8 Benefits of Outsourcing Payroll | Payroll Articles | SurePayroll

8 Benefits of Outsourcing Payroll | Payroll Articles | SurePayroll.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Reasons to Outsource Your Bookkeeping


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Stage a Small-Business Comeback | Entrepreneur.com

When sales are down and cash-flow problems are up, small-business owners can become desperate for a turnaround. But rather than shooting from the hip, experts say it’s crucial to strategically plan your way back to the top.

“Entrepreneurs sometimes lose that innovation interest that initially got them into the business,” says Mark Faust, author of Growth or Bust: Proven Turnaround Strategies to Grow Your Business (Career Press, 2011).

But how can small-business owners get back in the game to stage a comeback? Here, three experts share their turnaround tips.

1. Look outside your company for help.

Frequently, small business owners don’t look outside their office walls enough for guidance. Faust suggests making a list of your top 20 existing customers and reaching out to them for feedback. “Too often in business we become too insular,” says Faust, also a growth consultant and coach based in Cincinnati. “Innovation is listening to your customer so intently you create solutions to improve their situation.”

When Faust began working with Hagie Manufacturing Co., an Iowa-based agricultural equipment company, 18 months ago, he assigned each of the top eight executives a task: Visit eight different customers in a year. The visits were not meant to sell their product but rather to listen to what was lacking in the company and find out what clients thought of the competition. Those meetings resulted not only in a sales spike, but also ideas for new products, better financing and more effective selling, according to Faust.

While listening to customers is critical in making a business comeback, other outsiders can help, too. Faust says “connectors” — such as lawyers, accountants, or association members — can provide referrals and shed light on how to improve your business. Making a list of the top 20 connectors who help your business will also allow you to expand your customer base and get a better handle on the market. “They know your customers,” Faust says. “They can give you insights on your customers and friends of your customers.”

Faust also suggests making a list of prospective clients to show to your network of contacts for insights on how to best approach those companies. “Set the goal of showing that to five people a week,” he says. “Before you know it, every person you hand that to is going to have two or three connections for you.”

Small Business Comebacks

How a Microbusiness Rebounded from the Recession

Famous ‘Trep Failures — and Comebacks

Bouncing Back After Losing a Big Client

More in this series »

2. Consider cutting costs while raising some prices.

Too often, when business slows, entrepreneurs have the knee-jerk reaction of laying people off, says Denise O’Berry, a Tampa, Fla.-based small business consultant and author of Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business a Financial Success (Wiley, 2006). But layoffs can actually end up stifling growth, she says. Ask yourself: “Have you really cut everything else that you can cut before you let people go?” she advises.

Instead of cutting staff, O’Berry suggests taking a closer look at lowering expenses elsewhere within the company. For example, when a small deli she worked with wanted to turn the business around, O’Berry had the owner review the menu offerings more carefully. It turned out that while the deli offered 50 items, customers were buying only 20% of them. By streamlining the menu, the business significantly cut expenses related to ingredients.

As for what you charge for your product or service, O’Berry suggests avoiding discounts and instead possibly raising prices on some products to boost cash flow. “If you have a high-selling product and you raise the price of that product by 50 cents, you can dramatically increase what you bring in the door,” she says. “Most customers aren’t going to notice it if you’ve targeted your market well.”

3. Find a better way to stand out in a crowd.

Differentiating yourself from other businesses is critical, says Victor Cheng, a Bainbridge Island, Washington-based business coach and author of The Recession-Proof Business (Innovation Press, 2009). Cheng advises small-business owners to carve a niche for their company by developing products and services that are tailored to specific markets rather than trying to make everyone a customer.

Take the Healthy Back Institute, for example. Two years ago, when the recession first hit, the Maryland-based back-care company decided to hone its marketing focus. Instead of trying to reach the whole spectrum of customers with back problems — from sports injuries to chronic pain — with Cheng’s help, the company narrowed its focus to work-related back issues. It began selling chairs and other office-related products and marketing with material on work-related back care, a focus that has helped create a niche in the market. The shift in focus to sell higher-priced items, such as chairs, resulted in a sales increase of more than 17% in 2010.

“It’s very hard to beat everybody,” Cheng says. “It’s much easier to pick a small slice of the market.”

via How to Stage a Small-Business Comeback | Entrepreneur.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

7 Ways Social Media Can Make You More Productive | Time Management Ninja

7 Ways Social Media Can Make You More Productive

Social media can be a large time-waster.

Many people spend much of their day tweeting, liking, and posting status updates.

It has forever changed the way the world communicates.

Yet, as much as it can waste time, it can also be a great productivity booster.

Are you using social media for productivity or procrastination?

Tool or Time Sink?

We usually think of social media as a time sink.

Something that takes up time and allows you to procrastinate throughout your day.

There is no doubt that many people use it to pass the time in their day.

In many offices, I see individuals on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ throughout their entire workday.

Social media is one of the most powerful technologies of our time. It allows us to communicate in ways never before possible.

Like most powerful technologies, it can be used for waste. (See email, web-surfing, etc.)

Yet, when used for good, it can be a powerful productivity tool.

Social Media: Productivity vs. Procrastination

In a world where ideas, communication, and speed are increasingly valuable, social media excels.

Granted, social media isn’t going to write that report for you, or analyze that spreadsheet. Nor is it going to perform that manual labor task.

However, there are many ways social media can help you get work done, develop new ideas, or just get feedback.

In all of these areas, social media can save you time.

Here are 7 Ways Social Media Can Make You More Productive:

Seek Advice – Need advice on a topic? Social media can provide rapid tips, thoughts, and input. It is a great way to cast a large net, instead of just getting the singular opinion of the person in the cubicle next to you. Of course, depending on the matter, you have to know who you are listening to and trusting. Other times, it can be a great way to get a quick point in the right direction.

Solve Problems – When you can’t solve a problem by yourself, ask the world. For example, a while back I was having a problem with a piece of software. I had googled and googled and couldn’t find a solution. I put the problem out on my social media channels. Within twenty minutes, a gentleman from Sweden (with whom I had never communicated previously) sent me a link to the answer. Simple, yet powerful stuff.

Reach Companies – Companies that are social media savvy are serving their customers in new and efficient ways. Twitter is one of my favorite ways to reach companies that I deal with. Instead, of getting ont the phone and being on hold for endless minutes, I can send a tweet in seconds. Delta, Comcast, and SunTrust are great examples of companies that have solved problems for me via social media. A 5-second tweet can get me assistance on my upcoming flight. Anytime, anywhere.

Get Feedback – Have an idea and need some input or feedback? Ask your social media audience. Often, you don’t even have to ask for feedback. Just put an idea out there and see how much response and sharing it gets.

Find Ideas – Whether it is for your business, blog, or hobby, there has never been an easier time to find ideas. Want to know what people are thinking, talking about, or have passion for? You have a searchable stream of consciousness at your fingertips. A friend of mine determines his blog post topics by searching for keywords on Twitter and seeing what people are asking about.

Communicate with a Broad Audience – Social media allows individuals greater power than ever to communicate with a large audience. It used to be you had to go through a publisher or big media company. Authors, speakers, experts, can now reach their audience directly, immediately, and in most cases for free.

Quick Communication – There is something special about the brevity of social media. Take Twitter. There is magic in those 140 characters. If you tried that with your email, your recipients would think you were nuts. (Of course, email is for a slightly different purpose.)

via 7 Ways Social Media Can Make You More Productive | Time Management Ninja.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CBIZ Small Business Employment Index Returns to Positive Territory in August (CBZ)

CBIZ Small Business Employment Index Returns to Positive Territory in August

By Business Wire | More Articles

September 6, 2013 | Comments (0)

CBIZ Small Business Employment Index Returns to Positive Territory in August

– Payroll Growth Fueled by Part-Time Employment Trend –

CLEVELAND–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI), a barometer for hiring trends for more than 3,500 companies with 300 or fewer employees, increased by 1.23 percent during August, following a decrease of .57 percent in July.

In comparison, yesterday’s ADP’s August survey illustrated that the private sector added 176,000 jobs during the month while economists expected 180,000. This total is down from July’s revised tally of 198,000 jobs created after 200,000 jobs were initially estimated.

“The CBIZ Small Business Employment Index returns to positive territory in this month’s report, indicating that small businesses are hiring as needed and mild growth is still appearing in inconsistent quantities,” says Philip Noftsinger, business unit president for CBIZ Payroll Services. “We continue to watch the growth for a more consistent month-to-month number, but inconsistent growth has been the staple for the past four years of almost every macroeconomic metric available, including the SBEI.”

To view and/or use a graphic illustration that tracks and illustrates the employment index, visit our blog here.¹

Additional take-away points from the August data set include:

At-a-glance: Of the companies surveyed, 28 percent increased staffing while 21 percent decreased staffing and 51 percent maintained their number of employees.

Small business sector: Coupling this information with the data collected from the BLS report in August, CBIZ Payroll notes that we are seeing that most of the positions created are part-time. This produces a scenario where we can show some job growth, but it doesn’t impact overall economic growth dramatically since consumerism continues to be muted from individuals in part-time positions who typically create less income and are viewed as tenuous in their longevity.

What to watch: CBIZ Payroll emphasizes the need to watch how the Syrian situation and the budget battle in Washington affect economic growth, and therefore hiring, as the country moves into the fourth quarter.

“Until we can return to more stable full-time job growth, we will continue to struggle with increasing consumer spending, which represents 70 percent of the U.S. economy. Solid macroeconomic numbers may lead to a bright start to 2014—as has been the trend the past few years. The ability to sustain the advance beyond the second quarter of next year needs to be watched, though,” says Noftsinger.

CBIZ Payroll Services manages payroll services for more than 3,500 businesses. Its index reflects a broad array of industries and geographies corresponding to the markets across the United States where CBIZ provides human capital services. The data represented by the SBEI is derived from a segment of employers not completely accounted for by the ADP and Federal BLS employment reports.

Editor’s note:

(1) The SBEI illustration is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://blog.cbiz.com .

About CBIZ, Inc.

CBIZ, Inc. provides professional business services that help clients better manage their finances and employees. CBIZ provides its clients with financial services including accounting, tax, financial advisory, government health care consulting, risk advisory, merger and acquisition advisory, real estate consulting, and valuation services. Employee services include employee benefits consulting, property and casualty insurance, retirement plan consulting, payroll, life insurance, HR consulting, and executive recruitment. As one of the nation’s largest brokers of employee benefits and property and casualty insurance, and one of the largest accounting and valuation companies in the United States, the Company’s services are provided through nearly 100 Company offices in 32 states.

via CBIZ Small Business Employment Index Returns to Positive Territory in August (CBZ).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small Business Hiring Is Better Than Before the Recession – Businessweek

Small Business Hiring Is Better Than Before the Recession

By John Tozzi August 08, 2013

Photograph by Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

A job seeker fills out an application at an Illinois Department of Employment Security job fair in Chicago on July 25, 2013

Small business hiring is finally rebounding. For years after the recession ended in 2009, economists and politicians said the job market needed small and growing businesses to bring down the unemployment rate. As Bloomberg News’ Alexandria Baca reports today, small companies are finally getting there:

“Employment at companies with fewer than 50 workers … is stronger now than before the last recession, while larger businesses are still lagging behind, according to data from Automatic Data Processing Inc., a manager of employer payrolls. Establishments with less than 10 employees are hiring at a faster clip than before the downturn began in December 2007, Labor Department figures show.”

Companies with less than 50 workers employ about 47.5 million Americans, according to ADP’s data (Excel document), more than they did before the recession started in 2007. Companies with more than 50 workers, in aggregate, lost more jobs than smaller businesses during the downturn. Though the larger businesses have added millions of jobs since the depths of the recession, companies with more than 50 employees employ about 66.2 million workers in the U.S., still about 2 million fewer than before the recession, according to the ADP data.

BLOG: Gauging Small Business Hiring: Slight Slowdown in July

The recovering housing market and a pickup in lending have helped small businesses, and they’re growing more confident in the economy. Still, government spending cuts and wariness about the strength of the recovery have kept businesses deliberate about the hires they make. As Baca reports:

“A leaner staff might also be a sign of caution among small companies seeing if demand justifies hiring. One such watchful business owner is Lisa Goodbee, a civil engineer who heads a Centennial, Colorado, firm specializing in transportation projects. She hired one full-time and one part-time worker last fall, waiting until business had recovered sufficiently to sustain the additional overhead. The 19-year-old firm has a total of five full-time and eight part-time employees.

“’State funding for transportation projects was really, really lean’ in 2010, said Goodbee, 51, who estimated her gross revenue fell to about half of its $2 million target that year. “I didn’t have to lay anybody off, but we definitely had a slowdown in our business, and then 2011, 2012, we’ve picked right up.’”

BLOG: Steady Small Business Hiring in July: ADP

The unemployment rate in the U.S., at 7.4 percent, is the lowest since 2008, but it’s still high. Job creation has been steady but less robust than it has to be to bring that number down quickly. Clearly, small businesses hiring is good news—but small companies alone won’t solve the unemployment crisis.

via Small Business Hiring Is Better Than Before the Recession – Businessweek.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small-business jobs rise as economy improves

Small-business jobs rise as economy improves

Tim Mullaney, USA TODAY 9:49 p.m. EDT August 20, 2013

Payrolls are growing at small businesses, a good sign for the economic recovery.

(Photo: Ross D. Franklin, AP)


Increasing small-business hiring, borrowing signal growing confidence

Payroll processor ADP surveys show small employers added 82,000 jobs in July

Fears that health care act would hurt hiring aren’t substantiated, economists say

Small-business hiring and confidence about the future are rising, a signal of the economy’s growing strength and diminishing concerns about employee insurance coverage required by the new health care law.

Job creation at small companies has almost doubled in the last six months, reaching 82,000 jobs at firms with 49 or fewer employees in July, according to payroll processor ADP. Borrowing by small businesses and sales of new franchises have also climbed, indicating business owners are willing to take on new expenses and risk.

Surveys by the National Federation of Independent Business say business-owner confidence has risen this year but remains below pre-recession levels.

INTERACTIVE: Where the jobs are

“There is still a healthy enough middle class to support growth,” said Don Fox, CEO of Jacksonville-based Firehouse of America, which expects to add 140 Firehouse Subs stores this year, most of them owned by franchisees. ”Unless there’s a major change in the environment, we’re building out toward 2,500 restaurants.”

Other data also suggest small businesses are ready to grow:

• Small-business borrowing is up 10% this year, according to data through March, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

• Small-business loan guarantees through the Small Business Administration’s largest program have risen 13% in the October-March period.

• Sales of business franchises are up 4.3% this year, although below last year’s 4.9% gain from 2011, according to the International Franchise Association.

The gains are beginning to shift the terms of the debate over the health care law. Under the law, businesses with 50-plus full-time-equivalent workers must offer insurance to people working 30 hours a week beginning in 2015. That mandate, originally slated for 2014, has not deterred hiring as feared, some economists now say.

As more data come in, the law’s impact can’t be seen in hiring statistics, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

“I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it’s not there,” says Zandi, whose firm manages ADP’s surveys of overall private-sector job creation. If the Affordable Care Act “were causing a drop, you would see meaningful slowing.”

BREAKING THROUGH: What’s the best way for small business to grow?

New research from Moody’s and other economists also challenges the idea that small employers are hiring only part-time workers to avoid falling under the health care law’s mandate to insure full-time workers.

It’s true that about 77% of jobs added nationwide in 2013 are part time. But this year’s new jobs are concentrated in industries such as restaurants and hospitality that use as much as twice as many part-timers as other companies, Moody’s economist Marisa DiNatale found in a July paper. Most industries are actually using fewer part-timers than last year, DiNatale said.

Likewise, FT Advisors chief economist Brian Wesbury says this year’s gains in part-time hiring offset a late-2012 drop in part-time jobs when full-time employment was surging. For the last 12 months, 75% of new jobs are full time, according to the Labor Department.

via Small-business jobs rise as economy improves.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Flash of Optimism for Small-Business Owners

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small Business Development Center makes positive ripples in Federal Way – Federal Way Mirror

Small Business Development Center makes positive ripples in Federal Way2  inShare0by GREG ALLMAIN,  Federal Way Mirror Reporter posted Jul 26, 2013 at 3:51 PMThe Small Business Development Center SBDC is having a positive effect for small business owners in Federal Way, according to the SBDCs Rich Shockley.Shockley gave a report to the Finance/Economic Development/Regional Affairs Committee FEDRAC on July 23.”The last quarter, in Federal Way, we served 23 clients,” Shockley said. “The 23 are businesses that myself and the other advisor…have served.”Shockley said the SBDC measures its success by “new jobs,” “saved jobs” and some more subjective metrics, such as helping a business get a proper loan to get started, etc.”In 2012, we finished the year with two business starts, 10 new jobs, six saved, and loans closed in 2012 were $675,000,” he noted. “Equity invested was $97,500 and other impacts was $186,000. Were probably a little bit behind where we were last year. The only thing we can control is the activity.”Shockley had Jaime Davis, owner of Ceiba Acupuncture, along with him for the FEDRAC meeting, in order to have Davis share her story. According to Davis, the SBDC was indispensable in helping her business grow.”When I came to Shockley about a year go, I was one practitioner renting one room…and I had definitely over-exceeded my capability of just being one person in the business,” Davis shared. “The ladies I was renting from said they had worked with SBDC and sent me there. And Rich kind of turned me from being an acupuncturist to an entrepreneur.”Davis said Shockley was instrumental in helping her navigate the banks and acquiring a loan to help expand her business.”I got the expansion loan, and I created four new jobs with my business,” she said proudly. “And next week, were moving into an even larger location and expanding once again. This time, I didnt even need a loan.””Im highly educated in my field, but I had no experience in business. Theyve just been a lifesaver for me. Im excited, were going to keep building jobs,” Davis added. “I had no idea this SBDC existed, and that it was free, is completely amazing. It completely saved my business, and I tell people about them all the time.””Were glad to be a part of that, and that youre being so successful,” FEDRAC chair and Councilmember Dini Duclos said.”This is entrepreneurship, this is wonderful. Congratulations on the growth,” FEDRAC committee member and Councilmember Bob Celski added.Davis mentioned that shed be holding an open house at her new location on Aug. 21, and invited the FEDRAC committee members to attend. To learn more about Davis business, visit ceibaacupuncture.com.

via Small Business Development Center makes positive ripples in Federal Way – Federal Way Mirror.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ways to Grow Your Business

Looking to take your business to the next level? Then check out these 10 practical ways to expand your business.
BY  | May 10, 2004|


When you first started your business, you probably did a lot of research. You may have sought help from advisors; you may have gotten information from books, magazines and other readily available sources. You invested a lot-in terms of money, time and sweat equity-to get your business off the ground. So…now what?

For those of you who have survived startup and built successful businesses, you may be wondering how to take the next step and grow your business beyond its current status. There are numerous possibilities, 10 of which we’ll outline here. Choosing the proper one (or ones) for your business will depend on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much money, time and sweat equity you’re willing to invest all over again. If you’re ready to grow, we’re ready to help.


1. Open another location. This might not be your best choice for business expansion, but it’s listed first here because that’s what often comes to mind first for so many entrepreneurs considering expansion. “Physical expansion isn’t always the best growth answer without careful research, planning and number-planning,” says small-business speaker, writer and consultant Frances McGuckin , who offers the following tips for anyone considering another location:

  • Make sure you’re maintaining a consistent bottom-line profit and that you’ve shown steady growth over the past few years.
  • Look at the trends, both economic and consumer, for indications on your company’s staying power.
  • Make sure your administrative systems and management team are extraordinary-you’ll need them to get a new location up and running.
  • Prepare a complete business plan for a new location.
  • Determine where and how you’ll obtain financing. (See ” Got Cash? ” for financing tips.)
  • Choose your location based on what’s best for your business, not your wallet.

2. Offer your business as a franchise or business opportunity. Bette Fetter, founder and owner of Young Rembrandts , an Elgin, Illinois-based drawing program for children, waited 10 years to begin franchising her concept in 2001-but for Fetter and her husband, Bill, the timing was perfect. Raising four young children and keeping the business local was enough for the couple until their children grew older and they decided it was time to expand nationally.

“We chose franchising as the vehicle for expansion because we wanted an operating system that would allow ownership on the part of the staff operating Young Rembrandts locations in markets outside our home territory,” says Bette. “When people have a vested interest in their work, they enjoy it more, bring more to the table and are more successful overall. Franchising is a perfect system to accomplish those goals.”

Streamlining their internal systems and marketing in nearby states helped the couple bring in their first few franchisees. With seven units and some time under their belt, they then signed on with two national franchise broker firms. Now with 30 franchisees nationwide, they’re staying true to their vision of steady growth. “Before we began franchising, we were teaching 2,500 children in the Chicago market,” says Bette. “Today we teach more than 9,000 children nationwide, and that number will continue to grow dramatically as we grow our franchise system.”

Bette advises networking within the franchise community-become a member of the International Franchise Association and find a good franchise attorney as well as a mentor who’s been through the franchise process. “You need to be open to growing and expanding your vision,” Bette says, “but at the same time, be a strong leader who knows how to keep the key vision in focus at all times.”

3. License your product. This can be an effective, low-cost growth medium, particularly if you have a service product or branded product, notes Larry Bennett, director of the Larry Friedman International Center for Entrepreneurship at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. “You can receive upfront monies and royalties from the continued sales or use of your software, name brand, etc.-if it’s successful,” he says. Licensing also minimizes your risk and is low cost in comparison to the price of starting your own company to produce and sell your brand or product.

To find a licensing partner, start by researching companies that provide products or services similar to yours. “[But] before you set up a meeting or contact any company, find a competent attorney who specializes in intellectual property rights,” advises Bennett. “This is the best way to minimize the risk of losing control of your service or product.”

4. Form an alliance. Aligning yourself with a similar type of business can be a powerful way to expand quickly. Last spring, Jim Labadie purchased a CD seminar set from a fellow fitness professional, Ryan Lee, on how to make and sell fitness information products. It was a move that proved lucrative for Labadie, who at the time was running an upscale personal training firm he’d founded in 2001. “What I learned on [Lee’s] CDs allowed me to develop my products and form alliances within the industry,” says Labadie, who now teaches business skills to fitness professionals via a series of products he created and sells on his Web site, HowToGetMoreClients.com .

Seeing that Labadie had created some well-received products of his own, Lee agreed to promote Labadie’s product to his long contact list of personal trainers. “That resulted in a decent amount of sales,” says Labadie-in fact, he’s increased sales 500 percent since he created and started selling the products in 2001. “Plus, there have been other similar alliances I’ve formed with other trainers and Web sites that sell my products for a commission.”

If the thought of shelling out commissions or any of your own money for the sake of an alliance makes you uncomfortable, Labadie advises looking at the big picture: “If you want to keep all the money to yourself, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot,” says the Tampa, Florida, entrepreneur. “You need to align with other businesses that already have lists of prospective customers. It’s the fastest way to success.”

5. Diversify. Small-business consultant McGuckin offers several ideas for diversifying your product or service line:

  • Sell complementary products or services
  • Teach adult education or other types of classes
  • Import or export yours or others’ products
  • Become a paid speaker or columnist

“Diversifying is an excellent growth strategy, as it allows you to have multiple streams of income that can often fill seasonal voids and, of course, increase sales and profit margins,” says McGuckin, who diversified from an accounting, tax and consulting business to speaking, writing and publishing.

Diversifying was always in the works for Darien, Connecticut, entrepreneurs Rebecca Cutler and Jennifer Krane, creators of the “raising a racquet” line of maternity tenniswear , launched in 2002. “We had always planned to expand into other ‘thematic’ kits, consistent with our philosophies of versatility, style, health and fun,” says Cutler. “Once we’d begun to establish a loyal wholesale customer base and achieve some retail brand recognition, we then broadened our product base with two line extensions, ‘raising a racquet golf’ and ‘raising a racquet yoga.'”

Rolling out the new lines last year allowed the partners’ current retail outlets to carry more of their inventory. “It also broadened our target audience and increased our presence in the marketplace, giving us the credibility to approach much larger retailers,” notes Cutler, who expects to double their 2003 sales this year and further diversify the company’s product lines. “As proof, we’ve recently been selected by Bloomingdale’s, A Pea in the Pod and Mimi Maternity.”

6. Target other markets. Your current market is serving you well. Are there others? You bet. “My other markets are what make money for me,” says McGuckin. Electronic and foreign rights, entrepreneurship programs, speaking events and software offerings produce multiple revenue streams for McGuckin, from multiple markets.

“If your consumer market ranges from teenagers to college students, think about where these people spend most of their time,” says McGuckin. “Could you introduce your business to schools, clubs or colleges? You could offer discounts to special-interest clubs or donate part of [your profits] to schools and associations.”

Baby boomers, elderly folks, teens, tweens…let your imagination take you where you need to be. Then take your product to the markets that need it.

7. Win a government contract. “The best way for a small business to grow is to have the federal government as a customer,” wrote Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, ranking Democratic member of the House Small Business Committee, in August 2003. (Click here to read that article.) “The U.S. government is the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, with total procurement dollars reaching approximately $235 billion in 2002 alone.”

Working with your local SBA and SBDC offices as well as the Service Corps of Retired Executives and your local, regional or state Economic Development Agency will help you determine the types of contracts available to you. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the SBA also have a Business Matchmaking Program designed to match entrepreneurs with buyers. “A fair amount of patience is required in working to secure most government contracts,” says Johnson & Wales University’s Bennett. “Requests for proposals usually require a significant amount of groundwork and research. If you’re not prepared to take the time to fully comply with RFP terms and conditions, you’ll only be wasting your time.”

This might sound like a lot of work, but it could be worth it: “The good part about winning government contracts,” says Bennett, “is that once you’ve jumped through the hoops and win a bid, you’re generally not subject to the level of external competition of the outside marketplaces.”

8. Merge with or acquire another business. In 1996, when Mark Fasciano founded FatWire , a Mineola, New York, content management software company, he certainly couldn’t have predicted what would happen a few years later. Just as FatWire was gaining market momentum, the tech downturn hit hard. “We were unable to generate the growth needed to maximize the strategic partnerships we’d established with key industry players,” Fasciano says. “During this tech ‘winter,’ we concentrated on survival and servicing our clients, while searching for an opportunity to jump-start the company’s growth. That growth opportunity came last year at the expense of one of our competitors.”

Scooping up the bankrupt company, divine Inc., from the auction block was the easy part; then came the integration of the two companies. “The process was intense and exhausting,” says Fasciano, who notes four keys to their success:

  • Customer retention. “I personally spoke with 150 customers within the first few weeks of consummating the deal, and I met with 45 clients around the globe in the first six months,” notes Fasciano. They’ve retained 95 percent of the divine Inc. customer base.
  • Staff retention. Fasciano rehired the best and brightest of divine’s staff.
  • Melding technologies. “One of the reasons I was so confident about this acquisition was the two product architectures were very similar,” says Fasciano. This allowed for a smooth integration of the two technologies.
  • Focus. “Maybe the biggest reason this acquisition has worked so well is the focus that FatWire has brought to a neglected product,” says Fasciano.

FatWire’s acquisition of divine in 2003 grew its customer base from 50 to 400, and the company grew 150 percent, from $6 million to $15 million. Fasciano expects no less than $25 million in sales this year.

9. Expand globally. Not only did FatWire grow in terms of customers and sales, it also experienced global growth simply as a result of integrating the best of the divine and FatWire technologies. “FatWire finally has international reach-we’ve established new offices in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, China, Japan and Singapore,” says Fasciano. This increased market share is what will allow FatWire to realize sustained growth.

But you don’t need to acquire another business to expand globally. You just need to prime your offering for an international market the way FatWire was primed following the integration of its technologies with divine’s.

You’ll also need a foreign distributor who’ll carry an inventory of your product and resell it in their domestic markets. You can locate foreign distributors by scouring your city or state for a foreign company with a U.S. representative. Trade groups, foreign chambers of commerce in the United States, and branches of American chambers of commerce in foreign countries are also good places to find distributors you can work with.

10. Expand to the Internet. “Bill Gates said that by the end of 2002, there will be only two kinds of businesses: those with an Internet presence, and those with no business at all,” notes Sally Falkow a Pasadena, California, Web content strategist. “Perhaps this is overstating the case, but an effective Web site is becoming an integral part of business today.”

Landing your Web site in search engine results is key-more than 80 percent of traffic comes via search engines, according to Falkow. “As there are now more than 4 billion Web pages and traffic on the Internet doubles every 100 days, making your Web site visible is vital,” she says. “You need every weapon you can get.”

Design and programming are also important, but it’s your content that will draw a visitor into your site and get them to stay. Says Falkow, “Putting together a content strategy based on user behavior, measuring and tracking visitor click streams, and writing the content based on researched keywords will get you excellent search results and meet the needs of your visitors.”

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/70660#ixzz2e1j3mkSf

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment