify is reflected throughout what you offer.

National – With e-commerce growing fast on the web more people are used to buying products from anywhere. Build on this with your mobile apps for small business. Once again 3rd party affiliates will be important to your success. Just be sure they have a strong established national reach and your product or service brings real additional value to what they already provide their current customers.

Other important factors in choosing the right mobile apps for small business include your ability to offer a unique enough product or service at the right price that will trump local offerings.

Any major change in geographic coverage requires thoughtful planning. Always make sure you can deliver what you promise with timely delivery and service. The reward of building confidence with your customers comes with equipping them with the right mobile apps for small business that they will want to share with their friends about what benefit you provided them.

Think Globally and Grow

With select products and services on the web it’s now more common for small firms to have a national and even global presence. Simply leverage that in your unique way with the right suite of mobile apps for small business. Just be sure you do the due diligence on complying with international commerce and taxation regulations.

Finding new fans you can turn into customers is made much easier with the right mobile apps for small business strategy.

3 Sources Where Your Small Business Can Get A Loan Today – Yes, Even Your Small Business

Posted on May 28, 2019 in Uncategorized

Now, when we talk about small business loans, we mean just that – small business loans. We are not talking about a $1 million loan to purchase some commercial real estate or $500,000 to buy some investment property. We are not talking about a $3 million credit line just to show capital on a balance sheet. And, we are not talking about a $250,000 equipment loan for a regional construction company.

We are talking about true small business credit – loans under $150,000. Capital amounts that the 22 million small businesses in this country could use at some point in time for working capital, to renovate their location, purchase inventory, marketing, meeting payroll, developing new products or to simply have the capital on hand to acquire and satisfy customers (what business is really about).

But, we have heard ad nauseam that banks are just not lending to small businesses – claiming there is too much risk in smaller firms. So, many small companies are not even applying for credit anymore out of fear of being turned down. And, as a result, we are seeing small businesses not reach for or obtaining their full potential – essentially letting profitable opportunities slip by.

However, just because banks don’t see the true value of small companies, that does not mean that others don’t – others who are willing to do what they can to fund your business.

The Benefits Of Small Business

There are some 22 million small businesses in the U.S. and they are quite the power house.

According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, small businesses;

  • Provide two-thirds of all new jobs in the nation.
  • Contribute almost 50% to our Gross Domestic Product.
  • Account for 97.8% of all exports. And,
  • Create 16.5% more innovation than larger firms.

All items that help make America the country that it is.

But, if banks think these firms are too risky, that is OK, because given the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, other financing firms (lenders) are stepping up to cover the small business loans that banks and traditional lenders will not. So now, you don’t have to be afraid of being turned down anymore.

3 Sources That Will Fund Your Small Business

1) SBA Loans: Sure, SBA loans have to go through banks – which are not lending. However, banks might not be lending for their own loan portfolios but they are lending under the SBA’s programs.

Did you know that over the last three years, the SBA has been growing the number and dollar amount of the under $150,000 loans they back – even given that banks (who originate these products) are not approving them?

From the latest SBA data;

In 2012, the SBA guaranteed 14,520 under $150,000 loans for a total loan amount of over $802 million. In 2014 (two years later), the SBA increase the number of these loans to 16,043 with a total volume of $955 million – with a down year in 2013.

Part of this increase is the fact that the SBA has reduced or waived its fees on these smaller loans. From the SBA’s website:

“The SBA determined to eliminate the fees on loans of $150,000 or less after conducting a review of the 7(a) Loan Program. As a result, a small business owner obtaining a $150,000 loan will save more than $2,500.”

Bottom line – the SBA is actually doing what it can to fund small businesses in this country – including yours.

Programs to look for:

The 7(a) program offers nearly any business loan under the sun from working capital to commercial real estate.

The CDC/504 program only focuses on real estate and equipment lending. But, if your business needs either one of these under the $150,000 amount – including renovating your location – then by all means as this is a great program.

And, the express program – which is capped at $350,000 – is a great program. Quick and easy access to needed capital.

Now, for some quick benefits of SBA loans. The SBA’s guarantee does several things:

  • By capping interest rates and fees, these products tend to be cheaper in the long-run for the borrower.
  • Lower down payment requirements – meaning that you can keep more of your own money in your own business.
  • Long loan terms also allow payments on these facilities to be more affordable. Just image which loan payment would be easier to make on a $100,000 loan at 10% interest. A bank may require the loan to be repaid in 36 months – making the monthly payment $3,227. While the SBA could extend the term to 6 years (72 months) making their monthly payment $1,853. The lower the payment amount, the easier it is to cover with current cash flow, making the overall loan less risky and easier to get approved.
  • Express programs can significantly speed up funding as some traditional business loans can take months to close while those under the express programs can be funded in the matter of weeks.

If you have been fearful of applying for a SBA loan, knock it off and go apply!

2) Alternative Lending: Alternative loans (non-bank loans) from factoring and business cash advances to revenue based loans have really picked up steam over the last 5 plus years.

These lenders are focused solely on small businesses and as such have created products that allow them to approve more loans to companies that traditional lenders will not touch – by not using old and outdated underwriting standards but by focusing more on technology.

Most alternative lenders – especially the leaders in this space – have seen their loan volumes (thus their approval rates) – increase by 150% or more year after year.

A couple of examples: According to the SBA, their largest lender – Wells Fargo – approved and funded just over $266 million in small business financing last year. However, OnDeck Capital, a leading revenue based lender, nearly doubled that amount over the same period. Further, CAN Capital claims to have funded over $800 million in 2013 – far out pacing even the top 100 SBA lenders combined.

While these loans are high-cost loans, they offer several benefits like approvals when other lenders say “no” as well as quick (in the matter of days) funding.

3) New Players: Peer-to-peer lending is know for its ability to match regular people who have extra money to lend with regular people who need to borrow. These loans are typically personal loans that can be used for nearly any purpose – like starting or growing a small business.

However, just this year, Lending Club – the leader in P2P lending – has begun to offer a true small business loan product where businesses can borrower anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 at low rates. And, their approval and funding is not based on some standard cookie cutter formula that most businesses just do not meet but comes from regular people who listen to your story and decide for themselves the merit of your financing request.

Conclusion

Capital for your business is still available.

Don’t always believe what you hear. Sure, small business lending is tight – when compared to the hey days of the mid-2000s. But, that does not mean that you still cannot get the funding your small business needs to start, grow and succeed.

To truly know if your company is qualified for business loan all you have to do is one thing – and that is to apply. But, if you don’t apply, you will never know for sure and then all you can do is reflect on how far your business COULD have gone.

Small Business Project Management: Six Pros and Cons

Posted on May 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

Growth hungry small businesses today in the UK and indeed throughout the world face the challenge of balancing two competing objectives. Firstly, businesses must maintain and standardise current business processes in order to give your business the chance to get really good at what it does through experience curve effects. Greater business efficiency normally translates into a better customer experience and higher profits. Secondly, businesses must transform business operations in order to survive and compete in the future. How well we are able to achieve the right balance for our business will ultimately determine if we survive and go on to thrive or go the way of so many small businesses into market irrelevancy and insolvency.

You may well be thinking right now what has this got to do with project management? To understand that we first need to understand the fundamental differences between projects and day to day business operations. Whilst many of the skills required to manage your “business as usual” activities are the same as those needed to manage projects, there are some crucial differences. Amongst the most significant differences are that project work tends to be at least cross functional and often cross organisational and every project will be unique in some way rather than following the predictable pattern of business as usual. These characteristics of projects introduce opportunities and risks over and above those encountered in business as usual. In short, projects are riskier than day to day business, and therefore need a different management approach.

Projects are the means by which we introduce change in organisations. All businesses that are making any attempt to adapt to face future challenges have projects. Common examples of projects in small businesses may include setting up a company website, establishing the office in a new location, or implementing a new product but it can be any temporary activity or set of activities that have a specific output associated with it. Businesses increase their productive capacity one project at a time. Indeed, for ambitious small companies looking to grow and expand, the need to initiate the right projects and achieve the desired results is even more vital l than it is for huge national and multi-national businesses

Despite the obvious need for a project management (PM) approach, most small businesses don’t bother. This constitutes a huge missed opportunity as effective project management impacts the bottom line. For example, research by the CBP shows that project management improvement initiatives improve project performance by up to 50% for the first project and can continue for each new project if the business offers ongoing project management tools and support. We could emphasise this point further by citing the Standish Group, who in their CHAOS Report conservatively estimates that 20% of money spent on projects is wasted because companies don’t have a consistent approach to project management.

Let’s take a look at six reasons I often hear from small business owners that choose not to bother with project management and then critically address the misconceptions behind these reasons.

1. Project management practices take more time

Having a process to follow may add time to the duration of an activity. Doing something properly will almost always take a little bit more time than adopting a slapdash approach. However, if you where building a house, would you rather have a quality end result that took a little longer, or would you prefer to have it done quickly but with lots of problems? Given that poorly executed projects can be completely de-rail a small business if they go badly, doing it well is essential, and PM processes help ensure things are done well.

2. Project management eats into the cash that I need to grow my business

A common misconception is that it is hugely expensive to implement PM process. The reality is that there are many free or low-cost sources of advice, techniques, tools, templates and project management services readily available and accessible through the Internet. If done correctly, any small business can implement PM processes, techniques and tools with very little cost. The likelihood is that small business owners are already using software and other tools that can be used for project management. For example, certain email software, spreadsheets, and other common software applications offer good templates for project management, especially if used in collaboration with some of the low cost project management services available for small businesses

3. Project management requires skills that I don’t have and cannot afford to hire

Although it does require specialised skills and experience to be an accomplished project manager, these are skills that can be learned over time. To move further up the learning curve faster, it is possible to take a PM course in as little as four or five days. Most small business owners tend to possess the knowledge needed for project management, and courses such as the Prince 2 Practitioner course would build on these skills while introducing the specific theories, tools, and processes essential for project management. Whilst business owners might not emerge from a course as a project expert, they would certainly learn valuable skills to apply to their small business.

4. I don’t need the hassle or paperwork of project management.

Every entrepreneur that starts their own business will, at some point, need to do a risk assessment, a marketing campaign or apply for finance. Being knowledgeable in project management and applying associated tools such as stakeholder analysis, communication planning and risk management will not only assist in many of these tasks, but will provide your small business with a competitive edge over competitors who do not approach.

5. Project management will slow me down and I need to stay agile.

Modern PM methodologies all acknowledge the importance of a tailored approach to project management. If your project requires speed, the right methodology can enable you to move quickly. Just as important, however, it will provide you with techniques to understand whether some proposed projects are worth pursuing at all. Rushing into situations without thoroughly understanding your environment is hazardous to the health of any project and potentially to the health of the business as a whole

6. I am an expert in my industry, I don’t need project management.

Most small businesses are started by a person who already has some expertise in their industry. This is unquestionably an advantage; however, project management should still be used to convert plans into reality. The main reasons for project failure tends to be poor planning, lack of capital, and lack of management. Project management, while not a cast-iron guarantee of success, will assist the small business in mitigating some of the common risks that so often cause project failure amongst small businesses.

Even a brief look at the reasons often posited by small business owners for failing to approach projects in a systematic and different way that recognises their inherent riskiness and addresses some of the more challenging aspects of project work shows them to be of dubious merit. Without question, the quality of project outputs would be greatly enhanced and the cost of and time taken in delivering project benefits using a project methodology appropriate to the scale of the project.

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