Common Sense Tips for Start Ups

Is your small business a start up? If you are in business one year or less then your business is considered a start up and there are common sense things that you need to know and understand before you rush off into the sunset thinking because you sell it or offer the service that the people will just come. Because, they won’t.

Before you even think about a website you need to do this first:

Understand that you actually have no idea what you are doing. Face up to this fact and seek help and guidance from those advisers who have the business experience. 

Hire a business coach. Retaining a business mentor should absolutely be your very first expense / investment in your business. Do a phone interview with several business coaches before settling on one. Make sure the fit is right for your business needs. Each business coach that you interview should give you some free initial consultation time on the phone. Be respectful of their time limit. 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Listen for a business coach who expresses genuine interest in your business and who is willing to treat your business and you like the unique entities that you are. 

Decide whether your current idea of your product is fulfilling a need or want that prospective clients have. Do some market research, do internet research. With tangible products explore selling at craft or trade shows or local marketplaces. Gauge the interest, or not. You may have to tweak your product several times in order to find the sweet spot that gets you customers.

With services, determine who your local / main competitors are and analyze how they do what they do and use it to your advantage. Learn from the ones that instinctively grab your interest. You too will have to go through the tweaking stage more than once to find your sweet spot that nets you clients as well. 

When you see that your product or service is viable, this is the time to create a flexible business plan that can grow and evolve with you. 

If you are going to need a payroll service such as ADP go directly to them yourself. Do not use a middleman. In fact, do not use middlemen for anything for your business. Go direct or go nowhere – the commission fees will bleed you dry and when money is slow to come in you will find yourself still having to pay the higher price because of the middleman. 

Be motivated when cold calling on businesses if you offer a service. Don’t hand them a flyer and expect that they will call you. They won’t. You have to get in there, meet the owner or manager, give them a reason to want your service. Your market analysis of competitors should have been done by this point and you and your business coach should have come up with a plan that sets you apart from the rest. 

This legwork is necessary before you spend good money on a website. Putting up the website first is like putting the cart before the horse. You don’t even have a game plan at that point. 

Hiring the right website designer is crucial. Again, you should touch base with several website designers, doing the phone interview bit. If they don’t offer a free 15 or 20 minute consultation they are not right for you, right off the bat. Each website designer should be asked about what they can do for you. Just like the business coach, the website designer should express a genuine interest in your business, and be able to tell you briefly what they can do for you clearly and in understandable terms. If their services include marketing after website launch they need to be able to tell you what they will do to get your business out there. 

If you are a start up and you have found this article helpful, give us a call to find out more about our comprehensive business services such as business coaching, business mentoring, website design and marketing. Call today 201.753.1677

Are You a Brand or a Product?

For marketing to be as effective as humanly possible, one of the most important things a good reputable marketing agency needs to know in order to promote your company properly is: Are you a product, or a brand?

There are marketing agencies out there that promise the same thing to every client……… they will put everyone on page one of Google. They will make your company come up first for your geographical location. Etc. etc.

First of all no marketing agency has the power to manipulate placement on Google, and second of all there are no guarantees in life.

For a marketing agency to do an honest good job by you, they need to know and understand your business, your needs, your goals for the company as well as where you want to be, what your niche is, and much more. This is accomplished only by an in depth interview with you, your company and your team. And followed up with by interaction on a regular basis, so processes and campaigns can be evaluated for what is working and what is not.

Moving on to the product or brand discussion, proper marketing for this is done differently depending on which way you choose to have your company represented. The dividing line is quite simple. If you offer a product that is entirely exclusive to you, hand crafted, hand made, custom made, you need to get that out there as a BRAND. This registers “exclusive” and “unique” with the buying public, the consumer. Yes, down the road there may be copy cats, but there is only one real genuine brand of that item, and that’s yours. Copycats can be dealt with legally.

If you offer a product that is also sold by others, that is mass produced, and that is not unique and original, then you need to have that marketed as a product line or lines.

If you offer a service, instead of a product, you are a BRAND. Yes, attorneys, insurance agents, caterers, home improvement, etc.

If you treat your service as a product, massed in with the rest of the pack that offers similar services, you do yourself a huge dis-service.

Why?

For all businesses that offer services, a smart marketing angle is to set yourself apart by offering several “niche” services, either actual niche services or niche services within a geographical area. A reputable marketing agency will know how to market that for maximum benefit to your company or practice.

Maureen McCullough LLC is your Bergen County New Jersey website design, SEO and marketing agency. We care about your business and want you to succeed. Give us a call today at 201.753.1677 for a free 20 minute consultation.

Own a Start Up? 7 Tips for Taking the Next Step

So you own a start up business. You came up with a great product or service and have had some success with it. You even have a website and a great domain name.

What are the next steps to taking your business to the next level?

  • Establishing Your Brand
  • Deciding which segment of the market to target
  • Retail, wholesale or both – what are your realistic capabilities?
  • Product or service production and refinement
  • Selling on multiple venues – what is appropriate for you?
  • Refining your presentation from a personal approach to a professional approach
  • Setting realistic goals for the future

Setting Realistic Goals For the Future ~

This is listed last however it is something that you will find is constantly evolving over time. It is also a point that you need to keep in the back of your head at all times. As your business evolves and grows, suffers setbacks, changes direction, starts growing again, you’ll find that your realistic future goals will need to be adjusted as well in order to keep your business on a healthy path way to success.

Establishing Your Brand ~ Brand Recognition

Your eventual “brand” that you establish is what sets you apart from all other companies and businesses that might be offering / selling the same or similar services or products that you do. It makes you identifiable visually to the consumer and makes you stand out from the pack.

Your brand is the visual message you send out to all who see it. Careful planning needs to be given to the visual, the colors used, the headline, and the tagline. Color psychology plays a big part in your branding as does your message.

Your branding will be used on business cards, brochures, company letterhead, social media, signs, and more. That’s huge.

Deciding Which Segment of the Market To Target ~

If you offer a product, who is your target market? Retail, consumer, wholesale? Sell directly to consumers via your website? Open a retail brick and mortar store? Sell wholesale to distributors and retail businesses, essentially becoming a supplier?

If you offer a service, the same question applies. Will you offer your services from your home office, going out to meet with clients? Will you open an office on Main Street so the clients can walk in and come to you? Does your pricing structure lend itself well to offering service packages, bundling services?

You can always open yourself up to more options as time goes on. Starting out, this is a critical decision. Make the wrong decision and the life of your business hangs in the balance.

Retail, Wholesale or Both – What Are Your Realistic Capabilities?

This step ties in directly to the one above, your target market. It also addresses a key point. If you offer products, are you in a position to offer them wholesale? Can you keep up with supply and demand? A business that cannot keep up with supply and demand gets a bad reputation and often closes down.

If you offer services, there is a supply and demand issue there as well. Can you keep up with regular on demand services for your clients as well as those carefully crafted packages and bundled services? How many clients can you realistically deliver to in a day? In a week? On time and high quality services are of premium importance.

Product or Service Production and Refinement ~

Over time, as you become more successful, you will see products or services that will need to be refined as the business evolves and customer needs evolve. Some products or services will need to be deleted from the lineup. And new offerings are always a possibility based on customer need and demand.

This important point will become the bridge by which your business crosses over to either becoming more successful or staying stagnant and eventually dying. Don’t turn a blind eye to this. It’s part of the heartbeat of your business. A regular review of products and service offerings is your best bet.

Selling on Multiple Venues – What is Appropriate For You?

We are assuming you already have a website. Again, products or services makes no difference, multiple venues will open up doors for your business. The big question is, which venues are right for what you offer?

This is a critical step and not to be taken lightly. Just throwing your products or services to the wind will do more damage than good. This usually happens when a business is motivated strictly by making as much money as possible quickly (dare we say it – becoming money hungry) instead of carefully crafting a brand, a reputation that can be trusted and doing their due diligence – research.

Research, vetting and making a plan is so very important when expanding out to multiple venues. This needs to be manageable, and cost effective and in line with your business plans and goals.

Which will it be for your business? eBay? Amazon? Etsy? Your own e-commerce website? A combination of some or all?

Refining Your Presentation From a Personal Approach To a Professional Approach ~

This is the “grow up” phase you must learn if your start up is going to take off successfully. It’s time to stop thinking of it in a personal sense, as “me”, and think of it and treat it in a professional sense, always as “we” and “our”. You are a company now, out to make your impressions on the world and attract new clients, customers and businesses. Start acting like a company and not as a personal endeavor you hope people will like.

Maureen McCullough LLC is your Bergen County New Jersey website design, SEO and marketing agency. We care about your business and want you to succeed. Give us a call today at 201.753.1677 for a free 20 minute consultation.