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Google Maps – What is Google Maps and What Has it Got to Do With Your Local Business? Part 1 of 7

Google maps is a resource that needs to be used by all businesses as a major marketing tool, it should be used by all businesses that are aware of the power of utilizing online marketing.

With the increased use of the Internet today, and with the decrease of traditional methods of searching for products and services such as phone books like the Yellow Pages or other telephone directories, and even the use of local newspapers and publications.

Smart business owners and marketing departments will be aware of some basic facts which are, that people nowadays, particularly the younger generations use telephones, cell or mobile phones, laptops or desktop computers to not only search for a business, but also to read reviews, get directions to that business, finds discount coupons, look for special offers and also to compare competing businesses within any market. The increase of using online searches in place of the old methods has not officially been proven to be the most popular way off searching for products and services today. This trend is increasing and is unlikely to decrease, in fact, all businesses should be aware of this fact, they should be prepared to compete for the best positions possible for their businesses to be discovered online.

All businesses should be listed in the Google maps local business Center for for their town or city. The Google local business Center offers small businesses the opportunity to be found by customers even when your business is closed for the evening or during the night. The Internet is never closed, is always working, and is always being searched and as a business owner, you ought to be aware of the advantages that this opportunity presents to your business, and the opportunity that this resource can offer to your business and future.

It is very easy for any business to get listed on the Google maps local business Center, and there are many businesses that are already listed with Google maps without realizing it. The easiest way for you to find out if your business is listed already is to type in your business name, the location the type of services of product that you sell. If you are already listed you will see your business in the directory, you can find the directory by clicking on the large map shown on the first page of Google, you will notice that is a box next to the map with seven or 10 listings. Each of the seven or 10 listings represents a different geographical area of the town, city or specific geographical location that you typed in when you did your search.

Now, what most business owners do not realize, is that to be on the first page of Google under the Google maps section is prime real estate, this is valuable online real estate. Typically, the keywords and keyword phrases typed in one a customer is searching Google for a local business or service provider, these words have a high commercial intent, as opposed to browsing our research are indeed, educational intent.

To have your business listed on the first page of Google when somebody is typing for the product or service that you provide in the location of your business gives you and almost unfair advantage over your competition. In fact, I would be prepared to predict that having your business listed on the first page of Google, inside the Google maps section, within this seven or 10 box would produce an enormous boost to your business, as the search terms used by Google, when displaying a seven box or a 10 box, is highly commercial intent keywords and key phrases, and will most likely be a very popular search term with high-volume searches each day, week, or month. Google maps offers your business the opportunity to increase sales, to decrease marketing costs, to dominate the market that you’re in, and you could leave your competition wondering what they have to do to take your spot on that first page 7 box or 10 box.

The enormity of the possibilities that Google maps can offer to your business should not be underestimated, in fact, if you truly understood the value and discovered the key to getting your business listed on the first page, within the Google maps section, which we already have highlighted as being prime virtual online real estate, your business would generate more highly targeted leads for free, long-term and increase your share of the marketplace.

In the coming articles within this series we will go deeper into the opportunity presented by utilizing the Google maps, local business Center listings for local businesses.

Here are the headlines of the other articles within this series

1. What is Google maps and what has it got to do with your local business?
2. How to get your business listed on Google maps
3. Learn how your customers use Google maps
4. You can dominate your competition
5. Are you already listed on Google maps?
6. How to get on the first page of Google maps within the seven bo
7. Google maps listing and optimization packages

Business Plan For a Small Business – What Purpose Does it Serve?

One of my favorite types of projects is working on small business plans with clients. There is an air of excitement as they work out their ideas and put their dreams on paper. I always think that I might be witnessing a birth of another future corporate giant. Some of those ideas are compelling, others seem unattainable, and yet the confidence and certainty my clients exhibit leave me with no doubt that they will succeed.

The Challenge of Writing a Business Plan
As excited as these entrepreneurs are about their ideas, for many of them the actual task of writing things down in a business plan format is very hard. They would rather get started already, develop their product or service, find a location – do all the things a typical small business owner does. They have such inner clarity about every single detail and yet communicating all of it in writing – in a business plan format – seems completely against their nature. It feels too structured, almost unnecessary.

Obtaining Financing
And yet, especially it today’s world, it is necessary. Most of the time the purpose for a small business plan is to obtain financing. No matter which group you are thinking of approaching – venture capitalists, commercial lenders, potential investors – they will all want to see a formal, written business plan.

Even though many people use business plans primarily, and sometimes only, as financing tools, they tend to write them in a way that puts the venture in too optimistic a light. Even if it gets you the cash you wanted, it will not help you succeed, because if the business has not been well thought out, or if the risks are too great, it will fail.

A realistic and objective business plan that also conveys your excitement about your business idea and your confidence in reaching your goals will have a much better chance of not only getting you the financing you need, but also fulfilling the other purpose it was meant to serve:

Planning a Business
Yes, that’s it! A business plan is a “planning tool”. That is its primary function and purpose. And it does this so well that shrewd business people like investors and bankers use it to determine who will get financed by them and who will not.

And you too will benefit from using it the most when you see it as such and not only as a sales tool.

It is a structured approach to refining your ideas about your business and devising a plan of action taking into account all aspects of the future enterprise: marketing, personnel, operations and finance. It helps you translate your ideas into actionable goals and it helps to predict your financial resource needs and financial results.

As you fine tune it, you will find out that it allows you to make many mistakes “on paper” and saves you from their consequences in the real world.

Monitoring a Business
The hardest business plan to draft is your very first one. Why? Because all you have are estimates and assumptions. But after a few months of operations, you will have some real numbers and you can update your plan at that point. Planning process has to be dynamic and on-going. A plan is not something you do once and put on a shelf. If it is to you, you have not realized the tremendous value it has for your business.

It should be an integral part of your management. Use it to compare your actual results to what you were anticipating. Analyze the deviations and understand them. Perhaps what you did was better than what you planned, perhaps not. Either way, you can learn from this comparison and refine your planning and your operations even further.

Any time you plan to introduce a new product, enter a new market, change the management structure, you should first prepare a business plan for the scenario you are envisioning. And don’t think this means too much time involvement for you. After all, you are just a small business owner. You cannot behave like a large corporation with a separate planing department, right? Wrong…

Large companies have large planning departments because they have learned the value and necessity of planning, but you need it just as much, if not more, because as a small business owner you do not have the reserves that can carry you through a sales slump or a bad business mistake.

This is what I always tell my clients – small businesses need all the sophistication of large companies. They actually need it even more, they just need it scaled down and adjusted to their size.

The Bank Won’t Back Your Business Because You Don’t Have a People Management Plan

Human resources. Team. Staff. Troops. Employees. No matter what you call them, no business can succeed without the right people. Even if you are a sole trader, you’re smart enough to know that you won’t be successful at running your own dental practice if you’re a brilliant photographer. The right people with the right skills are required to work within a well-planned framework to create a successful business. So what is your people management plan?

As with most of the topics I’ve discussed in this series, a people management plan is less about the format and exact content of the plan and more about the process of thinking about the key issues that impact your business with regard to getting the right people in place to fill the key gaps in your skills set. With regard to the bank having a reason not to back you because you don’t have a people management plan, it’s all about convincing them whether or not you have the right people on board or that you are able to readily get the right people on board to be able to execute your business plan successfully.

By way of example, I was approached recently by a guy that really had a great idea for a business. He had done his homework, he had a business plan, and he had the numbers down pat. Overall, he had done a good job assessing the risks that his new venture would face. In short, he had ticked all the boxes that would lead me (and the bank) to happily backing his business – except for this one. In order to execute his plan, meet his sales targets and ultimately succeed, he needed to recruit four or five individuals that possessed very specific qualifications. He himself was properly qualified, which meant he needed to be able to find four colleagues to assure he had the personnel to pull off his plan. The sad fact of the matter was that there was no way that I could see him being able to find four people with such specific, specialised qualifications here in Southeast Queensland. In fact, my investigations revealed that he’d be doing it tough finding those four people in the whole of Australia. As a result, I had to tell him that we’d be unable to get him finance until he could prove that he had the skilled staff in place to execute his business plan.

It really is quite simple. If you don’t have the people you need, you will find it hard to get the bank to back you. If you have no people management plan, you are making your business less bankable.

When you look at your people management plan, take into consideration the following “Top Ten Considerations for Successful People Management”. Don’t you just love a good top ten list?

  1. Ask yourself “Who do we need working for us in order to effectively execute our business plan? Do we have them? If so, how do we make sure we keep them? If not, how do we get them?”
  2. Identify exactly who you cannot afford to lose. Fight for all you’re worth to keep those people and consider key man insurance on them to make sure their loss doesn’t cripple the company.
  3. Be smart about your recruiting and retention. Many businesses consider cutting staff as a first cost-cutting measure in a downturn. But you should always make hiring and firing decisions based on longer-term considerations, not just variations in the immediate market conditions. In the current environment, it would be better to err on the side of caution with staff cuts to make sure you’re not left short of skills when the economy hits full-blown turnaround mode.
  4. Communication. Talk to your people straight and do so frequently. Keep them in the loop with important strategic information. If you think your people can’t be trusted with this kind of information – get new people. Everyone has to be pulling in the same direction and that requires clear lines of communication from top to bottom.
  5. Training. Training. Training. An army doesn’t wait until it’s declared war to start training its men. Successful athletes don’t wait until the night before a big match to start training. Do it now. Do it next week too. Do it continually. And make sure you are giving your people practical skills that will help them execute your business plan.
  6. Cross training. How many people in your business can do more than one job? The more skills you can give your people, the more valuable they become to your organisation and the more satisfied they’re likely to be with their jobs.
  7. Beware of making your business a purely “family affair”. It’s true that you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your employees and, sometimes, the best choice for that critical position in your business isn’t your sister (or brother, or mother or son or daughter for that matter). Wise choices can be the difference between a successful business and a business that gives everyone a job, but never really achieves what it set out to accomplish.
  8. Have you thought about a succession plan? Who will take over the business when you are ready to hit the golf course? Do you have an exit strategy? If not, you may be stuck doing what you’re doing now for longer than you anticipated.
  9. Beware of over-reliance on yourself. You can’t do it all and you shouldn’t do it all. Even sole traders need to have trusted advisors to help guide them along the way. If you’re doing it all yourself, it doesn’t leave you enough time to dedicate to the strategic planning and analysis that is critical to business success. And besides, even business owners deserve a life.
  10. Finally, when it comes to sourcing and selecting the right people for your business, be creative. Don’t settle for “we’ve always done it that way” or “that’s the way everyone in this business does recruiting”. For example, if you want talented people with particular skills and abilities, be willing to think outside the square and be flexible with regard to the experience and background of various candidates.