April 19, 2010 |
Dear Karen: Can you give me some tips for starting a gardening business? Answer: Make sure you are passionate about gardening and knowledgeable about the industry. Be persistent in setting and meeting start-up goals. "Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen," said Tamara Monosoff, author of a new book, "Your Million Dollar Dream." Research the top issues for gardening businesses, and write down how you will approach each one. This will be the beginning of your business plan, which you should formalize before you start.
September 8, 2009 |
Dear Karen: How do I bootstrap an online business start-up? Answer: Start simply and build slowly. "Don't get tied up in creating a store with all the packages and multitude of options," said Robin Kohli, founder of E-junkie, a software provider. Create a blog where you can publicize your product or industry. List your products on Internet shopping sites such as EBay, Kohli said, but don't link from your site to those larger marketplaces. "You are paying their fee so they can generate sales for you, not the other way round," he said.
March 21, 2011 |
Dear Karen: How do I keep my most productive employees from pursuing other jobs? Answer: As employment picks up, small companies often see high turnover. Surveys show 54% of U.S. employees want to look for new jobs when the economy improves, said Kevin Sheridan, chief engagement officer of HR Solutions International Inc. in Chicago. "Don't be complacent; find out what's making your people disengaged and what can be done to retain them," Sheridan said. His research shows that recognition, career development and relationships with managers are key factors.
May 9, 2010 |
Dear Karen: How can we improve sales? Answer: Track sales performance. See where your sales leads originate and which ones are most effective. You can't identify what's working if you're not monitoring it closely. "Identify the real drivers of your business, and stop throwing away money on what's not working," said Jeff Solomon of Leads360, a Los Angeles software firm. "Chances are, one or two sources generate the bulk of your revenue." Instruct your sales staff to respond to inquiries within five minutes, send follow-up e-mail and stay in touch with potential customers.
April 21, 2009 |
Dear Karen: I'd like to open a mini import goods store. How important is location? Answer: Location is always important for retail, but it's not the only way to attract customers, said George Whalin, president of Retail Management Consultants of Carlsbad. If you're serving a particular ethnic group, locate in its neighborhood. If you're targeting upscale customers looking for unusual items, they're more likely to shop wherever you locate, Whalin said.
November 3, 2009 |
Now, prepare your business for growth Dear Karen: How can I build back my business as the economy improves? Answer: This is a great time to position your company for growth, said Linda Rigano, executive director of strategic services at ThomasNet. In the firm's recent survey of U.S. industrial firms -- about half small businesses -- respondents listed the major changes they were making for post-recession markets, Rigano said. Popular approaches included diversifying into new industries, widening their sales channels, using distributors to sell their products, expanding overseas and increasing online marketing.