Happy National Small Business Week! Not only is this a big week for small business owners, but this year it's even more exciting because the SBA is celebrating 50 years of honoring entrepreneurs. So, congratulations if you are one of the millions of small business owners being celebrated this week.
If you can't make it to any of the events this year (they're happening in a different location every day this week), you can jump over to the SBA website to watch the live streaming right from your computer. You won't want to miss this!
5-Part Small Business Series
In honor of National Small Business Week, I am very excited to start a weeklong series on starting, managing and growing a small business.
We'll begin with the first step of starting a business -- developing a business idea. Then, during the week, we'll cover business planning and goal setting, the ins and outs of the startup process, small business marketing, and finally, growing your business.
So, let's kick off National Small Business Week by talking about business ideas.
Developing a Business Idea
Business ideas can come from anywhere -- hobbies you are passionate about, a problem you are trying to solve, or even an unexpected opportunity. Our first set of resources includes several lists of business ideas that you can browse for inspiration and to get your creative juices flowing:
- Low-Cost Business Ideas
- Home-Based Business Ideas
- Green Business Ideas
- Technology-Related Business Ideas
- Pet-Related Business Ideas
The second part of developing a business idea is about testing, qualifying and rating the opportunity. Some of the questions you should consider include:
- Can you identify the target market?
- Is there a need for what you want to sell?
- How saturated is the market?
- What is the competition like?
- What will it cost to enter the marketplace?
These are just some of the things to consider when measuring the potential of a business idea.
Tomorrow's post will dig into business planning and goal setting, and provide some resources for researching, writing and developing a plan for taking your business from the idea stage into action (and it doesn't have to be as overwhelming as that sounds!).
Image © SBA
There are many situations when an elevator pitch can come in handy. There are some obvious times, such as networking events, and some not-as-obvious, including sales calls, when you're being interviewed, and even social settings -- when a new acquaintance asks you what you do, for example.
The key to successfully delivering your elevator pitch is taking the time to write an effective one, then practicing until you can deliver it naturally and without sounding like you rehearsed it. It's not always easy, but a solid elevator pitch will serve you well and help you make a great first impression every single time. And it can also help you get clarity on your own situation, goals and priorities.
Today's feature article will help you write and fine-tune your elevator pitch.
How to Write an Elevator Pitch
Photo © maphler
If you are starting a business, you need a plan. Whether you create a structured 20-page traditional business plan, or a simple one-page business plan will depend on your business and your individual situation. But, in general, every business can benefit from having a plan of some sort.
Not convinced? Here are five ways a business plan can help you, right now:
- You need a business plan if you intend to apply for a loan or pitch to an investor.
- A business plan can help you make important decisions.
- A business plan can be a wake-up call.
- You may develop some new (and better) ideas as part of the business planning process.
- You can't create an action plan until you have a business plan.
For more on these reasons, read today's feature article.
Do You Really Need a Business Plan?
Photo © forwardcom
Customer service is an important part of every business, regardless of what you sell and who you sell it to. Providing good customer service is also a challenge for many small business owners. Part of the challenge is limited time and resources, but perhaps the larger problem is not knowing what to do to provide excellent customer service.
Here are five resources that will help you improve your customer service process and create loyal customers:
Goal setting is a very individual process, but many small business owners tend to set the same types of goals over the life of their businesses. While a common goal doesn't make the process of goal setting less time intensive, it can make it easier to find the help you need when you need it.
Today's feature article lists four common small business goals and a set of resources for each to help you get moving on your business goals.
Four Common Small Business Goals to Inspire You
When was the last time you delivered a presentation for your small business? An elevator pitch, a sales demo or maybe a conference presentation? All of these types of presentations require research, planning and practice to deliver them effectively. And if you're not accustomed to presenting, it can be a stressful and confidence-shaking proposition.
Today's feature article provides a handful of tips that will help you create and deliver a knock-out presentation next time you need to get up in front of an audience.
13 Tips for Delivering a Memorable Presentation
Photo © Vixs
Fellow About.com Guide, Brian Milne, had a unique opportunity to interview Gary Vaynerchuk, author of two bestselling books including, "Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion," and founder of VaynerMedia and Wine Library. You may know Gary from his down-to-earth, approachable and helpful profiles on Facebook and Twitter, or from one of his many other endeavors in the business and social media world.
In the interview, Gary had a lot to say about the power of communication in business and networking that is relevant for every entrepreneur or small business owner. Click the link below to read the article.
Thanks to Brian for asking great questions and sharing his interview with us!
How Communication Fuels Gary Vaynerchuk's Success
Photo © Gary Vaynerchuk
Twitter can be an effective tool for small business owners to promote their products and services and find new customers... if it's used wisely. Like any other social media platform, there are pros and cons, and many of them depend on the type of business you have and your marketing goals.
For many businesses, though, there are a lot of reasons to use Twitter to expand your reach and grow your business. To help you get started on the right foot, today's feature article provides five essential tips for using Twitter in your small business.
5 Tips for Getting Started with Twitter in Your Small Business
Image © Twitter
Bartering in your small business can be an effective way to accomplish more while spending less. But bartering is not right in every situation, and you should make sure you take time to do the necessary research before you get started.
Today's feature article provides an introduction to bartering, including some reasons small business owners do it, ideas on how to find bartering opportunities, and tips for bartering successfully.
Small Business Bartering 101
Along with business plans, marketing plans are one of the most powerful documents you will ever prepare for your business. Every business needs a marketing plan, and while some of the specifics will vary depending on your type of business and industry, there are some key sections that are universal.
Today's feature article includes a step-by-step marketing plan guide that will help you create your own plan that is relevant for your business, one that you can start using immediately. After walking through the steps, the document you create should grow with your business and become one of your most important tools that you use on a daily basis.
How to Write a Small Business Marketing Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide