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
Sales positions have changed more in the past decade than any other time in history, becoming more complex, competitive, and tech dependent than ever before. This article explores three ways that sales positions have evolved and how you can adapt your business to account for these changes. This will help ensure that your business continues to be successful throughout the sales evolution.
Being a salesperson has always been a challenging yet rewarding job, but the position is a lot different than it was in the past. Sales positions used to be simple. You had a product, and you found a buyer. Just like that, the commission checks were rolling in. However, in these modern times, sales can be more complex. Here are three ways that sales positions have evolved and how you can adapt your business to account for these changes.
With the explosion of technology, there are so many programs and devices designed to enhance the sales experience. In fact, it's rare to find a salesperson that isn't using some sort of technology, such as handheld credit card readers, laptops, cellphones, and more. In order to keep your sales team up to speed, your company should provide access to all of this technology, rather than assuming they will invest in it by themselves.
Perceptions of Salespeople Have Changed
As with any industry, some bad apples in the sales industry caused many negative stereotypes about salespeople. It's like a stain that seems to linger no matter how hard you try to clean it. You must protect your business from these bad apples. There are some attitude and personality traits you can test for. It would be a good practice to test all of your salespeople, so you don't end up with bad apples staining your company's reputation.
More Competition Than Ever Before
Technology keeps consumers connected with each other, but it also keeps businesses connected with consumers. Now advertisements can be tailored to buyers without a salesperson needing to be present. Often, this means that by the time a salesperson gets around to pitching to a potential new customer, this person has been bombarded left and right with competitors. Now salespeople must work harder than ever to gain a customer's loyalty. You can't stop your competitors from advertising, but you can make sure to advertise just as much to bridge that gap between your salespeople and consumers.
It's true that sales positions have evolved over a short amount of time, but your salespeople don't have to be left behind. The three tips above are easy to implement within your business and your sales team. This will help ensure that your business continues to be successful throughout the sales evolution.
Not sure how to transform your business to be more tech-savvy? We recommend reading this article next.
Today, to stand-out and gain not just customers, but to gain loyal customers, you need to deliver superior value to them - and provide them with what they truly value in the service equation. It is no different in the hotel business. In fact, delivering outstanding service is absolutely crucial today, literally 100% of the time. Here's what business and leisure travelers are truly looking for today.
Whether someone is traveling for pleasure or work, they want to be comfortable in your hotel at the end of the day. Not all hotels are built similarly or function the same way. Some are better quality than others. The different features that a hotel provides are referred to as its amenities. These could encompass anything from free Wi-Fi to a hotel pool in which guests can swim whenever they want. Depending on what they’re looking for, amenities will often determine the hotel that people choose, so your hotel should at the very least provide the following basics:
Good WiFi and Cell Coverage
More and more hotels, cafes, and buildings are providing free Wi-Fi to their guests. Just because WiFi is available doesn’t mean it’s of good quality. There are a number of ways that you can improve the technology of your hotel. There are systems that reduce cellular dead zones so that customers can stay connected on your property. There’s nothing worse than a spotty connection that drops out all over the place.
Basic Kitchen Appliances
A small refrigerator can make a big difference in how comfortable a hotel room is. Guests aren’t going to be grocery shopping for the week, but it’s convenient to have somewhere they can store snacks or leftovers from dinner. A microwave allows guests to heat up their food. A lot of people don’t like to eat out the entire time that they are away from home. These small kitchen appliances can make a huge difference for guests.
A lot of people like to work out on a daily basis to keep up with their fitness level and mental health. When away from home for work or vacation, a gym facility on-site is very beneficial to guests. You don’t need to have a ton of expensive equipment available, but a few treadmills and cable machines can help people get their workout in for the day.
A lot of a hotel’s success relies on word of mouth from previous guests. It is also helpful if people want to return to your facility the next time that they are in town. Having as many amenities for your guests as possible, particularly the technology-related ones, will help increase your positive reputation and bring more guests to stay at your hotel. If people don’t feel like they were comfortable or had enough conveniences available to them during their stay, this is the reputation you will form in the hospitality industry. So to give your hotel the best chance of success, consider including amenities like the ones listed above.
The recent movie, Ford v Ferrari, shined a spotlight on the innovations brought about by competition between American and European car companies (also chronicled in the documentary, The 24 Hour War). But do you know the real extent of how these historical innovations impact not just the car industry, but well beyond today? This article provides insights on the critical developments brought about for companies and consumers alike by Ford, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz.
Three car companies instantly come to mind when you think about how the auto industry has changed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read on to find out more about these historical innovations.
According to Autodesk, Ford revolutionized the way that cars were manufactured on assembly lines. When the Ford Motor Company was able to reduce the time that it took workers to build a car from over 13 hours to under 45 minutes, cars became affordable to almost everyone. In Ford's early years, the company also managed to cut the number of parts required to build a car to 45. Ford also was one of the first to use slides and trolleys so that parts were precisely where they needed to be for workers to use them efficiently. By breaking down the process of building a car into steps, Ford changed the way that cars were built everywhere.
Toyota revolutionized the industry by coming up with Just in Time manufacturing, which is often called the Toyota Process. The principle behind Just in Time manufacturing is making only what is needed, in the amount that it is required and at the time that it is needed. Toyota, however, was not content to stop there. The company developed a system that purposefully always looks for ways to improve their process. They also implemented the Five Whys Process. The process starts by asking the question of why at least five times. The result is a process that avoids problems and can create solutions. By asking five why questions, mistakes in thinking are often eliminated. These processes have helped to fuel the company's innovation, as seen in its wide range of models. According to Santa Monica Motors, Toyota now has over 70 different models listed under its namesake brand.
Mercedes Benz traces its company history back to the first practical automobile that was built by Karl Benz. More recently, however, it is credited with developing multi-skilled teams, according to Auto Design & Production. The advantage of this approach is that people with different areas of expertise get involved with the car’s design, production and evaluation. Therefore, Just in Time principles often reserved for assembly lines can be built into the process from day one. Application of the Mercedes Benz principle also allows more models to be constructed using the same parts.
These three car manufacturers have revolutionized the way that cars are manufactured. You can take their principles and apply them to your manufacturing facilities. If you are a shopper looking for a new car, then you can be thankful for these manufacturing principles as they allow you to have a new vehicle at a lower price.
Here’s another article you might like: The hottest accessory-friendly vehicles on the road
Expert Advice for Entrepreneurs from Google for the Christmas Season (and Really, for Anytime of Year!)!
(BPT) - Small businesses have a major impact on their communities: 67 cents of every dollar spent on small businesses stays in the local economy. But when it comes to growing their businesses, nearly one in four small business owners say marketing is one of their biggest challenges. As small businesses prepare for the holiday rush, they are investing in digital marketing to reach new customers and stand out online.
Below are a few easy, effective ways to grow your business during this busy time of year from Kim Spalding, global product director for small business ads, Google:
1. Be discovered and build a website
People are increasingly searching for small businesses. In 2019, search interest in “mom and pop shops” hit a three-year high.
To make sure holiday shoppers are finding your business, Google My Business is a free and easy way to help businesses show up in Search and Maps. Businesses can attract customers by creating a profile where they can update their store information (like their holiday hours), create free posts that promote a special holiday offer or event and reply to reviews. Platforms like Wix and WordPress also offer free accounts that help small business owners build mobile-optimized and budget-friendly websites.
Once you have a website, adding a basic map or store locator can help customers more easily find your store by showing them your store’s location on a map and giving directions.
2. Make it easier to sell online
Ensuring customers’ online holiday shopping experience is easy and seamless is critical. Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets you start, grow and manage a business. Shopify enables you to sell in multiple places including web, mobile, social media, online, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations and pop-up shops.
3. Reach more customers
Small business owners have a lot on their plates — especially during the holiday months — and finding the time to create engaging content can feel impossible. Hiring a copywriter from services like Fiverr frees up time for small business owners to focus on running their businesses while expert freelancers draft copy to attract customers.
A simple way to reach customers quickly, Smart Campaigns, created specifically for small business owners, takes 15 minutes to set up, and can help small businesses create and optimize ads to attract customers to their website or Maps. Smart Campaigns saves small business owners time by optimizing their budget across Google Ads to deliver the results they crave.
Expanded Local Campaigns can help businesses increase foot traffic by surfacing Promoted Pins that appear on the map when users are getting directions and planning their route to a destination.
4. Get a customized online business plan
Even though most business owners know their customers are on the web, 80 percent still aren’t making the most of digital tools that can help them reach more customers and work more efficiently.
Google for Small Business is a free, one-stop shop to help small businesses simplify how they select and use the online tools that can help them reach more holiday customers and work more efficiently. First, business owners input their business name, answer a few questions about their business and select a goal. Then, they receive a step-by-step, personalized plan of recommended products to help them stand out online.
Growth for small businesses isn’t always about doing more, it’s about getting things done in less time, with less complication and less worry. This holiday season, these tools can help businesses thrive by providing the support needed to connect with more customers and meet goals.
How can you leverage technological advances to help your SMB be more innovative and competitive? Here are trends affecting small businesses to watch when evaluating what technologies to adopt.
(BPT) - Whatever your small or medium-sized business (SMB), chances are you’re dependent on increasingly advanced technology — or wish to use more sophisticated technology. Recent advances have been numerous and head-spinning, sometimes making it hard to keep up. The truth is, harnessing emerging technologies effectively may be exactly what takes your business to the next level, ensuring success in today’s rapidly evolving, competitive business landscape. If you aren't using one of these emerging technologies in your business yet, it's likely that your business would benefit from doing so in the near future.
How can you leverage technological advances to help your SMB be more innovative and competitive? Here are trends affecting small businesses to watch when evaluating what technologies to adopt.
With cloud computing, small-business owners can implement sophisticated software using software as a service (SaaS) or desktop as a service (DaaS) models. The advantage of these models is that they update and maintain applications, eliminating the need for on-site servers or purchasing multiple copies of software. This can help reduce costs and increase efficiency. The DaaS model also stores, helps secure and backs up user data. Additionally, cloud computing means never having to worry about software updates. According to a survey by Garner, 63% of SMBs already use cloud computing. To maximize the benefits of cloud computing, you’ll want to have up-to-date PCs and computing devices.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Software that uses AI — or more specifically, machine learning — collects data from tasks, eventually “learning” how to do those tasks more quickly and accurately. AI can thus help your business save time and money by automating certain repetitive, manual tasks that take up too much of your employees’ time. According to a Harris Poll survey conducted for Salesforce, an average of 23% of an SMB team’s day is spent manually inputting data.
Just how popular is AI becoming? Apparently 62% of SMBs are already using technology to automate some processes. And what kinds of AI are they using? Many use tools like Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa for scheduling and planning, chatbot to analyze customer questions, RPA Express to automate data entry or Salesforce Einstein to analyze data or identify leads — to name just a few. For SMBs wanting to benefit from these technologies, running them on PCs equipped with powerful processors and memory helps ensure they can handle the increased demands on their computing power, such as modern PCs and computing devices powered by the latest Intel(R) Core(TM) processors.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Devices and objects are increasingly interconnected: phones, HVAC systems, security systems, cars and more. To use multiple apps making all those connections, plus tracking products through the supply chain, you may need to upgrade to computers with more powerful processors or more memory (RAM) to help your company use its software more effectively. Perhaps not surprisingly, 78% of growing small businesses already report using more than one business application, while 30% use more than five.
The ability for employees to work remotely has become essential, not just for employee well-being and productivity, but for connecting at client offices, satellite venues or while traveling. The effective processing power, speed and longer battery life of modern laptops provide employees with flexibility that helps them — and your business — thrive. Today’s notebooks, thin-and-lights and 2-in-1s are available with more powerful processors, more RAM and more solid-state storage than previous generations of computers. And today’s portable technology can handle cloud-based apps, making them more flexible than ever.
Because SMBs don’t have the large IT staff and security budgets of bigger companies, they can be tempting targets for cybercriminals. In a 2018 Cyber Risk Report by Hiscox, 44% of SMBs reported suffering a cyberattack in the previous year, and 52% of those businesses had been attacked more than once. In addition, SMBs still using Windows 7 may be at risk when Microsoft plans to stop providing updates and support for Windows 7.11 after Jan. 14, 2020.
Here are some ways you can help improve the cybersecurity of your business:
Be ready for 2020
Whatever your 2020 goals, it’s a good idea to think strategically about technology that could take your business to the next level. Outdated hardware can affect your SMB’s bottom line, so make updating your PCs part of your technology plan this year.
To learn more about options for updating your technology, visit Intel.com/smallbusiness.
 Gartner survey conducted April-May 2017, among 699 U.S.-based SMBs with over 10 employees and annual revenue less than $100 million. The survey excluded nonprofit organizations. Qualified respondents are decision-makers or have significant influence on decisions related to purchasing technologies for their organization. Source: Gartner’s Top Technology Trends for SMBs Survey, cited by Capterra.
 Harris Poll online survey conducted on behalf of Salesforce, Sept. 1–13 2017, among 490 small and medium-sized U.S. business owners and leaders 18 years of age or older, with 2–199 employees. Data points were weighted by number of employees to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Source: Salesforce: Small & Medium Business Trends Report.
 2018 Hiscox Small Business Cyber Risk Report(TM) focuses on responses of U.S. small businesses surveyed as part of the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2018(TM) released Feb. 7, 2018. Hiscox commissioned Forrester Consulting to assess organizations’ cyber readiness. In total, 4,103 professionals responsible for their organization’s cybersecurity strategy were contacted (1,000 plus each from the U.K., U.S. and Germany, and 500 each from Spain and the Netherlands). Drawn from a representative sample of organizations by size and sector, these are men and women on the front line of the business battle against cybercrime. While all are involved to a greater or lesser extent in their organization’s cybersecurity effort, over 30% make the final decision on how their business should respond. Respondents completed the online survey between Oct. 12-Nov. 10, 2017. Source: 2018 Hiscox Small Business Cyber Risk Report.
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Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.
(C) Intel Corporation.
Innovations in technology that have allowed the person to try their hand in business have also provided a plethora of opportunities for helping a business to succeed. Today, industries of all kinds rely on technology to maintain a streamlined service for their employees and customers. But is technology that important to business? The following list details some of the ways tech can be utilized to enhance the day-to-day operations of a business.
If you run a retail business, nothing can cost you as much in both your budget and sales than an unorganized inventory system. Thus, one of the most important features a retail business must have is a high tech point-of-sale system. According to Celerant Technology, learning how to use a retail POS is an important investment that can transform your business, so it's essential to utilize all the features available to you. These POS systems allow you to have a detailed and live report on your inventory. Consider introducing training for your employees to use this system as they will probably be the ones interacting with it the most.
Communication Tools and Apps
Communication apps and tools have saved thousands of businesses over the years. This is because information is a highly valued asset in business. Communication tools, such as Facebook Messenger and Instagram, can allow your company to take advantage of minute-to-minute opportunities. Also, video communication tools like FaceTime have provided small business owners the ability to negotiate via the internet with their clients or potential vendors. This alone has provided countless opportunities to less-established businesses, which, according to BroadVision, are opportunities that would not have been there if it weren't for these communication tools and apps.
Often, it is not the lack of marketing or sales that bring down a business, but the lack of accuracy within its financial records. Your own lack of organization can easily create issues with your local county or even the IRS. There are currently hundreds of financial software tools out there that have saved businesses from going through these ordeals. They often provide you with notifications dealing with your taxes and updates on changes to the law that could affect you.
Technology is not something people should fear as a tool that can steal jobs. It can supplement and enhance your team's efforts, opening the doors to a business' growth. Simply follow the list above to begin implementing these technology tools and suggestions into your own business.
Most large businesses have an IT team that is responsible for protecting data and networking the computers used by employees. In many cases, the IT department can be ignored or isn't given enough attention from upper management. If you manage or own a business, there are a few things that you need to know to get the most out of your IT team.
How Much to Budget
Depending on the industry, good IT can cost a bit of money because the technology likely affects your customers. Technology is a key driving force in every business market, which makes IT teams more in demand. IT teams can also cost more because they're responsible for accommodating the re-occurring wave of change while embracing technology as a partner rather than a commodity. Companies that sell technology as a product will likely have lower costs than those that sell products like tacos or buildings. Investing more money in IT may be a sacrifice but can have a positive impact on each department and aspect of the business.
If you make the mistake of getting hooked on buzzwords as a business, then you will quickly find yourself bloated with useless hardware and incompatible software, which can make your IT team confused and ineffective. Do you know the difference between ITIL and ITSM? Using confusing acronyms can only lead to issues and complications that occur down the road.
Many businesses fail to have an IT plan or strategy, which is critical to the operation of their business with the type of software that is used. Many businesses often assume that technology can compensate for mistakes that are often made, but it is actually a force multiplier for the business. It can save money, attract more business, and boost the productivity of your team. You'll need to work closely with your IT team to develop a strategy and research the top software that can be utilized. Work with a professional that can help you to identify that IT structure that is needed to support the business and also plan for the future.
Businesses that understand the importance of their IT team often succeed because they utilize what the department has to offer. With the right software used and a plan created, you'll likely obtain more success in the industry.
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