Archive for the ‘Small Business Tips’ Category

FTC Creates Privacy & Security Page

November 9, 2010

The FTC is recognizing the prevalence of businesses collecting online data about its clients,vendors and employees.  It is also recognizing that there are a range of laws that govern business protections and restricted use of this data.  As a result it has created a “Privacy and Security” page on its it new “Business Portal.”  In addition to tracking news, case law and providing workshops on various privacy and security issues, the FTC is making available an important online tutorial called, “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business.”

And as if prompted, the Wall Street Journal is running a story (subscription required) today on how business websites are often at the mercy of advertising visitor tracking tools that maybe undermining their privacy policies without their awareness.

Blogging rule: showing up is 90%

October 10, 2009

Woody Allen supposedly said that 90% of life was about showing up and that quote came to mind when I read Kevin O’Keefe’s re-post about the need to build trust in your blog.  There is no trust if you don’t regularly blog.   Come up with blog plan; frequency of post, time of day you can do it, blog focus and just keep doing it. 

Side benefit to blogging: you become more informed about your niche and about your own expertise.  The act of daily engagement deepens and widens your own knowledge.

Friday Freebie: Inc. Magazine

December 5, 2008

Small Business Trends has an offer for a couple free issues.

Friday Freebie: best sites for business templates

November 28, 2008

Thanks to Small Business Trends: for posting this list of best sites to find business and marketing templates.  Recently I spend an hour hunting around for some of this.  Hopefully, this will save you that time!

Best sites

Friday Freebie: Free Video and more..

November 21, 2008

The Profitability Channel, an online video channel for small businesses, is allowing free access to all 283 channels of its content which ranges from how to incorporate, manage your cash and compensate employees.  In addition, they provide a link for a sweepstakes to win free gas or groceries.  I think sweepstakes and maybe even green chip stamps are going to make a comeback!

Link to Profitability channel

(courtesy of

Friday Freebie: How to Survive Tough Times

November 14, 2008

We all know that these aren’t easy times to be in business.  We also know that much of the boom bust cycle is psychological; people believe their houses will always go up in value so they take risks and use the equity in their houses which stimulates the economy.  When they don’t believe the value of their houses will always go up, then they stop.  Today’s freebie is a newsletter from “My Own” which has other great resources as well including a free course in starting up a small business.  Here is the link and what I think is the most important tip:

“Look for opportunities in adversity. The best bargains and business acquisitions become available during recessions. “

Web Tools to Track Competitors 2.0

November 11, 2008

I found this cool article by Jessica Merritt called, 50 EdWeb Tools to Keep Tabs on Your Competitors and appreciate the many suggestions she provides.  As an additional layer, I thought I’d annotate the tools with some competitive analysis.

First, decide what you want to find out before you start your research.  Are you looking for new revenue streams?  Are you considering a new product or service offering?  Do you want to utilize your web presence for more business?  Do you need a new marketing approach?  Here are some ways to think about a few of Jessica’s tips.

#9 is to use Edgar to pull SEC filings on your competitors. 

My take: Edgar covers public companies, those that trade stock and if you are a small player you might say, these guys aren’t my competitors, they are too big.  First, its very likely that a few of your competitors are public companies as defined by SIC codes.  Use the SIC code you used when you filed for your local business license and run it through Edgars and see what companies show up. 

What should you look for?  These SEC documents are hard to read.  First you will get a list of filings that are written in code; 8-K, 10-Q, 10-K etc.  Start looking for a 10-K.  These are the easiest to read and contain the most comprehensive information as they are the annual report.  Check out information about the business sectors and locations in particular.  Are they in lines of businesses that might work for your business?  Could you take your existing products and services and adapt it for this market?  Location;  are they in your area?  Are they not?  Check out the list of subsidiaries.  Maybe they own smaller companies that are your competition.  Take all the company names and look up their website addresses. 

Then go to tips #17-20, where she talks about some great ways to analyze your competitor websites by looking at their source code, robot.txt and reading their blog(s).  All great stuff.  I would add some less stealthy and techie things to look for on their website as well.  First, how do they talk about themselves in the “About us” section?  Are they positioning themselves with their clients better than you are?  Can you take some of their ideas?  Next, look at their “media/press release” section.  What are they touting?  New products?  New hires?  Events?  Going green?  From this you might get new product or marketing ideas.  You also might see ways to partner with them.  Competitors often find areas where they are complimentary and can grow their business more effectively together than apart.  Finally, look at their product and services section.  Again, do they position themselves more effectively than you do?  Or less so?  Do they allow customers to purchase online?  Are they strictly a business to business operations while you are a business to consumer player?  If so, there maybe opportunities for you to help them with a market they are unfamiliar with.

Friday Freebie: bizSugar video

November 7, 2008
Take two and call me in the morning

Take two and call me in the morning for biz peeps!

Check it out.

Friday Freebie: Video Tips on SEO

October 31, 2008

My first video insert!  No talking heads, just cool free urls.  Thanks Rich, whoever you are!

Sunday Special

October 26, 2008

Yesterday, I mentioned how important trade associations are as a window on your prospective or existing clients.  Not just to learn facts about the industry but more importantly these associations show you what matters to these folks.  Lets say you do the books for a couple auto businesses.  You like the people you deal with, you understand their business from an accounting perpective and you’d like to do more business with these guys.  Maybe you represent a auto detailing shop and an auto repair place.  Here are some questions, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association might be able to help you with.  First, there is the name itself.  What is an aftermarket?  I just go to google and put in, “define: aftermarket.” I come back with this definition from Auto Shop Owner Glossary: “The market for replacement parts, service, accessories, and equipment for the care or enhancement of the original product, esp. an automobile, after its sale to the consumer”

Already you’ve broaden your understanding of this market and because of your expertise with a couple businesses, maybe able to appeal to many more.   So who are all these folks?

Many associations have online directories.  Some are restricted to use only by members but fortunately the AAIA, makes its directory public.  This allows me to search geographically to see what businesses are in my area.  It gives address and contact information.  Also they allow for searching industry segments so you learn that body shops, auto warehouses, auto eletrical companies, tools, engine repowering and trim are among the membership.

What do they are care about?  I found a conference agenda for the Auto Aftermarket Products Info and from the breakout sessions, I learned that this industry is focused internationally on imports, on Japanese hybrids on doing business with China and India.  What are the accounting issues that might related to doing significant business with businesses in other countries?  Have you had to deal with that with my current clients?  Can you use this as a selling point for more businesses in this industry?

Are there related industries? One thing I learned is this organization is fighting for the right to repair cars against the auto manufacturer who, I guess, don’t want them as competition.  This is important for me to know so I don’t extoll the virtues of auto manufacturers not knowing there maybe bad blood between these industries.

How do they talk about their products and services?  The AAIA has a glossary of terms (which doesnt contain a definition for aftermarket so realize you sometimes need multiple glossaries to understand a new line of business) so if you want to go after stores that sell waxes and polishes, you better know that these are called “Appearance Products.”  You can use these terms to then find out the manufacturers and product lines.  The more you can talk the language of your clients, the more excited they will be to talk with you and you build trust with them.  You appear knowledgeable and interested in their business.  That can only help.

Happy Auto Mechanic

Happy Auto Mechanic