The first contact with a potential customer or client is crucial to setting the tone for the ongoing relationship. Tom Silk, executive vice president atWorkStride, a provider of employee recognition software, said there is power in the first sentence of the sales pitch. But it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it, he added.
“Use tone, energy — stand up and show enthusiasm,” Silk said. “Energy sets the tone of the conversation.”
Moreover, it’s important to establish a connection with the person you’re selling to, said Brian Stafford, CEO of collaboration software company Diligent Corp.
“Establishing rapport is absolutely critical,” Stafford said. “The best sales rep creates a connection with the prospect as early on as possible.”
Whether in person or on the phone, pay attention to the cues that are happening during the pitch, Stafford said. Pay attention to who is speaking, and if it’s an in-person meeting, note the body language. Look for affirmative cues, such as head nods, forward leaning, and open, relaxed postures. If you are getting the opposite, such as crossed arms or other nonresponses, then take a step
Accounts payable are the bills and other debts that the business needs to pay. As a matter of fact, the only thing that a business pays that is not considered accounts payable is payroll. Everything else falls under the category, making it a critical aspect of your business.
“The accuracy and completeness of a company’s financial statements are dependent on the accounts payable process,” said Harold Averkamp, founder and author of accounting advice website Accounting Coach. “The efficiency and effectiveness of the accounts payable process will also affect the company’s cash position, credit rating and relationship with its suppliers.”
Implementing a dependable accounts payable system will produce accurate financial information you need to plan for both the short and long term. Here’s what you need to know about keeping up with your business debts.
Work from the original invoice whenever possible. Some invoices are sent electronically — print once and then file the email away to minimize confusion.
Use the same entering system every time. Each vendor has their own system of invoicing but assigning the invoice number in
Most small business owners know the importance of a business plan, which outlines your company’s course for success. One crucial element of that plan is your marketing strategy.
Because this strategy is buried in the larger business plan, many small business owners may not give marketing the time, research and attention it deserves, assuming that they know their customer base and how to reach them. But an in-depth and detailed approach to laying out your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities from a new audience or potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competition reaction, and potential reach.
At its most basic, a marketing plan describes who your customers are, where they get information and how you are going to reach them. Robert J. Thomas, a marketing professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, said the development of a marketing plan requires that you complete four specific tasks:
1. Develop a very clear and focused insight into why a potential customer would use your business. More specifically, figure out the core need that your product or service will
Market your compensation package (beyond salary)
Money is important, but it’s not the only thing top talent wants. They want a work environment that challenges them, allows for innovation, makes work fun but also provides work-life balance. This could mean paid time off (PTO), the ability to work from home, time to volunteer in their communities or the ability to take unpaid leave to pursue interests, to name a few.
Personal finance writer Kevin Mulligan said your company needs to create an employee value proposition (EVP) to use as a selling point with candidates. This should describe what sets your organization apart and why people should want to work there.
“The more attractive your EVP is, the more likely you will be attracting the cream of the crop to your company,” Mulligan wrote in a BusinessDictionary article.
Optimize for mobile
One of the best ways to draw candidates in is a mobile-friendly hiring process. Dr. John Sullivan, a Silicon Valley-based author and HR expert, said that more than 43 percent of job seekers use their mobile phones in their job searches.
“That number will continue to rise until the mobile
SBA loan programs
The SBA’s loan programs are designed specifically for small business owners who don’t have access to other reasonably termed financing. There are four main types of loan programs:
7(a) loan program: This is the SBA’s primary program to help startups and existing small businesses obtain financing. 7(a) loans are the most basic and most commonly used type of loan, as well as the most flexible. The money can be used for a variety of general business purposes, including working capital, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, purchasing or renovating land and buildings, leasehold improvements and debt refinancing. Loan maturity is up to 10 years for working capital and generally up to 25 years for fixed assets. Borrowers can apply through a participating lender institution.
CDC/504 loan program: This program provides businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major assets, such as land and buildings. The loans are typically structured with the SBA providing 40 percent of the total project costs, a participating lender covering up to 50 percent and the borrower putting up the remaining 10 percent. Funds from a 504 loan can be used to purchase existing buildings, land or machinery, and to construct or renovate facilities. These loans
Figuring out whether you can afford to borrow money for your business is a crucial step in the loan process and one you should definitely take before approaching potential lenders. But determining if you have the resources to make your loan payments can be a bit tricky.
To demystify the math behind small business loans, Business News Daily spoke with two small business lending experts: Chris Hurn, co-founder and CEO of the small business commercial property financing firm Mercantile Capital Corp., and Ty Kiisel, director of content marketing at Lendio, an online platform that connects small business owners with potential lenders.
Banks and other lenders use several tools to determine if a business entity is a good candidate for a loan, one of which is a debt service coverage ratio (DSCR). On one side of this ratio is the cash that you, the business owner, have available to pay back a loan in a given year. On the other side is the amount of money you’re borrowing per year, plus interest.
Figuring out your own DSCR isn’t as difficult as some lenders might have you believe, Hurn said. Start by calculating the
When it comes to alternative lenders, small businesses had the most success with merchant cash advances. The research found that 41 percent of the small businesses surveyed were able to obtain a merchant cash advance, compared with just 20 percent who were able to get a regular loan from an alternative lender.
Most small business owners are relying on their own personal assets to help fund their business. Specifically, more than 70 percent of those surveyed used personal savings, 45 percent used personal credit cards and 19 percent used cash from the sale of personal assets.
Crowdfunding is growing increasingly popular with small businesses. The research found that 19 percent of small businesses that sought financing in the past three months used crowdfunding as a funding source, compared with just 7 percent of mid-size businesses.
Jeff Stibel, vice chairman of Dun & Bradstreet, said when they began conducting these studies four years ago, small businesses were reeling from the effects of the Great Recession.
“Since then, we have seen steady progress for small businesses being able to acquire the capital they need, although the financing is still predominantly not coming through traditional lenders,” Stibel
Best Time and Attendance System for Small Businesses: stratustime
Stratustime offers everything small businesses need in a time and attendance system. The cloud-based solution has a comprehensive assortment of time-tracking options, with employees able to clock in and out via traditional time clocks, internet-connected computers, mobile devices and telephones. The system also manages paid time off, generates employee schedules, monitors overtime hours, integrates with a wide range of payroll services and features a variety of mobile options. We were impressed with the system’s easy-to-use online portal, the company’s customer service and the system’s affordable monthly cost.
Best Time and Attendance System for Very Small Businesses: uAttend
The uAttend time and attendance system is a good fit for very small businesses because it is cloud-based and requires no special software to install. The system is very flexible, letting employees clock in and out with time clocks, web browsers, mobile devices and telephones. uAttend’s time clocks are plug-and-play ready, send data in real time to the system, include lifetime guarantees and are among the cheapest we found. Besides being able to record when employees come and go, the system also manages paid time off, tracks
Best GPS Fleet Tracking App for Small Business: GPSTrackIt
GPSTrackIt offers a full-featured, cloud-based mobile app that lets you monitor and manage your fleet even when you’re out of the office. Whereas many GPS fleet tracking apps limit capabilities, GPSTrackIt’s mobile app comes with everything you need to monitor vehicles and drivers from your iOS or Android device. We especially like that GPSTrackIt lets you customize the service, so you can build the perfect GPS fleet tracking app and cater it to your business’s unique needs.
Best Low-Cost GPS Fleet Tracking Software: Fleet Genius
Fleet Genius is a super-affordable GPS fleet tracking software that’s built specifically for small businesses looking for a low-cost way to track vehicles and drivers. The software is packed with features, but also offers a ton of flexibility with custom solutions and services. Packages start at just $3.95 per vehicle per month, and we like that there are no long-term contracts and no minimum number of vehicles required to use the software.
To find the best GPS fleet tracking software for small business, we started by creating a comprehensive list of vendors. Our sources
Social media and the 24-hour news cycle have created the perfect storm of opportunity for creative professionals like writers and graphic designers, who can use their talents to create high-quality, shareable content for businesses and media outlets. Thanks to a growing part-time economy of freelance and contract workers, it’s easier than ever to market yourself as a professional freelancer.
For the musically gifted, offering lessons to others who want to learn an instrument can be a great source of extra income. Unless you’re teaching piano, students can likely bring their own instruments to your home for hour-long lessons. Stock up on sheet music or songbooks in varying genres and aimed at various skill levels so you can offer a wide selection for your potential clients. Voice lessons can also bring in a lot of money if you market yourself to local high school and community theater groups.
Social media consulting
Larger firms can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts and blogs, but small businesses often have to take care of their own social media marketing. With so many other responsibilities, business owners may be too busy or overwhelmed to spend time
If your teen excels in a specific subject or has exceptional grades, encourage him or her to assist those in need of help through tutoring services. Your child can get paid for his or her knowledge and time spent helping others learn a skill or subject matter. This type of business is scalable, and live videoconferencing and electronic payments can bring your child’s skills online as well.
Social media consultant
Kids are absorbing tons of social media knowledge at a young age. They’re becoming YouTube and Instagram stars with millions of followers for just being themselves. This could be invaluable knowledge for small businesses in your area. Encourage your child to apply his or her understanding of social platforms to consult for local shops and restaurants.
As long as houses come with lawns and outdoor maintenance, there will be a need for landscapers.The simplicity of the job, from mowing the lawn to trimming trees, means it can open doors to college degrees in the field, which can lead to jobs with theme parks or college campuses.
Babysitting or dog walking
Technology has brought traditional job choices
Sports camp organizer
Organizing a sports camp is one great way to start a business revolving around any sport you love. A camp could focus on any level of competition and last just one day or as long as several weeks.
To boost your camp’s profile, be sure to bring in experts, like coaches and athletes, to offer attendees experienced insights into their respective games. Retaining a local athletic personality’s endorsement can also be a huge marketing benefit.
If you’ve ever had an interest in the restaurant business, a sports bar is the perfect idea for you. Provide a place for your fellow sports lovers to enjoy the game while you serve them a cold beer and their favorite game-day appetizers. This will take a considerable amount of startup capital, so it might be a good idea to go in on this venture with a business partner.
Sports memorabilia seller
Make a living collecting autographed jerseys, equipment and photos of major league athletes and selling them via online marketplaces like eBay. You’ll have to do a bit of traveling to track down the players people want, but once you
Do you have a passion for home brewing? You might be able to turn your love of beer into a business. Urban residents are always looking for local artisans who can offer a small-scale, handcrafted experience, especially when it comes to craft beer. Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, for instance, has made its mark in the Bronx with its locally brewed beverage selection.
Cities make for a competitive atmosphere, but the right combination of talent, location and interest can make your brewery an interesting must-visit location.
With a lot of pet owners in apartment buildings, a big city is a great place for a part-time dog-walking business. City dwellers don’t have yards for their dogs to play in, and if they work long or irregular hours, they may not always have time to take Fido for his daily stroll. Put up flyers in your building, and see if any of your neighbors would be willing to entrust this task to you for a small fee. It’s important to educate yourself on not only the local dog walking market but also proper animal care and handling before starting this business.
Murder scene maids
You’ve heard the expression, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” but what’s the consensus on spilled blood? If the idea of mopping up gore makes your eyes water (or worse), don’t worry: There’s a business you can call to tidy up even the bloodiest of messes.
Baxter Restoration, a cleaning and reconstruction company in Orlando, Florida, does something your average maid won’t: It cleans up after the Grim Reaper. Whether it’s a crime scene, the aftermath of a suicide or the remains of an exploded meth lab, Baxter will disinfect, decontaminate and leave things looking less macabre.
Industry insiders refer to such sluicing down of blood and brains as “biohazard” cleanup. And while this unusual service makes some people squirm, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone you can call to perform this most unpleasant of chores.
Sure, you eat organic apples and have sworn off plastic shopping bags, but will your green lifestyle die when you do? That’s the question this next business wants you to consider before it’s too late.
The Natural Burial Company is an online retail and consulting business that sells
Tinder for dogs
Borrowing a page from popular dating app Tinder, BarkBuddy makes it easy to find and adopt the perfect dog for you. Users tell BarkBuddy what they’re looking for in the perfect pup, and then swipe yes or no on different profiles of dogs in their area. Once you’ve found the right dog, you can set up a meet and greet through the app. The company ensures that everyone using the app is qualified to adopt, too. You have to fill out an adopter profile to be approved first; otherwise, you won’t be eligible to adopt.
Education a la carte
Do you ever find yourself wishing you could go back to school, or maybe even teach a course in a subject you’re skilled in? Skillshare, founded in 2011, makes both of these things possible. The company allows experts to teach online courses on any subject they choose via short videos, while students can watch classes at their own pace and use the community to get feedback. Students can even take classes off-line via smartphones and tablets if they’d like to learn on the go. And unlike college or graduate school, with their high tuition rates, Skillshare costs a small
Dining in the dark: Opaque
Opaque, a restaurant in California, promises to change your view of going out to eat by wining and dining you in the dark. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—you eat your meal in a pitch black dining room.
When you arrive at Opaque, customers look through the menu in a lighted lounge and order food. The restaurant’s staff will then check coats and bags, and lead you to your seat. According to the restaurant’s website, Opaque is staffed by blind and visually impaired servers who have been specially trained to serve food in the dark.
A grow-your-own-mushroom kit: Back to the Roots
Back to the Roots was started by two college students who were inspired by something they learned in a class: You can grow mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez wrote of their experience, “After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers.”
In an effort to get people more connected with their food, Back to
This website currently has more than 62,000 business listings in the United States and around the world, including available franchises. Users can search by business sector and location to find the perfect business for them.BusinessesForSale.com also has features like email alerts and a services directory for those who need accountants, brokers, lawyers and more.
With more than 800,000 listings available, it’s easy to understand whyLoopNet.com is a reliable resource for discovering businesses for sale in your region. If you’re already a business owner or an entrepreneur with a busy schedule, LoopNet is available in app form (on Google Play and in the App Store) to peruse listings on your schedule, from wherever.
MergerNetwork.com has more than 15,000 active business-for-sale listings around the world. It allows sellers to post ads for their business for free and connect with over 14,000 entrepreneurs, investment bankers and business brokers.
BizBuySell.com boasts that it is “the Internet’s largest business for sale marketplace” and offers users options to buy a business, buy a franchise, sell a business, get help with financing and more. Users can
Myth No. 1: Getting a small business loan is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.
Obtaining a loan for your small business is no easy feat, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Small business lending experts agree that the best way to avoid trouble is to prepare for the challenges that the application process may present.
“A lot of the frustration around obtaining small business financing can be eased by doing your due diligence,” said Michael Adam, founder and CEO of Bankmybiz, a site that connects business owners with business funders. “Be prepared, and have all your documents ready to present to lenders.”
Myth No. 2: You have to have perfect credit to get a small business loan.
Although low credit scores might have precluded you from getting a loan in years past, today’s lending environment is more open to subpar credit ratings.
“While traditional banks may be restrictive when it comes to obtaining credit, there are alternative options,” said Michael Kevitch, president and founder of Small Business Funding.
Alternative lending sites such as Small Business Funding tend to base lending decisions on the financial realities of a business rather than the financial history of business owners.
Have a budget, and stick to it
A simple way to save money as a new business owner is to set spending and expense limits. However, a surprising number of business owners don’t have a formal budget, said Carissa Reiniger, founder of small business support community Thank You Small Business.
When you created your business plan, you might have envisioned all of the latest office equipment, lavish holiday parties and enough staff to take on big projects. However, not all of those business luxuries are guaranteed.
Office Evolution founder and CEO Mark Hemmeter said small business owners can suffer from a lack of flexibility in their grand plans.
“Your ego and vanity can get in the way,” he said. “You want that car or that perfect sign, but it just isn’t a good fit for the core of the business.
Hemmeter recommended looking into short-term solutions, like using shared office spaces and hiring freelance workers, until you can afford to make long-term commitments such as acquiring private office suites and hiring full-time employees.
Go inexpensive, but not cheap
Startup costs for a new business add up, but there are tips and tools for finding the best areas
Baylor New Venture Competition
Location: Waco, Texas
The Baylor New Business Venture Competition features current students and recent alumni of any accredited university across the nation competing in one of two tracks: consumer and internet technology companies, and nontechnology companies. Companies in the technology track must fall into categories such as internet security, social media and mobile commerce. There is a preliminary round, followed by three presentation rounds. The top teams from both tracks will compete against each other for the cash grand prize of $60,000.
Location: Savannah, Georgia
The Creative Coast’s FastPitch competition offers student entrepreneurs, service-based entrepreneurs and product-based entrepreneurs the chance to show off their innovative ideas via a 3-minute pitch. Local community leaders, academics and investors will assess the viability of each venture and provide coaching and feedback throughout the process.
Location: Austin, Texas
Since 2012, HATCH Pitch has been an official SXSW event. In 2016, it branched out to become an independent program and event. This competition is for startups using information technology to make life better. Finalists are chosen and receive coaching and mentoring leading up to their demo day, when finalists present their business plans to a prestigious judging panel of corporate, angel and venture investors. Panel