So, You Want to Be Your Own Boss? Take These Steps to Succeed

It’s 2018, and the climate is perfect for entrepreneurs of all sorts, hence the growing number of people who are starting their own businesses, and successfully so. From stay-at-home parents, students, digital wizards, all the way to fully-developed remote companies, there’s a whole range of profitable careers you can tap into directly from your sofa.

And what makes it even more appealing is the fact that nothing prevents you from growing your business globally. However, as dreamy and perfect as all of this sounds, there are several key steps you need to take in order to make your way through the crowd of home-grown businesses.

Do what you love

And what you are brilliant at, since being average in this day and age will not get you too far, especially if you have to cover your own business expenses for the time being. The same goes for a business started out of passion, but without a clear idea of whether or not your product or services are actually needed, so you need to consider if there is a gap in the market for what you are offering.

Spend some time (but not forever) thinking about and brainstorming on everything you could see yourself doing for hours on end, with enthusiasm and vigor, and assess whether or not you are actually good at it enough to make your business attractive and stand out in the market. Love is where it starts, but skill and need are also essential.

Create a business plan

Now that you have established your ideal profession and analyzed the market to learn that it’s actually needed, you need to put it all in perspective. A business plan should include every single branding, marketing, communication, production, advertising strategy for the next year (or more), along with measurable metrics, milestones to track your progress and alternative routes for added flexibility.

A detailed business plan still makes room for adjustments on the go, because you can never fully anticipate market fluctuations or prevent slumps in your marketing campaign performance. You need contingency plans that will help you run your business even when things are slow or you come across an unexpected obstacle.

License and registration, please

Of course, before you start working on developing your business for the customer, you need to cover the legal bases that will make your company a recognizable legal entity in your country (or the entire world). From obtaining a federal tax number, completing company registration forms for your business, getting the needed licenses and certifications, to deciding on bookkeeping systems, it can take some time to make your company come to life from a legal perspective.

It’s unwise to do both the legal and the creative aspect simultaneously, since you might find yourself overwhelmed with work, and the complexity of each task may vary from one profession to another. Getting to know your country’s laws and regulations is a must for a business that wants to have a long and prosperous life.

Learn about your target customers

Who is your product or service intended for? How do you envision your ideal customer? Where can you find them, where do they spend their time? What sort of communication channels do they prefer and what language can they relate to? What’s their average age, most common occupations and anything else that makes them who they are?

Understanding your future clients means that you have shifted your view from your product itself to the person for whom you are creating the brand. This information and analysis of it may lead to adapting your product or its presentation to make it more appealing, or completely rethinking your brand identity to have a better chance at establishing trust and offering value to your customers.

Keep learning

Even if you are starting your business with a decade of experience in the field, it’s crucial that you stay open-minded to new ideas, concepts and discoveries emerging every day. As you develop your company, you will need to keep up with the trends in your profession, so that you can stay in the forefront and offer more quality than your competitors.

Do your best to take online seminars, attend networking events, take up additional courses and education whenever possible. These added skills and certificates will only add more value to your brand and give you more skills with which you can keep your company strong.

Control your environment

A seemingly insignificant factor that has brought many a home business to its knees is the mere atmosphere of where you do your work. Just like you put so much time into defining your talents and your business, you should adapt your home to have a designated work area.

It doesn’t have to be an entire room, as long as you know how to steer clear of distractions such as your TV, private social media profiles and other irrelevant notifications. Create a work area that will inspire you to work, create and devote yourself to your work, and be mindful of the time you spend growing your business – although it may be a pivotal segment of your life, don’t let it consume all of your time. Make sure you stay healthy, lead a social life and expand your horizons, because you never know from where your next favorite project may come!

 

Guest Author is Alex Williams is a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger trying to find my luck. Blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting yourself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase my expertise and receiving recognition. Alex is a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog

 

 

What Do You Need? A Blog. When Do You Need It? Now

Even today, with the power of Google neatly tucked into your pocket or handbag, people still don’t get why having a blog is a super-duper important part of running a business. Unfortunately, it is always the small business owners that find themselves wondering why it is important. We’re not saying they still think blogging is something teenagers do in the hope of becoming the next internet star and thus spend their lives taking selfies on red carpets instead of working, but they usually don’t quite get how it is worth the investment. And that’s what it is, right? Creating top-notch content on a weekly basis is a mega-investment of time and money and skill.

But it is totally worth it. A content publication strategy is one of the most valuable marketing approaches your little business can make and that’s because it will make a noticeable difference to things like where you show up on Google, the leads you get and the sales you make (spoiler alert: these are pretty important parts of business). Anyway, the best way to launch a content publication strategy is from a business blog. From there, well, you can use it as you like, from posting it to your LinkedIn page, to adding it to your email marketing campaign and even linking to it from social media.

Of course, we don’t expect this overview of a blurb to be the winning smile that sees you drop off the fence. After all, caution is a healthy part of being a business owner. That said, blogging is such an awesome tool to use, we have decided to pull together a list of the top benefits it can – and will – have on your business.

  1. Hello, Search Engine Traffic

Everyone that wants to be a success wants to be found at the top of search engines. That’s a fact. And it is also the reason why you need to have a blog. Think about it. The more content you have on your website the more chances you have of getting found. That’s because there will be more pages on your domain to be indexed (translation: great news for visibility). If you went fishing with one rod, and the person on the pontoon over from you has one-hundred rods, who do you think is going to land more fish? So, yeah, start yourself a blog and watch your organic traffic grow like crazy thanks to increased web traffic. Keep adding more fishing rods to your arsenal.

  1. I Wanna Be A Thought Leader

There is no better way to establish yourself as an expert in what you do than having a blog to back that up. It is your chance to show the world (read: your industry), that you know what you are doing and what you are talking about and even sharing industry related tidbits. Why is authority important? That’s simple: it gives people yet another reason to trust you and, in a world where everything is online, trust is like a warm, fuzzy hug (but one that converts people into clients and customers). It doesn’t matter what your niche is, having a blog gives you that extra bit of weight. It could be that you are a customer service specialist, in which case it is time to start a customer service blog. It could be that you run a content marketing agency that specialises in managing business blogs, in which case a content marketing blog of your own is super-duper important. There really is no niche too small.

  1. Time For Tighter Relationships

Having a regularly updated blog is a great way to connect with the people visiting your site in a way that you can’t otherwise. Before, people that came to your site could only read your generic “About Us” page and scroll through your “what we do” gallery, which is made up of stock photos. But having a blog gives them a better chance to connect, whether it is asking questions in the comment section under each post or by sharing what you’ve written on their own social media pages or simply using your opinion to start a conversation, whether that be in a forum or a wine bar. At first, it may seem a little deflating because (as Google analytics shows), only your mom, your sister and your mom’s boyfriend are reading it. But after a while, you’ll find you become the go-to resource in your market and that’s because your content is helpful, informative, engaging and trustworthy. It has built a rapport between you and potential-slash-new customers (#winning).

  1. Get Creative, Become Human

We mentioned your (probably) bland “About Us” page, which isn’t a dig because your about us page needs to tell people what you do, and tell them as clearly as possible. However, you don’t want to run the risk of sounding dull or robotic or boring. That’s where a blog flies in to save the day like some sort of neighborhood superhero. It gives you the chance to show the more personal side of your brand; make people smile and laugh and nod their head in empathy and feel like there is a warmth to you that your competitors are lacking. A blog gives you the opportunity to go beyond “look at these products we sell” and a) give people a reason to buy your products, b) touch on issues that your brand is concerned with, c) embrace a cause as part of your marketing and d) share information and opinions on the things you are passionate about. No matter how cleverly-written the rest of your content may be, your blog will always be the best voice you have and that is because it will have the most personality to it. Seriously, never underestimate the power of likeability.

  1. Social Media Boost

Here’s a quick plate full of food for thought: what is the point in having social media pages if you don’t have any great content to upload to them? (That was rhetorical by the way; the answer is there is no point!) Of course, you could get around this by sharing other people’s content but, at some point or another, your brain will go, “hang on a minute, why am I sending my leads elsewhere?” and that is where your blog posts will swoop in (yet again!) to save the day. It is just one of the best ways to use your social media following to boost your website traffic. Period. Fact. The end.

Knowing What’s What When It Comes to Taking on Employees

As your business expands and demand for your products and services increases, you may find that you struggle to keep up with the entire workload on your own. This is when you’re going to have to consider taking on full-time staff of your own. You’ve likely worked hand in hand with self-employed individuals for one-off jobs, such as web design or marketing, but having employees is a whole different matter. So, before scouting for staff or taking on workers, here are a few things you should make sure you’re well aware of and up-to-date with to ensure that you and your staff have the best working relationship possible.

Employment Discrimination

When it comes to the workplace, the same as any other situation in life, you need to ensure that you are as inclusive as possible. Nobody should be discriminated against during the application process or their time of employment with you. Bear in mind that all people are entitled to full and equal employment opportunities regardless of their: age, ancestry, colour, disability, domestic or sexual violence victim status, ethnicity, familial status, gender identity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, retaliation, sex, or sexual orientation. For more information on this (especially concerning disabling conditions or issues), contact a reliable, professional lawyer, such as David Chermol. Nobody should be denied a job or promotion outright on the basis of any of these aspects of their identity. All workers should be employed on equal terms with nobody receiving preferential treatment or favourable employment terms.

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Pay

All of your workers have the right to be paid for all of the work that they do. This goes without saying. However, there are a few more details that you need to bear in mind. They also require at least $7.25 for every hour that they work. While your staff will have contracted hours, you may find that you need some members to work overtime: this is any work that exceeds forty hours a week. Any overtime entitles staff members to one and a half times their standard pay (after all, they’re doing you a favour by taking on extra work). You cannot deduct anything from any worker’s pay for any reason other than legal deductions such as deductions for health insurance, union dues, and taxes.

Family and Medical Leave

 If your business has more than fifty employees and an employee has worked for you for at least twelve months and has completed 1250 hours of work for your company, they can take up to twelve weeks off each year for the purposes of maternity or paternity leave, to care for a spouse or parent with a serious medical condition, or for personal health reasons. This doesn’t have to be paid. They should give you thirty days notice of their need to take leave if possible. However if the problem is sudden, they should just let you know as soon as possible.

Bearing this information in mind will ensure that your employees have a satisfying job role and that you uphold their worker’s rights.

Are You #CEO Material?

Developing a career that takes you all the way to top is a priority for many of us. If you’re creative and driven, chances are you want your career to take you to the very top. Running a business and having the final say on key decisions isn’t for the faint hearted. Many people have got there though, and not all of them came from an entrepreneurial background.

Developing your career means you need to develop yourself. Education and experience are essential ingredients for the successful CEO. It’s not a role you can walk into. In fact, most companies are organized with a board of people that will vote to determine your effectiveness in that role. That means your background must be impressive, just to be considered.

Start by addressing any shortfalls in your education. If you don’t have an MBA, consider acquiring one. This is a standard qualification for any senior management position. MBA online accredited programs can be ideal if you’re keen to continue working full time as you study. It’s more practical too, as you can apply your project work directly to real life business scenarios. The MBA program will offer you insights into the strategic management of marketing, economics, and statistics. Any CEO needs these essential skills in order to make informed business decisions.

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CEOs need to have confidence and tenacity in their role. These are skills that can be learned, but they must be practiced too. Spend time in challenging situations. Work with people that can push your limits and develop methods to manage even outside of your comfort zones. Drive and determination can sometimes mean sacrifices in your personal or home life. Long hours come with the role. Are you ready to set yourself apart

Networking is, of course, essential if you want to be headhunted for roles in business management. Use online networking as much as possible. Services like LinkedIn can offer you the chance to meet people in your industry. Join in with groups and forums and take opportunities to get involved or offer opinion and advice. This helps you to make a name for yourself. Encourage those you work with to leave recommendations and positive comments whenever possible.

Networking at conferences, events, and seminars is also essential. Develop an easy-to-approach style and make an effort to remember names and details. Follow up with emails or calls when you meet someone new. Offer to help when you can. If you show an interest in others, they might be more willing to help you in the future. That could result in a job interview. Now all you need to do is check your resume proves you really are CEO material.

Statistics and figures read very well on resumes. How much money did you save your department? By what percentage did sales increase that year? What projects did you head up to great success? Simple one-liners with bottom-line figures work best. If you don’t have these amazing figures just yet, then what are you waiting for? Get out there and become the CEO you want to be.

5 Ideas For Running Effective Team Meetings

Sadly, a lot of leaders today hold meetings that are essentially dull, make time pass by ever so slowly, and leave people exhausted and frustrated. If you want to run effective team meetings, you need to make it an interesting event that is filled with energy, so that it drives all the team members to collaborate in order to come up with decisions and solve issues. It makes all the difference how you plan and run the meeting. In this article, we are going to discuss 5 ideas on how you can run effective team meetings.

Have a Positive Attitude for the Meeting

A positive attitude is an essential aspect of every team meeting. Your task is to get people involved and actually work with them in order to come up with results, solve issues, make decisions, inform, inspire, and motivate them. This means that you simply have to occasionally get everyone together in a room and hold a meeting that is going to keep the spirits high. It’s a fact that you can’t simply manage people from the office via email. So make sure that you hold meetings that inspire everyone to take part in them actively.

Have a Purpose for the Meeting

The meeting needs to have a particular purpose. Having a meeting just because you always have one isn’t really a purpose. When you set up a meeting, you actually have an opportunity to do a variety of things. It’s the time when you get to find out how everything related to your business is panning out. It’s a chance to learn how each and every team member is handling their own end, and try to help them out with issues. It’s the perfect time to emphasize your mission statement and remind everyone what their goals are. Team goals should be the focus of every meeting.

Come up With an Agenda for the Meeting

Every purpose must have its own agenda. It’s basically a list of things that need to be covered during the meeting. By looking at it, you will know how much time you can devote to each item. The fact is that time is important when it comes to meetings. Every meeting should start on time and last for a given time. If not every item of the agenda is covered, they should be moved to the next meeting. If it’s urgent, a separate meeting needs to be held. There also needs to be a regularity when it comes to meetings. Decide how many times a week a meeting should be held, and make sure everyone arrives on time.

Encourage Team Members to Participate

You want each member of your team to participate in the discussion and take part in making decisions, if the purpose of the meeting is relevant to them. You can go around the table and get everyone’s ideas. Use glass white boards to put everything down and brainstorm. Furthermore, you don’t always have to be in the focus. Let another team member lead the discussion if they have something valuable to contribute. People will feel inspired about meetings if they are encouraged to take part in them and see that results are achieved. They will feel like their contribution is valued.

Keep Focus on your Strategic Goals

Continuity is an important aspect of business meetings. Every meeting should stay focused on your general strategic goals. After all, they are what connects all of your business efforts. Generally, the best way to do this is to start every meeting with a point in the agenda that consists of quickly going through all of these goals. That way, your team will discuss all the issues while still having the big picture in mind.

Be Positive

It is essential that you hold a meeting that encourages all the team members to participate. There has to be a purpose and an agenda, and you need to keep your focus on your strategic goals. And, of course, a positive attitude is important.

The Characteristics Many Successful Businesspeople Share

Successful entrepreneurs like to plan. They don’t like to go into a meeting blind or launch a product without making absolutely certain that they have done everything they can to make it great and to launch it at the perfect time. If you want to be successful, you can’t just go with the flow; you need to set out and follow a roadmap for success.

They’re Natural Leaders

If you want to create a business that does well, you’re going to need to have direction, and you must be able to lead others in that direction with you. All of the best-known business people, who’ve experienced great success have done so because they’ve been able to get the best out of their employees. That’s why so many entrepreneurs are now enrolling on leadership masters programs or taking leadership and communication classes locally. No matter how determined you are or how good your business idea is, if you can’t lead your team, you’re unlikely to reach the top of your game.

They Know How to Manage Money

Money is the lifeblood of business. You need to know how to invest money wisely, when to cut it off and how to streamline your cash flow for the best results. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to know that successful business-people are almost always great with figures. If you aren’t exactly up to speed with all things financial, it might, therefore, be worth taking a class or two to get you up to speed.

They’re Confident

When you run a business, you have to be confident in your abilities, and you need to be able to get up and sell your products and services to others. If you’re a shrinking violet, you won’t impress investors, customers or, well anyone really and that won’t help you gain success.

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.