Portland’s Small Business Quarterly Report: A Must Read For Portland Business Professionals

We are pleased to introduce the Small Business Quarterly Report, which highlights the city’s recent work with small business.  Portland is a city that is truly passionate about its small businesses.  From new, software start-ups to multi-generational, family-run firms — small businesses are the backbone of Portland’s economy.  Since last summer’s roll-out of the city’s economic development strategy and subsequent Small Business Town Hall, the city and the Portland Development Commission have worked actively to support the small business community and deliver on the goals outlined in the strategy.

The city has launched an integrated entrepreneurship effort to fuel innovation and new firm growth, a new Main Streets program to strengthen neighborhood business districts, and this website to keep you apprised of business developments and link you to citywide business resources.  In addition, we continue to provide loan and grant support to small firms to help businesses grow and remain competitive.

In this inaugural edition of Small Business Quarterly we feature two fast growing small firms — Queen Bee and Bridgetown Natural Foods – both located in Portland neighborhoods.  These firms exemplify Portland’s commitment to recycling and re-use as well as our passion for specialty foods.  We hope you enjoy the Small Business Quarterly and look forward to keeping you up date on developments in the small business community.

Content Credit: http://www.portland4biz.com/community-conversations/blog/introducing-portland’s-small-business-quarterly-report

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Posted in business success, Economic Development Strategy, entrepreneurship effort, loan and grant support, marketing ideas, Portland, Portland Business, Portland Development Commission, small business marketing, Small Business Quarterly, Small Business Town Hall | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Business Plan Doubles Your Chances for Success, Says a New Survey

The value of writing a business plan is often debated in the entrepreneurial community.

For every successful business that was launched with a well-thought-out business plan, it seems you can find an equally successful one that was launched with nothing more than some scribbles on the back of a napkin. In fact, the contrarian approach may be the one you hear most about — i.e., entrepreneurs dismissing a business plan as something they wrote and then stuffed in the bottom of a drawer.

Palo Alto Software founder Tim Berry (a contributor here at Small Business Trends) recently reported on some new data showing the value of business plans. Palo Alto did a survey that asked thousands of its Business Plan Pro software users questions about their businesses, goals and business planning. The responses showed that those who completed business plans were nearly twice as likely to successfully grow their businesses or obtain capital as those who didn’t write a plan.

Tim gave this breakdown of the numbers:

2,877 people completed the survey. Of those, 995 had completed a plan.

297 of them (36%) secured a loan
280 of them (36%) secured investment capital
499 of them (64%) had grown their business
1,556 of the 2,877 had not yet completed their plan.

222 of them (18%) secured a loan
219 of them (18%) secured investment capital
501 of them (43%) had grown their business

Of course, as author of the original Business Plan Pro software program and founder of Palo Alto Software, Tim admits he’s a little biased in favor of business plans. And people who respond to a survey by the company that made their software may be biased in favor of saying good things. So Tim had the University of Oregon Department of Economics assess the validity of the data. Eason Ding and Tim Hursey wrote a report on the data with the supervision of Professor Joe Stone. “Results suggest that planning with software is highly correlated with subsequent successes for a variety of firms,” they wrote.

Regardless of the type of company, the growth stage of the company and the intent for the business plan, Ding and Hursey’s analysis found that writing a business plan correlated with increased success in every one of the business goals included in the study. These were: obtaining a loan, getting investment capital, making a major purchase, recruiting a new team member, thinking more strategically and growing the company.

The authors concluded:

“Except in a small number of cases, business planning appeared to be positively correlated with business success as measured by our variables. While our analysis cannot say that completing a business plan will lead to success, it does indicate that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business plan is also more likely to run a successful business.”

And if I correctly interpret the last sentence in the quote above, the act of going through the business planning process may make you a better entrepreneur.

So there you have it: you’re better off WITH a business plan than without one. In fact, based on the survey, you are twice as likely to grow your business or achieve funding if you have taken the time to write a business plan.

Content Credit: http://tinyurl.com/238vbp4

Posted in business goals, business plan, business success, Department of Economics, Palo Alto, small business, University of Oregon | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

NW EXEC: Total Executive Solutions

NW EXEC was created by executive professionals that are currently involved in developing successful businesses with the intention of sharing their specialized knowledge with other executives in order to promote Portland, Oregon businesses while developing the American small business economy.

Combined NW EXEC has been actively involved in start up businesses, organization, management, capital finance, mergers and acquisitions.  Ultimately it is our goal to develop NW EXEC to build new synergies and find ways to create opportunities with new business executives.  Conveniently located at the Hillsboro Executive Terminal, Oregon, NW EXEC is your Total Executive Solution.

Registered Agents | Virtual Offices | Corporate Services | Corporate Branding | Web Design | SEO | Mobile Notary | See for yourself: http://nwexec.com/

Posted in Business Cards, business goals, business success, Corporate Services, Department of Economics, Free Tips, Google Search, Portland Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

75 Big Marketing Ideas for Small Marketing Budgets: A Must Read For Small Business Professionals

Don’t have a six-figure marketing budget like the “big boys” to throw around?  Worry not my friends you can still go big without breaking the bank.

Here are 75 big marketing ideas you can begin implementing today to grow your business regardless of the size of your marketing budget. Many of these can be done with little to no money, and will cost you nothing more than a bit of your time.

1) Get Active on Twitter

It takes just a few minutes to make a contribution to Twitter and making this a part of your daily business routine is a steady way to build up a network of followers interested in your area of industry.

2) Start a Blog

This needn’t be an everyday thing but posting to a blog a couple of times a week is a way to keep in touch with your customers and to convey more about your business and the market in which you operate to your potential clients.

3) Blog Commenting

Contribute to the conversations on blogs by bloggers in the same niche in which you operate.

4) Forum Discussions

Find and sign up to forums on a related topic to your business. Actively take part and get to know your fellow posters. Try searching for “Your Topic + Forum” in Google to find relevant conversations.

5) Register Your Business with Google Local

Google has been offering local businesses a chance to register their businessaddress and phone number in its local listings for some time

6) Register Your Products or Services with Google Merchant

Another helpful and free service from the search giant, Google Merchant is a place for businesses to upload a data feed which includes products or services.

7) Make Your Business Cards Memorable

Choose a design that stands out. Here are 51 creative business card ideas to get you started thinking creatively.

8). Consider Paid Search

Google AdWords is the largest sponsored search result program. While this marketing channel isn’t free, it does fall under budget marketing ideas for new businesses simply because you are able to manage it yourself within a small budget.

9) Build a Basic Reward Scheme

Offer an exclusive incentive to your regular customers which will help the business retain customers and win new ones.

10) Improve Customer Service

Many forget that customer service is a form of advertising. You’re advertising that you care, and that gets noticed.

11) Let Customers Know You Appreciate Them

Customers who feel appreciated are going to give the love right back in the form of loyalty. Send them and email, make a call, interact with them any way you see fit. Just let them know they are important.

12) Become Vain

Do you know what your customers are saying about you online? Get vain, and search for yourself! Then, respond to your customers.

13) Don’t Forget Current Customers

We’ve all heard the old adage that it’s easier to keep an existing customer than win a new one. But it may also be worth going through your list of older inactive customers and trying to reactivate a few of the better ones. Give them a call, tell them you value them, ask what it will take to get them back. You might be surprised at how simple or low-cost it is. If they say no thanks, consider it a learning opportunity and wish them the best. Then call them back in a year and ask again.

14) Article Marketing

Write expert articles and submit them to sites such as Ezinearticles.com. Here is  a list of the top 50 article directories, ranked by Alexa. Get writing!

15) Advertise on Yourself

Make some simple t-shirts with your company name and website on them, wear them around town

16) Advertise on Someone Else

Check out guys like iwearyourshirt.comfor a fun, creative, and realtively cheap way to get your company seen.

17) Add your Business to a Review Site

Adding your business to a review site such as Feedback Jar can help put you in touch with customers.

18) Email Signature

Use every email as a way to promote yourself and your business.

19) Social Networks

There is a social network for every niche. Join one and start networking.

20) Leave Biz Cards

You’ve followed #7 above, now don’t just leave those cards in your pocket! Give them out, to anyone, everywhere.  Heck, just leave them laying around, or in library books, or anywhere your customers may see them.

21) Postcards on Windshields

Easy and cheap to print, place them under windshields at parking lots. The more creative your card the more they’ll get noticed.

22) Flyers on Community Boards

Community cork boards are everywhere. Try putting up a flier or two on these boards…cheap and easy, and you never know who will read them.

23) Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

A local chamber can be a great way to get your business out in the community for very little cash outlay. Chambers offer programs and services free for their members, and oftentimes refer business to chamber members.

24) Give a Talk at an Event

Any chance you get to get in front of a group and show your expertise – do it!

25) Send Special Deals to Your Newsletter List

Give your newsletter subscribers even more value by offering a “Newsletter only” deal.

26) Don’t Have a Newsletter List?

Get one…

27) Give it Away for Free

If your product or service rocks – it’s your best advertising. Give it away for free, for a limited time of course, then charge when they can’t live without it.

28) Have a “Weird” Sale

Read about a guy who ran a pretty successful “I just broke my foot so you get 25% off sale”. The key here is to keep it fun, and get people talking about it.

29) Ask Your Customers for Referrals

Don’t be shy, come right out and solicit referrals from happy customers. They will be happy to tell their friends about you.

30) Give’mSomething to Give

Put something in the hands of your happy customers they can give to somebody else. Free samples, a “refer a friend” coupon. Build a small army of happy customers to help you spread the word.

31) And While Your Giving

Don’t forget to always give’ em the pickle.

32) Free Classifieds

Use free classified ad servicesto promote your product or service. Aside from big online classified ads (Craigslist), there may be other free options specific to your geographical area, maybe even some free inclusions in local print media. Do some Google searches and see what is available in your hometown.

33) Reciprocity Advertising

Talk to local business owners and explore cross promotion you may be able to do with them. They are probably in the same boat as you, and would be willing to work out a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of marketing campaign.

34) Barter

You may think of bartering as particularly “old school”, but there is no reason you can’t trade a product or service with another business in exchange for some marketing opportunities. Trading an hour of your consulting time, or a couple free products to a local business who is willing then to plug you in their newsletter or mailings could result in a better deal than paying out of pocket for the same marketing. Start with the barter directory, and go from there.

35) Write a Press Release

Write your own press release and submit it to the appropriate channels. If what you’re doing is particularly newsworthy, send it to local media. Also submit your press release to the free services online.

36) Networking

Scout out free networking events in your area, you’d be surprised how many “meet-ups” there are. Not only are they a great way to get out of the house, but think of every networking event as a mini-marketing campaign. UseMeetUp.com to scan for opportunities near you.

37) Organize a Meet Up

Not seeing a meet up that meets your needs? Organize one.

38) Link Exchange with Other Businesses

Offer link exchanges on related business websites where your link will add value to their visitors, and their link will add value to your visitors.

39) Cross Promote

Like a link exchange, but more in depth. Set up a cross promotion with another business. For example if you sell pencils, find a business that sells paper and work out a deal to send each other business.

40) Develop a “Niche Discount” That You Get Known For

I read about a guy who gives a “Laugh Discount” – a small % off if a customer can make him laugh within X minutes of meeting him.

41) Guest Post on Blogs

Expand your reach and audience. Use a service like MyGuestBlog to find blogs looking for guest articles. Or guest post with us.

42) Publish a Free Report or White Paper

Put out a free report related to what you do on your website, or distribute it to those in your target market. A report is a great way to get your name out there, show your expertise, and best of all these reports tend to get shared. Also, use the free report as an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter email list.

43) Encourage Sharing

Once you have a free report to give out, better than waiting for it to get shared, build in some encouragement to do so. Offer a deal if they share it with “X” number of people.

44) Make a Helpful YouTube Video

Video is pretty easy to produce now, and nobody expects it to look like Scorsese directed it, so put up a couple helpful videos explaining how to use one of your products or how we can benefit from your service. Better yet, answer a common question about what you do, or solve a problem in your video, it will get shared if you’re good.

45) Video Testimonials / Interviews

Better than just you on video ask some satisfied customers to take part in an interview where they talk about you and what you do. This is the best social proof that you don’t suck.

46) Partner With Another Business to Give Away a Prize

Don’t have the money to give away much on your own?  How about partnering with a complimentary business to give away a great prize and getting some great advertising for the two of you?  Then figure out a way where both of your customers can enter for a chance to win!

47) Sponsor an Event

Cheaper than you think, and sponsoring a local event can really give you a lot for your money.

48) Use Your Friends and Family

Ask friends and family to spread the word about your business.

49) Print a Coupon on the Back of Your Business Card.

People rarely use their business cards as a form of advertising. But if you want to have people remember you, or actually use their service, why not put something on your card to encourage their business…you’re giving those cards out anyway, right?

50) Join and Attend Professional Groups

Join a couple professional groups. These don’t have to be related to your niche, they could be something you want to get better at (such as Toastmasters), or an area of interest. You’ll meet other professionals, and who knows what those contacts will turn into.

51) Newsletter Cross-Promotion

Buddy up with another business and do some cross promotion in your newsletters. Again, you’ll want to be complimentary businesses to each other for this to really work.

52) Do Something Different

Write down everything you and your competitors have in common, then come up with one thing you can do differently than them – then do that.

53) Start an Affiliate Program

Use a service like Shareasale.com to start your own affiliate program. Offer a nice commission and people will be happy to sell your products/services.

54) Ask for Testimonials & Use Them!

Ask for testimonials from existing clients. Good testimonials are perfect for your web page and promotional items. Don’t just ask for testimonials and then let them sit. Put those things on everything you do – website, advertising, handouts, newsletters, etc.

55) Send Promotional Items

Send out invoices to your clients?  Why not send them a small promo gift to go along with it?  You never know where those pens will end up.

56) Join a Social Networking Site For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

Here are 40 such networking sites, take a look and find one that suits you and your business. Then get using it.

57) Pull a Publicity Stunt

Are you the creative type? Not shy in front of crowds?  Try a memorable, creative, or weird publicity stunt!

58) Hold a Webinar

Creating live, online seminars or webinars is relatively easy these days. Why not hold a webinar relating to your expertise, then promote it as a freebie or special benefit to current customers or to attract new customers?

59) Offer a Guarantee

It’s been shown that guarantees result in more sales.  Make an iron clad guarantee, or better yet offer a guarantee that is outlandish and gets noticed…but if ever called on it, be sure you hold up your end of the bargain.

60) Get Reviewed

Use ReviewMe.com to get reviewed.

61) Become an Expert on Q/A Sites

Jump on a Q&A site and be helpful, answer questions related to what you do, become a trusted expert. These should get you going:

62) Donate to a Charity Auction

Charity auctions are constantly in need of things to auction off and raise money with in the process. You’ll feel good about your donation, and get your name out there.

63) Do a Memorable Giveaway

Local tire sellers Les Schwab has a “Free Beef” event every year. Buy tires, and get free beef – what does one have to do with the other? Your guess is as good as mine, but it gets people talking and that has been a very popular sale for many years now.

64) Go to a Trade Show

If you can find one in your niche – great!  If not, go and talk to people…you just never know who will need what you sell.

65) Use your 404 Error Page

You know that “404 Error Page” you get on a website when it can’t find what you were looking for?  Well, you can customize that page to say whatever you want. So instead of your visitor seeing “Hey sorry you’re lost”, have it say “Sorry you didn’t find what you’re looking for here’s 10% coupon off our services to make up for it”.

66) Surprise Upgrade ala Zappos

Why not “upgrade” a customer out of the blue sometime? Completely make their day, make them feel special, and they will tell everybody they know. It worked for Zappos…

67) Use Your “Thank You” Page

When someone signs up for your online newsletter they are taken to a thank you page. Customize this page to offer them something of value, give them a deal, coupon, whatever – just use the space creatively!

68) Use Someone Else’s “Thank you Page”

Chances are other website owners haven’t thought about using their own thank you page to promote something. Why not offer to buy some add space on their page? It will probably be cheap, and as long as there are some synergies between your businesses it can be effective.

69) Create a  Podcast

Podcast can be quick, easy, fun, and FREE to produce. Here’s how to get startedPodcasting

70) SEO Your Website

Making sure your potential clients can find you is important. Take a few minutes to make sure your site is SEO’ed. Here’s 9 tips to get you started.

71) Know you USP

What is your unique selling proposition? You first need to know why people should buy from you. Once you do, you’ll have no problem telling them.

72) Create an Elevator Speech

In 30 seconds or less can you tell me what you do, what makes you special, and why I should care?  That’s your elevator speech. Think about how many times you are asked what you do, the better you get at explaining it the more customers you will get – easy as that.

73) Sponsor a Local Youth Team

When I was 6 my soccer team was sponsored by the local Uhaul. Almost 30 years later I still remember that…30 years from now some grown up kids could remember your business, and their parents could have been using your business.

74) Place Google Ads for Influential People You Want to Meet

Do what this guy did to get a job, but replace the names with people you want as clients. 

75) Your Turn

Put the 75th idea in our comments below.

Content Credit: http://smallbizbee.com/index/2010/05/28/75-big-marketing-ideas-small-marketing/

Posted in business goals, business success, marketing ideas, Portland Business, Registered Agents, Search Engine Marketing, small biz bee, small business, small business marketing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

9 Powerful SEO Tips for your Small Business Website

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of getting search engines to show your website when someone uses them. It can provide a great source of traffic for your website and build new customers and clients.

The Most Important Rules of SEO

The problem is, though, that most small business sites don’t have what it takes to rank well in search engines. This guide will help you with the basics.
The most important rules of SEO?

1) Use a keyword researcher tool like Wordtracker

Find what keywords are being searched for. Then create pages that specifically target those. How?

2) Use the keywords in your

Each keyword you’re targeting should have its own page specifically targeted at that keyword.

3) Then get people to link to you!

The hardest part is getting people to link to you. That is a major topic in and of itself.

9 Powerful SEO Tips for your Small Business Website

With the basics out of the way, here are 9 more powerful approaches. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Add Content!

Add a lot of content. Preferably in serviceable English, well written, and cogent. You want to get about 10-30 pages of new content a month and get this content linked to. If you write scholarly papers, you can get yourself linked to by .edu and high PR sites, which will sharply boost your site. Finally, by honing in your articles on specific keywords, you can target new areas and reap niche searches.

Remember, niche searches – as a group – are usually worth more than the major terms. This is for two reasons: a niche search indicates that the searcher is relatively more sophisticated. He or she knows what they want. They tend to buy product at higher rates. Secondly, around half of all searches are 2 or 3 words. Considering the vast amount of possibilities this creates, there is a world of marketing opportunity.

A spin on this is adding articles to other sites. While it may be hard to create an interesting article based on your subject, if you do so, and make it snappy, you may get some Digg or del.ico.ous love.

Also, many of the midrange keywords are not heavily contested. A lot of websites still think that a good search engine strategy is just repeating keywords, something that was true in the early years of 2000. Worst of all, because they may have OK search engine results, they may be complacent.

Often their good results come from a lack of competition, and an adept campaign can eat away at their share.

Tip #2: Beware Grand Promises

SEOs who promise to submit your site to thousands of search engines are misleading you. There are only a few major search engines, the top three of which are Google, MSN, and Yahoo for the US. For marketing in Asia and Europe, other engines hold reign, but again with a few industry leaders. The top search engines of every single country put together would be far less than 100.

There may be some special cases where your content is very, very specific, and you’d want to target quite selectively. In that case, submission to a specialized search engine would be fine. But in general, a promise to submit your website to thousands of search engines is meaningless.

Worse. After submission to thousands of search engines, your website may end up on a link-farm. Even if Google has not already devalued the links from that page, hurting your site, it may do so at will later.

Legit link building submission techniques are, of course, a component of online marketing. But ignore offers that sound too good to be true. Know what is happening with your information.

Tip #3: Avoid Black Hat Tricks

Your competitor is out-ranking you. You check their website out: two things stand out. They have hundreds of keywords stuffed on their page, and they use two titles (repeat the title tag). Thinking this is their key to success, you quickly copy that technique, or request your tech guys to do it for you.

Don’t!

Try this instead. Use a PR checker tool to evaluate their website. Analyze their backlinks. Most likely you’ll find that their position is not the result of high quality SEO – the competition is simply just doing a worse job.

Using Black Hat techniques to try to trick search engines won’t work in the long run and, in the worst case scenario, will result in your page being removed from the search index entirely. Car giant Mercedes Benz once had their site removed from Google due to such violations.

Tip #4: Make Everything Work

Optimize everything. Google is increasing its use of Universal Search, but is doing so subtly. It’s not hitting you over the head with images in every search. Search for Monet. First you’ll see “Image Results.” Search for Bird Flu. First you’ll find a prompt to refine your results, then, scrolling down, perhaps a news entry. Then, on the bottom, images. Images, video, and news articles are now mixed in with regular search results. This is a cutting edge shift, and some laggards have yet to realize its potential.

You need to have every part of your website optimized.

What this means is giving images accurate titles. Instead of “02303212.jpg,” have “widget-doing-dance.jpg.” The better image title has some impact on search engines. Also, make sure to give your images alt text (by simply adding alt = “text-here” in the html that adds the image). This does three things: makes your website accessible to people who can’t see your image and helps your search engine rankings.

Your alt text should be pertinent, add mood, and if possible contain keywords.

Tip #5: Page Title is Important

Do not put your company name in your page title. Keep the titles short and focused on the keyword content. If someone searches for your company name, they will find your website. What about when they search for keywords related to it? Search engines value very highly the page title.

Also, having your company name repeat over many pages can negatively affect the behavior of search bots. It may seem like duplication. The page title holds a lot of weight with search engines. Don’t waste that power!

Tip #6: Use Wikipedia

Write a Wikipedia article if your website is big enough. If not, keep pumping out the content until it is. Although Wikipedia itself will not add much to your ranking, it is almost a search engine in and of itself. If and when a potential client/customer wants to look up your information, many times they’ll just plug it into Wikipedia and see what pops out. Also, many other websites copy the Wikipedia information, and those links to your website may add value.

In writing your Wikipedia article, make sure to be balanced. In general, try to create some conflict or story. Give free product to less well-off people. Start a scholarship. Find a celebrity to siphon attention from. Who knows?

Tip #7: Use YouTube (and others)

Create a YouTube video!

Consumers are very good at figuring out what is an ad and what isn’t, at least in the conventional sense. Online videos, however, can easily slip under the radar as long as they are entertaining. Take advantage of this by creating a few videos that deal with whatever it is you do.

Make the videos funny. Make them good-sized but not too long. Make sure to include a URL in the video itself. You probably won’t reach the fame of the Star Wars kid or the John Kerry girl, but you may make some more sales and increase awareness. Which should be enough, at least for your accountant.

Tip #8: Catch alternate URLs

Type in http://yoursite.com, where yoursite is, well, the URL of your site. Does it resolve? Does http://www.yoursite.com also resolve? Unless you are doing this on purpose, this could be a problem. The two URLs are treated as separate websites, and can confuse Search Engines.

In the worst case scenario, the Search Engine flags the two different pages as being duplicates of one another. Being flagged as duplicate material will, at the least, hurt your rating. At worst, it’ll send your site to the Supplemental index, which is like a garbage dump for websites.

To fix this problem, use this .htaccess code: (without the >>>:)

>>>: Options +FollowSymLinks

>>>: RewriteEngine on

>>>: RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC]

>>>: RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301]

This will redirect the http://yoursite.com to http://www.yoursite.com. The opposite can be done to redirect http://www.yoursite.com to http://yoursite.com, if so desired.

Tip #9: Help your users help you

Make it very easy for your users to spread the word. Include “Tell a friend” functionality where and whenever possible. Also make sure to make it really, really simple. Everyone likes it when something works without too much thinking.

Another form of this is to add Social Bookmarking (SB) capability. SB is relatively new by real world standards and old stuff by internet standards – what it is, basically, is sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, and others, that let users compile their website preferences with others. You want to make it easy for you users to SB you.

In addition to spreading the word, Social Bookmarks have tremendous influence on Search Engines. Expert SEO-ers have recently done experiments where, by using the power of Social Bookmarking, they were able to gain top ten positions for very, very competitive search terms.

Quite recently, though less by standard SB sites, a Google search for “Miserable Failure” would lead to George Bush’s as a first result. This was an orchestrated campaign that worked by having many people link to George Bush’s website with the link text “Miserable Failure.” Their success in manipulating the results only underscores how important SB is.

Content Credit: http://tinyurl.com/l2pw65

Posted in business success, marketing ideas, Search Engine Marketing, SEO, small biz bee | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tools for Going Local Online: Get Connected Through The Internet To Your Target Customer

It seems like everyone’s chasing the grail of how to use the Web to reach a local audience. Luckily, tools for reaching people in your town while they’re surfing the ‘Net have improved, and more are coming.

For starters, if you haven’t yet gotten your business onto that little map that comes up at the top of Google search results, head over to Google Places and add your information. A free, fast way to vault yourself onto the first page of results on a search for your business type.

Another strategy: Up your online selling profile to get found by more local shoppers. Earlier this month, Overstock.com jumped into the local game with its Main Street Revolution initiative. Now, small retailers can run their own stores within Overstock to sell their closeouts.

Participating in a heavily trafficked site such as Overstock is another way to improve your natural-search results when local folks are looking for your type of goods. Customers with an ethic of buying local may abound in your town, but sometimes they want to shop online, too, so Main Street could be a way to reach out.

One more Internet-based local strategy: advertise on local news sites. In case you haven’t noticed, online news is getting more local by the minute. Besides your local paper’s online edition, there’s the new local online news spot in town, AOL’s Patch. They’re only in five states so far, but growing fast. Research where folks in your town turn for news to find good local online ad markets for your business.

Want to learn more about local marketing online? Market-research firm Ad-ology hands out free tips on their LocalMarketResearch site, which carries their twice-monthly online videocast, the Local Marketing Minute.

Content Credit: http://ht.ly/17RyNo

Posted in AOL Patch, Business Cards, Corporate Branding, Corporate Services, Free Tips, google places, Google Search, Heavy Internet Traffic, Internet Marketing, Local Market Research, Local News, Main Street Revolution, marketing ideas, Online Research, Overstock, Portland Business, Registered Agents, small business, Virtual Offices, Web Design | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Loan Program Is A Breath Of Fresh Air and Eases Stress For Small Businesses In Portland

As competition and lack of access narrow the normal channels of funding, Portland’s 40,000-plus small businesses have a new lifeline. The American Recovery Capital Loan Program, or ARC Loan, announced by the Small Business Administration last year, is designed to help combat one of the top three reasons why businesses fail: inadequate or untimely access to capital. The loan allows businesses to refinance existing business debt of up to $35,000 into a no-fee, no-interest loan, and is available through all SBA-certified lenders. A dozen banks throughout the state have closed a total of 114 ARC loans for Oregon businesses, with 73 of those completed by Albina Community Bank, ranking Albina in the top ten nationally for ARC loans. For complete information on the ARC program, visit http://www.sba.gov/recovery/arcloanprogram/index.html. The website lists the participating banks in Oregon; interested businesses should contact the lenders directly to apply.  If you want to discuss this with an advisor please contact NW Exec and a representative will set an appointment.

Posted in American, American Recovery Capital Loan Program, business goals, business success, Oregon Businesses, Portland Business, Portland Development Commission, SBA, Small Business Administration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment