Use a Little Bit of Land to Start a Business

make money with landIf you live on some land and need some extra money coming in, there are options for starting a business that other people also desiring more income lack.  Starting a farming based business does not require hundreds or even thousands of acres.  You can create a nice little business off even a small piece of land where ordinances don’t preclude doing so.

Check Ordinances
Let’s start our look at making money off your land, however big or small it is, by first realizing you may need to check your local ordinances to determine what is allowed.  Yes, it may seem crazy that some regulation can keep you from doing whatever it is you plan with your own property but it does happen.  Generally the idea is the regulations are there to protect people.  The validity of that claim can best be addressed in an opinion blog so it will not be covered in this article.  Just be sure that what you ultimately decide upon is legal in your area, you do not want to do lots of work and then find that you have to close it all down due to local regulations.

You Can Start Small
While it would be nice to have at least five acres to carry out some of the suggestions in this article, some can be done on as little as a few hundred square feet if you are determined and organized.  You do have to realize that a lack of space will make it much harder to scale up your business and plan for that eventuality once you find what you like to do and what has the potential to make the income you want.  This might include renting land from someone else or buying a larger parcel yourself.

While starting a business in the farming area, you might think you are limited to either raising some kind of animals or raising some type of plant, don’t neglect the entertainment aspects of farming that are available.  Perhaps the ones most known around Halloween are the pumpkin patch, the corn maze or a haunted corn maze.  A really good corn maze can be done on three to five acres and a well done pumpkin patch grown more with gardening in mind rather than farming principles can easily be created on one acre.

If you do a corn maze during late summer then you can get extra use out of it by turning it into a haunted maze in October. If you have any teenagers in the family they will love the opportunity to dress up and scare people as they go round the maze. Do not forget that there are more ways to make money than just the entrance fee, sell snacks, have a few animals in one area and charge a $1 or 2 for the little kids (who won’t care about the maze) to enjoy it.

People Will Pay For Peace and Quiet
Think of other ways you can provide entertainment to customers.  Perhaps just a restful place to spend a weekend where they can play with baby animals and soak in the country atmosphere will be just the ticket for your business. Is there a local horse riding school, or a fishing lake which you can work with to plan a whole day for people.

Many parents will be only to happy to pay for a summer camp where their kids get to spend the morning/day with animals and doing fun things in the dirt.

Add Value
Whatever you do decide to grow as part of your business, the best way to make more money is to provide a value added aspect to your product.  By this, I mean don’t just sell milk as conventional dairy farmers do.  Instead turn your milk into artisanal cheeses or ice cream.  If you raise minor or rare breeds of livestock rather than those raised by conventional farmers, you may have another benefit to add to your marketing.  For instance, some minor breeds of cattle have a higher percentage butterfat in their milk making the products you create that much better.

People will pay more for anything “organic” or “free range” , you will be able to grow less fruit or breed less chickens but the produce will go for a higher price. If everyone is selling chicken eggs, look at raising ducks or turkeys, try to be different from the norm.

There are lots of resources available from small farming magazines and even some gardening magazines that will give you additional ideas and guidance.  Start with what you think you would enjoy doing for years and start off small.  The good thing about a small farming business or many small businesses is that you can start with doing a little bit of it and then upscale as you gain experience, knowledge and income.

Business Website Tips

I run a Design Company in St George and I have built multiple business websites, everything from 1 page business card type sites through to ecommerce stores with a thousand items. By dealing with so many business owners, big and small I have seen some common threads and here are my tips for you if you are about to get a website built for your business.

Your Website Is A Tool
Like any good tool you should take the time to learn at  least the basics. Be willing to spend the money to buy the right tool (website) and maintain it.

Spend Time On It
When a web designer asks you to list five sites you like the look of it is so they can find ideas for your site design, not just to annoy you. Your website is important and taking the time to find the right info for your designer is important. All to often I see companies pass off the responsibility for the website to the lowest member of staff they can. Why would you pass what could be a major sales tool for your business off to someone who earns minimum wage?

Words Matter
When you think about a website you may well be thinking of the colors and the design, what photos to include and all these are important. However the one area that always gets left out is the wording, search engines (and customers) learn what your site is about by reading the words on the page.

If you are a plumber who specializes in repairing drains make sure you put that on the website, if you are a vet who has lots of knowledge about Llamas make that a feature of your site. Google can only decide when to show your website to people if you tell them what your business is. When someone goes looking for a Dr for their Llama they will only find you if you mention it on your website.

Take the time to write content for your website, no matter how good a web developer you use (and we are good) there is no way that I can ever know as much about your business as you do. Let your knowledge and enthusiasm shine through in your website content and your customers will feel it. Yes we can help, but you really need to be part of the process.

Not Set And Forget
Your website represents your company, so if you change phone numbers, have a new special offer, offer a new service or employ new staff put it on your website. Do not just look on it as an extra cost, look on it as an investment in your business.

Ask Questions and Answer Them
Your time is valuable, but so is mine, make sure that you not only ask questions but that you answer them. If you give the designer the information they need then you will get the best site possible.

My last tip is to talk about what you want to achieve with your site, unless you know why you want a website you will never be happy with it.

If you are ready to have a website built by professionals, call Blue Fly – (435) 767 0324

 

Your Website Is A Valuable Tool

No matter what business you are in you need a website, whether you are a plumber, a termite inspector, a Dr or a welder you need a presence on the internet that represents your company. As more and more people access the internet on their smartphone, their ipad, their TV and even their work computer your website becomes an important part of your business.

If someone searches for your business online what will they see? Do they see:-

  • Professional website with up to date information about your business?
  • Phone Number displayed where people can find it quickly
  • Photos of you at work
  • Buttons linking to your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin (and Pinterest if you are in a very visual business)
  • Up to date pricing information
  • Location information – This can be either a map of your location or a map of the areas you cover
  • Delivery information – If you deliver your items, where do you deliver, how much does it cost
  • Video – Even a home made video explaining how you can help them

Or do they see a website put together by your neighbors 12 year old featuring:-

  • So much color you need to wear sunglasses when you look at the site
  • Spelling Mistakes
  • The phone number is only available on the contact us page – or not at all
  • Information that is out of date
  • Photos featuring staff who no longer work for you
  • No opening hours, no location info
  • Slow loading speeds
  • Built with flash – looks great but the search engines hate it

Your Website Matters
You probably spent hundreds of dollars on your signage for your shop, or your truck. You spend hundreds each month to be listed in Yellow Book (you know the book we use when we need something to prop a broken chair up with), not to mention business cards, newspaper and radio ads. Not to mention coupons in the latest church or scout guide.

Yet when it comes to having a website for your business why would you  try and get it done as cheaply or as quickly as possible? Your website is going to represent your business so you need to make sure it is done correctly. You must be open to learning at least some of the lingo and think about what you need and what you like.

I hope this post makes you think before asking your next door neighbors son to build you a website. My next post will include more tips and ideas on how to get the best out of your website and we will talk about how giving information away for free may be the best way to grow your business.

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Paul Forcey is our regular guest poster and is head of SEO for the St George Web Design Company known as Blue Fly

No One Is An Expert At Everything

One of the temptations when you are starting your own business is to do everything yourself. It often seems like the cheapest and easiest way to get things done, after all who knows your business like you do?

The real problem comes when you are trying to do everything that actually goes into building a business, these are just the tasks that come to mind

  • Sales Calls
  • Fulfillment (making the products, ordering them, servicing clients)
  • Dealing with the phones – customers asking about deliveries, pre sale questions, solving problems for customers, suppliers calling about deliveries, people trying to sell you things
  • Business maintenance – office work, keeping your office space clean and working
  • Marketing – If you don’t do any marketing how can you get new clients, no new clients = no more business
  • Customer Maintenance – If you do not keep in touch with your clients, even when you are not doing any work for them there is a chance they will become someone elses client

When my wife needed someone to come out and check our garden and house for Termites she went online and called the first three companies that are listed for Termite inspections in our area. Why did she call three companies? Because the first two never answered their phones and she felt under pressure to at least get some advice right away even if she couldnt get someone to the house right away.

If you are in the kind of business where you work from your own vehicle and most business is done on a cell phone it makes sense that when you are on an appointment you do not want to answer your phone. Rather than bumping every call to your voicemail have them forwarded to a real person. In my experience customers are more likely to leave a message with a live person versus a voicemail.

If you are a one person business maybe you can forward them to your spouse, if you do not have a spouse consider a phone answering service. The costs involved with a phone service will not be dramatic (and a lot cheaper than getting a spouse) and the increase in customers will easily offset any costs.

Don’t Be A Hero
Part of growing your business is employing staff or outsourcing part of your daily work to others, trying to be the “do everything” guy will only result in you being to exhausted to do anything. If you get the right help then you can grow your business without increasing your stress level. Start off with part time staff or contract workers and find your comfort zone.

Once you have found your comfort zone then you can get ready to push beyond it

Learn From Netflix

The idea behind Netflix was truly visionary, while it started with DVD’s by mail Reed Hastings always knew they would transition to delivering programs over the internet. As broadband has become more widespread, and smartphones are everywhere, people are happy to watch films and TV when they want. No more waiting for a DVD in the post, when you decide you want to watch a comedy you can just sit down and pick from from your streaming list.

Being a visionary, who was not afraid to wait till the technology was right, has really paid off for Netflix. If you have a vision of a product or service that everyone will need you can make it big.

Build A Community Then Respect It
Netflix have done a great job of building a community, everyone shares the movies they have seen and the ones they want to see. You learn to trust reviewers and when you keep seeing their name in the reviews of films you are researching it feels like you are friends. This community helps Netflix retain users, the more programs we watch on Netflix the more likely we are to keep on paying our subscription fees.

When they decided to split the DVD business off from the streaming business, using a new name Qwikster, there was outrage in the community and they handled it badly. The drop off in subscribers was instant and dramatic, the change had not even taken place and people were dropping their subscriptions. A big part of this was that the idea of changing something for no logical reason (that the community could see) and many people just thought the new name was dumb.

To compound it all Reed Hastings gave an announcement which basically didn’t explain anything and certainly didn’t apologize. That made matters even worse and as the share price started to take another hit there was a second announcement and the whole Qwikster idea was shelved.  The problem with going back on the whole idea is not just that it cost thousands, but it made most of the community think they had been played with.

Your community will be your loudest advocates or they will be your loudest criticism

 

Community = Repeat Buyers + Business Evangelist
When you build a community for your business (in Internet Marketing they often refer to this group as a tribe) you are building trust and that trust will ensure that they come back to you for all their needs and even more importantly they will tell other people about your business and how they trust you.

If you are in an bricks and mortar business you may think that you can not build a community, I appreciate that Netflix are a 100% online business, here are some ideas.

  • If you sell car parts why not organize a car show
  • Build a mailing list and do an in store event where only people on the mailing list can come and buy items at a discount. Offer them free food or snacks
  • Do something for charity – Email or post something to your customers asking them to choose a charity
  • Find a complementary business and organize an event together, they get access to your customers and you get access to theirs
  • If you are a home repair business offer your clients free tickets to the local home show, then follow up to see how they enjoyed it.
When a customer comes into your store and buys something, or comes to your office for a service, you can either take their money once and be done or you can try and build a relationship with them. Building a relationship may seem time consuming but the long term pay off will be worth it.
Brain storm with your staff and even some of your customers, be original and be willing to think outside the box. Building a tribe does not have to cost huge amounts of money and in fact the free things you do may be more fun and more effective.

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Agree or Disagree, have your own ideas on ways to build a tribe? Please feel free to leave a comment below, after bookmarking us and joining us on Facebook of course

House Prices Are Climbing In Some Markets

Many (maybe too many) business’s are linked into the success, or failure, of the housing market so this is big news. Construction companies employ many people and they generally employ local people which means the money will trickle down into the local economy. The new build numbers are considered to be a measuring stick for our economy and any increase in house price  is good.

While nationally we are seeing home sales rise to levels not seen for almost 2 years some areas are doing much better than others. Five areas that are outstripping the norm are

Elmira,New York –          Median sales price growth from 2008 to 2011: up 18%
Buffalo,New York –         Median sales price growth from 2008 to 2011: up 13.1%
Davenport, Iowa –          Median sales price growth from 2008 to 2011: up 17%
Shreveport, Louisiana -Median sales price growth from 2008 to 2011: up 12.8%
Indianapolis, Indiana - Median sales price growth from 2008 to 2011: up 11.4%

The reasons that each of these areas is doing well is different. Elmira has an incredibly low foreclosure rate, just 0.1% as opposed to 2.2% in 2010. Davenport has a relatively healthy job market while Buffalo never seems to have fallen into the boom and bust cycle that has been the ruination of so many areas (can anyone say Las Vegas).

How does this affect you as a small businessman? Well if your business is near one of these areas what are you doing to maximize your return from them. If your company supplies home builders maybe you should travel to one (or all) of these areas and see if you can grab some sales.

When you see success in other areas or places that are doing well, don’t just sit back and think “Lucky for them” , look into how you can leverage their good fortune to your own benefit.