As promised, here is part two of my series about starting your own business. In this part we will discuss: Naming your Business, Finding the Right Location, and Tips on Marketing Your Business.
Naming your Business
After I figured out what type of business I was going to do, what accounting method I was going to use, and how I was going to fund my business, I needed to call it something. Entrepreneur.com has some good ideas on some of the things to consider while thinking of a name for your business, as does the SBA. Ideally, your name should convey the expertise, value and uniqueness of the product or service you've developed. The particular type of business I had was one where just about any kind of name would be popular, but I wanted something very unique. Most of my customers were members of the Hispanic community, so I wanted a name that would be familiar. The name I chose was "El Sapo Verde", which when translated to English means The Green Frog, however in Spanish the word for frog is raña, and the word sapo means toad (which are usually brown colored). So I had all kinds of people coming in to find out why I named the place El Sapo Verde, which when translated actually meant The Green Toad, but, a toad is supposed to be brown. This contradiction in terms proved to pique the curiosity of everyone who came in, and was very successful.
Finding the Right Location
Most everyone has heard the saying; "location, location, location. These words are very true and can sometimes make the difference between success and failure of a new business.
So, where should you locate your business? Some experts will tell you location is absolutely vital to your company's success; others will argue that it really doesn't matter where you are-and they're both right. How important location is for your new company depends on the type of business, the facilities and other resources you need, as well as where your customers are.
I chose to locate my business on a street right in the middle of several other similar businesses, my theory was that customers would want to go from location to location along the strip sampling the ambiance and flavor of each of the businesses, even though the basic prices, services, and products were similar. The theory proved correct, and everyone profited from it, customers had fun and enjoyed walking from business to business, up and down the strip.
If your business or organization focuses on local clients and customers, another effective way to make sure they find you, is to get listed on an online map. Cynthia Closkey of Big Big Design has some great ideas on using free web searches to get customers to your business. Sites like Google maps, MSN, and MapQuest will all display your company's location for free. They are fairly easy to set up and activate.
Tips on Marketing Your Business
There are several ways to market your business, through word of mouth, another through print media, and now in the age of the Internet, electronic media. Dell Small Business 360 has some great ideas, as well as some free online courses to get started promoting your business.
Here are some inexpensive everyday tips that can be used to promote your business:
- Take steps to make customers feel special. Customers respond to being recognized, especially in these hurried and impatient times. I would always try to greet the customers when they entered my establishment with a smile, a greeting, and their favorite product out and ready.
- Create a destination. Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble has its coffee bars. Furnishings giant Ikea offers child-care centers and cafeterias. Why? So customers gravitate to the stores to enjoy an experience, to hang out for a while. Sunday morning at Barnes & Noble becomes a pleasant weekend routine, rather than a shopping errand. Steal this idea.
- Don't let customers simply slip away. Make an effort to reel them back in. It costs a lot less to retain a disgruntled or inactive customer than to acquire a new one. If you haven't heard from a customer in awhile, send a personalized e-mail (you can automate this process), inquiring whether all is well. For a customer who suffered a bad experience, pick up the phone, acknowledging the unpleasantness and ask if there's anything you can do. A discount can't hurt either. Being kind to customers is the smartest low-cost marketing you can do.
Ok, that about does it for Part Two of the series, so stay tuned to this blog for future editions of So, You Want to Start Your Own Business.