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Small Business Tips and Tools

9 Ways to Build Rapport with Customers

An important goal of small business owners is customer retention. Did you know that it costs seven times more to acquire a new customer versus retain an existing one? And loyal customers often spend 67% more than new customers? (1). By offering the best customer experience to everyone you interact with, your brand can be more profitable and loved.  Here are nine ways to build rapport with customers: 1. Be authentic Firstly, the best way to build long-lasting relationships with customers is by being consistent and authentic. Establishing trust with customers requires you to be open and honest. It’s important to say what you do and do what you say. From sharing specifics about ingredients, services, pricing, branding, and beyond — you need to ensure your customers know who you are and what to expect. Be true to your mission! 2. Make them feel valued Customer love is all about showing customers you care. It’s the difference between saying hello and greeting someone when they walk into a store, responding to correspondence in a timely way online, and offering real value for loyal customers by offering something special like a discount. The little things go a long way and will be remembered.  3. Get feedback Listening to what customers want and getting feedback on their experience with your company is an essential part of growing your business. You can learn about things that went wrong, things that went well, and you can correct mistakes. Make sure to ask for feedback often, and respond with appreciation when it is shared.  4. Solve a problem When you start a business, there is an intention to make someone’s life better or easier. The key to building a business that matters is by determining what problem you are solving for your customer, and either fixing it or making it better with what you offer. Talking to customers along the way will help you stay aligned with their needs, and ensure that what you have created is adding value.  5. Deliver more than what’s expected Always go above and beyond for your customers. This is how you build memorable experiences with loyal customers. Make them feel special by going the extra mile, whether it’s offering more time, fulfilling their needs, collecting their feedback, creating something bespoke, or correcting a mistake, always making sure to communicate and over-deliver on what is expected. 6. Train your employees You aren’t always going to be the only one interacting with customers. To ensure that your customer experience is consistent, create processes and training guidelines for employees to follow when they interact with customers.  7. Say sorry Nobody expects perfection. We all make mistakes as business owners. But a genuine apology and validating a customer’s concern is important in order to demonstrate that you are listening and value your customer.  8. Say thank you Don’t forget to express your gratitude and appreciation for customers. Say thank you and smile, celebrate their milestones, write a note, an email, or send something special. Show customers you care by saying thank you! 9. Automate your marketing communications The tools we have at our fingertips these days allow business owners to automate marketing emails to welcome new customers and share updates. Social media, Yelp, and other online platforms give you an opportunity to interact with customers in real-time and deliver an experience that is personal. Customers have come to expect communication from brands, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Ultimately, showing customers you care is not just about creating value-added products and services — it’s about building a connection and exceeding expectations, every step of the way. Source: https://www.markinblog.com/customer-loyalty-retention-statistics/ For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Feb 11, 2022 • 3 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

Develop an As-A-Service Business Model with These Guides

You may not know this, but cloud computing is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. Analysts expect the global cloud computing market size to reach $1,251 billion — yes, a whopping 1.25 trillion — by 2028.1 Given that growth, there’s an exciting opportunity for an As-A-Service business model to flourish in the near future. As-a-service business models include: SaaSIaaSPaaS Ready to find out more?   Learn how to get started developing your own cloud-based solution with Women in Cloud. This community-led economic development organization is taking action to generate $1B in net new global economic access for women entrepreneurs and professionals by 2030. If innovation and sustainable economic access for all women sounds in line with your business goals — and you’re ready to learn more about cloud technologies —  join us!  We invite you to access the free WIC Cloud Solution Building suite of how-to guides. Available now in the USB Project Entrepreneur Community, each of these five step-by-step guides is ready to walk you through expert tips and insights. Between these and offer helpful tools, you will be able to bring your cloud-based idea to life — and to market!  Let’s go over what you’ll take away from each guide. Guide 1: Cloud Solution Fundamentals Firstly, start by learning the fundamentals of: cloud computingcloud solution buildinghow to find your potential customers and pitch to them Guide 2: Building a Cloud Ready Solution Equally important, our next guide will navigate you through the stages of product development and getting your cloud-based solution enterprise-ready.  Guide 3: Enterprise Cloud Business Modeling Following that, learn how to set up the pricing structure of your cloud business effectively. This guide includes a walk-through of pricing models and handy estimator tools. Guide 4: Planning Your Cloud Deal Next, get ready to win over corporate customers and build strategic partnerships. We'll teach you to nail your pitch and identify any missed opportunities to improve your position in the market. Guide 5: Building Your Successful GTM Plan Finally, get ready to launch your product to the right audience, with the right messaging, at the right time, and pick up some handy tips for hosting a winning B2B Webinar along the way! Last but not least, for more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter. 1Source: Cloud Computing Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Service (SaaS, IaaS), By Enterprise Size (Large Enterprises, SMEs), By End Use (BFSI, Manufacturing), By Deployment, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 - 2028 conducted by Grand View Research, Inc.
Feb 8, 2022 • 2 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

How Many Employees Does a Small Business Have?

Of course, every small business is unique in its size and needs. But how many employees does a small business have? To get an idea, we asked Hello Alice owners to share about their specific team sizes, considerations in hiring, and tips for scaling. Here's what they each had to say on the following topics. How many employees did your small business have when you started? Of the three small businesses we talked to, the number of employees at launch greatly varied with responses ranging from two employees to sixty two. Diamond Brown of Diamond's Body Care started with just herself and two freelance social media managers. At the time, she had formulated her bourgeoning skincare line herself from home to soothe her husband's sensitive skin during his chemotherapy treatments. Meanwhile, Jaja Chen and her husband started their bubble tea shop Cha Community as a pop-up at the local farmer's market in Waco, Texas. To get started, they recruited five friends to work as contractors before investing in a mobile truck and hiring their first general manager and further expanding the business from there. By contrast, Russell Jackson started with sixty two employees at Harlem-based restaurant Reverence. If that sounds intimidating, know that Russell is an experienced restauranteur. In fact, Reverence is his 7th establishment so he had ample experience to manage a bigger team. How many employees does your small business have now? Being several years into their small business, some small business owners chose to scale their teams while others preferred to maintain the same number of employees. Diamond Brown has opted to maintain a small and efficient team. These day she works with a production assistant and a social media manager. The production assistant works in the lab. "Her duties include labeling bottles, blending products, inventory, and shipping orders," Diamond explains. Meanwhile, her social media manager also works on brand strategy for growth. On their part, Cha Community has grown to include a team of twenty four employees total over the past three years. After investing in a mobile truck they went on to build out storefronts and expand with a food concept pop-up. Jaja's husband Devin works as the CEO while Jaja acts as Chief of Strategic Initiatives & Business Partnerships. Their team also includes a six person leadership team including: Brand ManagerOperations ManagerStore ManagersFood Production ManagerSpecial Events & Catering Coordinator Additionally, they have sixteen team members who work as: Shift LeadsFood Team MembersCha-ristas (their term for baristas) Last but not least, Reverance has maintained the same size staff while scaling their operations based on the business needs. Advice on Hiring When it comes to hiring, Diamond cautions to look beyond a first impression. "A person can interview well and have a nice resume," she says, but this may not reflect the whole picture. For this reason, you may consider checking references and in-depth interview questions when screening potential employees. Jaja suggests working through your mission and values early on to factor into the hiring process. "For example, our mission is to bridge cultures and create community through premium boba and handcrafted dumplings," she says. So when they look for team members, it's not just for people with previous restaurant experience but those who are eager to work on a team and are passionate about diverse cultures. Also, be sure to onboard new employees with care. "The main lesson I've learned is you have to make sure your employee is trained properly," Diamond shares. After all, everyone learns at a difference pace, she reasons. It's also important to not just verbally affirm tasks, but to check in on their actions. "Test their skills and shadow them," she recommends. Similarly, "take your time," Russell advises when it comes to onboarding. "Train honestly, deeply and transparently." Finally, Diamond encourages entrepreneurs to provide specific rules and processes in an employee handbook. (For a complete guide to hiring employees for small businesses, check out these helpful guides.) Managing a Team As Jaja's headcount has grown, she and her husband have learned to delegate. "We have had to move from doing everything on our own initially to delegating roles and tasks to managers," she says. "This has been exciting but also initially nerve-wrecking." However, it's been an important transition that allows her to focus on strategic planning and leadership. Ultimately, she says, it has brought her joy to see the business scale and employees flourishing in new responsibilities. Also, don't forget to be intentional about team building. "Working in a healthy work culture and environment is something people all want to find," Jaja says. "The time and energy you invest in your people is so worth it in the long haul." To that end, she recommends hosting gatherings regularly or simply even recognizing birthdays. Finally, remember that leading also means learning from your employees. "Be open to criticism and learn from your mistakes quickly," Russell advises. "Be humble. And be willing to always work harder faster longer than anyone else." For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Feb 8, 2022 • 3 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

3 Guides to Help You Master TikTok for Small Business

Thousands of small business owners joined us for the TikTok for Small Business sprint, which provided an interactive toolkit to help you get started on TikTok, create compelling content, and use advertising and analytics tools to boost your reach.  If you missed it, read our recap below to access the guides and recordings of our previous Ask-Me-Anything sessions. Get Started on TikTok Start at the beginning and learn how to get set up on TikTok, build community, and be discovered by your target audience.  To accompany this topic, TikTok Onboarding Specialist Martín Vilata hosted a webinar where small business owners were able to ask questions and troubleshoot common issues for new TikTok users. View a recording of this webinar at the end of this guide. Access the guide Create Scroll-Stopping Content on TikTok Learn everything you need to tell your business story in a way that is both authentic to you and in line with the platform’s unique style and culture.  No technical skills required!  For this guide, Christina Parrish, TikTok’s Creative Agency Partnerships Manager, hosted a webinar that taught entrepreneurs what makes a successful TikTok and how to make the most of the platform’s creator tools. A recording of Christina's webinar can be found at the end of this guide. Access the guide Boost Your Results with TikTok Tools With this guide, discover how to meet your marketing goals and grow with TikTok’s variety of ad solutions, creative tools, and e-commerce features. TikTok Account Manager Rachel VanOrder hosted a final webinar to help small business owners navigate the many powerful growth tools available on TikTok. Complete the guide to view Rachel's session filled with great advice. Access the guide _____ Eager to dig deeper on how to reach a community of over 1 billion potential customers on TikTok?  Join the Small Biz Start-Up Series, an exclusive fast-track virtual training program to get you set up for success on TikTok. Available 24/7, 100% free, the video tutorials and resources are packed with valuable tips and tools. Join today! TikTok experts will walk you through how to: Get the most with your TikTok Business AccountBuild an effective TikTok marketing strategyCreate engaging TikTok videos with suite of creative toolsUse ads to meet each of your marketing goalsTake advantage of ecommerce products and partnerships
Jan 31, 2022 • 2 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

5 Tips to Set Up Your Business Smoothly

You’ve ironed out your idea and done all the planning to make your dream a reality, but filing the paperwork to make your business legal while protecting your brand and assets? Yep, it’s time once again to summon all the determination and patience you have to spare because there are quite a few boxes to check off on this journey!  Stay the course with our new milestone, Set Up Your Business, which guides you through everything you need to name your business, choose your business structure, get an EIN, and apply for your sales tax and other licenses and permits.  Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind as you get started.   1. Start the trademarking process immediately. Run a Preliminary Trademark Search. Have a name for your business in mind? Infringing on an existing trademark could cause costly legal trouble down the road. Use the United States Patent and Trademark Office tool to find out if it’s taken or available. Consider trademarking more than one name.  Have alternate names you really like? You might want to trademark them for future branding endeavors. Prepare to spend and wait.  You can apply for a trademark in minutes, but it may take months to get it approved, and you don’t know if it will be, even after spending roughly between $225-$600 in fees, depending on your trademark class, to apply. Hang in there! This is the right move to protect your business and intellectual property! Name Your Business now. 2. Use the EIN assistant. Believe it or not, the IRS created a really simple tool to help you get your tax ID immediately. You have to complete the application in one session though — you won’t be able to save and return at a later time — so have the following ready to apply:   Your business nameYour business addressThe name of your business’ responsible partyThe Social Security Number of your business’ responsible partyType of business entityYour reason for applying Get an EIN now. 3. Hire a third party to help form your entity. Experienced professionals can handle complicated paperwork for you, keep you apprised of notifications and alerts that might otherwise get buried, and keep things as simple as possible while mitigating your risk. Look into hiring:  Filing services like Incfile, Legal Zoom, and Swyft Filings A lawyer or accountant — see the resources for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Find local assistance” tool. Choose Your Business Structure now.  4. Apply for your sales tax license in person. If you sell taxable products or services, which you probably do, you need to have a sales tax license to collect sales tax from your customers at the point of sale (POS) and pass it on to the government.  And you may even need it long before you open — for example, to pass state inspections — depending on your industry.  Applying by mail can take weeks, but if you apply in person you can get the license right then and there, a lifesaver when you’re time-crunched, which leads us to another point…  5. Expect all approvals to take twice as long as you anticipate.  Permit and licensure requirements vary a lot from industry to industry, state to state, and sometimes even at the county or city level, but one thing is for sure:  The approval process is going to take longer than you think.  Be patient. Use this time to reach out to your business community for mentorship, camaraderie, and sage advice. Determine Which Permits You Need now. For more inspiration and guidance in starting a small business, join Hello Alice and/or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Jan 26, 2022 • 2 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

TikTok Small Business Success Stories

Significantly, the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 8 billion views and is growing every day. As a result, if your small business is not on TikTok yet, you may be missing out on some huge opportunities. To that end, check out these small businesses that broke out in a big way on TikTok. Plus, some tips to help your business be the next viral sensation.   6 Small Businesses That Blew Up on TikTok DBL Jewelry First up, a jewelry business that started at home. “Story time” is a notoriously popular genre on TikTok and Liv Portillo has one heck of a story. When Liv was 16 years old she spent $40 to start making jewelry. At the time, she wanted to raise money to help her parents and family in the Philippines. Soon, her handmade necklaces were a hit on TikTok. Her initial designs were personalized name necklaces crafted from a single piece of wire. Fans loved watching her work. Soon, followers started suggesting challenging or unique names for her to try. In turn, Liv posted video responses. In 2021, her company, DBL Jewelry, went viral. The viral video has Liv telling the story of a customer who ordered a specific piece in order to confront her cheating boyfriend. Now, Liv is a 21-year-old CEO and one of Forbes “30 Under 30”. Impressively, DBL sales are projected to pass $10 million in 2022.  Sani Sisters The Sani Sisters’ first viral video appeared in March 2020. It shared their small business journey using a beautiful video montage. Their stunning lehenga caught the eyes of nearly 4 million TikTok users. Today, the Sani Sisters’ account continues to create watchable, relatable content by tapping into pop culture trends. (Take, for example, this “Emily In Paris” parody that got almost 40,000 views.)  Street Brew Coffee  Caitlin Campbell’s positivity is a trademark of her Street Brew Coffee videos. Notably, the coffee roaster's videos are not heavily filtered or overproduced. The effect? Viewers feel like they too can make an iced KitKat latte or the perfect cup of pour-over coffee. Although her videos may be shot simply, she's committed to quality content and consistency. Her relatable videos also answer questions about all things caffeinated. For instance, one explains the difference between espresso beans and regular beans. Today, Street Brew Coffee has customers all over the world and over half a million TikTok followers.  Designs by Felicia The small business community is all about supporting one another. Creators like @designsbyfelicias share behind-the-scenes clips. Showing things like packing and shipping processes performs well, in part, because of the interest from other small business owners. Felicia’s audience loves her simple aesthetic and seeing her process from beginning to end. Her content includes everything from packing orders to an ASMR unboxing of a new printer for her shop. The takeaway? You never know what people will enjoy watching! So don't be afraid to experiment with different formats and types of content. Sider’s Woodcrafting  Another extremely popular motif on TikTok is capturing extreme before-and-after changes. Users love the satisfaction of dramatic cleanings or hair transformations. Perhaps this can help explain why watching Bruce Graybill turn a fallen tree into a gorgeous cutting board is so captivating. Bruce’s followers don’t only tune in to see his work though. He’s also conversational and honest, popping in the comments to answer questions. Take, for example, this one where he admits to being flummoxed by a new machine. (A very relatable experience for most small business owners.) Take a tip from Bruce and share your most dramatic before-and-afters. Then, consider sharing the messy in-between steps, too! Vessi Finally, TikTok giveaways are also a great way to grow a small business. (That is, assuming you have the inventory to cover one.) The Canadian sneaker brand Vessi was founded in 2017. Their shoes are fully waterproof. Part of their success on TikTok comes from encouraging Vessi fans to share visual proof of its effectiveness. It's a win-win for Vessi and leads to marketing gold: user-generated content (UGC). UGC is considered more trustworthy by consumers and leads to higher click-through rates. Duetting UGC videos on TikTok is a great strategy to gain views and customer trust. In 2020, Vessi held a giveaway for teachers and healthcare professionals to claim free shoes. This, in turn, encouraged tagging and sharing of Vessi’s content and all for a good cause.  TikTok Small Business Resources We hope you feel inspired by these TikTok small business success stories! Ready to start promoting your small business on TikTok? Check out these Hello Alice guides to maximize your success: Get Started on TikTokCreate Scroll-Stopping Content on TikTokBoost Your Results with TikTok Tools For more inspiration and guidance in starting a small business, join Hello Alice and/or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Jan 25, 2022 • 3 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

6 of the Best Books for Starting a Business

Looking for inspiration and guidance in your entrepreneur journey? Read your way to confidence with our picks of the best books for starting a business. When it comes to being a business owner, there is no official manual that guarantees success. In fact, the road to entrepreneurship looks vastly different for everyone. (Just ask around in the Hello Alice community!) On top of running your day-to-day business, staying relevant requires being a lifetime learner. You'll want to adapt to new ideas, innovation, technology and marketing constantly. There are strategies, plans, and processes, that you can develop. There are skills to sharpen and fresh perspectives to consider. All of which could take your company and leadership to the next level.  We rounded up a fresh mix of manuals and memoirs that are some of the best books for starting a business. They'll give you skills, tips, and gems you need to help guide you. Whether you are building your business, looking to scale, increase your ROI, or improve your leadership skills, we have you covered.  Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek First in our roundup of the best books for starting a business, author Simon Sinek ignited a movement with this bestselling book. In fact, it is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time! With more than 56 million views and counting, it's since caught the attention of millions on TikTok. For more than a decade, Sinek has been inspiring business owners, leaders, and employees to dig deep into the purpose of their organizations. Sinek believes that the root of lasting success is for customers to understand the why behind a product, service, or idea in order to buy it. Sinek then provides a framework for how to build your organization and inspire people by starting with the fundamental question: Why? Best for: Passionate business owners, leaders, innovators, and Ted Talk enthusiasts. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters Forget trying to replicate the success of CEOs, companies, and products that already exist and compete in your marketplace. Sure, it’s easier to copy a model than make something new. But, that means you aren’t learning. Plus, even if you improve upon it, it's still familiar. However, when you do something original — and better than anybody else — you are free of competition. Zero to One is about how to build companies that create new things: “Something fresh and strange.” Author Peter Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal and investor in hundreds of startups, including Facebook and SpaceX. In his book, he unveils that successful people find value in unexpected places. By thinking about business from principles instead of formulas, this book inspires you to challenge yourself. Best for: Experienced entrepreneurs, business owners, and visionaries. We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman's Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power by Rachel Rodgers According to author Rachel Rodgers, “only 10 percent of the world’s millionaires are women, making it difficult for women to wield the economic power that will create lasting equality.” Well, that didn’t stop Rodgers from hitting seven figures. Now, she’s here to guide you on wealth-building strategies. The book includes tell-it-like-it-is advice and lessons. Rodgers — a Black woman, mother of four, attorney, business owner, and self-made millionaire — gives you all the reasons why the time is now, no matter your obligations. She’ll explain why women need to aim higher than $100K per year. Plus, how to use strategies to bring in more money immediately. Her accompanying PDF and $10K in 10 Days Challenge might light a fire in you.  Best for: Women looking to be coached on how to step up their money mindset. Scaling Up Simplified: Unlock the Master Code to Explosive Business Growth by Recruiting a Powerful Team, Attracting Loyal Customers, and Building a Life of Freedom by Shannon Teague Serious about growing and scaling your small business in 2022? This book is for small business owners who want to scale up and thrive in the marketplace. Author Shannon Teague knows all the obstacles: struggling to acquire new clients, wearing multiple hats, and facing issues launching projects among others. Teague outlines practical steps that can serve as your own unique roadmap for growing your business efficiently and strategically. Learn to set up time-saving systems and processes, simplify accounting, and recruit a high-achieving team. Then, how to align on your company’s core value and vision to develop loyal, raving fans who will stick with you.  Best for: Small business owners seriously looking to grow and scale quickly. Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo A comprehensive guide that will walk you from passion projects to profitable business. All so you can enjoy a life you love. From initial planning to long-term business strategy, the author shares the formula she used to turn her hobby into a six-figure business. Even established small business owners will appreciate the guidance of practical sections. This book will help you identify your ideal market and customer, select budget and forecast tools, and better understand legal guidelines to help you protect your assets. Plus, how to manage online platforms, social media, and SEO to scale and grow. Best for: Aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. Big Lucky: Serial Entrepreneur Jim Markham's Secret Formula for Success by Jim Markham This book is a hybrid: part memoir, part entrepreneurial self-help book. Serial entrepreneur Jim Markham describes how he built five successful companies to his name and over $1.2 billion in combined retail sales in the hair care industry. The book’s title comes from his celebrity client, the late actor Paul Newman. Starting as a hairstylist, Jim Markham forged a new path to corporate multimillionaire without any playbook to follow. Best for: Serial entrepreneurs or hair and beauty business owners. We hope you'll check out some of these best books for starting a business! For more inspiration and guidance in starting a business, join Hello Alice and/or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Jan 19, 2022 • 4 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

5 Simple Ways to Organize Your Small Business Finances

If improving your financial literacy is once again sitting at the top of your resolutions list, threatening to go the way of last year’s unused gym membership, dive in and finally check it off for good. Here are smart ways to organize your small business finances this year. After all,  prioritizing your financials means prioritizing your business growth. Separating your business and personal finances with a dedicated bank account and accounting system may be the single most important goal you set!   Our new milestone, Organize Your Finances, will help you get started.  Here are five ways to organize your small business finances.    Access the Milestone 1. Open a Business Bank Account (and Get the Most Out of It) There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to business banking these days. Traditional, local, and online banks offer an array of services and add-ons tailored to small business owners.   Our guide will help you determine the considerations and services that matter most to you and choose a bank that meets those needs, whether that’s seeking out 24/7 instant account access, low or no fees, or a physical branch run by a banker you know and trust.   Access the guide 2. Invest in Bookkeeping and Accounting Tools Did you know that a majority of small businesses do accounting in-house? Are you… ahem… one of these small businesses?  Here are the best tools for managing your finances in the year ahead:   For bookkeeping needs: Pilot Bench Wave QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping  For accounting needs: QuickBooks Online Freshbooks Xero  Access the guide 3. Build a Business Budget (Especially if You’re Brand New) We know.  We know.  Creating even the simplest budget can be downright intimidating. Thankfully, accounting platforms (like QuickBooks Online and Freshbooks) integrate budgeting and forecasting tools, but early-stage businesses may still find it difficult without sales data to work off of. Follow our guide to simplify the process and learn where you can find estimates to plug into your forecast if you’re just starting out, including: SBA’s startup cost estimator tool Trusted online publications related to your business’ industry, niche, and size Industry-related associations and member organizations Contacts and mentors within your network Let’s get to it! Access the guide 4. Know the Cost of Taking an Owner’s Draw Taking an owner’s draw is the easiest way for solopreneurs to get paid. It’s as simple as writing a check to yourself from your business account, but wait!   Make sure you’re familiar with these stipulations before you do so: You can’t take any amount you want. Your owner’s draw is limited to your equity in the business. Taxes aren’t automatically taken out. You’ll have to self-report your draws and pay federal, state and local income taxes, self-employment taxes, and potentially estimated quarterly taxes on them) Access the guide 5. Pay Your Bills No Matter What It typically takes two years for a business to turn a profit, so how do you pay your business and personal bills with no income? Here are some creative ways to keep the lights on: Treat your business like a side hustle to guarantee a profit stream Bootstrap (rely on savings or sweat equity) Seek micro-loans from friends and family Crowdfund with platforms like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or GoFundMe Find more ways to pay your bills in our Determine How To Pay Yourself guide. Access the guide At Hello Alice, we believe 2022 is The Year of (Your) Small Business! Start it off right by getting your finances in order and ensuring you’ll have everything in order come tax season.  You’ve got this! For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Jan 14, 2022 • 3 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

8 Good Small Business Ideas for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Some entrepreneurs seem to intuitively know what kind of business they want to start and how. But for many others, the task of deciding exactly what kind of business to start is daunting. There’s no such thing as the “perfect idea” but there are many good small business ideas that are growing quickly and require limited capital to start up. If you have the drive, determination, and never-give-up attitude but are stuck on an idea, let us offer some options. Here are good small business ideas for your consideration:  1. Vending Machines The vending machine industry is great for first-timers or for established business owners looking to add a side or weekend project to their plate. The cost of entry is low; used machines sell for $1,000-$3,000 and are a good investment to learn the ropes before branching out. Additional costs include stocking your machine and whatever overhead you’ll pay in gas, fulfillment, maintenance, etc. The key to success in this business relies almost solely on location. Think of places you’ve used or seen vending machines – schools, office parks, medical centers, dorms, apartment buildings or outside places where food options are limited like hospitals or the DMV. Cold calling can work for smaller locations or somewhere you have an “in”. Your local Chamber of Commerce can provide information about businesses that employ many people as well as how your state governs vending.  2. Mobile Mechanic If you have experience and skills as a mechanic, you can offer your services conveniently and easily. Many people avoid the auto shop for simple services like oil changes or battery replacements because it’s an inconvenient and annoying chore. Offering your services at your customer’s home or place of work can be a game-changing benefit that customers are willing to pay for. And all you need is your own vehicle, tools, and ideally, a customer base of friends and family willing to spread the word.  3. Mobile Car Washing and Detailing Like a mobile mechanic, there is a market for people that will pay a premium to bring the carwash to them. Being mobile also cuts down on overhead costs immensely. Auto detailing start-up kits are available online to start. YouTube is a great resource for detailing instructional videos and tips and tricks. There’s even an entire niche of car cleaning videos on social media — a great place to advertise your business and show your most stunning before and after shots.  4. Handyman There’s a gap in the market for experienced people that can do simple jobs around the house, are easy to reach, and available on short notice. Working with contractors, plumbers, and electricians isn’t typically easy. They book up quickly and can turn down small jobs that a handyman could tackle. And when you finally get the work done you may have to unearth your checkbook. If you’re the person your friends rely on for small, odd jobs, consider starting a handyman business. Set up a free, separate Google Voice number for your customers to text you on and quickly respond. Accept payment via PayPal or Venmo and watch the referrals roll in. 5. Cleaning Company Like car detailing, there’s a corner of the internet dedicated to watching other people clean. There’s something satisfying about seeing a space transform, but a lot of people don’t want to put in the elbow grease to achieve sparkling results. The barrier to entry is low here. You’ll need supplies and a means of transportation to start. Consider targeting small businesses in your area. The amount of work can equal that of a larger home but with higher corporate rates. Another great market if you live in a popular tourist area is vacation rental homes or rooms. Owners book back-to-back stays and require thorough cleaning, fast. Check out the cleaning communities online for the best products and methods and start making your own #cleantok content. 6. Professional Packer According to a recent survey, 45% of respondents said that moving is the most stressful life experience. If organization is your thing, you can hire your services out to individuals and even businesses moving corporate spaces. Partner with a realtor and/or moving company to share leads and generate business. If the move is local, you can double your services by offering unpacking as well. The best part of this small business is that all you need is yourself. You can factor in the cost of boxes, tape, and other supplies into your rate.  7. Food Truck Food trucks offer much lower overhead than a brick-and-mortar restaurant and as the past 20 years have shown, the popularity of food trucks isn’t going anywhere soon. In a competitive and saturated market like this, research is key. Contact your local health department to find out what is needed to start a food truck business in your area. Look into your competition to see what might be missing from the food truck scene and scout locations. After years of on and off pandemic-related lockdowns, visiting a food truck can feel like a real treat. Consider reaching out to suburban neighborhood associations or developments. Setting up on a cul-de-sac on a Friday night can bring in as much money as a Saturday at the downtown farmers market with hordes of competition.  8. Postpartum Doula Last but not least in our round-up of good small business ideas... If nurturing is in your nature, consider making a career of it. Postpartum doulas offer emotional and physical support for families. From light housework to infant soothing, interacting with an older child, and caring for the mother, postpartum doulas serve to ease a family into life with a newborn. While the industry is not formally regulated there are a variety of workshops and certifications you can acquire to legitimize your business. And besides patience and a love of babies, you need little else to get started!  Enjoy this list of good small business ideas? For more small business inspiration and funding opportunities, create a free Hello Alice account or subscribe to our newsletter.
Jan 13, 2022 • 4 min read
Small Business Tips and Tools

How to Brainstorm Your Way To a Stronger Brand

Is there a secret sauce to creating a stronger brand? How do people come up with a successful creative representation of their business? How can you tap into your own artistic energy and really get the most out of your branding efforts? Houston-based barber, yoga instructor, and gallery curator Juan Valentine (aka YogiBarberJuan) has spent years perfecting his own brand identity and has a few tips to get your creative juices flowing for a stronger brand. Reflect on why you became an entrepreneur and how you want to be remembered.  “I started my barber journey when I was 10 out of necessity— Mom not having enough money to send us to the barbershop,” Juan says. “I wanted to create something that I could eventually pass on to my kids. More specifically, I created YBJ Studios because there wasn't anything like it, and it was a niche that I felt like I had the skillset and experience to create. Something truly unique and one of a kind.” Your turn.  Create your vision statement now. Decide the story you want to tell.  “A good haircut isn’t always what it takes to build a good barbershop. A lot of times it’s those real intangible things you have to work on, doing self-discovery work to find out: Who am I? How am I going to present this service and business in a way that’s different from everyone else, but is still authentic to who I am?” How would you answer those same questions? Conduct a brand audit now. Think about the impact you want your business to make in your community. “What's most important about the identity of my company is that it's genuine. It's real. It's authentic,” Juan says. Pinpoint the exact words that represent your own identity. They’ll help you develop your brand voice and Create a Brand Personality. Head to our new milestone, Create Your Brand Identity.  Through this milestone, you’ll learn how to: Envision and communicate exactly what your company stands for Audit your existing brand to find its existing strengths and weaknessesCreate the look, feel, and voice of your brand  “Anybody can do this,” Juan says. “I'm not some special person. One of the biggest aha moments I’ve had is that I've always had the potential to run the business and create the brand that I wanted to. It starts with just a little seed, and you water it, you nurture it, you spend time with it. And before you know it, you’ve got a little stride going.”  So let’s get started.  See you in the Create Your Brand Identity milestone! For more small business tips and inspiration, join Hello Alice and/or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Jan 12, 2022 • 2 min read