So You Are Thinking About Changing Your Business Name

1. Answer these questions first:a. Does my current business name properly represent what I’m offering customers & clients?b. Have my artistic services changed since I first opened my business?c. Would a new name help open more doors for my artwork and will the change be worth all the hassles in the end?d. Am I thinking of changing my business name simply because I’m bored with the current one?e. Is my current business name too generic?I will go into more depth to help you answer these questions by taking each one and going through some of the thinking process behind them.”Does my current business name properly represent what I’m offering to customers & clients?” & “Have my artistic services changed since I first opened my business?” – Say your business name is “Alex’s Pottery” and that’s all you expected to work on when you began your business but 5 years down the road you have expanded to also working on water color paintings, sculpting. In this case your original business name isn’t completely valid anymore because most people tie your name to only producing pottery so when they’re looking for a water color painting or a sculpture they don’t even consider your business as handling such work so you decide to change your business name from “Alex’s Pottery” to “Alex’s Clay & Water Colors” which gives a better idea of the sorts of services you offer to the public. When they see the word “Clay” they automatically associate your business with handling more than just pottery and “water colors” is self-explanatory.”Would a new name help open more doors for my artwork and will the change be worth all the hassles in the end?”- Unfortunately changing a business name isn’t as simple as just choosing another name, changing a sign on the door or on your website. There are a lot of changes you have to consider when thinking of changing your business name. For example, you have to find out what the laws are in your state for changing your business name, what forms you have to fill out, filing fees for those forms, who to contact at the IRS to let them know about your name change. You have to consider the cost you’ll have when changing the business cards, website, stationary, signs to reflect your business’s new name. You also have to consider the cost of changing your marketing material and strategies so you lose as little business as possible while your name change is being accepted by the public. If you have free stuff you give to customers and clients such as free mouse pads, pens, key chains, etc. you have to take into consideration the cost of having that material changed. On the plus side though, changing your business name may just lead to increased business; if the new name you plan to use is better suited to your kind of work then that may just make all the extra work worth it in the long run.Be sure to check with your state’s internal revenue department on the steps, forms & potential costs associated with changing your business name. The procedure can be quite simple if you have a sole proprietorship but can be much more costly & difficult if you have a corporation. Some states don’t require you to register a dba name (doing business as) if you’re a sole proprietorship so it’s a good thing to check first. Also you’ll want to do this so that you can be sure the name you wish to use isn’t being used already. Then you also have to inform the Federal IRS about your name change and I’d suggest contacting them directly or going to their website to find out the procedures for notifying them. In certain situations you may also have to get a new EIN number so it’s a good thing to check into this at the same time you research the steps for notifying the federal government of your name change.”Am I thinking of changing my business name simply because I’m bored with the current one?”- NEVER EVER change your business name because you’re bored with the current name. Considering the amount of work involved in changing a business name as well as the potential cost associated with such a change, it would waste a ton of time and also waste a lot of money just to change a name based on your boredom with it. A business name isn’t something you choose lightly and the last thing you want to do is create mass confusion by changing the name without having a proper valid reason for doing so.”Is my current business name too generic?”- Sometimes a name change is a good idea if your current name is too generic. For example, you own an office supply store and your current name is “Acme Paper Hut”. With such a business name I automatically think that all you sell is paper; probably a good selection of different kinds of paper but paper nonetheless so if I need, say a new office chair, I’d probably be looking at a different store that has a more all-purpose name such as “Irwin’s Office Supply Store”. There’s no tried and true method in deciding if your name is too generic but a good rule of thumb is to send out a poll to your friends, family, business associates and see what they think about it; what comes to their mind when they hear your business’ name; things like that. This kind of feedback is invaluable in determining a new name.If you are sure you want to go ahead with changing the name of your business I recommend jotting down several different names that come to mind; spend a couple of hours on making such a list of names, then you want to check to make sure such names are not already used by other businesses and isn’t copyrighted because the last thing you want is to get into a legal matter. After you’ve come up with a few name ideas check to see if such names are available for your business’ url address. You might even consider looking for short versions of the name ideas if you come up with any name that is more than 15-20 letters. For instance, say you want to name your business “Aloisha’s Paintings, Graphic Arts & Logo Studio”; you can see how using that entire name for an internet address would be a huge mistake. For one thing, who wants to type something that long into a browser? Secondly not many people would remember all of that when it came time to entering it into their browser. My final piece of advice I’d give anyone who is thinking of changing their business name is this. If you wanted that name for your business, perhaps you could see if “AloishasStudio.com” is available. Once you’ve checked if the business names and internet addresses are available that you’ve come up with, you’ll want to cross out any that are not available and then with the ones that are available, make a small poll again and send it to your friends, family, colleagues, etc. and see which ones they prefer and why. After all, just because you like your new name doesn’t mean that customers will and what they like best is what matters if you want to make a profit or increase your business.When you have enough feedback given so that you can make an informed, intelligent decision then you will want to take the most liked names on that list and let it sit for a little while; maybe a week, maybe two or more. Come back to your list and see if you still like those ideas or if the time you’ve taken away from it has changed your mind or even given you some new ideas. Then you can re-poll with the new ideas along with whichever names you decided to keep from the first poll you took. After all, a name change is a huge step and there’s no rush in doing so; take your time with it so that when you’re done you’ve chosen the best name you could for your business and website address.Once you’ve decided on a new name for your business it’s essential that you contact ALL of your current AND past clients/customers notifying them of the change in your name as well as explaining to them why you’ve done this. If your name change won’t effect the sorts of services or products you offer then you’ll want to let them know this as well so they don’t think they need to go somewhere else for the work and products you’ve been selling. Not to mention if you offer things like website design services or SEO services, etc you don’t want them to worry that you won’t be handling these areas any further. Be sure to provide your new email address, website address & if you change your phone number, of course provide that as well; basically any contact information you’re changing you’ll want to share with your clients past and present. If it will be a few months before the changes take effect be certain to state that in your notification as well and about once a month drop them a reminder letting them know that the change will be coming in X -number of weeks or months and make it upbeat; you want them to be excited about the changes coming; you might even consider giving a discount for a certain time period once the change takes effect to entice them to check out your new website and/or store if you have a brick/mortar business. This is also a good way to attract former clients/customers because who doesn’t enjoy a discount?These steps I’ve outlined apply specifically to sole proprietors but you can also apply the majority of the tips I’ve given to partnerships, corporations, etc but make no mistake about it; for other business formats such as partnerships & corporations there are other steps you have to do in order to make the name change legal so be sure to get all the information first for your type of business.In conclusion, changing your business name is a big step and should never be taken lightly or on a whim. It is going to cost you some money and the more complicated your business is the more it may cost to make all of the necessary changes. First and foremost check with your state and country’s internal revenue department to see what paperwork & fees you need to take care of when changing a business name. Be sure to do a lot of research and testing before you decide on a switch and take your time with it; it doesn’t have to be done in a rush; the more time you allow yourself to make all of the changes correctly, the fewer problems you’re likely to have to deal with once the change is completed.

Your Business Has Growth Potential, So Take It to Your Customers, Market It!

Gone are the days where a good product or service sells itself. Yes, one could argue that its not completely gone, but relying on this method will keep your business small, in fact you might be kicked out of business from fierce competitor. That is why marketing has become an essential part of sustaining and growing businesses in today’s world. Many people dislike selling, in fact; I personally do not enjoy selling. But if you enjoy what you do and know can see its impact in the lives of others, you will get off your backside with joy and go out there telling everyone about your business.So if marketing is very important and every businessperson is doing it, how can one increase their chances of generating effective leads through marketing?Talk to more people daily about the solutions you provide -Don’t talk about what you do, but how your product/service solves a problem. Starting is always a daunting process, but remember as your do it daily, it gets easier and becomes more productive. So you can start with a small but targeted number of potential customers/Clients. For example, your end target may be to talk to at least 100 people everyday; you can start with 15 people, then increase or exceed your target number, as you get better. The more people you talk to about the help your business provides, the greater your chances of getting more clients.Attend as many business and networking events as possible -You should attend good and targeted networking events; or you can organize your own-targeted networking events. Business is about building relationships, networks and trust. People will most likely do business with someone they know and trust, and will also recommend their friends to your business due to the relationship they have built with you. Nonetheless, you should use your time wisely, so plan your week effective and make sure that attending networking events do not affect providing an efficient and timely product/service to your present client, because good service means repeat business. Therefore, plan to attend events during your idle/less busy hours and work at your busy hours. Keep it balanced!Don’t spam people with selling -I used to be part of many small business groups on Facebook, but have recently removed myself from these groups because of the constant selling. I know the owners/administrators of these group must have set up the groups for like-minded business people to network, post questions and share advice of everyday business issues, however, other members have messed it up with constant spamming. They don’t contribute, but just advertise and sell their products/services. The truth is, no one wants to be sold to all the time. So please build genuine business relationships, be a listener. When you attend business events, talk less about yourself business, rather ask questions. The good thing about asking questions is that it helps you understand the need of the individual and if you provide products/services that can help reduce or eliminate the problem, you stand a better chance of giving them that information and thus increasing your chances of a business relationship which then result in the individual buying your product or service. You also get word-of-mouth referrals via this medium.Use free listing websites and cheap paid advertising -There are free listing websites or cheap paid websites when you can advertise your business. i.e. Craigslist, Yell etc. Just type ‘free business listing websites’ into http://www.google.com and you will get the information required. Remember to only advertise solutions; don’t waffle all about your business, because your potential client is not looking to be impressed, but is looking for a product or service that will solve a problem or enhance productivity.Use social media avenue to market your business -Technologies have changed the way we do business today. The arrival of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. Has made business a lot easier and marketing cheaper. Using these mediums to advertise your business is a cheap way of getting leads, but don’t get carried away with the time spent on each platform. You must analyse your potential market and what platform they are mostly likely to be on and spend time there to market your business. Remember, no spamming, Build relationships, which then leads to business. If your potential customers are more on Facebook than twitter, then use more of Facebook and set the number of hours each day you will spend on each platform and try to measure the returns from each platform. I know this can sometimes be difficult, but getting these stats can help you strategically plan for your social media marketing and improve productivity. Remember, you can always outsource, if you lack time to do social media marketing yourself.Join offline business groups and online business forums -Offline business groups like Chamber of Commerce, Marketing consultant London group, small business groups, BNI etc. can help your business grow through referrals and networking. Joining online business forums give you a platform to network, participate in discussion, give advice and be known. As you continuously participate and provide advice, people in the group will see you as the expert and come to you when they need advice and most times, they will click on your profile to know more about you. As they do this, there is a greater chance of them clicking to your website and as you know the more visit to your website the more clients/customers you are likely to get. So when providing advice, know your subject very well and be clear and concise.Contact Organisations about speaking at events -Speaking at events give you more exposure. So browse through your local community website and check for upcoming events; call and ask to speak for free in some of the events. As you do free speaking at events and get known in your business, with time, you will be contacted for paid speaking. Remember when you speak at events; don’t sell your products/services on stage, else you lose your audience. You need to research your topic, be prepared to deliver the speech like your life depended on it and once you can capture the audience; they will come asking for your business details and how you can help them backstage at the close of event.These are my few marketing tips for small businesses; larger corporation will use radio, TV & billboard advertising. But never mind, as your business grows, you will have sufficient funds to do large-scale advertising, but in the meantime don’t waste money on marketing, only do cost-effective marketing. But don’t stop marketing because that is the channel for business growth. All the best!!!

How Can Construction Risk Assessments Boost Productivity?

The old saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. This is true for many things in life but when it comes to safety risks in construction; this old saying is just plain wrong.Traditionally construction workers had to complete piles of risk assessment forms to conduct work in a legally compliant way. This risk assessment process is required under laws not only in Australia but in most other developed economies as well. So this brings us back to the old saying: if the risk assessment process ain’t broke, then why fix it?Because it will save you time and therefore money. Here’s how.If you’re a manager of a construction business then you’ll know that OHS paperwork takes up a fair amount of your workforce’s time. This is a necessary loss of productivity as any short cuts in the process could result in serious injury or worse.Moreover, backend administration takes a hefty hit when it comes to storing the completed documents. Usually managers have to organise the risk assessments for every job and store them for up to five years in case regulators request proof of compliance or for legal proceedings should an accident occur. Again this is a costly and inefficient method of complying with health and safety regulations.Technology however, offers a solution that won’t undercut the safety of workers.It’s called risk assessment software and it’s a way completing all the necessary paper work involved but without the hassle of filing. Not only that, but the software alternative is quicker to complete than paperwork, meaning workers spend less time filling out forms and more time on the job. For more details on this aspect of construction safety paperwork, check out this case study on an Australian electrical contractor. The benefits they received from software are dynamic.Increased business productivity should never come at the cost employee health and safety but luckily with software, it doesn’t have to.So how does it work?The software alternative works by replacing the traditional paper-based method with a digital alternative. In other words, instead of writing it on paper you do it on your smartphone or tablet device.But not all software is created equal. Some just provide a digital copy of the paper work that is neither easy to use nor more compliant. Implementing new tools into your workflow is disruptive enough without the added pain of insufficient safety management software. So it’s worthwhile taking the time to research your options.What is a risk assessment and why is it important?This all may seem like just another bureaucratic loophole business managers have to jump through but when done properly, they prevent injury and save lives. Health and safety is just one piece of the puzzle.There’s more to safe operating practices than just knowing how to write a risk assessment – it’s also about boosting productivity.Before we get into that let’s take a look at just what a risk assessment is.It is step-by-step process that involves identifying hazards at work, observing who may be at risk, outlining what measures will be used to reduce the risk and reviewing and updating the document should conditions change. These documents aims to normalise safe work practices in all areas of the construction industry based on one consistent standard.Therein lies the reasoning as to why safe operating precautions are so very important. They keep workers safe and prevent injuries and deaths. Using risk assessment software may very well improve upon what is already a vital aspect of occupational health and safety.