The Monday Five: Quick Hits for Your Small Business

Happy New Year! We’re back in the office and hitting the pavement running. Are you?

Whether you’ve already set out your business goals for 2011 or are still refining them, if you’re like us you might be spending this week thinking about the big picture. Here’s some food for thought as you plan your year:

5 Easy Strategies from Carrie Thru for an incredible 2011. Easy yes, but effective and often overlooked!

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Expand Your Small Business Reach with Group Discount Sites

grouponDo you wake up every morning and check your inbox to see what the latest online deals are? If so, you’re like me – and I’m starting to think I have a problem.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, then you haven’t yet been exposed to the wonder of the Group Discount Site, such as Groupon, TeamBuy, and LivingSocial just to name a few.

These websites work by offering a city-specific, limited-time deal (typically one a day) which must be purchased by a minimum number of people to make it happen. The deals are delivered by email each day and usually offer more than 50% off a product or service, so they almost always sell enough to push the deal through.

What does this mean for your small business? To put it bluntly – a HUGE influx of customers.

Consider this – your business offer gets delivered directly to the inboxes of thousands of people who are looking for great deals. Not only that, but these deal sites encourage their subscribers to refer their friends and reward them for referrals that purchase deals. You get to capitalize on the social nature of the site to expand your reach even further.

The diversity of the types of businesses using this type of promotion is impressive. Through these sites, I’ve bought everything from diving lessons, to house cleaning, to wine making to dining out.

Bottom line – if you’re looking to grab new customers, a group discount site might be a great option for you. Just make sure that you decide how much business you can handle and set a limit on the number of deals you’ll put up for grabs. Some of these businesses are now backed up for months!

Have you promoted your business on a group discount site? Or, have you signed up for one? What kind of deals appeal to you?

Website of the Month: BombshellStamps.com

bombshellWhat do you get when you combine a creative business mind, rubber stamps, and cheeky retro humor? The answer is our Website of the Month: BombshellStamps.com!

The brainchild of Shannon Lucier, this San Diego-based small business sells vintage style rubber stamps with attitude. Shannon has been using the CityMax.com website builder since 2007, when she first created her business plan. Shannon told us her story:

“I had another company which seemed like a lot of hard work with little reward – so I did a business plan that emphasized balance: between my creative side, time I would have to invest and the income I expected to make. This took me a month of brainstorming, trying to look for a niche that hadn’t been done before.

In August 2007 I decided to go for it, and the CityMax.com tools were so extensive and clean that it was just perfect for my business. I knew nothing about HTML or how to get a website up – but it was so easy that now I have to streamline my content!”

BombshellStamps.com currently averages over 290 unique visitors daily, and generates thousands of dollars in revenue every month. She has even managed to drum up some pretty impressive publicity for her business. Shannon is currently rolling out an innovative new line of digital products for her business to help support new customer markets, rather than compete with other existing products.

Shannon was kind enough to pass on a few tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs:

“If you’re just starting out, really think through the entire aspect of your business: a business plan is so important. I gave up three different ideas that didn’t work because of money, or time. I’m proud of the fact that I planned for everything from pricing to shipping, which made it easier for myself. Those details will make or break your business.”

These are definitely sound words of advice from a veteran entrepreneur. Thank you Shannon and congratulations to you again on making our Website of the Month!