Things to Know When Starting Your Business

Starting a business is more difficult than people normally realize. Once you set off in the business world, you’ll face many obstacles on the path to success. Many entrepreneurs decide to start their own business and be their own boss. However, a lot of businesses fail because their owners weren’t properly prepared for challenges that awaited them.

In order to avoid failing, you have to know what lies ahead, so that you can be ready to face it on time. The startup stage of your business will be the most difficult one and it will demand a lot of attention and a lot of effort from you. Nevertheless, if you get well informed before you begin, you’ll be able to handle any situation much more effectively. Here are a few things you should know about starting your business.

Be thorough with the research

Research is the most important step you have to make when starting your business. Understanding the market, the audience and how it all fits together is fundamentally crucial for business success. Through research, you’ll be able to determine your target market and who your target audience is. This is vital, because you want to offer your products or services to people who are actually interested in them.

Furthermore, you’ll know who your competitors are and what you will have to do in order to outrun them. Moreover, you need to research what you want to sell. For instance, is there a similar product or service on the market already? Is it doing well on the market and are people interested in it? Is there a way you can make people more interested in that product and will your business flourish if you opt for that idea? You can answer all of these questions and more, by conducting a thorough research and understanding the market.

Start networking

It’s important to expand your network of contacts when starting a business, especially if you’re new to the business world. Your network should consist of more than just friends and family, although they can be helpful as well. Try to find relevant people with experience in your industry and get them to help you out a bit. Any advice or any bit of information you manage to acquire will prove to be invaluable. Furthermore, they might introduce you to more key figures and even potential customers.

In order to expand your network, you’ll have to maintain your presence on social media and attend social gatherings and business forums that are related to your specific industry or niche. Make sure that you never hesitate to approach people that may prove to be helpful. After all, you may approach someone who is willing to invest in your business or even start a partnership with you. Moreover, you may even meet a mentor who will guide you and help you overcome any business obstacle you might be faced with.

Market your business early on

It’s never too early to start with the marketing. Just because you haven’t launched your business yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t start marketing it. The sooner you start promoting your business and improving its visibility, the better. For instance, social media and networks are best places to start things off. Not only can social media help you promote your business but it can also help you familiarize with your target audience. Your audience is the best source of information, especially if you want to start an early marketing campaign, test your ideas and gather feedback.

The best way to know if your product is going to generate enough interest is to ask your audience what they think about it. Moreover, you need to start marketing your business in person, like networking for example. You can use the traditional methods, such as giving out business cards to your business associates and potential customers. Just make sure you invest in effective printing services beforehand, because no one will take you seriously if your business cards aren’t designed well.

Get some help

There are things you simply can’t do on your own and it’s always the best option to get some help. There are things about your business that you may not be aware of and professional assistance can be of great help. For example, you should hire or consult with a lawyer concerning your legal obligations. They will inform you about licenses and insurances you need to obtain to successfully start your business. On the other hand, you should also hire an accountant or a bookkeeper for your business operations.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, then accounting is best left to someone who does, because one missing to pay your tax bill or forgetting to pay an outstanding invoice may result in financial trouble you don’t really need. Moreover, you can also consult with financial experts that may help you improve your credit score. After all, a bad credit score may result in banks refusing to give you a loan when you need it the most.

Starting a business isn’t fun and games. The promise of a lucrative career comes with many challenges and many obstacles. The best way to grow your business is to be well-informed about what awaits you once you start out.

 

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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

What Professionals Working Remotely Need to Know About Marketing

Self-employed workers and freelancers have long enjoyed the affordability and convenience of remote work. To begin with, they reclaim the hours that they would otherwise daily spend commuting to and from a corporate office. As a result, they have more time to spend with their family and friends and enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Now, professionals who work for companies or corporations increasingly also can work from home and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.

Meanwhile, clients and employers increasingly embrace remote workers as a way to cut costs. For example, companies that utilize remote workers require less office space and, therefore, can reduce their rent, insurance and energy expenses. Additionally, clients and employers can access talent from practically anywhere in the world. Furthermore, home-based workers offer high levels of productivity and efficiency.

As a professional, your opportunity for working from home has no limits. Thanks to technology, you can collaborate and communicate with people and work with teams regardless of their location. You must, however, have a productive office environment to work in as well along with a well-defined and promoted personal brand. Here, you will learn about the important considerations you must make and activities you should engage in to build a successful career as a home-based professional.

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1) Build A Landing Page

Like any business, you can use the internet to promote yourself so that the companies and clients that need your services can find you. By creating and publishing a simple, easy-to-navigate landing page, you can showcase your experience and talents. In many ways, your landing page should function as a business card and as a place where clients can schedule and pay online for your services.

Important elements of your landing page include the title, primary tagline and description. You should also carefully choose your keywords and tags. Of course, the main content of your page should concisely introduce you and explain why businesses should choose to use your services.

2) Pick Your Apps and Online Services

Place a high priority on choosing the applications and services that best support your business. As you search the internet, you will find myriad options that seem attractive, but you should resist the temptation to try to use too many applications and tools because they can become a distraction. Use customer reviews and free trial periods to narrow your selection and only choose the ones that contribute to your productivity and efficiency.

Tools and services for task management, web page creation and SEO, project management and accounting are categories of apps and services that almost every home-based professional will need. Additionally, you might need to look for tools and services that support the creation of documentation as well as those that facilitate copyrights and trademarks.

3) Be Serious About Your Social Media Game.

Social networks continue to attract millions of users, making it the perfect place to promote your professional services. Furthermore, you can use social media to connect with other professionals, influencers and vendors who can contribute to your business. Still, social media can become a liability if you fail to properly manage it. For example, if you never engage users, you might damage your reputation just as severely as you would if you communicated with the wrong vocabulary or attitude.

Although you might feel tempted to open accounts on every popular social network, you should focus your efforts on only one or two of them so you can minimize the drain on your time and avoid management complications. Also, place social media tools on your landing page so that your website visitors can easily follow you as well as “like” and share your content. Additionally, you should always respond to comments and questions left for you on social media and consider using social media to post articles and display your work.

4) Create A Productive Home Office

As has been noted, your home office should rank near the top of your priorities. For the most part, alternative arrangements such as working on your bed or at the kitchen table will not allow you to achieve high levels of productivity. Instead, choose a little-used section of your home and remodel it as your office. Make sure that it has boundaries so family members can avoid encroaching on your space and vice versa.

Your office should have ample lighting and easy access to power outlets. It should also host essential equipment such as a printer, networking and video conferencing gear, a telephone and office supplies. You should also equip your office with an adequate amount of storage space and work surfaces. After all, clutter can lead to wasted time and confusion and destroy your creativity and enthusiasm. Also, you should make sure to do home maintenance tasks, just like you do with the rest of your home.

5) Give Without Asking Anything in Return

Offering value to people with no strings attached can effectively promote your business and build the authority of your brand. To demonstrate your communications skills, you should use social media to converse with users. Similarly, you should share content posted by other users to emphasize your commitment to the community. Furthermore, you can emphasize your expertise by publishing tutorials and holding question-and-answer events.

In many cases giving back to the online community can extend beyond simply sharing information and solving problems. For example, giving away useful freebies that include your contact information can promote your brand and demonstrate your generosity. Organizing contests with meaningful prizes give people an incentive to return to your profile and stay actively engaged. As you give, however, always ask for feedback regarding your ideas, designs and strategies. Such free guidance can become invaluable as you fine-tune your brand and messaging.

BONUS TIP: Use Influencer Outreach

After tending to the basics of building a home office, creating a presence on the web and social media, and interacting with your audience, start connecting with influencers. This group of people might include politicians, professors, celebrities and business icons as well as other popular people. Such people can influence the decisions people make, including choosing to use your professional services.

When you make contact with an influencer, try to make a deal where they give you exposure to their large audience in exchange for reaching yours. For instance, you can offer influencers guest-blogging opportunities on your website and ask them to endorse you as a professional. Every time you get an influential person to recommend you or associate with you, their audience takes note and will naturally turn to you when they need your talent and skills.

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Working at home as a professional helps you benefit from the modern trends in employment. Increasingly, people are working from home and therefore enjoying an improved balance between their work and personal life. By choosing the right apps and services, creating a productive work environment and building a landing page and social media presence, you lay a solid foundation that will help you provide high quality work to a steady stream of clients.

 

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Guest Author, Jeff Brown, is a freelance writer from Oregon with a knack for lifehacking and DIY projects. Based out of his home office where his two dogs keep him company while he types, Jeff loves writing about home improvement topics, teaching others all the tips and tricks he has learned since he moved out of an apartment and into a house. When he’s not writing, he loves organizing barbecue parties in his garden.

Decrease Your Bounce Rate, Increase Loyal Customers

A poor bounce rate is a conundrum that a lot of businesses face. They are attracting a good amount of traffic to their website, but they don’t have many conversions to back it up. Of course, traffic means nothing if the people that are visiting your website are not interested in what you have to offer. So, where are you going wrong? Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can decrease your bounce rate in order to increase your loyal consumer base.

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Is your web design confused?

This is one of the main reasons for a high bounce rate. Does your branding reflect your business and the industry you operate in? If your web design is confused, it is going to dilute your brand identity, and it will immediately turn potential customers away. This often occurs when people work with web design and marketing businesses that have no experience in their area. If you run a law firm, for instance, a company like Foster Web Marketing would be ideal, as they cater to the legal sector and have an abundance of experience in this industry. It is so important to find designers that have experience in your niche, and check out their portfolio to see the work they have done so far.

Do you understand what your visitors are looking for?

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the biggest problems business owners face is that they have a tremendous amount of website traffic, but they can’t turn these users into customers. The main reason for this is because not all every user is your ideal consumer.  So, what happens is that someone gets directed to your page, and then they realise that you don’t offer what they are looking for, and then they leave. This is why your bounce rate is high.

To rectify this issue, you need to understand your website visitors. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:

  • Analyse onsite search trends – This is a good way to understand what your customers are expecting from your website. You can see what search terms they use, and whether your website is catering to what they want. If not, you can identify the gaps in your content and make the necessary changes.
  • Discover the highest converting pages on your website at present – You can learn what type of content attracts customers to your business by understanding the highest converting pages. You will probably find that there is a big difference between your highest converting content and your most popular content, and this signals that you need to make a change.
  • Find your most popular content – This leads on from the former point perfectly. You need to find your most popular posts and make sure they are optimised for boosting conversions.

Do you encourage new website users to opt-in to your email list?

If you don’t, now is the time to start. This is important because research indicates that to create a viable sales lead it takes six to eight touches. This is why collecting email addresses is a must. This enables you to keep in contact with your potential customer, ensuring the relationship is kept alive until they convert. Otherwise, how would you be able to encourage the six to eight touches until a sale takes place?

You need to have a careful and considered approach when encouraging people to sign up to your email list. You need to give them an incentive to do so. For example, you could offer valuable digital downloads, such as a whitepaper, cheat sheet, template, or eBook.

Do you re-engage abandoned visitors?

This is the final point to consider when it comes to your bounce rate. A lot of business owners simply give up on the users that have abandoned them after their first visit to their website. This is a big mistake, which can result in many opportunities lost. You shouldn’t give up on these users. Perhaps they simply were not ready to make a purchase from your website or sign up to your email list first time around?

You need to look for the most effective methods of re-engaging with these visitors. One of the ways you can do this is with social media. You can target people that have recently engaged with your website, creating posts that have been perfectly put together to appeal to them. You can also use on-site remarketing to appeal to abandoning visitors through targeted exit-intent popups.

All in all, reducing your bounce rate is of huge importance if you are to have a successful online presence. Use the tips that have been mentioned above to get started.

5 Ways to Raise Employee Morale

As a business owner, employee satisfaction should be one of your top priorities. You should never neglect any of your employees’ needs and requirements. If you fail to provide your workforce with the basic working conditions, you are in a threat of losing them. Read through these tips carefully and see how you can be the good boss, that is favored by their employees and that drives their company forward.

#1 Communicate Openly

The channels of communication between the employees and the management must become and remain open at all times. You should foster healthy and transparent communication in the workplace, because your employees also have valuable information to share, as well as ideas and opinions. If you communicate openly with your employees, they will see you in a positive light, which will in turn improve their productivity levels.

#2 Set Clear Goals

You need to set clear goals for your employees. Experimenting will only get you so far, but if you change the goals too often, and noticeably experiment on the employee without them knowing why can reflect hideously on their performance. Understand that your employees’ skill get better with time, and leaving them to work toward a single goal without interruption will help them get better and achieve success more often.

#3 Maintain a Healthy Workplace

This is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to raising employee morale. Nobody likes to work in an unhealthy environment, especially if the business in question is lucrative. When working in Australia, I remember our boss buying the best air conditioning Sydney has to offer. He even made a point out of it. This, along with other things he did for us led the whole company to become loyal and take greater responsibility.

#4 Recognize the Potential of Your Workers

If you fail to discern the employees that are really valuable to your company, from those that are here just to have a steady job, you might end up with an incompetent workforce. Sure, anyone can repeat simple tasks, but you need someone innovative, who can think for themselves – a problem solver. If you do not recognize the true potential of some of your workers, they will rush to your competitors in no time.

#5 Avoid High Employee Turnover

You must hire the right candidates. Devote as much time and energy as possible on recruiting the best talent you can find. If you employees constantly come and go, it is a sign that something is wrong. There are many things that can go wrong, for sure, but it is no coincidence if it happens all the time. Make sure you know what your employees think when it comes to working for you, how they feel, and whether they are satisfied. If you fail to do this, you will experience a complete disaster.

Take Care of Your Employees

They are your allies in this tough, oversaturated, furious world of doing contemporary business. If you treat them well, they will return the favor, and when that happens, you got yourself a business that will shake  up the market.

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.

5 Tips for Improving Workplace Communication

Poor communication in the workplace often results in sub-par performance between departments and low morale among employees. This is a rather common problem for startups and small businesses where employees have little to no idea what exactly is happening in neighboring departments. When information is not flowing across different departments, efficiency is bound to suffer. That said, here are five tips you can use to create an open environment based on clear, two-way communication between you and your employees.

1.      Transparent Workplace

One of the biggest mistakes managements teams tend to make is failing to share information within the organization. This not only demonstrates a general lack of confidence but can also result in growing distrust between workers. Preventing this from happening is as simple as practicing open and transparent communication. This should start with the company leaders, as they are the ones who need to share information with their teams, whether it’s customer feedback, fundraising, financial data, new hires or meeting notes. Don’t worry about burdening your team and have in mind that these people are capable and smart enough to be hired in the first place and could use that information to make the organization better.

2.      Assign Clear Roles and Responsibilities

A poorly coordinated team and mishaps with work delegation can negatively impact any project or task. Every employee should have a clear deadline, role, and responsibility for which they are held accountable. The best way to keep your employees focused on the task at hand is to establish quarterly objectives and results. Make sure you frame them within larger goals and try to keep them public throughout your company in order to make your employees realize that their efforts have a direct impact on the company’s objectives.

3.      Ask the Right Questions

Company employees are actually the ones who have the largest insight regarding how the company works and accessing the information they have can easily be accomplished by asking just the right type of questions. They can prove to be a valuable feedback tool used to recognize achievements and identify any challenges you and your employees might face. Try to incorporate one on one meetings and make sure to demonstrate genuine concern and interest regarding your employees. Maintaining a direct line of communication allows employers to gain a detailed insight into the way their employees operate and to resolve any issues that might arise quickly and effortlessly.

4.      Use Exit Interviews

No matter how large your company is, interviewing departing employees regarding their experiences, as well as reasons for leaving is an excellent tactic to gain valuable insight into your company’s inner workings. What makes this technique so useful is the fact that departing employees are rather open during these interviews and often provide excellent feedback. Additionally, this information can later be analyzed and presented to management on an annual level in order to retain the most valuable employees and increase morale.

5.      Collaboration Between Departments

Most workplace failures are a direct result of poor collaboration, lack of overall communication and an overwhelming “us against them” mentality which results in interdepartmental friction. If your employees don’t have a clear line of communication between departments, you should invest in an intranet connection to support communication between different departments and team-building exercises in order to strengthen the relationship between your teams. Every company should endorse a culture of clear communication and open feedback among the employees, especially when there’s an evident lack of common interests and work goals. Encourage collaboration by insisting on an open layout in the office and hosting group launches and team retreats.

Effective Communication is Key

Clear communication and honest employee feedback are important for growing a business, as they build alignment around common goals, increase loyalty among team members and results in an improved productivity. Without transparent communication, you risk creating strife between different departments and risk running your company to the ground due to poor work conditions and general distrust between workers. Although it might prove itself to be a rather difficult task to accomplish, a good communication inside the company is vital for keeping your employees happy and your company successful.

Guest author Oscar is a writer from Sydney and one of the editors at Bizzmarkblog. He enjoys conducting research in the vast fields of business and marketing and writing about the useful insights he gathers on a daily basis. Follow Oscar on Twitter.to stay updated with his latest posts.

Are You Disciplined Enough to Work from Home?

The dream of many employees is to sit around their homes in their pajamas and work off of a laptop. Okay, while some may have different visions of how working from home will go down, you get the picture.

If you’re someone with an offer to work from home, will you take it? Whether working for someone or running your own home business; avoid distractions.

For many individuals, the biggest distraction in working from home can be themselves. No matter how hard they try, they find a way or ways to distract them. As such, the work never gets done.

In order for you to be a productive home worker, what will it take?

Being Disciplined and Focused

So that you are able to get the most out of your home working opportunities, remember these tips:

  1. Discipline

Above all else, can you stay disciplined enough to work out of your home?

For instance, what if you live blocks from the beach or downtown? Will you tempt fate to go off and relax under the sun or explore the shops and other businesses?

Staying disciplined means your work will always come first no matter what temptations. Remember, it is that work keeping a roof over your head in the first place.

Once you’re done with your work for the day, feel free to go out and relax and explore as much as you want.

  1. Focus

Staying focused while working from home can be tricky at times.

Among the disruptions you can have:

  • Children wanting your attention
  • Your significant other is also demanding your attention
  • Having work done on your home or apartment all the time
  • Unwanted phone calls

As for those unwanted phone calls, you do have an option or two there.

One trick is doing a reverse phone search.

Such a search allows you to find out where that call or calls originates from. Often, it may be telemarketing, something you likely do not have time for.

It is also important that you let family and friends know that work from home is not a joke. Some people feel as if those working out of their homes have all kinds of time for things other than their jobs.

In a nice way, be clear that your work time is important to you.

  1. Hours

Finally, the hours you set at home are important.

While you may very well have flexibility with those hours, try and keep as close to a 9-to-5 schedule as possible. This is even more so if those are the hours you worked for others in the past.

The last thing you want to do is veer off course of what you’re used to for the most part. If working for someone from home, remind them you are not a doctor on call 24/7.

Some employers might think that to be the case since you are working out of your house.

The same holds true if you run a business out of your home. You do have other things to do on your non-work hours.

Remember, earning money for your business is what keeps you solvent.

Whether the work from home is for your employer or for you as a self-employed individual, make it count.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

Time to Put On Your Design Thinking Cap

Why should your enterprise embrace design thinking? Design thinking employs both brain hemispheres. It uses rational, critical logic as well as creativity to focus on solutions. Adopting this methodology helps decision makers optimize their choices. It offers a way to attain better outcomes.

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This article explains why entrepreneurs should embrace this methodology to enhance decision-making.

Why Does Design Thinking Matter?

You won’t need to apply design thinking to tackle every minor obstacle, of course. Instead, you’ll want to employ this approach whenever you seek innovative answers to perplexing or challenging questions. Typical situations that call for design thinking include:

  • Unexpected market disruptions;
  • Revitalizing corporate cultures;
  • Developing new business models, and more!

By applying this methodology through a consistent, well-structured iterative cycle, you’ll discover creative ways to offer greater value to your customers. These transformations foster healthy business expansion and growth. A series of uniform steps enable this iterative paradigm to promote desired changes: (1) careful observation; (2) identifying innovation opportunities; (3) brainstorming creative solutions; (4) conducting appropriate testing and (5) refining solutions.

Putting Customers First

Design thinking revolves around placing customers in a paramount position within your business framework. Previous generations of business executives adhered to the slogan: “the customer is always right”. Implementing creative design thinking requires your enterprise to uphold a slightly different motto: “the customer always comes first.”

The process of making customers a focus of your attention involves several important steps. These considerations fit together in a holistic way:

Identify The Customer

Your enterprise must clearly identify your customers in order to develop useful innovations on their behalf. Market research assists this process.

Conduct Market Research

Market research typically entails many steps. Use this business tool to learn more about the underlying problem your product or service addresses.

Personalize The Customer Experience

Today, customers value personalized assistance. Finding ways to enhance the customization of a service or a product has benefited many small businesses recently.

Develop Measures For Success

Your enterprise needs to establish clear markers for evaluating your success in addressing customer needs. Creative design techniques can help your organization contribute tangible value if you can measure the results effectively. Determining the value of a good or service to the customer helps you achieve this vital result.

Identify Customer Problems

Design thinking involves engaging with your customers proactively. You’ll need to understand the way problems impact them and develop empathy with them to better appreciate their experience using your goods or services.

Use Ideation Techniques to Identify Problem Solutions

Ideation techniques (such as brainstorming) followed by targeted customer feedback assists many businesses. Enterprises employ these tools in devising solutions for perceived problems. Used effectively, this approach can help your design team improve the customer experience.

Produce a Prototype

You’ll want to generate prototypes to enable your team to conduct preliminary market testing, perhaps with the assistance of focus groups. Development teams may then use this information to refine prototypes.

Test And Refine Solutions

Testing and tweaking proposed solutions in an iterative process holds value. It enables you to identify ways to enhance customer satisfaction.

Towards Enhanced Collaboration

Developing a genuinely collaborative, positive organizational culture won’t replace promoting creativity and innovation with design thinking. However, by implementing this methodology, your enterprise enables collaboration to flourish. By placing the needs and interests of the customer first, everyone focuses upon a shared goal.

Design thinking helps enterprises revolutionize and democratize group work environments. In the past, a speaker’s seniority or rank within a hierarchy often determined the value decision makers placed upon proposed innovations. When organizations adopt creative design thinking, this prioritization changes radically. Instead, an idea’s potential value to customers determines its significance.

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In order to supply superb customer service, everyone within an enterprise committed to creative design thinking works together as a team. The process of making changes tends to build group consensus. While disagreements do occur from time to time, the overall goal of placing the customer first provides a unifying basis for informed decision-making. This result holds many byproducts, which benefit the organization: a highly motivated, enthusiastic workforce; decreased job turnover; enhanced individual job satisfaction. Ultimately, this group effort produces better results for the enterprise as a whole.

A Worthwhile Achievement

Creative design thinking empowers business enterprises to serve customers more effectively. By focusing on customers as a priority, everyone in the organization achieves a greater sense of fulfillment. This process helps generate revolutionary innovations while also forging stronger organizational cohesion. Consider implementing this facile management cycle to infuse constructive changes into worn, tired business systems.
Author Bio

Heather Redding is a part time assistant manager and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys swimming and reading. Street photography is her newly discovered artistic outlet and she likes to capture life’s little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.