Are you a struggling, frustrated or just inquisitive small business owner? Got a question you just can’t seem to find the answer for? Please submit your small business questions here. Be sure to bookmark and check this page each week, your question and the reply may appear right here in “Couch Sessions” for the Small Business Owner. This week on Couch Sessions…
Q: What is the best approach for forging strategic alliances and partnerships in a specific target market -- such as wedding planners -- a market that is often saturated with amazing options from which to choose? Kala Maxym, www.fivesensetastings.com
Based on a perusal of your website, you may want to consider reaching out to and networking with corporate event planners (not wedding planners), realtors, associations, high level personal assistants, dating sites/event organizers, etc. Think outside of the box for people and organizations that could be enhanced by using your services and then find ways to access their network.
Your sphere of influence should always be your first line of offense. Network and make sure the people that are closest to you are aware of your needs and who you are trying to work with. Get out there and start talking to people.
Q: I currently own 2 small businesses, to save money I had my business cards printed with both company logos on it. Since the businesses are complimentary, I thought it was a great way to save money. A few colleagues have made snarky comments and told me I shouldn't have done it. What do you think? Is it ok to put both businesses onto one business card? My contact info is the same for both businesses. Gretchen Hahn , www.greengrass4me.com and www.kisshospitality.com
Establishing a clear brand and marketing message is essential in every business venture. You don’t want to confuse the very customers you are trying to acquire. All of your marketing material should reflect the level of professionalism that you possess. Always pay for and employ the best that you can afford at the time. As your business grows, your business image/brand should as well. If you present yourself as a “small shop,” you will be treated as a “small shop” and that’s not always a good thing.
I certainly understand budget constraints and wanting to maximize your dollars. Even if your businesses are complementary, consider printing one business on one side and one business on the other. Refrain from having 2 logos compete on the business card despite the contact information being the same.
Q: What are the best ways to market an online business offline? Michelle Smith, www.johannaelise.com
Look for local events you can sponsor or participate in, complementary business partnerships/endorsers you can exchange or cross-sell products, pop-up shops, fairs/festivals, etc. You may also want to consider product samplings and knick-knacks (tangible giveaways) with your business info that can be easily distributed and direct prospects to your website.
Q: I use independent contractors for my business. Often, I cannot get them to respond to my emails or to do the work for me in a timely manner. I have offered incentives, pleaded and cajoled but because my jobs are not big money makers I keep getting put off. What can I do? Haralee Weintraub, www.haralee.com
Working with independent contractors and virtual assistants can be difficult if expectations, written agreements and standards are not up front and in place. Be clear and firm from the start about your needs and deadlines and double check references for reputation and history. If you can, stack your projects until there is enough to generate a block of work. You may also want to consider hiring a part-time employee (perhaps a student). Someone you can train to meet your needs and grow with you.
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A.Michelle Blakeley is the founder of Simplicity Mastered. Blakeley is a Micro Business Therapist professional with extensive experience in business organization and has successfully counseled hundreds of small business owners through the daily challenges of operating a small business. When you need to reorganize your business, there is one place that has everything – Simplicity Mastered. Maximize your time and budget with a Micro Business Audit, Customized Business Organization and Micro Business Therapy™. Get your business DONE.