bookmark_borderStart and Grow Callshop Business

  • VoIP Service Provider: First thing you would require is a VoIP Service provider who will provide you Complete Callshop Solution along with Integrated Billing. There are several options are available who provide complete System however things you need to check before finalizing is how scalable their product is, from how long they have been providing the services in VoIP industry and most important thing is Customer Support, because for a Callshop business you would require instant Support otherwise you will end up losing your business.
  • Termination Provider: Second step will be to get best Termination provider, you will get many termination provider options however again same thing comes in the picture how good their services are, because quality of the call depends on the routes which provides by termination provider. You can test the quality and best thing to have multiple providers for routes so if you face any issue with particular one then you can jump on to another one at any point of time and your clients will keep on getting best quality which will be helpful for you to grow your business.
  • Required Hardware’s: To start you would require minimal investment on hardware, you need to have Server where complete system will be installed and accessible. If you go with your own Server that will cost you extra however there are options available to rent out the server as well which are less expensive and good option at the initial stage. Apart from server you will require IP Phones as well with which you can login with different Callshop login accounts and customer can directly make the phone calls by using IP Phones. Now coming over to last and important requirement and that is Callshop Booths.
  • Required & Important Characteristics: Features like Automated Billing, Auto Invoicing, Prepaid and Postpaid, Advanced Reporting System are main and required feature in a Callshop. It’s highly suggested and recommended to test a demo of the system and check the features, you may get several features by provider however you need to check which features are required for your business and which will never be used, because if any provider is providing you ample amount of features and charging you accordingly, there is no point to pay for those which is not going to be in use. So test the complete Solution before finalizing and then go for that.
  • How to Grow Your Business: Now this thing will come to your mind, what are the next steps once you have started, how to grow now. For growing in your Callshop Business first and foremost thing you need to take care of is Quality of your calls and competitive rates. At the initial stage of your business you need to provide services at very nominal charges along with the best quality. This is the most important aspect which will give a boost to your organization.

bookmark_borderEssential Franchise Information

Franchises have experienced annual growth of more than 50% – and are now also popping up in airports, railway stations and inside supermarkets.

There is intense competition for new franchisees -so don’t bow to pressure to sign on the dotted line – until you are 110% certain that your decision is the right one for you.

With the huge choice of what to go into – home services, personal services, financial services, retail, fitness, food, health and beauty, etc, etc – ensure that the one you choose is aligned with your existing skills and something that you have a genuine interest in.

Attend franchising seminars and collect all relevant information and data. Make sure you ascertain details on: upfront franchise fees; training fees; location fees; and ongoing franchise and advertising fees.

Find out how long the franchisor has been operating; what training and support they offer; what track record they have; are they f inancially stable; do they undertake demographic checks on potential sites; the success rate of existing (and past) franchisees; and how much control they exert.

Remember – there are no guarantees when purchasing a franchise – success in one location does not automatically ensure success in another! Your franchise may not become the immediate gold mine that you envisaged -it may take several years before you even reach breakeven.

Analyze your costs and know your numbers: what is the ratio of the rent to turnover; salaries to turnover; fixed costs to turnover. If you are borrowing the start up costs – make sure you factor in your loan repayments. Research the best method of borrowing the money – a business loan, a business mortgage loan, interest and principal, interest only??

Be aware that if you fail to follow the guidelines as laid out in the contract – the franchisor may, with warnings, terminate the franchise agreement.

Ensure that you get written substantiation to cover any earnings representation.

And – most important – seek EXPERT LEGAL ADVICE – before signing anything!

bookmark_borderBusiness Skills to Master As an Entrepreneur

Forget about perfection.

A lot of business owners get stuck on perfectionism. That is just not how business works. You simply need to move forward, throwing things at the wall to see what sticks and tweaking along the way. Be okay with making mistakes. Otherwise, you will be stuck in the development phase forever and you’ll never get your product or service out there. Most successful entrepreneurs have numerous failures before they finally find their ultimate success. The same goes for authors who send out their manuscript to rejection after rejection before finally getting published. Keep moving, and don’t give up!

Find Your Focus.

Entrepreneurs tend to have what I call EADD: Entrepreneurial Attention Deficit Disorder. They are all over the place, they have shiny object syndrome… and that’s because they’re creative! Entrepreneurs are visionaries. One thing they are often missing, however, is follow-through. If you’ve got a bakery, you’re a business coach and you also make jewelry, where is your passion? Where are you really able to dive deeply in order to see something through to its best outcome? You can certainly build more than one thriving business over your lifetime, but if you’re trying to do them all at once, you aren’t giving your all to any.

Jump In with both feet.

As entrepreneurs, you have to be willing to go into uncharted territory, to do what others haven’t and what they may even be discouraging us from doing. Generally, as humans, we fear change. Our brain is wired to protect us and we get that fight-or-flight response when we encounter something that’s out of our comfort zone – even if it’s good for us! We have to be willing to do things that feel risky in order to get the big rewards for ourselves and our businesses. Usually the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward will be. Don’t just test the water, Jump in with both feet! If you only “sort of” jump off of the diving board, you’ll do a belly flop. The support you need will come, but you have to commit to that initial leap of faith.

Learn to say “no” for yourself.

We’ve covered how important it is for entrepreneurs to know how to say yes, take leaps of faith and be brave in their decision making, but we also need to learn how to say no. When distractions come your way, such as exciting side projects that pull for your attention, it is important to be able to stay focused on your main goals. Say “no” so that you have more time for “yes” in the area that you most needs that energy and creativity to make your goal a success.

bookmark_borderTime Management For Solo Entrepreneurs

  1. Put your to-do list in writing and prioritize it. Studies show that people who write their lists down are 90% more likely to complete their list than those who do not.
  2. Be realistic about how long it takes to get things done. Block out a reasonable amount of time on your planner, especially if it’s an appointment where there’s driving time to consider.
  3. Schedule time with yourself, without interruptions. If that means closing your office door and letting your voicemail take phone messages, then that’s what you need to do. Do this at your most productive time of the day. Are you a morning person? Start your day out with some quiet time by yourself, when you’re the most productive and focused.
  4. Don’t multi-task. That’s right! These days, people have found that they’re much more productive when they’re allowed to focus on one task at a time, rather than constantly juggling a dozen different projects at once. Think about it – don’t you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something when you can cross things off your list?
  5. Are you a “yes” person? Learn to say no. Sometimes adding just one more thing to your to-do list means staying at work an extra hour. Ask yourself if you really have the time and energy to handle one more task. Don’t guilt yourself into it, especially if you’ll feel resentful later, for having done it.
  6. Do you work at home? Don’t let common distractions sidetrack you. That basket of laundry will still be there at the end of the day.
  7. Try to combine like tasks. If you have lots of phone calls to make and emails to respond to, make all of the phone calls first, then tackle the emails.
  8. Keep all your contacts in one place, within easy reach. Do whatever works for you, whether you keep an address book in your day planner, in Outlook, in your PDA, or on your laptop. You need to have fast and easy access to phone numbers and email addresses.
  9. Use waiting time productively. When waiting for an appointment or traveling, catch up on reading trade magazines, writing correspondence, or jotting down creative ideas for marketing your business.
  10. At the end of each day, plan for the next day. Write down tomorrow’s to-do list, prioritize it, and then clean off your desk.

bookmark_borderSmall Business Grants

There are many types of grants offered by the Governments and other financial institutions that include individual grants for personal necessities, business grants for starting new business, education grants for funding education and many more. Grants are always a feasible option to support existing business or financing new business in all fields. While the United States government does not offer direct grants for supporting small business there are many state development agencies, non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions and local government, which offer grants to expand and enhance small businesses.

Small businesses always play a significant role in the economic growth of a country and that is the reason governments are always ready to offer financial resources to facilitate small business. You can receive small business grant to start up any type of business. From carpet cleaning, photocopying, private tutoring services to day care business you name any business and these agencies have the grants for you. All U.S. citizens and residents are eligible to receive U.S. Federal Government, State Government and Private Foundation-funded grants and loans. Apart from this these grant programs do not require credit checks, collateral, security deposits or co-signers. Small business grants are easily available. Anyone who is 18 year old and thinking about going into business for himself or wanting to expand his existing business can apply for the grant. Grants varying between $500.00 to $50,000.00 can be obtained from these agencies. Usually there are larger payments for business start up costs. If you are an entrepreneur than you can use the privileges provided by the government. Small business grants are the ideal way to fulfill your dreams of becoming a business owner.

bookmark_borderEntrepreneurial Inspiration

For four of his teenage years, from 1872 to 1876, Milton Hershey served as an apprentice to a Lancaster, PA candy maker. After his apprenticeship, Hershey decided to start his own candy business. Armed with an in-depth knowledge of the business, he worked on building his business for six years. Unfortunately, despite his hard work, the business failed.

Undeterred, Hershey moved to Denver, CO and found a job with a candy maker who taught him how to make caramels. A year later, he returned to the East Coast and launched a second candy business, focusing on caramels, in New York City. This business also failed.

Despite two failures in the candy business and on the brink of bankruptcy, Hershey was convinced he would eventually succeed. As such, he returned to Lancaster, PA and started another caramel business. This business was successful. But rather than continuing with caramels, Hershey become interested in chocolates and dedicated himself to learning about and inventing ways to manufacture chocolate. As a result, he sold his caramel company and launched Hershey Chocolate Company. Just over a century after launching the company, Hershey’s firm (now called The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY)) generates annual revenues in excess of $4 billion.

Milton S. Hershey was raised in rural central Pennsylvania and lacked a formal education. Despite this, and despite failing twice at the same business, Hershey maintained entrepreneurial passion, drive and perseverance. As history has shown, these factors were enough to transform Hershey from a failure to one of the great entrepreneurs in history.

bookmark_borderSources of Sales Leads

The customer who let your contract lapse or failed to include you in their selection process did so for any number of reasons. Yes, sometimes your company made an unforgivable mistake or did something equally fatal. Often, it’s subtler. Either way, if you give up on them, they’re likely to remain former customers forever.

If you take the initiative and reintroduce yourself, you might find out-

  • Your company was perceived to be unsuitable for a reason that is not currently valid. (Your prices weren’t competitive; now they are. You didn’t offer a one-stop-shop experience; now you do. The salesperson who used to cover that territory was abrasive; his/her replacement is well-liked.)
  • Or the decision-maker who blackballed you or was unshakably loyal to your competitor is no longer there.
  • Or the person who used to routinely include you in the company’s selection process has moved up or moved on, and the new person doesn’t know you to include you.

Possible outcomes: a renewed relationship, news that you truly aren’t a match anymore, or a frosty shoulder.

Similarly with failed sales, they may not have chosen you when a particular decision was made. That doesn’t mean they’d never consider you again, but it’s your responsibility to stay on their radar. If they are marketed to by a sufficient number of companies in your category, they might not include you the next time they open their selection process. By writing them off, you turn “no” into “never.”

Some companies are very good about asking departing customers for an exit interview and asking failed sales for a post-selection debriefing. Unfortunately, many of these companies assign this task to the salesperson or account manager the customer or prospect just rejected. That’s cruel! Think about it:

  • It’s very difficult for one adult to say directly to another, “This is how you disappointed me,” or “This is where you fell short.”
  • If a former customer or failed sale is willing to be candid, the average salesperson or account manager is likely to get defensive in response. In other words, they reward candor with an argument.

Instead, feedback from lost customers and failed sales is better solicited from the VP of Sales or Account Management (or Operations). What at first blush sounds like an unwise use of very valuable time turns out to be the best way to isolate root causes and reduce the number of future lost customers and failed sales.

You may ask why a former customer or failed sale would cooperate and offer honest responses to these questions. The answer is simple:

Companies need vendors.

If you lost the customer or the sale for reasons that can be addressed to their satisfaction, you might be the vendor that offers the best deal the next time they need your product or service.

Once your team members get past the understandable discomfort of asking for candid feedback and guidance, you might win (or win back) relationships you thought were lost forever.

Ann Amati, Principal, Deliberate Strategies Consulting, helps companies use guidance from their current and past customers to grow future sales. She has a 20-year track record of using deep-dive interviews to create positive turning points in her clients’ relationships with their customers.

bookmark_borderPlans For Business Venture

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Present the business mission statement here. Include as well the date the business was formed; the leadership team and other key management personnel; the credentials or experience that make you and the leadership team uniquely qualified to launch and successfully run the venture; the business legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietor, or Corporation); the products and services; one or two key competitive advantages; a concise overview of sales projections; and the amount of capital needed if recruiting investors or obtaining bank financing is a goal.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

It’s traditional to present a brief description of your industry and its outlook, nationally and regionally. Give the details of your products and services and briefly discuss how they’ll be used by target customers. Identify whether the venture is B2B, B2C, or B2G. If the organization holds a patent, review the competitive advantages that it will convey. Have there been any technological advances that will help or hinder the enterprise? Divulge the details here.

MARKETING

This element is a big tent that encompasses sales, product or service distribution, competitors, advertising, social media, PR, networking, branding, customer acquisition and pricing. Plans written for a small organization will spotlight the role of marketing because for Solopreneurs, success hinges on identifying and reaching paying clients, as well as pricing the services advantageously.

FINANCE

Whether you’re wealthy enough to self-finance or the venture is small and not especially demanding of capital investment, the leadership team nevertheless needs to know with a reasonable degree of certainty how much money will be required to achieve important goals.

The plan might be written to support financing for the acquisition of new office space, additional staffing, or manufacturing equipment. Bank loans typically require a business plan to demonstrate how the investment money would be used and how the organization will generate funds for loan repayment.

If the goal is to attract investors, they’ll need to be convinced by the projected sales revenue figures (as will the bank), so they’ll know when their investment will be repaid and when to expect profits if they are made co-owners of the business. A break-even analysis, projected income statement, projected cash-flow statement and projected balance sheet are required by those who will need significant money.

OPERATIONS

How will day-to-day business processes function? Tell it here, along with providing the organizational chart, the business location, the method of producing that which you sell (if you are, for example, a freelance book editor or graphic designer, you produce the service yourself), your usual sub-contractors (if you are a special events organizer, who are your preferred caterer, florist and limo service?) and quality control methods. This element is about logistics.

bookmark_borderBiggest Entrepreneurial Obstacle

  1. Company X is already doing it – So what? There’s plenty of business to go around, and even if you’re interested in a very saturated and competitive market, there are still many ways to stand out and align yourself with the rest of the industry. There are multiple leaders in plenty of business sectors, and joining the ranks just depends on how hard you’re willing to work.
  2. It’ll never work/I’ll never pull it off – Wow, nice effort. You’ve already defeated yourself without even doing the research it takes to find out if a business venture is possible. If you start out with that attitude then you’re right, you’ll never pull it off. How will you make it if you never even try?
  3. Too much of a risk – As the old saying goes, without risk there can be no reward. Your mission is to take as much risk out of the equation as possible by planning, planning, and then planning some more. Have solid projections, do your homework, and if things don’t go the way you expect them to, there are always options to minimize the financial burden of selling off a company. If you know what COULD happen ahead of time you’ll be much more prepared for any situation that DOES happen.
  4. Not educated enough – OK…so educate yourself. In my opinion it’s no longer necessary to have a college degree in order to be successful. Passion can outperform education anyday, and if you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing it’s definitely possible to educate yourself on just about any topic. While a college degree or similar training is a huge headstart to success, real world experience can be just as beneficial.
  5. Worrying about what others think – So many times I’ve heard people tell me they had a great idea for a business, shared it with (insert negative person’s name here), and (insert negative person’s name here) said it wouldn’t work because (insert negative reason). Has this person ever conducted business in this industry? Then how do they know what will or won’t happen? It’s a good general practice to listen to the opinions of others in an attempt to gain wisdom, as long as you remember that they’re just that: OPINIONS. Make up your own mind and trust your instincts.

I am by no means saying I have followed through with every business idea I’ve ever come up with. Some ideas really aren’t as good as you originally thought they would be after you do the research. But if you never even put the work into the initial phases of starting a business, you’ll never find out if you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

bookmark_borderGet Started With Referrals

Unfortunately, that proximity to customers isn’t enough to keep you in business. To grow your business, take advantage of your great service by gaining customer referrals from existing customers.

I know. Asking for referrals feels pushy. However, do you really have a choice? Think about it. You are in business because you think your product or service will help people. Most people like to help others. They enjoy passing along a good tip about a great product or service. By asking for a referral you are actually doing them a favor. So ask your customers after you have given them great service – Who is a person you know who would benefit from having our product/service?

Other than providing great service, another way to make a personal connection with your existing customers is to send a newsletter. Instead of sending the average, boring email that most businesses send, focus on success stories of your existing customers. Explain how you solved a problem that one of your customers faced. Explain why solving that problem was important to them and explain how you solved it. Then include a testimonial from the customer.

When you look for products or services for your business or even in your personal life don’t you find it helpful if you see how someone else had a success with a service?

Lastly, ask the person who gave you a testimonial to name any people they know that are in a similar situation.

Formal referral programs seem old fashioned, however they are still effective. A formal referral program can be as simple as mailing 50 business cards to each one of your customers and explaining to them to pass them on to friends and write their names on the back of it. If a new customer walks in with a name written on the back of your business card, that person will receive a reward from you.

Strike up alliances with ancillary businesses. Have you ever had a doctor refer you to a specialist? Think about it. There are businesses that are in a similar situation as the generalist doctor. In pest control I have found small pet stores that I partner with. When one of their customers complains about flea infestations, the store owner tells them that he knows a great pest control company that can help them with their flea problems.

Here is the way I got in touch with pet store owners. I asked a current customer with a pet to recommend a pet store to me. Then I asked the customer to call the owner of the store to let the owner know that I will call. Now, when I called the owner already knew who I was and how we were connected.

Don’t ask for referrals right away. You need to build a relationship with the store owner first. Show him that you can provide value by finding him referrals first or helping him in some other way. Once you have built the relationship you can approach him with your strategy on how your company could help his customers. To make the offer appealing let him know that you are willing to provide discounts to the customers he refers.