Archive for February 26, 2014

Your Customers Are Also Your Best Salespeople

Today’s customers have a vibrant digital presence and they share opinions about businesses, products and people they love, like and hate. These digital recommendations can have enormous influence on a business. In today’s time they are the most powerful tool for attracting new customers and are strong enough to make or break a business.  Earning a positive recommendation from a customer on a digital networking site is equivalent to getting the customer to sell your product/service.

Impact of Social Networking Sites

People have always discussed their choices but they used to talk either face-to-face or over the phone. Co-workers, families, friends or neighbors always discussed their love or hate for a particular person or brand. The internet has simply amplified their voices across multiple channels to reach out to a larger number of people via digital imprints.

According to a study by Pew Research center, 85% of American adults use the internet. 59% among them use the internet to collect information and 48% use it to collect information via social networking sites. Now, more than ever, is the best time to use internet to grow your business.

How to Turn Customers into Your Salespeople

With 59% of American adults using the internet to search for information, there are many people who are looking for similar products and services. The good news is these people can exchange information amongst themselves to improve their buying experience. But the important question here is how will they find each other?

Good news is you need not do anything. People can reach out to people with similar interests via social networking sites. This is where referral marketing comes into play. You must encourage, motivate and reward your customers for recommending your business among their network and see the magic they can perform for your business.

Your customers’ power to like, comment and pin your content can bring about a considerable increase in your sales without making any additional effort on your part.

How Does the Process Work?

The process is simple. You must provide your customers with quality content that they can share within their personal networks. This not only helps them to elevate their position among their social networking circles but they act as brand ambassadors for your business, helping to market your business to a broader group of buyers.

Whether you are a start-up business or an established enterprise, there is no time better than now to reach out to your customers who can stand out as your brand ambassadors in this noisy digital world.

Share your views with us on Facebook or @Twitter.

What’s in a Name? How to Name Your Start-Up

During a business’s early days, one of the most exciting tasks is to find a name for your business. You also need to decide on the web domain you want to register, your logo, and your trademark. In other words, you need to work and build your business identity. You can always pick a name at random – but it is advisable to give it due diligence and spend some time and effort in naming your business.

Following are a few tips to name your start-up:

 Avoid Names with Alternate Spellings

Try not to use a name for your business that has alternate spellings. For example, if you plan to name your business Phaser, there are people who can confuse it with Faser or Fazer. (Google was originally called “googol”). This can create confusion for your brand that might lead to a bad reputation for your business (Google might be an exception).  It can also confuse your potential customers who are looking for your business online.

Involve Family and Friends

You might think this is your business and you do not need to involve your family. Wrong! You never know who can give you the brightest idea about the right business name. Ask your family and friends to think of a name and write it down on a piece of paper. You will be amazed to see the variety of names you get.

Read it Aloud

Once you have decided a name, say that aloud a number of times so that you are sure it sounds right. Remember you have to say your business name a number of times, in meetings, over the phone and in presentations. Just make sure it sounds right before you start using it officially.

Make the Name Personal

Your business is often an extension of your personality. Business names can be personal to reflect this. You can also involve a personal story so that the name becomes easier for customers to remember. For example, Caroline Fielding named her business “Dryven” after the names of her three grandsons: Dean, Bryan and Steven.

Do Not be Too Practical

It’s true that your business name must illustrate what you do, but that does not mean you have to be too practical. Try to be little creative with your business name. After all, your customers remember your business by its name and it’s easier to remember a name that sounds nice and is also related to your business. According to marketing expert Adam Ferrier, “a good name will inspire people, creating energy and opportunity. A bad name will confuse, or limit your business potential.”

But the most important thing is to love your business and its name. No matter how you name it or who helps you in naming it, you must be happy with your business name.

Tell us on Facebook and @Twitter how you found your business name.

How Will You Structure Your Small Business?

Although selecting a structure for your business might not seem to be as interesting as selecting your business name or business logo, it has important legal and tax implications down the line. You have four options to choose from. Here are your choices:

Corporations

Though quite popular, this is often the most complicated form of business structure. A corporation is a legal entity owned by shareholders. The corporation is legally liable for a business’s actions and debt.

This structure is not typically used for small businesses. It is usually used by big companies with a large number of employees. The rules for corporations vary from state to state. It involves registering the corporation with state government, IRS and local revenue agencies.

Partnerships

Two or more people can come together to share the ownership of a business. The partners benefit equally from the business’s profits. Likewise, they also share all decision making and liabilities. To be recognized legally as a partnership business, a business must be registered in its home state and all partners must have proper permit, license and tax identification number.

A partnership may operate under a legal agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of each partner, the handling of disagreements within the partnership, and steps to end the partnership, if necessary.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest business structure. A sole proprietor is an entrepreneur who runs his own business. He alone is entitled to all profits from his business but is also solely responsible for all debt and liability incurred by the business.

There is no additional paperwork for becoming a sole proprietor. It often happens automatically as you start a new business venture. The IRS considers a sole proprietor and its business as synonymous.  They are not taxed separately for the business and the income from the business is reported on the business owner’s personal Form 1040.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

A Limited Liability Company or LLC is a combination of partnership business structure and corporation. As with a partnership business, members of a LLC share the profits and losses of a business and show them in their individual tax return.

But LLC permits its members limited liability for lawsuits and debt and so often a member’s finances are not at risk because of business decisions. Limited Liability Companies need to be registered in their home state. Like corporations, LLC business structure is also not favorable for small businesses and is usually used by big companies.

Share your thoughts about different business structures with us on Facebook and @Twitter.