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Friday
Feb082019

Breaking Into The Small Business World

Being a small business is hard, there’s no doubt about that. You’ve got plenty of plans and ideas, and you’ve got the drive to see them through, but you don’t have the resources or the manpower any entity in the corporate world does. But thankfully, you’re not alone!

There’s a lot of advice on the market, there’s plenty of local business economies to open up into, and there's plenty of investors looking for startups like yours to stand behind. All in all, you’ve got a good chance on your plate to stand out -  as long as you know the best ways to break into the small business world. So sit down at your desk in your home office and get to work!

Find Out Who Your Audience is

You’re a small business, and that means you’ve got a great platform to do things on a small scale. You’ve got the chance to get up close and personal with anyone who is interested in the company you’re starting, and you should use that fact to full effect - start researching your audience, and know exactly who you’re speaking to.

Because once you do, whether they be a local business contact, or a potential investor, you’ll be able to reel them in a lot more effectively. You’ll be able to offer them specific and personal experiences, such as a move into a sector they’ve been looking to break for a while, or to expand their market stall down the end of the street they’ve gazing wistfully at for months now. They’ll be impressed by your ability to break down their own wants, and they’ll be much more likely to match yours at the same time.

Think About a Relationship

If you’re a small business, you want to be focusing on the relationships you can build for the time being, and not how many different contacts you can flit back and forth between. After all, you’re going to want these long term relationships when profits fall and suppliers get backed up, and you’re going to want to be able to reach out in times of trouble.

And hey, whilst you’re there, you’re going to be able to establish a working relationships that’s reliable and trustworthy. Who wouldn’t want that for their startup?

Thought About an App?

An app for your company is a great way to hold together a dedicated customer market, as well as an internal team that have no other connections to each other. After all, app development comprises all kinds of needs, and as a small business, you have many!

You want people to always be able to access you: download your portal to their phone and have push notifications turned on and you’ll always have a place in their life. You want your employees, no matter how few, to collaborate effectively and stay up to date: a project management app that allows them to fill in their success as they go.

You’ve got plenty of chance to build your business!

Friday
Feb082019

7 Ways to Get Excellent Results from Your Employees

When a small business begins to employ people, or someone becomes a business or department manager, one of the things they can be unsure about is how to get the best from the people under them. Part of the role of manager or business owner is to make sure that the employees are all content in their work. Happy employees produce better work at a faster pace, and for any business to succeed that is crucial.

Some people new to this seem to think they can just sit back and give orders, but that does not work. Employees will not respond well to a boss that acts in this way and it will have the opposite effect to what the person in charge is after.

Hire Great People

When you are hiring people don’t look for perfect, as that does not exist. Find the best person for the job and if they have more qualifications or knowledge than you that can be good. You can learn from them, and that can be an added bonus.

You should make sure that you tell any prospective employees the good and the bad things about the tasks they will be expected to undertake. You should never let them think that the role is all plain sailing, as the disappointment when that turns out to be wrong can be soul destroying for them. Let them know there are challenges to face and that sometimes they may be expected to help with a job that is not their own. They need to be aware that if someone is of ill, for example, it is all hands to the deck to make sure the work gets done, and that it includes you helping out too.

Proper Training

Even workers that know a job need to be trained in the way your business works. Training can be all-important, as otherwise mistakes will be made. Sometimes, this can be given back seat until the manager has more time, but this should not be the case as in the long run, untrained staff could cause more problems than enough.

Although the right Software development methodologies can make all of your jobs easier, they could also mean that you have prototype software that needs special training, as this will not have been seen in any previous position they held.

Set Achievable Goals

Your team as a whole should be set goals that are achievable, as that will make them feel better when they see they are doing what you have asked of them. Goals that are impossible to reach will just cause your employees to become demoralized, and they will start to resent the fact that you expect so much from them.

Letting them know that you want all emails replied to within an hour is just one example. They may do their best to do this but it can depend on what other pressures they have. Make it an aim of the company by all means, but do not make it something that is set in stone.

Let them know what your production and financial aims are, and every time they are reviewed involve them in the decisions. Being involved in things such as this will make it more personal for them, and they are more likely to work harder to achieve it.

Be Fair With Your Feedback

You should always give your employees feedback on their work, and be fair about it. If something has gone really well and that is down to several employees, tell them all and not just the one that led the project. If there is an error, let that be known too but remember to take into consideration any unusual circumstances that may have led to it, and how it can be avoided in the future.

There may be members of your staff that you prefer to others, but you should never let this show when you are giving feedback, or at any other time.

Show Appreciation

A simple ‘thank you’ is often all that is needed for your employees to appreciate their efforts, but you could be a little more generous than that. Buying the team a cake for their afternoon coffee, for instance, will be a show of appreciation that they will all welcome. If it is something special they have achieved, perhaps arrange an office party to celebrate a job well done.

Listen To Them

Always be prepared to listen to what any of your employees have to say. They could have a problem within the workplace or it could be an idea that would speed up the job. You will never know if you are not prepared to listen to them, and you should always at least consider what they have said.

If you need time to think about their conversation, tell them that and that you will get back to them soon. Make sure you do when you have had time to think it over, or they will think you are just full of empty promises.

Encourage Teamwork

Research has shown many times over that teamwork is better for productivity. Encourage your employees to work as a team, as then if one of them is encountering a problem, the others will help them out. Often, in this situation, one of the team members will emerge as a leader. This is good for the team and you should recognize this too and perhaps give them a pay rise to manage the team for you.

Some businesses consider teamwork to be really important and arrange team activities to show the employees how they work better together. This could be a couple of hours of solving puzzles one workday afternoon, or maybe an out of work event such as an escape room experience. There are many choices of things to do that will encourage teamwork, and lots of online resources to help you find them.

No one ever said that managing a team of employees was an easy task unless they just took no notice of how their staff was reacting and working. If you want to be a good people manager, don’t let yourself fall into this category.

 

Friday
Feb082019

Marketing Your Small Biz

You have the business idea. You have the premises. You have the website. You are all set up ready to go. But where are all of your customers? They’re not going to start pouring through the door or booking your services without any encouragement. You need to tempt them and, bring them in. To build up a successful business, you need to create a foolproof marketing plan, and in this age, digital marketing is where you need to be focusing.

When you are creating your online marketing plan, you need to focus on the creation and sharing of informative and relevant content, as well as offering superb deals and incentives to get them visiting your website and to take some sort of action. That may be phoning you up or emailing you for quotes, or booking or buying your goods and services. Remember, to gain visibility and exposure, you will need to invest both money and time.

Here, we take a look at just a few ways that you can market your small business online.

  1. Be unique

Before you start your marketing strategy, you need to know exactly who you are. We all tend to follow the trends and do what everyone else is doing because we know that it is successful, but it is also important to remember that, depending on your business, there are probably multiple other companies out there, all offering the same services of goods for competitive prices. You need to work out how you are going to stand out from the crowd. This can be the most challenging part of the marketing strategy, so don’t be afraid to use the services of a professional, such as https://www.vistacomm.com/. Make sure that you are crystal clear and specific about what you are offering your customers.

2. Brand your biz

A logo and a clear brand are absolutely essential when it comes to marketing.  Think of companies such as Coca- Cola, and McDonald's - as soon as you see their branding, you know who they are and what they do. That is what you need to be aiming for. A decent logo design is critical to making the branding and marketing aspect of your transport company successful.  This needs to be consistent across everything to do with your business website, letterheads, business cards, etc. Keep your target audience in mind, so that you know how they will react to it, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your social media!

3. Start a blog

A blog attached to your website is an excellent way to get some free advertising and increasing your online presence. It may also answer many of your customer's questions, saving you time (and therefore money!) in the longer term. Compile a list of frequently asked questions and then take one a week, answering them in detail and directing them to appropriate website pages, phone numbers or people. Prove to your customers that you are an industry expert by sharing relevant news and content.



Friday
Feb082019

Hiring Staff for the First Time 

Many small businesses start out as solo enterprises. Even more so now that so many of us are shunning traditional employment to work for ourselves from home. In the early days, this is fine. Business is slow, and while we’re busy, we can tackle most tasks ourselves. We certainly can’t afford to employ a team and manage by outsourcing tasks that we don’t have the time or the skills to take on ourselves.

But, at some point, hopefully, your business will grow. Suddenly, you don’t have the time to take on all of the work yourself. You need people with the right skills to take on specific jobs. You need the kind of consistency that outsourcing will never bring, and hopefully, you can afford to start paying wages.

If you’ve never hired staff before, it can be tough. It’s tempting to hire people that you already know. It’s easy, it’s often cheaper than recruiting and paying professionals, and you know them already. But, it’s usually not the right way to go. Just because you have a personal relationship, doesn’t mean that they will be the right fit for your business or even that you will work well together. Most of the time, it’s better to go out into the big bad world of recruitment. Here are some tips to help you when it comes to hiring staff for the first time.

Take Your Time

Finding great candidates is crucial. Don’t rush out and hire the first person that applies. Take your time to advertise the position online and in your local area. Interview as many people as you need to until you are confident that you’ve found the right team. Take your time, you’ve managed without them up until now, and there’s no need to rush. Taking time now could mean that you retain staff, and save a lot of time on future recruitment and training.

Get the Legalities Right

It’s not as simple as going out and hiring staff, even if they are the right ones and you have taken your time. You need to make sure you stay within the law. This means updating your insurance policies, to cover your team. You also need to make sure you are paying them at least minimum wage, which is a little more complicated if you don’t choose to pay them by the hour. To be able to pay them, you’ll also need to register as an employer.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that anyone that you employ has the legal right to work. Which might mean checking passports, and if they have one, checking their visas for any working restrictions. Once you know that your staff can work, and you are registered to pay them, get them to sign a contract of employment.

Hold Professional Interviews

If you’re not used to interviewing potential candidates, you might find that you fall into the trap of just chatting. You’ll come out of the interview without any more knowledge than you’d have got from their CV, no idea if they are right for the job or if they can do the hours that you need. But, you’ll have had a nice chat. It’s a waste of time.

Go into interviews with a list of questions to ask and things to find out. It’s also important that you spend some time in the interview telling the candidate more about your company and the role that they would be filling. Failing to do this can mean that they take the job without really knowing what they are getting in to. They might not stick around when they find out.

Carry Out Risk Assessments

Even if your staff work sat behind a desk, or in your home office, you need to carry out a risk assessment, to protect their health and safety and yourself legally. Look for any risks in the office or workplace, this can include sitting looking at a computer for a long time, or carrying heavy deliveries. Take the time to assess these risks and find ways to reduce them. Perform these risk assessments with any new members of staff, and prepare separate assessments for pregnant employees or those with any other additional needs.

Learn More About Pay

Paying your staff week to week is easy enough, as long as you are paying them fairly and on time. But, as an employer, it’s worth learning more about things like sick pay, pension contributions, holiday pay and maternity/paternity pay. Even if you don’t need them yet, it’s good to be prepared.

 

Thursday
Feb072019

3 Helpful Tips For Starting and Running a Successful Franchise

Running a successful business requires hard work, extensive research, and financial backing. Running a successful franchise requires even more, but the rewards can be that much more significant.

With over $800 billion in annual sales, 50% of all consumer purchases are made through a franchise, a number that will likely increase to as much as 70% in years to come.

A franchise is a more structured form of business, where the organization's owner creates a proven replicable business model and works alongside a franchisee -- one who takes the franchise -- for royalty fees (profit shares from business that the franchisee pays) in lieu of support and systems that enable profit gains. Businesses simply involve any form of profit exchange for products or services. In other words, all franchises are businesses whereas all businesses are not and cannot be franchised.

If you're thinking about starting your very own franchise, you need to remember a few important things:

  1. You need working capital -- Whether you're just starting out with a small business or are hoping to build one of the largest franchises in the entire world, without cash flow, failure is your only option. You have to have enough money to not only invest, but handle essential financial tasks like payroll, quality assurance, advertising, and more.
  2. You need a strong brand -- Without a strong brand and image, you can't have a successful franchise. You need to do everything in your power to not only build a strong company brand, but preserve it, as well. Strengthening your company's advertising department is a great way to way to improve your brand. Well-placed signage, for instance, can expose local consumers to your brand about 50 to 60 times per month. Conversely, focusing on inhaling your digital marketing strategy will enable your brand to reach a much larger national and even international audience.
  3. You need a great team -- You can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have a team of hardworking individuals who share your vision, you'll be overwhelmed in no time. Good help is difficult to find but its imperative to an organization's success. Make sure you aren't hiring employees who don't want to be there just for the paycheck. Once you do find quality team members, treat them with respect at all times, keep them informed, and provide the kind of challenges that keep them engaged and hard at work.

Starting a business is one thing, but starting a franchise is a major step toward financial security and a rewarding career path -- good luck!

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