Good Business Strategies – The Key to Success

In order for any business to be successful today, it needs to have a good set of business strategies in place which have been developed and executed in the proper manner. In this article we will look at various ways of helping you to develop your own business strategies, as well as how to execute them in a well ordered, consistent manner. If you are like many other people today who are either thinking of setting up a new business, or are looking to expand the business they already have, then you need to have a good strategy in place to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible – right from the start.

There are things that you will need to do in order to evaluate those situations which are extremely critical if you wish to succeed in any business venture you have. Although you may find that there is sufficient space in the market for what you are offering, you will still need to look at other factors to ensure that you can achieve your goals and that your business will thrive. You will need to spend time looking not at just what your target audience wants and needs are, but also at those companies who you will be competing against… in order to grab your share of the market.

All this information you collect will help provide you with accurate knowledge of what the customer needs, rather than what you think they want. Below, we take a look at some of the things that should be included within your company’s business strategy. These tips and techniques will provide any business with a sound basis for moving forward in the market they are in, when the time comes.

Market Research

This is vitally important to any business, whether they be in the corporate or private fields. It can help them as follows:

1. They will be able to organize their marketing activities much more effectively.
2. They will be able to develop both short-term as well as mid-term goals for their business.
3. They will be able to develop a number of different approaches on how they will sell their products or services to their target audience.
4. It allows them to make better profit projections for the business in the future. Plus, it also more accurately allows them to set their profit margins.

When it actually comes time to carry out your market research, there are a number of basic questions you should be asking:

1. First, the most important question of all is: who are your customers?
2. You will then need to ask yourself; what do they want, what do they need, and what resources do they have?
3. Do you need a particular support service or product in order for your business to run as smoothly and effectively as possible?
4. Can your customer base actually afford the service or product that you are offering?
5. Is there any way in which you can create a particular demand for your service or product?
6. Are you able to compete; in price, quality, and delivery — with your competitors?
7. In what way will you be able to creatively price the product or service you are offering to ensure that your business makes an adequate net profit?
8. Just how many other businesses or corporations offer the same product or service as you?
9. How is the local economy in the area where you are targeting your service or product to be sold?
10. Which areas or segments of the market you are involved in are either growing or declining?

Market Data

It is vital that you know your market as intimately as possible. Not only does this mean you need to have a clear understanding of the product or service that you are selling, but you need to also understand a lot about your customers as well. You need to know as much as you can about how their social and economic situations affect their mindset — when it comes to buying your type of products or services.

There are plenty of diverse resources you can use to obtain information relating to the above, and one such service is the Small Business Administration (SBA). They are able to provide you with a great deal of information immediately, and most of it is free.

Your Competitors

It is extremely important that you carry out as much research on specifically those who you will be competing against. If you can arrange it, visit as many trade shows or exhibitions as you can to see what your competitors are selling. Also, look at all the ways in which they are marketing their products or services. By doing this you will be able to keep abreast of anything new that they are planning or doing. Also take a look through all the latest industry publications that you can get a hold of, as these will help to keep you on top of what is happening in the marketplace and will also provide you with useful tips and techniques you can use to help you gain an edge over your competitors.

If you are already in business and are looking to expand it, then when it comes to planning new strategies for your business you should first take a look at refining those that you already have in place. It also is essential that you clarify all the business strategies you have in place for you business in relation to each department; from the financial side, through to marketing, sales, management, as well as the operational departments.

When it does come time for you to actually prepare the strategic plan for your business, there are a number of different things that you will need to be including within it. Any good business strategies will contain a number of different processes which look at: The Vision – where the business hopes to be in the future. The Mission – what they intend to do for their customers. Their Objectives – what they hope to achieve in the end. Their Values And Goals – what they hope to achieve and what programs will need to be put in place in order to achieve their goals.

By putting a good set of business strategies into place before doing anything else will in the long run benefit the company greatly. Certainly, the more aware of what it is your company needs to do in order to achieve its aims and increase its share of the marketplace at present will only help to build a much more sound and profitable business in the future. So, getting a good strategic plan in place is vital to the growth of your business, whether you are a completely new business or you are looking to expand the business you already have.

How to Choose Business Gifts

Choosing the right business gift can be very challenging indeed. You can make things much easier on yourself by finding out all you can about the companies gift giving policies and guidelines before you buy anything. Going out and buying a business gift without bothering to find out what the companies gift giving policies are, is not only rude but most certainly shows a great lack of respect for the business itself. Not only do you stand to loose a client, you will also be losing all the potential clients this business could have sent your way. So take the time to find out what a companies gift giving guidelines are so you can leave a good lasting impression and have a great business relationship that will carry on through the years.

Many companies today have strict policies on how much money can be spent on gifts given to their employees, as well as certain restrictions on the situation in which gifts can be exchanged or accepted. You can ask the client directly about any policies they may have or contact the company’s personnel department. Once you find out what the guidelines are, the next step is to find a gift that is appropriate and memorable to leave a good and lasting impression with the client and company. Look for gifts that are unique and convey a professional image. When giving a gift to a person, etiquette is very important so find out all you can about this particular person. Giving a business client an inappropriate gift can be just as costly as giving a gift to a group of people.

For example, if the client you’re giving a business gift to is female, it would be very inappropriate to give her jewelry or clothing–especially if you’re a man. It would be just as terrible to give a bottle of wine to a recovering alcoholic; this is why it’s so important to find out what you can about the person receiving your gift. Doing either one of these gift-giving no-no’s can be devastating to you and your business. It doesn’t take that long to find out a few personal things about your client, like what their religious or ethical beliefs may be, especially around the holidays. If you don’t want to go that route, find out what your client’s hobbies are or what books they like to read? Is he/she into sports, hiking or camping? Do they own pets? Even if you’re buying a gift for a group of people, asking these simple questions can be just as helpful. You never know when a whole office may be crazy about the same thing.

Taking a few minuets to find out some key information about what your business’s gift giving policies are, and some personal information about the person a business gift is intended for will save you much heartache and will put you and your business in the path of much deserved success.

Business gifts to thank your employees are a popular way to show your appreciation. If you’re a smart business person, and you certainly must be, then you know that your employees help make your business what it is today. You may have started the business, and have shown the people working for you what you expect from them, but you would not have been able to pull it off so successfully by yourself. Showing your employees your appreciation with an appropriate business gift may be just the thing to boost employee moral.

When it comes to business gift ideas, there are plenty of things to choose from and depending on how many employees you have, and how much you can spend, will narrow down you choices of what to buy. There are many kinds of business gifts to give for any occasion, and you don’t need to wait until Christmas or a special occasion to give a business gift. If you want to be less formal with your gifts then maybe a gift basket may fit the bill. Not really sure what kind of gifts for a business associate to give? You may want to consult other business owners to give you some different business gift ideas.

Buying business gifts for men may be a little harder to choose than for a female associate, however, don’t worry, if you still haven’t found a unique business gift to give, then a nice gift certificate from a local gift store will have to do. Corporate business gifts may get a little pricey and really aren’t necessary unless your trying to hire another employee away from the competition to come work for you. Personalized business gifts are always a big hit with employee’s and it makes them feel extra special because you actually cared enough to get something personalized just for them.

So, when it comes time to show your employees the gratitude they deserve for helping you make your business the success that it is today, giving them business thank you gifts at times other than Christmas, gives them extra special meaning, and the willing to work even harder for you and your business. Giving gifts to business associates is a big way to thank them, and may even help your business do even better because of its happy employee’s.

Small Business Start Up Financing

The number one question I get asked as a small business start-up coach is: Where do I get start-up cash?

I’m always glad when my clients ask me this question. If they are asking this question, it is a sure sign that they are serious about taking financial responsibility for start it.

Not All Money Is the Same

There are two types of start-up financing: debt and equity. Consider what type is right for you.

Debt Financing is the use of borrowed money to finance a business. Any money you borrow is considered debt financing.

Sources of debt financing loans are many and varied: banks, savings and loans, credit unions, commercial finance companies, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are the most common. Loans from family and friends are also considered debt financing, even when there is no interest attached.

Debt financing loans are relatively small and short in term and are awarded based on your guarantee of repayment from your personal assets and equity. Debt financing is often the financial strategy of choice for the start-up stage of businesses.

Equity financing is any form of financing that is based on the equity of your business. In this type of financing, the financial institution provides money in return for a share of your business’s profits. This essentially means that you will be selling a portion of your company in order to receive funds.

Venture capitalist firms, business angels, and other professional equity funding firms are the standard sources for equity financing. Handled correctly, loans from friends and family could be considered a source of non-professional equity funding.

Equity financing involves stock options, and is usually a larger, longer-term investment than debt financing. Because of this, equity financing is more often considered in the growth stage of businesses.

7 Main Sources of Funding for Small Business Start-ups

1. You

Investors are more willing to invest in your start-up when they see that you have put your own money on the line. So the first place to look for money when starting up a business is your own pocket.

Personal Assets

According to the SBA, 57% of entrepreneurs dip into personal or family savings to pay for their company’s launch. If you decide to use your own money, don’t use it all. This will protect you from eating Ramen noodles for the rest of your life, give you great experience in borrowing money, and build your business credit.

A Job

There’s no reason why you can’t get an outside job to fund your start-up. In fact, most people do. This will ensure that there will never be a time when you are without money coming in and will help take most of the stress and risk out of starting up.

Credit Cards

If you are going to use plastic, shop around for the lowest interest rate available.

2. Friends and Family

Money from friends and family is the most common source of non-professional funding for small business start-ups. Here, the biggest advantage is the same as the biggest disadvantage: You know these people. Unspoken needs and attachments to outcome may cause stress that would warrant steering away from this type of funding.

3. Angel Investors

An angel investor is someone who invests in a business venture, providing capital for start-up or expansion. Angels are affluent individuals, often entrepreneurs themselves, who make high-risk investments with new companies for the hope of high rates of return on their money. They are often the first investors in a company, adding value through their contacts and expertise. Unlike venture capitalists, angels typically do not pool money in a professionally-managed fund. Rather, angel investors often organize themselves in angel networks or angel groups to share research and pool investment capital.

4. Business Partners

There are two kinds of partners to consider for your business: silent and working. A silent partner is someone who contributes capital for a portion of the business, yet is generally not involved in the operation of the business. A working partner is someone who contributes not only capital for a portion of the business but also skills and labor in day-to-day operations.

5. Commercial Loans

If you are launching a new business, chances are good that there will be a commercial bank loan somewhere in your future. However, most commercial loans go to small businesses that are already showing a profitable track record. Banks finance 12% of all small business start-ups, according to a recent SBA study. Banks consider financing individuals with a solid credit history, related entrepreneurial experience, and collateral (real estate and equipment). Banks require a formal business plan. They also take into consideration whether you are investing your own money in your start-up before giving you a loan.

6. Seed Funding Firms

Seed funding firms, also called incubators, are designed to encourage entrepreneurship and nurture business ideas or new technologies to help them become attractive to venture capitalists. An incubator typically provides physical space and some or all of these services: meeting areas, office space, equipment, secretarial services, accounting services, research libraries, legal services, and technical services. Incubators involve a mix of advice, service and support to help new businesses develop and grow.

7. Venture Capital Funds

Venture capital is a type of private equity funding typically provided to new growth businesses by professional, institutionally backed outside investors. Venture capitalist firms are actual companies. However, they invest other people’s money and much larger amounts of it (several million dollars) than seed funding firms. This type of equity investment usually is best suited for rapidly growing companies that require a lot of capital or start-up companies with a strong business plan.