Startups are everywhere on the internet today. It doesn’t matter if your expertise, service, or focus is on technology, business, social media, content creation or even applications — this space is extremely saturated! Everyone has ideas, but only those who know how to implement them and turn their efforts into actions will see real results. Just like it’s easy for anyone to start a website or blog, it’s not so easy to get real traffic and make money.
The same is true for starting any type of business online. It’s all fun and games in the beginning, as you are likely starting from zero… but how long can this immediate growth last?
Rapid startup growth is a common goal for many business owners, but it’s one that is tricky to achieve. You need the right marketing tactics, customer support and operational infrastructure — and you need the resources to sustain it all until the sales start rolling in. This is where the opportunity of running an internet-based business really comes into play.
So, what’s the secret to scaling up with speed? Members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their best growth hacks for businesses looking to expand quickly. By following any of the growth hacks for businesses below, you should start to see improvement across the board in a matter of a few short weeks.
1. Create Your Brand
Start creating your brand as quickly as possible. Your brand is an important asset for a startup. People need to know what you do and why you do it in order to use your product or service. The faster people know your brand, the faster you will be able to scale up your business.
2. Learn How to Delegate
The fastest way to scale is to optimize your time. Start with the things that are taking up the majority of your time and find someone to manage them. Hire, outsource or create daily efficiencies, and scaling will feel easier than it should.
3. Focus on Your Processes
Experiencing rapid growth can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how prepared you are. We experienced and are experiencing this growth currently, and it helped expose areas of improvement in our processes. If your processes are broken and you grow fast, it will only emphasize those weaknesses. If you focus on shoring up processes first, you’ll be prepared for fast growth.
4. Draw Attention to Your Brand and Product
Ride on your competition’s research through SEO and advertising. Use Quora as a platform to answer questions related to your product. You will get immediate traffic. Use video marketing on LinkedIn to draw attention and increase followers.
5. Keep Reminding Your Audience About Your Brand
You have to get out there and get your name out. The more people you know who keep seeing what you do, the more they will think of you when they need what you do or know someone who you can help. This is a big reason why people buy from top brands — their marketing is all over the place reminding you.
6. Grow Your Team
The rate-limiting factor of growth of any organization is leadership. Entrepreneurs need to scale themselves as well as their teams. When the team is more effective and growing, the business will automatically grow to greater and greater scale. Nothing matters more than human capital.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Accept Help
If you insist on rapid growth, you’re going to need help. And once you get that help, you are going to need to trust their abilities. Too many entrepreneurs think they can do it all and they end up exhausting themselves/failing. Let those around you help you.
8. Put the Customer First, No Matter What
The bigger your business, the greater the need for a solid customer support infrastructure. Prioritize customer communication early on. Each interaction is an opportunity to showcase your brand’s voice and values. Cultivating loyalty and customer satisfaction is a result of having the right solutions and experts to guide your customer service strategy.
9. Know Your Sales Funnel
Sustainable, fast growth requires every part of the acquisition funnel to be in top shape. This will look different for every business, but it’s always important to pinpoint exactly what isn’t working, whether that’s acquiring leads, converting them or upselling them.
10. Learn How to Get the Right Traffic
You’re great at what you do, your service is wonderful and your prices are well worth the value you provide. The only thing is, nobody knows you and they can’t find you. If you know how to generate foot traffic or web traffic at a good cost, you’ll be able to scale up quickly. Find the right help, or roll up your sleeves and figure out how to do this for your industry.
11. Build a Strong HR Team
Most entrepreneurs do not pay enough attention to HR. To scale up quickly, you need to rely on people. You can’t do everything yourself and let your department heads rely on you in order to move forward. HR comes into play and lets you hire people that you can rely on.
12. Aggressively Network
My advice to startups looking for quick growth is to get the word out about their business or service by any means necessary. Spending a lot of money on marketing and promotion may not be possible in the early stages, but one of the cheapest and most effective methods of doing so is to connect with other professionals. Foster healthy relationships with professional peers.
13. Focus on SEO
SEO is still one of the most effective growth strategies, but it’s hard for founders to execute because it requires content development and the ability to build systems and processes effectively. Double down on content and guest blogging to get backlinks. Stick to it for a couple months targeting niche keywords and you’ll see exponential growth. Most give up too early, but it requires time.
14. Make Time for Strategic Planning
Every year, I make a vision board of what I want in my life. Then, I break it down to the top three goals that I feel I must accomplish for growth. Furthermore, I break it down into weekly actions and daily activities. Once a week, I outline my priorities for that week. I analyze what last week’s activities were, and if I find that I was off track or started another project, I cut it.
15. Get to Market Quickly With Your MVP
It’s critical you get to market as fast as possible to test your assumptions. The concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) is the fastest way to support rapid scaling. It allows you to quickly test your assumptions, iterate your product and accelerate the never-ending work of building a product that remains a must-have to your target consumers.
16. Create Value
Nothing ethical and good is done without creating real and meaningful value for another business. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you a bottle of Uncle Tom’s magical formula. Focus on value and how to make that something that can be shared and promoted.
17. Proceed With Caution
Scale up based on demand, not just because you want to. If you scale up too quickly, you run the risk of overextending your resources and potentially losing your company. Concentrate on the quality of your product and look long term. If what you provide is really worthy of massive growth right away, the market will dictate that naturally and you won’t have to force it.
How to Start Your Startup in the Right Direction
Having read through each of the actionable and expert tips above, you likely already have some good ideas for launching or improving your startup. With all of this in mind, it’s important to take advatage of the many benefits the internet has to offer — especially in terms of connections and online tools.
Take some time to run through our list of recommended business tools and resources, and if you are currently having a hard time with raising the necessary funds for your business, this is also a great resource. No matter what direction or method you take, just be sure to take action daily and always progressing in the right direction.
First Impressions and Final Words: The Importance of Business Cards in 2019
Business cards have been around since the 15th century.
They first originated in China as “visiting cards.” The Chinese visiting cards would express one person’s intention to come and meet another person.
Then in the 17th Century, the popularity of exchanging cards began in Europe. Without the right business cards, you were a failure in the eyes of the public.
There were also extremely strict rules and etiquette guidelines for people handing out their cards. Failure to have the right card or follow the rules would result in a social disaster.
As we fast forward to today, people are still using business cards as networking tools. Not having a business card or having the wrong kind can ruin your business relationships.
Approximately 10 billion business cards are being printed on an annual basis. However, almost 8 out of the 10 billion cards printed are being thrown out in less than a week.
Yet, studies show that your companies sales will increase by at least 2.5% for every 2,000 cards you hand out. Even if a prospect doesn’t keep your card, they’ll still remember meeting you.
After hundreds of years, your card is still a representation of who you are and what you’re all about. Read on to find out about the importance of business cards in the 21st century.
The Importance of Business Cards
When you network you’re actively making meaningful connections. Sending out your contact information online can be somewhat effective. Many businesses successfully use affiliate marketing online to generate leads.
However, when you only rely on digital communications you’ll miss out on making a genuine connection. When you give your card to a potential client, they can put a face to the name of the company. You’ll be able to stand apart from all of the other companies they were researching online.
A computer can’t look your customer in the eye and convey authenticity, but you can. The encounter gives you a competitive edge over others in your industry.
Here are a few different online tools you can use for creating your personalized cards:
Allow yourself to be creative as you explore the different designs. Prospects will enjoy sharing your creative cards rather than boring ones. Having people share your card means your brand will reach more potential customers.
No matter what type of business cards you end up going with, consider your options on going with a cool and unique design. After all, these are going to be used for many years and will be the first impression of your own personal brand and expertise.
Effective Business Cards
Making a great impression starts with the style of your card. Many people mistakenly believe that all a business card does is give information. However, they really are tools to make wonderful first impressions.
It’s important to design a card that expresses your companies personality and brand. It can help to ask for outside advice from a friend or family member. Show them the design you are considering and ask them how it makes them feel. If the way they feel reflects your brand, you’re off to a great start.
Show Prospects You’re Ready for Anything
Have you ever asked someone for their business card and they couldn’t give it to you? Chances are you had a negative first impression of that person. Your subconscious mind is always listening, watching and making conclusions.
Even if you’re not consciously aware of it, you’ll judge someone for not having the right tools.
The same will happen to you if you’re not ready to hand over your card when asked. Even if you take the time to write your information down, chances are they won’t be calling you.
Make sure you always carry your cards on you. A simple trip to the store could end up as a networking opportunity.
When you use a business card, your information is always accessible. In today’s digital world, it’s hard to believe that anyone could ever lose access to the internet.
However, people are frequently in situations where they can’t go online. Imagine, your potential customer is camping in a remote area or staying at a cabin in the woods.
They don’t have internet access but they do have the ability to make phone calls. If they need to schedule a service or make a purchase, they’ll have to rely on their business cards.
Also, certain people don’t own digital devices or have trouble operating theirs. If your contact information is stuck in their phone, they may never access it.
Also, what happens when they lose or break their phone? A broken phone could take days to repair. Yet that doesn’t mean the customer will wait days to make purchasing decisions.
When the customer needs access to your company’s contact information, your card will be there to save the day. Giving your card means that no matter what the situation, customers can always reach you.
If your company is new it helps to have clear networking goals. When you go to different networking events you’ll bring your cards with you. Then you can set a daily goal for how many cards you need to distribute.
A good idea is to set a goal to hand out at least 50 business cards. If you’re having a difficult time, your cards will remind you to stay motivated. Make sure that as you hand out your cards you establish eye contact.
Your card will have your contact information and a brief summary of your product or service. If you’re looking for employment make sure to include a list of your skills.
The person you give your card to might not need your services. Yet, they might know someone who does need something you provide. With a list of your skills, the person with your card will know who to refer you to.
How to Make a Great First Impression from Day One
Yes, you could say that business cards are old school and not many people use them today. That might be the case, but if you are actively attending different conferences and trade show events, they will come in handy.
Just think about how many people are meeting with each other on any given day at these events. With hundreds of business cards changing hands, only the ones that stand out and leave a great first impression will be remembered.
When it comes to creating new business and partnerships, this simple one-up over the competition can equate to something huge in the long run.
If you are still using the same old traditional business card that gets scanned over for second and tossed away… rethink your marketing strategy and invest in yourself and your business today with a new design and business card. It’s one of the most important, yet cost-effective, investments you can make!
Loans vs. Line of Credit: Which is Better For Your Business?
When your business grows or goes through a short-term cash drought, you need an influx of cash. The bank is the best place to start. They give you two options a loan or a line of credit. It can be hard for a business to decide loans vs. line of credit.
They both can give you the cash you need, but each is different on how the cash gets to you and how you pay it back. As a business owner, you don’t want to make a rash decision that can impact your business for years.
We’ve broken them down and given you plenty of information to determine which is best for you.
Line of Credit Basics
A line of credit isn’t a loan. It’s like a credit card with a limit. When you apply for a line of credit, the bank gives you a set amount that you can have access to. You don’t need to take a penny of it. It can sit there ready to use when needed.
When you decide to take it, you don’t need to take the entire amount. For example, if you had a run on a popular product, but don’t have the cash flow to order more, then you can access your line of credit.
You have a $10,000 line of credit, but only need $200 to cover the costs of the product. You take the money out and then you agree to pay back that amount plus any interest.
In the meantime, your accessible line of credit is $9,800 until the money is paid back. You then have access to the full $10,000 again.
It’s rare for a business to take out a full amount and instead to take out small amounts when needed.
Benefits of Line of Credit
Financially, the biggest benefit is you don’t need to pay anything until you take the money out. You’re not locked into a monthly payment and you only need to pay the money back that you took out with a little interest.
These are geared more as a short-term loan that is paid back in a few months rather than a multi-year loan. They are commonly referred to as a revolving loan and have lower interest rates than a term loan of similar size.
If you are late on payments, then that rate can increase dramatically, and you can incur fees.
It’s also great to save for an emergency such as a sudden building repair or an increase in product price. Lines of credit are popular with small business that can’t come up the cash fast when a new opportunity arises.
A standard business loan is like a standard loan. You visit the bank and request to borrow a specific amount of money. There is a purpose associated with the loan such as the purchase of a building, fleet of cars, expansion, etc.
The bank examines your credit and balances the risks and benefits before determining to allow the loan. Once approved, you work on the length of the loan, interest, payment amount and are given a lump sum of money.
For example, your current building isn’t large enough for your burgeoning and growing business.
You can get a term loan to pay for a new larger facility and moving expenses. It can also go for equipment such as a new oven for a cookie company or new equipment that you use to create a new product.
You pay it back monthly at a set interest rate until loan agreement is fulfilled. They are traditionally used for more long-term investments.
Benefits of Term Loans
The biggest benefit of a term loan is predictability. You know each month you’ll owe the bank a set amount. There’re no worries about that amount changing or the amount owe going up or down. The rate of interest is the same for the life of the loan.
The biggest downside is you likely provided some type of collateral on the loan. If you can’t pay back the loan, then the bank can take that collateral. Keep that in mind when you’re determining your monthly payment amount.
If you pay more, then you can pay towards the principal and lessen the amount of term of the loan. You can do with what you want with the money as soon as you receive it.
Loan vs. Line of Credit
So, you know what the differences are between the two, but which one is the best for your business. It all depends on what you want to do with it.
Lines of credit aren’t meant to be long-term loans. They’re there for an emergency or small thing that didn’t fit into the budget. You need $3,000 for a new furnace or the refrigerators for your produce died. This is something that would probably be better applied to, or paid with credit cards.
It’s not meant for something large like a new building. It can be used for payroll, off-season costs, and restocking inventory. If you use for money-making ventures, then it can end up paying for itself.
Businesses use lines of credit for small purchases a little at a time. Don’t take one out and grab the whole amount at once. You likely need a business loan. It’s easy to learn why if you carefully examine the pros and cons of each method.
If your need is high cost and can take years to pay back, a business loan works best. You get a large lump sum to purchase a new building or other major expense like equipment and pay it back over time.
Which is Best for You?
Ultimately, you need to decide which one is the best for your business needs. Loans vs. line of credit can be a difficult decision, but hopefully, we’ve made it easier for you to choose.
Loans are best for long-term high-cost expenses, but lines of credit are best for short-term expenses and emergencies. What is your business looking for?
If you’re interested in learning more about money and how you can improve your business, then please explore our site.
6 Great Ways to Accept Online Payments on Your eCommerce Site
When it comes to running a successful online business, one of the most important things site owners, drop shippers, and brands need to think about is how to best accept payments online, while also minimizing payment fraud. As wonderful as it is to accept credit cards online, your business is responsible for making sure every transaction is secure and authentic.
Did you know that 42% of customers making online purchases use credit cards as a payment method? In fact, it’s the leading payment method. Electronic payment is running at second with 39% of customers using it.
As years go by, people are shifting towards cashless methods of payment.
But which method works best for your business? What are the different ways to receive payment for online businesses? This is something that you should consider for your business.
Here are some ways you can receive payments on your online business.
1. Receive Payments via Credit Cards
One of the options to help you accept payments online is by credit card. It’s a widely-used method on a global scale, especially in countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Korea, China, and most of Western Europe.
Credit cards are also among the most popular payment methods. Payments from these cards go through the use of payment gateways like PayPal and Due, or through merchant accounts.
If you wish to set up a merchant account for your website, be sure to learn more before proceeding.
Another way for you to receive payments online is through the use of e-wallets. There are many online platforms that offer this service. Especially with small online businesses in mind.
Using e-wallets tends to be effortless and easy on both sides. This speeds up the transaction process.
PayPal and AliPay are prominent in offering such options. This makes PayPal popular in the US and AliPay with China.
3. Direct Carrier Payments
There are some services and products that bill customers through their telephone or utility carriers. This is an interesting option for customers to pay for services or products. One such example is with Google’s Play Store, which offers this payment option.
This is a safe option for customers to pick. Direct carrier payment streamlines the process without redirecting them to a different site.
This is also helpful for merchants carrying this service. Not only does it offer a secure method but it’s also fast and seamless.
4. Bank Transfers
Another method that you can use to accept online payments is through bank transfers. This is one of the oldest and more traditional methods available.
Some merchants offer instructions for customers to send their payments towards a bank account. This method often employs the use of an IBAN number.
Keep in mind that bank transfers aren’t immediate. For some banks, it may take 2-3 business days before the deposited amount reflects in the receiver’s account.
It is also possible for customers to send their payments using cash. In fact, other countries like Russia, India, and Romania make use of cash payments for their online businesses.
There are some ways to use this method as factors such as location and reach towards customers come to play.
One of the methods that you can use is through cash-on-delivery (COD). This service allows the courier to send the product. Then collect the payment upon arrival to the customer’s location.
FedEx offers this service and is a preferable choice. Other courier companies only accept checks and money orders.
In addition to using a credit card, Paypal is one of the most used and accepted forms of payment in the world today.
While it is possible to use a credit card to make payment through Paypal, many users are also connecting their accounts to their bank accounts as well. This simply makes it one of the easiest methods of payment processing for millions of users around the world.
Another reason why Paypal is perfect for both customers and eCommerce platforms is that it’s usually simply a matter of clicking a few buttons and providing API account information to integrate it within an online shopping cart or payment solution.
An extra added benefit to accepting payment through Paypal is that businesses can grow their account history and also take advantage of loan programs like Paypal Working Capital.
Pick A Payment Method That Matches Your Business Today!
Knowing and choosing the right payment method for your online business is crucial. This is the lifeblood that keeps your business flowing. Having an efficient, fast, and secure channel to receive payments lets you gain profit while the customer gains satisfaction.
Did you find this post helpful? We have a variety of topics that you can explore to help you with your business ventures. Check this one out about maximizing both time and money as an entrepreneur.
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