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A Customer’s Perception – Your Brand

What’s the “Breakfast of Champions”? Which cereal comes in a bright yellow box? Which company is associated with “Just Do It”? Cocoa Puffs cereal is aimed at what type of customer? Which car claims to be “the ultimate driving machine”? Which company is associated with golden arches?

As a customer or prospective customer, you have a certain perception or impression of all of these companies based upon their slogans or tagline, their unique selling proposition, their colors, their logo, their niche client, their benefit, their values, and their company name. All of these things make up a company’s brand.

As a   small   business  owner, your company name should ideally reflect what you do.

Example: Spotlight Home Staging

Your company tagline or slogan should be a catchy phrase that shows some benefit and forms an emotional connection with your buyer.

Example: Giving Your Home a Selling Role

Your company logo is the face of your brand. It is a sign, symbol, or stylized writing that identifies your company.

Example: Using Spotlight Home Staging with a spotlight shining on it.

Your unique selling proposition differentiates you from your competition.

Example: Spotlight Home Staging specializes in selling homes for customers who also need downsizing and move-in services.

Many  small   business  owners don’t communicate to their clients what’s unique about their products or services. The customer needs to know what you offer that your competitor does not so they buy from you.

Your niche client is the customer who needs your services and will pay for them.

Example: Spotlight Home Staging caters to active adults 55+ who are empty-nesters and downsizing.

There are  small   business  owners who don’t select a niche client. Their marketing efforts don’t focus on the customer who needs and will pay for their services. They are afraid that they will miss out on a client if they don’t reach out to everyone. Consequently, they don’t become the expert in their field.

Your benefit is why your customers should hire you. What’s in it for them?

Example: Spotlight Home Staging can take away all of those sleepless nights worrying about selling your home. Our staged homes sell quickly and for top dollar.

Probably the biggest mistake  small   businesses  make is stressing the features of their services and products instead of the benefits. What keeps your customer awake at 3am in the morning? What problems are they having? To be successful, you need to have the solution to their problem and communicate it well in your marketing materials.

Your values are the characteristics that make working with you a great experience. What do you want your customers to think of you?

Example: Spotlight Home Staging is dependable, professional, honest, knowledgeable, and dedicated to getting my home sold quickly and profitably.

Your brand is the core of your marketing. You can’t start networking, or sending out marketing materials, or developing a website until you have your brand in place.

Home Based Business Ideas

Truthfully, there are so many  home  based  business   ideas  out there that it would take all day to write about them all, so I’ve decided to just focus on what I consider to be the best. My personal favorite  home  based  business   idea  that I think is the most relevant when it comes to building your  home  based  business  in this day and age…

Using the Internet.

The internet has been around for well over 15 years but it is still a reasonably untapped resource when it comes to marketing your business.

And the truth is, out of all the people who are marketing on the internet, 90% of them have no  idea  what they are doing. Which leaves a 10% margin for serious entrepreneurs to really excel.

But hold on a minute!

If your thinking you can’t be one of the 10% of  home  based  business  owners that are doing amazing things with their businesses on the internet…You’re wrong. With the right training and a little hard work and willingness to learn some basic skills, it really isn’t as hard as you’d think.

The internet seriously is the place to be marketing your  home  based  business  opportunity because you’re marketing it to the the people who are already thinking about owning their own business.

I mean think about it, nowadays when people want to do research and find out information about something or more importantly, an mlm business opportunity, they don’t wait for a flyer to land in their letter box or check all the pull-tabs on their local notice board or wait for a family member to join with a company and hope that they get asked to join. No. They head straight to the internet and do their due diligence.

And that is where they will find you, happily waiting to sign them up.

It really can be that simple once you know what you’re doing. Especially with all the different ways that you can use free websites to your advantage…

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and other video sites, Ezine and other article sites, forum sites and that’s just to name a few.

I know of one lady that gets 25-50 leads a day, strictly through Facebook. Imagine that. Most  home  based  business  owners using traditional methods don’t even generate 50 leads in an entire year.

Like I said before, all it takes to start growing your  home  based  business  online is learning a few new skills and putting them into action.

Establishing a Successful Business Through Different Methods

For Individuals who are fully motivated and business minded, establishing their own business or venture is one of the main options that they can make use of in order to become prosperous in life. There are several types of business upon which one can establish. There are those which offer services such as home cleaning services, car rentals, and many more while there are also those who prefer to sell products and other types of goods. Well, whatever type of  business  you choose, the important things is that you need to have a consistent  business   growth . This means that the development of your business should be in a steady state so that you can be assured that all your investments and hard work would not end up being wasted.

In today’s world, making your way through the business era is not that easy. The business world is a big area for competition therefore before you even think of opening a venture; you have to make sure that you are fully loaded with all the different types of strategies and other essential issues with regards to business. Start with a  small   business  first. By doing that, you can be able to learn more things and if your small company works out, you can then add more branches little by little. It would be a helpful thing to attend seminars about  small   business  program and other similar things because these meetings can help you upon widening your horizons and giving you a better understanding of the business era.

Another thing that you can do especially if you lack the experience upon managing a business is hire a business development team. By employing professionals, you can avail of such benefits for your business such as business mentoring, business coaching, and many more. You can find a lot of these companies through the internet.

To sum everything up, owning and managing a business can be really tough for you especially if you are new to the competition. However, with great practice, skills, knowledge, and observation, you can be assured that bit-by-bit; your business would slowly grow and become successful. Also, you should never go in a hurry. Patience is very important because it is a natural fact that your first try would not end up the way you expect it to be. Just keep on trying new ways upon how to market your business.

Business Growth – Grow Sustainably Or Go Bankrupt

Growth and the management of growth present special problems in financial planning. Growth is not always a blessing. Many companies are in a financial predicament, have cash flow problems or even go bankrupt while they have full order books. There can be several causes for this phenomenon. One of the major causes, however, is the fact that companies grow too fast for their strategic financial resources to support them.

A higher turnover implicates higher assets in the form of stock, debtors and fixed assets. To achieve a sustainable growth rate these assets need to be financed through financial resources that is generated by a company or that can be accessed by a company. The biggest constraint, therefore, of sustainable growth, is the ability to generate sufficient capital to finance the increase in assets (working-capital needs increase). Non-financial resources that also need to grow sustainably include a company’s systems as well as the skills and experience of its employees.

Importance of Growth

Growth is essential for the survival of a company. Strategically a company needs to grow to increase its market share and to achieve a competitive edge against its competitors. Other important benefits of growth are a company’s assets that can be used more optimally, economies of scale that occur and profitability that can increase. In the final analysis growth is extremely important to optimally position a company for harvesting purposes.

Determinants of Sustainable Growth

Sustainable growth is dependent on the rate that a company can generate funds and utilise these funds effectively. The maximum rate at which a company can increase its sales without depleting its financial resources is called the sustainable growth rate. The major determinants of sustainable growth are rate of return, financial leverage, dividend policy and external equity.

  • Rate of Return – The rate of return that a company achieves forms the basis of how fast the company can grow. The profit margin of a company (after tax) multiplied by the asset turnover (sales divided by total assets) gives the rate of return or return on assets (ROA) of the company.
  • Financial Leverage – A company often uses debt to leverage a constant rate of return (ROA) to achieve a much higher return on equity (ROE).
  • Dividend Policy – The dividend policy of a company is a critical variable in manipulating the sustainable growth rate. A dividend payout of 50% allows a company to only grow half as fast as a similar company with no dividends being paid out.
  • External Equity – External equity is the most expensive form of growth financing and dilute the shareholders return. External equity should only be used as a last resource to finance a company.

An Example of Sustainable Growth.

Various sustainable growth rate formulas exist. Some of them analyse much detail and take inflation, interest rates, external equity and various components of a business into account. A basic formula (formulated by Hewlett-Packard) that is very helpful, is:

SGR = ROE*r

where:

SGR = sustainable growth rate

r = retention ratio (1 – dividend payout ratio)

ROE = net profit margin * asset turnover * equity multiplier

The above formula takes the rate of return, financial leverage and dividend policy of a company into consideration. It is based on the following premises:

  • It is not practical (or possible) to issue more shares (dilute equity).
  • The company is effectively managed and the profit margin and asset turnover is at optimum levels.
  • The dividend payout is at the minimum level to keep the shareholders at ease.If we take a company with the following performance indicators:
  • The debt/equity level is at an optimum level considering the risk profile of the company.

If we take a company with the following performance indicators:

  • Turnover (sales) – $100 million
  • Net Profit (after tax) – $8 million
  • Equity – $20 million
  • Total assets – $50 million
  • Dividend Payout – 0.4 (40%).

Therefore:

  • Net Profit Margin = 8/100 = 8%
  • Asset Turnover = 100/50 = 2
  • Financial Leverage = 50/20 = 2.5
  • Retention Ratio = 1 – 0.4 = 0.6

The sustainable growth rate is:

SGR = ROE*r

= (8%*2*2.5*0.6)

= 24%

It means that if this company uses all its internal financial resources effectively that it can grow it sales at a maximum of 24%. The company’s turnover can thus increase from $100 million to $124 million. If the company grow faster than 24% with its current parameters it is actually creating cash flow problems and this can finally lead to bankruptcy.

How can a company grow faster?

If a company wants to grow faster than what their sustainable growth rate indicates and they don’t want to dilute their equity they need to generate more finances through one or more of the following:

  • Higher profitability – this can be achieved by several factors such as higher gross margins and lower expenditures.
  • Better asset management – this can be achieved by creating more sales and profits in relation to assets and to decrease stock levels and debtor days.
  • A higher retention ratio – the majority of profits are ploughed back into the business.
  • A higher debt ratio – asset expansion is financed mostly by debt.

Summary

Growth is extremely important for any company to survive, gain market share, get a competitive edge and to position itself for harvesting. Uncontrollable growth is, however, just as damaging as very low growth and can put a serious strain on a company’s cash flow and can even lead to bankruptcy.

The management of a company can, however, scientifically analyse the optimum sustainable growth rate of the company with the use of financial ratios and models. The sustainable growth rate of a company can be increased if its determinants can be managed more effectively.

Sustainable growth should form an integral part of the strategy of any company and should be managed professionally.

Copyright© 2008 by Wim Venter. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Four Home Business Ideas For Moms

Working from home has never been so popular and as easy to do as it is now, and it is not hard to see why. A  home-based   business  gives you the opportunity to set your own working hours and be your own boss. Moms in particular are finding that working from home helps them to earn money while still being there for family. If you are a mom who is thinking about working from  home , this article provides four (4)  home   business   ideas  that might be perfect for you.

1. Set up a day care center. If your home is big enough and you are willing to get the proper licensing and certification, then a day care business could be for you. Not only do you get to work from the comfort of home, you also get to help other moms who go to work and need someone to care for their children.

2. Think about joining an existing business as a home agent. Good examples of this include selling gifts and products from home. To do this you will usually have to deliver brochures and collect orders. Then when the orders arrive, you will have to deliver them to the homes and receive a commission. This is one  home   business  that is very popular with moms all over the world.

3. Consider setting up a virtual secretary service. Anyone who has had prior office experience could do very well in this type of  home   business . You will need a computer, Internet access, a telephone and experience doing secretarial work. Moms who do this act perform the functions of a regular secretary, only they do not have to go to the office – they work from home.

4. Pet sitting is also a great  home   business  that many moms are now setting up. As a pet sitter, you look after other people’s pets and get paid for it. It’s much like what you might do as a baby sitter, except you are taking care of pet animals, such as dog, cats, hamsters, parakeets, etc. What could be easier?

In conclusion, we have seen how opening a day care center, working as a  home  agent, setting up a virtual secretary service and pet sitting are just a few of many great  ideas   home   business   ideas  for moms. Now that you have some  ideas , it is up to you to take action on one of them or find some other area of opportunity for  home-based  work. There is nothing to stop you from setting up your own business if you have the desire to do it. Take the initiative, set up your own  home   business  and enjoy the benefits that come from working for yourself.

The Risks of Business Growth

Most owners want their business to grow. In fact many defend their desire by quoting the “grow or die” myth; the belief that a business has to grow in order to stay relevant. It’s not true. In fact, the opposite might be the case as the truth is, there are risks to business growth.

If you have a successful company – one that is consistently profitable – an aggressive growth strategy can kill it. By stating this, I’m not denying the benefits of smart business growth including increased profits, greater stability, improved value and more opportunities for employees. I’m saying that without careful planning the pursuit of growth can hurt a business in four key areas.

Customers: Can you still serve them as well as before?

A growing company makes mistakes. In fact during periods of growth the overall quality of service and products goes down before it improves. And in the day of 99.9% internet reliability, your customers will notice. Recently I was engaged as the Interim-CEO of a large service business. In eighteen months we increased sales by 50% while maintaining our better-than-industry-average net profit margins. During this period we also stretched our production and customer service personnel.

More customers meant more touches, more experiences, more opportunities to “shine or s _ _ _,” as I told our managers. Since today the customer is no longer “king” (able to set the rules) but “tyrant” (able to swiftly punish those who fail to meet their expectations) we reviewed our service standards, created reporting systems and determined how to quickly follow-up when we “missed” our high standards before we committed to grow. As a result, the advances we experienced in the first year carried over to the second.

Culture: Will you enjoy what your business will become?

A large company is different than a small one. Not better. Not worse. Just different. And when a company grows, its culture can change.

Several years ago I was engaged as the Chief Operating Officer (Interim) for a large independent financial firm. Despite its success, the practice had stopped growing, due largely to its structure and operations. During this period we re-assigned employees, developed new job descriptions, created new levels of accountability, improved performance standards; all the things you would expect. Because of our comprehensive approach we worked closely with the human resource director and found her to be both capable and caring.

It was that latter quality that kept getting in her way. In her mind, the relaxed “family feel” was being sacrificed at the altar of performance. She was right. Sort of. Although we set higher standards we continued to support employees, have fun and give personal touches. Still, the culture changed and she soon found another job. At a smaller company.

That’s a price – a risk – of growth. Fortunately, in this case, the cultural changes helped support a long, sustained period of growth.

Cash: Can you afford to grow?

It costs money to grow. In fact, before deciding whether or not your company is ready to grow you should first determine whether or not it can handle the financial strain growth can produce.

At times, I will bring in an outside accounting manager (CFO) to take control of the finances during the growth engagement. Working together we can manage cash, project revenues and expenses, improve the balance sheet and create forecasting tools that support the initiative. The right person and systems can help create the discipline needed to improve equipment, property, wages; everything needed to initiate and continue a strategy for growth.

With the right person in place as the CFO, we were able to move ahead with growth,

Competition: Are you ready for more?

When I was in high school (just after the one-room school houses) I played football. Since I lived in a small town, we played in a small town conference which meant that my small body was large enough to play offensive and defensive tackle. Back then I was skinny; enough so that in my uniform I looked a bit like Barney Fife (look him up… he was skinny) in pads. Had I been in college, I would have been a statistic.

Competing at the next level required more skill, more speed, more desire, more talent and more weight. It’s the same in business. As you grow the competition changes. Larger companies have more resources and if they see you as a threat they will use those resources against you. If you aren’t ready, you’ll get crushed.

Should I go ahead and decide to grow? That’s the question every owner should ask before committing to growing their company. It’s possible that by staying the size you are now you will continue to enjoy the lifestyle you’ve created and the profits you’ve come to expect. But if you choose to move ahead, to expand your business or practice, then be mindful of the risks to business growth.

Doing so can keep you from failing.

Perfect Home Based Business Ideas

The shaky economy has obviously created a great impact on the employment rate. Due to this, many companies have decided to let go of some of their employees regardless of their length of time of service or worse, close down their companies before they go bankrupt. In effect, several people are now looking for serious options on how to augment their income. They are after the legitimate perfect  home  based  businesses  which are on the rise these days. Good thing, there are several  ideas  which are offered by the Internet these days.

Now who said that you can’t be your own boss or you have to dwell on the negativities of hiring freezes, layoffs, or shortage of work employment opportunities? With a careful analysis and choice of a  home  based  business   idea , you can forget your worries about earning too little. Here is your chance of earning a good deal of wage!

Determining the Perfect  Home  Based  Business  for You

You will definitely ask how you will be able to determine the right  home  based  business  that you must try on. Basically, that will obviously revolve on how much money it can potentially make you generate, how much time you plan on taking the said business, the number of hours you are required to spend, and how you are to get the training so you can properly manage it. It can’t be denied though that a lot of those who do  home  based  business  are more of after the monetary reward they are to get out of the venture. That is clearly understandable since the financial and economic crises are the driving factors that let everyone yearn for these home based opportunities.

 Ideas  for  Home  Based  Business 

Although owning a business and running it by yourself may all seem to be a huge task and responsibility on your shoulders, it must not stop you from venturing into it. There are actually too many opportunities available and definitely, there is one that you will like best.

Here are some of the perfect  home  based  business   ideas  that you may want to look into.

Become a yoga trainer. If you have been doing yoga for a long time already and you are confident to teach others, then, you can set up a makeshift studio in your own home. You can get paying students and cover for your daily provisions.

Become a tutor. Depending on your capacity, you can decide on the students’ educational level to teach.

Become a management professional. People need professional advice. You can turn yourself into a business coach and then make money by training entrepreneurs.

Become a medical transcriptionist. Doctors and other medical advocates will need your service. This is one thing you can basically do at home.

Become a ghost writer. Writing is both a skill and a talent. You can provide contents for website owners and be paid.

Overall, the list goes on for the perfect  home  based  business . All you have to do is explore your choices.

Want perfect  home  based  business   ideas ?

Five Ways to Build Your Small Business Brand

What is branding and why is it important to  small   business   growth ? Learn three important elements to building a  small   business  brand.

Branding is the ability of people to associate a business with a word or a few musical notes. The end result is to get customers to take action and choose your business. Corporations spend millions of dollars on building brands, but  small   businesses  can take a lead from them and spend less to build a successful business. Here’s how to build the five key elements of a business brand.

1. Logo – The logo is a graphical representation of your company. A logo can contain a picture or words or a combination of both. The logo must also use color effectively. This could mean using colors to create an emotional response or use the lack of color (using only black and white for stark contrast) with one splotch of color for emphasis.

Suggestion: Keep logos simple. Use color effectively. Use words sparingly. Choose a simple, clean font. Use a contrast of regular fonts mixed with bold fonts for emphasis. Do not make your tagline part of your logo, because you may want to change the tagline in the future.

Recommendation: Start with a “words only” logo that is your company name.

2. Tagline – A tagline is a short phrase, not a sentence, that conveys what your company does. Include a action verb and clarify what product or service your company provides.

For example: my original company name was Instructional Design Consortium. My idea was that training is a team effort. The downside to my company name was that it was confusing, hard to pronounce and a logistical nightmare for website domain. I decided to create a shorter name and create a “doing business as” or DBA so it would still be my company’s legal name. I chose Design2Train, an overall choice. So, now the new name gave me an opportunity to create a tagline that told people what my company does, we create training. People are looking for quicker ways to create training using online training options. So my tagline: creating training at the speed of business became my new tagline.

Recommendation: Brainstorm with friends to come up with several options to choose from instead of working in a vacuum. Take their input and suggestions to help you decide which tagline best suits your company.

3. Capability Statement – A company resume that states your business in a one page summary. Include NAICS codes, contact information, and a summary of previous work. The goal of the capability statement is to offer a quick read to potential contracting agents to introduce your company. Create the capability statement in Word, then save and distribute as a PDF.

Suggestion: Name the capability statement file with a date, so you can keep track of your latest version. For example: capability_011710 Store the capability statement, both the Word and PDF versions online, so it is easy to locate the most recent version, for future updating.

4. Coordinated Marketing Literature – Pattern the same colors from your logo into corresponding marketing literature including: business cards, rack cards, flyers, brochures and downloadable website documents.

Suggestion: Use a printing service that does not print large quantities, so you can easily change marketing literature to meet current needs.

5. Coordinated Website – Use the same colors as on print literature. Prominently display your logo with tagline to build company brand recognition. Make your website simple, easy to navigate and provide the information that potential clients will want to see. Test the links to make sure your download links work.

Useful Tips On Easy Home Business Ideas

Just because you are searching for an easy  home   business   idea , does not mean that you will find one. Here are some tips to help you find the easiest  home   business  possible.

The product is the single most important thing you will choose. Unless you are one of those people who can sell ice to an Eskimo, you are going to need all the help you can get.

Having a product that people actually want, and are willing to spend money on, is half of the battle. This is why we recommend information products. You can customize them any way you want to fit a particular need.

They are easy to set up on the Internet, and you can price them so they are easy to sell. If you do not know how to create a product of your own you can find them in affiliate marketing programs.

Affiliate marketing programs are where you get paid to sell a product for a merchant. You can products of interest to you which makes them great  home   business   ideas .

The reason for that is virtually every industry in the world has merchants offering affiliate programs to people who are willing to work. Commission Junction is an example of a quality merchant website where there are hundreds of merchants wanting you to sell their products.

If you can find one that interests you there is an excellent chance of you being successful if you master some basic Internet marketing skills.

These products are mostly developed, and by putting your own touch to them gives you an excellent chance to quickly make money selling them.

The nice thing about this  idea  is the training that comes with it. They offer training on how to sell these products, as well as how to personally make changes to make them easier to sell.

This is several easy  home   business   ideas  that anyone can do using the Internet today. The money can start come in once you have mastered the necessary skills to market your products.

Business Loan Funding – Financing Your Business Growth

There are many people want to own a business. It might be a  small   business  or big and some people also need some financial funding due to lack of funds. If your business suffers from not having enough capital or your business has experienced growing pains due to lack of money, then you need to have a business loan funding.

Some people need some operating capital and you need to have a loan in order for your business to succeed or grow but that is not easy. Since if you have a business loan funding from the bank, then you need to meet the requirements and the documents needed by the bank such as business and personal financial statements, reviews of the financial records and credit reports of the business to determine eligibility for funding and others.

Since a  business  loan funding refers to money obtained through a  business  loan, the banks and other financial companies offer loans to  small   business  for start up or operating expenses and with regards to the terms of application requirements, interest rates, loan amounts and repayment plan, which need to be, discussing between the borrower and the lending institutions. Every financing institutions or banks have different requirements to their clients depending on the business loan funding you applied.

There are banks or financing institutions who offer their clients extremely effective tools to assist owners and managers with great  growth  and decision making for their  business  which is part of their services. Before having a business loan funding, be sure you have a business plan to present which is profitable enough to pay your loan.

The plan you have includes information on what your business does and the target market where you can reach the customer. You must indicate why people need your products as well as your services. You also include the marketing plan and analyses to help convince your lender s that you will able to repay them. Show also your return profit and your budget for the business you want to have.

Knowing that the main source of  business  loan funding are the entrepreneurs own pocket and next are the banks and credit unions although some financial institutions offer  business  loan funding program just to help the  small   business  or other business who need some funding for their business. Most of the business loan suppliers such as bank for example; they are becoming conservative in their evaluations of prospective business loan clients.

Especially for the new businesses, it’s hard for them finding business start up funding since you need to put together an attractive business funding proposal, meet the lenders expectations and increase the chances of securing the business financing need.

So the credit personal history is one of the most important things you need to take care since most financial institutions or banks will carefully scrutinized your personal financial history and as well as the asset you have as for collateral if they will asked. Take note, Banks and other financial institutions or other credible lending sources want a guarantee for the money you lend and most likely the guarantee is usually at least the value of the loan or might be greater the amount of the loan you applied.

Banks or other financial institution always wants to be sure that their money you borrowed will be return and with interest since the interest is where they gain their profit; although there are also financial institutions who risk lending you money for your additional capital or starting up due to your good credit history and personal financial capability.