Tag: Business

Tips For Enhancing The Exterior Of Your Company’s Building To Attract More Customers

September 11, 20130 Comments

No matter what type of business you operate, you need to draw in your customers who are walking and driving by your building. If you own your own building, you have a lot of options when it comes to really customising it and making it your very own place; both inside and outside. And with the right design elements, you can really enhance the exterior appearance of your business, which is the first part of your company that customers will see, so that you can entice them to come inside and see what you’re all about.

If you’re ready to invest some of your business’s funds into creating an exterior that will lure more customers into your company’s home base, continue reading for some important tips that will help you get started.

The Right Sign and Maybe Symbol

The right sign outside your business is the perfect way to get people’s attention. Bigger doesn’t always translate to better, though, so be careful about how you go about designing and having your sign constructed. For example, are you hoping to incorporate bold colours that match your business’s overall colour scheme, or would you rather go with a large metal sign that’s clean, sleek and professional looking?

Your sign will ultimately depend upon the type of business that you operate because you want to cater it to your customer base and what they would be attracted. Therefore, keep customers in mind as you work through the design process. Once you have your design in place, hiring the right sign company will ensure that you get a high quality product that will last.

If you can, add a large symbol to the exterior of your building as well. For example, if you own a café that’s called the “Rocket Café,” put a large metal rocket outside alongside your sign, or incorporate it into the design of your sign to really get people’s attention and pique their curiosity.

Use Artwork

Hiring a local artist to paint a mural on the side of your building is one way to get people’s attention. Large, beautiful pieces of artwork are foolproof ways to make your building stand out. You can even get a piece of metal art or a sculpture that you can place outside your building, especially if you have a little garden area or a large wall on which you can hang or place something unique.

Use Bright, Bold Coloured Paint

If you can paint the exterior of your building, take advantage of the option by incorporating your business’s colours on the outside, as well as the inside, of your space. Flashy colours will attract people who are passing by that otherwise would have ignored your drab building that blended in with all of the others around it. Make your building stand out in order to grab the attention of customers before they leave you behind.

When it comes to defining your business’s exterior, use bright colours and artwork to draw people’s attention to your place of business. Once you have their attention, they’ll see your large sign and logo and be curious to find out more about you.

Featured images:

The author of this post, Jenny Wadlow, is a part of the team at Lump Sculpture Studio, a company specializing in urban art projects. She is a voracious reader and she enjoys catching up on her favorite novels during her leisure time. You can follow her on Twitter @JennyWadlow.


How To Use Memorable Branded Corporate Free Gifts And Merchandise To Boost Your Brand Identity

June 5, 20134 Comments

Branding is hugely important for businesses of all sizes, but it can also be an area of running your own company where you get to have some fun and be creative. As well as impressing your brand on things like your website, Facebook page, Twitter identity and any physical sites you run, you can also encourage people to develop a positive relationship with your brand in their minds by giving away some useful, interesting or fun branded items.

Here are some ideas about how to do this:

Where and When to Give Away Corporate Gifts

Corporate merchandise can be given away at any time when you connect with customers or potential customers, in theory. Bear in mind that these are not things you are going to sell, but things that add value to an existing purchase, or are just given away as free gifts that people will take home and use or see, reminding them of your company.

It can be a good idea to put together bags of corporate gifts that you give to people who visit you at trade fairs, or give them to people who visit your offices. If you run an online only business, you can give away free digital products, such as apps or eBook reports, or you can include a small token physical gift with purchases you send out. The idea is to give the customer the impression of additional value, as well as impressing your brand on them in a subtle way.

What to Give Away

Obviously there are some cost concerns when it comes to giving away anything for free. You have to consider the cost of your corporate gifts as part of your marketing, and include them in any calculations you do around the cost of acquiring new customers. How much you spend should be proportional to how much you expect the average customer to spend. If you are selling fairly low cost items, then look out for items that are very cheap to order in bulk. Classic options are things like key-rings, magnets, mugs, pens, mouse mats, and small children’s toys (if you sell something family orientated).

However, if you sell something more expensive, for example if you are an IT solutions company expecting the average client to spend thousands, you can go for something with more implied value. Things like leather document cases, high end pens, and branded memory drives are good if you are selling to corporate clients who can put these things to use at work. Whereas consumer clients can enjoy things like t-shirts, bags, kitchen utensils, beach towels, sports equipment – in fact anything that goes well with what your company does and works with a logo on it!

Brainstorm some ideas of good corporate gifts that may fit in with your budget and branding, and investigate companies who may be able to design and make them for you. For some items, a standard design in your colour scheme with your logo will work, whereas for others you may need to invest in having a professional design specifically for your item. You may also be able to use design assets you already have to create some things, like fridge magnets, mouse mats and t-shirts.

Attached Images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://pixabay.com/en/christmas-bag-santa-claus-17159/
  •  License: Creative Commons image source 

 Today’s guest author, Jenny Wadlow, is a freelance writer and usually writes for Liquid Creativity, a firm that provides brand consultants based in Australia. Apart from writing, she enjoys reading and dancing for leisure.


When Your Mentor’s Business Goes Bust

June 1, 20120 Comments

Most people would agree that if you want to succeed in business, then you need to have a great business mentor. But have you ever considered what would happen if your mentor’s business went bust. If you think that could never happen, then consider that has been the experience of some of the greatest businessmen. Richard Branson’s mentor, for instance, was Freddie Laker.

So what does actually happen when your mentor’s business goes bust, and more importantly what lessons are there to be learned?

Here’s a great little article I came across on this very subject by Mark Anastasi, author of The New York Times Bestseller The Laptop Millionaire: How Anyone Can Escape the 9 to 5 and Make Money Online.

Here are Mark’s considered observations on this subject:

In the past few months, even as my own business has gone from strength to strength, I have observed:
– Mentor #1: lost £2 million pounds when the UK real estate bubble burst.
– Mentor #2: went from £3.75m a year to having just 300 pounds to his name, because of a nasty divorce.
– Mentor #3: lost 75% of his assets and became an alcoholic when his wife left him
– Mentor #4: is being accused of setting up a Ponzi scheme and defrauding investors of millions of euros
– Mentor #5: went from $10,000 a month in passive income to zero when Google introduced the ‘Penguin’ update and his sites disappeared from the search engines.

Here are the 4 lessons I’ve taken from this:

1) Don’t be lazy. Don’t be greedy.

In almost every single case they got too greedy, and that proved to be their downfall.
If you are motivated by a sense of purpose, a mission that gets you excited about life, rather than just ‘doing it for the money’, you probably won’t experience these sorts of life ‘crashes’.

2) Always add more value

My business has grown year after year for 8 straight years because I’ve kept creating content and events that people enjoy, value, and benefit from. Profits may not be stratospheric, but are consistent and sustainable.
Money is nothing but the measure of how much value you are creating for other people.
Or, like Brian Tracy says, ‘You get paid in direct proportion to the amount of value that you deliver according to the marketplace.’
Does your business mentor have a sustainable business model?

3) Don’t rely on just a single source of income or traffic.

If your business is reliant exclusively on Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. you don’t have a business. Instead, use the Internet and these aforementioned websites to build a list of loyal fans, subscribers, and clients that want to do business with you over and over again, for years to come.

4) “Happy Wife, Happy Life!”

My South African friend Craig often reminds me of this saying. ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life!’
A loving and nurturing relationship, and having a supportive partner, can be the best asset on your quest for financial independence.

Oh, and a fifth lesson:

What was it about my own mindset that attracted these specific individuals into my life?
Was it naivety? Is this part of growing up as a business owner? Or was it my own greed glands kicking in? Article In Full

Another standout probability of a mentor going bust, is the likelihood that they will rise again as the strength of the mentality that enabled them to originally rise to the top will still be there to help them rise again, albeit older and wiser. Freddie Laker after all, rose again after his spectacular fall, as have many others. As one of the lyrics in the well known Frank Sinatra song “That’s Life” puts it:

Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

Hopefully the experience of your mentor’s business going bust is something that won’t happen to you and the better your mentor is, the less likely it is to happen. If it should happen then this article will help you to stay on track with your own goals. It would be good to have your own thoughts on this subject, especially if you’ve seen your own mentor’s business go bust.


Social Media For Business

November 1, 20110 Comments

Social Media is transforming the world for business. What is becoming clearer and clearer is that the way that any business either uses or doesn’t use social media can have massive repercussions both in relationships with customers and with staff. Alistair Rennie, the General Manager For Social Business at IBM, gave a thoughtful analysis to this issue in a perceptive article featured recently in Forbes Magazine. He calls this the era of “social business”.

The era of social business is here and it is becoming clear just how transformative it will be.

But many are still asking, “What does social business really mean?”

Companies are increasingly adopting social media technologies, using Facebook to reach out to customers or YouTube to demonstrate new products. These are good first steps, but there is so much more that “social” has to offer. Social media is just one dimension of today’s social business.

Gone are the days of businesses limiting or even entirely restricting employees’ access to the Internet and social media platforms. Today, by combining social networking tools – internally and externally – with sophisticated analytic capabilities, companies are transforming their business processes, building stronger relationships among their employees, customers and business partners and making better decisions, faster. This is what makes a social business – embracing networks of people to create new business value and opportunities.

Leading edge companies, including China Telecom, Nokia and Cemex, understand what it means to embrace social. They recognize that they can’t afford to relegate social technologies to people’s personal lives and have instead implemented social tools and concepts to drive brand awareness and ultimately, their organization’s bottom line.

While embracing social technologies, these organizations are also creating a new business culture that encourages employees to tap into the expertise of their colleagues and clients, to communicate and share ideas across departments and geographies, and to learn from others to create new products, respond to problems, and build the brand. Theses organizations not only see the power behind social, but they’re actively combining social networking with sophisticated analytics to glean insights from social activity streams and behaviors to find out what they need to do better to drive financial results.

What’s keeping other companies from following their lead? Many executives recognize that social media is powerful, even if they still wonder in the back of their minds whether it’s just a time sink. Yet, even when they decide that there is potential, these execs get hung up on trying to figure how to apply social technologies to their companies, how to engage and empower their employees to participate.

Here’s the trick with social business: Focus on people and culture.

People by nature are social beings. We naturally form networks based on trust and similar interests. With social technology, executives are providing the necessary tools for their employees to easily tap into the creativity, intelligence and community that they crave. They’re now able to reach networks of people inside and outside the company to get work done more efficiently, more creatively, more collaboratively. But will they? Not without trust and encouragement from the top. Just as important as the tools, building trust and encouraging social interactions are essential to driving a social change in the workforce. Creating a social business culture can be the most difficult hurdle to overcome, but it’s also the most important.

Alistair Rennie’s Guest Post in Forbes Magazine highlights how some businesses have both embraced social technology and created a new business culture that encourages employees to tap into the expertise of their colleagues and clients. This contrasts with the suspicions shown by other businesses towards social media, where often an outright ban on staff accessing Facebook and Twitter exists in the workplace or where social media is simply used to trumpet the business’s brand and products without truly engaging either staff or customers. It’s equally true that a lot of employees want to keep their employer at arms length from their social media platforms but then once someone begins posting online they need to realise they can never fully guarantee who they can restrict those views or news to.

Social business is a natural evolution from the mainframe and the PC. Where the mainframe is “work” focused, the PC adds ‘personal’, and social business adds both ‘social’ and strengthened ‘personal’. These three terms ‘work’, ‘personal’ and ‘social’ can also be argued to represent the three dimensions of everyday life, but what is your take on both the article and these views?


Business In The Twenty First Century: The Age of Entrepreneurs

October 24, 20110 Comments

These are troubled times for many of the World’s leading economies and certainly so for those who’ve been taught or trained to rely on either paid employment or a trade to provide for themselves and their families. Ironically for budding entrepreneurs, the 21st Century is also a great time for starting a business with minimal expense, thanks to the opportunities presented by the internet, reinforced by the availability of mobile technology and inexpensive marketing via social media. According to Jeanette Mulvey in this article in Business News Daily, we now live in “The Age of Entrepreneurs”:

All this protesting from Occupy Wall Street puts me in mind of the 1960s. You know, the Age of Aquarius and all that. This time, though, it’s not a celestial shift but an economic one, that’s going to bring about a radical change.

A sputtering job market and the availability of mobile technology and inexpensive marketing via social media are swirling together into a perfect storm of opportunity for workers in all trades. For anyone who’s been itching to set out on their own and create a business, this is a great time to take advantage of this alignment of the entrepreneurial planets.

In this new economic age, being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean running a full-fledged corporation or even having employees. In the “freelance economy,” as it’s been called, working for yourself can simply mean doing what you’re good at and getting paid directly by your customers rather than working for a company that takes a cut.

In recent months I’ve met many new entrepreneurs, who, with nothing more than a laptop and smartphone have managed to build businesses that can support them and, at the same time, give them a greater chance to achieve that all too elusive state of work-life balance.

One such new entrepreneur, finding herself without a job, decided to put a sign on her lawn advertising her services as a “private gardener.” Within a week she had more customers than she could handle. Armed with little more than a trowel and a pair of gardening gloves, she tapped into a market opportunity few others have. She weeds the flower beds of busy folks who don’t have time to do it themselves. At $20 an hour, with no overhead, she’s doing all right for herself.

I’ve met others, too, who have decided to forgo the traditional “career” and, instead, work for themselves. Tutors who use the public library to give $40 an hour private tutoring sessions, a fluent Spanish speaker who is charging $40 an hour to doctor’s offices to make phone calls to Spanish-speaking patients, freelance writers who work for all manner of customers who need writing work done.

I’ve met virtual assistants, who do freelance “office work” from home, pet sitters, musicians who give private lessons, handymen and landscapers. The guy who fixes my washing machine needs little more than a pickup truck and an answering machine. There’s really no end to the work you can do for yourself. And there’s little reason to do it for someone else when you can be your own boss and control your schedule and your income.

What about health insurance, you ask? Yes, health insurance is a nice perk of working for a larger company. But, the fact is, you can buy an individual health insurance policy for $600 to $800 a month. While it’s not cheap, if you work it into your business plan from the beginning, you may still be able to swing it. If you’re currently working at a full-time job, you should consider taking advantage of the company’s COBRA offering, which will give you many months to get your business on its feet before you need to start buying your own health insurance. You may also be able to get a discount on health insurance by joining an industry or freelance trade organization.

I’m not suggesting that the road to working for yourself will be easy. You’ll surely work long hours and lose a lot of sleep along the way. But, if you’ve ever had the urge to leave the 9 to 5 world behind, the time has never been better. So, as they said in the ’60s: Let your freelance flag fly. Or something like that.

Jeanette Mulvey is the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can find more information and other interesting articles on this subject at Business News Daily

This article certainly confirms a lot of my own thoughts on this very topical subject. One thing for sure is that anyone who trusts to things returning to what they were before is simply burying their head in the sand, but what is your take? Do send us your comments.


Sleepwalking Into Financial Slavery

February 17, 201112 Comments

As the father of children approaching what could be termed “university age” and having naturally come into contact with the parents of their friends over the years, I am struck by how the “system” is geared up to emasculating them in a significant form of financial bondage that will influence them for most of their lives.

Their years at school are naturally geared towards learning core skills and values to equip them through their lives, eg developing their reading, writing, speaking and numeracy skills and hopefully passing examinations which will be universally recognised when they apply for employment etc.

Beyond that however, I can’t help but think that the education system is no more than a conveyor belt towards a cycle of financial slavery that few have the imagination to breakout from. This is because the whole emphasis in their final years at school or college is based on going to university. Little debate takes place on why they should go to university or what it will achieve for them. They get caught up in an atmosphere that they must go to university because that’s what their friends are doing and also all their teachers would have gone to university so they must do the same. Either that, or they don’t yet know what they want to do in the long-term so the easy way to put off that decision is to go to university.

This has also been accelerated by a shift towards university based training for many vocations such as nursing, business and public administration and journalism. These callings may have had a university level entry option in the past but the majority of entrants would have entered at “shop floor” level either as school-leavers or after a career change. In many areas this option is no longer available due to the qualification levels required or a mentality where an employer doesn’t look at an applicant unless they have a degree.

At no time do young people seem to be encouraged to stand back from this before it’s too late and to ask important questions such as “Do I need to go to university?” and “What do I aim to achieve by going to University?” There is no consideration of alternative options such as starting a small business at a time when individuals have little to lose, before they’ve also been drawn into long-term commitments like mortgages and bringing up a family.

The opportunity to start a business instantly has never been easier. The tools for starting one are right at your fingertips in the form of a laptop and an internet connection. Never has it been easier for an individual to make a good living from their passion. If your passion is “Bodybuilding” why not start a blog, write some articles and monetise it with some Adsense and relevant affiliate links. Better still, build a list of contacts and subscribers and develop or rebrand a product about it. You would then be on your way to an alternative and far more enjoyable and rewarding lifestyle. It can all be largely automated without the need for buying and storing expensive stock funded by business loans, franchise fees or paying for ridiculously expensive and unproductive forms of conventional advertising.

Despite the economic troubles affecting the world there has been little sign of it stifling the phenomenal growth of the internet. If anything, studies suggest these problems are actually contributing to accelerating that growth!

Without wishing to be critical of many well meaning and dedicated individuals, aspiring students need to be aware that the education system is an industry. It depends on large numbers going to university or further education colleges (the target in the UK is 50 per cent of all school leavers), so that these institutions can get the funding they need and the work for their lecturers to remain on the payroll.

This may not have been particularly harmful in the past era of student grants, but the financial consequences in this new era of student loans are profound. Student fees in the UK are scheduled to rise from £3,000 per year to £9,000 per year from 2012. Additionally, the typical cost of university accommodation is £900 per year (based on 3 terms of £300 per term). A typical student will therefore walk away from university with a debt of £29,700 after a three year undergraduate degree course and that is before any consideration of living costs and subsistence over those three years.

This is just the start of this cycle of a lifetime of being locked into debt. The first temptation of anyone with a low level of cashflow is to boost it by using easily available credit cards. In 2008  the UK average credit card and other personal debt (such as car loans) per household was over £8,700. (In the USA the average credit card debt per household with credit card debt was $14,750).

The next norm in the UK after finding some form of long-term employment is to buy a house. This is typically financed by means of a mortgage, usually lasting 25 years. “Google” the details and it will show average household UK mortgage debt standing at around £140,000. If that £140,000 has been borrowed at an average rate of 6% over those 25 years on a repayment mortgage, it will cost £902 a month, £270,500 in total and £130,500 in interest.

So there you have it. Two major planks of society, the education system and the financial institutions depend on this mentality of debt. It will lock individuals into clinging onto jobs they think they cannot afford to lose for fear of failing to support their families, losing their homes and having County Court Judgements against them for failing to keep up their debt repayments. With much consumer spending financed on debt, the whole system hinges on borrowing. As individuals will typically spend all of their available income regardless of its level, never has it been more appropriate to describe a job as standing for “Just Over Broke”.


Every Aspiring Information / Internet Marketer Should Try To View This Programme

February 10, 20114 Comments

There was a programme on TV in the UK during January (2011) called “Dream Lives For Sale” where each week a couple who want to move aboard, start a business and find a new lifestyle are shown 5 potential businesses, and given the chance to work in them. The costs are then broken down including the investment to buy the business and the potential profits.

I HIGHLY recommend that anyone interested in Internet or Information Marketing, or attempting to establish an Online Business watches at least one episode and pays close attention to the cost of the businesses and the returns they offer, compared to the costs involved in setting up and effectively operating an online business.

The programmes already broadcasted have included businesses on offer typically for £500k+ with an annual return of £70k down to an investment of £80k (ish) for an annual return of £16k.

These businesses have also required extremely hard graft whether in a restaurant, out in an olive grove or in one case, running dog kennels!

One of the great advantages of Information Marketing businesses is that you DON’T have to invest tens or even hundreds of thousands to get started, BUT that has also been one of the down sides.

This is because, as there’s usually very little investment required, most people don’t take it very seriously, and jump from one opportunity to another when the going gets tough or if a new bright shiny object comes along. Additionally, its all too easy to get distracted or show insufficient discipline to your business just because it can be operated from anywhere if you have a laptop and an internet connection. If tens of thousands had to be paid upfront as in the businesses featured in “Dream Lives For Sale”, I’m certain there would be a very different attitude!

The people featured in “Dream Lives For Sale” have typically had to sell their homes to raise the capital for these businesses, borrowed vast sums from their Bank with all the accompanying interest charges, arrangement fees etc, etc or they’ve tied up vast proportions of their savings. In return they are then locked into their commitment, often having to carry out quite menial tasks over many hours per day and await anxiously for sufficient customers to meet their overheads.

In comparison, if you wish to start an Online Business, a Domain Name often costs little more than $10 (even for a dot.com domain) and webhosting little more than $10 per month with the option of adding further websites to your hosting account. Other costs, such as an AutoResponder system are also quite minimal.

Today it’s easier than ever before to start and grow your own online business, provided its treated exactly as that, a serious business requiring commitment and attention. If you do that, then you’ll see your business grow into what you want it to be.

Compare this with the businesses on this programme (you’ll be able to find them on SkyPlayer depending where you  live) and you’ll soon realise that there really is no better opportunity for a great return on a small investment than with information/internet marketing.


21st Century Business Entrepreneur

February 9, 20117 Comments

Patrick Clarke – 21st Century Business Entrepreneur

Let me explain the title “21st Century Business Entrepreneur”.

Commerce has changed drastically, just witness the boom in online trading and the success of online businesses such as Amazon and eBay, then set it against the decline and increasing closures of traditional High Street shops and stores (even well-established ones of many years such as Kodak and Woolworths). Why waste time sitting in a queue of vehicles or pay penal charges to park, when far more choice and better value is available at the touch of a button?

Further, skillful use of Social Media and online marketing strategies such as Google Local and SEO are proving far more effective and much better value than expensive newspaper, television and other traditional forms of advertising which re in clear decline. More and more it is becoming increasingly evident that the Internet and Social Media are revolutionising the way that people, businesses and organisations of all kinds operate. There are far more and far easier opportunities for everybody to follow their passion, their interests, their causes, their trade or profession and, if they wish, to monetise it.

Internet Marketing is empowering more and more people to take control of their own lives instead of being locked into traditional time-consuming and expensive business methods.

No longer is there a need to store your own stock in a warehouse or shop, to organise the printing of a newsletter or magazine, to pay vast sums to a franchiser for the privilege of starting a time consuming business with often negligible profits and expensive overheads.

It can all be done with minimal expense at the touch of a button. I have progressed from offline business interests (some of which I still retain) to monetised online businesses. That is my passion and my primary business focus.

If you are looking for assistance in progressing your business online through Social Media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or want to capitalize on the advance of Google Local, then get in touch. I would be pleased to assist. The results might astonish you!

Mail Me For A Free Consultation


Back to Top