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.
- 10 Tips for Building a Great Reputation from Scratch | OPEN Forum ›
- 10 Simple Ways To Improve Your Reputation - Forbes ›
- Why your reputation is key to your brand | Guardian Small Business ... ›
- Reputation Building: Small Business Strategies for Successful ... ›
- 8 Ways to Build your Baseline Business Reputation ›
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.