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Zero Dollar Marketing—How to Build Buzz with No Money

1019_4616159To grow, a business needs to get the word out. But to get the word out, a business needs money. Without the funds in place to launch a full-scale marketing campaign, how can an entrepreneur compete with the big dogs?

Fortunately, you don’t have to have a big marketing campaign to reach customers. There are more ways than ever to get the word out without spending a fortune. Here are a few ways you can generate buzz for your business on a limited budget.

Dispense with the Conventional

When you consider marketing options, you likely think of a few of the most popular ways to market. This includes hiring a firm, sending press releases, and deploying multiple social media updates. You should instead consider ways your brand can stand out. What unique features does your product or service have that can be used to build buzz? If you can find a way to make your social media updates stand out, you’ll be more likely to connect with customers. Continue reading “Zero Dollar Marketing—How to Build Buzz with No Money” »

How to Form a Corporation: The Lowdown on Issuing Corporate Stock

573_3572833One of the perks of forming a corporation in Texas, Tennessee, or any state, really, is that you have the option of issuing stock. Having stockholders can provide a much-needed cash infusion for your business.

Let’s look at what it takes to complete this super simple process.

Step 1: Decide How Many Shares You Want to Issue

Once you’re incorporated, if you want to offer stock and share ownership of your company you can purchase stock certificates. Now, if you formed an S Corp, you are typically limited to 100 shareholders, although you can fill out paperwork to raise that number significantly higher. But you don’t have to open up all your shares at first, especially if you think you might want to raise funds later. Continue reading “How to Form a Corporation: The Lowdown on Issuing Corporate Stock” »

6 Ways to Lead by Example

792_3723922Running a company — and therefore being in charge of people — is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it’s fulfilling in so many ways. But it can be a challenge because every day, regardless of how you feel, you have people looking to you for guidance. You’ve got to be on your toes and ensure that you’re doing your best to lead by example so that your staff emulates what you do and works their hardest for your company.

Here are 6 tactics I’ve found effective in my leadership strategy.

  1. Do What You Say.

I’m big on keeping my promises. Yes, I’m swamped, but when an employee asks me to do something, such as review their work or provide feedback, I make it a priority. That way, they know that my word is my bond, and that they can trust me.

  1. Say What You Mean.

I don’t believe in pussyfooting around something. I’m always honest. I refuse to lie or even expand on the truth to an employee, because I know from experience that it always backfires. People appreciate the truth, even if it’s ugly. Continue reading “6 Ways to Lead by Example” »

The Two Most Important Words In Franchising

35_2513660Forget the “hottest” franchises.

Ignore suggestions from franchise brokers on which franchises are “a possible fit” for you.

Take articles that rank franchises from 1-100 with a grain of salt. Consider them to be “light reading.”

Forget what you’ve learned about franchising up to now. Empty your mind. Clean your slate. I’m about to teach you about the two most important words in franchising. Ready?

What Franchising Is Really About

If you’re thinking about buying a franchise it’s important for you to truly understand what franchising is really about. Continue reading “The Two Most Important Words In Franchising” »

Trademarking a Business Name: Do You Need To?

1019_4233250I get asked a lot: does incorporating my business automatically trademark it? The fact is: being incorporated keeps anyone else in your state from using the name, but it doesn’t protect that name in the other 49 states. For that, you need a federal trademark.

First, What Is a Trademark?

You can consider a trademark any word, phrase, symbol, or design (or a combination of these) that identifies the source of a product or service and distinguishes it from competitors.

You can trademark your business name, logo, or slogan, as well as domain name (some of them, anyway) and social media usernames.

Why Trademarking Your Business Name is Worth Considering

If it’s important that you’re the only business with your name in the entire country, such as if you own a franchise in many states, or do business across borders and want to be unique, registering for US Federal Trademark protection is the best way to protect your name. Continue reading “Trademarking a Business Name: Do You Need To?” »

Analytics: 4 Types of Data You Should Be Paying Attention to

806_3890830When trying to measure results for your marketing campaign, you have to know what to look for. Certain types of data can be extremely beneficial in helping you understand what’s working and what’s not. Here’s what you should be paying attention to.

Your Website/Blog Analytics

Understanding which pages or posts people are flocking to on your site or blog can help you understand how to continue to connect with your audience. If you sell 5 products and are seeing a flood of traffic to one particular product page, but not many sales, you know that people are interested in it, but something’s keeping them from buying. Maybe it’s the price or the purchase process. Dig deeper to get to the bottom of it so you can leverage all those website visits into sales.

For your blog, seeing which posts people are clicking on the most can help you determine what topics your audience cares about. Then you can write more of it. Also, seeing where your traffic is coming from (press releases, ads, social media) can direct where you put more attention in the future. Continue reading “Analytics: 4 Types of Data You Should Be Paying Attention to” »

What Works Best for our Startup? Employees vs. Contract Workers

434_3000463This is a guest post from Cristian Ángel Rennella.

In every new business venture, resources are very thin, and for this reason the decision to hire employees or outside contract workers is not an easy decision. The wrong decision can definitely lead to the failure of our project.

With this very reason in mind, I would like to share what we have learned in these past 8 years, using 3 simple and essential points, because no one expects a founder to be an expert in paying salaries and human resources.

1. What is the desired functionality?

The most important point here is determining from the beginning what is the exact work that a person will perform and taking into consideration the length of time their work will be carried out.

For example, if this new human resource will be in charge of our channel for customer service, we are definitely talking about a long-term and stable (recurrent) job over time. In this case we recommend investing in, without doubt, a fixed employee that understands in detail our work ethic. Continue reading “What Works Best for our Startup? Employees vs. Contract Workers” »

Entrepreneurial Stress: How to Hide from the Stress Monster

379_2898634Now, before you assume that in this article I’m going to tell you how to completely remove stress from your life as an entrepreneur, let me just say: there’s no way to be 100% stress free as a business owner. Stress is part of what you signed up for, so the best you can do is lower or avoid it in the first place.

First, You’re Not Alone

While 45% of entrepreneurs ‘fess up to being stressed, I’m willing to bet that many more hide the fact that they’re overwhelmed from everyone, just like I did when I was having panic attacks. Fortunately, there’s a growing trend among entrepreneurs of speaking out about how difficult it is to run a business. You can feel comfortable knowing you’re not the only one who’s running around like your hair’s on fire. Continue reading “Entrepreneurial Stress: How to Hide from the Stress Monster” »

Zero To Website Hero – The Most Important Skills Needed For Your First Website

770_3669225A decade ago, when the Internet was still relatively young and people were still playing with the bubble wrap, getting a professional looking website was a challenge.

You had to have some technical skill and knowledge of coding. Failing that, you needed a big budget and conversations with website developers.

Today, the landscape has shifted considerably.

You have so many options you might begin to feel like a kid at the ice cream shop.

The most important skill required for getting your first website online today is not knowledge of code. It’s not interviewing skills for choosing a website developer (although someday as your business gains success you will want to hire a designer for custom features, but in the beginning it may not be in your budget). Continue reading “Zero To Website Hero – The Most Important Skills Needed For Your First Website” »

Starting a Business? Can You Afford it Right Now?

1180_4683697No matter how good your business idea, no matter how passionate you are about your new idea, no matter how thorough your marketing plan, there is one factor that can completely put a halt to you starting a business.

That something is your finances.

If you don’t have the funds to start a business, you shouldn’t do so. Trying to start a business with less than you’ll need for the first year or so could end up a disaster, and have you wasting time and money on an idea that wasn’t set up for success to begin with.

How Much You Need

You’d be surprised how much money you need to start a business. Not only do you need enough to cover your startup expenses and money to keep you afloat until you start turning a profit, but you also need to be able to cover your personal expenses until you can take a salary from your company.

Numbers vary, but most say you need enough to cover 6-24 months’ worth of expenses, both business and personal. Continue reading “Starting a Business? Can You Afford it Right Now?” »