box

So you are looking to start a business.  You don’t have a lot of money to lease out a store front and you don’t want to use your personal residence for privacy purposes.  What can you do?

The best affordable option is to obtain a suite box.  A suite box is a LEGAL business address which you can use for your small business!  You may have a local post office or UPS store in your neighborhood that you can rent a suite box from.  Prices vary depending on your geographic area.   You can expect to pay between $5 to $20 per month depending on your exact location!  Many locations will have better prices if you commit to a longer term, (such as a year).

Its important that you get a suite box and not a PO box.  While you may have never known there is a difference between the two, there actually is.  A suite box has a person at the physical address during normal business hours.  A PO box does not have a person at the physical address during normal business hours.  This is the difference between a Legal and Illegal business address.  If you are not 100% sure, you can ask at the location where you are planning on renting a box what the classification is.

Quick and easy way to obtain a LEGAL address for your business!

Google-Business-Listings

Yesterdays Blog was about how to set up your Google Business Page.  If you did not read that Blog yet, CLICK THIS LINK >>> http://blog.promarketme.com/how-to-list-your-business-on-google-what-to-include/ before reading this blog.

Today’s blog will focus on what content you should START with in filling out your business page.  I capitalized START because you should be consistently adding content to your Google Business Listing Page.  This is just a good place to begin and will zero in on the types of pictures you need to include on your Business Listing Page.

  • First you will need to create a good profile picture.  This will show up in a highly visible spot on your Business Listing.  Be sure to take a clear picture.
  • Next, upload your logo.  You want to showcase your logo on your business profile and begin creating your online brand recognition from Day 1.
  • Load a background photo of your best work.  A background photo will take up a good amount of space on your business listing.  Showcase your work and make it stand out!
  • Display Interior pictures of your establishment.  Take a few pictures with customers at your place of business.  (Be sure to get his/her permission)  Create a visual for potential customers as to what they will experience in your establishment.  Three pictures is a good number to start out with.
  • Take three pictures of the exterior of your business.  Take pictures from different angles of your place of business.  Its also a good idea to take pictures during different times of day.  Start with three pictures of your exterior.
  • Show your customers a variety of service and product pictures.  If you have products, upload pictures of them.  If you perform services, be sure to take pictures of the different types of jobs you perform.  You can start with 5 pictures in this category.  As you continue to expand your clientele and scope of work, be sure to update your picture gallery.
  • Finally, take pictures of your team.  Together Everyone Achieves More, Team, the people that make your business run.  Take casual pictures and create an atmosphere that potential customers can relate to.  Three pictures would work well in this genre.

Now you are covered in the picture Category for your Google Business Listing!  Be sure to check back tomorrow to learn more about what you need to add to your Google Business Listing Page!

Urban Micro Farming

Photo Taken by D. Wildermuth of Pro Market Me Inc. - Landscape Connection Design
Photo Taken by D. Wildermuth of Pro Market Me Inc. – Landscape Connection Design

What is urban micro farming?  Urban Micro Farming is the growing, processing, and distribution of food or livestock within and around urban areas with the goal of creating an income stream.  Urban Micro Farming has been growing in popularity and starting to catch on across the United States.  With more people learning about the harmful side effects of glyphosate and the health risks of eating GMO’s, the Urban Micro Farming revolution provides a safe alternative to the health conscious, entrepreneur minded, and community oriented!

You may have also heard the term, “Farm to Table.”  This is where a Urban Micro Farm provides an agriculture product and directly sells it to the consumer with no middle man!  Surprisingly enough, many Micro Urban Farms started off in back yards as hobbies.  Many men and women wanted to eat healthier, save money, and garden as a form of therapy.  In fact, the CHTA states that, Horticultural therapy uses plants and the natural world to improve the social, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of individuals who participate in it.”  Slowly, what started off as a hobby for most people turned into profitable businesses!

And the best part, you don’t need a lot of money to start!  A few containers, seeds, and water will do the trick for you amateurs.  Get your hands dirty and become one with nature!  You will be surprised how easy it is to grow your own delicious food!  If you are already a landscape company, this is an excellent add-on to your business!

linux

Starting a business can be expensive.  There is a lot of up front cost which business owners recoup years down the road if ever.  Even the first 2 years of business weeds out 80% of new entrepreneurs who don’t have the stomach to deal with the long hours and negative cash flow.  Computers and software tends to be a HUGE expense for most companies.  You can easily spend upward of $10,000 without blinking an eye.  There is an alternative route where you can purchase your computer inexpensively and run all of your software for FREE!  (And its not illegal)  Today’s blog will focus on this alternative software to help keep your business expenses down will giving you the tools you need to achieve!

The majority of computers run off of Microsoft products.  Windows has been the operating system factory installed on PC’s for decades.  Licenses for windows are expense, software costs a fortune, and now many programs or moving towards costly monthly subscriptions.  Mac computers are the 2nd most popular options in the US.  OS X is a solid operating system with few viruses and bugs.  However, these computers this operating system runs on can be expensive and there are glitches when trying to work cross platform  with many PC’s.  There is a 3rd option.  And its called Linux.

The primary difference between Linux and many other popular contemporary operating systems is that the Linux kernel and other components are free and open-source software. Linux is not the only such operating system, although it is by far the most widely used.  Larger countries such as China and India use Linux as the preferred operating system.  In fact, traditional operating systems which are popular in the US are illegal in China due to backdoor security concerns.  The fact that Linux is FREE and offers open-source software gives you the freedom to use just about any program that runs on a PC or Mac for FREE!  (and that’s one of my favorite 4 letter words).

Here are a few examples of Popular software options which cost money and the Linux FREE counterpart:

  • Microsoft Office – On Linux you can use Kingsoft (WPS-Community), OpenOffice, KOffice, Siag Office, Libre Office
  • Microsoft Word – Linux offers OOWriter, KWord, LaTeX
  • Microsoft Excel – Linux provides OOCalc, KSpread
  • Quicken – Linux has GnucAsh, KMyMoney, CrossOver, Office with Quicken, Lazy8ledger
  • Dreamweaver – Linux rocks out with OOWeb
  • Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader –  Linux showcases Adobe Acrobat Reader, Xpdf, Kpdf, Ghostview
  • Skype – Linux brings Linphone to the table
  • Adobe Photoshop – Linux displays a multifunction software called GIMP

Most of the world runs on Linux because its open source, Free, and provides opportunity for all people on all income levels.  And now Linux is even reaching out into the Smartphone and Tablet game!  Ubuntu is one of the leaders in the Free Open Source game.  If you are interested in looking further into this FREE technology for your personal use or business, check out the website here:  http://www.ubuntu.com/ .

Thanks for reading

It’s an age old questions many businesses wonder about.  Should you include or offer a warranty on your product of services?  What should you include?  Today blog will go into some detail about this question.

Photo By D. Wildermuth of Pro Market Me Inc.
Photo By D. Wildermuth of Pro Market Me Inc.

Many larger companies offer warranties on products.  For Example, Nike warranties sneakers such as the Nike Air Jordan “Breds” pictured above for defects.  However, they will gauge the amount of credit you will receive to purchase new Nike products by how much tread is left on the bottom of the sneakers.  This is to differentiate a warranty issue with normal long-term wear and tear.  Here’s the catch, it only costs Nike about $5 to make this pair of shoes which currently sells well over $300!  There is certainly a large enough margin to work with here for Nike.

But what if you are a small business?  Is it a safe bet for you to warranty products or services?  What if people abuse the system?  Here are a couple of pointers.

  • If you are performing a service, offer a warranty contingent on your continued maintenance of the property or product.  For example, if you are installing a new landscape, offer a 1 year warranty contingent on a weekly service contract.  This will assure you that everything is being performed as its supposed to be.  If you are not maintaining the property after your design is completed, you will have no way of knowing whether or not your customers are executing the appropriate maintenance techniques for your design to strive.  You can do everything right with your design and it can fail due to neglect.  Protect yourself!
  • Be sure to include a disaster and act of god clause in your warranty.  Lets say you just installed a new floor.  You were paid and the customers were happy with your work.  You offered a three year warranty. A few weeks later, the house flooded and damaged some of the flooring.  The customer now is coming back to you stating that your product is failing and wants it redone under your warranty.  Your disaster and act of god clause will protect you in this type of situation.  Be polite, sympathetic, and lead your customers in the right direction in contacting their home owners insurance or renters insurance company to resolve the issue.  Let them know that you will be more than happy to fix the damage once the insurance company settles your customers claims.
  • Be sure to detail EXACTLY what your warranty covers.  Does it cover parts, labor, service calls, etc?  Many air conditioning companies warranty new units.  If there is a failure in one of the central air systems within the warranty time, that air conditioning company will swap out the faulty units and be reimbursed for the units from the manufacturer.  Sometimes the labor and drive time is covered by the manufacturer.  Other times its not.  As an HVAC company its important to write a detailed breakdown for your customer of exactly what the warranty entails and the specific length of time.  This is especially true when just starting out when cash flow is tight.  This is true with all lines of work!

I always like to offer warranties to my customers as long as its fair for BOTH parties an I am protected as well!  Be thorough and detail oriented with the language of the warranty.  I find many customers like the fact that I am willing to stand behind my work.  Thanks for reading.