3 Ways to Get Your Small Business Growing

Do you feel like your small business may be stuck in a rut? When the answer is yes, you’ve got some serious work ahead of you. Being in charge of a small business can wear on some people over time, but the hope is you are not one of them.

That said it is important to do all you can to keep your small business headed in the right direction.

Be cognizant of your financial happenings. Also look at the morale of your team (for those with employees). Yes, it can be much to juggle at times, but would you have it any other way?

Keep Shooting for More Business Growth

So your small business can grow as much as possible, remember the following tips:

  1. Goals

First, always set realistic goals for your business moving forward. To use an analogy, some business owners have eyes that are bigger than their appetites. When this happens, they are not able to grow their companies.

At the start of each month, set a few goals that you want to see accomplished by month’s end. Now, don’t get too disappointed if one or even some of them are not completed. The only time to worry is if you are missing out on most or all them.

Also do a review of where your business was a year ago now. By seeing if you’ve grown, stayed about the same, and even taken a step or two back, it is important to compare periods.

The goals you set for your growth must always be within reach, not those that you are all but assured of not reaching.

  1. Funds

Yes, it would be pretty hard for your company to grow without there being a financial lifeline along the way.

That said if you are in need of direct funds for your small business, where will you turn?This can be a tricky question to answer, especially if your options are rather limited.

Do your best to get whatever funds you need without mortgaging your future.

Before accepting a cash funding arrangement, be sure to research each potential provider.
Look at things such as:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have a solid reputation within the business community?
  • Is their customer service as good as it gets?
  • What kind of record do they have with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

While it makes perfect sense to get financial help to grow your business, do it wisely.

  1. Outreach

Assuming you’ve been doing various forms of brand outreach up to now, is it working?Even though you might think you are doing enough, are you? One of the best ways to grow your business is making sure as many consumers as possible know about it.

This means marketing, advertising, blogging, social media, the list goes on and on.

If you do not have the time or manpower to get all these needs accomplished, reach out for more help. Sure, while you have to spend money to make money may seem like an old cliché, it is quite realistic.

Never take an axe to your outreach efforts, especially as you look to grow your brand moving forward.

As a small business owner, what practices have worked for you in growing your company?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

 

 

3 Everyday Habits Of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

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There are all kinds of things that go into building a successful business, and every entrepreneur will have a slightly different approach to kindling and expanding their operation. Having said that, there are certain universal habits that all business owners can benefit from, regardless of their background or niche. Here are just a few you should be trying to develop…

Take Your Emotions Out of the Picture

 Far too many start-up owners allow their emotions to get in the way of their business, getting caught up with grandiose dreams for the future and regrets from the past, when they should be concentrating on the task at hand. Everyone faces failures in business, whether it’s one little slip up with a marketing campaign, or a blunder that drives the whole operation into a financial nosedive. However, pointing fingers, feeling sorry for yourself, and losing confidence won’t get you anywhere, and will in fact slow you down when you need to be the strongest and most resilient version of yourself more than ever. Money isn’t influenced by emotions, and as such, your business needs to be handled with a fitting level of objective, detached logic. The less you allow yourself to get caught up in your emotions, the more time you’ll have for developing your business.

Keep on Learning

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You may have an excellent track record of experience in your field, but no industry sits still, and with this in mind, you need to get into the habit of constantly developing your knowledge and experience, ensuring that you keep your skills and mindset up to a standard needed to succeed in the modern business arena. Make a point of investing in yourself, and making room for learning, no matter how jam-packed your schedule happens to be. With all the online distance learning companies like Maryville University out there, there’s really no excuse for letting your knowledge and experience stagnate. Even if you only spend ten minutes reading an industry journal in the morning, every little bit of self-education you can fit in will help you become the leader your business needs, and keep your whole organization one step ahead of your closest competitors.

Schedule Everything

 By everything, we mean everything. One of the most valuable habits you can develop as an entrepreneur is buying yourself more free time through a strict schedule. A lot of naïve start-up owners tend to waste a lot of time by procrastinating between different activities, and sleeping too little. Set healthy times for going to bed and getting up every day, along with a schedule of the tasks that you’ll complete one after the other with as little distraction as possible. Limit frivolous things like checking social media accounts to as little time as possible, and make a commitment to work first, and play later. Sure, you might be making progress by developing your business in a disorganized timetable, but when you set yourself a schedule that works and then stick to it, you’ll achieve much more in a much shorter space of time.

 

Global Legal Implications of Health and Safety for the Self-Employed

In recent years, self-employment has rapidly increased in both the United States and the rest of the world. Technology is making it easier for freelancers in a variety of fields to work from anywhere and connect with businesses all over the country, giving them both freedom and a suitable income. In fact, some studies estimate that as many as 40% of American workers could be independent freelancers by 2020.

This rapid increase in self-employed people could force the government to alter workplace laws, specifically with regard to health and safety in the workplace. After all, what constitutes a workplace has been changed by the increase in self-employed people. So, what are the legal implications of that with regard to health and safety?

UK Law

Across the pond, the United Kingdom has already addressed health and safety regulations for the self-employed. The Health Safety at Work Act (HSWA) from 1974 stipulates that those who are self-employed must conduct business in a manner that does not expose members of the public or employees of the self-employed person to health and safety risks.

In 2011, a document called the Löfstedt Review was proposed, advocating that self-employed people be made exempt from the HSWA when their business poses no threat whatsoever to the general public. In October 2015, the suggestions outlined in this review were largely adopted in the UK.

As a result, a significant number of self-employed people in the UK, from novelists and journalists to graphic designers and financial advisors, no longer had to worry about how the NSWA impacted them. Even self-employed people who employ others are exempt from the HSWA, which deems self-employed people fit to judge whether or not their work is potentially hazardous to the general public.

With the amendment to the HSWA, unless self-employed people work in certain fields or certain objects (i.e. agriculture, railroads, construction, gas, etc), they will not be regulated in any way. However, if there is an incident that causes harm to an employee or member of the public, they may be found in violation of the HSWA and face legal consequences.

US Lack of Law

In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) covers most workers but does not pertain to self-employed individuals. This gives self-employed Americans, as well as small businesses, a great deal of freedom when it comes to health and safety in their line of work. One could actually say it’s one of the biggest benefits of being self-employed or running a small business.

Ultimately, most self-employed freelancers pose little or no safety threat to the public at large. However, the regulation in the UK does leave the door open for prosecution if something unfortunate happens. Meanwhile, self-employed people in the US can rest easy knowing that they are exempt from OSHA and don’t need to concern themselves with health and safety laws.

 

Jenny Holt is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Storing Your Data in the Cloud

The idea of transferring data from on-site devices to cloud-based storage is becoming a more appealing alternative for many businesses. Improved cloud technology provides such benefits as savings on hardware and maintenance, better security, and more reliability. These are distinct advantages to smaller companies with limited IT support and financial resources.

However, storing your data in the cloud involves more than contracting with a provider, uploading your files, and handing off responsibility. Here are five key questions to ask before entrusting your data to the cloud.

What Is the Service Going to Cost?

Before signing off on what looks like a reasonable price, understand that real value comes from the services that are being provided. Take the time to fully understand what’s covered by your monthly fee and what will cost you extra. There may be additional fees added for services like data back-ups, data recovery testing, exceeding bandwidth or memory limitations, or specific SLAs (service level agreements).

It’s prudent to do some cost modeling based on your own budget and requirements, then start shopping around for the cloud provider that best fits your needs at the most affordable price. Also make note of the security measures that are in place, and whether additional security will cost more. Typically, free solutions will have less storage, support, and security, while premium cloud providers expect you to pay a sliding scale for extra features and services.

Are There Bandwidth Limits?

Bandwidth is the range of frequencies, or extent of communications, that can take place over a given channel. If you are planning to upload or download large files, such as extensive video or high-volume data backups, you may be using a lot of bandwidth. Cloud storage can involve higher costs because the provider has to utilize greater internet bandwidth to accommodate all of their customers.

Limitations on bandwidth may also limit the speed of data transfer. As part of your business continuity strategy, you must have a good estimate of your bandwidth requirements for data recovery should you need it. Ask your provider about features for data compression and bulk data transfers.

What Data Security Is Provided?

In a digital environment where any organization can be targeted by hackers, it’s important to get assurances that your data will be protected. This is particularly important if your data will contain sensitive information like credit card numbers and account passwords. Any responsible cloud provider will have protective measures in place for client information.

Data safeguards should include encryption mechanisms both for transferred and stored data. Messaging can be intercepted at either endpoint, so it’s crucial that all communication is encrypted before it’s sent. Server-side encryption is also essential when storing any sensitive information so that it’s worthless in the event of data theft.

Without encryption, enterprising hackers can embed spyware on computers or devices that enable them to capture, log, and read client-server communications. If they gather the right personal information, they can steal your identity and use it to plunder your accounts and destroy your credit and reputation.

What Are My Disaster Recovery Options?

Cloud services provide a convenient means for performing necessary data backups and initiating data recovery to replace lost or damaged files. Be certain to ask your cloud provider to explain their disaster recovery options in detail so that you aren’t hit by surprises when you need critical data restored. You should have clear directions on where and how to access and recover your data in the event of a system catastrophe.

Ask about where your provider’s data centers are, and how they’re protected and supported. Fast and reliable data recovery is an important feature of continuity. There should also be redundancies to ensure multiple copies of your data at different locations so that you aren’t out of luck if something happens to one of the provider’s systems.

What Kind of Technical Support Is Included?

Prompt, accessible, and expert support is also important. You, as the client, should be provided with opportunities to ask questions or get technical help as needed on an ongoing basis. Small companies with limited technical knowledge are likely to need advice and guidance, especially in the beginning.

Large companies may have the IT support to resolve their own issues, but this could be a complicated and lengthy process for businesses with limited resources. When contracting with a cloud provider, you need to know what level of support is available to you and how to reach it. Support should be available at all hours of the day and night, as inability to use your own data could be crippling to your business.

You need to determine whether technical support will involve extra charges for upgrades, any limits on service time frames, and the promptness and quality of the support you’ll receive. Making the right choice in support services could mean the difference between steady revenue streams and costly downtime.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, cloud storage solutions can provide many benefits to your organization. However, it’s crucial to determine which cloud providers can best suit your needs and provide the greatest value. It’s important to select a provider that ensures a high level of accessibility, data security, customer support, and effective solutions for data backups and recovery. If you take the time to obtain a thorough explanation of charges, features, and limitations, you can choose the best cloud services for your company.

 

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

How to Get Started With Digital Marketing

The digital marketing industry is constantly changing and evolving. Nowadays, it is a competitive challenge to impress the viewers and meet their ever growing expectations. However, choosing a career in digital marketing is quite exciting and profitable. The demand for skilled digital marketers is high, due to the competitive market and a need for businesses to stand out in the crowd.

Moreover, becoming a digital marketer is difficult enough and finding a suitable job will require both wit and skill, alongside determination. As same as customers have to be impressed by marketing efforts, so do the employers need to be impressed by marketers that are looking for employment. Here are a few tips on how to get started with digital marketing.

Work on Yourself

As mentioned, digital marketing industry is constantly changing and shifting directions. What was a big hit today may as well be a thing of the past tomorrow. That is why it is important that you work on yourself and improve your knowledge and skills regularly.

Whether you graduated from marketing school or you are self taught, having something more to add to your portfolio may be beneficial in finding good employment. Additional certification or a degree in some marketing course can help you out, but it may not be necessary. Some employers like to read your biography, while some prefer to see what you can do.

Furthermore, you should always make time to update your knowledge and learn about the industry’s news by reading posts from websites that are on top of the marketing industry such as The Moz, HubSpot etc. The key for growing in digital marketing is by staying updated at all times.

Build your Online Presence

The best way to convince employers that you can build their company’s online presence is by building your own first. After all, the best way to get noticed and show your potential before employers start testing you out is by having some successful personal projects.

A good example would be to start your personal website and support it with a blog. You can pick a topic or a niche to write about or simply write about yourself. Your blog will be your pet project, so make sure you develop it well and implement different strategies to drive traffic to it. You may as well test out your SEO skills on your blog.

For instance, make sure you have fast website speed, because it is a well known fact that viewers have zero tolerance for slow loading pages and sluggish blogs. Besides, site speed affects rankings and it is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Use your skills to increase your website visibility and popularity enough to impress anyone, so when employers ask what have you got to show, you will have an ace up sour sleeve.

Learn Different Skills

In the world of digital marketing today, marketers who possess knowledge and skill in several different areas of expertise are highly sought after. However, this does not mean you have to be an expert in all aspects of digital marketing, but it is valuable to know at least the basics for all and have expertise in at least one or two.

For instance, your specialty is content marketing and SEO but you know your way around social media marketing, content writing, e-mail marketing and so on. These types of skills or variety of skills, usually referred to as T-shaped marketer by The Moz, will increase your chances of landing a good job or making a profitable career in digital marketing. You are probably already familiar with different digital marketing strategies, so don’t hesitate to hone your other skills and improve your knowledge. After all, they will be very useful to you in both landing a good job and building a name for yourself.

As digital marketing industry is improving and growing, so should digital marketers. Staying informed and updated on the latest industry news will help you keep up and not miss out on anything important. Remember, if you are looking for a good employment you should have skills to back you up.

Oscar is a writer from Sydney and one of the editors at Bizzmarkblog. He enjoys conducting research in the vast fields of business and marketing and writing about the useful insights he gathers on a daily basis. Follow Oscar on Twitter.to stay updated with his latest posts.

How To Improve Your Marketing Strategy Today

As marketing is a vital part of business development it makes sense to take time to work out a sound marketing strategy and to implement regular business reviews for ensuring it’s not stalled.

To succeed in the modern world of business it is important to use all the tools of the trade so to speak. Internet is one of the main ones that business people turn to today to ensure their businesses can grow and develop.

Marketing strategy should not be confused with business plan or marketing goals. While business plan describes the whole business structure and process marketing strategy deals with the steps or measures that are necessary to implement to achieve the goals.

Here are some things to consider before proceeding with the business startup.

  • When starting a business it is possible to go through most of the process online. Instead of going through the rigmarole of newspaper and magazine printed ads business marketing can be done on computer which significantly reduces the timeframe for launching new ventures.
  • Establish your target market from the start so you can tailor your strategies and services or products with maximum efficiency which will give you the cutting edge.
  • In the competitive world of corporations small businesses get a fighting chance the moment they join the force of the internet. Search engines (SEO) and websites are the modern tools of any trade whether it’s roofing, bricklaying or cake baking. Modern fashion, design and technology, science and literature industries have already changed beyond recognition due to the wonders of the internet and computers. In other words, the internet has given the small businesses the chance to fight their corner with the help of small business web design and SEO that’s straightforward.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the social media. Apart from networking and direct marketing it can also create influence waves which can increase sales within hours after posting an image or fact about your products. Remember to use this potential to the full if you want to get ahead of your competitors.
  • Keep your marketing objectives focussed on your customers. This should involve everything from product/service development, packaging, pricing and delivery as well as post-sales care where appropriate.
  • Detailed and in-depth market research will be invaluable both in short and long term planning. Companies usually conduct analysis of performance, customer analysis and pricing scans.
  • It’s impossible to create a marketing strategy without a marketing plan. The marketing plan is essentially the manifesto of your business marketing strategy. It should explain all the necessary steps to put your strategy into action as well as set out marketing budgets, goals, profit margins and time targets.
  • A marketing strategy wouldn’t be a strategy without future vision for the business. It should include where your business is going to be in a month, in a year and in 5 years. So any future developments can already take shape now within the marketing strategy.
  • Be sure to create a contingency plan for any possible market changes as nothing is set in stone.

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PrMediaOnline

 

Don’t Burn Your Business in Hot Water

Being in hot water with the authorities can leave lasting burn marks on a business even when it manages to pull itself out of the pool. It can taint it in regards to the law, in regards to its customers and in regards to its brand. Because of this it is best to avoid being in hot water altogether. Below you can find a few ways how you, as a business owner, can keep your business out of hot water.

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First and foremost you should never make yourself an enemy — to anyone. You shouldn’t depict yourself as tough and mean person to do business with to your potential clients and customers. You shouldn’t paint yourself as horrible boss to our employees. In doing so you could very quickly find yourself in the midst of a lawsuit. If you are ever accused of misconduct in the workplace by an employee, for example, you are then in hot water. Even if you manage to come out of the embroilment without charge, being in the hot water in the first place is not going to do you any favours for your brand image. And misconduct is just one reason why an employee may take to suing you. Because of this you have to constantly be in control of your actions and should never let emotions drive you to make decisions or act in a certain way.

You also need to be in control of all the legal boundaries that are in place on you and your business. It is very important that you never overstep these boundaries and that you work towards remaining in them at all times. One such legal boundary that can sometimes be passed by without knowing is the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirement. This is a regulation put in place by the authorities to prevent identity theft and other fraudulent activities. As a business owner you simply must comply to it. If you don’t know where to start in doing so, however, then rest assured that there is assistance out there. Identify verification solution for businesses is on offer for you to implement in yours so you can always be sure exactly who it is that you’re doing business with. Knowing who it is on the other end of a transaction is hugely important. If a customer of yours has their identity stolen on your watch you are never going to come out of the situation smelling of roses, regardless of if you were legally punished for it or not.

And you can also find yourself in hot water online if you aren’t careful. When using SEO to grow your business it is possible for you to end up in hot water with Google, and other search engines, if you start ‘keyword stuffing’. By this it is meant that you stuff in too many keywords in the hope of getting higher in the search engine’s rankings. However, by doing so you will just find yourself being pushed to the back of the queue by the search engine.

So, if you don’t want your business to be burned by hot water then don’t get it in hot water in the first place.