Business Directory Listing As a Marketing Strategy

When a business is starting out, it needs valuable publicity and to form relationships, so every little marketing opportunity taken or passed up can make or break the new venture. Getting the company name into a business directory is an important step in spreading the word that a business is open, here to stay and will provide the local area with top-notch products and services. A local listing helps, especially these days, when all eco-friendly citizens are encouraged to buy and sell in their locale. It also shows the community that the business is serving its own people and wants to be considered part of the neighborhood.

Business directories also show the industry that it has a new member. When the business wants recommendations from the local small business association or the Better Business Bureau, they need to be listed in a directory that shows they can serve the local customers. When customers are looking up a number for their favorite provider, they may be open to using a new company to serve their needs, especially if a new business listing gives a quick deal for first time callers or visitors. Also, a business needs to be visible for people new to the neighborhood or town, or for someone from out of town, who will generally look in a business directory to find what they need.

For online purposes, business directories serve a valuable marketing need. People do online searches for businesses in certain areas for research, statistics, information, price comparisons and national studies. They go straight to the entries in the part of the business directory that has what they need, and are most likely to only feature the ones they require for their purposes.

A small business, especially a new one, needs to be in any kind of national study, both for obvious publicity reasons on a larger scale, and for the benefits that could come from a study. Some studies are done to find small businesses across the country to be potential recipients of local or national funds, or even tax breaks. Being involved could lead to being the subject of a focus segment or article that goes in to great detail, with a profile and interviews that will push online and in person sales through the roof. All of this is at no cost to the business owner, except the original directory listing fee, which will be well worth it for this kind of magnifying glass on the business.

For Google and other large search engines, finding a small, local, or highly specified business can be very difficult. Large national retailers or businesses with branches nationwide can advertise and publicize their services on a grand level and have people manage their social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. Small businesses have a better chance of getting into search engines by maximizing their keyword density and putting a listing in every business directory they can afford. A large number of different sources of keywords in close proximity to the business’ name will increase the profitability of searches. It is completely logical. The more times a name occurs on different sites, the more searchable it is. So, the more searchable it is, the more Google will feature it as a result.

Being listed in business directories will help the venture get more ‘backlinks’ too, which is also a calculation tool used by search engines. One of the best ways to position backlinks is to be in a directory that is aimed only at the industry the business is in and not just in general business directories. As a professional and segmented listing, it is weighed even more heavily by the search engines and the industry competitors. Once a business is listed with their more established competitors, they gain an amount of respect equal to an accepted member of the business community.

Information on Setting Up a Business

Going about setting up a business is not as difficult as it may seem. There are a few basic requirements you need falling into the categories of business structure, registration with government authorities, and permits/licenses.

The first issue to decide for setting up a business is structure. Structure means the form of the business, and you can either have a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Keep in mind that there is no “correct” answer, and your business structure can change as your business changes. A sole proprietorship is the easiest way to get started; it simply means that the individual is operating the business. The main disadvantage (when setting up a business) of a sole proprietorship is liability. Your businesses liabilities are your personal liabilities, and therefore your personal assets are also susceptible to claim if your business owes money. The main advantage is simplicity in creation, and in taxation.

Partnerships are similar to sole proprietorship and taxation. The key thing to remember about partnerships is to have partnership agreements in place. These are written documentations explaining what will happen if a person decides to leave the partnership, how the profit is split up, and other contingencies about various business scenarios.

A corporation is a pseudo-person who represents the business. The corporation is headed by a board of directors, and responsible to shareholders. Corporations are governed by the state in which they are created, and there are more complex laws regarding reporting and taxation. You will likely need some expert or lawyer to help you get started with a corporation. For small businesses, an S-Corp is a popular choice as it is a simple form of corporation and profit and loss is passed to the owners.

An LLC is a hybrid between a partnership and corporation. Liability is limited, but administration is not as complex as a corporation. Likely, businesses needing liability protection will choose between an S-Corp and LLC. The decision mostly comes down to which is more beneficial for tax purposes, and your taxation situation will vary depending on the state in which you live.

The key point regarding liability is that if you have an LLC or corporation, you want to run your business separate from your personal life. If you mix accounts; if you take personal expenses as corporate expenses, and generally mix your actions so that you are running the corporation not as a director, but as your own personal business, you may be endangering your protection. When you act or sign, consider that your actions are on behalf of the corporation, and as a representative of shareholders. This is why liability board meetings, meeting notes, and so on have value as they formalize the actions of the corporation.

Registration with the Government Employer Identification Number (EIN) and State Registration.

If you have employees, or are an LLC or corporation, if you have a Keogh you may need an EIN. The IRS has a web page that can help you determine this, accessible here: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=97872,00.html

If you determine that you need an EIN, you can apply for one online.

You may also need to register with your secretary of state. For example, in California, a corporation will file an SI-200 statement giving information about the corporation. Look on your state’s website and simply type in business registration to get started.

City and County Registration.

A similar answer applies for county or city registration. Start with your cities website, and the county requirements should be listed there as well. In general, you will need a business license and you will need to show that the business operates in an allowable premise. For the county level, you will need to file a DBA and post an advertisement in a local newspaper for sixty days announcing your business.

If you are selling goods or leasing, you will likely need a sellers permit or resale permit. For example, the state of California requires a permit if you “Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail (this includes wholesalers, manufactures and retailers.)”

Financial Matters

If you have all of the above, legally, you are ready to operate the business. You should, however, get a business checking account, and also a business credit card. Even if you are a sole proprietorship, you should make sure your business expenses and income are coming into a single account for tracking. A business credit card will also give you details about your classifications of expenditures, not to mention the nifty bonus rewards with some credit cards these days.

Finally, you should either consider hiring an accountant, a bookkeeper, or investing in some accounting software and on a weekly basis (no less), tracking all your income and expenses. This will help greatly while filing your taxes.

How to Improve Business Performance: Top Business Growth Strategies and Business Coach Tips

A business coach can help you revitalise your business, introducing new concepts and business growth strategies. Find out below how a coach that constructively challenges your business strategy and approach could be a key factor in your business growth.

Business Coach Tip #1 Working In the Business or Working On the Business Strategies?

A business leaders energy, ideas and strategies are bound to lag or go stale at times – this is a harsh fact of business life. Senior management can easily fall into the habit of working too much “in the business” and too little “on the business”. Appropriate external input can help them strike a better balance.

The day-to-day operational demands of a business often appear more pressing than devoting time to working on your business growth strategies. However future business success will suffer if insufficient time and energy is devoted to strategy development. Strategic prioritisation is a discipline that defies many.

It’s always tempting to put off things that appear to be less urgent. However if we continue to do so we will never see to those things that are important to the business but perhaps less urgent. High growth companies strike a viable balance between logical business reactivity and strategic business proactivity.

It can be difficult for company leaders (especially company founders) to seek and embrace external challenge or input, however those that do so have a far better chance of taking their company into thrive mode. A good business coach will help you generate and execute effective business growth strategies.

Business Coach Tip #2 Vision, Culture & Purpose to Improve Business Performance

Where do you want to take your business and what will it take to get it there? A question that many business leaders might find difficult to answer well. Are you driving your business or are you allowing your business to drive you? Are you firmly in the driving seat or being driven by day-to-day circumstances.

A company without a compelling, well communicated business vision lacks a true sense of purpose or direction both for the business leaders and for the employees. Yet many companies pay insufficient attention to this key area, letting everyday business demands dominate over strategic quality time.

A company without a true sense of purpose or direction severely limits itself. The staff culture may become more about individual self-interest than about the business, unhealthy silos may be created and customer best interests overlooked. This is a vicious cycle and often the start of the downward spiral.

The above scenario is obviously to be avoided if you want your business to thrive. However as companies grow, the culture challenges become greater and the more negative sides of human nature can kick-in. A good business coach can help you avoid or address this to improve business performance.

Business Coach Tip #3 Attract & Retain Talent to Feed Your Business Growth Strategies

What makes your company one that talented people would be drawn to work for? Intelligent talented people want to work for management they can respect and learn from in companies they can be proud to work for. Get this right and your company should have no problem attracting the right people.

Not everyone is prepared to make a positive contribution and any successful leader knows that they must not only add talented contributors, but also remove non-contributors. A good philosophy is to lead by preference and manage by necessity (sometimes even managing people out of the business).

It’s people that make a company and they can make it successful or unsuccessful. Good people are a company’s most valuable asset and those business leaders that recognise and leverage this grow more successful and lasting businesses. Your business coach can help you create the right culture.

Business Coach Tip #4 Business Growth Strategies to Improve Business Performance

Most companies lose their way at one time or another. Some manage to renew themselves going on to even greater things (thrive mode), whilst many others struggle on (survive mode). What differentiates those that thrive from those that struggle to survive? Receptivity to experienced external input is one key.

Let’s consider the factors that cause companies to falter. These may include a solution set out of step with market demand, a sales approach that fails to gain enough customer traction or a business vision or culture that is no longer inspiring. An external eye can help you identify and address the core issues.

Successful business growth strategies are not easily devised, demanding considerable thought and input from multiple sources. Why restrict your potential by denying yourself a catalyst that brings structure and inspires fresh thinking and approaches based on relevant skills and direct experience?

An effective business coach constructively challenges your ideas and approach and may sometimes take you out of your comfort zone. This pragmatic coaching style is essential to drive the changes needed to execute the business growth strategies that will progressively improve your business performance.