Thinking about saving some money on your next business remodeling project by doing the work yourself?
Before you start ripping down walls and installing new fixtures, you might want to re-think whether or not doing your own renovation work is really worth it. Unless you're a professional contractor, chances are good this is one project you might want to leave to the experts.
Here's some key questions to consider before tackling your business remodeling project by yourself:
Do You Have The Right To Remodel?
If you rent or lease the property where your business is located, chances are good that any decisions about renovations need to be made by the property manager or building owner. Performing any work on the structure could void your lease - even if you've clearly improved the space.
Do You Have The Time To Take On A Renovation Project?
Running a business is already a full-time job - how will you find the time to take on a renovation project? And remember, most building improvement jobs tend to cost more, and take longer, than you expect - are you prepared to step away from your day-to-day duties while you moonlight as a renovator?
The only exception here is if you happen to operate a seasonal business, and you're able to do your own remodeling work during the weeks or months when your business is normally closed anyhow. In that case, you may be able to forgo your off-season vacation plans and complete some of the work yourself.
What About Liability?
Even if you've managed to complete some home improvement projects, doing work at your place of business involves an entirely different set of standards, regulations and risks. Workplaces need to conform to a host of local, state, and federal laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Doing your own remodeling work could fall outside the terms of your business insurance coverage, leaving you liable for any claims that arise as a result of work you've done - even if the work isn't structural.
Will Doing Your Own Remodeling Really Deliver A Decent ROI?
The most common reason why business owners and managers consider doing their own remodeling work is to save money, but once the liability risks, lost productivity, and sweat equity involved are considered, you may come to the conclusion that doing your own remodeling work simply doesn't make good business sense.
They say hindsight is 20-20. If you only would have known. As a business owner, you may already have a few things you wish you knew. Would you have hired that one person? Perhaps you would have started your company sooner. While it is important to look back, reflect and learn from these decisions, it is also important to realize that, when you are at the end of your business ownership, your wishes may be much different.
What Do Owners Reflect On?
There are many things business owners wish they would have done differently. Here are some common themes that seem to come to light.
Getting Help Sooner
Many business owners start out with a desire to build a company from the ground up on their own. It may be admirable, but it may not be exactly what helped your business to thrive. Instead, many business owners realize that if they could do it again that they would have hired on more help sooner. Some would have turned to a mentor sooner. They would have networked with other business owners more readily to pull them into their company.
They Would Have Done More Locally
It goes without saying that every business relies on its community to grow and thrive. Even online companies still need to hire from a local talent pool and build their business with the support of local suppliers. But, not all companies give back. Giving back to the community does not have to be a challenge – doing simple things on a routine basis can help to make a big difference in the community. You don't want to be on your deathbed and wishing you would have done more.
Getting Rid of the Problems
It's quite common for businesses, especially those starting out and looking for solid footing, to actually make the move to get rid of employees that do not fit the mold. However, we know today from our workplace culture that it's important to create a sense of culture, respect, and dependability. Some business wonders wish they would have taken a problem employee into the office and let them go long before they did damage.
The Risk Question
Many business owners wonder about risk. For some, taking on too much risk is just too much of a worry. For others, it is all about not taking enough. When you are there, at the end of your life, you'll want to have taken that risk and experienced perhaps not only the thrill of the ride but also the struggles.
As you work to build your business, reach out. Embrace the community. Support each other. Provide mentorship opportunities. By taking these steps, you can solidify your business model now and learn from the mistakes and wishes of those business owners that came before you. It may be exactly what you need to push your business forward that extra level.
A popular business model among brands offering digital services, Freemium means giving something away for free while gating other, more valuable services behind a pay structure. If you've engaged with brands like Skype, Hootsuite, Evernote, or Spotify, you already have a good understanding of how this works. Learn the ins and outs of the Freemium business model.
Different Freemium Structures
Business owners who choose to offer Freemium services have multiple options when it comes to structuring their business model. Some of the more popular Freemium models include:
Free forever plans. In the case of Evernote, a note-taking app that continues to improve features for teams, there is a basic plan that is free for anyone to use. The basic plan does have limitations, but it is a "base" product that is still valuable - until you need it to be more powerful. With Evernote, the basic plan currently limits syncing to two devices and data transfers to 60MB per month. The paid options increase these limits while adding other features, like pdf markup and offline access to notes. The business goal, in this example, is to get customers to fall in love with the product and ultimately become willing to pay for it.
Ad-driven Freemium products. Take virtually any mobile gaming app on the market and you'll see what makes these Freemium. While the game is free to play and enjoy, attaining new levels or switching back to the home screen may be accompanied by ads. For some app developers, ad revenue is primarily used to support the cost of the app. For others, ad revenue equals profit and an opportunity to cross-market other apps the consumer may enjoy.
Freemium with paid perks. Unlike our Evernote example, bonus features contained within a Freemium product are one-time purchases meant to enhance a user's experience of the product. With this model, we're not asking for a long-term commitment; instead, we're convincing the customer to make an impulse purchase (which adds up to serious revenue). Next time you're on Facebook, try a game like Candy Crush to see this in action. You start with a set, limited number of game "boosters" or helpers and, once they're gone, you're next option is either to spend a long time playing the game to earn them yourself or, for a nominal fee of $.99, purchase these enhanced extras and bust your way through candy-themed puzzles like a pro.
Initial phase Freemium. Sometimes a benefit for startups and entrepreneurs, offering a product for free can be a great way to illicit feedback, test the market, and perfect the product offering. Hulu is a great example of this idea. Hulu started by streaming content online completely free for customers. Granted, it wasn't prime-time quality content, but in the world of Netflix, it was a pretty sweet deal. Hulu used this trial period to learn what customers watched and gradually changed its offering to accommodate the market. Now, Hulu only offers paid plans in its quest to rival Netflix.
Toying with the Idea of Freemium?
As Harvard Business Review points out, there are ways to maximize monetization of Freemium services and not all businesses "get it right." To land lifetime customers, Freemium companies are tasked with effectively anticipating and managing the conversion lifecycle, creating customer evangelists who promote the brand willingly, and innovating their products offerings as the market changes.
Spoiler alert! Long-stemmed red roses continue to be the most popular flower for Valentine's Day. But that doesn't mean you can't find beautiful alternatives. Whether you are buying flowers for your wife, mother, daughter, or someone you just started dating, we have this year's most popular Valentine's Day flowers ready to help.
Valentine's Day gifts including flowers, chocolate, and jewelry have been exchanged for centuries. The popularity of the red rose goes back even further, as it was believed to have been the favorite flower of the Goddess of Love, Venus.
This Year's Most Popular Flowers for Valentine's Day
Although we have already mentioned red roses, pink roses are also very popular. They are associated with perfection, beauty, love, and romance, making them apropos for the holiday of love. White roses stand for purity, light pink for admiration and gentleness, and dark pink roses symbolize appreciation.
Red is the color of the day, and red carnations are the second most popular, and less expensive option for Valentine's Day. They are associated with new love and freshness, making carnations the ideal gift for a budding relationship.
Orchids continue to climb up the list as they denote similar meanings as roses, including beauty and love, while adding strength and luxury.
Tulips in red or pink are a popular option for new relationships. As with roses, each color of tulip symbolizes a unique quality. White is for forgiveness and yellow for cheerfulness.
Gardenias represent love, purity and joy. They are one of the most fragrant of Valentine's Day flowers and may be given individually in a bowl.
Peonies represent a prosperous marriage and are the 12th anniversary flower. They are a popular choice for giving to a loved one as they also symbolize romance and good fortune.
Lilies, including stargazers and alstroemerias are popular Valentine's Day choices. They can be mixed in with roses, carnations, and other flowers, or presented as a bunch in a vase. Perhaps the most popular lily for the season is the Casa Blanca lily, which makes a stunning presentation with its large fragrant blooms.
Giving one of this year's most popular flowers for Valentine's Day is the perfect way to show someone you care. Our local florists can help you choose the perfect gift based on your budget and relationship status. Whether you choose a single gardenia or a dozen red roses, they will be a hit.
Events, Products and Head-shots... Oh My! Choosing The Right Photographer For Your Business Needs
Whether you need full-color photos for your restaurant menu, headshots for your annual report, or mobile-friendly videos to add to your website, investing in professional photography services can deliver great returns for your business.
Here's what you need to know about choosing the right photographer for your business needs:
Consider Your Priorities
While virtually anyone can snap digital pictures, there's a real art to taking clean, attractive photos that enhance your business and appeal to your audience.
Start by making a list of what you need a photographer to do for your company. Are you looking for headshots to add to your webpage, static product shots for a brochure, or action photos for your social media feed? Professional photographers tend to specialize in one or two types of photography such as portraits, real estate, product photos, or live-action images.
Ask About Ownership
Simply hiring a photographer to take pictures for your business doesn't necessarily give you the rights to use the photos they take on your website, print materials, or business cards. Be sure to discuss ownership of the images up front, and get your agreement in writing. For example, you may need to negotiate a Digital Rights Fee - a contract that clearly outlines how you can use the photographs and whether or not you need to give the photographer credit each time you publish a photo they took.
Discuss Retouching Fees
Thanks to the magic of photo-editing programs like Photoshop, many photographers now offer value-added services to remove small blemishes, clean up backgrounds, and even edit in people into photographs. All this digital photo magic comes at a price, so be sure to explore exactly what photo editing will cost before you sign a contract.
Ask For A Portfolio
Professional photographers are expected to maintain an active portfolio of their work so they can show of their skills to prospective clients. Review recent work of photographers you're considering using, and as with all contractors, take the time to ask for references.
Planning on relocating your business?
Whether you're relocating your business to our region from another county or state, or you're simply setting up shop in a different location in our community, moving your business can been downright stressful.
Here's our top tips for avoiding headaches when moving your business:
Start Planning Early
While it might seem obvious, many 'hiccups' that happen during a business relocation can be easily prevented by planning well in advance.
If you're company is relatively tech-savvy, consider using a cloud-based project planning tool such as Wrike or Zoho to identify everything you need to do to prepare for your move, delegate tasks, and track progress towards moving day.
Remember to list out all the suppliers you use, including utility companies, telecommunications, and even your coffee delivery service - they'll all need to be contacted well in advance to ensure your services are transferred to your new address so you won't be left without internet service, heat, or insurance coverage after you move.
Tell Your Clients, Suppliers, and Prospects
Unless your business is entirely online, it's important to communicate your moving plans with your clients, customers, and suppliers using all your regular communication channels.
For example, if your business is active on social media, be sure to post updates both before, and after your moving day, and add a prominent banner to your website with the same info. Include a flyer with your new address along with any regular mail-outs (such as monthly invoices), post signage at your current location, and update your phone message to remind callers that you'll be moving.
If you have a bricks-and-mortar location, try to make arrangements to leave information with your new address posted at the office, store, or shop you're moving from for at least a few months, otherwise, clients may find you missing and mistakenly assume you've closed up permanently.
Hire Professional Movers
If your business assets consist of more than just a few laptop computers, hiring a professional moving company to do the heavy lifting is well worth the investment.
Not only will the right moving company take the worry out of moving your physical assets, but having dedicated movers means you won't be asking your staff to take on the job of lifting and loading boxes, desks, and other big items.
Inform Government Agencies
Keep local, state, and federal agencies such as the IRS appraised as to your location, and your planned move to avoid major headaches and legal expenses.
If you're moving within the same state you won't need to change your IRS employer ID number, but you will need to update your address with the feds. You may also need to contact the Secretary of State and the State Department of Revenue, and any permits and business licenses need to be changed at the County offices.
Make arrangements to inspect your new location long before the movers arrive - that way you'll have the chance to identify any deficiencies that could interfere with your operations. If you're ending a lease, complete a walk-through with the property manager to identify any damage that needs to be repaired, and be sure to get the damage reports in writing.
Three-tiered pricing for products often means small-medium-large, but in services it means good-better-best. Find out how these service businesses use tiered pricing to benefit both buyer and seller.
These days, good-better-best pricing is everywhere. When purchasing an airplane ticket, for example, passengers can buy the default coach ticket (good), pay for some extra leg-room by upgrading to "premium economy" (better) or pay through the nose and buy a business class seat (best). With all three tickets, the basic service is the same―aerial transportation from point A to point B. But the amenities (or the degree of discomfort suffered, for the cynical among us) vary.
Along similar lines, in bars, alcoholic drinks are priced low as rail drinks when the customer does not ask for any branded alcohol (good), higher as call drinks when a specific brand is requested (better), or highest as top shelf drinks for premium liquor brands (best). An Acura TLX vehicle comes in three versions: the base model has a 2.4 liter engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission (starting at $31,695; good); the mid-version has a 3.5 V-6 liter engine, and a 9-speed automatic transmission (starting at $35,320; better), while the high-end version is 3.5 V-6, 9-speed automatic with all-wheel drive (starting at $41,576; best). As these examples illustrate, when using a good-better-best pricing approach (also known in the trade as "tiered pricing"), the marketer sells several different versions of the same product to consumers at different price points and corresponding quality levels.
For decades, marketers have packaged and offered different products to different customer segments. See the Chevrolet ads from the mid-1950s. No one would mistake the hoity-toity target customers of the 1955 Bel Air convertible with the blue-collar family that would find the 1956 Handyman station wagon to be appealing.
But this way of designing and pricing products based on customer segment differences is changing. With the good-better-best pricing approach, marketers now systematically offer different product versions to pretty much the same customers based on how much they want to shell out on a given purchase occasion. For instance, someone flying for work may buy a business class airline ticket because her company is paying for it; but on another occasion, she may fly in coach when shelling out of her own pocket.
We have written many times before in our blogs and newsletters that customers are not all equal. They have different needs, they value product attributes differently, and they have varying levels of price sensitivity. In order to address these multiple customer segments, it is common to have multiple variations of a product or service offering – a Good, Better, Best product lineup. Beyond just creating multiple offerings, your pricing strategy needs to include getting the relative positioning right. Your profitability depends on it.
There is no perfect number of alternatives or options to offer customers, but how many you will offer is an important question to answer. If you do not offer enough options, you run the risk of missing some customer segments by not specifically addressing them. Conversely, if you offer too many options, it is easy for customers to be overwhelmed with the complexity and not make any choice. To determine your best number of offers in your product lineup, consider the ease with which customers can assess the differences, the number of competitive offerings that exist, the range of values perceived by customers, and your capability in managing the range of products or services.
In addition to determining how many products to offer within a lineup, it is also important to determine how the price of each product or service will relate to the others. Multiple studies have shown that when faced with three or more options, customers tend to choose the middle option more frequently than the highest or lowest priced offer. Customers often avoid picking the least expensive offer because they don't want to feel like a cheapskate. And they often avoid the most expensive option, because they really aren't extravagant and do not need whatever additional benefits the highest options offer. So they go with the middle.
Thinking about this behavioral tendency can help you execute a stronger pricing strategy. If your goal is to maximize your profitability over time, you will need price points that attract customers at multiple levels of value. But what if you find that your results are skewed in that a large percentage of customers are picking either the most expensive or least expensive option? In that case, the prices of your product offerings are probably not aligned with their relative levels of value.
1.As the owner of a small-to-medium size business, chances are good that you already spend your time answering countless questions every single day from employees, suppliers, customers, and prospects.
The issue here is this - how much time do you spend asking yourself questions about your business?
According to the Harvard Business Review, "companies often fail to address the tough questions about strategy and execution......are we really clear...about how we choose to create value in the marketplace?" For example, "Can we articulate the few things the organization needs to do better than anyone else in order to deliver on that value proposition?"
Barry Moltz of the Shafran Moltz Group explains that both entrepreneurs and business veterans alike should be asking themselves specific, tough questions in order to both analyze and improve their work, including these five essentials:
1. What Problem Does Your Business Solve?
While this seems like a easy question at first glance, many business owners struggle to define exactly what the answer is simply because it's not uncommon for businesses to be launched based on what the founder wants, not the consumer. Think about the 'why' involved - why do your clients and customers choose to purchase goods and services from you?
2. Are There Aspects Of Your Business That Are Losing Money?
While you likely know exactly what your bottom line is each month, quarter, or year, do you really know the ins and outs of where that revenue is coming from?
3. What's Your Customer Retention Rate?
Knowing where your customers come from is a critical part of your overall success, since it's far more costly to recruit new clients than it is to keep existing ones.
4. What Differentiates My Business From The Competition?
Establishing, and maintaining a competitive advantage is crucial to the success of small businesses - what's yours?
5. Can My Business Survive Without Me?
While nobody likes to think about the possibility that they may not be able to manage their business due to injury, illness, or worse, the reality is that there may come a time when your role within your business needs to shift unexpectedly. If that happens, can your business survive?
Looking for a new ride? Shopping for a pre-owned vehicle can help you save thousands of dollars on your next car, van, or light-duty truck, given the steep depreciation rate on new vehicles.
According to data from Edmunds.com, a mid-sized sedan that sells new for $27,660 will lose about $7,419 in value within the first 12 months, despite the fact that most new car warranties extend well beyond the first year of ownership.
Depreciation in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year of ownership slows down significantly - in general, vehicles depreciate less in years 2-4 than they do during the first year of ownership, which is why the top used car dealers focus their business model on delivering savings and great service to their customers.
Today's Used Car Dealers Are Different
In the past, used car dealers were widely viewed as unscrupulous, fly-by-night operators who would take advantage of shoppers by concealing damage and mechanical problems.
Thanks to widespread efforts to improve the image of the used car dealership industry, along with online resources like the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service (NMVTIS), buying a used car from your local pre-owned dealership is a safe, viable alternative to purchasing a new car.
Better yet, buying used gives you access to vehicles that might otherwise be priced outside of your budget, giving you the chance to shop for a more expensive make or model than you might be able to if you were to buy a new car.
Most used car dealers also offer warranties on the vehicles they sell, giving you the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you're protected against mechanical defects or maintenance issues just like you are with a brand-new vehicle. Known as Certified Pre-Owned programs, these extended used car warranties often come along with added perks like free oil changes, car washes, and special financing options.
Drive Like A Billionaire
If the significant savings on depreciation and extra focus on customer service isn't enough to convince you to consider shopping at your local used car dealer for your next vehicle, maybe this will - Warren Buffet, a.k.a. the "Oracle of Omaha" has long been an advocate of cut-rate cars.
In a BBC documentary about his life, Buffett's daughter disclosed that Buffett liked to buy cars at a steep discount, including cars that had been previously-owned or hail-damaged - despite the fact that Buffet has a net worth of approximately 87.4 billion!
Understanding SEO and how it pertains to your business goals will help you take advantage of search and drive more traffic to your website or page. Large and small companies will benefit from optimizing their online presence. By incorporating some of our easy tips, you can increase your company's ranking, resulting in more traffic and online sales.
What is SEO? The acronym stands for search engine optimization, and refers to writing content and developing websites with keywords, tags, and unique content that can increase the rank of an article, page, or the overall website.
Although Google is probably the best-known search engine, Bing and other search engines are also performers and will help drive traffic to your site. Both Google and Bing offer basic tools for business webmasters, and will alert you if problems arise.
Tips for How Your Business Can Take Advantage of Search
Identify the keywords or phrases that people would use to search for your business. These have changed slightly as mobile device usage increases, and people speak into their phones rather than typing them on a computer. If you sell shoes, then some of the keywords would include well-known brand names you sell, men's shoes, women's shoes, shoes for children, shoes in your specific location.
Use geo identifiers in your website. Google maps is ideal for this. You simply embed a map onto your website which includes the physical location. Digital photos taken at your place of business often include a geocache and can be placed on the website or page you want to rank for that area.
Don't forget to claim your business on social media. Some of these sites have pre-made pages that include a business name and location. You will need to go in and claim these, which may include returning a post card or phone call.
Set up social media accounts including Google +, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
Don't overlook the benefit of hashtags when posting links on these sites.
Find natural sites to place links to your site, through message boards and question/answer websites. You will gain more credibility if you actually go in and participate on these boards.
Carefully consider the overall layout and design of your website. Photographs draw the eye, but for a site to rank, it does need solid content.
Content should be written with both the reader and bots in mind. Engaging content that delivers true value to the reader is imperative. When writing content, most people will naturally use secondary keywords related to the main article keywords. Overall, the main keyword density should be 3-4%. The keyword should be used in both the first and last paragraphs.
"H" tags play an important role in how search engine bots read content. A title is typically written in an h1 format, while the remaining content will be posted in descending order from h2 on down. The "h" tags essentially provide a value to each of the phrases, with h1 being the most important.
Add content on a regular basis. You can add more pages to a website using a blog, or by adding more services or items. Whether you add it daily or weekly, be sure to add it on a regular schedule.
One of the most important, and often overlooked items is to make certain that your website has a sitemap and that it has been submitted to the search engines. Contact the Chamber for more tips and ideas to help your business grow.
The Durango Chamber of Commerce
The Durango Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization that promotes and supports the local business community through communication, advocacy, education, leadership and financial viability.