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Common Mistakes of New Internet-Based Entrepreneurs

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Choosing the Wrong Metrics of Success

Consider the industry and market. Many businesses are seasonal, especially in the eCommerce field. Short-term measurements may hold limited relevance for long-term success. In addition to sales revenue, important considerations may include customer satisfaction, customer turnover, customer engagement, as well as the cost of acquiring new clients. Feedback from customers may prove just as useful and important input for long-term growth as raw numbers reflecting factors such as sales revenue.

Remember the bottom line. Metrics such as site views are a good sign, but don’t let your head puff up until you’ve seen the end rewards. Beyond tactics such as “search engine optimization,” businesses should flesh out their intelligence with a multidimensional approach that provides multiple perspectives and can better develop strategies for the future.

Plan for a Reasonable Balance Between Supply and Demand

In the initial excitement of contract negotiation, business owners might overestimate demand for their projects. Wise entrepreneurs take baby steps while wading through the planning phase. The time for a deeper plunge is after a realistic assessment of product demand. Only after meeting demand becomes a challenge in itself should a new business expand its initial investment.

Too much product at the outset complicates a website, adds to maintenance costs, and wastes the original investment.  There is something to be said for keeping it simple.

Work Out Sales Promotion Strategies in the Early Stages

New business owners can also go overboard with their initial advertising. Remember to carefully ponder sales promotions, and tailor them to your company’s goals. Some business managers can dump money into advertising that can misfire, even harming brand image or simply wasting resources.

A tasteless, spammy, or annoying sales promotion does no one favors. Neither do wasteful practices such as carelessly executed free sample campaigns. Remember that ads should take advantage of the right time, place, and style to effectively influence potential clientele.

Prioritize Wise Contract Negotiation

Irrational optimism can doom new companies. Small business owners need to put together contracts with the worst possible outcomes in mind. Human nature tends to assume everything will go smoothly, but the inevitable snags often pop up unexpectedly. Veteran business owners should pour over contracts with a fine-tooth comb with an eye toward the life of a contract rather than the bare minimums and the foreseeable future.

Careless Choice of Advertising Partners

Remember that you have as much of a right to choose your advertisers as they do to choose you. Advertisers need to stay relevant, ethical, and lucrative. Advertisements should stay interesting and tasteful. In other words, new business owners should maintain self-respect and not get carried away in the excitement of finally receiving sponsorship.

Consider Effective Customer Contact Strategies

Email lists can provide a free method to reach prospects on demand. Remember to form these lists quickly, efficiently, and ethically. When soliciting contact information, make sure to obtain a full profile of the customer’s interests, goals, and potential. Effective customer contact lists can save a fortune in advertising later.

Conclusion

Ecommerce presents its own set of risks. Without careful contemplation, Veteran Business Owners can go overboard in the wrong direction at the outset, in ways that can quickly deplete resources. The remote nature of the online customer relationship amplifies these. Careful, realistic, and multidimensional feedback and planning can effectively prepare for success in the modern, largely internet-based economy.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

How Not to Design Websites

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Never Lose Sight of your Core Competency

Your business idea is your own, companies should never lose sight of the uniqueness of your core enterprise. Superfluous bells and whistles only add confusion when they distract from the basic functions of your business. 

Merchants can control the traffic to the website, if not their profit margins. Websites should be carefully designed considering the basic functions of your business. 

In other words, your website should center around the services you can provide. Tangential and superfluous information waste resources and distract from the bottom line. The marketing pitch should be clear and to the point, and traffic to the website should consist of interested consumers rather than gawkers attracted by irrelevant additions to the website. Good SEO (search engine optimization) can avoid this failure.

Don’t Turn Your Website into an Unrelatable Mess of Brick-a-Brack

A website rife with irrelevant information messes with the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your company, as well as its analytics. An organized website, on the other hand, attracts the best kinds of business. 

Some ugly websites can get away with it. Craigslist, for example, has a nostalgic, folksy appeal that reminds us of the days before sophisticated website creating apps such as WordPress and Etsy. The Drudge Report has a brutalist look that harkens to the days before “web designer” became a staple hipster freelance gig. These older websites already have established reputations, with the associated goodwill.

New Veteran Business Owners need to put more thought into website design. Remember the importance of the brand building. With the development of the company, the “goodwill” of target customers develops

In the case of some websites, such as Craigslist, the plain, no-frills design is in fact part of the brand. Established users enjoy the look because of the familiarity and would probably raise hell in the case of a redesigning. Craigslist is an example of a company whose website in fact has accumulated enough “goodwill” to compensate for its hideous look.

However, most new business owners need to develop that goodwill over time. “Goodwill” for a business means positive relationships with your consumer base. Good marketing should reflect in your website. Hopefully, as you develop a more sleek, well-directed website, your marketing strategy should communicate more directly with your target audience.

 WordPress and other web-building applications tend to give analytics that shows progress as your website develops. In general, website analytics go a long way in showing how well your website reaches your target. 

The Work Doesn’t End with a Finished Website

Even with the development of your own business, remember the importance of consistent improvement of your own product or service. Business owners should take feedback seriously, consistently building up the quality of their products.

Veteran Business Owners should not rest on their laurels after designing a workable online presence. Any such website should provide comments sections and other forums for feedback. On the business owner’s end, this feedback should provide starting points for improvements, especially when the feedback is consistent. 

Conclusion

In the end, remember the importance of good communication. Some terrible websites maintain relevance through their relationships with customers. However, generally, new business owners should consider relevant designs that speak directly to their consumer base. Who knows, maybe even your own design might go out of fashion one day. But with goodwill and brand loyalty, you may preserve good relationships in the long term.

In other words, for the initial stages of business development, don’t forget the importance of a sleek website that speaks to its target audience. Goodwill can take time to develop. But consider whatever market analytics you have available and try to make sure your website fulfills the goals of your business in the here and now.  

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Marketing in a Brick-and-Mortar Store in the Digital Age

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Within this blog, we have emphasized the trend toward online marketing. However, remember that in-store marketing still exists. Brick-and-mortar stores continue to prosper far and wide. Not even a virus can demolish the brick-and-mortar of a boutique store that can offer in-person interaction. 

Make no mistake: neither we nor others can deny the importance of the shift toward an Internet economy. The online marketplace gives us impulse checkout, but brick-and-mortar entrepreneurs can always rely on the homeliness, comfort factor, and practicality of traditional shopping.

Within a brick-and-mortar store, many strategies can showcase an exciting new product. A kiosk with a live person can display pamphlets and distribute coupons. Live product demos can give samples and demonstrate the uses of a product that has made its way into your store’s supply line. Also consider the store layout, the checkout experience, and product packaging.

Tiny, physical stores are far from endangered. Especially in smaller communities far from expensive downtown districts.  Actual physical “shopping districts” are very much alive and well.

First, packaging multiple, related products together can provide suggestions about ways to use products. For example, packaging different kitchen ingredients together might provide a cooking tip as well as an introduction to the local culinary scene. Similarly, marketing a product with a service could build enough consumer confidence to wipe that gadget off the shelves.

Also, good product packaging may speak to the whims of an outsider who might not have seen the product in the past. Even many larger companies are novelties outside certain locales. Try purchasing fresh cheese curds in Arizona rather than Wisconsin, or Cincinnati-style chili in Texas. Creative packaging can attract curious visitors who simply have not ever seen that kind of product in the past. 

Second, loyalty programs are not just for chain stores. Such programs can reward loyal customers with discounts while building a database of consumer information. Many stores even use QR codes to provide benefits to loyal customers. Other institutions may experiment with different methods. Small stores may be well advised to learn effective strategies to strengthen relations with their customer base, technical or otherwise.

Third, free samples of new products along with coupons can open a floodgate of curious customers. Smaller physical stores may have access to local supply chains. These establishments may have inexpensive links to fresh produce, local goods, or even toys or technical products. Distributing small amounts of inexpensively obtained local merchandise can win positive favor with customers as well as the suppliers themselves.

Fourth, business owners should remember that the digital age is upon us despite the charm of the physical storefront. Even the most technologically inept should maintain at least the basics of a digital presence.   This includes using social media.  Your company website can provide a sense of stability and legitimacy, as well as provide a seed for the creation of a wider fanbase.

Physical stores have the advantage of face-to-face interaction. Owners of small physical businesses should avail themselves of modern strategies to reach their customers. Small institutions are not “selling out” by learning simple methods to strengthen their marketing efforts. Your workplace should not only be a home-away-from-home for yourself, but for your customers, and Veteran Business Owners should use every means at their disposal to build that special place.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The social media age has brought attention to the various Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok accounts of countless well-known influencers. Such influencers can range from celebrities to smaller-scale social media personalities. 

Some of these influencers have great recipes, some design beautiful clothes, and some developed a following through their own inertia. Endorsements from these personalities can bring huge profits. However, many ask for high prices in return. Smaller business owners can find their own niche partnering with users with their own localized networks in their own industries.    Below are a few suggestions:

(1) Consider your strengths, interests, and motives for becoming a small business owner:

Most small businesses start with special expertise, interest, or hobby. These days, fellow travelers are often online. Joining a community is the best strategy. Within your interest group, you may find communities. Within one of these communities, someone may happily promote your product on their YouTube channel, Facebook community, or other localized sites. The trick? Find people with a genuine understanding and interest in what you have to offer.

(2) Always respect micro-influencers, especially those who operate within your own niche:

Kim Kardashian charges a fortune to promote a product on her Instagram and other social media sites. Small business owners need not look for endorsements from a Kim Kardashian or a Paris Hilton. Small businesses tend to work through their own specialized niches. Obviously, paying Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton a fortune to advertise your brand-new transmission generator would increase sales short term. 

However, a more cost-effective strategy would zero in on the local industry, as well as local hobbyists and business people who might have used it for such a contraption. These localized groups may even have distribution networks that can place your new product or service in front of the right interested parties.

(3) Remember the power of free stuff:

After zeroing in on the right community, business owners with a new concept may benefit from distributing samples of a new product itself. Free samples have long promoted new recipes, inventions, and contraptions. Innovations like YouTube can spread the word throughout your interest group or industry. 

As a first step, a business owner should find the right group of people. Luckily for our generation, the Internet can help to foster that process. Next, an independent businessperson can share their innovations with the relevant community. Next, hopefully, a satisfied well-wisher may provide an online demonstration! 

(4) Try to develop a long-term plan:

Baby steps can grow your concept further. Business owners with a new idea can slowly reach their tendrils outward by reaching out to fellow travelers. Depending on your goals, profits should come first, and profits come from you and your partners doing what you best. Perhaps your plans entail only a small business that can keep you personally fulfilled while keeping you comfortable economically. Perhaps you have wider ambitions. Either way, never underestimate the strategic use of social media micro-influencers. 

Remember, though, practicality is key. Extravagant use of widely visible personalities can only waste time and misdirect efforts towards people who will roll their eyes at a promotion of the product that neither they nor the influencer has any genuine interest in. However, in the age of the Internet, plenty of lucrative micro-influencers may give you a foothold right in the industry where you mean to take root.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Inventory Backlogs: Prevention Part One of Two

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Vast deposits of excess stock can leave small business owners bewildered or perplexed in the wake of a “failed” marketing attempt. Remember, excess inventory generally has some value to someone. However, prevention generally spares entrepreneurs storage expenses and manufacturing costs. 

Whatever happened to the Avon Lady? Multilevel marketing schemes are back with a vengeance. These companies can famously leave a garage full of excess merchandise. But what about the tribulations of small business owners who manufacture their own products?

As a general principle, unused products are a liability for small businesses. Such products gain the moniker of “deadstock” after collecting cobwebs in the back shelves of warehouses.

The Pandemic has brought fluxes in inventory to all sectors of the economy. Supply chain disruptions have plagued the worldwide economy since March of 2020. Skeleton crews on all fronts have left companies alternately oversupplied or undersupplied, even as demand has mushroomed since the early part of this year.

Inventory shortages are nothing new. First, demand fluctuates naturally due to a variety of market forces. Fashions move forward, circumstances change, and consumer needs oscillate accordingly. 

Second, businesses sometimes rush to meet demand. In the process, quality may suffer, leading consumers to search elsewhere. Over-eager business owners sometimes churn out subpar products to meet demand. The result leaves the owner in the lurch for storage and disposal. No one wants a trove of shoddy “skinny jeans” manufactured in 2008, especially in 2021.

Third, some businesses may lack effective inventory management systems. Internal operations may well disrupt a good balance between different types of products. Good online inventory management programs may include Fishbowl, Netsuite, and Quickbooks, although options for businesses are vast, and may include proprietary options as well. Also, consider the everyday operations of a company outside the computer system.

Fourth, the business may be marketing one product at the expense of another. Marketing resources may gravitate in one direction, based upon the expertise or biases of the company staff. Leadership on hand may know more about one product than another. Sometimes leadership and staff simply prefer one product over another. Such cases may simply present a human resources challenge.  Enthusiasts of one type of product on the marketing front may compensate for an oversupply of fans of another.

Finally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Remember that disastrous ET video game from the early eighties? Most ended up in a landfill. The landfill was excavated, and some collectors of vintage arcade games paid over $1000 for cartridges of a terrible but historically significant video game. Even in most cases of overstock, hope remains.

Best practice avoids excess supplies of unmarketable products from the outset. However, as with most of life’s problems, excess inventory is often unavoidable. With the resurgence of multilevel marketing, overstock has reached new levels in some quarters. However, certain business practices have long resulted in inventory imbalances, even before the Pandemic. 

In Part I of this two-part series, we examined strategies to prevent excess deadstock, to begin with. In Part 2, we will examine strategies to dispose of excess inventory, online and otherwise once such stock inevitably accumulates.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article of this two-part series has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

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