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Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Success, Technology

How to Boost Online Shop Sales: What You Need to Know

Many people who start their own small home businesses do so with the dream of turning a passion into profit. For example, you may be an artistic person who enjoys making specialty items, like handmade jewelry. Your plan is to make money selling your work online.

It’s by no means a bad idea. However, plenty of people who go this route don’t generate the sales they expect.

This doesn’t mean their work is low-quality. It simply serves as a reminder that selling items on the internet can be a challenge. There is a lot of distracting content online. Making a strong enough impression on potential customers that they decide to purchase your items isn’t easy.

That’s why you should keep the following essential tips in mind. They’ll help you boost sales at your online shop.

 

Explain the Benefits of the Product

The specifics of how you apply this tip will vary depending on what you’re selling. That said, it’s an important point to remember when adding a listing to any online shop.

Too often, the initial product headline simply tells a customer what the product is. Instead, you should focus on telling a customer what a product can do. You want to ensure they appreciate how valuable the item can truly be.

Perhaps you have a patent for a tool that you’re now selling online. Don’t merely explain what the tool is. Highlight the problem it can solve for a customer. This makes them more likely to understand why they should purchase it.

 

ecommerce

 

Don’t Let Customers Abandon Their Carts

Did you know that most online shopping carts are abandoned before a shopper ever completes a purchase? There are many reasons this may occur. Again, there is a lot of distracting content online.

It’s easy to abandon a cart when you suddenly get a notification that you’ve received an important email. A shopper may check his or her inbox, reply to an email, then get caught checking and replying to other emails. Before long, they’ve completely forgotten about their shopping cart on another website.

That’s a key reason to make sure the process of making a purchase through your online shop consists of as few steps as possible. The faster customers can check out, the greater the odds they will.

You may want to implement an automated email system that contacts a customer after they’ve abandoned a cart. Reminding them they were in the middle of a purchase makes them more likely to complete it. Obviously, you’ll need their email address, which you can get if they opt in to your email newsletter.

 

Use Professional-Quality Photos

Although everyone knows you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, many people still do so.

No matter what type of items you’re selling online, you want to make sure the pictures you include to display them look professional. If you don’t have photography experience, this may mean hiring someone to take pictures for you.

This is a smart investment. While it does cost money to hire a photographer, doing so will pay off in the long run. People are simply more likely to buy an item from you if the visual elements of your listing give them the impression that you’re a trustworthy professional.

Quality pictures can also communicate value. The price of an item will seem much more reasonable to a customer if the item looks impressive in pictures.

 

camera

 

Leverage Social Media

Social media can give you many opportunities to boost sales. For example, with a Facebook business account, you can sell directly to customers on the social media platform. Because Facebook has more than 2 billion active monthly users, this gives you the chance to reach a large base of potential customers efficiently.

Instagram can also be very helpful, particularly if you are selling visually appealing items. Leveraging popular hashtags and posting quality images can help you grow a following. Your followers will also share your content on their own accounts, doing a lot of your marketing for you.

Having a large base of followers on a platform like Instagram can be particularly helpful if you sell more than one item. A customer who has bought from you in the past is more likely to make a purchase in the future, assuming they’re satisfied with the initial purchase. Thus, a large social media following lets you target repeat customers easily.

Of course, there are many factors that contribute to the success of an online shop. Quality site design, reliable customer service, and the presence of products that customers actually want are all necessary elements. That said, these tips may be valuable to anyone who feels they aren’t making enough sales. Apply them to ensure your home business thrives.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

This Is What You Need to Do to Build a Successful Home Business

It’s no secret that not all home businesses will succeed. In truth, many different factors influence whether a business will thrive or not. Each case is unique.

Still, there are certain principles any business owner can apply to boost their own odds of success. Have you been planning to start your own small business from home? If so, keep the following points in mind. While they won’t guarantee success, following these tips can increase your likelihood of reaching your goals.

 

Be Honest with Yourself

Some people who start home businesses already have enough capital to hire extra help if they lack specialized skills. For example, if you’re starting a consulting firm but don’t know how to attract clients, you might hire someone with communications, marketing, or PR experience to help you find them.

entrepreneur

However, odds are good you won’t have that kind of money right away. That’s why you should be honest and realistic about the type of home business you can start. By honestly assessing your talents, you can narrow down your options and choose the type of business you’re most likely to succeed at running. While there’s nothing wrong with having an ambitious mindset, an unrealistic mindset can have bad consequences.

 

Do Your Research

Having an idea for a business isn’t the same as knowing that people are willing to pay for the services you offer.

For instance, if you want to offer graphic design services to other small companies in your area, you probably won’t have a difficult time finding clients. On the other hand, if your idea is too niche, finding customers could be a struggle.

That’s why you need to research the market first to find out if there is one. To start, check to see if there are other successful businesses like your own already out there. While it can be risky to jump into a market where there is a lot of competition, if you can identify successful businesses that are similar to your own, odds are good you’ll at least have a chance at success.

 

Act Like It’s a Real Business

Many people who start small businesses have other jobs on the side or a full-time job that demands their attention 40 hours a week.

As you know, you wouldn’t neglect your day job or treat it merely like a side project that didn’t matter much. You depend on the income the job provides. Thus, you take it seriously—you show up on time, put in your hours, and get your work done.

online business

This is the same attitude you should have toward your home business. While it can absolutely be difficult to devote time and energy to a home business when you already have another job, this attitude can have a major impact on your odds of thriving. Hopefully, you’re starting your own business at least in part because you’re passionate about it, so the work shouldn’t feel like drudgery.

 

Search for Inspiration

This tip may not seem as practical as the others on this list. However, it may actually play a major role in your motivation when you’re starting your business.

The fact of the matter is, progress can come slow during the early days of a home business. It’s easy to get discouraged and lose confidence in yourself as you struggle to find clients, even if you love the work you’re doing.

However, this is a natural and very common part of the process of starting a home business. Many people quit at this stage because they become convinced that their business idea is merely a waste of time and money. They stop before they’ve truly started, sabotaging their own chances of success.

That’s why it can be a good idea to search the Internet and publications for stories about other people who struggled when they first started their own business. It’s not uncommon for successful people to face numerous challenges and setbacks during the early stages of entrepreneurism. Reading their stories can inspire you and help you maintain focus.

 

Set Goals

Let’s face it: “success” is a pretty vague goal. It can therefore be helpful to clearly define what exactly constitutes success in your opinion. This will help you set specific, challenging, yet achievable goals to work toward.

These kinds of goals are important because they allow you to accurately assess your progress. If you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve, you’ll have a hard time knowing whether you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if you have defined specific goals, you can gain a more accurate perspective on how close you are to reaching success.

Unfortunately, there’s never any guarantee of success in the business world. There are simply too many factors involved to make that kind of guarantee. Following these tips, however, can put you on the right path.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Management, Marketing, Organization, Productivity, Technology

How to Use Social Media to Promote a Small Business

Starting a small home business can be a dream come true, but you’re not going to stay in business for long if people don’t know your company exists. That’s why developing and implementing a strong marketing strategy is important. No matter how good you are at what you do, you won’t succeed without finding a way to let potential clients know you’re in business.

Fortunately, there is a variety of marketing channels at your disposal, each offering its own set of pros and cons. However, in today’s digital world, a social media marketing strategy is essential. Whether you run a freelance graphic design business or a consulting service in a niche industry, using these platforms effectively will help you establish your brand, grow a loyal following, and reach new customers.

You just need to know how to start. While not a comprehensive guide to social media marketing, the following tips will help you better understand how you can leverage this strategy to reach your goals.

 

Understanding Your Options

There are several different social media platforms to consider when you first begin to market your business. It’s worth exploring the benefits each one offers. For instance, Facebook allows marketers to target specific types of users with ads. But if your business involves creating visual work (like graphic design or photography), Instagram is the place to show it off. With Twitter, you can post more often and take advantage of trending topics to reach more customers. If you’re catering to industry professionals, LinkedIn is the best place to find them.

online business

In the long run, you’ll want to maintain several different social media accounts to enjoy the unique benefits of each. At first, it’s best to start with just two so you have the opportunity to test different marketing strategies before developing a more complex and comprehensive plan.

It’s also smart to learn which platforms your target audience engage with the most. For example, if you’re targeting younger customers who aren’t professionally involved in any particular industry, LinkedIn might not be as useful to you as it would be to someone running a consulting firm.

 

Learn to Automate

Running a small business from your home involves a lot of work, and during the early stages of growth, you may not have the money to pay for extra staff. This can make devoting time to social media marketing daunting to anyone.

However, it’s not a time-consuming as you may think. While you will have to generate content and monitor your campaigns to determine which tactics are most effective, you can also implement automation tools to make maintaining a social media presence easier. These programs allow you to compose posts and schedule a date and time for when you’d like them posted automatically.

 

Be Social

To achieve your desired results, make sure to emphasize the “social” aspect of a social media marketing campaign. That means engaging with your followers by responding to questions, liking or sharing their posts, responding to comments (even a simple “Thanks!” on a positive comment can help), and even promoting the services of related businesses in your industry. While you may not want to promote another competing business, there is the possibility of finding similar businesses that aren’t in direct competition but can help you grow your professional network.

social media

For example, perhaps you offer graphic design services to other companies. These businesses could also probably use the help of web designers, bloggers, and social media marketing specialists. Promoting these kinds of businesses and engaging with them gives you the chance to network with others who can spread the word about your business as well.

 

Share Interesting Content

Don’t use social media solely to promote your own business. For the best results, you’ll want to offer your followers a variety of valuable content, from humor to current events. People are less likely to continue following your account if you’re only posting information about your services. As an example, if you run a freelance writing business for local nonprofits, you might share information about events in the area that your clients would be interested in attending. If you run a graphic design business, you can share content about how strong graphic design can help a company attract more customers.

Remember, it’s always important to monitor your campaigns and adjust your strategy when necessary. These tips will help you get started. However, social media marketing is an ongoing process. You’ll be much more likely to succeed if you’re vigilant about tracking your progress.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Success

This Is What You Need to Know about Writing a Business Plan

To create a successful small business from home, it helps to start with a business plan.

Of course, drafting such a document when you don’t have any experience doing so can seem like a challenge. How long should it be? What information should it include? Do you follow the plan consistently, or do you adjust it?

The information here should help simplify the process and help you better understand what essential information to include in an early draft.

 

Keep It Short

The initial business plan can be a “mini-plan” you use to develop a more thorough document in the future. The ideal length for a mini-plan is about 10 pages.

business record

When you’re satisfied with your mini-plan, you can expand on it to create a longer working plan that you’ll refer to during regular operations. This is important if you hire others and need them to be familiar with your goals and essential processes. However, when you’re just starting out, you can simply use your mini-plan as a basic tool.

 

Describe the Company

The business plan should begin with a section in which you describe exactly what product or service your company offers. You may think this is a simple concept you don’t need to put down on paper. However, as you flesh out the details, you’ll realize that’s not the case.

For example, perhaps you’re starting a freelance graphic design business. That’s a broad category. Are you going to design the visual elements of websites? Book covers? Albums? Company logos? Odds are good you’re going to focus on certain markets. Use the description of your company to determine specifically what those markets are.

It’s also smart to describe how your company differs from others. Why will a client choose you when they could go with another option? This exercise helps you identify the ways your business can stand out.

 

Analyze the Market

Your small business is much more likely to succeed if you take the time to analyze the market first. Identify and describe who your clients or customers will be. Explain where you’ll find them.

market research

Keep in mind that the nature of your business will have an impact on this section’s content. If you’re offering graphic design for websites, you can target clients throughout the world. If you’re focusing on graphic design for small local businesses, your market analysis should reflect this.

A crucial element of the market analysis involves studying what your successful competitors do right, as well as what they can improve on. This also helps you identify ways to stand out from the competition.

 

Calculate Funding Requirements

Calculate how much money you’ll probably need to spend on your business in the early stages. Then calculate how much funding you currently have. You can also account for funding you expect to generate, but be conservative in your estimates. This part of your business plan is simply a practical element that will help you avoid financial surprises as you start and grow your company.

You might also want to include a funding request. If you think you’ll need help from investors to get your business off the ground, use your financial projections to estimate how much funding you’ll need. Include ideas for how you’ll secure it. That may involve approaching a bank or someone with the capital you need for a loan.

Keep in mind, as you expand on your business plan and develop future iterations of it, it could be a good idea to create a separate presentation plan designed specifically to attract investors.

 

Outline Marketing Strategies

A strong marketing strategy should have its own document. That said, your business plan should include some basic information about marketing.

employees

Once you’ve described your business and the clients you intend to serve, you need to also decide how you plan on getting the attention of potential clients. This element of the plan is where you explain general ideas for reaching out to those interested in your products or services.

 

Organization of the Business

This element may not be necessary if you’re the only one involved in the business and expect it to remain that way for the foreseeable future. However, if your business will consist of a multimember team, create a chart that illustrates management’s organizational structure

This can help you more effectively grow the business when you do add new employees or departments. Knowing the overall structure helps you identify who manages who in the business.

Again, these are just the basics, but they’ll get you started. Refer to your business plan and build upon it as you build your company. You’re much more likely to succeed if you actively maintain and develop a strong roadmap.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Work at Home

This Is How You Can Design the Perfect Home Office

Starting a home business naturally involves, well, working from home.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds for some people. Many people find that, even if they’re productive at an office, remaining disciplined enough to build and grow a business from home is a challenge. It’s no secret that your environment can have a major effect on your willingness to buckle down and get work done.

That’s why it’s important to optimize your home office. Creating an environment that’s conducive to work will help you focus and ultimately grow your business much more efficiently. In order to do so, keep the following tips in mind:

 

Select the Ideal Space

If you have a spare bedroom or a room that’s being used for storage, these will obviously be the best choices for your home office. However, not everyone has an extra room—and that’s OK. You can still design a functional, comfortable home office even if you don’t have a whole room to devote to it. Whatever space you’re working with, it helps to keep certain guidelines in mind.

computer desk

First, you may be tempted to use a corner of your bedroom as your home office. For some people, this can work well because the bedroom is quieter than other rooms and typically doesn’t see much foot traffic. However, consider carefully. For many people, the bedroom is the one room that’s devoted primarily to relaxation, so you may be tempted to relax when you’re actually trying to work. Similarly, it will be difficult to switch off at the end of the day if you use your bedroom as a place to get tasks done.

You should also try to find a space that has enough room for all the equipment and materials you’ll need. Lack of organization can overwhelm some people, making it difficult to get started on a project. You’ll find it’s easier to focus on your work if all the items you need are accessible, so make sure to choose a spot where you can fit a desk big enough for all your work necessities.

Of course, it’s also important to limit distractions as much as possible. Try not to have a TV in your home office, and try not to choose a room where other tasks may distract you. For instance, some people think they’ll enjoy working in their dining room, only to find that being too close to the kitchen makes it too easy to focus on unrelated tasks, like cleaning or cooking.

 

Optimize Your Comfort

Well-designed offices are created with comfort in mind. You may not feel this is the case at your office, but there’s a good chance the layout is at least supposed to facilitate an environment where people can comfortably stay at their desks for long periods of time. That’s not always the case in a home office. People don’t realize how certain factors can boost their discomfort and impact their productivity.

For example, you want to make sure you’re seated in a chair that lets you rest your feet on the floor or another supporting surface. It’s also important to ensure your computer screen is at eye level or a little below, and that your keyboard rests at an angle where your forearms are parallel to the floor. If you can justify the expense, purchasing an ergonomic chair (the kind you might find in an actual office) with proper back support can yield productivity gains that offset the cost.

 

Focus on Lighting

Building a business takes time. Thus, you may be working longer hours than you expected at first. That’s a good reason to combine different sources of light.

goals

During the day, natural light may be enough to illuminate the space, and it’s typically the most pleasant to work in. An open window can also offer a relaxing and rejuvenating view when you need to take breaks.

On the other hand, you can’t rely on natural light if you’re working after the sun sets. One small lamp might also fail to provide sufficient lighting for your needs. If you can afford it, opt to purchase a few floor or table lamps rather than rely on the harsh, built-in overhead lighting common in many homes. These lamps provide softer light that’s easier on the eyes.

 

Limit Interruptions from Friends and Family

Not everyone has the luxury of complete isolation when they work from home. If you can’t afford childcare, for instance, you may have to accept the fact that your child will interrupt your work from time to time.

That said, you should strive to limit interruptions as much as possible. For example, if you have a pet that doesn’t need much supervision, consider closing the door so they can’t come in and distract you. Let older family members know they should only interrupt you if the issue is something they’d also interrupt you about if you worked in a traditional office setting.

You may need to explain this concept more than once to some family and friends—many people will believe that because you’re at home, you can drop your work at any time to chitchat, run an errand, or do them a favor. Explain that your work time is devoted to just that—work—and that while you determine your own schedule and can certainly take breaks, you can’t just skip out whenever. Multitasking is a myth, after all. You’ll never complete a project if you can’t devote longer, uninterrupted periods of time to it.

Experiment with different layouts and space options when designing your home office. Your first idea may not be your best. However, this is something that’s worth getting right, since your environment impacts your productivity. You want to be sure you’ve created a home office that’s ideal for growing your business.

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Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

This Is What You Need to Know about Managing Freelancers

Running a small business from your home doesn’t typically involve managing a large staff. That being said, there’s a good chance you will need at least a little help from others for certain tasks. Even maintaining a website might be the type of work you’d rather hire someone else to do.

Fortunately, you don’t have to pay them an annual salary. Instead, you could hire freelancers. Due to the Internet, finding qualified freelancers who can work for you on a project basis is easier than ever.

However, it can be a challenge to manage freelancers when you do not share an office. Ensuring that people stay on task and complete their work effectively requires communication. You might assume that staying on top of a freelancer whom you’ve never even met will be a struggle.

However, it doesn’t have to be. Just keep the following tips in mind. They’ll help you to effectively manage freelancers while focusing on other major tasks involved in growing your business.

 

Do Your Research

When posting an ad online for freelancers, you should conduct careful research on potential candidates. Sites such as Upwork, where people regularly find independent contractors for their projects, allow clients to review freelancers they’ve worked with in the past. Take your time to thoroughly vet your candidates before choosing one.

 

market research

 

This doesn’t simply involve reading reviews that other clients have left. You should clearly define exactly what skills and experience you’re looking for when seeking freelancers. Take the time to ensure that each candidate meets those requirements. Doing so will boost your odds of finding the right person for the job the first time. With a reliable freelancer, your role as a manager can be fairly hands-off.

 

Stay in Touch

Even if you don’t need to communicate often with a freelancer to keep them on task, it helps to maintain an open line of communication. You want to ensure that they know they can turn to you if they have any questions about a project. Additionally, when freelancers are made to feel that they play a valuable role in your business, they’ll typically be more inclined to take the work seriously.

Set aside time each week to check in with freelancers when they’re working on one of your projects. Don’t simply ask for an update on the status of their work, either. Thank them for their efforts and make it clear you appreciate the value that they bring to your business.

 

Set Clear Expectations Ahead of Time

Don’t be too flexible or vague when letting a freelancer know when you expect the work to be finished and what you expect them to deliver. Before you hire anyone, it’s a good idea to establish a schedule ahead of time. Setting clear expectations will ensure that you are all working to reach the same goal.

In addition, it’s a good idea to set realistic deadlines that provide you with time to ask the freelancer to make changes, if necessary.

 

Research Pay Rates

There are many different tasks you may need to hire a freelancer for at some point: web design, graphic design, blogging, editing, or photography.

 

coins

 

The amount of money you should pay a freelancer will depend on the nature of the task and the scope of the work. In order to set a fair budget, it will help to undertake some research ahead of time in order to find out what the average pay rate would be for the project you have in mind. While you want to be fair when you pay your freelancers, you also want to know that you’re not paying them more than necessary. When you and your freelancers are on the same page, managing them will be much easier.

Stay Flexible

Freelancers can be very talented. Yet, they make the choice not to take on full-time jobs for which they may be qualified. That’s often because freelancers simply like the idea of working for themselves. Thus, you should strive to remain flexible and respect their autonomy. Stay in touch with your freelancers to provide feedback and monitor their progress. You need to find a balance between maintaining communication and allowing them to focus on their work.

Again, the most important step you can take when hiring freelancers is to prepare ahead of time. When you know exactly what you’re seeking, it’s easier to find someone who will deliver without much guidance. That makes managing freelancers much easier.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Management, Productivity, Success, Technology, Work at Home

This Is What You Need to Know about Marketing a Home Business

Starting a home business is a dream come true for many people. Being your own boss and leveraging your talents to do work you care about is an understandable goal. However, it doesn’t matter how talented or dedicated you are: you can’t succeed if people don’t know about your business. This is why it’s so important to focus on marketing.

Not sure how to get the word out about your business? Don’t worry. Technology has provided small business owners with a wealth of marketing channels. The following tips will help you better understand how you can use them to your advantage:

 

Rely on Social Media

Social media platforms give you the opportunity to reach many potential customers easily. In fact, Facebook alone boasts 2.19 billion actively monthly users.

social media

Through social media, you can ensure that your existing customers remember your brand the next time they need a service you offer. After all, not everyone who might need your services will require them the exact moment they learn your business exists. However, by growing a following on social media, you’ll have a long list of people who are more likely to turn to you when the right moment does arise.

Monitor the popularity of your social media posts to learn what types of content you should share and how often you should be posting. It’s also a good idea to create a social media calendar to ensure that you stick to a posting schedule.

Just remember, social media platforms are unique because they give you the chance to interact with customers, and this helps cultivate lasting relationships. As such, you should make a point to also share other people’s content through your account. Be sure to follow others who are relevant to your industry and interact with them when they share interesting posts.

 

Partner with Others

Are you afraid your business doesn’t offer enough services to compete with bigger brands? For instance, while you may offer graphic design services to other business owners, you may wonder if you can get noticed when other firms offer web design and marketing services, in addition to graphic design.

This is an understandable concern. However, what may initially seem like an obstacle can actually be an opportunity. Partnering with other small business owners who offer services that complement or otherwise relate to your own gives you more chances to spread awareness of your brand and allows you to share in their customer base. By coordinating with these firms, you can also design and implement stronger marketing campaigns.

 

Educate Your Customers

You want to make sure that people who learn about your business perceive you as an authority in your field. One way to do this is to generate content that educates potential customers. For example, a graphic designer could create and share content like “How strong website graphic design makes the right impression on customers.”

laptop-593673_1280

The exact medium you choose will depend on the resources you have available, as well as what exactly you’re trying to teach your audience. While maintaining a blog is a low-cost option, video content is becoming increasingly popular. Video also makes it easier to share knowledge that relies on visual demonstrations.

It’s worth noting, however, that you don’t need to create all the content yourself if you don’t have the time or the ability. Hiring freelancers through sites like Upwork to generate content for you may be a better option in some circumstances.

 

Send Emails

Although technology has paved the way for many new marketing channels, studies indicate that email marketing is still extremely effective, even among Millennials.

Giving people who visit your website the option to subscribe to an email newsletter (and sending out quality content on a regular basis) is yet another smart way of maintaining and spreading brand awareness. Email is particularly useful because it lets you reach people throughout the day via a mobile device even if they aren’t near their computer.

Email is also effective because it can include “shareworthy” content that subscribers may share via their own social media accounts. This is a smart way of getting your existing customers to do your marketing for you.

Additionally, email marketing helps funnel potential customers down a journey that leads to a purchase. The fact is, not everyone who visits your site and subscribes to your newsletter will make a purchase right away. However, you can guide them to this stage by consistently sending emails that demonstrate why your services are valuable.

It’s important to understand that developing a successful marketing plan requires constant experimentation. The specific tactics that work for your business won’t be apparent right away. However, if you keep these tips in mind and monitor the results of your efforts, you’ll find that marketing your small business is much easier than you may have imagined.