3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: April 16

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) - What's happening in small business today?

1. How to build a business that cannot fail. Most people start a business because they think they can sell something or know something that others don't (and hope that others will pay to receive). However, a primary reason why so many businesses fail is because they aren't focusing on their customers - especially finding and keeping profitable customers, according to John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing.

"No matter if you're an accountant, consultant, plumber or jeweler, your main job is to get out there into some segment of the market you hope to serve and ask them what they want, what they don't have and what they are willing to pay for, even if what they want isn't what you want to sell - or maybe especially if that's the case," Jantsch says.

Jantsch warns that the process will take time. He suggests entrepreneurs test their marketing - everything from packaging to pricing to branding to the business model with their target market and learn what works and what doesn't. "Once you do this, you can move to building and scaling a marketing action plan that turns this process into consistent and predictable results," he says.

2. Two fashion entrepreneurs try their hand out at owning their own stores. Clothing and lingerie designer Julie Erinc and her husband, Metin, a former wholesale clothing seller, seem to be taking the NoHo section of Manhattan by storm. In just one year they've opened up four clothing stores and hope to open three more, according to DNAinfo.com.

Their stores -- BrowNY International, Designers' Collective and pop-up store Hip Hop USA -- all opened on the same block in the past year. They opened their fourth store this month, a women's clothing boutique that sells new and vintage clothing and jewelry, DNAinfo.com says.

Erinc, who has designed for companies including Urban Outfitters, Free People, Anthropology and Dillard's, says she wanted a place where she could sell items she has collected and her own designs. She opened multiple stores because she didn't think she could turn a profit with just one store opened.

"I decided I'm no longer going to be selling to the big stores," she told DNAinfo.com. "I'm going to be selling it all myself."

3. Twitter is great for small business. Experts insist that businesses should be comfortable with social media outlets, but how does being on a social media site actually translate into sales?

Small-business expert and USA Today contributor Steve Strauss shares four reasons why Twitter is great for small businesses.

First, the site is a "great megaphone for branding," meaning your tweets and overall Twitter page should reinforce your brand. Strauss says to become a "thought leader via Twitter," and then by gradually connecting with people through the site, you will build your brand.

Twitter is also a good prospecting tool, simply by using the search function you can find people who need what you sell or potential customers or suppliers, for instance. Twitter is also great for networking. Try following hashtag (#) conversations relevant to your business and interests.

Finally Twitter is a great tool for staying connected to customers. "Small businesses that have been most successful with Twitter use it to offer exclusive deals and content to their base. By encouraging your customers to follow you on Twitter, and doing so by offering special deals on the site, you are being given permission to interact with your customers more often," Strauss says.

Don't just offer sweet deals to your Twitter followers -- offer content that is valuable, interesting and most importantly, re-tweetable "because being re-tweeted is the best currency in Twitter. It is word of mouth advertising, a personal recommendation, and a free way to get noticed all rolled into one," Strauss says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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