<![CDATA[cojec.org - Blog]]>Sun, 26 May 2024 11:24:02 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Marketing]]>Wed, 01 Mar 2023 17:10:42 GMThttp://cojec.org/blog/marketingThe subject of Marketing can be a lifelong study.  So much material, so many ideas, plans, platforms...but in this post I'd like to highlight the most fundamental, simplest tips that are so important you should drop everything you're doing and do a critical examination of your marketing with these in mind:
  1. Guys, do a marketing edit of everything you have out there.  Look at your marketing through the eyes of your customer.  Look at your website, social media pages, google page, actually google your own business, look at your business cards, even your email signature.  Correct mistakes, update any information that has changed since you first started your business, look at your "about me" or business description--does it make sense to your customer, is your location on google maps correct...have a friend look at your pages for you and give you honest feedback.
  2. Now lets talk about CLARITY--do your website, social media posts, etc. say who you are and clearly say what you do? If a stranger who doesn't know you or anything about your business stumbles onto your page, can they quickly understand what you do, what you sell, what you represent?  Someone once told me that your marketing should be so clear as to be understood by a 12 year old child from another country that doesn't know your language.
  3. And third, for today, (because this by far is not the last you will hear on this subject!)How easy is it to do business with you? Do your customers know how they can buy what you're selling? Really.  I mean it.  Is it crystal clear to everyone (not just you)--do they know where to click, how you take payments, how they receive your product, where to go, what they need to do when they get there?  For brick and mortar, customer experience should be your highest priority.  Did you know there are customers who will not enter a business if they're not sure which entrance to use?!? Or if they're not sure if you're open, or if they don't know if they can afford what you sell, or if they're not sure WHAT you sell...etc.  Yes, there are all those customers who already buy from you, who know what to do and are loyal. If you want to reach ALL your potential customers, have your marketing work FOR you, not against you. 
Hope this is helpful!

Amy]]>
<![CDATA[Starting your business with no money]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2023 16:19:01 GMThttp://cojec.org/blog/starting-your-business-with-no-money​Let's start at the very beginning --you have an idea for a business, it's a great new idea or maybe it's always been your passion.  Either way, you're ready to hit the ground running.  First, you will need some money to get this off the ground. You would like to open your business in Johnstown  because you've heard there are "grants" available to entrepreneurs that want to start a business.  Well, yes and no.  Please allow me to clear the air on this subject with some solid information about grants, loans and self-funding.

First, lets talk about grants.  From an article from the Southeastern Louisiana University: "​Every business owner would like to have a grant for starting or expanding a business. The fact is no government agency is handing out free money to start small businesses, regardless of your gender, ethnicity, or economic status. The harsh reality is that 95% of most small businesses are started with personal savings, loans from friends or relatives, or commercial loans. The owner must invest their own money and collateral. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does NOT make grants to business owners."

Have grants been distributed? Absolutely!  Is a grant a possibility for your small business?  A possibility, yes.  A probability, no.  Getting a grant requires research, time, and effort to find a grant opportunity that fits what you want to do.  Then begins the real work of meeting the eligibility requirements, completing the application process and writing a solid business plan.  Applying for grant money is an extremely competitive and demanding process.  

From the same article:  Here are a few more things to remember about finding a grant.
• There is no substitution for a good solid business idea. No amount of money will make a bad business idea work. Do your homework and get good advice to determine if your idea is worth pursuing with or without a grant.
• If a business idea is not worth pursuing without a grant it probably is not worth pursuing the grant.
• If it is a true grant opportunity you will be able to find an application, guidelines or an organizational contract. Hearing that a friend of a friend of a friend got this grant is no guarantee that such a grant actually exists. 
• The time and effort spent seeking grants can often go a long way in helping you do the valuable research needed to start a business.

Next, lets talk about loans--I get significantly fewer requests for small business loan information than grants, but it is important to understand the process is very similar.  Research, put the time and effort into finding the source that is right for you.  Then get to work creating that solid business plan that will convince a lender to partner with you.  This is a great article about SBA (Small Business Administration) that you might find encouraging: fsb.bank/resources/useful-information/the-truth-about-sba-loans.

And last but not least, lets talk about self-funding.  But you don't have funds, right?!? As stated in this article: www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2018/34685/how-small-business-owners-got-their-start, 59% of business owners worked a full-time job while they started their business.  Another idea is plain old-fashioned, old-school bootstrapping.  "It is the quickest and surest way of building a solid business," as stated in Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money by Greg Gianforte.  "Why? Because you are forced to deal with customers and fulfill their needs from day one.  This compels you to maximize your efforts on sales, and to meet the real needs of real customers. If you had plenty of external funding, you might be fooled into thinking you had created a business."  

Boot strapping your own business forces you to learn quickly, not waste time or money, it's low risk, you can start immediately, and a lack of excess funds fosters innovation and therefore better results.  The achievement of creating and sustaining a business leveraged on your own ingenuity is the essence of entrepreneurship.  Only you can decide which approach to funding is right for you and your business.  And it might ultimately be a combination of all three avenues with some support from family and friends thrown in!  As always, I'm here to answer or get answers to any business questions you may have!  Let me know how I can help you on your business journey!

​Amy
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