Charge Ahead with a Winning Business Plan

In running your business, what do you do that sets your company apart from the competition?

If you’re on top of your game when it comes to making smart financial decisions, then there is a very good chance that your company is doing just fine. On the other hand, sloppy financial decision making can be a major red flag over time when it comes to your company’s health.

With that being the case, your financial decisions oftentimes will involve things such as how much to spend on advertising and marketing needs, whether or not to bring on more staff, and how best to guarantee payments from customers.

Yes, you will make some bad calls over time, but the key is to learn from any such mistakes and not make them again moving forward.

With that in mind, are you charging ahead with a winning business plan or do you find yourself stuck in neutral?

Bringing in More Business as You Deal with Some Headaches

In order to do your best to steer clear of financial headaches, remember the following tips:

  • Customer transactions – For starters, make sure your customer transactions run as smoothly as possible. Yes, you will have some customers who will try and pull a fast one on you, but the majority of your transactions should be legit. In the event you do run into some customers not playing by the rules, have a Plan B in place. Those customers would be individuals who make a purchase, and then decide to dispute the charges for one reason or another. If you end up with countless chargebacks, your business can suffer the financial consequences, something that can really harm a company that is teetering on financial health to begin with. At the end of the day, what do chargebacks really cost your business? Much to your surprise, you may discover that they end up costing the business world countless dollars, not to mention time wasted having to deal with each and every customer dispute over a purchase made. Your best bet is to find and utilize a post billing chargeback notification platform, one that will allow you to sort through an endless amount of charge disputes. Lastly, be aware of the potential for customer fraud especially through Ecommerce transactions and during the busy holiday times of the year. Those busy periods, the Christmas rush and summer sales, are times when you may be so caught up in your work that you have less time to catch such financial issues;
  • Getting Your Money’s Worth – When it comes to marketing and advertising your business, you are going to spend money. That said there are numerous free options on the table for you, options that you should certainly not be overlooking. Along with relying on customer word-of-mouth to help push sales, make sure you are taking advantage of social media. Using social networking platforms is a great way for you to spread the word about your business, yet avoid forking over thousands of dollars each month. Finally, if you have a team of employees under you, encourage them to use social media while on the job (also off the job if they so choose to) to help promote your brand. The more you make customers aware on social media of what you have to offer, the better chances you have of increasing sales numbers.

Is It Time to Bring on More Help?

  • The Right Time to Hire Help – Lastly, when is the best time for your business (or any business for that matter) to bring on more help? The answer to that question of course depends on several factors, notably financial budgets and if one’s current team seems to be overworked. Keep in mind that overworked employees can present several issues, most notably in terms of morale. One way to work around this problem is hiring new help at the part-time level, therefore not having to worry about health benefits. You could also increase salaries for your current staff, letting them know that the extra money comes with more responsibility. Finally, there is always the option of standing pat for now, waiting to see which way the business winds blow over the coming months. No matter what you decide, do it with what is in the best interests financially of your business.

As you look to charge ahead with a winning business plan, a plan that allows you to do even more business, make sure you’re watching your financial heartbeat each and every step of the way.

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

Casting the Net Wider: Reach More People Today

If your business has a core group of customers but struggles to reach people further afield, you have a clear problem. It’s impossible to grow and expand a business when it’s stuck in a very tight niche. You need to find ways of casting the net wider and reaching more people if you want to make your business bigger and better. When you do this, you mustn’t forget your core customers who provide the business with its base.

Broaden the Scope of Your Brand

The very first thing to do is broaden the overall scope of your brand. If people see your business as only being for a certain kind of consumer, they will be unlikely to even listen to what you have to say. That’s why you need to actively demonstrate how the business is changing and why this matters to your customers. Set up a marketing campaign that is directly aimed at people who have never used your business before. Confound their expectations and brand your business differently. On top of that, you will have to start selling things that have a broader appeal.

Be More Open and Communicative

Being open and communicative about your business is really important at times when you are trying to branch out and reach new people. If your business is closed off and not open to new people, it’s unlikely to do very well at all. So, to ensure your business doesn’t fall behind and lost traction, you should make sure your business has a presence in social media. And when you interact with people on these platforms, make sure you’re open and willing to be humorous. When you do that, more people will see the human side of your business.

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Improve Your Website and Make Sure Content is Optimized

You’ll need to build a new website for your company if you want to make sure that it has the online presence required of modern businesses. If you run a construction company, this is just as true as if you run a tech startup. People often forget that all kinds of businesses need this strong online presence. There are companies that offer general contractor website design services if you do run that kind of business. But no matter what type of business you run, make sure the website is modern, easy to find and easy to use. You should also post content on there that is fully optimized to improve your SEO ranking.

Build Trust Over Time

Trust is important when it comes to the relationships between customers and businesses. If people don’t trust your brand, they won’t trust what it says or what it offers. So, it’s really important that you aim to build trust over time and don’t take customers for granted. It will be a slow process, so don’t expect to see instant results overnight. It simply won’t happen like that. Be prepared to prove your business is changing and appealing to more people. Eventually, the change will happen and people will begin to recognize it as well.

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Present Your Business In The Right Way

For businesses both small and large, the manner in which they are perceived by those outside the company is really vital. Your business, in essence, has a kind of public face with which it faces the world. You need to ensure that this is a positive one, one that promotes the kind of values that your business lives for, and one which is likely to serve you well further down the line. However, it can be difficult keeping on top of this, and you never know exactly what people think of your business the whole time. But as long as you are paying close attention to a few key areas, you should find that people think quite highly of your brand. Let’s take a look at what those areas might be.

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Customer Service

Ultimately, nothing is so important as what kind of treatment your customers receive. No matter what, there is no excuse for poor customer service, and that is well worth bearing in mind at all times. Go out of your way to improve your business’ customer service. Hold an away day with all of your frontline staff, those who actually communicate with the customer, and build up techniques together for impressing the customer as fast as possible. The interactions your business has with its own customers are the most important way to promote the right image for the business, so bear this in mind.

Website

All businesses need a website these days, and if you are clever about it you can use your website to promote your business in a specific way. The website is going to be the first thing that many people even see of your business, so its design and layout and the way it sticks to your branding is really important. To make sure you get it just right, hire expert custom web design services, as they can ensure that it is exactly what you need it to be. With a strong website which really draws people in, it is highly likely that customers will think well of your business.

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Emails & Letters

In all communications with anyone outside of the business, it pays to always think about how it makes your business look. It is a good idea to use letterheads on letters, and signatures on emails, to give that professional touch which people love so much. Politeness is also important here, as even the slightest hint of rudeness can dramatically turn someone off from your business immediately. Above all, however, you need to ensure your communications are always perfectly in line with your branding, whatever you might have decided that to be, as anything short of this is unlikely to be effective for the ongoing growth of the company.

Advertising

Let’s not forget the actual advertising you put out into the world, either. This should always be carefully constructed to promote the best and most accurate possible image of the business, as that way you can ensure that it is doing exactly what it is meant to do.

Keeping Your Business On The Right Side Of The Law

Any business that wants to stay in business for as long as possible needs to think about how to legally protect itself. If you are a business owner, this is something that you might want to learn about as early on as possible after you set up the business. Legally protecting your business ensures that no disaster can befall the business, and you would be surprised at just how common they can be for businesses which do not go out of their way to seek protection. There are a number of things that need considering here, and in many ways it is quite a complex issue, so we have put together this post to help you understand what you need to think about. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of protecting your business from legal issues.

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Protect The individual; Protect The Company

It is often all too easy to forget that a business is made up of individuals. In essence, much of what you need to do to protect your business is really more about protecting the individuals within that business. As long as you are doing that, there should be no problem. It is particularly important that you protect those individuals high up in the company, such as yourself and your fellow management staff. This helps to keep the image of the company positive, something which is important for all businesses. So if you or a colleague have trouble with the law, ensure they have a decent lawyer on their side. And don’t forget to look for a lawyer who will deal with their type of case. For example, Scheiner Law Group will defend against wrongful DWI, so they might be your option for that type of accusal.

Know The Regulations – And Stick To Them

There are all manner of legal regulations and red tape which a business needs to adhere to. Making sure that you do is bound to help in the long run, as a business which remains within the law at all times is always more safe in the eyes of the law. If you are unsure about whether or not your business is remaining legal, then it is always best to check. There are many ways to accidentally skirt the law, and it is definitely in your interest not to do that, so make sure you always check with the experts on all matters which might have legal restriction.

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Patenting & Other Methods

The other form of legal protection is in the protection of your business’ ideas and other assets. There are many ways that you can use the law to protect your intangible assets, and it is worth getting to know those methods as well as possible. The most popular and one of the most effective of these methods is patenting, for obvious reasons. Patenting an idea protects your business in that it stops other businesses and individuals from using that same idea for their own profit. Clearly, this is a vital thing for any business to engage in, so make sure that yours does.

Why CEOs Need To Be More Invested In The Upcoming Digital Transformation

The pace of digital technologies is speeding up. CEOs no longer have the time to take a back seat, watch a particular technology, and then make their mind up about whether they want to adopt it or not. Doing so would be suicide, and could potentially lead to a massive loss of market share.

A few CEOs have sensed the way the wind is blowing and have developed formal early adoption policies in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve and avoid declines in their core business – the sort of declines we’ve seen over and over in companies like Kodak, AOL and, yes, Twitter.

To be effective stewards of their enterprises, modern CEOs need to be aware of the way that digital innovation is changing business. They must be invested in new technology, right from the outset, no matter how far-fetched it might seem. We don’t know how far things like VR will go, but there’s a good chance that they’ll be as game changing as mobile, perhaps more so.

Here’s why you need to focus on the upcoming digital transformation.

The Fear Of Being Disrupted

The word “disrupted” gets thrown around a lot in business today, but there’s a reason for that. The old-guard in the music industry and the media have been smashed by the internet. Now utterly new models of media and entertainment distribution exist – models that were completely unthinkable just a decade before they arrived.

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Now digital technology is seeping out into more and more areas of economic life. Manufacturers, companies well and truly operating in the physical world, could see digital technology utterly transform their business models. Just at Davos last week, leading business people were discussing how additive manufacturing had the capacity to remove the need for mass production, or even the production line itself. Such fundamental disruptions will annihilate old business models once they can no longer compete with the low prices and flexibility of additive methods.

The Fear Of Losing Customers And Data

In today’s data-driven world, companies are becoming more and more focused on the integrity of their data. The rise in data recovery services all over the world is a testament to this fact, as is the growth in cloud computing. Data isn’t just something that is being implemented in the tech industry. It is something that is now being used widely across a vast range of industries, including mortgages, mattresses, recycling, and banking.

Companies that don’t keep up with the latest trends in data will lose out to their competitors who leverage it effectively. Proper use of data helps to predict things like customer demand, inventory stock and returns to various marketing channels.

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The threat of losing customers is real. According to data collected by Dell, 78 percent of incumbent business leaders believe that startups represent a real threat to the survival of their organizations.

But while most companies are pursuing some form of digitization, studies indicate that the majority of CEOs aren’t personally invested in making it happen. It’s hard to have a transformative impact when your heart’s not in it.

 

 

Keep The Heart Of Your Online Business Beating

What is the heart of your online business? If you think about this question carefully, the answer should be obvious. It’s your website. Your social profile, any apps you have, stores or blogs all stem back to this. If customers type in the name of your business into a search engine this is what they’ll find first. You might get some customers who discover your business through social media and other sources, but they will all trickle back to your site. It’s also the place where most of the content for your business will be born. You’ll release it on the site and the promote it through the web and this means that the design needs to be on point. You can’t afford to have a site that’s not working effectively. If a heart stops beating, the body dies. So here’s how to make sure that metaphor doesn’t fit the state of your company.

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Keep Content Flowing

Make sure that there is always fresh content being added to your site. The content that you release needs to be kept to exceptionally high levels of quality and be on a schedule. Every day there should be more pieces added to your site, designed to attract the interest of customers. If you find your site is getting overloaded you can always set up a blog. But the more content you have, the better off your business will be. It will lead to a higher search ranking and a wider reach online. You may also want to consider dabbling in UGC. The audience for UGC is essentially built into the idea. They will want to read or share it because it was produced by someone like them.

Clever Design Work

The basis of your business needs to be strong with a solid foundation. You need to make sure that it is easy to adapt and simple to use. There are plenty of design companies offering services such as front-end javaScript development so that you can ensure this is the case. Don’t just rely on the designer to create a product that works though. Make sure that you understand how the website works as well. Remember, you need to be able access it once it’s already up and running. Of course, there are two sides of the coin to take into consideration here.

There’s what you see and what your customer sees. Your customers want a site that is easy for them to use and understand. If you don’t deliver that, you’ll struggle to keep them engaged.

Colour, Bright, Exciting

Lastly, the worst thing that your site can be is dull and dreary. Google are now looking at how long people stay on a site when determining site ranking and this is a smart move. If customers are immediately clicking off even after they’ve made a purchase, it suggests the site isn’t built to survive the long haul. Add pictures, videos, infographics and vary your content so that it doesn’t just look like a constant flow of text for customers to scroll.

The Little Things. Important Areas Of Business That Often Go Forgotten

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When starting a new business, you have so much to think about. Your products need to be made, and your website needs to go up. And, of course, you need to find the time to breath! But, being busy often leads to forgetfulness. And, of course, this can be a big problem for a business owner. To help you out, this post will go through a few of the things that new business people tend to forget.

  • Customer Service

Customer service is the cornerstone of any customer facing business. It’s important to remember that your customers are the ones who drive your business. Without them, your business wouldn’t be anything. So, you have to treat them right. If you’re selling products, your customers need a way to contact you. If something goes wrong, they need to be able to get help. Ideally, you should have a way for customers to contact you by phone. But, email will serve you just as well. When you talk to customers, you should always be as polite as possible. They should leave the interaction feeling better than when it began. Customer service will make or break your relationship with your customers. If they don’t like you, they won’t buy from you.

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  • Social Media

Social media gives businesses a way to reach out to their customers in a way that they never have before. Of course, it means that customers can talk directly to you, and you to them. So, it should be used to it’s full potential. Most social media sites don’t charge businesses to use their services. So, it can be seen as a sort of free advertising. This means that the only thing social media will cost you is time. This makes it extremely valuable to a business on a budget. Content on social media should always be produced with quality in mind. You should never skimp on the posts that you submit. Your customers will be likely to find their way to you through your posts. So, they should look as good as possible. You can get help from a graphic designer to make your posts look as professional as possible.

  • Taxes

Okay, so those are fairly easy parts of business to master. But, there’s something much more complex that few people recognise. Taxes are something that can catch a lot of businesses out. If you don’t record your earnings well, it could be impossible to submit your declaration at the end of the year. This means that it’s especially important to make sure that you have a record of your money. Thankfully, you can professional help in this area. Attorneys such as Mackay, Caswell & Callahan specialize in taxes. These attorneys can do all of the leg work involved with sorting out your taxes. But, it’s best to get them onboard early. This will help to make sure that your business is being built to last.

Hopefully, this will help you with some of the more confusing aspects of business. During this time you may need help. But, that’s not a problem. It’s better to ask for help when you need it than to fail without it.