Grow Your Business: Online and Offline

There’s no magic formula for starting a successful business. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to do business online or have real-life, brick-and-mortar type business.

I know. I’ve done both.

Though I’ve operated a physical business and have done my fair share of marketing that and my writing online, a lot of times it’s just hit and miss. This goes for all types of businesses, whether you’re selling over the Internet or on Main Street.

Find Your Voice

This is something I’ve heard throughout my writing career, but it’s also relevant to the business. Just be yourself. Don’t copy someone else’s style and try to be something you’re not, even if they’re successful.

Be genuine, and make your business distinct.

When it comes to business, don’t try to be Walmart or Amazon or any other successful business. If you own a coffee shop, don’t try to be like Starbucks. If you own a restaurant, don’t try to be McDonalds. If you become like them, why would anyone bother to come to you? They’d just go to the Starbucks or the McDonald’s up the road who’ve perfected their respective models.

People want to buy from people they know, like, and trust. If you’re trying to be something else, customers aren’t going to trust you, and they’ll go elsewhere.
I’m not saying don’t learn from other successful businesses. Of course, you should. But don’t just cut and paste, thinking that will work. It won’t.

Like any good writer, as a business owner, you need to consider your target audience. Understand what they want, and market to them, focusing your branding strategies and advertising campaigns on those types of things you know will interest your target market.

It’s Partly About the Money

Even though the business is essentially about serving others, we can’t do it for free. I’ve got mouths to feed and bills to pay. As I’m sure you do too.
No business can survive without revenue.

Understand this about business: people pay when you add value to their lives. That’s what all businesses essentially do, add something to people’s lives to make their lives better. Charging a customer a fair price is something about which no business owner should feel ashamed.

If people say your prices are too high, the market will help determine whether what you’re charging is too much. Smart business people will adjust their price if they need to, or by tweaking to whom they market.

Now, speaking of payment…

Methods for Paperless Contracts

I’ve done contracts via e-mail, though the legality of that is grayer. Sometimes you need something more to protect you. Contracts and other business-related documentation can add tremendous expense by involving lawyers and other professionals to ensure its legality. Buying property, for example, involves specialists whose involvement adds to the expense.

Many companies – and contractors, consultants, and others – would benefit from services that both help with paperless payments and agreements. This includes lease agreements for business premises.

If you’re in the market for ways to cut costs on leases, mortgages, or contracts, the technology for creating electronic means to ensure the validity of legal documents has been evolving since the beginning of the century.

It was the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-SIGN) Act in 2000 that made electronic signatures legally valid in the United States, and which now governs all e-contracting via electronic signatures. A number of companies have developed this technology even further.
Here are several platforms that can help you with paperless contracts:

  • Docsketch
  • eOriginal SmartSign
  • E-Signature
  • OneSpan Sign
  • PDCflow
  • RightSignature
  • One of those companies, eOriginal, who was at the forefront for digital leases, also developed the eNote, a promisory note for paperless mortgages. These types of eContracts will improve the bottom lines for many businesses, saving both time and money by using technology to lessen the need for paper contracts.

    Keep Costs Low

    Using paperless contracts is just one way to keep business costs down. There is an almost infinite number of ways to save money. Here are a few other cost-saving tips:

    Barter: Though this may seem like a throwback, bartering with other businesses can save money. If you have something of value you can offer in return for something you need from another business, this can be a win-win situation, with both of you saving money. For example, a restaurant needing a new menu could cater to a work party for a printer in exchange.

    Hiring & Retention: By taking on capable people without much – or any – experience for entry-level positions, you can save money on salaries, as long as you invest in training them well. If they turn into competent employees, keep them on. High-performing employees are valuable assets, and you’ll save money by keeping on good staff rather than hiring and training someone new.

    Outsource: For things for which you don’t have capabilities, it’s smart to get an expert. For example, you may want to hire a writer or even a digital marketer. to develop content marketing through blogs and other content.

    Go green: We’ve all heard that we need to reduce, reuse, and recycle to save our planet. What if we could do so and save money in the process? We can, by utilizing things like LED bulbs to lower utility costs, or even replacing ink cartridges with remanufactured ink cartridges which can be found online at a much lower cost, like the cartridges offered here.

    Conclusion

    Whatever your business. Understand that though it’s your business, you’re here for your customers. If the service you’re providing isn’t building a strong customer base, look at what you’re doing.

    Saif Abbas is a writer, part-time entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant that has worked with Fortune 500 brands and top startups across the globe. He is also a regular contributor to media outlets, including Huffington Post, Drift, Forbes, Ahref, Moz, Search Engine Land, and others.

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