4 Tips to Starting a Business on a Tight Budget

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While you may be eager to start a business, your bootstrap budget may be holding you back. You have products or services to sell — you want to reach new customers and enter new markets, and you certainly want your business’s name to become well-known.

While money may be tight, keep in mind that many of the largest and most successful businesses today actually started out rather small and limited. In fact, some even started in a garage. It’s not about what you don’t have; it’s about the tools and resources you do have, and knowing how to use them to your advantage.

1. Utilize free marketing tactics

Believe it or not, there are a ton of free marketing tools you can use to brand your business. For example, you can utilize social media to promote your products and reach customers. If you own a local business, list it on local sites like citysearch.com and yelp.com so that people know where you’re located and can easily find you online.

2. Know where to spend

Since you want to get your business’s name out, figure out where you should be spending your money. One specific example of something that you should devote a decent amount of your budget to is setting up and maintaining your website. Since this is your most important online profile and people can easily access it, make sure it contains informative and engaging content so audiences can learn about your business and your products or services. Make sure you add some quality pictures. Since you want to bring in customers, make it easy for them to contact you by providing a form and phone number on your website.

3. Turn part of your home into an office

Although you own and operate a business, you don’t need an actual office to be established as one. Reduce your expenses by setting up a home office or take it from the professionals and use your garage. In fact, Micro Solutions Enterprises began by operating as a one-man shop from current president Yoel Wazana’s apartment; it has since grown to become a nationally recognized provider of OEM-alternative printer cartridges.

4. Rather than hiring, outsource

While having a team of employees is very helpful, it also comes at a cost. Although you will eventually want to hire a team of dedicated employees to work for you, since you’re in the early stages, you can hire independent contractors and freelancers and outsource the work. Although contractors and freelancers may get paid more per hour, businesses don’t have to offer them benefits like insurance and can also avoid the cost of office equipment and supplies for them.

 

Posted on March 26th, 2014 by admin

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The Human Side of Business

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There are two sides to every business story. The first side consists of the products and services that a company offers its patrons, and the second is the human side. While much of a company’s attention will be focused on their products and services to ensure success, it is also important that they pay attention to the human element. By keeping your workforce happy, you will see a positive impact on your clients as your workers will provide better customer service. By engaging in some kind of charity or sponsorship (tech company MSE sponsored a local soccer team, for example), you can impress the entire community in addition to your workers.

The Workforce

The human side of business can be further split into two separate categories to include your workforce and customers. For many businesses, workers can be the most critical element, as happy employees lead to happy customers. When trying to figure out what will make your workers happier and more productive, there are a few things you can do.

  • Set aside time on a regular basis to talk to your workers. Ask them what changes should be made or if anything needs to be updated. The most crucial element of these meetings is listening to the people, so make sure you are actively participating in the conversation (even if only with a nod and an “I understand”). Don’t look bored and DON’T check your phone! If they feel you are taking care of them, employees are more likely to work hard for you.
  • Create a healthy environment. Make sure that your office is cleaned regularly. If possible, create green spaces where they can work or get some fresh air.
  • Think about allowing them to telecommute. This option may not work for all companies but, if possible, consider allowing employees to work from home. You will allow them to avoid the stress of commuting and help the planet at the same time!

The Customers

The second side of the human impact focuses on customers. All companies rely on their customer base to thrive and survive. Take a few minutes to listen to their concerns and apply them to your company.

  • Suggestion boxes are a great way for customers to voice their opinions without feeling intimidated. Place one in a convenient location and check it regularly.
  • Read and follow up on online customer reviews.

Keeping the human side of your business in mind is important. Take care of your people and your clients. Listen to them and watch how it impacts the future of your company.

Posted on March 25th, 2014 by admin

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Building a Strong Business Foundation in 3 Steps

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Starting your own business is an exciting idea, but not an easy task to complete. It is important that, from early on, you build a strong business foundation. It will take time and effort. If you are a young and energetic owner, chances are you are anxious about getting started. It is important, however, that you take the time to consider these steps to ensure your future success. For one thing, you’ll want to find a good source of financing, and you may even ask your family, as MSE founder Yoel Wazana asked his brother Avi for startup help when the company was in its infancy.

Discover Your Niche and Target Market

The first layer of your business foundation should be laid prior to anything else. This layer consists of discovering your niche and target market. While you may have the most amazing idea in the world, you want to make sure it will work for your community. Research the demographics and companies in your area. Is there a group that will benefit from your idea? Are there other companies who already sell something similar? The answers to these two questions will help you form that all important first layer.

Talk to Investors

The second layer of the foundation is laid as you talk with possible investors. While many business owners wish they could be self-sufficient from the beginning, the truth is that businesses cost a lot to start. There are a variety of sources you may want to consider approaching for an investment. As mentioned above, you can approach your family. You can also turn to more traditional financial resources such as a bank or credit union or other groups of investors.

Regardless of which source you decide to use, it is important to make sure you are well-organized for your presentation. Consider creating a business plan and passing it out to each person involved. This way, they have an idea of what their money will be supporting.

Don’t Overextend Yourself

First-time business owners may feel the need to take on every task themselves. The third layer of your foundation, however, is designed to keep you from doing just that. Consider hiring a staff or connecting with friends who are willing to help you for free. There are many hats that a business owner must wear, but sharing the load will help you focus more on your product.

Creating a sturdy foundation is important to the success of any company. Take the time to form these three layers and any others you need and enjoy the success that follows.

 

Posted on March 24th, 2014 by admin

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Getting your Products out There: The Work behind the Scenes

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The final product is what the consumer sees. However, only a business owner and their staff know that reaching that point has been a process in and of itself. While a consumer may marvel over the spectacular new packaging or a brand new product line, there are many stages before this point is reached. Companies, such as Yoel Wazana’s Micro Solutions Enterprises, are constantly reviewing these behind the scenes processes in order to improve upon their current products. Businesses may even create new product lines while trying to improve an offering.  

What are some of the behind the scenes processes and why are they so important? These two questions may occur to you when first looking to improve upon your existing product. Please note, though, that every company is unique and the processes below may not fit all industries. Explore the options you feel will best suit your specific situation.

The Concept

The raw idea is the starting point from which everything is launched. This is the stage where you want to gather a group of trusted advisors and staff and brainstorm. As you did in school, do not throw out any ideas right now. Just write them down in order to keep the creative juices flowing. You will have the opportunity in the future to go through the list and narrow it down to the one idea you want to focus on at the moment.

Return on Investment

Consider your return on investment as you narrow down your list. You want to make sure that whatever product you create is going to yield a worthwhile profit and increase the visibility of your company within the industry and beyond.

Evaluate

Once you settle on a few ideas that you are seriously considering, screen them. This is the time to find out whether or not your idea is worth following through on. Once you are done screening, follow up on the product that appears to have the greatest possibility for becoming profitable.

Test

Create a prototype fit for more testing. Focus these tests on marketability and reliability. Get feedback and work to improve the product where needed.

Complete the Cycle

Once the final product is complete, launch it with full gusto. You want your clients to be as excited about this new product or service as you are. Create a marketing campaign specifically designed for this product and promote it through the channels where it will have the greatest impact.  

You may also want to consider taking things a step further and seeing if you can patent the product or technology, as MSE founder Yoel Wazana has done with his remanufactured toner cartridges.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on March 17th, 2014 by admin

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