Monday, September 13, 2010

Startup doubts, approaching your bank, low-cost marketing, and more!

I was interviewed recently on a long list of small business topics by Donna Martin for's blog, How's Business. I opined as best I could, and it looks like they ran the whole darn thing.

Click here to read the interview.  We cover the following issues:

* I have a great idea brewing for a start-up. How do I overcome those doubts hovering in the periphery?

* How do I need to prepare before I approach a bank with my idea?

* I’m about to launch my business. Are there ways of advertising to the general public without incurring huge fees?

* Can you suggest some actions I can take to help me better learn and understand the needs of my target market?

* My day is busy enough as it is. How important is it for me to devote time to exploring social media?

* Are there a few key strategies I can use to take my business from good to fantastic?

* What is the most common learning curve that small businesses tend to encounter?

* Is there a really great entrepreneurial quote you’ve read lately?

* What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with others thinking about starting a business?

As an excerpt, here's my take on social media:

If you are a natural writer or communicator, you can make friends fast through new channels such as Facebook, blogging, Twitter or YouTube. But if you’re a busy entrepreneur who would rather meet clients and customers face to face, social media may not be a first priority.

Do yourself a favor: explore Facebook. Figure out what you think it’s good for, and what your prospects might expect from a Facebook “page” (or mini-site) for your business. Then think through whether you have the time and talent to create new business-related content that would engage customers and prospects and help build stronger relationships.

Statistics show that more and more people every day (300 million on Facebook alone) are relying on social media for news, relationships and all kinds of decision-making. But unless you have access to good content and marketing skills, you may find social media a lot of fuss over nothing.

Here's the funny thing about Staples' blog. I was in there to see them about 5 years ago to tell them they needed to start blogging to their small business market. It took them about four years to get to it (there were various reorgs and restructurings in the meantime.) But hey, they did it. Still, one of the things I told them they must do was promote it heavily in their home page. Of course, they nodded, of course.

Sadly, if you go to today, you have to look awfully hard to find the link. I know space is limited on the home page, but come on. A major customer-relationship tool like this deserves better placement. Which is why I link to their blog in my right-hand margin, under "Best Outside Links." 

Someone has to save big business from itself.

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