One of the things that we've learned from the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn is that it's hard to over prepare your business for an economic crisis. Many small businesses have had to close up permanently, and even large retailers have suffered. What the future holds in store is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: it's important to do what you can to future-proof your business. But how do you do this?
Diversify Your Services
Customers are a business's lifeblood. You need to make sure they have a reason to keep doing business with you. Providing multiple services is one way to increase the chances that you'll retain current customers and attract new ones. If current customers have been happy with the service or product you offer, they may be willing to try your other goods and services. The more of a customer's needs you can fulfill, the more likely you are to become their one-stop shop. Providing multiple services can also increase your customer base, as you will appeal to a broader range of consumers.
Identify Your Weaknesses
Every business has weaknesses. There is always room for improvement. To be the best business possible, it's necessary to identify areas of weakness and work to fix them. Is there an area of your business that should run more efficiently? Are current company procedures producing more waste than is necessary? Are you spending your money inefficiently? Is your marketing effective? When identifying weaknesses and their solutions, get input from multiple groups of people. Your customers and employees likely have ideas about what could be improved, and may even have some great suggestions for how to go about it.
Develop a Forward-Thinking Attitude
Looking to the future can help you anticipate the direction the market will take. It's also good for helping you identify consumer needs, sometimes in advance of the consumer being aware of what they truly want. Identifying and fulfilling consumer needs is one of the foundational principles of doing business. And as counterintuitive as it may sound, in order to anticipate what the future is likely to hold, it is sometimes necessary to look to the past. History tends to repeat itself to a certain degree. Cause and effect are not separable. By looking at past trends and patterns, you can get a sense for what you're likely to encounter in the future.
Expand the Role of Technology
Technology is constantly advancing and becoming more and more integrated into everyday life. As more relevant technological innovations become available, it's important for you to expand the role technology plays in your business. This will help you stay ahead of your competition. Of course, as you integrate more technology into your business operations, you might find that you need more support, and it doesn't necessarily need to be in house support. Outsourcing IT functions has benefits for your business. You may find that outsourcing grants you access to more specialized help for a better price.
Improve Customer Experience
If customers are happy with their experience with your business, they're more likely to turn into lifelong customers who will act as ambassadors for you. This is even more true of dissatisfied customers who you turn into happy customers. In fact, 87% of customers will share those positive experiences with others. This illustrates how important it is to ensure that the customer experience is excellent. When studying the customer experience, look at the path the customer goes on from the point of discovery, to the point where they are considering your product, to the point of sale. Once the sale is finalized, the goal is to turn them into repeat customers. Exceeding customer expectations and continuing to build the relationship with the customer are necessary to achieving this.
Pay Attention to Global Trends
In a similar vein to looking at historical patterns to determine future trends, it's important to pay attention to global trends as well. It takes time for trends to make their way around the world, even with how rapid communication is right now. Keeping tabs on trends in your industry around the world can help you adapt your business more quickly than your competitors. Make being on the cutting edge of your industry part of your company brand, and your customers will appreciate your commitment to innovation. Making innovation and staying ahead of your competition a part of what your business is known for helps keep your business at the top of your industry. This improves your company's reputation and can help it survive future hardships by getting you ahead sooner.
Make Adaptation Part of Company Culture
Adaptation is critical to long-term business success. The ability and willingness to adapt should be a part of the company culture. A business that encourages innovation and adaptation in its employees and business practices is more likely to weather the storms that might threaten its success. Employees who are on the front lines and regularly perform normal operating procedures likely have much to contribute when it comes to ideas about how to adapt and improve various aspects of a business. If adaptation isn't already a part of your company culture, consider changing your company culture to include it.
Retain Quality Employees
It would be foolish to overlook the role your employees play in making sure your business survives well into the future. Similarly to the consumer's role, without employees, it's really hard to have a business. Of course, it's not just enough to simply hire employees. You have to hire good employees. Once you've hired the right people, you need to keep them. Employee turnover can be incredibly expensive, so it's really in your best interests to find the right people to begin with and retain them. Retaining your best employees requires knowing them and what they want and need from you as their employer. You need to make them feel valued, whether that comes in the form of benefits, pay raises, promotion, recognition, or other perks. It really pays to keep your best employees happy. They'll return the favor by keeping your business running smoothly, leading innovative efforts, and building customer relationships that will help your business last.
No one starts a business with the intent to fail. In order to succeed, there are things you need to do that will help ensure that your business lasts long into the future. Not only will these measures help your business's longevity, it will also help your business be more successful than it otherwise would be.
Read this next: How to Modernize Your Small Business
When people ask what you do for work, they're expecting something that fits within the typical 9–5 type of job that most adults end up working, or some variation on the traditional eight-hour shift. They don't usually expect to hear that you are running your own business. It's usually considered a risky endeavor to start out, but it actually comes with some pretty decent financial benefits you should be aware of.
One of the biggest concerns people have with starting their own business is the idea that it's not likely to be stable for some time. Especially in times of economic uncertainty, this can be a pretty significant barrier. The thing is though, having multiple clients and customers may actually mean you're in a more stable position running your own business than you would be in a traditional 9–5 job. There, you might be only one negative experience away from being fired and having to find a new job. If you have multiple clients and customers, losing one or two is likely to be less impactful to your bottom line, and the remaining ones will still help you bring in some money as you try to replace the ones you've lost.
More Control of Your Money
If you're working a regular 9–5, you're likely either salaried or paid an hourly rate. Either way, you're working for a predetermined wage that you have little control over. On the other hand, if you run your own business, you are the one in control of the money. This means you control how much you pay yourself, which can mean a great deal more in your pocket than you'd get at a 9–5. As a business owner you also have control over saving in a 401(k). There are a few things you need to do to get an EIN and start saving in a solo 401(k). Make sure you do your research and get yourself set up right.
More Tax Breaks
Being a business owner also means you get access to tax breaks that would otherwise not be available. Most people know that you can write off business supplies, but did you know that a business lunch can be a partially deductible expense as well? There are some rules that apply to tax breaks. For example, if you want to have a home office, you can write off related expenses. However, if you use that room for things other than business use, you probably won't be able to write it off. Make sure you check out the current tax guidelines to find out what tax breaks are available to you.
While pursuing your own business idea and working as a business owner may seem like a daunting task, it can be a rewarding one. It comes with some significant financial benefits that warrant some serious consideration. If the 9–5 grind is wearing you down, it might be time to consider venturing into owning your own business.
Read this next: 3 Ways to Increase Your Employees' Attention to Detail
Opening up a small business can be an exciting endeavor, but it comes with some challenges. Most of the time, your business is going to be competing with others in the same sector, so it’s important to know what to do to make your business stand out. You want to do everything you can to help your business survive and grow. Modernizing your small business is essential in order to be competitive and stay relevant in a market that’s changing rapidly. Here are some ideas to help you be successful!
Create an Online Presence
An online presence is essential to any modern business. If you don’t have an online presence, or if you haven’t updated it in a while, it’s time to make some changes. There are several ways you can build your online presence. The easiest, most cost-effective way is to be active on social media. Social media is a fabulous tool for small businesses because it can reach a wide range of customers, and you can tailor your advertisements to your specific target market. You should also build a website for your business, if you haven’t done so already. After you’ve created your website and social media accounts, make sure you stay active and consistently upload relevant, useful, and engaging content that promotes your business.
Get an App
Building an app for your business is a great way to modernize your small business. Most major companies are utilizing this tool to help them generate additional sales and enhance the experience of their customers. Investing in an app for your business will encourage repeat orders from customers on the go, since most of them already carry mobile devices. Apps also reduce the cost of marketing, so building an app can save you money in the long run. Additionally, building an app will help customers see the best face of your business on their phones, since many websites aren’t compatible with mobile devices.
Data is a priceless resource to help your business grow in a modern world. Data will provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for your business. It can help you get to know your customers, as well as your competition, and set smart goals for the future of your business. Data will help you track the success of your marketing campaigns, the satisfaction of your customers, and the success of your sales.
There are several simple ways that you can start using data in your business. You can use surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and direct observation. Using these methods will provide you with the quantitative and qualitative data that can help your business thrive.
Improve Marketing Strategies
It’s difficult to thrive in a modern business world if you’re using ancient marketing strategies. Posting flyers on bulletin boards used to be an effective marketing strategy, but now is the time to start marketing to a modern audience. You can improve your current marketing strategies through launching a relevant email marketing campaign that is personalized to your target market. You can improve your marketing strategies through making advertisements that are more clearly on-brand than the ones you’ve used in the past. You can also improve your marketing strategies through implementing more effective customer loyalty and referral programs.
A POS (point of sale) system is the place where a customer pays for products or services at your store. Upgrading your POS system is essential to thriving as a small business in a modern world. A POS system can improve profitability for your brick and mortar retail location. It will help your operations run smoothly as well as help you gather critical data that can grow your business. You can use it to collect important information such as customer data, inventory level, and the best times to order more supplies.
Many retailers haven’t upgraded their POS systems because they’re overwhelmed by the new technology. However, the benefits of upgrading your system should outweigh your fears of learning something new. Taking the leap to upgrade to a modern POS system could be just the thing your business needs.
Rebranding is a great way to infuse your business with some fresh energy for modern times. Change is essential for every successful business. The first step in rebranding is shifting your mindset to embrace innovation and welcome change. You should then evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and clearly identify areas you can improve in your business. As you evaluate your weaknesses, you will be prepared to make bold new changes for your company. Don’t be afraid to make changes in your staff, your design, your marketing strategies, or your business plan.
After you’ve made some changes for your brand, monitor their success carefully through data and analysis. This will help you stay aware of the status of your business and active in its growth.
Invest in Professional Photography and Videography
One of the biggest signs of an outdated business is outdated pictures (or even a lack of any pictures at all!). Investing in professional photography and videography is one of the best things you can do to modernize your business. Quality photography and videography will help people find you and help them form a good impression of your business. Additionally, if you invest in professional photography and videography for your marketing campaigns, you can prime your customers to form good opinions of your products before they even experience them. It helps to build your brand and attract new customers.
Modernize Your Physical Storefront
In addition to modernizing your small business through technology upgrades, you should take steps to modernize your physical storefront. Is your brick-and-mortar looking or feeling old and tired? If so, it’s probably time to invest in some updates. Your physical storefront should be on-brand, innovative, attractive, and inviting. There are ways that you can show your personality in your workplace while being professional and aesthetically visually appealing.
Integrate Your Physical and E-Commerce Storefronts
After you’ve put significant time and energy into updating both your physical and e-commerce storefronts, it’s time to integrate them so they can work together for your business. You can integrate the physical and digital aspects of your business through offering options like in-store pickup. This strategy is helpful because it will increase your visibility in both arenas of your business. It will also help your customer base grow as your online customers experience your physical location and your in-person customers discover the convenience of your e-commerce store.
If you’re ready to give your business the boost it needs to thrive in a modern world, trying some of these ideas is a great way to start. You want to give your business the best chance you can to thrive in a changing environment. As you embrace change, your business will see success.
Read this next for more tips: Take Your Small Business to the Next Level with Smart Marketing
There are many creative people freelancing these days, and some are definitely more talented than others. When you need help with a project, you may find it difficult to choose the right one. You'll obviously want someone who will take their work seriously and deliver high-quality results. If you apply some patience, a few insights and a practical approach, you can hire the most qualified person.
Use Networking Sites
The popularity of networking sites continues to rise rapidly because of the benefits they offer. Many professionals sign up to these sites because doing so ensures they can access available opportunities. For instance, two professionals from all industries join LinkedIn every second. They access the site to research critical information about an industry, analyze new trends and practices or to display their professional abilities. The latter is the most significant reason. By visiting these sites, you can assess the qualifications of various freelancers based on what you need. LinkedIn can furnish detailed information about their work experience, skills and certifications as well as recommendations from their colleagues or clients.
Look at Their Portfolio
You can usually determine the abilities of a freelancer from a careful examination of their portfolio. This will display samples of their best work, and you can use these to judge whether the candidate is suitable. Make sure to assess their typical style and willingness to adjust to your particular needs. It doesn't matter how talented someone is if they are wholly unsuited to your preferred method. It would also help to determine whether they have previously worked on projects similar to yours. Don't totally disregard newbies, however. They may have fresh ideas to contribute. What's more, they might be eager for the assignment and more flexible about their rates.
Gauge the Quality of Their Pitch
The quality and seriousness that a person puts into their pitch often indicates how they treat their career overall. The right candidate will clearly explain why you should hire them. They'll do this articulately and succinctly by discussing the essential aspects of their work and explaining how it relates to your unique vision. It is best to deal with a person who can operate unsupervised, deliver the project on time and meet the desired goals. Such an individual will have excellent communication, collaboration and time management skills.
The freelancer you pick for it will have a significant impact on the success of your project. Therefore, it’s important to take the recruitment process seriously. You'll want someone who will pay attention to detail. The person you hire should be innovative yet willing to stay within the boundaries you set. Compare prices, but be prepared to pay for quality results.
Read this next: Top Tips for Women Just Entering the Workforce
If a company hits the point where it becomes so well-known that its name becomes a verb, you know it has made it big. Of course it’s Google, one of the largest and most successful companies in America. Google has an utterly amazing success story, starting small before becoming the most successful worldwide search engine. What has made Google so successful?
Google may appear to be only a search engine, but in reality, it is so much more. Google is involved in dozens of industries, including phones, communications, entertainment, artificial intelligence, and so much more. Google's broad portfolio has allowed it to build broad technological synergies, enabling it to become a worldwide leader in technology and innovation.
Becoming Fundamental for Business
Leaders at Google were smart enough to realize that the company had to become an indispensable business tool. All the major analytics tools for SEO look at Google almost exclusively. This means that Google has become its primary data source. In order to get data on their business, people are visiting Google's website. While users are on the site, they’re likely accessing Google's other services, like cloud storage, calendar and email. As such, Google essentially made the use of its services non-negotiable for all businesses, ensuring that users would come to it for a certain reason, but stay for dozens more.
It Didn't Fear Acquiring Others
Google has never been shy about buying other companies, and hasn’t been afraid to spend money in order to acquire its rivals or further diversify its massive portfolio. Indeed, all you need to do is take a look at Google's long history of acquisitions. Over the course of its existence, Google has bought major companies like YouTube, Motorola Mobility, Waze, Nest Labs, and several others. These companies gave Google customers, market share, and technological innovations that allowed the company to continue its massive expansion and further integration into all of our lives.
Google got big because it made the right strategic decisions over the course of its existence that allowed it to continue and grow. The company was never afraid of expanding its reach and digging into new territories. At the same time, Google never lost its focus on its core business model and primary method of success. Google's success is attributable to many decisions, but by having diversification, striving to become a fundamental business, and not letting the fear of acquiring others explains why it has become an indispensable part of our modern life.
Here’s another article you might like: 3 Automotive Companies That Really Revolutionized the Industry
Starting a career in real estate is exciting for various reasons. A career in real estate can be very lucrative, offers you a flexible lifestyle and the chance of helping others find their dream homes. However, being a real estate agent is hard work and can present many challenges. Before deciding to take the dive into a new real estate career, read this first to decide whether this is the path for you.
Real estate can be very lucrative. However, not all real estate agents make the same amount, so how much you make will ultimately depend on how much time and effort you put into your career, your education level coming in, your motivations and where you live. When you first start out, don't expect to make too much money as you are still learning the business and how to attract clients. However, you can expect established real estate agents to make an average yearly income of $40,000 or more.
How much you earn as a real estate agent is based on how many transactions you complete in a given year, the commissions that are paid to the brokerage, and the split with the sponsoring broker. When you first start out, you will probably be paid through listing agreements. These are signed by the seller and the listing agent.
What You Need
Understanding what you need to start your career in real estate is important for a smooth transition. While every state has different requirements for receiving a real estate license, there are some basic license standards across all states that you should be aware of.
Every state requires some form of education and a test that must be passed. Generally, you must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in the mandatory real estate courses in your state. The credit hours needed to successfully complete the coursework depend on your state. Additionally, most coursework is available to complete in a classroom or online.
Success Is Up to You
Becoming a real estate agent means you are in charge of your own success and finances. If you're used to a traditional company setting with someone telling you what you need to do, you're going to need to unlearn that way of working. Being a successful real estate agent takes hard work, dedication and discipline. Depending on the area of real estate you're interested in, you may need to commit yourself to weekend hours.
If you think that a career in real estate is the path for you, then you're in for a rewarding and exciting career. However, it's important that you are dedicated to learning and growing and are diligent enough to see your goals through.
Here’s another article you might like: 5 tips to help you make the most of this year's real estate season
Savvy road warriors understand that they will have a more enjoyable business trip if they are equipped with all of the essentials. Before you hit the road, it is important that you have a variety of items necessary to deliver a more seamless business travel experience. If this is your first business trip, here are three things that you will need to get around.
Travel Credit Cards
Using a dedicated travel credit card is a good idea when looking to maximize your money and make it more convenient to track expenses. Having one card for all of your travel expenses will keep you more organized. Travel cards are also known for their extensive rewards systems that allow you to rack up savings with every trip. There are a variety of cards to choose from. Popular choices include branded airline-specific credit cards and any card in the Chase Sapphire family. Be sure to read all of the fine print before selecting a card.
You also need to pay close attention to your transportation options. When traveling for business, you want to make sure that you present a professional appearance and demeanor. Remember that you are representing your company brand when you get behind the wheel, making it important that you travel in a vehicle that suits a professional. Premium cars have plenty of features that make them ideal for business and leisure travel. For example, a premium vehicle is more likely to have built-in navigational services which will help you to find your way around unfamiliar places.
When out on the road, you are going to want to remain connected and in control. Having a suite of electronic devices will ensure that you do not lose touch with anything in your business or personal life. The cornerstone of your devices should be a quality smartphone. Other items to consider adding to your list of essentials include a tablet to keep you entertained out on the road and a laptop so that you can do all of your work from wherever your business takes you. Be sure to download documents or entertainment prior to getting on an airplane in case you do not have access to the internet.
Being prepared with this list of essentials will help you to tackle the road with confidence and make the best possible impression. You will enjoy a more successful business trip if you are prepared for whatever might come your way.
Read this one next: 4 Ways Female Founders Turbocharge Their Businesses
How can you achieve success for your small business? One way: Marketing. Finding effective, easy-to-execute marketing strategies can boost your business by helping you engage your customers while attracting new ones.
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