Local Business Information – Maintaining Contact

Once you have made contact with a new prospect, or acquired a new customer, how do you help them remember your local business information? This is smart planning for long-term success for your small business.

Your small business needs a break from the grind of attracting new customers. Repeat business and generating new business from a contact list can increase your bottom line dramatically.

So how do you keep in touch with people?

1. Build an email list with Get Response or another brand of autoresponder. All you need is a name and email address and you can follow up right into their in box.

This is an easy way to create a mailing list and follow up with it. You can start one list for your current customers and one for your prospects.

Publishing an ezine, or electronic newsletter as it is known, is a good way to keep in touch with both lists. The more subscribers to your list the more income they can bring to your business. Plus this is a good way to keep your local business name in front of them.

2. Create a blog and add articles a few times a week. Invite people to keep up to date using your RSS Feed. Google owns Feedburner and this is an easy way for you to get new subscribers and maintain contact.

3. Have your secretary type than you notes and you sign them an mail them out. This is a powerful way to show appreciation to your customers. This is not very time consuming to do. Just get in the habit of doing it.

4. Brand your business with an attractive logo in every advertising you do. Include it on pens, magnets, flyers, note pads, key chains, and so on.

5. Email or snail mail discount coupons regularly. You see pizza companies do it over and over so you know it works. No matter how small the amount people like to save money.

6. Add a contest to your blog or website. Advertise them and asked people to get involved. To maintain a person’s interest give away really good prizes.

7. Encourage people to promote you by giving them cash for referrals. Satisfied customers will refer you on their own, but it doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive. Anytime you can get someone talking about your local business it is a good thing.

8. Use Internet marketing with off line tactics together to reach a greater number of people on a regular basis. Do as many of the things we have written about here plus add some you come up with.

Use the 8 things we have written about in this article to keep your local business information in front of existing customers and prospects. Maintaining contact is a smart thing to do and it is easy to do once you get in the habit!

Catering Business Information – What Does It Take To Run A Catering Business?

There’s a reason you’re looking for catering business information. That reason is because you have a passion for cooking. Every time you cook something, all of your friends seem to think you have the best dishes in the world. In fact, almost every time someone mentions food, your name comes up in the conversation. So, it’s only natural that you begin to consider the industry of catering.

The business has many advantages. The number one is that you get to make money doing what you love to do most: cook. Another advantage is that you get to be your own boss. You won’t have to listen to anybody about what you’re doing. Actually, you would have to listen and satisfy your client’s needs, but that’s natural with any business.

Though it may seem that it would be perfect for you to be a caterer because of your culinary skills, there’s one more characteristic, or skill, that a caterer needs: the skill of servicing people. The catering business is not just about making food. That’s a chef’s job. In fact, if you were running a restaurant, seventy percent of the business deals with the food. The other thirty percent is customer service. In the catering industry, it’s quite the opposite. Service is extremely important. Of course, the food has to be good, but the service has to be better. You can be the best chef in the world, but if you don’t know how to get along with people, then your catering business will inevitably fail.

If you’re that type that gets along with people well, then you may be on to something when you’re thinking about starting a business in the catering industry. So what else does a this type of business entail? Well, as with any business, you must know how to run a business. Specifically with the catering business, you would need to know how to organize and prioritize. It is a very important aspect in the business. The reason is because you would need to know what to do before the day of the event. You would need to know when you should get the ingredients, see if you would need help, and lots of small details to make your service perfect. Not to mention changes that your client may make at the last minute. Don’t let this discourage you though. After pulling off your first events, you’ll get the hang of things and it will be quite easy to run.

So how much does one need to start? That answer is easy: not too much (at least compared to starting other businesses). With a restaurant, you would have to lease out a commercial building (which already cost a lot), buy the kitchen equipment, hire some people that you will have to pay, insurance, and all types of other things that regularly come with a restaurant business. With a catering business, it is possible to start from home. The biggest investment you would have to make would probably be a truck or van if you don’t have one. The reason is because, as a caterer, you have the responsibility of getting the food to the event you’re going to cater too. Other than that, you can pretty much run the rest of your business on a minimal budget and from home. When you get more clients, that’s when you’ll have to start thinking of investing more money into a business.

A catering business is not that hard to run. Look up the internet or books to get the catering business information you need. In my opinion, all it really takes is a passion for cooking, great customer service skills, some business savvy, and a small budget. Once you have all that, the rest of it will come naturally. The hardest part, with any business in fact, is getting it started.

Business Best Practice and the Power of Business Information

Do nothing and you get to stay as you are.

Best practice is the goal of each individual business and will probably be described as looking after matters of ethics and integrity, good customer relations, supporting staff and maintaining good standards of service, accountability and fiscal compliance. Or the description might include positive management styles, high productivity and good economic strategies.

Most would agree that best practice is leadership, goal setting, teamwork, maintaining a culture of compliance, supervision, discipline, support, training, accountability and responsibility.

What if all of these were the focus of a new way of managing business information that provided everything that was needed to manage the business for success and peace of mind?

What if your most precious asset is your business information and what if the success of your business is affected by a lack of order and control over what happens on your business computer network? When you have no control over your business information you have no control over best practice and you might as well forget about it being in control of the business.

Best practice is available through an intelligent network that uses Business Information Organization (BIO) to create the kind of framework that allows for everyone in the business to have access to what they need to achieve the outcomes the business needs. You won’t have best outcomes unless you have best practice. You won’t have best practice if your business information is in a mess.

This is not about the way that your computers and peripherals communicate and it is not about any software. It is not about having the newest and the best equipment. It is not about hiring smart consultants and contractors to take over what should be the role of the business. It is about the power of content and the context of that content.

To explain this approach to best practice there is the example of a new office goods company. They had purchased a new warehouse and were planning to sell their goods online and in a large new showroom at the business end of town. They hired a new business management consultant with links to software companies who advised that they have two ways of managing their stock. Option 1 was to leave everything on pallets and use barcodes to locate the right pallet to get the stock to fill an order. Option 2 was to unload the pallets and store all of the same items together. Both options would be supported by software and equipment.

They chose Option 1 because they could unload the trucks faster and by having a pallet friendly storage system, get a more even distribution of bulk throughout the warehouse. It went well for a short while but they suddenly found that they had to hire more people to work in the warehouse running around to different stacks to fill a single order of multiple stock of the same item and when the computer that managed the warehouse was hit with a virus, everything stopped.

You would be highly unlikely to have chosen Option 1 but the point is that business information is like stock and you may be unwittingly using that scatter option for your business information. The more information is scattered and the more the content is hidden, the less it is available for the business. If that business information includes policy, training, resources and business knowledge the business can be in dire straits or just not doing what it should be doing.

So what if the most important stock of the business was its information content and what if it was no longer hidden and available to achieve the best practice you so desperately want to achieve? Look at your information now. How much do you know about the way it is managed? Where is your policy? How accessible is it and who created it? How often is it reviewed and updated and who does that review?

Look at your own information. Do you organize it at all or is everything bundled in my documents, my pictures, my albums? Is everything haphazard or loosely organized because you tell yourself you are the only person who needs to know what is there and where it is? If you create new folders do you think hard about how they are named and sited? Are there times when you can’t find anything? Is there time when you waste time and money looking for it?

The bad news is that the way that you don’t organize your information is exactly the same way that you everyone on your staff can’t and won’t organize the information they collect or create and store as they work. And the even worse news is that they are quite sure that they are the only ones who should know where it is and what it is. And even worse than that, they think it belongs to them and will delete it without asking anyone whether the business wants to keep it. So how does Option 2 which is about sorting and control sound when it comes to business information and protecting what belongs to the business in a place where it can be seen?

If you were able to make policy, training, resources and business knowledge (current and past) available where and when it is needed, you will have what you need for leadership, goal setting, teamwork, a culture of compliance, supervision, discipline, support, training, accountability and responsibility. You will have best practice leading to productivity and business success. Can you claim that this is available to you now?

Don’t let the IT industry keep dictating Option 1 for your business information content. They have a one-size-fits-all solution to your business information needs and they won’t be in your business to see how chaos slows it down and sometimes brings it to a grinding halt.

Option 2 is about the Intelligent Network and Business Information Organization (BIO) and it will cost you nothing to set it up. It is time to find out how it works and why it will work in your business. If you do nothing more than creating a network place for information based on what the business is and what it does you will be on a winner.

If, after reading this article you start asking questions about policy in your business you will start to move forward with velocity.

It is time to reject the ‘my documents’ solution and the promise of the virtual organizers in favor of ‘real’ order and control. It is time investigate the potential of the intelligent network and business information organization. It is time to explore best practice in information that got lost along the way and take back the control of your business.

Free Home Business Information: Business Plans

Are you a stay at home mom or a busy college student? Are there not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that you need to? Are you an entrepreneur that’s looking for some free home business information? Sometimes it is difficult to find the information that you need to start a business and that can be very discouraging. One of the biggest issues is a lack of knowledge of a strategic business plans. They are very important but most people don’t know the formalities.

Business blueprints are used for a number of reasons. You would use a business plan not only for your own organization but also if you’re seeking investors. Nobody is going to invest in your business without having a clear vision of where you plan to take it. Also, if you’re going to hire certain employees, that may require a business plan.

Never underestimate the power of a quality sales system. You cannot just say that your business is amazing, you need a plan. It is simply a written description of your business’s future. A business approach should express your goals, your strategies, potential problems and solutions, business structure, and costs compared to profits. You should project how much money you are going to have to spend before you break even. Then, you’ll want to record an expected profit margin.

While there is no right or wrong way to write a business plan, there is a general format to follow. The first part of it is the business concept. This is where you will discuss the industry and your business structure, your products and/or services, and your strategies for success. The second part is the marketplace section. This is where you will analyze potential consumers, record some demographics. Also, you will describe your competition and your strategies to stand above them. Lastly, there is the financial section. This is where you’re going to record your income, balance sheet, and other financial ratios. Basically, this will have your financial analyses.

It really depends on you and what you plan to accomplish with your plan. Some people may think that they do not need a plan but that is quite the contrary. Anybody that is starting a home business should write a business plan. You’re going to put a lot of time, money, and energy into your business and you want to keep everything documented. You don’t want to subject yourself to potential failure and a plan can help you to avoid unexpected obstacles.

Once you have your plan and you establish your business, you should continue to update your business plan regularly. Check your finances and make sure that everything is going as planned. Use free home business information to your advantage and take advice from experienced entrepreneurs.