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Small Business Success December 2012
Small Business Success
Fresh ideas for your Small Business  

    Contents
In this Issue

In Business for Yourself, Not by Yourself

Pay Per Click Advertising

Ten Public Speaking Tips

How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Many a True Word Spoken in Jest

Small Business News:

Canadians Resolve to Better Manage Their Finances in 2013: (RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook) - Resolutions for New Year include spending less, saving/investing more. Heading into 2013, more (37 per cent) Canadian consumers feel their personal financial situation will improve than they did at this same time last year (32 per cent) and they are taking steps to be in better financial shape, according to the quarterly RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook (RBC CCO). Read more...


A Little Bit Older, A Little Bit Wiser: Canada's Small Business Owners Admire Older Workers (Investors Group) - Winnipeg, MB - November 27, 2012 - An overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of Canadian owners of small and medium sized businesses agree that workers 65 years and older offer more valuable experience and expertise than younger workers, according to new research from Investors Group. Sixty-nine per cent contend that this group is not more expensive to employ. Read more...


Major developments ahead in Canada's credit card industry: Competition Tribunal ruling on Visa and MasterCard expected any day (CFIB) - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is pleased to see significant progress on two major problems in Canada's credit card industry and is watching for an imminent ruling from Canada's Competition Tribunal on an important case on Visa and MasterCard practices. Read more...


Businesses must choose how to spend 'dead cash' soon or government might tell them how: report (Financial Post) - Ontario businesses need to put growth efforts into high gear by using cash stockpiles to invest more heavily in productivity, technology, machinery and human capital - or government policy will eventually push them to do so. That is the message being sent by Ontario's Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress in its 11th annual report set to be released tomorrow morning. Read more...


 
    In Business for Yourself, Not by Yourself
 
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Visit almost any town in Canada today and you will find franchised businesses. So accepting has the Canadian public been of franchising that financial experts refer to franchising as "the wave of the future." The Canadian Franchise Association reports that there are over 78,000 franchise units across Canada, directly employing over 1.5 million people.

The word franchise literally means "to be made free". This freedom is realized through the granting of rights by a franchisor to the franchisee for offering, selling, and distributing goods under a prescribed system. One of the reasons that many franchises have been so successful is that, in franchising, a business synergy is created. Franchisees brought together under one trademark can achieve things that as individual business people they could not do. Group advertising, brand recognition, on-going support, training and a proven business model are some of the main advantages of owning a franchise.

It is also important to point out that 85 per cent of franchise operations are successful in the first five years, whereas 30 per cent of private enterprise "start ups" usually never survive after their first three years in business.

While there are many examples of successful franchises, buying a business is no guarantee of success. One of the myths that have been perpetuated is that franchise ownership is easy. This is simply not true! The franchisor may have a great program and respected name, but in the final analysis much of the risk is in your hands. The franchisee must be prepared to manage the business, and some very careful self-analysis is important before you purchase a franchise. Here are some questions that can help you determine if franchising is for you.

  • Are you willing and able to manage the responsibilities of managing your own business?
  • Will you enjoy the franchise enough to commit the next 10-15 years?
  • Are you willing to completely follow the franchise system?
  • Do you have a history of success in dealing and interacting with people?
  • Can you afford the franchise?
  • Have you carefully studied the legal documents and the business model?

As corporations are releasing their employees from their corporate moorings into an ocean of "start ups" and small businesses, many of these "corporate refugees" are discovering that franchise opportunities offer a sound strategy for establishing a small business and a means of personal income. In a career encompassing a franchise opportunity, you are never in business by yourself ... but you are in business for yourself.

Jan Swanson, VP of Alberta Operations for M-Four International, sums up his firm's approach and a good franchise strategy, this way, "A good franchise should provide the franchisee the opportunity to earn a respectable living and every franchisee should have the enthusiasm to support and build the franchise brand. A good franchisor should also provide the franchisee with the necessary tools to build their business and the brand."


M-Four International, established in 1981, is a comprehensive Canadian Franchise Marketing, Sales and Development Group. M-Four can be reached at 1.855.906.3787 or www.mfourintl.com

 
   
Pay Per Click Advertising Top

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While there are numerous strategies for driving customers to your website, one of the most widely used is pay per click (PPC) advertising. The primary reason for its popularity is the massive audience you can reach and the quick results that it often yields. In this article we will discuss the fundamentals of PPC advertising to determine whether or not it's something you might want to integrate into your marketing campaign.

The first thing you need to do is sign up with an ad platform and create an account. Google Adwords is currently the most popular, but there are other alternatives like Yahoo, Bing, MSN Search and numerous smaller name companies. While the specifics will vary slightly, all of these platforms operate on the same premise. Once you're set up, you will then create a campaign around the product or service your business is selling.

This will involve creating a text or banner ad that explains what you are offering. From there, you will have to bid on relevant keywords that you want to compete for. For example, if you sell sports equipment, you might use keywords like "athletic gear," "football equipment," "basketball gear," etc. Picking keywords is an art, in and of itself and will often determine the ultimate success of your PPC campaign. Along with keywords, many people choose to use negative keywords as well. Unlike regular keywords, these are used to prevent a certain demographic from finding your ads. For instance, a law firm based in Vancouver, B.C. who only wants clients in that locale might use "law firm Kelowna" or "law firm Winnipeg" as negative keywords. These are helpful because they prevent unqualified leads from clicking on your ads. This means that you can save money by preventing wasted clicks from people who are unlikely to buy. Remember you pay every time someone clicks the link and visits your website, even if they only stay for a few seconds. Google and most other platforms will provide you with the option of integrating negative keywords into your campaign, so ensure they are part of your PPC strategy.

After these steps have been completed, you will decide on your daily budget. This can vary considerably and will really depend on how much you want to spend to bring traffic to your website. Some small businesses may only want to spend $10 a day while others may want to spend over $1,000. The good thing is that you can customize the budget to fit your needs without being forced to overspend. When getting started with PPC, you will probably want to test the waters before jumping in head first, but you should be able to invest at least a couple hundred dollars. Once you get the hang of it and start seeing larger sales revenues, you may want to invest more.

Like most business and marketing ventures, there is an inherent element of risk when it comes to PPC advertising. However, taking it slowly and learning the ropes should minimize your risk. When carried out correctly, this technique is basically like exchanging quarters for dollars and there is the potential for big earnings. In order to minimize your risk factor, it's important to do your research and you'll probably want to start off slow. This advertising medium definitely takes time to master and the first steps are often the most difficult.

Fortunately, most platforms have some type of analytics software that allows you to monitor all aspects of your campaign. As you accrue more data, you will be able to tell which keywords are bringing in traffic and getting conversions. You will also be able to tell which ones aren't working and you can simply scrap them. Typically, you will know after about a month if a certain strategy is working for you. If you see success, you can simply carry on doing what works. If not, change the formula, or move onto something else.

 
   
Ten Public Speaking Tips Top
 

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So, how many times did you have to speak in public this year? Did you enjoy the experience, or dread it? Did you avoid doing it by delegating it to someone else, and by doing so lessen your chance to get valuable exposure?

As an entrepreneur, the more chance you get to speak in public and tell the world about what your company does, and the expertise you possess, the better. This is free publicity of the most valuable kind, but too often small business owners shy away from these wonderful opportunities which could bring them valuable business.

As a new year approaches, why not think about making a resolution to get out into your business community and tell the world about your company, your products and services and above all demonstrate you are an expert in your field?

Here are ten tips to get you started. If you are still racked with fear, then pop along to your local Toastmaster's next club meeting and check them out; I guarantee everyone there was as afraid of public speaking as you are when they first joined.

  1. Remember, it's not that important - it's not the end of the world, even if your performance isn't as good as you would like. Most of the audience are probably scared of public speaking too and are thinking how good you are and didn't come along to the event to criticize.
  2. Often we believe we have to be as entertaining as David Letterman, or Jay Leno, when in reality we are setting our standards way too high - just provide useful information and you will come away a winner.
  3. Keep it simple - don't over think your presentation. Focus on a few key points and get the facts across.
  4. Don't over prepare - speak about what you know best. If you know your stuff you will be more confident.
  5. Remember, the reason you are speaking is not to get people to like you, or approve of you, but to get your message across.
  6. If the focus of your presentation is on giving something to the audience, rather than trying to sell them something, you will be well received, even if you stumble a few times.
  7. This is a biggie - be yourself - communicate as if you were chatting to someone one-on-one. Don't try to be a public speaker; be natural and speak from the heart with passion and people will respond positively.
  8. Share your own experiences with humour and humility. Honesty, integrity and openness are the best attributes a speaker can possess.
  9. Don't worry about mistakes - laugh them off, they're natural, your human.
  10. Remember your audience wants you to succeed, they are rooting for you, so relax.

Business associations, not-for-profit agencies and dozens of other organizations are always looking for speakers - take the bull by the horns and offer yourself as a speaker for January 2013 and start the year off by promoting yourself and your company.

 
   
How to Stand Out from the Crowd Top

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When you are a small business, there are some areas in which you simply cannot compete. You may not have the large sales force of a larger company for instance, or your manufacturing capacity might be significantly less than that of larger companies. However, none of this means you should blend into the background! A small business, even one with five or fewer people, can definitely get public attention in a positive way. Check out these methods for making your company stand out, and incorporate them into your marketing strategy today!

Become a Personal Resource

When you are a small company, you can make a bigger impression on the people around you by becoming a personal resource. Unlike a larger company, which has to run everything that it does through a series of protocols and filters, you can make quick decisions and respond faster. For example, if your company is an expert in its field start actively commenting on industry, customer, or special interest forums. This personal touch can permeate all your company's interactions with customers, suppliers and industry watchers. By giving back, and being more prominent in the industry and marketplace, potential customers will notice you and be more open to dealing with you.

Who Are You?

When a large company tries to emphasize its local roots, or when it tries to look very homey and welcoming, it often doesn't ring true. This is because the larger the business, the more it becomes a corporate entity and less a team of people working together towards a common goal. On the other hand, as a small business you can allow customers to get to know you at a more personal level; for instance a customer can build a relationship with a particular staff member, rather than deal with some different every time they call. Feature employee introductions on your website and make sure that your customers and potential customers know who they are dealing with.

Stand out by providing the level of personal service larger companies can only play lip service to.

Get Social

As a small business, you can have fun in your community and by doing so, get noticed. Make sure that you are active on your local online communication hubs, whether Facebook, Twitter or local sites. Perhaps, on a more personal note, you could hold an event of some sort for your customers? A realtor in Victoria B.C. for instance holds an annual customer appreciation night where there is a draw for a Mexican vacation for all those people who have used her to buy or sell a house that year, or who have referred someone. This is something that larger company cannot do effectively on a personal level. When you get to know more of the people in your home town, you'll find that they will start to see you as a part of the community, and respond accordingly.

Close Targeting

As a small business, you have the ability to specialize; look at what everyone else in your marketplace is offering, and find a niche within it that is all your own. Can you focus on a price point for a specific product, or service and offer the lowest price? Is there a specialist product, or service, within your market that no one else is offering? Small businesses are like speedboats, compared to large companies which are like oil tankers that take an age to stop and change direction. You can maneuver quickly, and at a moment's notice take advance of current market conditions. Think about what the market needs today and how you might meet that need now, while your major and much larger competitor is striking a committee to consider it.

As a small business, it is very easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about what you cannot offer; change gears and think of what you, and only you, can give to your customers.

 
   
Many a True Word Spoken in Jest Top
 

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