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Business Tips Wednesday: Things to Consider

9th April 2008

Business Tips Wednesday: Things to Consider

For many people the allure of starting their own business has to do with being independent.  Running your own business means you set your own hours, set your own salary and answer to no one.  It sounds like a very attractive proposition, particularly if you feel unappreciated and underpaid while you’re working for someone else.   What everyone who wants to start a business needs to remember, however, is that there are trade-offs in every situation.  Starting a business of your own can give you a lot of freedom, but it also brings a lot of responsibility.

When you work for someone else, you generally have a set list of responsibilities.  That list may be quite broad or it may be very narrow, but you can probably depend on the fact that at least some of the work is being handled by other people.  When you own your own business, all of the responsibility, especially at the beginning, will rest on you.   People who run their own businesses need to be good at organizing tasks and motivating themselves.   The upside of being a small business owner is that you make the decisions and are responsible for every outcome.  The downside of owning a small business is that you make the decisions and are responsible for every outcome.  If you drop the ball, there won’t be anyone else to pick it up and help you out. 

You should also keep in mind that small business owners are responsible for all aspects of the business.  It doesn’t matter whether you like crunching numbers but hate designing ads, when you own your own business, you’re responsible for everything.  Eventually many small business owners are able to hire staff, or can outsource the parts of managing a business that they don’t enjoy or excel at doing, but in the beginning most business owners must rely on themselves.  It doesn’t matter whether you like managing the books or designing the company logo, that responsibility will still fall to you.

One of the reasons that many people cite for starting a small business is the freedom that it brings.  If you own the business you can set your own hours and work when you like.  In some respects this is true, but the thing about starting a business that should be remembered is how much time it takes to make a business profitable.  If you’re working for yourself, you may find that you work many more hours than you did when you worked for someone else.  The business may also bleed over into your evening and weekend time.   In time you may be able to take off when you want and, if you have become profitable enough to have employees, you’ll know that the business is still ticking along.  Until then, owning your own business may limit your freedom more than working for someone else might have done. 

Starting your own business is a big decision and one that should not be made lightly.  Everyone who sits in a cubicle or has a bad day with the boss probably has the fantasy of going out on their own and making tons of money.  As nice as that thought might be, it is just a fantasy.  The reality is that, for every small business that succeeds, there are several that don’t make the grade.  Starting a business takes grit, determination and a willingness to sacrifice in the short-term for long-term goals. 

In the end, those who take a realistic view of what starting and running a small business really means are the people who are most likely to succeed.  So, before you make the decision to go out on your own, take a few minutes to examine what that might really mean, and to assess your own strengths and weaknesses.  If you take the time to do this before you make the plunge, it is much more likely your business will still be afloat a year from now.

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8th April 2008

The Origin of Our Experience

One of the things that we talk about a lot when we discuss EnMart is the fact that we’re backed up by over 30 years of embellishment and garment decoration experience.  Through our parent company, Ensign Emblem,  we have access to people who have been working at embroidering garments and creating emblems and other embellishments for many years.  This gives us a large pool of knowledge and expertise from which to pull and allows us to make better choices about the products and services that EnMart offers to you, our customers.

One thing I do want to make clear is that we are not in competition with those embroidery companies who may decide to place orders with us.  Our embroidery and garment decoration experience has been confined to a the service of a single business category, industrial laundries.   Ensign Emblem does not offer embroidered garments or garment embellishment products for general sale.  Our parent company sells specifically to industrial laundries and rental uniform companies.

EnMart is simply a logical extension of the relationships that Ensign Emblem had formed.  Taking Ensign’s garment decoration business to additional markets didn’t make sense.  Taking the connections and expertise gathered over 34 years of experience with embroidery and using that experience and those connections to form a new company did make sense.  Because of Ensign’s stellar reputation, and because of the sterling reputation of Ensign’s owners, we are able to bring quality supplies to EnMart at some of the best prices available.   Having Ensign as a parent company brings many benefits to EnMart, one of those benefits is having over 30 years of experience and reputation on which to draw.

Our goal is to provide the best embroidery and embellishment products available, and we make the judgment about what we consider best by using those products in our Ensign Emblem plants.  We know that the thread and bobbins and needles we offer for sale in the EnMart store work because we use them ourselves. 

I’m not sure you can find a better recommendation than that.

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7th April 2008

Marketing Monday: Getting Noticed by Local Media

One of the best sorts of free publicity for many small businesses may be the local news media.  Every town has at least one local television station.  Most have at least one local newspaper.  Bigger towns and cities may also have magazines that cover the local scene, or newspapers devoted to local business.  If local business owners take a moment to look around, they can probably find several publicity outlets for their business.  Once these outlets are identified, however, the question becomes how to get those local newspapers, news stations and magazines to focus on your business.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Tip 1:  Send good press releases:  Some businesses think that the way to get publicity is to bombard a publication with press releases.  In most cases, that’s the worst thing you can do.  As a general rule, you should only do a release when something of note happens.  Signing a big client, expanding your business, or adding new executive staff will probably be considered newsworthy.  Celebrating your six month anniversary, or promoting someone from second assistant to first assistant probably won’t be of as much interest.  Also, publications that get bombed with useless press releases from the same source will often simply discard the release as soon as they see it carries a certain name.  You want your releases to stand out, and one way to do that is to only send them when you have something newsworthy to say.

Tip #2:  The Media is always looking for an angle:  Say you don’t have anything press release worthy happening, but you do know that the local news station has a morning show.  Come up with three or four ideas for segments about your business specialty and pitch them to the director of the show.  It may take a few tries, but local news shows, particularly morning shows, have a lot of time to fill.  If you can make a good pitch for your ideas, there is a decent chance they’ll make the air.   The same thing is true for newspapers and magazines. 

Tip #3:  Networking Always Pays:  Getting to know the local media can pay off big, particularly when a reporter is searching for a story idea or a source.  Even being quoted briefly in a news story can bring new business your way.  If you build up enough of those quotes, you start to become the local expert.  Spend the time getting to know your local media representatives, and make sure you’re meeting the reporters, not just the advertising sales people. 

Tip #4: Local flavor can find local favor:  The local news media, television especially, is very much invested in forming ties with the local community.  Many television stations will run segments on local communities which often feature local businesses.  Regional magazines may do the same.  When you watch the local news or read a regional magazine,  look for those sorts of stories, and make note of how you can submit your business to be included. 

If you keep your eyes open for new opportunities and invest a little time and effort, you can find many ways within your community to publicize your business.  Just remember that local reporters are looking for new angles on old stories and, like everyone else, they like things to be easy.  If you can supply good information and a fresh way of looking at the same old story, you have a very good chance of getting some publicity, which will certainly give your business a better chance at being noticed.

posted in Marketing Monday | Comments Off

3rd April 2008

Ordering From EnMart: An Update

On April 1, I wrote a post detailing some small changes we were making to the EnMart ordering process.  These changes were prompted primarily by a need to ensure that we were abiding by agreements made with our manufacturer partners and were in no way intended to interfere with our customers’ shopping experience. 

Since we put the new ordering information requirements in place, we have come to believe that there may be a better way to verify the information we need, without adding any additional steps to your shopping process.   Our ordering process will revert to its prior format, when the selection of the radio buttons was not required.  

While we are simplifiying our order process, we still need to have processes in place to make sure we are abiding by agreements we have made with our manufacturer partners.  The best way to do this is to contact you when you place your first order with EnMart.  This call will allow us to confirm that you are a commercial embroiderer, and that we can, per our agreement with our manufacturer partners, sell thread to you. 

Please keep in mind, the requirement for commercial embroiderer status applies to sales of Iris thread only.  We have no similar requirements for anything else on the store.  So, if you want to buy Ntrans transfers or blank emblems  you will not receive a call, and there is no requirement that you have a company name or a tax i.d. number. Those requirements are specific to thread, and in place only to satisfy the provisions of agreements that were made between us and our manufacturer partners.

If you have any questions about any of this information, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

As always, thank you for your interest in EnMart, and we appreciate your business.

posted in Shop EnMart | 1 Comment

2nd April 2008

Business Tips Wednesday: Filling Out the Forms

If you’ve ever tried to start a business, you probably know that there are a variety of forms that need to be completed to make your dream of owning a business a reality.  Some of the forms that need to be completed will vary by state or even by the city or county in which you live, and it isn’t possible to list all of those on this blog.  We can, however, cover some of the major forms you may have to complete and, since this is Business Tips Wednesday, we will.

Form Generator #1:  The IRS – Starting a new business means taxes, and there will certainly be forms that must be completed to make sure your taxes are assessed correctly and paid on time.  The IRS provides a website with forms and instructions for filing your papers and paying your taxes.  If you want to absolutely sure you’ve covered all your bases it is probably a good idea to retain a CPA who can go over your paperwork, bookkeeping and tax records at least once a year.

Form Generator #2:  Starting Your Small Business By the Book –  There are numerous books that claim to be able to walk you through the process of starting your small business, and also claim to contain all the forms you will need.   Books like Legal Forms for Starting and Running a Small Business can help you get started.   It is always best, however, to consult a lawyer in your state to be sure you are completing all the necessary forms.

Form Generator #3: Small Business Websites –  Entrepreneur.com  offers a wide variety of forms that may be of help.  The U.S. Small Business Administration is a government entity that also provides a website which offers primarily advice.  The SBA may be a good place to start if you are considering starting a business. 

While not necessarily a form generator, another place where you can get valuable advice and perhaps find someone who will mentor you as you take your first steps into the business world is SCORE.   This organization consists of both working and retired business owners who donate their time and knowledge to help the businesses of others grow.  SCORE has chapters in many cities and can be of great help when you are first starting your business.

Another option when seeking help with forms and with starting your business is your local Chamber of Commerce.  Part of the charter of most Chambers of Commerce is to help develop businesses within the local community.  Your Chamber of Commerce can also be a great source of referrals and a great way to meet other business people.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce website offers a chamber directory which will allow you to find a Chamber of Commerce in your area.

Starting a small business can be very exciting, but it can also be stressful and confusing.  Taking advantage of some of the resources listed above can help you preserve your excitement and optimism and make starting your small business easier than you had thought it would be.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

1st April 2008

Ordering from EnMart

If you’ve visited the EnMart store today, you may have noticed an addition to the front page.  We have added a small notice which says the following:

“Please Note: Due to our distribution agreement with Hilos Iris, EnMart is only allowed to sell Iris machine embroidery threads to registered companies. If you would like to place an order with us for Iris products, please keep in mind you must have a company name and a tax i.d. number. Our other products do not have this requirement. Thank you for your cooperation and we appreciate your interest in EnMart. “

This notice was added to the front page of the site to help ensure that we were in compliance with our agreements with our manufacturer partners.   Our agreements with Hilos Iris cover specific segments of the marketplace and so limits to whom we may sell thread.  As the note says, all other products remain unaffected by this agreement, and can be purchased without the need for a tax identification number.  

If you do make a purchase and proceed to the checkout page, you will see that you will now be required to make a choice when entering your shipping information.   Selecting one of the two available radio buttons simply helps our Customer Service and Shipping Departments make sure that the shipment of your order is in line with our agreements with our manufacturer partners. 

We do want to emphasize, if you do not have a tax identification number we will be happy to sell you any of our other products, such as blanks, Ntrans transfers, or backing.   The only thing we will not be able to sell those people without tax identification numbers is Iris Thread.  

If you have any questions about this or any of our other company policies, please feel free to contact us for more information.  We will  be happy to explain in more detail. 

posted in Shop EnMart | 1 Comment

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