Thursday, March 12, 2009


Just because competition moves into the neighborhood for your new venture doesn't mean you have to scrap your plans and get back to the drawing board.

There are ways you can beat the competition--even if they are established businesses. These days, more than ever, consumers are tight with their money. There has to be a good reason for them to purchase your product or service. Make sure you are offering quality goods that are priced well for your market.

Are you satisfying the customers' needs? If, for example, you are a haircutter, you must of course offer a superior cut, but consider the environment in which you turn out your hair masterpieces:
is it fun, clean, nurturing to new clients, entertaining? If you cut hair in your own home, make sure you work on an overall presentation for your clients.

No matter what your business is you can beat the competition by considering the following:
*Provide the service at a faster pace.
*Provide the product at a cheaper price.
*Offer a guarantee.
*Give detailed and highly personalized service to every customer.
*Provide more variety. If you sell sneakers from your online store, offer a nice selection that will entice a larger market.

Check out the competition on a regular basis.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


If you don't have the $$$$$ resources right now to develop a big ad campaign or a Fortune 500-esque public relations promo, don't worry! You can reach thousands of people--make that millions of people-- with news about your small business' products and services by taking advantage of the various social media sites out there. There is no cost to join, promote, make connections and direct people to your website. There are so many options available. We are going to review the most popular:


Start your own pr campaign promoting your products & services by sending out blurbs on yourself, your first small business, etc. in 140 characters or less. Log on, choose a user name & password and start "tweeting" Guy Kawasaki recommends that it is important to add "value" to the twitter-verse in order to pick up a lot of "followers", so be careful to tweet about interesting items/events/statistics, etc. In other words, don't only focus on your small business promotion. However, you will see that many use Twitter as their form of "performance art", or use it to promote their products/services, and others use it to fulfill their ego with tweets all about themselves. Sign up, add a photo, bring something to the twitter table, and you will develop a following! Every now and then pop something in about your small business.
Our twitter name is: smallbizstartup


The site says: "LinkedIn is an online network of more than 15 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries." Join and write up a profile of yourself--include a photo, add your business website. You could reach potential buyers, investors and future partners through this social networking site.


The music industry uses this site to market their products to a worldwide audience. IF you have something to offer to the demographic of, then, by all means, get an account, create a nice page, and start promoting. It's free! You can add a nice template at no charge from sites like, so check it out. Check back frequently to see who wants to request to add you as a "friend"--follow lots of people, they'll follow back. A MySpace Page we really love was created to promote Phoebe Legere's New York Underground Museum:


This is a social networking site that is much less professionally oriented than LinkedIn. But most people who advocate using social media as a free way to "get the word out" about a product/service, etc. use Facebook as well as the other sites mentioned here. It becomes a "six degrees of separation" type game to see how many friends are added each week, who knows who, who is speaking to whom, and what they are doing. Most of the postings are personal, "I ate a banana and went to school" or "I'm not watching TV tonight, I'm playing poker," etc. However, you can develop quite a network through Facebook, so check it out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Here are some commonly used marketing/advertising terms in relationship to web advertising:

CPM = Cost Per Thousand: This is the cost of each 1000 people that come in contact with your information. If an advertiser boasts that their cost of an advertisement on their site is $100 CPM and it has an audience of 5000 viewers, then the total cost of the ad is $500.

CTR = Click-Through Rate: This refers to the average number of click-throughs per hundred ad impressions, expressed as a per-centage.

SES = Search Engine Submission: Supplying a URL to a search engine, making your site known, so that it can list your URL on the search engine.

SEO = Search Engine Optimization: The process of choosing the right keyword or phrase that relates to your site or blog so that it ranks high on any web search.

PPC = Pay-per-Click: An online payment in which one receives $$$ for each click-through.

CPC = Cost-per-Click: This is the cost paid per click-through.

Viral Marketing: A web phenomenon that encourages viewers to pass along a message.

Subscribers: The followers who view your site and might have shared an email address or other personal information in exchange for your newsletter, coupons, or other "inside information." Subscribers could also pay an actual $$fee$$ to view your site, download special items, etc.

Friday, February 13, 2009


As you work on coming up with an idea for your small business, ask yourself:

What type of interests or skills do I have that could translate into running a small business?

Do you love holidays and gift giving? You could start a personal shopping service or launch a gift basket business. Do you love children? How about a day care center? Use your imagination. No one can tell you what business you can best start and run. That's up to you. What types of businesses are needed in your community? Is there an errand service? Could your neighborhood use one? Are there businesses that would use your errand service? Are residential customers a possibility?

Could you start a food delivery service, delivering meals-to-go from established restaurants who don't have the time or the inclination to deliver their own fare? You could start a business providing this service.

Ask yourself: what is needed in this region and could I do it? Find a niche and fill it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Should you carry advertising on your website?
It might be appropriate, it might not be. It depends what your business is.

Google has created AdSense, a program in which they find ads that relate to your web content: if viewers click on the ad, Google will send you some money--if you meet the minimum requirements.

Lots of bloggers use AdSense, but many feel it detracts from the purity of the blogger's point of view. The bottom line is that in some cases, it is appropriate to include the AdSense ads. In fact, some of your blog followers might welcome them. For example, if you have a travel blog, then carrying AdSense ads that feature hotels, bed and breakfast, and sightseeing in the regions you write about might assist your readers. The call is up to you.

Internet Advertising comes in many forms. With AdSense, you are dealing with Pay-per-Click ads.

You can also get a sponsor for your website. If you are writing about golf, and can
show that your website is developing a nice following, then contact golf resorts, hotels, golf manufacturers to discuss a sponsorship. It can be by the week or by the month. Make their ad exclusive as a banner or carry several advertisers.

Consider the Swap and Exchange technique. You carry information on a company's products/services on your site with a link to their website, and they'll do the same.

Affiliate Marketing programs are revenue sharing vehicles between online advertisers/merchants and online publishers. If you write about a guitar company, for example, and include their website, and readers click on and go to their company, you get a fee for each Pay-per-Click; if that readers buys a guitar or cable, you get a % of their purchase as an added incentive. (This differs from AdSense because Google finds those ads--in Affiliate Marketing, you do the homework and find the sites willing to establish this type of relationship with your website.)

In a future posting, we'll review Internet Maketing and Advertising Jargon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


One of the biggest tools for your new business is a website. It will not only represent you, and act as a online dossier, but it will establish your entity as a global enterprise. You can be sitting in your pajamas having a cup of coffee at the kitchen table, but wheeling and dealing around the world, selling your wares in the international marketplace. Let's review the basic elements of a website--you may or may not need them all on your site:

~The Home Page--this is the first page your clients see--remember your site is part of your brand, so keep it in tune with all of your marketing arsenal.
~Menu Page--This is the menu of options for your site. Similar to a table of contents in a book, you may have several selections, or you might not even need it, if the purpose of your site is just to have a Home Page to introduce your business and give you a web presence.
~FAQ--Frequently Asked Questions--and Answers--about your business.
~Mission or History--this is the "About Us" part of the site in which you relate your company history, include your bio info, and anything else you want your customers to know.
~Order Information Page--If you are using your web site to sell items, this page will focus on your ordering process and include information on shipping and handling.
~Checkout Page--This page will list the items ordered and record the personal information on your customer's shipping address, email, etc.
~Payment Page--This page will process the payment. You will request PayPal info, a credit card number or e-checks.
~Publicity/Press--include anything that has appeared in the newspaper or a regional magazine, etc. about your business. Editorial coverage implies third party endorsement so go for it!

The next posting will discuss advertising on your website and if it makes sense for you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


For the thousands of Americans who are receiving pink slips each week, there may be no alternative but to start a small business. This is the way to turn a crisis into an opportunity. Follow your passion. Figure out a business that will permit you to pursue it. (Get started with our free fill-in-the-blank workbook--see box in right column of this blog.)

After you've zeroed in on the biz you want to start, have determined there is a real need for your product/service right now, and have organized a marketing plan, follow this quick checklist for your small business launch:
_Pick a name for your business.
_Select your company's legal structure (sole proprietorship is most common)
_Visit legal self-help sites like for more information on incorporating if you choose to go that route.
_Visit your county clerk's office to file a DBA (doing business as) form.
(this will permit you to open a business checking account in your biz name).
_While at the country clerk's office get info to apply for a business license.
_Apply for a seller's permit.
_Apply for a Federal Tax ID (EIN)(this will permit you to buy goods from wholesalers, too, and not pay taxes on the items).
_Determine if you need additional home and/or business liability insurance; talk with your agent.
_Open a business checking account.
_Visit to investigate tax matters.
_Figure out what you'll do for health insurance, before you leave your current job, or COBRA insurance.
_Set up a home page website or get a free blog with to demonstrate your web presence.
_Stay positive. It could take months for your new business to click with your client base. If you believe your have a good idea for our times, don't let the naysayers get you down.