Helpful Tips For Small Businesses

Sep 11, 2011

By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

Are you starting a small business? Starting out on the right foot will help you stay organized as you grow your business.

Record Keeping Ideas

  • Discuss your record keeping needs with an attorney or tax accountant who can advise you on what items you need to retain.
  • For tax purposes, keep copies of all business-related receipts and records such as bank statements, charge account statements, receipts for cash purposes and mileage logs.
  • If you make cash purchases, write the date of purchase and item purchased on the receipt if they're not clear.
  • Keep business and personal finances separate with two bank accounts -- one for business and the other for personal use.
  • Keep all records in a locked file cabinet.

Prevent Loss

Here are tips to secure your home and secure your business.

Making The Most Of Advertising

One major mistake is thinking that because you have a good product or service, everyone else will think so too. So how do you give yourself the marketing strength you need?

Reputation

Build one or build upon the good reputation you have already. Customers will tell 10 people about a negative feeling, but will tell only 5 about a positive one.

Target Your Customer

Find out who can use your product or service before you target their interests. Make a list of occupation types. You may wish to conduct a market survey to determine your best customer base.

Tell Everyone By Networking

Networking means talking to people and establishing relationships that can lead to business. Word of mouth marketing works! You're proud of your product or service, so spread the news. Remember, the one potential customer you overlook may become your best customer.

Develop A Mailing List

Review this list and send a newspaper clipping about your business. The old adage, "out of sight, out of mind" applies here.

Use Newsletters

Remember to keep the newsletter neat, informative and concise. Most clients want to "get to know" the creator behind the product or service. Provide tidbits about yourself as well as your product or service.

Sampling

Provide a potential customer with a free sample of your product or service. Keep it simple and let the service speak for itself.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Develop a system to keep track of names, addresses and phone numbers. The number-one time waster is finding the information you need.

  • Use technology to help speed up daily tasks (a computer, fax machine, postage scale, telephone re-dial button, copy machine, etc.).
  • Don't waste your energy on small matters. Make a decision and go with it.

Create A Productive Work Area

You're going to spend a lot of time in your work area. You may wish to consider:

  • Prevent eye fatigue by using indirect lighting along with appropriate task lighting.
  • Position computer screen to avoid glare.
  • Provide good air circulation and temperature control to help keep your equipment in good working order.
  • Consider light-coloured walls to promote productivity.
  • If you will be spending most of your time sitting, invest in a comfortable and ergonomically correct desk chair.
  • Consider space limitations and a feasible work area when purchasing equipment and furniture

Software Selection

Use your computer to save time and make difficult tasks easier. There's a wide variety of software available to help you. Consider these types:

  • Accounting/Money Management -- Monitor income and expenses, maintain a budget and track your invoices.
  • Time Management -- Stay on top of your busy schedule.
  • Tax Software -- Be prepared before April 30.
  • Desk Top Publishing -- Design newsletters, flyers, brochures and more.
  • Spreadsheet/Database -- Request an instant view of specific names, addresses, numbers, etc.
  • Contact Management -- Keep track of your business and personal contracts.

More Information

Various free or inexpensive resources are at your fingertips.

  • Contact your Chamber of Commerce to learn about up-coming events and local information.
  • Your local library can offer numerous directories, books and magazines on making your small business more successful.
  • Your local newspaper and radio station can tell you advertising rates. An advertising kit often offers important demographic information.
  • Make the most of free resources, and use your telephone guide for new contacts.
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