Effective Tips to Generate Local Attention for Small Business

With countless companies starting and shutting down it can be difficult to learn useful tips that can effectively generate attention for small business. Starting a company can be hard enough as it is so you will want to gain as much exposure as possible to avoid wasting your money and efforts. Whether you have been a business owner for many years or are just beginning your venture now, knowing as much as possible will help you increase exposure for small business.

Make Good Use of Social Media

If you have any intentions at all for expanding your company and find new leads for small business then it is pertinent that you make good use of the social media options available. There are many different platforms that offer various levels of exposure. For example, having a company page for your fans on Facebook is a great way for customers to leave feedback and also spread the good word about their experiences.

The best part is that many social networking sites offer free accounts which mean free exposure. To effectively generate attention for small business you will need to put your company name and information out on the internet where potential customers can find you. According to various research reports, business owners agree that social media has allowed them to efficiently generate leads for small business without the high costs traditionally involved with advertising.

Look for Experts to Generate Leads

Having more leads for small business is another area of extreme importance. It can be futile to improve your products and services if no one will know about it. Your efforts should be consistently focused on the best ways to generate attention for small business. For many business owners, finding relevant leads can be the most trying part. If you are stuck in a rut and have no ideas about where to begin then consider finding an expert for guidance.

Marketing experts know how important leads for small business are for success and have the inside knowledge about how the internet works. If you are busy doing countless other things for your business then you will not likely have enough time to focus on increasing your leads. There can be a significant difference if you take advantage of tools like email list building or forums related to your industry. Hiring a professional may seem like an additional expense on top of many others but this small investment result in added exposure for small business.

Learn about Outsourcing Benefits

Since online marketing and lead generation can be quite a time drain in general, outsourcing such tasks can be a great way to get the job done well. Especially if you have no prior background or experience on how to generate attention for small business, you can profit from consulting with an expert for help. Social media for example, is a popular and effective way to advertise but many small business owners are not internet savvy and simply do not have the time.

Outsourcing has become much more popular over the years for two simple reasons. If you are the owner of a company then your time is likely more valuable than that which you would pay to someone else. While you are doing important duties for your business, find someone to outsource to so they can handle work that is time-consuming or challenging. Another beneficial reason to outsource your marketing needs is because professionals have the complete know-how on how to increase exposure for small business.

Evaluate Your Business’ Image

Whenever you are taking steps and action to generate attention for small business, be sure that you are in tune with what image is being presented. Although most business owners do not have much spare time, this evaluation is necessary to guarantee that the right message is being expressed on either your company’s website or social media page. If you do not check what exposure for small business you are paying for then you could end up doing more damage than good.

Another reason why you should review what image your company represents is that you will want your marketing strategy to change as your products, services, and progress improves. It is reasonable that many small business pages do not look as professional as corporations but as your business expands, you will need to upgrade how you present your company. Overall, you want to make sure that if you generate attention for small business, it should be in sync with the image you want.

7 Facebook For Small Business Barriers To Overcome for Endless Fresh Leads

Utilizing Facebook for small business as an awareness builder and lead generation tool has had lots of barriers. Identifying the specific issues is key to choosing a successful approach that will overcome each of them.

Which of these four initial barriers have prevented you from fully pursuing making a business Facebook page an integral part of your marketing approach?

  1. Too busy – who has the time to figure out how social media for small business can really produce the results you need?
  2. Not sure what is the right content.
  3. Too soft. Can’t measure ROI.
  4. Too expensive to hire a social media expert.

Here’s why it is time Facebook apps for business deserves a second look.

Face the Facts

Did you know?…

There are now over 125 billion total connections on Facebook.

$100 billion near the initial Facebook IPO market valuation.

With this staggering potential and value recognition, it’s time for making a social media for small business part of your wining marketing strategy.

More why a Facebook for small business marketing approach is so compelling:

The average user spends 57 minutes a day.

The coveted demographic group, 18 – 34 year olds, spends more time on Facebook than TV and print, combined.

People are four times more likely to make a purchase on a recommendation from a trusted Facebook friend.

Facebook is nearing 1 billion registered users globally, with 185 million currently in the U.S..

Any organization can get a free Facebook page giving you access to an explosive viral audience.

Avoid Joining Fools Who Rush In

Avoid a common pitfall when designing your Facebook for small business content. Begin by knowing your audience and why they are there to make the right connections.

Where Google attracts knowledge seekers, Facebook attracts those interested in people and fun.

In making a business Facebook page succeed it’s vital to understand how to appropriately engage with your audience.

As a very successful mentor I know says, always remember that social media is just one big party. It’s where you go to meet people and build relationships.

When you go to your neighborhood block party do you ask yourself, I’m going to try to make five sales tonight? I hope not.

Would you dominate a social gathering in your neighborhood by talking endlessly about your work? If you did you would probably be labeled a social moron.

Instead, you go with the attitude of sharing laughs with old friends and making new ones. Social media is the same thing.

One of the best ways to succeed with social media is to think relationships before results.

In the same way making a business Facebook page is a place for relational connections and to not to always lead with work related topics.

The Biggest Challenge and Opportunity

How then do you engage people with Facebook for small business?

First, it’s important to know what NOT to do to when making a business Facebook page. Here are the final 3 barriers to overcome that are primarily inherent with the Facebook platform.

  1. Poor layout – Spacing, color choices, wrong or missing images
  2. Lack of fresh and compelling content
  3. Managing Facebook Funk. With Facebook’s continual programming changes in format and function how can an already stretched owner keep up making a business Facebook page succeed?

Overcoming these seven common barriers is a sure way to start generating more awareness and leads with social media than you ever thought possible. Begin with the biggest social media tool of them all. Succeeding with Facebook for small business has enormous potential for increasing new leads to help your business grow.

IRA Vs 401k – an Amazingly Simple Small Business Retirement Plan Decision

The question of IRA vs 401k leaps to mind when setting up a small business retirement plan. Do you know the differences between plans? What does the Internal Revenue Code allow and restrict? Why should you even care? Because if you sell fixed indexed annuities and want to capitalize on one of the hottest specialty markets going today (setting up retirement plans for small business owners with 1 to 9 employees), you’ll want to brush up on IRA vs 401k and other important considerations.

First, consider that a small business retirement plan, now more than ever, is the best way to defer large amounts of tax-deductible dollars. Thanks to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), self-employed taxpayers now have unprecedented incentives to save for retirement. A business owner’s decision is quite literally whether to keep company profits… or send them off to Uncle Sam.

OWNER GETS MORE

It’s no secret the allure of a small business retirement plan is directly related to benefits available to the owner. The greater the owner’s share of the overall plan, the greater the interest. Before the new tax legislation, restrictions on owner’s benefits in small plan design often resulted in even fewer benefits for the employees. But the tools are now in place to ratchet up the owner’s benefits and still create a workable plan for the employees. So, should the plan be an IRA or a 401k? Let’s examine IRA vs 401k separately.

SIMPLIFIED EMPLOYEE PENSION

The simplest small business retirement plan for self-employed taxpayers and the easiest to set up and maintain is the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP). You may establish a SEP if you earn self-employment income, regardless of whether you have employees. A SEP is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and if maintained for more than one person becomes a group of IRAs.

All contributions to a SEP are tax deductible as a business expense. As an IRA the plan’s earnings are not taxed until they are withdrawn at retirement. As usual, withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ with this and other plans incur a 10% penalty. A SEP-IRA does not permit loans or salary deferral contributions. Also, the individual annual contribution limit for 2006 is the lesser of 25% of compensation or $44,000, and contributions may be reduced or skipped altogether in lean years.

INDIVIDUAL 401(k)

Another handy tool in the EGTRRA toolbox is the Individual or Solo 401(k). This small business retirement plan is ideally suited for businesses in which the owner or owners (and their spouses if working at the business) are the only employees. The biggest reason for opening a one-person 401(k) is the higher contribution limits allowed, plus the fact that contributions are based on revenue generated by the business.

The maximum tax-deductible employer contribution is 25% of gross eligible payroll. For 2006 the maximum effective salary deferral contribution for employer plus employee is $44,000 plus a catch-up contribution of $5,000 for individuals age 50 and over. Loans are permitted subject to limits and rules, and paperwork may be just a filing of the streamlined IRS Form 5500-EZ when plan assets exceed $100,000.

NEVER A BETTER TIME

The new tax law creates a multitude of opportunities with more than 60 new provisions to strongly encourage the startup and funding of your small business retirement plan. Variations in plan design allow opportunities to suit independent contractors, sole-practitioner professionals, small retail owners — virtually every type of small business imaginable. Answer the question of IRA vs 401k and you’re on your way.

For small business owners in search of large tax breaks, it doesn’t get any better than this. There has never been a better time than right now to convert current taxes into assets, defer tax payments, and generate large amounts of retirement income. And for you as the fixed indexed annuity specialist, this market is virtually untapped.

A CRM Solution For Small Businesses

Managing customers, conducting marketing campaigns and achieving timely follow-up on sales leads is a vital process that can overwhelm a small business. Keeping promises, storing correspondence, managing sales and being able to quickly determine the status of accounts is crucial to success. Having a single, integrated solution to accomplish all this makes the lives of small business people so much easier and more productive.

Internet-based customer relationship management (CRM) and contact management solutions offer significant advantages. Typically, they are more affordable for small businesses because there is no software to buy or maintain. Equally important, online CRM solutions are accessible from any Internet connection by authorized personnel, providing a good centralized answer for both far-flung sales forces and company management. Too, online CRM solutions circumvent the danger of viruses accessing or destroying vital company data. And most solutions do not require a long-term contract, so it’s easy to get started and companies are not locked into a solution that may not be right for them.

I recently helped a client modify his Website to communicate with AppShore’s online CRM and contact management solution. I was impressed by what I saw.

Why? First, AppShore is designed for small businesses, a market that my own consulting service targets. Having tried other online CRM solutions myself, I am familiar with their functionality. What struck me right away about AppShore is how simple it is to use. Things that seem complex in competitive Internet-based solutions like Salesforce.com or desktop packages such as Goldmine are straightforward and fairly easy to understand in AppShore. I believe this reflects the background of the AppShore team, which consists of seasoned software professionals experienced in start-ups and small businesses.

Speaking as a small business person myself, here are some things that I particularly like about AppShore:

  • It has an intuitive design and offers functionality that is a good fit for small businesses rather than enterprise-level companies. I did not have to spend hours studying a manual to understand the function of each tab or how to use it.
  • It employs “mouse over” technology to give you a quick overview of accounts and leads, as well as the ability to edit them.
  • Accounts and leads can be imported using csv files. This means your Outlook Contacts and ACT! files, for example, can be easily imported to AppShore.
  • Relevant documents, such as proposals, agreements and RFQ’s can be uploaded and stored for fast access and management.
  • AppShore even offers a means to seamlessly transfer captured data from Website forms into the AppShore “new leads” database and then automatically notify you via email. This is a terrific time saver that ensures that Web-generated sales leads never fall through the crack!
  • The ability to prioritize tasks by customer or prospect helps you to focus on activities that generate business.
  • Opportunities are easy to track and (by assigning a probability and dollar amount to each) provide a basis for forecasting sales. Setting up a sales funnel with different stages is straightforward and beneficial.
  • Versatile reporting capabilities facilitate management of marketing and sales functions, as well as providing fast looks at expected revenue.
  • AppShore includes a convenient outbound Webmail function that allows you to send email using your domain name. Emails can be linked to customer and prospect accounts for easy retrieval and reference.
  • The ability to set up and use templates with multiple “insert” fields for outbound email marketing campaigns and customer/lead follow-up is available with the premium plan. This is both convenient and effective, allowing small businesses to be responsive and conduct inexpensive marketing campaigns. Just be sure that emails are sent only to valid contacts to avoid violating CAN-SPAM laws and provide an “unsubscribe” capability if you use this feature to send email newsletters or promotions.
  • A “dashboard” tab allows you to quickly review upcoming activities, your latest leads and top opportunities.
  • Password-based access and a separate Administrator function provide adequate security. AppShore databases are also backed up on a regular basis. Having vital customer and sales information located offsite also facilitates disaster recovery.

Overall, AppShore is an excellent solution for a small business. It’s not too much, nor too little. Like any CRM package, however, set-up and terminology may be a little confusing for small businesses that have never used a CRM package before.

What would I like to see more of? The AppShore solution is surprisingly lacking in online tutorials and a Help tab to provide quick answers for “how to” questions. This oversight is balanced by AppShore’s free personalized training, set-up assistance, and excellent telephone support (I know because I tried it!). And, AppShore will release a new version in June 2008 that includes a searchable FAQ (answering “how to” questions), user manual downloads and online problem ticket submission.

Best of all, AppShore is affordable for small businesses, with prices starting at just $11 monthly per user after a thirty-day free trial. Moreover, there are no long-term contracts, so companies can export their data and discontinue AppShore at any time if they are dissatisfied. But from what I’ve seen, small businesses will be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact on their bottom line once they start using AppShore CRM.