Online Business Solutions in the Current Marketplace

What’s The Problem?

Have you thought about starting a web based business? If so, you will probably have thought about various obstacles that might hamper you and have recognised the need to find certain online business solutions. For example how will you create a website, how will you develop your marketing strategy, how will you ever cope with high volumes of enquiries, or how will you process payments for the sale of your goods or services.

None of these concerns are new and there are practical business solutions for all of them. Too often companies end up trying to put together the web business puzzle without guidance, or without knowing the right questions to ask. The planning and development of a website has similarities to creating an architectural theme for a building and as the title of this article suggests the solution to most of the problems that you might anticipate, can be found by taking the time to research the current marketplace.

The Increasing Demand For Online Business Solutions

There’s definitely an increasing demand for online business solutions, but as quickly as this demand grows, new innovative technologies emerge to help tackle our biggest problems. Small business owners are quickly realising the incredible power of online marketing and for anyone who is serious about taking the plunge, being able to find reliable information and advice can be critical.

As technological advances continue to gather pace there is more demand for faster, more efficient and less complicated business solutions and the increased popularity of the internet means that there are also more and more people in search of them. Consider the slow computer speed of some computers in the past, a common irritation that many of us have experienced. We now get irritated if we have to wait more than 5 seconds or so for a page to load.

How expectations have changed, the more efficient computers become the more we seem to demand from them and on the whole they don’t disappoint.

How To Find Suitable Online Business Solutions

If you are about to jump in and experience the exciting world of online marketing, it’s important to recognize that there’s a need to keep up to date with the latest marketing strategies. Finding the right business solutions for your company deserves careful consideration and although it will depend largely on your particular needs, plenty can be learned by looking at the success of others.

Identifying the most suitable online business solutions for your particular venture could help you to outsmart your competition, gain a competitive edge, expand your business more quickly and ultimately help to make your business more profitable. If this is true, then it’s surely worth devoting some proportion of your time to.

Carefully researching your competitors can help you to determining the kind of tasks that you might need help with. There’s no better place to start, than with the most successful companies in your specific niche. They will have already identified some of the common difficulties in that marketplace and will have found some of the most appropriate online business solutions already.

Search engines can help you to identify resources too, but you need to be as specific as you can with the search terms that you use. Major search engines gain their credibility by being able to efficiently direct you towards exactly what you’re looking for, so the more accurate you are with your search terms the more quickly you will find what you’re looking for.

There are online business solutions available for just about any problem you can think of and many of them are relatively inexpensive. The more time that you spend and the more thoroughly you research the market before launching your business, the more likely it is that your business will flourish and succeed.

Final Thoughts

Don’t make the mistake of leaving your company’s business solutions in inexperienced hands as this can be a costly mistake. Beware of any company that tries to woo you with vague promises, you can always check their credibility by looking at past results or by reading what other people are saying about them.

Try to learn by the experiences of people and companies that are enjoying success in your niche. They must obviously be doing something right and with the help of internet technologies you can find out much more about their techniques than you might think!

How to Find a Good Business Broker

Anyone interested in buying or selling a business should always consult with a good business broker because they posses the know-how and resources to get the best price and help you avoid the devastating pitfalls of the buying or selling process. How do you find a good business broker? Well, you go out and look. Where? The internet of course, but asking someone who has sold or bought a business is also a good source and probably the better of the two. Unfortunately not everyone knows someone who has worked with a good business broker and must rely on the expansive web to begin a search.

You should begin your search before you commit to buying or selling a business. I once had a gentleman call me wanting advice on buying a coin laundry and we went through the process of buying the business, a few things to look out for and the general principles behind how a business is priced. After a little exchange of questions and answers between the two of us it started sounding as though this buyer had not done the proper due diligence and that he was possibly overpaying. Problem was… he was already under contract to purchase! At that point even the best business broker can’t help unless you are able to find a way out of the contract, which won’t be easy if the seller is getting a premium on the transaction.

A simple keyword search for business brokers will bring about a plethora of willing brokers but the trick is finding one that is good and easy to relate with. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions of the broker, i.e., “What’s your experience?”, “Do you have any credentials?”, etc. It’s always nice to work with someone that clicks with you.

Things process of selling a business and what a business broker can do for you are:

Step 1 is to contact small and medium sized Business Brokers for information about how they charge, what they charge and how you generally feel about them. Select a Small and medium sized Business Broker.

Step 2 is to work with your broker in establishing the most appropriate asking price and put broker and client understandings on paper in the form of a listing agreement. The listing price is the price you agree to sell the business if the broker brings a qualified buyer willing to purchase at that listing price.

Step 3 is to supply your broker with all relevant information about the small and medium sized business so that they can complete an offering memorandum. The broker will discreetly and confidentially make the market aware of your small and medium sized business’s availability including some general information about the site.

The 4th step is for your broker to screen and qualify potential buyers.

Step 5 is for you, with the help of your broker, to negotiate a price and terms agreeable to you and a buyer.

Step 6 is the removal of contingencies explained in the contract to purchase the small and medium sized business.

The final step is to close the transaction.

Your broker will continue to work with you after the sale with any remaining terms and/or conditions of the sale until the seller is completely separated from the business.

  • Educate you regarding the process and issues faced when selling a small and medium sized business.
  • Keeping the transaction confidential.
  • Conduct a pricing analysis to determine the best asking price for your small and medium sized business.
  • Develop an effective marketing strategy to sell your small and medium sized business.
  • Put the offering package of the small and medium sized business in front of the most buyers.
  • Pre-qualify potential buyers prior to divulging sensitive information.
  • Manage transactional details and paperwork.
  • Help establish terms of sale.
  • Assist the buyer in an effort to give the transaction the most potential for a successful closing, i.e. financing.

The most important thing you can do when you are thinking of buying or selling a business is to at least speak with a broker or two. The good one is the one that gets you pointed in the right direction. Most brokers, especially the one that will care for your business, will be happy to spend a half hour to an hour talking to you on the basic points.

Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.

Big businesses know the value of reviewing the market in which they compete and you can to. Remember you can start slowly and just review one section at a time and then put in place activities or make business decisions based on the review to grow your small business.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008

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