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How to Make Your Small Business Thrive Among Giants

A small business doesn’t mean small thinking. It doesn’t mean small ideas or small plans either. What it means is hard work, exciting plans and unstoppable drive. Small businesses sometimes feel the consumer neglect brought on by big business competition, but there are plenty of ways to make your small business one that grows, thrives and evolves in the very best way.

1. Embrace Your Size.
You’re a small business. Own that, and always remember bigger is not always better. Large corporations might be impressive, but they seldom offer the personal attention and care a small business can. Create a business culture that thrives on that small community feel, that hi-I’m-your-neighbor-can-I-borrow-a-cup-of-sugar closeness. Customer service can make or break the consumer experience, so be sure to show customers that you’re there to provide them with whatever they need without hesitation and faster than a large corporation could because, hey, that’s what you’re all about!

2. Build Relationships.
Customers are what make a business successful. Welcome them, make them feel at home and go out of your way to make an unforgettable first impression that you can build on with every visit. A happy customer is a repeat customer, and a repeat customer will often be your best source for referrals. When the big bad wolf corporation comes huffing and puffing to blow your business down, you’ll be happy you built your business with strong sturdy relationship bricks.

3. Reward Loyalty.
Building relationships is one thing, but maintaining them and helping them flourish is another. Show your customers that you want to take care of them by offering incentives such as coupons, discounts or points and rewards systems. Giveaways are another reward method that has grown in popularity with the help of Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets.

4. Be Present.
As a small business owner, you should take pride in your company, your workspace, your product and your employees. Walk around, greet customers, reach out to employees in some small way and let it be known that you care about what goes on. Show your face proudly!

Webinars and Podcasts for Small Business Owners

Webinars and Podcasts to tune in to….

As a small business owner, the amount of information out there is overwhelming- and while in the early stages of starting or managing your business it’s especially important to be able to capitalize on the good and ignore the bad or irrelevant. As part of our ongoing series this month on free and low cost resources for small businesses I specifically wanted to touch on internet content like webinars and podcasts.

For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology let me give you some background. Webinar, short for web-based seminar, is a presentation, lecture, or seminar transmitted over the web using video conferencing software. Podcasts, or webcasts are similar in the delivery of the content- done via an internet connection, but generally they are less interactive than webinars. The presenter, or host, is usually speaking on a subject or interviewing someone without taking questions from the target audience. Both can be extremely informative, and both are usually found online for free! Don’t you just LOVE free?

However, as with most things “free” that means that ANYONE with an internet connection and a microphone gets to flood the world-wide-web with their content. I’ve had an opportunity to read, listen, and do some research and I’m giving you my top 5 podcasts/webcasts for small businesses, as well as some really informative webinars that I think all business owners should consider taking.

Forewarning: It may be necessary to download I-Tunes, or Stitcher in order to explore the content listed here.

1. Marketplace w/ Kai Ryssdal:
Much to the horror and consternation of my small, Taylor Swift loving, pop-culture idolizing daughter, my car is 95% music-free. We rock out to National Public Radio (or rather, I rock out and they tune out). Kai Ryssdal’s daily show offers daily business and economic news, as well as special features on specific companies or industry. Not educational in the traditional sense- meaning you won’t learn a new marketing strategy from listening to one episode- Marketplace’s appeal lies in the power of being informed on business issues that span the globe.

Also, it’s fun to torture your kids with stock analyses and CEO interviews in the car.

You can listen to Marketplace in the Houston area on your drive home via Houston Public Media station FM 88.7, or check out the American Public Media website www.Marketplace.org.

2. HELP! My Business w/ Andrew Lock:
Formerly “Help! My Business Sucks”, British marketing whiz Andrew Lock brings his dry wit and 15 + years of combined marketing and video design experience into a humorous collaboration with his weekly WebTV show. Offering mostly marketing tips, tricks, and lessons to be learned from the examples set by others, Andrew’s show is a fun and fresh look at a topic (marketing) that tends to be “done” to death.
And spending 20 minutes a week listening to his cool English accent isn’t a hardship.

You can find info about Andrew at www.AndrewLock.com and check out the webcast content at www.HelpMyBusiness.com.

3. Harvard Business Review IdeaCast:
Weekly topics vary from leadership and management strategies to effective negotiation skills, as well as great interviews and pieces on corporate culture. Hosted by a wide variety of presenters, the content on IdeaCast gives a “something for everyone” feel, and with most episodes only 20 minutes or so, tuning in can provide some much needed quick mid-day inspiration.

Not to mention it’s Harvard. Pretty well respected in my book.

You can subscribe to IdeaCast via I-Tunes or Stitcher- free, but you will need to make sure you have to software on your computer or phone.

4. Home Work w/ Aaron Mehnke and Dave Caolo:
All-things-Apple guru Dave Caolo (he was the managing editor for the The Unofficial Apple Weblog for 8 years, and now he runs Apple World Today among other websites and penning books about Apple products) and his co-host Aaron Mehnke, a graphic designer and novelist bring you once-weekly content directed at professionals who work from home. From small business owners to tele-commuters for large corporations- they cover everything that work-from-home professionals face. Longer than most other podcasts I feature here, but still relevant- especially because they take and answer TONS of questions from their listeners.

Home Work has a website http://5by5.tv/homework, and you can find them on I-tunes as well.

5. The SBA’s Online Learning Center:
SO MUCH GOODNESS! You will see me refer back to the US Small Business Administration’s website quite a bit in my features on small business resources, because truly it is one of the best places for burgeoning businesses to start. The online learning center brings together tons of webinars and development videos into one easy-access website.

My personal favorite is the 30 minute “Encore Entrepreneurs”. Designed for people who are interested in starting a new business after moving on from other ventures or careers.

https://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/training/encore-entrepreneurs-introduction-starting-your-own-business

You can check out all the webinars available here:
http://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/search/training

6. Lynda.com, a LinkedIn company:
With all the webcasts, podcasts, blogs, webinars that are out there- I had to give you at least ONE traditional on-line training site. Lynda.com isn’t advice, or shared experiences or stories, but rather an affordable resource to LEARN a skill. Online how-to tutorials on over 3,300 topics- from Excel to CAD to Photoshop, Lynda’s technical content can help you improve your skill set in a variety of topics. Lynda.com isn’t free like some of our other resources, but memberships can start as low as $24.99 a month.

This blogger loves the section dedicated solely to improving your small business. Check out over 1,200 trainings on topics like Logistics, Time Management, and Accounting Fundamentals.

http://www.lynda.com/Business-training-tutorials/29-0.html?bnr=NMHP_blocks

www.Lynda.com

I hope we’ve given you all a good place to start expanding your knowledge! Taking advantage of the resources that are available to you as internet subscribers is a cost-effective way to help you gain experience and give new ideas to your business model. If our favorites don’t work out for you, don’t be afraid to explore on your own! Here’s a good list that has more direction for entrepreneurs looking to tune in to content on the web about and for small businesses.

Top 100 Small Business Podcasts: 2014 Edition

And don’t forget that in addition to our executive office space, The Hive Katy hosts LIVE seminars in our coworking space for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their knowledge and grow their business – and a lot of our presenters offer exclusive online content that they are willing to share only with our attendees. Our next event is Wednesday August 26th at 11:30 am. We will be discussing Sales Strategy with Glenn Smith of The Growth Coach. You can register here:

http://thehivekaty.com/product/7-keys-to-increase-sales-in-the-next-90-days-presented-by-growth-coach-glenn-smith/