Many businesses start as one person’s idea. The creator is often an entrepreneur who spots a gap in the market or a commercial opportunity. S/he turns the idea into a marketable product or service. There are four main types of business: manufacturing, wholesale, retail and service. Of course, you don’t have to set up your own enterprise to be an entrepreneur. Being entrepreneurial simply means developing the right skills, attitudes and initiatives to make an innovative contribution to an organization. Some characteristics found in successful entrepreneurs, show they are:
Calculated Risk Takers
Willing to push through adversity
A step ahead of competition
Need based Contributors
Small businesses are vital to the success of the economy. Not only as they provide the success stories of the future, but also because they meet local needs (i.e. hairdresser, financial consultant, emergency plumber). They serve the needs of larger businesses through services like photography, printed stationery, catering and routine maintenance. Most United States businesses today are small. Two thirds of U.S businesses are owned and run by one person, and 90% of businesses employ less than 6 people. They are also an important source of employment, and account for 57% of the American private-sector’s employees. It is from these small companies that tomorrow’s big names will probably arise. Indeed, even names like Bill Gates, Oprah, and Vera Wang were originally enlisted in the ranks of small business entrepreneurs. The bottom line is that these people saw a need, developed an innovative way to meet that need, and did the ground work to get their method to consumers. My question is why couldn’t we do the same? Even in smaller towns, where the variety of needs is much smaller, there is opportunity in the unique characteristics of your community that can give you leverage over a broader market. For example, locally we have the resource of being located on the Gulf Coast. According to the Census Bureau, 39% of Americans live in coastal counties, which is large given only 10% of counties are classified as coastal. However, that means 61% of Americans would consider access to the Gulf a commodity. 61% of Americans is nearly 191.5 million people. A good entrepreneur could easily find a way to access that market through services like: beach rentals, guided fishing excursions, or the sale of beach memorabilia. This is where entrepreneurs have to find ways to market their business to customers. More and more small businesses are turning to the Internet as a marketing device. When living in a small town, It is easy to forget that there are prospective clients out there both nationally and globally that can’t access your local advertising. Businesses miss out on these potential clients when they only advertise at a local level. The web is a great tool to cost effectively access and engage those prospects. If your business does not have some form of website, then you are missing out on customers. According to a recent government survey, 60% of Americans have internet access, and 63% say they expect to locate information and services they are interested in via the internet. So, without a website you have lost influence over sixty percent of the American market, and that doesn’t even compare to what you are leaving on the table globally. E-Commerce was reported to top 1 trillion dollars in sales this past year, and is projected to grow over 18 percent in 2013. What does this mean for you, the reader? I think that there are two very specific things that this information should cause you to consider:
First, you need to find ways to make your business a factor in the world market. Even though your primary source of income may be based locally, you should have some aspect or sector of your business that is accessible on a global scale, and it may take you stepping back and taking some time to discover something to offer. Setting aside some time in your work week, just to brainstorm for marketing ideas, should be a line item in your business plan.
Second, you need to realize that a website simply is not enough. You need a marketing strategy for your website. Your website is representing your business at a 24 hours a day/365 days a year capacity. It needs to be up to date, and it needs to be maximized as a resource. In 2013, more people will use their phone to access the web than their PC, so your website should be smartphone friendly. Also, social media is growing on a global scale, and your website needs to be a part of that because, especially at a local level, it allows your social life to broadcast your business. Another important thing to keep in mind, is that If you are experiencing a low amount of traffic, then you need to consider ways to make your website more searchable. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of making your website more likely to appear on search engines like Bing or Google. For many people, SEO is a completely foreign concept, but is is one you should become more acquainted with because it will only continue grow in importance.
Some additional resources that can help you accomplish web-commerce are sites like Etsy,Word Press, Ebay, and Constant Contact. Don’t forget to utilize social media like Facebook and Twitter by linking them to your other web ventures.
There are no substitutes for having an excellent product, or providing excellent service, but hopefully I have provided you with some solid supplements to both. Be sure to let me know what you think of this article. I would love answering any questions you might have, or addressing topics you are interested in for future articles.