Get Your Business Ready for Summer

Are you ready for the dog days of summer?IMG_1591[1]

For some, the summer means lying around the pool with unlimited lemonade and an umbrella overhead with a convenient misting system. For others, it’s business as usual! If your concerned about how the summer is going to impact your business, plan ahead and make the summer your best quarter yet!

Many business owners run their businesses the same way all four seasons. They set up a marketing plan with the goal of promoting their services or products without any thought to the changes that occur throughout the year.  It’s important to realize that business is different in the summer and recognize how this should affect your marketing efforts and will impact your bottom line.

Typically, one would think of clothing retailers and travel-centered businesses as examples of businesses that would be most affected by the seasonal changes that summer brings. A few others come to mind as well, like rental property, or even children’s dance studios (most do not provide dance class during the summer because of summer travel).

IMG_1589[1]But it is important that other businesses recognize that beautiful weather and time off from school can impact more than the typical businesses you often think of.

Take the time to brainstorm how your business may be impacted by the following:

  • Increased time available for children and teens
  • Increased demand on a parent’s time (possibly)
  • Hot whether equals less casual attire (at home and in the office)
  • Increased level of boredom for children at home while parents are working
  • Decreased funds due to having to entertain and feed kids all day, every day
  • Decreased local socializing and purchases due to family vacations and travel out of town or out of state
  • More or less outings to restaurants due to kids being out-of-school

The above list are just some examples that may affect your community during the summer months. On the other hand, your locale may see an opposite affect. For example, if you live in a vacation destination, you may have increase in traffic. Additionally, explore other changes (not just around family and children) that may affect your business.

Some people increase the amount of reading they do during the summer months. Others hire landscapers to free up time while DIYers may take on yard work to be outside more.

Evaluate changes in the market that could impact your business in the summer, and plan ways to reduce any negative impact they may have on your business.

Possible solutions to making the summer a great experience for you, your family, and your business include:

  • Using time-saving technology to schedule obligations in advance
  • Incorporate children into your daily business routine
  • Create a different marketing strategy or campaign for your business to utilize positive changes the season brings
  • Plan ahead to occupy children while you take care of your business responsibilities
  • Include rest and relaxation into your summer quarter and you would feel like you missed out

Feel good about the plan you’ve created to enjoy and make money during the summer. Look forward and do the same for the Fall! You’ll feel more prepared for the months ahead and reduce any negative affects the next season brings with it.

20 Ways to Save on Expenses for Business Owners

  1. Use natural sunlight to light the office. Work in an area of the office that gets great light and save on utilities.
  2. Print two-sided, or four to a page. Printing two-sided doesn’t help on ink costs, but saves on paper costs. If it is necessary to print drafts, print two pages per side and look at four for the price two before doing a final print. lightbulb
  3.  Streamline staffing levels to balance pay and overtime. Ideally, you want just enough employees to manage the work you have on any given day. Cross train individuals to soak up slack in a different department, or outsource simple tasks during peak times so you can use your human resources productively.
  4. Unplug or set timers. Research which appliances, equipment, and utilities that can be set on a timer or unplugged during downtime.
  5. Offer internships. Hire college interns and students in exchange for college credit or job experience. Many colleges offer programs to area business owners. These programs offer practical experience to students.
  6. Go for Cloud technology. Today, many industries provide various services using Cloud-based technology. From accounting to legal case management, businesses no longer have high costs associated with hardware and software requirements. They simply log into web-based services for a fraction of the cost.
  7. Search for inexpensive web hosting. If you’ve had your website for a while, you may want to check into reducing your Internet and website service costs. Many companies have had to reduce prices due to the amount of competition in the marketplace.
  8. Find an inexpensive business phone service. Look for alternative telephone options. If your business requires a PBX system, try Virtual PBX or similar options. No hardware of software required, so the costs are much less than regular PBX systems.
  9. Switch from a merchant account to an online payment. Still using the credit card machine to swipe customer credit cards. Look into Internet-based payment solutions. You may be able to save lots of money in monthly fees, and per transaction costs.
  10. Hire a freelancer. No need for an employee unless you have an ongoing, long-term need.
  11. Reduce advertising costs. Market your business online is much cheaper today. Use social media rather than a local billboard to connect with potential customers.
  12. Explore alternative business locations. Evaluate whether you really need the space you are paying for. Entertain the idea of a smaller building, or different warehouse setup to reduce the space you need. Changing locations or using your space more efficiently can result in serious savings.
  13. Keep the windows open.Cut the cost of air conditioning and heating during seasons that allow you to have the windows open.
  14. Lighten up. Paint walls a lighter shade and reduce the amount of light you need on all day.
  15. Control the unnecessary expenses. Determine whether an expense is a need or a want.
  16. Do the business online.Cut undo expenses by video conferencing, online billing, or Internet-based ordering.
  17. Share a printer among departments. Cut down on multiple printers, ink, and paper supply costs by streamlining with one printer.
  18. Hire part-time employees. Offer part-time positions. You cut costs on employee benefits.
  19. Go Paperless. This may be better to do progressively. Reduce paper waste right away, then look at areas where processes can be changed to reduce paper usage by 50%. Then, strategize to find other ways to minimize paper usage. Some businesses simply cannot go without paper, but avoiding waste and reducing usage can amount to a great savings!
  20. Stop using snail mail. Postage costs have skyrocketed in recent years. Communicating through e-mail eliminates most postage needs. Set up auto-pay on bills and there is virtually no need to send anything via old-fashioned post.

10 Great Super Small Businesses for Planners

  1. Farmer’s Market. Pick a locale and invite area growers, and ranchers to set up a booth.
  2. Local Food Festival. Bring local restaurants and caterers to showcase their foods for the community. Picture4
  3. Arts and Crafts Show. Invite area craft makers and artisans to set up a table and display their products.
  4. Bridal Show. Provide one locations or all the caterers, florists, DJ’s, and wedding cake providers to show potential brides what they have to offer.
  5. Office Party Planner. Connect with local businesses that wish to celebrate an upcoming event or season.
  6. Children’s Birthday Planner. Provide new and creative ideas to parents to help celebrate their children’s special day.
  7. High School Reunions. Coordinate family and high school reunions by reaching out to long lost schoolmates. Plan a event-filled weekend for participants.
  8. Flea Market Organizer. Provide an area for an outdoor garage sale. Rent booth space for days or weekends.
  9. Wedding Planner. Coordinate the wedding experience for brides by taking the stress and confusion out of the various elements one must prepare for the wedding.
  10. Travel Consultant. Pick a theme, type of client, or location and specialize in providing low-stress accommodations to travelers.

 

What is Micro-Entrepreneurship?

What is Micro-Entrepreneurship?

According to Wikipedia.com, micro-enterprise is defined as a small business employing nine or less individuals and having a balance sheet of a certain dollar amount. Investopedia’s definition of micro-enterprise agrees that less than ten employees, but adds that the business is started with a small amount of capital. Investopia.com also adds that micro-entrepreneurship usually operates in the goods and services sector focusing on local business. And Micro-Entrepreneurship for Dummies offers that many of these super-small enterprises are home-based and possibly use outsourcing.

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My  personal definition is a super-small business with less than 10 people working day-to-day. I usually refer to them as micro-businesses. They are created with low start-up funds. A micro-business is usually home-based, but can and often expands to store front operations.

The most important aspect of micro-business, is that the owners cannot always apply traditional, fundamental business practices to their organizations. Micro-business requires different skills, planning, and resources than a typical small business. I believe that this is a major factor in many of the failed businesses of the recent past. They used traditional business principles in their non-traditional business.

Many aspects of a micro-business can be very successful with the application of some traditional ideas, however, micro-businesses are different in many facets. Large advertising campaigns and expensive marketing strategies are simply difficult for a micro-business to pull off, let alone continue to grow and succeed.

According to an article published in Forbes Magazine January 16, 2015, 90% of Businesses Fail. The article was titled 90% of Businesses Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know About the 10%. It was written by Neil Patel and is very insightful. In addition, Erin Griffith wrote an article on business failure in Fortune, September 25, 2014 from the founder’s standpoint. The article includes a graph of the Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. You can access that graph at: http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/.

I personally believe that more of these businesses can be saved, changed, or given new direction. It is important that micro-businesses use micro-business principles and recognize that many traditional business practices are deadly to super-small businesses.

 

References

www.investopedia.com/terms/m/microenterprise.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-enterprise

http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/01/16/90-of-startups-will-fail-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-10/#6845e29255e1

 

10 Great Businesses To Start In The Spring

  1. Children’s Activities Coordinator- So many kids sitting around for the entire summer. Promote good health and physical fitness by providing creative games in the park or in the backyard for neighborhood children.ozarks
  2. Hiking Guide- Know the area like the back of your hand? Guide others on a great adventure using the River Valley’s great trails, parks, and mountains.
  3. Garage Sale Manager- Help people that are too busy but have stuff to sell. Host garage sales for a percentage of the profit.
  4. Area Handyman- Pretty good at fixing things? Provide painting, moving, and fix-it services around town
  5. Pooper Scooper-Busy people don’t have time to clean up after the dog… $8-12 for a small backyard could add up to some serious money! IMG_0316
  6. Child Care Services-With the kids getting out of school many parents need dependable care. Provide flexible summer care for working parents.
  7. Floral Designer-Take advantage of your green thumb. Create beautiful flower arrangements for locations, weddings, and events.
  8. 8.Lawn Care Service-Provide one-time or ongoing mowing, edging, and yard clean up to area residents.
  9. Pet/House Sitter-Take care of neighbor’s pets and check on their homes while they are out-of-town.
  10. School Subject Tutor- Have a subject you are good at? Give instruction to children in need of a little extra help over the summer.

 

*** Please Note: Business ideas are simply suggestions. There is no guarantee of business success in any business. Additionally, all business ideas require planning and preparation.

 

Play It Safe With Job Postings

     Did you know that using the wrong words in your help wanted ad can land a company in legal trouble. Any job requirement that discriminates against applicants based on a personal characteristic protected by law violates federal law. Most managers know that ads cannot state obvious, protected topics, but managers and business owners can get into trouble for posting help wanted ads with more subtle discrimination without intending to do so.help wanted

     Words a subtle as “salesman”, “handyman”, or “waiter” may imply that you are only looking for males to fill the job position. When creating your hiring advertisement, be sure to focus on essential requirements of the job and pay attention to different ways your words can be interpreted.

     For example, putting “must be able to lift 50 lbs.” in your advertisement may give the impression that one must do this on a regular basis. If lifting is only required on occasion, remove this statement. It may give the impression that lifting heavier objects is a regular duty and thus precludes many women from applying.

Brainstorming Your Business Name

Once again, we are revisiting brainstorming to crBrainstorm Pictureeate the winning business name for you and your organization. After doing this exercise, you will probably be able to look around your community and determine which entities took the time to really think out their business name.

Today, branding is the hot topic. The concept is to create a marketing strategy and name for your business that encompasses you, your products, and/or services. For example, when you see Bubba’s Garage you don’t envision an engineering firm. Another example is Tammy’s Cleaning. This is not a typical name for a business that is vying for million dollar government contracts. It’s not that you won’t be successful if you don’t take the time to choose the perfect name, but as you will see, working with a business name that stands out and portrays the image you want it to makes marketing, advertising, and sales go a lot smoother.

Here, we have provided an example brainstorming worksheet for a residential cleaning company. At the bottom of the article, we have provided a template you can print off and use. Again, this is an important process and may take more than a minute.

Brainstorming Worksheet Business Name Example

After you think you have the name you want, you may want to take a moment and envision how that name will look on signs, business cards, and other marketing material.

Brainstorming Worksheet

Components of a Business Plan

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If you’ve been cruising the web-sphere for business ideas and think you are ready to tackle your business plan, here are many of the common components, or page headings for your document called the Business Plan. If you’re a little nervous about creating your own business plan, check out the World Wide Web for FREE templates to get you started. Some websites even have one-page business plans.

I’m not yet sure how I feel about a one-page business plan. While I feel that it is possible for a select group of businesses, I’m just not sure that you can have a well thought out plan for business, let alone an all-inclusive document in just one single page.

Please note that your business plan is not required to have all of the following sections, but it wouldn’t hurt to dedicate some time to contemplating whether a particular section is important to your plan. However, if you are planning on presenting your business plan to a bank or potential investors, you may want to over-include rather than not have a section one of your potential investors feels is important.

There is nothing wrong with being over-prepared. Over-prepared means you though too much about something. It’s under-prepared that looks bad!

  • Cover Page- Include Business Name, pictures if you have them, and the names of the individuals forming the entity
  • Executive summary- A succinct paragraph of what your business is. If you are not sure, search executive summaries on the Internet. Find 3-4 that you like and use them to brainstorm your customized summary.
  • Vision and Mission Statement- Some companies have both a vision and mission statement or one or the other. The vision statement is how you see or want others to see your business as. The mission statement is what your business does. Again, find 3-4 vision and mission statements to get an idea of the format you like and create a custom vision and mission for the organization.
  • Company Description- this section can be more than one paragraph and more detailed than the summary.
  • Products and/or services- For micro- or super-small businesses, focus on one or two main products or services. Larger organizations will have divisions or possibly product lines.
  • Market Analysis- What did you find out about the market for your product or service. Include competitor information. Is the market ready for- or can the market handle your product or service. Why?
  • Marketing and Sales- Some business plans include a completely separate marketing plan. How do you plan to get the public to know about your product or service? Additionally, who and how will you sell it?
  • Operations Plan- Business Structure, org chart, and responsibilities.
  • Staff- Key employees and managers
  • Financial Plan- Start-up budget, 12-month, 2 year, and 5 year projections
  • Potential Funding/Investors
  • Appendices- supporting documents and information, and competitor examples

 

10 Super-Small Businesses for People with Farms

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Are you looking for a super simple business idea? What about a business that allows you to use your land? Here are 10 business ideas for people in rural areas or that have land with their property.

  1. Caning Specialist

  2. Cooking Class Instructor

  3. Farmsitting

  4. Herb/Flower Grower

  5. Flowerscaper/landscaper

  6. Gardening Consultant

  7. Firewood Service

  8. Herbal/ Home Remedy Products

  9. Outdoor Activities/Adventures on your Land

  10. Animal Boarding

10 Super-Small Businesses for Planners

Are you super-organized and always want to know what’s happening weeks in advance. Your skills may fit well with the following 10 business ideas for people that like to plan.

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  1. Farmer’s Market

  2. Spicy Food Festival

  3. Arts and Crafts Show

  4. Bridal Show

  5. Wedding Planner

  6. Professional Office Party Planning

  7. Children’s Birthday Party Planning

  8. Family/High School Reunion Planning

  9. Flea Market Organizer

  10. Travel Consultant