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Small Business Success Index 4

Index Score*   Grade
73 marginal
Capital Access 67
Marketing & Innovation 65
Workforce 76
Customer Service 88
Computer Technology 73
Compliance 92
*Index score is calculated on a 1-100 scale.
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Posts Tagged ‘small business owner’


Are You an Entrepreneur, or a Small Business Owner?

April 7th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen
Orange and gray gears

fpsurgeon/Flickr

Innovation is the wheel that keeps the business world turning.  Without it, we’d be living in energy inefficient homes, driving cars that run on leaded gasoline, and wearing parkas that don’t really block wind or keep us dry in a downpour.  Innovation is that little—and sometimes big—something that separates entrepreneurs from small business owners.

In this, the final of a three part series based on a conversation I had with CPA and small business consultant Jason Howell, I share with you Jason’s thoughts on entrepreneurship, which are in turn based on Peter Drucker’s writings and thoughts.    

For those of you who are only vaguely familiar with Peter Drucker’s name, he was a writer, management consultant, and self-described “social ecologist.” (He passed away in November 2005.)  I’ll let Wikipedia take over from here: “He…explored how humans are organized across the business, government, and the nonprofit sectors of society.  His writings have predicted many of the major developments of the late twentieth century, including privatization and decentralization; the rise of Japan to economic world power; the decisive importance of marketing, and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning.  In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” and later in his life considered knowledge work productivity to be the next frontier of management”.  (The hyperlinks were supplied by Wikipedia, too.)

Peter Drucker described an entrepreneur as someone who innovates.  He or she looks at a product or service in a different way and reinvents it to offer something new.  A small business owner, on the other hand, is simply someone who owns a business and replicates what others have done. 

As Jason pointed out, entrepreneurs make a difference in the community, the country, the industry, and/or the world.  There was already light, but Thomas Edison transformed our concept and use of light when he invented the light bulb.  There was already a process in place to build a car, but Henry Ford took it to a whole new level when he invented the assembly line.  Everyone who gets into business does so to make a difference on some level. Maybe that difference is not as life-changing as inventing, say, the microchip, but one that makes a difference nonetheless.

“If someone laughs at your idea, it’s probably a new one.”  Jason couldn’t remember who said it, but I think it’s a great quote.  Even though there’s a fear of innovation and the change it will bring, innovation attracts people.  Think about big, innovative companies who have truly changed the way we live or do things.  Microsoft, Google, and Apple immediately spring to mind, probably because I use their products/services on a daily basis.

But there are lots of smaller companies out there that have changed how things are traditionally done in their industry too.  Check out Wexley School for Girls, which is not a school, is not for girls, and was not founded by someone named Wexley.  It’s a very different kind of ad agency based in Seattle, WA that has one of the funniest, coolest, hippest, wow-est, and most irreverent websites I have ever visited.  I don’t even know them, but I love them.

If you’re company does things differently, find those first adopters, those people who will appreciate and embrace your different-ness, who will love your new product or service.   You never know how being innovative could change your life—or the world.

Recession-Era Marketing: Learn from the Experts for FREE

December 18th, 2009 :: Erica Knoch
Online Experts

Photo by Monashee Frantz/OJO Images/Getty Images

Now that you have made that leap into being a small business owner, it’s time to let others know you exist.  So how can you pitch your product, show where your store is, or let anyone know of your services when you have a zero marketing budget? Learn from the experts!

The online space is full of experts – experienced professionals who give free advice, write articles, post on social networks, and link to tools to help you learn, promote, and retain your customers.  Assuming you have already set up your website/blog, here are a few FREE ways to learn from the experts and market your business:

1.  Basic Social Media Accounts: Facebook, LinkedIn, & Twitter.

  • On Facebook, open a personal account, then from that, create a page for your small business. (example: Aeroka Media and Network Solutions)  Start uploading photos, links to your services, and promote to get “fans”.  Post new content and links to your blog/site often.  Become a fan of experts in your field, read their posts for advice.
  • On Twitter, sign up for an account for your business. Post about your Facebook fan page, links to different parts of your blog/site, and do a search in Twitter to see what your customers say about you. Follow experts in your field of business and learn from their links and posts.
  • On LinkedIn, sign up for an account for you, which you can then add a link to your business. Start a group, answer questions, and connect with others in your field.  Ask questions as well, and connect to experts.

Note: There are a lot of applications in each of these to crosss promote (Twitter-to-Facebook, etc) so try to automate, or use sites like Ping to post once and automate to all the above  social networks and more!

2. “Marketing 101″ for FREE:
Educate yourself, all at no cost.  Some examples are:

  • Attend conferences and events of your choice via Twitter! No need to pay for travel, tickets or registration!   Just sign in to your Twitter account, use this symbol # (hashtag) in front of the name of a conference in the search box.  There are Tweets about who might be there, cool factoids on speakers, sponsors, and inside information from attendees and speakers AT the event.   Example:  I wanted to attend the 140 Character Conference in New York last Spring.  I typed in #140Conf in the search box, and received a lot of facts about the panel speakers and links to their advice.  When the live streaming from the event website went down, I found an attendee there on Twitter who was streaming from his personal webcam, and he shared a link to his video feed with me!
  • Visit and Subscribe: To be on top of  the latest news in marketing your business, trends and updates on the competition, find the right sites and  subscribe to feeds/newsletters!  I like to keep on top of marketing, media, tech and small business news, so I visit and subscribe to Mediapost, Variety, Mashable, PaidContent and Grow Smart Business.  I also like to use Alltop to customize and aggregate all of my favorite news feeds from marketing experts such as Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki and many others.
  • View Marketing Presentations: Check out Slideshare, do a search on any subject, and I’m sure there is a presentation for it.  I just searched on “Small Business Marketing” and came up with this list of presentations.  Here is a presentation on Social Media Marketing for Small Business.  Sign up and try doing specific searches to your needs.  They just might help you with a presentation to a new client!
  • Take a course: There are a ton of webinars you can take from your couch!  I like to expand my knowledge of  website optimization, so I Googled “free webinars for SEO” and found free Hubspot webinars taught by SEO experts.  Do a search on free webinars in your area of business, you’d be amazed at what courses you can take at no cost!

3.  Join Niche Communities of Experts:

  • Join Meetup: Meetup is a great place to join and target your exact niche to the actual area you live, so that you can connect, not only online, but with folks in your group in real life!  Also, type in “small business” and your zip code, and you can find other small business owners you can meet  in person!
  • PartnerUp!:  Seriously if you have a job that is just too big for your business, and you need help with a part of it, PartnerUp is a community is the place to get the help you need!
  • Associations:  If you haven’t already joined an association related to your field, do.  There will be a fee, so if you can’t pay, there are FREE resources too.  In my case, the American Marketing Association site has a blog, list of events, and other items that I have utilized for free.  Try your association!

These are just a few ways to get you started in marketing your business, for free, but without having to go it alone.  A marketing expert is just a few keystrokes away.  Please tell me if you have any success with these ideas, or share with me where you are finding expert advice for FREE by commenting below.

Wishing you much success. :-)