By Robert Conrad
It’s no secret: trying to get a great idea off the ground is hard. In the past, researching for a new niche in an existing market was done through face-to-face interviews. Though this approach can still be insightful, the Internet has also provided some tools to help startups determine their target audience. The idea and market research phase can be tedious, but it is a necessary step to determine whether or not your idea is marketable.
As you consider your new product or idea, ask yourself this: who would you market that to? Some of the biggest commercial flops in history, such as Lifesavers soda and McPizza, have been credited to inadequate market research. Neither one of these products knew exactly who they were going to market their product to, but it is through their failings that much can be gleaned.
Now that I’ve given you some examples of bad marketing, how about an example that works? TOMS shoes, founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006, donates a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes purchased! This model works because it doesn’t tout itself to a niche group, but rather to anyone who needs shoes and is interested in philanthropic efforts. Customers can walk away from their purchase feeling like they have made a positive difference!
Mycoskie majored in both Philosophy and Business while attending college, which helped him to craft the successful vision of TOMS Shoes. Philosophy helped him to realize the humanitarian aspect of his business model, while Business gave him useful tools such as successful marketing and leadership. Many new entrepreneurs discount the importance of their responsibility to their community, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
So what about the rest of us who began working a 9 to 5 right out of high school? Business courses themselves have adapted over the course of time to include comparable online alternatives to brick and mortar foundations. These MBA programs benefit Business students who are interested in learning more advanced techniques in marketing, leadership and finance. Most startups are already working to make a living and don’t have the time to attend a conventional institution.
So what are the benefits of an online Business college? Attendance is flexible, which allows students to continue earning a living, engage with their community and their target audience to determine if their idea is viable. Also, due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, programs tend to be more progressive and provide the most pertinent information. Compare that to the dusty pages in seemingly endless tomes!
In summation, we can learn a lot from the example of Mycoskie. He exemplifies the importance of corporate social responsibility while overseeing a profitable business like TOMS Shoes, as well as the importance of education. Though we may all be hard-wired from birth to be successful, many of us just need a nudge in the right direction through inspiration. So what are you waiting for? Get out there, earn an education, and conduct the necessary research to determine if your idea is profitable!
Robert Conrad is an Online Business Graduate and freelance writer with a small-town heart and big time dreams! Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/RobrtConrad1865.
TESTIMONY: so last week, in the midst of crumbling to-do lists, stagnant marketing ideas, sick kids, isolation/keeping to myself, messed up bills, tiresome body and burnt out creativity, I literally laid on my office floor like three times in one day. Just tired; i was spent and whining….for what I believe was the 4th week in a row.
So a little while later, I get back to my computer and there you have it, a message from my dear friend Quinn Riley talkin’ bout…..”You alright up there…I’m gonna check in on you from time-to-time. You’re too talented to quit; and got too much content to throw in the towel…” ~ mind you we had not chatted in a few weeks….
Whaaaaaaaa@t. Can I just tell you how that one message changed my entire outlook for Q4/!?!?!
He was there for me 3 years ago when I endeavored to start this journey, and he has always truly been there for me to this day. I am so grateful for the divine wake-up call last week! All aboard….entrepreneurSHIP is truly a daily work in progress. Start small, dream big and keep it movin’
Several factors lead to success at work, but let’s talk about refining your current wardrobe. It’s likely filled with band tees, crop tops and short skirts, but workplace fashion should start with clean, classic pieces—crisp oxford button-downs, pencil skirts, tailored pantsuits and timeless handbags. Feel fierce at your job by arming your closet with these must-have staples that shout, “Watch out; I’ll be your boss soon.”
A white Oxford button-down or French-cuff dress shirt says you mean business. Easily paired with your classic pencil skirt or favorite slacks, a crisp shirt seals the deal.
Black pants are essential to your professional wardrobe. Sleek, formfitting black trousers pair with just about any blouse in your closet. Cover with a sleek textured blazer from a complementary color palette, and you’ll be walking tall through the office.
A classic tailored suit will be useful when interviewing or visiting a client. Invest in a finely constructed modern suit; it’ll be your go-to outfit when you need to step it up. This look will tell everyone in your office that you know who’s in charge—you are, lady.
Dark-washed skinny jeans are perfect for casual Fridays. You’re not careless if you wear denim the right way. Paired with black pumps, a timeless blouse and a handbag that kills, it is anything but improvised. Sport some refined style, and you’ll show up your informal peers who use casual Friday as a reason to slack off.
Whether you choose a classic satchel or a designer shoulder bag, a sophisticated handbag is essential to your professional wardrobe. Go with a color that defies the rules of season for your staple bag. A polished leather piece that embodies the purity of design will be the best choice for your staple workplace bag.
Accessories That Won’t Quit
There’s no shame in adding a secret undergarment that sucks it in and pulls it up. Invest in quality shapewear that’s slimming and comfortable.
Silk scarves add elegant, lightweight warmth to any professional outfit. Wear them knotted, wrapped or draped for a vintage style that oozes cool.
Unfilled belt loops are a huge no-no in the professional world. People notice when an outfit hasn’t been completed. Pull the look together with a sleek belt. It truly ties everything together.
I Love Shoes
Every on-the-go professional can use a pair (or two) of stylish flats, so add these to your closet when building your professional wardrobe. Another must: a pair of designer black pumps. Leather pumps go beautifully from office daywear to your happy hour outfit.
If you have to, build your professional wardrobe piece by piece. Assess your current businesswear situation and purchase pieces that upgrade what you already have. When starting out, it can take time to fill the hangers with clothes and accessories for work. Use these wardrobe building blocks as a framework to the ultimate closet that empowers you to be a working woman of grace, poise and fearlessness.
Here’s five tips from our Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisors at Executive Accounting Services Inc. on how to use QuickBooks for your small business.
1. Leverage QuickBooks Reports
In addition to using QuickBooks as your bookkeeping tool, it contains a lot of beneficial financial reports. The Trial Balance report gives you a quick overview of all account balances with easy to understand Debit and Credit terminology. The Collections Report shows your overdue invoices as well as the customer’s phone number to make your collections calling a little easier. There’s a Voided/Deleted Transactions Report that’s key if you have someone assisting with your bookkeeping and need to double check their entries, or if you cannot find a transaction you recall entering in.
2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Save time when you’re in QuickBooks by using their keyboard shortcuts for tasks that you perform on a regular basis. Popular shortcuts include:
- Ctrl-E – Edit a transaction
- Ctrl-F – Find a transaction
- Ctrl-I – Create a new invoice
- Ctrl-O – Copy a transaction in your register
3. Backup Your Files Remotely
It is essential that you back up your QuickBooks files on a regular basis. In addition to creating a back- up on your computer, you will need an offsite backup in case of fire, flood, or theft. Executive Accounting Services can host your QuickBooks in the Cloud so your transactions are always secure and backed up. Your Cloud data is secure with a password-protected login, firewall protected servers, and the world’s top banking encryption technology – 128 bit SSL.
4. Use the Latest Version of QuickBooks
Keep your QuickBooks updated to take advantage of all of the latest features. Newer versions allow you to download your credit card and bank transactions automatically. QuickBooks 2011 introduced batch invoicing, which is a great time saver for recurring invoices and fees. QuickBooks 2014 added upgrades for sending emails with multiple attachments, viewing prior conversations and customizable email templates. Upgrading is simple and only takes a few minutes.
5. Hire a Qualified Person
In a small business, people often wear many hats and may do tasks they have not been formally trained in. If you have someone internally handling your accounting, be sure they are qualified. Some people may have experience in doing data entry in QuickBooks, but would not be able to handle reconciliations. Our Raleigh Business Accounting team can help you with all levels of your small business accounting, from invoicing to payroll to collections and reconciliations.
About the Author:
Terri is the founder and president of Executive Accounting Services and has more than 15 years of experience in accounting services, accounting management, accounting consulting, accounting training and tax preparation. She is a Certified QuickBooks® Pro Advisor in all versions, which ensures you are working with a trained and qualified professional of the QuickBooks® software. Her experience in the accounting field includes accounting management of a $15 million dollar company to accounting management of companies under $1 million dollars.
Many businesses are developing unique products that help the environment. Among these businesses, there are five female entrepreneurs who have well-known and established businesses based on sound eco-friendly principles.
After more than 10 years focused on high-range projects Vina decided to focus her career on smaller scale projects that could contribute to the environment. With this in mind, Vina founded Sol Haus Design. It is a firm that provides sustainable building solutions. Vina is an avid traveler who embraces simple living in tiny living spaces. Sustainable living spaces are valuable because they decrease energy consumption.
Vina uses practices that promote a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Designers use construction methods that do not negatively affect the Earth. Each living space is designed with sustainable materials, such as bamboo, cob, cordwood, natural rubber, and recycled brick.
Beth Bell founded Green Product Placement, which is a media product placement company. The company sells socially enterprising solutions and local products. The prospect of using an engaging marketing platform inspired Bell to promote products based on her own buying ethics.
Many businesses work with Green Product Placement because the product placement specialists place top product brands in television, online media, and film. Beth Bell’s team provides productions with green products. When consumers see the products on television, they will likely purchase them.
Janette Eusebio Harwell
Box Play For Kids was founded by Janette Eusebio Harwell in 2011 and was inspired her young child’s obsession with old boxes and stickers. The company manufactures custom stickers that are 100 percent recycled. The sticker transform throw-away boxes into fun toys for kids. According to Janette, her company’s mission is to promote creative play that stimulates curiosity, enthusiasm and learning in children.
Eusebio’s company helps the environment because pressure-sensitive adhesives are tough to recycle. During the recycling process, stickers typically stick to the recycling equipment. Janette’s innovative thinking has solved this problem while contributing to the betterment of the environment.
Emily Wilkinson designed the Botlfilter because she was concerned about the environmental impact of disposable plastic bottles. The Botlfilter has a portable filter that dispenses clean, filtered water on the go.
Wilkinson’s product was so well received by the public that it lead her to becoming recognized as one of the most successful eco-friendly entrepreneur over the last decade. Additionally, Wilkinson’s idea inspired numerous other young female entrepreneur’s to create eco-friendly products of their own.
Called the “Rachel Ray of eco-living” by the Huffington Post, Steffany Boldrini grew up on a tiny Brazilian ranch. When an important event occurred on the ranch, Boldrini use her experience to create EcoBold. EcoBold is a very successful e-commerce company that provides eco-friendly products such as organic energy bars and organic lipstick.
The five women above are blazing a path for the next generation of female entrepreneurs looking to establish environmentally friendly companies. These trailblazers have proved that not only is an eco-friendly business model feasible, but it can be very lucrative.
If you would like to help the environment, contact General Recycling Industries Ltd