Top Ten Small Business Mastermind Advisers All Small Business Owners Need To Have to Succeed

The statistics on small businesses going broke in the first 12 months of operation are nothing short of obscene and seriously scary. In Australia and other western countries such as the United States 70% of all small businesses fail within the first 12 months of operation but let me tell you from experience, surviving after that 12 months is no less harrowing.

After 10 years of running four small businesses and creating them from scratch I can tell you with some authority, that I did not do this on my own. In fact, I reckon I have made every mistake in the book on how not to run a small business, but yet I have still survived. The secret to staying in business is all down to being able to talk to my ten Small Business Mastermind Advisers.

My ten Small Business Mastermind Advisers are there as my support team in helping me make the right decisions. See often when we make a decision in small business, it might be right at the time but down the track it can do you a lot of harm. Having your small business mastermind advisers on call, you can simply call them and ask them the consequences of the choices you are about to make.

For example, having the right business structure and putting your business assets in the right structure will play a major roll in the success of your business when you decide to exit the business. Se e most people who go into business only ever think of the business as a job they do not look at it from the perspective of how they will exit the business when they have built it into an enterprise.

Those ten small business mastermind advisers will help you to ensure that you have met your obligations and that there are no hidden issues that might come up in the future for your business. For example, we recently chose to sell off our car cleaning business as my wife wanted to pursue something different. Because of the way I had structured some of the trademarks in my company that related to hers, when we went and sold the business it created a number of headaches in the sale process. Essentially we had to shift ownership of those trademarks to her company prior to the sale which created a number of financial costs that we have had to endure even though my company never made any money. This issue arose simply because in the early days, I did not have my 10 Small Business Mastermind Advisers to tell me how my choices would impact on me in the future.

Adviser 1: Accountant

In business today, with the complexities of superannuation, sales tax or GST, income tax and all the other taxes out there an accountant is a must. As a small business owner you need to find an accountant that is a small business specialist and is proactive in working with you.

What I have found is that some accountants will only do what you ask them to do and will not step in and give you advice if you do not ask. You want an accountant that if they see you are doing something wrong then they will tell you without you asking.

The other thing you will need to ensure is that you hire an accountant that outlines where all of their hours are going. It is very easy for you with accountants and solicitors to end up with 5 or 6 figure bills.

Adviser 2: Solicitor

The solicitor is another important Small Business Mastermind adviser. Just like the accountant you need to make sure that the solicitor is a small business specialist. The role of the solicitor is to help you with all legal issues like what structure suits what you want to achieve, do your forms and policies meet your legal obligations, like your privacy policy, recruitment policy etc.

They can also help you protect your assets and in particular your intellectual property like trademarks, copyright etc. Often small business owners do not do the basics of trademarking their business name and logos to stop other business predators using their identities.

Adviser 3: Marketing and Advertising Expert

A Marketing and Advertising Expert is a must in today’s market place. I have found that with the various media types, people in the industry can get better deals than if you dealt with the media owners. For example, recently I chose a new advertising specialist to join my small business mastermind advisers because their company was able to negotiate lower television advert placements, than what I could dealing directly with the station.

Your marketing and advertising expert should have some experience in your industry and be able to show real statistics of adverts and marketing campaigns that actually achieved results. More so, they should also have a mantra of test and measure to ensure that your campaigns are giving you value for money and more so, are making you a profit.

Adviser 4: Bookkeeper

Some accountants have their own bookkeepers, but I have found that quite often they are more expensive than bookkeepers not tied into an accountant. Further to this you should always check to make sure the bookkeeper is certified. In some countries, including Australia, bookkeepers can be certified through the National Bookkeepers association or the CPA.

Your bookkeeper must be prepared to work with your accountant and if they have questions you must give them permission to speak with your accountant and more so, you need to make sure that they document all communications with your accountant.

Remember one thing, it does not matter whether your Bookkeeper or your accountant makes a mistake, ultimately, you as the business owner are responsible for your books. If they get it wrong, it will be on your head, so always make sure that you understand what they are doing.

Adviser 5: IT Person

Everybody hates computers and I am a 20 year veteran of the industry and I still hate them. Having a good IT person is essential. Most businesses today are now totally reliant on their IT Technology and if your technology goes down, the question you need to ask is, “could your business still operate?” If the answer is no, then you need to hire an IT person who will be there in an emergency.

When choosing an IT Person or company make sure they are qualified in the technology you are using. For example, if you are using Microsoft Windows technology in your office, then your IT Person should have at the very least the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician qualification.

Adviser 6: Website and Search Engine Expert

If your business is not on the web and you are not selling products to the global market then you are making your life incredibly difficult and you are missing out on lots of opportunities. The internet is a fantastic tool for doing business but be warned there are lots of crooks out there, especially in the search engine optimization industry.

Before choosing a web builder and search engine expert ask to speak with some of their existing clients or talk to other business associates and find out who they use. I will say you should expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000 per month for this service depending on your business and what sort of income you want to derive from the internet.

Adviser 7: Business Coach

Business Coaches, are like website and search engine experts, there are a lot of snakes out there who have no real small business experience. Before choosing a Business Coach ask them if they have ever owned a small business or if they had been a principle small business manager.

If you have been in small business for a while, then it will be very obvious to you as to which business coaches have owned businesses before going into business coaching. Their approach will tend to be more practical then something out of a book. Once again before choosing a business coach, talk to your business colleagues and see if they can recommend someone.

Adviser 8: Financial Planner

Managing your money is a major issue and most accountants will not give you Financial Planning Advice. A good financial planner will be able to help you where to put your business money, to get good growth but also to be easily accessible.

You should also have a good financial planner for your personal 401k or superannuation policy but also if you are managing an employer superannuation program. Most small business owners forget to build their own 401k or superannuation policy as they are building their business and when they get to selling their business they find they do not have enough to live on once they retire because once the business debts are paid off, nothing is left.

Adviser 9: Business Banker

Finding the right bank and right business banker is essential to succeeding in business. You definitely need to build a constructive relationship with your business banker as they will be your life line in a dire cashflow situation or if you need money for a deal you just could not let go by.

Business Bankers can also help you with other issues like leasing and hire purchase accounts, but also other facilities like merchant facilities, sales tax bank accounts etc.

Adviser 10: Insurance Broker

I learned the hard way on how important an insurance broker is to your business. The previous insurance company I dealt with did not advise me that none of the glass in my building was covered if I was broken into. I have extensive insurance, but because Glass was an optional extra, the previous insurance company did not tell me this and when we were broken into, even though I pay over $5,000 per year in insurance, I still had a $4,000 bill for all the glass damaged during a break and enter.

This particular experience really drove home, how a good insurance broker, whilst upfront might cost you more, in the future will save you more.

Just like any employee when you are putting together your Small Business Mastermind Advisers you need to interview each adviser and ensure that you are able to work with them. Further to this, to get the best advice from your Small Business Mastermind Advisers you must be 100% honest and open with them, even when things are looking dire. If you are not totally honest, then they cannot give you the advice that will help you get out of trouble.

Government Grants for Small Business: Finding Them and Getting Them

Starting or expanding any kind of small business is difficult, but it can be especially difficult if you don’t have enough capital. Raising capital for start-up or expansion is often your biggest challenge. If a loan is not possible for you right now, and if you haven’t been able to line up any investors, don’t give up hope. There may be a chance that you qualify for government grants for small business from the U.S. federal government.

Small businesses have historically played a significant role in the U.S. economy. That’s why the government has an interest in facilitating the growth of small business with government grants for small business. Even though small business is central to our economic health, the bureaucrats in Washington are not necessarily just waiting to give out government grants for small business. The government normally uses grant money to encourage business development in certain fields or specific locations, or to level the playing field for everyone. But there are quite a few bona fide government grants for small business and they can be substantial.

Government grants for small business are available to new business start-ups and existing businesses. As you might suspect, you’re probably not the only small businessman looking for help in the form of government grants for small business. Be prepared for competition if you qualify and apply for a small business grant. Attention to detail in the application process can often make the difference between winning and losing government grants for small business.

Depending on the amount of money involved, application procedures and forms for government grants for small business can be long and complex. The trick is to break the application into manageable pieces. If you don’t already have an existing team of business partners to help you, consider outsourcing some of the application work to a consultant or freelance writer. When it comes to government grants for small business, application deadlines are firm and turning your application in late is not an option.

You can do some basic research on the availability of government grants for small business at the Small Business Administration’s website. The SBA is mandated with helping small businesses succeed, but they normally don’t give grants directly. Government grants for small business are usually provided by other agencies, depending on what the grant is meant to accomplish.

If you’re interested in starting a small business or expanding your existing business, then you should start finding out all you can about government grants for small business. You may want to opt for an online directory service to help you figure out which government grants for small business you might qualify for. The structure of government can be mystifying sometimes, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on a grant you’re qualified for just because you couldn’t find it. You’ll soon learn that the secret to your small business success is to concentrate on doing what you do best, and outsource the rest.

The Top 5 Small Business Marketing Tips for Budget-Minded Business

When it comes to running a successful business, marketing is essential. For a small business, marketing often seems like a daunting task – especially when it comes to marketing your business on the web.

Many times, budget-minded business owners fear that small business marketing needs to be expensive in order to be effective. Fortunately – this isn’t true. Here are five simple tips for small business owners who are looking to save dollars, while still running an effective online marketing campaign.

1. Optimize Your Website

There are three simple steps to take so that you can be sure that your website is working for you.

The first is to use a descriptive title for your site as well as keywords and a description that allows search engines and site visitors alike to know what they will find when they visit your web page. Once that’s taken care of, make sure that you are placing keywords appropriately in the text of your website.

Your keywords should be specific to your products and services, and should be chosen with consideration for the terms prospective customers would use when searching with Google or Yahoo or whichever other search engine they use.

Finally, these keywords should also be used in the alt image tags as they relate to the photos and illustrations that you post to your website.

2. Market Your Website with Articles & Distribute Press Releases

Article marketing is an extremely effective way to draw visitors to your website. By creating an informative short article that relates to your business, your area of expertise and your keywords, you can show readers a bit more of what they’ll find from your business – which you can link to in your resource box at the bottom of the article.

Online press releases are another effective marketing tool. Like conventional press releases that let local newswires pick up a story about a new staff member or a new product line, online press release distribution will allow you to get the word out to those who publish online newsletters or who review products and services like those that you offer.

Both articles and press releases published online create valuable, relevant inbound links to your website (via the link to your site in your resource box at the end of each article or press release). Search engines place a great amount of value on the number of inbound links you have to your site, so this is an excellent way of building popularity with the search engines, as well as your human customers.

Both article marketing and distributing press releases will enable you to establish yourself as an expert and your company as a source for products or services. Each is effective, and often, submission to article directories is free – that’s right, free marketing for your business, all it takes is a little bit of time.

3. Start a Blog

It’s a common statement when it comes to Internet marketing: content is king. A blog – short for a weblog – allows you to create fresh content at regular intervals, driving traffic and search engines to your website.

Like article marketing and press release distribution, having a blog allows you to establish your expertise about the products and services that your small business offers. Unlike article marketing and press release distribution, however, a blog allows you to begin to carry on a dialog with your current and prospective customers.

Your blog works like search engine magic for your website. By linking your blog to your website, you draw the search engines to your website. Your site will rank higher and your customers will have a much easier time finding your site.

4. Commit to a Link Building Campaign and Submit Your Site to Directories and Search Engines

As a small business owner building and promoting your business on the web, having quality inbound links is important. Links allow your site to be found by those who visit similar sites looking for the products and services that your company offers.

Links – like those at the end of your articles and press releases, like those that link back to individual products or services from within your blog, and like those from others who have purchased from you in the past – help to improve your site’s search engine rank.

By submitting your business’ website to relevant directories and even to industry-specific – niche – search engines, you’ll begin to generate additional links. More importantly, however, these niche directories are increasingly used by those looking for very specific sites. Having your listing present will make it even more likely that your prospective customers will find your page; that makes them a particularly valuable marketing tool for your business, and, again, it’s often free to submit your site.

5. Look for Joint Ventures with Other Like-Minded Business People

It’s not uncommon for small businesses to work together – a movie theater and a restaurant offering coupons for a discount if you spend the evening at both places. In my past life working with large corporations I realized that the largest companies grow by means of joint ventures all the time. However, many small businesses do not look into joint ventures when it comes to marketing their businesses.

Is it always easy to find the right joint venture for marketing your business? No, of course not. But it is possible to find like-minded business owners whose customers could benefit from your products or services just as your customers could benefit from those that they offer.

As a result, both small businesses will be better able to extend their outreach and develop a wider customer base. If you are going to enter into a joint venture, search for companies with similar goals and a similar customer base but a different type of product or service. Stay on the lookout, keep an open mind and you just might find the perfect opportunity to market your business to a new audience.

A perfect example of this principle is a recent joint venture I did with a company who specializes in teaching business credit skills to small business owners. This company markets to the same clients that I wish to add to my customer list, but they offer a completely different service. By working together, we were able to market our services to each other’s mailing lists, resulting in both of us attracting new customers we would not have had otherwise. The great part about this joint venture was that there was no out-of-pocket cost to either of us – just our time and a little creativity in coming up with suitable promotions to each other’s lists!

Taking your business to the web does not need to be difficult, nor does it need to be expensive. By taking a creative approach, small business owners on a tight marketing budget will be able to find traffic and increase their customer base.

Focus on reaching the search engines: use the right keywords and use them appropriately. Let people know that you have the information they need with articles and be sure to get the word out by distributing press releases. Interact with your customers with a high quality blog, and focus on getting great links. Lastly, take advantage of partnerships with like-minded business owners.

Marketing your small business website may require a lot of hard work, but it doesn’t require a lot of money – oftentimes, the best results are derived from the most creative (not the most expensive) solutions.