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Regardless of which resume type you choose, you must incorporate pertinent information that addresses the needs, concerns, and expectations of the prospective employer or industry. Samples of both resume types are included in this book. What are critical messages? A resume is a second advertisement. Critical messages are messages that the reader of your resume needs to read.

They ignite enthusiasm and eventual action—which is an interview. When it comes to marketing yourself, there is just one ironclad rule for resume writing, and here it is: There can be no spelling or typographical errors, and the resume must be well organized and professionally presented, consistent with the industry you are pursuing. Yes, brief is better, one or two pages unless you have a very unique situation. Today, many successful career designers are incorporating graphics in their resumes, packaging them in a vibrant, exciting, and professional manner.

For the first time, career designers are getting enthusiastic and excited about their resumes. So to this end, there are two main objectives to a resume.


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The obvious one is that the resume is a hook and line, luring a prospective employer to take the bait and invite you to an interview. The second objective of the resume is to get you pumped up, and prepare you for the interview and the process of securing a job. Chronological Format The chronological format is considered by many employment professionals and hiring authorities to be the resume format of choice because it demonstrates continuous and upward career growth. It does this by emphasizing employment history. A chronological format lists the positions held in a progressive sequence, beginning with the most recent and working back.

The one feature that distinguishes the chronological format from the others is that under each job listing, you communicate your 1 responsibilities, 2 skills needed to do the job, and, most important, 3 specific achievements. The focus is on time, job continuity, growth and advancement, and accomplishments. Successful Styles and Formats for Resumes 19 Functional Format A functional format emphasizes skills, abilities, credentials, qualifications, or accomplishments at the beginning of the document, but does not correlate these characteristics to any specific employer.

Titles, dates of employment, and employment track record are deemphasized in order to highlight qualifications. The focus is squarely on what you did, not when or where you did it. The consensus seems to be that this format is used by problem career designers: job hoppers, older workers, career changers, people with employment gaps or academic skill-level deficiencies, or those with limited experience. Combination Format This format offers the best of all worlds—a quick synopsis of your market value the functional style , followed by your employment chronology the chronological format.

The employment section follows with precise information pertaining to each job. The employment section directly supports the functional section. The combination format is very well received by hiring authorities. The combination format actually enhances the chronological format while reducing the potential stigma attached to functional formats. This happens when the information contained in the functional section is substantive, rich with relevant material that the reader wants to see, and is later supported by a strong employment section.

Curriculum Vitae A curriculum vitae CV is a resume used mostly by those professions and vocations in which a mere listing of credentials describes the value of the candidate. A doctor, for instance, would be a perfect candidate for a CV. The CV is void of anything but a listing of credentials such as medical schools, residencies performed, internships, fellowships, hospitals worked in, public speaking engagements, and publications. In other words, credentials do the talking. The Resumap The resumap is a new format that clearly breaks with tradition.

The writing of the resume is a left-brain exercise where thoughts occur in a rational, analytical, logical, and traditional manner. By engaging the right brain in this endeavor the creative, imaginative, and stimulating side of the brain , the resume becomes a more dynamic document. Contemplate using a combination format if you have few deficiencies in experience, education, or achievements. Consider a functional format if you are a student, returning to the workforce after an extended absence, changing careers, have worked many jobs in a short period of time, have had employment breaks, or have any other history that would make using a chronological or combination format challenging.

Feel free to use a CV if your credentials speak for themselves and no further information is required of you until the interview. Use a resumap when you want to be different and make a statement. In the end, exercise common sense and design a resume that best promotes you. There are no rules, only results. Select the format that will afford you the best chance of success. Successful Styles and Formats for Resumes 21 This page intentionally left blank. Paper stock, graphics, desktop publishing, font variations, and imaginative presentations and ideas are part of the packaging process.

Most resumes are prepared on white, ivory, or gray paper. Conforming may be a recipe for disaster, so package your resume to stand out from the crowd. There are various paper styles and presentation folders that are professional but unique and that still provide a competitive edge. Office supply stores or your local printer will be good sources of different paperstocks. You need to create a section of the resume the Introduction, which we discuss in Chapter 7 where the key information will be displayed.

You can have the best credentials in the world, backed by a powerful personality, complemented by the strongest references, but these career-making credentials are useless if your resume is sloppy, poorly organized, and difficult to read. No matter how superior you are to your competition, the prospective employer will almost never read a poorly presented document. When you deliver the punch, you deliver the power information that the hiring manager wants to see. Quite simply, power information delivers the knockout punch, indicating to a prospective employer that you meet the criteria for hire.

Your task is to demonstrate, in your resume and later during an interview, that you have what the employer is looking for. So the starting point of all career design resumes is projecting and anticipating hiring criteria. You need to be aware of the type of person who will be reviewing your resume.

Furthermore, you must determine what kind of information that person seeks that will provide you with a clear competitive advantage and spark enough interest to warrant an interview. The challenge for those people writing resumes is to address directly the concerns of hiring authorities. What are they thinking? What do they want? What can you show them that will make them react?

This is a good time to emphasize the importance of noting specific accomplishments on your resume. The fact that you were responsible for doing something in a past job in no way assures anyone that you were successful! If your resume is full of generalities, responsibilities, and job descriptions, and lacks specific successes and achievements, how do you expect a prospective employer to differentiate your resume from the other , miles of documents?

The majority of attention should be placed on your accomplishments and achievements. Benefits, results, and success sell. What you were responsible for in the past has little impact on your future. What you specifically accomplished highlights your past and determines your hireability. Your resume can have its own personality. Packaging can convey a unique personality, and so can words. We are suggesting that by the use of sumptuous vocabulary, you can turn a rather dull sentence into a more lavish and opulent one. Make use of the more than , available to you in the English language.

A resume does not have to be a lackluster instrument. Lighten up and let your resume dance a bit, sing a little, and entertain the reader. By displaying a personality, you display emotion. And more than any other single element, emotion sells! We purchase expensive clothing, practice good hygiene, and make sure we look our very best when going to an interview because we want to make a good, lasting, and professional first impression.

The resume must do the same. Once again, you are the product, and you are the salesperson. Your resume is your brochure. Would you hire yourself, based on the professionalism of your resume? What is professionalism? Fold your resume into thirds and stuff it in a business envelope, or would you send the resume out in an attractive flat envelope without folding it at all? Send the resume by regular mail, or use overnight or two-day air mail to make a more powerful entry into the organization of destination?

Expect the prospective employer to call you after receiving your resume reactive responsibility , or would you make it clear that you will telephone that person within a week to arrange an interview? Think about these questions for just a moment. What would seem more professional to you? There is a tremendous shortage of professionalism out there.

That means more opportunities. The five primary sections are: 1. If you carry a portable phone or pager or have a fax machine, you can include these phone numbers in your heading. We do not recommend that you include a work number. Many hiring managers do not look favorably upon those who furnish a work number. There are two basic methods for setting up your heading: the traditional, and the creative.

The traditional method is the centered heading. This is effective for any resume, including those that will be scanned by a computer. The creative style consists of any heading that is not centered. Look at some of the many different examples of headings in the sample resumes. For style and layout ideas, look at resumes even if they do not represent your profession. An objective should not be used if it limits your scope. However, if you work as a nurse or accountant, your objective may be clearly defined.

When developing an inventory resume, you should incorporate a summary to kick off your introduction. The purpose of the summary is to convey the scope of your experience and background and to indicate to the reader your key strengths and areas of expertise. The first section of the introduction must ignite initial interest and make the reader want to continue.

Resumes of recent college graduates are among the exceptions, when academic achievements and extracurricular activities are given more weight than employment experience. The employment section will have the most influence on a prospective employer in determining if you get an interview, and ultimately, a job offer. This section highlights your professional career and emphasizes experience, qualifications, and achievements.

The employment module normally begins with your most recent position and works backward allocate the most space to the most recent positions and less space as you go back in time. If you have a sensible and strategic reason to 28 Anatomy of a Career Design Resume deviate from this guideline, and it enhances your document, go for it. Otherwise, reference the following information for each employer: 1. You do not have to go back more than 10 to 12 years unless you have a good reason to do so.

But the rule of thumb is 10 to 12 years. For the most part, what we did 15 years ago is of little consequence to an employer today. Experience is not limited to paying jobs. Include volunteer work if it is applicable and it enhances your candidacy. Salary history and requirements, if requested, should be addressed in the cover letter. Content When using a chronological or combination format, provide specific information for each employer you worked for and for each job you performed. Include three pieces of information for each employer or job: 1. Basic responsibilities and industry- or company-specific information 2.

Special skills required to perform those responsibilities 3. Specific accomplishments The listing of your job responsibilities should read like a condensed job description. Bring out only the highlights, not the obvious. Finally, use positive and energy-oriented words. The words you choose should reflect your energy level, motivation, charisma, education level, and professionalism. Emotion and action sell; use action and power words. Briefly describe any special skills you used in carrying out past responsibilities. These skills might include computers that you operated, special equipment used, and bilingual capabilities.

Other examples of skills that you might have employed include problem solving, communications, and organizational or technical mastery. The major focus of the employment or experience section should be on your specific accomplishments, achievements, and contributions. What you did in terms of day-to-day functions has little impact.

What you accomplished through those functions determines hireability. Achievements vary from profession to profession. Other Employment Your employment history may quite possibly go back 20 years or more. Focus the majority of your resume on the most recent 10 to 12 years, and provide a brief synopsis of the rest. You are not obligated to account for every minute of your life, so use this section to summarize activities performed many years ago if it will round out your employment background.

List your highest degree first and work back. If you have attended six different colleges but have no degree, you might think that these efforts indicate that you are a lifelong learner. But it could also be interpreted as project incompletion, and work against you. Generally, the education section appears at the beginning of your resume if you have limited work experience. A recent high school, technical school, or college graduate will, in most cases, fall into this category. As your portfolio of experience and achievements gains momentum, the education section will drop toward the end of the resume as newly formed experiences, skills, and accomplishments begin to out- 30 Anatomy of a Career Design Resume weigh educational experience in the eyes of a prospective employer.

If you have a postsecondary degree, you need not list high school credentials on the resume. A job seeker with no postsecondary degree should include high school graduation on the resume. There are some very imaginative methods of trying to hide weaknesses, and without exception, they all fail. The best way to overcome a weakness is to identify a corresponding strength that will more than make up for the weakness. Demonstrate high energy and enthusiasm and stress your commitment to give percent.

You need to address your weakness honestly by demonstrating powerful strengths and assets. Even if you are successful in initially fooling a hiring authority, you can be sure that the interview will be quite uncomfortable. You will come across as conniving and unethical.

Unless your experience in the military is directly related to the profession you are pursuing e. Navy aircraft mechanic applying for a job as a mechanic with an airline , then keep it very short, one to two lines at most. The more your military background supports your future career goals, the more emphasis you should give it. Underscore key skills and achievements. Finally, and this is very important, translate military jargon into English. If you are not sure of the proper equivalent civilian terminology when translating military verbiage to business terminology, seek out assistance.

After going through the painstaking effort of getting a hiring or personnel manager to read your resume, you want to be absolutely certain that this person can easily understand the messages you are sending. Interests Interests are inserted to add a human element to the resume; after all, companies hire people, not robots. It helps to build rapport. Obviously, you will want to use an interest section when your interests match job requirements, skills, or related activities that enhance your chances of getting an interview, and a job offer.

A country club manager may want to include tennis, golf, and swimming as hobbies. A computer teacher may want to list reading, attending motivational workshops, and surfing the Internet as hobbies. A salesperson may want to include competitive sports because many sales managers view strong competitive skills as a valuable asset in the highly competitive sales arena.

Provide one line no more, unless you have a compelling reason to do so of information to show the reader your diversification of interests. This gives the prospective employer a good profile of who you are outside of work. Community Service, Special Projects, and Volunteer Work Many organizations place a high degree of importance on community service. They value fund-raising efforts, volunteering time to charities, and contributing to community improvement. Professional and Board Affiliations Memberships and active participation in professional and trade associations demonstrate to a prospective employer that you 1 are a contributing member of your profession, 2 desire to advance your own knowledge and improve your skills, and 3 are committed to the future of your vocation.

Pertinent affiliations should appear in your resume. If you sit on boards of directors, this also indicates that you are well respected in your community and that you give of your time to other organizations, be they profit or nonprofit entities. These distinguishing credits should be included in your resume. Awards, Honors, and Recognitions No doubt these are critical to your resume because they represent your achievements in a powerful and convincing manner. But flaunt your accomplishments supported by specific awards and recognitions, and that will often be the one thing that separates you from your competition.

You can illustrate your honors and recognitions: 1. In the introduction section of your resume 2. Under professional experience 3. In a high-tech, ever-changing business environment, employers are looking for people with specific skills and, even more importantly, for people who have the ability to learn, adapt, and embrace new technologies. In this section, consider using short bulleted lists so the information is easily accessible. Information and data tend to get lost and confused when lumped together in long sentences and paragraphs.

Teaching Assignments If you have conducted, facilitated, or taught any courses, seminars, workshops, or classes, include this on your resume, whether you were paid for it or not. Teaching, training, and educating are in-demand skills. They exhibit confidence, leadership, and the ability to communicate. If you have experience in this area, consider stating it on your resume. Anatomy of a Career Design Resume 33 Licenses, Accreditation, and Certifications You may choose to include a section exclusively for listing licenses, accreditation, and certifications.

Consider using bulleted lists as an effective way to communicate your significant qualifications quickly and effectively. Languages We live and work in a global economy where fluency in multiple languages is an asset in great demand. Be sure to list your language skills at the beginning of the resume if you determine that these skills are critical to being considered for the position. Otherwise, clearly note them toward the end. Personal Personal data consists of information such as date of birth, marital status, social security number, height, weight, and sex if your name is not gender-specific , health, number of dependents, citizenship, travel and relocation preferences, and employment availability.

Employers, by law, cannot discriminate by reason of age, race, religion, creed, sex, or color of your skin. For this reason, many job seekers leave personal information off the resume. For example, if you are applying for a civil service position, a social security number might be appropriate to include on the resume.

Or, if you are applying for a position as a preschool teacher and have raised six children of your own, you may want to include this information on the resume. Nearly everyone is used to writing up their resumes as word processing documents, finding nice stationery, printing up the resume, and sending it out in the mail with a stamp. Today, along with the advent of all the new dot-com job opportunities, comes a new way of distributing your resume. Mail with a stamp is still useful, to be sure, but so is email and Web site postings. In fact, for those of you in the Internet-related industries, email and Web site communications are so prevalent that you should consider those communications vehicles your first priority.

There are two kinds of electronic resumes. One is the resume that is sent as an email attachment. The other is a text copy inserted into a Web site input field or directly pasted into an email. We assume that you know how to perform the task of attaching a document in an email. We would always recommend that you attach your resume in email or posting communications, where possible. Hiring managers and recruiters will invariably print the email with your resume.

If you have 35 Copyright by Jay A. If you attach your email, all the guidelines previously discussed still hold true. This means that you are providing the bare content of your resume in text, but without the graphical enhancements. This can mean that you no longer get to use tabs, bullets, certain spacing, boxes, shading, bold print, etc. This can make the creation of the resume both easier and more difficult. It can be easier to create a resume in text-only format because you are in fact eliminating the graphical enhancements and formatting. However, making an effective presentation without that ability to format actually makes it a more difficult task.

This is very important! You need to make your resume appealing given the limitations just described. The Heading Keep the heading free of any bullets, change in fonts, and underlines. Use commas instead. A good introduction is very important here. Try to boil your accomplishments down to three or four, preferably quantifiable ones, and make them as concise as possible. Provided recommendations to Marketing and Business Development on needed enhancements to product portfolio.

The Education Section Keep this section free of any bullets, changes in fonts, and underlines. Resumes are impersonal documents that contain information about your skills, abilities, and qualifications, backed by supporting documentation. A resume is a rather rigid instrument, and unless you customize each document for a specific audience, the resume is, for the most part, inflexible.

Phoebe Taylor, in her publication, How to Succeed in the Business of Finding a Job, provides advice on cover letters that, after so many years, still holds true: If you stop to think about it for a moment, all resumes have basic similarities. It proves to the reader that you made the effort and used your resourcefulness to find out his or her name and title. A cover letter allows you to get more personal with the reader. It is the closest you can get to building rapport without meeting in person. It is a critical component in getting an interview and, eventually, the job.

Cover letters should be brief, energetic, and interesting. A polished cover letter answers the following questions concisely and instantaneously: 1. Why are you writing to me, and why should I consider your candidacy? What qualifications or value do you have that I could benefit from? What are you prepared to do to sell yourself further? Cover letters work best when they are addressed to individuals by name and title. They should be written using industry-specific language and terminology.

And finally, you must initiate some future action. Specifically, you want to let readers know that you will be contacting them for the purpose of arranging an interview, or whatever the next step will be. Be proactive! Fourth paragraph: Closing and call to action initiate your next move Sign-off Consider the following quotation: I would be lying if I told you that I read every resume that crossed my desk.

But I have almost never not looked at a resume that was accompanied by a solid, well-written cover letter. The lesson here is that you must learn how to write a strong letter. A cover letter should do more than serve as wrapping paper for your resume. It should set you apart from other candidates. Messmer suggests that most cover letters emphasize what candidates are looking for and not enough about the contributions a candidate can make to an organization.

Whenever possible, mention information that reflects your knowledge of the organization you are writing to or the industry as a whole. Bring current news or events into the letter that will show the reader you are up-to-date and current with industry trends. This is your new cover letter. The dynamics of an online cover letter probably vary more from the traditional than the changes in your resume.

Emailed cover letters should be considered short introductions. They should be not nearly as long as what you might put in the mail. Your emailed cover letter might also be used as a source of key words for computer searches, so make them rich with at least a few key words nouns that will give the reader an overview. The same general principles of a cover letter hold true for an emailed one.

However, it is critical to keep it short and maintain the same formatting guidelines as for the electronic resume. When you email a note, the networks transport in an ASCII format, which means it is converted into a generic format and loses formatting such as underlining, bold type face, italics, and creative font choices.

ASCII recognizes only spacing and tabs. Keep your email cover letter short and simple, but make sure it still contains enough punch. That could cause really big trouble. The day you send out your first resume, you risk exposure. You can never be percent sure where your Cover Letters 41 resume will end up. Consequently, the moment you broadcast to anyone that you are exploring employment opportunities, you run the risk of exposing this to your present employer.

The broadcast letter is a means to protect you to a certain degree, though even the broadcast letter is not foolproof. The broadcast letter can also be used by those who have had 16 jobs in the past three years, who take time off from work on occasion, or who are returning to the workplace following an extended absence. The broadcast letter becomes half cover letter, half resume. Some career designers use this letter format because they feel that people are more apt to read it than a resume. Secretaries, for instance, who screen incoming mail may not screen out broadcast letters as quickly as they do resumes.

Broadcast letters provide an effective means for discreetly communicating your employment intentions to executive recruiters or employment agencies or for informing key people in your network of your goals and objectives. The broadcast letter, by definition, broadcasts your strengths and abilities in more depth than a cover letter but in less detail than a resume. They provide a partial listing of former employers. These letters communicate that you are presently employed and are, therefore, uncomfortable in advertising your present employer until there is interest in you as a viable candidate.

They emphasize your strong employment record and accompanying assets without mentioning educational credentials that may be viewed by others as weak. Broadcast letters allow you to overcome a challenging past, including alcohol or substance abuse difficulties, time spent in jail, physical or emotional encounters, or other similar obstacles.

A broadcast letter can be an effective way to introduce yourself and spark interest in your candidacy. You must be prepared, however, to address any challenges in subsequent communications with employers who show an interest in you after having reviewed the broadcast letter. Chapter 10 offers 16 sample cover letters for your review. Notice how many are written less formally than you might expect, and how they allow the writer more creativity than a resume might.

Try not to write the cover letter in too formal a style. But everywhere you go and at every meeting or event you do attend, you should be networking. If you connect with an individual who might be of some assistance to your career design efforts, you must be prepared to leave a calling card.

We highly recommend that you have to personal calling cards printed they are not expensive , and make it a point to hand out to a week for starters! Include just the basic information: name, address, phone number, and your career objective or short summary of qualifications. Thank-You Notes You should send thank-you notes to every person who makes even the most infinitesimal impact on your career design. Stock up on some stylish, classy notecards because even a small item like a thank-you note can make a huge difference in the outcome of your labors. Cover Letters 43 This page intentionally left blank.

Attached is my resume for those interested. My references and work history are both very solid. Any tips or suggestions you may have are welcomed. I am the lead account manager for Dave and Busters and Cisco. Duties include contract negotiation, liaison between clients, and creative development.

Please see attached resume if you are interested. If you know of any relevant contacts, please forward leads to me, or feel free to forward this email and the attached resume. I really appreciate it! Pappas: My experience in business management and marketing is an excellent fit for your new telecommunications start-up in Houston. I have watched with much envy as you launched your PCS network in other markets and want to take this opportunity to introduce myself.

Though I did not see a market development opening on your Web site, I am confident that I am a good fit and would like to be available for consideration should an opening come along. I am currently employed, but I am very interested in Sprint, and would like the opportunity to discuss your future market developments. Lane: Please allow me to introduce myself. I am new to the Michigan area. I have worked in the chemical products industry for the last six years, and I am interested in continuing in that industry here. I spent the last seven years in Chicago, but a recent engagement has brought me to central Michigan.

Considering that Dow is such a prominent player in the industry, I feel lucky to have been moved here. My background lies in product development within the industry. I was on the market launch team that rolled out synthetic covering for wet weather shields. We gained a 17 percent share within 18 months of our launch, which is very strong by XYZ standards. I will stop by your office next Tuesday between 2 p. If you can take a few moments to see me at that time, I would be very grateful. I will call you on Monday to see if this can be arranged. Thank you for your attention.

I am excited about the possibility of joining Dow Chemical Company. Jensen: Palm Beach County, according to reliable publications, is one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. I applaud the tremendous work you are doing at the Palm Beach Visitors and Convention Bureau to attract major events, further improving the economic climate of our thriving area.

Your achievements, showcased as the cover story in the latest Convention Center, International, are impressive, and I for one would like to be a contributing sales member of your professional team. I understand from the article that you are looking to become the number-one convention center in Florida, and I feel that my sales skills and abilities can help tip the scales from Orlando to Palm Beach! If possible, I would like to visit and personally meet with you to introduce myself and my qualifications.

I will take the liberty of calling you next week to arrange such a meeting. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking and meeting with you soon. Desa: I am a recent college graduate with a B. Degree in Automotive Marketing and Management. I have also been part of a family-owned automobile distributorship for nearly all my life, so cars are my life! I noticed your advertisement for Automotive Sales and Marketing Assistant in the Dover Star on June 14, and I am submitting my resume for your consideration.


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  • You mentioned in the advertisement that the successful candidate must have: 1. I am familiar with your operation, as I am originally from this area. I am available immediately, and offer you competence, dedication, and a good work ethic. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to speaking with you next week. Mascagni: After completing much research on the wireless communications industry over the last few months, it has become apparent that NextWave holds a unique position in the market. In order to meet your aggressive growth goals of launching this market by next fall, you will certainly need a strong RF team that has experience in the CDMA platform.

    Specifically, you will need a team that has experience optimizing the Lucent and Nortel base stations.

    Businesses That Will Make You an Extra $ Next Month - Due

    I can provide excellent references from both. I think NextWave is a cutting-edge operation, one in which ingenuity, creativity and drive can make a material impression. I want to be a part of your team. My experience is in perfect line with your needs right now and what you will need after launch. I will give you a call next week to set up some time for us to talk further. Grant D. Powers: Your Controller, Mr. Gerald Haverhill, told me over golf a few weeks ago that you are looking for an MIS director.

    He told me some very interesting things about GB and I was impressed, not only with the growth and profitability, but in the similarities between GB and Diversified Centers, my current employer. GB has added 23 new training centers in the United States and is overseeing the design of all Jack Nicklaus courses. Auctions as a result of foreclosures are also often a great way to find a deal. Whether you end up looking at self-checkout counters, fancy lighting systems, special refrigerated cases, or any of a countless number of options, never forget that these are only tools to help accomplish your main goal.

    Your store needs to create an environment where customers want to be, where they feel comfortable and appreciated, and where that experience will prompt them to purchase and hopefully encourage their friends to do the same. Equipment and technology decisions should always be made with your customers in mind.

    You can quickly find yourself tied into sub-optimal deals because of a reliance on this hardware. If you have access to the capital, do yourself a favor: Buy your own fridge and negotiate from a position of strength. Up until about ten years ago, if you were in the process of starting a small business and wanted to use all of the technologies listed at the start of this section, you would have needed to take out a second mortgage to cover the bill. Investing in retail technology has historically involved expensive hardware including an in-house server , large upfront software costs, and hefty ongoing bills for customer support or repairs when things went wrong.

    Innovators were targeting large-scale enterprises like Coca-Cola, not local mom and pops, so the packages and price points were designed to match. Luckily, recent times have seen a revolution in small business technology. The advent of cloud-based technology has made it possible for a small startup company to build a product and have it used and paid for by retailers and restaurateurs all over the world. As a result, the number of companies targeting their innovations directly at you and your small business has exploded, leaving you with more choice and at a better prices, than ever before.

    For those just starting a small business, this is great! Therefore, the risk of trying a new product is greatly reduced, as you are required to pay little or nothing upfront. Even Microsoft announced in that they would be moving their flagship product, Microsoft Office, to this pricing model.

    So, what does all this mean for you? It means that there has never been a better and cheaper time to weave technology into the fabric of everything you do as a small business owner. There has never been a better time to be a small business owner looking to make intelligent decisions about equipment and technology. The enormous range and affordability of options has provided the chance for small business owners to apply technology to their accounting, marketing, and day-to-day operations.

    You can spend less money, save valuable time, and gather data about almost every aspect of your business. From cool new clothing lines to ingenious fusion foods, the sheer diversity of the ideas on display really hammers home one of the key lessons when starting a small business: You need to find your key differentiator.

    That being said, it is also clear that having one great idea is far from the whole picture — Korean tacos alone do not make for a thriving business. Creating an intelligent product line, working with quality, reliable suppliers, and implementing the right processes for monitoring your inventory will ensure your best chance of success.

    However, while this product might draw the customer through the door, it will not, on its own, make your business a success.


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    • A strong small business has to be resilient to the challenges the world can throw at it, whether that means an economic recession, sudden fluctuations in commodity prices, or problematic suppliers. And a big part of resilience comes in the form of diversification. One of the core skills needed when starting a small business is the ability to build out a diversified product line that is complementary to the headline product s.

      As a good rule of thumb, a well-thought-out product line allows for the customer to upsell themselves. A great product line will also reflect a range of price points. For a business that is working hard to convey a sophisticated and elite vibe, it might be a useful strategy to set a high minimum price, but for the vast majority of small businesses, your pricing should be guided by one key thought: I want every single person who comes through my door to be able to find something that fits their budget.

      Competing on price is a race to the bottom that is only ever won by those who can ship the biggest volume. The way to win in small business is to compete on value, originality and personality — never on price. In small business, a well-priced, original product line will get customers spending their money and hopefully, singing your praises to everyone they meet.

      However, demand is only one side of the product equation. Where will you source your products? At what price? What kind of markup does that leave room for? How will you find the right balance between quality and affordability? What is your product lifecycle? How often will you receive deliveries? There is a lot to consider when choosing your suppliers, but getting it right is worth it. A great supplier will provide the raw ingredients of your success — often literally. A large part of the process of inventory control is ensuring that you are paying for exactly the inventory that comes through your door, and not a penny more.

      Your product line should never be overly reliant on any individual supplier. One supplier raising their prices should not have a wholesale impact on your gross margins. At the end of the sales day, you count the leftover apples and make sure the number of apples in your inventory system matches whatever you actually have in store.

      When you have an accurate apple count, you call your supplier and order as many as you need to make sure you have enough on hand for the next day. Seems simple right? Well, yes and no. Inventory management can become very complicated once you factor in issues like product lifecycle how quickly do the apples go bad? It can become very difficult and time-consuming to constantly track the amount and purchase price of all your inventory, but it is hugely important to your bottom line.

      Not only does being out of something represent a lost sale opportunity, but in a world where consumers place a huge premium on their time, it could mean that you lose that customer forever while hurting your brand reputation in the process. Tight control of inventory, while not a particularly glamorous part of owning a small business, is therefore one of the most important ways you can impact profitability.

      The good news now is that there is an array of technology available that can make this whole process much smoother, including sophisticated forecasting tools that will help you predict your required inventory levels for each day based on past sales, weather records, and many other factors.

      We already covered how excess inventory, or lack of, can hurt your business. But as a small business owner or someone just opening a small business with so little time and so much to do, how do you prioritize this time consuming but very necessary task? A quality point of sale system will allow you to manage pricing changes, track product availability, cross-check inventory, and automate reorders with ease.

      All of which are crucial in helping you develop a deeper understanding of your business, enabling smoother day-to-day operations and smart purchasing decisions. A great product line should be built around a small core of original, distinctive items. Originality will encourage repeat customers and word of mouth, while also allowing you to compete on value, rather than price.

      Originality, on its own however, is not enough. A successful product line should reflect a range of price points and not be overly reliant on any one supplier. A diversified offering will make your business resilient in the face of change. Maintaining a tight count on inventory is most definitely not the most glamorous aspect of running a small business, but it is essential to keep costs under control.

      Opt for point of sale software that integrates inventory management, saving you time and money. Starting a small business in a big business world can be tough. Everything from the way the customer is greeted as they walk through the door to the way your products are presented following a sale matters. The smallest details can make the biggest difference. Early on when just starting your small business, you as an owner, will be able to exert a lot of direct control over these details. But as you grow, you will come to recognize the value of a well-trained and motivated staff.

      Are they competent?

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      Compatible and committed to your core business values? Do they fit in with the culture you are trying to build? And can you offer them fair compensation? Business expert and entrepreneur Alan E. At the end of the day you want to look beyond the skills and experience they have on paper and make sure that they are willing and able to grow with your business. Compensation is a critical key to retaining and motivating the right employees. However, since small businesses often start out with tight budgets, compensation is an area they often struggle with, commonly leading to bad hiring decisions that affect overall business performance.

      The good news is that employers willing to step outside the hourly-wage box have a variety of options. For employers that cannot offer incentive pay Think, Sally sold 20 more sea shells than Sandra. Some examples of these employee benefits include: commuter benefits, meals, and discounted inventory. To be clear, we are not suggesting that you pay employees in coffee and donuts, but in order to build a compensation structure that attracts quality employees, you have to get creative and be willing to provide more than your standard benefits package.

      As with many aspects of starting a small business, there is no small amount of paperwork involved in taking on staff. Failure to do so can result in a fine. You are also obliged to file a quarterly tax return which must detail, amongst other things, your employee pay and withholdings. Once again, failure to do this can result in, you guessed it, a fine! The good news is that there are a number of affordable payroll software providers that automate this process very effectively. Each employee must fill out a W-4 form when joining your business.

      This will provide the information required to calculate tax withholding. Again, good payroll software will automate this process. There are also excellent third-party companies that will take on the responsibility for this process, which can be a huge time-saver. Small business owners, time-pressed as they often are, sometimes struggle to provide a structured environment for new employees. This information can range from detailed instructions about operating your point of sale system to a simple list laying out the routine each employee should go through when closing down the store at night.

      Plus, taking the time to put pen to paper should benefit you as the small business owner as much as any potential new employee. Creating this kind of central resource about best operating practices will force yourself to formulate your thoughts and be clear about exactly what you want.

      Technology can be a huge help in this area also. There are a range of easy-to-learn online tools that make it simple to carry out previously time-consuming tasks, such as employee scheduling, time clock tracking, and payroll. Hiring, training, and paying employees can quickly become one of the biggest operating costs for someone starting a small business, so it is vital that you make the most of this expensive resource. As your business grows, your ability to deal directly with every customer diminishes, and your reliance on your staff increases.

      Indeed, for many businesses, such as full-service restaurants, hiring staff is an absolutely essential part of their operations. It is therefore important that you choose the right kind of employees and then take the time to fully introduce them to your mission statement. A really great employee should learn about your values and seek to embody them when interacting with your customers. As small businesses grow, however, it can become increasingly difficult for the time-pressed, financially strapped entrepreneur to maintain direct oversight over every aspect of their store.

      We get it, paperwork is never fun, but it is a growing pain when starting a small business. In every aspect when starting your small business you should be mindful of making careful, prudent decisions about the allocation of your potentially limited funds — tracking precisely the cost of goods sold CoGS against sales to ensure profitability. Every dollar spent is tracked and accounted for, either as an essential cost of doing business rent, employees, etc. By contrast, when it comes to marketing, small business owners have historically been asked to take a leap of faith, spending money without any clear sense of how much positive impact it will have on their business.

      Put bluntly, learning how to market a small business can be perplexing. In essence, traditional small business marketing techniques have escaped any clearly definable return on investment ROI analysis. A lot has changed in recent years. Sophisticated, yet affordable technology now exists that can help track customer relationships from an ad placed on Google, right through to a successful sale. This offers small business owners a unique chance to be entirely data-driven in their marketing approach.

      Every single aspect of your small business can be tweaked and optimized to ensure that you are enticing customers, up selling where possible, and encouraging people to spread the word about your business. Find out how you can turn casual customers into regulars with ShopKeep and MailChimp. While there, you should start collecting customer emails so you can let the local community know when your actual store opens. Remember the social media networks we asked you to secure in section five, Choosing a Business Name? Well, now is the perfect time to activate those channels.

      Use social media to build excitement about your grand opening and keep potential customers informed about special promotions and sales. People want to know what makes you special, so tell them why your store or restaurant will be different to what is currently available. Knowing how to to leverage key social channels is imperative to starting a success small business that will stand the test of time. This list is pure gold! So once you have it, why not stage a launch party and invite the local community and local journalists.

      The first step for any business is always getting people to try out your products! It might sound harsh, but when starting a small business your online presence is crucial. If you speak to some experienced local business owners , many will denounce the existence of online review sites like Yelp and Google Local. A lot of local entrepreneurs will share their bad experiences with online daily deal websites like Groupon. The right first step online for most stores and restaurants is creating a Google Local Business Listing.

      One thing is clear, small business owners are starting to join the digital revolution and are reaping the rewards in terms of increased customer loyalty, growing word-of-mouth, and most importantly, increased sales. As an entrepreneur starting a small business, you can either look at your marketing budget alongside the Walmarts of this world and wave the white flag, or you can choose to change your perspective and realize that being small brings distinct advantages in the modern economy. Firstly, more and more consumers are rebelling against the generic offerings of big-box retailers and seeking out the unique, personal touch offered by small, local business.

      You can leverage this message by weaving yourself into the fabric of your community. Canadian yoga apparel retailer Lululemon has enjoyed explosive growth thanks to their ability to do just this. Secondly, your size allows you to laser-focus your attention on the right audience. Walmart wants to sell everything to everyone.

      So maybe instead, you just focus on selling colorful earmuffs to children in the Mission District in San Francisco. This kind of clarity allows you to compete for search rankings on Google, key positions on Yelp and other business recommendation engines, and for space on social media. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, your size should make you lean. Every single aspect of your store or restaurant can be tweaked and optimized to ensure more and more customers are coming through the door.

      As you experiment with strategies on Facebook or Twitter, introduce a new email marketing techniques, or simply erect new signage outside of your store, you have the chance to measure your success and react quickly to failure. Success when setting up a small local business will be the result of how many bodies you can get through the door on a daily basis.

      The good news is that while there is an incredible amount of competition out there, your size can provide distinct advantages by making you targeted, lean, and original. Get started early, embrace the tools and marketing techniques available to you, and you will have a better chance of putting your best foot forward, both online and off. Before starting your small business and opening its doors, it is important to take some time to define your end goal.

      While it almost goes without saying that this goal will be subject to change, it is only by recognizing and clearly articulating your long-term ambitions that you can provide yourself with a compass that will guide every business decision. Do you want to create the next great retail dynasty? Or are you just looking for a simple local lifestyle business?

      Are you hoping to create a franchise model? Or do you see your local business as a testing ground for an ecommerce business? Excessive growth is of course, a good problem to have. However, after stabilizing from the startup process, small businesses more commonly grow steadily before approaching a plateau.

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      Renovation of your product line, rebranding, and seeking investment for expansion are all potential results of this SWOT analysis. Once again, the key here is being data-driven and always staying hungry. The successful small business owner is always looking for the incremental improvements in their business that when added up, make all the difference. At a certain point, the success and growth of your business might leave you considering the option of expansion to a second location. This is not a decision to take lightly, as there is absolutely no guarantee that the strategy that worked in one location will work in another.

      Who are your customers and why do they enjoy what you offer? Who are your suppliers and will they be able to deliver to your new location? What are your operating costs and will they be the same in a new location? Additionally, many small business owners get used to the level of control afforded by being in the store or restaurant every single day. Operating multiple locations necessitates a willingness to empower managers and delegate responsibility in a way not every entrepreneur understands at first. The key to success here is having clear processes written down, promoting from within whenever possible, and remaining open to change.

      The extended business has to embody the core spirit of your original mission.

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      At a certain point, you may decide that it is time to move on from your business. If you are looking to sell your business, it is important to engage a lawyer who is a business specialist to ensure you gain the best possible valuation. A small business is valued by assessing the potential ongoing income from the business over the coming few years. Normally this means that a business will be valued at three to five times net revenues, which can present a potential issue for particularly tax-savvy small business owners. Remember that every time you write off an expense against your business, you are lowering the net margin of the business.

      So, that dollar you saved by writing off the expense could cost you three to five dollars on the valuation of your business. Small business owners can maintain steady, manageable growth by keeping a firm eye on costs and always aggressively looking for ways to increase sales and grow their brand. Stay open to suggestions from your managers while making your current business best practices clear to them. Having a clear understanding of your end goal when starting a small business will help you with decision making throughout the life of your endeavor. Plus, whenever it does come time to sell, your focus on that goal should put you in the best position to be successful with the sale.

      Good luck with your small business, and as always if you have any questions, feel free to email us at theteam shopkeep. In a minute, your free guide will be sent to the email address you provided. In a minute your free guide will be sent to email address you provided. Starting and Managing a Small Business A lot of people toy around with the idea of starting their own small business, but figuring out what steps to take is one of the biggest hurdles.

      At A Glance Small businesses form the backbone of the national economy and are the lifeblood of our local communities, contributing to over half of U. Starting a small business means joining a community that reflects the full diversity of our national makeup. Becoming a small business owner is, however, far from easy. It often involves a substantial investment of time and money. It is, as a result, not a path for the risk averse. By embracing a data-led, lean approach, new small business owners can minimize that risk and make smart decisions from the start.

      The Bottom Line Starting your own small business can be an incredibly rewarding experience both personally and financially. Compiling a business plan forces entrepreneurs to really confront the nitty-gritty of their business idea, such as permits and regulations, operating costs, and marketing budgets. The process is therefore as important as the result.

      The Bottom Line Having a plan of action is key to learning how to start and run a successful small business. Types of Business Structures There are a variety of structures to choose from when starting a small business. Why You Should Choose the Right Business Structure Early On Commercial law exists for one simple reason: money and trust have a long and storied history of mixing like oil and water. How To Choose The Right Business Structure When starting your small business, the type of business structure you choose will depend on three primary factors: liability, taxation, and record-keeping.

      See Also: Pros and Cons of Incorporating Your Small Business The Bottom Line Make sure to carefully consider the legal structure that suits your business and take the necessary steps to get the right paperwork in place early on. Choosing The Perfect Business Name When starting your small business, the easiest way to go about choosing a business name is to approach the task the same way you approach building new relationships. The Bottom Line Make sure to research your name both from a marketing and legal standpoint and then register it with the appropriate authorities.

      Business Funding and Accounting Basics It is absolutely impossible to succeed in small business over any significant period of time without getting the basics right. Funding Your Best Foot Forward in Small Business Many small business owners start on a shoestring budget, intertwining their personal and business finances, supporting the business with their personal credit cards, accepting payments into their personal checking account, and even submitting tax returns that mix up personal and business finances.

      Equity Financing There are essentially two types of funding available to you when starting a small business: Equity or debt. Debt Financing Debt financing involves borrowing capital that must then be paid back over a set period of time, most commonly with interest. See Also: The 3 Most Important Words in Small Business: Cash Flow While the recession brought with it a well-documented squeeze on small business lending from banks, there are a number of alternative funding sources available to those who are starting or expanding their small business.

      The Bottom Line Starting out with a solid business plan, the right business structure, and well-organized finances will put you in the best position to secure the funding that is often crucial in starting a small business. Putting Your Idea into Drive: How to Obtain Your Business Permit or License For many new small business owners, the additional expense and bureaucratic hoopla involved in obtaining the correct paperwork often leaves them dragging their heels.

      Business License A business license gives you permission to run a business within a particular territory. Do I really need a Business Permit? Quality trumps quantity in the blogoshpere although having both doesn't hurt! If you have a blog, keep your readers wanting more, and excited to see your posts! If a business isn't growing, it's usually not staying the same size — it's shrinking. What worked for them may not work for you. Make your decisions from first principal and learn from experience. Change gives you the ability to rise above and deliver upon command, therefore leading to more positive outcomes.

      Embrace change. To be successful in this economy entrepreneurs must: 1 constantly evaluate their business model to make sure it keeps its relevance and offers true value to the customer in a highly competitive market, and 2 tighten up their finances by keeping overhead expenses to a minimum, paying off debt, and building cash reserves.

      It's how you execute that matters. Focus on execution. What are the factors that could account for this? Invest in duplicating your few strong areas instead of fixing all of your weaknesses. Then, set aside time every single week to focus on reading, researching, learning and implementing improvements in those areas. Tools are important and necessary, but they come and go as better tools come along.

      Obsess instead about ideas. Though most tools are ephemeral, some of your best tools are a simple pencil and sketch pad. It is important to constrain your enthusiasm and make sure that you are striving to be the best at what you do. Many business owners make the mistake of cutting themselves too thinly in this way and find that their core business may indeed suffer.

      Understand and follow the technologies that are having the greatest impact on them and take advantage of technology to improve business and competitive position. You'll be tested to use it on a daily basis in order to stay in sync with your authenticity and your brand, your true interests, and what matters most. And when you let your instincts override that knowing 'no' with a feeble yes, it's almost guaranteed to end in resentment, legal fees, or burn out. What we do with those precious moments, makes the difference between success and non-success of those goals and achievements that we want to obtain.

      Make the most of your resources, especially time. Skip to content. Menu Menu. United States Change Country. Help Log In. Cash Back Rewards Home. Small to Mid-Sized Businesses. Most Popular Cards. Travel Rewards Cards. No Annual Fee Cards. View All Corporate Card Programs. Business Funding. Access growth capital on flexible terms. Smooth cash flow: We pay vendors now, you pay us later.

      Fixed-fee, no-interest business loans. Payment Solutions. Streamline global payments to expand worldwide. Large Businesses. Merchant Financing. Manage expenses to lower costs, improve cash flow. Insights and Inspiration to Grow Your Business. Managing Money. Cash Flow. Getting Customers. Customer Relations. Digital Tools. Social Media Strategy. Building Your Team. Company Culture. Planning for Growth. Growth Opportunities.

      Find a Solution. August 25, Tips from 50 Small Business Bloggers It's quite easy for small business owners to become distracted by their day-to-day responsibilities. But in this competitive economy you can. Gregory Go Wise Bread. On the Small Business Advantage 1. On Starting Up No matter how pedestrian or utilitarian the product, make buying it or using it an experience" — Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution Want to Dig Deeper?

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