Expanding Your Online Business: 4 Things to Consider Before Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Location

Many companies have expanded from brick-and-mortar operations to offering only online stores that can be used to purchase products and services. It’s a huge sector of the economy and has been growing rapidly since the introduction of the internet. 

However, what if you wanted to do the opposite? Instead, you could evolve from an online-only operation to also having brick-and-mortar locations. This too can lead to increased profit. Still, there are serious pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are four things to consider before making this transition.

How Niche Is Your Business?

The great thing about the internet is that it gives you access to millions of people you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This includes consumers with extremely specialized interests. While you may be able to find enough of these individuals online to make a profit, achieving the same success in one geographic location may be much more difficult.

Will You Appeal to the Local Customer Base?

Similarly, you also need to ensure that you have the ability to actually appeal to the consumers in that locality as well. Your store may be a hit online with shoppers that live in Manhattan. However, if you start a brick-and-mortar location in Rapid City, South Dakota, the consumers there may find your New York-centered branding and marketing off-putting.

Can You Afford All the Costs Involved?

The most significant advantage online stores have over brick-and-mortar stores is the elimination of a lot of overhead expensive and startup costs. Obtaining a building that consumers will actually enter can be much more difficult than finding warehouse space. You will also have to be able to afford all the other expenses required to maintain that store like utilities, rent, and much more.

Do You Have the Management Skills?

Operating a brick-and-mortar store takes distinctly different management skills than managing an online store does. Customer service, for one, will often be face-to-face. You will also have to recruit and train employees that will work with customers directly. You need to ensure you are up to this task or your brick-and-mortar store will flounder as a result.

Just because you are successful with an online business does not necessarily mean you can translate that success to brick and mortar. However, there is still the possibility you could make a fortune by making this transition with your company. If you think brick and mortar can work for you, consider obtaining construction management services and other services that can help you plan for your new stores.

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

4 Ways Your Small Construction Company can Save Money

Anyone who has ever run a construction company knows just how quickly overhead costs can come bearing down. Even if you spend countless hours planning out a job, a few small mistakes can easily turn into expensive problems that eat into your profits. Here is a look at four effective ways that small construction companies can cut costs and improve efficiency.

Outsource Your IT

There are many different reasons why thousands of companies throughout the country are now outsourcing their IT departments. For some small business owners, IT tasks can quickly escalate into time-consuming and frustrating projects. Letting professionals take care of your IT work is also going to improve your company’s security and reduce your risk of data theft. While you may not think IT solutions are necessary for a small construction company, the technology used on sites is incredibly important. New tracking software to help you better manage projects and coordinate workers will save you valuable time, making it an important investment for your efficiency as a company.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

If you want to keep costs down, recycled materials is the best way to go. Many companies today are taking advantage of the many benefits of recycled timber, recycled steel, recycled aluminum, and of course, the tax benefits that come with them. Not only can you buy recycled materials as a cheaper alternative, but you can sell your own scrap for recycling, as well. Doing this is excellent both for your company’s reputation as an environmentally-conscious construction source and for your company’s building costs.

Hire and Architect

Unexpected problems in construction can quickly become costly, especially if they involve the foundation and structure of the project itself. Architects may seem like just an extra cost, but working with one can ensure that your project is outfitted to succeed from the start rather than being secretly doomed to fail. This will also show your customers that you care deeply about the quality of your work and give them greater faith in your ability to get the job done right the first time around.

Rent Specialized Equipment

Working with a local equipment rental company is another tactic that could save you quite a bit of money. You have probably invested in a few key pieces of equipment, but you don’t need to have a wide variety of cranes, skid steers, and wheel loaders sitting on your property. Renting equipment as it is needed will lower your monthly insurance premiums and minimize your company’s debt. Equipment rental can also save you on smaller machinery, such as motorized saws, drills, and other regular equipment. Even if you happen to use machinery regularly, renting it will ensure that you always have the newest models that someone else is storing and maintaining for you. However, specialized tools and machinery should be rented as-needed either way to avoid costly storage and maintenance fees on items that aren’t being used to their money’s worth.

In an ever increasingly competitive market, you want to take every advantage you can to ensure that your company will come out on top. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean cutting corners, and some ways that you can save money will help your company in its efficiency and reputation, as well. Consider your options and expenses, and you’ll find ways to cut down on project costs without ever sacrificing quality.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Costs to Cut and Costs to Keep: 6 Financial Tips for Small Businesses

Your business has a lot of costs that need to be managed. Without a guide, this can be confusing and difficult. What should you invest in? What can be cut from the budget? But don’t worry. Here are six financial tips about what costs to cut and which to keep that can help you along the way. That way, you can get back to doing what you are best at in your market and industry. 

Keep: Performers 

High performers make your business run better than anyone else. High quality workers mean you get high quality products and service. They should be kept around to keep boosting profits and overall quality. A great salesperson or someone who brings in revenue should be invested in. Potential customers won’t turn into returning customers if your employees drive them away. 

Cut: People Not Pulling Their Weight 

When employees start to get entitled and lazy, you can get into trouble. You need to get rid of people who expect to get paid more than they are worth. If they can’t justify their work to you, then it’s time to let them go. Additionally, if you can’t justify paying them what you are for what they actually bring to your business, they’re just creating a “money black hole” in your budget.

Keep: Researching Your Supplier 

Who your supplier is makes a major difference in your brand. It will affect the end result of your product, how fast products reach customers, and how happy your customers are with your end results. Invest the time and money into researching and verifying your suppliers. Seek out a third party to get supplier risk mitigation from those who are experts in helping businesses like yours. Your suppliers should be trustworthy and high quality at every turn. If they are, the time, money, and effort you put in will pay off.

Cut: Extra Long Lunch Breaks 

People need a certain amount of time to take a break during the day. As long as this is not being abused, then that is fine. However, you might find that your team’s breaks get longer and longer. Perhaps they are not keeping up with production. This might be time to start logging breaks and requiring them to keep a time sheet. Consider consulting with HR professionals about the right kind of break and time recording strategy for your business.

Keep: Customer Service 

If there is one thing you can do today to stand out from the competition it is having great customer service. Word of mouth travels fast. If you cut your customer service, you are only going to have more frustrated customers. Find the best people, invest in top-notch customer service training, and regularly consult customer reviews and feedback so you can be constantly working on and improving your system.

Cut: Advertising that Doesn’t Sell 

Just because radio and TV worked back in the day doesn’t mean they’re the way to go now. Whatever your advertising spend is, reduce it where you are not getting results. Then, double down on methods that are working. However, keep in mind that marketing that works takes time. Try looking into SEO services, social media help, and marketing firms that specialize in local or small business work. If you find what’s right for your business, you’ll begin to see growth and results.

Getting your business to a place where it is operating profitably can be difficult—it definitely takes a lot of work. However, it always starts with finding ways to cut costs you don’t need and keeping those that actually help you. If you use the tips above, you could find that your profit and loss statement is looking better every time you check in.

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.

A Shortcut To The Skills: Areas Where Outsourcing Can Really Save You Time And Money

As a business that is constantly looking forward, we’ve all got to embrace the latest trends, albeit to an extent. Whether we’ve gone analog and we’re embracing a new era of digital transformation, or we’re looking to round off the edges, the latest trends don’t necessarily mean the best for our business. Outsourcing is one of those things that, understandably, we all look upon with some form of trepidation. Some think outsourcing rids businesses of their personality, but outsourcing, for numerous startups, can save an infinite amount of time and money. Let’s show you how.

The Ever-Changing Technological Landscape

Because technology progresses at such a rate, the race can be hard to keep up with. These days, as there are so many different IT consulting firms, such as cyberjaz.net, we can choose the right company to partner up with, so they can guide us with a steady hand through these changes. For those people who aren’t able to acquire the skills of workers in-house, outsourcing to an IT support company can make the processes easier to handle.

Content Marketing

Creating content that is easy to absorb by potential customers is a fine art, because it can come across as being a bit too commercial-esque in the wrong hands. And when we haven’t got the time to learn how best to develop our voice, we have to outsource to a content marketing company that has the strategies in place that lends themselves well to your brand. The goal is always the same- to sell products- but we have to do it in such a way that it doesn’t seem like you are relying on sales and leads. We have to generate leads but we have to start relationships with our customers.

Bookkeeping

You may think it’s easier to manage all of the tasks yourself. After all, when you are a novice startup, it’s cheaper! But because the balancing of many plates can result in a dip in productivity, outsourcing to a bookkeeping company isn’t just taking advantage of their expertise, but it’s offloading the more mundane and stressful tasks. Your business needs adequate accounts and documents to support every item of expenditure, and while there are many reasons to not use outsourced bookkeeping services, accountingdepartment.com provides a solid argument for you to use them. You can’t be too careful when it comes to your money. After all, it’s a legal requirement that you keep everything in order.

Outsourcing isn’t a bad word anymore, and it is certainly a way for us to take advantage of the resources out there when we can’t complete certain tasks ourselves. Put simply, outsourcing gives you the opportunity to look at the skills you don’t have, and give the tasks to those that do. From content marketing to bookkeeping and the complicated minefield that is technology, we’ve got so many aspects to outsource. But these things can save us so much time, not to mention money. We could spend years finding the right people to benefit our business, but we have to pay them a full wage. Outsourcing is a great shortcut to the skills.

How Savvy Outsourcing Can Help Your Business Be More Profitable

One of the first things you need to learn as a small business owner is that you can’t do everything yourself. Not only will trying to do so ruin your personal life with stress, it will also make the business suffer. Many of us are familiar with the saying, “He’s a jack of all trades but a master of none,” and it’s one that couldn’t be more true than in the context of a small business owner.

Luckily, there are many different ways you can reduce your workload and stay focused on what’s really important to the business, one of the most prominent being outsourcing. Farming work to outside firms will make it easier for you to stay focused on the crucial tasks connected to the running of your business. And if you can succeed in choosing the right outsourcing partners, then this practice can also make your business more profitable.

Here are three ways outsourcing can turn into an improved bottom line.

Cut Down on Costs

Keeping overhead down is critical for any business, but it’s even more important for small businesses. You need every resource available to you to invest in the growth of your business, as not doing so could get you into trouble. And since poor cash flow management is consistently the top reason small businesses fail, it’s especially important you’re minimizing costs wherever you can.

Specialized firms are entirely dedicated to one task or one set of tasks, and businesses like yours are their customers. As such, they have both the skills and the motivation to offer the best price possible. Paying for someone to handle certain aspects of your business can be significantly cheaper than trying to do things on your own.

However, for this to work, it’s important you spend time determining which functions should and should not be outsourced. For example, don’t outsource things you do well just because it’s cheaper to do so. Instead, make up a list of things you struggle with, or of tasks that feel extraneous, and then look for help in these areas. Doing so will allow you to focus on your strengths while saving money on things that either you don’t do well or that distract you from growth.

Get More Bang for Your Buck

The other way that outsourcing helps boost profitability is that it allows you to get more out of the money you spend on the business. Let’s think up an example: your company is beginning to employ digital marketing tactics—a smart move considering the world we live in—and while you’re current marketing team is exception at building a brand and at generating leads through traditional mediums, they don’t have a lot of experience in the digital space.

In this scenario, you have two choices: A) train your staff and allow them the space to learn about this new, constantly-changing field, or B) bring in some digital marketing specialists to help you. The better choice for a small business is almost always option B. This is because by asking your current marketing team to switch their focus, you’re going to take them away from what they do best so that they can work on something with which they’re unfamiliar.

As a result, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you outsource. Not only would outsourcing your digital marketing in this context save you money, but by delegating to experts, you’re increasing your chances of success, meaning your foray into digital marketing will end up giving your company’s bottom line a big boost.

Enhance Employee Productivity

The more you can get out of your employees, the better you can expect your bottom line to be. Yet the people who work for you are still human beings. They have limits, and if you try to push them too far, then they’ll not only begin to resent you for all the stress you cause them, but their work will also begin to suffer.

Outsourcing can help you with this. It can take certain tasks off your employees’ plates so that they can focus on their job functions that actively contribute to company growth. For example, you could outsource a number of human resources functions to a professional employer organization (PEO) so that some of the more time-consuming and mundane aspects of their jobs, such as processing benefits, managing payroll and ensuring all compliance paperwork is filled out, is done for them.

Once they’re freed from having to spend large chunks of their days worrying about these responsibilities, your HR team can focus on other things, such as improving your candidate experience and enhancing your employer brand, both of which will help you recruit more effectively and increase profits.

Find the Right Outsourcing Options for Your Company

Smart outsourcing decisions can have a radical effect on your company. It will save you time and money, and it will allow everyone at the company, including you, to focus on what’s most important for the company to grow. However, remember that not all outsourcing options are created equal and that you’ll need to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before deciding to work with someone. But if you do your due diligence and choose the right people to help you, then outsourcing can be a way to truly transform your business.

About the Author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service. He started his first business when he was just 19, and since then has bought, run and sold several others, all of which operated in the digital space. Outsourcing has been a core strategy from the beginning, which makes Jock a big advocate of using this practice wisely.

Steps to Choosing an Outsourcing Partner

When you run a business, there are so many different specific areas which you need to concentrate on that it can be difficult to keep up. And you only have so many hours in the day. One possible solution is to hire staff members, but this can end up getting particularly expensive. The other main step which companies take is to outsource to a firm that specializes in a particular field. However, it is not always easy to choose the right partner who is going to fulfill the needs of your company. So, here is a bit of guidance on choosing one.

Choose the Most Pressing Areas

The first areas which you need to consider outsourcing are the ones which are most pressing to your business. Perhaps you are nor properly in control of your finances and need an accountant to sort out the situation for you. Maybe you desperately need a marketing campaign to generate increased awareness of your company. Otherwise, it could be that you need something highly specialized such as https://www.consultingradiologists.com/teleradiology-services/. Ultimately, the choice is yours and it is not something which anyone else can decide for you.

Check Experience Levels

Now that you have decided on the specific areas which you would like to outsource, the time has come to check the experience levels of the vendor. Some of the measures that you can use include a number of projects successfully completed, types of clients, and measurable statistics. You can also check the experience levels of everyone on the team who will be working with your business.

Ask for References and Work Samples

Just like you would if you were conducting interviews for possible staff members, you should ask for references and samples of their work. Of course, you may have to respect the confidentiality of the clients which they have worked with, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t give you an overview of what they have done and the results that they have achieved in the past.

Establish Good Communication Channels

One of the most important aspects of working with partner organisations is the communication. For example, how readily available is the company for support? Do they operate in the same time zone as you? What are the preferred methods of communication? Do you have a single point of contact which you will be going through? These are all questions which are worth clarifying before you go any further down this path.

Assess Financial Stability

Obviously, you want to be working with a company which has a decent level of financial stability. When a complete business function is being outsourced, it makes sense that the vendor provides you with some assurances that they are going to be able to continue offering you the services that they had promised.

Choosing outsourcing partners is a task which should be completed with the same level of scrutiny as selecting members of staff to work at your business.

How Well Do Your Know Your Computers?

Computers are fantastic inventions that have enabled us to be incredibly productive at work and at home. However, computers are still a mystery to many people and it’s understandable considering how complicated they are and how many parts they involve. However, we believe that it’s important to understand how your computer works, what it’s capable of and how you can make the most of them.

So whether you’re moving into a new office and equipping it with new computers, or if you just want to learn more about the technology that you use in your business, we’ve prepared a thorough article that will teach you everything you need to know.

A rough understanding helps you cut future costs when purchasing hardware

As with many other industries, it’s important to have a rough understanding of something before you make investments in it. If you understand how computers work and the value of the parts, then you can easily cut future costs by purchasing second-hand or refurbished hardware instead of brand-new from manufacturers. With this rough understanding of computers (a simple course) you’ll be able to make some huge savings. 

Equipping your employees with the right tools will help their productivity

How much do you know about your computers and their costs? Do you know how satisfied your employees are with them? If you want to equip your employees with the right hardware and tools, then it pays to have a deeper understanding of the tools they use, the software they require and so on.

Computer slowdowns and errors are a common cause of low productivity

You may have experienced crashes and slowdowns in the past with your computer systems, but had no idea how to deal with them. By learning about computers and their errors, you could easily fix common problems without having to call out an engineer or tech specialist. If your business suffers from computer slowdowns and errors then you’ll likely experience staff lazing around and nothing productive. With just a bit of experience, you can easily fix any common errors before they have a chance to become annoying and ultimately slow down your business.

Software can do more than you might initially think 

If you have a large number of computers in your workplace then you might be considering managed IT support to help you look after your computers. This is to help you keep your software updated, to ensure that your programs are installed properly and to also inform you on how you can use different types of software to help you grow your business.

Conclusion 

Computers are an integral part of any business, but it’s also important to understand how they’re used, how they work and also what they’re capable of.