Choosing the Right Business Brokers

Whether you’re buying or selling a business, having a broker on your side can make the difference between a successful outcome and a nightmare. However, not all business brokers will be suitable for your specific situation. Use the tips below to choose the right broker for your needs.

Start by asking for referrals from your inner circle of business advisers and colleagues. Have any used a business broker in the past? Were they satisfied? Does the broker handle the type of transaction you have in mind?

You may need to widen your net to find a pool of qualified business brokers that specialize in brokering deals such as yours. Once you have several potential brokers, it’s time to get down to business and narrow the field down. Below are several key factors to consider:

– Is the individual or firm professional? Professionalism shows in numerous ways including personal appearance, the presentation of marketing materials, website, language, mannerisms, and expertise. Use both objectivity and your gut instinct. Remember, the broker you choose will be representing your business so make sure you’re fully comfortable with the person and firm you choose.

– Does the broker have experience working with businesses like yours? While it’s not necessary for the business broker to have specific experience in your exact niche, it’s helpful for the broker to understand the nature of your business and have experience brokering deals with similar characteristics. For example, if you run a family-owned microbrewery, a broker with a successful track record brokering deals for small wineries, family-owned specialty food manufacturers, or small brewpubs may not know the finer points of brewing beers but could be an excellent choice thanks to experience with similar businesses.

– What qualifications does the broker have? Look for licensing, education, certification, experience, and membership in professional associations.

– Is the broker well prepared? In other words, did the business broker do his or her research prior to your initial meeting? Brokers use comparable sales, business and industry reports, and other tools to price businesses. Your business broker should be able to support any suggested listing prices, which should be presented in writing, with documentation.

– If you are selling your business, find out how the broker intends to market your business. Brokers have many marketing tools available to market their business listings. However, some prefer to use specific marketing techniques over others. Make sure to ask the broker to present a detailed marketing plan.

– What type of businesses does the broker work with? For example, if your business has annual revenues in the $50 million range, you’ll need a special type of buyer making it important to choose a business broker capable of attracting those high net worth individuals and investors.

– Check references. No matter how professional, personable, experienced, qualified, and prepared potential broker appear, cover your bases by checking references. Ideally, the broker should give you references from businesses with similarities to yours.

Choosing the right broker to sell your business or help you find a business to buy is a process. Do your part to ensure a successful outcome by choosing wisely.

How to Choose an Online Printing Service for Business or Personal Needs

Ordering you personal or company printing work online is the best way to go these days. Companies like Vistaprint and others have refined the ‘web to print’ business model to the point where offline providers find it difficult to compete. Online printing is not only more convenient than other options but it is also more affordable and offers most people a better product selection than they would otherwise get.

Whether you need business stationery and promotional materials or wedding invitations and greeting cards, you’ll find that the range of product offerings with online printers is huge. However, with the growing number of firms out there online offering printing services it can be hard to know which one to choose. In the following articles we have set out some ideas to help you make an informed decision.

Firstly, you want to find out some basic details about a printing company and who is behind it. Look for information on their site relating to how long they have been in business and where they are operating from. Do they have decent telephone support if things go wrong?

Pricing is the most important consideration for many but don’t let this be the only factor to influence your decision. The companies that offer the best products and services are usually a little more expensive. You may get better value with them than you would with a low cost provider that will mess you around or rip you off entirely. You can easily compare prices as most online printing companies feature a price estimate calculator on their site. You’ll find that there is a considerable range of prices for many commonly printed business and personal items so it is worth checking out at least four or five companies to get an idea.

The selection of products and services on offer is important. A printing company must be able to provide what you need in terms of the product type, specifications and volume. If you need a wide variety of printed materials for your business then it will be convenient if you can get everything from one supplier.

Many offer additional services like the popular mailing service where they will send your printed materials directly out to your clients, hot off the press. Some will even sell you a targeted mailing list if you don’t have your own database.

Find out if a printer offers offset or digital printing. Offset is usually the better of the two when it comes to quality although you will pay more for this unless you order a decent volume. Most online printing companies give some details on their websites about their printing operation and the kind of printing they are capable of.

Give some though to the design of the materials that you need printed. At a minimum you will have to be able to upload your designs to the site. It is also nice to work with a printer that offers you DIY options like design tools and templates. Some also have their own in-house designers if you need something specific.

Some online printers will charge you to proof your artwork to make sure that it is ready to go to print. Others offer this service for free.

Requesting a sample is usually made easy as most online printing companies have a form on their site for you to complete for this. If you have time you may as well have them mail samples out so that you can verify the quality.

Make sure that you are aware of the turnaround time for your order. This is the time that it takes for your order to be printed and ready for shipping. Delivery time is how long your order takes to arrive at your address from the time it is dispatched. Allow plenty of time if you need your printing done before a deadline on the off chance that there is a delay with your order.

Before hitting the order button make sure that you are aware of a company’s refund and satisfaction guarantee policies. Read the find print on their site and make sure that it is fair. Most printers on the web will avoid issuing refunds or doing complimentary reprints unless the order had errors that were their own fault. It is therefore critical to ensure that your order is proof read and checked several times to ensure that it is correct in every way.

Lastly, you should do some research online to find out what other customers have said about a specific company. There are numerous blogs, forums and consumer feedback websites out there that people will turn to if they feel that they have had exceptional service from a printer. There are also consumer complaints websites and the Better Business Bureau for those that feel that they have not been treated fairly. If the printing company that you have in mind has a lot of good reviews then go ahead. If, on the other hand they have had a lot of complaints posted about them then you should think twice.

Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need a System to Keep in Touch With Contacts and Build Sales

Many small business owners know keeping in touch with their contacts is an important part of their marketing plan. However, all too often, keeping in touch is a sporadic effort. Sending birthday cards or an e-mail newsletter is something that can be done “later.” The problem is “later” never comes. 

Small business owners need to build a marketing calendar that includes when and how each person (or group of people) is going to be contacted.  The best way small business owners can keep on top of their contact efforts is to have some type of system in place.  The system should be as easy and as automatic as possible.
  
There are many software tools you can use to organize your contacts.  Microsoft Outlook and Excel are great programs.  With either of these, you can merge with Microsoft Word to create phone lists, mailing labels and personalized letters. More sophisticated contact management programs you can purchase include ACT! and Goldmine.  
 
Marketing Tools for Keeping in Touch
 
There are a variety of different marketing tools small business owners can use to keep in touch. Here are just a few ideas.
 
E-mail newsletters are a great way to communicate with a large group of people. There are a number of great on-line resources available for e-mail newsletter creation and management. Use e-mail newsletters to provide product information, announce sales, and promote special events. 
 
Real greeting cards (the kind that come in an envelope with a stamp) are great marketing tools to use at Christmas, birthdays and other times of the year.  In fact, the best time a small business owner can send a greeting card is when there is no real reason to send a card! A card sent in August will be remembered much more than one sent in December.

Savvy business owners know that phone calls, personal visits and lunches are always appreciated. The key there is to remember the marketing message when scheduling those calls or visits. Yes, having coffee with a long-term client is great. But be sure to let the client know that you have a great new product that can dramatically help him or her. Too often business owners get wrapped up in the social aspect of personal visits and forget to ask for more business!

The most important part of any system is using it regularly.  If you are very busy, or have a hard time working with schedules, you are better off delegating or outsourcing.  If you have an assistant, that person can print letters, write e-mails, even sign Christmas cards for you.  That leaves you free to work on other areas of your business.

If you don’t have any help in your office, outsourcing is the answer. There are a number of local and on-line services that help business owners with their marketing. Or, try using a virtual assistant.  The marketing money you spend to outsource these routine tasks will be repaid many time over with the new business you get.

Remember — the key to a successful system is to have it automated as much as possible. The less work you have to do, the more likely it is to be done on time, and the more likely you are to get referrals!

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