Business Growth: 5 Tips to Meet Demand When Interest Is High

Consumers in today’s fast-paced world want their products as quickly as you can supply them. As a business owner, you need to be agile and ready to make changes that allow you to meet a spike in the demand for your products or services. We’ll provide you with some tips below that may help you satisfy the needs of your customers when everyone is interested in what you have to offer.

Focus on the Basics

Focusing on the core aspects of what you do is one of the easiest ways to keep up with the high demand for your services. It may seem like trying to do more in less time is a way to increase efficiency. However, trying to do things in which you don’t specialize can cause a lot of errors and waste quite a bit of time or money. Offer the basic services you know your company can provide to its customers and use all available employees efficiently.

Use Slow Periods to Get Ahead

Interest in your products or services might be high right now, but it will fluctuate with time. When a customer’s interest starts to wane, you can plan for the next high-interest period at your leisure. You should use this time to stock your inventory or get secondary services ready to provide what your customers need.

Find New Technologies

All industries find big advantages in using technology to meet the high demands of customers everywhere. Technology can help you keep up with demand and even flourish or expand your business. Robotics can help you create better products, statistical data can help you follow trends, and industrial boilers manufacturers can bring meet your energy needs.

Try Scalable Resources

Scalable resources may be able to help your business meet demand when interest is high and help you cut back on costs when that interest shrinks. You may benefit from using an agency that can connect you with extra employees during the busy season or from finding a transportation company that offers flexible shipping options. We recommend looking into affordable ways to store your extra inventory as well.

Try to Gauge Demand

It may seem impossible to gauge just how many resources you’ll need to meet the demands of your customer base. However, you can use your experience, statistical data, and response systems that might be able to give you a good idea of the trends you’ll be looking at during your next busy period.

It is always great to have periods of intense demand for your products and services, but these moments come with their own sets of challenges. You may be able to use some of our tips to prepare for your next busy season and minimize costly errors.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Think Outside the Box to Secure Funding For Your Small Business

Once you have a great idea to start a new small business or expand one that already exists, the next all-important step in the process is to secure funding for it. After all, without financial resources, the business you envision stays trapped in your imagination. Try these approaches to getting the funding you need.

1.  Approach Family Members

A 2016 survey from Bank of America polled 1,000 entrepreneurs in the United States and found over one-third received funding from friends or family members via loans or gifts. You might hesitate to ask your parents for help, especially if they assisted with financing your education not long ago, but it could be a smart move if they’re in a position to help you.

Think about asking others who may be able to help too, such as cousins or grandparents. If those people are business owners or fully on board with your efforts, that’s even better.

2. Pawn Your High-End Luxury Items for Quick Cash

An emerging trend shows an increase in wealthy people going to high-end pawn shops and parting with their luxury items in exchange for fast cash flow to make their business ideas become realities.

Maybe you got a Rolex watch as a gift from a late wealthy relative, and it’s collecting dust in a drawer because you only wear it once a year. If the person who gave it to you always urged you to follow your dreams, you could take that as encouragement to pawn the watch for cash.

Or, maybe you’ve inherited a rare fine art piece that’s undoubtedly beautiful and high-quality but doesn’t match the décor in your home.

These examples show that even if you don’t have a house full of expensive possessions, a few well-chosen ones could help you bring in money quickly. That could be important if, for example, you’re trying to close on a deal for property related to your business and don’t have time to go through the processes required for slower funding methods.

3. Collect the Necessary Documents for a Bank Loan

If you’re an entrepreneur who prefers to fly by the seat of your pants when seeking funding, that approach, unfortunately, won’t work when applying for a loan from a bank. Financial institutions require specific things from you. The representatives there will ask for a polished business plan, a succinct description of how you’ll use the money, your businesses’ financial information and more.

Once you gather those things, organize them neatly in a folder. Then, when it’s time to speak to the loan specialist and make a good impression, you won’t feel or appear flustered.

Even if you don’t think now is the right time to apply for a loan, get all those documents together anyway. Then, when or if you’re ready, you won’t have to scramble around looking for them as your stress level rises.

4. Use Data to Prove Your Point

When approaching people who may invest in your venture, it’s crucial to back up your claims with data. For example, instead of merely explaining why your business idea will succeed in the marketplace, provide hard statistics that show an existing gap you can fill or some other problem your company addresses.

EducationSuperHighway is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving internet speeds in K-12 schools so that students can take advantage of digital advancements. It’s working with nearly two dozen state governors and has achieved a reach of 22 million students.

Before it got to this point, though, the group wisely used data to prove that internet connectivity problems existed and even to hold themselves accountable to early investors. In short, if the organization couldn’t show it was doing worthy work through data, they emphasized that investors shouldn’t feel obligated to give them another cent.

Research ways to compile data that convinces potential investors why your idea is different than what already exists and that there’s a genuine need for it. Taking that step strengthens your case rather than making it seem like you have little more than a firmly held opinion.

5. Look for Microgrant Opportunities

Perhaps you’re in a situation where you only need a small amount of funding for your small business that you’ll use for better office furniture or to invest in a printer that doesn’t break down more often than it works.

Those scenarios are excellent for microgrants. As you might realize from the name, they involve community members or professional investors collectively giving small amounts of money to successful candidates.

The Awesome Foundation funded over 3,400 projects and operates in more than 16 countries. Grant recipients get chosen monthly and receive $1,000 for their projects.

A more localized effort in Charlottesville, VA is called Charlottesville SOUP. It provides microgrants for arts-based projects. Past recipients include a graphic novelist and a fashion designer.

Grant candidates stand in front of audience members who have each paid $10 to hear about the projects while eating a soup dinner. The spectators’ entry fees also act as votes. At the end of the night, the funding seeker with the most ballot box dominance immediately receives a crowd-funded amount for their project.

These dinners occur monthly, and the first one was held in January 2013. So far, the initiative has awarded more than $20,000 to people in the community who needed funding for their efforts.

Creativity Could Take You Further Than Expected

You’ve undoubtedly had to use creativity to develop your business idea. So, why shouldn’t you try to ignite that creative spark when looking for funding? When possible, it’s ideal to take a diverse approach by looking for traditional sources of money for your business such as bank loans but also thinking outside the box and exploring the lesser-known opportunities.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

 

 

How To Create The Ultimate Business Niche

Industries are saturated yet businesses need to stick out like a sore thumb. It’s the modern conundrum for every new startup, and it’s one which tends to fail. Too many companies choose a topic which is overdone and overplayed and offer no value. They forget that a niche subject area is the key to success.

But, how do you find one? How do you come across the Holy Grail of entrepreneurialism? In today’s market, finding your rightful place can be a tricky task. Thankfully, the tips underneath can help you locate the necessary solutions. Here’s how to create an ultimate business niche.

Understand The Basics

There is a lot more to it than coming up with an idea which no one else has considered. Sure, be unique is a big part of the process, but you shouldn’t dismiss the fundamentals. Take Dyson, the vacuum cleaner which revolutionized household chores. The technology was new and exciting, yet it also added value. The vacuum hoovered up more dust and dirt than any cleaner before it. Now, almost every modern hoover uses the technology because it’s the best on the market. Does your niche promote individuality while its popularity drives demand? It should because it’s integral.

Define The Customer

As an individual brand, the chances are you’ll appeal to a less wide audience. Don’t worry about this because it’s part and parcel of developing your niche. Poseida works in the gene and cell therapy sectors, so it isn’t going to be at the front of the consumerist regime. However, it’s a leader in the market for one reason: the company understands its lane. They don’t try and target people outside of the scientific community as it’s a waste of time and energy. To maximize earnings and boost sales, this business hits a clearly defined customer type and works within a basic framework.

Break Down Your Strengths

Customers and clients aren’t going to flock to the brand for no reason. They need to know the new kid on the block is a major player. They must understand that the strengths and achievements of the company will impact their lives. Otherwise, they will stay put and wait until a better offer is on the table. Before you can begin marketing, it’s essential to figure out what sets you apart from the crowd. Is it the product? Is it the service? Is it a mixture of both with value for money thrown in on top?

Draw Conclusions

The final step is the hardest. It’s time to evaluate, objectively, whether the niche is going to work or tank. Lots of entrepreneurs skip this vital part as they believe they have all the info they need. However, once you obtain the strengths of the brand and have defined the customer, the last thing to do is test it. Provide samples to passers-by on the street, for example, or conduct social media polls with your core audience. Use the results to gauge the probability of success and failure.

Are you more comfortable with niches now?

Expanding Your Business? Top Considerations When Designing Your New Building

If you are looking to build a new business location, then the process can often be nerve wrecking. Keeping some key points in mind may help the project go more smoothly, but remember that there will always be hiccups along the way. Here are some pointers to take into consideration to make the process of building a new physical location for your business goes smoother.

Think About the Materials

Although you will most likely be working with a construction company to get your new location built, you should keep in mind the supplies that are used. Do you want to use recycled or eco-friendly materials? Will there be chemicals for construction and roofing used? Talk to your construction project manager and discuss your wishes. In the case of chemicals, for example, ask which specific chemicals will be used. If needed, talked to a supplier like Seidler Chemical that they might be using to get that chemical. The same goes for other types of materials that may be used.

Choose the Best Location

You need to work with a real estate professional to choose the best location for your business. Keep local zoning laws in mind when choosing your location. If your business requires foot traffic, then think about building in a location where your business will be seen by those looking for those types of businesses. For example, if you are looking to sell used cars, then think about locating near other car lots as customers are more likely to head there when looking. On the other hand, if your business relies on trucks or trains to move merchandise, then you may want to consider building your business near interstates or the railroad depot.

Think About Design Elements

There are several design elements that you will want to consider when building a new location. Consider elements that will make your location attractive to customers who are coming to see you. Think about how much room your staff needs to work efficiently. Ask yourself how your product will flow into and out of your location. Likewise, consider how customers will flow through your building so that you can keep them safe while making shopping in your new location efficient.

Handle Finances

You will need the money to be able to build a new physical location, so it is important to get everything down on paper. After you have completed all your calculations, then go see a commercial lender if needed. They may also need a copy of your business plan and the last several years of business books. You may also want to see if there are any grants or low-interest government loans available to help you in the process. Keep great records of who you contacted and what they said.

Following these helpful guidelines will help you get the project done quickly. It will often save you money. Building a custom-made business often leaves a great impression on your customers helping to increase your return-on-investment.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

Recognizing Growth Opportunities for Your Local Brand

Developing a brand is a difficult process. It requires time, effort and dedication to successfully develop a good brand. Many businesses chose to develop a brand in order to stand out on the market and win over the hearts and minds of their customers. Not only that, a brand can also help even small businesses become lucrative enterprises. However, simply developing a brand is not enough for your business to succeed.

You must continue to work on your brand and identify opportunities that will help it grow and develop further. That being said, many businesses start by developing a local brand as a first step in their branding strategy. Once you’ve managed to build your local presence and win over your community, you can easily move on to the other markets as well. Here are a few ways you can recognize growth opportunities for your local brand.

Conduct a competitive analysis

No matter where your brand starts off, you’ll always have other brands competing against you on the same market. A branding strategy helps you stand out from the others, but only if you perform better than your main competitors. That’s why it’s important to conduct a competitive analysis in order to determine how to gain a competitive advantage.

Analyzing your competition gives you insight into their operations, such as how they treat customers, their marketing strategies, product placement and so on. This allows you to identify market gaps you can exploit to perform better than your competition and to differentiate your brand from the others. That way, you’ll know how to tailor the right messages to your customers, develop engaging content, as well as how to develop compelling marketing promotions that will grab your audience’s attention.

Engage your local community

The best way to build visibility and awareness for your local brand is to actively engage with your local community. You can attend important events and gatherings in order to show your presence. Moreover, you can also host special events and charities for the benefit of the local community. What’s more, you can hand out branded gifts such as custom pens, T shirts, coffee mugs and other, in order to promote your brand and encourage local consumers to check out your business.

As a matter of fact, 79% of consumers are more willing to do business with a brand that gives them promotional gifts. In addition to that, 84% of consumers claim branded items help improve their brand awareness. Therefore, participating and hosting beneficial local events is an excellent way to build your local presence, as well as build awareness about your brand.

Identify your unique selling proposition (USP)

One of the best growth opportunities for brands is identifying their USP. A unique selling proposition is something your brand has that other brands don’t have in their offers. For instance, unique product quality, return policy, loyalty program and so on. These can all  be a USP, but only if they’re unique in a way that’s both interesting and valuable to customers.

Identifying your USP helps you stand out on the market, but it also helps you stand out from other brands as well. That way, more customers will turn to your brand, and you’ll be able to grow your consumer base. On top of that, satisfied customers will become brand advocates that will promote your brand further through word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals. Needless to say, a USP can help your brand grow for years to come.

Leverage search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a cost effective marketing strategy and an excellent growth opportunity for local brands. Not only can you leverage local SEO listings to help your local customers familiarize themselves with your brand and help them find you more easily, but you can also leverage SEO to gain vast exposure on the market. SEO helps build a brands authority, credibility and reputation through activities such as link building, guest blogging and content marketing.

Moreover, the more optimized your website is, the more satisfied your customers will be. SEO will help you build visibility online, which can be a significant advantage on the market and a unique growth opportunity. After all, if your brand is more visible and available, as well as more credible and reputable than others, online consumers will flock to your brand and drive its growth towards success.

Developing a local brand isn’t easy, but growing that same brand is even more challenging. That’s why it’s important to plan well and identify opportunities that will help your brand not only grow and prosper, but that will also help it make a presence on the market that will sustain its success.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

6 Catastrophic Mistakes An Entrepreneur Can Make In Their Business’ First Year

What makes a great entrepreneur? There are numerous theories on the subject. Is it their hard work, dedication and commitment? Is it their invention, imagination and ability to think outside the box? Is it their ability to parse metric data and use it to keep their finger on the pulse of what their customers want and need? Or could it be their ability to motivate and rally their employees; helping them to work with gusto towards a shared goal. Ultimately, these are all extremely important but it’s arguable that the most important quality of entrepreneurship is…

dream

Image by Pixabay

Just start.

There are lots of people out there, right now, slaving away in jobs they despise who have a great idea for a business. They have spotted a gap in the market, devised a concept for a product for a product or service that neatly fills that gap and they have a clear vision in their heads of how that can be extrapolated into a living, breathing, working SME. They may have cobbled together something resembling a business plan in their free time. They’ve had some preliminary thoughts about what their business’ mission statement might be and how it would be reflected in their branding. They might even have crunched some numbers to create a reasonably accurate cash flow forecast. But they never reached the point where they reached out to sources of funding or even registered their business’ name. Why? Because they were paralyzed by their fear of the unknown. This perfectly natural and perfectly human impulse may be understandable but it can keep potentially successful entrepreneurs stuck on the path of wage slavery; languishing away in jobs where they’re underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued when they could be at the head of a thriving enterprise.

By far the most crippling of fears when it comes to starting a business is the fear of failure. After all, the numbers are not on the side of nascent entrepreneurs. We’ve all heard that 50% of SMEs fail within their first four years and we’re paralyzed by the fear of what will happen if we fall within this damning statistic. But here’s the thing…

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself

If you have a fantastic idea for a business that would benefit your local high street, create jobs, fill a gap on the market, benefit the local economy and liberate you from a job you despise, it behooves you to overcome your fear of failure and at least attempt to make your business a reality. Very often, failure in small business is not the end but simply a blip on a long learning curve. At worst, you will be made bankrupt (although this is certainly not an inevitable consequence of failure in small business). But in most cases bankruptcy is not the end of an entrepreneurial career. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been made bankrupt at least once.

That said, failure is never an appealing prospect. If we can forego the expense and emotional turmoil that come with failure in small business, so much the better, right?

Learning from the mistakes of others

The beauty of living in the digital age is that we have unparalleled access to a wealth of information which can give you and your business the inside track. As well as learning from our own mistakes (an inevitable and necessary part of small business) we can benefit from the mistakes of other nascent businesses. While there may be no surefire way of avoiding failure in the world of small business (if there were, everyone would be running their own SME), there are certainly commonly made mistakes that you can sidestep when you plan your operations and strategy around avoiding them. Here we’ll look at some of the commonly made mistakes made by businesses in their first year and how you can prevent your business from replicating them…

Under investing to insulate profit margins

When many entrepreneurs start out, they do so with one goal in mind… turning a profit. So long as the numbers are in the black month or month that means the business is going well, right? Well, not necessarily. As important as it is for small businesses to guard against irresponsible, reckless or vanity spending, it’s also vital that they avoid under investing in their enterprises. Under investment in personnel, capital investments like software or equipment, or maintaining / renovating your premises can impede your business’ growth. Unless you’re prepared to invest in better infrastructure for your small business it will only ever stay small and its scope will be limited. While you should certainly learn to walk before you can run and it can be counterproductive to set out with growth in mind before you know how to facilitate that growth sustainably, you should avoid the temptation to under invest in your business for the sake of insulating your profit margins.

Small businesses need to be agile and adaptable and if you fail to invest adequately, you may fail to capitalize on opportunities that come your way and your competitors will leave you in the dust.

piggybank

Image Credit

Dipping into personal funds to finance aspects of the business

Separating personal and business finances can be a real learning curve for nascent entrepreneurs. When you have a lot of passion and personal / emotional investment in your business it only makes sense to put your money where your mouth is… but this can be a serious mistake. Not only should you have separate accounts for your personal and business finances, you should take pains to ensure that one doesn’t bleed into the other. Otherwise you could find yourself on a slippery slope.

Trying to do a grade A job with grade B materials

In your first year of business, the name of the game is reputation. With such a plethora of competition out there, prospective customers need a reason to choose your business and not the legions of others who do exactly the same thing. This means that your reputation must be beyond reproach. While a big part of this is in how your employees deal with customers and the experience that your customers can expect, let’s not forget that you can’t do a grade A job with grade B materials. If you work in the construction industry, for example you know that you wouldn’t compromise on materials or make rush decisions when building the foundations of your project. You’d go to HelitechCCD.com and invest what you had to in materials that are right for the job. Otherwise, the whole thing could come tumbling down and take your reputation with it. Whether you’re in construction, catering or content the principal remains the same.

Spending too much time “at the coalface” and too little time on strategy

Entrepreneurs tend to have a proactive and hard working nature and when they see their employees struggling, their first instinct is to roll up your sleeves and join them at the coalface. But while noble in its intentions, this approach can be counterproductive in a number of ways. It can make your employees dependant on you at best or at worst turn you into the kind of relentless micromanager that employees hate to work for. Moreover, this is rarely the best place for you to invest your time and efforts. As the CEO of your business, your time is better spend in your office, concentrating on the strategic running of your business rather than day to day operations. It’s your responsibility to analyze your performance metrics and use them to influence your operational strategy month by month.

Having a resistant approach to new technology

Technology these days moves at a blistering pace. Investing in your technological infrastructure is rarely cheap and often requires an investment not only of capital but of time and effort as you and your employees get to grips with the software and hardware that your business needs to succeed. Thus, when equilibrium is achieved between a business and its tech, it can be extremely tempting to resist technological change. But technological change is an inevitable part of doing business in the 21st century. You need to maintain an agile approach to tech and be prepared to throw out the rulebook when a technological advancement necessitates an overhaul of your operations. If you resist technological change you could end up a dinosaur in your industry, like Blockbuster video in the age of Netflix. If this involves a prohibitively expensive overhaul of your IT or tech infrastructure, you may wish to consider outsourcing your IT operations. Not only will it insulate you from a lot of the cost of staying current, but your tech solutions can be scaled up as your business grows.

copetition

Image by Flickr

Failing to keep an eye on the competition

As important as it is to stay ahead of the curve, keeping your eyes too closely on your own work can be counterproductive. Your business does not operate in a vacuum and competitor analysis is an essential component of any sound business strategy. If your competitors offer something you don’t, run a promotion that you don’t or offer the same services at a price you can’t match you can’t assume that your customers will remain loyal to you.

Steer clear of these common pitfalls of first year businesses, however, and you stand every chance of laying a firm foundation for success.

 

 

 

 

Starting a Business 101: 4 Steps to Managing Your Company’s Finances

Starting a new business is an exciting endeavor. You may have been planning for years and look forward to utilizing your skills and experience in new ways. Some skills are unique to entrepreneurs, who must be visionary, conservative and strategic, often all at the same time. Managing your business’s money is one of the most important skills, and investing, with the help of someone like RMR Wealth Builders, Inc., should be a part of your financial planning. These four financial tips will help to get a good start.

– Borrow Strategically

Getting capital to start your business can be difficult in the early period. You must demonstrate a good understanding of your own needs, as well as the needs of the marketplace. When borrowing money, shop around for a good interest rate and never borrow more than you will need in the short term. Pay off loans as quickly as possible to ensure that financial institutions will be willing to extend more money when you need them to expand your business.

– Grow Manageably

Learning to plan for the ebb and flow of your business is one of the most critical skills an entrepreneur can develop, and good planning can help to weather financial storms and reach for new business opportunities that come your way. Managing your finances carefully will help you to achieve your goals, regardless of economic changes.

– Review Your Expenses Regularly

During busy periods, you can experience runaway expenses, with a growing need for supplies, equipment, and payroll. Savvy entrepreneurs keep a close watch on expenses, reviewing supply contracts and seeking out better pricing at regular intervals. They may keep payroll expense in line by hiring part-time or temporary help, instead of paying full-time employees that require the additional cost of benefits.

– Invest Carefully

As your business grows and with a little luck, your business will begin to produce high-profit margins that will be significantly in excess of your immediate needs. This is time to carefully consider options for investment to fund your retirement, pay for children’s’ college costs or other goals. A reliable investment firm with fiduciary review program in NJ will have the knowledge and experience to advise you on the best ways to grow your money for the future, while still providing funds for today.

Starting a business can be an all-consuming endeavor, with hidden surprises, both good and bad, along the way. You will be better prepared for the ups and downs of economic cycles if you manage your business in a strategic way that allows for unexpected needs. With these four tips, you will be in a good position to make the most of your business opportunities.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.