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5 Ways to Grow Your Business in 2010

We are in 2010, whilst the economy looks like it is slowly recovering budgets are still shrinking, business and profits are hard to come by in many businesses. With a little bit of creativity and prioritization we can deal with the challenges and make it the best year yet. Look at the opportunities available to you, grab them and be creative so to push them to the maximum and watch things turn around for your business.

Here are my top 5 things you can do now to help you get more for your business.

1. Give your Business a Smack of Social Media Marketing

The true potential of your social media profiles is not always obvious and it is easy to pass it by however by grasping the concept of how great using Social Media in your business can help it grow, and grow quickly, is a great reason for you embracing it.

Provide your website or Blog with rich content for your visitors and you increase the chance of keeping them on your site, coming back again and buying from you. Add a personal touch to your websites, encourage your visitors to connect with you on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Use your website and blog to its full potential and make it a great experience for your visitors, use images and video, make your text interesting, use targeted keywords to showcase what you offer. There is so much you can do from your website or blog that can generate more business; set up a shop, let clients make online bookings and give them the means to interact with you.

People buy from those they know, like and trust so take time to build a relationship with you. Social media can help as can giving them the opportunity to interact with you via email, Twitter or Skype. I have used these medias myself to interact with big names in my field of work and with whom I would never usually have been able to do so before.

Take time to look at the online profile of your business. If your website visitors enjoy the experience of visiting your website and blog, find something of quality (not just quantity) they will come back.

2. Take time to Market Online

Even when you have your website up and running, looking great, you cannot afford to leave it there. Make sure you take the time to keep the site updated and change your images. Top websites that do well are kept up to date. The search engines want websites that are up to date and have relevant information. Your visitors want to see that you are active and if you are they will come back again and again.and that you care for their business. An old static website that has not been updated for a while and is more of an online brochure can look unprofessional.Invest in your websites and blogs, use them to showcase your business to the maximum. If you show to your visitors that you care about your business and what it offers they are more likely to want to work with you.

Business owners who actively work on their business to market it effectively and bring in new business are more successful than those who sit back and expect the clients and customers to come to them. Success comes to those who work SMART, look for strategies and develop plans to market your business then take action daily and you will reap the rewards.

Schedule regular time at least twice a week to work on marketing your business.

3. The rise and rise of Video

We are living in a world of video, the growth of community video sites and TV shows with revealing our crazy pets, fun wedding dances, or funny home video clips. The use of video marketing has generated fast growth and profits for businesses. Video can drive fast and focused traffic to your site, it can help you engage with your prospects and showcase your business more effectively than text alone. What does this mean for business owners? More business!

If there is one thing you choose to do this year, it should be to invest in a camcorder, you do not need anything expensive, and start doing short videos for your business. Many of the new camcorders on the market are reasonably priced and it is a simple case of point, shoot and upload straight to YouTube, your blog or website.

If you are stuck for ideas, some things you might want to consider are the following

* A business video on who you are and what you do

* Provide demos on new or existing products and service that you offer to your clients, be creative. * Tips that your customers might be interested in, let them see you know your stuff * Training videos, give your clients and insight on what you do, provide good quality content and they will perceive you as an expert.

4. Network to build relationships.

Are you making connections online and offline? Many businesses have grown through the relationships that have been created and nurtured online. The secret to great networking is to share; take time to build real relationships with people, once they begin to know, like and trust you they are far more willing to do business with you.

There is nothing worse than connecting with someone online and they have a sole mission of ensuring that you buy their products. The people who fail online are those that see every person as a customer, real relationships can create business and remember when you build a relationship with another person online if they start to know, like and trust you they are also likely to recommend you to others too. Treat fellow online marketers with respect, show you care and build real relationships and then when the channels are open and a relationship established you are all more likely to benefit.

Online networking really works. Look out for like-minded people, share information often, and a ripple effect will follow. Other people in online communities will see who are there for what they can get and who are there to build relationships and share. The latter will be the most successful.

5. What does your online reputation say about you?

It is hard to start and grow a business and the marketplace can seem to be increasingly crowed with your competitors. Who will the consumers choose to work with? It is not always the person who offer the cheapest service. Consumers are smart. They want a good quality service which solves the problem they have and gives results. They want to interact with someone who is approachable and has an open communication. How you and your staff communicate with prospects and clients can be a good indicator as to how successful your business will be.

Word of mouth as the best source of marketing and you want to make sure that what is being said is favourable to your business. Negative comments generally spread far faster that good reviews. Work hard to build relationships with your customers and prospects online as it is easier to get existing clients to come back for more or to get you referrals than it is to be on a never-ending pursuit of new prospects and leads to market too.

When you provide a product or service to your clients and they are happy with the key factors like quality and quantity, speed of delivery, communication from the supplier and overall satisfaction are all factors which a client will take into account when making a testimonial. Why have testimonials? You promote them to prospects and leads to speed up the time it takes for them to know, like and trust you and get down to purchasing your products and services.

They are my top tips for 2010, decide your goals for 2010 and start taking action otherwise before you know it we will be in 2011 or beyond. Good luck.

Selling a Business? – 10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Using a Business Broker

After 20 years in business the owner decides that it is time to sell his business. He thinks about calling a business broker, but decides to sell it on his own and save the fee that he would have to pay a business broker. Is this a good decision? I think if you interviewed the majority of owners who have attempted to sell their business on their own they would tell you that this is was necessarily the best decision. As a business broker I can tell you that close to half the calls I get are from business owners who attempted to sell their business and realized it is best to leave such an important task to a professional.

I can also tell you that if you interviewed the majority of my clients they would tell you that I must be out of my mind to be doing this for a living. Once they go through the process and see what it takes for a business to successfully change hands they have no problem what so ever signing my commission check at the closing. Let me give you ten reasons why my clients will tell you that if you are seriously considering selling your business you must retain an experienced knowledgeable business broker:

* Time Savings – Most business owners spend the majority of their business day managing their businesses. Selling a business is what business brokers do full time. Qualifying and working with buyers is a time consuming tedious process. An owner will have to make a compromise in the time that they normally dedicate to running their business.

* Experience – A broker has the knowledge and experience of selling businesses. Having this on your team will only increase the chances of getting the most value for your business and making it to a closing.

* Realistic Valuation – It is my experience that most business owners feel their businesses are worth a lot more that what the market dictates. When one goes to market at a price that is too high they risk losing many qualified buyers. This will also increase the time it takes to sell their business. In some cases an owner will price their business too low forfeiting dollars on their selling price. An experienced business broker will perform a market valuation so the asking price is realistic.

* Marketing expertise – A good business broker knows where to and how to advertise your business. They have databases of buyers of which many might be looking for a business like yours. They also proactively know where to find buyers that might not be looking at your ads.

* Financing – The majority of business sales involve some sort of financing. Very few buyers are all cash. A good business broker has banking contacts that will enable deals to get financed. They also can advise you about seller financing.

* Negotiations – In every transaction there are negotiations. Negotiating on your own behalf is similar to the saying “a lawyer that represents himself has a fool for a client.”

* Buyer experience – Most business buyers are first time buyers and do not have experience. A good business broker works and nurtures their buyers to make sure they make it to the finish line and close. They help them obtain financing and facilitate due diligence.

* Confidentiality – Most business owners are very concerned about confidentiality in a transaction. They do not want their employees, customers, vendors, and competitors to know they are up for sale. An experienced business broker is accustomed to taking all precautions in keeping the sale confidential.

* Closing deals – I always tell my clients not to get excited when I bring them an offer that they are pleased with. A good business broker earns their stripes getting a deal from accepted offer to a successful closing. So many obstructions present themselves during this process and a good broker will constantly be thinking creatively to move deals along to the finish line.

*Business brokers work for free – That’s right, most business brokers work on 100% commission so if they don’t find a buyer they do not get paid. Do you know a lawyer, accountant, or a consultant that will work on your behalf and in some cases for up to a year and possibly not get paid?

Selling a business is the most important decision many entrepreneurs make in their lifetime. Their companies in most cases represent the bulk of their net worth as well as the majority of their retirement savings. Is it really something they should risk by trying to sell on their own?

Beginners Guide to Obtaining Small Business Financing

When starting your business it is imperative that you understand the proper way to set up your business for maximum exposure. After filing your business entity, take the time to list the business phone number in various telephone directories. You will want to list your telephone number with Google local, yellowpages.com, yellowbook.com, Yahoo Local, Superpages.com and other directories you can find to list your business address and telephone number. If you have not opted to purchase a business line that would be listed with your local telephone company this is a great way to have your personal phone number associated with your business.

After you’ve obtained your employer identification number you will want to make sure you immediately open a business bank account. You must separate yourself from your business. When setting up your business bank account you will want to pick a bank that is business friendly. Ask the banker if they provide small business credit cards and unsecured business lines of credit. You will also want to ask the banker if they offer secured credit cards that would be reported to the business credit report. Find out if they offer payroll services and feel our each banker. As your business grows you will want to deal with a bank with the least amount of fees and a bank that will care about your business with them.

Next, you will want to immediately apply for your Dunns Number which is issued by Dunn & Bradstreet. Dunn & Bradstreet will provide you with a Dunns number for free if you do not have the funds to pay for their credit builder program. But, paying the minimal fee in my experience will do wonders for your business financing profile. Many lenders utilize your Employer Identification Number, Bank Account and/or your Dunns number to insure that you are in business. With these identification factors you will find that obtaining vendor credit within a week of completing all of the above items will be very easy. You will need vendor credit to begin developing a credit profile.

Although we may feel that there is a credit crunch there are still many lenders out there that will extend credit to new businesses. But it is imperative that you set up your business for credit worthiness. If you have created a business just to find ways to obtain credit for your personal use you most likely will be very unsuccessful. Because of the credit crunch, finding small business financing can be tough because the creditors have already lost millions of dollars on illegitimate businesses.