Bootstrap Business Development

Taking steps to build your business


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What’s Different About Your Business?

Here’s a guest post I wrote for The Merchant Cash Advance (MCA).   This industry website is operated by Raharney Capital, LLC. Established in 2009 and based in New York City, MCA is one of the largest and most well known MCA networking firms.

Working on ways to differentiate your business from your competition?

What Small Business Owners can learn from Hippies

Read the article (you’ll be glad you did!)

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Market Data: The Short Story

Maybe you’re a small business owner who happens to be sweating out putting your business plan together.  Maybe you’re a small business owner and thinking of capturing a new market. Maybe you’re a small business owner who just wants to gain greater insight into the demographics or consumer trends in your existing market.

On the other hand, you may be a small business owner who thinks (hopes) their so small that any sort of market research outside of the occasional customer survey is over kill, simply a waste of time.  But that would be wrong.  Market research allows you to create effective business strategies.  “I think it might work” isn’t an effective success strategy. You can have the greatest idea in the world – but until you marry that idea with market data you don’t have a complete picture.   Market data helps you get from “I think it might work” to “This is the best strategy for success.”

However, when it comes to market research, many small business owners don’t pursue it as they think of it as an “all or nothing” process.  Either you’ve got to be in a place to spend a ton on expensive consultants, or don’t do it all.

But you’re not just any small business owner, you’re a bootstrapper – and I’m here to help.  Here’s the short story on how to conduct market research:

1.  Put together the objectives you want your research to meet.  You can do that by asking three simple questions:

  • What the purpose of doing the research? (i.e. I want to introduce a new product/service)
  • How will the information be used? (i.e. see if there is a need, figure out how to price, determine if there is a local market for my product/service)
  • What kind of information do I need? (i.e. check out the competition, demographics of prospective customers/clients)

2.  Research and collect information that already exists.
3.  Collect information that doesn’t exist (i.e. surveys, focus groups.)
4.  Review and analyze the information you’ve collected.  (This is a fancy way of saying:  Look at what you found out; assess how it impacts your objectives; use that    assessment to create and then implement success strategies.)

The place where many small business owners get stuck is #2.  Here are some online resources to help you locate existing information:

http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/conducting-market-research-here-are-5-official-sources-free-data-can-help

http://www.library.wisc.edu/guides/govdocs/census/econ.htm#countbus  (Great for local business – You can check out business patterns in your county on this one.)


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Helping People Online Find Your Local Business

Manta’s tip of the day is about local search ranking.  Some small biz owners – everybody from homentreprenurs to small retail to B2B – may not have this on their radar.

You definitely should.

 

Local search marketing tactics can be your ticket to gaining on “Big Gun” competition.    You might not think you’ve got anything you can leverage over Big Time competitors – however, the fact that you are local can actually be quit the competitive advantage.

The fact that you are smaller than the Big Guns can work in our favor as well because you can leverage your ability to provide more personalized service.

Manta’s advice is to “have a dedicated page for each of your company locations.”  But what if you’ve only got one location?  Easy – create separate landing pages customized for local neighborhoods in your specific community.  Remember, landing pages have domain names (i.e. different “web address”) than your businesses’ main website.

You can also customize landing pages the target specific “customer profiles.”  For example, one page that targets Boomers and one page that targets Millennials.  Again, each of the pages are dedicated to specific communities or neighborhoods.

Creating these pages can also assist in having your business picked up and placed on the “Google Box 7” – which means having your business pop up on Google’s first seven on SERP results.  Very powerful.

If you click the image on the top of this post you will see results for a search for a florist in San Francisco.  The image to the right shows what happens when a person living in the Mission District looking for a local florist performs their search.

Have landing pages optimized for both is an excellent tactic for achieving greater visibility and ups the opportunity for your local business to be found online.


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Bootstrap Business Development: Be a Big Dog

If you’re a small business struggling to implement effective marketing tactics you’ll definitely want to read this article from Big Dog Innovations.  Best practice elements and processes of marketing in the digital and non-digital world are broken down in a very logical and easy to follow fashion – and the article is accompanied by excellent infographics that provide a great map upon which to guide your marketing efforts.