Your new business is finally up and running and you feel like a kid in a candy store. You are happy, you have all your ducks in a row, and you feel ready for that first sale. Here are five things that you need to know in order to be successful in your business now and in the future.
It's About the Experience
Businesses thrive on customers having a great experience when buying a product or service, so it's up to you to make sure that this happens for the people that you serve. Make sure that your customer's journey is a pleasant one every single step of the way.
Providing a good experience for customers is important for future growth and success because these customers are going to be able to speak well of their experience with your business. They're also the customers most likely to come back repeatedly. The way you approach customers and communicate your brand can greatly impact your success. If you’re struggling with business growth, then you may want to examine your marketing strategy. Ultimately, customer experience is what will drive your business forward.
Reputation is Important
Being able to manage your online reputation is important if you want to have a successful business. Once you've established a solid customer base, ask these customers to review you on outlets like Google and Yelp. Also, you can politely invite them to send in video testimonials of their experiences with your business, which you can use for marketing on your website.
By utilizing customer testimonials to manage your reputation, you'll be able to gain new customers faster because you have built a trust factor with your audience. If you're concerned about asking your customers for testimonials, don't be. Your customers will love to be involved in the process of your success and offer you their perspective on their positive experience in working with you.
Your Mindset Holds the Key
Some people say that the key to success is knowing how to make a sale. The true key to success is in your mindset.
Your mindset holds the key to your ability to be able to market yourself well to your target audience. If you have limiting beliefs on how many sales per month you can make or how many clients you can work with in one year, then you'll see that come to fruition in your business. Train your mindset so that you're setting yourself up for success and eliminating limiting beliefs from the get-go.
Your Business Shouldn’t Be a Replica of Someone Else’s
It's very easy when you're starting out in business to play the comparison game. Especially if your business is a year old or younger.
There may be people who have been in business at the same time as you and you see them and feel like they're crushing it with their sales goals and client testimonials and pretty photo shoots.
The truth is, your business shouldn't be a replica of anybody else's business. Your business is a living, breathing entity of its own that is specific to you and how you operate and who you serve. Don’t try to copy someone else.
Be at Peace with Failure
While you may feel like failure is one of the worst things that can happen in your new business, that could not be further from the truth.
Use failure as a stepping stone to learn what you need to know to run your business successfully. Everything in your business that doesn't work out the way you expected it to has a solution on the other side of it.
By using these five things as guideposts in your business, you're setting yourself up for success and less frustration when failure hits.
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If your marketing strategy is older than three years, it could be time for an update. Moreover, if you find your messaging is not getting the results you want, maybe it's time to go back to basics. If you work on the fundamentals of a good marketing strategy, then the results should fall in place.
Revisit Your Audience Personas
It's vital for your company to understand the likes and dislikes, backgrounds, age groups, political affiliations, dreams, and aspirations of your ideal audience persona. Consider the type of audience that would be the best match for your product and/or service. If you haven't evaluated your audience personas in years, now is the time for an overhaul — especially if your products and services have changed over time. If something isn't "clicking" with your marketing, this may be the step you need to get back on track. You can then use your updated audience personas to get back in sync with their needs and wants. Sundance explains that all this information is vital to understanding how to interact meaningfully with your target market.
Understand Your Product and Service
For this step, perhaps you should take another look at analyzing your product and service. What market need does it meet? How is it unique from similar products and services? What sets it apart from your competitors? No one can market your product and service better than your company can. While you do need customer advocates, the basics of product marketing starts with your understanding. If sales have stalled and you feel like you don't know where to take your marketing campaign, then it may be time for a refresh. Digital Marketing Training Group recommends participating in ongoing training to stay up to date on the latest trends and standards in the digital marketing industry. You can then apply your knowledge in furthering your marketing goals.
Get to Know Your Competition
When getting back to marketing basics, your company might be so focused on your product line and customers that you forget any other obstacles that might be lurking around. MarketResearch.com warns that one such hurdle in your quest for market domination would be your competitors. It is critical to get to know your competition. You can learn from their mistakes and avoid similar pitfalls.
You can also gain a better understanding of why your target audience might purchase from them instead of your company. In addition, you might learn from their successes and apply some of their winning strategies. Not to mention, you can study their segment of the marketplace to find any opportunities to sell more of your products and services.
Embrace Strategic Partnerships
In order to grow, some companies need to find allies. For instance, if you look at the history of McDonald's, Ray Kroc partnered with local bakeries throughout the nation to ensure a consistent baked product for every McDonald's franchise. As far as your company stands, think of a partnership that can work in a mutually beneficial way. If your company sells lipstick, you might partner with an eye shadow brand to sell kits instead of individual pieces. In terms of marketing, you and your partner benefit from exposure to new consumers.
There you have it, the basics of marketing. At times, going back to basics is all it takes to get your company moving in a forward direction once more.
Businesses are often guilty of wasting a lot of money throughout the year. In many instances, the money is spent without even realizing that there is a better alternative. Understanding the ways that businesses waste money will allow you to see what opportunities exist within your own operations.
New technology is available to provide higher productivity, more analysis of financials, and other tasks. Much of the new fintech is causing disruption, which leads to companies not able to adapt failing. Big data, for example, is where many businesses fail to adapt. You can save a lot of time while obtaining more valuable information about trends by learning how to work with big data. Further, CRM and ERP systems can be implemented as a way of improving customer service, eliminating data redundancy, and providing access to information from any mobile device.
Poor Marketing Strategies
Marketing tends to be a black hole when it comes to spending. Businesses know that they need to market but aren’t doing so effectively. Many fail to establish a target audience, so their campaigns aren’t capturing the interest of the audience that is most likely to do business with them. Further, every campaign needs to be analyzed to see whether the desired return on investment is being achieved. Certain marketing strategies tend to have a higher return on investment. For example, effective SEO increases conversions and lowers advertising costs. By understanding marketing ROI, you can change strategies or tweak campaigns so that they are more successful.
Businesses of all sizes tend to get sloppy with their finances. This is particularly true of small businesses because they take on the mindset that they can do it all. As a result, they struggle with knowing what they’re spending against their budget. They may also be unsuccessful at collecting all income that is owed because of not having the time to send out invoices and follow-up statements. Many businesses may not even realize they can get many tax breaks and credits and miss out on thousands of dollars. DIY accounting strategies simply aren’t effective for the long-term. Implementing a bookkeeper to help with all of the bookkeeping can make it easier to tighten spending and see where money is being spent on a more regular basis.
In the end, there are a lot of ways to avoid spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. You don’t want to waste money when there are ways for you to improve your operations, explore new technology, market effectively, and tighten your spending with the help of a bookkeeper.
Looking for more financial advice? Dive into The Money Idea here!
With growing dependence on electronic communication, it would seem that many small businesses would be prepared for the paperless office era. Despite the growing reliance on technology, businesses of all types including shops, firms, manufacturers, and more are not converting to paperless offices in large numbers. Change is hard for some, since the process of going paperless may seem intimidating.
However, there are many benefits to going paperless, such as protecting sensitive data, reducing office waste, and minimizing the need for physical storage space. Going paperless can also save you time if you do it correctly. Below are three technologies that may help put your business on the paperless path.
Digital Billing Processes
Online billing software is a great first step towards a paperless office and offers so many other advantages as well. Once it's set up, it's fast and simple to use. All the client's information is stored in the system or cloud—including their preferred payment methods and information. Think of the space you'll save with this paperless system in not having to print out invoices, reports, and other records.
Physical documents no longer need to be filed and stored, which takes up time and space. With your logo, the system helps establish your brand on all of your invoices and documents. The system will protect the information in a secure environment, which is also a real plus. Many billing processes can be fully or partially automated using the software to save even more time.
If you are trying to go paperless in your office, then iPad receptionist software can benefit your business. There's no need for paper sign-in sheets or logs, since the software takes care of that for you in real time—helping you easily track all visitors, their purposes, and their entry and exit times. It saves time in letting you and your employees know of any new arrivals without someone having to monitor a paper log. You can set alerts and visitor watchlists for security purposes that can include instructions for employees on how to deal with any specific people or situations.
Digital signatures are growing in use and popularity. Providing the highest levels of assurance about the identity of each signer and the document's authenticity, digital signatures make complying with legal matters convenient and secure in addition to saving time and money. You'll no longer have to print an abundance of legal documents or contracts and send them out for signatures through the mail or paid courier services. They can be sent electronically—for free—directly and securely to the parties who need to sign, and then stored securely as well.
Using the three technologies outlined above will help you convert your business to a paperless one. Businesses seeking a more efficient, secure means of handling documentation will appreciate paperless solutions. The potential is there to save time, money, and resources while improving your office processes.
Interested in learning more? Check out a world of new ideas for a better business life.
Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
(BPT) - Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
In the U.S. alone, women entrepreneurs generate $1.1 million in revenue on average across retail, professional and personal service businesses that have operated for 11 years. This stat comes from Visa’s new ‘State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, which informed their recently announced program, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a global initiative to support and champion women in their efforts to grow their small businesses.
That’s powerful stuff, highlighting the important role women entrepreneurs play in the prosperity and economic development of local communities. The typical entrepreneur is 42 years old and earns nearly $110,000 in household income a year, making a profound difference in building and supporting families in the community.
Clearly, female founders are coming into their own. In fact, the Visa study found that 79 percent of American women entrepreneurs feel more empowered now than they did five years ago.
Still, key challenges exist: 73 percent say funding does not come easily, and nearly 2/3 use their own funds to get started. Assembling a good team, finding the right tools and dealing with competitors are among the biggest challenges keeping women entrepreneurs up at night.
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like there’s never enough time or resources to grow a business. To help other entrepreneurs and based on insights from the ’State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, Visa polled four areas women entrepreneurs focus on to turbocharge success:
Find mentors: More than two-thirds said they wanted advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Relatable role models and mentors are invaluable when you’re making the leap to starting or building your own business.
Find your feet: Strategy development is critical for women starting up their own company. Assembling a good team was a challenge encountered by 37 percent of women founders. Other challenges include: finding the tools to grow and manage their business (36 percent), competition (36 percent) and growing as quickly as they need to (33 percent). Have a plan and pursue your vision.
Gather capital to invest in your business: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. Respondents cited profits and revenue growth as the top two priorities for improvement. Thirty-two percent of women would direct additional funding toward newer technology.
Put in overtime: When building a business, time is precious. Given the investment and high stakes that come with the territory, it comes as little surprise that a majority of women entrepreneurs (56 percent) are putting in more work hours than before they started their business.
If you’ve joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs, find support and resources by signing up for the Female Founder Collective, and visit She’s Next, Empowered by Visa where you can download and print a toolkit with tips and advice to help build and sustain your company.
Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
A Breath of Fresh Air: 7 ways to refresh your small business
7 ways to refresh your small business
(Family Features) Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
Reset short-term goals. Get to the root of the reasons you’re looking to refresh in the first place. Focus on what you’d like to change in the not-so-distant future and how you can accomplish it. Also make sure your short-term goals keep you on track for the long-term goals already established for your business.
Refresh online materials. In today’s digital world, consumers have high expectations. Maybe your website is outdated, can’t keep up with traffic or, worse, is nonexistent. Freshen things up with a redesign or even just slight tweaks to make it easier for customers to navigate. For a simple solution, consider adding a blog section where new content can be posted weekly or monthly to give customers a reason to return and to help build your search engine ranking for specific keywords.
Rethink storefronts. To help consumers make the most of their time, small business owners are partnering with other businesses to include their services under the same roof. For example, The UPS Store has a re-engineered model that exists within other retailers, such as pharmacies, hardware stores or grocery stores, that still provides all the services consumers would find at a traditional store.
“Our store-in-store model offers a smaller footprint store that still provides all of the services people need,” said Chris Adkins, vice president of franchise and business development with The UPS Store. “This is an opportunity for an existing business to set itself apart from the competition and offer added value to customers as a one-stop shop, where customers can conveniently take care of multiple tasks at once.”
With customer convenience also in mind, the model also includes updates in traditional stores to incorporate technology and other contemporary elements, including features like smart lockers, digital signage, print consultation workstations and self-service options available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Replace outdated strategies. If your business has been in operation for a while, there’s a chance your previously successful marketing strategies may be a bit out of touch. Consider your target audience and the ways you’re most likely to reach those consumers. For example, social media is a must to keep up with competition and there are ways you can amp up your strategy in the ever-evolving social space. Whether it’s posting short factoids, long-form information, links to online content or simple images of your products, it can be a productive way to reach your audience.
Reconnect with consumers. If overhauling marketing strategies or diving headfirst into social media seems like a stretch for your small business, start small. Simply reconnecting with loyal customers may be just what’s needed to rejuvenate the buzz surrounding your company. Try holding a contest for the best customer-submitted content to use online, or create a giveaway for a randomly chosen commenter on your latest social posts. These types of online conversations can attract consumers who may have been previously unaware of your goods or services.
Revive printed materials. Business cards, flyers, banners, posters, newsletters and any other type of printed materials may be the first impression potential customers have of your company. Using professional, well-designed printed items to let customers know what you do, like those available through The UPS Store, can convey the correct message to consumers that your products or services can meet their needs. Whether you think slight tweaks to your current materials will suffice or a more drastic redesign is necessary, it can help to ask friends, neighbors and even current clients and customers how they feel about the materials you’re using. Pay attention to layout, headlines, colors, white space and even font choices.
Rebrand your business. It may sound like a lot of work, and it certainly can be, but rebranding your business doesn’t have to mean changing the company name or rethinking product lines. Simply updating logos to appear more modern or rethinking an overused slogan can give your business a fresh vibe. Remember that enhancing the look of something seemingly as small as your logo can make a big difference, especially considering that image is likely the first thing a consumer sees when visiting your social pages or website.
Even companies experiencing success should often weigh the pros and cons of refreshing certain business elements to keep things impactful for current and potential customers. Find more tips and ways to improve your small business at theupsstore.com.
How Retailers Can Put Convenience First
In the race to nab consumers’ attention (and dollars), retailers need to be increasingly creative. Some of the more successful efforts show that retailers must recognize the value shoppers place on convenience. Look for ways to boost convenience for your consumers, such as:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The UPS Store
Take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
(BPT) - Small businesses are far more influential than most people may realize.
That influence is felt well beyond Main Street. Small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., and these firms employ nearly half (48 percent) the workforce, according to the 2018 Small Business Profile compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In addition, take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
Big companies have big opportunities for small firms
Back in the 20th century, a large company would get things done in this very straightforward way. Wherever there was a need, they hired someone directly to perform that task, whether it was a driver or an accountant.
Under today’s leaner models, these big companies are finding it’s much more efficient to partner with other firms to fulfill certain needs. According to Deloitte, 31 percent of IT services have been outsourced, as well as 32 percent of human resources. This increasing acceptance of outsourcing is a huge growth opportunity for small businesses owners.
For example, Amazon recently announced it is actively seeking and helping entrepreneurs who are willing to deliver packages as their contractors. The mega retailer will even go as far as helping with startup costs so long as these smaller firms deliver their packages. Landing a contract with a big corporation is a significant milestone for any company, but starting out with that lucrative contract is sure to let these startups hit the ground running.
Better connections for greater flexibility
When today’s entrepreneur has a new role to fill, they’re not confined to the talent pool in their immediate community. Because we now have the tools and connectivity to work from anywhere, a business owner can expand the search across multiple states!
What’s more, these flexible, work from anywhere options can give business owners the inspiration to do things differently. Having greater collaboration means having access to more options to fit specific needs.
For example, what is the very nature of being a small business owner? It’s dealing with a fluctuating volume of work. Tapping into the talent pool of freelancers to work on these specific, short-term tasks and projects is easier than ever, because for a segment of workers, freelancing is increasingly becoming a way of life. Freelancers currently make up 36 percent of the workforce, according to a study from Upwork. And, if trends maintain, most Americans will be freelancers by 2027.
Thanks to remote options with easy access to talent, small businesses can easily set up temporary or ongoing as-needed work arrangements. When you partner with Dell for your computing needs, you’ll get the expert help and support so you can set up the perfect flexible workspace system.
More automation brings better efficiencies
Without a doubt, new technology works in favor of small businesses and entrepreneurs because they have many tools at their disposal to automate labor intensive processes, be more productive and cut costs. For example, entrepreneurs can use software to process client payments and even set up automated payments, saving hours and costs associated with collecting, processing and reconciling under the traditional paper check payment system. That translates into a more efficient billing department that can spend more time focused on complex issues.
Let Dell equip your small business with the right tech tools, tailor made for your venture and backed with support, so you can focus on running your business.
How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business. Where can entrepreneurs turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
(BPT) - How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business.
Growth is one of the biggest indicators of small business success. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than 500,000 businesses have between 20 and 99 employees as of 2014. These established businesses are in the upper end of growth but have not yet met the threshold of being a medium business. In fact, 39 percent of growing companies — between three to five years old and seeking more than $100,000 — consider accessibility to capital their greatest concern. It’s during this stage businesses typically are faced with growth challenges.
Where can they turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
1. Lines of credit
Lines of credit, provided by online lending platforms like Kabbage, offer established businesses in all industries the flexibility and convenience of accessible capital.
With Kabbage there are no fees to apply for a line of credit or annual costs to access funding. Small businesses don’t pay a thing to see for how much their business can qualify. Kabbage offers access to lines of credit up to $250,000, helping small to mid-market businesses access funding for operational costs and strategic investments like cash flow needs, purchasing specialized equipment, business expansions and launching high-growth marketing projects. There are also no obligations in how much a business is required to take. Businesses can take the amount they need from the line of credit when they need it, with no hidden fees or pre-payment penalties.
Lines of credit are faster and more flexible than traditional loans. In fact, Kabbage offers a loan application that can be finished in minutes — even through a mobile app — eliminating the time usually spent waiting in lines or filling out numerous forms.
2. Merchant cash advances
Some established businesses turn to a merchant cash advance (MCA) due to lower credit ratings, not having enough assets to provide as collateral, short-term financing needs or the flexible repayment terms.
Essentially, an MCA is an advance on future credit card payments. The cash advance is decided upon by the funding company, with the specific amount being paid back in full plus fees and interest.
With merchant cash advances, borrowers pay a set percentage of their credit card sales and make payments every time they receive credit card payments from clients.
3. Invoice factoring
Invoice factoring is another funding option established businesses use in lieu of bank loans. Factoring is the process of selling accounts receivables to a financing company for immediate cash.
Factoring helps businesses receive cash much faster than waiting for clients to pay their invoices. The financing company, known as the “factor,” pays the business the majority of the invoice upfront. Once the business receives payment from the client, they send those funds to the factor. The factor then pays the remaining percentage to the business.
Factors are more concerned with the financial health of the business’s clients rather than the business itself. These companies collect directly from a company’s clients and customers, sometimes requiring payment history validation from the business. A benefit of factoring is not assuming debt for money received; however, if clients are not creditworthy, you may not receive funding.
To maximize this growth, consider looking online at www.kabbage.com/yes to learn about and find new options that fit your business. Merchant cash advances, invoice factoring, and lines of credit are three alternative solutions that help growing businesses go beyond traditional financing methods.
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