Weekend Reading 7 20 2012

July 20, 2012

When so many of the stories we read today are about bad news it feels great when I find a story about a new store that is opening and its doing well. Well, here is one that’s doing several things right. There are a bunch of stories about new businesses that are making it. You just have to look for them. Read and enjoy. Evolution Fresh™ Brings Fresh, Flavorful Juice to Downtown Seattle with Opening of Second Retail Store; Plans Further Expansion – Investors.com.

Well…I gave you one good news story now here is a good article on things to watch out for. 7 Retail Disaster Zones Every Storeowner Should Avoid | Entrepreneur.com.

Does Competition Benefit Brick And Mortar Startups?

July 10, 2012

Brick and mortar startups are your traditional small business beginnings that crop up in buildings, offices and stores all the time. Some of them hit it off, some of them are just not worth it and don’t survive. Some startups are great, but they don’t gain enough publicity and customers to keep them going.

Many people say that this digital age is kinder to internet startups and e-businesses more than the conventional business method. This is not entirely true. The internet is a vast place and many marketing strategies get drowned under the cumulative noise of thousands of others who are clamoring for attention.

So, Is Competition Good Or Bad?

For a conventional brick and mortar business, it may be hard to get your voice heard and your presence felt, but the fact that you have a physical presence at all says a lot.

The short answer is yes, competition is good for a brick and mortar startup business in some ways. The long answer is, yes and no, because competition is what makes an underdog either break it, or make it; when broken, there is seldom chance for rekindling the fire!

Many entrepreneurs suggest that the best thing about competition is the advantages you can garner and the boost your business can get from being near your competitor’s business. If a startup is confident enough about their products and services, they can obtain a brick and mortar very near the competitor outlet. This way they can reap rewards from the other’s marketing strategies!

How Does That Work?

An established business or store already has a large customer base due to the various marketing techniques and strategies they have employed over time. Having an outlet nearby their store will mean that many of the customers may also gravitate towards your business that offers the same or similar products.

The ‘foot traffic’ is a big factor in this scenario. The money that your competitor has put into choosing this location and calling out to customers will become your power, too. However, this is not the final word on this; taking advantage of these plus points wouldn’t hurt though.

Competition enhances the business and overall traffic. The motivation that one gets from healthy competitor action is what brings the best out of businessmen and store owners. The constant striving to keep ahead and one’s head above water is what results in great services and customer satisfaction.

Roger Clements writes for http://www.defensivedrivingonline.net and has been a blogger for 2 years. He specializes in writing about entrepreneurs and business startups.

6 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid When Promoting Your Business

June 20, 2012

There are entrepreneurs who formulate comprehensive plans and devise elaborate strategies when pursuing their business objectives; and then there are those who are unplanned and simply rely on luck and chance.

While luck may work well for a business in the short run, a cleverly devised marketing and promotion strategy is an essential prerequisite to its long-term sustainability and growth.

Here are six common marketing mistakes that business planners and strategists make when promoting their business:

1. Lack of defined objectives – A businesses without clear well-defined objectives is akin to a traveler without a goal. A business’ failure to set realistic, measurable and achievable goals and milestones only reiterates its lack of planning and this eventually causes disarray as the workforce would have little idea of what their joint efforts are aimed at achieving.

2. Knowing your consumer – Many a time, businesses give little consideration to evolving market trends and changing preferences and tastes of the consumer. This is perhaps the worst mistake that a business can consciously make. When a business has little idea of what the consumer wants, it will naturally be as unsure on what to produce for them. Consequently, it may fail to identify its own market niche and target the wrong market as a result.

3. Not testing – A business will inevitably be plagued by dwindling sales and shrinking market share if it fails to test sales copy and market segments with regular split testing routines. This can eventually translate into monetary losses and wastage of time and resources. On the other hand, by testing ad copies as well as marketing promotions, or by simply placing 2 ads for a product in the same marketing platform, businesses are able to learn which of the two ads is more useful.

4. Not budgeting: Budgeting is always an important consideration for a business as it helps to maintain healthy cashflows. Unfortunately, inept budgeting or the complete lack of it constitutes the most common marketing mistakes that businesses make and this invariably leads to a shortfall of money for critical marketing and advertising ventures.

5. Surrendering without a fight – Chance only favors those who court her. Marketing promotions are often consciously driven to failure because of a lack of patience and strong will power. Giving up too soon is seldom the right thing for a business, particularly when success waits around the turn. It is also imperative to allow promotions some time since they take some time to achieve results.

6. Poor sales copy – An effective and encouraging sales page is a major sales multiplier whereas businesses that devise unprofessional ad copies end up seriously compromising on sales. This is because it is the sales page that eventually determines the interest of a consumer in a business. A business has little chance of selling its products and services effectively to consumers if its marketing strategy endorses poorly devised and inefficient sales copies.

Tim has been blogging about marketing and branding issues for over 3 years. He has been working as a branding specialist distributing logo t shirt.  http://www.customgear.com.au

Lesson Learned The Hardway

June 11, 2012

I just read an article by Adrianna Gardella writing for “You’re the Boss” Blog of the NY Times. It’s a great read for anyone wanting to start their own store front business.

After working with many business owners starting their first bricks and mortar business over the last 25 years, I am convinced that whether a business succeeds or fails is determined long before the doors of the business are opened for the first time.

The thing  that jumped out at me was not that the business owner mismanaged her business, but that her target market was a thousand miles away.

The Dark Side of Opening a Store – NYTimes.com.

New Financial Help For Bricks and Mortar Startups

June 4, 2012

Attached a reprint of an article by Brad Thomas, a contributor to Forbes. Shopping Center owners are aggressively looking for ways to fill up their centers. Both large and small landlord groups are providing various kinds of financial and logistic support for new start up tenants.

Even better news is that landlords are generally much easier to work with than the banks.

Improve Retail Brick And Mortar And They Will Come – Forbes.

How To Use Social Media When Launching Your Store

June 4, 2012

When you launch a new business or a new store – it can be difficult in the first few weeks. Getting a regular customer base takes time and it can be difficult to ensure that everyone knows about your new store and what you’re offering. A great way of giving yourself a head start though, is to use social media in the promotional process and to target locals using social media.

Using Facebook

If you set up a Facebook page for your store then why not introduce yourselves on Facebook using the already existing community pages. Most towns and villages will have a community page, so post on their wall introducing your business and perhaps giving away a promotional code they can use in store. It’s a great way of getting the word out too. Try and introduce yourselves on a few different community groups so the maximum amount of people are getting the message and being informed about your new store.

Using twitter

Twitter is another great social networking site that you can use to promote your business. Start following people that work and live around the local area. Introduce yourself with a brief tweet and don’t be afraid to have some friendly conversation with them. If you’re a coffee shop – offer them a free cup of joe if they come in and introduce themselves. You can also use hashtags to your advantage here too – making sure that you hastag your local area’s name or postcode in any updates or promotional deals. Get talking to other businesses in the local area too and network with them via twitter! The more connections you make the better!

Using Pinterest

If you are opening a clothes shop or a hair dressers or anything else with products – you could open a Pinterest account and upload photographs of your products to the sharing network. It’s a great idea for getting your shop name out and around town.

Remember over time – to continue using the social networks too. If you have a new product in store one day then why not announce it on your social networking sites? If you build up a big enough following then this will really be beneficial. You could also do small weekly promotions via your social networks too – such as a discount code or BOGOF offer code. People love feeling rewarded and by offering them online deals to collect in-store you can really encourage them to stay loyal to your store and to keep popping by.

This article was provided by Elle-Rose, a Social Media manager for Lomito and XXPress PCR. Helping people use social media for business purposes!

You Can’t Live Without It

June 1, 2012

If you own a business you know the learning curve never stops. The toughest lessons to learn are those that cost you money. For most small business owners that means just about every mistake costs you money. Not having insurance can be a disastrous mistake for your business and yourself personally.

Here is case study by, Mary G. Watson,  a small business owner who learned the hard way.

Ten years at a multi-national company gave me a good business start-up capital for the business I was planning to set-up – a small boutique for my own clothesline. I had it all planned from the space rental down to the seamstress and the materials needed for the business. Within a month after I stopped working, I launched my boutique.

My boutique is located adjacent to a commercial bank. It worked for me as the bank customers flow into my boutique before or after they go to the bank. Business is doing fine. Until that busy afternoon when we were all shocked by the commotion happening next door. The bank was being robbed and there were gunmen firing at everyone in every direction, including my store. It was a horrific day because my seamstress was accidentally hit by a stray bullet.

My horror from the event escalated to an undetermined height when the doctor told me that my seamstress is at risk of being paralyzed, for life. I did not understand all the other things the doctor said because my mind is racing against the thought of doomsday. Is she my responsibility? Will the bank pay us for the store damage and her injury? I trembled at the thought that I should be responsible for her. She works for me and I should have coverage for that. I shouldn’t worry.

I had business  general liability insurance as required by law. I purchased it merely to comply with the requirements without thinking of how it could help me in a situation like this.  The business liability insurance covered part of the property damage since the bank paid us some amount for that, too. What the insurance did not adequately cover was the bodily injury part because I did not set a high limit for this. The insurance I purchased could cover for the medical bills while in the hospital but not after she gets out of the hospital.

Apparently the insurance broker failed to illustrate this scenario to me when I was discussing the insurance requirements of the business. I had my fault, too. I checked my policy for any clause I could use to get the insurance to cover for these exponentially huge medical expenses. Unfortunately, my coverage limit is just too low.

It should have been clear to me that a small business like mine should have adequate if not maximum business liability coverage same as other businesses. This should take care of unexpected situations like this. Knowing that a small business needs a general liability insurance to cover for expenses related to injuries, damage to property, personal injury or advertising injury or any other claims filed against the business, is not enough. I should have gone further to check on the following:

  • What is the coverage limit I should get for my business which is a low risk business?
  • If I set the limit at a million dollars, will it be enough to cover a lifetime medical care like what happened to my seamstress?
  • How protected are my personal assets and funds?
  • Is there business disability insurance for personnel?
  • If my business liability insurance include employees or worker’s compensation coverage?

While it is difficult to determine the right amount of coverage for any business, it puts the business on the safe side if the coverage is set a little over the minimum limit in which case somewhere around a million dollars. The insurance broker should have been more emphatic about this and I could have given it more thought.

When buying insurance for your business, finding the right insurance broker or agent will be accomplished by throwing some important questions to the broker:

  • What is the company’s Moody or AM Best rating? This will tell you if the insurance company is reliable and stable. A high ratings mark means the company is trustworthy.
  • What type of businesses does the broker handle or specialize into? A good background, knowledge and expertise on the business will help you go about your business insurance transactions with so much ease.
  • Is the broker a hands-on agent? Will he personally handle your insurance transactions? It is ideal that your agent will help you all the way and not leave you to a co-broker.
  • Does he have a list of his clientele? A confident and competent insurance agent will have no problem with this.

And since my business liability insurance has no adequate coverage for the medical care of my seamstress, lest I get sued by her family, I opted to close shop, sell whatever I can, leave a reasonable amount for myself from what is left from my MNC savings, pay her family a good sum and put everything to rest.

Fortunately, her family understood my situation and agreed to the amount I offered which left me with not much to start with again. It was a costly insurance lesson for me and I think all starting business entrepreneurs like me should have a better understanding about business liability insurance and its importance in ensuring your financial solidity even after any accident or claims lawsuit, etc. Get the right insurance coverage to avoid having a financial crisis like I did.

About the Author: Mary G. Watson is a freelance writer for www.liabilityinsurance.org.


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