Monthly Archives: January 2017

Top 10 Important Business Tips

When running a small business, it can be easy to overlook some things. Little things like social media profiles, customer insights and even your own happiness can make a big difference, even though they might not always be your main focus. Gain some valuable tips and insights by following the advice below from members of our small business community.

Avoid These Overused Buzzwords on Your Social Media Profiles
When creating your social media profiles, it’s important that you accurately describe yourself and your business. But there are some overused buzzwords that can make your profile fade into the background, like the ones listed in this Prepare 1 post by Blair Evan Ball.

Boost Conversions With the Right Customer Insights
Having insights about your customers can be incredibly helpful when it comes to increasing your sales and conversions. But you need the right insights in order to make those positive changes. This Kissmetrics post by Shayla Price includes some insights about finding the right customer data.

Access the Ultimate Productivity Hack — Happiness
You can’t hope to get much done in your business if you’re constantly stressed and unhappy. That’s why this Fundera Ledger post by Eric Goldschein suggests that the ultimate productivity hack may just be happiness. BizSugar members also discuss the post here.

Repurpose Your Content Like a Champion
Once you create content, you don’t have to let it just disappear into the archives after a week or so. You can actually repurpose it later to get even more of a benefit. This Search Engine Journal post by Danny Goodwin outlines how you can repurpose your old content.

Create Effective Calls to Action
Creating great content and marketing materials is a great start for gaining customers. But if you don’t have effective calls to action, your marketing isn’t likely to be as effective as possible. In this MyBlogU post, Ann Smarty discusses some methods you can use for creating effective calls to action.

Show Yourself Some Love as a Business Owner
You can’t hope to grow a successful business if you don’t take care of yourself. To show yourself some love and help your business in the process, check out the tips in this CorpNet post by Nellie Akalp.

Write Blog Posts Your Audience Will Love
When blogging for your business, it’s important to always keep your audience in mind. If your audience doesn’t love your posts, then blogging isn’t likely to do your business much good. So this Blogging Wizard post by Elna Cain includes tips for writing posts your audience will love. And you can also see commentary about the post over on BizSugar.

Use These Smart Investment Strategies for Entrepreneurs
If you’re going to invest in your business, you need to make sure that you have a smart strategy for doing so. This GetEntrepreneurial.com post by Ethan Theo outlines some smart investment strategies that entrepreneurs can use to better their businesses.

Create an Invoice That Will Get Paid
The last thing you want as an entrepreneur is to provide a service or fill an order and then just not get paid. For that reason, you need to make sure your invoices are optimized to ensure payment. In this Noobpreneur post, Tara Miller shares some tips for creating invoices that will actually get paid.

Don’t Deter Customers With Incomplete Content
Great content can give your business a boost. But bad or incomplete content can actually have the opposite effect. This Target Marketing post by Heather Fletcher details how incomplete content can turn shoppers away, and what your business can do about it.

Know More About Porting and What Does It Mean

As a small business, continuity is a challenge when you move to a new location. While the physical move will displace some of your customers until they get used to the new location, your phone number can come along with you, meaning you don’t have to get a new one.
Number porting lets you keep your existing landline, wireless or VoIP when you change to a new service provider, whether it is because of a relocation or a better service from another company.

So What is Porting?
Number porting, or porting, is the ability to keep your existing number if and when you decide to move your phone service to another provider.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), if you want to switch to another service provider and you are staying in the same area, you can keep your existing phone number. And the process can be carried out between wireline, IP and wireless providers.

How Do You Get Started?
As a business you may have more than one number, and you can choose to port any or all of the numbers. But before you do, make sure you go over your current contract to determine your liabilities.
Look at your contract to see if there are any early termination fees as well as balances you have to pay before you end your services. And whatever you do, don’t terminate the old service before you start the service with the new company.

Contact the New Company
Once you meet your obligations of your previous contract, contact the new company to start the process of porting your number. This requires providing your 10-digit phone number and any other information the company may require. This will vary from provider to provider.

Generally, a Letter of Authorization (LOA) must be filled out and signed by the authorized user for your current provider to begin the porting process, along with the most recent and correct Billing Telephone Number (BTN).

How Much Will It Cost?
According to the FCC, companies can charge to port your number, and the fees can vary from provider to provider. The agency’s website says you can ask for a waiver or negotiate the fees. However, most of the major operators don’t charge any fees.
The FCC also says a company cannot deny to port your number because you have not paid for porting. When you request the service of a new company, the FCC says the old company cannot refuse to port your number. This is even if you have any outstanding balance or termination fee.

How Long Does it Take to Port a Number?
This will depend on how many phone numbers you have, the operator, and the type of service, such as landline, wireless and IP. It can take anywhere from hours for wireless services all the way up to 10 days for IP and landline.
Again, this will depend on the type of service you have with your old provider and the type of porting, so make sure to take this into consideration before changing to a new company.

The Transition Period
The FCC warns there will be a transition period in which you will have two numbers when you port from wireline to a wireless number. The agency recommends users to ask if you will continue to use your current wireline number during the transfer process, however long it takes.
This is important because wireless 911 location and call back services can be affected during the transition. The FCC wants you to ask your new company if your 911 service will be affected during the process.

Another service that will be impacted during the transition period is long distance service. Your landline or wireline long distance company is not going to move with you, so make sure your new company has a plan you can live with.

You Can’t Always Port Your Number
The FCC says it is not always possible to port your number to a new geographic area when you change providers. This is the case in some rural areas, which will require you to contact your state public utilities commission for further information.

Small Business Identity
Your business phone number is one of the identifying features of your company. Just like your address, logo and other identifying features, your number, especially if it is a vanity number, is a great way for your customers to identify with you and build a relationship.

Starting and Succeeding in Your Own Business

What do you need to do to start a business? There are dozens of sites on the web including ours that have checklists that remind you of the many tasks you should perform to start a business. While such checklists will help you remember a lot of important steps you might otherwise overlook, they are rather impersonal To Do lists. They won’t make or break your success.

What will make or break your business? Here are 13 important guidelines for turning your business idea into a successful business.

1. Know yourself, your true motivational level, the amount of money you can risk, and what you’re willing to do to be successful. Sure, we all want to make millions of dollars. But what are you willing to give up to reach that goal? How many hours a week will you work on an ongoing basis? How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to stretch? How far will your family stretch with you? To be successful, keep your business plans in line with your personal and family goals and resources.

2. Choose the right business for you. The old formula – find a need and fill it – still works. It will always work. The key to success is finding needs that you can fill, that you want to fill, and that will produce enough income to build a profitable business.

3. Be sure there really is a market for what you want to sell. One of the biggest mistakes startups make is to assume a lot of people will want to buy a particular product or service, because the business owner likes the ideas or knows one or two people who want the product or service. To minimize your risk for loss, never assume there is a market. Research the idea. Talk to real potential prospects (who aren’t family and friends) to find out if what you want to sell is something they’d be interested in buying, and if so, what they’d pay for the product or service.

4. Plan to succeed. If you’re not seeking investors or putting a huge sum of money into your business, you may not need an elaborate business plan, but you still do need a plan – one that specifies your goal – your destination – and then lays out at least a skeletal roadmap for how you’ll get to where you want to go. The plan will change as you progress and learn more about your customers and competition, but it will still help you stay focused and headed in the right directions. Use our business planning worksheet to help develop that basic plan.

5. Don’t procrastinate. I’ve heard some people advise would-be business owners to not move ahead with their business until they have investigated every last detail of the business they want to start, and are absolutely sure it’s all going to work and be profitable. The problem with that approach is that it leads to procrastination. No one ever really has all the pieces in place – even after they’ve started their business. Yes, you need to research the market, have a rudimentary plan in place and do things like get a tax id if needed, register with local officials, if required, etc. But if you try to make everything perfect before you launch, you may never get around to starting the business at all.

6. Start on a small scale before going all out. Some people believe that entrepreneurs are risk-takers. But for the most part, successful entrepreneurs don’t like walking blindfolded on a limb. Instead, they take controlled risks. They test an idea on a small scale, then build on what works well, tweak what shows promise and discard the disasters.

7. Don’t fixate on mistakes or get demoralized by them. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that the successful people learn from their mistakes and move on. They don’t dwell on failure, blame the economy, curse their bad luck, or blame other people for their fate. If the path to their goal is blocked, they look for an alternate path, or sometimes choose a different, more attainable goal.

8. Learn from others. Find mentors, join groups with like-minded people, learn everything you can about your industry and what it takes to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Attend industry conferences. Take training courses when they are available. Buy courses offered by experts. You’ll save a tremendous amount of trial and error by learning from people who have been there before.

9. Think of what you do AS a business. Keep track of income and expenses, keep business money separate from personal funds, find out what regulations your business needs to abide by.

10. Understand the difference between working for yourself and building an ongoing business. If you want to build a business, you need to develop systems and methods that allow you to hire other people to DO the work of the business while you plan it. You limit the potential for growth if you don’t bring in other people to work for you.

11. If the business you are starting will need investors to grow, do what you can to find out what investors are looking for and where to find those who might invest in your kind of business. Local angel and venture capital groups are a good place to start – attend meeting they hold or meetings that investors are speaking at.

12. Put yourself out there. Ask for what you want (in a polite way.) I started my online business by participating online on GE’s GEnie online service. When I was ready to send them a proposal to run a small business area, I could not only talk about my credentials in general, but point to places I was already contributing to their service. I became one of the early content providers to America Online because I picked up the phone and made a cold call. I wound up with a new consulting client after I struck up a conversation with a woman sitting next to me on an airplane. Remember, people like to do business with people they know. Get the ball rolling, and keep it rolling by continually reaching out and introducing yourself to new people.

13. Never stop learning and trying new things. What’s profitable now, won’t necessary be profitable next year or 10 years from now. So, don’t let yourself fall into the “this is the way I’ve always done things” rut. Keep your eyes and ears open for new things. Are there newer or better ways to market your products and services? Are customers asking for something you’re not offering? Is there a different type of customer you should be targeting? Get answers by reading everything you can about your industry and listening to your customers.