Category Archives: Selling Tips for Your Small Business

Sales tips and information for growing a small business.

Running a Consignment Business

This is a discussion regarding consignment businesses–types of consignment businesses, advantages, disadvantages, and opportunities.

There is a good chance that you have patronized at least one consignment business in your life. Consignment businesses are stores that sell items that they have not yet paid for. The store owners contract with suppliers (usually small business people in the area) to display products in the store for sale to the public. The supplier is only paid if and when the store sells an item to a customer.

Advantages of a Consignment Arrangement

The advantages of consignment arrangements are mostly one sided in favor of the consignment shop. Consignment businesses can display and sell items without ever having to make an upfront investment related to stock; they only pay rent and overhead. Consignment business owners are basically go-betweens, connecting artists and small manufacturers with the public. The most popular consignment shops you will find usually sell artwork, clothing, and other small trinkets.

The plus for consignment shop suppliers is that they finally have a venue to distribute their products. This is an ideal situation for business people who do not have a storefront, such as a furniture maker who manufactures products from home or an individual looking to unload used items of value.

Challenges and Payment Concerns

The process of setting up a consignment arrangement seems pretty basic, but there are some downsides and challenges. The biggest issue that consignment businesses have to manage is how to pay their suppliers once the products are sold.

The shop and supplier will agree upon a fair split, usually about 60/40 in favor of the supplier/artist. A meticulous consignment shop owner will call a supplier immediately after an item is sold to tell him to come pick up his check. This makes for better accounting and is a common practice for consignment businesses who work with more expensive items, such as artwork.

On the other hand, many consignment shop owners are not as consistent with their bookkeeping and won’t call their suppliers regarding payment. Instead, the supplier will have to call constantly to check on her products. This process can create potential problems for both sides.

For one, there is an increased possibility that there will be discrepancies and disagreements between the shop owner and the supplier as time goes along. Suppliers can become increasingly mistrustful of the shop owner when they go months and even years without receiving proper payment. It is also sometimes difficult to end a consignment arrangement.

For a consignment business, the customers are number one, but the suppliers are a very close second, so the best practice when operating a consignment shop is to maintain very regular communications with suppliers and pay them promptly.



Online Consignment Businesses

With the growth of the wildly popular web auction site Ebay, there has been an explosion in online consignment businesses, sometimes called drop off stores. Many brick and mortar consignment shops are set up with the sole intention of selling the products people bring in on Ebay and other online sites. The overhead costs are minimal and online consignment shop owners can sell the consigned items from the comfort of their home offices.

Are Consignment Businesses Viable?

It seems that nowadays, due to increasing costs across the board, setting up a consignment business is only practical when the sales are being made online. More and more customers are choosing to forgo the physical shopping experience and buy their items online to find the best deals possible. In addition, rents in popular shopping districts are sometimes prohibitive for new business owners.

If you are thinking about starting your own consignment business and want to learn more about the advantages and challenges, the best thing you can do is gather as much information as possible from existing business owners.

Ask your local shop owners about their business model and browse online forums to read what other online and brick and mortar consignment business owners are experiencing. Setting up a consignment shop may seem easy, but just as with any other business idea, you need to be 100% positive that you’re fit for the task.





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How to Buy Direct from Manufacturers: For Small Retailers

So you wanna buy direct from manufacturers to start a small retail or distribution operation? This quick article will help guide you in the right direction.

In many cases, a manufacturer prefers to distribute its products to an established retailer or distribution company rather than dealing with an unknown individual. Even if an individual who claims to be a business contacts the manufacturing company he may need to provide proof of his business status. Additionally, the manufacturer may request a bulk purchase. So if you want to buy items directly from a manufacturer on an ongoing basis in the course of business as a small retailer or distributor you’ll need to get a reseller’s permit from your state.

1. Contact your State Franchise Tax Board division or finance department to request an application for a reseller’s or seller’s permit. This is a permit that establishes your company as an official business that plans to resell goods to end users. You’ll likely have to pay a fee for this permit and provide detailed information about your intended business activities. You may also need to register your business with the state before receiving the reseller’s permit.

2. Wait to receive your reseller’s permit in the mail.

3. Call the manufacturer that you want to do business when you have your reseller’s permit and explain your desire to establish a vending relationship. Provide details about your company, including the locations where you plan to sell the items (such as online or in your physical store). The manufacturer will consider establishing a business relationship with you based on your business plan, reputation and company credit report (if available).

4. Fill out a credit application as required by the manufacturer if you want to receive the goods on credit. Negotiate a discount rate and invoicing terms. Fax, mail or email a copy of your reseller’s permit to the manufacturing company to wait for final approval for your distributor account. You may have to sign a distribution agreement with the manufacturer that lists terms.

5. Request a catalog of current available products that you wish to sell to your customers. Submit a purchase order (see here for an example) to the manufacturer listing the items you wish to buy and your delivery address.



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3 Tips to Win As a Real Estate Investor

Going into the real estate business as an investor definitely is no piece of cake—it takes an immense amount of patience and hard work to find success. You need three important skills to win as a real estate investor: a business plan, a bold attitude, and a reliable source of information that the general public doesn’t know about happenings in the real estate market.

Wooden house
© Josefuente | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Business Plan

Before you make any move that requires a financial investment or contractual commitment on your part, draw up a business plan that outlines all of your intentions. Start with your goals—what do you wish to accomplish in the next three to five years? How do you plan to achieve those goals? What kind of budget do you have and how do you plan to raise the needed funds to buy properties? Get it all down on paper before you start making decisions and signing agreements.

A Bold Attitude

When working as a real estate investor, you are going to have to deal with a number of different parties including contractors, agents and potential renters or buyers. You definitely can’t be afraid to boldly request what you need and want from them if you are to do business.

If you plan to pursue a career in real estate investing, you can’t be a person who is afraid to say “no” or who cares too much about what people will think of you if you challenge them. What matters first and foremost is that you get things accomplished in the most economical and efficient manner possible so that it’s consistent with your business plan. Contractors and carpenters will try to put you on the backburner and charge you for unexpected extras. Agents will try to convince you to agree to terms that may not vibe with your business plan. Potential renters will try to get away with not paying you rent if you let them. Be bold and set your foot down early on to let these different parties know that you mean business. When you find service providers who are reliable and efficient, value them and treat them right.

Inside Information

Many people jump into real estate investing without doing any research. Before you buy your first property, pick up a library of books on the subject. This will teach you what other first-timers have learned so that you can avoid making the same mistakes that they did. Next, invest in journals and subscriptions that will update you on what’s going on in the real estate market in your area before the average man on the street. For instance, you should know in advance if a new major business is planning to build in an area that might attract higher rents or home values in the future.

Also, find a mentor if you can (you might be able to find one using the SBA’s database). Find someone who has experience in real estate investing so that he can provide you with insight into the business. However, be sure that you pick a mentor that is respectable and has good character.

If you want to win as a real estate investor, you have to be willing to invest time and planning as well as money into your venture. Stay positive and on top of new developments in the real estate market if you want to find success buying and selling or renting properties.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Tips for Selling Your Services Online

In order to successfully sell your services online, you must have a few skills. The first is a reliable system for finding good clients and making it easy for them to find you online. Second is the ability to communicate fluidly and consistently—even if it is only via email messages. You must develop a rapport with your clients that lasts from the start of the project right up until the end. Thirdly, you must demonstrate that you are a true and trusted expert at the service that you plan to provide. Finally, you must have great organizational skills, as you will often find yourself juggling multiple clients and projects at the same time. Here are a few simple tips for success if you plan to sell your professional services online.

Provide Contact Information to Gain Trust

When you sell your services online, trust is a major issue. Potential clients need to be assured that you are a legitimate business person before they send you money and it is customary to ask for a deposit before work begins on a service project. One way to reassure your client that you are trustworthy is to provide as much contact information and details about your business as possible. Get an 800 number for your business—some toll-free services even allow you to pick a local number. Provide a business address as well, even if it is just a post office box (some offices now allow you to use the post office’s full mailing address along with your box number) or a rented office address where you can receive mail.

Always Lay Out Terms in Writing

One common challenge that you may experience when selling your services online is managing confusion regarding your terms after the project begins. Some service providers figure that it’s such a small job that a contract or discussion isn’t really necessary, but that can turn into hours of unpaid work. Avoid this issue by making it a point to outline your general terms on your website for all to view. Go over the specific terms of your service project in an email so that you both are clear before you proceed and outline them all in a clear-cut contract. In some cases, the email itself can serve as a contract for a very small project. Some clients like to finalize things over the phone, but this is tricky because there’s no proof of your agreement. Get everything in writing.

Provide As Many Samples and Testimonials as Possible

When a potential client is deciding whether you are the right service professional for his needs, he’ll want to know if and how you’ve helped other clients in the past. If you’ve successfully completed projects in the past, contact your past clients to ask for a review of your services along with permission to publish their comments.

Selling your services online is not a simple feat and comes with its share of challenges. But you’ll find success if you set forth a clear-cut process for attracting, accepting and servicing clients.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Tips for Sales Success: What Makes Someone Pull Out His Wallet?

I have been in sales for about 12 years as of this posting (if you listen to the classic wisdom of Zig Ziglar, we’ve all actually been in sales since the day we were born). I have met and talked to thousands of people in face-to-face sales scenarios and over the phone while selling my products and services. I’ve learned a few things during that time about people and what makes someone start pulling out his wallet to buy what you’re selling.

Look Prospects in their Eyes

Most people trust a sales person who can look them straight in the eye. They say that the eyes are the gateway to the soul — looking someone directly in the eyes says that you have nothing to hide. It makes them more comfortable with buying from you. So if you have kind, trusting eyes don’t point them down at the table, a paper or in the air when you’re talking — use them to your advantage. Connect with your prospect by flashing a genuine smile and looking her straight in her eyes.

Confidence

This point kind of goes along with the last point about looking people in their eyes. If you want people to be inspired to buy from you, you have to exude confidence in everything that you do. You have to be direct and certain. If you’re not confident about yourself and the product that you’re selling, why should anyone buy it from you?

Telling a Story (Preferably Yours)

I can’t stress this point enough – if you really want someone to pull out his wallet and buy from you, you should have a story prepared to tell. I’m not saying that you should tell stories about your childhood and how Santa Claus didn’t get you what you wanted for Christmas. I’m talking about the story of what inspired you to start your small business and also stories (testimonials) about how your product or service has helped you and other people.

The Package Deal – Best Offer

All some people need to make the final decision to buy is to hear a special offer at the end of your pitch. When they’re right on the cusp of deciding whether to buy or not, thinking and scanning the product, offer them a package deal. For instance, if you’re selling an item for $10, you might offer 2 of the item for $15 — one for the buyer and one for his friend. Of course, you have to analyze your costs to determine if this would be a profitable sale. People feel good when they know they’ve gotten a good deal.

Use these tips for sales success the next time you find yourself in a face-to-face sales scenario selling your products or services. They could be the difference between “maybe next time” and “ok, I’ll take it!”



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Social Media Marketing Tips for a New Clothing Store

When you open a new retail clothing store, whether it’s online or at a physical location, one of your top marketing goals should be to connect with the right people who can help spread the word and increase your market reach. Social media makes that process easier for store owners. With social media marketing you can become a premier store that fashionistas and clothing enthusiasts go to for the latest trends.

fashionableladyBe a Trend Setter
People commonly use social media sites to stay updated about the latest fashions and clothing trends. Give them what they want—use Twitter and Facebook to share pictures of the latest trends that come across your radar as well as fashion “do’s and don’ts.” Put clothing pieces together to show your followers how to complete the perfect look. Start a conversation on Facebook to encourage people to share their own fashion ideas or faux pas. Pinterest is also a perfect place to display your outfit ideas and gain more followers for your store.

Generate a Buzz
Create energy and buzz about the items that will be shipping into your store soon so that people will be eager to snatch them up. One way to do this is to offer them in very limited quantities. For instance, if you post a picture of an amazing pair of pants on Twitter and state that there are only 10 available starting Monday morning, it can create an intense demand for the item. If you do this consistently and successfully, you might get to the point where people are willing to stand in line at your store to get the latest items. If you have an online clothing store, start a countdown clock until the limited quantity item is available to the public and remember to inform everyone when it’s sold out.

Value Your Followers

You are nothing without your customers, so make sure that they know just how much you appreciate them. Back up your glowing words of praise with special offers and discounts to keep your best customers coming back for more. Also, on social media sites it’s important that you interact with your followers and show them that you’re not just a bot posting advertisements. Talk to random followers and answer people who ask you questions about your merchandise.

Creating a reputation for being an awesome new clothing store won’t happen overnight, but with smart social media marketing you can accomplish this goal more quickly. Offer the latest trends, create a buzz, open up to your customers on social media sites and be sure to thank your customers with special offers that keep them coming back for more.

 

 

Image credit: © Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos

 



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Why People Buy…

“People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”

– Zig Ziglar



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Zig Ziglar Quotes

Are you in sales or need to do a lot of selling to make your small business thrive? Then you stand to benefit from the advice of one of the best salesmen that ever lived: the late Zig Ziglar. He has inspired countless entrepreneurs and business owners to win by having a positive mental attitude.

Visit this page for Zig Ziglar quotes to keep you thinking and feeling positive as you run your new small business.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Lead Generation for a Small Business

Stay updated on the topic of lead generation and how you can use customer leads to grow your small business in this section of StartUpaSmallBiz.com .



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

The Sales Process

Visit this section of StartUpaSmallBiz.com to learn about the sales process for your small business.

 



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.