Category Archives for Business Management

Are You Setting the Best Marketing Goals for Your Business?

Goal setting is an important part of doing business. You have to set goals for every aspect of your business and that most certainly includes marketing. You’ve likely heard that goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive. The reason this is a good plan of action is that it gives you a place to start when it comes to setting out your goals. You might think that the goal of marketing is always selling, but it’s not.

Know Your Purpose

You may have goals for various purposes for your marketing such as spreading awareness, building your email list, getting more social engagement or something else entirely. The important thing is to understand the purpose of the marketing that you’re doing.

Where Do You Stand Now?

If you don’t have much of a list or a social media following, then it’s important to access what you should do first. Should you build more of a following and if so, exactly how will you accomplish it?

Where Do You Want to Be?

Look toward the future of when you meet the goal that you set for yourself based on where you currently stand.

Determine What Is Next

Always knowing what you’ll do next when you reach a particular goal is helpful to setting the best marketing goals for your business. It’s always first things first – build your blog, build your list, market to the list. Repeat.

Map It All Out

Creating a map of where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to go will help you succeed in the marketing goals that you set for yourself. It will also enable you to see gaps in your choices so that you can fill them.

Don’t Jump the Gun

If you haven’t tried content marketing yet, don’t drop a grand on banner advertising. You want to start where you are now, and work your way up to where you want to be.

Understand Your Audience

All marketing starts with your audience, and without knowing who they are it will be difficult to create a marketing plan that will work for you.

Know Your Products and Services

Understanding how your products and services benefit your audience will also help you know where to start with your marketing efforts. Does your audience know that they need what you have, or do you need to educate them?

Do the research you need to do in order to know your audience, learn your products, and to evaluate where you stand today. This is necessary to ensure that you choose the best marketing goals for your business today and in the future. What works for you today will not work for your business tomorrow.

Strategies for Hiring Great Employees and Contractors


iring employees or contractors is an important way to expand your business. After all, each person you hire or contract with can essentially duplicate yourself so that you can expand your business in a smart way without working harder. But, it’s also important to have great people working with you to help lower your stress level while expanding your business and giving you more balance in your life.

Understand Your Business Inside and Out

Know what goes into doing your business each and every day. You want to know why you are doing it, who you’re doing it for, and what your goals are for the future. And you need to be able to explain it well to another person.

Go through Your Processes to Create Task Lists

Take some time to go through each work day and create tasks lists that you do every day. This will help you narrow down the type of things you can outsource to employees or contractors. If you aren’t sure what goes into your day-to-day activities, it’ll be hard to outsource.

Be Able to Explain the Tasks You Need Done

Once you’ve created task lists of various things you do each day, separate them into different categories such as marketing, bookkeeping, creative, and so forth. It’s not likely you will find one person who does everything well; instead you’ll want to hire different people for each type of work that needs to be done.

Hire Experts

By narrowing down the different categories of work that need to be completed, you can now focus on finding experts that love doing what needs to be done in that area. For instance, you don’t want to hire a writer to do graphic design or an administrative professional to set up your shopping cart unless this is their expertise.

Get Referrals from Colleagues

When you are sure exactly what you’re looking for, put the word out to your friends and colleagues because it’s more than likely that they can recommend just the right expert for you. When they do recommend the person, ask them to explain why they recommend them so that you know they’ve worked with the person before and aren’t simply just friends with them.

Be Able to Explain the Commitment You Expect

As you interview people who are potential candidates for the positions you’re filling, it’s important to be able to explain to them what you expect so that they can make a fair bid to you. This is especially true if you’re hiring a contractor instead of an employee. With an employee you can change things up a bit more because they’re essentially clocking in each day to do something as directed and aren’t as self-directing.

Ask Them How They Prefer to Work

When you interview any potential employee or contractor, ask them what they like to do most and how they like to do it. This will give you some insight into how well you and the person already gel together without having to change anything about yourself or them as you get started working on projects together.

Ask for References

Not only should you ask for references from the person you’re interviewing, you should actually call the references or email the references. You can get by with less of this type of thing if you’re not going to give them anything too personal to do for you, but it’s really the only safe thing if you’re going to entrust them with a lot of proprietary or personal information.

Pay a Fair Wage

Nothing is more disheartening to a future employee or contractor who considers themselves an expert in their field than to be offered less than a living wage. Contractors will typically offer a bid but when you are giving a budget or an hourly wage for an employee, consider what you’re actually asking for and make your offer fair. Money isn’t everything, but it is why most have jobs or conduct business.

It’s also important to understand the difference between hiring an employee and a contractor. An employee is someone where you can control their activities more from day to day, and you’ll have to provide certain benefits to them as well. With a contractor, you cannot control their day-to-day activities or direct to them too much of how they do something, but rather focus mainly on deadlines and deliverables.

It’s up to you who you want to work with, but do understand the difference so that working with them will go smoothly because employees and contractors have different attitudes and methods of completing tasks. Treating the people you work with well goes even further than paying a fair wage, so consider that part too after you choose someone.

How to Become a Master Delegator

Delegation is an important skill for any business owner to master, but it’s especially important for small business owners who have very little time and extra money to devote to bottlenecks, accidental duplication of efforts, and missed deadlines.

If you learn to delegate well, you’ll have more time to devote your energy to more important tasks, provide employment for another person, and (since it’s likely someone else can do the tasks better than you) make yourself look even more amazing due to the good choices you make.

Identify Blocks to Delegation

One of the first things to do is figure out what causes you to be fearful of delegation. Usually the reasons have to do with perfectionism, self-protection, lack of a workable system in place and being unsure of which tasks to delegate.

Set Up a Fail-Safe System

Before you even start delegating, it’s important to set up a system of some sort - like Basecamp or another online project management system. Keep in mind some of the people you outsource to may have their own system which you can use. This is especially true of online business managers or project managers.

Streamline Your Processes

Go through the processes you use to do the tasks now, and write them down so that you can figure out how to streamline the processes. However, do keep in mind that contractors are mostly concerned with deliverables, so this process is more for your benefit to find out what types of things you can delegate. An example would be repetitive tasks like email management.

Hire the Right People for the Job

When you know what tasks you want to outsource, it’s important to find the right people for the job or task. To get the most bang for your buck, choose someone to do it who likes doing it, wants to do it, and considers it their expertise. In other words, don’t expect to hire someone who can do everything perfectly. Hire several people to do one or two things each perfectly.

Give Clear Instructions

Provide the contractor with the requirements, deadlines, scope of authority, purpose, goals and objectives, potential problems, and tools available to them (if any are needed such as passwords and sign-on information).

Ask for Feedback

Open up the communication by asking the contractor if they have any questions based on your instructions. That way they won’t be worried about asking anything even if it’s "stupid." The worst thing you can do is criticize a contractor for asking a question. And of course, you need to get back to them quickly with your answers.

Focus on Deliverables

In many cases, contractors want you to focus more on deadlines and deliverables than too many details. How they get something done should not be as important as the result of what they got done.

Give Constructive Feedback

As often as is practicable give feedback to your contractors. This is especially true if you would like something done differently than what they turned in but you still want to keep working with the person. Give the feedback by giving compliments on what is good, then what could be better, and finally something good again to help build up the confidence of the contractor.

Allow for Mistakes

The fact is, no one is perfect and contractors will sometimes misunderstand directions. As long as something isn’t blatant such as constant missed deadlines, poor quality of work and so forth, sometimes people make mistakes. If your contractors are afraid of making mistakes, sometimes it will stifle their creativity. So be open to new ideas and potential mistakes, while also being clear on your expectations.

Finally, the best way to become a master delegator is to let go and just do it. Start with something small such as outsourcing your email customer service, eBook writing, report writing, blog post writing, article writing, social media marketing, and graphic design for projects. Write a list of everything that needs to be done to launch one of your products and try to outsource as much of as you can to see how it comes together. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.

How to Stop Overcomplicating Things and Letting Your Assistant Handle It


any business owners have a really hard time letting their assistant handle various tasks. This is because many business owners have the feeling that if they let their assistant do things they will lose control. Additionally, they feel like no one can do “it,” whatever “it” is, as well as they can. But, most of the time the truth is if you’ve hired the right assistant they can do it as well as or even better than you can if you let them.

  • Define the Tasks – Be clear about the tasks that you want done and the results you expect up front so that your assistant doesn’t have to ask you too many questions throughout each day. They need to be able to make some decisions on their own or else there is no point in having an assistant.
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    Focus on Deliverables – Instead of worrying about the process and how someone does something, create checklists based off deliverables for every project that you’re involved in so that you can provide some guidance without micromanaging.
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    Hire the Right Assistant – Interview assistants based the type of projects you do so that you will know up front what you want them to do. That will help you hire people with the right expertise so you’ll feel confident turning over things to your assistant.
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    Use a Project Management System – There are many different project management systems such as, and others. It’s imperative that you and your assistant use something like that and not rely on email to keep track of the things that are to be done each day, week and month.
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    Set Milestones and Deadlines – Within the project management system and in concert with your assistant, set milestones and deadlines based on the expectations of what you want them to do. If you turn over work to your assistant that they automatically do each month without too much input for you, so much the better.
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    Check in Regularly – You don’t want to bother each other too often but you can check in for five minutes each morning or once a week; whatever works for you. It will make you feel better and make your assistant more confident to have regular contact with you so that they know what is going on.
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    Provide Adequate Support – Whether it’s a budget to work with, or access to software that makes their job easier, it’s important to provide them with what they need. If you want someone to be your true assistant, they’ll need access to the things you have access to in order to better help you.
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    Motivate and Reward – Provide feedback on a regular basis to your assistant, including positive feedback. That is a good way to motivate and reward him or her. The happier an assistant is, and the more secure they feel within their position with your business, the harder they’ll work on your behalf.

Finally, it’s important to let go of perfection and allow people who are experts in what they do, do what it is that they do. You can’t do everything. No successful CEO does. In fact, most successful CEOs mostly do nothing but delegate tasks to the smart, capable experts that they hired.

What Type of Business Are You?

Understanding what type of business you have is an important aspect of reaching the right audience, paying your taxes, and marketing and advertising your business. Many different types of businesses are available to choose from. But what type of business are you?

  • Home-Based Business – This doesn’t necessarily mean you have a super small business; it just means that your operation is run from your home office. You can have many types of business within this category, from a really large business to a small one. Today, due to technology you can outsource distribution, marketing, advertising, and pretty much everything in between.
  • Online Business – An online business means that your business exists only online. You may have an office in your home, or you may rent office space, but you usually do not have any physical products and likely deal more with information, digital books and software. An online business can become a multi-million dollar business.
  • Information Business – In this type of business you use online and offline methods to distribute the information that you create. You may run ads online, sign up on many different affiliate sites like, and you may run advertisements in newspapers and ads. Your information can be digital or print. This is a very lucrative business that can earn an enormous amount of money.
  • Franchise Business – This type of business can be bricks and mortar but there are also home-based and online franchises that you can buy into. It’s sort of like buying yourself a job that has all the processes and ideas in place. You follow the directions and you can create a very successful business.
  • Woman-Owned Business – While there isn’t anything inherently different from a business run by a man over one run by a woman, because women-owned businesses are more rare there are special considerations the government may give you in terms of business loans. If you are a woman-owned business, it's good to certify yourself as such. Any type of business can be woman owned.

But what it really comes down to is how to choose between these types of business entities.

Read through the following descriptions to help you choose which type of business entity you want to pick. If you’re not sure it’s always best to consult with a professional or your local SCORE chapter.

  • Sole Proprietor – This is the easiest business format to get involved in. You can start a sole proprietorship today just by saying you are one. There is no special tax information you need; it’s just cash based, money in and money out taxation. When money is earned it’s counted as income, and when money is spent it’s counted as an expense.                                                                                                     You can technically use your social security number but it is highly recommended that you obtain a tax ID number. If you’re in the USA that number is called an EIN or Employer Identification number. The name can be confusing because if you do not plan to have employees you may feel like you can’t or should not get one. But that is not true. Getting an EIN is free, fast, and can save you from identity theft. You can get an EIN online.
  • Partnership or LLC – You can start an LLC without having a partnership, but if you are in partnership with anyone you will need to form at least an LLC to protect you both. When you form an LLC it offers some protection against your personal assets being taken if you are sued and can spell out the terms of a partnership.
  • INC – If you plan to run a very large business, forming an INC might be for you. But, you’ll be subject to double taxation, the shareholders are owners, and you cannot choose how to be taxed at tax time like with an LLC. This structure is best for large businesses or certain licensed professionals who are not permitted to operate as an LLC.

Understanding what type of business you are is an important component in knowing how you will proceed in any part of your business - whether it is management, taxation, marketing, sales or understanding your audience.

Tips to Manage the Business Registration Process


anaging the business registration process the first time will seem unorganized. However, if you do one thing at a time and keep track of everything every year, it will get easier to accomplish and will really amount to little more than repeating what you did last year, writing a check, and mailing it in on time. Some places you can even complete the process online, saving even more time and effort.

  • Know Your Business Name (DBA) – What do you plan to name your business? Have you considered what the laws are in your area regarding filing a DBA or doing business as form to make your name legal?
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    Know What Business Entity You’ve Chosen – Research all the different entities and the laws surrounding each so that you can apply for and form the right type of business for what your goals are.
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    Register for an EIN First – You can get an EIN code prior to getting anything else done for your business other than knowing what you will name it and what business entity it will have. Remember, even if you have a home business, you still want an EIN if you live in the USA. This will protect your personal information from scammers.
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    Know Your NAICS Code – For opening a business in the USA, you’ll be asked from time to time what your NAICS and/or SIC codes are. This is the North American Industry Classification System and is often used by government entities to track and classify your business. You can go to the website to find out what your code is for your type of business.
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    Collect Proper Permissions from HOA – If you have a Homeowner’s Association, you’ll need to get permission from them in writing before applying for a business license. Your licensure department will have a form for them to fill out.
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    Collect Other Residential Approvals – In some cases the fire department will have to sign off on whether you can have the type of business you desire in your residence (or any location), and they’ll have different rules for different types of businesses.
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    Obtain Proper Licensure via State, City and County – Find out from any local business office such as SCORE or at your community college what type of licensure you’ll need to obtain. Go through the steps for each one, starting with the state and working your way down the chain.
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    Collect All Needed Data – Be sure to collect all the data you need in advance. You can often find the forms for each entity online so you’ll know what to look for in advance.
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    Have Your Important Documents Handy – Once you go through the entire process, make a separate folder for each entity so that you can keep track of all the information you need to provide, making it easier each year.
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    Make a Spreadsheet – If it helps, create a spreadsheet with all the information in it so that you can look at it in just one glance for any numbers you need or other information that you need.
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    Calendar Everything – Once you buy a license or get a permit, note on the permit when the next one is due and put it in your calendar with warnings in advance so that you don’t wait until the last minute to renew.

Don’t forget to enter the expense you have for any business license into your accounting system, as every penny is a complete write-off from the top of your income. By following the rules and ensuring your business is registered properly, you will not have any legal trouble down the pike that could cost you your entire business.

8 Facts You Need To Know About Drop Shipping

Like with most businesses, profit margins vary when it comes to drop shipping. It will depend on the company, their fees, and the products, and can range from 5% with electronics to 100 percent when it comes to accessories. When it comes to drop shipping versus doing it yourself, you may find that you save a lot of money drop shipping when you factor time into the equation.

First, let’s go over the type of fees that a drop shipper often charges:

Monthly Memberships - Many drop shippers charge a membership fee to allow you access to the products. However, while some legitimate companies have a fee, there are those without the fee too. Let the monthly fee be a potential warning of a possible scam wholesaler before joining - but not the only warning.

Per Order Costs - Most drop shippers charge a fee each time they ship out an order to you, to help them cover the cost of shipping and packaging. This is usually a low fee of fewer than 5 dollars per item.

Monthly Minimum Fee - You may also face a charge if you don’t sell a certain dollar amount of items each month. This is where the monthly fee may come into effect before you’re up and running, but then once you are making regular sales the fee is waived if you’re selling a certain amount.

Restock Fee - Some drop shippers charge you a restocking fee if your customer returns an item. Sometimes they charge this to your customer and sometimes they charge you both a small fee for restocking.

Now, let’s look at the type of expenses and time commitment you may face if you do it yourself:

Storage Fees - You will need a place to house any items that you will sell to your customers. Depending on the size and storage requirements, this can get expensive.

Purchasing Costs - You will have to buy the merchandise first, which can be pricey to stock enough products. Then you might overbuy and have to sell at cost - or worse, be left with inventory that you can’t sell.

Packing Costs - These costs can be expensive and will go up as your business starts selling more. Tape, packaging materials and more will cost you more money than it costs through a drop shipping company due to the volume pricing they get on these supplies. Plus, you’ll need to hire help or do it yourself, which can be very expensive.

Shipping Costs - While you will pass on some of those costs to your customer, you’ll pay more for shipping from the wholesaler to you, and then from you to your customer, which can cut into your profits.

When you add in the cost of your time to do all of these things, you can clearly see that starting a drop shipping business is normally going to be less expensive and suck up less of your time than doing it yourself. Why would you bother doing it yourself when you have so many options?