How to Make Your Growing Business More Competitive

Your business needs to be able to compete in its industry like never before. Today’s companies are competing with businesses who have truly milked every advantage imaginable to stay at the head of the pack. Your business cannot be behind in this process. Once a business starts to pull out in front of other competitors in their industry, they cannot afford to lose ground. They must keep up this momentum to remain a strong industry leader. The following are a few ideas to help your company compete on a whole new level.

Employee Upgrades

As the needs of your business change, you will need talent that can keep up with the pace. Sometimes you have to let employees go who are not cutting it to make room for new staff upgrades who can competently stay on top of the learning curve necessary to help improve company performance. As you weed out weaker employees who cannot keep up and replace them with stronger employees who can, you will find each department providing your company with the edge it needs to compete at a whole new level.

Offer New Benefits for Employees

More than ever before, companies are trying to keep employees by making work a fun place to be and offering benefits they and their families can enjoy. Beyond just the job’s salary, many employees stay loyal to companies who can provide dental, vision, and health benefits, as well as 401(k) programs. Take a look at the benefits you currently offer and see if implementing something like paid lunches, paternity leave, or life insurance might sweeten the deal for those you hire.

Expanding the Business

One way to make a huge competitive move is to expand your business to new locations. The more locations you are able to expand into and keep running with solid quarterly revenue, the more competitive you will prove to be in your industry. With every new location that you establish, this is a whole new revenue stream to help your business obtain the funds to react to the strategies other competing companies are using.

Conclusion

Competition is at the heart of modern business. If your company is not in it to win it, then it will start to lag behind other competing companies. Your company should always be poised to swoop in on any opportunity in the market that will ensure a competitive advantage. These opportunities are what will help your company to pull out in front of the other companies you are competing with in your industry or marketplace.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

4 Things to Check When Choosing Your New Business Location

You are getting ready to expand into a new business location. This is an exciting time for your company because it means you are finally entering the first major step in your company’s growth stage. Hopefully, if everything works out the way you planned, you will be pulling in twice the revenue and possibly more before the year is finished. However, there are a few things you still need to check out before choosing a new business location.

Traffic

When moving to a new location, the amount of traffic, both vehicles and foot traffic, is going to help determine how much business you will be doing. If the location you are looking at has low rates of traffic, this can become restrictive to your ability to generate sufficient revenue. By positioning yourself in a high traffic area, you will increase your opportunities for attracting customers to your new location.

Local Codes

Before you sign that lease, you need to know if something about how you do business will be in violation with local codes and city ordinances. Usually, you can obtain this information directly from the county building or government center for the county in which your business resides. This is important to check because you do not want any surprises sneaking up on you that could cause unnecessary financial strain on your business.

Building Maintenance and Repair

If you are buying the building you intend to expand into, then you should expect that there will be a few building maintenance and repair costs associated with moving into a new location. This is why you should be ready to work with an experienced company such as Drey Roofing who can manage any commercial building repairs, such as a new roof, for example, that may require a lot of work.

Your Parking Lot

In order to accommodate high enough customer or client volume, you will need to have adequate parking for employees and those frequenting your business. Not only should you make sure the parking lot is big enough, but it should be repainted too. Nothing gives a new location a fresh look like a parking lot that looks fantastic and has adequate parking.

Conclusion

You are about ready to open your new location. Since you did all your homework before making the big move, everything went smoothly as planned. Now it is time to open the doors for business and provide your company’s much-needed products and services to your local community.

Five of the Best Marketing Automation Tools for Small Businesses

The day in the life of a small business owner is likely full of endless emails, conference calls, meetings, strategy sessions, and the occasional lunch break if they are lucky. Before they know it, the day gets away. This is why business owners depend on marketing automation. A robust marketing software prevents marketers from having to spend their time taking care of repetitive tasks such as creating email campaigns, audience segmentation, gathering web analytics reports, CRM management, and social media management.

While the initial set-up of these features is essential and involves careful strategy, once they are ready to go, automation can make all the difference. According to a study conducted by Venture Beat, 80 percent of marketing automation users saw their numbers of leads increase, and 77 percent saw a lift in the number of conversions. So, what are the best tools to get started? Read on for the best-rated marketing automation tools according to the leading business technology review site, TrustRadius.

HubSpot

HubSpot, one of the largest and most popular inbound marketing automation tools, is said to be used by over 18,000 customers in more than 90 countries. Marketers can set up email marketing campaigns, create landing pages, handle SEO and social media management as well as a host of other tasks. Reviewers of HubSpot on TrustRadius praise the product’s easy-to-use interface, practical training sessions, and ease of uploading content and creating landing pages. However, the integrations are still lacking, and users did find it difficult to get the level of reporting and analytics they truly needed for social media campaigns.

Marketo

Mid-sized companies enjoy the multiple uses of Marketo. In addition to the typical marketing automation tools, Marketo also allows marketers to personalize websites and optimize mobile engagement. Where Hubspot is still working on expanding their integrations, TrustRadius reviewers are impressed with the number of software tools Marketo can connect to for automation functions. Creating and scheduling email automation is also quick and convenient to handle according to TrustRadius reviewers. On the negative side, many cited that the complicated user interface and overall slowness in data reporting can bring a bit of frustration to marketers who are always on the go.

Hatchbuck

If you are looking for some help in managing workflows, automated sales alerts, and numerous helpful integrations with a smaller but just as strong system, Hatchbuck may be the best option. Small businesses are known to favor this system in comparison to mid-sized and larger enterprises. Reviews by TrustRadius users conveyed enjoyment with the drag and drop email creator, fast customer service, and quick email automation services. TrustRadius reviewers are not too fond of the challenge in creating custom reports and feel the campaign creation process could be a bit less clunky and more straightforward.

LeadSquared

For those who do not have the resources or time to invest in a system like Hubspot or Marketo heavily but still want solid automation results, LeadSquared may be the answer. In addition to the general inbound marketing features, LeadSquared can also help with event and webinar marketing as well as social profile integration. TrustRadius reviewers liked the system’s value when compared to other products, the number of APIs available, and very knowledgeable support staff. On the other hand, users need to watch out for a less than satisfactory user interface, and the difficulty in setting up drip marketing actions.

The Wrap Up

Regardless of a marketer’s comfort with automation, the budget they are working with, and the level of help their team needs to implement marketing strategy; there is a viable option out there for everyone. Marketers just need to be sure they know the most important features they need to take care of repetitive marketing tasks and increase the overall marketing ROI.

Chanell Alexander currently resides in Atlanta, GA. When she’s not traveling and trying new restaurants in the Metro Atlanta area, she writes about the latest technology and tools for TrustRadius,

 

 

 

The Art Of Selling Your Business

There is only one thing as satisfying and complicated as starting your very own business and that is selling your very own business and that’s because more to it than just dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Girl, we’re talking about the financial and emotional considerations that crop up during a sale.

The reason for this is simple: no one starts a company with the intention of selling it. You start a company to solve a problem you came across, to make a difference, improve your lot and do something cool. The idea to sell is one that comes out of nowhere, possibly because the market makes for that environment or because an outside offer landed on your door.

Whatever it is, though, there is a lot of planning that needs to take place, and that’s what we’re here to help with.

  1. Patience Is Key During A Sale

While most companies are sold to key employees because these people a) have a passion for the industry and b) know exactly how the business works, there is still a need for patience on your part. The reason we say this is because the length of time a sale takes hinges on who the buyer is. That said, whether it’s an internal buyer, a competitor in your area of a massive corporation wanting to take you on, the process always takes longer than people expect.

  1. Preparation Is The Secret Of Perfection

If you want to get the perfect deal, you need to be prepared and that means knowing the real value of your business. The best way to do this is to arm yourself with a legal expert, someone like Dickson Frohlich Law Firm, and multiple valuations depending on who the buyer is, the nature of the business, and the deal being proposed. The other thing that you will want to do os have all your financials at the ready, dating as far back as four years if needs be.

  1. Haggle With Your Responsibilities

One of the things the new owners will ask for is you be there to help shepherd your old employees into the new system. This is not uncommon, but it is worth negotiating what this request entails. That means the length of the commitment, what expectations they have for you and how this might affect your future plans. It’s also worth knowing what the ramifications of any refusal to do so are, of which the big hit will be the money offered as part of the deal.

  1. Know What Happens Next

Life after you sell is another huge area you need to look at. You will want to have some idea of what you do with your time, how you will spend your money and how you want your life to look. The reason for this is as much for your own sanity, as well as understanding whether a non-compete clause is something you are happy to sign. After all, this is a change of careers in a way.. The point is: do some analysis into life after the sale. It will help you out both personally and professionally.

Dream of the Fortune 500? Process-Improving Tips for Small Healthcare Companies

Ever since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a few American healthcare companies have emerged as major Fortune 500 players. From pharmaceutical giants to insurance companies and from drugstore chains to medical equipment suppliers, healthcare companies are adapting to change and improving their processes. As the owner or executive of a small healthcare business, you should be following the examples set by these successful companies. Here are four recommendations to improve your processes:

Understand the Cycle of Improvement

You cannot expect to improve business processes with a single action. Quality improvement consists of making adjustments and changes that may result in new issues to worry about. When you set out to improve your processes, you should follow a cycle of planning, taking action, evaluating, and taking new actions. You should keep in mind that a single adjustment can have repercussions across your company.

Communicate with Your Staff

When you set out to improve your processes, it is important that your staff is aware of your intentions. At some point, you will want to implement certain measures that your employees and associates may not be in agreement with. If you simply push measures without consulting with staff, your efforts will become complicated.

Learn to Monitor Your Expenses

Let’s say part of your business consists of assigning medical professionals to visit patients who receive home care therapy. If you need to evaluate the costs involved in sending your associates to the field, you can use a solution such as MedPro Systems. Once you figure out real costs, you can adjust your insurance billing and reimbursements accordingly. In this case, MedPro Systems will provide you with real-time access to healthcare provider travel and expense data. Check to see if whatever service you use is able to provide that as well.

Approach Improvement as a Project

Depending on the scope of your company and on your business goals, improving certain processes can turn out to be a very complex task. By treating process improvement as a project, you will be able to determine how much effort and resources will be needed. With project management apps such as Asana, you can assign certain improvement tasks to your staff and associates.

In the end, your dreams of growing your small healthcare practice into a Fortune 500 company will largely depend on your ability to improve certain processes. The compliance aspect is bound to get more challenging, but there will always be opportunities for business expansion.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

All The Signs That Your Business May Not Be As Strong As You Think

Are you sure that your business is doing as well as what you think it is? Sure, it can be quite difficult to tell when you are busy all the time trying to run the company; you could find that there is no time for you to take a step back and review your business objectively.

If things aren’t going quite so well, though, there are often some telltale signs that start to crop up. These following ones are some of the signs that happen in the early stages of a failing business. Do you recognise some in your own business? If so, it may be time to find some solutions!

You’re Repeating Mistakes

Entrepreneurs need to learn from their mistakes quickly and move on. And that’s nothing to worry about – we all make the odd mistake from time to time. However, if you seem to be continually making the same mistake without realizing it, then there could be an underlying issue with your company. So, it’s important that you try to get to the bottom of repeated mistakes as soon as you can. Otherwise, it could spell the end for your business.

Your IT Is Outdated

IT and tech are incredibly important to companies these days, no matter which of industry or sector they are in. Does your IT infrastructure appear to be struggling? It could be because it is dated. If this is the case, it’s worth finding a company that offers managed IT services and can help you update all your tech. Not doing this could damage your company’s productivity and efficiency, which won’t help you keep up with competitors.

You’re Struggling To Pay The Monthly Bills

There’s no denying that financial problems within your business are not a good sign. If you find that you are scrabbling around for money at the end of the month to pay all your bills and employee wages, there will certainly be some urgent improvements that need to be made. Simply reviewing and altering your budget could help you see areas in which you can save money. Otherwise, now might be the time to try and source some new investment.

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The Employee Turnover Rate Is Really High

Unhappy employees are going to jump ship very quickly. If you replace these employees without improving the company, then the new hires will also leave not long after they have arrived. So, take a look at your business through the eyes of your employees and see how things could improve. Perhaps you just need to offer regular reviews or make sure you focus more on employee well-being?

The Media Aren’t Interested In Your Business

There needs to be constant chatter surrounding your business. If the media aren’t talking about you, and no one is mentioning your brand on social media, then there is something wrong. Thankfully, an effective PR campaign can often fix this.

Fingers crossed that none of these problems affect your company for too long and that you can get back on the road to success!

How to Make a Basement Startup a Successful Business

William S. Harley was only 21 when he built his first motorcycle in his friend’s garage. Clear back in 1923, Walt Disney created the first Disney studio in his uncle’s house. In 1974, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in Jobs’s home in Cupertino, California. Jeff Bezos started Amazon in his home in Bellevue, Washington, in 1994. If you are trying to get your own business off the ground, then make sure you take some practical steps.

Create a Network

It is hard to succeed in business if you live inside a bubble. Therefore, you need to form a network of other professionals who can help you. Harley would not have been able to build his first motorcycle consisting of placing an electric motor on a bicycle without the bicycle builder. The first Apple computers were constructed of parts made by others. Make sure that you connect with others who are good at their jobs.

Market Your Product

You may have the perfect product, but if no one knows about it then it will still be a failure. You must connect with customers who can use their product to solve their problems. You need a plan on how you intend to tell the world about your product. Your plan may include the internet, direct marketing, door-to-door marketing and email marketing. If you do not have marketing skills, then make sure to work with a professional.

Create a Positive Work Environment

While the average American worker usually works 34.4 hours each week, the average micro-business owner usually works 52 hours each week. Make sure that you have a good work environment. Use replacement windows to let the light in as you work. Install work tables and other surfaces so that you have a dedicated area for your main activities. Choose energy-creating colors for your work environment. As you start to hire people, expand the work area so that everyone can be comfortable.

Take Care of Yourself

Getting a startup business off the ground can be hard work. Make sure that you are eating a reasonable diet. Take time to exercise on a regular basis. Get away from it all by spending time doing something that you enjoy. While it can seem like you need to be working continually, doing so will have a negative effect on your enthusiasm and motivation.

Use these tips and your own ingenuity to grow your basement business. You will succeed if you want to bad enough and there is a need for your product.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.