# Begin with a profile book. Libraries and bookstores are loaded with book series that profile a particular type of business. The Globe Pequot Press offers more than 15 titles in its How to Open & Operate a … series. Titles include How to Open & Operate a Communications Business, How to Open & Operate a Bed & Breakfast, How to Start a Home-Based Mail-Order Business, How to Start a Home-Based Carpentry Business and more. Also refer to books that profile multiple types of ventures. Small Business Profiles (Gale Group) provides step-by-step guidelines for more than 100 business ventures. From these types of books, you’ll glean essential information on startup costs and requirements, self-evaluation, financial projections and management, marketing and contact listings to people in the trade.
# Visit your city’s “first-stop” business information center. A first-stop office can provide you with information packages about licensing, permits, your particular business type and running a business in your state in general-the packages are usually free. They also provide you with links to local Small Business Development Centers, Federal Information Centers and special entrepreneurial training and financing programs.
# First, create the business plan. A plan structures your idea. It lets you think through your market assumptions, product, distribution, management and financial needs. Even if you never need to raise outside money, now may be your only chance to think through everything from top to bottom and know where and how you’re going. You can also work with a lawyer to choose a corporate structure that’s most suited to your operational and financial needs.
# Next, incorporate. That way, start-up expenses clearly belong to your business and not to you as an individual. Incorporating early will also start your company’s legal history, which can make it easier to get credit and raise bank financing later on. Furthermore, lawyer, a specialist in early-stage deals, points out that incorporating limits your liability once you start dealing with customers. In addition, he says you want as much time as possible between incorporation and outside investment to justify a low share price at incorporation. Your founder’s shares are considered income by the IRS, and it’s hard to value them at a penny per share two weeks before outside investors
When it comes to getting major influencers to help with your marketing efforts, you can be embarking down a treacherous path. While it’s crucial to on-board folks who have a lot of sway with your market, you have to be careful not to rub them the wrong way.
In some cases, it can be just as easy to either get ignored by the influencers altogether, or goad them into giving you the wrong kind of marketing. With that in mind, here are four do’s and four don’t’s to pay attention to when you are trying to get influencers to help market your product.
# Don’t spam influencers with follow ups
Yes, you should follow up with your influencer, but don’t be obnoxious about it. This means having a bit of patience, since most influencers are very busy people and may not have an opportunity to reply to your email in just a day or two. If you don’t hear back from the influencer within a week, then it’s probably safe to send a follow up email.
You’re considering investing valuable time and money into your project, so you won’t want another company copying your products and competing against you.
Patents and trademarks can be used to carve out a competitive market position. Meet with a patent attorney to determine whether your idea is already patented or if your trademark is already in use by someone else. If it is, think hard about how important a patent or trademark is to your business’ success.
Prove marketability by researching every company that makes similar products (competitors), analyzing the profile of customers who might buy the product (demographics), and charting margins, shipping methods and practices of the stores that would sell the product (distribution channels).
Not only will this exercise identify the state of the market, it will lay the groundwork for how you’ll need to introduce and sell your product.
You’ll either have to manufacture or assemble the product yourself, or subcontract all or part of the manufacturing of the product to your specifications. Short-run manufacturers will be able to help you answer production questions.
Once you prove the marketability and have a product to sell, you
The fact is, there is loads of research to show that influencer marketing has one of the best ROIs of any marketing plan. According to a study done by SocialChorus, influencer marketing campaigns can capture up to 16 times the engagement of owned or paid media. Influencer marketing agency Tomoson also found that businesses generate, on average, $6.50 in revenue for each $1 invested in influencer marketing. Thirteen percent of those businesses make $20 or more per $1. Influencer marketing is the most cost effective way of advertising and generates a very high ROI.
While social media has created the ability to generate highly targeted marketing campaigns, many businesses have little to no idea how to create and measure what ROI an influencer marketing campaign gives them. To that end, follow these four essential tips to help launch the best campaigns ever:
# Find the right influencers
This cannot be overstated. First and foremost, define your audience. Obsess over them. What details about their lives can you define and utilize in creating the ultimate demographic? You need to know exactly who you are targeting to find the influencers who will reach your audience.
Then, find the influencers who are creating for
Prioritizing mindshare over market share doesn’t mean you have to ditch your metrics mentality. Mindshare focuses on long-term ROI grown organically from a small group of key influencers. When you build an army of brand advocates, sales will naturally follow.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to attract clients. Even the biggest brands in the world, including Apple and Starbucks, deliberately focus on wowing clients and inspiring referrals rather than mass advertising.
Strive to dominate the thoughts of the few, and you’ll turn 100 raving fans into salespeople. But these niches must be intentional. In the gifting industry, for example, we could essentially market to anyone in business who wants to show appreciation to important clients or colleagues. After narrowing our scope to a few key niches — longstanding financial advisors, professional sports teams and entrepreneurs of fast-growth companies with at least $5 million in revenue — we’ve started to become known in these circles and be referred amazing opportunities.
Today’s digital landscape is crowded and noisy. Staying front and center with a handful of influencers is much more effective than adding to the commotion. But that can only happen when you concentrate
There’s a theory in matters of business networking that more is better. Fatten up the ol’ Rolodex and you’ll soon be climbing the ladder/locking down your angel round/scoring clients. It’s not true. Relationship capital—your web of contacts and their web of contacts—like a truffle or a well-appointed wardrobe, traffics in quality, not quantity. Keep your network lean.
Rather than glad handing every suit in the room, focus instead on engaging thought leaders and influencers and offering your own no-strings-attached time and energy. You’ll find the investment pays off in unexpected ways. Here are eight ways to get the most of your own relationship capital.
# Curate. Collecting piles of business cards is not building a network, it’s creating clutter. An effective network is comprised only of people who can help you solve problems. Not simply C-suite bigwigs, but influencers of all types.
# Give. In his book Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant makes the case for increasing your success by helping others. Give referrals and advice freely—literally. When you expect nothing in return, your connections will be predisposed to helping you, and each other. A five-minute favor is all it takes to set up a relationship that could mean a lot down the
Obtaining a face-to-face meeting with a prospective buyer is hard to secure, painful to schedule and expensive to attend. And yet, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars being funneled into online presentation tools like WebEx, GoToMeeting and Join.me, nothing really beats an in-person meeting with a new prospect.
Can you imagine Apple unveiling to the press the Apple Watch over a WebEx? Of course not! The face-to-face meeting allows the salesperson to collect context about the buyer, subtleties such as body language and political nuance, that will be beneficial as the sales campaign evolves. The prospect sees that the selling team is are competent and credible professionals who can help the buyer think through and solve the problem at hand.
Below are tips to give your best face-to-face.
# Electronic device etiquette. Turn off your phone. Not silent. Off. If you take notes on a tablet, silence the annoying keyboard clicks. Whoever is presenting needs to make sure that their email client is turned off. It’s highly distracting to have email notifications interrupting your presentation.
# Give Cliff’s notes. Kick-off the meeting by telling the audience exactly what they will learn. Promise them that you have structured the agenda to optimize
Can you believe this guy? Never acknowledges your presence. Interrupts you in meetings. Yawns in your face. Mocks your wardrobe. Smacks his gum. Talks to you like you’re 8 years old. Keeps asking to borrow two dollars even though the Cheez-It packs in the vending machine are only 95 cents. Never pays you back. Slaps you on the back while you’re drinking coffee. Exists on the earth. Haunts your dreams.
You gonna respond to all that offense? Of course you are. But you’re not going to reveal that you can’t stand the guy. You’re not going to act annoyed. Acting annoyed or put upon or beleaguered suggests that you have lost some control, that you’ve been thrown off your game.
In business, restraint is the only means of disarming the jerk.
(That and, you know, firing, ending your partnership with or having the jerk arrested for stealing your money and slapping you all the time. But for the purposes of this column, let’s assume your counterpart must, for professional reasons, remain in your universe.)
# Staying Clean When Things Get Dirty
Etiquette is about taking the high road. But when dealing with someone
The rules are slightly different from standard social settings, yet business schools rarely discuss professional etiquette topics.
In her new book “The Essentials Of Business Etiquette,” Barbara Pachter writes about the specific skills professionals need to understand when presenting themselves in a business setting.
From how to introduce yourself to what to order at restaurants, these are the social rules you need to know when establishing relationships.
Pachter has given us permission to use these excerpts from her book.
# Always say your full name
In a business situation, you should use your full name, but you should also pay attention to how others want to be introduced.
If your name is too long or difficult to pronounce, Pachter says you should consider changing or shortening it. Or you should consider writing down the pronunciation of your name on a business card and giving it to others.
# Always stand when you’re being introduced to someone
“Standing helps establish your presence. You make it easy for others to ignore you if you don’t stand. If you are caught off guard and cannot rise, you should lean forward to indicate that
Having even just one relationship with an online influencer can have a significant impact on your business. Online influencers are people who have a dynamic personality that comes across online and they command the respect of other key players in their niche. Relationships with influencers are sought after by business owners because these people help shape consumer decision making by popularizing products and ideas, and promoting things across multiple channels.
The good news is that many top influencers also happen to be fairly accessible, even when you think it’s impossible to connect with them. Here are five relatively easy ways to connect with powerful influencers who can hopefully help your business get to the next level:
# Get connected through someone you know
Whether online or off, when you get introduced to someone new by a mutual friend you are coming with a built-in background check. You will want to make sure that the person you want to meet knows why he or she is meeting you. Make sure your current contact is clear with his or her description of you and what you do.
Follow up after you get introduced to thank the person for his
As the old saying goes, “It’s now what you know but who you know.” For entrepreneurs, this couldn’t be truer. Building relationships can play a pivotal role in the success of your startup, as it can lead to important introductions to investors, potential clients, future hires and advisors.
But it isn’t easy. Relationships need trust and rapport, which requires consistent contact over time. For those looking to nurture and build valued connections, here are some tips:
# Be helpful. In a professional setting, people like to have relationships with those that can help their career or business. Be that person. It will help both your network and you get stronger.
Offer relevant and mutually beneficial introductions. Provide advice, expertise or feedback. Share information such as events, articles or research that may be helpful. Promote your contact’s work by sharing it with others.
Per the law of reciprocity, when you are helpful to others, people will feel more inclined to be helpful to you.
# Be visible. Make it easy for people to see you and know what you’re doing online.
Maintain a strong online presence on relevant social network sites like
Simplifying and automating some of everyday processes allows a business to effectively scale the productivity of its marketing, while retaining the quality of its work.
To facilitate productivity as a marketer, identify which parts of the company’s workflow can be automated with cost-effective tools. These tools must suit the size and needs of the marketing team and improve upon the quality of work delivered across marketing channels.
Here are five tools to help foster productivity across the marketing functions of a business:
# Social flow. Scheduling social media posts is critical for keeping up with the amount of relevant content that an organization ideally would generate in a timely manner. Social Flow helps businesses manage the distribution of their social content by alerting a team when the company’s audience is discussing related topics to its core offerings and brand graph. The tool lets organizations know when to chime into relevant conversations their audience is already having.
The tool’s algorithm analyzes real-time conversations on the largest social networks to help businesses identify trends in these conversations, to inform future efforts in creating relevant content. The tool also assists with advertising on Twitter and Facebook, based on the success of existing organic content.
At a networking event not too long ago for which 500 people attended, the speaker who was on stage directly before my presentation asked the audience, “How many of you came here hoping to do some business today, maybe even make a sale?” The overwhelming majority of the people in the audience raised their hands. Then he asked, “How many of you are here hoping to buy something today?” Not one person raised a hand.
This is what I call networking disconnect. I find it ironic that people are so “disconnected” about a process that’s intended to be about connecting people. This kind of disconnect leads to poor results, which in turn leads people to believe that networking doesn’t work. From what I’ve experienced over the past 26 years, along with the results I’ve witnessed with hundreds of thousands of people around the world — networking works just fine.
My advice: Do not confuse direct selling with networking. Of course, there is always someone out there who says, “But, Ivan, I’ve made sale before by attending a networking event.” I’m not saying it doesn’t ever happen, but it occurs about as often as a solar eclipse. You’re crazy
Blogging can be a great way to draw new customers to your business website. But if your blog hasn’t been updated in months or all your posts are thinly disguised sales pitches, your blog marketing plan could backfire.
Here are types of blog posts that can draw new visitors and help build customer relationships.
# Customer success story. When you receive a great testimonial from a customer, ask for permission to turn it into a post. Use the post to solicit more customer stories.
# Create an award. Giving a “best of” honor is guaranteed to get attention. Readers will want to check out who won, and all the finalists will likely share the news in social media.
# Share your customer feedback. If you use customer comment cards or do customer surveys, turn some highlights into a post.
# Reveal industry secrets or expose lies. When you promise totell people what others won’t, it’s sure to be a hit.
# Tell the story of your origins. Everybody loves to read aboutother people’s dreams and challenges, so write about why and how you started your business.
# Share a highlight. What
The ability to network successfully can be one of the greatest assets in business. It allows some people to find incredible opportunities, while others just watch from the sidelines. Here are the most important habits to develop :
# Learn their ‘story’
Ask successful entrepreneurs to tell you how they got where they are. Most people think of this as an exercise in rapport building, but hearing these stories can tell you a lot about a person’s approach to business. The more you understand your networking partner’s mentality, the better you can add and extract value from your relationship.
For example, some entrepreneurs pride themselves on working 16-hour days and doing whatever it takes, while others focus on being strategic and waiting for the right opportunities to open up. These are clues that can not only allow you to see what people value, but also what working with them might be like.
# Make small promises and keep them
No matter how small a promise you make — such as sending an email or returning a phone call — delivering on that promise reflects on your character. By following through on your word, you start building a reputation
To succeed, a startup must generate new business and attract talented employees, which requires using all of your resources smartly. Relationship capital is the connections, networks and relationships we all have that can be leveraged for business success. It must not be overlooked.
Executives of young companies should consistently leverage their networks and connections while encouraging all team members to expand their personal networks. That spurs professional growth individually and for the company. Startups that capitalize on their relationship capital will grow and sustain a healthy corporate culture and work environment.
Below are useful tips for startups to leverage relationship capital to perfect the science of success:
# Get your employees to realize the benefits of shared relationship capital. Professional contacts are personal and hard-won possessions. People rarely share these contacts with colleagues and will never want to hand them over to their company as a whole.
You first need to gain the trust of your staff to overcome their anxiety and get them to embrace sharing their relationship capital. They need to trust you won’t take advantage of their contacts for selfish reasons. Emphasize that employees will always be the point-of-contact for their own connections.
In a tough economy, growing your business doesn’t have to involve costly new hires or expensive acquisitions. Instead, teaming up with another small business might be your best solution.
Successful teaming relationships can help you gain experience, offer a more comprehensive service, or take on bigger contracts.
Earlie Butler, founder and CEO of Document Integration Technologies, a West Orange, N.J.-based technology solution business, teams with other companies to reach a broader client base.
Over time, he’s learned how to choose the right partners and communicate effectively. “Just like anything else, some relationships are going to very good and productive, some not so, and others just fall apart completely,” he says.
If you want to try teaming with another small business, here are six tips to ensure a successful relationship:
# Be honest about your weaknesses. Before you enter a teaming relationship, assess your strengths and weaknesses. “When you’re teaming, you’re looking for someone who will be right next to you,” says Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, an advisor on small business growth for American Express OPEN. “You have to be open about what you really bring to the table,” she says. Ideally, you’ll complement each other’s weaknesses.
As an entrepreneur, strong relationships open doors and empower you to succeed. When you are getting started, you’re constantly calling on your network for help. To do that successfully without straining the ties, you need to make sure that you are giving as much as you receive.
As you work hard to make connections that will help your business grow, you can unwittingly slide into selfish relationships, often with the best of intentions. Others will rarely tell you directly if you’re taking more than you’re giving, so you need to watch for signs.
The most common sign is avoidance. “It can be difficult to tell someone that they expect more than they give, so [people will make] excuses about being too busy to avoid a potential conflict,” says Marilyn Belleghem, an Ontario-based business relationship consultant. If people stop returning your messages or start saying they’re too busy for you, that change can indicate that they’re not benefiting from the relationship.
More subtly, you might sense that you’re struggling to make a connection or you’re doing all the talking. Or, you might draw a blank when you ask yourself what others need or what you’ve done
nfluencers — those well-connected, knowledgeable voices to which others listen and respond — are coveted connections. They can provide insight, recommendations, introductions and opportunities.
Most people already know who the influencers are in their industries, says attorney and entrepreneur Steven Babitsky, co-author of The Street Smart MBA: 10 Proven Strategies for Driving Business Success (Apress, 2012). They’re often popular authors, speakers, bloggers, columnists or successful businesspeople. Babitsky has an effective formula for connecting with many of them. Here are his six steps to connecting with influencers in your industry.
# Get in touch
Babitsky likes to reach out via phone or email instead of social media because it’s more personal, he says. However, take your lead from the influencer’s cues. If he or she is active on Twitter or carries on online conversations on his or her blog, that might be a good way to get in touch, too.
# Keep in touch
Maintain a database of contacts that also includes searchable keywords related to interests. That way, if you come across an article or information related to some of your contacts’ interests, you can easily send it along, keeping you relevant and memorable.