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Blog February 2012
Green dry cleaners, Green energy. Green puppy food. Green car washes. Green wall paints. Green grease removal.
Green: it’s everywhere. It’s taught in the first grade. It’s at the center of many corporate manufacturing and marketing policies. And whether you believe in climate change or still have doubts, consumers are now demanding GREEN.
Adopting environmentally friendly and energy efficient business practices provides numerous benefits to new and existing small business owners looking to control costs, attract customers and become socially responsible. Non-toxic, recycled, organic, energy efficient, reused, eco-friendly, farm-to-table: these terms, and others, all help define the fast-growing green market.
So what can you do as a small business? Remember, that regardless of what options you choose, each one of them should and must be connected to your marketing strategy and company messaging. If you adopt energy efficiency practices, let your customers know; if you are committed to local agriculture, let them know, and if your product contains recycled by-products, let them know. Four out of five consumers say they are still buying environmentally friendly products and services today – which sometimes cost more – even in the midst of a recovering economy.
“Before beginning, plan carefully.”
The philosophy of the great Roman Orator Cicero is just as appropriate in today’s small business environment as it was in the political arena of the Roman Empire. A sound and well thought-out marketing plan is an essential part of a firm’s ability to compete in today’s marketplace. In spite of this, many small businesses take a disorganized or haphazard approach to their marketing efforts and, as a result, fail to capitalize on opportunities to sell more of their products and services.
Why do so many take this half-hearted approach? Many believe it stems from the nature of the entrepreneur, who thrives on action and being intrinsically involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Planning is seen as a non-active effort and therefore does not provide the same stimulus as being involved in producing and selling a product and/or service.
The process of creating a marketing plan involves three steps:
An analysis of the firm’s internal and external environments;
A decision on a “Unique Selling Point” to emphasize and project; and
The selection of action plans (both paid and unpaid) to reach the targeted customer base.
The U.S. Small Business Administration published a final rule in The Federal Register that will increase some of the size definitions of small businesses in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and Other Services sectors.
The final rule will increase 37 of the revenue-based size standards in 34 industries and three sub-industries in the “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services” sector. It will also increase one size standard in the “Other Services” sector.
If you are considering government contracts as a way to increase revenues in your company, be sure to check out the SBA's Government Contracting Classroom where you will find self-paced on-line training designed to give you the confidence and know-how to participate in the federal contracting arena.
The new online contracting series is called Government Contracting 101, Parts 1-3. Part 1 provides an overview of the small business contracting programs so small businesses know what is available to them. Part 2 is designed to help small firms understand how the government buys goods and services. Part 3 is about how to sell to the government. All three modules include a “resources and tools” section with links, materials and more that are useful.
In the last decade, Brazil has been one of the fastest growing emerging markets. It is currently the largest economy in Latin America, and seventh largest in the world. This week’s trade spotlight highlights the importance of U.S.-Brazil trade relations and how the relationship benefits American farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, and workers.
As one of the fastest growing emerging markets, and a country that the International Monetary Fund projects is poised for continued growth, Brazil is an important trading partner for the United States. In 2010, U.S. goods and services trade with Brazil was $81 billion, with exports accounting for $52 billion and imports accounting for $29 billion. This resulted in a goods and services trade surplus of nearly $23 billion for 2010, a 61 percent increase from 2009.
Brazil is the 10th largest goods trading partner with the U.S., with goods trade surplus of more than $11 billion in 2010. Trade in services between the U.S. and Brazil totaled more than $21 billion in 2010. Additionally, the services surplus for the United States was more than $11 billion.
In 2010, Brazil was the United States’ 8th largest goods export market. U.S. goods exports to Brazil were more than $35 billion, a near 36 percent increase from 2009. Overall, U.S. exports to Brazil accounted for nearly 3 percent of total U.S. exports in 2010. The top U.S. exports to Brazil were machinery, aircraft, and electric machinery. Additionally, the U.S. exported $578 million worth of agricultural products to Brazil in 2010. The leading categories of agricultural exports were wheat, cotton, dairy products and sugars and sweeteners.