Small Business Success – Organisations and Professionals Who Can Help You Make it Happen

Starting and operating a successful small business requires a great deal of determination enthusiasm and motivation. The success and failure of your small business will greatly depend on your choosing the right business to start with. Having chosen the right business what next? The advice and help you are able to secure from various professionals and organisations will indeed play a vital role in the success of your business.

1. Banks

Your Bank will naturally be playing the pivotal role in financing your small business and giving you all the necessary advice and assistance to help you run your business successfully. The bank will constantly monitor your business and advise you.

2. Small Business Association (SBA):

In the United States they help small businesses start, grow, and compete in global markets by providing quality training, counseling, and access to resources.

There is a misconception that the SBA grants loans to Small Businesses

The SBA only guarantees loans made by banks and other private lenders to small business clients.

Similarly most countries have their own Small Business Associations to help and advice small businesses.

It is advisable that new entrepreneurs seek their advice and help when starting their new business.

3. Business Mentors:

Mentors are useful people with vast experience in starting and running a successful business. Very often they are people who have gone through the mill and their advice can be very helpful, especially if you have had no previous business experience at all.

4. Accountants:

Proper accounting procedures have to be adopted right from day one to ensure that your business is running profitably. For this the services of an accountant is absolutely essential. Negligence of this can end up in disaster.

5. Business Associations/Organisations:

Many new entrepreneurs are unaware of the advantages of joining an association that represents their business. For that matter being a member of any business or trade association will be enormously beneficial to your business. These associations provide their members a vast range of information such as sources for raw materials and markets for their products. Workshops and seminars conducted by them exclusively for members provide useful tips, know-how and other valuable information. Membership of certain associations also adds prestige to your small business.

6. Libraries:

Libraries are a great place where you will be able to find a vast range of books and periodicals relating to starting a business, marketing, accounting and other allied fields. Many successful entrepreneurs make good use of the libraries to gather vital information or to update their knowledge.

7. Internet:

Today the Internet is the source for information on anything and everything under the Sun. You can ignore anything but certainly not the Internet. You just have to visit the the big three search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN and type your query and lo and behold you get your results immediately. You may at times have to wade through unwanted and unnecessary results but nevertheless it is a goldmine you simply cannot ignore.

Conclusion:

You have started a small business with the sole objective of succeeding in you business venture. The usefulness of these organizations and the expertise of these professionals are beyond question. How soon you can establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur will depend on how best you make use of them.

Strength in Code: Creating a Powerful Online Presence for Your Small Business

Historians speculate that Benjamen Franklyn was behind the famous quote, “there’s only two things that are guaranteed in life: death and taxes”, a wonderfully crafted observation that everyone can relate to. I’m quite convinced that at this point, I can safely add a third guarantee that, again, everyone can relate to: a small businesses need to launch and maintain a strong web presence.

In the 70’s and 80’s, people laughed at Bill Gates when he asserted that a personal computer belongs in every home in America, but by the early 2000’s, he had already accomplished that. However, I’ll make the next wild, Gates-sian observation that the early 2000’s was simply the beginning.

While the dawn of a new generational thought and practice of how small business conducts itself has passed, it’s still early in the morning. If your small business has created or bought a website, you’ve taken only the first step in a steep, and seemingly never-ending set of proverbial stairs that will lead to complete web dominance for your company.

The laundry lists of challenges that will be plaguing your web presence is daunting, but absolutely conquerable with the right tools, a skilled partner and consultant who doesn’t charge in the $1,000’s, and a clear plan for achieving your small businesses goals.

Competition It’s a classic conundrum that will forever shape any small business with a strategic operation that is focused on success: the competitive edge. It seems as soon as you secure some advantage over other businesses you compete with, those same businesses beat you to something new. I can’t help you stay competitive with your product offerings, innovations, or operations. However, I can keep you competitive online with your highly-developed web presence.

Here’s how: videos, engaging blogs, and the interactivity between your new social networks and your marketing plans. Integrating simple Search Engine Optimization tools and principles will tie it all together in one easy, simple-to-use and simple-to-find branded web presence for your small business.

I’m talking here about taking whatever marketing systems and principles you’ve used outside the web, and bringing them online into a powerful and dominate existence that your customers will appreciate and your competitors will envy and make noble attempts to imitate.

One-upping your direct competitors online with developed web assets and systems won’t be easy or quick, but make no mistake – if you’re not leveraging web 2.0, they are.

Get closer to your customers The Internet has brought about a revolution in they way we access, collect, and retain information and an evolution in the way small business interacts with their customers. Because they are more knowledgeable and insightful about the ways they want to spend their money, customers demand a newfound, almost arrogant, respect from you and your products or services. And you should give it to them.

Using a powerful and well constructed web presence to reach and connect with your customers should be approached with some reserve and forethought, and here’s why: customer’s are holding the cards. Everyone, especially customers, have a voice online and if your small business isn’t delivering the products and services expected of you they will raise that voice, especially when they have no direct or transparent access to resolve their issues with your company online.

This raises another important reason you need to respect your customers and respect the power of an effective online web presence: nearly everyone who has access to the Internet goes to the Internet first for information on your small business, products, services, complaints against your company, research on your market, industry, and just about any other reason someone is interested in what it is you do. To give the customer what they are increasingly demanding is to provide unparalleled and unadulterated access to the information, resources, products, and services your small business puts online. Be the online leader, the authority, and the voice of your industry to attract the trust of your customers, vendors, and partners.

Preparing for the future Have you ever thought of what the future holds for small businesses who interact online? Have you ever thought of where the Internet is going in the next 10, 15, or 25 years? What are the next great innovations that will again alter and influence the way your small business operates, whether on the web or off?

I’m a forward thinker. Right now, over 60% of North American small businesses leverage some social media marketing presence, whether if be Facebook, Twitter, or another site to control access to their customers, offer promotions and information on the business or industry, and connect with their online environment. When will you get on board with your small business? When that figure is 70%, 85%, or 100%? Can you afford to ignore this trend?

Everything we do as small business owners and consumers is moving to a digital platform. Small handheld computers that function as phones further consolidate the interconnectivity of life, and that trend isn’t reversing. The way money moves in our economy is increasing becoming digital and wired, and that trend isn’t reversing. The way customers access the products and services they want to buy is moving more and more online, and that trend absolutely isn’t reversing.

Isn’t it time you move your small business online and start outperforming your competitors, build deeper connections to your customers, and launch a strategic plan to leverage all online media and web presence has to offer to begin preparing yourself and your small business for Web 3.0?

Small Business Identity Theft Protection – One Step You May Be Missing

Over $8 billion dollars was stolen from small businesses through identity theft in 2008 according to Javelin Strategy & Research of Pleasanton, California. Small business identity theft continues to outpace individual identity theft by a rate of 4.1 percent in 2010, compared to 3.5 percent for consumers.

Small businesses are suffering because thieves know they don’t have resources including time and money to put up a strong defense to protect their information against a data breach. Thieves have developed sophisticated techniques to steal private information from the smallest businesses to largest corporations.

Michael Barnett of the Identity Theft Protection Association states small business identity theft is a growing problem. “Thieves have discovered that businesses have fewer legal protections.” Cybercrime and identity theft is a far more likely loss for businesses than fires or floods.

Most of the time organizations will never retrieve their losses because they have less fraud protection and a shorter reporting time, a business is not a “person” or “victim” so state and federal laws treat a them differently, business transactions on personal cards are excluded from “zero liability,” and personal identity theft services and insurance are excluded from businesses.

For most owners their personal and business information are closely tied together, so, a data breach can severely impact both the owner and his company. Just one serious incident could take a small business out. It is important to maintain a vigilant effort to protect their personal and business information.

There are many things a small business should do to protect it’s information including monitoring banking account and credit card balances on a daily basis, check billing statements when they come in, conduct a regular credit check with the credit agencies and Dun and Bradstreet and regularly change passwords used to log into areas where private information is stored. Employees should be trained on what can and cannot be shared with individuals outside of the organization and strict rules must be in place to limit the chances of a theft happening.

There’s one more identity theft protection step most small businesses miss and it could cost them dearly

One of the schemes thieves use is information from registrations with state governments. Most states are “Good Faith Filing” states, which means the information filed about a business or organization with the Secretary of State is simply accepted and recorded at face value. For $10 to $15 in most states, thieves can easily file a change of address, change of officers, directors or registered agent, or even reinstate a previously dissolved company. They may also register a company as a foreign company operating in a different state as their target company.

By manipulating state records in this manner, thieves can obtain the standing and verifiable records needed to deceive creditors and finance institutions, or conduct any number of fraudulent transactions in the business name.

One step they may be missing to prevent small business identity theft is to monitor their state registration information. There are three things every owner can do, that won’t take a lot of time, to prevent or limit the impact of fraudulent state registrations and identity theft:

1. Enroll in Email Alerts – Check to see whether your Secretary of State or Corporations Division business registration website offers free email alert services that can notify the owner when his registration information has been changed or updated. This information includes: name, address, registered agent, and business owner information. Enrolling in such a service can provide early warning of potential small business identity theft.

2. Regularly review your registration information online – If your Secretary of State or Corporation Division doesn’t offer email alerts, you can go to their website and use the public “Business Entity Search” to review the information on file. You should also periodically check any past businesses that you have closed, to ensure that they have not be reinstated.

3. Be certain to file your annual reports and renewals in a timely manner.

Small business identity theft is the new target for identity thieves. Identity thieves feel pretty secure since only one in 700 ever get caught. So, when you compare the risk against the reward most of us can see why criminals have turned to small business identity theft.

The challenge for every business, small or large, is to implement safeguards to protect against breach before it happens.