Complex Business Solutions and Simple Applications

Programming business solutions into your company from scratch is a very long and arduous process. Even with a competent IT department, the actual development of an application is not easy to come up with. The hours of employee time that it takes to create the technically challenging programs can be exhaustive. This, obviously, is not very cost effective and it detracts from the work that is normally done by the IT staff.

Running software programs that are specifically designed to take those difficult situations and turn them into easy, point and click solutions is a much more cost effective idea. These are programs that have already been exhaustively created, tested, reworked, and made to be applicable for any business. Yet, there are many business owners that are unsure of whether or not this is a fast and effective way to solve their issues.

Technology in business has become so commonplace that most of the time there is little understanding of what actually goes into its creation. The companies that are able to produce this software and run a reliable service for various companies have invested a great deal of time and money into the process. This benefits your business because that is time and money that you do not have to apply while gaining the easy solution that you require.

How can one software program offer solutions to so many different issues and still be effective? This is what cloud computing is all about. The original program is designed to solve a specific problem and the additional issues are resolved through the cloud. This means that you can take on the additional applications that are required for your business to run smoothly and effectively. Because it is run on the cloud concept, you are not required to take on anything that you don’t find beneficial. Applications that are useless should not have to be required in a package purchase.

For small to medium businesses, the idea of creating this sort of wide spread problem solving software is overwhelming. There are many different software programs that offer a wide range of applications. The time devoted to research and software comparison is hardly a fraction of the time that would be devoted to the creation of such software from scratch.

As technology gains its place in the market and businesses come to rely on technological advancement more every day, the continued development of additional simple to integrate applications will help to continue to improve the outlook for small to medium businesses everywhere. The growth of such development will only serve your company more as you will continue to have easy solutions to those complicated problems.

How to Open a Small Business Bank Account

Business bank accounts offer many benefits, even if you own a small one-person business. Keeping your personal and business finances separate is essential and of course makes bookkeeping easier. You will appreciate this even more during tax time.

With a business bank account, you will also be able to write checks and accept customer payments to your business name, something that shows clients and business associates that you conduct business in a professional manner. You gain respect and trust. In addition, having a relationship with a bank can help you establish credit, get a business credit card and even obtain financing if needed.

Just like any other product or service, before opening a bank account, you want to shop around to compare banking services. Do you want to save money with a basic account that charges minimal fees? Are you looking for additional merchant services, financing or hands-on customer service? Do you want to be able to conduct all of your banking activities online or take advantage of online bill pay services? Consider the conveniences you want, and then ask banks what they offer small businesses – just in case you missed something.

When you have decided which bank you want to work with, set up an appointment to open an account with the banker. You will need to prove that you own a business, which means that you will need to provide documentation to the bank. The documentation required will depend on the structure of your business.

If you operate your business as a sole proprietor with a fictitious business name (you have not incorporated your business or formed a partnership), you will need to show a certified copy of the fictitious name certificate to the bank. You get a fictitious name certificate from your city or county clerk after you have applied for and received your fictitious business name.

Many start-ups and one-person businesses operate using the sole proprietor business structure, as this is the simplest structure to use.

If you run your business as a corporation and want to open a corporate bank account, you will need an Employer ID Number. You would also need an Employer ID Number if your company will be hiring and paying employees. You obtain an Employer ID Number from the IRS, and you can complete the application form at their website. You will also need to bring your certificate of incorporation, corporate seal, corporate resolution and photo ID.

Opening a business bank account can be as easy as opening a personal account, and it does not necessarily cost a lot of money. In fact, you may be able to open a basic business bank account for free.

Small Business Marketing Strategies for Tackling Big Competitors

One of the great challenges facing small business owners is that they must often battle for customers against larger competitors, who can afford to run more advertising, offer lower prices, and who are better established in the marketplace.

And yet some small business owners do it very successfully. How?

There are some proven marketing strategies to use when competing against larger, more established competitors. These strategies have been used successfully by companies of all sizes to drive sales and carve out a sustainable position in the market. They apply to online commerce and traditional small businesses.

Here are details on two such strategies that you can use as a small business owner to help grow your business when competing with larger competitors:

Take the “Alternative” Position

If you are up against the market leader in your business, shift your market position so you don’t compete directly with them on their turf. Become the “alternative” to the market leader – that is, promote and advertise an aspect of your product/service that the leader simply can’t offer. This is a classic marketing strategy that has been used successfully by small companies and major corporations, because it allows you to compete with the leader in a part of the market where they may not be very strong.

Pepsi couldn’t beat Coke at the cola wars, because Coke was viewed as the original cola drink that had no substitutes. That was fine with Pepsi. It let Coke have that territory, and instead marketed itself as the “Choice of a New Generation”. Its marketing appeal and target audience was young and cool – everything that Coke couldn’t be with their more traditional positioning. Pepsi successfully carved out the number 2 position in the market by becoming the primary alternative to Coke, and made billions in the process.

The rule applies to everything from .com companies to local furniture stores. Survey the competitive landscape in your market and determine how you can position your business as the best alternative to the established market leader. Second place in a given market can be a very nice place to be from a profitability standpoint.

Sell what they don’t have – You!

Many small business owners have found success by building their personal reputations as experts in their field, with significant benefits to their small business. They have become the “public face” for their company.

Some large companies have a “public face”, a person who represents the company in the minds of customers (Richard Branson for Virgin is one). But most don’t. As a small business owner, you can effectively represent yourself as an expert in your area of expertise, and drive awareness for your small business in the process.

One of the most effective ways to build your reputation is through the credibility that comes from publicity and media relations activities.

Here are some guiding principles to working with the media as a small business owner:

View it as a relationship – reporters need story ideas and expert sources – you can offer both when it comes to your area of expertise to create a win-win situation

Pitch story ideas about what’s new and what’s changing – the media likes to break news about emerging trends, either in your industry or related to your experience as a small business owner

Strive for repeat business – once a reporter has identified you as a good source of information on a topic, they will keep coming back to you – so ensure that early in your relationship you are available to them and willing to offer help in getting information for them to pull a story together

Having a single person leading the charge to build media relationships and run the company makes it easier to transfer the goodwill that you achieve in the media over to your business activities. This doesn’t work nearly as well for larger companies, so leverage this competitive advantage and take a personal approach to building your business through publicity.

You Can Compete!

Small business marketing is all about leveraging the built-in advantages of being a small enterprise in the battle against larger competition for customers and sales. Establishing your business as an alternative to the market leader in your business, and building personal credibility that can be transferred to your small business are just two strategies that you can implement to help your small business succeed against bigger competitors.

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