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Friday, 04 March 2011 09:15

Business Tips for Your Small Business

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On the road to starting and running your small business, there are many potential roadblocks. Questions concerning budgets, marketing, hiring, and promoting abound. Particularly during difficult economic times, creating a new venture can be risky and tricky. Well-meaning friends and relatives may often offer you advice that can derail you from your goals. But don’t despair; help is here! As a business owner for over 20 years, I would love to share some tips and tricks with you regarding operating your small company.
I started my spa 20 years ago, at a time when spas were few and far between. Some years later, I expanded the business and added my own cosmeceutical product line.

The product line brought new challenges, because selling to wholesale customers was very different from just selling retail. As my business continued to grow, I incorporated an educational piece, founding the a College of Advanced Aesthetics. Here are a few things I learned from running my skin care business in all its forms:

  • Keep it confidential – If you’re just starting your business, you may hear, “no, it will never work” countless times. This inevitable skepticism may come from well-meaning friends and family members who don’t want to see you get hurt and try for nothing. So if you know you have a great idea, keep it to yourself, while you’re getting the business going! I heard “it won’t work” endlessly when I was just starting out. It rarely fazed me.
  • Use word of mouth – Of course you can hire a PR or a marketing company to help spread the word about your product. On the other hand, you can simply use your own network of connections to promote your business. It’s much cheaper. Plus, nothing beats word-of-mouth publicity! Invite local magazine editors to sample your products/services for free. Send a basket of your best products (or a gift certificate for services) to magazines, radio stations, newspapers, and other media outlets. Publicity is great. So get on the phone, create a social networking page, start a blog – do whatever is needed to get the word out!
  • Have no fear of failure – Fear is what keeps us paralyzed. However, in order to be successful in business, we must step out of our comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to mess up – that’s what will keep you going!
  • Know why you’re different – In every aspect of your business, it’s important to keep asking yourself why you’re different and how you’re better than the competition. I continuously question my own methods and compare my business to other spas, product lines, and schools. It’s what keeps us ahead of the curve.
  • Have guts and self-confidence – Not all successful business owners hold MBAs and have years of experience. Many just have guts and believe in themselves and their company. A lot of times, that is all it takes. Just remember, Bill Gates never finished college.
  • Surround yourself with incredible people – Running a business is a difficult task. If you need help (and quite likely you will), hire the best people! This will often determine the success or failure of your business. I am lucky enough to have fantastic, intelligent, high-energy team members working with me every day.
  • Never stop marketing and promoting – Flyers, coupons, newsletters, e-blasts, special events – whatever method you use, keep selling your business. This is important in good times and in bad, but especially in bad!
  • Use the power of the Internet – no one opens up the phone book any more. Everything is online! With that in mind, make sure that your website is informative and attractive. It should be easy to read and full of useful information. Your site is not just a placeholder for your address and phone number. It should contain everything from your menu of spa services and prices to your weekly specials. A recent marketing study showed that people are shopping online – after midnight! – more than ever. What can they buy on your site? Products? Gift certificates? Link your site to your blog and other networking pages. Frequently update your site. I can’t stress this enough – everyone and everything is online now. Your business should be too.

By following these simple rules, you can help ensure that your company will be a success. Just remember, if you truly enjoy what you’re doing, success cannot be far behind.

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