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.

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.

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.