Have You Googled Your Small Business Lately?

Although low-cost domains and affordable web design are readily available, a recent survey by Warrillow shows that the majority of small businesses don’t have an independent website – in fact, 59% are without this resource.

With more and more people searching for local businesses on Google (ie. “Denver, CO florist”), it is important for small businesses to be on the first results page – if not the first result on the page – for their respective niche or at least their company name.

So, if a small business doesn’t have a website, how can they rank on a search results page or create a valuable online presence?

One of the most overlooked avenues to get on results page is to utilize social media. Visualize social media as virtual real estate – the earlier a small business can get their hands on a variety of properties, the better the chance they will reap the benefits when the area begins to develop more.

Here are a few valuable properties within social media that a small business should consider investing their time and efforts in:

  • Social Search Directories – There are a variety of directories – such as Yelp, CitySearch, and even YellowPages – that allow users to search for businesses, get their information, and write reviews. Adding reviews to a typical “online phonebook” can help create a community around a business and give the business an opportunity to address any negative feedback.
  • Even search engines such as Google and Yahoo are beginning to show interest in the value of these communities. They are beginning to populate and enhance their results with results from social (and local) search directories. In addition to those results, search engines are creating local business centers to make adding your business as simple as possible.

  • Blogs – With free tools available like WordPress and BlogSpot, creating a small business (or personal, for that matter) blog has never been easier. Blogs have broken through the stigma of being trivial and have become a credible source of providing information, establishing expertise, and increasing position on search result pages.
  • This resource gives small businesses a chance to highlight specials, give customers niche-related information, or anything else that has potential to bring people into their store – this is an opportunity to get creative.

  • Social Networking – Although most small business owners are still using these networks forpersonal reasons, there is huge potential for small businesses to connect with their consumers and like-minded industry professionals.
  • With business networks like LinkedIn and Facebook becoming more popular, small business owners have a resource to share ideas with other small businesses, create business profiles, and interact with consumers.

Just because a small business doesn’t currently have the resources available to create and maintain a website, doesn’t mean it can’t have an online presence. Social media gives businesses an opportunity to be found by large group of consumers that are looking to be well-informed. Not only will current and potential consumers be able to find the small business they are looking for, the small business will be able to proactively interact with them and respond to questions or concerns.

Are You Qualified to Start Your Own Business?

Have you always dreamt of doing something on your own, maybe start a restaurant or an antique shop? As you are cooking some exotic dish in the kitchen for your family, do you pretend you are standing in the kitchen of your restaurant, entertaining the many people who have been flocking it?

You may have had an idea for starting a business but been hesitant to take the plunge. Irrespective of whether you come from a business family or not, building a business from scratch requires skills and fortitude. However, if you are convinced of your skills and talents and feel they are worth investing in a business, we will tell you what the fundamental requirements are that go into starting a business.

Knowing what it takes

There are millions of people the world over who are bursting with ideas for starting a business. However, not many of them sit down and take a long look at whether they have what it takes to be successful entrepreneur.

Some of the important characteristics that all entrepreneurs will need are:

- Vision.

You must have the ability to see that far away goal, the ultimate objective. And then, you must be able to clearly express yourself and your ideas to convince others of your vision – like bankers, employees and customers.

- Discipline.

You have to know when to listen and when to talk. When you need to enter a market, how long you need to be there and when you need to quit. You should be disciplined enough to bear the market’s ups and downs, instead of panicking at bad news and gloating at good news.

- Curiosity.

You want to know more and more about the world around you. You want to know how things work or how they could possibly work better. You tend to read up more and more about things that fascinate you.

- Never-say-die attitude.

You have the passion to carry through your plans, no matter what the circumstances. You will try to do your very best even in the most challenging situations.

- Interest in People.

Finally, it is people who will matter the most. People as employees who will help you run your business and people as customers who will be buying from you. You always show genuine interest and respect towards all.

Shepherding – A Paradigm Shift in Business Coaching

While developing my home business, I found myself working with a number of people whom I would refer to as business coaches. Even though I may not be actively working with some of them today, I have found they all had unique styles and contributions to how I currently operate my business. Over time, I kept mental notes of what qualities they possessed and techniques they used that I found most helpful. In the middle of this process, I found myself at a meeting one night where the concept of shepherding was being explained. I immediately made a connection!

Shepherding is a Biblical concept often described as a spiritual gift. While, technically, a person doesn’t choose to possess this gift (by virtue of definition) I believe a person can choose to practice the qualities that characterize it.

So take a look at the following list and keep it in mind when searching for someone to help you develop your business. A good business coach, much like a shepherd, exhibits the following qualities.

1) She is comfortable among “the flock”. While business coaches will ideally have achieved a measure of success, a good one will never forget his start-up years. It is extremely easy for a new “coach-ee” to compare his new business struggles to his mentor’s current success, which can quickly lead to frustration. It is imperative that a coach is able to remember that, and operate comfortably at whatever level is necessary to help the student move on at a reasonable pace.

2) She is able to handle the responsibility of teaching. While a coach should never assume the responsibility or work of building anyone else’s business, there are tools, techniques and tips that one learns over the course of time that can be invaluable towards shortening the learning curve of someone new to business. You can teach without being a coach, but you can’t coach without being a teacher!

3) She has a long-term perspective. If you are going to go to the effort of finding and working with a coach, you are serious about building a business. And let me put it bluntly: it will take work and time. A good coach realizes this, and steers you away from anything that even hints at “get rich quick”, or unrealistic promises of easy, fast money. Sound education combined with consistent steps taken over time is what works.

4) She is always on the look-out for apprentices. The scriptural application assumes that this apprentice will then move on and become a leader of a new group. Isn’t the concept the same for building your own business? You associate yourself with a coach because you see the results of their efforts and want to duplicate them at some level in your own business. A good coach wants that as well, because when working in a coaching or networking situation…”when one succeeds, we all succeed”! A coach truly wants others to take it to their own personal “next level”.

Coaching is an absolutely wonderful way to help your business grow. There are many out there who claim to be coaches; some charge exorbitant amounts of money that produce little or no results. Seek out coaching carefully, be prepared to invest lots of your time and energy and a reasonable amount of your money, and you can find someone to “shepherd you to success”!