Best Resources for Small Businesses

Being a successful small business is not easy. The five core challenges most small business face are time management, pricing, cash flow, managing growth and marketing / client acquisition. In order to succeed, you must arm yourself against these challenges. The good news is that there are a number of fabulous resources to help you with these issues.

Actively seek out the right small business information.
Many small business owners are so over-extended that they neglect staying informed about business trends. This is a fatal error. In today’s modern marketplace, you simply cannot succeed if you run your business on intuition alone. You may stay afloat in the short run, but you will eventually lose out to better informed competitors.

There are a number of incredible online resources that are both free and invaluable. Sites like Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com provide tips on just about everything from starting your business to navigating advanced legal issues. They feature in depth information on running your business, leadership / management techniques, sales & marketing tips, small business technology and finances.

Helpful Tip: Set aside at least 1 hour each week to review these sites. If you find that you prefer to read in bed, consider subscribing to a few of these magazines. This information will make you and your business stronger.

Know your industry and target market in real time.
In our modern age, trends shift at break-neck speed. It is important to stay abreast of developments in both your industry and your target market’s microcosm. After all, more often than not, what concerned your target market 3 months ago is now ancient history.

Subscribe to industry related publications and consume the same media as your target market. If you sell jewelry for eco-friendly women in their thirties and forties, spend an hour each week reading news and publications that are relevant to that market. Likewise, be sure to check industry news every week. For example, using the same eco-friendly jewelry analogy, you might read up on green product developments, new fashion trends or even ecological political issues.

Helpful Tip: Set two separate Google Alerts – one on your industry and one for your target market – to send you period updates on relevant news. Google will send these news stories to you automatically, making it easy to skim over the headlines and read through the meaningful stories.

Find the right on-line partnerships.
The proliferation of online office supply stores makes economically and efficiently stocking your office a lot easier than it was 10 years ago. Buying office supplies online takes less time and makes price comparison easy. Because of online competition, online suppliers are eager to earn your business. The good ones will provide a wealth of free information on their site and happily take your calls to field questions and offer advice. For example, if you are looking for discounted printer ink cartridges but are a little confused about toner versus regular stores like compandsave not only provide free yet invaluable printer cartridge information resource center but they also eagerly accept calls and offer advice on how to save on office supplies.

Helpful Tip: When you find a supplier with great prices and customer service, hold onto them for the long-haul. A good supplier relationship can save you thousands, streamline your operations and free up your time so you can focus on growing your business.

What Are Some Of The Most Important IT Services For Businesses?

The success of any business depends on maintaining smooth uninterrupted enterprise operations. In this digital age, it is essential that businesses have IT (information technology) services that will keep their network operational and intact with minimal down time. Because business computer systems and networks are always evolving it is imperative to work with the right IT company to maintain and preserve your companies’ data. This involves a number of steps in order to prevent loss of data due to disasters such as floods, fires, theft, power failure, equipment failure, etc. To ensure the success of your company, below you will find a list of some of the most important IT services for businesses.

Network backup systems are vital in order for a business to keep their data safe. Hiring an IT services company (that offers network support) will help ensure data is never lost or corrupted. With a network backup system in place, you can safely upload your client information, financial records and files via the Internet to a secure off site location where data cannot be harmed. By doing so, your data is safe from storms, fire, unauthorized intrusions, floods, viruses, and hardware malfunctions. As well, backups can be monitored 24/7 to ensure data availability in case of an emergency.

Remote monitoring is a very beneficial service for any size business that enables 24/7 monitoring of your computer network. While this is an effective method used to monitor systems for malicious bugs, intrusions, glitches, and emergencies, it’s also very cost effective. Proactively monitoring, managing, and maintaining your computer network remotely means problems are detected immediately and fixed without the need to have a technician physically come to the business location. Having a constant ‘guard’ for the system and network will help ensure uninterrupted network operation thereby reducing worker downtime. Nothing can be as frustrating as having an office full of workers who can’t work!

It is critical for every business to have effective email and spam protection as this step helps protect against potentially disastrous threats. A technician will help establish an email security and archiving system that will actively secure your email by stopping spam, viruses, worms, and other email-borne malware before reaching the inbox. Furthermore it allows you to preserve and access emails more easily and at the same time allows for the archiving of all inbound and outbound emails online for compliance and backup. There is also continual monitoring of email activity to ensure critical emails are being received and delivered.

With an IT company offering offsite back up disaster recovery solutions, businesses will ensure no data is lost should there be a disaster affecting the computing systems. Such a back up system makes data accessible 24/7 thereby ensuring that said data is immediately recoverable if there is an event such as power failure. High tech facilities house servers safely, protecting them from any unauthorized access and physically potential disasters such as humidity, fire, temperature extremes, dust, and floods. These storage facilities help to protect business systems and data, ensuring that your company information is protected.

A quality IT plan ensures complete backup services, daily checks on your backup, security monitoring, and effective disaster recovery solutions. The loss of client records or financial information could very well be the end of many companies. Unfortunately many companies also need to be protected from the malicious activity of competitors and hackers. Compiled with the waste of money on potential downtime, having an effective IT plan is a necessity for the success of any business.

Selling a Small Business – Why Selling a Smaller Business is Different

If you are a business owner thinking of selling a small business, the process is somewhat different than selling a much larger, more involved company.

Smaller businesses are bought by investors for different reasons and, depending on the size of the company, attract completely different buyer profiles. This article looks at some of the differences in selling a small business from the owner’s point of view.

Micro-Businesses
What is meant by “micro businesses” are businesses that are valued at less than $100,000. There are many different types of micro-businesses and each can attract a different buyer profile. For instance, if you own a small, home-based business valued at $75,000 or so, this usually attracts a potential buyer that is completely different than the person looking for a business valued up to $250,000. To expand, businesses valued under $100,000 or so usually fall into a number of categories. They can be home-based businesses where a good buyer candidate can be a stay-at-home parent looking to augment an income. At this lower price range the business may also be a service based business such as landscaping or home inspection, as an example. This type of business is attractive to the “do it yourselfer” who is purely looking to ‘buy a job’ and a book of existing accounts. The $100,000 and under price range might also reflect a business that could be larger but has suffered a setback and has the potential for stronger earnings going forward, with right management in place. Micro businesses do not necessarily mean ‘micro earnings’. Many smaller companies have excellent income potential and could make a great investment for the right buyer. The point is, when you are selling a small business (especially a micro business) please don’t merely characterize the type of potential buyer based on price. Smaller businesses are attractive to many people for many different reasons.

Small businesses valued in the $300,000 price range
The price point of $300,000 is a ‘sweet spot’ for selling a business in that it is a price that is ‘doable’ by a relatively large pool of buyers. Businesses valued at approximately $300,000 (typically) earn an income to an owner/operator that is over $100,000. This size of business is attractive in that it allows an owner to operate it and pay off debt and earn a comfortable living off of the business income. That price range is within reach for many people, especially home owners who can finance a portion of the business purchase with home equity. If you own a small business in the $300,000 range and if your business is profitable, priced right, stable and showing consistent returns, there should be a relatively large pool of buyers for your business.

Small businesses valued up to $750,000
If you own a business valued in the neighbourhood of $750,000 this is still characterized as a “small business” but it would attract a completely different type of buyer (or investor) to your company. Selling a small business in this higher price range usually attracts a buyer with more financial resources or perhaps a partnership or group of buyers. Many times, the idea with buying a business at this price range is that it can earn enough income to justify hiring a manager with enough cashflow left over to pay the debt and earn a return for the buyers.

If you are thinking of selling a small business think about the type of buyer that would be ‘ideal’ to purchase your company. Think in terms of price and financial ability but also pay attention to things like aptitude and lifestyle choice. There are many small business resources on the internet to answer some of your questions. Talk to a business broker to help you sell a smaller business.

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