Start it up,
and keep it
PAUL AND SARAH EDWARDS:
LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
COSTCO MEMBER Kevin Ready is a con-
sultant, author and speaker. His book
Startup: An Insider’s Guide to Launching
and Running a Business
ready.com) offers advice
on the pitfalls startups
often face and how to
avoid them. Here are some of his tips.
Be flexible. Staying observant, watch-
ing what customers respond to, experi-
menting with new products and services,
and being willing to drop what doesn’t
work in favor of new ideas are some of
the most important factors for success for
any business, new or old, large or small.
Focus on marketing. Founders often
end up focusing too much on their product
or service, and not on the task of communicating and connecting with customers.
The best product in the world won’t
be a success without a plan to connect
MARY ANN HALPIN PHOTOGRAPHY
Find your “essential message.”
Boil down your sales pitch to five words.
Condense all the good points about what
you do into one simple differentiating and
powerful statement. Then leverage that
statement in all of your communications,
including marketing, business cards, etc.
Do analysis and find that one nugget
of information that resonates most with
your market. C your market.
Try before you buy. You always test-drive a car before you buy it, right? With
a small business you should do the same.
Start easy, quick and low risk if you can.
The “all in” approach where you quit your
job and throw all of your savings at a business idea can be dangerous and costly,
especially if you haven’t validated your
Make scalable choices at the
beginning. There are many initial decisions that profoundly affect how much
money you can make and what options
are available to you in your business
as it matures. What is the maximum
amount that your plan can make in a day,
week or month? Is that enough? Better
to realize it early and change your idea
to something that scales well.
Paul and Sarah
the authors of
17 print books,
and have a new
STUDIES HAVE FOUND that 44 percent of
small businesses in the United States do
not have a website. Often these businesses
once had a website, but, lacking the time
or funds to maintain it, they abandoned it.
Of companies that have a website, nine
out of 10 are unhappy with the site.
This comes at a time when 85 percent
of people use the Web to find local businesses, according to a survey by Local Consumer Review. Traditional ways of locating
businesses, like Yellow Pages, direct mail,
newspaper advertising and radio, are being
used less. If a company wants business,
customers need to be able to find it through
the Web, via smartphones and tablets.
If you don’t have a website or are
unhappy with its effectiveness, there are
things you can do that won’t break the
budget or keep you up after hours.
First, consider one or more of these
alternatives, a number of which are free.
Get a free listing on Google Plus
www.google.com/places). You can
supplement your listing with locally targeted
advertising through Google Ad Words Express
Sign up for Google Plus’ Business
It’s free and easy to use, and puts you on
the map. You can relate to customers
through the Circles function.
Create a Facebook page for
your business (
pages/ create.php). These pages are
distinct from personal pages. As with a
website, you’ll need to add fresh con-
tent, but a Facebook page is free, and if
you keep a personal page you already
know how it works. Facebook even provides
guidance on how to use Facebook for marketing (
Start a blog to serve as a website
and attract search engine attention.
Since only one in 20 small businesses has
a blog, this is a marketing tool that makes
you stand out from others. Leads that come
from a blog cost less than those from other
inbound and outbound methods, and a blog
can substitute for traditional publicity techniques. The two most popular blog software
platforms are WordPress (
wordpress.com) and Tumblr (www.
tumblr.com). WordPress.com provides free
software and hosting; WordPress.org has
free software but not hosting. Tumblr
appeals to younger customers and is both
a microblogging and a social networking
site, where you can post short text entries,
photos and videos from your phone or
wherever you are.
To be sure your site works for you,
have a clear goal for it. For example, a simple
WordPress blog will serve as a brochure.
WordPress will also work if you want to
provide document support information.
If you want to directly communicate with
customers, then consider Google Plus
https://plus.google.com), Facebook and
Tumblr. With add-ons like WP Simple PayPal
Shopping Cart, WordPress also enables you
to make sales on your site.
Finally, make it easy for customers to
find your site using search engine optimization (SEO). To find out what is needed to
optimize your site, use a free website grader
like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader (http://
marketing.grader.com). Learn more from
Google’s SEO Starter Guide. Find the words
people use to locate local businesses with
Google’s free Search-Based Keyword Tool
https://adwords.google.com). To use it,
you need a Google password.
With tools like these, you can create a
presence and be found in today’s electronic
universe for less time and less cost than
you might think. C
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AUGUST 2012 ;e Costco Connection 11