Boost Your Small Business Intelligence

Friday Sep 26th 2014 by Lauren Simonds
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Our weekly roundup helps you stay current on the best small business tips, advice, strategy, and thought leadership on the Web. A quick hit of information to help you grow your business.

So much goes on in the world of small business, that it's impossible for one outlet to cover it all. That's why each week we look comb the Web in search of interesting small business tips, guidance, and trends that can help you increase productivity, cut costs, engage customers, and grow your small business empire.

Entrepreneurship

  • So you want to be an entrepreneur? We encourage that sort of thing around here. But one of the basic questions any newbie 'preneur asks is, "How do I start my business?" Here are 12 tips to get you moving in the right direction.
  • One of the most effective ways to become a successful entrepreneur is to surround yourself with experienced mentors. Having a mentor (or mentors) can be invaluable, but it's also important to understand that you must choose your mentors carefully.
  • Mentors come in handy because, to name just one reason, they have been there and done that in business. It's important to realize that many have trod the path upon which you now stand. No point in reinventing the wheel, right? Take advantage of that fact and study the lifecycle of a small business. It's as close to a shortcut to success as you'll ever get.
  • You're just a little guy fighting for your place in the world of giant-sized competition. How can you hope to survive against, much less prevail over, the Goliaths in your industry? You might start by taking a cue from the baristas at your independent coffee shop. Differentiating a cuppa independent Joe from a cuppa Starbucks is no easy task.
  • The Holy Grail of any business is growth. Without it, you stagnate, wither, and die. Okay, that may be a bit melodramatic, but not by much. Growing a business in any economy is a challenge; and in this one, it's a doozy. But you can start with five business growth strategies.

Finance

  • Most small businesses go through slow periods where sales fall off. But what many small business owners don't know is that dynamic pricing can be an effective way to increase sales during those lulls in the business cycle. Can adjustable pricing formulas work for your small business? Experimentation is key.
  • You don’t often see an area where small business owners could actually save money. But if you own a fleet of vehicles, or just rack up miles in the course of your business day, it looks like you won't spend as much money for gas.
  • When it comes to financing your business, ignorance isn’t bliss—it's expensive. Going through the process can be both time-consuming and stressful, and in that kind of environment it's easy to take a misstep. It literally pays to avoid these common financing mistakes.

Human Resources

  • Competing with larger companies for customers, market share and revenue is tough: and so is competing for employees. And once you hire them, you want to retain them. The good news is that it's not hopeless.
  • Health insurance is a hot-button issue with small business owners. Costs keep going up, and yet when it comes to retaining talented people, health insurance is imperative. But some small business owners are choosing an alternative strategy. They're paying employees more money in lieu of medical insurance.

Marketing

  • Small business owners might well sing along with Simon and Garfunkle's song "Keep the Customer Satisfied. That song was released in 1970, and to say things have changed in business since then is a massive understatement. Keeping the customer satisfied in the age of social media is daunting, but doable. It helps to have a new customer service manifesto.
  • Small business owners now have their very own high holi-day: Small Business Saturday. Sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this particular shopping event focuses on, you guessed it, supporting small business. Take advantage of this event: get your free (and personalized) marketing materials now, promote the heck out of it, and reap the revenue.  
  • Friday Fun
  • Ever hear of Randy Glasbergen? If not, you’re in for a treat. Check out his business-related cartoons on his website. Bonus: you can buy them for use in marketing materials and social media.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!
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