When it comes to running a lean business, the name of the game is efficiency. You want to use apps that increase your efficiency and help you do more in less time.
This is a no-brainer today, as many people like paying for their online purchases via PayPal. There are other online payment processors and certainly you need more than one, but PayPal is going to be the one most people choose to use.
Link - https://www.paypal.com/
This is single entry bookkeeping that helps you keep track of income and expenses automatically. It connects with FreshBooks, PayPal and your bank to help eliminate data entry issues.
Link - https://bookkeeping.godaddy.com/
This is an invoicing system with some project management, budgeting, and accounting features. You can use it with many other types of bookkeeping apps like Go Daddy Bookkeeping, but also with some others that you might like. It offers time tracking and the ability to manage a team's work.
Link - http://www.freshbooks.com/
This is project management software that is low cost, and people love it. It helps arrange tasks, reminders, and more. Your clients can sign in too, or you can just use it to manage a team of contractors.
Link - https://basecamp.com/
This is another project management tool to use that will do all the things Basecamp does. It is more designed for working with teams and clients who don't like signing on to anything and prefer using email.
Link - https://www.teamwork.com/
Using MS Office is almost essential when working from home. Although you can use some free services like OpenOffice.org, MS Office is still the main one that most people use. And you'll need it. Instead of buying the software outright you can use the online service for a monthly fee. What's wonderful about that is that you do not have to worry about updates.
Link - https://products.office.com/
This is a file sharing and storing solution that works great with your clients and team. It's not expensive and they even have a free version. They have also developed a project business version.
Link - https://dropbox.com/
This is free software that enables you to keep track of notes from the web, voice, photos, and more, even handwritten notes. This is great for planning and organizing new products and services.
Link - https://evernote.com/
If you manage social media for others, or yourself, using a service that allows you to automate some issues will cut down on the time that you use for doing things.
Link - https://hootsuite.com/
If you have a lot of customer service issues, this is a great way to set up a ticketing system. Ticketing systems will save you a lot of time and effort.
Link - https://www.zendesk.com/
This is a backup system that will save you from disaster. Saving on an external drive is not good enough; it's safer and better to save your computer's files in the cloud. Then if you lose your entire home, computer, external drive and all, your work is safe.
Link - https://mozy.com/
Starting a website with WordPress.org self-hosted website is very important. And, outside of special platforms like membership sites (for example the New Rainmaker platform) and personalized websites, it's free.
Link - https://wordpress.org/
Whether you use AWeber or another autoresponder service is not as important as actually using one. The time you can save, plus the ability to easily stay lawful in your communications with others, is amazing.
Link - http://www.aweber.com/
You don't need every one of these apps to run a lean business as some of them do the same thing. Choose which apps work best for your niche and the way you have designed your work flow. Remember that the more efficient you can become using apps, the leaner your business can become.
Paying attention to trends within your business is an important way to increase your profit. If you’re not aware of parallel trends within your business, then it’s time to look into them. An example would be if your business is DIY (doing it yourself) re-purposing furniture, there might be a trend within the business of redoing garbage finds found on the street into usable furniture and decor. This would be a parallel trend. If you’ve kept ahead of your industry, you’ll be one of the first to jump on this new trend within your area of business.
Using keywords, industry names, movers' and shakers' names, and so forth, create alerts that will come straight to your inbox that you can use to notice and then profit from parallel trends.
Social media networks such as Twitter are terrific for identifying trending articles and information within any given business or industry. Do regular keywords searches within your area of business.
Using tools like Think with Google and The Internet Time Machine to learn about trends in your industry. These types of tools can help you notice trends sooner.
If you subscribe to industry blogs, newspapers and magazines, and observe the people within your area of business, then you’ll be able to see trends in advance of your customers and audience.
What does your customers and audience want to know more about? Often, this is a great way to identify a parallel trend from which you can profit. Who better to help you identify parallel trends than the audience themselves?
Once you identify a parallel trend within your business, then you need to use the information you know to increase your profit. Using the example above of DIYing garbage to usable furniture and décor, once the idea is identified you will:
Having identified the trends, go out and market them as much as you can. Since it is a trend, more people will be doing Google Searches for the trend because they’re going to see it everywhere. If you’re not writing about it, making products to help with it, and educating your audience about it, you’re missing out on huge profit potentials - not only in new products or services you can develop based off the parallel trend, but your regular products and services too.
There are many benefits to SMS marketing such as increased customer loyalty, wider brand awareness, improved customer relationships, better sales, and the fact that as far as marketing is concerned it’s an inexpensive marketing method.
To get started with SMS marketing, you’ll want to get people to sign up. You can use all of the following ways to get people to do that:
If you have a bricks and mortar business, simply ask people to sign up, or put up a QR code that they can scan with their phone.
You won’t need that many letters on a billboard to get your audience to view it and text you to get on your list.
Ask for mobile information on your web sign-up forms.
Do you send out email or paper newsletters? Use the distribution to get the audience to sign up for your text message list.
Yes, radio ads still work, and you can make it short and sweet by asking them to text you at a specific number that will opt them into your SMS list.
Already have an email list? Send out a message with a free offer that requires them to provide their mobile number.
Ask for mobile numbers on your social media sign-up forms, along with email addresses.
Have contests that require SMS information to enter, thus signing them up for your list.
Always remember that whatever method you use to get them to sign up, you should allow for easy opt-in and opt-out. Once you have collected the information, you can get into actually marketing to them.
Researching what type of messages they want to receive will be the best way to figure out your next steps. Knowing who they are and the type of schedules they stick to will also help you determine the best times to message them.
For example, if you have a restaurant, you can plan to send out text messages right before dinner time with a special coupon code. If you know your audience loves watching cooking shows, you can tie that into with your messages by having sales during those shows while your audience is hungry.
Conversely, if you own a cooking website you can send out an appropriate recipe two hours before dinner linking to tonight’s dinner recipe idea. The simple fact of getting to know who your audience is and how to trigger action is all you need to come up with more SMS marketing ideas.
The more interesting your messages are, the more likely they are to be shared by the recipient - thus growing your list or growing the amount of people who answer your call to action. Messages like, “Get 20% off with six of your best friends at Downtown Pub from 8 to Midnight” is something that will be shared so that six people go to the pub. It’s a great idea to send something compelling enough that they’ll share it.
SMS marketing is a great way to retarget old customers and get repeat purchasing, as well as turn them into referrals for new customers.
When you think that you’ve picked a niche that is worth exploring deeper, it’s important that you test the niche to see if there is enough interest for you to earn money before you spend too much money developing, creating, and marketing a new product or service. One really great way to do so is to test interest with a teleseminar.
A teleseminar can be given just over the phone, or online and on the phone. The audience can call in and listen live or listen to a recording. With some teleseminar platforms you can even play the teleseminar “as live” where the clients don’t realize that the event is recorded at all and it's run on automatic.
An awesome service for this is called Instant Teleseminar.
A teleseminar can be on any topic you want, directed to any niche you want. Choose a topic of interest to your test niche. Maybe your event can be something like “20 tips for (fill in the blanks).” Choose a topic that they would care about enough to attend with the idea of collecting email information to market other products to them later.
Set a date for the teleseminar a few weeks from now and start marketing it right away through email, social media, joint ventures, advertisements and press releases. You can work on the content between now and the teleseminar date.
Be sure to collect information from each person who signs up for your teleseminar event. In this way, you can collect the information needed to be sure you can attract enough audience members for your niche.
Don’t give up if your first turn-out isn’t what you expect; it can take a long time to attract a brand new audience to start your new niche. The way to tell is to look at your reach compared to your conversions.
There are already likely people who serve this new niche you want to get involved in, and you may want to include them in your teleseminar by inviting them to speak for 10 to 15 minutes. They will promote the event to their lists which helps you get on the inside of the new niche.
Based on the title you choose for your teleseminar, you’ll want to start creating the content so that you can give a good event to the new audience.
If you can offer free “door prizes” and discounts to participants in the teleseminar, your turn-out, and your email list by extension, will be a lot bigger. The bigger the turn-out, the better you can judge the niche based on their participation subsequently.
After the teleseminar is really the time you can better test your niche. You’ll use the information you collected on the participants to contact them and ask for even more information. This response is crucial to testing whether the new niche is appropriate and profitable.
If you try a few times, have a good amount of website visitors, and you still do not get a good response, then it is possible that the niche is not a profitable niche. But, if you are able to get some response and more information from the niche based off your follow ups after the teleseminar, then you’ve found yourself a new niche that can likely become very profitable.
One of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make is to cast too wide a net when it comes to who they will serve and the products and services they offer. It might seem counter-intuitive to narrow your focus to make more sales, but when you have a small business it’s the best way to earn more money with less effort.
There is always someone out there who is able to charge less money. In that case, don’t compete on price. Instead, narrow your niche and compete on specialization. Show your market how special your product or service is compared to your nearest competition. Make sure that you stand out from the rest by not competing on their level but on yours.
Facts about niche markets:
This seems like an obvious statement but it should be stated again, because when you have fewer customers you need to differentiate in a new way. By choosing a narrow niche market, you’ll focus on quality or even quirkiness over price.
Due to the fact that fewer businesses are willing to serve smaller markets, they are often less price sensitive due to lower competition for their business. So the customer is more impressed by how you are different than your price.
One issue with a narrow focus is that you’ll need to find new ways to make more sales. Usually, this will be in the form of new products and/or services created just for your niche, such as education, more personalized services, continuity programs and more.
With a narrow focus you can really get to know not only your customers but also your competition, and continue to improve the value you offer your audience without lowering your price.
When dealing with a smaller niche, you want to bring your customers into your circle and make them part of your family. You want to get to know them very well and let them get to know you. Building relationships is an essential component of increasing sales within a niche market.
The more specialized you become, the more you can be seen as an expert by your audience and in truth the more of an actual expert you will become. You’ll become a lot freer to do the kind of work that you need to do to perfect your craft.
By working with a very small, focused, and narrow niche, you’ll have an advantage over other businesses owners who don’t understand the power of focus.
ue to having a smaller market your audience will become a lot like fans and cheerleaders, recommending and referring you to their friends and colleagues who are likely to also be members of your niche.
Finally, the way to narrow your niche market is to choose a market in which you already have experience, talent, connections and an understanding of their needs. This won’t reduce your need to study the market and research the market, but it will give you a good starting point from which to develop the research.
Technology has been a huge influence on how people have marketed their goods and services ever since people have had goods and services to sell. Whether it was the printing press, the radio, television or the proliferation of trains and cars that made traveling easier, something new has always come along to change how marketing is done. But nothing has ever been as noteworthy as the internet.
Because of the internet, consumers have a lot of information at the tip of their fingers that they never had before in the history of the world. Now they can look up information about you, and whether it's right or wrong they will learn something about you and your products before buying. It is up to you to make sure the right information is out there for them to find.
Before the internet, stores had to host huge events that were quite costly in order to stir up conversation and social interaction. Today, they simply need to start an active Instagram account or Facebook group or page. Everyone uses some form of social media today to gather information and learn about your business and offerings. In fact, more than 80 percent of the US population uses social media.
It is important to put content everyplace your audience likes to be. If they like Facebook, you need to be on Facebook. If they like blog posts, you need to supply them with plenty of blog posts. If they like getting information through email, then you need to accommodate them. It can be difficult to keep up at times, but with help you can work smartly and efficiently by re-purposing content as needed.
Due to the advent of the net, pulling your audience to your information requires knowledge of search engine optimization. This can include on- and off-page optimization of a website and blog, but also of article titles, social media posts and more. It is all about attracting the right audience to your information.
Due to the ability to automate and personalize using technology that has been created since the advent of the internet, business owners can make their customers feel special and unique. Even though customers are smart and know a lot of it is automation, they do appreciate it and it shows in purchasing habits.
Bringing your customers to you is now how marketing works best, as opposed to outbound marketing which was how marketing started. It was posters, magazine ads, commercials - these things all interrupted the consumer to give them the message. Now it is less intrusive and all about bringing them to you with the right information.
It seems like eCommerce has been around forever. In reality it has been around in a smaller way since the 60s, but it really came into being as it is today in the 90s when the first book was sold on Amazon in 1995. Nothing has ever been the same since, and it just grows and grows. Online shopping is bringing back grocery delivery even.
What you can look forward to is augmented reality. This will enable people to feel as if they are in a store when they are really online. Movies have depicted ideas of augmented reality, such as the Tom Cruise movie about virtual data called Minority Report in 2002. Now marketers are trying to figure out how they can work augmented reality into the everyday lives of consumers.
It is imperative that you keep up with how marketing is changing in terms of the tools that are used. In many ways, the principles don't change much. You have to find a way to educate your audience, inform them, engage them, and build relationships with them, so that they trust you enough to spend their money on your products or services.
If you don't know what redirects are, essentially it's a way of forwarding one URL to another URL. You have several main types of redirects including 301, 302 and Meta refresh. A 301, which is a permanently type of redirect, is the one that's most recommended for SEO purposes.
The 302 is a temporary redirect and has to do with refreshing and sending you back where you came from. A good example is when you pay for something on a website via PayPal and the PayPal site sends you back within ten seconds.
Using redirects incorrectly can damage your SEO, especially if the search engine thinks you're trying to hide information or trick people. Therefore you will want to follow these best practices to ensure that you don't get penalized.
This can happen if you have a section of your website that suddenly becomes more popular and you realize you have enough specialized content to place more focus on this one aspect. That will require a new domain name, and to reconcile that with moving all the content you'll use a simple redirect.
So if people used to go to yourdomain.com/popularcontent to see that content but you want them to go to popularcontent.com instead, you'll do a redirect from the first URL to the new URL. This will work very well, but the search engines will take some time to reconcile everything and the new site will not show as much trust as the old site. This type of redirect is done on the server level and can be complicated.
The reason this is a good thing to do is that you can then use a pretty URL from your domain, like mywebsite.com/greatproduct instead of using the ugly affiliate links they give you. Plus, if they change their affiliate program, all you'll need to do is change the code on one file rather than go through and replace a bunch of individual links. For directions on how to do this you can read Mari Smith's post on how to make a redirect link: http://www.marismith.com/how-to-make-a-redirect-link/
The reason these are better for SEO is because you can use a better domain name for the information you're trying to share in the first example, and in the second example you can share links with keywords in them in an easy way rather than an ugly link without keywords that people are less likely to click on.
Using redirects can be tricky but if you do it right and don't abuse it, it's perfectly fine for SEO. Just keep in mind that the link should not trick your users in any way, and it will take a while for the search engines to trust the redirect.
When a business owner builds a website, they often forget the one way to market a website that has nothing to do with technology. Marketing the website offline is a great way to get the word out about your website and what you offer. Using business cards, brochures, t-shirts and other premiums, plus being active in your local community, you can get the word out about your business.
When it comes to marketing, don't leave any stone unturned. That includes marketing your website online and offline. Don't forget that not everyone, even today, uses search engines or means online to find information. Some people still use old-fashioned information and paper to find the information they need.
Joint ventures are when two or more people / business owners decide to enter into a particular project together for a limited time to combine resources in terms of talent, funds, and tools. Doing this well requires some understanding and knowledge of how JVs work and what the best practices are.
Remember that JV partnerships are most appropriate for short- to long-term projects that are not permanent, and between complementary entities rather than competing entities. You want share resources and not compete for them. This ensures that you both experience success in the joint venture that will add to both of your bottom lines.
Creating products for passive income proliferation is an excellent way to get past the whole idea of working trading hours for dollars. All of us are programmed to work eight hours a day for a wage or fee, but it doesn’t have to be that way. One of the oldest passive income ideas is rental income for real-estate, but today you can earn passive income online right from home. Here are some ideas that work well.
While creating these products is not actually "passive" in that you still have to do some work, collecting a big pay day later when other people promote your products as affiliates will feel as if you didn't work for it.