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2016

I have had a website for a long time, since the ‘90s in fact.

 

When I look at what my site looked like back then, it amazes me that anyone ever spent any time on it at all. But they did. (By the way, if you want to see how some website looked back in the day, check out The Wayback Machine. It’s entertaining).

 

In the ‘90s, I kept telling my assistant that I wanted to create an e-newsletter. But, for whatever reason, I never did. I knew I was missing an opportunity of some sort, although I could never quite articulate what it was.

 

Then, a few years later, I had the chance to interview the CEO of a major e-newsletter company. She explained what I had been missing:

 

“The magic of e-newsletter marketing, Steve, is the opt-in. What I mean is that when you create an e-newsletter for your site, people have to opt-in to get it. They not only agree to give you their email address, but they further agree to let you contact them. That is what ‘opting-in’ means. It is truly extraordinary. Where else do people give you actual written permission to market to them?”

 

Aha!

 

All of a sudden I realized what I had been missing. I could have been building my list all of those years, communicating with people wh

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o wanted to hear from me and my business. Had they liked what they saw, it could have led to additional speeches, content assignments, business opportunities, and more. Needless to say, I have an e-newsletter now and a list of more than 10,000 people who have opted-in.

 

So all of this begs the question, how can you create your own e-newsletter list? Here are four simple steps:

 

1. Decide what your e-newsletter will be about: It should probably be fairly obvious to you and it of course depends on your business. The important thing is to come up with an angle that will be seen as a benefit to your customer base.

 

2. Decide upon an e-newsletter hosting company: There are some big ones out there, and they are usually big for a reason – because they are good. You want a company that will let you import your current list (if you have one), give you a choice of newsletter templates, and easily allow you to create and blast out your email campaigns.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

3. Create the e-mail opt-in landing page on your site: This is of the utmost importance. You need to create a page that will give people a reason for opting-in and signing up for your e-newsletter. Your landing page should have three key elements:

 

  • The headline. As with any good ad, you need a headline that grabs their attention.
  • The benefits: Why should someone sign up? What will they get out of it? Some sharp bullet points are usually necessary.
  • The call to action: You need to tell people that they need to opt-in.

 

One more thing: You may need to further incentivize people to get them to opt-in. That may mean offering a special report, e-book, or discount, for example.

 

4. Create and send your newsletter: Online, the maxim is “Content is King.” If you load up your e-newsletter with lots of useful information (for example, the restaurant sends out recipes and cooking ideas), your current subscribers will get you even more subscribers when they forward your newsletter on. Content is king.

 

Note: Don’t forget the 80-20 rule and apply it to your newsletter. 80% of the content should be about your customers and their needs and only 20% should be about your business and what you sell.

 

Once you gain credibility by creating great value in your e-newsletter, you can then soft-sell your goods and services. People will be far more receptive to your pitch because you will have created goodwill in the process.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Marketing_Plan_body.jpgBy Robert Lerose.

 

A thoughtful marketing plan can be a powerful tool for entrepreneurs. It can keep you on track for achieving your goals, help measure your performance, and reinforce the core values of your business.

 

ThirtyFOUR Creative, a Richmond, Virginia-based communications firm, offers these suggestions for getting the most from your marketing plan:

 

1. Schedule a regular review

A monthly review is ideal, but certainly no less than once a quarter. The more often you conduct a review, the shorter amount of time it will take. You'll also be able to stay on top of changing conditions easier and react more quickly.

 

2. Check the plan's foundational elements first

ThirtyFOUR Creative says to give priority attention to items that are not related to tactics or budgets. For example: Have you introduced new products or services since you wrote your marketing plan? Has your competition shifted? Did your target audience change? Has the overall economic climate impacted your business? A significant move in any of these areas might require an adjustment of goals and strategies.

 

Marketing_Plan_PQ.jpg3. Review the performance of your tactics

Second, look at the marketing efforts put in place since the last review to see whether you executed them as planned. Then, measure the type of response they generated. Did one marketing channel beat another? Did a blog post or a video strike a chord with your audience? Try to repeat your winning efforts and keep a close eye on underperformers.

 

4. Adjust your budget when necessary

By tracking your spending, you can see where you are investing your money and how those investments are paying off. A regular review can reveal the return on investment and whether assets need to be enhanced, moved around, or dropped.

 

5. Add new efforts to your plan

After reviewing and updating your plan to date, look ahead. What new marketing efforts will be put in place for the next month or quarter? Who will be responsible for executing them? What assets will you need to get them up and running? What results are you aiming for? Look at any new elements at your next regularly scheduled review with the same attention and make any required changes.

 

Updating and reviewing your marketing plan diligently can help you steer your company through a constantly evolving competitive landscape.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Between my column at USA TODAY, work with first-rate businesses like Bank of America, and my speeches, I get to meet a lot of small business owners. Almost all of the people I hear from or meet are good small business owners – they work hard, make a nice profit, run a fine business, are good employers, etc.

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But every now and then I run across someone who can only be described as great or exceptional. It happened again recently and it got me to thinking: What exactly is the difference between a good and a great small business owner?

 

Based on my experience, these are the key differences: 

 

Good small business owners market as they always have. The great small business owner innovates: Most entrepreneurs figure out a marketing strategy that works and they use it, over and over again. The problem with that it is you are not getting in front of new people by using old ideas.

 

Great small business owners understand that we are in the middle of an amazing moment for marketing – social media, pay-per-click, and mobile marketing. They try out and adopt new ideas to reach new people.

 

The good small business owner may lead through intimidation. The great one always leads by cooperation: Remember your bad boss? Did he or she have what you would call a great business?  Of course not.

 

The old saying, “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” is an old saying for a reason – because it’s true. Great bosses create great businesses because people like working with and for them. And when employees are happy, they treat customers well, and happy customers become repeat customers.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Good small business owners don’t worry about learning anything new. Great ones continue to sharpen their saw: In his excellent book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey shares a tale about two woodmen getting ready to cut down a tree.

 

Both start with dull saws, and the first guy starts in on his tree right away. It’s slow going with that dull saw. The second woodman sits down and takes time away from the project at hand to first sharpen his saw. He seemingly falls behind the first guy. But then, sharp saw in hand, he gets started and finishes the job in no time, leaving his cohort in his (saw)dust.

 

The point should be clear. The smart small business owner will take time to sharpen his or her saw, to hone his or her skills and learn new ones, knowing that it can only help the business in the long run.

 

Good small businesses resist technology. Great ones embrace it: The need to be up-to-date with technology should not be surprising. The exceptional small business embraces that, especially because today technology is a game changer.

 

The good small business owner works too much. The great one takes time off (and their staff does too!): According to one survey, Americans work 137 hours more than the Japanese, 260 hours more than the Brits, and almost 500 hours more than their French counterparts.

 

Of course hard work is important and makes for a strong business. But there is also such a thing as taking a good idea too far. No, you don’t need to take Labor Day per se off, it is the idea that is important: Taking time off doesn’t cost, it pays.

 

So go ahead, give yourself a break, you deserve it, and by taking that break you can rest assured that you are in good company with all of those other great small business owners.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Cash_Flow_Management_body.jpgBy Heather R. Johnson.

 

Money in, money out. Even with a well-defined business plan and innovative product, a small business won’t last long without well-managed cash flow. To ensure that your business remains stable as sales fluctuate, adopt these cash flow best practices.

 

Make accurate projections

Cash flow projections rank next to business plans and mission statements in importance. These projections factor in customer payment history, upcoming expenses, vendor billing cycles, and receivables.

 

Steven Friedman, senior vice president, business and advisory brokerage, for Reichel Realty & Investments, Inc. in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, prepares weekly, monthly, and annual reports for clients.

 

“Seasonal changes might affect a business’s cash flow,” says Friedman. “A retailer may have strong sales in December, for example, but they have to buy in October during a weak sales month. Understanding the annual picture helps a business plan for those times.”

 

Invoice promptly

An international survey of B2B payment behavior from credit insurer Atradius reported that U.S. businesses lose 51.9 percent of their receivables value when not paid within 90 days of the due date. More than a third of those business’s receivables aren’t paid on time.

 

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To shorten the time from product or service to payment, invoice promptly and track receivables diligently. Consider deposit requirements for certain clients. Some businesses offer discounts to quick-paying customers, however, Friedman cautions against this practice. “Sometimes customers will take a two percent discount and still won’t pay on time,” says Friedman. “If a business can’t get a line of credit from its bank, it may want to consider a reputable factoring company, which buys receivables and takes on the waiting time, to increase cash flow.”

 

Manage payables

It’s ironic that as a business expands, expenses often grow faster than sales. Keep a close eye on costs and hang onto available cash as long as possible. Pay invoices on or close to the due date. “You might need that money for something else,” says Friedman. “Waiting to pay your invoices means you’ll have the cash on hand if you have an unforeseen need.”

 

Businesses with strong cash flow may want to accept those early payment discounts. Businesses with a tight cash flow may want to extend payment from net 30 to net 40 or 45 when possible.

 

Manage shortfalls wisely

When cash flow slows to a trickle, juggle expenses creatively and wisely until the horizons open again. Pay critical expenses (rent, utilities, employees) on time and negotiate noncritical expenses. Ask vendors and suppliers for an extension. Consider a line of credit. Most importantly, don’t ignore the problem. “You can buy a lot of time and good will if you communicate honestly with vendors,” says Friedman.

 

Don’t mix expenses

Small business basics dictate that owners should keep personal and business expenses separate. This rule applies for accurate tax returns as well as cash flow. “All cash should be accounted for and controlled properly,” says Friedman.

 

With effective cash flow management, a small business has a better chance of weathering shortfalls, late-paying customers, and other business ownership challenges. Project realistically and keep and eye on income and expenses to ensure continued small business success.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Podcasts_body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

Podcasts are having a moment. About 46 million Americans over the age of 12 listen to at least one podcast a month, according to market research firm Edison Research. And it’s easy to see why they’re especially popular for multi-tasking business owners: A podcast can provide useful, and often entertaining, information that you can listen to wherever you go, whether you’re in the car, on a power walk, or working in your office.

 

“Podcasts are one of my favorite forms of entertainment, and as an entrepreneur, there is no end to the business advice and motivation you can find,” says Chris Huntley, owner of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services in San Diego.

 

Below we’ve culled some favorite business podcasts that are well worth your time. They can give you ideas on how to better run your small business and inspire you to find new ways to grow.

 

The Tim Ferriss Show: You know him as the Four-Hour Work Week guy, but he has solid information for any small business owner—even those logging way more hours. There’s a reason he’s consistently ranked the No. 1 business podcast on iTunes. “We've been following Tim for a few years now,” says Andrew Ross, owner of Sensory Swim. “He interviews famous people who have achieved massive success, but he really gets down to the nitty-gritty of how they achieved it with actionable ideas for any business owner.”

 

Podcasts_PQ.jpgThe School of Greatness with Lewis Howes: Want to hear lessons from successful business moguls like Russell Simmons and Arianna Huffington? Howes’ specialty is getting them to offer pithy insights on starting their businesses and what they learned on their paths. Digital video producer Edward Sturm first tuned in to listen to one of his idols, film producer Casey Neistat, who was a dishwasher before realizing that he liked making movies. “He hustled hard for a long time before getting a show on HBO. The best lesson he shared was that in order to discover what you want to do in life, get a job doing something you don’t want to do.”

 

American Public Media’s Marketplace: It’s imperative to stay informed on the latest business news, and that’s why Matt McKee of McKee Photography says his go-to podcast for the morning commute is the previous night’s Marketplace. “As a small business owner, I often find myself in conversations with CEOs and other business owners who have a more solid background in financial and economic matters, and podcast host Kai Ryssdal helps me to understand the big picture of our economy in terms I can wrap my brain around.” McKee also mentions segments with other small business owners that can be conversation starters during portrait sessions and networking events.

 

EntreLeadership: By entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, these podcasts provide sound leadership advice for the small business life cycle and key moments of truth, says Tom Cates, CEO of salesEQUITY. “This podcast is a natural fit for any company seeking to build a knowledge base of best practices for B2B relationships, voice of the customer, and more.”

 

I Love Marketing with Joe Polish and Dean Jackson: Sometimes small business owners don’t love marketing, and that’s when they need some inspiration. “Dean and Joe have both been working professionals so they know firsthand how marketing can make or break a business,” says Laura Wallis, online marketing consultant with Web Navigator Gal. The podcast covers all aspects of marketing, from how-to’s in direct mail and email,  tips on lead generation and conversion, and the psychology of marketing.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Live_Streaming_Video_body.jpgBy Robert Lerose.

 

Live streaming video—via popular apps such as Meerkat and Periscope—lets you connect with prospects and customers by providing access to your business as it happens. One expert described it as "video Twitter," but with immediacy and live action features that can be more engaging than text or static images. 

 

But is streaming video right for your small business? How should it be integrated into your existing marketing efforts? What are some best practices? Alexis Amaral, the media coordinator for Strong Women Strong Girls, a Boston-based mentoring organization, suggests that small business owners ask themselves these questions:

 

1. What's the value to your small business?

Live streaming makes your content relatable to viewers because it unfolds in real time. It puts a human face on your business by giving them access to your operations behind the scenes. As you reveal more of what you do, how you do it, and the people responsible for driving your business, prospects are likely to trust you and be more willing to buy from you.

 

Live_Streaming_Video_PQ.jpg2. What's better: Periscope or Meerkat?

Both have similar features. According to Amaral, the main difference comes down to social media integrations. Periscope lets you link from your Twitter account—almost like embedding a live stream in your tweets—and also provides some metric reporting, such as the number of live viewers, viewer retention, and the frequency of video replays. Meerkat lets viewers watch streams from their Facebook account, but does not offer statistical reports.

 

3. What kind of videos should you stream?

Live streaming provides ways to bond with customers in compelling ways. "One great idea for live streaming is to show the process—whether that be cooking a meal or showing where donations are going," Amaral says. "This will leave them with a unique memory that will encourage them to choose you in the future." Live Q&As with your employees or outside experts can also draw them in.

 

4. What actions should be taken after the broadcast?

The content from the live stream can be saved and used later in other media channels, such as your blog posts or on your company website. Periscope lets you keep the video available for 24 hours after initial broadcast—providing more opportunities for building relationships with customers.

 

Whether your live stream gives useful tips, interviews, before and after demonstrations, new product announcements, or customer feedback on a favorite service, small businesses should consider experimenting with this tool for deep customer engagement.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Email_Mkting_Body.jpgBy Jennifer Shaheen.

 

Email marketing continues to be one of the strongest tools available to small business owners. More than nine out of 10 U.S. adults reporting that they like to receive promotional emails from the brands they do business with, according to Marketing Sherpa, an advertising industry think tank.  Email marketing can be done successfully on a DIY basis or with minimal support from an agency, making it a very cost-effective option.

 

That being said, email marketing only works when emails are opened, read, and acted upon. To find out the most effective ways small businesses can leverage email marketing campaigns, we spoke with  Erica McGillivray, senior community manager at Moz, a search marketing software firm. Here are some of her best practices:

 

Stick to a sensible email schedule

Be consistent with email. McGillivray says that people drop off or get offended that you're contacting them if they don't remember who you are and how they got on their list. A sensible schedule doesn’t necessarily mean regular weekly or daily emails. It may just involve increasing the frequency of emails during busy seasons for your type of industry. Just make sure to keep the silent stretches to a minimum. “The biggest mistake small businesses make is not being consistent,” she says. “Email is the easiest way to get in front of your audience and have direct access to them. Don't ignore it as a marketing channel and don't break that trust once you have it.”

 

Email_Marketing_PQ.jpgDon’t be a spammer

Be opt-in compliant, McGillivray cautions. In the U.S., email marketing is subject to the provisions of the CAN SPAM act, a fairly complex law that specifies what constitutes permissible email marketing. Email marketing firms take steps to make sure their clients remain CAN SPAM compliant; if you’re doing everything on your own, make sure you’re fully familiar with the law. Sending email marketing out of country can be even more complex. “Canada, the European Union, and Australia have very strict laws, of which fines are in the millions of dollars, around making sure people aren't spammed,” she says.

 

Be sure your customer can read your message

Make your email as mobile and email client-friendly as possible, McGillivray says. “Email clients—the program your audience uses to access their emails—have all sorts of different quirks, which can be very frustrating,” she says. Try to keep your email code as simple as possible. Testing messages in several different clients can help ensure your emails look good to all of your customers.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Messaging_Apps_body.jpgBy Jennifer Shaheen.

 

Your customers would much rather text you than call you. That’s among the findings of the International Smartphone Mobility Report recently issued by data tracking firm Infomate. The millennial generation, in particular, has definitively chosen texting as their preferred communications channel. Time spent texting outpaces time spent on the phone by a margin of four to one.

 

This communications shift impacts all sphere of life. Texting is quickly catching up with email as customers’ preferred way to contact businesses, both for personal transactions and professionally. More than three-quarters of survey respondents told the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that they have a more favorable impression of companies that can be reached via mobile messaging.

 

Yet many small businesses continue to use phone calls as their default customer service channel. Social media accounts for only three percent of all customer communications, according to New Voice Media, which provides cloud-based communication services to businesses. The disconnect between customer preferences and business practices can’t be expected to last for long. Companies known for providing superior customer service, such as Zappos, have already begun using messaging apps as a customer service channel.

 

Here’s what you need to know should you decide to do the same:

 

Messaging_Apps_PQ.jpgWhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat are the most popular messaging apps

There are dozens of messaging apps, and no one business will be able to effectively use them all. It makes sense to use the mostly widely embraced apps, which include WhatsApp (900 million users), Facebook Messenger (800 million users) and Snapchat (100 million users).

 

Messaging apps can serve several purposes

In addition to serving as a customer service channel to answer questions, address complaints and more, messaging apps can also serve as a valuable branding and sales tool. Hellman’s mayonnaise regularly sends recipes featuring its products via WhatsApp. Jewelry retailer Rare Pink sells very high end engagement rings via Snapchat, which allows customers to have in-depth conversations online about specific products without triggering any retargeter ads that might ruin the surprise should one’s sweetheart glance at their significant other’s social media.

 

Messaging apps require oversight and prompt, professional response

Customers expect a prompt, professional response no matter what channel they use to reach you. Assign one or more members of your team, as appropriate, the responsibility of monitoring and replying to any messages sent to you by customers. Make sure your team knows exactly what that means. For example, using emojis might be fine, while non-traditional Internet spelling is to be avoided. Establishing clear guidelines at the embrace of a new messaging channel will help avoid confusion later.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

In the past, small businesses were much different than they are today. Back then, say a generation ago, a small business was both small, and confined.

 

It was confined in that it could only do business in the area where it was physically locSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngated. Of course, that is not the case now. It was small in ways that were visually apparent - be it the location, the size of the store, or the number of employees.

 

The good news is that no small business has to look small anymore. Today, any business can be a global business, and virtual teams are all the rage.

 

The smart entrepreneur will embrace the best of what small business has to offer – being agile, personal and quick, while also using available tools and methods to look big and professional. The bad news is that too many small businesses fail to take advantage of this newfound ability to be small but look big.

 

How do you do it? There are so many ways:

 

Build your brand: Many small business owners think that branding is only for the large companies. Nothing is further from the truth. Having a great brand is actually more important for the smaller businesses because there is just so much competition out there. Having a defined, memorable brand creates a hook for people to remember you. For example, you could be the sedation dentist or the kid-friendly restaurant.

 

Once you know your brand, then the trick is to create corresponding, identifying marks that make you look big. While you can hire a local graphic artist to help you with that, you might also want to check out sites like Crowdspring, 99Designs and DesignCrowd. These sites let you get competitive bids from designers to create your logo, letterhead, and website.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Have a great website: Yes, you may have a website, but is it a great website? That brand that you created above must be incorporated into your window to the world - your website.

 

While you may have a very small business, online you can look every bit as big and professional as your biggest competitor, and you should.

 

Team up: By working with big businesses, you can bask in the reflection of their respected brand identity. If you sell name brand products in your store or on your site for example, or have big names as customers or clients, be sure people know that you work with those brands. 

 

Introduce your virtual team: Even if you don’t have a lot of employees, you can still list the different people with whom you work (contractors, vendors, etc.) on your “About Us” page. People will like seeing that it is not just your small company with whom they are doing business.

 

Be an email pro: Want to look like a small potato? Then have a business email address from some generic, mass email provider. Want to look big? Then have a dedicated address based on your own domain name. Even better: Have different accounts such as Sales@ _____.com, CustomerService@ ___.com.

 

Invest in public relations: Advertising and marketing are nice because that is you telling the world about your business. But if you really want to impress people and look big, having the media do a story about your business can’t be beat because that is an independent, third-party telling people about your business. A television hit, radio spot, website or newspaper article can be posted on your site forever and gives you instant credibility.

 

Get a nicer office: If you don’t have a great office, or maybe you work from home, you can still make a big impression by investing in an office suite. Regus, Intelligent Office, and Alliance Virtual Offices for example all rent gorgeous office spaces on a part-time basis.

 

So yes, it’s a great time to be in business, especially if you take advantage of all of the options that allow you to present your business in the best light possible.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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