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Verizon Business Markets Blog

Will You Please Niche Your Small Business?

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎08-22-2011 10:50 AM

Become Your Own Boss#65937A.pngGuest post from Melinda F. Emerson who wrote the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Melinda is known to many as the “Small Biz Lady,” one of the country’s leading small business experts. 



One of the top reasons why small businesses fail is because they try to sell to anyone that they think has money.  Now hear this:  If everybody can use your product or service, no one will.


That is why it’s important to have a niche – narrow in on your potential customers.  A niche has a particular market or specialty area where a company finds it profitable to concentrate its efforts. Niche marketing also offers an area of limited competition.


Why Niche? Niche marketing is cost-effective. By identifying your niche customer you can eliminate a lot of guess work and your marketing dollars will be targeted and go a lot further. The more specific your customers are the easier it is to meet their needs. You must study where they shop, where they live, how often they buy things, what their values are and what are their pain points—then armed with a detailed customer profile it is much easier to design custom solutions and sell to them.


Use the internet to dig deeper into your market. For example, I know an event planner created a website focused on Sweet 16 parties to advertise her business. She researched the key words people used to search for help with teen party planning and made sure to use those key words in her blog posts and marketing copy. Her business really took off after she launched her “princess for a day” website. Use the web to establish your niche brand, and become the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of your niche.


Niche marketing is a major theme in my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works.  The book walks you step-by-step through the Emerson Planning System, which will reduce your learning curve as you start your business. 


Reduce the Competition

You must niche to get rich as a small business owner. Nowadays, all competition is global.  Competing on price is virtually impossible, so it is all about adding maximizing value for your customers. This means you must specialize in solving their core problem.  The best thing about running a niche business is that you reduce the competition.


Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to go after too broad a market. They chase too many clients in too many diverse industries.  As a small business owner you have limited time and limited resources to market your business. Do not chase every ambulance going down the street that you think might have money in the back.  After months of doing this, your business will be on life support in need of emergency care.


If you try to sell to anyone with money—you’re going to struggle in business. And you will not be known for anything.  One of the best ways to carve out a niche for your business is to position yourself as an expert. Try blogging, writing a book, doing media interviews on your topic, expertise or the services you are offering.  Make sure you create a social media footprint that shows that you are the go to expert in your field. People will “google “you before they even pick up the phone to call you for a quote.


Consider this; lots of people sell graphic design services, promotional products and desserts. Why should anyone buy them from you?  Lots of people sell marketing consulting services.   What makes your services so special? What difference does it make to my business if I use your service? Do you have an answer for this in your business?


Do you have a niche business? Tell me about it?


The first 23 to post a comment will get a copy of Melinda’s book courtesy of the Verizon small business team.  To get real-time insights from Melinda Emerson join our LIVE Twitter chat tomorrow (August 11) at 2 p.m. ET.  For more information on the chat click here.




More Authors – Each Week in August!

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎08-08-2011 11:11 AM

Twitter.jpgI’m excited to announce that beginning this week and every week in August, I’ll introduce you to an author a week.  This is an expansion of the Verizon Author Series, bringing additional business experts to offer advice and tips to help our community of small business owners run their businesses better, more strategically and more productively.


As always, insights from each author will be available as a guest post on the Verizon Small Biz Blog; additionally, each author will be available on Twitter (#bizbooks) for a full hour to share additional business best practices.  So, get your questions ready! 


All month long there’s an opportunity for small business owners like you to win a free book (limited copies available) from one of our newly featured authors – simply read our blog; follow the Verizon Small Business team on Twitter (; or fan the team on Facebook ( for more information.


Featured authors this month and their books, in the series are:






Since the April launch of the Verizon Author Series, an author has been featured every month to connect these experts to small businesses across the country.


For tips on how to join our LIVE Twitter chats, check out this past post or check out this short video tutorial (just go about 59 minutes into this webcast).  Of course, don’t hesitate to post your questions below.


If you have authors you’d like to suggest for the Verizon Author Series, please let me know.Twitter bird.png



Develop Your Army of Entrepreneurs to Grow Your Business

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎07-26-2011 08:42 AM

VZ Webinar Series ICON.jpgGuest post from Jennifer Prosek, CEO of CJP Communications and the author of Army of Entrepreneurs™: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth. July’s featured author in the Verizon Author Series.  You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


In short, an ‘army of entrepreneurs’ is an internal force of committed, creative employees. It is also a management and leadership model that enables a business to grow and prosper in a fast-changing world.


Building an “army” entails empowering every employee to use his or her own resources and initiative to help the business succeed. Each person develops an “owner’s mindset” and becomes a powerful force for growth within the organization.


The timing for this strategy could not be more critical. The strongest force for growth in the coming years will be individual and collective intellectual capital and continuous innovation. In a fast-changing, competitive business world, employees must be looking around corners and anticipating change. To be successful, every employee must develop an “owner’s mindset” and treat the business like it’s their own.


In tomorrow’s live webcast I will teach business owners how to create their own “Army of Entrepreneurs.”


What You Will Learn in Tomorrow’s FREE LIVE Webinar


The good news is that entrepreneurial behavior is teachable. This program explains how to give your employees the tools, freedom and encouragement they need to be successful, to fully develop their talents and pursue their passions. It covers:


  • How to transform your employees from staff members to soldiers, from order takers to entrepreneurs;
  • How to create incentives that keep on giving across each employee’s career;
  • Ways to align an individual’s goals with the company’s bottom-line objectives;
  • Advice on recruiting, training, and retaining entrepreneurial employees;
  • How to measure success; and much more.


For more information or to register for this free live webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center please click here or visit  If you can’t make it, you’ll be able to watch the replay which will be available after my webinar.


If You Want the Best On Your Team: Build a Talent Pipeline

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎07-20-2011 07:19 AM

jen-prosek - small.jpgGuest post from Jennifer Prosek, CEO of CJP Communications and the author of Army of Entrepreneurs™: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth. July’s featured author in the Verizon Author Series.  You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.




It is never easy to find the right people at the right time. For a small business owner, the challenge to keep the talent pipeline filled and flowing is constant. I’ve found to maintain a steady supply of people at all levels of my firm, I’ve had to go beyond the traditional recruiting methods of headhunters and Internet job sites to create my own talent ecosystem.




Photo by Arnold Adler Photography


My tips:


Engage the staff. Make sure your staff understands that talent spotting is their job, too. Too often, staffers think recruiting is some mysterious process that happens behind closed doors in HR. Emphasize that you expect everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for great people who should be brought on board.

Be creative in job creation
. One way to build a pipeline is to create interesting jobs and internships for young people. Look for ways to use them that are interesting and give them a taste of what it’s like to work for your company. A summer spent slaving away over the copy machine is not very inspirational. If you hope that some of these young people will one day want to work for you, come up with ways to involve them in the real work of the firm. Also, don’t be constrained by old-fashioned job parameters – look for new ways you can make room in your company. For example, we don’t just offer a summer job; we also have 90-day internships during the school year.

Talent spot constantly.
Don’t just make this a process for “flush” times. Even when you are not expanding your staff, you should be on the lookout for great candidates. Get to know people. Understand their goals and what they might offer you. Then, when you have talent needs and your budget allows, you will be able to move quickly. One of the biggest mistakes business leaders make is to hire in a panic. Often, it may seem to the business leader that the situation can’t be helped – the new person is needed and speed is of the essence.


But my point is this: if you are constantly talent spotting, then when your business requires a “right now” hire, you can proceed without taking a big risk and bringing in someone in a hurry. Time invested when you don’t need the help will pay off later.

Measure your results
. It’s like the only saying goes: You get what you measure. If you do not measure your abilities to build a talent pipeline, you will probably never know for sure if you’re doing your best work and how your efforts could be improved. Keep track of the time and resources you spend on spotting and engaging potential talent and measure how well you’re doing in this process over time. You may be amazed to see places in the pipeline process where you can refine and improve your efforts. But without measurement, those opportunities may go unnoticed.


When you can make the talent pipeline a process rather than a pipe dream, that’s when the value really flows. How do you find talent for your business?  To read my other guest post on keeping employees click here.  


If you are interested in more insights, join my live webinar next Wednesday at 2 p.m. E.T.  It’s free and if you can join me live, you’ll have the chance to ask me your question(s) and get a copy of my book.  Click here to register for the webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.


Make Your Employees Work For You (For Themselves)

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎07-06-2011 09:10 AM

jen.JPGIt’s July and we’re excited to introduce another expert in the Verizon Authors Series: Jennifer Prosek who wrote Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth.


Jen is the founder and CEO of CJP Communications, where she leads many of the firm’s key accounts. Under her leadership, the firm has become a leading international public relations and financial communications consultancy with offices in New York, Connecticut and London.


The secret to CJP's success has been Prosek's ability to develop, motivate and deploy her employees to be more entrepreneurial within their own positions. This strategy is the premise of her first book which is based on CJP’s unique business model and is now available from AMACOM, a division of the American Management Association.

CJP and Prosek have won numerous honors. CJP was named an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing company, has been recognized as one of the "Top Places to Work in PR" by PR News, and was named "Small Agency of the Year" by The Holmes Report and one of the tri-state area’s 2011 “Great Entrepreneurial Places to Work” by New York Enterprise Report.

Prosek lectures frequently at business schools including Columbia, and entrepreneurial and business groups, such as the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute, Forté Foundation, The Royal Bank of Scotland Marketing Summit and British-American Business, Inc. 

She is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and the Columbia Business School.

You can follow Jen on Twitter and Facebook.


To get insights from Jen all this month, be sure to check back as she will share a couple of guest blog posts.  Also, join us for a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Centerwhich will feature Jen as a guest presenter on Wednesday, July 27 at 2 p.m. ET.  Lastly, join the live Twitter chat with Jen on Thursday, July 28th at 10 a.m. ET to directly ask her your questions.


The best part of the Verizon Authors Seriesis that we’ll be giving away Jen’s book Army of Entrepreneurs all this month.


To win your copy of Army of Entrepreneurs, be one of the first 10 people to send an email to telling us you’d like a signed copy of Jen’s book.  Of course, in the email, do share with us how you are motivating your employees to be more entrepreneurial. 

ArmyOfEntrepreneurs-book art.jpg 

Should you have any questions for Jen, don’t hesitate to post it below, we’ll do our best to get Jen to answer as many questions as possible.




Entrepreneurs, Startup Your Engines!

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎03-14-2011 12:55 PM

checkered_flags.jpgAs a big NASCAR fan, I have to admit that I was very excited to finally see Jeff Gordon cross the finish line as the winner of the 2011 Phoenix race last month. From the “start up your engine” command to the waving of the checkered flag, Jeff experienced many of the same high and lows that entrepreneurs and small business owners encounter – overcoming obstacles outside of their control, taking calculated risks under the pressure of making split-second decisions, and a tireless pursuit for perfection amongst relentless competition week in and week out.


In that same vein, the White House launched the Startup America Partnership in January which seeks to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among high-growth startup companies. The Startup America Partnership is positioned to promote the importance of private sector input and resources as critical components for job creation.


From a policy perspective, this initiative is turning to the private sector to: (1) inspire next-generation entrepreneurs (2) connect mentors and entrepreneurs (3) connect corporations and entrepreneurs, and (4) accelerate R&D commercialization and innovation.


To inspire the next-generation of entrepreneurs, we must recognize and promote educational achievement, particularly in math, science and technology to create the highly skilled workforce of tomorrow.  US technology and general economic competitiveness is at stake. Here are a few suggestions outlined recently by the Business Roundtable.


With respect to accelerating R&D commercialization & innovation, the private sector already plays an important role in developing its own partnerships. The partnerships between large and small firms are important relationships that drive commercial activity and further fuel innovation and opportunity.


So whether you’re already in the race or thinking about starting up your engine, your business can grow faster when you link up with others and take advantage of the policy initiatives that promote business, whether that be at the national, state or local level.  


Let us know how government policies to promote and support business in your area.

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About Verizon Business Markets
Get news from Verizon about Business Markets services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon Business Markets group and other experts to help keep your business growing.


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About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Tumara Jordan

Tumara is a contributor to the Business Markets Marketing team and she currently manages Social Media marketing campaigns.