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Sales and Marketing

  • Submitted on 07 December 2011

    Business SuccessI know it’s tough to build a business and keep it growing through the years, because I’ve done it. Don’t forget that good business planning can help a growing business stay focused and efficient, even as you manage the daily routine and changing markets. Here are my three favorite easy ways to get back on track with business planning. These are all things I’ve done myself.

    Listen actively to a few of your customers

    I mean this as exactly what it says. I’m not saying you do a market survey or a focus group. I’m saying you really talk to a few (aim for 10 or 15) customers. Get on the phone, tell them you’re the owner or manager, make an appointment, and talk to them about what they think about your business. Make it interesting for them. Ask them interesting questions. Ask them what you do well and what you do poorly. Ask them what else you could be doing. Ask them about other businesses they like and don’t like, even if not related. Ask them what they think about trends, social media, organic food, green technology … make it a real conversation.

    And the talk isn’t what’s important here – it’s the listening that matters. You spark conversation, and then you shut up and listen. And have the good sense to listen well to criticism, not block it out, and learn from it. And do it as the owner of the business, or trusted top managers only. Don’t pay somebody else to do it. You need to see people’s faces, or at least (if you’re on the phone) hear voice inflection. You need to do the listening. The goal is to refresh your sense of what your business is really doing for whom, and why they care.

    We always hear about doing customer surveys or focus groups, which can be valuable when done right, or if they are taken with healthy skepticism. Unfortunately, they are rarely done right and are almost always given too much importance.

  • Submitted on 10 November 2011

    Small businesses in emerging industries – like clean energy – have cutting-edge ideas that are strengthening our country and changing the world. Today, we’re helping them continue to do just that in two major ways.

    First, unlike larger firms, many small firms don’t have the staff or time to search for all of the federal opportunities that can help them grow and create jobs.

    We’re pleased to announce that they’ve got a new tool with green.sba.gov, where they can find all federal opportunities in a single location.

  • Submitted on 26 October 2011

    Previous Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)-funded studies of small business patenting activity established the existence of a cohort of independent, for-profit innovative small firms with 15 or more patents over a five-year period.

    The studies also showed that innovative small firms had a higher percentage of emerging technology patents in their portfolios than their larger counterparts. A recent focus on “green” jobs, businesses, and technology led to this study of a subset of these innovative patent holders. This project was designed to highlight differences in the patent activity of small and large firms in green technologies and industries.

    Overall Findings

  • Submitted on 14 October 2011

    Proposed rules published today for comment in The Federal Register by the U.S. Small Business Administration would adjust the size definition of small businesses in 52 industries in two broad categories of businesses, ranging from travel agencies and movie production to waste management.

    The proposed adjustments to size standards in 15 industries in Sector 51 of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), “Information,” and in 37 industries in Sector 56, “Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services,” reflect changes in marketplace conditions in those sectors.

  • Submitted on 15 July 2011

    More than a quarter million American small businesses export from across all fifty states. They sell U.S. products and services around the world - thereby increasing their revenues, broadening and diversifying their customer base, and supporting good jobs in their communities. A particular priority of President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) is to expand exports by small businesses. This will contribute to his goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 in order to support two million additional jobs for American workers. We invite more small and medium-sized businesses to join us in this national effort to grow our economy through exports. To help do that, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration have unveiled a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool. This is a free online tool available to businesses and the public for the first time

  • Submitted on 15 July 2011

    A best-kept secret is that domestic trade shows are great places to meet and sell to international buyers. U.S. businesses that have discovered this relatively low-cost channel for drumming up new sales claim that exhibiting at the “right” shows can fill their order books for the entire year.

    It may sound counter intuitive to make international sales without leaving the U.S., but the fact is that international buyers are attracted to large trade shows in the U.S. And let’s not forget the draw of Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami and other big trade show venues.

  • Submitted on 22 July 2010

    Marketing your GSA Contract

    First things first, know your schedule contract and its terms. Read it thoroughly. Understand your costs and rates and understand the GSA task ordering process. Understand the benefits to the customer of using a schedule contractor and incorporate these benefits into your marketing language.

    Although buyers may receive small business credit, when orders are placed against a GSA Schedule contract, they are considered to be placed using full and open competition. Buyers need not seek further competition, synopsize the requirement, make a separate determination of fair and reasonable pricing, or consider small business programs. By placing an order against a GSA Schedule contract, the buyer has concluded that the order represents the best value and results in the lowest overall cost to meet the government's needs


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