Tips from QuickBooks to Help You Grow Your Business
Serving a Niche:
There are dozens of businesses that offer identical services or products out there. Make yours stand out by serving a niche market. But how can you decide which products or services to offer? Start by asking yourself the following questions:
What niche markets exist in my area of expertise? What needs do people have?
What type of specialty product or service could fill those needs? Does a specialty product or service like that already exist?
If not, can I design one? Improve upon an existing one?
By developing a niche product or service in a market where you have experience, you can better understand your market and provide a service that few, if any, can top.
Outsourcing Your Work Can Save You Time and Money:
Accounting. Office management. Marketing. IT. Operations. Running your own business requires so many hats, and it can be difficult to juggle them all successfully. Even if you can't afford to hire five full-time employees to help you run your business, you can still get help.
Outsourcing the work to contractors or freelancers can be an affordable solution to keeping your business running smoothly. Many freelance websites provide professionals in different fields that can help you on a project or hourly basis.
Increasing Sales the Easy Way:
You know there's no secret to effortless sales — just a lot of hard work and a little luck. But you can get some advice on tried and true tools that can boost your bottom line.
1. Website. Every business needs a website. It doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles, but it should be well-designed and professional.
2. Brochure. Many people are visual and like to have an easy-to-digest form to help them make the decision about whether to buy from you. A simple 3-fold brochure can get across the message you're trying to convey, which should be what you offer and what solutions you provide your customers.
3. Advertising. The world of advertising is ever-expanding. You have so many options: online, print, television, radio...the list goes on. Today, internet advertising is typically the cheapest and most flexible option. You can place ads on websites and blogs that pertain to your company's industry and
Where to Get Money:
Banks aren't the only source for business financing these days. Depending on your situation, you have several sources you can look to for funding your business's growth. See which of these is right for your company.
Friends and Family: If you have close contacts with cash, consider asking them to invest in your company, either loaning you the money to be repaid, or in exchange for equity in the company.
Bank Loans: Probably the most traditional form of commercial finance, a bank loan can provide you the money you need, and you won't have to give up control of your company to get it.
Angel Investors: Angel investors, private individuals who provide funding to companies, serve two purposes: they get you the money you need and serve as mentors. They may require equity in your company.
Grants: Grants are sums of money awarded to finance a particular activity or facility. Generally, these grant awards do not need to be paid back. Federal agencies and other organizations sponsor grant programs for various reasons, such as the ability to fit your business's proposed activities within the grantmaker's interest areas.
Getting a Grant to Grow:
As a small business owner, you may be eligible for a variety of financing options provided by the Small Business Administration and other organizations. Grants are great because they're free money. Typically grants are designed for business owners in a specific niche, such as technology, veteran-owned, women-owned, and minority-owned.
If you qualify, getting a grant you don't have to pay back affords your business the opportunity to grow. But know that grants can be hard to get. You're often competing with hundreds of other qualified businesses, and one small mistake in the application process can disqualify you.
Also note that the Small Business Administration does not offer grants to start or expand small businesses, though it does offer a wide variety of loan programs. While the SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments.
Do You Accept Credit Cards?
New business owners tense up when they are asked this question. In the early days of setting up shop, creating a business checking account, managing financials and being able to accept credit card payments seems daunting. It doesn't have to be.
The right merchant service solution can process credit cards easily. If you use QuickBooks for your finances, QuickBooks Merchant Service is one option that can integrate with your QuickBooks software.
See how you grow:
While having more sales than you can handle may sound great, if you don't manage it well, your product or service may suffer — and that's when you risk losing important customers. Plan for growth before it happens so that your business doesn't experience a hitch when you skyrocket to success.
Is your facility large enough to handle inventory for growing sales? If not, make plans to add space or move to a larger facility.
Do you have enough staff to handle busy seasons (before the season hits)? If not, consider hiring temporary help to keep the business running smoothly.
Is your operations team equipped to handle growing responsibilities? If not, hire an accountant, a manager or whomever you need to ensure every job gets done properly.
Every business can stand to improve. That's what keeps competition alive and kicking! Assess your business's areas of operations regularly (every 6 months or year) to find areas you can make better.
Is every customer service call being answered promptly? Do you have a high rate of returned products?
Is your overhead costing your customers too much? Do you get complaints about store employees?
Do your accounting procedures need an overhaul?
By asking yourself these types of questions, you can easily see where you can make a few small changes to make a big difference to the company.
Getting a Testimonial:
You already know that a testimonial is worth its weight in gold. Testimonials on your website can assure potential customers that you're great at what you do. Don't be afraid to ask for a testimonial! Here's how.
Choose your best three to five customers. Send them an email asking if they would be comfortable giving you a testimonial and write one for them. Include information relevant to their experience with you. They of course can write their own, but some people would prefer to review what you've written and approve it. Make it easy!