AMGEN
BMS-center-logo
 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 3

 

There are many challenges with any business, including a home-based business.  To help ensure your success, establish your brand, get the word out, and build your reputation Below are some tips for Branding and Marketing your Home-Based Business:

 

Identify your target market:

You are more likely to gain business if you have a clear idea of who your target customers are or will be. You need to research potential customers and determine who may be interested in your product or service, identify the specific demographic you want to reach, review your existing industry competitors, and identify the characteristics that you want to highlight about your products and services.

 

Make sure that the products or services you offer match the needs of your target clients. Find what makes your business stand out from your competition and highlight it. Determine how you will fulfill the promises you make to your customers and how you will you make them connect personally with your business. When you are able to help people relate personally to your business, they are more likely to gravitate toward your products and services.

 

Create an awesome website:

In our technologically advanced world, your business will need a unique URL (web site address) and user-friendly website that is mobile friendly. If you are web savvy you can certainly create your site yourself but hiring a professional to get it up and going is usually your best bet. A professional will know exactly what your site needs, help you write the site’s content, and make sure it is optimized for search engines.

 

Whether you hire a pro or you decide to go it alone you will need:

A domain name or URL name:

This is your site’s address on the Internet (i.e. google.com or amazon.com). Write out a list of 5 or 6 URLs you would like for your business, as your first choice may be already taken. It is best to select a domain name that is short, easy to remember and ties in with your branding. Avoid hyphens, special characters, or numbers.

 

A website host:

Your website will need to be located on a server or “host” in order to be viewed on the web. There are plenty of reputable web hosting companies out there. Do your research and choose the one you feel is right for you and your business.  If you plan to grow your business with online sales, make sure you select a company that has the capacity you will need as you grow. Try to avoid the cheapest options, they are cheap for a reason.

 

Put together your design:

The look and feel of your website should match your business and align with its goals. Choose colors that represent your company. Keep it consistent with any other marketing materials you have already created. Make sure to incorporate a compelling home page or landing page that captures your customers’ attention right away; use concise messages and make sure all photographs and visuals are of the highest quality; make sure that you are easy to find and use a navigational menu that helps your visitors move through your site with ease; avoid visual clutter and keep your content up to date; also make sure that you place strategic calls to action throughout your website (“sign up” or “subscribe” buttons placed in notable locations).

 

Set up your store and any online payment options (if necessary).

If you are selling products or services directly on your website, you will need to setup online payment options and connect them to your new website.

 

Last checks before launch:

Before you finalize and publish your website you will want to make sure that it loads as quickly as possible. You will also need to check and be sure that it’s mobile friendly as smartphones are increasingly used for online shopping. You want your website to be easy to use, accessible, and convenient for all your customers.

 

Create a matching blog and post regularly:

The blog ideally should be housed underneath your main website. Blogs are a great marketing tool for businesses as they help you enhance your social media presence, they help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, they help increase your customer base, they increase your company’s visibility on the web, they help develop your brand, they help your brand build trust with your customers, they help you grow your email list, and they can be valuable for gaining better and more frequent customer feedback. Blogging can also help improve your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) by increasing your back linking, adding more frequent new content to your site, and increasing overall traffic to your website.

 

Create and regularly post to social media platforms:

Social media is a great way to market your business, website, and offerings to customers. Setting up an account is totally free and allows you to directly connect with you customers’ interests, opinions, preferences, and changing needs. Social media helps you increase your brand’s awareness, helps build your reputation, creates loyal followers, improves your SEO, and increases click-through traffic to your small business’s website (just make sure that all of your social media platforms link back to your website).

 

Collect email addresses and send out regular newsletters.

Newsletters are an awesome marketing tool to help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. They establish a regular communication channel that can lead to stronger business relationships. Use newsletters to showcase your expertise in your industry; share new products, services, or promotions; highlight your company, your employees, and your clients; you can also toss in a bit of humor or appropriate holiday posts to keep it interesting and not so focused on selling.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 2

 

Below are more Tips for Your Home-Based Business related to your Home Office and Funding:

 

Your Home Office:

1.) Create a positive work environment:

Your home office needs to be a positive and comfortable place for you to concentrate and effectively complete work. Make sure that you select appropriate equipment and furniture that feels comfortable to you. Make sure that you have good lighting and that your computer workstation is setup ergonomically.  Be sure that you have fast Internet service too.

 

2.) Make sure it is legal to run a business out of your home:

There are some places or instances where it is illegal to run a business from your home. This can depend on things like your lease or your area’s zoning regulations. If you happen to learn that you are not permitted to have a home business operation, don’t become discouraged as there are a few things you may be able to do to get your business up and running anyhow.

 

Obtain a variance:

If it is illegal to run a home-based business in your area, a business variance can help you get around this problem. When your local government makes a special exception for your business it is considered a variance. Small businesses that don’t have customers visiting their premises are more likely to receive a variance. To obtain a variance, you will need to contact your city officials.

 

If you rent, check your lease with the homeowner.

If you lease your home, you will need to check with the homeowner to make sure that they are in agreement with you running your business from their property. Your lease may already include information on whether or not you can run a business from the home.

 

Consider moving:

If zoning or a lease is prohibiting your small business’s setup or growth, it may be in your best interest to move to a location that will better facilitate your business.

 

 

Funding Your Home-Based Business:

While a home-based business might imply lower operating costs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is without costs and expenses. If you are low on funds, there are a few ways you can obtain funding for your home startup.

 

1.) Keep your costs low:

As exciting as beginning a new business is, do not let it give you license to spend freely to get up and running. It is very easy to invest in expensive technology, equipment, and marketing materials right away.  Remember overspending can set your business up for failure. Start by investing in only what you need to get up and running for now and try to keep overhead costs as low as possible. Overhead costs include things like rent, utilities, business insurance, wages, office supplies, equipment, and marketing expenses.

 

2.) Lease some of the more expensive items you need:

Equipment can be very expensive, but that doesn’t mean it has to be out of reach. Some larger business equipment can be rented with affordable monthly payments and can provide you the option to buy the equipment at the end of the lease; These items include copiers, printers, scanners, telephone systems, video surveillance systems, plant and warehouse equipment, and much more.

 

3.) Obtain a small business loan:

There are many options for small business loans available, you should select the one that is the best fit for you and your business.

 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a Microloan Program:

It provides up to $50,000 for small businesses. According to the SBA, the average sized microloan is $13,000. You can use these loans for working capital, inventory or supplies, furniture or fixtures, and even machinery or equipment.

 

Peer-to-peer lending:

If you do not wish to go through a traditional bank, you can use a peer-to-peer lending firm that matches borrowers with investors selecting which loans they want to

 

Home equity:

This one is a bit more risky than other options because if you fail to pay your loan, or your business fails entirely, you could lose your home. However, this option is usually less expensive and easier to obtain than other options.

 

Credit cards:

Credit cards are usually the one of the first places small business owners turn to. This is a good choice if your credit card has a low monthly interest rate.  There is the risk that you can severely damage your personal credit if you fail to pay at least the minimums.

 

Friends and family:

You can always ask a friend or family member for a loan if they have the resources. If you don’t pay them back, you do run the risk of damaging or ruining the relationship.

 

 

Starting and running a business from your home can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. You gain all of the freedom of flexible working hours and reduced expenses. Just make sure that you keep on top of the business.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

Amazing Veterans Who Have Change Business

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Ever since World War II, military veterans have consistently created and innovated businesses in America. Veterans are generally quite good at looking at the world, figuring out what is missing from it, and learning to create those solutions. Veterans are responsible for brands such as FedEX, Nike, and GoDaddy. New technology companies such as Sybase, Skybox Imaging, Ustream, RedOwl, Rhumbix and RideScout have also been created and are run by veterans.

 

Some remarkable veterans who saw needs and created the frameworks, movements, networks, and methodologies that changed the way people think and currently do business:

 

1.) Angel Investor – Will Bunker

In 1990 Will, a former Marine, built one of the largest dating sites in existence, which later became Match.com. Recently he co-founded GrowthX to fund startups and the GrowthX Academy to help people learn the skills to be better salespeople, growth marketers, and UX designers.

 

2.) Athos – Don Faul, CEO

Don, a former Marine, is a current leader in smart performance apparel that monitors your biosignals. Prior to his involvement with Athos he led Facebook’s online operations, and was COO of Pinterest.

 

3.) CrossLead – David Silverman, Founder and CEO

David was a Navy Seal and createad CrossLead to help companies leverage real-time data to better understand their networks and build better teams of people.

 

4.) Esurance – Chuck Wallace, Co-Founder

Wallace, a former Airman, was a key player on the teams that created Automatic, Ustream.TV, and USell.   He then came up with a new way to sell insurance and started Esurance, which quickly became one of the fastest growing insurance companies in the US.

 

5.) Lean Startup Movement – Steve Blank, Creator

Blank is a former Air Force mechanic turned entrepreneur and is known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley” for his role authoring innovative books in the Lean Startup movement, which have been implemented by millions of startups worldwide.

 

6.) Maker Movement Pioneer – Mark Hatch

Hatch is a former Special Forces leader who currently runs the Green Beret network on LinkedIn, he is a partner at Network Society Ventures and is an author. He helped pioneer the Maker Movement and through his works he continues to help future makers and tinkerers.

 

7.) Social Media Maven – Koka Sexton

Sexton is a former Army officer who is one of the world’s leading minds in social media. Sexton used to head LinkedIN’s social media department, created Social Selling Labs to provide sales resources, and is currently working for the most-used social media management tool – Hootsuite.

 

8.) Startup List – Nick Frost, Creator

Frost is a Navy veteran who created Startup List in his bunk in Iraq. He currently works as a curator at the Mattermark Daily newsletter.

 

9.) StreetShares – Mark Rockefeller, Co-Founder

Rockefeller, a former Air Force officer co-founded StreetShares and a created a new way to match borrowers with investors. Recently the company added Veteran Business Bonds to their offerings to better support veteran businesses.

 

10.) The Lean Product Playbook – Dan Olsen, Author

Olsen, a former Naval Officer, has been a leader in Silicon Valley for over 20 years. His experiences working on nuclear submarine designs led him to write a practical step-by-step book for lean startups that is used by thousands of entrepreneurs each year.

 

11.) VC Trailblazers – Pitch Johnson and Bill Draper

Johnson (Air Force) and Draper (Army) were some of the venture capitalists on the West Coast back in the early 1960s. They created Asset Management Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures and through these companies they have funded a staggering number of other companies.

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Managing your business cash flow can be challenging but it is incredibly important to the success of your business.

 

Below are 12 easy ways to help you improve your cash flow:

 

1.) Put It All In Writing

Make sure that all your business documents, customer agreements, and invoices clearly set out your payment terms, expectations, due dates, etc. Never leave any important items ambiguous.

 

2.) Send Invoices Immediately

People tend to pay once they have an invoice in hand, never make them wait.

 

3.) Include a Specific Due Date

It is very important to make your expectations as clear as possible. Simply stating “due upon receipt” is not enough. Add a clear due date or time frame (such as “payment due within 30 days of the bill date”).

 

4.) Offer an Incentive for Quick Payment

People love getting things for free. If you can offer them some sort of incentive for paying early, they will be more motivated to do so. For example you could give them a small discount for paying within a week of invoicing.

 

5.) Add a Late fee

Adding a fee for being late with payment tends to motivate most to get the bill paid quickly. Without a late fee, some people may put off paying you for months.

 

6.) Put together a Payment Plan

Allowing people to pay off large bills over time allows them to better budget for the expense and makes it easier for them to pay the bill.

 

7.) Use Electronic Billing or Electronic Funds Acceptance

Using electronic billing allows you to get the invoice to the customer very quickly as well as saving you money on postage costs. Accepting electronic payments works the same way.   It is fast and cost effective. You want to make sure that you accept payment in a variety of ways to make it easier for people to pay you.

 

8.) Sell your Invoices

If you need cash fast, there are services out there that will pay 90-99% of your original invoice amount upfront for a small fee.  Make sure they are reputable and do not harass your clients.

 

9.) Hold off paying your own bills

While you wait for your own clients to pay you, hold off on paying bills until they’re actually due. Of course take advantage of any incentives for early payment, but wait on the others.

 

10.) Secure A Credit Line

If you need help with your cash flow consider a line of credit with your local bank.

 

11.) Actively Monitor Your Cash Flow

Keep a close eye on your cash flow. Make sure that you know what has been paid and what is about to become due. Send reminders if necessary and make sure that you track any late fees.

 

12.) Hire a CPA

A CPA can help you in many areas.   They can guide you towards your financial goals, offer corrective suggestions, ensure you are taking advantage of the correct tax breaks or benefits, improve your cash flow, and so much more.   They can pay for themselves in savings.

 

Small Business Cyber Security Basics

Share this Article:
Share Article on Facebook Share Article on Linked In Share Article on Twitter

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Our world relies heavily on technology and the Internet. Criminals target companies of all sizes, including small businesses. Knowing a few security basics can help you protect your business and even reduce the risk of your business falling victim to a cyber criminal’s attacks.

 

Below are six key areas to focus on to help make your business more secure:

 

1.) Require strong passwords on everything

Strong passwords are at least 12 characters long and are a mix of numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. Use strong passwords for all laptops, tablets, computers, and smartphones owned or used by your company and your employees. Make sure that no one leaves any of these devices unattended in public places. Never reuse old passwords and never share passwords in texts or by email. Make sure that you also limit the number of unsuccessful log-in attempts to limit password-guessing attacks.

 

2.) Use multi-factor authentication

Require multi-factor authentication to access areas of your network with sensitive information. This requires additional steps beyond logging in with a password such as a temporary code on a smartphone or a key that’s inserted into a computer.

 

3.) Secure your router

Make sure that you change the default name and password that comes pre-installed on your router. Make sure that you also turn off remote management and log out as the administrator once the router is set up. Make sure your router offers WPA2 or WPA3 encryption, and that it’s turned on. Encryption protects information sent over your network so it can’t be read by outsiders. If you do not know how to do this we recommend getting in touch with a reputable tech company to take care of this for you.

 

4.) Keep all software up to date

Make sure that all of your devices are setup to automatically update when an update becomes available. This includes any apps, programs, web browsers, hardware, and operating systems.

 

5.) Secure all of your files

Backup all important files offline – either on an external hard drive or in the cloud. Make sure that the offline backup is secured with a strong password. Make sure you store all of your sensitive paper files securely. Also, make sure that you encrypt the data on devices and other media that contain sensitive personal information. This includes laptops, tablets, smartphones, removable drives, backup tapes, and storage solutions.

 

6.) Train your staff

Create a culture in your company of security by implementing a regular schedule of employee training and make sure that you keep your employees updated as you find out about new risks and vulnerabilities.

 

 

Most importantly, make sure that you have a plan in place just in case you do experience a breach. You will need to get backups online quickly so you can get back to work as well as notify any customers who may also be impacted. The FTC’s Data Breach Response: A Guide for Business gives you steps that you can take.

 

Again, cyber security is increasingly important in our world. If you are uncomfortable or lack the knowledge to implement security at your company we highly recommend hiring a professional technology company to keep your information secure.

ibmpos_blurgb