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4 Small Business Branding Strategies

Branding is a crucial component when it comes to how other people perceive a small business, and it’s tightly linked to the number of sales it’s going to make. That’s why it’s important to devise a successful small business branding strategy that will help you achieve the goals you desire.

Without any further ado, here are the top 4 strategies that will help you on your way:

#1: Unique selling proposition

Part of the reason why people buy from you is because your products or services solve their problems. But in order to attract new customers, you really need to define what sets you apart from your competition.

The process of identifying your unique selling proposition (or USP for short) is rather simple. First, take a bit of time and think really hard about what’s the best thing you can offer. If it solves a really deeply-rooted problem a customer is facing, you’re on to a winner. And finally, you should think of a slogan that incorporates that. For example, a good slogan would be “get rid of acne in 30 days or your money back”, because it conveys your strongest selling point with a clear benefit and even includes a powerful guarantee in a single sentence.

#2: Thinking long-term

What is better than a customer? A customer that comes back again and again. These are the sort of relationships you should aim to build with your clients. If you’re not already, you should become the go-to person in the niche whenever your customer has a problem that you can solve.

For example, every region has the “guitar guy”, and there is probably one in your area as well. Whenever a guitar player needs to get some work done on his instrument, he doesn’t even think twice about who to call. Even when the competition is trying everything in order to win over those customers, they aren’t going to switch service providers, because there is an already-established trust in the business relationship.

#3: Having your own voice

It’s not recommended to act as a big corporation if you’re not and there are several reasons for that. First of all, you’re not really being honest about who you are, and people will sense it. Secondly, sometimes customers actually choose a small business provider over a big corporation because a small business is more likely to listen more closely to their needs.

And finally, expressing who you are comes off as more legitimate and trustworthy, so in other words, you will do a better job at marketing your own business if you’re just being yourself.

#4: Offering value

Engaging in price wars with your competition is an endless battle. Sadly, even if you win, there’s probably not going to be much left for you to feast on. What you should be doing is offering value which comes in the form of quality.

Being innovative, professional, and paying attention to small details will be the key that unlocks the door to success, and could very well mean the difference between a successful business and the one that fails.

Conclusion

These 4 small business branding strategies should make your business stand out from the competition and bring in more sales in the long run. It might take some time before you see it, but if you take action and apply what you’ve learned, you should be able to see some success eventually.

To Grow Your Business, Get Organized!

Is your laptop, monitor or desk covered in sticky notes? Do you use a different notebook or pad of paper each time you take notes at a meeting or on a call? Do you scribble notes and tasks on odd pieces of paper and then keep them in stacks on your desk? If you answered yes (and hopefully cringed) to any of those questions, then I’m going to venture to guess that you are perhaps in desperate need of improving your organizational skills!

Personal organization can have direct impact on your small business’s success. When your important tasks, projects, events and schedule are all managed in a productive way, the result is likely to be that your business is also organized and able to grow. Poor organization skills lead to low productivity, which in turn leads to wasted time and effort. That’s wasted time and effort you simply can’t afford when you are working hard at growing your small business.

To improve your personal organization skills, it’s important to develop a system that works well for you and your particular environment. An effective organization system is ideally developed over time, and requires consistency and discipline. As I believe the saying goes, “it takes 21 days of repeated action to form a habit.” However many days it really does take, we typically don’t develop our bad habits overnight so we can’t expect to correct them in a day either.

Your personal organization system does not have to be complex or high-tech for it to be effective. My personal system, for example, includes using a traditional hard-bound notebook where I make all of my notes and maintain my to-do lists. I compliment this paper-based tool with Microsoft Outlook® for scheduling and reminders, and other cloud-based tools to for managing tasks I have delegated.

To get started on improving your personal productivity skills, I recommend focusing on and improving how you manage your to-do lists and your schedule.

How do you manage your To-Do list?

For small business owners, a high stress environment with a seemingly endless to-do list is often the norm. Without consistent and thorough organization, the result is lost productivity and endless days of work.

Managing your to-do list is important not just for getting the most important things done on time, but also for what it does for the culture of your business. As the leader of your organization, it is vital that you do what you say you’re going to do when you say you are going to do it. By staying true to your commitments and your word, you reinforce a culture of accountability and responsibility for your leadership team and your staff.

To do your to-dos the right way, you must find a means of organization that makes sense for you, your company and your environment. A paper system may work for me, while a technology-based system may work better for you. You need to consider how you work and think best, and where you do that work. Are you mostly at your desk, or are you always on the road? Do you usually participate in meetings over the phone or in person? The answer to these questions can help you determine what tools might work best for you.

I recommend that you maintain two to-do lists (regardless of the tool you use to maintain them): one for items that require action this week, and another for items that don’t have to be completed this week. On your to-do list for the week (which you ideally create on Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning), prioritize the most important items and the items that you may be able to delegate. Try to avoid the temptation to work on easy things that are not of high priority (tasks that usually don’t add much value), and make it a habit to tackle at least one hard item first each morning (when most of us are usually at our peak mentally and are less likely to be disturbed or sidetracked). Make adjustments to this approach over time, until you have evolved it into a system that works best for you and your situation.

How do you manage your schedule?

Do you make time commitments without first checking your schedule? Do you have one, and only one, place (tool) where you keep track of your schedule? If you answered yes to the first, and no to the second question, then I am once again going to make an assumption that you may need to improve your organization skills.

During my sales career in the 1990′s when I was traveling constantly, I always carried a DayMinder┬« with me to manage my schedule. It was a bulky, cumbersome tool that did not support sharing with others, and it was disastrous when I forgot it or much worse when I misplaced it (there was that one time I left it on the roof of the rental car… never to see it again!). But it worked for me at the time and I used it consistently.

Now that we are always connected, there are a multitude of calendar tools you can use to manage your schedule. I happen to use Outlook (soon migrating to the online version), simply because it’s what I know how to use and it works well for me and the rest of my team. I maintain both my personal and business schedule on this one calendar tool, and I use the reminder capabilities to keep me on schedule.

Regardless of which scheduling tool you select, I do recommend that it should provide some level of integration with Outlook since many of the people you will interact with are likely using that platform. As with the tool you use for your to-do lists, it’s important to select a scheduling tool and stick with it until you find a truly compelling reason to change.

Ensuring that your schedule runs according to plan is easier said than done. Once again, it all comes back to doing what you say you are going to do. By having a well-managed schedule, you can keep track of the appointments and events to which you have committed and it’s easier to say no to the things that are not the best use of your time. If you’re often on the go during your workweek, consider tools that work on the different devices you carry with you. Accessibility is one thing that makes it easy to update and check your schedule, thus committing to following your productivity plan through.

For most small business owners, our personal lives and business lives are endlessly intertwined. Remember to also schedule time for personal commitments, family time and exercise. These commitments are just as, if not more important than most business activities. Striking that ideal balance between the two helps you stay healthy and give you the needed energy and perspective to grow your businesses.

The key to improving your organizational skills and productivity is to stick with a system for a period of time, until it either becomes a habit that works well for you, or you move on to another system. Once you’ve found a system that works fairly well for you, then you evolve it over time. You make adjustments and fine-tune, picking up new tips and tricks from other highly organized people along the way. If you want to grow your business, start by getting yourself organized, and a great place to start is with your to-do list and your schedule.

Home Business Blueprint: Weather the Storm & Overcome Obstacles Within the Home Business Blueprint

You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Whether it’s New Years Day or just coming back from a long trip, we make a vow that we will start a new life. A new life where we change everything and begin to stop worrying, start producing and start living! But… then real life hits us square in the face. BOOM! We stall… get sidetracked and then our new “life” is put on the back burner until we “get around to it”. If you’re in search of a new home business blueprint, this article will illustrate the 7 major road blocks you need to overcome:

1. The Security Blanket. Ahh, this one is easy. It’s just so easy to stay in this “rut” because no matter what (knock on wood) that paycheck comes every two weeks. Hey, we all have bills to pay, so this makes a lot of sense. Job security is everyone’s excuse on why they wouldn’t invest in a new business or take the time to learn a new trade. But the reality is, as long as you keep doing the “status quo”, you’re still going to see the same results. In order to get ahead in the home business blueprint, you need to spend the extra time to make new endeavors happen.

2. Hypnotized in Routine. Abraham Lincoln once said “It is not the years in the life that matter, but the life in the years.” Most people do the same exact thing from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Don’t get me wrong, a productive and positive routine can be a great thing, but in order to get some new blood flowing, you need to switch things up every once in a while. Instead of getting up at 8:00am, wake up at 5:30am and watch a sunset… instead of taking your sack lunch to work, go to the best steakhouse in town and get a T Bone during lunch, instead of watching CIS: Philadelphia, read a self improvement book. Treat yourself, live “life”, and try to improve yourself all the time and any time you have the opportunity. You will start to learn new ways of solving problems, new opportunities you have never heard before and you will start thinking “outside the box”.

3. Naysayers. This is a BIG ONE. Have you ever heard the Mark Cuban’s and Warren Buffet’s of the business world say “Surround yourself with Great people”? Well, there’s a reason for that… great people are usually positive people and vice versa. When you fraternize with negative people all the time, it not only causes you to be negative, but it wears on you. Being around negative people makes me tired, annoyed and very unproductive. The best thing you can do is step away and start thinking, talking and living positive. This is a major step in the home business blueprint.

4. Motivation (or Lack Thereof). You can almost chalk this one up to the obstacle #3, but sometimes you are just not motivated to do anything. This happens to all of us at one point or another. I have been in sales my entire life and experienced a lack of motivation over and over. I have to constantly remind myself that giving up or taking my foot off the proverbial “pedal” is not an option. EVER. When you are in need of motivation, find something that moves you… whether it’s a song, a memory of the good times (or bad times), or your family, you need to find that special inspiration, grab it and use it. Lack of motivation can be dangerous, snowballing your life into major trouble within your home business blueprint.

5. Not Investing in YOU. The engine that generates your income is YOU. If you want to get of the rut, be your own boss and create a new life, you absolutely need to invest in you. Invest in learning. Invest in growing. Invest in trying to get better each and every day. Mentally and even physically, you need to create the time and invest in making yourself a better person. Don’t get too overwhelmed when you are taking on a new endeavor-learning and cultivating is a process and takes time. The adoption, recognition and execution of this step is the most important thing you can do in the home business blueprint.

6. The Story YOU Create: Everyone has a story. Everyone. The best way to discuss a new endeavor with someone is to make it personal. Be honest. Tell your story of where you were, how you started and how you arrived where you are today. A story that someone can relate to creates trust, thus a bond between the both of you. The home based business is all about helping the next person and paying it forward. Earning someone’s trust is crucial. A solid story is a huge step in the home business blueprint.

7. Pride and Ego. This is one is another “all of the above”. We all have an ego… whether it’s large or small, our ego’s can get in the way. Depending on where we are in life, our ego can be somewhat of a false compass… it can make us believe that we are in line for greatness… our ego’s can make us think “hey, as long as we stay the course, we will hit it big sooner or later”… it is our destiny! Ego’s can convince the mind that we are better than taking on another business endeavor or “I’m above that” mentality. The truth is, with that kind of thinking, you’ll never attain greatness. You may be happy staying the course and gaining little by little, year after year… But, you will never achieve true financial freedom. Never achieving true time freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Not having to worry about the next paycheck, not having to worry about retirement, not having to worry about where you kids are going to school and just living life like everyone should: care-free and happy. I see it too many times where people accept mediocrity because they think they don’t need to get involved with another business. They are “fine” right where they are. You have to get past your ego and realize that there is something bigger than what you are doing and you need to have the dreams, goals and motivation to get there-and you can with a little hard work and persistence following the home business blueprint.

Again, we all have these obstacles in our lives… it’s all a matter of believing in yourself and taking an honest look in the mirror. You have to be truthful of where you are now and realize you are capable of so much more. Anyone can achieve financial freedom and kick down the doors to success, but you have to be willing to put in the work and not fold when things get tough. Small storms and large storms will visit you frequently, but it all comes down to one thing when following the home business blueprint: NEVER GIVING UP!