EMAC was organized for the simple purpose of allowing business people to ask about simple small business issues to professionals. Moreover, without the expense of paying for the quality professional time like other websites. We believe people need a break and a helping hand. The majority of these FAQ 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 about small business issues over the past few years. We hope this will allow you to make a more informed decision. 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. However, we think you’ll find the below information useful for a number of small business issues.
It’s not always easy to ask about small business issues. Particularly because you don’t always know exactly which questions to ask. That’s why we’ve collected some of the most common and useful questions we’ve heard over the years in one place. That way, you can benefit from years of experience.
So take a look at some of the many small business issues that others have had before you and what we had to say. If you find any of them helpful, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.
EM Advisory Corp would like to thank all for your questions and participation over the years. We commit to answering each of your questions to the best of our abilities. If you have any further questions about your business, contact us today.
First of all, consider your standards. Are they too low? If so, your employees might be getting bored. Are they too high? They might be getting too stressed. Remember that each one is a unique source of knowledge and skill. Make sure your employees have everything they need to do their jobs and clearly communicate with them what you expect. Most importantly, get to know them so that you can reward them in ways that are meaningful to them as individuals. Find a balance with them, and they’ll work their best for you.
The first thing you might want to do is take a look at how your business is built. Is it easy for one department to contact another? Do they have a reason to? Are the tasks you’ve designed made for them work with one another, or are those tasks keep them apart? Do you do anything as a group away from the office environment? I know that I’ve answered your question with questions, but these questions are the ones you should be asking yourself. How you create your internal structure of your business makes all the difference in how your people and their departments communicate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That largely depends on the business you’re in, but there are a few things you always want to keep an eye out for. Are you looking for desktops that will always stay in place or laptops that you can take home? Do you need specific software like accounting applications and industry-specific applications like metallurgy evaluators, stock-trackers, or any program that helps your company function? Do the computers you’re looking for meet or, preferably, exceed, the specifications listed for the programs you need? Don’t forget to include applications like firewalls, servers, and anti-virus programs. Do you need a network? How much storage space do you need? Can you make backups? These are all important questions you need answers to before buying computers for your office.
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.
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.
Generally, the best option for this sort of thing is a screen name that will be easiest to remember and says the most about the service, or not. If you Google twitter for a definition you get hundreds of them from other twitters, if you search for the definition of Google, it seems they have managed to buy the definition of “search”. The company’s actual name is sometimes a good way to go look at abbreviations or even descriptions of what you do. Social networking sites can be great for your business, but people still have to take you seriously, so keep that in mind.
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.
Truly depends on the nature of that small business. Make sure there’s something on your site that gives people a reason to keep coming back. It’s one thing to get them to your site, which these days could be a marketing nightmare to get it right. You need something unique on there that appeals to your target audience.
What sort of business are you in? A company name should be something relevant to the business, memorable, and maybe interesting to people when they speak its name, something “unique”. It should say something about what you do and how you do it. There are no other hard and fast rules for naming a company. After considering the above, look in the mirror and ask yourself, what will my new company’s name be?
There’s no one way to develop and execute an effective marketing campaign, and it can change from location to location. The thing to remember is that your marketing campaign determines the presence your business will have in your area.
Your best bet is to actually contact your local SBA and ask them for advice for your area. They’ll be able to tell you what people are looking for and how to be reach them.
The threat of new entrants is a constant and consistent one. You have the advantage in that your business is established, but that’s no guarantee that a serious threat will not rise up to compete with you. In fact, it’s pretty much assured that eventually somebody will either improve on your product, or they will find some new product that will supersede yours.
There are two ways to combat this threat. The first is to keep innovating. Don’t sit on your laurels, no matter how good your business is doing. Continue to search out new ideas and new talent and take risks, or risk your business.
Secondly, establish a customer base. Keeping customer loyalty will be your best protection against the threat of new competitors. Always act in the interests of providing a quality product or service and you’ll have a good, solid base when somebody eventually tries to woo them away from you.
These are not mutually exclusive propositions. To begin with, you should always be learning. Business continues to evolve and you need to know what direction it’s going in and what direction you want to go in to parallel with it while adding your own twist for new directions. That being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to implement the things you’ve learned. The trick is to ask yourself: “Is this appropriate to my business?” Every company is different, and while something may work for one, it might not really apply to another. You should implement your new knowledge as soon as you can, providing that it’s a good fit for what you do. If not, then keep learning while you evolve the new knowledge in to your own structure.
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.
Your biggest consideration is going to be local zoning laws. New Jersey is famous (or possibly infamous) for its stringent, varied, and unpredictable zoning laws. As late as last month a company in Hammonton was forced to scrap plans for a solar array on their property because of zoning regulations. That you’re putting them on the roof of your plant will help as it side-step a lot of impervious coverage laws (which are designed to limit the amount you can build on a lot that will prevent rainwater from soaking into the soil), but there are still a labyrinth of zoning laws you need to consider. Try going to your local municipal building to find out what sorts of laws you’re dealing with. Often the local government will also be able to inform you of county or state regulations you’ll need to follow.
Beyond that, consider how much power the panels will provide and what you can use them for. How much do you currently spend on electricity and how much would solar power cost you? Assume that it’ll take a year or more to recoup your investment and determine if that matches your plans. You will definitely want to find out about tax deductions that are probably available for moving to green technology. Also, find out if all your excess energy can or will be bought by the local utility company. The most important thing to consider, and what all of these questions boil down to, is “Will this help me make my business more successful and my product or service better?”
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.
Actually, now is a great time for entrepreneurship for exactly the reason you said. The bigger companies are floundering, so there is more of an opportunity to get into markets that were previously dominated by them. Part of what is changing in the markets is that there is a noted lack of faith developing in the larger companies. The perception of large companies these days are as untrustworthy, uninterested, and generally not in tune with their customers.
This isn’t to say that new industry titans will rise out of the ashes of global economic meltdown, but rather that it’s making a little space for new companies as the current titans don’t have the resources to focus on competing with smaller entities. More to the point, smaller, local shops are more likely to be able to win the trust and comfort of their customer bases again. This is a time when knowledge of a product, passion for the purchase and production of something, can go a long way. Doing something well at a local level makes it more likely that a small business can be successful, especially when you would add today’s technology and communication advantages for the small business owner.
Also keep in mind that in economic hard times, new and clever business models emerge. People are losing jobs, and they have been so corporatized that it’s sometimes hard to conceive of doing something on one’s own. However, there are needs out there to be filled, and clever people can be the ones to fill those needs. Finding a new way to produce, market, package, or present an already established product or service in a cheaper, faster, or more efficient manner changes the playing field from that point forward and is better both for companies and consumers.
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.
That depends on what business you have, but in general it’s more civicly responsible to do so. Large national chains will almost always be able to undersell local shops just because they have the buying power to keep their costs lower, but keep in mind that money spent there won’t stay in your community and you will get lower quality customer service when the actual decision-makers are hidden away in a skyscraper in another city rather than working behind the counter. If you can afford to do so, building a relationship with local suppliers will get you better quality products and better service than working with a chain.
There’s no formula for business success. No math will help you except the math on your balance sheet, so don’t look for one. There are some things that can help you, though. Sound management practices, technical support, experience in whatever industry you’re in, and the ability to plan will help you make the decisions you need in order to create a successful company. Remember, though, that even with all of these elements, there’s no guarantee that you’ll do well. It will still take a lot of hard work , a realistic outlook, and any number of other factors that you can’t necessarily control.
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.
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.
Taking on a partner doesn’t always make it easier to run your business and can, in fact, make it more difficult. What you should look for in a partner is somebody who compliments you, and makes up for your weaknesses with their strengths. I know somebody whose uncle was an amazing salesman, but didn’t know how to run a business, so he hired my friend’s father, who helped him quadruple his business within two years. Make sure if you do take on a partner that you have a clear understanding in writing of what everyone’s rights and responsibilities are.
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.
Market potential in general boils down to a very basic formula. You figure out a customer profile (who you want to target with your marketing) and combine that with the geographic size you want to target (how many of those people are in that area). This is your general market potential.
To get a more specific marketing potential, you need to know also how many competitors you have and their strength in the market area. You can then estimate how much of their business you’ll be able to take from them (we recommend being conservative on your estimates), and that will be the market potential of your business.
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.”