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The Biggest Business Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

The Biggest Business Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

Marketing remains one of the most important and talked about aspect of any business in the world. More importantly, it is an ongoing process that start well before the business even comes into being. You have to let people know what your business is all about, what problem you solve, and how you are different from your competitors. However, there are certain ways, rules, and effective methods of doing that. In the modern world, marketing is nothing less than science. If you have a business or you are considering starting one, here are some marketing mistakes you must avoid.

Top Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

  • Overlooking Data-driven Marketing

When it comes to the modern ways of marketing, you can’t really get to your goals without depending on data. Data-driven marketing is the future of marketing. You have to collect and utilize data to understand your audience and start marketing campaigns that are effective. Talk to any expert about marketing and the first advice they will give you is to understand your audience. How do you identify and understand your audience? That’s not even a difficult question with the modern tools that you have available. Today, you could sign up with any social network and it can provide you with enough data about your target audience to build your marketing campaigns around.

In addition to that, you can collect some data on your own too. If your business is already running, you can use CRMs and other tools to collect your customers’ data. However, the most important issue here is making use of that data. Many businesses do have the data, but they don’t know how to make sense of data. As the experts say, data that does not make sense is noise. You can now use a variety of data collection and data classification software tools today for putting your data in order. In addition to that, you can take advantage of professionals like data scientists, data analysts, and a chief data officer to be at the top of your game.

If you are not basing your marketing on data, you are releasing an arrow in the dark. You don’t have a target and you won’t know what to do next even if it hits the target miraculously.

  • Not Measuring Your Marketing Efforts

How can you market effectively without measuring it? Even the kids have examinations and term papers so you know what their progress is. You can’t start marketing campaigns and forget about them. In many cases, business owners know that some of their marketing campaigns are working, but they have no idea which ones. That situation is worst because it means that the owner is spending some unnecessary money into a futile effort. What if you are running five marketing campaigns and only two of them are working? That could mean you are spending the money on the remaining three.

Not to mention, marketing budgets are not small. You could be spending thousands of dollars without any results. The best thing about today’s digital marketing is that you can measure the potential and performance of your campaigns. You can even collect valuable data about your email campaigns. The several metrics you can measure include the number of emails opened, the number of emails replied to, the number of emails not opened etc. Believe it or not, you now have email marketing tools that can provide you even more detailed data than that. At the end of the day, you should be spending your marketing budget only on the campaigns that are bringing in money.

  • Not Adapting to the Trends

Marketing has evolved at the speed of light in the past few years. Of course, you now have a completely different marketing landscape to deal with since the arrival of the internet. In the past, you could manage with billboards, TV commercials, newspaper ads, etc. but things have changed completely today. The most important thing is that it is not just the methods of marketing that have changed. In fact, businesses now have to assume different characters and personas in order to be effective at marketing. You can’t sound like a seller anymore today.

Take the example of various business assuming unique characters on social networks to look different. A great example is Wendy’s, a chain of fast food restaurants in the US. The business has assumed the persona of a character that likes to roast people. This has earned a lot of attention from the followers for Wendy’s. People like to interact with the brand on the social network, share its tweets, and talk about it. In a similar way, a company that sells blenders started a series of videos in which it will try to blend daily items of use. It would blend smartphones, watches, calculators, and just about anything.

Not that the company wants people to do that, but it assumed this character because it gets people’s attention. You have to do the same if you want people to pay attention to you.

  • Not Solving Problems

A lot of the marketing today is about giving customers the best experience of your brand. Social media websites have proven to be the perfect platforms for business to do that. Today, you can use these platforms to listen to your customers and reply to their concerns. In fact, it is a perfect way to provide customer service to your existing and new potential customers. It is free and you have also have the liberty to talk to them in any way you like. You can reference pictures, videos, GIFs, and anything you want to explain your point of view.

Most importantly, when you resolve the problems of your customers on social media, there are thousands of other people looking at this act. They appreciate this gesture from you and this is how good reputation spreads for your business. Once again, you can use CRM, more specifically social CRMs, to listen to your customers and in what context they are mentioning your brand. Every time they talk about your brand or your set keywords, you get notified. As a result, you can tune into the conversations and resolve any issues that might be bothering your customers.

  • Not Getting Public Feedback

The beauty of the internet is that you can get people’s feedback on just about anything. Smartphone companies are doing that on a regular basis. They will ask their customers what they like or dislike and try to implement those things in their upcoming models. You don’t have to keep surprises from the public unless you are 100% sure that what you are about to do will be liked. If you are unsure about the steps you are about to take, just take public feedback and it will help you. It does not even cost you anything. You could run a free poll on a social network and public voting will tell you what it expects from you.

Many companies have made mistakes of not getting the public feedback and then paying the price for that in the modern times. The best example is of the world famous company GAP. It was in 2010 when the company thought it needs to revamp the logo that it had been rocking for several years. The first logo was GAP written in white on a dark blue background. The company redid the logo by writing the word GAP in black. They even changed the font of the writing. In addition to that, they reduced the size of the blue background square shape. The backlash from the public was real. The uproar was so intense that the company had to go back to its original logo in no more than two days.

Had the company gotten some feedback from the public, it would not have happened in the first place.

  • Not Trying the Unique Ways of Marketing

As stated earlier, marketing has changed significantly in the recent years. Today, there are many unique ways of marketing your business and products. One of the ways is to use social networking platform to run contests. You can run contests and reward the customer with one of your newly launched products. Sometimes, you can give these contests the shape of giveaways. In giveaways, you don’t really want your customers to do a lot. For example, the company might require the customer to post a witty line for the brand. It can then reward the wittiest customer with the new product.

You can also use YouTube as the best platform for starting giveaways. YouTubers are influencers who have deep penetration into their audiences. Your business can take advantage of these influencers to target more customers. If you did not know, influencer marketing is one of the most powerful ways of marketing today. It is up to you who you want to pick for marketing your business. You have nano influencers, micro influencers and macro influencers. With big influencers, you get lot of followers. With small influencers, you get lot of interaction.

  • Completely Ignoring Nativity

Nativity has become quite a thing in this decade. When your business has reach into regions where English is not the first language of the target audience, it only makes sense to translate your ads into their native languages. It will be surprising for you to know that there are still more people in the world who don’t understand English than those who do. Your English advertisements might work to some extent, but they cannot be as effective as ads in native language. You also have to keep in mind that ads in native language bring you closer to your customers.

When you give them ads in their language, they feel a connection with you. They know that you care about them and thus the ads in their languages. Whether you are creating banner ads, social media marketing campaigns or emails, you should have your ads translated in the language that your target audience understands the best. You can also use the professional services from native translators to make your ads as natural as possible. Keep away from Google translation or any other software-based service for that matter. They translate everything word by word and that can sound very weird to the native people.

  • Doing It All at Once

That’s another mistake that many new businesses make. In their minds, they are trying to cover as many people as possible, but that’s just a mistake. You have so many different types of social networks today that taking care of all is just not possible unless you have a big team of professionals taking care of all these accounts. What you have to do is go step by step. Do some things at first and leave the rest for later. Do those later and leave some more to a later time. Not to mention, you don’t find your target audience everywhere.

For example, if your customers are mostly women, YouTube might not be the best thing for you to target women. The best place where you will find women is Pinterest. According to the recent statistics, more than 80% of the users on Pinterest are women. So, if you are targeting males then Pinterest might not be the best place to start. Similarly, if your product is for professionals, the best social network is LinkedIn for you. You have to start from a point that serves you the best rather than going all in.

Conclusion

The mistakes that many new business owners make can have an even longer list. However, this list is more relevant to the modern type of marketing that majorly revolves are digital and internet marketing. When starting a business, it is best to learn from the mistakes of others because a mistake you make can cost you thousands of even millions of dollars depending on the size of your business. It all starts with knowing your audience to the core. Once you know your audience, you can develop a strong connection with them. Once you have a strong connection with them, things start to fall in place automatically.

Signs of a Failing Business – Shutting It down to Avoid Further Damage

 

When you start a business, you are filled with all the passion and excitement in the world. You are thinking optimistically about how your customers will love your product and how you will expand your business into new territories. However, things do not always go as planned, and one must keep that in mind. No matter how hard you try, the success of your business still relies on the response from the customers. They are the ones in power without them even knowing about it. When a business starts to fail, it is a test for a true business owner.

If you think that a failed business attempt makes you a bad businessperson, you might want to think again. Evan Williams is one of the co-founders of Twitter, one of the biggest social networks on the internet today. However, there was a time when he started Odeo, a platform for podcasts, which failed miserably. Similarly, there are hundreds of other examples of people who failed at first but then made big comebacks. In reality, a bad business owner is one who cannot identify when it is time to close the business down and continues to take the damage.

Let’s take a look at some of the signs that tell you that your business needs to be shut down. If you have a way to change things completely, do that. If you plan to continue as is despite the clear signs, you are only hurting yourself emotionally and financially.

Big Signs That a Business Needs to be Shut Down

  • Reducing Customer Strength

Your customers are the strength of your business. You need more strength every day. The last thing you want to see is reducing customer count on your business reports. Of course, you have many different ways to reach out to new customers. You have to do some more intelligent marketing and try to get more customers as soon as you can. However, if you have been trying your best but your customer count is not increasing, it could be a signal that your business needs to be shut down.

It is important to know that you have to look at the customer count in multiple ways. First, you have the existing customers. Secondly, you have to look at the rate of making new customers. If your existing customers are going down, your next action should be to look at the rate at which you are making new customers. If this rate is faster than your customer turnover, you should not worry much. However, if your customer acquisition is going down and your customer retention is getting worse with time, it is better to close the business down unless you have some big plan in mind.

  • Your Financial Stress Is Permanent

Financial stress is a part and parcel to any business. However, there is a difference between thinking about how to increase profits and thinking of how to reduce the damage. If you find yourself always worrying about worsening financial condition, take it as a signal. The owner of a successful business is thinking about expansion into new territories, improving service standards, bettering customer experience, etc. On the other hand, the owner of a failing business is mostly worried about survival. Are your financial worries associated with your survival?

If it has only been a few months since you started your business, the worry is natural and understandable. However, if you have been going like this for several months without any relief, it is better that you take the big decision. Keep in mind that chronic stress can be a cause of many physical illnesses. From diabetes to heart conditions, stress can cause all of that when you are dealing with it on a daily basis. If not for other things, close the business down and do something else for the sake of your health.

  • You Can’t Pay the Fixed Expenses

Once again, you have to understand the difference between not being able to fulfill an order from a customer and paying the rent of your building. If you have a big order from your customer and you can’t fulfill it, you might just be short on your cash flow. Shortage of cash flow does not necessarily mean a failing business. In fact, all the new and small businesses have certain cash flow problems in the beginning. You can arrange some loans, fulfill the orders, make a loyal customer, and recover your costs when the customer pays for the products/services.

On the other hand, when you can’t even afford the fixed expenses of your business, you are in a huge trouble. There should never be a point where you can’t pay the rent of the office space or the building you have rented for your business. You should never have troubles paying the utility bills because that just goes to show that you don’t have any money as backup. When you don’t have a backup and you can’t pay your fixed expenses, you should wrap things up. The only other way out is to get a loan. However, getting a loan to pay the fixed expenses of your business can be the worst decision you can make.

  • Your Employees Are Not Staying

You cannot blame the employees when this happens. They came to work with you because they have their own expenses. They have families to manage and many other financial troubles. The salary you pay to them keeps them working. However, mature employees are quick to realize when a company is on the brink of closure. A monthly compensation is not enough for them because job security and a stable financial future are two important considerations for them. They don’t want to stay with a company that will not be around in the coming months.

When they have analyzed the situation fully well, they leave your company. The biggest sign is when the employees you trust the most start leaving too. They can’t see a future with you and it is not their fault if they don’t stay with you. Loyalty is one thing, but they can’t pay their utility bills with loyalty or feed it to their children.

  • You Notice Others Noticing a Failing Business

This is the most painful part of a failing business for the business owner. Somewhere in your mind, you are always ready to face challenges and hoping that you will be out of your troubles at some point. However, when you see that others can sense your business failing, it is not a good sight at all. You can’t ignore it no matter how much you want. You can sense it from the people look at you when they talk to you or with their facial expressions when they enter your business premises. You might even face some unusual questions from the people who come for the interview.

For example, an interviewee might ask something like, “What are the peak working hours of your company (while looking around searching for people)?” In short, they are trying to ask if there are any other people working for the company. A business that’s experiencing growth has hustle and bustle in the office or within the premises. If it all looks gloomy and quiet, and there are not enough people, it is a sign that people notice very quickly.

  • Your Customers Don’t Take You Seriously

As unfair as it might sound, your customers might stop taking you seriously when they see that your business is failing. Humans should be concerned about other humans, but that’s not always the case in the practical world. In reality, your partners and customers are willing to go the extra mile for you when they can expect something from you in return. However, when they know that you are at a point where you can’t offer them any value, they stop caring about you. You might notice that in the way your customers pay you. Are they delaying your payments and seem complacent while doing that? If yes, they are not serious with clearing your invoices in the first place.

The problem in this situation is that even you can’t pressurize them to pay you the money they owe you. That’s because you are afraid you might infuriate them and lose any chances of getting your money back. You have to play the nice guy for as long as you can, but late payments from the customers are hurting your business on a daily basis.

  • You Can’t Fix the Little Issues

Not having enough money to grow the business is one thing, but sometimes you don’t have enough cash to even fix the little problems with your business. For example, an electricity board might be waiting to get fixed for a long time, but you never had enough spare cash to spend on it. You might be noticing that the paint is coming off the walls but you can’t dare go for a paint job because you don’t have the money to do so. You can notice that the sign outside your business premises looks worn out, dusty, and old, but you can’t do anything about it no matter what you want.

When even the little issues like these become hard to fix, you should be clear in your mind that the business needs to be closed. Once again, you are highly advised not to go for a loan from anyone for something that does not yield any returns.

  • Your Business Can’t Pay You

The least you can expect from your business is a salary for yourself. If you don’t have enough cash to renovate or grow the business, that’s okay. You can continue to run the business steadily and wait for the time when you have enough cash to do those things. However, if you are not even able to manage your own salary from the business, you should not take that lightly. It is a serious concern because you might want to start a job to pay yourself. Being employed and running a business at the same time just to pay yourself is not healthy. It will be a lot of stress and can take a toll on your health as well.

  • You Can’t Think of Quitting Your Job

A lot of business people continue working for some time and quite their jobs when their business has reached a certain level of earning. If that’s part of the plan then it is a good thing. However, if you can’t quite your job because you think quitting it will get you in all sorts of financial troubles then your business is not doing what it is supposed to do. You are probably putting money from your pocket into your business. When you think of quitting your job, you know you will have no money to support yourself and your business. In short, you are managing everything from the salary you are getting from your employer. Your business is only a burden for you.

If you notice the biggest entrepreneurs of the world and their first advice to someone who they think have a great opportunity at hand, they often tell them to quit their jobs. In fact, they would even go to the extent of telling students to quit studies. That’s because a successful business gives you everything that a job never can. However, if the thought of quitting the job worries you, your business is only a source of sucking your cash up.

Final Thoughts

There is no shame in admitting to yourself that your business is not successful. It is a sign of a successful and strong leader to realize the mistakes and improve them with a plan. Not realizing your faults, mistakes, and damages unless you have a reached a point of total devastation is what a true failure looks like. Before you even start a business, you need to set an exit point. You have to create a checklist of items that will trigger an exit for you. When you analyze your business and notice that it checks every box on that checklist of failure triggers, you have to make sure you close the business down before suffering any further loss.

The Many Types of Social Signals and How They Benefit You With Marketing

 

In the digital world, you have to think of unique ways to market your business, product, and services to your potential customers. While the methods of digital marketing are already defined, you can experiment a lot using them. If you can understand human psychology, you can use a variety of ways to get customers to do business with you. One of the ways to influence your customers is with the help of social signals. You can use online social signals to get the attention of your customers and convince them to buy from you.

Believe it or not, social signals can answer a lot of questions on a customer’s mind without your involvement. They can also remove a lot of barriers that prevent a new customer from buying from you for the first time. Let’s define social signals first and then get into the many types of that exist and how they help you with marketing.

What Are Social Signals?

Social signals are the indicators in the online world that compel your customers to take a certain decision. In this particular case, you are compelling the customer that you are a business that customer should sign up with. These signals make a customer feel comfortable with your business in the online social community. When a customer looks at these signals, the thought process is something like this, “Everyone else is doing this, so I should do this too” or “No one else is doing this, so I better keep away from doing this too”.

While the impact of social signals on the search engine optimization remains debated, there is no doubt that they have a huge impact on the perception of the customers. Some common examples of social signals are views, shares, likes, subscriptions, followers, downloads, number of customers etc.

Social Signals and Their Marketing Benefits

Views

The first and the most commonly found social signal on the internet is view count. The view count could be the number of views of a page or a video. Views are mostly associated with videos. Whether you upload a video on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or some other famous social networking website, you will notice that there is a view counter right beneath the video. Go to any video service on the internet and it will always be there. It is not there without a reason. Of course, it is one of the most powerful social signals.

The idea of view count is to show the customers that your content is worth watching. It also has a huge impact on your brand as a whole. The view count on the videos you post on social media show your popularity to the people as a brand. When you don’t have any views on your videos, it could hurt your image. Conversely, when you have a lot of views, they send a very positive signal to the people about your brand.

Shares

Shares can be associated with your videos and other social media posts as well. They play the most significant role in popularizing your blog posts. When you write blog posts, one of your aims is to present yourself as the thought leader. For that to happen, you need some strong social signals that can show your customers that your content is worth sharing. The numbers of shares on your content instantly sends a signal to the customer that it is some worthwhile content. It compels them to read the post.

This particular social signal is most important when you want to establish your authority on a subject. If you are a tech company and there is a tech blog post with lots of shares, it establishes your brand’s authority in the tech community and people who are interested in tech-related topics.

Likes

If there is something more important than view count, it is the number of likes on your content. Likes are everywhere on social media. From YouTube videos to Facebook posts and Tweets on Twitter. On different platforms, you will see the same social signal with different names and shapes. That’s because every social network wants to be different from the other. On Facebook, you have a likes or the thumbs up sign. On Twitter, you have it in the shape of a heart. On Google Plus, you have +1s whereas on Reddit it is in the form of Upvotes. All of these signals mean the same thing i.e. the public likes your content.

Once again, likes are a way to show your popularity to your customers. It is also a way for you to show new customers how much your existing customers like you. If they are liking your content, they must like you as a brand too.

Subscriptions

Subscriptions are not as commonly discussed as likes and shares, but they are heavier in their influence than these two social signals. Subscription means converted customers whereas likes and shares don’t indicate that. A person who likes and shares your YouTube video is not necessarily a loyal customer. On the other hand, subscription means just that. This customer does not want to miss any update from you. In addition to that, you have paid subscriptions. They are a critically important social signal for companies that sell services.

By showing the numbers of subscriptions, you can show your new customers how many people trust you already. Your subscriptions can also show people the size of your business. Most importantly, you are showing your customers that others have trusted you and they should not have a problem trusting you either.

Followers

Followers are like subscriptions but they are more limited to the social media. When you create a business page or profile on social media, people can add you to their friends, networks, circles, etc. Your number of followers is a sign of your brand’s popularity. The more followers you have on social media, the bigger the brand your customers will consider you. However, having a lot of followers is not easy to maintain. What you have to do is interact with them as frequently as possible. You can’t simply rely on the number of followers you have.

If you have a million followers but the numbers of likes on your post are not more than 1000 on average, that’s a bad sign. It can mean a lot of things. It can mean that your followers don’t interact with you or it can either mean that your followers are fake. If it is proved that you have fake followers, you might end up with your brand reputation completely marred.

Comments

If you were to weigh the importance of social signals and you had likes, shares, and views on one side whereas comments on the other side, the side with the comments will be heavier. That’s because comments are an indication of your interaction with your audience. How you talk to your customers directly affects your brand’s image and reputation. It also sets the tone of the relationship between you and your customers. One of your product videos might have millions of views, but what if the comments show that most of the customers are actually bashing the product rather than liking it?

You must always try to get some response from your customers and that requires some skills. The way you interact with your followers, subscribers, viewers, customers, etc. can help a new customer decide whether to do business with you or not.

Customer Count

All of the social signals stated above were more directed towards your blogs and social media interactions. However, there are some social signals that have to go on your website. One of the most important website social signals is the customer count. When people see your business for the first time, they are reluctant to provide you their personal information or pay you for your services and products. They want the assurance that doing business with you will be a good decision. That’s where the customer count works.

Provide the customer count on your website using a big font so the new prospects can see how many have already bought from you. Your customer count also shows prospects the size of your business. Customer count is a critical aspect of marketing for B2B businesses. B2B relations are based solely on trust and reputation i.e. there are no emotions involved. To win the business of another company, you have to show it that there are other big customers who have trusted you already. You can give customer count a twist by stating repeating customers rather than new customers too. That’s even more reassuring for new customers.

Awards

This is yet another social signal that can work wonders on the website. Showing the number of awards on your website is a way to build trust with your customers. You will often see this type of social signal on the websites of businesses that sell software solutions. It matters a lot to show the awards your business or product has won over the years to make customers pick you over your competitors. Such a social signal is extremely important when you don’t have a lot different from your competitor. Two antivirus companies might be providing different software tools but with similar features.

The only way you can win a customer over is by showing him/her that you have proven your product to the experts. Mentioning the awards your product has won is just that. It establishes trust and gives a solid reason to the customers why they should pick your product over your competitors’.

Reviews

Reviews can be in many different formats as well. First, you can have the reviews appear on your website as well. However, customers are not very willing to trust the reviews on your website as they think you will filter out the bad ones. You also have reviews on other retailer websites that sell your products such as Shopify, Amazon, etc. Another type of review is the one coming from experts. You might have seen websites that compare various products, their features, benefits, disadvantages, etc. to give customers an expert opinion on which one they should pick.

The more positive and real reviews you have, the more your customers will trust you. On websites like Amazon, it is the positive reviews that really boost the sales of the products.

Ratings

Again, you can have the rating in many different places as well. You can put the rating given to you by the most recognized and trusted reviewing websites right on your home page. This type of rating is very effective in helping a customer pick your product. A high rating means that your product is trusted by reviewers and customers. Positive ratings combined with positive reviews are just enough to help you sell your product more. The best way to use the ratings to your advantage is to make them visible on the home page of your website.

Testimonials

Testimonials are more like positive reviews. These are customers who once used your product or service and were so happy that they felt like writing something positive about you. Testimonials usually appear on your website as well. Testimonials look great on one-page website designs. If you have received testimonials from a big company, you should definitely have it on your website because that builds trust in your B2C and B2B community. Keep away from fake testimonials because that’s bad marketing and customers are wise enough to recognize them too.

Conclusion

You can keep on digging deeper to discover many other types of social signals as well. The idea is to send positive signals to your customers about your brand. It can be anything small or big. A business serving multiple countries should not mind showing on its home page how many countries it is serving. Sometimes, you can be more specific with your signals as well. For example, rather than showing the customers count, you can show the logos of the companies that happen to be your customers. The possibilities are endless. You just have to know how you can use these signals to your advantage.

Ten Critical Considerations before Starting a Business

Ten Critical Considerations before Starting a Business

People with regular jobs are often looking for that one opportunity when they can start their own business. The freedom of being in control and not having anyone on your head to order you to do things is quite a motivating factor for many. However, a job comes with a certain sense of predictability wherein you know you will get a fixed salary at the end of every month. On the other hand, starting a business is a brave step that only the daring ones take. There is not enough predictability, and you have to be at your best every day to keep your business afloat.

If you are someone thinking about starting your business, here are the 10 most important considerations for you.

10 Things to Consider before Starting Your Business

Know Yourself First

As clichéd as it may sound, self-awareness is the biggest strength of any successful businessperson. In this particular sense, self-awareness is all about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. When you know what you can and cannot do, you are in a position to start a business that you can manage. You don’t want to do something that will be difficult for you to manage. It’s not just about your passion. Maybe you have always been passionate about starting a restaurant, but are you someone who can take the pressure without panicking?

If you think you can’t take immense pressure on a daily basis, starting a restaurant might not be the best thing for you. Think of these facts, your weaknesses and strengths. Start a business wherein you can capitalize on your strengths and keep out your weaknesses.

Research the Business Type

Once you have decided the type of business you want to start, you have to start researching this particular business. You must know the starting points, the areas of concern, and the common reasons for failures of such businesses. You must also identify your audience. In addition to identifying the audience, you will have to research the audience to know what it likes and where you can find it easily. For example, if you are thinking about starting an online store, you must know the many ways of starting one. You must also familiarize yourself with how payment processing works, how you can create a merchant account, how to sign up for cash on delivery, etc.

Register the Proper Business Structure

One of the most important things that most new business people often overlook is registering their businesses as the right structure. When you talk about structures, you can have your business registered as an S-corporation, C-corporation, LLC, etc. Why you want to register your business using the proper structure is because this decision will directly impact the taxes you have to pay. When you have a sole proprietorship, you are the only owner of the business and responsible for everything. You can pay your taxes like you do from your personal income. Things can get complex when you enter into S and C corporation realms.

You must know that there is a huge difference between the ways two corporations pay taxes. Sometimes, people choose the wrong entity and end up paying more in taxes than they should. Such decisions continue to hurt your business every month.

Arrange the Capital

Yes, you already know that you need capital to start your business. However, this point is more about knowing the options you have available. In most cases, businesspersons think that banks are the only institutions they can go to for getting the loan when that’s not the case at all. You have more options available to arrange the capital for your business than you had in the past. In addition to banks, you now have many private entities that provide you with specialized loans. These loans can be suited exactly to your business type.

Most importantly, you have the crowdfunding option available at hand today. You could just sign up on a crowdfunding platform, create an impressive pitch, and get the funding from investors from around the world. You don’t necessarily have to return the money to the investors if the amount is small. These online funds are completely different from venture capitalist funds. The rules and regulations are not as tight and you can reward the investors with a sample of your product or some other souvenirs for their investments.

Know the Importance of Location

If your business is not purely an online entity and you have a physical address too, you have to pay special attention to the location. For a brick and mortar business, location is the backbone to the success. There is a lot of research required before you finalize a place. First, you have to think about a location where your target audience comes regularly. You don’t want to start a business that targets teenagers in an area where the audience that frequents the most is over the age of 50. Other things to consider include the buying power of the people in that area and the volume of foot traffic.

After the external considerations, you have to look at the internals. Is the space enough for your operation? Are the utility bills paid? Is the landlord friendly to the tenants? Is the structure sound? Is the monthly rent affordable for you to bear in the starting months when your business is not producing a lot of return? All of these are important questions you have to ask before you pay the advance for the location of your business.

Have an Exit Point

It is never enough to emphasize this point because of how important it is. When you are starting your first business, you are not fully aware of the emotional side effects of doing so. In your mind, it is a lifeless entity. However, your business will be like your baby. Once you have started it, you will find it nearly impossible to shut it down. The idea of closing down the business can be immensely discomforting. However, you have to set an exit point before even starting the business. You want to write down at what point you will not continue any further.

Make it a part of your business plan and stick to it. If things do not work out the way you had expected them to, exit the business as soon as you can. If you don’t, you will end up burning a lot of money without any returns. The last thing you want is creditors knocking on your door and you not having any money to return to them.

Create a Marketing Strategy

You must have a solid marketing strategy in preparation from the day you start thinking about your business. For you to market your business the right way, you have to know your target audience first. You have to know their interests and what platforms they use the most so you can target them there. Social media marketing is your friend and probably the best way to know your audience. Spend your money only on marketing channels that are working. Even when it comes to internet marketing, you have search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay per click marketing, content marketing, etc.

You have to know the type of marketing that works best for your business. If you have multiple campaigns rolling at the same time, analyze them to know the most potential one and put a stop to the ones that are only sucking up your marketing capital without any results.

Have a Strong Team by Your Side

Believe it or not, you can’t do everything on your own no matter how skilled you are at doing them. You need a team with you to run a business and your choice of the team members is a critical step in guaranteeing the success of your business. First, you want to have a team with you because when you go to the investors to pitch your business idea, they want to see the potential of your team. They usually will not invest in one person. Secondly, you have many different tasks to take care of such as internet marketing, accounting, sales, legal activities, etc. You cannot do it all with the same level of effectiveness.

You also have to know how to pick your team. If you are hiring employees, you are making a mistake. The first people on your team should not be just employees. These should be people who share your vision. You don’t want to lose them or treat them like workers. In fact, they should be willing to you even when you are going through tough times. That’s possible only when they believe in the same vision as you do. So, when it comes to hiring people, your focus should not be the responsibilities they have served on their past jobs or their achievements as workers. You should also focus on the “why” of things.

Define a Differentiator

So, unless you are doing something that more than seven billion people in the world could not think of, you need to find a differentiator. You have to realize that every business is there to solve a problem. If you are not solving a problem, you don’t have a business at all. However, there is another aspect that’s even more important than problem solving – it is knowing your differentiator. When you land in the market, you will notice many other businesses doing similar things and providing similar solution to yours. However, you can set yourself apart with a differentiator.

You have to define what makes you different. And then, you have to find effective ways to communicate your differentiator. You need a strong branding strategy to do that. Don’t rely on price being the only differentiator because that’s nothing special. Nike sells sports products and apparel, but so does Puma and Adidas. However, what differentiates Nike is the “Just Do It” attitude. It speaks within its branding, advertisement and marketing.

Pay Attention to the Cash Reserve

You might not pay a lot of attention to the expansion of your business at the time of starting it. However, it becomes a critical concern for most business owners once they have established a successful business. Of course, you can’t think of operating your business in one place forever. If you have been successful in your endeavor, you have to look for ways to expand your business further. One way to do that is to go to the banks yet again. If you have an established business, you won’t have a lot of trouble in getting a loan from the bank. However, bank loans can be back-breaking no matter how much profit you are making.

A loan is still a loan. What if you could expand the business without requiring any loan? That’s only possible when you have been building a cash reserve from day one. Building a cash reserve will require some sacrifice from you, and you will also have to do some math. First, you have to know your monthly net profit. Once you know your monthly net profit, you can decide how much money you can set aside every month to build cash reserve. Sometimes, you are making a lot of revenue but your net profit is not enough to set aside some money for cash reserve. You then have to look for strategies to increase your revenue in a way that it increases your profit as well.

Final Thoughts

It should be clear from the information above that there is a lot to think about when you start a business. It is not as simple as opening a store and waiting for customers to come. As a businessperson, you have to look into each and every aspect of what makes the world go around i.e. the inflow and outflow of money, consumption of money, salaries, profits, losses, expansions, customer experience, business reputation, etc. As a business owner, you are central to everything. Yes, there will be a lot of stress. However, once you have done everything like it should be done, the relief and pleasure are ecstatic.

Steps To Develop An Efficient Social Media Marketing Plan

 

In today’s world, marketing on social media has come far more effective than any other form of advertising. Businesses are quickly expanding their marketing strategies to accommodate various social media platforms. Business owners have started searching for innovative yet easily accessible ways to grow their businesses online. However, most of them do so without formulating a properly documented strategy first. Following are a few steps that can assist business owners in ensuring that their marketing plan is effectively implemented on social media.

Audit To Analyze Your Current Social Influence

Before starting the development of an appropriate strategy, it is better for the business to know where it stands. It needs to audit its existing social media presence while keeping in mind several areas such as that social media platforms that it is most active on and the platforms that bring it the most response from customers. Another important thing to look over is whether a business’s profiles on social media are fully optimized or not. Optimization is vital as it allows business owners to compare their profiles with those of their competitors. Tools are now available to allow businesses to assess their key areas that need improvement and exactly how to improve them by providing a deep and insightful analysis.

Identify Your Target Market

The most important thing when expanding online is to single out your target market. The more specific you are when identifying the needs of your targeted customers, the higher the chances are of you achieving higher sales and increased profit margin. When differentiating amongst the population to single out your audience, you need to focus on age, location, income index and job title. However, the most important thing to know about your specified customer is the social media network that they frequent. Placing an advertisement on a platform that is popular amongst your audience is most likely to help you form a pathway towards your goals.

Form A Mission Statement Specifically Designed For Social Media

Before developing a statement for social media, it is important for business owners to remember the target market that they wish to reach. A mission statement reflects not only the brand identity, but the central aim of the business. Therefore, it needs to be thought out with much care and focus to certify that it is understood by both the potential and existing customers. People are more willing to buy products and services from experts rather than businesses with generalized mission statements that do not specify the main purpose of their social presence.

Categorize Crucial Metrics for Success

In order to improve its social media presence, a business needs to be able to measure it. Gaining a huge number of followers is not enough when determining the success of online marketing but, a business needs to keep an account of its profit margins as well. You should be able to justify spending finance on expanding your brand online. Metrics such as the current conversion rate and brand mentions should be considered firsthand. Furthermore, the more the number of shares on each post, the higher the number of potential and existing customers are being reached. Time being spent on the website by the employees for the sole purpose of marketing should also be accounted for.

Post Interactive Content To Engage Customers

Because many businesses make the mistake of skipping to this step right away, is the reason why they fail to create an effective marketing plan to implement on social media platforms. If the steps above are not paid any heed to, creating engaging content will not ensure success in the long run. After the target audience has been identified, their attention can be captured relatively easily. Images, videos and other relevant information can inform customers about the business’s product or service. It can also increase their knowledge with news and blog posts. Old posts can also be recycled by the business by pining or flagging them with current information. Furthermore, posts can be shared again in different formats to reach as many people as it can. However, formats selected should be in sync with the mission statement otherwise they will fail to serve their purpose. Surveys show that infographics, interviews and eBooks can also help customers understand not only the business, but the product or service that it is known for.

The content posted on social media is the backbone of strengthening a business’s social media presence therefore, it should be formed so as to engage as many customers as possible. It is highly recommended that business owners should create a calendar that outlines exactly what they will post on which social media network, the content it will carry and the format that it will be shared in.

Utilize Management Tools To Enhance Your Social Media Presence

Using tools does not guarantee a strong social media presence but those businesses that use the right tools have a higher probability of establishing their brand identity online. Using management tools allows a business to boost its productivity. Perhaps the most important benefit that these tools can provide is to allow the business to schedule its posts. A content calendar can indicate when content has to be posted and marketers can use these tools to share them at the time indicated. Thus, the effectiveness of a business will significantly increase.

Follow, Analyze And Tweak

Perhaps the most important step is to assess the success that your social media marketing plan is yielding. It is important to go through the process of trial and error to further optimize the content shared. Every effort made to expand your influence should be tracked and fully analyzed. If problems arise, they should be dealt with accordingly. Tools should be used to maximize efficiency. Businesses should also consider reevaluating the social media networks that they should continue posting their content on. The networks that are able to reach the target market with ease, engage them and trigger a response should be identified and paid special attention to.

A business should constantly strategize new and innovative ways to optimize its social media presence.

 

Best Ideas for Small Business Marketing

Since small business have a limited amount of time and a budget that restricts them, they often find it difficult to survive in competitive markets. However, below are several ideas that professionals recommend that small business can use to market their business.

Giving Out Free Samples

Owners of the business are advised to be open to providing samples of their products or trials of their services to customers. For example, it is obvious that a furniture company will not give away a free sofa to check whether the customer is happy with it or not. What they can do is offer fabric samples to their existing or potential shoppers so that they can assess the quality, the color or whether the sofa will fit in with their current décor. A simple fabric sample could influence the customer’s decision. In the same way, allowing a customer a trial of the service that you provide will give them an insight as to how beneficial your service is to their business or personal lives.

Take A Look At Your Online Listings

It is highly recommended that business owners should ensure that the information displayed online for their business is up to date, relevant and accurate so that customers are not misled in any way. There are several tools available now that make it easier for businesses to scan their profiles across Google, Facebook, Bing and other sites.

Do Not Ignore Email Marketing

Whether the business is looking to improve sales temporarily or in the long run, it is important to have a number of people on your email list. Customers can be encouraged to join your email lists through various offers on your website or blog. Once enough people join the network, the owners also need to establish and maintain a long-term relationship with these customers.

Update And Edit Previous Content

Another way for small businesses to increase their returns on investment can be through repurposing old posts. An easy way to do that is to post the same information in different formats like using podcasts for an already written article. However, another way to recycle content is through using one of the most popular posts and reposting it with recent and relevant information.

Employing Experts To Market Your Business Online

Hiring experts to increase awareness of your product or service can prove to be quite useful for small businesses. There are a number of organizations that not only create campaigns for you to run online, but monitor and manage them on your behalf as well. Amongst other services that boost your presence online, such organizations are trained to design websites, manage your digital listings and even display your advertisements to the target audience.

Market Your Product Through Demonstrations

Customers often prefer to have a true sense of the value of the product or service before they buy it. Therefore, demonstrations should be prepared beforehand and placed on blogs or websites in the form of screenshots, videos, free time sensitive trials or walkthroughs. As they add a human element to the product or service being sold, demonstrations can prove to be extremely useful for small businesses.

Setting Up Chatbots

Because chatbots are easily accessible and affordable, small businesses are often advised to use these to communicate with customers. Besides allowing owners to engage their customers by instantly replying, chatbots can be programmed to sell products, give automated replies to specific questions, create awareness about the product or service and even take bookings. A wide array of tools online can assist a business to select the best package to suit their needs. Customers can be kept updated about any relevant information relating to the product or service that the business is selling and at times, a viral buzz can be created to capture public attention.

Content Writing For Publications

Offering publications to write their content and contribute is a great way for business owners to market their product or service. Media outlets are always looking for contributors who would write their content either to be communicated locally or on a national or international platform. By doing this, the business can not only gain recognition but establish itself.

Participating In Charities

Getting Involved in charities or organizations working for a good cause can prove to be helpful when owners set out to market their business. A potential customer may decide to buy your product or utilize your service if they too believe in the cause and are looking to contribute to it. Also, charities boost a business’s image in the community.

Placing Advertisements At Grocery Stores

Though it sounds odd, this recommendation has proved to be quite useful. At times, people are willing to support small businesses that operate locally who can easily gain recognition by placing their brands on grocery carts or on shopping receipts.

Using Localized Marketing

Encouraging customers to buy their products from local businesses can also prove to be fruitful. Starting with advertisements placed in local newspapers or magazines and then moving on to running campaigns that are specifically designed to capture the attention of the locals can go a long way. Furthermore, word of your business can travel from region to region creating awareness and establish a brand image.

Hosting A Gathering

Potential customers can be brought in if the business has premises that can be used to host a gathering. Experts can be hired to keep the focus on the business and answer questions regarding the product or service. In this way, customers are kept engaged and relevant information is also communicated.

Branding Business Vehicles

Given that the product or service that the business offers requires knocking on doors, then branding vehicles can prove to be a profitable opportunity. There is no limit to potential customers who can be found anywhere. Therefore, driving around frequently can not only create awareness, but land clients for the business who are searching for the product or service it provides.

 

 

Cryptocurrencies – A Brief Guide about Digital Currency

 

Cryptocurrency is digital money that was invented to be secure. It is basically associated with the Internet that makes use of cryptography, a process of converting readable information into an unbreakable code to keep track of all transactions including transfers and purchases. Cryptography was designed to tailor to the need for secure communication during the Second World War. Since then, it has completely evolved in the digital world with important elements of mathematical theory and computer technology to become a secure way to carry out information, communications, and financial transactions online.

In present time, cryptocurrencies have become a universal phenomenon. While it is still geeky and not understandable to many people, financial institutions and governments are familiar with its importance. It’s really hard to find a major bank or large financial institute that did not conduct research about virtual currencies or publish a paper about them. There are even many accounting firms that have started so-called blockchain projects to educate people about blockchain.

However, beyond all the above efforts, the majority of people including bankers, scientists, developers, and consultants know very limited about virtual currencies. Most of them often fail to even understand the basic ideas of any cryptocurrency available today. In this article, we will walk through the whole section about cryptocurrencies to learn about where they originate from, how they work, and how they emerged as an important product of virtual cash.

What actually Cryptocurrencies are

In simple definition, cryptocurrencies are limited entries in a database that cannot be changed until someone meets the specific conditions. Units of digital currency are generated with a process known as mining which uses a computer and internet to solve complex mathematical problems that create coins. You can also purchase virtual currencies from brokers and store or use them through cryptographic wallets.

Financially, virtual currencies and applications of blockchain technology continue to be promising and expect more users to avail their benefits. According to experts, there is a strong likelihood of other transactions such as stock, bonds and other financial assets to be operated through blockchain technology. The cryptocurrency market is pretty fast and wild. However, no one can deny the risk of experiencing extreme validity in this rich ecosystem of coins. It is very common that a currency gains 20 percent a day, sometimes 100 percent and loses the same on very next day.

Bitcoins – The First Cryptocurrency

Created in 2009, bitcoin is the first form of digital currency which is still the best known to many people. Satoshi Nakamoto was the unknown inventor of the first cryptocurrency who never planned to invent virtual money. He built a peer-to-peer electronic cash system with the intention to invent something that many people could not create before cryptocurrency. According to Satoshi Nakamoto, this electronic cash system will use a peer-to-peer network for preventing double spending. It is an entirely decentralized system and functions without any server or central authority. Satoshi’s decision to make a peer-to-peer cash system resulted in the invention of cryptocurrency. Although bitcoins are complex and a bit technical, having a proper knowledge about them can make it as easy as ABC.

Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System

In order to work with mainstream cash, you need to have a payment system with an account, balance, and transactions. Almost all payment networks need to prevent double spending in order to help users prevent spending the same amount twice. This is usually done with the help of a centralized server which tracks record about the balance.

With a decentralized payment network, on the other hand, you do not have a centralized server. For that reason, every single entity of the network is recorded in order to carry out this job. All peers in the network need to have a list of each transaction to see if future transactions are legitimate or an attempt to double spending. At this point, it is interesting to understand how these entitles can keep a consensus about financial transaction records.

If a peer of the payment network disagrees about only single entity of minor balance, it causes everything to break. It needs an outright consensus to be rightly on the track. As a matter of fact, you would need to use a centralized authority in order to declare the correct status of balances. But Satoshi made it possible to achieve consensus without needing to have a central authority. Virtual currencies are important segment of this solution that make it truly fascinating and help it rolling over the world.

Common Cryptocurrencies

Aside from bitcoins that was the first and the most important digital currency to date, there are also many other cryptocurrencies that have taken the world by storm. These include:

Bitcoin

As the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin is the most commonly traded digital currency up to the present time. During it turbulent journey, bitcoin has also witnessed a time when it was soaring as high as $20,000 in the end of 2017 before it crashed down to $6000. As of May 2018, bitcoin has a market capitalization of around $128 billion.

Ethereum

Used in the ethereum blockchain, this is the second most popular form of digital money. Ethereum was invented in 2015, and has a market capitalization of about 56 billion dollars in present time. With the latest market value of $1300, this cryptocurrency has gone through a stormy history. Due to a major hacking event two years back, ethereum torn apart into two different virtual currencies and briefly brought down its value to as low as 10 cents. However, ethereum is stable now and has been proved hugely popular as a landmark for other virtual currencies using the code of ethereum blockchain.

Ripple

Developed in 2012, ripple is another famous distributed record system. It can be used to keep record of many sorts of transactions beyond cryptocurrencies, the developers of ripple has a working history with major financial institutions like Santander. Currently, the market capitalization of ripple has reached around $24 billion.

Litecoin

Litecoin is very much alike bitcoin but has faster moved ahead to bring different innovations such as faster payments and easier transaction processes. At this point, the market capitalization of litecoin is around $6 billion.

What Miners Do

Everyone can be a cryptocurrency miner. Having said that a decentralized network cannot delegate this task, cryptocurrencies need some sort of mechanism to prevent individuals from abusing them. The inventor of bitcoin set a rule for miners wherein they are needed to use their computer to qualify for this job. In, fact, they need to find a hash – an important product of cryptographic function that will connect the new block to its predecessor. This process is known as the proof-of-work and is based on the SHA 256 hash algorithm in bitcoin.

Mostly, there is no need to understand details about hash algorithm beyond that they can be the base of a cryptographic puzzle. You can only create bitcoins if you solve a cryptographic puzzle – a series of complicated mathematical problems. Once you have found a solution, you can build a block and store it in the blockchain. You can also add a coinbase transaction that can give you a particular number of bitcoins. As the difficulty of cryptographic puzzle increases the constant of computer power you invest, there is only a precise amount of crypto coins that can be generated in the given amount of time.

Transaction Confirmation

Cryptocurrencies consists of a peer-to-peer network. All peer have records of the complete history of each transaction and so the balance of each account. In this system, a transaction serves as a file that says, “Jamaica gives X bitcoin to Mark”, and is signed by Jamaica’s private key which is a basic public cryptography key. Once signed, the transaction is broadcasted within the network and sent from one peer to all other peers. All this works according to rule of a basic peer-to-peer technology.

Confirmation is a highly important part of cryptocurrency transactions. While the transaction is recognized almost immediately by each peer, it takes a specific amount of time before getting confirmed. An unconfirmed transaction not only remains pending but can also be forged. A confirmed transaction is set in record and is not reversible. Furthermore, confirmed transactions are part of an immutable record of historical transactions of blockchain.

Why Invest in Cryptocurrency

As a new form of money, the markets of cryptocurrencies have boomed suddenly which means your small investment can turn into a large money overnight. This attribute has also led professionals and unprofessional risk-takers investing in cryptocurrencies, finding them a quick way to make money or an important part of their investment portfolio.

Cryptocurrencies are secure and provide a level of anonymity. Their transactions cannot be reversed or faked. Moreover, there is a low transaction fee that makes virtual currencies more reliable than mainstream money. With the decentralized natural of cryptocurrencies, everyone can avail them. However, they can be difficult to set up and only some stores are accepting them for spending.

Investing in cryptocurrency can also work the other way. Like other currencies, the markets of virtual currencies go through instability phases and have dropped significantly many times. For that reason, you should be aware of the potential risks when investing in crypto coins.

Properties of Cryptocurrencies

Principally, cryptocurrency is all about token entries in a decentralized consensus database. The most interesting part of virtual currencies is that they are created on cryptography and strongly secured by math. They process of consensus-keeping is secured with strong cryptography.

Cryptocurrencies can be spilt into transactional and financial properties. For the most part, all forms of digital currencies share a common group of properties. Let’s start with transactional properties here.

Secure

Crypto coins are protected through a public cryptographic key system. Only the miner can use this key and send cryptocurrency. Since cryptography is a strong key of big numbers, it is almost impossible to break its idea.

Irreversible

Once confirmed, a cryptocurrecny transaction cannot be reversed by anyone. Once you sent money, it’s gone. Unfortunately, there is no safety net to help you prevent such situations.

Anonymous

In cryptocurrencies, transactions and accounts are not connected to real-world identities. You can make a specific address made up of 30 characters to receive bitcoins. Even though cryptocurrencies allow you to evaluate transaction flow, there is actually no need to connect to the real-world identity of miners with those addresses.

Genuine confirmation

Transactions can be confirmed by the miner only. It’s their job to take transaction, verify them as legit and broadcast them within the network. Once a transaction is confirmed, the miner adds its record to the database to make it a part of the blockchain.

No Need of Permissions

Digital currencies can be used without permissions. You just need a software program which can be downloaded for free to use. Once you have downloaded it, you can mine bitcoins and do desired transactions.

Globally Fast

Cryptocurrency transactions are broadcasted almost immediately within the network and are usually confirmed in a matter of minutes. They take place in a global network of systems and are completely indifferent from your physical location.

Below are descriptions of monetary properties of cryptocurrencies.

No Debt

No cryptocurrency represent debt as it just represents itself. It is quite unlike the fiat money on your bank account which is created by debt.

Well-ordered Supply

There is a specific limit of supply of the token in almost each cryptocurrency available today. As a rule of thumb, the supply of token is controlled by a schedule written in the code.

While they are still fairly new and unstable form of assets, cryptocurrencies are definitely gaining traction and are most likely to have more standardized uses in coming years. With its revolutionary properties, virtual currencies work like digital gold. The cryptographic key will most certainly make it easy for large-scale adoption including developing protection for investors. Cryptocurrencies are currencies that are free from political influence, promise to maintain and increase their value over the time.

The Biggest Challenges You Have to Face as an Entrepreneur

Internet connectivity has opened new doors for people to work from home. What was once just a fanciful thought is now a reality. However, not everyone is satisfied with working from home. Some people have it in their natures to do adventurous tasks. They are ready to face the risks and overcome the hardships that stand between them and the realization of their dreams. These individuals are entrepreneurs. They are passionate, daring, and full of energy to do something special. However, not everyone who wishes to be an entrepreneur becomes one. If you think you have the spirit of becoming one, here are some of the biggest challenges that almost every entrepreneur faces, and you will too.

The Biggest Challenges in the Path of Entrepreneurship

  • A Journey Out of the Comfort Zone

When you aspire to be an entrepreneur, you will have to live outside your comfort zone almost all the time. It is in the definition of being an entrepreneur to take risks. You might not have the resources to achieve your aim but that does not stop you from moving forward. You have to believe in your idea and dedicate your energies, time, and money to make your idea a reality. It is easier said than done. If you are an entrepreneur and you have only enough money to buy either your lunch or a component that completes the device you have been working on, you will buy the component.

In many cases, you will have to do extra jobs to save enough money to follow your dreams. As an entrepreneur, your enthusiasm is undying and your character is like a wall of lead.

  • An Idea That Solves a Problem

It is not uncommon to see people trying to become entrepreneurs based on ideas that don’t have any potential in them. You must come up with a solution to a problem. Sometimes, your idea seems unique but when you look closely, it does not create a problem. If your concept is not solving people’s problems, it will not sell. And when you have come up with something that people need, they will buy it even if your product seems unfinished and unrefined to you.

Therefore, do not put all your money behind a product or idea that seems unique to you. Uniqueness is not enough in the business world. When people go out shopping, they are looking for products and services. They are looking forward to finding a solution to their problem. Make sure your product does that.

  • A Product That’s Just a Product

Quite a few entrepreneurs have found themselves in this situation. You come up with a unique idea, you work on it, create a prototype, and next thing you know, you are standing in front of the investors. However, you can’t impress investors with ideas that are just unique. Investors look at your creations from many different angles. Even if they like a product, they will ask you a lot of questions. One of the concerns that most investors have is the scope of your idea. Sometimes, you have an amazing product, but it is just a product. At times, your product is great and it has the potential to turn you into a brand as well.

Investors are looking for business opportunities and onetime products are not very attractive for them. For this reason, you want to come up with an idea that can turn you into a brand. If all you have is a product, it should be good enough to sell like hot cakes.

  • Market Research

A lot of startup owners overlook this important factor. Market research is integral for any business’ success. What you might not realize is that even a great product will not sell if you don’t sell it to the right people. Market research is a crucial part of your business strategy. You have to know your exact target market to make your product a hit.

You will have to conduct surveys on the ground and online to know the people who will be most interested in your product. Secondly, you have to know where your target audience usually likes to hang out. For example, if your target audience is teenagers and those under the age of 30, you have to target them through social networking websites. However, the same strategy will not be as effective if your target audience is people aged 60 and above.

Last but not least, you have to know the buying power of your customers so you can price your product accurately.

  • Pricing the Product

Pricing your product can be quite a difficult matter unless you have advisors and marketers by your side. You have to consider a lot of factors to price your product precisely. The first thing that needs your attention is the cost you have incurred while creating your product. When you are new in the market, you only want to cover the costs with your price.

After discovering that people have accepted your product/service, you can start making some profit on your sales too. Lastly, when you have established yourself as a brand for a particular product, you can charge for your value as well. Take the example of a lawyer who can charge less or more based on the value he/she brings.

An analysis of your competitors’ products and their prices can also give you a good idea of what the price of your product should be.

  • Delivering the Sales Pitch

If the development of your product requires a lot of money, you will be spending some time presenting your product to the investors. In most cases, you will be standing before venture capitalists. These guys will scrutinize each and everything about you and your product. Sometimes, they might like your product a lot but not invest in it because of you. They will tell it to your face that they don’t like your pitch or perhaps you before turning down your request for an investment.

The power of your sales pitch can convince even the toughest investors. However, a weak sales pitch, on the other hand, can put off even the interested ones. To conclude it all, you should hire a proper sales person to be with you if you are not confident about your pitch and sales skills.

  • Having the Right Team

Do you think having a team means having a lot of people to share the burden of running your business with you? That’s far from truth. Many entrepreneurs make this mistake when they are creating a team. They have a few tasks that they think someone else can do better than them. In fact, they are just hiring people to work for their company. The real hiring process starts when you already have an established company, albeit small. However, in the beginning, you have to be very careful about picking your team.

The first rule for having someone with you is vision sharing. People you choose for working with you must share your vision. Keep in mind that the initial years are the toughest years for any businessperson in the world. If you have hired workers, they will work for compensation, salary, and bonuses. On the other hand, when you hire people who share your vision, they will stay with you during the toughest times because they are not with you only to make money. They are with you to make a dream come true.

  • Choosing the Right Funding Options

Funding is the blood of a business. Even if the business you have started does not require a lot of capital, you will need a lot of money when it comes to expansion and growth. However, the people and institution you choose for lending you the needed money matters a lot here. You have quite a few options to choose from. First and the easiest source of a business fund is your family and relatives. These people might not even ask back for their money. However, the biggest problem with this type of funding is its limit. Your family can only forward you so much loan amount unless they are some rich people of the city.

Going to the bank can be a huge problem too. In most cases, you can expect a rejection of your loan approval because banks don’t like to forward loans to small businesses. Sometimes, they want a credit history before they can forward you the loan. But how will you present a credit history when your business is only a few months old?

However, you must not ignore the other options you have available today like crowdfunding. Today, crowdfunding platforms are much more benefitting than venture capitalist funding for startups. You don’t have to offer a lot of equity in this model. In fact, if you can get some likeminded people to support you through their investments, you don’t have to offer them any share. A few samples of the product, first production units, discounted price etc. are some perks you can offer you investors.

  • Task and Responsibility Delegation

In quite a few cases, the owners of the startups do not have the confidence to delegate tasks and important responsibilities. What happens is that the owner has worked on his/her project for so many years, they start treating it like their baby literally. The idea of letting someone else manage things in their business does not please them. More precisely, they don’t think anyone else would understand the seriousness and intricacies of their business like them.

This way of thinking keeps many entrepreneurs from delegating responsibilities when they should. The success of your business does not lie in you managing everything. Instead, it lies in the right people managing them the right way. When you have a team, you can focus on other important things. In fact, you should be busy looking for ways to expand your business while leaving the internal tasks to someone else. When you act like a one many army, things start to falter. Not to mention, people don’t like to stay in places where their growth gets blocked by an owner’s mindset.

  • Social Media Marketing

Your social media marketing strategy can make or break you today. Social media has become the platform that most new businesses use for reputation management, brand visibility and brand positioning. Today’s businesses are using social networks to build a relationship of trust with their target markets. Take the example of blockchain projects in the past couple of years. Most of these projects were successful because of their strong social media marketing strategy.

Similarly, projects that had potential but no social media visibility had to fight people’s skepticism. When your team is not actively present on social media, people think of you as a scam. As harsh and straightforward as it may sound, that’s the reality today. You must stay in touch with your prospects to win their trust.

In addition to having a strong social media presence, you also have to do something for the damage control. At times, small mistakes and blunders can result in huge uproar from the public. In the initial stages, you don’t want to get involved in any controversial topics and give your opinions on them. Focus on your business, announce your progress frequently, let people know the rewards for their contributions and investments, and give them a clear roadmap of where your project is going in the coming times.

Concluding Thoughts

This list sums up the biggest challenges you will have to face as an entrepreneur. Yes, there are other things as well. However, as so it happens, these challenges are common for everyone who wants to be an entrepreneur. You have to show a true entrepreneur personality to be what you have dreamed of. It is how you overcome these challenges that prove the real entrepreneur in you. Don’t let these challenges scare you away from the thought of having your business. Instead, let them be the fuel that turns your spark of becoming something into a full-blown fire.

The Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends in 2018 That Will Continue Next Year

You are already past mid 2018, and hopefully, you are aware of the digital marketing trends of this year. While a lot of online trends come and go each year, there are some that stick around. Similarly, some digital marketing trends of 2018 are here to stay. You will see them in the next year as well. Therefore, it is better that you make them a part of your online marketing strategy.

The Top 2018 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Enter 2019

Promotions and Deals

They have been around for quite some time, and it does not seem they are going away any sooner. For as long as shopping is alive, you can safely say that discount promotions and codes are not going to disappear. These discount deals offer great benefits to the consumers and get them excited to purchase stuff. Use social media, SMS or push notifications on mobiles, but be sure to make your customers know of your promotions and discounts.

An important thing to consider here is designing your promotions and discounts intelligently. Many companies decide to offer flat discounts on their products and services. While these flat discounts are pretty attractive, they don’t bring much value to your business. You want to create your promotions so that they can benefit your business in multiple ways. Rather than offering a flat discount on your bestseller, you should tie it with another one of your products.

That’s how the companies are designing their promotions. For example, you could offer a discount only if the customer orders two of your products/services together. In a nutshell, promotions and discounts have to be smart too in 2018.

Automated or Programmatic Advertising

Automation of advertising has helped online brands hugely. In the past years, buying advertisements and targeting the right people was a manual job. Today, you can do it programmatically. Let artificial intelligence do its magic of selecting the right advertisements for you and even pick the locations where your ads can get the most attention and impressions.

You have to get some basic understanding of programmatic advertising before you get into this game. It is not like Google AdWords. Instead, programmatic ads are display ads or banner ads. These ads can appear on the devices of your choice including smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. Of course, the world is moving towards automation and programmatic advertising is only a part of that shift.

It is in its initial stages right now but quite effective right from the scratch. These ads are not random. Instead, they use cookies, customers’ past behavioral data, etc. to place ads that are most relevant. In short, these are not your same old annoying, irrelevant, and intrusive ads anymore.

Video Marketing

Video marketing has been rising in popularity for past couple of years. If you think its fame has faded, think again. Video marketing is not going away and will not go away any time soon. More and more content on the internet is converting into video. That’s because internet accessibility is increasing, internet speeds are getting better, 5G is on the way, and the social networks are supporting video. Twitter and Facebook both autoplay videos while you are scrolling the page.

It is clear from how modern social networks work that video is at the center of digital marketing today. In most cases, people don’t mind videos auto-playing on their devices. In addition to that, you have YouTube that allows you to take advantage of billions of people that use the platform on a daily basis. In fact, YouTube has also introduced new features into video marketing. Take the example of bumper ads. These short 6-second ads are non-skippable. However, you have to use the best visuals and video marketing tactics to convey your message to the people within six seconds.

Data-driven Marketing

Data is at the core of all that you see on the internet. From targeted advertisement to creating buyer personas and predictive models, data-driven marketing is the new trend. One of the major aims of today’s digital marketing is personalization. Even personalization depends heavily on the data you collect from your customers. Email marketing is a perfect example of how data helps companies improve their marketing.

Rather than sending generic emails to the customers, you can send targeted and personalized emails. These emails start by addressing customers with their names and contain content that’s relevant to their interests. You can use special software tools to segment your customers based on where they are in your sales funnel. Data empowers social media marketing as well. Data is the reason for the popularity of Facebook’s targeted ads.

Proper Use of Keywords

In the previous years, it had started to seem to marketers that keywords were not necessary anymore. Keywords might have lost half of the importance, but they have gained it back in 2018. Google’s latest updates have made it clear that marketers have to focus on keywords even today. However, they have to offer valuable content along with keywords. Keyword stuffing is still a sin.

Proper use of keywords starts with detailed research on the keywords. You have to identify the most lucrative keywords for your industry and business first. Once you have identified the keywords, you have to create content that uses them naturally. They have to fit into the context of your content. If Google sees keywords appearing out of context in your text, it can penalize you.

You have several tools that will help you identify the right keywords for your business. You should also keep an eye on your competitors to know what strategies are working for them.

Social Media Marketing

This trend is not going down anytime soon. Social media marketing remains strong and it is gaining even more acceleration with time. The reason why social networks are only getting popular with time is because of their partnerships with network service providers. In many countries of the world, people can use services like WhatsApp and Facebook free. If not free, they get limited free internet MBs to use these social communication platforms for a limited time.

In a nutshell, you are targeting a vast audience through social networks today. You aren’t interacting with only the rich people with smartphones and laptops. Even the people from villages and underdeveloped areas now have access to the internet and all the social networking platforms.

Marketing with Nativity

Nativity in marketing is a trend that started a few years ago. However, companies are soon realizing the importance of doing so. First, you have to come out of the impression that the entire world reads and understands English. In reality, you have billions of people in the world who don’t understand English. So, when you post content in English, you have already missed billions of people from your strategy.

Translation is your first step to bring nativity in your content. You want to translate your content in the language of the people you are marketing to. Even your blog posts and the content you share on social media should be in multiple languages. Not only does it communicate your message to a broader audience but also sends an impression to your prospects that you care.

You can see that many US websites have Spanish versions of their websites too. In addition to that, they provide customer service and support specifically in Spanish. So, if you have to make language adjustments within the US, why shouldn’t you make them outside of the US?

Platform-specific Marketing

What this means is that you have to adjust your marketing according to the platform you are on. You can’t share your Facebook content as is on Twitter or LinkedIn. You have to understand the natures of these platforms and design your posts accordingly. Software developers have realized this trend and that’s why you have software tools to help you adjust your marketing according to the social networks. For example, some tools let you design your posts specifically for Instagram. The same post in the same format might not look the best on Facebook or Twitter.

Instagram and Pinterest are visual-based platforms. You want to avoid long posts as much as you can on these platforms. On the other hand, Facebook is the perfect place to write long posts whereas Twitter’s character limit is set to 280 characters.

These variations in the natures of the platforms attract different types of users as well. You can expect a lot of teenagers on Facebook. However, that’s not the case with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a platform for professionals. So, if your product is more suitable for professionals, you might focus more on marketing on LinkedIn.

Optimization for Voice Search

Another crucial trend in today’s digital marketing is optimization for voice search. You can also call is adjustment with artificial intelligence. More and more people are switching to voice-based search in their daily lives now. Countries like the US and Canada are the major role players in this shift. Voice-based searches on Google are now at 20%.

Is there a difference between voice-based searches and text-based searches? Yes, there is a huge difference between the two. Think about it: do you write and speak the same way? If you pay attention, there is a difference between how people talk and write. When it comes to writing your query, you might type something like “national anthem US”. On the other hand, when it comes to saying the query, you might say something like “play the US national anthem on YouTube”.

These differences are huge and you have to adjust your marketing according to them. There is a lot less effort in saying things out than there is in typing them. For that reason, voiced-based queries usually have more words in them and their style is conversational. Another thing to pay attention to is the contextual searches. Google Assistant is at the forefront here. Google Assistant allows people to perform voice searches based on context.

For example, the first query from a person could seem something like, “What’s the name of the original soundtrack of Titanic?” The very next query after that can be, “Who sang it?” Google assistant’s artificial intelligence and machine learning allows it to understand the question contextually. Furthermore, certain words e.g. near me, are incredibly common in voice searches. Therefore, you need a sound strategy to market for voice-based searches.

Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is not a new concept anymore. However, it is unfortunate that many of the businesses have not taken it seriously to date. When you don’t optimize your marketing for mobile users, you are refusing to communicate with billions of people. You have to make a lot of adjustments to make your marketing efforts suitable for mobile devices.

The first step to mobile marketing is creating a website that appears pleasant on mobile devices. The techniques available are responsive designs and mobile-specific websites. Mobile website are specifically for mobile devices. They won’t appear optimized if you open them on desktop devices. On the other hand, responsive designs, as the name suggests, are responsive to the screen size.

These are fluid designs i.e. they act like water. A responsive website will adjust according to the size of the screen. However, its only purpose is not just to fill the screen space. It requires optimization too for it to appear suitable for small screens.

Concluding Thoughts

You can expect these trends to continue in 2019. Some of these trends have continued from 2017 and even years before that. However, your success with them still depends on how you use them. You can’t create videos just for the sake of marketing. You have to understand what makes videos attractive and attention-grabbing before creating them. Similarly, you have to know how to benefit from other trends. The most important thing to remember is consistency and determination. Keep tenacious with your marketing and wait for some time before you can notice some visible results.

The Best Digital Marketing Tools Every Small Business Owner Needs Today

Digital marketing is integral to any business’ success in today’s world. It is one thing that helps small businesses compete with large businesses on an equal level. However, it is not a magic wand that would help your business overcome all of its challenges just like that. You need to have a sound strategy to benefit from digital marketing. From data collection to executing your digital approach, you need several tools to help you with those processes. Today, you will take a look at some of the most amazing digital marketing tools that can help you grow your business.

The Best Digital Marketing Tools for Your Business

Google Trends

You will hardly find a list of the best digital marketing tools without Google Trends in it. As the name suggests, it tells you about the latest trends around you. Should you talk about a particular topic? Should you create a blog post related to a trend? Let Google Trends help you in making that decision.

The best thing is that Google has made this tool very simple just like most of its other services. If you want to know the trends within an industry, you just search for that industry. It can be a perfect tool for business that are considering going beyond national boundaries. Use Google Trends to know what a particular country is searching at any given moment.

You can filter your searches based on various criteria. The best thing is that the data you receive also includes insights from YouTube. If you are thinking about creating a marketing video, it would best to look at the latest trends in YouTube searches. It is a must-have tool for any marketer today, and one that gives a small business a marketing direction.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a unique digital marketing tool and it can be a revelation when it comes to content marketing. One of the issues with content marketing is that you arrive at the writer’s block after writing a few cool stories. After that, you don’t have enough topics and interesting themes in mind to write about. What do you do then?

That’s where Buzzsumo can help you a great deal. It discovers the content that you can use to your advantage. For instance, you can give it a particular topic and let it tell you what type of content within that category will be most productive.

In addition to helping you discover the best-performing content, Buzzsumo also allows you to know the creator of the content. You can contact them to ask if they can help you spread your content on the internet. The tool has added some cool features lately such as the Question Analyzer. You can use this tool to get a list of all the questions on the internet that were able to get the most attention.

Facebook Audience Insights

If you want to personalize your marketing, improve your products, and make your brand relevant, Facebook Audience Insights is the perfect tool for you. Everyone knows there is no social networking platform bigger than Facebook. The social networking giant has been collecting valuable customer data for more than a decade. With its targeted marketing, Facebook helps marketers identify the most lucrative audiences.

Facebook Audience Insights allows you access to information about people’s interests, behaviors, household income, devices, etc. With that much information at hand, you can design your marketing strategies to meet people’s exact needs. In addition to that, you can use the same insights to improve the quality of your products and services.

There is nothing better than knowing your customers well before you throw marketing emails and targeted ads at them. They will likely respond better when the ads are about products and services they need.

MailChimp

Digital marketing relies heavily on email marketing. Not to mention, emails are the most personal way of approaching your customers. However, it is quite a challenge to get people’s attention through an email. You have to keep in mind that a slight action can land you in the spam or trash folder. MailChimp is one of the most reliable email marketing software solutions available today. Its customers are increasing at a fast rate with current number being at 12 million.

MailChimp is the perfect way for a small business to automate its email marketing. From robust list management to email templates that can get the best response from your customers, MailChimp is the complete tool.

Within the list management section, MailChimp offers you many options to put your contacts in different categories. Keep in mind that effective email marketing campaigns start from putting your customers in the right categories. The tool also helps you create striking sign-up forms that you can use on your website or social networking platforms.

The company likes to call its platform a second brain of the company’s marketing. It won’t be wrong to say that MailChimp is easily the best email marketing and automation platform for small to large businesses.

Ahrefs

If you are a wise businessperson, you will not show signs of jealousy with your competitors. Instead, you keep an eye on your competitors to learn from them. Ahrefs is a tool that gives you that amazing power of knowing your competitors.

When you are a new business, you don’t exactly know where to start. Ahrefs can be a huge help in that area. The purpose of this tool is to help you understand your competitors and identify the marketing elements that are working for them.

The tool helps you learn a lot about your competitors from the keywords that are working for them to insights about the content. You don’t necessarily have to know what keywords work for your competitors. Sometimes, you have that information already, but what keeps you behind is a good content strategy.

In addition to knowing the strengths of your competitors, you can also see what areas they are struggling in. Once you have all this information, you can create a strategy that works best for your business.

PushCrew

It is a well thought-out tool that addresses a common challenge that most websites face today. You see, there are billions of websites on the internet today. Even within just your industry, there might be hundreds of thousands of websites. Users are losing their attention spans and the memory does not hold too much information due to a divulge of information.

In this chaos, it is impossible for your customers to remember you specifically. However, PushCrew helps you remind your customers about you. The tool allows you to send push notifications to your customers on their desktop as well as mobile devices. What makes the tool unique is that it is browser-based.

PushCrew takes on a lot of challenges of push notifications. It helps you enrich your notifications with variety of formats of content. You can set automatic notification triggers based on customer behaviors. You can segment your audience based on their activities on your website. Moreover, you can personalize the notifications to increase the chances of getting a response from your prospects.

SERPs Rank Checker

You don’t necessarily have to choose SERPs Rank Checker for this task. However, it is definitely one of the best and most complete tools out there. The purpose of a rank checker is simple: it helps you know where your website and web pages rank for certain keywords.

It is a perfect tool to keep an eye on how well your marketing campaigns are performing. If you are adding new keywords to a web page and updating its content, you should see it move up in the rankings. If your page does not show any signs of improvements, it is an indication that you need to change your content marketing strategy.

You can find many free SERP rank checkers online. If you don’t know by now, SERP stands for search engine results page.

Google AdWords

When it comes to pay per click marketing, there is no tool that beats Google AdWords. Google AdWords allows you to bid for keywords that you think will bring the most traffic on your website. You might require some time to learn the tools to its maximum benefits.

First, you have to choose the keywords that you want to rank for. Once you have chosen the keywords, you also have to put a bid on them. Google adds your bid to its auction where many other businesses just like you have their bids on the same keywords.

At this point, Google uses its algorithms and rules to pick one business who will rank for the keyword. Your bid amount is only one part of the selection process. What’s more important is the quality of your website. A website that Google believes has high quality will not require to bid high on keywords. In fact, its statistics will help it appear in search results for a particular keyword even if the bid is lower than other competitors.

The business that wins the auction appears on top of the search results inside the “features ads” section. Multiple businesses can appear on the same page for the same keyword. However, their quality score and bid price decides where they will rank i.e. 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Canva

It is one of the best social media marketing tools for those who don’t know much about design. One of the issues with social media marketing is that you don’t know what clicks. However, to play it safe and increase your chances of becoming a hit on social media, you can try the templates that have been a hit in the past. That’s where Canva comes in.

The tool allows you to create attractive image-based posts for your social networking accounts. Designing is easier than ever, and the result you get are stunning. After some work, you can tell that your images will get all the attention on social media. What’s even more surprising about Canva is that large websites like Buzzfeed have used this tool for a long time.

The tool also has many different templates so you don’t have to start from the scratch. Templates allow you to focus on throwing the content in the market without going through the hassle of creating the perfect visuals starting from scratch.

Tagboard

It’s the last tool on the list but nothing less than any other tools mentioned above. When marketing on social media, you have to be active at all times. You have to be up-to-date with the latest trends. More importantly, you have to come up with new and engaging content based on the latest trends.

That’s where Tagboard helps you. It helps you listen to the social media users. You can use Hastags or topics to listen to what the social network users have to say about them. Of course, you would want to stay away from the controversial topics. Similarly, you would want to be a part of the discussions that can give you some visibility.

Tagboard is also a powerful social media engagement tool. It allows you to blend your content with the content your users have generated and benefit from it.

Tools like these are perfect for content creation. All you have to do is enter a hashtag or a topic and on your screen you will see all the posts from social network users with those topics and hashtags. The best thing is that it pulls the posts from a variety of social networks, not just one. Create content from what’s already trending.

Conclusion

The more you research the more tools you will find to make digital marketing a breeze. You have to realize that digital marketing is a full-time job for even the smallest businesses. You want to hire people to do the marketing for you. These professionals should know other crucial concepts related to digital marketing such as reputation management. Furthermore, you should take advantage of automation tools to schedule your posts and send them on multiple platforms all at once. Doing so will save you time to focus on your business’ core processes while also reaping the benefits of effective digital marketing.