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Give Your Business a Spring Clean – 8 Tips To Inspire You

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Give Your Business a Spring Clean – 8 Tips

Did you give your business a spring clean this year?  Are you looking for new ways to boost sales, build your brand or get your business plan back on track?

This is the topic of one of the Small Business Association’s (SBA’s) monthly web chats – Small Business Spring Clean: How to Keep Your Business Ideas Fresh – hosted by Octavia Kuransky, Program Development Manager at Central Alabama Women’s Business Center (and available on the SBA’s Learning Center website.)

Check out some of these great suggestions from Octavia’s session and be inspired!

QWhen should a small business website be updated?

A: “Great question.  An outdated website sends the wrong message to potential clients. Recently, we had an expert in to talk on web development.  He recommended a monthly sprucing and the inclusion of a blog in order to make your website more attractive to Google.”

Q: What’s one of the best ways to get your press releases picked up by the media?

A: “I notice greater success in generating press coverage when I can connect to a breaking news story or some issue that is of interest already. Cultivate a relationship with a reporter so that you can call them directly and not have to reinvent the wheel each time. Collaborations always seem to be of interest to the press especially if the outcome can be shown to have some real impact. That should be your aim-to show impact. Impact equals news.”

I’d also add another point – try and target reporters who have influence on social media. Check their score (a measure of influence), the kind of stories they write about and share. Look for a match with your product/industry.

Q: As business development specialists, most of our business involves providing a service to our clients (i.e.: consultations, training, etc.). How can we combine our services with technology to better conduct business? How can we take advantage of technology as service providers? And, is it prudent to do so?

A: “Let me share with you a strategy we are currently launching here at The Women’s Business Center. The most requested workshops-usually those containing basic building block type information-we’ll be putting online. This frees our rather small staff to do more sophisticated work and workshops because we aren’t continually having to do ALL workshops. And the basic ones can be self-tutored. We believe this to be a good strategy because, in effect, we can provide more and more varied workshops to the general public.”

Q: What is the best format to utilize social media to grow your business?

A: “The short answer is, it depends on the business. Some businesses should stay away from certain forms of social media. For example, a Facebook page might not be appropriate for a medical doctor. A review of your target market and a short consultation with a professional can help you determine what kind of social media is appropriate and most effective for you.”

Q: What are some easy ways to spring clean my expenses related to my business?

A: “Great question. I would pick a number, say $200 or so, and any expenditures with an annual outlay of above this amount would have to either show a benefit-meaning the expenditure is directly parlaying into revenue-or absolute necessity. If the expenditure cannot do that, eliminate it or find a less costly way. You might even set some goals for expenditures-like how much you will spend on advertising for the year.”

Q: I own a franchise business. It’s been open for 7 years, and I need some capital infused to help me grow. I am a sole proprietor. Any suggestions?

A: “Yes, I have a suggestion. Gather up all your financial reporting, including tax returns, and make an appointment with Laurie Ganong Jones at the SBDC (Small Business Development Center.) Did you know that it might be possible to get a coach who has experience in your industry and can mentor you? You can, of course, also make an appointment for an informal meeting with your original funder. If your cash flow is marginal, ask about a SBA (Small Business Administration) loan guarantee.”

Q: How do you get started with marketing in a service-oriented business?

A:  “I always recommend to any business, regardless whether it’s a product or service, that it be informed by the target market which has been previously identified in the marketing section of your business plan. This is because we know that certain demographics have certain shopping habits. For example, girls 18-25 tend to shop online. So if you’re marketing to that age group for merchandise, I would advertise online. It helps to pay attention to where your competition is marketing; they may have done the research for you.”

Q: How do you fine tune your elevator pitch after you do your spring cleaning?

A: “Here is a general rule of thumb for composing elevator speeches. Name (you’d be surprised how often people forget to say their name in the press of the moment), the name of your company (again, people forget), the purpose of your service or product (this should just be a sentence or two) and last but not least, something that adds a sense of urgency or uniqueness about your firm or product.”

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