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Selling Your Business? You May Need to Negotiate a Non-Compete Agreement

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 12, 2012 Updated: September 13, 2016

Non-compete agreements are commonplace in the workplace, particularly in specialist industries. However, their enforceability varies from state-to-state. California, for example, prohibits them entirely.

But non-competes can also come into play when you sell your business, particularly if you have plans to stay in the same industry. These agreements protect the new business owner against you opening a similar business for a certain amount of time, usually in the same geographic area.

So what’s a serial entrepreneur to do? If you have a passion for your business and plan to stay in the same industry but your buyer insists on a non-compete, what are your options?

Earlier this year, Entrepreneur magazine offered the following tips to business owners who want to move laterally within their own industry, without being constrained or even sued because of a rigid non-compete agreement.

As with the sale of any business, it comes down to negotiation and being clear about what you want while respecting the needs of your buyer:

1. Start by Consulting an Attorney

As mentioned above, each state has its own laws when it comes to non-competes. Even where they are permitted, enforceability of the terms of a non-compete by courts can vary. So, talk to a lawyer to understand how your state’s courts have ruled in past non-compete cases. A lawyer can also help you understand how your industry or situation may impact any agreement, as well as negotiations.

2. Be Specific About What You Want

As with any negotiation, find out what the other party wants so you know what you are dealing with. Respect their position (this can help lead to synergies), but use the negotiation process to outline the exceptions that you have to the terms they propose. For example, try to limit the non-compete to very specific types of business, work or industries that will not limit your future business plans. Try to come to an agreement and form contractual language around the very specific things that you should not be doing in any new venture. Also consider limiting the time period (usually to no more than five years) and geography as much as you can so your options are wider.

Keeping the language specific will help you understand your parameters, as well as protect the buyer, because courts tend to view broad contractual language as invalid.

3. Consider a Non-Solicitation Agreement Instead

Depending on state law and how non-competes fare in your state, it might be more beneficial to both parties to put in place a non-solicitation agreement. This prevents you from hiring former employees or approaching the current customers of your business once you sell. Alternatively, you might want to limit the non-solicitation to specific products. For example, if you sold IT security software to an enterprise customer, you would be restricted from going back in and selling that product to that customer. However, there would be nothing to stop you from branching out and selling IT storage solutions to that customer instead.

4. Explore an Earn-Out

Instead of signing a non-compete, consider an earn-out. This is a provision that states that the seller will receive additional future compensation from the buyer based on the business achieving certain financial goals. This gives the buyer an insurance policy that the seller won’t compete directly against them or undercut the business they’ve left behind.

The Bottom Line

Start with your lawyer. All the options described above should only be pursued based on a solid understanding of state law, court rulings and the risks you are willing to take as a business owner.  

Related SBA Resources

  • Getting Out – Tips for being smart about how you exit your business.

Related Blogs

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

How Technology can Help You Save Money on Business Travel

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 10, 2012 Updated: September 23, 2016

Is business travel critical to your small business success – but hurting your cash flow?

According to a recent travel trends survey by American Airlines, 93 percent of small and medium-sized business travel managers surveyed said that face-to-face meetings are either crucial or helpful to the success of their business.

But what about the costs of business travel? According to a similar survey last year, American Airlines found that small businesses typically allocate between 10 and 24 percent of their overall annual budget to travel – no small chunk of change for any small business! What can you do to cut these costs while still doing business effectively?

Here are five tips for saving money on your business travel.

Use Technology Wisely to Save on Airfare

Online collaboration tools such as Skype, Webex, Facetime, and so on make it easier to connect with partners, customers and satellite offices at a low cost or even for free. But when should you opt for a virtual meeting over face-to-face time? Start by evaluating your goals and weighing the pros and cons of either method. Most important, develop travel guidelines for yourself and your employees so everyone is clear about when it’s OK to hit the road or not.  Don’t forget to have a uniform policy for reimbursable expenses, too.

You might also consider equipping your field sales reps or remote employees with tablet PCs so you can interact with them and others when they are on business trips. You can use the tablet’s camera device to inspect property, equipment, or machinery at a supplier’s or customer’s location. Read 7 Indispensable Tech Tools for The Small Business Traveler for more tips.

Reap the Benefits of the Sharing Economy

Group sharing sites are taking off in a huge way and saving big bucks for savvy business travelers. For example, if you need to rent a car, sites like ZipCar offers businesses and consumers a low-cost alternative to car rentals or taxis. If you’d rather someone else did the driving, book a ride-share at your destination with ZimRide. If hotel costs are getting you down, consider renting a room through sites like Airbnb.com and CouchSharing instead.

Use Loyalty Programs and Business Credit Cards

If business travel is a core part of your business, airline and hotel loyalty programs can definitely save you money. In fact, according to another American Airlines survey (from 2011), small and medium-sized businesses say that enrolling their company in a business-to-business loyalty program is one of the top three methods of maximizing the value of their travel. If you travel often to the same locations or frequent the same hotels, you might also consider establishing a corporate account with a hotel chain and get discounted rates.

Business credit cards and their redeemable points programs are also a cost-saving strategy, but not all are geared towards small businesses. 

Shop Bargain Travel Sites (with Care)

While your best bet for saving money when it comes to travel is forward planning and good old fashioned loyalty points, it is possible to find deals on travel discount sites – especially if you need to combine a hotel, car and air ticket. Shop around and cross check prices against the hotel or airline’s website or by phone to make sure you are getting the better deal. Oftentimes providers will match any online specials offered by discount sites. Plus, their cancellation policies can be friendlier. Also, some airlines and hotels don’t appear in these searches – another good reason to check direct.

Manage Your Costs on the Road – There’s an App for That

Take for example Wi-Fi Finder; this free app lets you search over 500,000 Wi-Fi hot spots (free or paid) around the world – which can save you hotel Wi-Fi charges and keep you connected.

Need to track and organize your travel budget? The Travel Pocket app (available for a small fee) lets you track and organize your budget and expenses by time, location and category. You can also convert your reports into a spreadsheet, taking much of the hassle out of record-keeping when you get home.

Be Smart about Business Expense Tax Deductions

You’re probably aware you can deduct the cost of mileage, airfares and lodging on your tax return. But did you know you can also deduct 50 percent of meal costs, tips, and even dry cleaning or laundry you need doing on the road? 

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

5 Things to Know Now about Hiring Temporary or Seasonal Workers

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 6, 2012 Updated: September 20, 2016

Does your business ebb and flow with the seasons? Looking to hire extra staff for the holidays or tourist season?  Whatever your plans, hiring seasonal workers involves following a few rules of the road. Many of the laws and regulations that apply to full-time employees also apply to seasonal or part-time employees.

Here’s what you need to know as you plan your seasonal workforce:

Labor Laws Still Apply

Laws that cover harassment, discrimination, and workplace health and safety apply to seasonal workers just as they do to any other employee. If you’re not familiar with these, this Employment and Labor Law Guide for small businesses is a good reference point.

Likewise, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), part-time and full-time employees have equal rights concerning minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor.

Hiring Independent Contractors – Laws are Different

Independent contractors are essentially self-employed individuals who often welcome seasonal or part-time positions. These individuals are usually experienced in certain fields and often work unsupervised or as part of your team.

It’s important to note that independent contractors are hired by you and not employed by you. As such, you aren’t required to provide benefits, withhold tax/Medicare/Social Security, or pay unemployment taxes. You also can’t dictate the hours the contractor works. However, you are required to report compensation of $600 or more to the IRS (more on this here).

SBA offers some helpful tips to understanding the difference between independent contractors and employees when it comes to your legal and tax obligations.

What Benefits Are Required by Law?

If you are hiring employees – not independent contractors – regardless of whether they are seasonal or not, you still must provide certain benefits by law. These vary by state and include:

1. Unemployment Benefits – Check with your state department of labor to determine the specific laws that apply in your state. While employers generally are not exempt from unemployment benefit obligations if an employee is hired for a brief or temporary amount of time, there may be exceptions for “seasonal employers” who, because of the nature of their business, require temporary employees for periods lasting 10 weeks or less. 

2. Social Security/Medicare – You must withhold part of Social Security and Medicare taxes from your employees' wages and pay a matching amount yourself. Refer to the employee's Form W-4 and the methods described in the IRS’ Employer's Tax Guide and Employers Supplemental Tax Guide (PDF).

3. Workers’ Compensation – Businesses with employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis, or through a state Workers' Compensation Insurance program. Your state's agency can help you find out more about requirements for employers.

Certain benefits, also called “fringe” or “soft” benefits, aren’t required by law and are offered at the employer’s discretion. These include paid leave, retirement plans, and medical insurance. Whether you decide to offer these or not is up to you, but it’s best to be explicit in advance about what you will and won’t provide during the recruitment process.

What About Taxes?

Part-time and seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to other employees. For details on your tax reporting responsibilities, refer to IRS regulations on part-time or seasonal help. Be sure to check state tax laws that pertain to these employees too.

Other Legal Considerations

Want to run a background check on potential seasonal workers? This blog offers advice on Conducting Employee Background Checks – Why Do It and What the Law Allows.

Depending on your business type, you might consider asking seasonal workers to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement or contract of employment.

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

5 Ways to Become an Indispensable Freelancer and Earn More Money From Your Clients

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 4, 2012 Updated: September 23, 2016

If you’re a freelancer, independent contractor or consultant, scaling your business can be a challenge. After all, it’s just you. Business development and finding new clients takes time and effort, and there’s no guarantee you’ll secure the rate, volume of work or long-term relationship you need to sustain your business.

For many freelancers, success and more income come from nurturing and deepening relationships they already have. Here are some ways you can do this:

1. Make Yourself Indispensable

There’s a fundamental difference between a freelancer hired for one-off jobs and a freelancer who builds deep and broad relationships with each client. The latter comes from making yourself an indispensible part of your client’s team and as invested in their success as they are.

Use your knowledge of your client’s business goals to pitch ideas and suggestions they may not have thought about for current or future projects. So, instead of simply receiving a brief and running with it, you’re demonstrating that you not only know your stuff but that you’re committed to their success. From there, a stronger relationship will follow and there’s a good chance you will become their “go-to” person. 

2. Step Up Your Role

In addition to making yourself indispensible, think about ways you can take on additional tasks that involve more responsibility, such as managing virtual teams or taking the lead on a key project.

For example, if you are a blogger, there’s a good chance you have an in-depth knowledge of a certain topic that matters to your client. Are there ways you can grow your role? For example, could you take on web content development (since you are familiar with your subject and the language and messages that resonate with your client’s target audience)?

While you may not get an immediate rate hike for doing this type of work, you stand a good chance of being locked in to larger projects over longer periods of time while building your indispensability.

3. Be Consultative

A good freelancer will keep an eye on industry and market trends and stay up to the minute on new tools and best practices. However, a very good freelancer will bring these to the attention of the client and suggest ways to jump on them.

Being consultative is about knowing your client’s needs and pitching solutions that will solve their problems. If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking, “my client should be doing this,” then go for it. Bring it up on an informal call or the next time you meet.

4. Follow Up Like You Mean It

Don’t become the freelancer who completes one project and leaves it at that. Even if you’ve wrapped up a project and been paid, there’s a pretty good chance your client will need you again.  Be sure to follow up a month or so after you’ve completed a task. It sounds obvious, but in the rush and buzz of self-employment, it’s very easy to forget what happened last month and get buried in the now.

Be very specific in how you word your follow-up and demonstrate that you are invested and available. Did the client mention goals for the future? Were they waiting for their budget to get approved? Ask how the project you worked on panned out. All these questions imply that you have a good view of their business and care about helping them achieve their goals.

Be persistent. Just because there isn’t an immediate need, there may be one 3-6 months from now.

5. Propose a Bonus Structure

Now, don’t expect a bonus for delivering your work on time or exceeding expectations – this should come standard if you expect to succeed as a freelancer. But if your client asks you to get involved in work that directly impacts their bottom line, then proposing a profit-share or bonus tied to performance might be worth considering (although be sure to apply this on top of your standard rate).

For example, if you are a writer and are asked to assist with writing a large proposal that could mean big business for your client, could you ask for a 10 percent bonus on top of your agreed project rate? If you are a marketing consultant and are tasked with managing a lead-generation campaign or launching a new product, why not propose tying the performance of the campaign to your compensation?

This type of approach is really best reserved for clients to whom you have already proven your value and indispensability.

How have you grown your freelance revenues? Leave a comment below or start a discussion below.

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About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Honoring your Shipping Claims – What the “30-Day Rule” Means to your Online Business

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 29, 2012

Do you sell products online or over the phone? Did you know the law requires you to honor any claims you make about your shipping policies and proactively notify customers about delays?

Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule (also known as the “30-Day Rule” by direct marketers) was prompted by the massive increase in online shopping over the past decade and spells out the ground rules for making promises about shipments, notifying consumers about unexpected delays, and refunding consumers' money.

If you are an online merchant or thinking of becoming one, here’s what you need to know:

What Does the 30-Day Delivery Rule Require?

Complying with the “Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule” will ensure you don’t have the FTC on your case, but it also makes good business sense. Being open and proactive about your delivery policies and problems that arise from depleted inventory and other issues will make for happier customers – which means a greater chance of repeat business.

Here’s what the rule requires of online merchants, as well as any merchants who take orders via the phone or fax:

  • If you commit to a specific shipping timeframe after an order is placed on your website or through marketing materials, then you must have a reasonable basis for making this claim. A “reasonable basis” means that you can show evidence you have anticipated demand and have the inventory, and that you have a fulfillment processes and order records necessary to ensure items are shipped in accordance with your claims (read more about this from the FTC).
  • If you make no shipment statement, you must have a reasonable basis for believing that you can ship within 30 days of receipt of an order. That’s why direct marketers sometimes call this the "30-day Rule."
  • If you can't ship within the promised time (or within 30 days if you made no promise), say for example, if demand was unexpectedly high or your suppliers have let your down, you must notify the customer of the delay, provide a revised shipment date and explain their right to cancel and get a full and prompt refund.
  • If within the 30-day window you have notified the customer of a “definite delay” (i.e. you can state when the item is expected to ship) but have not heard back from that customer with a refund or cancellation request, then you can treat the customer’s silence as consenting to the delay.
  • For “indefinite delays” and any subsequent delays after the 30-day period you must get the customer’s written, electronic or verbal consent to the delay. If that isn’t given then you must issue a refund, even if the customer didn’t ask for one.
  • You also have the right to cancel an order you can’t fulfill in a timely manner. However, you must notify the customer of this decision and make a prompt refund.

Dealing with Unexpected Demand? 

If demand for a product is greater than anticipated and it’s impacting your shipping claims, the Rule does offer some leeway:

  • If you are proactive and see that demand is creating a problem, you can change your shipment promises up to the point that a consumer places an order – if you are confident you can honor that new shipping date/claim. This will override any previous promises and reduce your need to send delay notices – although you must alert customers of the new shipment date(s) before you take their orders.
  • As stated above, if you can’t ship within the originally promised timeframe you must let your customers know with a delay option notice – this can be sent via email, phone or fax.

More Information

The FTC website provides more information about the “30-Day Rule” including FAQs, advice about good record keeping, and where to go for help if you have additional questions.

Related Blogs

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

How to Make a Social Media Plan for Your Business

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: August 22, 2012 Updated: February 12, 2016

Online buzz about social media for business owners seems to be moving from “Should I” to “How do I?” I’ve been working on this a lot lately as part of my work on planning, and I’ve developed this process for a specific social media plan for small business:

Start with strategy

Define how your social media serves your business. Usually that’s in the marketing area of the business related to branding and awareness at the top of the marketing funnel, but it can also be focused on other business functions. For example, airlines are using Twitter for customer service, food trucks are using it for delivery by tweeting locations, and consultants use follower and like counts to validate their expertise.

Strategy is focus, so you need to sort through the different social media options. Community management expert Megan Berry of LiftFive in New York says, “Facebook tends to be more personal, so if a product is fun and consumer oriented, then Facebook is really good. Twitter has the advantages of public searches, and business searches, so you can see how much a given topic matters. Google+ is mostly techies, photography, and people who work at Google.” I think of LinkedIn as more about careers than specific businesses, and Pinterest as great for photo collections. You can’t do it all and the fastest road to failure is trying to please everybody, or do anything.

For purposes of illustration, my examples in the rest of this post focus on Twitter and use the terminology of Twitter. That’s just to make the narrative easier to follow.

Add specific tactics

The strategy means nothing without specific tactics. In social media that means making some practical decisions. For sake of illustration, imagine a manufacturer of environmentally better construction materials selling to a local market looking at Twitter. Here are some tactics to work through:

  • What accounts to follow: In our example, of course we’d follow people tweeting about homes, green construction, construction materials, architecture, and the building industry. Maybe also small business, small business management, and local business. Gardening, landscape architecture? We should also follow people representing the old-fashioned methods our green construction replaces, and yes, all of our competitors. And we’d definitely want to follow industry leaders, the best blogs, and media people for our industry.
  • What content to tweet and retweet: In our example we’d tweet about green building, construction, architecture, and homes for sure, to build a content stream that would attract like-minded people. We’d probably also tweet about local events, local businesses, and local people to attract local connections. But we would never offer content promoting the old-fashioned ways or our competition. We would set up programmed searches for hashtags like #green and #greenbuilding, #homes, and #greenhomes.  (Hashtags are a Twitter feature people use to aid searching for topics. People offering content include them in their tweets, so people searching can find them).
  • What to watch out for: We should set up searches to catch any mention of us especially, of course. Also, mentions of our competitors, substitutes or competing products, and (as much as possible) local building issues.
  • When to reach out: We’d want to watch for media people and issues that could create media opportunities for us, like interviews with the founder, or reviews in blogs or trade magazines. Reaching out in Twitter means either tweets mentioning specific handles or direct messages to specific people.
  • How to reach out: We’d want to reach out correctly and respectfully, only for specific cases and specific people. Direct messages should ever look or feel or act like spam.

Add Specific Metrics, Milestones, and Tracking

Your strategy and tactics are of no use without concrete specific steps, measurements, and tracking.

In our Twitter-oriented green construction materials example, we’d want set objective and trackable numeric targets for how many:

  • accounts to follow
  • new follows to add each month
  • tweets per day, week, and month
  • retweets to send
  • retweets we want to receive
  • followers we expect to add per month
  • leads we should get
  • web visits tracking from our tweets, retweets, and Twitter profile 

And for our review meetings, we’d want to start with actual numbers for each of these measurements. Then we’d review these results and discuss changes to the metrics, tactics, and strategy.

And that, all together, is a plan.

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, 'Lean Business Planning,' 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .

Can You Use or Reproduce the Work of Others on Your Website or Blog?

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 22, 2012 Updated: September 21, 2016

Ever wondered if you can legally re-use or reproduce copy or content created by someone else? Whether you’re writing a blog, creating copy for your website, or using an image in your marketing materials – here are some tips to help understand what the law allows:

The Lowdown on Copyright

Intellectual property law is an interesting area. For example, did you know that copyright is granted the moment a piece of work is written, recorded or created? Copyright, unlike trademarks or patents, does not typically need to be formally applied for and is a general right provided by U.S. law to authors of "original works of authorship." More facts on copyright are available from StopFakes.gov and Copyright.gov.

Does that mean you can reuse or copy the work of others without consequences? Well, no.

Once someone has posted their work on the Internet – whether it’s on their website, YouTube, Flickr, or even original social media content – you generally need to request permission if you want to reproduce it. Why? Copyright law expressly prohibits you from reusing that content without permission from the author. It’s not enough to simply attribute or credit the work to an author, photographer, or videographer. Without permission, you are vulnerable to infringement lawsuits, especially if you are using the copyrighted content to drive traffic to your website or for other commercial purposes.

What About Creative Commons and Other Clearinghouses?

Many people want their content to be re-used by others, which is where the concept of Creative Commons comes into play. Creative Commons, a non-profit organization, allows content creators to give permission to the public to share and use their creative works, based on conditions of their choice – otherwise known as a Creative Commons license.

As a member of the public, you can search the Creative Commons site by keyword and find blog content, images, videos and more that you can use legally, as long as you abide by the specifics of each license.

In addition to sites like Creative Commons, you can also source images and works from licensed clearinghouses such as iCopyright, Copyright.com, Corbis, iStockPhoto, and GettyImages – for a fee. 

If You’re Not Sure – Always Ask for Permission

As mentioned above, if you are looking to use or reproduce content for commercial purposes (on a business website, blog, or marketing collateral) it’s always a good idea to ask the author first. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, it will ensure your use of that content falls under the proper and legal terms and conditions. Some authors, for example, restrict commercial use; others may not wish you to embed videos or have specific permission requirements when it comes to linking to content.  It’s always better to ask.

Related Resource

Useful Article

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Use the “Dog Days” to Rethink Your Marketing Strategy

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: August 14, 2012

 

Is August a slow season for your small business? For many of us, business slows down as the days heat up. Fortunately, that makes the rest of this month the ideal time to use your downtime productively by reassessing your marketing strategy. Determine what’s working and what isn’t, and revamp your approach for the rest of the year.

Here are some areas to consider:

Has your target market changed? Maybe your customers are getting older, moving out of your area or spending less on what you sell. Is there a new target market you could focus on to pick up the slack? How could you adjust your product or service mix or branding message to effectively reach out to new customers, or recapture those who used to buy from you but have stopped doing so?

What’s your competition doing? Assess your closest competitors—both large and small, online and offline. How are they marketing their businesses? What are they doing differently or better than you are? What marketing tactics could you employ that they aren’t using? Are they targeting markets you’re ignoring, or are there markets they’re neglecting that you could capture?

Has your industry changed? Keeping up-to-date with your industry association’s news, training and conferences will help you stay abreast of the latest marketing trends for businesses like yours. Take advantage of free or low-cost resources your industry association may offer to help you learn the latest marketing tactics. Take note of industry best practices for marketing and learn from them.

Have your marketing goals changed? Maybe it’s time to adjust your marketing goals. (You do set measurable goals, don’t you?) What return on investment do you expect to get from each of your marketing efforts? Are certain parts of your marketing plan exceeding your goals while others fall short? Consider pulling back on the areas that aren’t paying off and putting greater focus on those that are.

What resources will you need? Do you have adequate resources (time, manpower, money) to carry out your marketing plan? If not, you’ll have to make adjustments, whether that means hiring, reapportioning budgets or changing your plans. Now more than ever, successful marketing requires turning on a dime, so be prepared to make changes to your plans quickly, and set aside a portion of your marketing budget to handle the unexpected.

What does the future hold? This time last year, no one could have predicted the extent to which mobile marketing and mobile shopping would affect the 2011 holiday season. Are there similar game-changers in store for your industry in the coming year? Think like a futurist and examine the market trends affecting your customers, your region and your industry. How could these trends play out in the next 12 months, and how will that affect your marketing?

Assessing your goals, needs and results, then adjusting your plans appropriately, will enable you to fine-tune your marketing strategy for success the rest of the year. Now, that’s a summer well spent.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades

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