7 Essential Tools for Business Success Today

Starting a business is one thing. Growing the business is another, while keeping operations from becoming unwieldy is a different ballgame.

Business owners must build systems and explore how to operate them more efficiently. There are tools to help budding businesses focus on what matters most. We look at a few here, which we use in our own operations at HomeBusinessWiz.

  1. Organisation

A business can easily become overwhelmed with meetings and deadlines. Google Calendar makes it easy to schedule meetings and share events. It is excellent for internal and external appointments. It also provides a way to monitor your people, so booking team meetings doesn’t get to be a hassle.

  1. A comprehensive business plan

Doing business without a plan is akin to going to war without a strategy. You need to pull away from the competition. Your business plan sets the focus and tone of your operations.

It is self-defeating to toy with your operations even if your business is a hobby. Many home-based business owners show this inclination. It is a path to frustration and failure. Get a business plan right away.

  1. Education

You do not need a PhD to run a successful business, but you must be thoroughly versed in your chosen niche. There are numerous online courses available online. You can audit (take for free) many of these.

The insight will help you rethink many aspects of your business and inject ideas that customers will yearn for. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from the world’s top universities are available. The most popular MOOC sites are Coursera, edX, and Udacity. You won’t get a certificate but the content is priceless.

Other avenues for continuous learning include video outlets, Youtube and Vimeo.

  1. Project Management

As a budding business, reliability should be your watchword. Do this enough times and the word goes around. But, how do you manage all the madness in the face of changing project requirements? Use Trello, the famed project management tool.

Trello is adaptable to teams and one-man operations. You can keep track of marketing or promotions using this nifty tool. Everyone on our team, for instance, can log in and check our blog’s progress. They can also tag other staff for their opinion.

Trello does not cost you a penny–it is free with premium pricing plans for teams, but you’ll likely do great with the free option. Find Trello here.

  1. Networking with Social Media

You probably have an account on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. These social media platforms have tools and features to cater to business needs. You can chat with and pitch old acquaintances, join common-interest groups and engage industry thought leaders. If you are active enough, you will grow a large following.

An up-to-date profile is important on social media. Regular post updates or tweets tells your audience what you are up to and has been effective for product launches and press releases.

Social media is also an excellent outlet for repurposed content. The fun aspect of social media remains attractive to millennials, who are likely your target audience.

  1. External and Internal Communication

You typically want to explore every avenue that makes it easy for clients to stay in touch with you. You also want to have robust internal communication systems.

Zoom can be used to engage clients and prospects and has seen plenty of adoption in enterprise and small businesses. It has greater utility than phone calls and email because you are face-to-face with the client or associate. With Zoom, you can share schematics with them without the risk of ambiguity.

Internal communications can also use Zoom, but since many things are on-the-fly, rather than resort to email, the workspace tool, Slack, excels at offering an instant messaging service for teams. File sharing in Slack is a breeze, and there’s room for plenty of fun while at it.

  1. Payment Systems

Doing business online has become the new normal. But how do you receive payments? There are services you can incorporate on your website for low fees per transaction to ensure you get paid even before you deliver the service. Two of the most popular ones are Stripe and PayPal. Many existing banks have their own financial apps to make the payment process easier as well.

This is merely a small round-up of tools you need to get your business running until other tools become essential.

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Getting the Most From Your Digital Marketing Campaigns Means Tracking the Right Metrics

If you are at the helm of a growing business and you feel the pressure to keep growing, you can use that anxiety to propel your company forward. The key here is to track what you have been doing that has caused your success and to continue to do as much of it that continues to work. Also to take things to the higher heights, there are things you will need to start doing that will add to your success.  If you are a small business owner determining those things can be difficult. Should you hire more sales staff. invest in new computers, or rent office in a higher quality  office building? Which one will bring you the greatest return or are all necessary.

Chances are that your company needs to invest more in marketing to keep you ahead of the fast charging competition.

The situation today is that marketing is in a transition and quickly moving from traditional forms like television, billboards and radio to online marketing also called digital marketing channels. The reasons are simple for this change. First. people are spending more of their time online and less time watching traditional TV, listening to radio and in terms of billboards, let’s just say that everyone is too busy looking at their phones to look up at these 100 foot monsters.

Digital marketing also offers companies more control over their marketing strategies with better price controls and data that is richer and much more in depth. As you focus on continued growth, you need to understand how to better utilize digital marketing to win. Here is an infographic by from Campaign Monitor. featuring digital marketing tracking metrics that can be valuable in helping your company to achieve greater success.

 

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The Big Brand’s Top Secrets to Building Customer Loyalty

There’s a reason big brands have attained success–they know how to keep their customers happy. Is your business losing customers to competitors? If yes, learn how to keep your customers loyal to you by taking advantage of how big brands build customer loyalty.

1.       Avoid Disappointing Customers

If you’ve set a bar on the quality of your service, never let it drop. This is because your customers will come to expect nothing short of quality. Inconsistency in quality or performance will lead to disappointment and your customers would rather patronise a business they trust.

2.       Be Transparent

Always tell your customers the truth. Customers are never more disappointed than when they find out from elsewhere that a brand they trust has made a mistake and tried to cover it up at the expense of its customers or other stakeholders.

3.       Be Responsible and Noble

The nobler your brand is, the more loyal your customers. This is because people want to be associated with a brand that stands for something “good”. So take advantage of the Noble Edge Effect, by running a more socially responsible business and engaging in philanthropy.

4.       Build Your Brand on Customer Service

Customers love a brand that not only listens but also acts on what they have to say. If a single customer says there’s something wrong with your product or service, don’t brush it aside. Communicate with the customer and remedy the issue. You can even capitalise on this by sharing with other customers how you improved the brand experience of the complainant. It shows that you care.

5.       Provide Value

Offer your customers products and service quality they can’t get elsewhere. This is a key aspect of building loyalty in the long term. If you offer a level of service to your customers that can’t be matched by your competitors, you can be sure to enjoy their custom over the course of a good many years, as you build a valuable level of loyalty.

6.       Incentives

You might have loyal customers but make them excited about patronising you by offering incentives such as discounts and promotional offers. The more incentives you have and the more frequently you offer them, the more buzz you will generate about your brand among your actual and potential customers.

7.       Personalise Your Marketing

Customers appreciate it when they are given the personal touch treatment when communicating with a brand they patronise. If you want your marketing campaigns to be successful, you have to personalise your marketing communication to each target customer. Addressing a recipient by name yields more results than a general address such as “Dear Recipient” or “Dear Shopper”. You can get the data you need to personalise communications through data that your customers have already shared with you and use it to create customised offers.

8.       Anticipate

The needs and wants of your customers will always evolve. To keep your loyal customers, it is important that you can expect what your customers require of you and offer it. This will make you a proactive brand that is in tune with its customers rather than a reactive one that acts too late.

Apply the above tips and you can expect the loyalty of your customers to grow.

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How to Treat Your Wedding Like a Business

It may sound strange to look at your wedding like a business because wedding is one of the most social events possible. People go into a wedding thinking that the focus needs to be on making sure everyone has a great time, there are no disasters, and the wedding is memorable and special.

All of these goals are very good to have for a wedding, but you can also look at a wedding from the standpoint of having it function like a business where costs are paid attention to and all of your objectives are focused on specifically.  Here are some of the benefits that you can have from your wedding if you look at it like a business.

Keeping Costs in Line

One of the most important things in running a successful business is to keep your costs in line. No company can be successful no matter how many goods and services they are selling if they don’t have a strategy for containing costs. Applying this to a wedding may be a little bit difficult because of all the emotions involved, but it can be done.

You and your soon-to-be spouse should look at all of the costs related to your wedding and come up with ways to cut 15% off your budget. At first this may seem like you are just penny-pinching, but you might soon realize that the money that you end up saving isn’t really money you had to spend anyway.

For example some of the larger items like the bride’s wedding gown can be purchased more cheaply than the average bride considers. Today there are online shops offering cheap wedding dresses that are beautiful, well-constructed, and can fit any brides idea of a beautiful wedding gown. Going this route can save hundreds of dollars off the cost of a typical wedding gown purchased at a wedding shop. In the end the bride can look just as beautiful and have money in her pocket.

One way to also save on a cost that might not seem out of line is on the flower girl dresses. Depending on how many you have, these costs can quickly add up. You can buy them online and save money in the process.

Putting Together the Right Teams

One of the key jobs that a company must master in order to be successful is to put together the right teams to execute agendas. For a wedding you must do the same in order to make sure that all of the events and activities are executed properly. The events surrounding the wedding must be handle by a group of people who all work in a coordinated fashion.

Whether you are planning your wedding yourself or you hire a wedding planner, you need to make sure that everyone is in sync and achieving outcomes that surpass your expectations.

On your big day you will need to coordinate several teams that must work in conjunction with each other. Because there are actually two events, the wedding in the reception, all groups must be aware of timelines and each of the activities going on, so that they can do their parts to perfection. When this coordinated effort works well, the wedding and reception are flawless.

Treat your wedding like a business it will run smoothly and everyone will have an enjoyable time.

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Have You Got What It Takes to Succeed as an Entrepreneur?

entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is more romanticised than ever and popular culture increasingly celebrates entrepreneurship as well. Have you ever thought of being an entrepreneur yourself? Do you have an idea nobody else has thought of? The better question should be: do you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur? Sure, new technologies make it easier to start a business, but increased competition means that there’s a smaller piece of the pie for everyone. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you make the jump.

entrepreneur

Are You Willing to Work Hard?

While it is possible to work part-time on a business or take a second job, the reality is that starting your own business will require far more time than a standard job.

It is common to work six and seven days a week in the startup stage, especially if you’re alone. Twelve-hour days are common. Are you willing to work hard? And are you willing to invest this time though you may fail? Are you self-driven? If you aren’t able to drive yourself to keep going when you aren’t getting paid for your time, you probably shouldn’t be an entrepreneur.

And forget about off days and vacation packages if you’re just getting started. You’ll probably won’t have time to delegate at first and you’ll need to be committed to your clients, which means being available to them as much as you can. So, unless you are ready to put the whole weight of the business on your shoulders, then entrepreneurship is definitely not for you.

Are You Willing To Take Risks?

Starting a business is a major risk. An estimated 70% of businesses fail within ten years, though the failure rate depends on the industry and product or service offered. Even if you can start a business without any financial investment, you’re still pouring your time into it. You risk working many hours without pay if the business fails, whereas an hourly job would pay you a predictable wage. If you aren’t willing to risk failure, you’re not qualified to be an entrepreneur.

You can manage the risk by keeping debt to a minimum, only taking measured risks, and being covered by insurance. For example, you could limit your risk by taking out loans to fund the business but refusing to mortgage your house. Look for ways to rent the equipment you need instead of buying and try to buy used instead of new.

Insurance protects you against risk. You can get a quote for business liability insurance at next-insurance.com. Take the time to get familiar with the different types of insurance they offer since you may need additional types of insurance for your business.

Can You Handle Failure?

Your business may fail. That’s one risk we already addressed. However, as an entrepreneur, you will experience failure in many ways on a regular basis. Sales calls will be rejected the vast majority of the time. Your initial product may not sell well, and you may have to change the design or your business model or both. On top of all of this, you have to be realistic. If you set unrealistic expectations, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Are You Willing to Take On Complex Financial Issues?

You’re going to have to take on complex financial issues. A budget is the first step, but you’re going to have to start dealing with taxes and raising funds almost immediately. You’ll have to generate invoices and collect payment due if you want to remain in business. You can reduce the burden by hiring qualified tax experts and an accountant, but you have to be aware of your financial status and plan for future expenditures if you want to stay in business.

Recognize that you don’t have to be a jack of all trades, but you will have to wear many hats, at least at first. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and know where you’ll need to bring in help and when.

Can You Sell Yourself?

If you’re building a business, you have to be able to sell your business – and at the very start, that is just you. You’re the head of marketing for your new business, selling your services or products. You’ll need to convince investors and lenders to loan you money. You may need to convince others to work for you. If you need constant ego gratification, the constant rejection small business owners face makes entrepreneurship a bad idea.

Conclusion

Read through our list of questions you need to ask yourself to determine if you’re the right type to start your own business. If you feel like you fit the bill, make sure that you research the market for your business or product idea first and have all bases covered before you start.

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Why Many Entrepreneurs Start Their Own Businesses

If you’ve been working for someone for long period of time, chances are during that time you thought about starting your own business. The idea of having to spend all of your days working hard so that someone else can benefit greatly from your efforts, can be pretty depressing. One way to change this dynamic is to start your own business so that the efforts of others and you can go towards your benefit.

This is one reason, however there are several reasons why entrepreneur start their own businesses.  Here are a few of the most popular reason.

You Want a New Career

Perhaps you have a career that simply does not satisfy you anymore. Maybe it is the amount of money you make what type of job, the conditions you working, or even the people you work with. Any of these reasons and many others can cause someone to want to start their own company. When someone is not satisfied with their current career, it can cause them to rethink their present and future. This can sometimes allow creating your own future and your own company like successful entrepreneur Louis Gonzalez Jr. as a viable option. It is important to keep in mind however that when you decide to become an entrepreneur you have to do many things that do not fit the description of CEO. So you should be prepared and understand is fully if you plan to go out on your own.

You Have Outgrown Your Profession

Many people are content to do their jobs and only their jobs for their entire careers. An architect for example might be a fantastic architect only wants to design homes. Somehow Architects however might find that they also want to run an architectural firm where they oversee other architects. This new position will also include managing aspects of a business and building that business in the marketplace. If you have aspirations in addition to being a great architect, you might be outgrowing the profession and becoming an entrepreneur. To be sure, you should write a business plan about your idea for an architectural firm. When you review this plan, does the idea of executing it make you excited? If so, this is further indication that you are a budding entrepreneur.

You Focus on the Entire Industry

If you find yourself working at a job yet spend a large part of your time focusing on an entire industry, you are thinking like an entrepreneur. When you spend your time focusing on industry, you are thinking like a business owner and someone who should be concerned about what is going on any industry instead of just at your desk. If you find yourself doing this regularly oh, it is an indication that perhaps you might want to set up your own business.

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How to Plan a Team Building Retreat

When seeking to build and maintain a successful business, you have to be constantly aware of all of the elements that are required to create this type of a business. Every company that is successful has a variety a processes that they utilize in order to create and sustain success over long periods of time.

Some of the important elements that are required are to have great products and services that meet and even exceed the needs of customers. You need to be aware of your marketplace and what the competition is doing and always be able to position your offerings so that they resonate better with your target markets. Additionally, companies must have great relationships with their strategic partners, investors, and any other relevant component of the business. Finally, management must have a positive and productive relationship with employees. To build your business, there must be a  consistent effort there must be a consistent effort to train new employees, show them that they are appreciated, and to help them advance at their jobs and generate more success and revenue for themselves.

Go There Together

When you go on your company retreat, there are many options for you to get there. You can have your employees drive separately, you can have some of them carpool to get there, or the best choices you can rent a bus or several buses where everyone rides together. When you rent a charter bus or minibus, it allows for your group to spend quality time together where they can bond, start of new creative ideas for the company, work through any issues they may have amongst themselves, and generally have a good time together.

Plan How to Get There

The internet provides great new mapping applications that allow you to lay out the routes to any destination you want to visit. You can get a details map that will show you the exact route and give you understand what type of roads will be taking. Some programs also can give you updates about any potential traffic issues and can lay out the projected amount of time it will take for you to arrive at your destination. The bus driver will also have this information, but it is great for you to have it as well. You should also map out several alternative routes in the event of a traffic accident or bad traffic.

Break up the Ride

Plan to make several stops along the road for your team to stretch their legs, see a little nature, use the restroom facilities and get something to eat. For long rides, you should make sure that there are several plans stops so that people do not get too uncomfortable in the bus. When your people know that there are stops planned along the Route, he will make everyone more comfortable.

Get in Some Quality time on the Road

Another great idea for your road trip to your company Retreat is to make several planned stops on the road to view cultural, and other types of attractions. Every state has a long list of cultural attractions that are easy to reach from the main roads. When appropriate, take a few of these detours and use them as opportunities to get your team to bond better.

Do You Need a Place to Stay Overnight

If traveling to your Corporate Retreat demands that you make one more overnight stays at hotels along the way, you should definitely look into booking hotels in advance. This way you don’t run into the problem of not being able to find enough rooms for your group. This is particularly important if you have a large group that you’re traveling with. You can also use hotels and their conference rooms as mini retreat areas on the way to your main retreat.

Give Your Team Ways to Bond on the Road

While on the road, your team will have a lot of spare time. You should include some bonding activities like games that they can engage in together. Playing games together as a team is a great opportunity 4 your employees to discover things about one another and to make new friends within the company.

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How to avoid the principle mistakes that blight your sales stats

While some industries are subject to change after change, this isn’t necessarily the same when it comes to sales. The principles remain the same and while technology might play its part from time to time, if you were to compare top salespeople from decades ago to ones in the modern-day, you would probably find a lot of similarities.

At the same time, you may also find a lot of mistakes. The nature of sales means that it is very easy for mistakes to creep into your work and if you are struggling to get your numbers up, take a look at the following to see if you are falling into some of the most common traps.

Mistake #1 – There’s no personalization

If we rolled back the clock a few years, this wouldn’t really have been a mistake – at least in larger businesses. After all, personalization was only really possible in smaller businesses who had the time to get to know their clients, and ultimately use this to their advantage.

Well, technology has of course changed this. One only has to look at the rise of account based selling to see this in full-detail, and how companies really can target individuals much more easily nowadays.

Mistake #2 – You just focus on the offer

A lot of people mistake sales with throwing as many offers into the face of a consumer as possible. In truth, it’s not like this in the slightest. Sure, some consumers are going to be completely game for that 20% offer, but the bulk of your sales won’t arrive because of this.

Instead, most will come because you are solving a customer’s problem. You need to show how your product and service will resolve a particular issue, and go from there. After you have demonstrated this, you then might tip them over the edge with price.

Mistake #3 – You take too long to close

There is certainly an art of closing, but far too many people don’t time this part of the sales process properly.

Far too many people instead let it draw out much longer than is ever needed. Not only does this mean that time is wasted, but it can actually turn off a buyer who is just tired of hearing more information about the chosen product or service.

What’s the best way around this? Ask the client. Ask if they have heard enough, and from then on you can choose whether to try and close, or continue your pitch.

Mistake #4 – You ignore people who could influence the decision

This is something of an old-hat mistake. Traditionally, salesmen were taught to convince the decision-maker to buy a product – but this isn’t necessarily the best strategy nowadays.

Sure, if you get them on your side you are a long way there, but also think about the influencers. Start to realize that other people can influence the decision-maker, and try to target them through your pitch.

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The Perfect Plan for Selling Your Business

If you own a company and have operated it for many year, the prospect of selling it can be quite daunting. One really difficult part for entrepreneurs is to separate the emotions aspects of wanting to sell with the business realities. This is why it is often advised that a business owner seeking to sell the business should being in experts like BCMS who have helped hundreds of business owners successfully sell their businesses for the right price and terms.

Engaging a company like BCMS is a smart decision and as you prepare to discuss with them your company do some things that help you gain a better understanding on the process and what you can expect. Here are a few tips.

Put Everything about Your Business on Paper

Companies like BCMS advise that any business wishing to have the best chance of selling itself, put all of the important details about the business in an easy to review document. This should include all details about the business incorporation, its history, current status, financials past and present. Future projections for the business with assumptions for those projections and all liabilities listed plainly. And you should never bury or hide and problems or issues that have occurred or are current with the business. This type of document provides and easy summary that interested investors can review without much interaction with the owner. They can then pull their questions and comments together if interested in proceeding with the purchase.

Always be Available to Potential Buyers

The aspects of your business will seem obvious and easy to understand to you and you will be able to easily decipher any details about what you have built, how and why. For others though, there will be lots of questions that only you as the business owner can answer. These questions get cannot be detailed fully enough on paper and in some cases hearing the tone and sincerity of the owner can make a great difference in the interest level of the buyer.  So be sure to make yourself available to all serious buyers to answer key questions about the business. You should put parameters around how this occurs so you do not end up losing all of your time, but by making yourself available to them it makes you look more authentic and shows you are considerate of their needs.

You should also be prepared to discuss the future potential of the business. New buyers love to know where past owners think future growth will occur, so prepared to have this conversation.

Working with an expert team to sell your business gives you a professional team to help you make the sale you want. #sellsavvy

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Search Marketing Should be a Top Online Marketing Priority for Your Company

Because the competition for customers is so fierce today companies need to do all they can to get themselves in front of perspective clients. The Internet has created great opportunities to do this but there are so many choices it can get confusing and difficult to determine which option to select. Leading options include email marketing, social media marketing and search marketing. Each can be effective when used properly, and companies with tight budgets must often select one in which to place their efforts. A case can certainly be made for each option but there is little doubt that search engine marketing should be the first choice.

What is Search Marketing?

Search marketing is an umbrella term for Search Engine Optimization and (SEO) which creates traffic to your website utilizing unpaid or free listings and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which consists of purchasing traffic utilizing paid search listing. The combination of the two create a powerful marketing strategy for attracting customers to your website.

SEO

SEO is the process of utilizing a set of constantly evolving strategies that help a company position its website high on the top internet search engines. The goal of every company is to be on the first page of a Google search. SEO is the right way to do it.

SEM

Search Engine Marketing refers to using paid search to position your company on a search engine. A company can purchase paid listings that will appear at the top and in other strategic places on a search page. SEM will include: the following:

  • Paid Search Advertising
  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Pay Per Call
  • Cost Per Click (CPC)
  • Cost per Thousand (CPM) SEM For Beginners

Combining SEO and SEM provides companies with a complete strategy for optimizing search marketing. Too often companies will only invest time and resources in SEO and bypass SEM, however top Search Marketing firms like Click Consult can demonstrate why a strategy that includes the two disciplines is the smartest way to go. .

When done correctly search marketing is extremely effective, sending a steady stream of customers to a company’s website and providing the company with data that is key to making its online marketing more effective.

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