Tactics for Branding Your Small Business

Jun 21, 2018

So much time and effort goes into choosing a brand logo. It’s not just cool designs and obscure color choices that are brought together over coffee; most times the choice for a logo is made after numerous drafts, and consideration for appeal, originality, marketability and recognition.

Effective branding, aided by the selection of a logo, can mean a world of marketing opportunities, while poorly planned branding can hurt your business. Never underestimate the power of properly branding your business. Why? A brand is the perception your consumer has of your product before even fully understanding your business. When you form a brand for your business, it becomes the identity and the foundation for all marketing efforts. It allows for a relationship or a connection to occur between your business and its customers, and it sets a tone.

A brand logo can give your customers a sneak peek into the kind of business you have, and what your culture is like. Fun bright colors and graphics lend to more casual and playful types of businesses while more muted and font-heavy logos lend themselves to a more serious understanding of the industry your business may fall into.

Beyond the physical logo, the characteristics of a brand is what differentiates it in the marketplace. Familiarizing potential customers with how you present yourself on social media, how you convey your messages, and what you choose to post, are all presentational characteristics that may make a potential customer feel more comfortable moving forward with you. Depending on the impact your brand has on someone or something can build brand-loyalty and lead to referrals.

So, who is the target audience for your brand? When choosing content, think about how it appeals to your target audience. Does the post reflect the values that you represent? Once you have covered these questions, think about your brand and how you want to position it to make it memorable. Be as creative as you want, because brands with personality stand out to consumers far better than those that lack differentiation.

Online Resources that Offer Continuing Education Courses

Jun 21, 2018

We’ve all come across situations in life that in hindsight could have easily been solved if we had the right tools, information, and skillset at the time. It’s always after you experience a small setback that you value preparation for the future unknown. As a small business owner there’s a lot you need to know to be able to handle the demands of owning a business. Business management tactics, good human resources practices, finance, basic accounting, product development, and customer service skills are all integral pieces of understanding what it takes to run a business.

Let’s say you want to strengthen your knowledge in one of these areas. You could turn to a friend or search google, but sometimes you need more than just someone’s personal account of an experience and a few articles found in search. Running your own business is a physically and mentally draining lifestyle, and your time is especially precious. Finding the time, energy and expenses for additional educational courses is likely not a feasible option, so luckily when it comes to learning more about running a business, or a more concentrated area of business practices like marketing, management and finance, there are many online courses that are affordable and flexible. Here’s a little quick-list to help you find the one that works best for you, (because we know you’re probably reading this on your smart phone while working.)

Stackskills: If you’re looking for courses that will teach you more about the general areas of data, software, writing and marketing, this course site is the perfect place to start. Varying from trainings in Salesforce, Python, Photoshop and more, and the prices are just as varied, anywhere from $20-$300 a class. Since they offer so many programs, you can find one that is most affordable for you. Once you purchase the one you’re most interested in, you can access it anytime, anywhere.

Udemy: This online program offers courses in just about anything from personal development, marketing tactics, foreign languages, and even teaching. Need to hire more employees for your growing company but don’t know a thing about proper hiring and onboarding etiquette? Udemy can help you out by providing general HR courses on recruiting and interviewing practices. These courses vary from $30-$200, but they frequently offer sales where courses drop to as low as $9.99. Once you sign up, you’ll have access infinitely, so you can get right back to learning when it’s most flexible for you.

Coursera: Imagine a place where all kinds of continuing education and certificate program courses lead by top notch university professors are listed and accessible in one place, searchable by term and content. That place exists at Coursera.The best part is you can take these classes inside your home, office, or wherever is most convenient for you. They offer a variety of degrees and certificates from a Master of Computer Science to a Google IT Support certificate. These courses range from $29-$80 per month.

Edx: Is similarly structured like many of the other online course sites and offers classes in all things from music to chemistry. This site is similar to Coursera in that it partners with universities from all over the states, where you can earn your degree or certificate from home. Some of these classes have start dates which are great for those who like to have a set schedule, while some of the other classes are self-paced. These classes cost anywhere from $50-$600.

Creating a Business Mission & Vision Statement

Jun 21, 2018

Having your own business is an incredibly exciting endeavor! You’ve worked hard to get to this place and you likely have an overwhelming amount of passion for the business you’ve created. It’s fantastic to be passionate, but a business owner has the responsibility to express two very important components as part of their business’ brand and foundational values. They need to establish a mission statement and vision statement.

These two may seem similar but they convey very different pieces of information. A mission statement tells the story of your company and emphasizes core values; the heart of what you want people to take away from your brand, the product you offer, or service you provide.

A vision statement is a description of how you see your business progressing in the future. Both statements should be visible on your website’s homepage or "about" page for customers to learn more about you.

Not sure how to begin? Here are some pointers:

Mission Statement:

Who is your ideal customer?

Envision that customer. Why would they want to buy your products/services and what sets you apart from your competition?

Where is your customer most likely to find your business?

Does that ideal customer embrace the same fundamental values as your business? How and in what way?

The description you formulate should not exceed 1-2 sentences and should be a genuine reflection of what your business embodies and offers the market. It should include business goals and reflect the ethical culture of your business. An effective mission statement should not be rushed or over-worded. Keep the concept simple and be straightforward. Take your time to revise it and read it over before posting it onto your website. A good mission statement can help you bloom, or leave potential customers confused and unmotivated to purchase from you.

Vision Statement:

Creating goals for your business is key to keeping you motivated. When you think about your business where do you want it to be in five to ten years from now? A vision statement shares that with your customers, but more importantly it allows your investors and employees to understand the overall purpose of your business and how it will continue progressing. Set high goals for yourself but try to keep them attainable within the time frame you set. Again, it should be brief yet concise, so skip any fancy verbage and speak truth to your company culture.

Social Media 101 for the Small Business Owner

Jun 21, 2018

Properly executing social media accounts is a beneficial way for small businesses to increase their brand recognition, and is a far less expensive route to pursue than traditional marketing tactics. Every business owner is taking advantage of the accessibility of online marketing, but it’s a matter of whether people are looking, reading, following, liking and sharing your content that makes all the difference.

Engagement is the most important element to social media, because otherwise why even bother with it? The whole point of having social accounts tied to your business is to interact and advertise organically to potential customers. Following, commenting, and liking are all the ways to do that. You want to connect with as many relevant people to your business as possible, so start by following accounts that follow other businesses like you. Besides connecting, you then need to also interact with those you connect with. Comment, like and share as much as seems appropriate and relevant. Don’t overdo it, but make sure that you’re a good “friend” who pays attention. Next thing is to create a customized hashtag for your business, that way when people post pictures of your products/services it is easier to find. It's best to use at least 5 different hashtags but less than 10 that all relate to your business.

Quality, not quantity. The quality of your posts, pictures, and followers are important because it humanizes your brand. There are so many apps that will claim to help you get free followers on Instagram and Twitter and boost your numbers, but don’t be so quick to jump. Though having a high number of followers may look impressive, you want to make sure that these followers are real people that will engage with your brand. It’s all about good ratios. An Instagram with 10,000 followers only averaging 50 likes a picture looks suspicious. A brand with 100 followers with 20 likes and comments on average per post, carries much more meaningful weight. You should also make sure that your photos and posts are clear, well thought out, and high-resolution photo. Posting low-quality content will just make your platform look messy and inconsistent.

Consistency is key on social media because it makes you more searchable and makes your platform more professional and organized. Make sure that all your links match on each page, this will make it easier for viewers to switch from one platform to another. You also want to be sure that your banner images and profile pictures are all the same on each platform. Lastly, think about your brand, what does it represent? When uploading pictures make sure you keep color scheme and experience in mind so that each post flows to the next. It’s also great to have a set schedule of when you are posting content, so that you’re always present in the feed of your followers.

Maximize discoverability by linking your accounts in email signatures, including them on business cards, and at the bottom of your website. Maybe your customers are unaware that you have social media, and if someone you’ve handed your business card to wants to learn more about your business, they can reference your social profiles.

Keep Your Personal Life from Interfering with Your Success

May 25, 2018

It’s easy to allow whatever is happening at home or otherwise to interfere with our professional life. A complete separation is not something anyone has mastered, especially with full accessibility to work through our smartphones, and access to our personal life via smartphones during the work day. At one point or another we’ve all been guilty of allowing the lines of work and personal life to bleed together far beyond calling our mom to say hi or checking in with the kids.

The important thing is to realize when we’ve allowed it to happen, to analyze why, and figure out a plan moving forward. If home life is stressful and distracting, it’s easily the weight that prevents you from rising. Here are a few helpful pointers to help separate your personal life from work, helping you to stay focused and succeed.

Create a Buffer

Go to the gym to release frustration, attend a yoga class to find your zen, or spin out that pent up energy from whatever personal issue is plaguing your mind. Leave it at the gym door on your way out. If attending a gym class isn’t possible, drop the kids off and take a walk alone before work. A walk that isn’t just the one you take from the car/train to the office door, but a purposeful mind-quieting stroll that separates one task of life from the other.

Turn off Technology

Get to your desk and turn off your cell phone. Don’t just flip the phone over and put it on silent- literally turn the device off. Go get your morning coffee without taking it with you and physically separate your body from it. If that is the line of communication to which your friends and family are using to contact you when you should be focusing, put it in a time out. Of course, you likely need to turn it back on sooner than later – especially if you’re the owner of your business and that’s your primary line of communication, but at the very least, silence those personal contacts that don’t seem to understand you’re at work all day and let them text themselves until they realize you’re serious about being busy and focused.

Create a Daily Plan

Create a to-do list every single day. Prioritize the tasks and come up with a plan of attack. Keep this list entirely separate from your goal sheet- this list is only what you’re getting done, not what you’re hoping to achieve in the long term, (though we recommend doing that as well.)

Learn more about Platinum Rapid Funding Group here.


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