Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Choosing a business name that will help your customers to find you later.

  1. Make it easy to remember and spell. Making the company name easy to remember and spell will help customers to find your business in the phone book or on the internet.
  2. It should have a strong visual element. People should be able to SEE what they READ. Include a visual element like a logo and it will help customers to remember and identify your business. This can become a very valuable marketing tool for your business.
  3. Choose the correct connotation. Many words have literal and emotional connotations. They also have a positive or neutral connotation. I like to use the example of "Home" which is a positive connotation vs. "House" that has a neutral connotation. Bob's Home Repairs gives off a different emotion than Bob's House Repairs.
  4. It should include information about what your business does. If the customer reads your name, then they should be able to figure out what products or services your company will offer. This will also help your customers to remember your company name! An example would be "Pittsburgh Candle Company". Most people reading this name can figure out that this company manufactures candles in Pittsburgh, PA.
  5. Try to keep it short. Having a long name may cause problems when you are trying to put the company name on marketing or promotional items. It can also create a long web address if you choose to use your long company name.
Article written by Susan Miller
Owner and Founder of the Women's Small Business Association (WSBA), LLC.

Basic tax preparation for small business owners.

As a small business owner, your focus may be on making money day-to-day. It may be hard to make time for tax preparation, or it can become overwhelming if you wait until the last minute. A small business owner can learn to do it themselves, but hiring the right people can save you valuable time and money, and avoid costly mistakes. Here are a few tips that will save you time, money, and help you to keep your focus on making money.

1.       Use a professional. Using a tax professional will ensure that you get every deduction that you are entitled to, while still keeping your books according to regulations. A tax professional will also make you aware of any rules that have changed and keep you up to date with the newest tax laws. Make sure to choose a professional that is right for your business. Trusting a professional to handle this aspect of your business could offer you larger tax savings.

2.      Know the basics. Knowing the basic for tax preparation will help you to keep the required records throughout the year, and also help you get prepared for your tax professional.

3.      Set up a filing system for all your receipts and taxable documents. There are great programs like QuickBooks, that make this very easy for small business owners. Develop a Tax Preparation Checklist with your tax professional that will include everything that will be needed for tax time. Going through your checklist monthly will keep this task to a minimal versus tackling this task at the end of the year.

4.     Keeping good books. Consider hiring a bookkeeper. The bookkeeper will record all your receipts and taxable documents, track accounts payable and receivable, and create a balance sheet for your business. A bookkeeper is going to be focused on properly recording the day-to-day financial activities of your business. Your tax professional will not be able to do their job properly without good bookkeeping and good books. Depending on the size of your business, a bookkeeper can work with you monthly, weekly, or daily.  Make sure that your bookkeeper works well with your tax professional.

Article written by Susan Miller 

- Owner and Founder of the Women's Small Business Association (WSBA), LLC.

5 tips for effective networking!

As a business owner, your time and energy is valuable! So your networking efforts should be effective and efficient. Learning a few networking tips can help maximize your time and efforts at the next networking event. Networking is an essential business tool, and a skill that every business owner should master. Networking helps create, maintain, and utilize interpersonal connections. 

1. Come with a goal! Are you looking for new prospects, wanting to form possible collaborations, create a mutual referral partnership, develop a name recognition for you and your business, or learning about the latest news and trends you can use? Look through the RSVP list and develop a list of people that you specifically want to network with.

2. Knock their socks off! Your 60 second commercial should communicate how others can benefit from your business. You have been given a 60 sec. window to knock their socks off. Be sure your message tells them how you are the next best thing since the wheel!

3. Come prepared! Have a networking checklist: pen, updated business card, accurate hand out material, double check the professional appearance of your materials and yourself, and a notebook for follow up comments or to schedule appointments.

4. Be prepared to educate! Be prepared to let others know what you are looking for, and what your goals are for the event. Are you looking for referrals? If so, be prepared to educate others on what type of referral you are looking for your business.

5. The importance of follow up! It will reinforce your original intent for that contact, it delivers a message of enthusiasm, and it is the first step toward scheduling the next contact with this person.

Happy Networking!

Article written by Susan Miller
Owner and Founder of the Women's Small Business Association (WSBA), LLC.
To learn more about WSBA, please visit: http://www.wsba.ws/
To learn about the next WSBA networking event, please visit our WSBA Calendar