Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.--Henry Ford Other WorkHave a Project in Mind? Vivamus suscipit tortor eget felis porttitor volutpat. Vivamus suscipit tortor eget felis porttitor volutpat. Curabitur non nulla sit...
To give you an idea, I started about a decade ago. I didn’t intend to be a small business, I was just good at something and people were willing to pay me. I think the turnaround was when I made business cards. Once I did that, I felt I had to take it seriously. I had...
TURN STRESS TO SUCCESS TURN STRESS INTO SUCCESS! 10 min or less read. What I want to do is create a short series of blogs designed to help entrepreneurs and young businesses grow. Some of the things I’m going to talk about you can do yourself, some with help, and a...
You are going to hear everything that can be said about social media if you look for it. YES, it works; Do it, NO it’s not worth the time run away from it, SEO is better: pay an expert to get you to number one, Video blog is the only way…. it goes on and on. So how do...
Why do business owners throw common sense out the window? I think of all those axioms and phrases that spew from the common-sense database of the world. Never use your own money, play it safe, diversify for stability. For most small entrepreneurs, this is the opposite...
Have a Project in Mind?
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To give you an idea, I started about a decade ago. I didn’t intend to be a small business, I was just good at something and people were willing to pay me. I think the turnaround was when I made business cards. Once I did that, I felt I had to take it seriously. I had a lot of questions and it wasn’t easy to find the answers. So that’s what I’ll be answering here; what are the things that you need, to successfully start a business in the Sacramento area.
Resource for starting a business in the Sacramento area.
If you’re grabbing a little side cash, do you need to get a license? Technically, yes. Anytime you make money in a city or county they will require you to have a permit or business license. Depending on the work, you might need multiple.
But what if you’re just doing a weekend event for a convention or a festival you’ll need a Vendor Permit? As stated previously, any time you aim to make money, you must have a permit or business license to operate. Most conventions and festivals will also require a Vendor Permit to be able to register or book your spot for them.
If you’re a vendor in the County of Sacramento you will need to apply for the county permit. If you are working within an incorporated area you’ll need to apply at city hall for a business license.
For unincorporated areas outside of Sacramento city you will go to the county website.
If you are working in these areas you will need to get you business license from their respective City Halls.
What I want to do is create a short series of blogs designed to help entrepreneurs and young businesses grow. Some of the things I’m going to talk about you can do yourself, some with help, and a few working with other businesses. As I am your “Web Guy”, this will focus on getting people to your website. Since most of the people we know have cell phones and can Google like a champ, it might be a good idea to understand how your website works!
Episode I KNOW THYSELF
So you’d think that we’d start with the website, but I have found that in and of itself it is the last bit to put into place when building your structure of success. The first place you need to look, when starting your marketing is yourself. Now before you stop reading; this isn’t self-help, build you up and tear you down, mumbo jumbo. This is Business… so look at yourself and decide which level of business you are:
There are three levels of business levels that operate on limited budgets: Yes, if you’re reading this you didn’t have the cash to pay for a 100k ad blitz on Wednesday of next week.
What Level of Business are you at?
You do all the work; you get all the jobs. From taxes, to sweeping the floors you’re a one-person show. This is mostly trades and skilled labor. From handyman, to computer repair, a power house pro is anyone who decided they didn’t want a boss, and they have the mojo to make it happen themselves.
Business on the Edge
You are doing regular work and it’s more than a single person can handle. You’ve gotten help and are able to pay them, but the profits aren’t big yet. You are probably getting some portion of your work from good referrals and directories. You should already have a website though it might not have been professionally built.
Business with the Advantage
You have reached a level where you have a pipeline of regular work, a good work force and you know your ins-and-outs enough to do well with all the paper work. Often you have trusted manager’s working with you supervising a number of individuals. Once you get here, we start talking about expanding, franchising, or exit strategy.
If you said none of the above, you are the most special snow flake that ever was born, and you’ll break the charts with your success. For the rest of us that fell roughly in one of these three camps we can start to figure out how to use the web to get what we need.
Most of us are going to start in the lower two tiers, and try to get into that “Advantage” zone. Our ad budgets are not charted out in spread sheets, and we look to $1000 or less for advertisements. The biggest catch-22 with the Powerhouse Pro is: if you get an influx of clients, you won’t be able to service them all quickly and efficiently. I know for myself when I first started I’d go door to door, and literally build one website at a time. If I had two or three I was working dusk till dawn, and definitely not happy.
So, how does this apply to my website? Slow down, Turbo, I’m getting there. You need to understand how much work you have to do to get a return on your investment. You’ll hear the big kids talk about that as R-O-I: Return On Investment. You don’t need to take big risks to try and get big returns. Your big risk is your business; you’re already doing the crazy idea by trying to do it on your own.
Here’s some questions you need to ask yourself. How much money do you make per transaction and between repeat transactions? How many transactions would you need to pay for the ad you bought, and finally: how much time does each transaction take? Think in terms of a break even for now, or a small loss.
Let’s say you’re a contractor that does concrete repair and makes a profit of about $300 per transaction. You can do about three a day with a total of about 15 in a week before your spouse starts to file. Currently you get at least three a week per referrals and networking. If you spend 3k on an advertisement you’d need ten jobs a month to cover its cost, probably 20 to have made a profit.
In ballpark terms, depending on how you advertise, that’s going to be 15 to 20 calls per month. Sounds good but not all calls are sales, and if you’re by yourself you might not be able to answer the phone in time to close a sale. At best you turned some dollars, and maybe squeaked by with a single big deal. And yes in the long term you’ll get some repeat business, but the time between transactions on this client is probably annual.
This is the facts, the tough scary facts. You start this, and even in the best, your first few years are at a loss when you advertise. But there are some things that you can do to hedge the bets. Knowing who you are, how much you have to spend, and how much you can do is only one part. Knowing your clients is the next part.
You are going to hear everything that can be said about social media if you look for it. YES, it works; Do it, NO it’s not worth the time run away from it, SEO is better: pay an expert to get you to number one, Video blog is the only way…. it goes on and on. So how do you really know. Well, I am here with the practical look at small local business.
I have found it’s not the medium but the individual. If you’re not very social IRL (in real life), as the kids say, then you’re probably not going to get far with your social media message. Yes, you might close some deals from spamming Facebook, but most small local businesses know a majority of the people in their social media circle. Nobody wants to see Aunt Ellen’s 17th post about saving 10% on her homemade preserves, especially if you already bought some. It’s cute the first five times.
Social media is meant to be social. They have paid for ads, and those can work, but that’s for another day. Today I’m talking about your own personal pages, or one for your local small business. Here’s three easy ways to build your own page.
Go into your Facebook and search for local Groups. I live in Citrus Heights CA, so I typed in “Citrus Heights Groups”. It showed me a few and I clicked the ‘show more’ link. I joined “Citrus Heights/buy/Sell/ Trade”. It had several faces I knew as it chooses groups from my network.
I am an avid comic book fan, and so I also searched some indie comics groups and joined those. Sometimes you’ll be able to post straight away, sometimes you’ll have to wait, but once you’re in start reading their posts.
Talk in groups
Once you’re in you can read some posts. Respond if you’ve got a helpful thing to say, and let people know what you do. On a post about needing 3d printing, I noted that I have a printer, and I know some local guys that do it. I also noted that I build websites, I’m not a professional 3d model maker, just have an avid interest. Guess what happened a few hours later: Someone asked me how much it would cost to build a website. You don’t need to shout 10% off if you buy now, you just need to be approachable. Be friendly and helpful, and even if you don’t get a sale, you probably made a friend.
Once you’re in the group and you have some posts you’ll notice that people may want to friend you. You’ll get requests to “like” their pages. DO IT! You can always turn off notifications if it’s something you’re not interested in, but knowing what’s going on in your community helps you chat it up. You also should invite members of the group to be your friend or like your pages.
The truth: is it free? You won’t pay any cash but you will pay with time. Nothing is free, as my father used to say: “You always pay the rent, even when you think it’s free.”
If you have any questions or need some help feel free to contact me @ 916 439 6589