Small business owners make a wide variety of legal and financial decisions in their day-to-day operations, including the management of small business insurance costs and identifying their target markets. The following resources will help you get up to speed with marketing, advertising, extending credit, e-commerce, the use of technology in day-to-day operations, business insurance, negotiating leases, managing logistics (such as shipping and inventory), and other topics related to general business operations.
Small Business Marketing and Advertising
The term "marketing" refers to the process of understanding your target customers and figuring out ways to reach out to them. Sometimes a single company sells products to vastly different markets. For example, Toyota markets to a broad consumer base of generally moderate means. But Toyota's Lexus luxury brand is marketed to a more affluent base. The marketing strategies of Toyota and Lexus will differ accordingly.
When marketing your business or product, you'll want to establish name recognition among prospective customers. If you sell luxury automobiles, for instance, you may get some marketing value by sponsoring a golf tournament or asking a celebrity to take it for a spin. Other effective means of marketing include the solicitation of news media, customer surveys, encouraging word of mouth, special promotions, and following up with customers.
Advertising is an important part of marketing. An advertisement is a direct appeal to potential customers, often done through television commercials, magazine ads, banner ads on Websites, flyers, and other types of media. But keep in mind that there are certain laws governing the claims made in advertising.
Business Leases and Zoning
Unless your business is run out of your home, you probably need to purchase or lease a space. The type of space you need will depend on a number of factors, including the type of business (office, factory, retail?), available cash flow for rent, and growth expectations. If you operate a retail business, then you'll want to locate near your customers. If you're not sure what your needs will be like in a few years, then you probably don't want to purchase a property.
The types of property that can be located in a given area is governed by zoning laws. The five main types of building zones are:
- Residential (homes)
- Commercial (retail and/or offices)
- Industrial (manufacturing)
Internet and E-Commerce
Having a Website for your company is no longer seen as an advantage, but rather a necessity for doing business. If you're a particularly small business, a Website will help you quickly reach customers and -- for retail operations -- conduct online sales. It's also a great platform for sharing customer testimonials, building brand awareness, and staying in touch with customers in general. Some companies publish blog posts in order to establish themselves as authorities in a given area.
But if you plan on getting into e-commerce, you will need to pay attention to all relevant laws and make sure your customers' data is secure. Also, make sure your preferred URL (XYZ.com) is not already taken, since the Website will be important to your brand and you'll also want to avoid any copyright infringements.
Click on a topic below to learn about advertising, marketing, leases, e-commerce, and other business operations.