Vesta Digital Blog

Archive for January 2011

Start-Up Mistakes To AvoidIt’s the start of a new year and maybe you have decided to start your own business. Or perhaps you’re already through the start-up phase and you’d like to see your business grow. New business owners often make the same mistakes, you should know which ones to avoid and which ones you might already be making.

Don’t set your prices too low

When you first get started it can be difficult to set a price for your product. You might not be one hundred percent confident in your price range and it’s important to be very careful in price territory especially if you are in services. If you are just beginning, setting your prices too low can be disastrous because you might not know exactly how long projects can take or what kind of unexpected expenses might come up. So learn to be proactive and think of all contingencies before setting your price.

Be careful with details

You have to be meticulous about your records. Organization can be the key to the success of your business. If you are a service-based business, jumping right into the project without a signed contract or at least an outline agreed by both parties can be detrimental to the end result. Be aware that you can get burned and you need to cover all of your bases before offering your services to anyone.

Update your business model

Your business model should be an ever-evolving idea. Every day you should experience things that give you an idea of how to better your business model. Customers like proactive companies that are continuing to try and get better. It will increase your brand equity and consumer opinion if you ask for feedback and update your business model. If you are too stubborn to quickly abandon something that clearly isn’t working, you’re setting yourself up for business failure.

If you ever get discourage because you knew you made a big mistake and it set your business back significantly, remember this: “failure is compost,” there’s no better way to grow your business than on the foundation of mistakes you learned from and improved upon.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Find Customers on FacebookBy now you should know how crucial it is to set up a Facebook page for your business. You may have already done so. I’ve also stressed how important it is to participate in conversations with people interested in your product and people in your industry.

Now, you may be wondering – how do I find people to talk to? – great question. There are several things you can do to find consumers to connect with and increase your consumer base in your social media network.

How to find customers

Marketing and advertising used to be about providing information for consumers so they can choose which brand to go with. Nowadays, it’s more important that a brand or company seeks out its own consumer base and provide them with solutions.

In order to find your own customer base, you can start with the Facebook directory. Go straight Facebook’s login page; at the very bottom there is a small horizontal menu on the right side. Click on “Pages” to see a Facebook directory of every page in existence on Facebook. Here, you can search alphabetically for any other company or brand related to your product.

You can also search for people and groups you may be interested in connecting with. Once you start conversing with people and contributing valuable posts on other walls related to your product, you should be able to see an increase in interest on your own page.

Be prepared to receive new customers

Before you seek out people to talk to, it’s crucial to have a well-designed Facebook page. Make sure that when people click the link to your business’s Facebook page that they don’t land on your wall. This can be a quick turn off to new customers because they have to search for the information they need. Instead, have your info page come up first (you can change this preference in your settings). This way, you can give your customers a brief overview of what you’re all about before they dive into the conversation or seek out promotions and special offers.

Be consistent about posting fresh and valuable information. You will lose customers if you just leave your Facebook page unattended. Spend a few minutes a day to continuously update your content and drive more customers to your website.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Expand Your BusinessDo you want to make money? Let’s say you have already established your small business but now you’re trying to expand your customer base and grow your business. In addition to an increase in your marketing efforts, there are many ways you can grow your business.

The Small Business Administration has a post on their website giving us aspiring small business owners a few ways to grow our businesses. The method you choose can very well depend on what type of business you have, how much capital is available, and the time and resources it may take to follow through.

Here are some ideas for growing your business from the SBA:

Open another location.

This is often the first way business owners approach growth. If you feel confident that your current business location is under control, consider expanding by opening a new location.

License your product.

This can be an effective, low-cost growth medium, particularly if you have a service product or branded product. Licensing also minimizes your risk and is low cost in comparison to the price of starting your own company to produce and sell your brand or product. To find a licensing partner, start by researching companies that provide products or services similar to yours.

Form an alliance.

Aligning yourself with a similar type of business can be a powerful way to expand quickly.

Diversify.

Diversifying is an excellent strategy for growth, because it allows you to have multiple streams of income that can often fill seasonal voids and, of course, increase sales and profit margins. Here are a few of the most common ways to diversify:

  • Sell complementary products or services
  • Teach adult education or other types of classes
  • Import or export yours or others’ products
  • Become a paid speaker or columnist

Target other markets.

Your current market is serving you well. Are there others? Probably. Use your imagination to determine what other markets could use your product.

Merge with or acquire another business.

Two is always bigger than one. Investigate companies that are similar to yours, or that have offerings that are complementary to yours, and consider the benefits of combining forces or acquiring the company.

Expand to the Internet.

Very often, customers discover a business through an online search engine. Develop your business website and optimize it to increase your exposure to your customers.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Make People Buy From Your WebsitePicture this: You’ve finally set up a website for you small business, you’ve hired the best designer in town…and nothing’s changed. If this sounds like you, you’re pretty much stuck until you gain control over your content.

As a business owner with an online presence, having the authority and access to your web content is crucial to your website’s success. If you want a professional site that successfully represents your company, brings more customers to your business, and increases your revenue stream, there are a few techniques you need to use.

Use a Content Management System

It’s your website. Essentially, it’s another branch of your business. Because it’s not quite as straight forward as your brick-and-mortar location, you might not realize exactly how much work goes into making your website an effective location of commerce.

If you have a content management system, you can easily update content to keep up with the ever-changing consumer demand. You also have control over the keywords, meta-tags, and meta-descriptions that drive traffic from search engines to your site. This is important because keywords are always changing and your website needs to change with them.

Eliminate Clutter

Definitely avoid using industry-specific jargon. People are interested in buying your product to solve a specific problem. If you clutter up your content with too much information that is beyond the level of even the most basic customer, they can quickly be put off by it. In the simple words of Jen Udan from ChooseWhat.com:

“If they don’t understand what you’re selling, they won’t buy.”

Keep Your Website Simple

While flashing lights and fun graphics are always cool, they might actually render your site ineffective. People are looking for answers to their questions when they reach your website. If at anytime they feel confused, it doesn’t take much for customers to leave your website and visit a competitor’s.

Make sure everything on your website is clear. Your homepage should have basic information about your product and its benefits. In addition, every page should have a clear call to action. This call to action needs to be identified by you, the business owner. What do you want your browsers to do after reading your information, call you? Subscribe to you? Order from you? These questions need to be answered before writing any content because it should provide the framework in which you write any and all of your information.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Be the Right Kind of Business OwnerOwning your own small business entails a lot of responsibility. Truthfully it can be a very lonely path. You have to have all the right things going for you, the right personality, the right skill set, the right exposure to the right industries. It’s all very complicated.

But! It can be simple. You just have to understand that your role as a business owner is completely different from that of an employee. You have to think bigger than just deadlines or driving traffic to your business website.

How to think big

Before you choose to start your small business, you have to use the kinds of skills and habits in your every day life, even if you’re still working under someone else. Chris Brogan puts it in better words than I can:

“I took on challenges that other project managers didn’t find interesting. I took on messy projects that had a high possibility of failure. And sometimes I failed. But because I stepped up, I was noticed, and I got more and more power.”

That’s just it, stepping up. Having been a competitive athlete my whole life, I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard just about every motivational quote out there. The one that sticks with me most because I can apply to my daily routine is:

“Success comes from taking on tasks no one else wants, and completing them well.”

How to seek opportunity

In order to be successful in your business venture, you have to see the opportunities when others don’t. You find dollar signs hidden within your customer’s complaints. Your main priority should be solving your customer’s problems, or making yourself more accessible to customers and their needs.

Your business should represent who you are as a person. If you decide to own your own business, you need to market yourself and your brand as a resource to customers with specific problems. If you find a way to better the quality of life for you customers, you have found the perfect opportunity.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

What's Your Entrepreneurial Personality?Do you think your personality has what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur? According to Entrepreneur.com, your personality has a lot to say about who you become, the potential you have, and how successful you will be.

It has been shown in various studies that certain personality traits can outshine shortcomings in education, skill, and experience. It also makes logical sense that if a person chooses a business venture that coincides with their personality, he or she will experience a greater amount of success.

Entrepreneur.com explores four general personality types of people who typically start, own, and run the majority of successful businesses. Read Entrepreneur.com’s summation of entrepreneurial personalities and see if you have what it takes:

1. The Trailblazer:

You are very competitive, ambitious and goal- oriented–so much so that you tend to be aggressive and sometimes take a steamroller approach. Independent, persistent and decisive, you aren’t happy unless you’re in charge. Trailblazers are logical, analytical, practical and realistic–you tend to base decisions on facts rather than feelings. You are a calculated risk taker.

Good industries for you could include the medical, technology, finance, legal and consulting fields. Being a strong strategic thinker, you focus easily on marketing strategy and operations. Your challenge is likely to be working with people–you are usually a better leader than manager and need to surround yourself with others who can manage the people side of the business.

2. The Go-Getter:

You have a higher-than-average level of both dominance and sociability and are very driven and independent. You are competitive, but your drive to succeed is sometimes tempered by your interest in and concern for others. Go-Getters are typically good leaders and good managers, excelling at motivating themselves and those around them.

You can do well in retail, but may prefer being the outside rainmaker. You work well in ambitious and unfamiliar environments. This means you can invest in, buy or start a business that’s totally new to you and still make a success of it. You don’t need to be an expert in the field to start the business–you are a good collaborator and can learn as you go.

3. The Manager:

You are dominant and independent. You are also very goal-oriented and can be quite analytical, focusing more on processes and outcomes than on people. You have a tendency to look at people as vehicles for helping you accomplish your goals. You can deal well with customers, especially repeat customers, so you’ll probably be great at growing a business.

You like doing things on your own, are a great behind-the-scenes leader and love working with systems, concepts, ideas and technologies. You excel at competitive selling because you enjoy overcoming rejection and achieving goals despite obstacles. Managers enjoy working by themselves, and managing others can be a challenge, so you need to hire employees who are better than you at listening and working well with others.

4. The Motivator:

You have a high level of sociability, an above-average level of dominance, and are both driven and independent. This gives you the ability to work well under pressure and in autonomous situations. It also means that you will be a great consensus builder, a good collaborator and a driver of change. Just like the name suggests, you are the consummate motivator who does well working by, with and through others.

Motivators excel at leadership or sales. You can be convincing and avoid most confrontation by creating a strong emotional argument. Motivators do well in the toughest of customer service roles, as you are able to see both sides of the argument. You do well in business with partners, or in a business that involves others. Motivators are good at nurturing relationships and often do best in a business that involves keeping clients for the long term. You thrive in a team environment.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Build A Brand That Stands Out OnlineStarting your own business can be difficult. What’s even more difficult is getting the attention of your consumers after you’ve established your business. Developing a brand reputation is tricky business. Thankfully, there are some answers.

Building your brand is so much more than having a solid business website and a Facebook page. Many new business owners tend to focus on the aesthetic appeal of their business’s presentation. If it’s online however, you should be focusing more on interacting with your customers than your appearance.

It’s a 2-way street

I was told the other day that advertisers are starting to omit the word “advertising” from their strategies. It’s now “strategic communication,” the point being – it is now a way to communicate the benefits of your business to your consumers AND to encourage communication from your consumers themselves.

In order for people to consider your company worth associating with, they need to be able to trust you. Customer skepticism and competitive clutter is worse than ever before, so you should be giving your consumers every reason possible to trust you.

As for social media, it’s not enough to simply have a Facebook page with your business information on it. It’s more about the social media experience for consumers who visit your page.

Ed Roach, founder of The Brand Experts, a brand management consultancy in Ontario says:

“Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another.”

The online market

Having your business available online is extremely crucial. However, you need to be tactful and smart because the online marketplace is extremely crowded and heavily cluttered with junk. It’s important to be persistent when marketing your brand online.

“Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. “They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.”

You have to be creative with your marketing strategy. Figure out what makes your company different, and zero in on those attributes.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Make Your Website More Valuable to CustomersIf you have recently started up your own business, you need a website. With the amount of consumers that are embracing the world of e-commerce, you really can’t afford to be inaccessible online. Even if you don’t have an e-commerce option on your website, it should still be there for information and interaction with consumers.

There are several different factors that go into building a website for your business. You need a simple design that’s easy to navigate, quality content that can convert browsers into buyers, and an option for customers to provide feedback and opinions.

Web Accessibility

One of the most important factors of building your website is optimizing it for search engines. In order for people to find your website, or even know it exists, it must be available for consumers after they conduct a search to find the product or service you offer.

There are several different components that add to your search engine rankings (how high you appear on search results). Quality content and copy is of the utmost importance. Conducting thorough keyword research and creating unique title tags for your web pages can sincerely make a difference in your visibility online.

Social Media

Recently, search engines are using social media as another way to rank websites. If there is a lot of positive feedback regarding your website, product, or service, you will be ranked higher on search engiines.

Using social media as a source to drive traffic to your website is another reason why you should have valuable content within your web pages. If your audience takes the bait and ends up at your website, they should be satisfied with the valuable information that you offer.

It is important to provide information and instigate 2-way communication with your audience, whether that be through Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. Nick James of Webcredible.co.uk says:

“Obviously, if you’re providing a useful resource for users, whether through a blog, regularly updated articles, or just the core pages of your website itself, then you’ll inevitably develop a base of regularly returning readers. If you’re actually selling something through your website then this increases the opportunities for successful conversions.”

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Hone Your Marketing SkillsIf you feel like your business’s marketing strategy is lacking and your business is not getting the attention it needs, it is important to review the skills you need to market your products and services effectively.

Marketing takes a certain amount of skill and tact. You have to know what works and what doesn’t before you create your marketing strategy. Here are a few characteristic skills you need to hone before your marketing efforts see any results.

Marketing and sales must work together

While it is important to distinguish the fact that marketing and sales are two very different avenues for a business owner to explore, they also need to coincide with a common goal. Your marketing team should respect the values and experiences of your sales team.

Sales people work with customers much more often. A successful sales person knows more about the target audience and loyal consumer than any well-researched marketer out there because sales people witness customer feedback firsthand. While your marketing strategy should still focus on gaining customer loyalty and increasing your brand equity, consulting with the sales people in your company can provide a unique perspective, and give a voice to the consumer.

Understanding social media marketing

It is also extremely important to have a clear understanding of the power of social media marketing. A social media marketing strategy should be implemented over the span of one to two years. Any results before that time will be minimal. While you may be a little apprehensive at the idea of putting forth effort for a year or two without expecting results, be aware that social media marketing can increase your brand’s reputation, your search engine rankings, and if done properly – your revenue stream.

If you choose to implement a social media marketing strategy, choose a few main channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. Use these channels to connect with your audience and gather as much information and feedback as you can. If your audience is convinced that your brand is there to help better the quality of their lives, you will have a leg up on your competition who, by the way, is probably already on Facebook.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

How To Hire Great People and Make them GreaterWho should you hire? Such a complicated question – a person you hire could mean anything from your new small business propelling forward in a new direction or your new small business chugging straight toward a dead end.

If you are a small business owner, the people on your team are so incredibly important to the success of your business. It is crucial (and also highly difficult) to hire people that will add value and substance to your business.

So how do you do it?

Share your vision

I recently attended a lecture on entrepreneurship given by William J. Rossi, a program director and professor at the University of Florida. His lecture explored the attributes and mindsets of entrepreneurs. The most important attribute Rossi discussed was the ability an entrepreneur has to share his vision with his employees, and make them feel like a part of something bigger.

The greatest entrepreneurs have a vision. They visualize and imagine a direction they will travel in that will eventually better the quality of life for consumers. So what does this have to do with hiring the right people into your business?

A truly successful entrepreneur understands the importance of motivating others. People in managerial positions give their employees deadlines, expectations, revision requirements, etc. Entrepreneurs however, trust people to do the job themselves, but it’s more than that – entrepreneurs give their employees a reason to do a good job, they are part of the vision.

“A leader focuses on motivation and inspiration. He energizes people to overcome bureaucratic, resource and political barriers because they believe in an agenda and want to accomplish it,” Rossi says.

Hiring the right person

So to tie it all together, when you hire someone who you believe to be qualified for the position, you have to take it a step further. You have to invite your employees to contribute to the overall direction, ask their opinions, take their advice, and allow them to participate in the bigger picture. This could apply to anyone, whether they work in marketing, finance, sales, manufacturing – everyone should be passionate about the “vision” you have created.

By giving people an overall sense of purpose, they are more likely to excel at individual tasks. When someone feels like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they will undoubtedly do everything in their power to succeed.

Be a leader, not a manager.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform


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