Small business owners are an integral part of every community. They create jobs, pay taxes and provide valuable products and services to the community.
Many companies spend months or even years and thousands upon thousands of dollars in advertising trying to build a loyal following. The easiest approach is to advertise through every medium you can afford. Of course you are competing with countless other advertisers that may have much larger budgets.
Rather than competing directly with all those other advertisers, there is a better method, but it’s not quite as easy as writing a check to an advertiser. Focus on getting involved with the community and give back by donating time and resources to local non-profits. Law firms, restaurants, accounting agencies and everyone in between can contribute in a meaningful way.
Instead of money, donate your time to a local group. Community groups always need a helping hand, sometime they may just need a laborer, at other times they may need special skill that you can provide. To encourage employee participation, establish volunteering as a key business value and consider providing incentives to employees that are willing to donate their time.
Business owners are notoriously busy and time is often in short supply, but remember time isn’t the only thing at your disposal. Businesses have a variety of resources that are invaluable to non-profits. Whether it’s a meeting room, server space, access to the photocopier or something else entirely, the community will benefit while minimally impacting your operations.
Directing advertising money away from traditional channels and towards community activism challenges the status quo, but has the potential to improve ROI along with the ancillary benefits. First and foremost, you are helping people in need, they get the help they need and you can feel good about what you’ve accomplished. Second, you’ve enhanced the reputation of your company among community leaders, which is something a newspaper ad can’t do. Last but certainly not least, you’ve established your business as a valuable member of the local community, word of your good deeds will spread and the community will show their appreciation by supporting your business.
Starting your own business may be a lifelong dream, but too often it can turn into a nightmare. By some estimates, half of all small businesses fail in the first four years, while other estimates paint a much more gruesome picture.
As smart entrepreneurs we can learn from the mistakes of others and adapt the best practices in the industry to weight the odds of success in our favor. Analysts and researchers have crunched the data and identified several critical mistakes that can doom a small business.
First, entrepreneurs often start businesses with little experience in the industry. A couple of years working, even in an entry level position, allows a smart entrepreneur to learn volumes before leaping into a new venture. Industry trends, leading players, and an industry specific vocabulary is just a sampling of the wisdom garnered through experience. Years of experience is highly recommended, but when that’s not feasible, do some extensive research, get online and read all you can, subscribe to industry magazines, and reach out to industry experts and try to learn from them.
New entrepreneurs regularly launch their enterprises without having a clear competitive advantage. A new business doesn’t have a reputation to rely on, and without that special something that sets it apart from the others out there, obtaining new clients will be a real challenge. Improve your odds by identifying and refining that one thing that your company does better than all the competition, and make that the cornerstone of your marketing presence.
Skipping the planning phase seems like a good idea that saves time allowing a new business owner to focus on running the business. The reality is often much messier and completely avoidable. Simply, don’t skip the planning process. Craft a solid business plan, set realistic goals, and carefully monitor and control your finances.
Failure is far too common among newly launched small businesses. A few common mistakes can drastically lower your odds of success in a new venture. Gaining experience or researching the industry before trying to compete in the industry is key. Identifying and focusing on the attributes that make your business better than the rest can attract fresh clients. Finally, plan all the way down to the details and uncover issues before money and customers are at risk.
There are a number of things that make launching a LocalUp site a compelling opportunity for budding entrepreneurs. These include relatively low startup costs, incredible support from the LocalUp team, increasing market demand, few significant competitors and the list goes on.
Especially appealing to many young owners is that it’s possible to manage the site solo from a home office. Working from home has an undeniable allure. For many, escaping from the daily grind of a traditional office is what drives them to launch their own business. A home office has the advantage of keeping costs down and maximizing convenience, important factors for a new endeavor.
There are drawbacks to working from home that can’t be ignored. Waking up at noon and working in your pajamas is certainly appealing, but not necessarily productive. Distractions are everywhere when you live and work together, putting off taxes or other unsavory projects is all too easy when you can instead wash the laundry, water the plants, walk the dog, you get the idea. Holding business meetings and bringing on more staff can be awkward and may feel unprofessional for all parties involved.
As your business grows and develops, establishing an office outside the home is a logical step. Finding an economical solution for a one or two person office can be difficult, but there are some creative solutions you should consider.
When budget is of utmost concern, consider becoming a regular at the local library or finding a friendly coffee shop in the neighborhood. This solution isn’t ideal for taking your business to the next level, but it’s economical and gets you out of the house freeing you from some distractions.
Co-working spaces are another alternative that have been popping up in cities across the country providing small business owners with many of the conveniences of an established office. Photocopiers, wi-fi, meeting rooms, and an office manager/receptionist are all standard features you can expect in a co-working space. One final advantage of note is that these spaces can often be rented week to week with no long-term commitment.
If you need something a little more permanent, seek out other business owners in the area that have extra office space to sublet, or find other home office workers that would be willing to share a new space with you. Just short of establishing your own office, this significantly increases monthly expenses but creates a framework for future growth and expansion that might be right for your business.
Working from home is ideal for many small business owners including LocalUp site owners, but for some, working at home simply doesn’t work. By employing a little creativity, alternatives to the home office have never been more plentiful regardless of budget.
Does working at home work for you?