Home elder care I. Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, members of the so-called “greatest generation” are able to live independently, but frequently not without help. Businesses that provide personal services to the elderly -- grocery shopping, chauffeuring, physical therapy -- are good bets for the sole operator.
Home elder care II. Because of temporary or permanent illnesses and disabilities, part-time assistance may not be sufficient to allow the elderly to remain in their own homes. Sometimes round-the-clock skilled nursing care is required, and agencies that supply competent and honest help are and will be much in demand.
(It’s worth noting that businesses catering to the "greatest generation" will be well-positioned to serve their children, the baby boomers, who constitute the largest, wealthiest generation in U.S. history. Of course, before the boomers require living assistance, they’ll be spending plenty of loot as active retirees. Members of the generation’s leading cohort turn 59 in 2005 and their impending retirement represents a huge market opportunity.)
Retirement real estate. The elderly like it hot, and boomers will be no exception. Properties in temperate climates, particularly those within easy striking distance of the coast, have begun to go through the roof. (This would explain why in recent years West Palm Beach, Fla., emerged from urban decay to become the nation’s fastest appreciating single-family home market.) Selling retirement real estate, or providing services to firms that do, figures to be a growth industry.
Trust and investment services. Helping boomers manage the vast wealth they collectively possess will provide plenty of work for accountants, investment advisers, insurance agents, lawyers specializing in trusts and estates and everyone in between. Count on the government to keep the tax code so convoluted that professional advice is always needed.
Personal improvement. Long obsessed with how they look and feel,boomers won’t hesitate to spend retirement dollars on regimens and treatments that let them cling to at least the illusion of youth. Entrepreneurs who effectively deliver such nostrums as Pilates and yoga, Botox and other beauty treatments and nutritional counseling will tap into a gold mine.
Retirement recreation. One of the benefits of good health is the ability to remain active, and boomers will pursue vigorous activities in retirement as no generation before. Golf, fly fishing, hiking, bicycling are just a few of the pursuits on which retirees will drop lots of money. As with real estate, the watchword in this entrepreneurial market is location, location, location.
Resort services. Active boomers and younger enthusiasts will fuel a development boom in the most scenic parts of the country. Overcrowding in the national parks and the rapid development of the inter-mountain West are two signs of this. With more residents comes the need for more services: restaurants, dry cleaners, copy centers -- name it.
Outsourcing I. Not all of the jobs being outsourced by U.S. corporations are heading overseas. Plenty of the work is staying at home in the hands of independent contractors in the areas of accounting, law, human resources. An entrepreneur with in-demand expertise would do well to explore the corporate market.
Outsourcing II. Not all outsourcing takes place beyond the corporate walls. Often the work is performed by temps supplied to companies by agencies. An agency with a particular “hook” -- in other words the ability to provide competent workers a demonstrated sought-after skill -- figure to do well in the current and future business environment.
IT consulting. During the 2000-2010 decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts, eight of the 10 fastest growing jobs will involve computer technology. Clearly, the world is becoming more wired and consultants who can help users adopt new hardware and software products and resolve problems will not have a difficult time finding work.
Customer relationship management innovation
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be a millstone around the neck of small businesses. No business owner wants customers to feel like they can’t get a straightforward answer, or to lose business over their customers’ frustrations. Employing round-the-clock customer support staff is expensive, inefficient—and unavoidable.
Until now, that is. Small businesses are quickly gaining access to tools that put artificial intelligence and machine learning to work for them. CRM is one place these tools have started to make a huge difference.
Rather than staffing a support line, businesses are turning to a format more familiar to many of their millennial customers. The chat window. Customers can get answers to their questions in real time. By typing messages to an artificially intelligent “chatbot” that supplies the information they need. Machine learning algorithms allow these chatbots to become more effective over time. They learn what kinds of words and phrases are most often associated with different issues.
Large companies like Apple have built these bots from the ground up. They’re rapidly becoming available to small businesses as well.
It doesn’t take an A.I. to understand that the future of CRM is not a call center.
Small Business Trends: Subject matter expertise
Small businesses in the retail space have taken a pummeling in in the past from big box retailers, and many brick-and-mortar stores have been on deathwatch for a long time. But new research suggests that this trend may be changing.
Big box stores like Walmart and KMart continue to take their licks from online retailers like Amazon, which have them beat on price and convenience.
As big retailers flail against e-commerce giants, smaller retailers with local expertise, curated selections, and great customer engagement and education suddenly have more breathing room. A growing slice of the consumer market is hungry for information about the products they buy and especially for sustainable products. Big box retailers are nearly unbeatable when it comes to price, but have never been great at providing either of those things. Smaller retailers have stepped in to supply what Millennial customers want are rewarded with growing repeat business.
Enterprise technology for small business
A smorgasbord of powerful business programs has empowered small business owners to grow. All this at a rate much faster and smarter than ever before.
Once limited to only the largest firms (ones that could afford to dedicate an entire division to data management), enterprise technology services are democratizing big data and lowering the barriers to entry for the global market.
SaaS companies like Salesforce, Marketo, and Quickbooks can provide business infrastructures quickly and at scalable cost. This is a game-changer for small businesses. Businesses no longer have to rely on a large infusion of capital for technology investments.These types of SaaS platforms, termed “plug and play” technologies by Emergent Research, allow small businesses to raise their game almost overnight.
Many of 2017’s small business triumphs have come as leaders put these tools to work to leapfrog the growing pains of scaling up and joining the global economy.
Mobile payment platforms
As smartphones continue to dominate consumers’ waking lives, smart small businesses are following the money to the small screen.
One of 2017’s defining trends is the proliferation of mobile payment options. TechCrunch estimates that by 2020, 90 percent of mobile device users will have made a mobile payment. It makes perfect sense. If a company’s advertising and consumer engagement strategies are all geared toward mobile compatibility, why shouldn’t checkout and payment be just as seamless?
For all businesses, but especially those that target younger demographics, smooth integration with services like Square and Apple Pay is essential for increasing conversions.
Mobile payment applications have shown how willing customers are to part with conventional methods of payment. If your business hasn’t yet figured out how to get prospective customers to open up their wallets on the move, you’ve got options.
Inbound Lead Generation
While it certainly can’t be called ‘innovative’ at this point, an inbound lead generation model is highly efficient. If you haven’t already, your business needs to create a web presence that allows you to attract visitors and capture the names and email addresses of those interested in your products or services — even if it’s as simple as a “Contact Us” form or newsletter subscription.
If you’re used to pursuing customers, the beauty of an inbound lead generation model is that customers come to you. There’s no cold-calling, cold emailing, or even much advertising involved for most inbound campaigns. The key with inbound lead gen is the opt-in: everyone you speak with has indicated their interest and given permission for a follow-up. Talk about a time saver.
Closely related to inbound lead generation, content marketing uses articles, videos, info-graphics, or other content that fulfills the educational needs of your buyers. For example, a landscaping business might create content about caring for popular plants and companion planting. An accounting firm might create videos about tax reporting and compliance.
Content marketing accomplishes two things:
After prospects discover and visit your site through content, and once they’ve given their name and email address, you can start sending marketing emails, assuming they opted in. You did ask on your form, right?
The rise of marketing automation software means that most if not all of the email marketing process can be automated, and at a relatively low price per lead (see the infographic linked below for more information). Of course, no one likes getting spam mail, so make sure you send relevant content at the right stage of the buying process. Our email marketing research has shown that 43 percent of subscribers want fewer emails, and 48 percent want the content to be more informative.
Video content is the future of the Internet. According to YouTube, hundreds of millions of hours of content are consumed each day, and that’s just on their platform. Creating good video content can net your business lots of new customers. Just ask Mirabeau Wines, whose video on how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew has seen over 10 million views and helped catapult their brand from obscurity to internet marketing legend. While this particular video isn’t technically a lead generation play, Mirabeau could have used a call-to-action directing viewers to sign-up for a newsletter, visit an about page, or some other conversion tool.
Direct Mail/Print Marketing
Direct mail is an established marketing play that many small businesses forget about, but shouldn’t. Unlike the 80s and 90s, when the Internet was new, email accounts are now overflowing with spam, and cutting through all the noise can be a challenge. Traditional mail has dropped significantly in volume as companies move towards digital communication channels (click to tweet), which means there’s less competition in the traditional mailbox than there used to be.
Despite the cost, direct mail is an underutilized and highly effective way to market. You can either provide the prospect with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to reply, or if you want to connect your direct mail campaign with your digital campaigns, the URL to a unique landing page (e.g. free industry tool, free e-book, subscription opt-in). Take, for example, the Content Marketing Institute, which publishes and distributes a bi-monthly print newsletter called Chief Content Officer. Founder Joe Pulizzi explains why: “The printed word is still perceived as more credible than anything on the web. . . If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.”
Lots of businesses, big and small, use events to generate leads. B2B conferences have long been a place to form close connections and make deals.Micro-events, however, are underutilized. Micro-events are basically small, exclusive networking opportunities surrounding or within larger events.
Can’t afford a $2,000 ticket to a B2B conference? Host a small, off-site event in the evening after the exposition and keynotes have finished. Maybe even use direct mail to invite a small, select group, keeping costs down and the exclusivity factor up, which means you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on the best business opportunities. If you convert leads from micro-events at a higher percentage than other channels, it will be worth the investment.
Account-based marketing (ABM) rising in popularity among businesses of every size. Instead of a traditional or inbound lead generation model that relies on a reductive approach — the old funnel model — the account-based marketing approach is additive. Once you capture information about a prospect at a particular business, you work to capture the information and attention of other decision-makers at the same company.
With ABM, you target the entire account as a market of one. Since you’re customizing your communications for individual companies (or even individuals themselves), you can run any number of the previously described strategies more efficiently. Just as with micro-events, an ABM lead generation strategy allows you to focus more of your time on those opportunities which best fit your business, hopefully resulting in more conversions and higher ROI.
On Becoming An Entrepreneur
Always Encourage Innovation Within Your Company
Small business owners and entrepreneurs should get their brains in shape just like professional athletes mold their bodies into lean mean performance machines. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, likened the human brain to a saw. He said we need to continually sharpen that saw in order to get the best performance out of it day after day.
The best way I know to keep my brain healthy is by reading. So, I’ve provided a list of my top favorite books every small business owner should read.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Summary Stephen Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, realizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness, so this book is a manual for performing better in both arenas. His anecdotes are as frequently from family situations as from business challenges.
Biggest Takeaway My biggest takeaway from Covey’s timeless masterpiece is the concept of beginning with the end in mind. My mind is very formulaic. I need structure to what I do, to everything I create.
Learning to Begin with the end in mind for every project I take on as a small business owner has helped me get started on projects with which I was previously paralyzed by doubt. Now that I can visualize what the outcome should look like, it’s empowering me to dream bigger and act on those dreams.
Favorite Quote “Begin with the end in mind.”
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki
SummaryRich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads—his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad—and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.
Biggest Takeaway The most important thing I learned from this book that I still use today is the concept of the “Three Piggybanks”. Kiyosaki stresses the importance of putting all money you make (aside from what you need to pay the bills) into three categories:
This is absolutely one of the best business books to read for anyone who wants to work smarter, not harder.
Favorite Quote“Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
Speak and Get Results
Author: Sandy Linver
Summary We’ve all known the “naturals”– people who can get up to speak in any business situation and make something happen. They get the budget approved, win the big account, get the group’s support at the weekly staff meeting. When the “naturals” finish speaking people believe– and act. Now fully revised and updated, “Speak and Get Results” helps you to be a natural– helps you to get the results you want.
Biggest Takeaway I’m big on systems and processes. Maybe it’s my German heritage. You know, engineering and efficiencies. Linver does a superb job breaking down the science of designing a speech or presentation that will get your audience to take exactly the actions you want them to take when you’re through.
There’s an actual formula for this in the book that every small business owner can use as a template for your next sales meeting, client proposal, or whatever you’re talking about where you want actionable results to occur in your company. In my opinion, this is one of the best books on business speaking available.
Favorite Quote “Your primary task is to direct your listeners’ change so it leads them to the result you want.”
Author: Gary Vaynerchuk
Summary Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. In CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.
Biggest Takeaway The biggest thing I took away from this book is how crucial it is for every small business owner to create a personal brand. People buy from people, not companies. Gary goes into great detail explaining the why and the how of creating irresistible personal brands. This is by far one of the best books for business owners who want to translate their offline sales into online sales.
Favorite Quote “It’s never a bad time to start a business unless you’re starting a mediocre business.”
Author: Chris Ducker
Summary Entrepreneurs often suffer from ”superhero syndrome”—the misconception that to be successful, they must do everything themselves. Not only are they the boss, but also the salesperson, HR manager, copywriter, operations manager, online marketing guru, and so much more. It’s no wonder why so many people give up the dream of starting a business—it’s just too much for one person to handle. But outsourcing expert and ”Virtual CEO,” Chris Ducker knows how you can get the help you need with resources you can afford. Small business owners, consultants, and online entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone when they discover the power of building teams of virtual employees to help run, support, and grow their businesses.
Biggest Takeaway This is an awesome read for any small business owner or entrepreneur who needs an assistant, whether in-house or virtual. I just hired my first assistant, much to the celebration of my staff. Before I did, though, I put Ducker’s 3-step exercise into practice. Going through it helped me identify:
Favorite Quote“you’ll have access to the most powerful asset any entrepreneur can wish for – more time.”
Authors: Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles
Summary “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.”
Biggest Takeaway My favorite thing about this book is that it is immediately actionable. After a couple of chapters, I realized that I had been way over-thinking how I could improve my own agency’s customer service.
Just like so many profound concepts in life, this book showed me that it’s really quite simple to create raving fans out of my own clients. You, as a small business owner, only have to put yourself in their shoes to gain the necessary perspective to make the right adjustments in your own company.This is definitively one of the all time best books on business customer service out there.
Favorite Quote“Every day I go to a different store and pump gas for at least an hour to listen to customers.”
Built to Last
Authors: Jim Collins & Jerry Porras
Summary Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?”
Biggest Takeaway Collins uses wonderful examples throughout this book of companies who are doing things the right way and the wrong way. Very well known companies, I might add. What dawned on me very early on in reading it is that there’s no need for me, as a small business owner, to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building my own successful company. If I just identify the best traits of larger successful companies, I can apply them to my own business, minus the mistakes of the companies who didn’t make the grade.
Favorite Quote“Every day I go to a different store and pump gas for at least an hour to listen to customers.”
Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Spencer Johnson
Summary With Who Moved My Cheese? Dr. Spencer Johnson realizes the need for finding the language and tools to deal with change–an issue that makes all of us nervous and uncomfortable. Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.
Biggest Takeaway What I walked away with from this book was a renewed sense of reality. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of everyday work problems. Steve Jobs didn’t create the personal computing experience and then go on to revolutionize the way we listen to music and communicate with each other by just settling for the status quo. He embraced change and all the power that comes with it, just as this book teaches. Greatness begins when you challenge what is acceptable by the average Joe and push for meaningful change.
Favorite Quote“Life moves on and so should we”
The 4-Hour Workweek
Author: Timothy Ferriss
Summary Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.
Biggest Takeaway Tim Ferriss is a giant in his own right. But if you listen to his podcast (yes, he’s got one, too), he says quite often that he’s just an ordinary guy who’s
figured out how to be ultra effective in what he does.
What I take away from this book is hope that I can be more effective and efficient in just about any aspect of my life. Tim also helped me see that the systems and processes I create as a small business owner for one company can translate well into other companies I create.
Favorite Quote “The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” but “What would excite me?”
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
Author: John C. Maxwell
Summary What would happen if a top expert with more than thirty years of leadership experience were willing to distill everything he had learned about leadership into a handful of life-changing principles just for you? It would change your life. John C. Maxwell has combined insights learned from his thirty-plus years of leadership successes and mistakes with observations from the worlds of business, politics, sports, religion, and military conflict. The result is a revealing study of leadership delivered as only a communicator like Maxwell can.
Biggest Takeaway This book acted as a checklist for my leadership skills when I first read it. The format provides an easy means for skipping around to what you think you might need to work on most in your life right now as a small business owner.
Favorite Quote “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”
A friend had been talking about starting a business for at least six months. Whenever I saw him, that's all he talked about. Eventually, I got tired of it. "What are you waiting for?" I finally asked. It turns out, he thought the process of starting a business was extremely complicated. "I don't want to go through all that stuff," he said, "unless I'm absolutely sure my idea is perfect." Like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs, he was stalling because he was intimidated by the apparent complexity of the administrative and legal tasks involved in starting a business. So I bet him lunch that we could take care of all that in less than three hours.
The goal is to get off square one and get on to the fun stuff.
Get over the company-name thing.
Many people agonize endlessly over dreaming up the perfect company name. Don't. If you're waiting until you come up with the perfect name, you're also waiting to start making money.
Instead, at least for now, forget branding and unique selling propositions and all the business-identity stuff. And don't worry about finding the perfect URL or website design or promotional literature. You're putting those carts way before your business horse, too.
Just pick a name so you can get the administrative ball rolling.
Remember, your business can operate under a different name than your company name. (A "doing business as" form takes minutes to complete.) And you can change your company name later, if you like.
Get your Employer Identification number (EIN).
An EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business. You don't need an EIN unless you will have employees or plan to form a partnership, LLC, or corporation.
But even if you don't need an EIN, get one anyway: It's free, takes minutes, and you can keep your Social Security number private and reduce the chance of identity theft, because if you don't have an EIN, your SSN identifies your business for tax purposes.
Note: If you're using an online legal service to set up an LLC or corporation, don't use it to get your EIN. Instead, apply online at the IRS website. You'll have your EIN in minutes.
Now it's time to head to your locality's administrative offices.
Register your trade name.
If you won't operate under your own name, your locality may require you to register a trade name. In most cases, you'll get approved on the spot.
Get your business license.
Your county or city will require a business license. The form takes minutes to fill out. Use your EIN instead of your Social Security number to identify your business (for privacy reasons if nothing else).
You may be asked to estimate annual gross receipts. Do your best to estimate accurately, but don't agonize over it. You're just providing an estimate.
Complete a business personal-property tax form (if necessary).
Businesses are taxed on "personal" property, just like individuals. Where I live, no form is required for the year the business is established.
If you are required to file a business personal-property tax form and you plan to work from home using computers, tools, etc., that you already own, you won't need to list those items.
If you purchase tangible personal property during your first year in business, you will list those items when you file your business personal-property tax form the following year.
Ask your locality about other permits.
Every locality has different requirements. In my area, for example, a "home occupation permit" is required to verify that a business based in a home meets zoning requirements.
Your locality may require other permits. Ask. They'll tell you.
Get a certificate of resale (if necessary).
A certificate of resale, also known as a seller's permit, allows you to collect state sales tax on products sold. (There is no sales tax on services.)
If you will sell products, you need a seller's permit. Your state department of taxation's website has complete details, forms, etc., if you decide to apply online, but most localities have forms you can complete while you're at their administrative offices.
Get a business bank account.
One of the easiest ways to screw up your business accounting and possibly run afoul of the IRS is to commingle personal and business funds (and transactions). Using a business account for all business transactions eliminates that possibility.
Get a business account using your business name and EIN, and only use that account for all business-related deposits, withdrawals, and transactions.
Pick a bank or credit union that is convenient. Check out your local credit unions; often they provide better deals than banks.
Set up a simple accounting spreadsheet.
Worry about business accounting software like QuickBooks later. For now, just create a spreadsheet on which you can enter money you spend and money you receive.
Bookkeeping is simple, at least at first. All you need are Revenue and Expenses columns; you can add line items as you go.
Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories, and creating fancy reports with no data, spend that time generating revenue. As long as you record everything you do now, creating a more formal system later will be fairly easy. It will also be more fun, because then you'll have real data to enter.
And now you're an entrepreneur, with all the documents to prove it.
Who knew remote-controlled flying devices would create such a stir? According to Inc. Magazine it’s an estimated $3.3 billion dollar market that’s expected to grow 5.8 percent annually. Its uses span humanitarian relief to military surveillance to scientific research to freight delivery to recreational fun. It’s created thousands of IT jobs and its only deterrent is the FAA’s regulations on its commercial use, which are still being finalized. These high-flying devices are on their way to becoming a norm.
This has become a huge market with more and more businesses incorporating it into their corporate culture. Gym memberships, onsite yoga, stress management and even quit smoking programs are a few examples of what companies are including in their wellness plans. This attention to workers’ health is having huge payoffs. Companies save billions of dollars in healthcare expenses while seeing significant jumps in productivity and employee retention.
Sustainability and eco-friendly products are the wave of the future. This is particularly true in the housing and construction industries. Consumers are clamoring for environmentally-friendly, energy efficient materials, fixtures, and designs. This awareness also applies to food manufacturing, packaging, and preparation.
Who isn’t worried about identity theft, computer hacking, and online security breaches? With more and more of us using Cloud-based technology, this has become a huge industry. It applies to commercial industries, governments, and individuals. It does require high-end IT talent to keep up with the fraudsters, but the on-going demand balances the investment.
Although legal in only four states and the District of Columbia, recreational marijuana is currently a $5.7 billion-dollar industry. Legislation regulating the industry is still being hammered out in most of these locations, but that isn’t slowing down its growth. Edibles, paraphernalia, and plain old weed are hot commodities. The industry has trade shows, street fairs, and even food trucks. It’s an industry that thrives on quality, ingenuity, and creativity. It’s a far cry from the pot of the 1960’s.
This is industry includes food delivery services ranging from Amazon Fresh to Blue Apron to Munchery. The message? We’re too busy to shop, meal plan, and/or cook. This has spawned a plethora of businesses offering to do it for us. Successful businesses factor in food sustainability, dietary variety, smart phone applications, delivery methods, online payments, and personalized list-making. Of all the growing small business industries, this one demonstrates how receptive consumers are to outsourcing domestic tasks.
This translates into virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies. To 3-D interactive training scenarios to self-driving cars, these are the wave of the future. They’re so new it’s hard to delineate how far-reaching they’ll be. Experts agree they will redefine our world making everyday tasks easier and requiring less human interaction. The jury’s still out on whether this will be a positive or negative. In the meantime, it’s a new and exciting frontier.
Did your industry make the cut? If you answer yes, great! How can you keep ahead of the curve? What can you incorporate from these other industries to make your business even more effective? Sustainability? Fraud proofing? Employee well-being?
Regardless of whether your industry is or is not on this list, the key here is what this list and these industries indicate about the business environment in 2017. Study it, reflect on it, use it.
A small business owner is an individual who manages his own organization. These entrepreneurs can be found within all industries, including retail, entertainment, financial services and law. A formal educational background is not required to become a successful small business owner. What is needed however is a good idea, a solid business plan and startup capital. Due to the variety of organizations that make up this sector, the average income of small business owners varies widely, depending upon level of experience, location of employment and gender.
Average Income by Experience
According to compensation survey administrator PayScale in 2010, the average income of small business owners varies widely depending upon their level of experience. For example, small business owners with less than one year of experience in running an organization earn an annual salary ranging from $34,392 to $75,076. Those with more than 10 years experience, on the other hand, earn upwards of $105,757 per year.
Average Income by Gender
The average income of small business owners is also affected by gender. Males earn a median annual salary that far surpassed their female counterparts. Payscale’s report indicated that men who own small businesses earn a salary that ranges from $42,575 to $96,111. Women, on the other hand, only earn $31,380 to $71,140 every year.
Average Income by Industry
The industry in which a small business operates also affects the average income of his owner. Some industries pay far more than others. For example, entrepreneurs who owned electrical contracting businesses make salaries that range from $49,910 to $114,000 each year. Child care providers, in contrast, make anywhere between $19,792 and $61,674 annually.
Average Income by Special Skill
Although a small business owner overseas is entire operation, it is not uncommon for him to have a specific skill set. For example, the owner of a financial services recruiting firm may have started his career as a tax accountant. The possession of special skills can affect an entrepreneur’s average income. Those with accounting skills, for instance, earn an average annual salary ranging from $38,884 to $81,313, while individuals with sales management experience earning income ranging from $45,000 to $104,762.
Average Income by Region
The region in which a small business is located also affects the average income of its owners. A report issued by PayScale indicated that entrepreneurs employed on the coasts earn more than their counterparts in the South and Midwest. Entrepreneurs in New York, for example, earned a median yearly salary upwards of $125,185, while those in Georgia top out at $75,500.
These mistakes are common to many entrepreneurs:
Getting wedded to an idea and sticking with it too long. Don't marry a single idea. Remember, ideas are the currency of entrepreneurs. Play with many ideas and see which ones bring money and success.
Trying to be something other than an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs. You'll give yourself a hernia if you try to act like other people. Your difference is your strength.
Believing your own B.S. Entrepreneurs are genetically wired to be optimistic. Just don't believe everything you say to others...
Ignoring your cash position. The world (aka customers) doesn't respond to even superior products in the timeframe that you think they should. You'll need plenty of cash to sustain yourself in the meantime.
Attracting weak staff members. Not that many great employees will put up with a mercurial or childish/immature entrepreneur. If you're attracting weak people, you'll need to mature as a human being.
Confusing possibility with reality. The successful entrepreneur lives in a world of possibility but spends money in the world of reality.
Selling too hard. If you find yourself selling an idea or product too hard to too many people, perhaps it's time to listen to why they are not buying and learn from that vs. trying to become a better salesperson.
Not setting up support structures. Hire people and services to handle many of your business and personal needs. Most entrepreneurs do better when they are fully supported, even if transparently. Be responsible enough to arrange this.
Over-delegating. Many entrepreneurs over delegate tasks and accountability to others, aka dumping. Better to learn the skill of responsibility and completely turn over a task or project than assuming/hoping/needing others to come up to speed quickly enough on their own. Most people cannot.
Giving up. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed several times before doing extremely well. So, if you're failing, fail. And fail fast. And learn. And try again, with this new wisdom. Do NOT give up. Yet, do not suffer, either.
If your business isn’t making the money you expect, there's a good chance that you haven’t quite hit on a money-making niche. You’ve probably identified a targeted group of potential customers but you may not have identified a targeted group of customers who are spending money for what you’re offering.
Today, I’m going to give you a practical primer on finding a market niche. You’re going to read some of the items on this list and think that they won’t work or apply to you, but don't be so quick to dismiss them. These tips apply to everyone, in every industry. That said...
Everyone is not your ideal customer
It’s counter intuitive to think that by focusing on a smaller market you will actually make more money, but it’s true. Real money is found in targeting and identifying a market niche found inside the intersection of wants, trends and frustrations. The biggest mistake most business owners make is stopping their search for a niche too soon.
After you’ve selected a particular demographic, look at what they want. Wants are emotional desires. Wants are the reason behind the product. They go far beyond the basic benefits. For example, women who have recently gotten divorced want to feel whole again. They may be attracted to a variety of different products such as weight loss or coaching. They aren’t really buying the product; they are buying how they want to feel.
Trends are another important aspect of finding a niche. You’re looking for ideas, behaviors and products that are trending up and growing in popularity. Mobile devices are a trend. Social media is a trend. Reality TV is a trend. If you’re at a loss, just head out to a neighborhood sporting event and watch kids and families interact. What are they talking about, what products are they using? Again, don’t differentiate between B2B and consumer because these lines are fairly blurred these days.
Finally we head to the most powerful buying trigger: frustration. Frustration is a function of the frequency, intensity and duration of a circumstance or event that just irritates your customer to the point of distraction. To put these into perspective take out a piece of paper. On the top put a picture of a person that represents your target market. Draw three intersecting circles and label them wants, trends and frustrations. Then inside each circle draw icons that represent each of those elements for your audience. This will activate your brain to think differently and connect with that audience.
Use a marketer’s mindset
The first thing you will have to do is stop looking at your product or service like a consumer, and start looking at it as a marketer. Consumers get snared and engrossed by the message and don’t see beyond the purchase. Marketers are focused on understanding customers’ needs, wants and deeper desires and then delivering on those in the form of an offer. Focus on your ideal client and explore how your product or service will help them achieve those deep desires and wants. Don’t snicker. If your product is technical or industrial, remember that B2B customers are people too. Explore what your project means to them, will it help them get a promotion, be a hero, invent or develop something new? Think bigger and beyond the tangible.
Follow the money
It’s standard marketing practice to look for an empty space and fill it. But this isn’t always appropriate for every product or service. Notice car dealerships, retailers and even food trucks are most successful when they go to a place where there are lots of people already spending money. At that point, they don’t have to find an audience; they only have to stand out and attract those people who are most attracted to their offer.
Another terrific guerrilla strategy for following the money is to find everyone in that space and do an analysis of how successful they are, who they are attracting and how they are succeeding at attracting people who spend money. Notice the advertising, the headlines and the offers. Critically examine their marketing messages and the customers that are attracted to them. What is it about those messages that pull customers in?
Explore and implement a money-making model
Running your business in reactive mode eats into your profit margins. Simply making, selling and delivering a product or service isn’t enough to keep your head above water. You need to create a money-making model that attracts and moves the most profitable customers through your pipeline. Online marketers have really perfected money-making models. They’ve carefully crafted landing pages that attract specific markets, they give tons of free educational information and they’ve turned the upsell into an art. Make the time to explore and evaluate online marketing offers and then adapt those practices to your business.
Look around you
Notice that there is a persistent conversation about how bad the economy is and how there are no opportunities out there. Then acknowledge the conversation, and start looking around at the businesses that are successful. There are many, many businesses out there that are outrageously successful. If they are successful and making money, you have that opportunity as well. Take a critical marketer's look at your business and use these tips to further define your niche and develop a model that gives this audience exactly what they want and desire. You will not only build profitable sales, but you will also bring joy and satisfaction to your customers.
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