Sunday, August 7, 2011

Social Media Presence and Online Marketing – Best Selling Tool for Small Business

Small business owners have one common problem, cash flow! One way to increase cash flow is by improving sales volumes. Online marketing is considered as one of the best tools for increasing sales. Days have gone by when business had to wait for customers to come to them, now is the time to reach out to your customers. The market is out there, social media sites such as facebook, twitter, linkedin etc have changed the way marketing was done. The recent one is Groupon which allows you to open your own online store.

Regardless of the size of business, I guess the most important thing for any business owner is to increase its sales by reducing the cost of sale, which enables him to improve the bottom line of the business.

Of these many options, generally, small business owners prefer to go for free opportunities. Amongst the most popular is the facebook fan page. Creating one is easy, but brining the fans to the page is challenging. I was talking to Abdi Beli, Owner of Saadia’s  Kitchen (a home cooked food delivery service) who said that he operates at “zero promotional cost” by using facebook and twitter to promote his business. Abid said that it requires patience and persistence in building the community. It took Saadia’s Kitchen one year to build a community of 3000. But now fans are brings more fans – it’s the multiplier impact now!

You will be surprised to know that brands such as Coca Cola has over 33 million fans on facebook and 350,000followers on twitter. Similarly Disney has 27 million fans on facebook and over 150,000 followers on twitter. Starbucks Coffee has 24 million facebook fans and 1.5 million twitter followers.

The above phenomenon is mindboggling! These are world top brands and can spend billions on TV spots, magazine and newspaper adverts and sponsorships, but the single reason for them bring present on social media, is their recognition of this medium as the fastest growing and the most engaging platform.

Now for small business, the key is to become active on social media. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any training program that could teach you the effective use of social media, so it will be a bumpy ride, at least in the beginning.

Considering the time social media initiative can eat-up, my suggestion for small businesses is to start small – establish presence on facebook and twitter. These two are easy to use and a number of individual business owners might have been using these already for social purpose. Hence turning these into business opportunity tool will not be too challenging.

Further reading please click

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Total Web Solutions - From Worker to Owner in 5 Minutes – Meet Omair Ali

“Only five minutes were enough to transform me from an employee to an entrepreneur” Omair Ali – Owner of Total Web Solutions.

Omair Ali is a young entrepreneur running his IT company that provides website solutions and software development and maintenance services. Narrating his story Omair told me – “I had interest in software development from my student life. After completing my MIT, I opted software and web development as my career. In July 1999 I got job at a small IT company.

I wanted to learn and that was an excellent learning opportunity. In early times with this company I completed my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Optical Fiber Fusion & Mechanical Splices From RTTS also. Company was lean and there were only 2 development persons. Time was right with Y2K business opportunities and business was flowing in. In the next couple of years, the company expanded so my expertise and responsibilities too.”

Talking about the turning point in his career Omair said that, “The Owner was a young IT professional. 10 years in business, the business expanded and he was unable to manage the market demand and hence quality of our service started depleting. I was the front man facing the music from clients. I was frustrated because the company was not paying me enough and clients were also unhappy. I am a man of words, and here I was compromising my ethical values for my employer! It so happened, while I was seriously thinking about changing my job, a client advised me to start my own IT company – and that was the turning point – within the next five minutes, I was an Owner from a Manager!”

Read further: Click

Friday, August 5, 2011

Home-Based Businesses Ideal for Home Makers

In depressed economy, home-based businesses can provide an excellent alternative source of income for many. Home-based businesses are particularly suitable for mothers that are unable to go out for a 9-5 job and also qualified or technically trained girls suffering from societal restrctions and are not allowed to leave homes. Particularly with the computer and internet technology, a number of businesses that can be successfully run from home.

In my view following are few interesting benefits of working from home:

Freedom: No boss, no specific dressing, no rigid work schedule. Choose a schedule that suites your lifestyle.

Less cost of doing business: No rent, no additional utility cost, no staff management cost, no commuting cost.

Family care: Specifically for those who have responsibility for family care, this is the perfect option.

Reduced Stress: No 9-5 schedule, no traveling hassle or traffic chaos.

For the past few years, I have been engaged in youth entrepreneurship program focusing economically deprived class. My experience proved that the biggest hurdle for starting a home-based business is the lack of a practical idea.

My colleague Muhammad Yasir has compiled a list of practical ideas for starting home-based businesses. These ideas can be downloaded by clicking here.