Author Archives: bizlaunch2013

10 Tips & Tools to Start a Small Business (Without Breaking the Bank)

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Starting a business is no easy undertaking. It requires plenty of planning, as well as resources like money and staff (unless you’ll be running it as a solopreneur). Get off on the right foot with these tips that are either free or affordable.

1. Start with a Plan
When you think of a business plan, do you automatically think of a giant document full of boring information? It doesn’t have to be. Even a 1-2 page business and marketing plan can help you set your ideas on paper and get organized about how you want to run your business. In it, outline what products or services you’ll sell, who will buy them, and how you’ll find new customers.

More Resources
Writing an Effective Business Plan: Introduction (Canada One)
Sample business plans and templates (Canada Business Network)
Business Owners Toolbox

2. Launch Your Marketing Before You Open
Putting off your marketing until you open your business only gives you more work to do later. Instead, set up social media profiles now and start following people that fit your target demographic. Start writing blog content for your business blog so when people start reading it, there’s plenty to keep them on your site. And having a website ahead of time is essential; this is your business’ front door, and how people will find your brand. Get your website designed (and know that this can take longer than projected, so starting early is a good idea) so that it’s ready to go.

More Resources
WordPress (to set up a blog)
Hootsuite (to manage your social media)
MailChimp (to set up email marketing)

3. Look For Low-Cost Small Business Resources
When you’re running your own business, you need all the tools and resources you can get to make the job easier. Having accounting software helps you keep your finances straight. Connecting to other business owners can provide you with great advice that will help you succeed. But doesn’t all this come with a high price tag? You’d be surprised how many free resources there are for entrepreneurs. Whether you’re looking for some mentoring, business advice, or tools to help you set up a website or manage your finances, there are tools and resources to help.

More Resources
Mastercard Business Owner Toolbox (30 day free trial of accounting, data backup, and website builder software)
Canada One (business articles, events, and business directory)
Small Business BC (articles, seminars, and expert advice)

4. Get High-Quality Images for Your Site and Blog
Images are going to be a part of your marketing strategy, and for good reason: people love them. A tweet can get 150% more retweets if it has an image. Using visual content can enhance emails, blog posts, and social media. But stock photos can be expensive! Below, find some affordable (or even free) places to source your images.

More Resources
Creative Commons
Stockvault
PhotoSpin
5. Get Set Up to Accept Credit Cards
Think you’ll be a cash-only business? Think again. A shocking two out of five consumers carry $20 or less, which means if you don’t accept credit cards, you’ll miss out on serious sales opportunity. On the other hand, accepting credit cards isn’t the expensive hassle you think it is. There are many companies that offer card swipers you can affix to your mobile phone or tablet, eliminating the need for a chunky card processing machine. And their fees are reasonable, too. You pay on average about 2.75% per transaction; a small price to pay to boost revenue.

More Resources
Square
Paypal
Your local bank

6. Get Your Business Licences in Order
Your business will likely need one or more business licences or permits, so get those squared away before starting your business to ensure that you’re compliant with local and regional business laws. You may need to file them at the city, province, or national level.

More Resources
Permits and Licences (Canada Business Network)
Business Number (BN) Registration (Canada Revenue Agency)

7. Find Your Finances
Do you have a plan for how you’ll fund your business? There’s no way to know when you’ll start turning a profit, so it’s a good idea to have money in the bank for those startup and ongoing expenses, including your salary. You’ve got a few options for your financing, including your own savings, a second mortgage on your home, a loan from friends or family, a small business loan, venture capital, or crowdfunding.

More Resources
10 Tips to Make Startup Funding Work for You
14 Creative Financing Methods for Startups
Top 5 Crowdfunding Sites in Canada

8. Get Your Banking Ready
Once you start making money and paying expenses in your business, you’ll want to have a separate bank account from your personal accounts. This will help you have an easier time of filing your taxes, and it makes it simpler to keep an eye on what your business is bringing in. Open a business bank account now so that you’re ready to roll. Also, having an account gives you somewhere to put that funding you got in #7! Once you have your bank account set up, invest in accounting software so you can keep track of income and expenses, as well as send invoices to clients.

More Resources
Sage One (accounting software)
Xpenditure (expense management)
How Much Will You Sell? Projecting Revenue for your Startup

9. Choose the Right Business Structure
By default, you will operate your business as a sole proprietorship (or a partnership, if you have a partner) when you launch if you choose no other business structure. There are other structures to consider that can provide tax and other benefits, so do some research to figure out which is the best fit for your business.

More Resources
Canada Revenue Agency (information on different business structures)
Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietorship?
How to Choose the Right Business Structures

10. Set Goals
Here’s a totally free — and necessary — task for starting your business. Reflect on what you want to accomplish at different intervals. Set goals for six months, a year, three years, et cetera. For each business goal, make a list of to-dos that will help you achieve them. But don’t just put away this document and forget about it. Put each task on your calendar to ensure you complete it, moving you closer toward each of your goals.

More Resources
4 Simple Goal Setting Ideas For 2015
The Science of Setting Goals
10 Business Goal Setting Tips: How to Set and Achieve Career Goals

Each of these tips is essential for starting your business off successfully. Take care of as many as possible before you launch so you’ll have less to do once you do.

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How Google Plus Helps Customers Find YOU

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Everyday people are using Google to find businesses just like yours, but for some reason, Google Plus—Google’s social networking site—remains a mystery to so many business owners. Why? Perhaps it’s because there are so many more established social media channels to choose from, or maybe it’s just because we’re simply not sure on how to use it. Either way, the fact of the matter is this: Your business need to be on it.

Join us for tomorrow’s webinar, hosted in association with Deluxe Corporation, where we’ll be explaining Google Plus and unlocking all of its best-kept secrets so you can help more people discover you in their searches.

By attending the webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Exactly what Google Plus is

  • Why your business needs to be on it

  • How it can help improve your search engine rankings

  • The many other benefits of using Google Plus

  • What you need to know to get started

…And much, much more.

So why not join us? It’s free!


 

EVENT DETAILS

Date: Tuesday September 10th

Time: 1-2pm (EST)

Register: Sign up for the event here – http://bit.ly/13GowJq


 

About the Presenter


Adam Dince is the Head of Organic Search for e-Business, Deluxe. Prior to Deluxe, Adam acted as the VP, Director of Search and Content Strategy at MRM, a global full-service digital agency.

Adam has over thirteen years of internet marketing experience spanning across SEO, content strategy, Web development, social media marketing and optimization, web analytics, and holistic digital strategy. Adam received his BS in Business Information Systems from San Diego State University and is Advanced SEO Certified through SEMPO. One of Adam’s biggest accomplishments was co-writing the organic search section of the book Digital Impact: The Two Secrets to Online Marketing Success, by Geoff Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer.

Adam is an avid blogger about all things digital marketing. He keeps his own blog as well as guest blogging for other highly reputable digital publications.

Adam has lived in a handful of places, most recently New York City, and now resides Woodbury,

Minnesota. In his free time Adam enjoys drumming, piano, concerts, writing, and taking road trips with his dog Sam.

Follow Adam on Twitter: @adamdince

The Art of Successful Networking—Online and Offline

You will meet thousands of people throughout your small business career, most likely while attending a business event, seminar, trade show or conference—but you need to know how to convert these contacts into fruitful business relationships.

Customers, suppliers and mentors are all critical to your success; and the key to getting the most out of these important relationships is to cultivate them through inexpensive, highly effective networking techniques. Here are five easy tips to help you network successfully—both online and offline.

1. Prepare your 30-second commercial. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Write, edit and rehearse a short summary of what your business does, who you serve and why people love to deal with you.

2. Take notes. Write down the gist of your conversation with a new contact on the back of their business card. Refer to your chat when you follow up.

3. Focus on one objective per event. Contrary to popular belief, your goal isn’t to hand out as many business cards as possible. Your goal for any business networking event should be to meet one supplier, meet one colleague or meet one prospect.

4. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t engage a new business contact for ten minutes. Give them a brief introduction to you and your business, and let them do the same. You’ll have time to expand on what you do during post-event follow up.

5. Follow up. What you say isn’t as important as what you do. Within a few days, be sure to contact each person to arrange a coffee, informal meeting or phone call to explore a business relationship.

For more pointers on how you can become a master business networker, attend next week’s free webinar, “The Art of Successful Networking—Online and Offline”.

During the session, you’ll learn:

  • Where to network online and offline

  • How to perfect your introduction

  • What to say and do

  • How to follow up effectively

  • How to integrate networking into your overall marketing strategy

…And much, much more.

EVENT DETAILS

Date: Wednesday 4th September

Time: 1-2pm (EST)

Register: Sign up here – http://bit.ly/15q4dMC


We hope to see you at the event!

10 Things You Should Do For Your Business This Summer

Summertime gets the short end of the stick when it comes to businesses. At the start of the year, everyone’s diving into New Year’s Resolutions. At year’s end, business owners are reviewing the year and determining what to do in the future. What about the middle of the year? Shouldn’t we take this opportunity to assess our business and work on growing it?

1. Check Your Goals/Resolutions. If you made resolutions for your business, you may not have looked at that list since. Now’s a great time to review your goals and see if you’re on track. You may need to realign your efforts with your goals or even change some goals to better reflect where you’re currently headed.

2. Look at Your Pricing. If it’s been a while since you raised your prices, consider doing so now. Research what your competitors charge, and determine whether the market will bear a price increase. Continue reading

The Five Most Common Mistakes of Small Business Owners and How to Learn From Them

We’ve all made mistakes as entrepreneurs, but the key is to figure out how we can learn from them. 

When we say our webinars are ‘presented for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs’, we really mean it, and next week’s webinar — in association with Hiscox Small Business Insurance and presented by esteemed columnist, author and small business consultant, Gene Marks — is no exception.

The event, entitled ‘The Five Most Common Mistakes of Small Business Owners and How to Learn From Them’ will relay points from Gene’s latest book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, to address the mistakes that entrepreneurs make when launching and running their small business, as well as tips and tricks to avoid encountering those dreaded stumbling blocks.

Gene will also provide best practices and advice through a Q&A session at the end of the webinar, hosted by our very own noted small business expert, Andrew Patricio.

But who are the small biz gurus behind the webinar? Let’s find out…

Gene Marks

Gene Marks Cropped

Gene is a celebrated columnist, author, and most importantly — a small business owner. He regularly writes editorials for The New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Inc Magazine, FOX Business and Philadelphia Magazine, and has written five books on business management including:

  • In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash
  • The Streetwise Small Business Book of Lists (#1 Amazon Small Business Bestseller)
  • The Small Business Desk Reference
  • Outfoxing The Small Business Owner—Crafty Techniques for Creating a Profit-able Relationship
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Successful Outsourcing 

Gene is also a regular guest on the small screen circuit, frequently featured on FOX Business, FOX News, Bloomberg, CNBC, and he also appears quarterly on MSNBC’s ‘Your Business’ programme.

Andrew Patricio

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Andrew is the founder and CEO of BizLaunch and has over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience under his belt. During this time, he’s started no less than seven businesses, authored two books on small business topics, and is currently cooking up his next title. As an internationally recognized small business expert, Andrew has traveled throughout Canada, Russia, Latvia, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Korea, Holland, Namibia, Belgium, USA, Barbados and South Africa to train small business owners.

The ‘Five Most Common Mistakes of Small Business Owners and How to Learn From Them’ webinar sponsored by Hiscox Small Business Insurance will be held next week (Tuesday June 26th) from 2-3pm (EST).

Signing up is easy; if you’ve attended one of our events before, simply enter your email address when prompted. If this is your first BizLaunch webinar, provide us with your basic details and you’ll receive an email confirmation shortly after — and it’s as easy as that.

See you there!

Register here

10 Ways to Boost Your Search Engine Results

You probably know by now the importance of being found through search engines. That one little site — whether it’s Google, Bing, or Yahoo, is what people use every day to find answers to questions, products, and information. If your site doesn’t appear until page 10 in search results, you’re not going to see an uptick in sales.

Use these 10 tactics to move up search engine results and start driving more traffic to your website.

1. Keep Your Content Fresh. After you initially write the copy for your website, you might not think about it again. But Google does. And if it sees cobwebs on your website, it’s going to rank you lower. You can keep your content fresh in two ways (try both!):

Is Your Commitment Engine Running?

I’m a huge fan of John Jantsch, the founder of Duct Tape Marketing. So when his book, The Commitment Engine, came out, I dove right in.

The book wasn’t what I expected. I guess I’m jaded from reading so many books that give you a high level theory about how to grow your business, but do little to actually help you do so. Jantsch’s book was nothing like that. From the first chapter, I was taking notes and responding to prompts he has in the book.

For example, Jantsch encourages readers to ask themselves these questions (which apply to business, but also to life in general):

  • What do you want in your life?
  • What don’t you want in your life?
  • What are you willing to give up in order to have what you want?

The answers aren’t as easy to come up with as they’d seem. Go on. Answer them yourself! Continue reading