EMAC has organized for the simple purpose of allowing business people to ask simple business questions which have been answered by business professionals without the expense of paying for the quality professional time as other websites began doing. We believe people need a break and a helping hand. The majority of these Q & A are related to small business issues, many just good common sense or simple direction.
We have seen that in most cases there are many answers to a single question. Our goal is to help you find the one or more answers you seek by sharing a few of our experiences in the form of answers to questions over the past few years. Which we hope will allow you to make a more informed decision in regards to your original question. We will not answer legal or account questions within this section, there are many qualified websites and professionals out there to assist you with those types of inquiries.
EM Advisory Corp would like to thank all of you for your questions and participation over the years. We commit to answering each of your questions to the best of our abilities.
This is a good time to look at your marketing. Repeat business often lulls owners into not searching for new customers, but as you lose regulars, you need to draw in new people. Consider this an opportunity to find new ways to promote your business. Maybe try holding an event like a competition or demonstration to draw people in. Perhaps you could offer smaller portions for lower costs to encourage people to remain and advertise on being a healthier option. Be creative in your advertising, and the customers will come. Give away “freebies”, they get to taste what you offer, while they are in your restaurant. Lastly, never forget to promote yourself every day, your charm, personality, you.
Being next to a vet is a great location for you, but just location won’t help you expand. There are several marketing strategies you can use, but your best bet would be to try targeting audiences in corresponding businesses. Like you do with the vet’s office, see about partnering with smaller pet stores or dog walkers. Think about whom else works in your field and work with them to attract new customers. One of your best advantages is that you have a clientele who can benefit from knowing other good companies that will help them with their pet ownership issues, and never forget viral marketing; word-of-mouth is your best business friend.
The answer to this might be much simpler than you think. If you’re losing customers, it might be time for you to reduce your prices a little. Check your surrounding competition and price yourself just under them, start pushing for volume and repeat business. It doesn’t have to be much to make a big difference. Also, try offering specials and discounts. Referral discounts work really well as they also increase your customer base.
Websites these days can be very inexpensive and worth creating for a more expanded presence, i.e. tourism, new people moving into the area. Local search and local marketing is also gaining popularity on the Internet. Recent research by the Kelsey Group reported that 70% of Americans consult the web before making local buying decisions, while 36% of search engine queries now request local results. You should also utilize local review sites like Yelp, Insider Pages and Angie’s Lists
Having a website can allow you the opportunity to expand into new self promoting product lines like t-shirts, coffee mugs, embossed reusable ice cream cones with your logo on them sold through the website.
This is actually a good idea in today’s marketplace, you should always ask, it doesn’t hurt. If you’re a business buying product to resell and you ask for no terms and you pay cash, you should pay less than the business who buys both on credit and/or terms, i.e. 90 days. Remember paying by credit card will cost the merchant money to process that payment, and “time” in regards to terms, very expensive. Cash is so far the most reliable payment method when it comes to making sure that the funds are real and available.
We do not tell fortunes here. This is one of the hardest questions that only you can answer; your success depends on you. All businesses are different, and there’s no way to predict whether it will succeed or not. However, realize that so much of your success depends on you. The work that you put into your business translates into success, so be aware that no matter what you’re doing, it won’t necessarily be easy. Visit the Services Section at www.EM-Advisory.com to get a few more ideas for yourself, and always think out of the box.
While it sounds like you’re doing the right things to run a gym if you want to draw new people in, you need to do something unique. What kind of group fitness classes do you offer? Talk to your existing members or set up a suggestion box (if you don’t have one already) to see if all of their needs are met. There needs to be a reason to attend your gym that makes it different from any other in your area. Consider this question, are your members leaving and not working out, or are they leaving for another gym? If it’s the latter, consider why these other businesses are taking your customers. What do they have that you don’t? If it’s the former, what can you do that will convince people that working out is a smart investment? You might change your ads to focus on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, or sponsor events that focus on healthy living and how regular workouts can contribute to that. You need to research both internally and your surrounding marketplace.
When negotiating to get a product into stores, the major thing you need to keep in mind is what the advantage is for them. Why should they purchase your product? Just the idea that “it’ll make you money,” won’t cut it. Do your research and figure out how many parents would like to keep a baby journal but don’t have the time. Try selling direct at parenting classes, children gyms, and similar places (always with permission from the location, of course) to give these boutiques an idea of how in demand your product would be. Having knowledge of your product and unique “out of the box” placements will make any negotiation easier, especially if you know how it will benefit the other person.
There are several advantages to a teleclass if your company is large enough to support it. You can reach a wider audience for less cost. It’s more environmentally sound to not have people traveling all over the place. People can review later if they want. The risk is that you distance yourself from the people you’re trying to teach. I wouldn’t entirely eliminate the face to face contact of in-person lessons, but consider adding teleclasses to your arsenal of communication tools, and consider having the teleclass in employee groups.
First of all, keep in mind that real estate works in cycles. By agreeing to a longer-term lease with your landlord, you might put yourself at a slight disadvantage in the future, let that idea alone for now. Remind him that it won’t be easy to fill the space. You’re an established business and have a much better chance of consistently paying the rent than a start-up that has no track record of success. More importantly, they know what to expect from you, and a new tenant could easily be a nightmare. Consider offering a simple profit share plan of your sales on a temporary basis and tie it to a potential rent decrease. Look for non-tangible benefits that could possibly help your landlord. How about advertising for other locations your landlord might own? Cross-promotion with another business? Find new ways to compensate for the rent and you’ll be able to talk them into something you can afford.
You need to consider whether it’s worth the time to stay open. Do you have a large electricity output? Are there costs associated with operation that need to be offset by actual customers on a daily basis? Is there a reason for the slow day that will pass? Depending on what your business is shutting down on Wednesday might be your best option.
When you’re talking about working with suppliers, you’re talking about a relationship with another business owner. That relationship has to be about more than money. I can see that you’re concerned about quality, but have you considered service? Delivery? How fast you’re taken care of and how carefully? All of these should factor into any decision regarding a supplier. Consider also your customers. They might not mind a small price jump if you can keep it reasonable and the quality remains the same. They might be ok with a different quality product. Is there anything you can do with the leather to off-set the quality difference? Sometimes quality craftsmanship can make things better in the long run. In the end, your situation is not unique, but it will benefit you to do the research you need to, not only on other suppliers, but on your customers and your own capabilities.
A USP is an acronym for “unique selling proposition.” Basically, it’s a concept that originated in the 1940’s and the idea is that every advertisement makes a proposition to the customer that suggests that buying the product or using the service will grant them a benefit. The proposition must be both unique and strong enough to move a large consumer base. To make it even simpler, the USP is the thing about your product or service that is different from all similar products and services that makes yours worth buying instead of theirs. Everybody should have some idea of what this is.
If your regular customers are going to the other bakery, there’s something that they offer that you don’t. It could be that they’re simply closer to a large portion of your customer base (walking distance?), but odds are that they are doing something different from you that is attracting your customers. Find out what that is. Are they offering a different promotion? Do they have products you don’t make? Is it a presentation or customer service issue? Once you discover what the difference is between your bakeries, you can find a way to make yours more attractive again.
Keep in mind that in a business like yours, you’re not just selling a product; you’re selling the prospects on the benefits of doing business with you. Frame your pitch in terms of what’s good about working with your company rather than just what’s good about your product. Do you provide solid customer service? Are your people friendly and reliable? Do you have a good track record regarding delivery? What’s better about working with your people and not just what’s better about your product? Most importantly, what is your competition doing?
Honestly, you may be worrying too much about this. A common problem that small business owners have is that they underestimate their own product and its worth. A reasonable price increase is unlikely to drive away most of your key customers and might even draw more as they feel that higher prices equate to a better product. Keep in mind also that if you have, for example, a 10% profit margin, a 1% price hike means 10% more profit. A little bit can provide you with what you need to continue providing the service your customers have gotten used to. Also, consider offering discounts while raising prices, such as a referral discount, that will also have the benefit of increasing your customer base.
Obviously, you should talk about your business. What’s important to remember is that you need to be straight and honest. You can try and fast-talk your way into new clients with half-truths and false promises, but that won’t provide you with a nconsistent client base, and it eventually falls apart, usually sooner than later. Being honest and direct will encourage long-lasting relationships with your clients and help you succeed. Keep your ears open for your “new customer” nlikes and dislikes, stay away from his dislikes, try slowly to relate to his likes which might be in common with yours. You are always selling and marketing yourself.
Your best options as an entrepreneur is to focus on your own strengths first, you’ll discover your use of time, after you’ve identified your strengths. Then identify one by one people in business you can separately learn from who are experts in the specific areas that you are not for your project, this takes a little time, I’m still learning after 30 years and hope to never stop. Focus on the things necessary to get your project up and running, do not be afraid to ask lots of questions to everyone you can. When you’ve got yourself organized enough to move forward, step by step, then find your way to hire the people who you can help with your project. I wish I could tell you step by step 1 – 100 do this and you’ll succeed, but that’s not the answer, hard work and smart work is. Read through our website www.EM-Advisory.com and more of the questions and answers supplied through this site to help you identify more questions for yourself to answer.
For one thing, keep the compensation simple. Percentages of order values work well in cases like this. Decide if you’re doing straight commission or a base plus commission. Try to keep the program incentive based on performance and long term contractual agreements. If you speak with a few of your reps to be surprised how often they might suggest less than more of what you were thinking, at that point a little more will make them “hungry”, watch your bottom line, but value the future volume they’ll produce. Just think about what you need and structure your compensation plan accordingly.
As per usual, it depends on your business, but when you’re trying to factor in all of the costs, leave nothing to question, it is your bottom line which is much more than money. With VoIP, your voice quality is directly related to your internet service and speed. Factor in that you might have to upgrade internet service in order to accommodate that. For many businesses, a DSL line would be ok, but if consistent, clear service is absolutely necessary for your business, then you’ll need a provider who can work with a T-1 or better and can provide “managed service” with SLAs. At this point, your costs may be nearing or exceeding standard phone service. VoIP sounds like a good deal, but you need to be sure that you keep all associated costs in mind; the most important is the customer service you may provide to your customers.
The first thing I’d try is to find out what the specific issues of consulting verses employment of the selling and buying parties were. Talk with each of the parties; find the common ground in the specifics of what they both agree on. I’d then see if it was possible to create a new agreement which focused on both of their individual needs.
For one, talk to your customers. Being in business means building a relationship with your customers, and if they have a problem with your business that you don’t know about, ask yourself if you have been listening to them. Talk to the customers that haven’t left and even those who have, find out what they like and don’t like about your service, then fix it. Try a little new marketing by offering your current customers better discounts for referrals. They can show off your work to their neighbors. Ask if it would be ok to take a certain amount off the bill if you could put a sign in their yard, choose the yards carefully. Your best advertisement is good work.
The first thing you should do is consult an accountant or financial planner as they will be able to answer your questions in much more detail than we can here.
That being said, at the very minimum, your records should show your tax returns, both federal and state, including income tax and Social Security, requests for credit from vendors or bank loans, and claims about the business in regards to selling it.
However, we suggest that you keep much more detailed records than this that include credits and debits for the day, payroll, etc. A professional financial planner can help you determine what you need for your specific business.
There are specific laws dealing with how internet radio pays for the use of licensed music, originally outlined by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed in 1998. It established rules and guidelines for how much internet radio has to pay. However, at the time that amount was really restrictive. There has been an ongoing debate about it since then, and only as recently as September 2008 did the US Congress pass a law stating that the amount of royalties an internet radio broadcaster has to pay would be based on a percentage of revenue, and January 2009 when that was accepted as official by the US Copyright Royalty Board.
Wages are a tricky thing, but generally they’re set on the basis of position importance and skill requirements. What you should do is consult your accountant and trade association for the most current practices in your area, as well as cost ratios and profit margins. There is a federal minimum wage and several states have one, but for the most part once you have an idea of what the standard is, wage is something that you work out with your prospective employee.
This is an excellent question because it applies to so many business owners that simply don’t know what business they’re in. I don’t mean to sound insulting, but take a moment to actually look at your business and ask yourself what you do. Are you a laptop salesman? Or are you a laptop repairman? It sounds to me more like you’re in the repair business than the retail business. So scale back your retail operation and focus instead on the repair work where you’re making the most profit. There’s nothing wrong with cutting off parts of your business that are unprofitable, and when you realize what business you’re really in, you’ll find it’s also much easier to do that work and give you a better sense of where you want to go in the future.
Generally speaking, tough economic times is a good time to look into buying and merging companies since you’ll be able to get it for a good price, but you should also make sure to do your due diligence, this is not a time to guess. If you’d like specific advice on an upcoming purchase event you can contact us directly at EM Advisory Corp, or thus make sure you contact someone who can be completely objective by understanding both your needs and the other company’s wants. Just by your question please contact someone.
In most cases, it doesn’t really matter. Most small businesses use the calendar year for simplicity. However, it can be useful to use a fiscal year if your business has a busy season at a particular time. For example, this adviser was previously in the toy business working at a toy manufacturer. We made the bulk of our sales to retailers in the last quarter of the calendar year for the holiday season. We got paid for these sales January through March. In this situation, we ended our fiscal year in March and started the new year April 1. That is an example of when a fiscal year makes sense. Tourist businesses may also benefit from a fiscal year
We would urge you to speak with your accountant regarding your particular new business.
WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU CHECK WITH YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL TAX ADVISOR PLEASE
That largely depends on what business you’re in, but the trick with tax and record keeping programs is to take the time to figure out your needs. Do you collect sales tax at the register? Look for software such as Trustfile that supports e-filing for sales and use tax (required in certain states). Do you buy a lot of equipment that’s deductible? Look for business-friendly features, such as a comprehensive Schedule C section for managing deductions (available in TurboTax Premier, but not the less expensive versions). Do you have a sole proprietorship and work at home? If so, you’ll need help in navigating tricky subjects such as the home-office deduction, which TaxCut Premium and TurboTax Premier support. Do you have employees or run a corporation? In this case, look at higher-end products, such as TurboTax Business.
Once you figure out what you need, do some research to compare the various products out there. Sites like www.toptenreviews.com are great for providing side-by-side comparisons of the features available to various programs. When you know what you need done, it’ll be easy to whittle down the options to the one that best fits your needs.
WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU CHECK WITH YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL TAX ADVISOR PLEASE
Our answer might seem a little incomplete, but we do not know what type of product you are trying to present to children or their age group. Children are among the most highly sought-after marketing demographics in the country. Part of this answer depends on what you mean by “children,” as marketing to teenagers is vastly different from marketing to kids under ten, for example, but there are some tips that remain the same for both.
First, remember that in the end the parents control the purse strings. While they might not be directly exposed to your advertising a lot of the time, the way you present your product is going to affect how the kids present it to their parents, so make sure that what you’re selling has a benefit that will appeal to the adults as well as the kids. Make sure also that you’re placing your product where kids are most likely to have access to it. Mall stores are going to be much better than large chain superstores if only because kids are more likely to hang out at malls than their local Walmart or Target. If you have your own store, find ways to also make it a hangout for kids. If the kids are there, they’ll be more likely to buy your product or at least be exposed to it.
With children it’s also extremely important to keep an eye on trends. Clever marketing finds way to take what is currently “in” and use it to draw the attention of the target audience, in your case, children. nnOlder kids often like the same things as younger kids, but attempt to show that in an ironic way, like taking a popular cartoon character and making a t-shirt with a witty or mocking statement regarding said character. With kids it’s even more important to think out of the box and craft a marketing approach and presence that will make owning your product, ultimately, fun.
When you say “more customers,” that implies that you have some to begin with. If that’s the case, then you have the seeds of new customers already. Start giving referral bonuses to your current customers if they bring new people to your business. Let them have 10% off of cleaning services if they get you five new customers, for example. You can compound this by going a little bit extra with your current customers by doing things like sending thank you notes on a major holiday or simply asking if there’s anything you can do to improve your service. If your current customers see you as attentive and interested in their business, they’ll be more likely to recommend you to your friends.
WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU CHECK WITH YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL TAX ADVISOR PLEASEnnSome tax related time frames, such as your tax return filing deadline or the due date to pay the IRS estimated tax payments, are clear-cut. But when it comes to tax records and how long to keep tax records, the answer is far from simple. nnTax records such as receipts, canceled checks, and other documents that prove to the IRS an item of income or a tax deduction appearing on your tax return should be kept until the statute of limitations expires for that tax return. Usually this is three years from the date the tax return was due or tax return was filed with the IRS, or two years from the date the tax was paid to the IRS, whichever is later. This is the time period in which the IRS can question your tax return – typically three years after it is filed. There is no statute of limitations when a tax return is false or fraudulent or when no tax return is filed with the IRS. You should keep some tax records indefinitely, such as tax records relating to property, since you may need those tax records to prove to the IRS the amount of gain or loss if the property is sold. nnWE RECOMMEND THAT YOU CHECK WITH YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL TAX ADVISOR PLEASE
This largely depends on your specific situation. First of all, is this vehicle an integral part of your business (like a shipping business), or is it a way to make the running of your business more convenient (as in a company car for you or an employee)? nnIs having a new vehicle every two or three years with no major repair risks more important than long-term cost? Or are long term cost savings more important than lower monthly payments? Is having some ownership in your vehicle more important than low up-front costs and no down payment? Is it important to you to pay off your vehicle and be debt-free for a while, even if it means higher monthly payments for the first few years?nnIt doesn’t make a specific difference to your business in the sense that there are no provisions for buying or leasing that have a direct impact on it. However, the same considerations that you would take for a personal vehicle in regards to buying or leasing still apply in this case. nnPlease contact your business CPA and ask them the same question, they do know much more about your business and would be a better source regarding your financial/business conditions.
It really depends on the business, but “customer service” should theoretically be everything that your company is about and represents. If you can provide for your customer in the best way you know how consistently within your own current structure, then you don’t need somebody else to do it for you, as long as your customers are satisfied and more. If your customers aren’t happy by the response when they have questions or comments, then it’s time to consider getting people specifically to deal with customers.
If you’re website is reselling something directly to consumers, then the best way to value it would be membership and purchase history’s, followed by the rate of new members monthly and about a dozen others factors besides the sites ranking in the world against its closest competitor. If you are engaging in a sale currently, please contact us directly at EM Advisory Corp, to many times company owners leave too much off the negotiating table.
Without knowing your business we will try our best to give you some options to work with. There are several ways to stay competitive when you find that there are more people in your market space than when you originally started. First, I would ask myself a question, what if I went beyond the 20 mile radius, is my competition more or less? Depending on your own answer please consider the following suggestions
Keep in mind that you have an advantage over them since you’ve been there longest and therefore are established and have a customer base already
If you want to keep that customer base, though, you’ll have to get creative with your marketing. Try offering deals and benefits for your regular customers that encourage them to stay. 10% off coupons and the like go a long way toward maintaining a customer base. Also, since you still need to bring in new customers, referral bonuses will turn your customer base into a marketing machine for you, encouraging the people who have stayed loyal to your business to bring in friends, even ones who have considered your competitors. Holding an event also tends to draw attention to your business rather than the other people who are doing the same thing, so don’t be afraid to bring people in with raffles, small prizes, or similar things that are fun for your customers and get them to come to you
Most importantly, watch your competitors and see what they’re doing. How did they get started? How did they draw the attention of people in your area to begin with? If it worked for them, it can work for you as well. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box with your marketing and your presence.
If you’re looking to import from Mexico, you want to contact the Trade Commission of Mexico in Los Angeles (350 S. Figueroa St, Suite 296, Los Angeles, California 90071, phone # (213) 628-1220). However, that’s for general information. The US doesn’t require a specific importer’s license, but you will be asked for your “importer’s number,” which is either the IRS tax number of your business, or your social security number if you don’t have a registered business. Otherwise, contact your local Customs office for more information on the paperwork you’ll need. Also, read this document from the US Customs website: http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/newsroom/publications/trade/iius.ctt/iius.pdf
First, let us recommend that you consult an expert on this, as setting price levels can be a complicated process. However, just as a basic idea, prices are based on a few major considerations.
The first thing you need to consider is your direct costs (actual material costs), labor, and overhead (facilities, utilities, taxes, insurance, security, and general operating costs). When you add all of these things up, you have the break-even cost.
From that point, you have to determine what you’d like your profit to be. Again, that is a very complicated decision, and we suggest talking to a financial adviser before settling on something.
Telecommunications can mean many things, but keep in mind that all small businesses share several common needs, specifically, the need to serve sales, purchases, financing, and operational functions. Your telecommunications option should be the one that best serves all of these functions. This covers things as simple as your long distance carrier to your internet provider and even fax machine. Only you can know what is most appropriate for your specific business in this regard, but think in terms of meeting the service needs listed above.
It very much depends on your business, but if you’re running a small storefront in a local area, then location can be incredibly important.
What you need to consider when choosing a location is availability of your prospective clientele, their ability to access your establishment, the potential employee pool, and the number of competitors nearby. Be sure to be liberal in your definition of “competitor” when you’re considering this. Just because you run a bakery doesn’t mean the sports bar down the way won’t be drawing people into large, filling meals and pouring lots of alcohol that could prevent them from taking advantage of your lovely Black & White cookies.
Marketing is much more than just advertising and selling. It involves learning about the market you want to sell to, understanding what they can afford, and how best to approach them. There are four basic aspects to marketing: product (description of what you’re selling), price (how much it costs), promotion (how you inform people of what you’re selling), and place (the distribution channels you use to get the product to the market). Keeping those in mind, you have a very basic concept of what is actually involved in marketing.
This will require a little trial and error after you’ve discovered what your competition charges. You’ll find that as you would begin your business and place bids on properties to service, you’ll learn quickly what you can charge to beat your competitors while offering additional services your competitors don’t. Keep supply and demand in mind and always check out your competition to see what they’re doing, both in terms of pricing and services offered.
EM Advisory Corp is an Advisory firm that connects with people. Our advice is rooted in our experience and personalized to your needs. Search our site for related Articles. Browse our FAQ’s for Answers and use our provided information and Services to help you solve your situation.
“I feel like a hero to my Board of Directors thanks to you. Your confidentiality is much appreciated and your suggested changes to our approach with the new structure to handle the referral pass-through have worked so well that we needed to put 5 new associates in place, thank you again.”
“Your analysis of our current marketing efforts turned out to be spot on. Your suggested changes are already showing results over the last 60 days of running them, thank you, your services are under rated. We will be calling again.”
“I thought that putting your company on retainer was a waste of our resources, and time. I have never been so wrong, and so happy to be wrong at the same time. It would be my honor if you would consider a permanent position within our corporation.”
“I can’t deny that your services are invaluable. Not one person in my company was able to see our own mistakes. It does take a trusted advisor to look in from the outside and you have been that advisor. Thank you, for showing us a way to identify and correct these issues for the future.”
“One simple paragraph in our 98-page contract created a lifetime of residual payments back to the Partnership, thank you for seeing it. The statement you made is so true, “attorneys are not businessmen.” We will call you when we prepare for our next purchase.”
“The promotion was a complete success. The way you structured it allowed me to deduct the campaign and giveaway expenses from my taxes. The biggest benefit has been the permanent increase in my customer base. Thank you.”
“I never thought that the use of a separate website could benefit this section of my business. That thinking was just being out of touch with my own customer base. Our overall transactions have tripled over this last year. Our future continues to grow again.”
“One month! You changed our direction in a month. I never realized that I was inadvertently forgetting about what has turned out to be a profitable division of the business, and that same division was our problem, to begin with. Your quick analysis gave us the step up we needed.”
“Until I saw the numbers with my own eyes, I did not, could not believe what you were telling me. But it is true, you saved me over $600,000 of unneeded advertising spend in the first 6 months of this year over last year. I was most impressed with the fact that we sustained the same revenue, thank you.”
“You are correct, everything is a negotiation. I am very glad that you sat on our side of the table with the quite expertise you demonstrated. This sale will allow myself and my family to choose again.”