Tag Archives: small business resource center

Trashing Financial Models, Games For Sales and Other Small Business News

Startups, Throw Out Your Financial Models: The Argument For Lean Modeling

Analyzing Financials

In an interesting article on Forbes.com, J.J. Colao argues for a simplification of financial models for the next generation of startups.  Create a way of tracking growth and projections in your financials that is lean and fits your entity.  The key is making sure that whatever metrics you use in your business, that they are tied to your long-term goals.

Measure those things that are important to your business in a way that will allow you to progress and adjust as necessary.  Make sure that your financials show you the information that you need to know and that will allow you to make the most beneficial decisions for your business.  As you build a strategy that works for you remember to adjust it as your business adjusts.

Also, remember that budgets and projects are a necessary part of doing business.  If you are aware of what is going on in your business, you are better equipped to succeed.

 

The Key To Motivating Employees: Make Sales A Game

We are dealing in an environment with a workforce that may see things differently than the past.  The rising generation reacts and adapts to changes differently and is motivated differently.  This article from Fast Company analyzes the new buzzword in technology, ‘gamification’ and outlines how it might be used to improve sales within your business.

What is your business doing?  Have you ‘gamified’ any departments in your business?

 

Whatever Can Go Wrong, Will. Start Up Anyway

Entrepreneurs face challenges.  They always well.  Things are not easy and that is what makes the success so much more fulfilling.  The above article from Inc. illustrates the challenges that startups face and the rewards that come from staying the course.  I definitely appreciated the inspiration.

What challenges have you faced in launching your business?  How have they been overcome?  Leave a comment below and let us know:

 

Get Inspired! Knowing What Motivates You Improves Your Business:

We are all motivated by different things.  Some take inspiration from friends and family.  Others look to nature and the world around them.  We even have famous examples or popular stories that connect us to people who would otherwise be strangers.  Inspiration is an excellent motivator and often calls us to action and increased success.  The key is taking the inspiration and doing something with it.  Here are some ways that you can use your inspiration to improve your business productivity:

1) WRITE IT DOWN!

It is critical that whenever you have one of those ‘Aha!’ moments that you write it down.  All too often we get a great idea but are pulled somewhere else and we do not follow-up on it.  Make sure that your write down what you feel inspired to do.  Also, make a note of what sparked the inspiration and map out in writing what you are going to do with the inspiration.

2) SHARE YOUR INSPIRATION

Create accountability by talking about how your were inspired.  It allows you to work through the possible kinks and get feedback on the direction that you are thinking about taking.  By ‘saying it out loud’, it makes things more real and it allows you to see how serious you are about the inspiration.  Also, it gives you help in executing the inspiration when properly discussed.

3) REFLECT AND MEDITATE

I have found that it is always useful to take some time to reflect and mediate on what is going on in life.  Take the things that you have written down and think about them.  Try to connect again with what motivated you and further develop the ideas and concepts that you are working with.  Give yourself a little time every day to be able to ponder and be inspired.

4) REVISIT WHAT INSPIRES YOU

If it inspired you, revisit it.  Make sure that you have a plan to follow-up and improve on the ideas that have motivated you.  Put yourself in a position to be inspired again.  Always be ready to progress and grow by reviewing the things that are most important to you.

Four Money Saving Tactics for Your Small Business to Try in 2013

Money saving tactics

Small businesses face a number of challenges from a variety of sources, because of their limited revenue small business success can be won or lost with a relatively small amount of money. In order to save money and help your business be more profitable this year these are some tactics to consider.

1. Eliminate Paper Wherever Possible

Electronic isn’t always better but in a lot of cases it is cheaper, electronic customer files require less storage space and are ready to be pulled up in a second. Electronic paychecks for employees remove the cost of printing checks and can be scheduled on a recurring basis so that they require less time and effort.

Even things that don’t seem like they would be easy to make electronic can be, like offering electronic invoices can allow your customers to choose whether or not to print and save your business money. Scanning documents and then sending out copies electronically is cheaper than making multiple hard copies for employees or customers as well.

2. Make Your Credit Cards Work for You

This tactic includes several different ways of making credit cards more efficient, so choosing a 0 percent balance transfer card and moving your debts onto it is an effective way to minimize the amount of interest that your business is paying. If your business doesn’t usually carry a balance, look for a credit card that has low annual fees and a longer grace period.

As well as avoiding paying interest, certain credit cards actually come with benefits. For instance, if your business flies people around regularly, consider getting the best airline miles credit card available. This way, when you make necessary purchases for your business you are also accruing miles for flights.

3. Buy Used or Lease Equipment

Equipment is a major expense for certain businesses and there is often no way around it. However, costs can be greatly reduced by choosing to purchase used equipment or lease, but both options have their pros and cons.

Used equipment is considerably cheaper to obtain than new but may have an extremely limited or nonexistent warranty, and it also typically requires a large, one-time purchase. Leasing may cost more in the long run since you never stop paying but it may also include costs such as maintenance and repair.

4. Prune and Target Your Mailing List

A mailing list can be an effective way for a small business to reach people but it needs to be properly targeted. Blanketing an area with advertisements is usually expensive and not worthwhile since most people won’t be interested, so instead, prune your mailing list to just the people you have purposefully selected and spend the rest of the money on your ad campaign.

To ensure that your ads are reaching the correct people, take advantage of the U.S. Postal Services’ offer to clean up your mailing list for free. They will correct addresses and add the 4-digit ending zip codes to your list, this may make your mailings eligible for barcode discounts and will ensure that your ads reach the people they are aimed at.

 

New Years’ Resolutions and Business

It has become very popular to make New Year’s Resolutions every year.  Whether or not we managed to keep our commitments and to reach the goals that we’ve set, most of us are still very open to make new resolutions for the upcoming year with the hope that we will be able to stay focused and accomplish them.

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that people make can be visualized below with the help of Mindomo mind mapping software:

NewYearsPic1

Our actions are very much related to the type of decisions that we make and the resolutions that we choose to define as guidelines for our choices.  Depending on the areas we focus on, our resolutions may be structured according to our personal, family or business interests and focus.  Since our lives are often defined by the choices we make, we have to be ready to live with the consequences of our choices, be they positive or negative.  Each day represents another chance for us to practice our decision-making skills and to define or redefine our resolutions.  Nevertheless, the end of one year and the beginning of another is a great opportunity for us to evaluate at a larger scale and from a yearly perspective our commitment level regarding the resolutions we’ve made and the areas which need improvement to keep a better focus.

Just as people have their own personality, mindset and decision-making styles, companies and organizations also have their uniqueness when it comes to making decisions and identifying New Year’s Resolutions.  In most cases though, yearly priorities can be made clear especially when most companies or business leaders involved in a specific economic sector have similar interests and pursuits.

In a recent global survey conducted by SLI Systems the findings showed that approximately 500 retailers who participated in the survey defined their priorities and New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 to be focused on the enhancement of website search, SEO strategies and mobile commerce.

What are the actions or strategies undertaken by your company?

Here are some suggestions you may want to consider in order to sketch out New Year’s Resolutions for your team, projects or organization:

 

1. Improve your Brainstorming Sessions

Start using a mind mapping app during your meetings where you can keep all your notes, comments and resources in one place.

NewYearsPic2

 

2. Increase your Team Productivity

Engage team members in real-time collaboration and have them experience the efficiency of building on each other’s ideas as they develop business strategies on a mind map.

NewYearsPic3

3. Expand your Collaborations

As you plan out different projects, invite external collaborators or business partners to work together with you on the same mind map, to share their ideas and contribute with valuable feedback.

 

4. Make your Products Stand Out

You can create outstanding presentations starting from the information you’ve laid out on a mind map.

NewYearsPic4

 

5.  Provide and Get Instant Feedback

Your comments are very valuable for your collaborators and team members and if you want to have maximum efficiency they can be instantly accessed by them if you are working together on the same project using a mind mapping app program.

NewYearsPic5

 

6.  Stay Faithful to your Deadlines

A realistic deadline can be gold for your business success, especially if you know how to time your activities and pace your activities.

NewYearsPic6

 

Naomi Mihut BloggerNaomi Mihut

Copywriter and Client Relations Manager at Mindomo

“Creativity is the gift that doesn’t have to be wrapped up in luxurious paper but has to be shared with others to make it valuable.”

Game Changer: Getting Serious About Your Website

If a company is not willing to take the time to put a professional website together, customers will notice because today’s customers are able to visit thousands of similar businesses from the comfort of their homes. They are searching for the best deals available from their smartphones on buses, trains, and in their cars, so your website has become the business card of the 21st century.

To get serious about your business, you must focus on a website, and there are several things that go into making a good website that customers can find and use. Implementing these strategies can help you stand out on the Internet for the right reasons.

 

Business Website

Build Your House upon a Rock

First, you must have a stable platform that can handle incoming traffic, and the platform must operate smoothly and load quickly. Definitely invest into a mobile version of your site, with how prevalent smartphones are, this needs to be available, so you may opt to change web hosting services to find a better platform for your website.

Blog About It

Secondly, you’ll want to ensure you have a blog and it is updated regularly, and this can be about promotions, sales, new products, initiatives, and other information you want to share with customers. You should update often enough to keep people coming back, because when there are too many days in between each update, it starts to looks as though you are absent and have forgotten about your business completely. As these people come back to your website, offer them discount codes, coupons, and newsletters or coupon pages directly to their inbox, as this can help boost your online sales.

Search Engine Optimization

Next, if you’re not using search engine optimization, you’re missing the boat. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the technique of putting commonly searched words and phrases to find similar companies into your website, this strategy helps your page be found by search engines. Google estimates 90 percent of sales occur on the first page of search results, and the top three links account for the majority of those sales, so hiring an SEO specialist, or having a team within your company can help move your business into those coveted spots.

Start to Get More Social

Finally, take advantage of social media, as these new tools are helping to connect customers and bring new sales. Major firms use social media to speak with customers directly, gauge interest in new products, and test new advertising strategies, and smaller companies use social media to build brand recognition and make a name for themselves. Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to build a following and customers for life.

If you’re not serious about your website, customers won’t come back, so learn more about and take advantage of fast, stable web hosting reseller services, utilize SEO and social media programs, and offer customers a reason to visit your website time and again.

Author Bio

Melisa Cammack has been freelance writing for several years, and is currently looking into getting her first book published next year. She is the proud mother of three children, and is the co-owner of a small business with her husband, and has recently relocated to Western Australia.

Christmas Business Party Do’s and Don’ts

Plenty of people love to show their employees how much they appreciate them with a business holiday party. When you love the idea of making sure that your employees have a great time at the business holiday party, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when you are doing the planning.

DO Get a Number of Attendees
The best way to plan a party is to make sure that you know who is going to be there. Tell your employees that they are welcome to invite their significant others or their friends, but they need to tell you who is going to be present. An easy way to inform everyone of the party is to send Christmas cards for business parties beforehand.

DON’T Schedule It For Christmas
Your employees might love their job, but the truth is that they love their family and their friends more. Make sure that there is a respectable amount of time between Christmas and your party, as this will allow people to be with their loved ones and not miss out on the office fun.

DO Restrict the Party List
If you want to have fun at a business party, think about keeping the list for adults only. While it can be fun to include the kids, you’ll find that it can also be fun to let the parents take an excuse for an elegant night. This is especially important if you are someone who prefers to keep the event rather quiet and low-key.

DON’T Skimp on Food
The holidays are a fantastic time to have a great meal, so make sure that you offer plenty of food. You may choose to keep things potluck for simplicity’s sake, or you might be more interested in getting the event catered. Having a catered event is a lot more fun when you are fitting it to a theme. Think about choosing what meal you want catered. While plenty of holiday parties take place in the evening, you might get a bigger turn out if you decide to do a holiday brunch or lunch.

DO Plan Ahead
When it comes to parties, there is no such thing as planning too far in advance. Get plenty of advance notice and make sure that people know what is on the table. The more planning you do, the better off you will be in the long run.

Christmas parties and holiday parties are a fantastic way to let your employees unwind, so consider what your options might be!

 

The Benefits of Furthering Your Education through Business Training Courses

Professional development in the business field is extremely important. Furthering the education of employees benefits the whole company. Any time an employee’s goals are considered along with the goals of a company, everyone wins. There are many training courses in Brisbane that can help a company and an individual further their education while still working in the field. Business courses are readily available online allowing individuals the convenience of learning from home.

Furthering Education during Employment

Professional development through training courses in Brisbane will take a time commitment as well as a possible financial commitment. However, this does not mean that a person should neglect it. The benefits of professional development are numerous, especially in today’s economic climate. Many people who have lost jobs have stated that they were not diligent in pursuing further education to help ensure that they did not lose out. Increasing your skills and staying relevant to the industry in which you work is extremely important for maintaining a job, especially at this time, when it is very much a dog eat dog world.

Many employers may request that an employee participate in a professional development program. These programs are typically paid for by the employer and should not be ignored. The employer offers this course to the employee in order for them to learn more, so they benefit due to an increased knowledge of their staff, and you improve because this is another skill acquired.

Professional Development Benefits

Perhaps the main benefit that an employee sees from professional development is the chance to earn more money. This is typically a very motivating factor when seeking out further business training. Enhancing your skills will make you more valuable to the company, which will result in higher pay and possible promotions.

It is important to plan for the future. Make sure to check out all the business training opportunities that are available. These training opportunities are a great way to increase your skill set. In addition, a broader skill set in the workforce can be extremely valuable, if the company that you work for has to downsize.

When it comes to professional development, it is a win/win situation. The employee will benefit from an enhanced skill set for the job. The employer benefits from having an employee who will be able to accomplish more. In addition, many business courses that are available teach leadership and management skills that will benefit both the company and the employee in the long-term.

The Two Most Important Elements Of Business

Small business owners typically have to wear all sorts of hats in the company.  The typical small business owner may fill the role of CEO, COO, CFO, and CMO at the executive level, and it is common for the same owner to have to regularly fill the role of frontline employees, such as the administrative assistant, the tech team, and the sales rep.  Trying to balance all of this out can be exhausting.  And even worse—it can be damaging to the business.

As an entrepreneur it is easy to get distracted by non-essential tasks.  This can be devastating because in the early stages of a business’ life, staying afloat is often the number one challenge.  Therefore, there is not a huge buffer of cash to allow for business mistakes and non-essential tasks to eat up an entrepreneur’s time.  Peter Drucker is widely regarded as one of the greatest business minds to ever live.  He emphatically proclaimed there were two business processes that trumped everything else—innovation and marketing.

Profitability

Cash is king.  In business, there is only one way to survive over the long-term:  a company must consistently make more than it spends.  This needs to be done on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.  Now, there are times of course, especially in the early stages, when a company may undergo a cash crunch and raise additional investment capital or secure debt financing in order to meet payroll, keep the lights on, and continue to move forward.  Eventually, however, those liquidity options disappear.  And when they do, if a company is not self-supportive, then it will fail.

Now, this may sound extremely capitalistic, but a business primary concern must be to generate more revenue than it spends on a consistent basis, and this is only done by developing a product or service the market wants and then presenting that product to the market.  That’s it.  Business operations, in all of their extreme complexity, can actually be summarized in that simple point.  This is why Drucker said all that matters is innovation (developing a product) and marketing (selling it) are the keys to sustained business success.

The Entrepreneur

Now, as an entrepreneur, it is incredibly easy to get completely distracted from these two key points.  It is easy to let non-essential tasks eat up hours of your day.  Here is a list of non-essential tasks that should be given extremely limited attention in the early stages of a business:

  • Posh office space
  • Office furniture
  • Paint colors for the wall
  • Technology that is not necessary for product development and marketing
  • Vendor relationships that are not directly related to product development and marketing
  • Meetings about things other than product development and marketing
  • Writing out 5 year business plans that include talks of taking over the known universe

This list is not exhaustive by any means, but hopefully it communicates the point that everything outside of product innovation and marketing should be given limited attention.  Focus on these two aspects of business, and the probability of success will be greatly improved.

Danielle Thomas is a writer for merchantseek.com, where you can find the best credit card processing solution for your business.

4 Tips for Improving Your Office Ergonomics

Office ergonomics – perhaps you have already heard about the word, perhaps not. That does not really matter. The truth is that a huge percentage of us is spending every single day in an office environment. There is no need to judge whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, it is just the way it is. The thing that we have to do – since it is practically impossible to change our office lifestyles – is to try to improve our office environments in a way that will help us get through our routines without any negative effects.

Even though you might not have not heard about office ergonomics yet, you have certainly already heard at least some tips about how your chair and computer desk should be set up. Those are the basic tips that everyone knows, but that may be not enough for those of us who really care about the details – even the tiniest ones. And that is where office ergonomics come in. Moreover, many of those commonly used guidelines are like myths. We have been hearing them over and over again for such a long time that we have simply learned to accept them as facts. Don’t get this wrong – most of them are good and, from what can be seen in many offices, most of us would be much better off with them. Nevertheless, it is certainly worth taking a closer look at what the really good advice is. Here are four tips for improving your office ergonomics.

Set Up Your Chair

First of all, let’s look at how to adjust your chair in the proper way, since that should usually be your number one priority when it comes to office ergonomics. The whole thing naturally starts with you buying a good enough chair, but that topic would span across more than a few articles, so let’s look at what can be done with the chair you already have at your disposal.

What you hear most often is that there is an ideal position for you to sit in – perhaps you have heard that you should have a right angle at your knee. That is usually good enough, but there is no need to take it as a gospel and stay in that position all the time. Move your feet around as is comfortable for you – and adjust the height of your chair accordingly. The same applies when it comes to your posture. It should be upright, but there is no need to believe that your hips should be at the right angle. Interestingly, a higher angle is more desirable – not only will your body weight be supported by the chair (which eases the pressure on your body), but you will also usually feel much more comfortable.

Adjust Your Workspace

Next, move away from your chair and look at your actual workspace. This part is all about common sense. You have probably been working in the very same place for quite some time, so think about what makes you the most problems. Is there something that you need for your work and usually have to reach it by doing artistic poses more than a couple of times a day? Well, just move it closer to your actual working area. It is also a very good idea to have the things which you need for your work the most directly in front of yourself. For example, if you are trying to transcribe a document, move your keyboard slightly aside in order to make room for that document. That is a much better option that having to turn your neck to the side all the time.

Another thing that some people are trying to implement is a strategically located footrest. There are many websites out there stating their obvious advantages. However, what might look like a good idea at first glance might not be the best of things if you take a closer look at it. The problem with footrests is that you are basically obliged to use them when they are in place. And, unfortunately, that basically limits you unnecessarily – and not only because your feet can only be in one place. Instead of using a footrest, try lowering your chair in order to feel comfortable.

Manage Your Computer

Now, let’s look at what you can do when it comes to your computer. Most commonly, it is suggested that your eyes should be about 18-24 inches away. Well, the thing is, giving an exact number might not be the best way to do it. The ideal distance is as far as it’s possible while still seeing clearly. That is the “natural“ configuration that is the best for your eyes.

The very same rules apply when it comes to the keyboard and the mouse. Gone should be all the “number-oriented“ guidelines – they are way too mechanical and generalizing. It does not matter where your keyboard is, it matters whether your arms are comfortably supported whenever you use it. And the matter is completely the same when it comes to your mouse.

Have Enough Breaks

Finally (and this can’t be stressed enough!), do make a break here and there. Everyone seems to be forgetting about this point. There is no need to perform elaborate stretching routines or go to a gym for fifteen minutes – it is more than enough to just go for a swift walk around with a few simple exercises thrown in for fun. Enjoy them as much as you can – that will help both your body and your mind. And, most importantly, try to eat your lunch away from your workplace as often as possible – we don’t need to mention the reasons for that, do we?

There is plenty of things that you can do in order to improve your office environment and, along with that, your health. Some of the tips that have been mentioned might look a bit out of this world. Well, they are not – but there is nobody who can force you to follow them. Think about yourself and do what you think is best for you – that is what matters the most!

Byline: Lewis Edward is a real estate expert and one of the owners of The Office Providers. He spends his free time by sharing his knowledge and experience about office space to rent and other business matters on various websites and blogs.

Pros and Cons of In-House and Outsourced Telemarketing

Telemarketing is one of the most effective ways to extend the horizons of your business. And getting the right ones to do the most effective job is the uphill task. Especially when you are caught up in dilemma of an outsourced and in-house option, the best is to assess the needs of your business and then make that big decision. Based on your needs and the advantages and disadvantages discussed below, choose the right kind of telemarketing service and thereby get benefitted.

seeing stars (04-30-08)

In-house telemarketing

Advantages

  • The first and foremost advantage of having an in-house telemarketing service is the direct access you have to the clients which is based on your business requirements.
  • By having the direct access, you can hire the right kind of people whom you need for the job and train them accordingly. So, managing your resources becomes an easy work saving your valuable time.
  • By having telemarketers at our own disposal, one can have a better insight of the happenings. Also, instant feedback is guaranteed when you have an in-house facility and thereby make changes accordingly.
  • Yet another great advantage is your company’s sensitive data will be preserved for good.
  • Above all, you can work independently without being bound by contracts.

Disadvantages

  • Setting up the separate telemarketing unit is time-consuming.
  • Expensive when compared with outsourced service, as setting and managing the team needs a separate budget out of your company.
  • Especially if you are equipped with a small office space, sparing some space for the telemarketing unit is difficult.
  • If your business’ is on the downside, it has a direct influence on the telemarketing service, making the recovery phase difficult.

Outsourced telemarketing

Advantages

  • Cost effectiveness is the prime reason for the large open market outsourced telemarketing firms have in the current market trend. With a dedicated work force already set in, these firms are able to offer professional service at affordable rates when compared to the in-house facilities. Especially, when the firm is in a country whose economic status is lesser than yours, it becomes a much preferred option.
  • With a dedicated work force, outsourced firms are able to meet their deadlines on time.
  • Saves our time in hiring people as the telemarketing firm has a dedicated team of workers who abide by all the rules and regulations of the telemarketing industry.
  • The whole process of telemarketing your products will run smoothly irrespective of the state of your business.

Disadvantages

  • Finding an able telemarketing firm in the large pool of market is very difficult.
  • And if the telemarketers are poorly equipped in terms of the communication skills or product handling, it adds to the woos of your company further.
  • Unless and until you source your leads, these firms don’t generate good leads in accordance with your business.
  • Extending the contracts of the firms and its telemarketers takes up a lot of your business time.
  • Irrespective of your dominance over your business, few decisions need to be taken by the telemarketing firm which might breach few of your ideals.

With advantages and disadvantages on both sides, one needs to be wise while making the decision about telemarketing services, considering the priorities of the company.

Preserving The Good Name Of Your Business

In business, one of the most important aspects of any business is the reputation of the business itself.  By upholding a good reputation, the business is telling its customers that they care about their image, as well as their customer’s opinions.

By hiring professional reputation managers, businesses of all sizes are able to breathe a bit easier about their image.

What Does A Reputation Management Service Do?

Reputation management services provide maintenance.  This is not the kind of maintenance you would order for a printer, website, or database, however it is equally as important.  These services maintain the company’s reputation.

In order to maintain a company’s reputation, in-depth searches must be done to find out what kind of information is out there regarding the company.  These searches bring up blog posts, reviews, client comments and many other every day postings on the internet that involve the business name, its employees and its owner.

If negative content is found during these searches, the reputation management provider will judge the severity of the content as well as make attempts to have the postings removed or buried in order to protect the business client’s standing.

Are Negative Product Or Service Reviews Really That Important?

Negative reviews are absolutely important.  While one or two so-so reviews may not affect the reputation of a business, five or more of these reviews can be very harmful.  A reputation management company will take immediate action to have these reviews removed, blocked, or buried due to being out-dated at all costs.

The only reviews you want out there are good reviews.  While it is a simple fact that negative reviews can and do happen, you do not want them to be in the spotlight.  Instead, you want a large number of positive reviews to pop up first when a search is made regarding the company.

Can Every Post Or Comment Be Removed?

No, not every single post or comment can be removed.  Some websites may not be willing to remove content that is not directly slanderous to the company.  However, the majority of blogs and other community sites will more than willingly remove content that is proven false, malicious, or out-dated.

Out-dated posts make up a large number of postings that are often found to be incorrect.  This is beneficial, because out-dated postings are often the easiest to have removed from circulation.  Much like a statute of limitations, most websites have a time frame which they will consider regarding old posts.  This makes the removal a simple process, as the site will not be inclined to argue the request.

Preserving the reputation of your business is very important, especially if you want to remain in business very long.  With this in mind, business owners should always be prepared to do the work necessary to improve their reputation whenever they can.  By hiring a professional management service to handle this task, they can ensure that regular monitoring is done and that their business reputation is held intact.

 

Tina is a freelance writer who has a strong interest in the growing industry of reputation management and managing services for business.  She often blogs about the many reasons it is important to take control of any online business or personal reputation in a proactive manner.

 

Dubai, A Perfect Place to Do Business

Location can play a huge part in the success of a business. Ask any business owner, anywhere. Being in the right place, and at the right time, too, can often mean opportunity presents itself when otherwise it perhaps wouldn’t. The Middle East is perfectly placed in that respect, with major emerging markets to the east and west. Add minimum red tape and bureaucracy and a strong international banking presence to the mix and the decision to move there becomes decidedly easier. That’s why the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the city of Dubai in particular, is increasingly seen as the perfect place in which to do business.

A case in point is the rapid rise of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the financial and business hub which connects the region’s emerging markets with the developed markets of Europe, Asia and the Americas. A large number of banks and brokerages have established a presence in the DIFC, attracted to the region by its wealth and cross-border trade and investment activity. As a result, company’s both large and small have greatly benefited with a plethora of tailored services including business banking accounts in the UAE and in other nearby countries.

Of course, it’s not just excellent and insightful business financing that’s crucial to the decision-making process. There are many other factors likely to sway any reluctant investor or entrepreneur. Bureaucracy is the biggest single issue often cited which prevents a business from setting up or expanding into a new jurisdiction. Red tape stifles freedom to act and to respond to changing business realities which can adversely affect the ability of a company to trade profitably. Get the balance right and businesses come quickly knocking on the door.

And that’s exactly what has happened both in Dubai and the wider UAE over the last few years. Literally tens of thousands of businesses have set up in the country’s dozens of free zones and now enjoy the benefits of a relaxed regulatory and taxation environment which is the envy of many countries around the world. Go online and check out the benefits. See what they would do for you in terms of your company’s profitability.

In recent weeks, two high-profile global financial institutions have set up in the DIFC, Standard Life, a leading long-term savings and investments company, and Coutts, the London-based international private banking and wealth management firm.

Standard Life’s Nathan Parnaby, Chief Executive, Asia and Emerging Markets, said, “Our long term vision within the Middle East is to build a leading retail savings and investments business. Being a large and respected wealth centre, the UAE is at the centre stage of our regional business strategy. We are confident of strong growth as there is high demand within the region for established and trusted brands like Standard Life to deliver leading savings and investment solutions.

“The DIFC is a recognised financial centre and we are committed to building our regional business from there, building on the strength of our existing relationships with customers and distribution partners.”

Coutts CEO Rory Tapner said, “Our relocation to the DIFC represents a significant milestone for Coutts in the Middle East. In addition to offering a more central location, our presence here will allow us to provide a greater degree of investment advice to our clients who work with us in the region.”

Go here for more information on the DIFC.

Business Budgeting for Start-Ups

A budget, like a business plan, is absolutely necessary for a start-up business venture. Without a budget, the owner will not know if he or she has included everything. There will be no picture what the business will look like at the end of the year without revenues estimates. Often business start-ups are short on available funds. There is often a time constraint on how long the business has to break even and start making a profit. A budget that shows an eventual profit makes a case for a valid, sustainable business.

In addition to providing a picture of the business, the budget is at the same time, a road map. Extending income and expenditure out into the future will give the owner (and possibly investors or creditors) an idea of what the route the business will follow and describe its long-term possibilities. In doing an initial budget, there are three basic categories that have to be accounted for: initial start-up costs, expenses and revenues.

Initial start-up costs are one-time costs necessary for starting the business. For example, these include attorney fees for incorporation, logo design, stationery and brochures, research and development, insurance, consultants and rents are a few of them. Start-up expenses will vary with the type of business.

Expenses fall into two primary categories: fixed and variable. A fixed cost is one that does not change when the volume of business changes. Rent is a fixed cost. Lease payments for car or office furniture are also considered fixed. Salaries that are set on a monthly basis are also in this category. Variable costs, on the other hand, change as the volume of business changes. Shipping costs, hourly wages, and marketing costs are examples of this type of expense.

One useful method is to put your expenses into categories, rather than lumping them all together. Generally, these categories are the cost of sales, professional fees, cost of technology, administration, sales and marketing and wages and benefits.

Spending some time with your accountant is invaluable when setting up an initial budget. An accountant will be able to go over your budget items and review what you have included. The accountant will also be able to make sure that your accounts have been numbered and named appropriately. This will make it easier to apply your expenses correctly.

Revenue should also be added to your budget to complete the picture. Revenue projections should be based upon research and be a reasonable reflection anticipated business activity.

Review your budget with your accountant. Having a professional look at budget and evaluating it in terms of reasonableness will help assure that all costs have been considered and revenue is realistic. This budget is vital in the development of your business plan.

Don’t toss your budget into a desk drawer, however. Review it regularly, comparing the forecasted numbers to the actual results. This should be done on both a monthly basis and a year to date basis. Budget reviews will help you find areas of expenses and revenues you might have misjudged or missed altogether. By staying on top of your budget and actual performance, you will have the opportunity to adjust costs and revenue projections to reflect exactly where the business has been, where it’s going and find opportunities for growth.

 

Branding for Startups

Many experts agree that branding should start as soon as the company is formed. As prospective customers, friends and business peers ask about the venture, the words used to describe your company begin the branding process immediately. For this reason, it is critical that some serious thought be given to branding before company representatives begin making statements that will shape the company’s image.

Viable questions that must be answered for branding purposes relate to understanding who your target market is, and the benefits you want them to associate with your company brand. How a business differentiates itself from competitors must be clearly communicated. Depending on the target market, the message can be quite different. Focusing on a few memorable sound bites that summarize your company’s competitive edge is a proven way to make a memorable impression. Communicating this message to company representatives is critical to ensure that a consistent and clear business message is being marketed.

Here in Ireland there are a number of companies who offer branding services to start-up businesses including Forza Direct Marketing who are based in Cork. What do you need to know about branding and what is different about branding for businesses?

The Importance of Branding

In a crowded marketplace companies must clearly distinguish themselves from their competitors. Companies often get only one chance to win over a prospective customer. If the company fails to make a persuasive case when the customer’s spotlight shines on them, they may never get another opportunity. Given the ease of researching competitors on the Internet, customers have no incentive to buy from a business that does not impress them immediately. Branding involves identity, the company promise and ultimately the customer experience.

Branding Versus Marketing

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of confusing marketing with branding. While they are interrelated, marketing activities are different from branding. Branding strategy determines what the message is for the marketplace. Marketing delivers that message. First the branding strategy must be determined before the message can be delivered via different marketing vehicles.

Brand Identity

The brand identity answers a customer’s who question, as identified by name, logo, colours and short jingles. To establish brand identity, selecting a good name is critical. Simple names that are easy to say and spell usually do better for marketing purposes. Many experts say that a name should be selected that makes it obvious about what the business sells. One mistake that cripples many start-up business enterprises is that they think once they have a name and a logo that they are ready to launch the company. The truth is that they have taken only the initial step of creating a brand by selecting a name and logo.

Brand Promise

The promise is what the company brings to the customer that has value and is superior to what other competitors offer. Brand promises should focus on benefits to the customer, instead of features. The brand promise should be communicated clearly and in a simple and brief statement. It is common to use a sound bite phrase to differentiate a company from competitors.

Brand Experience

As the name suggests, the brand experience is the actual customer interaction between the customer and the company. How the company delivers on the promise made to the customer contributes to the brand experience. Everything from the customer service at the time of purchase to the actual quality of the product and service is judged by the buyer and impacts the experience the customer has as a buyer.

Summary

In a competitive marketplace, start-up companies must give buyers a reason to purchase. Differentiating your business from competitors is a necessity. Then, communicating that competitive edge is a must to succeed as a new business. Start-up enterprises must be able to deliver the promise to succeed in the long-term.

Dave Dunne is a freelance writer and blogger who writes on a variety of topics including business, marketing, web development and SEO.

Understanding the Universe of the Promotional Items Industry – from Buyer to Supplier

There are various elements making up the promotional items industry: manufacturers; distributors; and buyers. The manufacturer makes the items in question, providing a range of branding types and opportunities for the end-user. The distributor is the channel through which the various products make it into the market; and the buyer is responsible for finding the products most suited to a specific branding initiative or advertising campaign.

The more information each of these industry strands is party to, the better the overall landscape of the promotional items can be. For instance, the distributor can distribute more effectively when he or she has access to complementary services (like website designers); and the buyer is given more power when he or she is able to define the likely success of different types of promotional product. If you have access, for example, to information telling you roughly how long each type of promotional item is likely to be kept for when it is given, then you can start making informed decisions about the kinds of promotional items you are going to use in your next advertising campaign.

Knowing when industry events are going to happen is a big help. A calendar of upcoming events ensures that all the players in the promotional items industry are kept informed of where to be and when – for showcasing their products; for attending seminars designed to help them get the most out of promotional products; or for networking with companies whose complementary services may help them expand their own influence.

It is also useful to know that membership of a specific organisation can confer benefits – both through networking and through the possession of a recognisable badge. Striving for chartered status, for example, in an organisation whose reputation makes it an acme of good practice for the whole industry – all three strands of it – is a way for individual manufacturers and distributors to prove their quality and their intention to continue delivering outstanding customer service as they grow.

The charter mark itself, where it is achieved, can be used as a badge showing physical proof of this quality to the industry as a whole. Eventually, as more and more manufactures and distributors come to possess a chartered mark, they can hope to be recognised in the wider market as exemplars of the highest quality product and service.

It’s important to note that the customer service a promotional items manufacturer or distribute prides is in itself a product. When a buyer comes to a distributor for a specific type of promotional item, he or she expects to purchase not only the item itself but the service that goes with it. That means a rapid turnaround of order; accurate order fulfilment; and a clear and helpful customer service route in the event that anything goes wrong.

Again, membership of a promotional items charter may help to confer visual proof of this kind of service on the bearer – ensuring that its customers know in advance that they will be able to trust the package it provides.

Why You Need A Franchise Lawyer

So you’re buying into a franchise. Needless to say, you’re about to make a big life decision. And for any big decision, especially one that you’re investing tens – perhaps even hundreds – of thousands of dollars into, you’re going to want to make sure that it pays off in the end. That’s why it’s important to have guidance along the way, whether you’re a franchise prospect or a franchise owner. A part of this guidance is hiring an experienced franchise lawyer.

So what exactly is a franchise lawyer? Specifically, they help franchising prospects understand the legal issues associated with buying into a franchise. While this is more of a preventative measure than anything else, hiring someone to read between the lines and understand the legal rules and regulations associated with franchising is something that can prevent you from making a devastating mistake. For instance, franchise lawyers can help you understand two important documents that are required to become a franchise owner – the franchise agreement and Uniform Franchise Offering Circular, or UFOC. These are two documents that aren’t particularly easy to understand; hence it’s beneficial to hire someone to understand them for you. What’s more is that your lawyer can actually act as an agent of sorts for you when negotiating your franchise agreement with the parent company. So in actuality, while you’re paying a lawyer before you even become a franchise owner, your lawyer can save you big bucks on the start-up costs associated with buying into the business, which can be worth the investment in and of itself.

There’s also an assortment of specialty laws and regulations you must fall into when buying into a franchise opportunity. That’s another area where a lawyer comes in handy – a professional can advise you to make sure you fall within these legal boundaries. Not to mention that it’s nice to have professional, trustworthy aides that can look over your documents when you might not have the time or patience to.

However, in saying that, it’s important to hire a qualified franchise attorney that has experience in the field. And you probably aren’t going to want to hire one until you’re getting close to pulling the trigger. For instance, to keep your up-front expenses low, do all your research and homework first on the franchise that’s peaking your interest. Then after you’ve met with the representatives and believe it’s the right fit for you, then it’s time to hire legal representation.

If you still don’t think it’s worthwhile to hire a franchise attorney after reading this, then we have some words of caution for you – proceed at your own risk. And good luck.

FranchiseClique.com connects entrepreneurs with their perfect franchise fit. Our easy to use comprehensive directory lists hundreds of the best franchise opportunities and businesses for sale. We’ve got all the information you need to identify which business is right for you.

3 Clever Ways to Advertise Your Event

Planning a successful event takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and creativity. Arranging and running the event is only half the battle. If no one shows up for it, the event itself simply can’t be a success. Fortunately there are a variety of ways that event organizers can effectively get the word out without spending too much of their advertising budgets.

Postings

This massive website can be used for more than just selling a used car, finding a roommate, or setting up your next blind date. In the Community sections of the metropolitan pages, there is a sub-category called “Events.” Here you can post a listing for your event at no cost to you. The caveat is that you are relying on your potential event attendees being able to find your listing and getting the necessary information about the event.

Door Hangers

This type of advertising is not solely limited to pizzerias and dry cleaners. Savvy event promoters have used door hangers to quickly let an entire community know about an upcoming event. Unlike the similar approach of using direct mail, door hangers do not have the added expense of postage to be able to deliver their message. With a bit of research, individuals can be hired to accomplish the task of getting as many door hangers hung as possible in a localized area. The major drawback is finding a printer who can generate them for a cost-effective amount.

Custom Vinyl Banners

Another great way to advertise an event is through the use of vinyl signs. Vinyl signs can be seen just about everywhere. From front lawns, to the backs of benches, to attach to vehicles driving around town, Custom Vinyl Banners are versatile and visible. When placed in high traffic locations, they can be quite powerful in generating a buzz about an upcoming event. A plus of vinyl signs is that they are resilient to weather, and therefore can be used outdoors without worry. Many people are also quite surprised in the fact that having signs made is quite affordable.

There’s no need to break the bank in trying to get the ideal number of people to visit the event you are planning. For most event organizers, every penny counts.

Author Bio

Lyndsi is a full-time event planner and part-time freelance writer. In her free time she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family in Arizona.

Options for Promoting Your Business with Promotional Clothing

Whether your business is a start-up, or you have been running for some time; finding effective and unique ways to promote your business on a budget is a challenge in itself. Every industry is competitive right now, which means that standard marketing techniques are familiar to customers and may not be as effective as they once were.With a little out of the box thinking, and a little research, there are many ways a business can advertise and market products and services without spending much at all.

Promotional clothing is a marketing technique that has been around for a long time and is a highly effective method in getting your businesses name or brand out there for the public to see. Brand marketing is vital and really important, especially for a start-up business. Getting your businesses name out there is essential to show potential customers what you have to offer, make potential customers know that you are there, and the gain interest whilst engaging with potential customers.

Spreading the word about your business with promotional clothing is an affordable and effective solution. There are a number of ways in which you can make this happen over a required and relevant area. You could choose to distribute promotional clothing via your customers as free gifts. They will then effectively be your walking billboard whilst also feeling satisfied in their customer experience. Their experience will also encourage word-of-mouth advertising and will encourage them to come back again.

If your promotional clothing is stylish; you could even find people coming to your business and spending their money just for the free clothing! This might seem slightly off-track; but marketing is about getting the customers in. When the customers are in; this is when the business owner and employees have to take over and make sure their experience is great so they will come back again or at least tell their friends.

You can even give the promotional clothing to your friends and family; with the promise of a drink on you at the next gathering of course! You can attend trade shows; they are there so you can advertise your business and network with potential clients and other business owners. You can wear your clothing to catch the eye of those potential clients and even distribute it too with the promise of a large audience. You can use your clothing as a conversation starter and a way to engage those essential new acquaintances.

Choose something stylish that people will want to wear such as a t-shirt and your marketing efforts can have a huge impact on your business. The technique is a highly effective way of getting your businesses name and brand out there without spending a lot of money. Buying in bulk can be beneficial depending on the provider you use, but shop around and find a reputable provider who can offer you the quality products that you need to make your business stand out from the crowd. Take your business where it needs to be and make sure everyone possible can see that you are there and what you have to offer.

Overview of Business Branding

Your company’s brand is going to play a significant part in evaluating what consumers think of your products.

Simply put, a brand will develop an image in the minds of your target audience and clients. Therefore, you need to be extra careful when implementing business branding strategies.

Distinctive logo

For the success of your business, it is quite important that your logo is unique and you use it on a regular basis when it comes to business marketing and promotion.

It will go a long way in ensuring your business gets established as a brand in a quick time. For example, majority of individuals linked the image of the “golden arches” with McDonald’s.

Catchy slogan

When your main objective is to reinforce your brand with your target audience, you will require a catchy slogan. Another good thing about a catchy slogan is that it will act as an awareness tool regarding the launch of new products and services.

Making it colorful

If your brand is colorful, you will be able to attract new customers much more easily. Furthermore, colors can also give details regarding the product type you are selling. For example, if you are dealing with eco-friendly products, use of green color is advisable.

Emotion

Rather than just focusing on the brand physical characteristics, your brand strategy should be designed in such a way that it also develops an emotional bond in the mind of your target audience.
For example, motorcycles of Harley-Davidson appeals to individuals who want something extra from the daily routine life.

Positive aspect

You can use your brand strategy in highlighting how your products are going to be advantageous for the global audience. It is worthwhile mentioning that company, which employs environmentally friendly manufacturing routines, is playing his part in ensuring that world is more cleaner.

By including such features into your brand strategy, you increase your chances of attaining success.

Brand creation

One of the most striking features of brand creation is defining your mission. Be clear in your mind what sort of concepts you are going to use in your business. If you are not aware of your competitors, you are going to face issues in defining your business. Therefore, study the market condition first before moving into the stage of brand creation.

You need to have a proper understanding of your target audience. If your products are only applicable to homeowners, target them rather than business owners and parents. Use of right kind of promotional technique is an absolute must. If you are using a wrong promotional technique, it is going to have a negative impact on your overall business.

With regard to brand marketing, it is always a good idea to start a blog regarding your company, updating it with the achievements, kind of products you deal with, what makes you different from others and so on. When involved in the brand creation, take a close look at your business plan. You would not like to divert yourself from the original business plan. After all, it is the cornerstone of your business.

 

Author Bio: Kerry is a contributor to several blogs. Currently writing for Compass Concepts a small businesses who offers advice on marketing, branding, logo design etc.

5 Common Mistakes that Prevent Your Small Business from Growing

The competition is stiff for small-business owners, and if you want your business to grow and succeed, there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do. Hard work, commitment and dedication are critical as you endeavor to turn your business idea into a booming small business. Although it’s normal to make mistakes along the way, there are certain foibles you want to avoid, if possible. Consider these common mistakes and use them as a heads-up to help you improve your learning curve on the way to small business success.

  1. Don’t be Ruled By Fear or Risk-Taking. A solid middle ground will help you move forward in your business without going overboard. Many first-time small-business owners find themselves paralyzed by the fear that they’ll make mistakes. While others take the all-or-nothing approach and dive right in without a lot of thought. Neither stance is good for the longevity of your business. Stay in the middle by balancing out fear with calculated risks. Do a little research beforehand so you feel more informed and certain about the step you’re planning to take. Then take it; plans without action won’t get you very far.
  2. Don’t Be an Island. Many small businesses begin as one-man or one-woman operations, but eventually you’ll need to delegate some tasks to an employee or employees. Whether these employees are hired full-time, part-time or contracted to work for you on an as-needed basis, their help allows you to focus on the tasks you really need to attend to. Try as you might, it’s not possible to do everything by yourself without heading toward burnout.
  3. Avoid Micromanagement. Once you hire someone to help you, you’ve got to trust them enough to let them do their job. The point of hiring help is to let your employee do what he or she does well so you can focus on what you do well. Micromanaging will not help the job get done better or faster. Instead, it’s likely to result in the loss of an employee, which leads to a loss of time and training dollars for you.
  4. Don’t Ignore Red Flags. A warning sign, no matter how big or small, that something is amiss in your business should never be ignored. The best tactic is to be proactive so you can prevent difficulties from arising, but it’s not possible to prevent everything. Deal with a difficult situation or mistake head-on by focusing on the solution and remembering to behave professionally throughout the situation.
  5. Avoid Complacency. Once a goal is achieved, it’s normal to want to cruise for a while. This is seldom a good idea because as you’re cruising, the next small-business owner is sailing by. Always plan the next goal or step, instead of coasting, to make sure your business remains in expansion mode.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re the owner and operator of a small business. As you expand your business, take the time to network within your local and internet community to create a supportive environment where ideas can be exchanged. Other small business owners, especially those who’ve demonstrated success, can provide wisdom to help you as you establish a strong foundation in the business world.

Mary Ylisela writes on behalf of TouchpointDigital.co.uk,  for your digital marketing and communications goals.

Creating the Right Impression for Retail Assistants

In the world of retail, first impressions count.  If your sales assistants are inattentive, dishevelled, or rude, then you could be losing customers. It’s hard to change the attitude of an employee; some people are simply good with customers, while others aren’t – however, you can change the way that people present themselves.  The right uniform can make a big difference.

Uniform Design for Retail

Most major stores make use of uniforms for their customer facing employees.  There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, enforcing uniforms is easier than enforcing a dress code.  Secondly, uniforms make it easier for employees to spot each other, and help customers figure out who is staff, and who is a customer, so they can ask the right people for help when needed. A good uniform can improve morale too, making your employees feel smart, ready to go, and a part of the team when they put it on.

Smart Uniforms

The challenge, when creating a work uniform, is to come up with something that looks distinctive, and that people like wearing. Simple design choices are usually best.  For example, a polo shirt in your company colours, with your logo embroidered on it, will probably look good, and will be fairly cheap to make too.

In contrast, unusually cut or designed shirts, overly fancy cravats or ties, and strangely designed hats are likely to be unpopular with employees.  There are some jobs where a hat and cravat may be warranted (flight attendants, for example), but they’re overkill for retail.

If you want to have a hat as part of the uniform, consider offering choices; perhaps baseball caps and ski hats with your logo embroidered on them, so that people have something to wear at any time of the year.

Of course, with any uniform design, it’s important to consider your target audience.  A high-fashion clothing store aimed at relatively affluent customers will need a different uniform to a more general retail store, or a store selling gadgets and computer equipment.

Name Badges?

Name badges are a useful addition to any uniform.  When an employee is wearing a name badge, they’re more accountable for their actions – good and bad.  The design of your name badges should be considered carefully, however.

Some companies put a picture of the employee on the badge – this can be useful in that it prevents the badge from being used by someone else, improving security. However, most people don’t like having their picture taken, and let’s face it, most ID photos aren’t flattering – do you want those things on your name badges?

Another thing to think about is the general design of your badges.  Tread carefully if you want some sort of rank or performance identifier on the badge.  When your HR department pitches an “Employee of the month” scheme to you, it might seem like a great idea, but if you put stars on your badges, you’re heading into fast food restaurant territory.  Is that really the message you want to send to your employees and customers?

The best uniforms are simple and smart.  If you wouldn’t be willing to wear your new uniform design out in public, why do you expect your employees to do so?

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Name Badges International.

Competitions and Your SMS Marketing Campaign

SMS marketing is an effective way to reach out to your customers, but building a large opt-in SMS marketing list, and encouraging the people on that list to respond to your messages – rather than those of a rival, can be quite difficult; especially if your rival has a bigger budget, and is able to run campaigns across several media, such as magazines, billboards, or the radio, as well as bulk SMS.

One way to build an opt-in list quickly is to run text competitions. Competitions build excitement and engagement, and can generate goodwill too.  You will need to spend money on prizes, but if the prizes are topical and interesting enough (perhaps a new iPhone, or a small holiday package), then you should easily get enough people joining your list to recoup the cost of the prizes.

Free vs Premium SMS Numbers

Some companies use SMS competitions as a way to make a small amount of money.  They run SMS quizzes where the contestants text their entry to a premium rate number.  This can be an effective way to generate some extra income, perhaps to reinvest in marketing, however it can be a bad idea from a goodwill point of view.  If you do not clearly advertise the cost of the SMS message entries, then consumers could find themselves unexpectedly running out of phone credit, or being stuck with a large bill at the end of the month.

If you can afford to run a free to enter SMS campaign (where the entrant simply pays their usual network cost for the text message), then this is a much better option. The band Owl City did this to great effect when they ran a contest to give away a Gibson guitar signed by the lead singer.  The contest was free to enter, and interested fans could also call the lead singer and leave him a message.

Instant Rewards

If you want to keep consumers engaged and interested, it’s a good idea to give them occasional, small rewards.  That could be discount coupons, useful tips, or low value prizes.  ArmenTel gave away 8,000 prizes during their “Treasure Hunt” SMS campaign, which attracted more than 10% of their customer base, and saw long-term engagement over the 90 day campaign.

While 8,000 prizes might sound like a lot, it doesn’t have to be a big investment.  Think about the companies that run contests to “Win a Car”, but also give away thousands of bags of crisps, chocolate bars, or money off vouchers as consolation prizes.  Those prizes have a strong psychological impact on the consumers that win them, and do generate goodwill for the company.

Monetizing Your List

Once you have people signed up to your marketing list via their competition entries, you can start using their number in your bulk SMS marketing campaign. Make sure that the messages you send are interesting and valuable – don’t throw away the goodwill you’ve earned by sending useless messages. If you’re on a tight budget, make the most of every message you send by using a strong call to action, and sending the consumer something that will be of value to them.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Collstream who can help your business with their bulk SMS marketing expertise.

 

When to Re-Think Your Business Strategy

The world of business can be an ever-changing tapestry of conditions and problems. No one strategy can carry a business from decade to decade. The general economy, taxes, product availability and the changing tastes of customers all create constant challenges. A number of signs can indicate that it’s time to review your business strategy to ensure that you have taken these changes into account.

Monetary Losses

One of the first ways a business owner realizes that something is wrong is through monetary losses. This problem may be felt as reduced sales, increased costs or a variety of other situations that hurt the bottom line. Unfortunately, this realization often occurs after the fact, at the end of a financial quarter or year. Analyzing financial data on a weekly or monthly basis is a more advantageous way to catch problems before they become deeply ingrained. You can begin to re-think your business, marketing or distribution strategy to counteract the current conditions.

Voice of the Customer

Your customer can often tell you exactly what is wrong with your business before you even know it. He will be the one to feel the full effect of your business strategy in an immediate way. Whether the problem is in the product, cost, shipping, customer service, technical support or other deficiency, he will be able to tell you how it affected him, and probably how it affects others, as well. Business owners should always explore new ways to listen to the voice of customer (VOC), whether through satisfaction surveys, customer service requests or direct face-to-face contact. Keeping the lines of communication open with your customers can ensure that your business is serving the public well.

 

Analyzing Your Data

Profit is not the only way to determine whether your business is succeeding. You must also manage costs for the future, determine marketing strategies and consider the changing economic conditions, not only in the nation, but also in your local community. Targeting your marketing efforts can save money and increase sales. Determining how people in your community are choosing to spend their money can help you to offer products they desire. Keeping a close eye on insurance costs, supplies, shipping costs and personnel costs can allow business owners to re-think current strategies and make rapid adjustments.

Where to Make Changes

The business’s sales staff, administrative staff, purchasing staff and management are often helpful in determining where changes are most needed. These people are often on the front lines of your strategy and sense when something goes out of kilter. Encourage input from these sources to ensure that your strategy is functioning as it was intended.

Author Bio

Melisa Cammack owns a small dog grooming business on the coast of Maine. Utilizing the tools that Mindshare offers, she and her husband were able to up their customer’s satisfaction, both canine and human.  When she isn’t working as a freelance writer or tending to her business, she loves traveling to Montreal to visit her parents.