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e-commerce-relation-client

Article Contributed by Lori Wagoner

At any given time, there are thousands of small business entrepreneurs looking to create a meaningful presence on the web. As you read this, some traditional businesses are finding a new home online, some “purely online” ecommerce businesses are taking birth, and the mad rush for every website out there to go mobile is only intensifying.

If you are an entrepreneur just starting out, you’ll eventually face what is called “information paralysis” – the sheer weight of information that threatens to freeze you. You aren’t responsible for this information overload, but your best bet is to absorb what matters to you and stay committed to make your ecommerce business work.

Pulling out your new ecommerce site from the hidden corners of the web and taking to stupendous popularity (and profits) is sweat-inducing, scary hard work. Slap focus together with assiduousness and your ecommerce business will see new light.

The hidden lure of conversions

There was a time when you could boast about the traffic your website has been getting over the past few months or ears and everyone would lend an ear. Today, things are different. Conversions are the new order of the day and what you do to get traffic has nothing to do with what you need to convert visitors.

If getting traffic is like meeting random strangers for fun, conversion marketing is like marriage (a lot more work goes into it). Stoney G deGeyter revealed on Pole Position Marketing that relationships are the dirty secret of sales and profits, and this applies to you even if you are an ecommerce business with only a purely online presence.

To convert, you need awareness, continual engagement, and insights about your target customers. Unlike traffic which you can pretty much “buy” with money, conversions are born out of love and engagement. You can never buy your way into your potential customers’ hearts; you can only earn it.

On being social

You know what happens to people when they are obsessed with themselves don’t you? We all realize that narcissism is a major turnoff for people in general, Yet that’s exactly some people – and most companies – end up displaying over and over again. The more you dwell on your company, products, brands, and services, the farther your customers get away from you.

As Trish Forant explains on Exact Target, there are some social media best practices that aren’t too hard to implement. Follow others, stay in the loop, be social, keep your messages succinct, be transparent, and get proactive.

You could sell the world’s best services or products but none of that is going to matter if you focus on “your” business. Instead, focus on building relationships (both online and offline). Social media is great for quick conversations and effective engagement.

A lot of businesses have a social presence. But presence isn’t enough. Seek to meet people within your network. Like, share, contribute to conversations, and then arrange to draw your audience out to a real place to meet in person.

Focus on people instead of automation

Automation or even semi-automation is awesome for your business. It helps your operations smoother and more effective with the help of technology. Yet, when you do too much of it, you are deviating from what your business should be doing in the first place: serving customers.

By all means, automate what the transactional parts of your business. For instance, if you’re an internet retailer, Shopify gives you a web-based point of sale system to ease the process of accepting payments, syncing product catalogs, and sending receipts. But stay away from automating processes that demand your personal inputs or interaction which eventually add a lot to customers’ perceived value of your business. Resist the urge to schedule too many social media updates with apps such as HootSuite or Buffer, useful though they are.

Automating critical parts of your business such as personal interactions with customers and customer service is like the owner of a retail establishment who spends most of the time inside their air conditioned office instead of being out on the floor greeting and helping out customers.

The act of showing up

The tables have turned for businesses all over the world. Today, it’s all about showing up and making contributions even before you seek that first $1. It’s all about giving rather than getting. It’s about helping before asking for help. It’s about solving problems and providing intellectual expertise rather than “pushing to sell.”

From personal branding to corporate branding, it’s about the digital hustle. Where and how do you show up?

You squeeze content out of your business, that’s how. Start with your blog, create workflows for blogging, answer questions on Quora, tweet out quick tips, and contribute with your insights on LinkedIn groups. Of course, you still have comments and forums to show up at.

Campaigns with a purpose

The lack of purpose – for companies and individuals – is an online epidemic. It’s hard to narrow down to a singular purpose, of course. Yet, it’s the common ground that most successful products, services, and brands are built.

Marketing campaigns cost you money. Get them wrong and you’d better not have spent anything at all. It could be easier if you identify the characteristics of a good marketing campaign from the outset.

Every piece of content, social media update, forum conversation, and guest blog should have a purpose. That also applies to sponsorship and advertising (ad words, social ads, or mobile ads). All that content you create, for instance, has the possibility to fall into one of the eight types of content as noted by Emily Wisely of Evolve Digital Labs.

Don’t start campaigns without a purpose. Once you determine a purpose, there’s a system in place for it. If you want to build your newsletter opt-in list, this qualifies as your purpose. The campaign would have a source (the target audience), a gateway such as landing page, and a database to store your inventory (of emails).

Your ecommerce business could very well be a miracle on servers. How wiling are you to take this up?

About the Author

Lori Wagoner is an independent content strategist who gives online marketing advice to small businesses. Lori has blogged at Tweak Your Biz, The Social Media Hat and many other business and tech blogs. You can reach her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.



 
  


10Nov

Tech Start-up Guide for New Jersey

Posted by Marcel Sim in Starting Up

Tax-Forms-new

The Jayson Law Group LLC has put together a comprehensive Guide for Tech Start-ups in New Jersey.  This guide aims help those interested in starting a tech company in New Jersey navigate the twists and turns of being a new business owner, especially within the growing tech industry.

This guide is provided as a starting point into the necessary steps in forming a New Jersey start-up and the options and incentives available to technology start-ups in the state. While your tech start-up may qualify for other more broad-based programs and services, the scope of this guide is to focus on those resources and incentives that are only available to technology start-ups.While we hope that this information can guide you, it is prudent to seek the advice of an experienced business attorney and accountant prior to making any decisions or taking action. Experienced business development professionals can help you understand how these programs can help your start-up gain its footing.

Technology Start-up Company Regulatory Checklist

Forming a start-up company is a technical legal process that is often best handled by an experienced business attorney. While there are many other aspects to planning a successful start-up, this checklist will focus on the legal and regulatory requirements New Jersey businesses face. An experienced attorney can provide guidance related to the organization of the business, registration of the business, required local permits and ordinances, business licenses and certifications, employment disputes, New Jersey insurance requirements, succession planning, and many other business concerns.

The legal form of your business entity

In New Jersey a business may be organized as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or a limited liability partnership (LLP). Businesses operated as a sole proprietorship or general partnership do not require registration at the state level, though it is advisable, unless a trade name will be used. A trade name, often expressed as doing business as (d/b/a), requires registration in the county where the business is situated. For statewide protection your company must register in each of the 21 counties of New Jersey.

Many, if not most, growing businesses soon outgrow the forgoing methods of organization because personal and business liability is commingled. If you wish to organize your business as a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or a limited liability partnership (LLP) you must Register a New Business Entity with the Division of Commercial Recording, New Jersey Department of Treasury.

Registration for tax purposes

The New Jersey Division of Revenue requires that all businesses register for tax and employer purposes regardless if the business will have employees or engage in business that requires the collection of state sales tax. New Jersey has streamlined its process and registration will also allow your company to arrange for taxes, New Jersey unemployment insurance (UI), and disability. Depending on the form of your business, you also may need to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).

View the comprehensive Guide for Tech Start-ups in New Jersey here.


How To Build A Profitable Home-based Tutorial Business

If you love to learn new things and enjoy teaching others about your new discoveries, then opening your own home-based tutorial business may be a perfect entrepreneurial match for you.

Qualifications

If you have an undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate degree, or a teaching certificate, then you are fully qualified to start. If, however, you still need some academic credentials, you can always get an online education degree.

You will have little in the way of startup costs and once you decide where you will work from in your home – for instance, making a spare bedroom into a study — and then decide on a schedule that fits in with your family’s activities, you are ready to start your business.

Specialization

Your business will flourish if you can specialize in a niche. When it comes to specialization, there are three ways to market your service: by age, by subject, or by exam. You can also combine one or two of these specialties, like specializing by age and subject.

Let’s take a look at each one in turn:

  1. Age. You can tutor little children, high school children, college-age student, or even adults. Each age group has its own set of challenges and rewards. Choose the group you feel most comfortable with.
  2. Subject. The subject you choose will depend on your interests, knowledge, experience, and skills. The highest demand for tutors is in in reading, mathematics, and science.
  3. Exams. There is also a huge market for helping students get ready for a standardized test.

Profitability

When it comes to deciding on profitability, you should teach something that is in high demand and people are willing to pay a high fee for. Because of the high stakes involved in passing a standardized exam, this is the most profitable niche.

In this niche, students need help with either exit exams or college prep exam.

  1. Exit exams.

In states like California, Florida and others, students have to pass an exit exam to get a high school diploma. Anxious parents are eager to hire a tutor to help them pass these exams because they play a huge role in determining their child’s educational future.

  1. College prep exams. 

This is another lucrative niche.

While there are a number of college prep exams, the most lucrative ones to focus on are the following:

  • SAT
  • ACT
  • SAT Subject Tests
  • AP Program exams–Advanced Placement Program
  • IB exams–International Baccalaureate.

Competition

As a business model, the field of home-based tutoring is wide-open. This is a huge, overlooked opportunity for someone who wants to create their own profitable home-base business.

There are two reasons for this unique situation:

First, most academics prefer to teach in a school or university.

Two, most entrepreneurs are more interested in selling products or offering business-oriented services.

Three, most tutoring services offered by schools and many private college prep companies are too busy to offer one-on-one private tutoring.

Because of these three reason, private tutoring is very appealing to students who need one-on-one attention to do well academically.

Getting Started

Naturally, before you start this business, you need to be clear that you have the right qualifications and that this is a business that fits your passion. If you feel that you have no problem committing to this business model, then your next step is to go through the formal process of legally establishing your business and complying with local laws on starting a business in your home.

While you will need to take some initial steps to market your tutoring business, once the word gets out among parents, you will probably not have time to do much marketing.

If your business grows beyond your time available for each student, you can always scale up your business by hiring other tutors to work for you and even moving out of your office and starting your own tutoring clinic.

 


DeadlineorAlive

New Webcomics series brought to you by #entrepreneurfail and GetEntrepreneurial.com. Enjoy!

Ravaging through the rough, grunting and seeking out the next victim….Scavenging anyone and anything that comes in the way…

No, we aren’t describing the latest wildlife channel special about predatory beasts in the jungle.  We are referring to the angry, stressed, tense new entrepreneurs on a tight deadline.  At this stage in the startup journey, fresh-faced founders may get a little anxious, as the viability of their new startups is dependent on each deadline.  Sure, you could argue that it is just the passion coming through, but this attitude could cost a new entrepreneur his/her business.

If your actions are making your employees cower in fear of being the next stop in your slaughter trail, these are a few pointers to help you:

  • Foundation
    • Ensure you have employees, partners and teammates you can trust and delegate to, without having to micromanage
    • Ensure there is a support system, including lifelines to rescue you as needed
    • Develop the infrastructure so that as deadlines come, you are not scrambling for administrative things like paper for the printer
  • Expectation Management
    • Simplify all of your project lists with these tips and reminders
    • Count the proportion of the times you say “NO” to requests and the times you say “YES” and make sure it is skewed in the direction of “NO”!
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis
    • Choose your battles wisely and select only the ones that are worth your time and energy. This is a resource that may help you quantify your time, to see if it is really worth pursuing all the deadlines on your plate.

Remember a calm mind is actually more productive than a harried, stressed and suffocated mind.  This article reminds us that staying calm, cool, and collected is highly correlated with better decisions.

How do you handle deadlines? Do you have any other suggestions that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.


visionary-2

Article Contributed by Lori Wagoner

There are all kinds of cults in this world and most have a purpose. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world agrees, disagrees, joins, or disowns cults. That, by itself, forms the cult in the first place. Cults are defined by their monomaniacal obsession to a cause (no matter how ridiculous some causes can be).

While startup communities aren’t exactly cults – in the sense that everyone within the community isn’t chanting the same mantra, taking the same path, or doing things blinded by the communal energy – it’s hard to escape from the “cult like” feeling you get. Most startups, of course, work a lot like cults according to Peter Thiel.

The startup cult sways and swoons over a few things – such as validating ideas, raising funds, pivoting at critical moments, scaling, growing, exiting, and pretty much everything else. Each of these points is debatable. A few startups repeatedly go against the grain.

Among the many hard nuggets of advice that the startup communities preach is this: never go alone at a startup. Work with a team.

Of course, not everyone works for startups. Even if some people did, they are not the best hires. Plus, startups have issues with cash flow, profits, and branding. Yet, you need the best talent you can find. You’ll need people more committed to the startup compared to doing things for their own sake.

Here are the kinds of people you must actually seek – and beg, if needed – to pull them in to work for you:

The Visionary

Maybe it’s you, or maybe you aren’t. The owner/founder’s skills should perfectly complement the skills of the team. Since we are working rats anyway, it’s easy to get lost in operations, get caught up with everyday “to do” lists and fighting fires.

But startups need boost powers, plus a long-term trajectory. Only visionaries can get you this. You’ll find them dreaming, contesting normalcy, and questioning everything. You’ll need their “looking into their crystal ball” ability. Your startup can benefit from their sheer confidence, tenacity, and leadership skills.

The Missionary

It’s a startup you are running, so whom are you kidding? The world’s best talent won’t beat the line to your door. They aren’t interested. They have plenty of options. So, stop selling that recruitment story. No one’s listening. Anything you promise about the future, is well into the future.

I can’t see. I won’t know. I won’t believe.

You could, however, communicate your compelling mission. Guess who’d be attracted to your job ad then?

The missionary – you know, the guy or gal who goes at it either because they get a kick out of it or because they totally agree with the idea of whatever it is you’re building.

The Enthusiastic Advocate

You don’t want drones working the aisles at your startup. You want passionate committed, hardworking, and dedicated people.

Even more importantly, you want people who don’t mind wearing your company branded tees all day long and also sport funny hats (with your logos on those hats).

You want to hire them for the raw energy, undying hope that wells up within them, the love they exhibit for the mini-community that your startup is, and the pride they carry while they sit out the battle.

Because the nerds can code and the creative can dream, you need enthusiasts who can turn code into apps and dreams into reality.

As a startup, you’d do well with energy, hope, love, and more.

The Sales Guy

Contrary to what you might think is right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary, you need people with raw passion and the execution prowess that today’s marketing demands. You need the sales guys. Without them, you aren’t getting customers.

Getting customers is probably the only thing you should focus on for your startup. Dan Norris, in his 7 Day Startup, writes about how startups do everything possible like hunting for VCs, hiring, attending events to do networking, validating, testing, etc. They do everything they can. Only, they don’t do marketing and sales.

That’s why you need those guys.

The Veteran

Somewhere along the line, you’ll need someone who’s been there and done that. You’ll need someone to give attention to detail. To keep the train on the right track. A lot of things have to work together to keep your startup in one piece and experience goes a long way to help make that happen.

Call these people “veterans,” “serial entrepreneurs,” or whatever, but you’d have to literally put everything on the line to get them to work for you.

It takes the “immersion” of a veteran – understanding marketing, PR, competition, and the industry as a whole, for long periods of time – for the startup to keep running, according to Bernd Schoner, author of The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide.

There are endless things you simply cannot pull off without experience.

The Execution Specialist

Trouble with running a startup today is that there are too many things vying for attention. While running on all cylinders, with the frenetic pace that a startup usually thrives in, you’d need someone who has the head to the ground and doesn’t get involved in all the talking, the dreaming, and the “I’ll fly, I’ll soar, and I’ll dominate” mentality on the office floors.

You’d need someone built for one thing only: execution. Getting things done. Shifting in-trays to out-trays faster than anyone else can.

Over to You

How do you hire for your startup? What are your shortlisting criteria? What the kinds of people are you desperately seeking? Tell us about your hiring journey!

About the Author

Lori Wagoner is an independent content strategist who gives online marketing advice to small businesses. Lori has blogged at Tweak Your Biz, The Social Media Hat and many other business and tech blogs. You can reach her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.



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GetEntrepreneurial.com is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of GetEntrepreneurial.com Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.