BUSINESS TIPS

10 Easy Survival Tips

Small business is a primary employer in America. Mom and Pops may be run by Mom and Pop, but most employ one or two employees – or more – depending on their needs. Small business is critical to the economy.

Small business supports local activities, pays taxes that help fund municipal services, and provides jobs. According to a 2012 Small Business Administration report small businesses account for 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs, 49.2 percent of private-sector employment, 42.9 percent of private-sector payroll, 46 percent of private-sector output and 43 percent of high-tech employment.

Interior Paper Trail - Las Vegas, NMSo, yes, small businesses are important.

What does it take to survive in the hostile environment of big box stores, online shopping, taxes and government regulation? Below are 10 tips for fighting the good fight, and winning.

  1. Be creative. Front windows and store layout are vital elements for getting customers in the door. Overall appearance sets the standard for how you are perceived.
  1. Be inviting. Swept sidewalks, clean windows and tended flower boxes (if you have them) tell a story without you ever saying a word.
  1. Stay current with business trends. It may be charming to have inventory that goes back decades but customers are more savvy than ever. Keep merchandise trendy, appealingly displayed and dust free.
  1. Be online. Whether it is a website, blog, Facebook or other media, be available to your customers online. Savvy small businesses find ways to build their clientele through e-mails and other electronic media. Strike up a conversation by posting content that will gain insight about your customers through feedback and gain their confidence in your ability to deliver.
  1. Be responsive. When a customer has a comment, complaint or suggestion, follow up. Make it a rung on the ladder of your further success.
  1. Pay attention to the bottom line. Renovate or extend your sales space or expand inventory only when you are financially prepared to do so.
  1. Promote your business. The rule of thumb for how much to spend on advertising and marketing for an established business is up to 10 percent of your annual budget. Startups should plan to spend 20 to 30 percent. These are recommendations. First you must have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your advertising and which methods will work for you. Just because someone says their circulation (or reach) is 50 thousand doesn’t mean 50,000 people will read or hear your message. The trick to successful advertising is to have a plan and a budget.
  1. Have a team spirit among employees. Multiple surveys have shown that workers are more engaged and productive when they feel their contributions are valued. Happy workers appreciate and rely on salary and benefits. What keeps them on the job is feeling like they are contributing to the success of the business.
  1. Trained staff. It goes beyond customer service. When new or inexperienced workers encounter unexpected problems, or are asked questions they can’t answer, the worst thing they can say is, “I don’t know.” What the customer hears is, “I don’t care enough about you to find out.” Training is work but worth the effort. And by the way, the best thing an employee can say when he or she doesn’t have an answer is, “Give me the details and I will get back to you as soon as I can.”
  1. Refer. If you don’t have what the customer is looking for, and know of another business that carries the product, refer them and provide directions. The customer will remember your community spirit of promoting others, and your sister store owner will appreciate you sending her business.

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I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

A blatant pitch for book sales

…from a terrible marketer

Finding Family

My problem with writing has nothing to do with writing; it has to do with selling. Every book I have written is worth reading, the last one perhaps more so than the first three. Not because it is a better book, but because I learned a lot between book one and book four.

What I should have had for all my books is a good editor. Reality check here. As an indie author, I can’t afford an editor. A good editor is worth what he or she charges, no doubt about it, but given that I’m so horrible at selling my work, I’d never recover my costs. The argument in favor of an editor is that grammar and punctuation improve copy so it will sell better.

Uh, “Fifty Shades of Grey” anyone?

Hel-lo-o!

I have not read the books because erotica isn’t my cup of tea, so my statements here are based on reviews and commentary, written by people who write for a living. Many of them are baffled by the success of these books, which by some accounts are poorly constructed, have questionable content, and basic plot problems – as in there isn’t one. And yet, “50” and its sequels have netted author EL James A LOT OF MONEY! She has sold MILLIONS of copies and landed a lucrative deal for movie rights. I don’t know if she had an editor, but if she did, she paid her too much. What James does have is an identified audience looking for cheap thrills. Erotica sells.

So, what does it take to sell books? That is a very complex question. It helps that –

a) You have absolute confidence your book is the best thing that’s ever been written.
b) That you are willing to wring out of every one you know a promise to do a review (POSITIVE ONLY) and post it on Amazon and Good Reads and wherever else they can find to post it on your behalf.
c) Know your audience, or at the very least, have one.

First off, I hesitate to use friends to promote my work. Number one, I’m afraid they will feel obligated to say yes while thinking, “Is she kidding me? This thing is the worst thing I’ve ever read!?”

And second… forget it, I can’t get past number one. It’s the fear of “not being good enough” that plagues even accomplished writers.

The thing is, I believe my books are quite good. Good enough, in fact, to fly magically off the shelves without much help from me. Won’t happen. Like all authors, I must work at promoting my books every single chance I get, something I am totally not good at.

A second and equally important factor is that, “knowing your audience,” thing.

I may not be there yet when it comes to confidence, but identifying my audience is at a whole other level. People who like to read books? Hmmm, yes, but there is so much more to it. The whole genre thing drives me nuts. Plus I haven’t written just one kind of book. I’ve written the books I like to write. One is a book of inspirational reading, two are sci-fi, and the fourth is a contemporary novel about a women of a certain age.

In “Finding Family,” it is clear early on that Lilly Irish has never understood her worth to others. Following the death of her husband she becomes accustomed to living alone. She is stubbornly independent. And then her dead sister’s daughter and her three children arrive with their dog. Calm turns to chaos and along the way Lilly… well, if I said any more I’d be giving the story away.

This story is funny and sad, just like life. You will recognize the characters because they’re like all of us, trying to find their way in life, day-by-day. “Finding Family,” characters aren’t based on any one in particular, or any family in particular; it is grounded in the reality that no one is perfect. How these imperfect people come together makes for an entertaining and satisfying read.

And yes, this is a sales pitch for “Finding Family,” and a request that you buy it, read it, and post a review – brief or long – on Amazon and Good Reads and wherever else you can. I would like for it to be positive, but I would rather it be honest.

Thanks,
Sharon

NOTE: I have Finding Family available for purchase. If you would like to order a book directly from me e-mail me at fsharon@msn.com. Book price is $19.99.

Finding Family is available at Amazon and other online book retailers in soft cover and as an e-book from XLIBRIS

Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: XLIBRIS
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1499035489
ISBN-13: 978-1499035483


Also look for my latest book:
Thunder Prime Hunter’s Light
Paperback $15
Digital Format $2.99