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Financial fraud is an important exposure for companies of all sizes, but the risk is especially acute for smaller organization that often have fewer controls than larger companies. Even small embezzlements can have acute financial effects on a small business, as well as morale problems resulting from a breach of trust.

The four elements of SWOT analysis create an easy-to-follow framework that businesses of all sizes can use to assess the current and potential health of their respective enterprises. The knowledge that a company can gain from SWOT analysis can aid in the planning and development of existing and future entrepreneurial strategies. Use these four steps as a basis for your research, and you’ll get rewarded with a more comprehensive and applicable overview of your business which can lead to accelerated growth, added resilience and maximized profits.

Building a viable business and succeeding as an entrepreneur is not a mission for the meek and mild. Entrepreneurship can be grueling and can leave you wondering why you ever thought building your own company was a good idea. But if you are determined and are willing to invest in your future, you can improve your odds of business success as an entrepreneur. Incorporate the following five tips into your modus operandi and there’s a mighty good chance you’ll find the business success you long for.

One of the most common mistakes rookie entrepreneurs make is neglecting to prepare a business plan. A business plan doesn’t necessarily have to be long and detailed, but it should serve you and your team as a roadmap and a rallying point, while also keeping your efforts consistent and measuring your progress.

Technology is critical to the operations and success of most small businesses, which makes routine maintenance of your tech infrastructure vitally important.

Like any type of equipment, monitoring technology performance and addressing small issues is more efficient and cost-effective than having to deal with downtime and higher costs in the aftermath of an outage or disruption.

Many entrepreneurs know the value of feedback, as it tells them what the customers are thinking. The problem is, a lot of those same entrepreneurs aren’t sure or aren’t interested in what else they can do with said feedback at that point. That’s a tremendous waste of a powerful resource.

A sales and marketing plan is essential to any small business’s success, without one a business may struggle to have measurable and achievable goals in place. The right sales and marketing plan clearly identifies everything from who the target customers are to budget. When done correctly, it can serve as a roadmap for the growth of a small business.

Google recently announced some new measures it’s taking to help protect small businesses from scammers. This follows recent action from the Federal Trade Commission and numerous efforts by Google itself to keep business from falling prey to what the company refers to as “predatory practices.”

As smart speakers and connected devices gain momentum in consumer markets, they’re also making inroads among business users interested in increasing convenience and efficiency within their workplaces. Devices such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home and others are coupling advances in voice recognition, natural language processing (which helps computers understand the way people speak) and artificial intelligence to help business owners complete, and automate, a growing number of routine tasks.

As you invest time, money and effort promoting your small business, it’s also important to devote some time to examining how your various marketing approaches are working to support your business and its revenue goals. Measuring the success of your marketing efforts is critical to understand what’s paying off and, equally important, which investments aren’t worth repeating. Evaluating your marketing efforts will help you expand the initiatives that are providing benefits to your company while reducing the amount of marketing spending you waste.

Every small business wants to increase sales and grow revenue, but what’s the magic secret to doing this? The sales funnel. No matter what type of small business or what budget you have to put towards gaining new business and keeping existing customers, a sales funnel is essential. A sales funnel is meant as a way to visualize the customer’s journey through the sales process. If you envision a funnel, then the sale begins at the large top opening then ends as it gets smaller with purchase (or alternative end goal). A sales funnel can also be referred to as a sales pipeline and can be the key to measuring, managing and forecasting the sales process. Additionally, it can also be the driving force to improving the sales process to gain more business. This sales process can involve a variety of different aspects and can vary significantly from one business type to the next.

Within the classic 4P’s of marketing are the product, promotion, price, and placement. Placement is also considered as the distribution channel for a business. Both B2B and B2C small businesses sell through either one main distribution channel or multiple channels. The distribution channels will differ from one company to the next but may encompass any of the following: retail, distributor/ wholesaler, dealer, sales team, online, and numerous other channels.

Small business owners have been generally optimistic throughout 2018 so far, and that positivity appears to be sticking around. According to a recent survey from WalletHub, seven out of ten owners find the present to be a good time for growth. The company’s 2018 Small Business Owner Survey also found that over a third (38 percent) of small businesses find access to a talented workforce to be the most important factor for success. Other factors business owners cited include limited regulation (25 percent), low taxes (21 percent), easy access to credit (13 percent), and government incentives (3 percent).

Crowdfunding provides an alternative to loans, credit lines, and traditional investors while allowing a business to get a sense of product demand before creating it. By utilizing the internet, a would-be business owner can collect donations from around the world with a solid idea and pitch. The core market is built-in, and contributors tend to be great for word-of-mouth marketing. The advantages can be tremendous a campaign is successful. It’s not hard to see why an aspiring entrepreneur would be interested in this type of funding.

“Business is business. It’s no place for emotion, especially when it comes to my customers.” If you subscribe to that line of thinking, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. People are emotional creatures, which means emotions play a bigger role in the consumer’s decision-making process than you might think. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling: If you don’t know how to create an emotional connection with your customers, you won’t be able to hold on to them for long.

Every business begins with a vision or an idea. From there, businesses are either launched to success or they land in a heap of failure. The difference, for most entrepreneurial efforts, is likely to be found in the critical first steps that were undertaken in the formulation and implementation of the business plan. Even those businesses that initially failed to launch, stand a good second chance of success if the right steps are taken. Every aspiring business owner needs a start-up starter kit that includes the 10 things you absolutely must do to launch a business.

It’s no surprise that most small businesses are using social media these days. Despite frustrations with algorithm changes commonly made by Facebook and similar companies, these types of platforms give businesses a chance to gain very targeted eyeballs that other formats simply cannot provide.

Your boutique business is no ordinary enterprise. You offer that special selection, those unique items or that specialized service. You provide something extra; something different than a basic, run-of-the-mill business. Of course, your offerings, being extraordinary, come with a more robust price tag. And while your clientele is willing to pay more, there’s something extra they should be able to count on: an amazing customer experience.

Take a look at the images that you are able to modify on your social networks including the header and profile images for your accounts. That includes Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Think of ways you can freshen up the look. Be creative. Make sure your logo is properly positioned and crisp. If you aren’t a graphic designer, invest in well-designed images sized specifically for each social network for the highest impact.

Small business owners know that reputation is everything. The way your business is perceived by the public is more important than virtually any other factor, including what you sell, where you’re located, your pricing, the quality of your product… A good reputation must be nurtured and maintained as an integral part of your business’ identity. Customers are rightly wary of a business that lacks a reputation “for” something good. It’s a crucial way to set your business ahead of the competition and implant a positive impression in your customers’ minds. And a poor reputation? Well, all the clever and on-point advertising in the world won’t make a dent in repairing a damaged reputation.

Social media is dynamic, and social networks and mobile apps are continuously changing and updating. While it is challenging to keep up with all the changes, your social media presences should never be stagnant. Still, it is easy to get overwhelmed or to neglect accounts you’ve set up with every intention of using.

“Just keep on networking,” that’s what most business owners would tell new entrepreneurs when asked about how to succeed. In business, they say, you have to reach out to people, you have to socialize, and let others know what you’re up to. How do you do this if you’re not into the small talk and the extra socialization? Many introverts would be scared even to try pitching their products or services to others. If you’re one of these socially-picky crowd, you may want to look into these five strategies that could help your business grow despite your introverted personality.

Developing the right mindset is the key to business success. Despite having little or no money when starting their businesses, many entrepreneurs have used their exceptional way of thinking to create successful business empires. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to develop the right mindset.

SCORE, a nonprofit association comprised of 10,000 volunteers, who help small businesses start up and grow, recently released its Megaphone of Mainstreet Small Business Report looking at Fall 2017 employment. It’s worth noting that SCORE’s work is supported by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA).

No matter how organized and productive you are, there always seems to be one project that’s been conceived – maybe even begun – but remains in some state of incomplete limbo. Wouldn’t it be a relief to finally get that stalled project off your plate and up and running? Where is the project stuck? Why is the project stuck? Knowing the answers to this questions will allow you to see what’s already been accomplished and what still needs to be done.

A business is strongest when it does only what it does best. No business can be all things to all customers; you’d suffer some sort of identity crisis it you tried. Bending over backwards to provide that which is not your specialty is likely to backfire on you, causing you to disappoint customers instead of please them. That’s why it’s crucial that you determine your niche – the way in which your business best “delivers” the goods and/or services you provide – and strive to provide that to the best of your ability.

Unlike your standard web lead, which takes a lot of marketing dollars to get, referrals are a unique kind of new client. Because they’ve heard about you from a trusted friend or relative, half the battle has already been won. They take fewer marketing dollars and less energy to acquire, are more likely to buy from you, and are more likely to remain with you as a client.