Monday, March 31, 2014

Is Social Media Really Important for Small Business Owners?

How to Use Social Media to Drive Business

small business, social media marketing
For small business owners, large marketing campaigns and pricey advertisements are usually not in the budget. But, just like with all businesses, there is a need to market a company’s products and services. One marketing channel that has proven both inexpensive and effective for many businesses is social media. The recent increase in popularity on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest has made using social media an effective platform for businesses to market themselves at little to no cost.

Why Social Media Marketing is Effective

Think about what you see when walking through a mall or having a meal at a restaurant – almost everyone you come across in public has some kind of smartphone device and are, more often than not, checking their social media sites for updates from friends, family, and their favorite companies. The accessibility of customers through social media makes this kind of advertising a no brainer when it comes to marketing a business on a budget. Although it may seem simple to launch a Facebook or Twitter page to promote the company’s products or services, some planning needs to occur before the campaign is launched in order to achieve the level of success desired and meet marketing goals.

Creating an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

When starting a social media marketing campaign, it is important to ask some key questions and make sure this strategy will be effective for the business. First, decide what the social media marketing campaign should achieve. Is it more business? More exposure in the market? By defining what outcomes are desired it will be easier to plan the campaign. Next define what social media channels are appropriate for your customer base.

If the company is looking to make more business to business connections, LinkedIn may be a good choice. If the company is trying to reach consumers directly, Facebook and Twitter may be a better option. By answering these questions ahead of time a social media marketing campaign will be more organized and driven toward the desired results.

Social media is everywhere – smartphones and computers allow consumers to have access to social media sites 24 hours a day. Using this platform to promote a business is an inexpensive and effective way to reach a small business’s target audience quickly and easily. Even though this may seem like a no brainer, proper planning is needed to make sure the campaign stays on track, presents a consistent message to consumers and will yield the desired outcomes for the small business owner.

Are you ready to start your own small business? Need ideas or a small business mentor to you get you started? Contact Stacy O'Quinn today! Click here.

*Photo Courtesy of Acid Pix via Creative Commons License

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saving Money on Your Family Vacation

Being Thrifty is Important for Both Work and Home

small business tips, vacation tips, save money on vacation
The topic of saving money on vacation is something many may not expect to read on a work from home blog. But it is important to remember that everyone needs a break and vacationing with family is a great way to recharge. Another important note is that working from home can put business professionals on a tight budget. Going on a nice family vacation does not have to carry the heavy price tag and there are a number of ways to keep cash in your pocket and still enjoy your getaway.

When Staying Out of Town, Rent Directly from a Property Owner

When the family vacation takes you out of town, finding affordable lodging can be tough. Something that can help minimize the costs is looking for homes, condominiums, and villas that are being rented out by the owners. The going rate for these types if properties can be as much as 50 percent less than staying at a hotel or fancy resort. Many owners who rent their property in this way want to have someone staying there at all times and may even offer sale or discount pricing if a block of time is left unclaimed during the busy season.

Take Advantage of Destination Specific Coupon Books

Another thrifty way to keep the cost of family vacations low is by using coupon books that are specific for the area where you will be staying. These kinds of books offer discounts on lodging, meals, different forms of transportation, entertainment, and other vacation expenses. When you arrive at your vacation destination, check the hotel lobby or local visitor’s center to see what types of discounts are available and also scope out attractions and entertainment. In many cases, when renting a home, the local realtor where you pick up the key will have some type of packet available for exactly this purpose. If there is something the area is known for or a popular local attraction, chances are there will be discounts and coupon available for use.

Keeping Meal Costs Minimal While on Vacation

Feeding a family on vacation can be the biggest expense in a travel budget. Although people are inclined to eat out while on vacation, it can be more practical to bring food along for smaller meals and snacking. If staying in a hotel, request a small refrigerator for the room – few hotels will have this as a standard amenity but many will provide one upon request and will help cut down on food costs if you are able to bring your own drinks, snacks and even breakfast foods. Another route to help save money for meals is by seeking out lodging that offer all-inclusive packages or stay and eat free deals for children.

Being money savvy at home can very easily translate into being money savvy in business. Just like finding great deals is good for a company’s budget looking for cheaper alternatives when vacations is good for a family budget. Renting directly from a property owner, using coupons and being creative with family mealtime are all great ways to let you and your loved ones have a great vacation without draining your bank account.

Want to read more tips for small business owners from Stacy O'Quinn? Click here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Use Your Small Business Tax Refund

Prioritize Your Financial Needs

small business tax refund, how to spend tax refund for small business
Tax time is here and if you were lucky enough to get a tax refund, you want to make sure you make the money as effective as possible. For those that have a regular job, this money is often earmarked for a family vacation or a new purchase. However, as a small business owner, it is a bad idea to waste the money on these things when you can use these funds to make your business more profitable.

Your Tax Refund Is an Unexpected Influx in Operating Capital

Yes, it would be great to go on a luxurious vacation, but is that really the best way to spend your tax refund if your business is still young and struggling to get by? Rewards like that will come down the road; right now, your priority needs to be to make your business more effective and profitable. If finances are right, this money should be looked at as an influx in capital instead of a vacation fund.

Take a good look at your company finances and operations to see how this money can be spent to make the business more operationally sound. There are probably more than a few ways where you know your business is a little behind the competition and using your refund wisely will help you to catch up to the crowd. It may also help you streamline operations to you can free up more time in the future.

Where to Spend Your Tax Refund on Your Small Business

We have a few ideas that should help a new small business owner get the most bang for his or her tax refund dollar. There are surely other areas, but these are the most common for new business owners that are working with a tight budget.

·         Eliminate High Interest Debt - if you were lucky enough to get small business loan, the interest rate is probably reasonable. However, if you are supporting your business off your credit cards, you may be paying 20 percent or more on your balance. Look at your debt and try to pay off the higher interest cards with smaller balances. If you can reduce the amount of cards you are paying, the money spent each month will be more effective on your larger balance cards (assuming you continue to budget the same amount of money as you were before paying off the other cards).

·         Improve Marketing - this is often the first thing to go when money gets tight. However, if consumers do not know about your business, they cannot spend any money with you. At the very least, earmark enough money to do a small advertising campaign within your demographic. This is your chance to land some new customers and improve your cash flow.

·         Upgrade Your Programming - are you still keeping your books by hand? This is not as uncommon as you might think. Good business accounting software can be found for $100 or less today. Invest the money and your books will be more accurate as well as taking less time to update. 

·         Medical and Retirement - if you have yet to secure some type of medical plan, the money left over may finally allow you to secure coverage. If anything is left over, it can be used to start up a retirement account. Check with your local bank or investment advisor, as there are many programs available for both medical and retirement that are specifically designed for small business owners.

Need more help getting your business organized? Can you benefit from a small business mentor? Stacy O'Quinn was once in your shoes and thanks to his Dani Johnson training, he is now out of debt and his small business is more profitable than ever! If you would like to learn more about Stacy O'Quinn and find out how he can help you, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2012 via Creative Commons License

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Be a Better Boss to Yourself

stacy oquinn, small business mentor, work at home mentor
Running a own small business can be an exciting undertaking. Doing something you are truly passionate about on your own terms, leaving behind the 9-to-5 grind and being the boss paint an appealing picture of being a business owner. Truth is, many small business owners are overworked, overly stressed, and grossly underpaid for the amount of time and effort they put into running the company. Here are some tips to help be a better boss to you and enjoy owning and running a small business.

Investing in Yourself Helps You Do a Better Job and Improve Business

Successful business owners are constantly learning new skills, methods, and theories that help them become better entrepreneurs and better people. Many small business owners skip signing up for and participating in conferences, classes, and seminars to save money or because they believe they do not have the extra time. It is important to recognize the importance of continual learning and set aside time and funds for events like these – chances are the direct competitors are participating and it is important to stay in step with them. Conferences in particular are not just a great learning experience, but a great place to network with other professionals and even potential clients.

Secure a Great Healthcare Package

When you leave to corporate world behind to start your own business, it can be a liberating experience. One of the downsides, however, is that you lose healthcare coverage and other benefits that come along with working for an organization. When it comes to choosing healthcare, make a list of the things you need and want and talk over options with an insurance broker. Small business owners may be hesitant to hold up funds in something such as health insurance but self-employed individuals need health insurance just as much as a 9-to-5 professional. Also, look into different retirement options to help begin saving for the future.

Make Sure to Reward Yourself

Great moments are always celebrated in an office setting whether it is landing a big account, meeting a sales goal, or a recognizing a promotion. It is important to celebrate these moments as a business owner as well and give yourself credit for all the hard work that is done every day. A reward for doing something great can be as big or as small as you want, as long as it is in the budget – whether it be a large purchase or a night off from the laptop and phone, taking the time to recognize a big moment is important. Plus, it always feels good to give yourself a pat on the back once and a while.

Running a small business is no small task – when all the weight of ensuring the business’s success lies on the owner’s shoulders it can be a stressful and tiring experience. By investing in further training, securing a healthcare package, and making sure to reward your great accomplishments, you can be one step closer to being a better boss to yourself. When you open a small business, there is no longer a boss to recognize great work so make sure to reward yourself to help keep you inspired and motivated.

Are you ready to break out on your own and start your own small business venture? If you would like a small business mentor to help ensure your success, Stacy O'Quinn would love to help  you! For more information about Stacy, his opportunity, and how he can help you, click here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do It Now and Stop Procrastinating

How Procrastination Can Hurt Your Small Business

small business tips, procrastination
Running a small business is hard – there are a lot of different aspects of the business that need attention, and pushing off non-essential tasks is an easy way to clear some things off your plate. But procrastination is probably more dangerous to a small business’s success than many people may realize. Even the smallest tasks need attention and putting something off until tomorrow can lead to missing deadlines and possibly forgetting about the task all together.

How Procrastination Can Hurt Your Small Business

It is easy for small business owners to get overwhelmed with the number of tasks and responsibilities they have to complete or give attention to. Prioritizing these tasks by their importance is a great way to make sure that essential duties are being completed, but putting off non-essential tasks is a recipe for disaster. More often than not, procrastinating on certain tasks leads to missing important deadlines and worse yet, forgetting to do the task all together. Although this may seem like an exaggeration, any small business owner will tell you that procrastination can greatly hurt a business.

Consider this example – you receive a bill from the company that maintains your small business website. The payment is not due for a week, so the bill lands in the “to-do” pile. Two weeks later, a customer calls and states they cannot find the business’s website and are dissatisfied with not being able to order products online. You realize the payment was never made and the business’s site was shut down. Because you procrastinated paying the bill, customers are upset and many of them may not do business with you again. Waiting to pay a bill is a natural reaction for many people, but neglecting to make a payment such as this can greatly affect your business.

Battling Back Against Procrastination

Procrastination may seem inevitable in some areas of business, but there are ways to battle back against it and make sure that no task is neglected or forgotten about.  When prioritizing, make sure to evaluate the true important of certain tasks – making sure to think through the consequences of neglecting the task will help provide insight on what is truly important. Also, create a task timeline. This timeline, and sticking to it, will help to ensure that all important tasks and responsibilities are tended to and give the attention they need. Making the conscience effort to not procrastinate will help keep your small business on the road to success.

 Procrastination is a small vice that can lead to huge problem within a small business. Making sure to avoid procrastination by evaluating tasks properly and creating a timeline is a great way to keep a small business on track. When a small business owner is overwhelmed, it can be easy to put tasks off until the next day or the next week, but it is important to recognize the effect this can have on their success. Out mothers always told us, “why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?”

Are you ready to stop putting off tomorrow and act on your dreams of having your own small business? Stacy O'Quinn can help! Click here.

*Photo courtesy of draxil via Creative Commons License