Small Business

Who Cares?

by Christi on August 4, 2010

Whoever cares the most wins!

Whoever cares the most about:

  • Customer Service
  • Quality Products
  • Quality Services
  • Doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it
  • Giving your customer a great experience

Do you care more than your competition? Are you willing to go the extra mile to give your customers a great experience? Are you passionate about what you are doing?

Whoever cares the most wins!

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#1 Way Your Business Can Save Money

by Christi on August 2, 2010

save money

Don't let your money fly out the window!

What is one of the best ways your small business can save money? Do it right the first time! Sounds easy, right? However, many businesses waste a lot of money on having to re-do or re-try things that they just didn’t get right. Why didn’t they get it right? Maybe, they needed to do more research, talk to more people, work on their plan.

Everyone has probably had that feeling of  “Wish I’d have known this when I started.” Don’t you hate that? This week, let’s all vow to do it right the first time. Take the time to do the research and ask the right questions.

One great resource for research is your Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC in our area is located in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They provide fantastic research and analysis for small businesses for free! Can’t beat that. To locate an SBDC near you check out the SBDC locator.

Also, read relevant news for your industry. See what is current and updated information. If you are looking for resources outside your business, ask for references and get referrals. Talk to your customers and get their ideas.

This week let’s save some money and DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

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Great New Resource!

by Christi on July 16, 2010

You may remember reading some great articles on this blog written by Herb Lawrence, director, at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at Arkansas State University – Jonesboro. Well, great news – Herb has just started his own blog offering some very valuable information for small businesses. You can find the blog at:

http://www.asbtdc-asu.com

Already, Herb has written some great articles about finance, financial analysis, and market research for small businesses and will be adding some more articles a few times a week that can really help your small business.

Hope you’ll go on over and visit the ASBTDC-ASU blog today!

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Market Research Part II – Customers Buying Habits

by Herb Lawrence on March 26, 2010

Arkansas State University – Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center Director, Herb Lawrence contributes another great article on knowing your potential customers:

Market Research Part II Learning about Your Potential Customers Buying Habits

Last week I introduced some of the resources that the ASU SBTDC consultant use when conducting Market Research about a particular industry, I hope you found it helpful.  Today I want to focus on effective market research tools to help learn more about your potential customers and how they buy.

Consumer market research tells my entrepreneur:

  • How many potential customers are in the trade zone
  • How much they will spend on a product or service
  • Where they are located
  • What demographic, socio-graphic or other factors influence buying decisions and how to break the market into homogenous sub groups to target

The first place my consultants start is at Hill Search, the James J. Hill on Line Reference Library for a lot of our clients initial market research needs. Three separate Hill Library resources that we access include:

  • DemographicsNow database -provides extensive demographic information about households and basic consumer expenditure data on trade zones (by zip code, town, county, MSA, state or region).
  • Hill Library New Strategist Demographic eBooks, over 30 on-line books with specific information about how much consumers spend on a wide variety of products and services broken out by demographic sub categories.  One example is “Who is Buying Apparel” and “Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand” eBooks to get detailed expenditure information on jewelry by a variety of demographic sub categories including income, age, education, and more.  This information combined with the county household demographics will determine not only overall county demand for a product or service and segment the households to find out who the best potential customers may be.
  • Hill Library Special Issues database, for industry reports outlining the trends of the past year and forecasts for the coming year.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center network offices are all paid members of the Hill Search Library which means that their clients have access to all of this data through the center at no charge.  Plus the ASBTDC staff provides free assistance in analyzing the data and helping the client make decisions based on the information.  There is no charge to be a client, nor for any assistance through the centers.

Finding good, reliable market research data is possible.  It is just a matter of knowing where to look.  The Hill Library is an excellent tool, or using the free services of the ASBTDC to help develop initial market research.     Next week, “drilling down” to find customers in your trade zone using Dominant Tapestry Segmentation programs.

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Market Research – The Most Critical First Step

by Herb Lawrence on March 15, 2010

This post is contributed by Herb Lawrence, director at ASU’s – Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center:

Recently Christi asked me to contribute posts to her great blog about small business issues, and after listening to her recent radio interview with Margaret Banks about turning Passion into Profits; I thought the first group of posts should cover resources for entrepreneurs to get a better understanding of their business to determine whether their idea was feasible.  At the Arkansas State University Small Business and Technology Development Center, my consultants help a new client by conducting market research.   Our consultants concentrate on 4 primary areas initially:  Industry Information, the Market Place – consumer trends, competitive analysis and financial benchmarking.  In this post I want to share some of the best sources we use to get a better “feel” of the industry.

A good working knowledge of the industry your venture will operate in is a critical first step.  The key is to find good reports that cover current economic conditions, trends within the industry, issues important to business owners in that industry, and the overall distribution channel.

My consultants start our industry research out with 4 sources:

First Research http://firstresearch.com

Hill On-Line Library www.hillsearch.org

National SBDC library www.sbdc.net.org

Data Monitor reports at www.marketresearch.com, and

The best source for a concise overview that we have found is First Research.  A 12-15 page overview for the industry including:

  • competitive landscape,
  • sales & marketing issues,
  • current finance & regulations impacting the industry, and
  • human resource issues.

It also has a section on recent developments (updated quarterly to ensure current information) and current business challenges that the industry is facing, as well as benchmarking financial information, forecasting, and links to other sources.

Our consultants pull First Research reports on the client’s specific business as well as businesses in the distribution chain to include wholesalers, manufacturers and complimentary types of business.  First Research reports run from $130 to $250 per report.

Professional trade journals are another good source of current industry information. The ASU SBTDC uses the Hill On-Line Reference Library’s Special Issues section to find current information from trade journals these journals often have quarterly or annual “State of the Industry” reports accessible through the Hill Library.  For research in multiple professional journals, Hill can be a more cost effective option to purchasing from individual journals.  Hill Library annual subscription is $225 and allows the subscriber to access a wider variety of reports most included at no additional cost as part of the annual subscription.

SBDCNet is an on-line library for Small Business Development Centers to research client information on a variety of industries.  Although primarily for SBDC offices, the general public can access SBDCNet and has limited ability to pull reports.

Finally, Market Research.Com’s DataMonitor reports are an excellent (although very expensive) source for detailed industry data as well as recent studies on different consumer issues.  Data Monitor reports can be ordered from their website and run anywhere from $500 to over $5,000 depending on the type of report.

Obviously there are many resources available to a small business to conduct research but these four are great places to start.  While the cost can be quite high for a small business owner the “intelligence” provided is invaluable.

In Arkansas any small business can receive information from any of these sources through their local Small Business and Technology Development Center, and by signing up as a client this information is free of charge as part of our market research projects with our clients.  For more information about how you can access any of these sources through the Arkansas SBTDC feel free to shoot me an e-mail; [email protected], call our office (870)  972-3517, join us on Facebook www.facebook.com/asu.sbtdc or make a request using the comment section on the blog.  We would love to hear from you and see how we may be able to help your business.  If you are outside of Arkansas we can direct you to the nearest SBDC in your part of the country.

Next time I will show you some great sites and resources to start conducting research on your potential customers.

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Info from The Margaret Banks Show

by Herb Lawrence on March 13, 2010

AS promised on The Margaret Banks radio show, I am posting links to information that was discussed during the program. On the program we discussed “Turning Your Passion Into Profit.” If you missed the program, you can listen to it with audio on demand from Mountain Talk 97 Radio during the week of March 15th.

  1. Facebook ABC’s for Business – Get Your Profile Set Right
    Tuesday March 16, 2010, 02:00PM
    Ends:     Tuesday March 16, 2010, 05:00PM
    Event Type:     Training/Seminar
    Location:     Room 107 McLain Hall, ASU Mountaiin Home
    1600 S College St
    Mountain Home, AR 72653 US
    Price:     $35 per person ($25 Mountain Home Chamber members, $20 ASU MH faculty, staff or students)
    Register at:     http://asusbtdc.ualr.edu/training/jonesboro.asp
    Intended For:     Small business owners, managers of non-profits, anyone wanting to expand their marketing opportunities with social media
    Organization:     Arkansas State University Small Business and Technology Development Center

    Seminar for small businesses and non-profits to learn how to use Facebook as a tool for marketing their organization. These session walks attendees through basics of setting up their profiles before starting a Facebook Page. Topics include Why Facebook? What is Social Media Marketing and how can my organization use it? Setting friend lists, privacy settings, keywords for search engines and more. This seminar will be taught by Joe and Christi Wharton of Wharton Marketing located in Arkansas and Louisiana.

  2. Who Owns Your Website?
    Blog article with information you need to know to have control of one of your best business assets – your website!
  3. Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center
    The source for all of that great information including feasibility studies. Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center provides assistance to start up and existing businesses throughout Northeast and North Central Arkansas through quality consulting, training and research – at no charge. Not in Arkansas? Check here to find the SBDC nearest you.
  4. Internet Marketing Pays Off For Small Business
    Blog article with information on how small businesses are increasing revenue with the use of internet marketing.
  5. SEO
    Lots of SEO information is available on this blog and our Facebook page. If you would like to talk to us about SEO, contact us at [email protected] or call us at 870-404-1985.

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Meet Herb Lawrence

by Herb Lawrence on March 3, 2010

Herb Lawrence, ASU-SBTDC Center DirectoryI  will be posting regular contributions on issues of interest to small businesses and entrepreneurs.  Look for weekly posts on a variety of topics.  I thought it best that my first post for 2010 should be a little background on me and on the work I do at Arkansas State University Small Business and Technology Development Center.  I apologize in advance if it looks like an “info-mercial” but thought it a good idea to give readers an idea of what I do and how we assist small businesses.

The Arkansas State University Small Business and Technology Development Center, ASU SBTDC, is part of a statewide net­work of seven cen­ters work­ing out of uni­ver­si­ties across the state. We offer eco­nomic devel­op­ment help to start-​up and exist­ing busi­nesses through con­sult­ing, train­ing work­shops & sem­i­nars, as well as mar­ket research assis­tance. Our assis­tance areas include:

  • fea­si­bil­ity studies
  • busi­ness plans
  • mar­ket research
  • finan­cial analysis
  • loan pack­ag­ing
  • marketing
  • e-​commerce and social media marketing

All of our con­sult­ing assis­tance and mar­ket research is free of charge and com­pletely con­fi­den­tial. Our train­ing sem­i­nars gen­er­ally do have reg­is­tra­tion fees from $25 to $49 depend­ing on the type of seminar.

I have been the cen­ter direc­tor at ASU SBTDC for over four­teen years help­ing entre­pre­neurs and small busi­nesses in a fif­teen county area with a vari­ety of busi­ness needs. For more infor­ma­tion about how the ASBTDC can help your busi­ness please visit our state web­site, shoot me an e-​mail or join us on Facebook. We would love to talk to you about your busi­ness and how we might work with you.

I will be post­ing weekly arti­cles on a vari­ety of top­ics that are gen­er­ally of inter­est to our small busi­ness clients. I hope they will prove use­ful to you. We need your opin­ion so let me know what you think. I thought a good way to start would be to dis­cuss a topic that has caught the inter­est of a lot of our small busi­ness clients, Social Media Marketing. Look for that arti­cle next week about how social media marketing can work for your business.

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Internet Marketing Pays Off For Small Businesses

by Joe B on November 17, 2009

Small businesses have slashed their marketing budgets in light of the recession, but those that are increasing spending and focusing on internet channels are increasing their business and thriving.

What kind of internet marketing are these businesses spending their money on that is getting these results? Check this out this study from Hurwitz & Associates:

What is your small business doing? Are you taking advantage of the great opportunities offered by the internet? Need help? Contact us at Wharton Marketing!

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Are You Providing What They Want?

by Joe B on November 13, 2009

It is interesting to read studies and find information that kind of jumps out at you. In the 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study by business.com, we find just that. According to the study, the most popular social media resource for businesses are webinars and podcasts. That rings true with us. We often attend webinars and podcasts to keep up with the latest that is going on in our industry.

Popular Social Media Resources

Popular Social Media Resources

However, when we look further, we see what most businesses offer, and it doesn’t necessarily match up with how most businesses use social media. For instance, we see, while businesses love to attend webinars and listen to podcasts, most don’t offer webinars and postcasts themselves.

Popular Social Media Initiatives

Popular Social Media Initiatives

I smell opportunity here, how about you?

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Small businesses are much more likely to use social media than large businesses according to the 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study.

Small Businesses are more likely to use social media

Small Businesses are more likely to use social media

Why is that? The report does not look into the reasons, but I think there a few reasons that are obvious. Many larger companies ban social media use by their employees out of the fear that employees will squander work time. These fears have been seen before as far back as adopting the use of the telephone!

Small businesses may find it easier to adopt new media because they are more flexible. Large companies are like big ships. They are big and bulky and it takes them time to turn and maneuver. Small businesses are more like speed boats that can maneuver quickly around obstacles and adjust quickly.

The fact that small businesses are more likely to use social media gives them a great advantage. They can communicate directly with their customers and potential customers easily. They can create podcasts and webinars without big production costs that large companies would, no doubt, find a way to spend. Rather than being a faceless, nameless, large company, small businesses can use social media to be in touch in a personal way through social media.

Is your business using social media? If you need help getting started. Contact us at Wharton Website Design and Marketing, and we will be happy to help you out.

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