REAL Internet Marketing Advice from REAL People


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Free Internet Marketing Tip 107

How About A Bailout For...
America's SMALL Businesses!
The R-word, RECESSION, and what
does it mean for small businesses?
Unsurprisingly, economists are divided in their opinions on this topic. This disparity could be likened to the chicken and the egg conundrum. Does small business suffering contribute to a recession or does a recession cause suffering to small businesses?
There is a clear relationship between small business and the economy in general, especially in the in United States because much of economic growth is fueled by startup business. In spite of the hype about the internet startups, new companies come from every sector of the economy and every part of the world. All told, these small firms make a significant contribution to the economy simply by hiring one or two employees. "The belief that small businesses fare poorly in economic slowdowns is a common misconception. Most solidly run small businesses actually hold their own during downturns. One reason for this misconception is that entrepreneurial ventures experience a different growth curve than more established businesses."
A number of entrepreneurs, in fact, see a downturn as a time of opportunity. Not only do they have excellent employee choices, but as other areas of the economy tighten, many larger businesses are outsourcing services that small business can step in to supply. Entrepreneurs, after all, are noted for finding opportunity in the most unlikely places - why not a recession?
What can a small business operator do to survive or even flourish in such an economy as we suddenly find our selves in? Is there truly opportunity?
Small business owners have an amazing capacity for finding creative solutions in even the most challenging of economic times, like those we are currently facing. We can happily report that a distinct minority of small businesses are bucking the trend and actually holding their own and even growing. And what do these small businesses primarily have in common? Three things.
The SBIU ‘Triple Play’ Strategy
It’s not just YOUR business in the economic doldrums - its most every small business. Knowledge is power and knowing key steps to immediately take can give your small business an immediate advantage over other similarly situated competitors. For most small businesses it boils down to a basic 'triple-play' involving solid bookkeeping, well-managed barter, and localized small business search marketing.
In this issue, Catalyst SBIU looks at:
-- President Obama’s Small Business Rescue Plan;
-- The latest thoughts and strategies to utilize small business barter to augment cash business;
-- And the latest on MerchantCircle's rising ascendancy as THE small business directory of choice for small businesses, and how they have recently crossed over to the "consumer" side; the newest developments in local search and social networking media for small companies, including noted author-marketeer and MerchantCircle Advisor Randy Kirk's sage observations on 21st century marketing; and the latest rage… Twitter!;
Take a few minutes to review our latest SBIU, then drop us a line to tell us what you think. Better yet, contact us to talk more about making SBIU business solutions work for you. Enjoy!
With Warm Regards,
- SBIU's Editorial Staff
P.S. - Use the Forwarding feature at the bottom of the page (otherwise images and format will be lost) to send the SBIU to other small business owners whom you know... just not to your competitors!
The Obama 'Small Business Rescue' Plan
Lynnea M. Bylund | SBIU's Publisher
[ Editor's note: The following is a summary
Barack Obama supported last year's financial market rescue legislation to prevent a financial and economic catastrophe. However, Obama understands that passing this rescue plan was not the end of our work to strengthen our economy - it was only the beginning.

Obama recognizes that small businesses need direct and immediate access to capital now. He has called for a Small Business Rescue Plan to help small firms get the loans the need to conduct day-to-day operating expenses, undertake short-term investments, and meet payrolls. The plan will use the tools we have available through the Small Business Administration to aggressively extend credit to struggling firms, while providing tax cuts for small businesses to encourage job creation.
With small businesses responsible for more than two-thirds of new job creation, this plan is vital to stemming job losses and turning our economy around. Obama's small business plan includes:

-- A Nationwide Emergency Lending Facility for Small Businesses
-- Expanding Small Business Administration Guarantees to Encourage Private Lending to Small Businesses
-- Temporary tax incentives to encourage small businesses to invest in jobs
-- Zero capital gains rate for investment in small businesses
-- Cut Taxes for the Vast Majority of Small Businesses
-- Lower Health Care Costs and Ease the Health Care Burden for Small Businesses
-- Create New Small Business Health Tax Credit
-- Reduce Volatility and Lower Costs by Reimbursing Catastrophic Costs
-- Investment in Cost Reduction and Quality Improvement Strategies
-- Strengthen Small Business Programs Targeting Women, Service-Disabled Veterans, and Minorities
-- Increase Access to Capital
-- Reinvigorate the Small Business Administration
-- Create a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators
-- Promote Small Business Ownership in the Communications Industries
All Aboard for ...

"Twitter has reached critical mass. If you’re a small business owner, more and more of your peers, competitors and (most importantly) customers will create Twitter accounts in the coming weeks and months." In the major cities on the West Coast, there’s a good chance they already have.
Mihm says you’ll absolutely want to claim your username, if only to prevent someone else from squatting or even maliciously taking it from you. But just joining doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have success with Twitter.
There are thousands of small businesses already doing amazing, creative things with this new platform. “Follow them, listen to them, perhaps even engage them in a little conversation. And then, when you’re comfortable, start promoting your Twitter account in your place of business and dive into a deeper relationship with your customers,” recommends Mihm.
And it’s so easy to network on Twitter. Just use the Twitter search function to find topics you’re interested in, or people in your general geographic area, and start following them. If you’re actively engaged, you’ll read re-tweets that you find interesting, and you can spread your network even further by following the original tweeter.
Recession-Proof Your Small Business
Lynnea M. Bylund | SMB Accounting Blog
What would your accountant do if he/she were a savvy entreprepreneur and owned your company?
Whether or not you believe we're in a recession or just headed towards one (or just leaving one), there's no getting around the fact that we're experiencing an economic upheaval and/or downturn of considerable magnitude.
Declines in consumer confidence and decreased sales threaten all businesses, but small businesses are particularly vulnerable as they often don't have the reserves to help them weather difficult times.
So what's a small business owner to do if the current economic climate extends through 2009? Business consultants are busy weighing in on this question. The slowing economy and the reality that we're headed potentially for a deep prolonged recession are worrisome subjects for small-business owners, with a big concern of keeping sales up when customers cut back on spending.
Carl R. George is the current chairman of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, a project of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. George is CEO of Clifton Gunderson LLP, a national CPA firm of over 2,000 people, with offices in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Recently in Kiplingers he suggested seven steps for recession-proofing a small business:
Step 1: Focus on your balance sheet. Make sure you're managing your cash flow well. It's something you should be doing all the time, but it's even more critical in a recessionary environment, because there's just that much less cash floating around. While the going is still good, try to put cash aside to build a war chest.
Step 2: Diversify and launch. Economic downturns have a benefit for business. A recession gives you the opportunity to step back, rethink and review all sectors of your operation. Consider launching a new product or service not currently offered in your market. Use the time to diversify your products, services or industries so you don't have too many eggs in one basket.
Step 3: Start looking at your credit and debt. You should begin looking at increasing your line of credit -- in the event you need to use it. Negotiating with a bank from a position of power and good financial resources now is a lot easier to do than trying to negotiate in a recessionary environment.
Step 4: Review your accounts receivable. When things are starting to turn down, you want to keep a sharp eye out for someone who is into you for quite a bit because if they go under and cash is tight, that could have a huge impact on your small business. Similarly, review your agreements with suppliers. Maybe you don't have to pay in 30 days; maybe you can pay in 45. Again, it's easier to negotiate in a good economy than in a downturn.
Step 5: Review your company's discretion-ary spending items. Although small businesses are typically very lean, recession survivors often still manage to trim some fat. Think of all the discretionary items. Take whatever steps you can to reduce your debt. The less you have to pay out on a regular basis during an economic slowdown, the less painful it will be. Employ labor and time-saving technology to reduce business costs. More effective use of the Internet can save on travel, training, administration and operations costs.
Step 6: Review your customers. Start reviewing how a recession will impact your customers. If your customer base is involved, for example, in the home-building industry, and home building is down, then you know their customers are not going to be demanding as much product, so you'd better get ready for that. One way to do that is to search out alternatives. Somebody's always making money, even in a recession, so if you can find out where those pockets are and if you have services you can provide to them, maybe you want to expand those services.
Now is also the time to take customer service to a new level. Get in touch and stay in touch with your active customers. Take nothing for granted. Make sure your pricing is competitive, your service is exceptional and your attitude reflects how much you value their business. Revisit dormant customers and see what you can do to bring them back into the fold. Sometimes it takes as little as just asking to restart a relationship. Other times it can take some imagination and insight, but resurrecting a past customer can still be easier and less expensive than finding and breaking in a new one. Ask your customers for referrals. While this is a good practice at any time, it is particularly important in a down economy.
Step 7: Keep up marketing. Many companies cannot afford to stop marketing, regardless of economic conditions. New products are always certain revenue generators if marketed properly. Determine what sets your business apart from the competition and market it like crazy. Attend networking functions, spruce up your Web site, send out post cards, put out a new sign in front of your office.
New business, however, doesn't have to come from new customers. Many small-business owners can find that their best prospects for new revenue are their existing customers and clients -- established relationships mean an owner doesn't have to spend time, energy and money trying to make a good impression, and knowledge of customers' needs makes it easier to come up with new products or services they'll want to buy. Whether it involves prospecting for new business or working with a long-standing customer, success can turn on making a valid case that your product or service will benefit the buyer, even if the economic times are uncertain.
Catalyst House president and founder Lynnea Bylund is recognized as one of the foremost small business experts in North America. She co-chaired the President’s Small Business Advisory Council and is a two-time recipient of a National Congressional Committee’s Businesswoman of the Year Award.
A former wireless industry lobbyist in Washington, she has been featured in major media as a leading advocate for small business issues and has received the Congressional Medal of Distinction for her accomplishments.
Lynnea is a Certified QuickBooks Enterprise ProAdvisor and her company’s new division, Catalyst Enterprise Solutions, is one of the fastest growing small business bookkeeping and accounting firms in the state of California. Catalyst Enterprise specializes in providing small and mid-market companies with financial management and reporting systems, services, and solutions.
Recession Roundup for May-June '09
Federal government loans to small businesses
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s America Recovery Capitol (ARC) loan program will begin offering up to $35,000 in zero-interest loans on Monday for small, viable businesses suffering “immediate financial hardship.”

Recession Makes Entrepreneurs Sharper
More than three quarters of entrepreneurs believe managing through the recession has made them better business owners.
Promote Access to Capital for Small Businesses
Mike Michaud, a member of the House Small Business Committee, issued the following statement following a hearing on the Small Business Administrations' (SBA) access to capital programs.
Four Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make in Recessions
Now that the evidence is pretty strong that we’re headed into an economic downturn (or are already in one), I thought I’d identify some mistakes that many entrepreneurs make in bad economic times.
One entrepreneur's survival playbook
I've been in business for 30 years, so I've lived through several downturns. You need the right outlook.
Surviving in an Economic Downturn
The belief that small businesses fare poorly in economic slowdowns is a common misconception that is not generally true. Solidly run small businesses actually hold their own during downturns.
Small business survival - humility and discipline
Surveying the economic landscape in front of us and trying to imagine what the near-term future will hold, I recognize that, while hard work and stick-to-it-iveness will be critical to small business success this year.
Small Business facing unique challenges
To some extent, these are unique challenges that are facing small business today. There have been recessions before, but this recession has felt different.
Home-Based Business Increases In Recession
SPRINGDALE — Every 11 seconds someone starts a home-based business, according to industry advocates. Some use the revenue to fill gaps left by unemployment, while others turn hobbies into small cottage industries.
A frontline view of the Great Recession
Behind every statistic about whopping job losses and the shrinking economy are thousands of small businesses battling the everyday realities of trying to survive with less staff and fewer customers.
Six Great Business survival Strategies
Business owners question things in bad times - how they do things, the way they run their business - which they don't necessarily do in good times. When bad times hit then panic starts to settle in. I've seen it many times in the businesses I consult too and there really isn't any need to 'slash & burn' too quickly when you don't have all the facts at hand.
Small Business Recession Survival
I felt I should write this article to perhaps provide some insight to other small business people to help them avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to provide some hope and encouragement at a time when the whole world may seem to be against you.

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