Chief Challenges Business of Today Must Face

Getting operations off the ground is a daunting challenge. Yet, it is just the beginning of a series of trials and tribulations: the process of navigating the market and outmaneuvering the competition. The pace of economic and technological change has never been greater. Great uncertainty and volatility loom over entrepreneurs. It is never easy to discover what customers want and do a better job at delivering that to them than the next company.  This can only come through long-term strategic planning and the ability to solve dynamic challenges on the fly.

Cash flow management

Cash is the king of the business realm and maintaining a steady flow of itis the lifeline of any business. Running dry is always a risk in a less-than-ideal lending climate we operate in, which is to say that businesses need to come up with a rock-solid financial plan. What is more, money management and bookkeeping may require them to hire professionals versed in dealing with financial tasks and obligations, including accounting, taxes and invoices. This can help businesses acquire enough capital, pile up reserves,and anticipate downturns and emergencies ahead of time.

Finding your audience 

Barriers to entering the market are as low as ever. That may be a good thing, but staying in the business long-term is a different ball game entirely.Companies are facing immense competition and consumers are enjoying a wide selection of products and services across different industries. Hence, it is extremely difficult for a new business to find and carve out a profitable niche. What gives you a real fighting chance is extensive market research. It paves the way to a highly-focused approach to catering to people’s wants and needs (your target market).

Marketing on a budget

Marketing wilderness out there is getting rather complex and incredibly crowded. A new channel or tool comes to life almost every day. The bulk of modern brands have an online presence and they are trying to make waves in social media and other booming hubs. Well, the key challenge is to pull it off without breaking the bank or spreading oneself too thin. In other words, you need to figure out which channels hold the biggest potential to arrest and retain the attention of consumers. Then, you craft optimal brand messages to build trust and cultivate loyalty.

Building the right team

People are the glue that holds companies together. To harness the full workforce potential and assemble the best possible team, you have to create a sound recruitment policy, your road map. Look into, but also beyond just skills and experience. Make sure candidates fit your business culture and relate to your vision. Find out what drives them and foster a positive and healthy work environment. Offer enough perks and benefits to attract and retain talent. Keep the engagement, productivity and motivation going.

Reducing the overheads

Expenditures tend to quickly add up and they can melt the budget in no time. The best way to prevent this disaster from shattering your entrepreneurial dreams is to keep the spending in check. So, calculate exactly how much money is coming in and out of your business. Next, identify major problem areas, where you can make savings. There is no shortage of tactics here: working from home, outsourcing instead of hiring full-time, improving power quality to trim electricity bills, buying supplies in bulk, increasing water conservation, etc.

Sow the seeds of success

If you really mean business, you have to compete on more than just price or product quality. Never succumb to the temptation to cut corners or fight on all fronts at once. Take your time planning and fleshing out strategies. Assess risks and tackle problems before they spiral out of control. Get to know your audience and adapt to rapidly-changing preferences. Keep up the pace technological advancements and market trends. You should be able to tap into a steady stream of cash and propel your whole organization forward. 

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to marketing and latest business trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

Defending Your Reputation When The Knives Come Out For You

When you own a business of your very own, your reputation is everything. It’s what makes your clientele choose you over your nearest competitor. It’s what engenders a sense of trust in the brand you have created and in you; the guiding hand behind it. Thus, when the knives come out for you and others seek to besmirch your good name it can have disastrous consequences for your brand and your business. You must defend your good name with every ounce of might you can muster. This is a battle on several fronts. You must not only be reactive and deal with threats to your reputation as and when they appear, you must also lay a firm foundation to limit your liability and protect your reputation from damage. Here are just a few of the measures you can take…

Hire a lawyer with a sterling reputation

No matter the size of your operation, it behoves you to find a sterling legal team. If someone accuses you or your business of malpractice, the outcome in court is more than likely to spill over into the court of public opinion (which can be notoriously unforgiving). A good legal team will mount an aggressive defense on your behalf and ensure that the truth comes to light. See Brian Zeiger for more information. Of course, prevention is always the best cure, which brings us to…

Make sure that you have the right insurance

If you have a physical place of business, it goes without saying that you need some form of public liability insurance to protect you if a customer or client injures themselves on your business.However, businesses are increasingly investing in reputation insurance to insulate you against a wide range of risks to your reputation and to help employ potent damage control measures. While entrepreneurs can be gun shy when it comes to the prospect of more overhead costs, the right insurance is absolutely essential in protecting your operation and your reputation.

Deal quickly and decisively with social media complaints

Every customer service policy should have a comprehensive and effective customer complaints policy at its core. However, in the social media age, people are much more likely to air their grievances in the public forum of social media than submit an official complaint.

The longer a complaint is left undealt with on social media, the more potential damage it can cause to your reputation. It’sup to you to deal with these types of complaint quickly and decisively. Set up a Google alert to help you to respond quickly. Address the complaint publicly. Be sure to apologize and demonstrate your willingness to make amends.

Know the needs of your target market

While you may enjoy the regular custom of your target demographic now, make no mistake, they will turn on you if they feel that their needs are being neglected. Lose focus and you may find yourself the focus of negative buzz which will almost certainly result in a loss of sales.

Take the steps to guard your reputation and you will not be pushed off the path to prosperity.

Unique Marketing: 5 Ways to Increase Sale for Your Business

Gone are the days when you could drum up business just by putting an ad in the paper. Today’s consumers expect a lot more flash and bang than the kind offered by old-school advertising. Here are just five ways to give it to them. 

Host a Challenge

Let your customers choose your new mascot by submitting pictures, videos and drawings. Ask them to snap selfies of themselves using your products or employing your services. See who can create the best hashtag for an annual event. Challenges are a fun way to engage your customers with your brand, and in addition to boosting your sales, they can also bring positive media attention to your company if they go viral. 

Participate in Social Media Trends 

Speaking of viral, you never know when that #ThrowbackThursday photo will get thousands of retweets. Don’t be afraid to hop on the bandwagon of whatever is currently trending. Businesses have gotten a lot of press from things like Gangnam Style parody videos, and the more that you put yourself out there, the more likely it is that you’ll strike a chord with the public someday. 

Hire Promotional Models 

You don’t have to run a clothing line to employ models for your brand. Promotional modeling can be a benefit in many different industries, and it’s something found at expos, conferences, trade shows and launch parties around the world. These men and women can do everything from promoting a specific product to bringing general attention to your brand. 

Offer Freebies 

Everyone loves a freebie, especially when it’s something valuable and not just a pen or key chain with your company’s logo on it. Think about offering doorbusters at your next big sale, or hand out high-quality gifts with the purchase of certain products. You might also choose to distribute prizes and rewards to completely random customers. Intermittent reinforcement is a powerful psychological tool. 

Consider Local Collaborations 

Sponsor a youth soccer league. Pair up with a non-competitor to offer mutual discounts on your services. You’ll find more customers by expanding your reach, and you’ll also establish yourself as a local, trusted brand by becoming a regular part of the community. People will think favorably of your business because they see your name every time that Junior hits a home run. 

Say goodbye to traditional marketing campaigns. Today’s businesses need to have innovative, forward-thinking ads that can capture hearts and minds despite the increasingly short attention span of society. Think outside of the box with your marketing efforts to ensure that people still notice you within the noise.

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

Best Ways Managers Can Motivate Their Team

It’s hard to keep everything right on schedule when the office morale is low and people are slacking at half of their work capacities. According to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 55% of them are unengaged and as many as 16% are actively disengaged. So, how do you get the other 71% to wake up? Simple, by following the instructions below:

Make it worth their while

No matter how interesting your employees’ job may be, sooner or later, their initial enthusiasm will fade, and they’ll feel like dogs chasing their tails. As a result, their productivity levels will drop, leaving you with a workforce operating at half-capacity. To avoid this, you need to constantly be raising the bar and setting new challenges for your employees. According to these statistics, 86% of millennials would keep their current positions if their employers provided them with career training and development, while 87% of them stated that professional development and career growth opportunities are very important. This could be anything ranging from specific job-related skills, languages, computer skills, and so on. In essence, by investing in your employees’ development, you’re effectively hitting two birds with one stone, as their newly acquired skills will keep them both motivated and more productive at the same time.

Provide them with regular feedback

Providing your employees with a steady stream of feedback will show them that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. According to PwC, 69% of employees stated that they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. Give praise where praise is due and acknowledge all of your employees’ hard work to keep the morale afloat. Also, don’t hesitate to hand out constructive criticism to those employees who might be slightly under-performing, as 92% of people surveyed agreed that, when appropriately delivered, negative feedback is an effective performance booster. So, skip the dry formalities of the annual and quarterly reviews, and call up a meeting face to face. Just be wary, as some employees are more sensitive than others. Always give positive examples of their performance first, before criticizing them, in order to avoid hurting any egos.

Give out incentives

For some of your more competitive employees, a simple pat on the back simply won’t do. Instead, they’ll want a more formal sign of recognition for their troubles that they can share with their friends and families. Show them that you care and give them a master gift card, take them out for a fancy dinner, or offer them some paid time-off to spend with their loved ones. This will give them a sense of accomplishment that will motivate them to work even harder. Also, don’t forget to commemorate important milestones with your employees, both company and individual ones, as they are the ideal time for you to be generous and thoughtful.

‘Laissez-faire’

One of the worst possible things you could do inside the office, is to try and micro-manage each and every one of your employees. This is not only highly demotivational, but counter-productive at the same time, as frankly, no one likes having someone breathe down their neck while they’re working. What’s more, employees will get the opinion that you don’t trust them and as such lose confidence in their own abilities. Rather, what you should be doing is giving them some increased autonomy by letting them do things their way. Be flexible, let them organize their own schedules, don’t choke their creativity with unnecessary rules and regulations, and they’ll respect you more for it. According to this survey, 89% of companies reported better employee retention due to the implementation of flexible work options. So, focus your attention on more important matters, and cut your workers some slack every once in a while.

Create a positive working environment

Nurturing a healthy office atmosphere is vital for the overall productivity of your employees, and their mental well-being as well. Team-building events are an excellent way to break up the monotony of the daily grind and let your employees have a bit of harmless fun. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be something elaborate and expensive, but something as simple as a casual Friday, or a spontaneous night out. The most important thing, however, is that it’s something totally unrelated to work, as the main idea is for people to let off some steam and get their minds off work. All in all, these events present the perfect opportunity for your employees to bond with their co-workers and improve their mutual working relationships.

To sum up, different strategies appeal to different people. What works for one employee may not be the case with the rest of the lot. Therefore, it’s vital to keep experimenting with various combinations of these methods, in order to find just the right concoction for your specific workforce.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

5 Ways to Run a Successful Food Truck Business

Running a successful food truck business is a lot of hard work. Yet, many make the mistake of treating it like a hobby. If you are serious about making your food truck business successful, then follow these five tips.

Offer the Best Food

You need good recipes to make your food truck successful. Think about foods that not everyone in town is already serving. Then, find a great source of high-quality ingredients for those recipes. Prepare them to the best of your ability. Finally, test them out with people and incorporate their feedback until you have perfected them.

Get Quality Equipment

You will need to get quality equipment like stainless steel test sieves from a reliable supplier like newarkwire.com to run your business. Think about making a list of all the equipment that you will need to fix your recipes, and then get the equipment needed to prepare them. Buying quality helps to keep costs down in most cases as you will not have to replace them as often. Finally, consider buying more than one of each piece because equipment always seems to break at the most inopportune moment .

Employ Social Media

Part of the secret to running a successful food truck business is to connect with people on social media. It is a great way to let your customers know your location each day. Show them how great your food looks, so they are tempted to come to your location. Social media is also a great way to show customers the personality behind your company, so do not be afraid to post something funny or something that will tug at your customer’s emotions.

Be Dedicated to Customer Service

You need to be sure that your customers know how thankful you are for the opportunity to serve them. Start by offering them quality containers for their food and drink as flimsy containers can be hard to handle in an outside setting. Once they make the decision to order, then make sure to thank them for their order. If there is a problem, then correct it as quickly as possible. Remember that a satisfied customer will brag about your business to a few friends, but an angry one will tell everyone they know including posting it to social media.

Keep the Area Clean

While cleanliness is hard to maintain in any food environment, it can be especially difficult when running a food truck. Concentrate on keeping everything spotless. This includes the outside of your trailer as it will be the first thing that the customer sees. You and your employees also need to be sure that your personal grooming is above reproach.

Keeping these five tips in mind will help you run a successful food truck business. Now, go show them what you have to offer. Stay in a positive mindset and soon your customers will be hunting your food truck down to get your wonderful creations.

5 ways to combat skilled labor shortage

Let’s face it, today, more than ever, every business owner struggles with the issue of skilled labor shortage sooner or later. There are just not enough people interested or qualified enough for certain jobs, and that can take a real toll on any business. When you’re missing skilled labor, you’refacing a decrease in productivity and quality. Soon, that can have disastrous consequences for your firm. That’s why it’s important to address this issue on time, and ensure your business prospers. Thankfully, there are a few ways to do this that won’t backfire and are guaranteed to work.

1. Educate students

Pairing up with universities or schools is a great way of investing in your future. The interest for your firm should be developed early, meaning you should inform those who are still in school. This way, they’ll keep your firm in mind as soon as they finish school and are likely to apply for a job. You’ll have to worry less about not having enough staff because you’ve made sure the future experts know to look for you.

Many schools are looking for firms to partner up with, so as to ensure their students have a bright future. That’s your chance to reach out to one and devise a program which benefits you both. By doing so, you’ll also be seen as a company which cares about its community and the people in it, which is a very appealing trait to potential employees. Show that you are there for your community, and it will help you in your time of need.

2. Only keep the tasks you absolutely need

The process of creating a certain product or delivering a certain service is a delicate one. It’s a coherent system with many steps, all ensuring you’ve got a quality service or product as the end result. When you’re missing skilled workers though, you need to cut the process short a little.

Make a priority list and only do the steps that are absolutely necessary. Everything that’s done just for appearances should be left out. This way, you’ll be saving time, and more importantly, the energy of the workers you do have. It’ll promote efficiency and productivity. What’s more, it’s a great way of still providing good services until you get the extra help you need.

3. Put your employees first

Even though you are suffering from a skilled labor shortage and your employees have to work double to make up for that, remember that they’re people too. That means you shouldn’t overwork them and expect them to be able to cover all the positions. After all, you wouldn’t need more workers if your employees could do it all.

Instead of trying to make them pick up the slack and just filling slots, make sure they know you appreciate their efforts. If you’re not kind to them and don’t pay attention to their needs and well-being, it can lead to more people quitting and then you’ll be in an even bigger mess.Showing your workforce you appreciate them even in these troublesome times will help them stay motivated and pull-through. Together, you’ll be able to face this problem head on and come up with the best solution.

4. Opt for foreign workers

Importing your workforce can also be one of the options. Sometimes there just aren’t enough skilled workers in your country. In fact, more and more first world countries are choosing this option as a way to combat the shortage, Australia being one of them. Though, you need to be careful, because immigration laws are complex and often difficult to understand.

You can be sure the most informed immigration lawyer in Sydney will testify to that. That’s why it’s always advisable to talk to one before you decide to take any actual steps in bringing foreign people into the country. Every informed decision is a good decision.

5. Up your marketing strategy to a new level

Sometimes the problem with short staff is that people don’t even know you’re hiring, or what your firm is about. This is a question of a poor marketing strategy, but luckily, it can be easily solved. In this age of technology, you should make your company present on social media.

That way you’ll be up to date and will be able to connect with potential employees more easily. People will also know more about your company and are likely to be interested in working there. Even though it seems that social media is just for fun, it can actually be quite useful for things like this, too. In fact, there are a lot of professional social networks you can check out.

Conclusion

As you can see, not having enough skilled workforce doesn’t have to take a toll on your business. The important thing is to stay determined and motivated, and soon, your business will flourish. Hiring those who are good at their job promotes positive energy all around and, in turn, makes for very productive and confident workers. Never settle for less than your company deserves, so always hire the best of the best.

Daniel Brown is a law graduate and a passionate blogger from Sydney. His areas of interest are alternative dispute resolution and its applicability in different fields of law, IP law and resolution of disputes arising from intellectual property infringement and commerce law

3 Ways the Internet Can Make or Break Your Home-Based Business

The internet has absolutely transformed how companies do business and how consumers purchase products. This transformation has been dramatic and has affected all sectors of the economy. If you ignore how the internet has changed commerce, you will likely be left in the dust of competitors that have implemented the internet to expand their reach to consumers.

However, despite the benefits of the internet for businesses, selling your product online from your home isn’t necessarily easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are a lot of common mistakes you need to avoid. With that in mind, below are three ways the internet can make or break your home-based business.

SEO

One thing that can make or break your home business on the internet is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO includes the strategies that are utilized to obtain a preferable ranking on the major search engines like Google.

Google processes about 1.2 trillion searches a year. It’s how nearly everyone on the planet finds what they want on the internet. If you have poor SEO, it can certainly hurt your bottom line significantly. Definitely make fine tuning your SEO a priority. You also need to adjust your SEO over time since Google is always tweaking its algorithms.

Downtime

However, there are other issues apart from SEO you need to worry about. One of them is downtime. Downtime refers to times when your website can’t be loaded by visitors or refuses to operate properly. Downtime is a serious issue that causes businesses to lose millions a year. Most often, the cause of downtime is a higher volume of traffic than what a website’s hosting account is designed to handle. Make sure to search for web hosts and internet providers that will grant you the bandwidth you need to ensure that your website is always online and available to customers.

User Experience

Lastly, even if you obtain a high ranking on Google and avoid downtime completely, you can still fail. Part of this may be the fact that your website’s user experience is poor. This may happen, for example, if your website is hard to navigate. Today, most people surf the web on their smart phones. If your website scrolls from left to right instead of just up and down, most smart phone users may get frustrated. Make sure to test your website’s user experience on multiple different platforms.

Overall, running a website for your online business isn’t easy. Your success isn’t guaranteed. However, if you make sure your website has strong SEO, is always online and produces a good user experience, you can significantly increase your chances of success.

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