Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Over-Brand Yourself

As an entrepreneur and emerging business man or woman, you often hear how important it is to “brand yourself”: find your niche, your catchphrase, the product or service you are for which you are known. While this self-branding concept is important to bring attention to you and your business, you need to be careful not to over-do it. You want people to know you as you, not your tagline. So what are some guidelines to creating a name that sticks, but doesn’t stick too well?

The great thing about finding a tagline that’s original is that you can build other phrases around it to represent other features of your business so it becomes you own personal set of products, services, and advertising that people remember. When choose that first one, make sure it is something that can either blanket many parts of your business with some variations or something that you can change readily without too much confusion for your customers.

Once you build a bigger audience, you can expand away from your first set of branding because now that people know very well who you are, they can follow you when you make changes. So even though you may start out with something like “Beauty for the Nature Lover”, you can still branch out with a new campaign such as “Evergreen Women’s Clothing” in the future.

When it comes to that first catch phrase, use it the right doses. For example, if it’s on the walls of your store and on your product labels, you may want to keep it off receipts and mix up the wording on other print materials. Small print items such as coupons and receipts are good places to test out new slogans and campaigns because the customer will always receive them when they purchase and it many prompt them to ask you for more info.

That being said, it is important to find your focus. If you focus on growing one successful area of your business, it can exceed your expectations and grow to epic proportions. If you put a little effort into several things across the board, it will be much more difficult to grow anything very much. Bottom line: find a niche and concentrate on growing it, and when you think it’s reached its full potential find another niche that branches off from that one to keep you, the business owner, fresh in the minds of customers. Make it happen!

© 2012 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Friday, November 16, 2012

Writing Effective Business Contracts

 As small business owner, you will have to write several contracts over the course of your career. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have contractors that do freelance work for the company or work to support the company, such as renovation. Even regular full and part time employees may need to have a contract. Keep in mind these things when writing or re-writing different types of contracts.

Create a contract for any type of business agreement. Use simple language that is professional, but easy for anyone to understand. If the language is too full of jargon, people likely won’t read the contract completely which can cause problems down the road. Always specify payment agreements, whether its salary you are paying to an employee or a set fee on a per-project basis. If you hire on a temp-to-hire basis, make the terms clear that the position may or may not become permanent and when it will end if it is temporary. Explain how you will distribute funds (weekly, monthly, etc). Always include your contact information so there is no excuse for someone not to contact you with questions or problems. You should state all the services you expect to be provided and in the case of construction or installation services, who is responsible repairing any damages that may occur. Remember that state laws vary and be sure to research any that apply to your company. Include a mediation clause in case of a dispute, define acceptable termination terms, and remember that an oral contract can be binding as well. Finally, in all contracts, detail is very important. State explicit examples and specific conditions as often as you can.

You may be wondering if an employee handbook is a contract. Well, yes and no. As a whole, it is not considered a legal contract; however, there may be parts of the handbook that contain legal issues that are outlined in a manner that constitutes a contract. If you don’t have one, there are reasons that it’s a good idea to implement one. You can cover all your policies on attendance, dress code, vacations and leaves. It can serve as a legal defense for the employer in situations where an employee feels they have been wrongly terminated. You can address what corrective actions you will take, how an employee should handle a complaint, terms for offering raises, and safety policies as they apply. In some cases, such as businesses with ten or fewer employees, an offer letter and confidentiality agreement may suffice.

Writing contracts is not to be taken lightly. They can make the difference between liability and exemption. Take care to write them correctly. Make it happen!

© 2012 eMarketing 4 Business LLC