So, You Want to Be Your Own Boss? Take These Steps to Succeed

It’s 2018, and the climate is perfect for entrepreneurs of all sorts, hence the growing number of people who are starting their own businesses, and successfully so. From stay-at-home parents, students, digital wizards, all the way to fully-developed remote companies, there’s a whole range of profitable careers you can tap into directly from your sofa.

And what makes it even more appealing is the fact that nothing prevents you from growing your business globally. However, as dreamy and perfect as all of this sounds, there are several key steps you need to take in order to make your way through the crowd of home-grown businesses.

Do what you love

And what you are brilliant at, since being average in this day and age will not get you too far, especially if you have to cover your own business expenses for the time being. The same goes for a business started out of passion, but without a clear idea of whether or not your product or services are actually needed, so you need to consider if there is a gap in the market for what you are offering.

Spend some time (but not forever) thinking about and brainstorming on everything you could see yourself doing for hours on end, with enthusiasm and vigor, and assess whether or not you are actually good at it enough to make your business attractive and stand out in the market. Love is where it starts, but skill and need are also essential.

Create a business plan

Now that you have established your ideal profession and analyzed the market to learn that it’s actually needed, you need to put it all in perspective. A business plan should include every single branding, marketing, communication, production, advertising strategy for the next year (or more), along with measurable metrics, milestones to track your progress and alternative routes for added flexibility.

A detailed business plan still makes room for adjustments on the go, because you can never fully anticipate market fluctuations or prevent slumps in your marketing campaign performance. You need contingency plans that will help you run your business even when things are slow or you come across an unexpected obstacle.

License and registration, please

Of course, before you start working on developing your business for the customer, you need to cover the legal bases that will make your company a recognizable legal entity in your country (or the entire world). From obtaining a federal tax number, completing company registration forms for your business, getting the needed licenses and certifications, to deciding on bookkeeping systems, it can take some time to make your company come to life from a legal perspective.

It’s unwise to do both the legal and the creative aspect simultaneously, since you might find yourself overwhelmed with work, and the complexity of each task may vary from one profession to another. Getting to know your country’s laws and regulations is a must for a business that wants to have a long and prosperous life.

Learn about your target customers

Who is your product or service intended for? How do you envision your ideal customer? Where can you find them, where do they spend their time? What sort of communication channels do they prefer and what language can they relate to? What’s their average age, most common occupations and anything else that makes them who they are?

Understanding your future clients means that you have shifted your view from your product itself to the person for whom you are creating the brand. This information and analysis of it may lead to adapting your product or its presentation to make it more appealing, or completely rethinking your brand identity to have a better chance at establishing trust and offering value to your customers.

Keep learning

Even if you are starting your business with a decade of experience in the field, it’s crucial that you stay open-minded to new ideas, concepts and discoveries emerging every day. As you develop your company, you will need to keep up with the trends in your profession, so that you can stay in the forefront and offer more quality than your competitors.

Do your best to take online seminars, attend networking events, take up additional courses and education whenever possible. These added skills and certificates will only add more value to your brand and give you more skills with which you can keep your company strong.

Control your environment

A seemingly insignificant factor that has brought many a home business to its knees is the mere atmosphere of where you do your work. Just like you put so much time into defining your talents and your business, you should adapt your home to have a designated work area.

It doesn’t have to be an entire room, as long as you know how to steer clear of distractions such as your TV, private social media profiles and other irrelevant notifications. Create a work area that will inspire you to work, create and devote yourself to your work, and be mindful of the time you spend growing your business – although it may be a pivotal segment of your life, don’t let it consume all of your time. Make sure you stay healthy, lead a social life and expand your horizons, because you never know from where your next favorite project may come!


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. Alex is a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog



Build A Better Business With Customer Feedback

They say that the customer is always right. Although if you are in sales or the service industry, this can be a tough thing to deal with, especially if they are difficult, picky, or just plain rude. However, it is true that while they might not always be factually correct, they are always right in the sense that they need to be high up the priority list for anyone that is trying to sell. After all, it’s their purchases that pay your wages, so why wouldn’t you try and increase the positivity of their experience? However before you can do this, you will need to seek out those customer’s opinions so you can find out what they really want. With this in mind read on for a guide on sourcing reliable customer feedback that can help you build a better business.


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In the modern era, we have unprecedented access to customer feedback. One of the ways business owner can access this is through surveys.

Surveys are usually short questionnaires that include mostly closed questions of the yes/no or degrees of agreement variety. They are designed in this way to make them easier to complete, something that can increase the return rate.

Many companies now use online survey providers that pay rewards in the form of points, vouchers, or even cash to their participants now. This motivates them to actually fill out the surveys, proving more information for the company that is seeking it. This can work exceptionally well because the surveys are quick and easy to do, the participants are motivated, and they can easily access them online making it easy to actually collect the results. After all, who but the most prepared people will return postal surveys?

The Information that is gathered that can be then used to change the product or service you are offering to make it more appealing and so more sellable. Something that can definitely help you to build a better business.

Business adjacent sites

Don’t forget that customer opinions exist in places outside of the more traditional things like surveys too. Unfortunately, many businesses often ignore the importance of comments and articles on sites that are adjacent to their company. These sites are dedicated to users and fans of the company’s brand or product, like this site for Netflix, and can be very informative to what customers are specifically asking for.

As a business owner, try not to see these sites as troublesome or as an irritation. Instead keep an eye on them, taking in what is trending and what customers are asking for, as this information can all be used to help to further inform your product or service. Something that can enable you to provide more of what people want right now and so help to boost your businesses success.


Reviews are another fantastic way of collecting customer feedback that can help you shape your products, customer service, and even your marketing strategy.

Learn from the good as well as the bad!



Reviews are all about previous customers leaving you feedback on how they found their purchase and their purchase experience online. They can do this through your own review system or through independent services such as the one offered at


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Using reviews is particularly useful because you are dealing with people that have actually been through your sales system so they will have highly relevant feedback and suggestions that can be used for improvement, a lot of the time.

Of course, extracting the data from these reviews isn’t as easy as it is from surveys. This is because of two factors. The first is that not all reviews are genuine, as some unscrupulous sites offer payment for requested reviews, both positive and negative. Something that can distort the results.

The second issue is that the most valuable feedback often comes from negative reviews, not something that you will be actually aiming to get for your business. In fact, such reviews may even put other potential customers off. That is why it’s so vital to deal with these evaluations in a highly compassionate and non-confrontational manner. Something you can learn about in detail at

It’s never too late to say you are sorry!



In summary, though, the best approach is, to be honest, apologize, say you value their feedback, which can be used to make sure this never happens again and offer recompense. In this way, you can use a lousy review for two useful purposes. One to show that you care about your customers, and the second to show that you are open to changing the way things are run to better accommodate them in line with their feedback. Something that will allow you to build a better and more successful business.

3 Things You Never Want to Experience With Customer Relations

Nightmares can affect us in many different ways. A recurring nightmare can constantly pester us and force us to wake up worried and in cold sweats, and they can also become psychologically damaging at times. Luckily, this is rare and most of us experience nightmares because we’re worried about something. Whether it’s a phobia of losing your business or being embarrassed during a public appearance, here are some of the customer relations nightmares that you never want your business to go through, and also how to avoid them.


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  1. Injuring a Member of the Public, a Client or a Customer

All hell will break loose if you injure someone in your line of work. When it’s someone in your own company, then it can usually be handled in a professional manner. This is because the employee doesn’t want to lose their job and the employer doesn’t want to create a public outcry or draw attention from the media.

Injuries can happen in a number of different ways, and there’s a huge difference between physical and psychological injuries. For example, specialised services like Elan Law bed bug lawyer may be required if you operate a service such as a hotel or fashion store. Bed bugs can easily transfer between people on their clothes, and it can create widespread panic. No one wants to be told that a customer found a bedbug in one of their packages you sent overseas, and it will create a storm of negative publicity.

In order to prevent situations like this, it’s important to learn everything about your business and plan for any possible failures because there’s no coming back from it. Make one mistake, and you’ll likely lose a huge chunk of your business, if not the entire company.

  1. Going Viral in All the Wrong Ways on the Internet

Going viral on the internet can happen in a number of different ways, but you’ll ideally want it to happen in a positive way. Going viral for negative reasons will get you out there but, contrary to popular belief, not all publicity is positive. The internet is a ruthless and cutthroat place, so if you want to stand out it has to be for all the good reasons and you may even need to learn about how internet culture works if you want to take advantage of going viral. The last thing you want is to have your name associated with an internet meme that mocks your company, because you will forever be branded as a joke business that can’t be taken seriously.

  1. Being Ridiculed by Another Company With No Comeback

And lastly, on the topic of internet culture, it’s important to understand that other companies will try and take advantage of internet trends to bring your business down. For instance, Wendy’s started a social media stir when its Twitter operator started ridiculing other companies and people on Twitter. The Tweets went viral and boosted business for Wendy’s. Although it sounds ludicrous that negative comments directed at paying customers helped to boost their business, it’s one of the quirks of the internet and you need to be ready to appeal to the general audience of social media if you want to remain successful. If you’re on the receiving end of this type of ridiculing, then you need to prepare a comeback or else you’ll be shunned by many young and impressionable consumers.

5 Strategies to Increase Brand Awareness Through Customer Service

Do you want to build your brand without breaking the bank? What if you can use your humanity to improve ROI

You can succeed in business without spending a lot of money on complicated marketing schemes. In fact, you probably already have everything you need if you commit yourself to customer service excellence.

Every time either you or a team member answer a question or address a problem, you have a chance to win big. After all, people talk about their experience with your brand, giving you tons of free publicity. When your customers have a positive experience, they become unpaid brand advocates who will refer business to you. On the other hand, when they have a bad experience, they can leave bad reviews and damage your reputation.

So, let’s take a closer look at how you can use customer service to build our brand.

1. Listen and Take Action

Whether you deal with customers online or in person, listening is your most important responsibility. First off, listening helps you understand the problem at hand. Also, by listening, you make your customers know that you care.

When dealing with someone face-to-face, you should pay attention to body language as you listen. Over the phone, you have to depend on tone of voice. When communicating in written form, you have to carefully interpret word choices.

When your customers finish speaking, assure them that you want to take care of them. Next, take action. Your prompt response will help assuage their concerns.

2. Help Angry Customers

Thanks to social media, encounters with angry people pose a grave threat to your brand. Bad reviews can spread like wildfire.


Rather than hiding from irate customers, engage them. Face the challenge head-on and use customer service excellence to turn your detractors into supporters.

Just imagine the reaction of your social media audience when you make a heartfelt apology to irate customers. Even more so, think of the reaction when you accept responsibility and work together to find an acceptable solution.

3. Deliver Exquisite Content

Part of your customer service strategy should include the publication of valuable online content. When you contribute answers to real questions and practical solutions, you will establish the authority of your brand.

Make sure that you always create content from the perspective of customers and publish it to your website. From there, you can share it on your social media channels where you can provide links that lead back to your site.

When you develop a reputation for posting user-friendly, actionable content, you will encourage repeat visitors. As a result, your audience will naturally view your brand as the natural choice when they get ready to buy.

In addition to practical content such as tutorials and “how-to” guides, be sure to include some humor as well as a variety of content types. MailChimp provides a good example of supplying superb content to an audience.

When you visit MailChimp on social media, you can see how they provide free statistics and tools that people can use without becoming a customer. The brand also provides customer service through Twitter, where everyone can see how well MailChimp serves customers.

4. Communicate Non-Stop

When you engage your customers, you make them feel personally valued rather than just another number. For this reason, you must take every opportunity to reach out to them. Success really is that simple.

The fact of the matter is that you must respond to every comment left for you on social media. The same thing goes with email messages and voicemail.

In addition to that, use your customer relationship management to find reasons to contact customers. For example, you can have your software remind you to send thank you notes after a sale. Likewise, you can send customers birthday cards and schedule routine follow-up calls.

The cool thing is that better communication can result in dramatic improvements in sales. After all, customers who feel good about your brand will also feel a sense of loyalty. So, whenever possible, ask customers for feedback about everything from products to their personal preferences.

5. Surprise Your Customers

Despite an awareness of the essential role customer service plays in success, many companies fail to deliver. In effect, you can profit from the failures of other companies by surprising your customers with outstanding service.


Give your social media presence a “Wow!” factor by organizing promotional events that deliver tangible and valuable rewards. For instance, you can have your audience members share photos of themselves using your products and then allow your audience to vote for the winner.

Other ideas may include storytelling contests, incentives for providing personal testimonies, and challenges to produce creative YouTube videos that pertain to your brand. Additionally, you can offer surprise bonus deals to reward your most loyal customers and fans.

So, what does all this mean? You can spread awareness of your brand by consistently providing exceptional customer service using some practical tips:

•   Use your listening skills and decisive action to make your customers feel valued.
•   Leverage irate customers to your advantage by proving your commitment.
•   Proactively communicate with customers on a friendly and personal level.
•   Establish authority by posting valuable, relevant content.
•   Exceed expectations and inject surprises to create memorable experiences.

It sounds simple, and it is. Can you afford not to use customer service to build your brand? Get started now. As always, remember to get help whenever you have a question or face a challenge.

About the author


Jen McKenzie is a self-employed author hailing from New York, NY. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Business Website Hosting

When choosing a web hosting provider, you should carefully evaluate your options before making a final decision. This isn’t always easy, as there’s plenty of jargon to deal with, which can make it hard to determine whether you’re actually getting a good deal for the price you’ll be paying.

The good news is that with just a little bit of information, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls when comparing hosting providers. Here are some of the top mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not Paying Attention to Hidden Charges

Sometimes, there will be additional charges associated with a hosting service that aren’t always clear from the start. These can include VAT and setup costs, as well as domain transfer fees charged if you want to transfer your domain away to another registrar.

Bandwidth charges are another common hidden charge. Some hosting providers limit the amount of data your website can transfer in a month and charge you extra for any overage. Bandwidth limitations can be a problem if your website grows in popularity and starts receiving a lot more visitors, as you may end up having to pay a high amount for the transferred data.

Choosing a Hosting Service With a Lengthy Contract

Many web hosting providers give big discounts if you pay for several years of service when you sign up. Some may even require that you pay for at least one year of service in advance. Even though this can save you money over paying for a monthly subscription, it’s not really a good idea.

When you first get started with a hosting company, you don’t know what type of experience you’ll have with them in the future. If ever you’re dissatisfied with the service and want to switch providers, it might be difficult for you to get back any amount you’ve paid in advance.

Not Considering Technical Support

Selecting a hosting company that has top-notch technical support is crucial, especially if this is the first time you’re using a web host and running your own website. No matter how good your hosting company is, there is a high chance that you’ll run into some type of problem at one point and will require their assistance. When you need help, using a hosting company with a support department that is easy to reach and answers your questions quickly will make all the difference.

A hosting service that provides around the clock support by different methods, such as phone, email and live chat may cost a bit more than a similar service with less support. But if you have a question about one of your hosting plan’s features or something isn’t quite working right, you’ll quickly see the value of a hosting service which provides high-quality support to all of its customers.

Relying on Reviews Made by Affiliates

The best way to find out whether a hosting company actually provides good value for the money is to read some hosting reviews. The problem is that not all reviews are neutral and unbiased. If you come across a website that just reviews a few hosts, with all reviews being overly positive and having a link to the purchase page of the web host, it’s certainly a site operated by an affiliate that receives commissions for every new customer they refer to a host.

When reading hosting reviews, it’s a better idea to consult several different websites. This will give you a more unbiased look at various hosting companies, helping you understand what their strong and weak points are.

Choosing a Provider Solely Based on Price

It’s not a good idea to assume that all hosting services are the same and just choose the provider with the least expensive options. Also, the highest priced hosts aren’t necessarily the best either, as some providers sell basic hosting services at highly inflated prices. A better approach to choosing a host is to think about what your needs are and then compare various hosting plans from different providers, as well as read independent reviews to get an idea about the quality of each company.

Paying Additional Fees For Products and Services You Don’t Really Need

Many hosting companies try to “upsell” during the checkout process. Be careful to review each page before clicking on the “continue” button so that you don’t buy any products or services that you don’t really need.

Many of the products offered during the upsell phase are hyped up by the web host as being worth hundreds of dollars, but are actually of little value. For example, some hosting firms charge inflated costs for website templates or directory submission services that you can easily find for free elsewhere.

Not Thinking about Scalability

One of the troubles of starting a new website is that it’s difficult to know how much your site will grow in the future. While your current hosting package may meet your needs for now, this may not be the case a few months down the road. For this reason, it’s very important to select a hosting provider that offers a variety of services and makes it easy to upgrade if you need to.

Using the Same Company For Web Hosting and Domain Registration

It’s common for domain registrars to also provide hosting services, but their packages are often overpriced and offer only basic hosting features. Many hosting providers also make it a huge selling point to offer a free domain name when you sign up for their service. However, this isn’t a huge benefit, as domain names are quite inexpensive and you can easily buy one independently.

Another point to consider is that having your domain and hosting offered by the same company can make it harder to switch to a different provider in the future if your needs change or you’re not satisfied with the service.

Selecting a hosting provider for your business website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. To increase the chances of selecting a web host that is right for you and avoiding problems, you should do your research beforehand to avoid making mistakes that could prove costly down the road.

Guest Author, Josh McAllister, is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

Simple Tips for Handling a Business Expansion

Running a small business is nice, but there comes a time when every business owner wants to expand their business into something bigger and better. However, there are certain pitfalls that make it really difficult for businesses to handle their growth, especially if the growth is a rapid one. With bigger business come bigger responsibilities, and your ability to delegate them properly to competent managers. This is why it’s important to have a strong plan in place before even thinking about business expansion, and this guide will help you find out some of the best tips you can apply to your business in order to grow it successfully.

Focus on the Customers

One of the most important things when it comes to expanding a business is to understand and keep up with current market trends. If you fail to satisfy some of the basic customer demands you will never be able to grow your business beyond a certain point. This is why it’s vital to know as much as possible about their potential demands, as well as what’s trending and what your customers might be after. Whether it’s great customer service or a competitive product that can match any other out there, you need to know what to focus on.

Plan Your Marketing Campaign in Advance

No small business has ever expanded into a large one without investing heavily in advertising their brand. However, many business owners make a mistake and don’t actually factor in how the marketing itself needs to change once you start expanding, which can lead to a total crackdown of your expansion efforts. This is why it’s important to plan your marketing campaign in advance and try to cover all stages of expansion and how your campaign is going to adapt to meet the demands of an expanding business.

Running a business today means being online, which further means that investing in SEO is clearly something you should consider if you’re planning to expand. More traffic means more conversions, which will not only increase your revenue – but also boost your reputation as a brand.

Identify New Groups of Consumers

Expansion basically means moving past your existing customer base and thinking about how to attract new customer groups to become loyal to your brand. To do this, you need to diversify your products and/or services to better match the new groups you’ve identified. If you manage to do that, while also retaining your existing customer base, you’ll effectively have multiple income streams which will push your business forward. It’s always best to design new products to match what’s trending right now, so it’s important to constantly analyze the market for opportunities if you’re to get an edge over your competitors.

Get a Bigger Office

If you’re caught by surprise by your sudden expansion and you’re all of the sudden in a dire need of getting a new office, you might lose valuable time and money at a point in time when you need to be focused on the expansion. That’s why it’s crucial for you to identify when the expansion is going to happen and expand your workspace beforehand. While you might love your small, sturdy office, it’s no place to be once you start growing. Companies like Pinkjunk Rubbish & Junk Removal Company, 1800 Got Junk, Junk King, and numerous others, can get rid of the extra stuff you no longer need and save you a ton of time when moving an office.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Social media is a powerful marketing tool today, one that’s also the best marketing platform for many consumer groups out there. Be super-active on social media channels that best fit your industry. So if you’re in the business of interior design – Pinterest and Instagram might be your best bet. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to social media promotions, so pay attention.

  • Always Reply to Comments – There’s nothing users hate more than their comment staying unnoticed, so have someone vigorously answer everything that needs answering on your channels.
  • Deal with Negative Feedback in Private – If a customer had a bad experience with your service or a product, the last thing you want is to start a discussion for all the public to see. It’s bad for business, so always try to contact the user privately and settle things over there.
  • Fresh Content – Try to actively post fresh content, as that’s one of the best ways to get you traffic and conversions, as well as affect your SEO efforts.


Many businesses in the past decade failed for the sole reason of being unprepared for their expansion. Every small business owner wants their business to expand, so the more you’re ready for it – the better chances you’ll have to stay ahead of the game. By following these tips you’ll have a greater understanding of what awaits you and how to tackle it if you wish to successfully grow your business.

Guest author, Chloe Smith, is a cycling enthusiast, business consultant, and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success.

Powerful Ways To Push Your Online Company Forward

Online businesses have become a huge part of today’s market, and running one successfully requires you to stand out from the ever-growing competition. With many businesses selling a similar product or service as you, you have to find what separates you from them and use it to attract customers. There are several ways to help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and expand your business, but it completely depends on the type of product or service that you’re selling. This guide was made to help you turn things around if your business is stagnating, or even if you’re just starting a new one.

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Get to Know Your Competition

Every successful business owner will be able to tell you their main competitors from the top of their head. To be able to know where you’re heading, you need to know what you’re up against. The reason for this is because you want to stand out. If your competitors are using certain keywords or slogans, you want to stay as far away as possible from those because it’s going to be bad for you and them both. Since building a brand requires you to stay unique, it’s always good to know what your competition is doing and do it better.

Invest in Your Customer Service

Getting an audience is a tough task when you’re just starting an online business. But that’s not where it ends, because now you have to retain the audience, and the best way to do that is to have a great customer support. Treat your customers better than your competitors and they’ll most probably remain loyal to your product or service. People often underestimate the power of reputation, and word of mouth advertising is actually a great way to build it. An honest recommendation from a satisfied customer will guarantee you new customers, especially in the age of social media.

Build More Traffic

You can have a great product, excellent website, and wonderful customer service, but if you don’t have enough traffic you won’t be earning money. Building traffic is a process that requires focus, strategy, and persistence since you’ll potentially need a lot of trial and error to get it right. If you do manage to build lots of traffic, it will become considerably easier to generate income. If for some reason you can’t commit to this task entirely, there are companies out there like Agseosydney which will guarantee increased traffic on your website. They’ll optimize your SEO and help you manage your online reputation, thus directly increasing your income.

Follow the Latest Trends

There’s a new meme circling the internet that has millions of people jumping out of their chairs? Then you absolutely must know about it. If you’re to be successful in advertising your product, especially when it comes to social media, it’s imperative to keep track of current trends and potentially use them to your advantage. Being uninformed is no longer acceptable, especially when it comes to online businesses. Talk to your employees and encourage them to share their insight when it comes to current online trends.

Specialize Your Products

Ask yourself, what kind of problem will your customers solve if they pick you over your competitors? Let’s imagine that you’re selling cleaning products. If you advertise your company just as a cleaning products seller, how does that put you in an advantageous position compared to your competition? However, if you’re selling eco-friendly cleaning products that don’t negatively affect our environment, you’re good to go. Why is that? Because you just solved a problem for someone who lives by the green living philosophy and needs to clean their house. And by doing it, you effectively made yourself stand out from the crowd. So think about the ways on how to customize your products, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor too.


It takes time and focus to launch and grow a successful online business. This guide was made for you to help you make your business stand out from the crowd and show your unique qualities to your customers. Sometimes, an idea will fail and you’ll need to recognize that moment and learn from the experience, so that next time you may succeed. Just remember that if you have a strategy in place for both your products and your customers, you’ll already be a few steps ahead of your competition.