Reprinted with permission from smallbiztrends.com. See the original post here.
Keeping your small business ahead of the curve in a competitive economy is no easy task. It requires a lot of attention to detail, for example, carefully examining your small business and looking for any areas where efficiency or productivity can be improved. There are lots of ways to stay competitive. Read our roundup for tips and other important news for your small business.
How to stay ahead of the curve and be successful. To truly stay ahead of the curve, you must do better and be more thorough than everybody else. This usually means putting in more worthwhile effort than your competitors. To accomplish this, you must set your own standards, ones that surpass the norm, find the need that isn’t being met and pursue it, do things better than everybody else and go the extra mile. Finally, do the new and unexpected and do it well. Following these suggestions will help you dominate the field. Open Forum
Why content marketing is still king. Surveys show that content marketing now surpasses all other types of marketing. Content marketing has gained popularity due to its ability to economically bring in meaningful leads in a controlled environment. Entrepreneur
Take a close look at your website. Is it designed around one product or service or is it designed to attract customers who will take a look at you and want to be associated with you over a long period of time? The problem with the former is that you will have to find new customers all the time. Instead, help your customers look at how using your product or service will help them expand their business. Small Business Brief
10 secrets of successful leaders. The author quotes Eleanor Roosevelt, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” You have a great idea for a new product. You develope it, set up your small business, line up your financing, market your product and started selling. But how will your organization operate? How will you lead and develop your employees? The article discusses ten ideas gathered from successful leaders that you should consider. Entrepreneur
Who really pays the bill for unemployment insurance? The money is paid out by the state but businesses pay the bill. The bill is based on your employment record. The more lay-offs or firing “without cause” incidents you have, the higher the cost of insurance will be. While poor economic conditions that result in lay-offs are certainly a large contributing factor, your interviewing and hiring policies and their effectiveness also play a large role. Poor hiring practices that result in your having to let people go because they don’t work out still entitles them to unemployment compensation, and you pay the bill. While you may not be able to control the economy, you can and should work on having effective interviewing and hiring practices. You’re the Boss
Five Rules for Building Strong Connections. The importance of good networking can not be overstated for the entrepreneur starting his new venture. It is vital that he/she start building a network no later than when he starts building his product. The entrepreneur must make a list of what has to be done to develop the network and what type of people he will need to execute this plan. In the early stages of both product development and network development, use available resources as guidelines. For the best use of your time, be sure you are building your network with people who both you can help and who can help you. Finally, try to network with people who know, trust, and like you. Only then will your network be useful. Entrepreneur
Ditching debt. Here are seven small business owners who have chosen to operate their businesses debt free. They show us how being beholden to no one fits in with their entrepreneurial spirit. It certainly appears to be a way of keeping stress at a lower level, but it does limit the speed at which you can expand. CNNMoney
Four common startup money mistakes. Good financial management is imperative when starting a new business. One area in which new startups fail is in having an accurate estimate of their startup costs. Most people underestimate. Another mistake is the failure to establish a marketing budget. Every new business is different and the marketing plan and budget must be tailored to the business. Still, another area where new businesses fall short is in choosing the type of organizational structure that will maximize their tax savings. Finally, the new business owner usually spends too much money on nonessentials. Even if they have a loan to start their business, they must keep their overhead low and resist frivolous spending on nonessentials. Entrepreneur
Why the recovery eludes small business. There is no question that many businesses suffered and had to lay people off during this recession. The question is why the percentage of people losing their jobs was greater among small businesses. The tightening of available credit and the sectors of the economy most affected certainly hurt small businesses more than larger companies. Many small business owners used home equity loans for their companies and when the housing market collapsed, the value of their homes and subsequently their available credit disappeared. Larger companies were more involved in exporting and research and development which were less affected by the recession. Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Small retailers cross their fingers for holiday sales. Small retailers are afraid that another holiday season where deep discounting is required to promote sales will be difficult to survive. They do not have the bulk purchasing power or the cash reserves that the large retailers have and which is necessary to weather these difficult economic times. WSJ