Growing Your Small Business

By Cristiane Namiuti

Being a small business has some advantages: You can adapt quickly to changing market trends, and decision making is faster, probably because only a few people have this responsibility. You’re also autonomous, as there’s no large corporation that drives your agenda. You may not be attracting the same number of customers as a household brand is, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t look every bit as professional as they are.

Here’s how to make your business grow and look professional

Have a website (or update it!)

It’s disheartening when you consider that only about a half of small businesses have a website. In this age of online shopping and transactions, it’s imperative that a business maintains a presence on the web. Consumers are more likely to shop for products and services online. If your business doesn’t have a website, you’re more likely to go unnoticed.

The good news is that it’s quite easy to get a website up and running, especially one that can support mobile access. A good number of people with mobile devices use them to access the Internet, and even a search engine like Google supports sites that function well on mobile devices. Additionally, there are many low-cost tools available that can assist in creating a website.

If you already have a website, you should update it to the latest technology by enabling responsive design. There are even templates to choose from, which should make your work easier. And remember, even with a good website, relevant content is key.

Have a marketing budget

While you may not have the billions to spend on marketing like multinational companies, you certainly have to set aside a percentage of your budget towards marketing. Your product/service offering may be good, but it won’t “sell itself.” Marketing is an integral aspect to the success of a business, and you need to budget for it.

Setting aside resources for marketing means you have to ensure the budget allows for it. If you don’t have the resources ready, consider looking for external funding or partnerships that can sell your business. Other than traditional modes of advertising, consider partnering up with other small businesses to increase the visibility of your offerings.

Work on your social media presence

The need to establish and grow your presence on social media is crucial since it’s more of a necessity for businesses now. You need to figure out which social media platform works best for you. If you’re more of a professional services business, LinkedIn might work. If you’re a pizza shop that’s looking to show customers your good food, give Instagram a try. Look at what the brands in your industry use, and let that guide you.

About the author:

Cristiane Namiuti is an experienced marketing professional who’s knowledgeable in brand strategy and marketing for both large companies and small businesses. She has expertise in innovation and building brand equity, which ultimately leads to increased revenues.

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Four Main Fears That Hinder Success

By Cristiane Namiuti

To succeed in life, you have to learn how to overcome your fears. In our minds, some fears are bigger than others. The nasty ones can even hinder your ability to put your best foot forward. To attain success, you need to find the strength to face them head on.

The following are some of the common fears to overcome:

1. Fear of aging

Fear of old age can be harmful when someone is making a major career change. The thought process at such a time can be something like this: “I’m 50. How do you expect me to learn about marketing if I’ve been in law all this time? It has to work out well, otherwise, I won’t be able to meet my obligations.”

At the end of the day, however, how old you are matters less when you have confidence in your ability to deliver.

2. Fear of criticism

Many people are afraid to express or live their dreams out of fear of what family, friends or colleagues will say about them. There are countless tales of young graduates wishing to take career paths far different from what their parents expect, but often hold back for fear of what will come of such bold moves.

Fear of criticism is common among many people. Making decisions based on what others think, however, will hamper you in life. Rather, think about what these people will say if you were to achieve success.

3. Fear of failure

This fear often takes the form of the “what if” question in our lives. Only that it’s phrased in a negative way like: “What if my idea doesn’t work out? What if there’s no market for my business” What if I fail?”

You are asking the wrong questions. Instead of conjuring up all the different ways you may fail, focus on the way you can succeed. Even if you encounter obstacles or make mistakes, you will have an opportunity to correct and learn. Failure is part of the process, so accept that it may occur and focus on giving it your best shot. Just like that famous quote: If you manage to learn from every failure, your failures will ultimately build your success.

4. Fear of success

Far too often, people are afraid of reaching their full potential. They’re afraid of becoming what they envisioned, which is a real success. They look at others and think, “I wish I could achieve that too.” In reality, however, they are afraid of being their true selves and reaching the same level of success.

Many people operate on a belief system in which becoming successful is out of reach, so they never push themselves. They believe that things will always stay as they are and there is nothing they can do to change their lives. This is a very limiting assumption, one that you should counter by believing you are capable and have what it takes to achieve your goals. We are much more likely to succeed when we truly believe in what we are working for.

About the author:

Cristiane Namiuti is a brand marketing professional with a strong background in marketing for consumer goods and brand strategy. She has managed multiple leading brands for large multinational companies like Unilever and Bare Escentuals. Cristiane holds an MBA from Babson College and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising from ESPM in São Paulo.