While the following article is a leap from my normally offered topics, I felt the tips were worth merit to share. There may even be some helpful tips for some of my own clients in here. I hope you find a tip or two to assist you.
If you’re like me, every day your inbox is full of wonderful articles, insight and methods that are supposed to pump up your business, provide traffic flow and get the customers to you. I sift through them all and find maybe an article or two that I feel has merit enough to read, a webinar that has good insight or a member or two I wish to follow.
I am fairly new to this entrepreneur business myself. I have always worked for someone else in the past, so the learning experience has been trial and error to say the least. I wanted to share a few tips to help you along and maybe get you through some of the weeds in the garden. While these tips are not all inclusive, they are the ones that I feel helped me the MOST in getting my business on the right track to profitability.
1. Yes, you do need traffic to your website. Make sure you utilize your Meta tags and search keywords so the search engines can find you. If you don’t feel comfortable working on this yourself, there are a ton of low cost ways to achieve your goals without paying an arm and a leg for SEO. Check your competition and view the source code of their website to see what they have established for one. I would also suggest setting up a Google places (now integrated into Google+) or Adwords campaign and pay for some traffic, at least to start out. Before you sign up with Adwords, do a search to see if you can find someone offering a $50 credit. Maybe they will also be offering some other tool or service you’ve been looking for. But, that credit will certainly help in your ad cost if you can find one. Google Adwords provides some great analytics tools and it will help with your search keywords. I did this for about 6 months and by then had enough web presence, traffic and analytic information, that I cancelled the ads. I used woorank.com the other day and I’m still in the top 5 of my major search queries on Google.
2. EXPOSURE – I cannot say this loudly enough. Get your business everywhere. Write a press release and submit it – TODAY. Find every free directory, free classified listing site, buy some inexpensive “drop cards” – like a business card, but with more “buzz” and leave them everywhere you go and give one to everyone you meet. One great company I have found for low cost marketing items is Vistaprint http://vistaprint.tellapal.com/a/clk/59Sxdy. I’m sure there are other companies out there that are low cost. I also utilize car magnets, T-shirts and hats with my business information on them – wear them everywhere. Leave pens with your business information at the supermarket, bank, or anywhere you use them in public. Remember it takes approximately 8 points of contact for each new client (whether you do it directly or indirectly) for someone to reach out and say – “I want what your business has to offer me”. Also, use “services” ads on sites such as craigslist, eBay classifieds, etc. and get a flyer type ad posted on your local supermarket bulletin boards.
3. Write a blog and use some sort of schedule – don’t just write one article and disappear. Consistency is the key. Comment on other blogs and network on sites such as LinkedIn to gain some followers. Provide quality feedback on the information postings that offer good information – don’t just say “good article”, tell them why it is good. The more your name and your business name get seen, the better off you are. Also, make sure you are on the social sites and use them. There are some wonderful sharing type apps that allow you to post on one social site and have it show on others to save you some time. That doesn’t mean you need to post every hour, but try to get some consistency so that you can grow your fan base.
Things I do not do
– use a landing page. I personally abhor them and refuse to place one on my website. I know it is a way to collect information, but I feel that if someone wants the FREE information I provide it is lead in enough for them to contact me. Plus, by not requiring them to share their information – since privacy is such a huge issue in the world – I feel it is a better sales tactic. I don’t care how you slice it; FREE is a great marketing tool. I believe some business people term it as a loss leader. I agree. Offer the easy free item to hook them so that they pay for the MEAT of what your business has to offer.
– don’t pay for SEO for my website. I have seen exorbitant amounts charged for SEO and while I have seen a few companies that offer some low cost services and it will save you some time, as a startup you will probably be just as strapped budget wise as I was. It is hard to find a quality company to help you along with so many out there gouging for these services. As I mentioned above, there are free ways that you can do it yourself that only cost you some time. View the source code on competitor sites, think of things you would search for as a client looking for your business on the web, and use some analytics data to get your search engine placement higher.
– will not take out a loan. Yes, my first year had a loss however, this year is break even and as I increase my business presence it can only go up. If you feel you cannot make your business fruitful without a loan, it is probably not the best business to invest in. You need to be willing to weather the first few years and it will come together with a little persistence. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. If you truly feel you need some cash infusion in your start up, check out some crowd funding sites like kickstarter.com, they are a much better route to go. Make sure you know what your absolute bottom line is. Use an accounting software package – I have a free one called Microsoft Office Accounting 2009 with some great reporting tools. Track your expenses and determine what your annual costs will be, divide by the number of days you’re open in a year and it will tell you how much income you need daily to break even. Now, find ways to increase your profit.
I hope this article was helpful and insightful. Feel free to share any ways you have found that may help others to start up a business. I would love to hear them.
Lori Hartjoy is the owner of Blue Mountain Rentals, established in 2011. As well as being a devoted mother of 3 toddlers, she provides over 20 years of clerical experience to her clients. Her background includes processing employment, tenant screening, background checks and working as a property manager and payroll clerk for a major telecommunications corporation.
The information contained on this blog and from any communication related to the Blue Mountain Rentals website is provided for informational purposes only. All information you choose to use is at “your own risk”.
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