Doing Business In the Age of Information Technology

As a former employee of a business consultancy firm for the past 8 years, it has always intrigued me as to why some small businesses or practices were more ‘successful’ than others. By ‘successful’ I am referring to a business that has survived its first year of establishment and turned it into a profit-making business the years after. My mentor once told me that in order for a business to survive profitability, it must continue to create value.

Creating Value Through Strategies

In today’s competitive business environment, the only way for your business to prosper is to create value through strategies. You have to prioritize your business strategies depending on the type of industries you are in. Nevertheless, there are some strategies which are generally applicable to a wide range of businesses, namely:

(1) Segment Your Market

(2) Create a Unique Product

(3) Sales and Marketing

(4) Evaluation and Feedback

(5) Selective Outsourcing

(6) Develop Hybrid Skills

(7) Building Partnerships and

(8) Exploit Information Technology.

As the nature of my business is to provide e-business solutions for small- and medium-size businesses, I’d limit my writings to my area of interest i.e. e-business and its significance in today’s marketplace.

Exploit Information Technology

One the best ways to leverage your time and resources is to let information technology do the work for you! The great benefit of today’s information technology, particularly Internet, is that it allows easy access to information and knowledge just a click away regardless whether you are running a small business or managing a corporation. Internet helps us to level the playing field.

How many times have we heard someone say, “Just check the Web.” Many of us have begun using Internet to conduct our day-to-day chores as compared to 10 years ago when Internet is still in its infancy stage. We now use Internet to buy cars, upgrade software, track shipments, store data, compare prices, conduct research and much more. This trend is growing at an immense pace and will continue through the next decade. Our reliance on its capabilities will increase. Many experts believe that this sector is projected to be one of the top strategies to jump-start and grow a business in the coming decade. Even Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Inc. has eloquently put it, “If your business is not on the web today, you won’t be in business….

Beyond the Brick-and-Mortar Business

Brick-and-Mortar business can simply refer to a business with a physical presence – which offers “human-touch” experiences i.e., a consumer could feel and touch the merchandise before purchasing. This model of business is no longer viable in today’s world. But before you jump into the deep end of e-business change and began shifting the model of your business towards Click-and-Order, you should bare in mind that doing business online alone, is not going to bring any significance results.

Take the example of Napster and iTunes. Both companies offer similar services by selling music online. While Napster is an online only business, iTunes on the other hand, is associated with the Apple brand image. iTunes is more successful than Napster because the business can be seen beyond the monitor. Though both market an invisible product, music in this case, the business with a physical presence has an advantage.

Here’s a formula for the digital age: (brick-and-mortar) + (click-and-order) = click-and-brick

It’s no doubt that the next trend of business model is towards the click-and-brick pattern, a combination of online/offline business model incorporating both physical and online business practices. If your business were to survive the first year of its establishment, perhaps it’s about time to take a paradigm shift and take a leap ahead of your competitors.

What Is Your Business Saying Behind Your Back?

What message are you trying to send to your existing and potential clients and is the message they are getting the same message you are trying to send? When you become a business owner you have an obligation to your business, and more importantly yourself, to ensure the messages your business is sending reflect your core values and beliefs.

Core values in business quite often reflect the personal beliefs and values of the business owner. How you utilize those values in your marketing efforts will determine how your potential and existing clients view you and your business. Here are just a few ways you are communicating your values to others:

Business Name:
The first contact others have with you and your business is your business name. When you answer the telephone, meet others in person or send out marketing materials, your name is an essential component of that “introduction”. Having a good solid business name you can stand behind is one of the most important business tools you need to create a thriving business.

Slogans or Taglines:
A slogan or tagline is an extension of your business name and allows you to further define your business. Just as your business name needs to be a name you can stand behind, so must your slogan or tagline. Try to stay away from cutesy taglines unless it is the image you are trying to send to a potential client.

Symbols:
Many people exert great effort and energy when choosing a name that will reflect their personality but forget that the core values that drew them to their name needs to extend into any logos or other symbols they use to parlay that name. Be careful when choosing symbols to ensure they present a consistent and solid ideal. For example having never been to Sue’s Restaurant, if Sue uses curving letters that look like calligraphy in her logo a person might conjure up an image of a high class restaurant yet block style letters will conjure up a completely different image of a family type restaurant.

Marketing Campaigns:
Always ensure your values speak through your marketing campaigns. These campaigns include brochures, business cards, Web sites and so on. For many the first contact they have with your company will not be a personal one so your marketing materials need to communicate your message. Have others read your marketing materials and tell you in their own words what your company stands for. Their “synopsis” will reveal whether or not you have “hit the mark” with your marketing materials.

How You Speak:
Many people act professionally on the telephone or in person, but forget they should exude the same professionalism at all times. Remember that what you are saying, whether in forums, blogs, articles or books reflects upon you as much as if you were talking to the person in public. Be careful not to “air your laundry” in public forums or blogs as the Internet allows anyone to see how you handle yourself both professionally and personally. Remember as a business owner you always, always represent your business and not just yourself. It is okay to have an opinion on something, but does that opinion reflect how you want others to see you and your business?

How You Dress and Act in Public gatherings
Not only is speaking an important part of conveying your business to others, but so is how you act and dress. Take once last look in the mirror before leaving for any function to ensure the image looking back at you is the image you want others to see. Also, keep in mind that even if you are not attending a formal function, you are still representing your business even if you are just running to the corner store. How likely are you to run into a client or potential client along the way?

The key to creating a thriving business is ensuring that your business reflects your core values in everything you say and do. Make sure when your business is “talking behind your back” it is saying the things you want it to be saying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Yvonne Weld is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Thriving Business and is the owner of ABLE Virtual Assistant Services. Have you truly created a thriving business? Could your business survive any obstacle thrown at it? Start now to create a thriving business by creating your own business manual. To download your free copy of the 13 areas you should consider when creating your own business manual visit http://www.ableva.com

Are You Ready For A Home Based Business?

Today many people are currently unsatisfied in their careers and are looking for opportunities to work at home. A home based business can have so many rewards, no boss, more income, less stress and spending more time with your family to name a few. The solution for this desire is quite simple, find the perfect work at home opportunity that meets your goals and interests.

Locating the right work at home opportunity isn’t very difficult. Everyone is unique and has their own gifts and talents. Learning your gifts and talents in the business world,will help you decide what type of home based business you will do best.

The perfect home based business should include your interests. Any home based business requires that you be a “Self Starter” and motivate yourself to do better then working for that lousy boss you had at your last job.

Anyone can easily create a work at home opportunity, but finding a home based business that can financially support you is a lot harder to come by. You can look for a business that offers telecommuting opportunities that allow you to work at home The benefit of working at home in these types of careers is a safer, more secure revenue stream then owning your own business. The down side, your still working for someone else.

So your ready to start your own work at home business, and you have a concept you may like to do, then your ready to do some research. It’s very important that you, focus on what you want to do before going through the vast amount of home based business opportunities advertised all over the Internet. A great place to start is with a reputable work at home directory, such as [http://homebasedbusinesslistings.com]. A legitimate home based business directory can save you a great deal of time and energy as they have already done the research for you and will help steer you away from online scams.

Although running your own business may sound easy, motivation, determination and initiative are all very important characteristics of a successful home-based entrepreneur.

Here is the basic concept for running any successful home based business.

1st – Have an idea of what kind of items or service you would like to offer

2nd – Do the research on your competitors and see how your business can get noticed and stand out.

3rd – Getting started, how to get your plan in motion.

4th – Bigger is better, knowing your competition is key. Your goal is always to be bigger and better.

The setup process in building a lucrative business seems like it gets more difficult as you go, but if your committed and stay the course your business will soar.

In the first step of creating a home based business you need an idea or a concept and determine what you would like to do. The types of home based businesses vary greatly. You can take any interest or idea and turn it into a sales and service oriented business. You can also find a preexisting home based business opportunity that has a well thought out business model with great support and use it as a stepping stone. One of the hottest ideas right now is selling products through auction sites. Home based opportunities like http://eprofitsource.net have taken this idea to the next level, allowing you to sell any type of products or services that your interested in. Partner yourself with a business opportunity that you are interested in, and success is sure to follow.

The next step in creating a home based business is researching other businesses that offer what you are planing to offer. Market research can help you to figure out what will make your home based business idea unique. Whether it’s just finding out price points or marketing strategies, knowing your competition is a key to success.

The third big step with setting up a successful work at home business is getting paid by your customers. This area generally requires the ability to get people to understand why your service or product is important . If it’s your low cost, let them know what your competitor is selling it for, if it is a service , let them know the benefits of choosing you over your competition.

The fourth step is how you keep your business a success. Non stop research for what other businesses are doing will help you to provide better services and products for your customers. Always remember to scout for any new competitors, because if they’re as smart as you, they’ll be watching you too.

You may find that one step is usually simpler for one person than another. The simplest way to guarantee that your home based business allows you to reach your goals is to plan well and always be ready to meet your customers needs. As change is always inevitable, the work at home business that can change and grow, will always be the one that stays on top.

The last ingredient to running a successful home based business is you. If you want to keep your home based business going you must believe in yourself and what it takes to succeed. Its always a huge step when your making the decision to start a home based business, but use that “old” fuel of frustration and failure to remind you that you have what it takes to succeed, desire & determination.