Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Local Help for Small Businesses

So...you have a small business, a very tight budget but you want to get bigger and grow and you need some professional advice.  Sound familiar?  Well, there is free and affordable help out there.  The University of Minnesota has a website that offers lots of advice, guidance resources for small business owners.

The Center of Economic Development, part of UMD, maybe just what you need.  The website offers resources for starting a business, growing your business in addition to keeping you informed of events and offering you lots of resources.  It is a great site to check out if you are looking for some local, free advice and professional help.  They offer other services too such as market analysis, expansion, diversification, marketing research, etc. though you will have to contact them to see if there is a fee.  There is also a link for a Free Consultation. 

Anyways, check them out!  You can view the site at https://umdced.wp.d.umn.edu/

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Years Resolution

It is that time of the year again....we all try to make some commitment to making ourselves, our lives or our business better.  No matter what your New Year Resolution is, the key to being successful is setting goals and staying committed.  Sounds easier then done?  Well, maybe not...

1.  Set Goals.  Set realistic goals and write them down some place..one your calendar, to do list, etc.

2.  Stay Dedicated.  Some goals can be met by just setting a very small amount of time each day!  Maybe just 10-15 minutes per day can lead to great results!  They key is to keep it in front of you so you do not forget to put it on the back burner during your hectic days.

3.  Stay Motivated.  You need to stay motivated to meet your goal!  Maybe promise yourself a small treat if you succeed--tickets to your favorite event, a special diner out, purchasing an expensive item for yourself, etc.  It it helps your meet your goal, by no way feel guilty for rewarding yourself for your great accomplishments!!!

Ok, so here are some ideas for some small business New Year Resolutions  if you need some motivation:

1.  Create and actively contribute to a blog.
2.  Start email blasts to your customers--this should be done on at least a monthly basis.
3.  Get more involved in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
4.  Update your website!
5.  Write a business plan with goals and objectives!
6.  Make at least one new professional contact a week.

And the list goes on and on but the point is, do not just limit your New Years Resolution to yourself.  Bring them to your job and/or small business and use this time of the year as a "jump start" to make your business more successful which will result in a more successful YOU!!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Getting Sales Leads from Your Wesite via a Contact From


Getting Sales Leads from Your Website via a Contact From
Think for a minutes about the last 50 visitors to your website.  Will you be able to contact them and try to turn that website visit into a sale?  If you are like most small business websites, the answer is no.  To be able to utilize your website to its fullest potential, you need to get their contact information and turn that website visit into a sale.
There are ways to capture the contact information from your website visitors by adding one more more of these items to your website:
  • Social media login
  • Email newsletter signups
  • Real-time chat
  • Embedded web forms

Collecting sales leads through web forms works great because most people are comfortable typing their information into them. They also require less commitment than account sign-ups and shopping-carts that ask for credit card details.
Savvy business owners use web forms to convert more website visitors into new customers.
Creating your Contact From
Converting more sales leads from your website using web forms is easy when you follow these three steps.
1. Give your Website Visitors a Good Reason to Submit a Form
A lot of businesses will just tie in simple language to their contact us form such as "Please contact us".  How about adding an incentive for website visitors to contact you?  Such incentives could include a coupon or access to an e-book..
A great incentive sentence looks like this:
Request a quote and we’ll send you a 10% off coupon for any products you purchase this month. Complete the form below to get the coupon.
2. Pick a Form Tool That’s Easy to Use and Use it
To collect your users’ contact information, you need a good form builder.  Some great examples include  Gravity Forms for WordPress as well as  WuFoo and FormStack too.
3.  Redirection and Contact after competing the form
After your website visitor has completed your contact form, it is important that you redirect them to either another site on your website or to a page that thanks them.  Then the next, and most important, step is to follow-up with them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Rules for Home Office Deductions


The Internal Revenue Service announced this week it’s introducing a simplified option for claiming the home office deduction, which owners of home-based businesses and some other home-based workers use to write off the expense of using part of their residence for work.
Under the new rules business owners will be able to claim $5 for every square foot of home-office space, up to 300 square feet, for a maximum deduction of $1,500. Under the current more complicated method taxpayers have to complete a 43-line form that involves many calculations utility bills, real estate taxes, home improvement and property depreciation.
The new rules will most likely result in more small business owners taking the deduction due to the simplicity of the new calculation. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Options for Processing Credit Cards

Accepting payments by credit card has become more efficient and customizable with advances in technology.   Following are some advice and tools to process credit card transactions, both on- and offline, for small businesses or organizations.   If you’re a small business and you have either decided to start accepting credit cards or maybe you are thinking about selling some your products or services online or you want to improve the services you offer to your customers, here is what is involved in new alternatives to processing credit card.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Facebook Advertising for Small Businesses

More and more small businesses are creating Facebook pages to keep in contact with their customers and to help attract additional customers.  One overlooked feature of Facebook by many small businesses are their Facebook Ads.   Many businesses think these ads are just for large, national companies but Facebook Ads are just as effective and economical for the small business owner.

The ads work similar to Google Ad words.   The ads are typically located on the right hand side of one's Facebook page.  The best part of this is that Facebook places the ads based on what they think viewers are interested in due to their Facebook activities.  In reality, you can have one of the highest experts in the world doing your demographic research for you.

There are numerous ways for you to communicate with your customers or potential customers using Facebook ads.  You can offer promotions, sales, give away free samples or even run some type of contest or competition for a reward of some sort.   Facebook ads allows you to attract new loyal customers and increase your sales.


Another perk for Facebook ads is that it can somewhat mimic the word of mouth promotions many small businesses hope to achieve.  When one customer "likes" you or engages with your Facebook page his/her friends will see this and those customers have the ability to recommend your business and services to their friends. Facebook ads are an incredibly efficient way to advertise.  By using Facebook ads, you have the opportunity to establish  a list of customers that have the potential to remain loyal to your small business for years. Traditional advertising methods simply cannot compete with that.