Recently, the Commerce Sync team attended QuickBooks Connect Local in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. The event brought small business owners in Colorado together to learn, network and be inspired. We learned a ton of great information and wanted to share some of the highlights with our small business customers. The following five tips are based on an insightful presentation by famed expert on small business, entrepreneurship and business planning, Rhonda Abrams.Niche: narrow your scopeFinding a way to differentiate yourself from other businesses offering the same product or service is important. It might be as simple as catering to a specific demographic within a larger target market (e.g. divorced women looking for a new home vs an entire population of home buyers). Although it may seem counter-intuitive to focus on a smaller piece of the potential market, this strategy can really help you focus your energy and grow your business faster.Planning: you can't reach a goal you haven't setAs a small business, it’s important to have a business plan and set specific, quantifiable goals that can be evaluated on both an ongoing and annual basis. By creating a plan, you can estimate the resources you’ll need to be successful (time, money, people), set deadlines for reaching milestones and have clear, actionable goals to hold the business accountable. Just remember to be realistic when you’re setting your goals.Marketing: repetition is keyIn today’s high tech world, it takes 5-9 touches from your business until you’re noticeable to a prospective customer. With multiple touch points in mind, you’ll need to focus on three key aspects to drive a successful marketing campaign.Clear target market (this is your niche)Clear messaging (what do you want to communicate to your audience)Clear method of communication. Communication channels include:Social mediaNewslettersNetworking / word of mouthCollateralOnline advertising & search engine marketingTraditional advertisingTeam: you can't grow aloneIt’s important to evaluate your needs and figure out your budget before jumping in and hiring an entire team of people, so start slowly. If you find that you’re spending a lot of time doing tasks that are better left to someone with a different skill set, you can always outsource until it makes sense for you to hire additional employees. Mobile: where to find your next customer A 2014 Pew Study found that 90% of people in the U.S. own a cell phone. Of those, 64% access the internet on their phone and 34% use it as their primary way to access the internet. With the abundance of mobile usage, it’s a must for today’s small business owner to have a mobile enabled website. Accepting mobile payments is also highly recommended as is running your business in the cloud. Finally, you’ll want to make sure your business can be found so take advantage of internet listings on Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp.To all of our small business customers, we’re so happy that you’ve chosen to work smarter and live better with Commerce Sync. For those who are not yet customers, we invite you to check out how we can help simplify your accounting and save you 300+ hours a year!