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If you own a small business, advertising costs via print media can be expensive. Instead of dishing out money for ads that only get some notice, come up with a plan that is heavy on internet marketing. I've outlined four methods that can work for you.

Web Advertising for the Small Business

Web Advertising for the Small BusinessIf you run a small business, advertising costs must be figured in as part of your overall expenses. If you have received quotes for phone directory ads, business association block ads, and mostly any other print media, these costs are quite high. So, what if your budget is small, perhaps negligible? Will you be left outside of the advertising arena or are there other avenues to help you get the word out? The answer in one word is: yes. Lets explore ways you can get the word out through online meansyes, via the internet!The rise of the internet has spawned an entire industry with it. You may remember in the late 1990s stories of dot.com companies who made a fortune and then went bust. The irrational exuberance of that era has, thankfully, passed by and in its place is a much more rational, but very lively market.Todays biggest players online are search engine providers led by Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. Between them, these three search engines dominate the market. Mostly everyone today searches the internet for products sold by "small business" es to large corporations and these are the people you want to target. Indeed, while Christmas season sales typically increase around 4% year over year for brick and mortar retailers, the internet has been seeing year over year increases of 30% and higher! No small business operator should exclude the internet when crafting a marketing plan.Speaking of the search engines, both Google and Yahoo! have their own advertising networks. Google has its AdWords program while the Yahoo! Publisher Network is a comparable, though newer program. This is where you, as a small business owner, can do some of your advertising. By selecting the advertising plan that works for you, you can have your ads appear on web sites in your local area or across the world and be charged a small amount per click. In other words, you dont pay for advertising unless someone clicks on your ad and goes through to your site. To keep clicks from getting out of control you determine the price per click and the amount per day, week, or month you are willing to pay. No busting of your small business budget!Banner or text ads on select sites can also be helpful for your small business. If there is a web site you like and you suspect that a lot of your customers would frequent that site, contact the webmaster to learn what his advertising charges would be. Perhaps in exchange for submitting a few helpful articles, the webmaster would waive your advertising fee altogether. Or, at the very least, accept any other help you could provide [moderating a forum, answering questions, etc.].Another way of getting the word out is through your own web site. No, you dont need a web professional to establish your site, but it does help to have someone who can guide you through the set up process. At the very least a few pages is what you will need, so set up costs shouldnt be terribly expensive. In addition, figure on paying monthly hosting and domain name fees but these expenses should be no more than $100-$125 per year. Pay a little extra for a web professional who can help you optimize your site [make it search engine friendly] and youll get your money back much quicker. Finally, check with your accountant for small business tax deductions.You can also generate plenty of attention by writing articles, just like the one you are reading now. No, you dont need to be a professional writer, but if you can clearly convey your thoughts and present a plan of action for your readers [such as: buy my product] you can get what amounts to be free advertising. How so? By submitting what you write to article submission sites for wider dissemination. By including helpful links in the author resource box you can cause search engines to make your web site much more visible as your article gets reprinted on other web sites. Furthermore, readers will perceive that you are an expert and will likely inquire to find out just what you are all about. You can call this, small business advertising on the cheap!No, as a small business owner you dont have to be strapped by high advertising costs -- who has the cash to spare? Instead, the internet offers to you several cost effective ways of informing people about who you are, what you do, and where they can find you.Select the marketing plan that works best for your article marketing. A mixture of all four points is a great plan of attack for many "article marketing" ownersjust like you!

How To Get Your Small Business Off The Ground

How To Get Your Small Business Off The Ground

Many people have what they think is a great idea and would love to set up their own small business. The problem many of these people face is how to fund this idea, to get the business off the ground. Unfortunately many of these ideas never come to fruition because of these lack of funds, where in reality there are many avenues people could take to find this initial start-up capital.I run a small business and have been doing so for about ten years. I remember at the outset worrying about how I would be able to afford to advertise the services that I offer. I would also need a certain amount of money to pay for marketing, such as producing brochures and leaflets, money to have a prescence online via a website and many other initial costs.I would also need to be able to pay my bills and to basically live while the business was in its infancy, as I realised business would be slow to start with.I have to say that I am extremely lucky as I have a superb family who are in a position, and are happy to back me financially from time to time. This was my first port of call. I did not just go to see my parents looking for a hand-out, I also went to tell them about what I thought was a brilliant idea.I discussed with them my plans and about where I believed the business could get to within a few years. They both seemed impressed with not only my idea but also in the belief that I had in it. I also spoke about my short term fear of not having enough money to start the business and to pay the rent etc. I asked them if they would like to invest in the idea by giving me a short term loan. I planned to pay this loan back in the future when the business would be in a position to make a profit. Luckily for myself, my parents agreed to do this and I have never looked back since. They also gave me the loan interest free, which was a real bonus.My father also suggested that I might benefit by having a partner. This person could not only bear half of the initial start-up costs but could also help with even more ideas. He stated that he knew somebody who might well be interested. The person in question had been in business a long time and could also teach me a thing or two.I agreed that the idea was a good one and my father then approached his friend who eventually agreed to become my business partner.I am aware that I was extremely lucky and that not everyone is as fortunate as myself. There are other areas people can try to get funding however. One of these is to go to the bank to attempt to obtain a business loan, this would probably be a better idea than loading up debt on things such as your credit cards.Approaching friends could be the next place to look. I have a couple of friends who are not my business partners but are in a way a form of shareholder.If you have any investments you could dip into these to fund the business at the outset. In my eyes this is the whole point of investing in the first place and the business is also another form of investment.These are a few of many avenues which people can try. Give it a go you may be surprised at the response people give you. At the end of the day if you do not attempt these avenues you will always be left thinking of what might have been.If you try all of the options that are available to you but are still not successful in obtaining help, at least you gave it your best shot. Good luck.

Finding Qualified Buyers for your Business

Finding Qualified Buyers for your Business

Youve worked hard to grow your business into a successful venture. Now you want to sell it and reap the benefits of all those years of hard work. There are many questions involved with selling a business, but the most important is: How do you find qualified buyers?Some people say the quantity of buyers that are interested in buying your business is most important. Others say the quality of buyers is most important, regardless of quantity. But the correct answer is both are very important. Heres why:If you have 50 buyers interested in your business, then you have plenty of quantity. But if you are selling a $1,000,000 manufacturing business and these buyers can only afford a business that costs less than $300,000, or if they all prefer a service business, then this quantity of buyers is a waste of time. You will spend hours talking to unqualified buyers about your business when they have no interest in actually buying it.Conversely, say you only have 2 buyers interested in your business and they are looking to spend at least $1,000,000 on a manufacturing business. You have good buyer quality but not enough quantity. On average, you need at least 10 or more qualified buyers to look at your business before you can reasonably expect to sell it. And the more buyers you have looking at your business, the higher the sales price typically is. In a nutshell, the more qualified buyers you have looking at your business, the faster you will sell your business and the more money you will make on the sale. But how do you get both quantity and quality of buyers interested in your business? The key is to employ several methods of effective advertising that dont cost you a fortune. Word of Mouth AdvertisingThis method of advertising is very spotty and should not be considered a core form of advertising. Due to its nature, your business is exposed to a very limited number of buyers that probably arent qualified. As a result, this method of advertising provides neither quantity nor quality, which makes it very ineffective at helping you sell your business.Classified ads in the local newspaperThe old-fashioned method of advertising a business for sale was to place a classified ad in one or more newspapers and hope enough qualified buyers would stumble upon it. This method is not very effective because you only have a few short lines of text to tell your entire story and attract interest in your business. This not only reduces the overall quantity of buyers, but you also end up wasting time on a lot of unqualified buyers. As a result, classifieds are not very effective at generating a high quality or quantity of buyers.Business BrokersBusiness brokers are typically very professional and knowledgeable in the art of buying and selling a business. Plus they are skilled at helping sellers sell their business. They will prepare your "business for sale" and handle all discussions with buyers on your behalf. In addition, brokers will help generate interest in your business from buyers through their relationships with other brokers, as well as listing your business for sale on their website. However, to get maximum quality and quantity of buyers interested in your business it is best to complement a brokers services with additional advertising efforts. You can do this either in conjunction with the brokers efforts, or on your own.Online marketplacesCurrently the most effective method of getting both the highest quantity and quality of buyers interested in your business is by advertising on an online business-for-sale marketplace. These marketplaces are searched by hundreds of thousands of buyers each month, and can generate a staggering amount of interest in your business. There are many online marketplaces to choose from, but they are far from equal. Some have inadequate search functions, which mean your quality of buyers will decrease. The better the search functions the site offers, the more precisely buyers can search for what they want. And when a buyer finds your business, you know they are highly qualified.Other business-for-sale marketplaces are just interested in collecting listing fees from you, regardless of whether or not they help you find a buyer. These sites charge a monthly listing fee that is not tied to performance of any kind. As a result, they may or may not bring you any qualified buyers, and they really dont have any incentive to do so.The most effective business-for-sale marketplaces put their money where their mouth is and only charge sellers on a pay-for-performance basis. With these sites, you list your business for sale on the site and it appears in buyers search results when they search for a business that meets your criteria. But you are only charged a small fee if the buyer actually clicks on your listing and views its details. And you can set your own budget to determine the quantity of buyers you want. Performance-based marketplaces are very efficient and highly effective because you get exposure to the maximum number of highest quality buyers, but you dont pay if you dont have any qualified buyers view your listing.Resources* Find the perfect business to buy or franchise to buy,* To find a broker to help you buy or sell a business, visit BrokerSource* Sell a business or franchise quickly and easily with risk-free performance-based pricing

IT Consulting: Search for Sweet Spot Clients

IT Consulting: Search for Sweet Spot Clients

There are some clues that will tell you if a prospect will make a good sweet spot client for your IT consulting business. In this article, learn some of the tip-offs that a prospect is a good fit. Does the Company Have a Website?A prospect's website is important because you can search for it. Go to Google and put in the name of the town where you are, your zip code, your postal code area codes, prefixes and get a list of businesses in your area. Start to look around for potential clients for "IT consulting" . Can You Meet The Leaders of the Company?If you look on their company information or about page, you may decide they are a good prospect for your IT consulting business. Does the company belong to a local or regional Chamber of Commerce organization? You can join the organization to meet with them or go as a guest to some of them.Make sure, though, you know the right way to get the most out of your time and financial investments for networking expenses. You need to measure and track every minute and you can justify every dollar you spend. You want to get the maximum return on your investment to grow your IT consulting business. Where Else Can You Find the Company? Does the company attend local B to B Expos? If so, you can attend expos to network with those sweet spot IT consulting clients.Does the company get covered in the local newspapers, local papers, business journals, regional business journals, and magazines? You can subscribe to those or read back issues at the library or online. By studying up on a company, you can find out how much experience they have, how many employees, and their annual revenue. You can also find out if they are about to open another office. Copyright MMI-MMVI, Small Business Computer Consulting .com. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Rules of Growth For Small Businesses

For years, I have tried to answer this one question: What do small businesses that achieve sustained growth do differently from those that do not grow?As a senior consultant for Inc. magazine, I speak to thousands of business owners each year. I've learned that there are no silver bullets or 17-point checklists that will lead to guaranteed growth. There are, however, seven specific areas in which growth companies concentrate their efforts. 1. Strong sense of purpose. Most leaders of companies that have achieved growth discover that it takes more than the promise of increasing financial reward to fuel their aspirations and ambitions. They find a higher calling than simply the pursuit of "more money."2. Outstanding market intelligence. This is an organization's ability to first recognize, then adapt, to fundamental changes in the marketplace. Many times, small-business owners become too myopic, seeing only a limited view of the markets in which they compete. Growth leaders see the bigger picture. 3. Effective growth planning. This is the best predictor of whether or not a business will grow. To be effective, a plan for growth does not need to be overly formal or complicated. However, it does need to be written, well-communicated and regularly updated.4. Customer-driven processes. These days, every company I talk to believes it is customer-driven, when actually very few really are. Take a look at all of the business processes from a customer's perspective. Are they in place to make it easier for the company, or to help deliver on the promise of faster, cheaper and better for the customer?5. The power of technology. Successful leaders don't let the boom and bust of technology cycles give them the excuse to ignore that we live in an information age. If a company is in business, it is in the technology business. 6. The best and brightest people. Growth leaders recognize that they are only as good as the people with whom they work. The ability to hire, train and retain the best and the brightest people is often the difference between success and failure. 7. Seeing the future. Few organizations take the time to regularly consider the future. Growth leaders learn how to diligently monitor and interpret the macro forces of change affecting the world in which they live.

Computer Consulting: Do You Keep Your Micro Clients?

A big question, especially among newly established computer consulting professionals is this: I have some smaller clients with two to five PCs. Since theyre very close and theyre willing to pay our hourly rate and understand that I can schedule them when I can, is there a problem in keeping them as clients? Until I establish myself with more larger clients, Id hate to lose this income. Are Micro Clients Taking Up Too Much of Your Time?This is more of a focus and a time management challenge than anything else. If you have a way that you can fit this all in, so much the better. Keep in mind that you need to leave time to get your direct mail campaigns out, to get your follow-up phone calls out, to go to the expos, to hold seminars, to get out and network, etc.Don't take the only excess time that you have in a given week and devote it to servicing just those smaller "computer consulting" clients who are probably not going to grow substantially bigger over the next year or two.Be Sure To Schedule Time for MarketingMany computer consulting professionals have told us that they are spending so much time taking care of running and operating a store that its very difficult to find the time to read marketing books and learn other new skills, then get out and practice them. If you have enough time to devote to the marketing of your computer consulting business and servicing your sweet spot clients, So to the extent that you have time to do all this and you can fit it all in, thats fine. Copyright MMI-MMVI, Computer Consultants Secrets. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Summary

If you own a small business, advertising costs via print media can be expensive. Instead of dishing out money for ads that only get some notice, come up with a plan that is heavy on internet marketing. I've outlined four methods that can work for you.