All posts by Kaloyan Dimitrov

Founder of Vambos.com | Bultip.com | Viyve.com and many others.

How to start a flower shop

Starting a new company is exciting but also scary. There are too many things to be considered and it seems that no matter what we do, we will forget something. Actually, this is true. There is no chance to predict everything, however, if you have a good plan and the economics of your new business seems to be working well then most probably you will get surprised by an unpredicted problem but you will manage to solve it. If you have chosen a flower shop to be your small business, then this article will definitely help you to prepare.

Starting a florist shop requires less capital than most of other small business opportunities. That is why so many people do choose this option when setting up a small business. The average cost to run a single location flower shop is somewhere between $10 000 and $50 000. However, I will present you how to start a fantastic boutique flower shop with no more than $20 000.

As mentioned the most important thing is to prepare well for what is about to come. That is why next section will look over our florist business plan.

Have a plan how to run florist business

 

How much it will cost you to open a flower shop

A rough estimation is between $10 000 and $50 000. What are difference between the two limits? Well, it all depends whether you are about to rent a space and invest heavy in capital or not. So here are the basics things that you should decide whether to have and how much:

  • Rent a space or do business from home
  • Have a delivery van or outsource from a delivery company
  • Florist equipment – you will for sure need flowers, some decorations but the more expensive are the refrigeration cases, you will need some of them, the question is how much.
  • Employees – how many do you actually need to start a florist business? Well, if you are creative type person then you may be able to do the design of the arrangement yourself, that will enable you to save a lot of money from hiring a designer. In an ideal situation you would have been working in flower shop before and know all about creating great designs that sell. If not then you will need to hire someone to do this. Remember he will be better paid than average employees so he should be kept busy all the time.
  • Advertising – with not much you can definitely do a lot if your product is good.

 

How much revenue to break even

A crucial point in the development of a small business is reaching the break-even point. The question is how much will be your costs per month and how much revenue on average the shop should make to cover its running costs. Here is the first time a price of the product should be considered. In flower business it is better to sell a little too expensive than too cheap. Your main product – fresh flowers cannot last longer than few days. Therefore, you will have a lot of waste.

 

Licenses local and state

You should check if you need any specific licenses to start a florist shop in your area. Usually, there is nothing more required than the standard business licenses and registrations.

 

What are the location options – from home or rent a space

The perfect location will be somewhere around church, hospital and restaurants/hotels that organize wedding. It is very rare combination so do not look too much for it. Generally, just next to the city center is a good point to start from because there will also be decent amount of foot traffic and as flowers are often impulse decision this will have impact.

Staff

The important thing is to be able to keep them busy. If you are not sure if initially there will be enough work for them to keep busy all the time, then do not hire. It is much easier to give extra money to a single employee for hard working than to pay 2 employees to do not so much.

 

What will be the process to get clients

Before starting a very clear process of attracting customers should be developed. How will your prospects find you?
1. The first important question is whether you rely more on your website or on your physical store?

  1. Once you have a clear mind on question 1 you can focus on either small clients or big ones – wedding organizers for example.

 

Exit strategy

In business there should always be an exit strategy. This will minimize losses and also help you to take the decision to actually quit the business. Before starting the florist shop you should decide how much time and how much money you will invest in order to develop it to at least break even point. My recommendations is to have about $20 000 to start and another $20-25 000 for ongoing costs and stay into the business somewhere between 6 and 10 months. If for that period the thinks are not going well then probably something is not ok and it is better to do radical changes and even close the business.

 

 

How to start a flower shop [Case Study]

This section will have practical approach. I have helped a friend to start a florist business and so will give you my vision how it will be best to handle the situation.

 

My initial investment: $25 000

 

Setting up a small business is not an easy task but if you pay careful attention to three things and make them perfect then you will be able to succeed. I am talking about process, people and product.
My friend has been working in a big flower shop in Los Angeles for 4 years. The last one he was promoted to be chief designer/decorator. For personal reasons he had to move to Seattle and I encourage him to open his own shop.

The people

The idea was him to be the designer and do all the arrangements and has 3 more employees.

The first employee will handle the delivery van. There are not so many orders to be delivered early in the morning so we decide it will be enough to have someone delivering from 14:00 to 22:00 5 days a week.

Second employee would work in the store with the designer. Helping everything to be processed and kept organized.

Third employee will work on the delivery van Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 20:00 and help some other days the store.

The marketing will be outsourced from a small digital agency I run and will be mainly focused on attracting customers through Google, Facebook, Pinterest and email campaigns.

Each of the employees will cost about $2200 a month, we easily managed to hire them as the location was near the university village. So far the cost of running business is $6600 a month.

The digital agency will charge $1000 a month (this includes $500 spending on Facebook and Google Adwords).

The process

Initially the business would run from the home of my friend. It was not a bad place – 5 minute drive to the downtown, located on the very edge of the city center.

We found on CarCurus decent second hand florist equipment and for about $4 800 we manage to buy what we believe to need in order to start – flower displays, some outdoor displays as well, a watering machine, stem cutters, ribbon racks, vases and some other less significant tools and gadget to make the whole process easier. If you have worked in flower shop before opening one then it will be easy to pick up the necessary tools. However, if not then better go to the wholesale store with your designer.

We got a second hand van as well and branded it. The van has mileage of 83 000 and price set up of $18 300. At the end we managed to bargain to get it for $16 000. Putting vehicle wrap was $2200.

So far we have everything we need to start the process. The only thing missing is our product. What type of arrangement we focus next chapter will present. For the process is important to highlight how we buy the fresh flowers. My friend was used to go to the wholesale market and order and wait everything to be delivered and pay with check. I could not understand why we make the process so complicated. He told me that was the process in the florist shop he used to work. It was no brainer that it could be much easier and cheaper at the end.

First, it is very important to always have cash – pay in cash to the wholesalers for fresh flowers. Even if you do not buy large quantity they will give you 3-8% discount. Furthermore, you can save additional 2-3% from the logistics. If your shop have delivery van why bother waiting someone else to deliver the fresh flowers? Furthermore, if you rely on yourself to get the flowers you will feel more secure they will arrive on time and thus keep lower quantity in stock. This is from huge importance giving the fact that our main product lasts only few days.

With floral supplies it is a little bit different. The process there is more like ordering office supplies. The best you can do is negotiate some 5-10% discount from a nice website and then order from there. It will save time and if they deliver on time everything will be perfect. If not speak with them and eventually you may change the supplier. When starting a small business there is almost always lack of capital and that is why very often it is necessary to start with lower quantities in stock. The focus of every owner should be to make the process so good that this is not harming the business. That is why it is very important not to have delay of any of your raw materials. Otherwise, your orders will also be delayed sooner or later and customers will be unhappy.

The delivery process was very simple. We deliver between 14:00 and 22:00. The customer can choose when the flowers to be delivered and sooner options is two hours from now. Furthermore, the owners always calls to confirm the order. That is very important, building some rapport with clients is essential.

For big orders the time to deliver is much more than two hours but even for the funeral people call a day in advance so it is possible everything to be organized and prepared.

The product

Doing some basic research showed it is best to divide the products into three basic groups:

  • Flower arrangements under 50$
  • Flower arrangements between 50 and 70$
  • Boutique flower arrangements 70$+

In the store and on the website this was the basic lay out of our products. They were divided according to their price. I suggest not to put products from Group B into the display of Group A. Clients will expect them to be under $50 and may be frustrated when they realize it was actually a bit more expensive. However, you should always propose to upgrade the arrangement. In order to do this the right way you should be able to define how much upgrade and what type of upgrade is good idea to be offered to this particular customer. Usually 10% more to the existing price is a reasonable and what more you will put for those 10% you should determine based on the occasion.

 

The margin

Many small businesses do not get the economics and failed at the end. In the case of opening flower shop we face the problem of a product that do not last long. Furthermore, we shall know that buying flowers is most often impulse decision. What does this means? It means that once clients are at your store or website they will probably not make big deal of 10% more or less but make the purchase. Therefore, in this industry it is expected to work with decent margin – 60% to 150% is ok. The only exception is when you are trying to sell flowers that will not last much longer and decrease the price heavily in order to liquidate some inventory that will eventually turn into waste.

For those who are not good at mathematics I will provide an example. If you are about to open a florist shop and an arrangement costs you 40$ you should sell it somewhere between $70 and $85. You should charge additionally for the delivery.

Keep in mind to also include the labor costs before calculating the final price. At the wholesale market you can buy roses at around a dollar each, white calla lilies at $3, stems of white daisy poms poms for about $1.4 each. So for example if we have this decoration:

Flower arrangement
Flower arrangement
  • 1 Glass Cube – $5
  • 3 Orange Roses – $3.9
  • 3 Hot Pink Miniature Gerberas – $4.2
  • 3 Hot Pink Carnations – $1.2
  • 1 Stem Hot Pink Miniature Carnations – $0.65
  • 2 Stems Green Button Spray Chrysanthemums – $2.4
  • Other decorations: $1.5
  • Labor cost – 15 minutes = $5.5

Total $24.35

This arrangement should be sold from $45 to $55.

 

Florist business is ready, what’s next?

So far the investment is about $23 000 – the equipment, the delivery van and its branding. Furthermore, the ongoing costs per month are $6600 for the employees and $1000 for the digital agency to do some marketing (we will discuss that in a minute), so in total $7600. For a small just starting business it is good idea the owner not to get any money out of it. So in order to break even in a given month it is necessary to have somewhere around $15 000 worth of revenue.

 

How to get to the break-even point

Knowing the characteristics of your basic clients groups

There are two main type of customers in florist business – small clients (individuals) and big clients (businesses that organize weddings and funerals). You may thing it is great idea to have as a client someone who organize weddings but keep in mind you will have 15-20% margin at most in this type of deals. So if he orders 100 arrangements that cost you $25 you will not be able to $4 000 – 5 000 of revenue but merely about $3 000. On other hand if you do just 25 arrangements for small clients you will be able to get the same profit. The best practice is to have from both type of clients. The businesses will decrease your average margin but increase the volume a lot. This will help you to negotiate better prices with wholesalers, enables you to have a steady amount of income coming and also decrease significantly your waste.

Therefore, it is very important to be targeting both types of customers.

Targeting new customers

Targeting your customers the right way is essential. To do this you should realize that the two main types of customers require different approach.

How to target individual customers

The digital agency has the aim to deliver us this type of customers. Trough Facebook promote, Google AdWords, listings in local business directories, press releases in local media and the organic searches in 3 months we managed to grow a steady traffic. The average number of visitors you should expect in 3-6 months spending $1000 per month is somewhere around 75 per day.

The average number of orders was roughly 13 per day and the revenue more than $500, and so more than $15 000 revenue from individual client per month. This number is enough to break even. With good customer service, better search rankings, newsletters and some business clients the florist shop will make a good amount of profit as well and be able to expand.

Without any doubt the website was very well optimized to convert as many visitors as possible. We also have a landing pages for special occasions – wedding flowers, birthday flowers and so on. That is why I recommend working with Viyve – exceptional results at very reasonable price.

How to target businesses

With this type of client a different strategy is required. From my experience before I know it is best to go in person to funeral homes and wedding organizers and have a chat. It is almost sure that you will not lend them but at least let them know about your business. In few days you can send some samples along with detail pricing of your arrangements. I like to put the pricing on hard cardboard that is laminated. That way it cannot be easily folded/damaged and so go into the rubbish bin. Furthermore, if you manage to speak with someone that is about to organize wedding or funeral and offer him great price then it is very likely when they go to funeral home or wedding organizer to insist that you are their florist. This is fantastic method and works very well. It is very customizable for different types of business and always works well, however, be prepared that it takes time.

The digital agency did a lead generation and collected from local business directories and websites email. And send them an email asking if they need such services. It is good idea this to be done from someone with experience as otherwise it may go to category “unsolicited sales message” and cause you trouble.

 

Turning business into profit and growing it

Once you reached the break-even point then continue the same way and emphasize on customer service. Soon enough the new clients will become recurring and your revenue will increase significantly. Increasing sales of a small business will also mean you will be able to decrease the price of your main supplies and make it even more profitable.

With the time you should optimize the process – make everything as simple as possible. If you are using delivery company and have huge amount of orders – invest into your own van. If your waste is high because you lack of refrigerating cases then purchase more. Organize the shop and work places as well as possible. Keep buckets clean, change the water often, try to make your presentation appealing. Flowers are often impulse purchase and all this cane really make the difference.

Once you are feeling comfortable and have enough cash aside then think about opening a second location. The best choice will be nearby town – around 15-20 miles away from your first shop.

Doing this will enable you to scale up the whole process and also decrease additionally the costs of delivery, marketing, supplies, accounting, make the use of employees more efficient.

 

Conclusion

It is never easy task to start and develop a business but this guide will definitely help you to prepare your checklist on how to start a florist shop. If you need any advice or have a question, do not hesitate, to post a comment or contact me on my email. I would love to help you!

 

 

How to increase sales in a small business – Complete Guide [Practical Approach]

This article will present you fast and easy to implement the best modern ways to boost your small business’ sales today. This method is highly customizable and very well working for all kind of companies – from coffee shops and clothes stores to restaurants and service companies. Keep in mind this is a practical approach to the topic and not just some general theoretical stuff. If you have any doubts whether it is a good solution for your business just contact me and I would love to help you.

1. Increase small business sales by augmenting the customers’ velocity of a purchase

 

In other words this strategy of business grow will increase the revenue by only using your existing customer base. This strategy is based on increasing small business sales by increasing how often your loyal customers do make a purchase, also known as sales velocity. I will also show you a trick how you can use this method to also attract new customers.
So here’s how to increase sales revenue using this strategy

Let’s assume we are a boutique donut store. We make all donuts in house, using our special recipes for the whole process. People from all over town come occasionally and buy a box of donuts. Generally, people in town/area know us and some additional advertising may not be as effective – it will remind existing customers about us but on same time it will not yield much new ones. Therefore, we need to increase velocity of our customer base – which in simple words means to decrease the time between two purchases of a single client. How we do that?




We give the discount if they do make a purchase in a given period. First, it is necessary to obtain some information – how often do usually regular clients come. As I worked to optimize such business I know that there are in general three types of people:

  • Type A – come every day to get a donut and a coffee, they live very close to the location or it is on their way to work.
  • Type B – come every 3-4 days.
  • Type C – come few times a month (9-12 days between purchases).

Type A

In this case we can prepare three types of coupons that we will give after the purchase is made. There is little chance to increase the velocity of Type A customers even more. Yes, they may not come some morning but generally they are very regular. Therefore, we can either give them 10% discount if they come the next day too or very good discount if they buy additional donut and/or drink. This will have some positive effect and also those customers will not ask a question why they do not receive any coupon.

 

Type B

Type B customers are actually the ones that can give us most value and so boost in revenue. The right approach is to try to increase their velocity by about 30%. This is a realistic target. So if they come every 3-4 days we would love to make them come every 2-3 days. 15% discount if you come in the next 3 days is a very good approach. If you then observe a decent amount of people coming regularly and using this promotion then change it. Make it 10% if you come the next 3 days and 20% if you come in 2 days and give them a choice at the cashier. It may sounds very difficult but for a small business with few location it is totally feasible to apply this strategy. Usually, for a single location donut store you would have about 70-80 people that become regular on this deal. If those people come twice a week and average purchase is 5$ and we make them come 3 times with the 20% discount then revenue will increase from $750 to $960/week. It is important to notice that this additional revenue does not require more capital.

 

Type C

Type C are the occasional customers. There is huge value to be gathered from this group. I suggest to make a coupon valid for next 7 days. Making the transition from coming occasionally to be regular every week is huge step forward and will really increase sales in long term.

 

For some small businesses this approach is the best way to increase revenue fast. Furthermore, the long term effect is also significant. It creates habit to the consumers and then they continue to come more often. Something more, the coupons for discount easily attract new customers as well. All you need is the right mindset and willingness to change the situation. This article may help you, especially if you are selling services – Increasing Sales Velocity by Making Customer References a Competitive Advantage.

This method is feasible and easy to implement. All it is necessary is a leaflet/coupon that communicates well what is the promotion about and a date stamp so we can know when the purchase is being made. Furthermore, it will be even better if the cashiers are also trying to communicate the promotion and engage the customers even more.

 

Here are the pros and cons using this tactics

The pros

Lower risk – it is not necessary to estimate in advance how well will this marketing campaign work, as the investment is mainly going to printing and transaction costs, and not advertising. In other words, it only necessary to produce the leaflets and then be able to handle the situation at the cashier and give the proper discount. Effectively, in this situation the business is paying marketing money only when there is a sale. So there is less risk, but of course return on investment is also more stable and some huge downswing or upswings cannot be expected. All this characteristics makes this approach perfect way to boost sales of a small company.

The cons

There is always a chance that the terms of the campaign are not the best ones. For example we have set the deadline of a second purchase too soon or too late. In the first case, customer will not receive enough additional utility on a following purchase and so will not do it. If the deadline is too far away, then we many not increase the velocity of a purchase but only give discount on customer’s usual purchase. So it may be tricky to get the time periods properly, but once you do then you can launch many campaigns and everything should be ok.

 

2. Increasing revenue by successfully using social media

 

As you probably already heard many times, social media presents fantastic opportunity to not only connect to existing customers but also gather new ones. During the years I have mastered Facebook and for this particular example – boutique donut store – this is the best approach. However, I will lay out the foundation of how to use Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well.

 

2.1. Increasing sales vie Facebook campaigns

If you are complete rookie in Facebook then create a personal profile and then create page for your business. Here is a great checklist what you should do after creating your Facebook page. Then your first step should be towards acquiring 1000 fans. It is not an easy task for many small businesses. However in the case of donut store we can easily get them by posting photos of our donuts. And because everyone loves sweet and they look very promising it is very often that they receive huge engagement.

Increase your sales with social media
Increase your sales with social media

This photo is great example of this principle. You have to agree that it is very tempting to give a like, comment, tag a friend who loves donuts, etc.

On other side if it is a service company or office supply store then it is much more difficult. Therefore, I recommend reading this article – How to get your first 1000 Facebook fans.

Once the page reaches at least 150 or so fans you can start promoting posts successfully, as well the page itself. The reason to wait for this amount is that few people are giving a like to a page with only 4 likes or so, this will make your ad campaign inefficient and thus very expensive.

Your next step is to evaluate your customers. I recommend you to start with your most frequent ones. What is their gender, age, interests and geo location? Sometimes you cannot obtain all of the information, or you know just roughly but it is fine. Give a try, make a promotion campaign and input only the details you know. Initially I recommend to start with small amounts – $10 is good. And see how it is going. You can Google more information about Facebook ads and average costs, but it is best if you manage to calculate by yourself whether this investment is worth it or not. Here’s a beginner’s’ guide to Facebook ads that would be useful if you are about to set up your first campaign.




In the most basic example, let’s assume we are launching a campaign to sell a box of donuts. The Facebook ad is linking to a page at our website where the customers just need to choose what 6 donuts they would like in the box, pick and address and finish the purchase. Even if your website do not have some additional tracking code you may be able to determine whether the campaign is successful. For example for every $10 spent check how many visits you have from Facebook, then check how many orders from new users you have. This is the most basic way to track how you are spending money. Google Tag Manager is a free way to get more sophisticated tracking – here is a guide how to use it.

If you do not like the results try a different call to action text, another image and if it is necessary fix the settings – target older people, or just women, or even only people interested in weight loss. What is the logic? If they are looking to lose weight then it is very likely that they love to eat sweet thinks like donuts, it is cruel, but that is business. We are looking to increase sales not to save the world.

 

The two main strategies using online ads to increase sales of a small business

  1. Design process to send customers to physical store.
  2. Design process to make customers purchase online.

Before starting you should be sure whether you want to get them buy online or come to your store/call you to set up a meeting.

Of course, you can put a map and invite them to come buy at the page that they should choose what donuts to be delivered but this is a great distraction. It is very likely that many people would decide to postpone the purchase because the location is not so far away and they might stop by some time. It may also has positive effect but from my experience I know – it is better to focus on a single strategy per campaign.

Using such simple ad campaigns may be very effective, especially if you manage to find the right audience and the right way to engage them. Be prepared to waste some money, the first 5-6-7 times it is normal to not get the things right but once you get the principle it is just matter of time to do some tests and see what works for your business.

 

2.2. Using Pinterest to boost sales

Pinterest is another place where you can easily get tons of traffic to your website. The problem is that it is not working for every niche. The reason for this is the demographic of the audience, as well as the image representation of every post – your post is as good as the image. Furthermore, it is used for leisure and so business services here are out of the game.

On other side, a donut store may succeed to drive a good amount of traffic but the problem would be the targeting. Here’s an infographic that describes well what Pinterest is in reality, so have a look and think about whether your business may fit and benefit from it.

Pinterest Demographic Data

2.3. Twitter and LinkedIn

Twitter is great tool for the business. It not only allows you to interact with your customers but also allows you to see what is going on with them. Same is valid for LinkedIn. The difficulties in those two networks come when you need to get the right audience to follow you. They are much more difficult to be exploited and require deeper knowledge in order to develop a whole process of attracting and converting clients. That is why I suggest not to rely on them until you are very successful with Facebook.

 

3.    Email Marketing

This is one of the most popular ways to engage with your loyal customer base – let them know about new products, deals, news or just remind them about yourself.

However, it is becoming more and more difficult to properly manage your list. The two most important questions ahead of you are:

  1. How often to send emails?

For a small business and especially if you are a rookie in email marketing I suggest one email every week or two. It depends how good content you have but even if you have many good stuff to offer/tell about do not send more than one campaign per week, at least not for the first month. Then if you see that people are really well engaging you may try to increase it.

 

  1. What to include in the emails?

It is very important that your emails are not purely sales ones. You may mention a new product, a promotion or something else, but do not overdo ti. Give your subscribers some value – an interesting article, important news about your company, something funny that is somehow related to your business or else. The idea is to give them some value every time, this will keep them opening your emails and so giving you a chance to make a sale sooner or later.

Those are the two general principles of using email marketing to increase revenue of your business. Follow them and you will find your way to success.

 

4.    Cold Calling

Cold calling is the evergreen for attracting new customers. Especially if your product is a service then, in my opinion, this is your best tool in short term. In long term you may develop a sophisticate process where your website/blog/fan page attracts customer, then they are converted with your content and at last closed by you. But if you need more customers fast then this is the best approach. Just pick up the phone and start calling. The more you call the better you will become.

If your service fits well to most businesses (for example search engine optimization or website development) then it is best just to call a lot. From experience I know that it is best to call 3-4 firms than to think too much before calling one. At least for me this works well, especially if you are smart and do not sound like a very mean salesman. What I mean is that you can make at least a chat with most companies – how they are doing, how they are attracting customers (if we offer SEO or new website and they refuse this will give us important information in what they invest, how they operate) and so on. This way you will soon become better and make a sale.

You should be prepared to make a 300 phone calls and not make a single purchase. Do not ever back down. Have a rest, chill out with friends and tomorrow give a try with 300 more. Better to succeed after 500 calls than never to make a single sale. After the first sale you will become so confident that it is very likely to make soon another one. After 5-6 sales you will know very well the process and if you are going to make a sale since first few words on the phone.

Cold calling is the best way to increase revenue for a service company in short term but it is tough to handle the rejection. If you manage to do that and stay focused and determine to get a client then you will succeed big!

 

5.    Website

This chapter will in brief lay out the two main principles to increase revenue of a small business using its web properties. To be easier to understand how this can be achieved let’s assume we have a website with 100 visitors per day, 10 from which are calling us and one becomes a client.

5.1  Converting better

Converting better will mean that our website will be better – simple but stylish, one that people feel they can trust. Furthermore, it conversion process should be clean and easy – we should know where people start their session and where we want to get them and how to make them go there.

Every distraction on their way between the starting page and the conversion should be removed. Many small companies have on their website Google ads, big partner logos on main page and so on. All those think are options user to be clicked and user will be out of your website and so no chance to be converted. It is necessary to sit down and think as from user perspective. Make their way to the conversion point as easy as possible.

Improving the conversion rate may lead to 20 calls out of every 100 customers and so twice as many chances to get new clients.

Conversion rate optimization is a very big topic, but this guide will serve you well to get the basics you need.

For majority of small businesses their website is not good. The design is old and not user friendly at all. What I suggest is to make it simple but stylish, nothing fancy, just solid website where content is easy to find. The best solution is the development of WordPress website. That is so for two reasons:

  1. It has great content management system – this means you will able to manage it by yourself, the same way you manage your Gmail or Facebook account.
  2. Premium themes (premium website designs that fit to WordPress platform) cost around $ 50-100 and deliver fantastic design.

If you go with US or UK firm such service will costs about $3000-10 000. However I suggest some company like this one – Viyve.com – they will do it for about $1000 and in half the time large agencies do such projects.

5.2. Attracting more visitors

So if we are to improve the conversion rate we will receive more calls based on same amount of visitors to our website. But on same time if we invest to improve the conversion rate then it will be even more worthy to invest into attracting more visitors. Doubling the people that visit the website will mean 40 phone calls per day. But how to do that? Here in brief are the 4 major components of every website’s traffic. You can Google more and try to implement particular method to achieve an increase in your visitors.

1. Ad campaign

We already discussed this in chapter 2.

 

2. Search Traffic

Ranking well in search engines also requires time and efforts but it is a great investment in long term. Creating solid content on your website and receiving genius links to it by your visitors will assure steady rankings and so steady amount of traffic.

 

3. Referral Traffic

In short term this is not a solution. Building stable and decent amount of referral traffic requires a lot of time and efforts. However, a must do for every small business is to submit their website to every big directory/business listing websites. Even some premium (paid) listings may be worth. This will make your company more viral online and easy to find. Also will provide some benefits to rank better in search engines.

 

4. Email Marketing

Check Chapter 3 for more details.

 

Here a general list of methods to increase website traffic:
How to increase small business sales by increase website traffic

Conclusion

This article presented ways to increase the sales of a small business. The methods discussed are very easy to be repeated by every business type and the practical approach to the problem allows you to see in more details how exactly you can succeed. Get subscribed in order to receive the new post on same topic – how to increase sales in a small business. I plan to do an article where more sophisticated ways are discussed, again using a practical approach and examples from my experience.

How I started my own digital agency

The basics of starting your own service company

Nowadays the easiest way to start your own enterprise is to sell a service. Being good at something and being able to perform well organized process and scale it up is a quick way to become solid company with some capital. Starting without need of huge capital also means a credit from the bank is not required, or at least not as much. Psychologically, this affects you as there is less pressure to succeed and succeed fast. In business is very likely to fail few times before finding the right formula. However, it is important to have enough time to learn from your mistakes and find the right way.

I have the experience to start a marketing/web design company – also known as digital agencies. I was able to do a little bit of web design (HTML & CSS) and PHP, being able to deliver good SEO, PPC, content and also knowing a lot of people that would deliver all these products for a very cheap price. Basically, I have the general knowledge how the good product looks like and I knew what I want for every aspect. All this experience I have because of managing my own websites. They were earning some money but not so much, so I took a more radical approach after finishing university. I was hungry to get some cash and invest in some good ideas I had.

I was not alone – I had a partner, however, he was not very into the business but was pushing very hard and being helpful for tons of other stuff. So I picked up 50 or so companies in my city and made my partner to call all of them and tell them we can help them sell more online and to set up a meeting. It was not easy, he was new to cold calling but really believed in me and that if he set ups a meeting I will get the client. Here are some very useful cold calling tips if you are new to that topic.

We were also sending a lot of emails to owners of crappy websites. Furthermore, trying to contact them at Facebook, Twitter or somewhere else.
Although, we managed to set up few meetings the situation was not very good. The only portfolio we had was few websites we owned. However, we agreed to be paid after work being done – this was actually a crucial point. And so we got 2 projects – to do basic SEO for about 2 months and also to develop simple corporate website. We continue targeting local businesses but it was difficult. The summer has just begun and many owners were not very interested. At the end we got lucky and signed up huge project to develop online store for a big office supply firm. Moreover, we were responsible to develop some internal systems for discounts, loyal pricing, basic CRM and report generation system. Again crucial to get the client was our willingness first to do the job and then to be paid. It is a risky strategy but at the end of the day we realized we had no other choice.

With that same tactic we managed to get more and more clients and start targeting much bigger ones. I was actually willing to work for free for 2-3 weeks project for a very big company just because it will be a perfect add on to our portfolio. With the time I changed the strategy and during the meetings I was confident and suggesting them to call one of our clients and ask about us. I knew of only one case there had been such phone call but the strategy is always working well and really decreases the traction that companies have in order to give us a project.

Digital Agency

With the time I become more greedy/confident and wanted bigger and more expensive projects – working for US companies. The trust was a big issue but we managed to find a solution once again – do some projects for free. We made a website for an attorney that was based in small but rich town next to New York. He was very happy, wanted to pay us something – we said we cannot receive money for the website development because the agreement was not such one, but we can sell him some basic SEO – he agreed. Even more he tell a friend with a bakery store about us and so the wheel begun to spin and in few months we had 5 clients from US.

This is nothing new or something very special. But many times new companies forget in what they believe. Very often owners become greedy just because they got lucky and managed to get a very profitable project. In my opinion the first 2-3 years of such companies should be dedicated to building portfolio and getting as many projects as possible. Develop connections and gather more people that would recommend you. Then you will be trusted and recognized and it will be much easier to charge more. Initially, the only benefit of having your own company is to be independent, but on other side the responsibility and risk is much higher. However, if you believe you are good at what you do and you can provide great product then you are only few years of hard work away to have a small successful business.

My advice for all of you is be patient, do not hurry up the things just because you want to grow faster and get richer faster. This is a sure recipe for a failure.

Promoting a sport bar [Case Study]

Sports Bar Marketing Ideas

This is my experience of marketing sports bar. You can get some sold bar promotion ideas and strategies. Of course, your case would be somewhat different so feel free to twist the basic concepts and adjust them to match you the best. Moreover, promoting a bar is not much different from marketing restaurant, coffee shop or a boutique food store.

Recently a friend of mine asked me what I think about him opening a sports bar. I encouraged him, he had some experience working at a bar and generally keeps his things organized and well planned so he should be able to handle it.

The tricky thing is that he wanted to open an UK style sports bar in Bulgaria (Eastern Europe). Thus, the cultural differences may be an issue.

Bar Marketing Ideas
UK Style Sports Bar

 

Few weeks ago he told me that 2 months after opening the things are not going so well and ask me to revise the situation, and so I did.

It was easy to notice that although the cultural differences the bar is a nice one – its location is decent, girls do not mind entering the bar which is extremely important even for a sports bar. Generally, he managed to build some loyal audience and from the feedback I understood they like the bar. His main problem was the promotion of the bar.

Every product nowadays needs some marketing, everything is so competitive that even if you had best product and you are giving it for free it would be difficult without marketing it properly.

The only promotion that was done was handling some leaflets just after opening and since then nothing. For me it was evident that people are ok with the bar and its concept, despite the cultural differences so the only thing necessary to be done is more and better promotion.

My marketing strategy for the bar

Bar Marketing Strategy
Bar Marketing Strategy

I believe that in this case the best return on investment will be achieved if we focus only on Facebook. For a mass market restaurants, bars, boutique chocolate/sweet store and etc. Facebook can do miracles. So here it is what I did:




 

Facebook Ads

I launched $20 ad campaign to see how it will go. The bar has a decent website with a “Promotion” section and so we created one especially for a Saturday night derby game and I promoted the link with a very simple text – Watch Team A – Team B at “Our Sportsbar” – Pay 2 beers get 3.

Facebook enables you to choose people from particular city, select their age and also select their interests. So I choose the city, age between 18-35 and also selected as interests – “soccer”, “football”, “I love football”, “team A” and “team B”.

The promotion went for about 3 days. The average costs was 0.06$ – yes in Bulgaria it is so cheap to advertise, but even if it is much more expensive it is still worth to do it. I put a another phone number on the website just for those 3 days to see how many reservation would be made – it was just 1 table for 5 people reserved but the bar was decently full that night. Furthermore, we managed to connect with a much broader audience in Facebook.

Before the Facebook page was just 126 likes, after the ad campaign we had about 200. Not much of a difference but still a step in a positive direction.

 

Facebook Page

Another part of my strategy was to reach my target audience more often. I started uploading content to the Facebook page 4-5 times a day. Because of the Facebook algorithm lately I emphasized a lot on videos.

You can check here how different post type perform in 2015.

What type a videos are good for a sports bar? – Football ones – funny, tricks, goals, interesting situations. Although I had only about 200 fans I was managing to get 10-15 actions and more than 200-300 views every time.

Furthermore, after the comment line for the video I always do tagged our Facebook page to boost our fan base.

 

Deals on most popular events

The concept is the same as the promotion I launched and advertise. We just need to do that much more often. It is not necessary always to advertise those deals, we can just post them on our page for our loyal fans.

However I continue to advertise once a week.

 

Create events on Facebook

Events on Facebook are working great. The best part is that you can actually advertise an event. So I created one – again with a promotion for a derby game. Invited all the fans I could and then launched an ad. This went very well and 405 are “going” at the end.

Unfortunately, I could not determine which one of the two paid promotions was more effective. It is because we did so many things and the popularity of the bar was growing fast anyway. So to do an adequate A/B testing I would need more time and bigger sample size.

Anyway the event strategy is working fine and you can even go much deeper into it – here it is a comprehensive guide about promoting an event on Facebook.

 

Spam relevant Facebook group with offers

There is nothing wrong in spamming. At least I believe so. But still you have to do it the right way. I do not like the idea to launch a bot and spam every possible group on Facebook.

Choose carefully, 5-10 groups and focus on them. Then go to some others. In our case we want to promote sports bar so I want to “Chelsea Fans in Bulgaria”, “Real Madrid Bulgaria” and so on.

I picked up 10 football clubs and found their fan group for Bulgaria. I was waiting for any of those teams to have a game and then 2 days earlier I post the link to the promotion page of our website asking has anyone tried this.

Then on the same day of the game posted again declaring I and some other fans of this football club are going to enjoy the game in this particular sports bar and everyone is welcome to join us.

On same time, my friend – the owner of the bar, contacted the admins of those groups and asked them where they gather to watch games and offer them good group promotions, options to make special events and etc.




Although you may thing that is a perfect strategy it took us time. Initially, there was no effect, I had no idea why but decided to continue. Finally, my friend managed to get 50-60 people to come and watch the game – a group of fans agree to make this bar the meeting points for the games of their club.

 

Conclusion

At the end all our efforts started to pay back and the bar gradually become more visited. I helped him for about a month and then it was evident that the things are now much more different. Sometimes when you are an owner you concentrate too much to run the business and literally there is no time to stop and think about your strategy, the problems, how to grow and etc. This could be costly in long run and so you should be careful if you are missing some value.

The complete guide of starting your own business – Part 1

These series of articles will aim to provide all the necessary information of starting your own business.

If you are one of those people who fantasize about running their own business idea you’ve probably asked yourself what does it take. Is it challenging? Unquestionably. Do you have to be coming from a wealthy family and with a mile-long resume to start even a small business? By no means! If you ask any experienced business person he will tell you one thing – fail to plan is planning to fail. There are a number tried and true ways and there is probably no time like the present to get started!

  • First you should develop an original idea for your small business – it can be helpful or fun, but why not both? Some will fail, some will be ordinary, and the goal is to work your numbers until the golden egg comes out.
  • Define your goals – do you want stable financial income for life, or quickly rising popularity and selling your startup for profit? There are some key points to know before you start.
  • Create a working name – sometimes a good name can sell even a sub-par product – you are probably surrounded by a few examples right now – so be creative!
  • Define your team – Two people together can often create something that is greater than the sum of the two parts. John Lennon and Paul McCartney; Bill Gates and Paul Allen; Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; and Larry Page and Sergey Brin – they all have something in common: despite being brilliant on their own, in team they changed the world we live in and on the other hand became multi billionaires!
    Who will lead, and who will follow? It’s important to define the functional and financial roles from the beginning so you can optimize the efficiency and plan costs. As the business grows you will have to adapt to the circumstances and most likely change the structural plans. In a number of cases you might have to hire external help such as lawyers and managers for a price until your startup is ready to hire such on its own for the business purposes.

To conclude our introduction, we have defined how to develop the idea of starting your own business with the right mind and predispose it to be successful with the right motivation. In the next parts we will look deeper into some of the core planning that is essential to create your imagination marketable and available.

The 4 essential steps to follow when trying to grow your small business

The essentials steps to follow in order to expand successfully your company

You are an owner of a small/family business but with a huge ambitions – there is nothing wrong about it. The most important thing in this situation is not to get greedy. It is ok for you to be impatience but this may not end well. It is crucial to follow a plan that is based on sustainable grow. Growing too fast may cause a number of serious problems – difficulties to manage all your new employees, deficit of capital and so on.

  1. Prepare a plan

It is recommended first to make a strategy and right everything down. Check if the economics of your expansion – new branches, offices, and stores are correct. Do not be too optimistic, lower your expectations and check if everything seems ok. Furthermore, analyze where are the tricky spots, what may be a problem in future and prepare an adequate solution if such an event occurs.

Be sure that your finance allow you to stay in the business even if the expansion is not working as planned. Even more, have an exit plan – if things are not going well – how long should I be waiting and follow the plan. Doing so will assure that in difficult moment you will not take an impulse decision but rather follow the prepared strategy. This will at least minimize your losses.

 

  1. Optimize your current business

If the finance allow you to expand then there are 3 major ingredients that will decide your future:
2.1. Your people – do you have the right people to grow. Have your employees already reached the limit of their skills and so it will not be possible to promote them and give them more responsibilities. If your team is good, ambition, want to progress and has the necessary abilities to do so – then you have a very good chance of succeeding.

2.2. The process – all of your business processes should be optimized. Everyone should know what and when it is expected to be done by them. When you have one or two locations with few employees it is easy to manage and fix on the moment small flaws. But in order to grow your business successfully it is required to reduce the waste and increase the efficiency of your processes as much as possible.

2.3. Check your product – is your product good enough? That is the question. Even if your product is really good it is not a bad idea to do some research. May be near your new location it will be necessary to sell a higher class product or the opposite. Thus, it is not a bad idea to be ready to make some adjustments and even release new services/goods on the market. In business the companies that adjust better are the one that succeed in long run. Therefore, you should not be scared of failure. It is more important how you react to it rather if it happens or not.

 

  1. Marketing strategy

The marketing strategy of your new locations is also very important. Will you make a single campaign or you will target prospective customers separately near every location. This is to be decided based on the type of business. The most common mistake is that some owners do not advertise their new location. It is good to let know your existing customers that you are expanding and able to service them at a new location/offer them better service or higher quantity/quality depending on what your expansion is really about. You will be amazed what a positive effect this will have.

Let’s assume that we expand 1 location restaurant and make a second one. There may be some people that love the food but it is just too far away from them so they are coming just once a month or even less frequent. And if it happens that the new location is near them then it is very likely that they will visit you more frequently.

There are tons of such an examples, but the point is that advertising your expansion is important. And not targeting just new prospective customers but also your loyal ones.

 

  1. Scale up

The last step is once you grow to be able to unify your finance, marketing, accounting department of all locations into a single one. This will bring down the costs and thus make you even more competitive. This will present you the benefits of economies of scale.

Once you go through that process you only need to scale up. This may also be tricky so you should stay focus and continue to look over every detail. Many managers often become too confident and this may have negative effect at the end.

How to advertise your small boutique?

Nowadays, the market is highly competitive. The selection of the products and the location of the store are important but it is not enough for the success of you small business. You will need a good marketing plan in order to attract clients. The following tips will help you to market your boutique correctly.

 

Promo codes

By offering promo codes you influence on clients to make a purchase. There are varieties of promo codes and the most popular ones are free shipping, % off and amount off. You can use promo codes in order to reward your loyal customers. Also it is a good idea to send promo codes via any social media.  This is the way to involve customers and to attack more “fans” and “followers”. In addition, it is important to print your codes on leaflets or on your business cards.

 

BIG SIGNS

Use eye-catching signs to attract clients who pass close to the store. It is essential to use shocked colours and easy to read brand and label. Make signs to highlight your USP (unique selling point).

 

Develop a database

It is nice to gather clients` emails with the aim to update customers about the latest sales and promotions in your store. Besides, you can use those emails to send tips on how to use your products differently. For example, if you sell a hair conditioner you can show the customers how to remove a tight ring from a finger easily using it or how to protect the expensive shoes during the winter thanks to a hair conditioner. Those interesting articles will get their attention and will increase your trust – you are not only selling but also giving some interesting information. This will make your sells campaigns more successful.

 

Hire the right people

A successful step is to hire colour and emotional consultant or professional stylist just to make customers feel comfortable. Moreover, clients can take an advantage of the expert`s opinion for special events or just to be informed about the latest trends in the market.

 

Partnership with other local businesses

Look around and choose a business that has the same target audience as you in order to advertise your boutique.  You can do the same favor for your partner. Many people underestimate the importance of other businesses around their location. However, those other locations may be the reason for additional foot traffic around you and in case of a boutique store the impulse shopping decisions are very important.

Important things to know when advertise your small business

When you have your own small business you should think about many things, especially your marketing tactics. This article aims to present you the basics.

 

No idea how to start

Starting line with road cones

It is good to start with a simple marketing plan. You should spend some quality time for planning your marketing activities. This step will reduce the time you waste on doing unnecessary tasks which won`t help you to achieve you goals. You should clarify your target audience and the ways and the direct ways to reach it. And remember that for a small business the direct marketing approach is the better one.

 

Competition

First you should make a research about your competitors on the market and outside of it. This will give you an idea about the business environment. By monitoring your competitors you will obtain a good knowledge of what everyone is doing and you will be able to predict the competitors’ next move step. Furthermore, think about the unique selling point (USP) of your business or in other words, what makes your product or service different and more appealing than your competitors`. Once you discover it – emphasize on that.

 

Expectations

Do not expect immediate results from long term plans. Some marketing activities, which are most appropriate for small businesses, take longer. Do not rush!  Sometimes to build “fans” and trust takes time and patience. The idea is to commit to your decision and believe in it. If you decide that strategy “A” needs a 3 month in order to start working, then follow it. Do not fear of failure and cancel midway.

 

Alternatives

Do not miss referrals and word of mouth advertising. It is one of the most effective advertising methods. Customers do your advertising instead of you for free. The best way to generate referrals is to exceed the expectation of your customers and to surprise them, take care of your customers as if you take care of your family. This is the biggest advantage of small businesses. However, keep in mind that if you give a small incentive to your already existing customers to promote you this may make a big difference, especially in some cases where snowball effect occurs.

 

You can also just ask them politely to share with friends if happy. Many of your customers have not thought about recommending the product you sell, although they have been happy with it all the time. When you remind them the will think about the long time they are happy with you and share with friends.

 

Results

Analyze the results of your marketing activities – to be able to understand what is working and what is not, you should track and measure your adverts. This article will present you different examples of how to measure the results.

 

Common Mistakes that Stop Small Business To Grow

What really limits the family business to expand?

Small and family businesses benefits from the simplicity of their structure and the dedication of their owners. Furthermore, most often they provide great consumer experience because of the personal attitude. This is why some of them are so successful that they easily start to grow into a medium size company. But why not all of them can do this, what stops the single location family business to turn into city, state or even national brand?

  1. Small businesses have very flexible and simple structure. The problem is that very often the owner underestimates the importance of a good organization of the process and duties. Although, the company may just have few employees it is crucial everyone to knows exactly what he has to do and when. Every employee should know what he is responsible for. This would enable to easily hire more people when necessary and easily fit them into the existing structure. If it is the opposite hiring more people would result into the diminishing marginal productivity, thus increasing the final cost of the product and eating up our profit.
  1. The dedication of the owners often is wrongly understood. Very often those people are control freaks. They want to check on everything by themselves thus leaving no room their talented employees to prosper. The final results would be to either not use the full capacity of the employees or making them leave in search of a better chance for career progress. Remember the business will grow with the people you currently have. Everyone’s responsibilities will grow and you should try to trust them, explain them what do you expect and give them clear targets. If they fail do not be angry, always take the blame for the failure of your people. Discuss what is the problem, why they do not match your expectation. There are some people that just reach their limit and cannot grow more, but others will actually help you a lot. They have been long enough with you to know the process, the product, and the people in your company and thus will be loyal and fight for you.
  1. Small companies often do not want to grow. That is a tricky thing in the business – you either have a good product, optimized process and the correct people and it just happened to grow or it is the opposite and you are shrinking. It is very rare that a business can stay on a single step for a long time, either go down or up.

However, many owners do not want to grow to more locations and so do not see why it is necessary to spend effort to do inventories, optimize the production cost, improve the efficiency and try to get more work.