Expanding Your Online Business: 4 Things to Consider Before Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Location

Many companies have expanded from brick-and-mortar operations to offering only online stores that can be used to purchase products and services. It’s a huge sector of the economy and has been growing rapidly since the introduction of the internet. 

However, what if you wanted to do the opposite? Instead, you could evolve from an online-only operation to also having brick-and-mortar locations. This too can lead to increased profit. Still, there are serious pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are four things to consider before making this transition.

How Niche Is Your Business?

The great thing about the internet is that it gives you access to millions of people you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This includes consumers with extremely specialized interests. While you may be able to find enough of these individuals online to make a profit, achieving the same success in one geographic location may be much more difficult.

Will You Appeal to the Local Customer Base?

Similarly, you also need to ensure that you have the ability to actually appeal to the consumers in that locality as well. Your store may be a hit online with shoppers that live in Manhattan. However, if you start a brick-and-mortar location in Rapid City, South Dakota, the consumers there may find your New York-centered branding and marketing off-putting.

Can You Afford All the Costs Involved?

The most significant advantage online stores have over brick-and-mortar stores is the elimination of a lot of overhead expensive and startup costs. Obtaining a building that consumers will actually enter can be much more difficult than finding warehouse space. You will also have to be able to afford all the other expenses required to maintain that store like utilities, rent, and much more.

Do You Have the Management Skills?

Operating a brick-and-mortar store takes distinctly different management skills than managing an online store does. Customer service, for one, will often be face-to-face. You will also have to recruit and train employees that will work with customers directly. You need to ensure you are up to this task or your brick-and-mortar store will flounder as a result.

Just because you are successful with an online business does not necessarily mean you can translate that success to brick and mortar. However, there is still the possibility you could make a fortune by making this transition with your company. If you think brick and mortar can work for you, consider obtaining construction management services and other services that can help you plan for your new stores.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Keeping Your Business Organized: 3 Tips for Owners

Part of running a business like a well-oiled machine comes down to superb organization skills and policies. When things are properly organized, this will save you and your employees loads of time. Items will be more easily found, and your employee’s work spaces will not look trashy and cluttered. So, if you are ready to whip your business into shape, then here are three organization tips you must follow for best results. 

Back of the Store 

The back of your store, where no one but you and your employees tread, is where you keep all your inventory and other business-related supplies. To keep these items organized, you will need shelving for products, heavy duty storage cabinets and bins for other supplies. Putting in a system for quickly locating what you need will also be a great plan. This way, anyone new that you hire on will be able to quickly orient themselves to finding what they need without wasting a lot of time searching without end. 

Front Customer Area 

Any time customers can see an area of your store, you do not want these areas to look cluttered or messy. This is especially the case if it is an employee work station. Unorganized areas like that will give the hint that you and your employees do not spend time carefully making sure your store is both neat and clean. By assigning an employee to go around to do regular checks and remind employees to clean up the areas they are in charge over, you will help to always ensure your store is ready for your customers to see. 

Digital Organization 

As with your physical products and supplies, your computer system and digital files need to be in order too. One way to do this is to install a quality database to help you gain access to any digital form or information you need at the push of a button. Often it is necessary for companies to have a couple of IT guys on staff to ensure that your digital systems are not only organized, but you also want them to be operating within acceptable parameters. In addition, these employees can help you keep your social media postings organized to ensure that your company is being properly represented online too. 

Your business is the foundation on which you plan to build your success. By using superb organization policies, you will help this effort along in a big way. Plus, you will help to make sure that your employees have everything they need at their fingertips to make you happy with their performance. Consequently, organization is a critical aspect of any viable business model.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions

Ensuring your business can ever be one step ahead of the curve first requires it to be absolutely located within the present. Businesses might not be present in their aesthetic or theming, but in their practical running and development, they need to be. Even businesses that pride themselves on the age of their product ingredients such as decades-old whisky will never used decades-old solutions to business problems that are considered today. It’s put simply in the phrase: modern problems require modern solutions. This means that if you ever hope to push forward, you need a solid base from which to push.

As a business leader, it can be hard to keep your finger on the pulse. The trends of business life often seem to flow around us, and it can be hard to decide if we want to jump into this tide or to try to follow this while also dictating our own unique spin on things. With the following advice we should help any new business keep on top of the pressing trends current in 2019:

Changing Consumer/Business Relationships

The business relationship has started to shift between the customer and the business they hope to interact with. While the same time-honored laws of interpersonal trade still apply, that is consumers will likely offer you money to purchase your good or service, you have to provide a sense of immediate aftercare for this transaction. Complaints should be recorded efficiently and capably, and acted on if they have any merit. Bringing your support context to them through the use of social media IM features is one of the norms that more and more companies have started adopting, because it reduces the load on your call centres and can help the client feel as though they’ve been given a wise and fair speed of treatment.

Some businesses offer a money back guarantee if the customer isn’t happy with the good or service, and social media has given people of all kinds the power to denounce or appreciate that which your business does. If you look at any online review website, you’ll see the business trying to carefully respond to negative reviews, perhaps apologising for their experience and offering them a better time if they come in next. The power has absolutely shifted in favor of the consumer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means that more departments need to operate with PR in mind, and any business decision must be made in the light of the consumer, as they have more power to affect your bottom line than ever before. It just takes one highly-followed person to positively or negatively tweet about you to affect your share price slightly. For this reason, pay attention to this changing relationship, and do what you can to preserve it.

Data Management

Data management is essential to consider in the modern day. Not only are vast amounts of data created in the daily functioning of your firm, but not all data is created equal. Some is simple and basic, some is highly sensitive. Some is generated by the activities your firm embarks upon, some data is freely given to you in order for a customer to interface with your firm accurately. Some data is relatively useless and simply a by-product of the IT functioning of your office, some can be analyzed in order to predict spending patterns and just who you should be advertising to.

Data is perhaps too vast a term to gain any immediate definition of. But handling all of this data well, adhering to the most present data collection policy and ensuring a privacy disclaimer on your website and sales contracts will ensure that you are both trusted and  held to the standard necessary to function with this at your side. Using a service such as the Gartner master data management report can help you learn sustainable methods of handling data, taking a quite intimidating proposition and turning it something you will thrive in.

Corporate Espionage

Corporate espionage seems like a silly thing, as if it was only localized in noir movies in the late 50’s.  We think of a long shadow against the wall in a smoky office, as a spy ruffles through the papers to find out just what his neighbouring business is up to. Unfortunately, this quite attractive image isn’t the reality in the modern day, but corporate espionage does still exist, and is much more refined than you might know. It all takes place in cyberspace.

While staff vetting is of course important, most system trespassing is now done online, and can be prevented by using VPNs, ensuring staff exercise a high level of personal security over their workflow modules, and that high-profile messages within the top levels of your firm are on a need-to-know and encrypted basis. Keeping tight control of the narrative at the top can ensure that your business is always in control of that it hopes to keep secretive.

Accelerated Innovation

Innovation seems to happen at rocket-speed in the modern day. This is great for consumers, but sometimes worrying for businesses. Businesses often worry that their competition will somehow develop a new method of crafting their product that will cut costs significantly, undercutting the price of the competition to a strong degree. Sometimes a company releases a product so successful that its actual presence becomes the moniker of what that product category is – such as how ‘iPhone’ became more than just its brand name in common parlance.

The only counter to this you have is to invest in your research and development, to constantly experiment and generate your take on the winning formula. But also, to become known for the brilliance surrounding your effort, such as your excellent customer support, or your willingness to be a positive player in your industry, or to care about ethical standards.While modern solutions are always important, sometimes it’s the timeless ones that have the most impact.

With these tips, you’re sure to keep on top of the shifting tides of business modernity.

4 Ways Your Small Construction Company can Save Money

Anyone who has ever run a construction company knows just how quickly overhead costs can come bearing down. Even if you spend countless hours planning out a job, a few small mistakes can easily turn into expensive problems that eat into your profits. Here is a look at four effective ways that small construction companies can cut costs and improve efficiency.

Outsource Your IT

There are many different reasons why thousands of companies throughout the country are now outsourcing their IT departments. For some small business owners, IT tasks can quickly escalate into time-consuming and frustrating projects. Letting professionals take care of your IT work is also going to improve your company’s security and reduce your risk of data theft. While you may not think IT solutions are necessary for a small construction company, the technology used on sites is incredibly important. New tracking software to help you better manage projects and coordinate workers will save you valuable time, making it an important investment for your efficiency as a company.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

If you want to keep costs down, recycled materials is the best way to go. Many companies today are taking advantage of the many benefits of recycled timber, recycled steel, recycled aluminum, and of course, the tax benefits that come with them. Not only can you buy recycled materials as a cheaper alternative, but you can sell your own scrap for recycling, as well. Doing this is excellent both for your company’s reputation as an environmentally-conscious construction source and for your company’s building costs.

Hire and Architect

Unexpected problems in construction can quickly become costly, especially if they involve the foundation and structure of the project itself. Architects may seem like just an extra cost, but working with one can ensure that your project is outfitted to succeed from the start rather than being secretly doomed to fail. This will also show your customers that you care deeply about the quality of your work and give them greater faith in your ability to get the job done right the first time around.

Rent Specialized Equipment

Working with a local equipment rental company is another tactic that could save you quite a bit of money. You have probably invested in a few key pieces of equipment, but you don’t need to have a wide variety of cranes, skid steers, and wheel loaders sitting on your property. Renting equipment as it is needed will lower your monthly insurance premiums and minimize your company’s debt. Equipment rental can also save you on smaller machinery, such as motorized saws, drills, and other regular equipment. Even if you happen to use machinery regularly, renting it will ensure that you always have the newest models that someone else is storing and maintaining for you. However, specialized tools and machinery should be rented as-needed either way to avoid costly storage and maintenance fees on items that aren’t being used to their money’s worth.

In an ever increasingly competitive market, you want to take every advantage you can to ensure that your company will come out on top. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean cutting corners, and some ways that you can save money will help your company in its efficiency and reputation, as well. Consider your options and expenses, and you’ll find ways to cut down on project costs without ever sacrificing quality.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Business? 4 Plumbing Mistakes to Avoid

Opening a brick-and-mortar business can be a very exciting yet challenging time. There are many things you need to take into consideration, such as plumbing. Unfortunately, there are many common plumbing mistakes you will want to avoid. They can end up costing a lot of money in the long run, which can take away from your company’s overall profits. The following information takes a closer look at four common plumbing mistakes you’ll want to watch out for:

Rushing to Meet a Deadline

When opening a new business, it is likely that you are working to meet a deadline. Rushing your plumbing can be a huge mistake. You will want to make sure you take your time and that everything is done correctly. If you are in a hurry, you will be more likely to make errors, which can cost you a lot of money later on down the line.

Over-Tightening

Over-tightening connections is another common error. If you make tubes, bolts, and pipes too tight, they can eventually crack. It may not be immediate, but it can happen over time and cause severe leaks, which, as previously mentioned, can cause a lot of damage and be costly to repair.

Overusing Drain Cleaners

Many people use drain cleaners as their first line of defense when any plumbing issues arise. However, drain cleaners can damage pipes over time and lead to leaks. Therefore, if you have a clogged drain, you should consider more effective and safe methods, such as using a drain snake.

Using Mix-Matched Piping

One of the most common plumbing mistakes is using different pipes together that aren’t quite matches. You will want to ensure that you’re using pipes that are the same size and material. Using galvanized pipes with copper pipes, for example, can lead to unexpected corrosion and leaks. You will want to avoid this at all costs because leaks can cause water damage and mold. In order to avoid this, you should consider hiring a professional to complete your pipework installation. A professional will be able to quickly complete the job without errors, which will make it easier for you to meet your deadline. 

Overall, effectively completing the plumbing for your new business can be a challenging task. This is why you should conduct the proper research so you are able to use the correct methods. If you are a beginner when it comes to plumbing, DIY may not always be the best option. Often, you can save money in the long run by hiring a professional, who can ensure that it is done correctly the first time around.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Why Coworking Spaces Are Perfect For Entrepreneurs

The coworking space has been described as many things. For one, it is known as a great place that can help foster relationships that lead to collaboration. It is also known to be a very functional space that is one of the most affordable office plans around today.

However, there is a reason the coworking space is more than trending. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia’s real estate market. In fact, it got its popularity through the number of start-ups that found it to be the perfect place to work and meet other professionals. Take a look at Servcorp’s coworking spaces in Australia by clicking on the following link at https://www.servcorp.com.au/en/coworking/ and looking at the various amenities on offer.

Continue reading to learn why coworking spaces are an ideal solution for entrepreneurs to take their business to new heights.

Access Without Expense

While not the most expensive real estate market, Australia’s rents can be pretty steep, especially the closer you move to some of its urban centres. The coworking space, alternatively, provides entrepreneurs of all budgets the chance to work in prestigious locations around the country while saving a lot on office overhead. The coworking space usually provides businesses with all of the amenities of conventional office space, and the only difference is that the office is shared space.

A Platform For Making Connections

An entrepreneur is always on the search for relationships that will connect him/her to new relationships. These business relationships are going to provide the leverage and growth needed for a new venture. Relationships fostered in the coworking space can potentially lead to collaboration and lead to building multiple teams in the space. The coworking space is fertile ground for establishing a framework for partnership.

Inclusive Agenda

The coworking space is one of the few spaces that engender community. If the person fits in with community members, it is very easy to get pulled into a community that can be very supportive. Not only in terms of developing business relationships, but the coworking space can be a great resource. With a diverse range of professions and backgrounds in a space, the entrepreneur benefits from just being exposed to a variety of experience and information. More importantly, the coworking space’s emphasis on community can pull entrepreneurs struggling to gain traction in the community a means to do so.

Access To The Worldwide Landscape

The entrepreneur also has access to the online community through coworking spaces internet connection. The online community can be a place to perform research, to build your company’s brand, and to connect with your public using social media marketing. In fact, industrious entrepreneurs can manipulate the online platform, even creating a presence by building their own website that can do a number of tasks.

Tasks related to taking payments, allowing clients and customers to have an account online, and allowing the general public to complete a number of tasks can also be done in the coworking space. The only thing the online platform does is extend your reach into communities outside of the geographical location. This reach also lends itself to being able to tap into worldwide talent, which can give you more choice in whom you chose to hire.

The Traction Needed For Success

The coworking space can give businesses the traction they need to launch their ventures. The person only needs to come to the office with their best interpersonal skills to do well in the coworking space. Moreover, being able to access resources in the space and online makes it possible to leverage business potential.

Project Managing: The Changing Flow Of Customer Desires

When you begin a project in business, you quite clearly have an aim in mind. That aim might be to increase your customer base, reach out further on social media, create a new product that will flesh out your line or even just to gauge what consumers want these days. Whatever the case may be, you have to admit that you are at first going to be perplexed at the worldview you run into. It’s not unusual, to imagine how your project will go but it ends up being completely different due to the new information you collate. For this reason, leading a project itself is quite daunting. Not only do you have to try very hard to stick to initial plans but if and or when you do see the market shifting you have to accommodate that too. Customer trends always change, but the reason for why they change isn’t that difficult to understand if you are keeping your fingers on the pulse. When managing a project you will also need to make sure that you are absorbing any new information to then discuss and implement in the project itself.

Note the unexpected

One of the things that any new project will have to do is to contact the public and see what their opinion is on your initial approach or idea. Quite simply, this means sending out email survey campaigns to all your customers, to people who have shopped with you and of course to your business clients. Usually in these email surveys you will have some kind of questionnaire or a survey in which you could ask questions about how customers might feel toward the project. You’ll have to make it short and sweet as this way you will gain the most engagement. However you should also supply a further comment section which allows customers and recipients to give you their full and honest view.

When you see something out of the ordinary or perhaps a viewpoint that you did not expect, note this down. This could be the start of a similar viewpoint that is shared by many but you just didn’t know it. It could be the very beginnings of a changing flow in your customers’ desires. Of course treat this with a pinch of salt as some people sharing a similar view doesn’t mean the majority hold this view. It’s important to discuss any unexpected views that do seem to be gathering steam because it may warrant you changing a part of the project to accommodate it.

How we use technology

Customers are the ones who usually set trends in the marketing world, at least nowadays. Social media is a place for anyone to be creative which means businesses need to continually make sure they are aware of what’s going on. Sometimes a moment in culture might have a big impact on business. A certain name might be given to a piece of clothing, a software, a product etc. it’s this reason why Adwords are so important because as these new trends transpire, they will become available to bid for. You need to be at the forefront of this so you’re not the last one to the party and not able to take full advantage of the trend while it is at it’s peak. A business which wants to make sure they are serving the changing desires of their customers might need to consider using Automating Adwords optimization tasks. In a free-flowing marketing world, being able to harness the power of Adwords and automatically optimize your project to adhere to them will keep you from falling behind.

For example if a clothing item that is normally called a quilted jacket is worn by somebody famous and they make a social media post calling it a ‘country coat’, this term will obviously begin to be widely searched for by their fans. If you are such a business that makes quilted jackets, you want the Adwords for this so anytime anyone searches for a country coat, your website is further up the top of the results page.

Customers’ desires are changing more rapidly than ever before. Thankfully there are always new ways in which you can keep up and even bring them closer to your business. During a project, make sure you’re noting any signs of change from your own customers and clients from the information you get from your email survey campaign. Make sure that you’re in the loop regarding any kind of social media or cultural trend which might affect your project and adapt to it to secure new customers.