Tag Archives: Small business

Boost Your Sales By Optimizing Your Social Media Networks

What is Social Media Optimization (SMO)? According to Wikipedia “Social media optimization is the use of a number of social media websites and communities to help generate publicity to help create awareness for a brand, company, product or event”. Social media optimization has been gaining a lot of momentum since search engines like Google and Bing have included social signals in ranking a particular web page in their search engine results page. Search engines have included social signals as part of their algorithm and that is why it is important for business owners, website administrators and marketing professionals to learn more about social media optimization to help boost their sales and revenues.

Here are some essential tips that they can use to help you boost your sales by optimizing your social media networks:

1. Be an Expert That People Will Go To

One of best ways to build a long term social media optimization strategy is to be an expert that people can go to for help. You have to learn to be the expert in in your field and not just a follower. You have to be an innovator in a sense that people will look to you when they need something or if they need the latest news in your field or industry. Being an expert is not only about knowing things but more importantly, it is about being able to offer help to your audience. It takes a lot of time and energy to be an expert especially in sales and marketing but it is important to invest in your own skills and experience so that people will see you as an expert.

2. Make Your Content Stand Out   
Writing good content is very important in social media optimization because if your content is similar to what other people in your own niche is doing; your readers and audience will not be able to differentiate you from the rest. You have to be able to create content that is interesting and engaging. This will help you captivate your target market and help improve your sales.

3. Incite an Emotion

When you are writing your social media content, it is important to tap on the emotions of your readers and viewers. You have to be in tune with their feelings and be able to capitalize on that to make your content relatable. By doing this, it can help you create a viral content that can create some awareness for your brand, product and even a sales event.

Social media optimization is important for any business owner, website designers and sales professionals to learn because of how crucial it is in helping you grow your brand or company. It is also a good way to get direct feedback from your customers and understand their wants and needs. By applying those tips, you can improve your social media optimization skills and help you reach your customers better.

About the Author:

Francesca Westi is passionate about helping people like small business ownersreach their sales goals. She is an experienced dissertation writer and online business consultant where she provides useful tips and advice to help people out.

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Book Review: The Women’s Home-Based Business Book of Answers

By Maria T Bailey

I will start off by saying that the subtitle of this book is “78 Important Questions Answered by Top Women Business Leaders” so you get an idea of the type of content you are going to find.

The book focuses more on the person starting a business entirely from scratch from finding a product/concept, to getting funding, to creating a business plan and moving forward from there.

Each section discusses a concept and then is full of personal antidotes in answer to the questions posed such as:   women home based

  • Juggling family
  • How they funded their business
  • How to be organized
  • Obstacles faced
  • Secrets to Networking
  • Daily Schedules

As I stated, the book is not geared to direct sales/party plans but there is still a lot of helpful information such as information on how to create a business plan and how you can market yourself.

The author includes some ideas on how to create a daily schedule which is more suited to someone who works from home but there are likely ideas that a person can take from that an adapt.  There is also a section on different types of advertising as well as using online marketing, but as the book is copyrighted in 2001, a lot of the information is now outdated.

She concludes the book by discussing an exit strategy if you plan to get out of the business and words of wisdom from a few people.

I did not see much in the way of interviews from direct sales companies but I did not expect to see any.

I think this could be a good book if you are looking for some inspiration and are not sure where to look.  There are multiple questions and areas that may gave you something to think about and consider in your own career.

Buy:  The Women’s Home-Based Business Book of Answers

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Six Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Direct Sales Business

If you believe in your product and are willing to work hard to promote it, starting a direct sales business can be a great way to turn your passion into a profit. While direct sales has relatively low start-up costs compared to other businesses, there are a few important things you need to consider besides your initial budget to become financially successful in the long run. From assessing ongoing costs to creating your work schedule, planning how your direct sales business will work on a daily basis can help you decide if starting it is the right decision for you.

1. Will YSix Thingsour Product Sell?

You might love the product you want to promote, but will other people feel the same way? Remember to always be honest about the product’s drawbacks. Looking at the pros and cons objectively will help you decide if this product is worth your time and money.

2. Can You Afford Ongoing Expenses?

Gasoline, phone, Internet, printing toner, business cards and graphic design services are just a few examples of bills you might need to keep up with on a monthly basis. If you’re joining an existing direct sales business, rather than starting your own, you might not have as many of these expenses. The key is to make a budget and plan for any spending accordingly.

3. Do You Have the Space?

If you’re like many newcomers to the direct sales industry, you’re probably planning to start your new business out of your home. To make sure that you’re ready for growth in the future, it’s important to start thinking about it now. You’ll probably need to have a certain amount of inventory on hand so that you can easily fulfill orders for your customers. If you don’t have a big enough home to store your inventory and supplies, you’ll probably want to consider looking at local storage facilities like Extra Space Storage so that you don’t crowd your home with merchandise.

4. Are You Outgoing?

Running a direct sales business involves approaching strangers with a marketing pitch, it’s not the best field for people who are shy or who prefer to be alone. Before you invest your money and your life into this business, make sure you can handle it. If you have a friend in the business, try going out on sales calls with him to see if you are comfortable with this type of career.

5. Will You Make Enough Money?

Figure out what your profit margin will be if everything goes as expected to decide if the return on your investment is high enough to cover your time and expenses. Make sure you have a back-up plan. Direct sales can vary greatly from person to person. You could be selling the same product as another person and make double or triple what they bring in, or you could flop. It’s best to plan for each scenario and have a strategy.

6. Are You Willing to Recruit Others?

Since every entrepreneur’s goal is to build a successful business, you need to have a plan for how you’re going to handle rapid expansion if it happens. In many direct sales industries, the more people you recruit, the more money you bring in and more successfully you become. Are you comfortable talking to customers and friends about joining your ranks?

After considering the above questions and deciding to move forward with your business, you’ll want to document it with a business plan. Separate it into financial information, marketing ideas and future goals. When things get hectic, being able to refer back to an organized plan will help you stay on track. With the right tools and proper planning, you’re sure to be successful with your sales endeavors.

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Evaluating 2013 and Planning for 2014

Another consideration this December while things are slow is how your year went and what you are hoping to get in 2014 with your direct sales business.

2013 Chiots Run Calendar

2013 Chiots Run Calendar (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

Had you set goals for yourself and your business at the beginning of 2014?  If so, you should go find them and take a look again.  How have you done with them?  Have you accomplished everything you intended to do or did you fall short?

If you did not attain your goals, take a look at them and evaluate what happened to prevent it.  Are these still goals that you want to accomplish in 2014 or do you have other goals and plans for the new year?

Want to accomplish the goals in 2014 that you didn’t quite make in 2013?  Figure out what out happened in 2013 that you didn’t make them and set a plan to accomplish them in 2014.  Was it a lack of parties, did something else happen in life that you had to take time away from your business, or was it something else that prevented you from attaining your goals?

If you did accomplish what you wanted to in 2013, what are you going to do in 2014?  Do you want to increase your goals?  Or do you want to maintain what you did in 2013?  There is nothing that says you have to do more, heck, you can decide to do less in 2014.  It is all up to you and what you want from your business.

The biggest thing to remember when it comes to setting new goals or plans, is that they have to be measurable.  For instance, you cannot just say, I want to get recruits.  You need to say, I want to get 5 recruits this year or I want to recruit 3 more people than I did in 2013.  For sales, you could say that you want to do 20% more than you did last year or set a dollar value.  It is up to you.

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How to Handle your Business Expenses

Accounting and paperwork are scary to a lot of business owners, but it is a part of life. By setting up a system, you will make your life a lot easier.

Receipt Please

Receipt Please (Photo credit: Peter π)

For most people, accounting is not a priority in their business, but when month end or tax time comes, they are scrambling to find all their documents and prepare things. But if you take a bit of time each week or month to track your expenses, you will be ahead of the game and you will not have to look all over the place to find your paperwork.

One Location – First things first, put all your receipts in one location. This way, even if you do not have time to deal with it right now, you will know where to find it.

Make Notes – Mark your receipt with any relevant notes such as you were mailing a parcel to Jane or you took Joan out for coffee to discuss why your business would be a great fit with hers. These receipts are easy to forget their purpose.

Legibility – Make sure that the receipt is legible. If it is not, you can ask the location to write you a written receipt. If it is on the glossy till paper, you may want to photocopy or scan it, as those tend to fade over time.

Keep Current – Try to work on your books every week or at a minimum, once a month if you do not have a lot of transactions. This will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road.

Filing – Have a filing system that makes sense and you can keep up with. Challenge yourself to see how fast you can find something; if you have to go through multiple folders then it is not the right system for you.

Credit Cards – A great way to keep track of your spending is to put everything onto a credit card or debit card where you get a statement listing the expense. You won’t forget about it this way. Do not use the same card for your business as you do for your personal spending, as this can be very confusing and cause issues at tax time, especially if you are audited.

Envelopes/Folders – Envelopes and folders are a great way to organize your paperwork. Put unrecorded receipts in one until you record it, and then move to the appropriate folder once it’s recorded. You may choose to organize these by month or by type of expense; whichever works better for you and makes more sense.

One of the best reasons for keeping your expenses current and tracked is that you can see at a glance how well your business is doing and where you may be spending too much money. This is very important for a small business owner.

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How Small Businesses can Deal with a Bad Economy

A bad economy does not mean the end of a small business. It just means getting more creative and finding other solutions to a problem.

For many businesses, keeping afloat during economic turmoil can be difficult. No matter whether the problem is the general economy or specific competition from other businesses, there are things that can be done to help the business weather the storm. An advantage of small businesses is that they are flexible and they can make changes quickly, which large businesses can’t.

English: Water Customer Service Center - 4200 ...

Direct Sales in a Bad Economy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Customer Service

One of the biggest things that a small business can do is to make sure that they have excellent customer service. If the owner is not sure if the store has this, it is likely best to think that they do not and train the staff. Doing things such as special orders or making sure to assist the customer can go a long way. Customer service does not have to be difficult; it is paying attention to a lot of the little things.

Quality

Another factor is making sure that the business keeps up with the current trends. The moment customers think that you are falling behind they will start to leave you, feeling that you are not going to succeed. Cash flow may cause issues with this, but you may want to decrease to bringing in seven new items instead of 15, or making other small changes.

Cash Flow

Of course, you cannot forget about the money that is or is not coming in. Regardless of the state of the economy, it is best that you do not overextend yourself beyond what the business cannot comfortably afford. Many businesses end up failing because they try to do too much at once, when they can’t afford it.

Be Creative

Due to the small business being able to make decisions quickly compared to the large stores, the small store can seize this opportunity to do something special or unique. Maybe host fashions shows when a new line of clothing comes in, or have a special night for key customers to see the new collections. Make your customers happy and make them feel special and they will continue to patronize your business.

Check Efficiencies

There may be things that your store can do to make itself more efficient which will help with cash flow and customer service. It may be investing in some software that can create notes to go to customers, finding a better way to unpack and sort inventory or a better way to show off new product. Chances are there is something that can be done in a better way to increase sales.

No matter the type of business you are in, chances are you can find some methods that you can use to keep your business afloat in bad economic times. Choosing to slash prices is not the way to compete, as people will come to expect it. Instead, improve other methods. People are willing to pay more if they feel they are getting value for their money.

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Do I have enough time for direct sales?

IBM Lotus Organizer

Image via Wikipedia

One of the best things you can do for your direct sales business is to sit down with your calendar and figure out your schedule.  You can do this to help you make the decision if you have time for a direct sales business and then in the future to keep yourself organized.

  • Mark in your shifts at work if they vary
  • Mark in your partner’s shifts if there are children and someone has to be home with them
  • Mark in anything that you have committed to that cannot be moved. I.e. Sports, events, appointments
  • Mark in anything else you have to remember
  • See what kind of time you have left
  • Do not forget to make sure you have some “me” time so you do not burn out

Keep in mind that you do not only have to do parties when in direct sales to make money.  It is the easiest method but you can do well with catalogue parties or individual sales if you promote them enough.

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Home based business vs a Retail business?

Chances are you already know the benefits to having a home based business instead of having a retail business, but just in case, let us review them. Maybe we will stumble upon something you are not aware of.

Flexibility – When you work out of your home, you have the flexibility to do things when you want and how you want.  This is especially important with direct sales as you can book events when you want to do them.  Have a kid’s birthday party?  No problem, don’t schedule an event that day.

Time Commitment – You can make just as much money in a few hours in direct sales as you can working an eight hour shift somewhere else.  If you work your business well, you can pretty much be guaranteed whatever income you are looking for.

Cost – Ever wanted to start your own business but you only have a few hundred dollars?  No problem!  I have not run into any company that costs more than $500 to start up!  And depending on the company, you may even be able to earn that sign up fee back!   Have you ever heard of starting a retail business for that amount?  Chances are you going to pay more than that in rent per month.

Profits – Not only is it cheap to get into direct sales, but you make profits fast!  Even if you do not get your kit for free, within doing a few thousand dollars worth of sales (depending on kit cost and commission level) you have made back your investment and are into profits!  Try doing that in a retail setting.

Tax Write-offs – This is a favourite for everyone, the write-offs you get working from home.  You are able to write off portions of your car, your fuel, the products you buy for yourself and family (product testing is important, right?) and so many other things.  Always check with your tax accountant or buy a proper tax program to help you with this.  But make sure to keep a mileage book and all receipts until tax time.

I have heard some people say that if you own your home, it is stupid not to run some sort of home based business, at least for the tax write offs.  But imagine getting into direct sales and being able to make money relatively easy, and get the write offs to go with it.  Win win!

 

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Methods to Increase Sales

There are many different things that you can do to increase the amount of sales that you are submitting each month.  I have discussed these methods over the last two years so feel free to peek at some of the past articles to see what you have been missing or you could improve.   

Offering free shipping?  You may be better off to offer free product instead!  Read more here

Are you telling your customers about all the different ways that they can use a product?  Do you ask them if they can come up with more ideas?  The more ways to use something, the more likely someone will buy it.

How about upselling?  Don’t know what that is?  Learn about upselling and more simple methods to increase your sales.  Increasing sales with simple methods

Have a hard time remembering all these things? What to upsell together, what ways to use a product?  Use cue cards to make some notes and tell people its so you don’t forget all the wonderful information about a product!

Another great method to increase sales is to put packages together and discount them.  You don’t need to discount them by much, just enough to make people think that they are getting a great deal.  Sometimes just making the decision for the customer is enough, as it can be easy to get overwhelmed.

Of course, having more parties will increase your sales.

How about shopping clubs?  These are popular with a lot of people.  Get a set amount of people to commit to a certain amount in purchase each month and you are set.  More about shopping clubs.

Here are a few other articles that you may find helpful when it comes to taking steps to increase your sales.

Increasing your Sales
Offering Party Perks on your Own
Why Discounts can Be Dangerous in Direct SalesReferral Program
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