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Small Business Logistics and Distribution Made Easy

By bridgetwpollack, Guest Blogger
Published: September 4, 2014

One of the trickiest pieces of the startup puzzle can be to figure out, how will all of this actually work? The logistics, that is! You’ve got a great idea for a product or service, brilliant ideas for marketing it, but how exactly will everything actually get from point A (creation) to point B (your customer)?

A well-researched and thoughtful logistics and distribution plan will save you lots of time and stress in the long run. We’ve gathered a few fantastic resources for considering everything that goes into this type of planning to make it as easy and comprehensive as possible.

Distribution 101

Entrepreneur Zeynep Ilgaz says to consider all distribution options when starting out, including the choice to completely bypass a website or physical storefront in favor of distributors. This may be a great option for certain business types; she describes the upsides saying, “Distributors will buy in bulk from you (helping you generate more revenue) and help you market and promote your products. Mastering these relationships early on has the potential to jumpstart your small business’ success.”

Check out Zeynep’s article, “Distribution 101,” to learn more about how to secure a distributor and how to maintain a strong and fruitful relationship with them.

Consider the International Option

If you haven’t already considered the viability of doing business internationally, it may be high time. Dip your toes in the water with a fun and informative webinar titled “Going Global” presented by USA TODAY columnist and author of The Small Business Bible, Steve Strauss, and Amine Khechfe, general manager and co-founder of Endicia. Together they show you the possibilities for how to take your business global and discuss topics including:

  • Why this is the best — and easiest! – time ever to take your business global
  • What you need to do to get your business ready
  • What you need to do to get your website ready
  • International shipping made easy
  • Getting a handle on exporting regulations
  • 5 rules for creating a successful global business 

Export Expertise

If after careful consideration you determine that international is the best route for your business to spread its wings, you’ll want to check out these international logistical tips from Laurel Delaney, President of GlobeTrade.com, a company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses go global. Check out her 3 posts on the topic:

Whether your business expands overseas or stays on home soil, getting your logistics in place as early as possible will certainly pay off in the long run in quicker order fulfillments, less wasted employee time and happier customers. For one-on-one expert assistance in planning the logistics of your small business, reach out to a SCORE mentor. It’s completely free and you’ll avoid reinventing the wheel by gaining the insight of others who have tackled the logistics puzzle before.

About the Author:

bridgetwpollack
Bridget Weston Pollack

Guest Blogger

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.

How Running A Small Business is Like Coaching a Football Team

By plester, Former Contributor
Published: September 3, 2014 Updated: September 3, 2014

It may not be something that often crosses your mind, but football coaches and small business owners have a lot in common. Both professions require leadership, dedication, commitment and a strong work ethic in order to succeed. Just like football coaches, as a small business owner, you must take on many roles to ensure everybody is working together as a team to achieve important goals and operations run smoothly. Here are a few other ways football coaches and small business owners play a similar game.

Pre-game

To prepare for a football game, coaches research opponents, develop game plans and determine the best lineup of players who will help the team win. Similarly, when starting a small business, entrepreneurs conduct market research to understand the competition and the key economic conditions and indicators. Entrepreneurs also build a business plan, which sets the strategic framework for the organization and maps out the path forward. In addition, small business owners find top talent who will help them execute the plan and beat the competition.

During the game

Over the course of a game, head coaches make adjustments regularly, shifting tactics to put their team in position to score and win. They consult with assistant coaches to get advice on what plays they should run. Entrepreneurs also make strategic moves to adjust to constantly changing market forces and customer demands. You can get guidance on how to set themselves for success by consulting with experts from their local SBA district office, SCORE chapter, Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center.

Halftime

Coaches typically deliver inspiring halftime speeches that motivate players to give their all and function as a team. You motivate your employees by providing benefit programs and encouraging their career growth through training that will help strengthen their skills. Small business owners also foster teamwork by clearly communicating the importance of each employee’s role in reaching a shared objective.

Post-game

Following a game, coaches review footage to analyze which plays and strategies did or did not work and what improvements the team can make to defeat the next opponent. At the end of each day or period of performance, entrepreneurs crunch numbers to determine how well the business performed and identify ways to boost profits, cut costs and improve customer service.

In coaching, the job doesn’t end just after one game or one season. The same can be said for entrepreneurs who work hard every day to pursue their dream of starting, managing and growing a small business. And the SBA will be there every step of the way, providing important counseling, training, financial assistance and other resources that are critical to success. Learn more about how the Small Business Administration helps entrepreneurs.

About the Author:

plester
Paul Lester

Former Contributor

I am an author for the the SBA.gov Community, writing about topics that matter to you as a small business owner. Our ongoing goal is to improve this site to meet your needs, so we're happy to receive your feedback and participation. Thanks for joining our online Community here at SBA.gov!

Veteran Entrepreneurs Honored as White House Champions of Change

By Barbara Carson, SBA Official
Published: August 28, 2014

The energy in the room was inspiring as 11 veteran and veteran spouse entrepreneurs took the stage to be honored as Champions of Change on August 27.  Invited to the White House to be honored for their extraordinary achievements, these “Champions” are community leaders who empower veterans and give back to the veteran community. 

Throughout the event, there was one constant theme: Veterans are natural leaders.  Military training provides veterans with a skillset that translates directly to entrepreneurship.  “People might learn leadership in various ways, but there’s no place like the military,” said Champion Louisa Long Jaffe who attributes the problem solving skills taught in the military as one of many reasons veterans not only make successful entrepreneurs, but also great employees. 

The Champions also spoke of their passion to serve; a passion that has evolved from serving their country in uniform, to serving their communities by creating jobs, providing solutions, and contributing to economic growth. 

Among the audience were Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec, sharks from ABC’s critically-acclaimed Shark Tank.  In a panel moderated by Kelly Perdew, West Point graduate and season two winner of NBC’s The Apprentice, the Sharks, tough, self-made, multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons and several business owners funded by the Sharks, expressed gratitude to these men and women who continue to serve their nation by contributing to economic growth and spoke to the Champions about the struggles and rewards of owning a business, paving a road to success. 

Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator of the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, delivered keynote speech highlighting the importance of veteran entrepreneurs in our economy and encouraging the Champions to be leaders in the community. 

 “The most important role this group provides,” Jeppson said, “is that of a role model.  As new veteran-owned small businesses start, their founders will look to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to be successful.  It is the role of men and women like the ones standing with me here today to truly be champions for the veteran entrepreneur community and lead by example.”

Related

SBA's Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs

About the Author:

Barbara Carson
Barbara Carson

SBA Official

Barbara Carson is the Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development.

Freshening Up for Fall: 3 Ways to Tidy Your Small Business

By plester, Former Contributor
Published: August 25, 2014

Summer is nearly over, signaling the start of school for students and teachers and the end of the fiscal year for the federal government and businesses throughout the country. This change of seasons is also a good opportunity to take a break from the frantic day-to-day grind and find new ways to reboot your small business. Let’s call it a bit of spring-cleaning for fall.

Here are just a few ways you can tidy up your business and improve operations:

1. Refresh your website and social media channels. Analyze your website metrics to identify how pages are performing. If high priority areas such as online shops or product listing pages are not generating a lot of web traffic or repeat visitors, you may need to make a few changes. For instance, if few visits come from search engines, update your site content and HTML coding to include more-frequently used and relevant terms. This will help improve your site’s search engine ranking, increasing the likelihood potential customers will find your products and services. Diagnose landing pages to see how users are interacting with content. If the average time spent on important pages is low, consider doing some usability testing to find ways to improve user experience such as changing the layout or design of your website.

Also, monitor social media metrics to see what your online audience is interested in and track what is being said about your products. Engage with existing and future customers on social media by answering any questions they may have. This is a great way to show off your customer service skills, build your brand and grow your customer base. In addition, explore targeted advertising on social media channels to see if makes strategic and economic sense for your business.

2. Boost up bookkeeping. The tail end of the fiscal year is also a good time to get your financial house in order. Review your transactions and make sure there are no outstanding incoming or outgoing payments. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and receipts for tax-filing season. Update your cash flow statements and see if there are any opportunities to increase profit margins such as working with wholesalers to get better deals on products, shopping around for more affordable services and vendors and slashing prices to increase sales. Also, check with your lenders to see if you can negotiate lower interest rates on any business-related loans you have taken out. Explore mobile apps or software that can make accounting easier and lighten the paperwork load, saving you time ­– and maybe more important – money.

3. Glance back at your new year’s goals. Revaluate the business goals you established at the beginning of the year to determine if those objectives are realistic given current economic and market conditions. Pick one or two new short-term goals that will have a long-term impact and align with your business plan and strategy. Also, take time out to celebrate the goals you have accomplished, which are making your dream of owning and successfully running a small business a reality.

About the Author:

plester
Paul Lester

Former Contributor

I am an author for the the SBA.gov Community, writing about topics that matter to you as a small business owner. Our ongoing goal is to improve this site to meet your needs, so we're happy to receive your feedback and participation. Thanks for joining our online Community here at SBA.gov!

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