Archive for August, 2009

Keep It Simple – Start Up Tips

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , on August 11, 2009 by virtualcitypa

No doubt you’ve heard the term ‘core competency.’ It refers to that which a company or person does best.

The best way to build a business is to start out offering only what you do best.

Why? For a couple of reasons:

  1. It gives you one thing to focus on; to build a marketing message around.
  2. It helps you define your target market – those people who need that thing.
  3. It helps others land on who you are and what you offer.

In short, it provides clarity. It keeps you and your prospects from getting confused.

Too often small business owners try to offer everything under the sun. They think there’s value in being a one-stop shop and they’re afraid that if they don’t offer more things they’ll miss out on business.

The irony is that with too many things offered, they lose out on business because there’s no clarity. When people can’t land on what it is you do, they walk away. So, these owners end up creating the situation they were trying to avoid.

If your message is too big, it will be overwhelming. Think about how you react to feeling overwhelmed. It’s not a good feeling, is it? Don’t create that sensation for your prospective clients.

Set yourself up for success by starting out simply. Focus on the thing you do best and market that product or service to that target market. Build your business from the foundation of your core competency.

Once you’ve established your company as a solid entity, you can add products or services and develop a menu of offerings. Be sure to add things that make sense – things that go along with your core product or service.

For example, if you are offering accounting services, don’t add printing services. You may think printing is something you can do, but that doesn’t mean it’s something you should do. Now, you may think I’m being ridiculous, but I’ve seen this happen. Sometimes as oddly as my example and other times more subtly. They are equally inappropriate.

Know what you do well. Understand what you offer. As you determine what additional items to add to your product line make sure they go along with your main line. Maintain continuity with your products or services. This will help you reinforce your position in the market. 

When you add items gradually you can enhance your business in a couple of ways: 

  1. Adding complementary services or products increases the value of your core offering.
  2. Adding items gradually provides you with additional opportunities to put your business in front of prospective clients.
  3. Adding quality products or services can expand your prospect base.  

When you create a plan for growing your business include a process for developing your menu of product offerings. Take advantage of the benefits of starting with one core item and building gradually from there. When the plan makes sense to you, you can be sure it will make sense to your prospects. That wisdom will result in solid growth for your business.

Diane HelbigAbout the Author: Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Sales Experts Panel at Top Sales Experts.


Tips for outsourcing your small-business needs

Posted in Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , , on August 1, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Yes, small businesses can benefit from outsourcing too. More and more of them are turning over parts of their operations to outside experts, allowing owners to focus on critical needs and growth.

Following the trend of larger companies, small-business owners are outsourcing a range of services, from HR to finance and accounting to customer services. But the outsourcing process requires some time and investment to find the right vendor, build a working relationship, and allow your employees to adjust.

First, define your core

Generally, the smart strategy is to hold on to operations or areas that define the core mission of your business. Then, consider outsourcing the other operations that are not as strategic.

If, for instance, your point of difference is customer service, make sure you have enough friendly and attentive full-time employees to make good on that. If, however, you promise rock bottom prices, then relying on an outsourcer, such as a Web-based virtual assistant, an automated phone system or an overseas call center, might make more sense.

..Virtual assistants, or independent entrepreneurs who provide administrative, creative or technical support, are a growing phenomenon. They work on a contractual basis via online or electronic communications, handling functions, such as keeping your schedule or your files or your customer intelligence database up to speed. You can find out more by visiting the nonprofit International Virtual Assistants Association (

Expertizing, based in Newton, Massachusetts, uses virtual assistants for a variety of projects. “We’re a small company that helps people achieve media attention for their businesses, and have outsourced a lot of work to several virtual assistants,” says CEO Fern Reiss. “It completely changed the way we operate. We meet ‘live’ once a month for a long catch-up, and in between correspond via email and occasionally by phone. We have increased productivity by about 30% to 40%, and have finally gotten many of our back-burner projects out the door.