If you're just starting a new small business, you have your work cut out for you. It's important to establish a strong web and social media presence to make sure that your brand and philosophy are reaching your target audience. But what's the most efficient way to build your small business reputation when you don't have any customers yet? Here's how.

1. Get organized.

You're going to be having a lot of meetings, phone calls, and lunches with potential clients and supporters, so be sure to give off an air of control. Even if you feel overwhelmed, you must not look it. Establish a filing system for business cards, contacts, and bills. Make sure your calendar is updated and easy to read.

2. Facetime is key.

There's a great benefit to online networking platforms such as LinkedIn, but you do not want to rely on the web entirely for building your reputation. Join physical networking groups that meet on a regular basis and target an audience similar to the one you're targeting. Search for opportunities to give presentations and talks at events. Get your message out there. Word of mouth is not just a thing of the past -- it actually works.

3. Get published online.

If you're able to publish a short, direct article on an online publication, you can link it right to your website and generate traffic. Posting boosts SEO! Just make sure your content is not spammy. Keep to factual information and make it relevant to your audience.

4. Get your social media game on.

Social media is the future of information dissemination. But make sure that you engage your community in a conversation -- don't just share links. Have a voice, a point of view, and a philosophy that defines your brand.

5. Be prepared and follow up.

In your meetings, be professional. Always have something to take notes on (don't take notes on your phone!). Always give your business card and follow up within two to three business days. Let whoever you're talking to know that you care.

6. Give a little.

When you're first starting out, you'll have to give in order to receive. Volunteer your products or services to nonprofit organizations. Get your name out there. Show people what you can do. Even if you feel like you'll be working for free, it'll pay off in the end. The community will see how hard you can work for little profit, and be more willing to trust and support your business.

7. Be legit.

Just like an antique needs authenticity papers, so does your business. If your business would be more credible with certifications, make sure you get them and display them throughout your place of business, on your website, and on your business card. People trust third-party evaluations. Here's how you can make it official.

8. Have a classy website.

Invest in appearance. Internet savvy is sexy. If you're not confident about your web skills, it's worth it to check out some online resources (we're assuming you know how to use a search engine). You can either learn some simple design techniques yourself or have a friend help you out. Try out Squarespace or Wix. Along with your site, make sure you dress well to reflect your professionalism.

9. Go above and beyond.

In your first months of operation, you're out to impress, so do nice things. This means, throw in a free estimate, bring along a free gift, or give some great (free) advice. People will appreciate you taking the time to give them personalized attention. Customer experience is the most important part of a successful business. This also means, after a meeting, send a handwritten thank you card, for example. Remember small details. Don't be afraid of being old fashioned.

10. Do what you say you're going to do.

If you can't deliver on your promises, no one is going to trust you. So if that means setting smaller goals, set smaller goals at first. Then, once you get your flow, you can scale up to reach your original goals. It's always better to impress someone who doesn't expect a lot than to disappoint someone who expects the world!

With a little patience, a lot of following up, and a sweet website, you'll have all you need to develop a great reputation for your small business, even before you get any customers. Keep these tips in mind and let your business grow.


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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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