Give Your Small Business A Professional Makeover

As the owner of a small business; you’ll already be aware of how tough the competition is out there. To succeed as a company in today’s market; you’ll need to be a more appealing option than your competitors, for your potential consumers and clients. If you’re struggling to progress, grow, and keep the momentum high of customer traffic; it might be time for a business makeover. Putting your efforts into a fresh start, while sticking to your brand identity and online presence, will give you and your company the boost it needs.

Consumers will always take note of what, and who, is new on the scene, and are always investigating into the latest places to invest their money, especially if they’ve been let down by another brand. Therefore, you can make the most of your current customer base and following, and push your business forward with a relaunch and new outlook. The following are some areas to consider, tips, and ideas for those who need a helping hand with their company’s makeover, to boost their sales.

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Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/arrangement-bloom-blossom-bouquet-395132/

A Look At Your Branding

 It’s worth thinking about your brand, logo, and the aesthetic of your business’s identity. If you’re not a whizz when it comes to graphic design and tying a company together with colors, shapes, and images; you might want to do your research online, and also employ the help of a designer. Take a look at sites like fast.company to discover the main principles of great branding and design; you can begin thinking about how these might apply to your business.

Check out what your competitors have done, and how it works for them; it’s not about copying others, but you can boost your ideas and thought process regarding what you want to achieve. You’ll need branding that can work across all your online platforms, from your website to your social media; you’ll also want something that looks great in print so that you can hand business cards out with pride. A rebrand and relaunch will give your business something to shout about, and there’ll be an instant boost in your customer traffic and sales.

The Professional Touches

As a small business; you probably won’t have access to all the very latest in technology and services that a bigger company may have. This doesn’t mean that you can’t give your customers plenty of professionalism, and utilize what’s on the market for your size of brand. Take a look at sites like merchants.services and decide on which merchant service is the right one for you; allowing customers to pay by card at checkout, both in person and online, will be an appealing attribute to your business. If you utilize trade fairs, markets, and events where you sell your wares or services; you’ll need the ability to let consumers pay with their card, so they don’t go elsewhere due to lack of cash.

Keep a supply of business cards or flyers on you at all times; nothing says “serious business person” more than the ability to provide your contact details at a moment’s notice. Let your followers know about all your changes, and build excitement about your business and its fresh start, for plenty of future growth and success.

Improve Your Work Habits With These Tips

The workplace seems like the last place where you’d expect to find any form of habitual behavior. However, just like in our personal lives, they vary, and transcend the mere basics like washing your mug every day, reviewing the morning paperwork, or keeping your productivity up for eight hours.  Work habits range from politeness and socialization, to staying focused on a single task. And to ensure the best results, here are our tips on how to improve your work habits. Acquiring work habits can be difficult, as they didn’t have a lifetime to become automated in our daily lives. That is why we offer five simple tips that might help you out.

Small beginnings

No matter what you choose as a habit to build, you need to start small. A lot of your current habits took years to turn into a kind of automatic behavior, with most of them hardwired into your brain without you even remembering how it happened. So in order to put new habits into place with active effort, you will have to start small. For example, if you want to stay more focused on a single task, try focusing on it for five minutes. Then, after a week (or when you feel you can), extend that time to ten minutes.

Merge the habits

Say that the new habit you want to put in place is to keep a cleaner desk. You want to stop seeing piled up papers and wrappers at the end of the day. What you can do is to use every bathroom break to pick up the scraps of trash and toss them on your way there. If you want to be more sociable with coworkers, use every water break, or visit to the copier to stop and exchange a few words with someone. Tying a new habit to one of your old ones can help maintain the cycle of its occurrence.

Accountability

This goes for all those who feel like procrastination and difficulty focusing are habits that are hard to break. What you need is a sense of accountability for your work. Far-reaching deadlines are hardly going to keep you motivated on a daily basis. If possible, find a person: a colleague, or your team manager, to whom you will deliver daily reports. Knowing that your work performance depends on that end-of the day report will boost your focus. Also, keeping a to-do list, or a specific but simple checklist can go a long way. If possible, talk to the person reviewing your reports on a daily or a weekly basis, to see how well you are doing.

Organization

Organization has to be one of the most common ailments of the modern worker. From their desks and cubicles, to their offices, people tend to pile up things they don’t need. Old projects bulletin boards that they’re too busy to take down, broken down printers or piles upon piles of archives that are not a necessity right now. The habit of keeping your space clean starts with cleaning it out completely. If you have a problem giving up certain things that may be of use later, you can always look for some supercheap storage. Geelong, for example, has numerous storage offers where you can store whatever you feel could be necessary, without cluttering up your space.

Use a reward system

Lastly, employ any kind of a reward system. To truly motivate yourself, you need to know that after those ten minutes of hard focus, you will have five minutes of distractions. Or, after drinking the required goal amount of water for the day, you can treat yourself with something sweet, and so on. This part is crucial for the creation of a habit, as it hardwires your brain into linking the new behavior with some kind of gratification afterwards. Since no one gives pats on the back for achieving these small goals, a self-reward system is a perfect replacement for a positive affirmation.

Lastly

The best possible way to observe and approach habits is to see it as a kind of behavior that needs practice. It is not about a person’s laziness or inability to perform or follow through with a habit. It all comes down to how the human brain works. Most people won’t form a new habit of working 30 minutes with an unrelenting focus from day one. It takes practice and reward. Get your colleagues in on the “project” and you’ll see how fast the habit sticks.

4 Smart Strategies to Take Your Small Business to The Next Level

The decision about whether to expand your current business operations in different ways or to maintain the status quo is not an easy one to make. Some business owners may feel comfortable keeping things as they are and not taking unnecessary risks. If you feel that growth and expansion are in order, however, you must then determine if now is the right time to do so. Remember that your business should be well established, and trying to expand too soon can be detrimental and risky.

It is important that you develop a long-term growth strategy before you take any steps forward. Your plans should be scalable, and you should understand the financial impact that your plans will have on your budget and finances. Some people may find that they need to improve in certain areas or seek financing before ramping up production or expanding into a new market.

Remember that growth can often magnify inefficiencies that may not be bothersome or crippling right now. If you are preparing to grow, consider adopting these smart tips to enjoy the best results.

Don’t Be Afraid to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Substantial business growth rarely occurs if the business owner is unwilling to take a risk. Calculated risks are focused on keeping the risk level within your specific tolerance zone, but they can also help you to energize your company and give it the extra push that it needs to reach a new level of success. Remember that you took a risk launching your business initially, and you may need to take additional risks to grow it substantially.

While you need to step out of your comfort zone and embrace risk if you want your business to grow, you should also define what your acceptable level of risk or loss might be. Then, develop a strategic plan that takes that acceptable level of risk into consideration. Research each aspect of your plan thoroughly so that you are comfortable with it, and talk to your team about the risks and rewards ahead. They should be just as energized and excited about the endeavor as you are.

You should be prepared to endure some road bumps on the course ahead. Some risks will result in a loss, but a detailed plan can help you to navigate through the bumps and reach a higher level of success. With each mistake that you make during the growth process, spend time analyzing it so that you can learn from your failures and improve going forward.

Go Down the Rebranding Route

Your brand should evolve over time, and this helps your business to stay relevant in the marketplace. Rebranding can also draw consumer focus to your business, and this increased visibility and awareness can boost sales and make it easier for your business to expand into new markets. Remember that your competition may be changing over time as well, and you must reposition your brand in a strategic way with the competition in mind.

While you may want to reinvigorate your brand, you need to keep your overall business goals the same. The brand should evolve around the company, and the company should not evolve around the brand.

Analyze the growth plans that you have in mind. Determine what the brand image should be to venture into a new market or to add to your product line. Focus on rebranding that takes these factors as well as the overall identity of your business into consideration. Your new brand image can help you to more easily relate to your target audience and can help you to own different attributes that your target audience values.

Invest In Technology

As your business grows, you should embrace technological changes that are relevant to your business. Not all technology will be helpful or cost-effective, so you will need to analyze the solutions and determine which ones are best suited for your business model and growth plans.

Track new technological developments so that you can quickly and easily incorporate new technology into your business as it develops. Remember that technology can help your business to function more efficiently and cost-effectively, and this is critical when you plan to grow and expand.

Technology offers numerous other benefits for your business as well. It can be used to more easily break into new markets and to reach more customers. It can help your business to innovate new processes and operations, and it may even be used to differentiate your products and services from what the competition is offering.

Even your overall management efforts can be completed more efficiently and effectively through the use of different technological solutions. As you prepare to grow, take the time to learn more about different technologies that can be used to help you achieve your goals.

Know When to Let Go

As your business grows and expands, it becomes less feasible for you to handle all of the work that needs to be done. You will need to learn how to effectively delegate to your valued employees or to reach out to contractors for assistance. You may have to focus more on guiding the growth efforts, and this means that your team should increasingly be relied on.

However, you should only assign tasks to individuals who are dependable and who have the skills or knowledge to handle the tasks. All of your employees should feel empowered and properly trained to handle the work that you are asking them to do.

There may be some bumps in the road as you and your team take on different tasks or let go of them. Be prepared for some transition, and offer oversight and support until you feel confident in your team’s efforts. Letting go through delegation is critical if you want to achieve your business growth goals.

Conclusion

Growing your business can seem intimidating and stressful. The reality is that some things may not go quite as you plan, but you may still reach success with your efforts. Adopt these tips today to more easily navigate through this transition period.

Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

Eco-Friendly Business: A Guide to Successfully Marketing Yourself as Green

That green is all the rage lately is hard to disagree with. Not only are businesses discovering the vast financial benefits of going green; they’re also noticing that doing it for the right reasons has a lot more going for it than joining the party for the fun of it. If you’ve completed the tour of electronics around your office already, banned hard copies, and found ways to use less energy in general, you’d probably love to see your company celebrated by your community.

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Image by: Pexels

Don’t let your good deeds go unnoticed; here is a useful guide to how you can market your business as green and show it off from its best side.

Green is the most complex color

It should be easy enough to get the word out there when you know for a fact that you’re green through and through – yet, green marketing is no easy challenge. Do it for the sake of profits and the community is likely to punish you for selfishness; do it for the sake of the environment, and you could still risk being avoided.

It seems overly complicated, but there is a simple explanation to this. Sometimes, marketing yourself as green doesn’t speak to your target group quite as it should – and it all depends on what sort of business you’re in.

Think about it this way; when you hear that a business is green, what comes to mind first? Most likely, you’re not settling on luxury and comfort. The truth is that a luxury resort that is marketing itself as eco-friendly is likely to scare pamper-seeking guests away. They’ll think cold and short showers, going to the toilet outside, and sleeping under the stars; kind of romantic but not always comfortable.

As a business owner who offers comfort and luxury to their target audience, you should still be green and eco-friendly – just be it quietly. It saves you money in the long-run and is wonderful news for our planet, so don’t let snobbish customers who think eco equals discomfort steer you in any other direction.

It’s a good idea to think about who sustainability is important to, since certain demographics seem to care more than others. As a general rule, women tend to focus on soaps and cleaning detergents that are free of chemicals, especially when it comes to cooking and products for their children. A label of being green won’t sell your products, though, so don’t expect your business to bloom just because of this.

What do you mean by green?

Sure, we use it as an umbrella term for being conscious of the environment – but going green could imply various things to your customers. It’s important to communicate exactly how you’re contributing to keeping our planet healthy; with vague and imprecise boasting of being green, you risk confusing or even disillusioning your community.

The companies who are marketing themselves as such but fails to inform the consumers on the specific measures they’ve taken so far might be seen as dishonest. Especially when their competitors are successfully marketing themselves as green and provide detailed explanations of how they do it; by reducing carbon footprints, using solar energy, banning papers, and steering away from hazardous chemicals.

Go green but tell them how you do it and, even more importantly, why you’re doing it.

Find ways of incorporating this message without explicitly using the word ‘green.’ People are able to connect the dots themselves, and the positive message will shine through without the use of vague umbrella terms. To falsely show off one’s business as eco-friendly is known as greenwashing and you’d want to avoid this by all means.

Although you’re likely to find other guides online that tells you to incorporate your green vision in every part of your business – as well as the logo, we wouldn’t take it that far. Ask a marketing agency to help you with finding the right solution for your company; Cardinal Digital Marketing is a good place to start or have a look at this detailed guide.

When deciding on how to market yourself, remember that transparency and honesty are keywords to happy customers. Consider your target group, however, and figure out how you can tailor the message of eco-friendliness to fit their needs and wants.

Use online marketing

Whatever you do to promote yourself as green, make sure you do it online. It’s common sense, in a way, as thousands of leaflets on sustainability is both ironic and irritating to your customers. Plus, online marketing is a lot more cost-effective than the old-school traditional methods, which is excellent news for small businesses.

You can use recycled paper, by the way, which is also cheaper and more eco-friendly than regular printing paper. Concentrate on less paper and more digital, however, and you have vast opportunities for expanding your social media marketing as well as growing your email database. Less is certainly more when it comes to green marketing, so any signs of extravagant spending will be bad taste for your eco-conscious customers.

Make a point out of it

A part of being liked is to be predictable – and people don’t like businesses who say one thing and do another. Someone who is truly passionate about the environment and wants to make the world a better place by starting with their own business should be rewarded, but they should also be honest. We expect you to carpool, to have incorporated a green company culture, and we certainly expect you to be consistent.

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Image by: Pexels

Make it fly by allowing this green thinking to shine through every corner of your office; it’s excellent PR, you know. Engage in local environmental causes, make donations to charities in your community, and source your produce or products from local farmers. As a household, you’d be good to nature by investing in your community; as a business, you’d do the same.

Get your employees on board

To be consistent, you’re going to have to spend some time on figuring out your company culture. It’s such a buzzword these days but for good reasons; a company works as a team where you happen to be the leader. That means that the message of eco-friendliness and sustainability needs to come from the top and work its way downwards; nobody’s going to follow your lead unless you show them that the green culture is here to stay.

Start by reaching out for suggestions. It’s an ideal way of making them feel involved – plus, you’re likely to get a lot of great ideas. Happy employees are listened to and taken into consideration; when you ask for the opinions, make sure you put them into life. It might mean investing in more natural cleaning detergents or successfully incorporating meatless Mondays into the cafeteria menu – but it’s all worth it.

Next, find ways to remind them of your green vision in a non-intrusive way. Tell your team to turn off their computers at the end of the day, install a water dispenser to eliminate plastic bottles, and put up a few friendly reminders in the bathrooms to make sure no taps are dripping.

These are small but effective ways to be a more sustainable business while also keeping it real. Don’t lose their respect by preaching sustainability and driving to work every day; they’ll look up to a leader who takes the bus or carpools like the rest of us. Market your business as green for the right reasons, and you’re in for reduced costs as well as a happier community.

A Fresh Start: 5 Ways To Revive Your Business

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Image Source

 Every business needs a regular reboot. It can help you to take your business to the next level, redefine your goals or simply re-motivate you if you’ve been starting to lose inspiration. Here are some of the top ways to give yourself a fresh start.

Remodel your business services

 The services you’re offering may be out of fashion and no longer getting the clientele. They be getting the wrong type of clientele in and damaging your aspirations. Alternatively, the services you offer may be too demanding and simplifying them could be in order. Take the time to really consider what’s working for you and what’s not. Talk to your staff to better understand what they think your company could be offering.

Introduce new expertise

 It may be time to learn some new skills. This could include paying for you and your team to take a course and gain some new expertise that could help you expand your services. There are even day workshops out there in topics such as accountancy, marketing and HR that could be useful for modernising and simplifying your business. Alternatively, you could try hiring someone experienced that can bring new skills to this business. This might allow you to access a new niche in the market.

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Image Source

Move premises

 Your premises may be too small, too costly or badly located for your business. Moving will not just provide new practical benefits but could mentally provide that fresh start that you need to re-motivate you and your team. Make sure to budget for other costs such as moving companies and legal paperwork. Also consider the practicalities that your current premises has that your new one will also need. This could include a good storage area, good disabled access or free parking.

Have a refurb

 Alternatively you may be able to stay in your current premises and simply reorder things around. If you’re in retail, this might include hiring a shop remodelling company to brighten up the décor and add more space. If you work from an office, it may be a case of reordering desk for better practicality. This will mentally reinforce the idea of a fresh start as with moving but allow you to still keep the comforts and practicalities of your current premises.

Invest in your own custom software

Digital technology is allowing us to become more efficient and more organised. Investing in your own custom software might allow you to better monitor your staff and projects whilst also making life easier for them. This could be anything from a digital till display to an infrastructure organiser to an app for clients. Creating your own software isn’t cheap, so you should consider first whether the added efficiency is worth the money spent. Check first that there aren’t any software solutions already out there that could benefit you – this is likely to be much more affordable.

Moving to Another Office: How to do it Smoothly

After finding the right place for your business, you will also have to move everyone and everything to the new location. Relocating office space may be a challenge but with good planning – moving can be efficient and stress-free. The following tips should help you to move your business as smoothly as possible.

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Take Time to Plan

The first step to an efficient move is to create a bulletproof plan. Try to plan your move at least 6 months ahead. You will have to organize much more than a few boxes and to do it productively you will need time. Your planning should include as much information as possible, from the most general, such as the moving budget, to the more specific, such as the layout of the new offices. It would also be beneficial if you could predict likely problems and think of a few solutions.

Organize Staff Into Teams

Though you will coordinate the move, it might be efficient to organize your staff into teams. The most natural way may be coordinating them according to their departments. Also, you may want to use senior staff as leaders of specific teams. They can communicate more easily between movers and team members. Each team should be responsible for labeling objects that will or will not be moved but also they may express their own needs and requirements for the new space in a more efficient way.

Check the Dates

The essential part of the moving plan is sticking to the scheduled dates, which might include one of the following:

  • the date until you have to leave the present location,
  • the date when you will be able to enter the new location,
  • the date or dates when you move and
  • the date when you (re)start working.

The rest of the dates, such as clearing out the office, may not be as specific but should be completed until set dates.

The list of dates should be provided to all employees and on time.

Let the Professionals do the Moving

Hiring a moving company may seem a luxury but it is actually a necessity. Using professional help will lower the possibility of injury and raise the level of productivity. Keep in mind – the sooner the move is over, the sooner you can proceed with work.

It is useful to start searching for the movers a few months before the move so as to find the best price. In that way you can also find the ones that provide for additional services that you may want such as moving insurance. From personal experience I know it can really get expensive. I was lucky enough to work with the good guys from Supercheap Storage New Zealand – very affordable and efficient service.

Create a Layout

Try to organize a layout for the new office. This will be beneficial both for you and your staff but also it will help the movers. If manageable, let your employees organize their own working space.

As the new office will have a different layout, make sure you mark the equipment and furniture that can be relocated and dispose of the items that cannot be moved. In addition to reducing stress on the moving day this will also lower the cost of your move. It is advisable to create a list of the items, for the sake of organization but also for insurance reasons.

Let Everyone Know

Notify everyone on the change of location. This would include not only your clients or customers but employees and suppliers alike. In addition to changing your address on your website, you should also change it in all other databases as well as on office supplies, business cards, etc.

Arrange Your Work Around the Move

It is advisable to move during a period when work is slower. However if this is not a possibility, and you also cannot pause your work during the move, it is important to arrange your work around it. Postpone all work that can be postponed on time and finish all the deadlines. This will guarantee the least amount of inconvenience for the clients or customers and less stress for the employees.

Hard Work Will Pay off

Moving a whole company is no fun, but with a solid plan and a set of clear objectives, a dedicated team and enough time, the move can be almost seamless and effortless. Remember though, you cannot do it alone, it is too stressful, so get some help and smoothly move to another location and you will be up and running just like before the move. Good luck!

Guest Author – Tony is a writer and the senior editor at MediaGurus with several years of experience in writing content for the web. Tony does research and writes articles across various industries, such as business, technology, marketing, lifestyle, etc.

Why do only 10% of Startups Succeed?

Statistics show that around 90% of all startups fail, but what we can’t understand from this fact is why it happens so often? Another thing we can’t learn from such cold statistics, but experience has proven it time and time again, is that many startups fail even before they start working.

This, however, doesn’t mean that people should be put off and give up on the idea before they have even registered their company. On the contrary, this should send a message to all those interested that they need to stay focused, work hard and be realistic about their expectations. So, what are the characteristics of those startups that have made it?

Right product or service

Your offer may be of excellent quality, but if people don’t need it, you won’t be able to survive as an entrepreneur. As a matter of fact, most owners of failed startups list “lack of market need for their product” as the main reason for their failure.

This means that you have to be spot on when it comes to what you’re going to offer. It as to be unique and different, in a good way, from what your competitors are offering. In order to be sure there’s demand for your product or service, it is necessary to conduct market research, so that you don’t rely simply on your gut feeling.

Being involved in everything

A startup doesn’t really allow roles to be very clearly divided, since things tend to be pretty organic and responsibilities often overlap. That’s why all entrepreneurs need to pay attention to absolutely everything that’s going on. They don’t have the luxury to ignore anything, believing that someone else will take care of it.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that each task is equally urgent and important, which is why you need to be able to prioritize well. If you allow various less significant tasks to distract you from what’s really important, you won’t be able to focus on the things that really matter to your business.

Ready for fast growth

Depending on the line of business you’re in, you might face a rapid growth, which you have to respond to appropriately. Contrary to popular belief, fast growth is sustainable. It is also exactly what entrepreneurs and investors dream about and a sign that you’ve made it.

Startups should be looking at a double-digit growth rate after several months of operation. Otherwise, they’ll never be able to grow enough to reach the point when they can be considered a well-established business. Finally, startups sometimes run out of financial resources exactly because they haven’t grown fast enough. So, those companies that have made it wanted and achieved a fast growth in the early phase.

A capable team

Since there are different types of problems startups are facing, it’s always a good idea to have a versatile team of people to respond to all challenges, from the owner to a professional virtual receptionist. The versatility we’re talking about here refers more to a mindset, rather than a skillset.

Teams have to be ready to adjust their plans, change products, take new approaches or even start all over again. A good team can take a blow and recover and, most importantly, learn from their mistakes.

Aggressive marketing

Successful startups use aggressive and appropriate marketing methods to attract attention and inform people about the offer. In order to have an efficient campaign, you need to exactly who you are going to target and how you’re going to do that. That means you should be aware of the demographics, age and gender of your target groups and their shopping habits.

Using social media has become a must and all successful startups have exploited them quite extensively and efficiently. Those who have failed to embrace this and many other modern trends simply missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on some very efficient channels through which many new customers can be attracted.

Conclusion

If you want your startup to be among the 10% that make it, you should most definitely pay attention to these and many other things. Remember that most business endeavors fail because they either offer something not many people need or because they don’t bring any added value to their offer. Both of these issues stem from the period before the company is registered, which means you need to do your homework and research the market.

Needless to say, you need a lot of courage and flexibility to adapt your plans, but if you play your cards right, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing experience of witnessing your startup grow and a financial compensation for all your effort and troubles.

 

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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. I am a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog