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.

Conclusion

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.

3 Signs You Desperately Need Help With Your Business

Regardless of what kind of experience you have in the world of business, there will be times when you need a little outside assistance. There is no shame in this – it’s just part and parcel of the process of building an empire. But it is important to be able to recognise when you need help, and to have the strength of resolve to ask for that help at the right time, and from the right people. These in themselves are surprisingly tricky things to get right, and can take as much practice and devotion as any other aspect of business. The first step, of course, is to recognise when you need help in the first place.

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You Are Spending Too Much Time On Non-Essential Tasks

If you find that you are routinely spending a lot of your day to day time on non-essential tasks, then it might be worth getting someone to help you with those tasks. By non-essential here, we don’t mean that they are not important for the running of your business, but that they do not directly involve your service, or your relationship to your customer. For example, you might be running a law firm, in which case you want to spend as much time as possible actually helping your clients. In this case, you will probably want to outsource your marketing, as marketing for law firms can take up a lot of time and energy – which you could be spending on your clients.

Your Sales Are Dropping For No Apparent Reason

One of the most distressing things which can happen in business is when your sales are declining and you can’t even tell why. When this happens, it often has a way of causing a significant amount of despair, and it can be one of the quickest ways for entrepreneurs to become disillusioned with their own organizations. If this starts happening to your business, the first step is to consider getting a consultant on board. It might be that their expertise – or just the fact of having an extra pair of eyes – will help you to identify the inherent problems in your business. You can then face those problems head-on, and so get your business back on track in good time.

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You Have Had An Influx Of Customers

Or, it could be the exact opposite situation: having many customers come to you all at once. Whether it is the result of good marketing, or just chance, having a sudden influx of customers is good news, but also a potentially very stressful time for you and your business. If this happens, one of your main objectives will be to bring some people on board to help you patiently and politely deal with those extra customers. You really want to get this right – succeeding at a time like this is a sure sign of a business that will stay around for a long time yet.

Getting help with your business is often the most sensible approach to take, and there is real value in learning when to do so, and when you can cope on your own.

10 Powerful Habits Every Successful Entrepreneur Should Adopt

Regardless of the niche that you want to focus your efforts on, you will face many obstacles, uncertainties and risks with your new venture. While each situation is unique, the most successful entrepreneurs often share several factors in common. For example, they may have profound experience in their industry and refined personality traits. More than that, they also usually have exceptional habits that guide them to success. These are some of the habits that you can cultivate to increase your chances of success with your next venture.

1. Pay Attention to Customers

You may think that you would need to aggressively market your products and services or refine a high-pressure sales pitch to be successful, but this is not the case. The most successful individuals are focused on improving their customers’ experiences with the company. Consider your own past experiences with different ventures. If you had a great experience, you are more likely to do business with the company again and to tell others about your experience. Successful entrepreneurs incorporate customer service into their activities because they understand this critical element.

2. Show a Positive Attitude

Whether you are drafting an email, presenting a seminar or hosting a meeting in your office, you must always communicate with others in a positive way. Regardless of how tired, unhappy or stressed you may actually be feeling, you must always present yourself positively. Learn to control your emotions so that you never yell or pout when you are unhappy with a situation.

3. Behave Respectfully

Regardless of whether you are speaking with the janitor in your office or a high-powered executive who you are trying to woo, you must always treat others with dignity and respect. The most successful entrepreneurs understand the inherent contributions that each person makes, and they know the value of these contributions. Verbal and non-verbal communication should always indicate respect, so keep that in mind.

4. Socialize with Successful People

If you want to be successful in life, you must surround yourself by successful people. When you do this, you will also surround yourself by their positive energy and can-do mentality. And before you know it, you will absorb such a mindset. They may also inspire you, offer helpful tidbits, or even support you in your endeavors. On the other hand, steer clear of people who drain your energy and detract you from your goals.

5. Don’t Be Late

Punctuality is one of the most significant non-verbal signs of respect that you can show someone. It shows that you value their time and that you understand that they have important tasks to complete throughout the day as well. More than that, when you are prompt and punctual, you prove to others that you are responsible and dependable. Some people avoid working with people who are continuously late because of how unprofessional or ill-prepared they may seem. Do not let this happen to you. Get in the habit of leaving early so that you can always arrive early or on time.

6. Constantly Set Goals

Successful entrepreneurs never settle for less. They are constantly setting new goals for themselves that push the limits in different ways. These are highly motivated individuals who strive to move forward and who are unhappy with the status quo. They may evaluate programs, analyze progress, set new goals and work daily to achieve them until those goals are accomplished and new ones can be set. Be a goal-setter and success will follow!

7. Gain New Experiences

If you want to emulate the success of top entrepreneurs, focus on exposing yourself to new things. Avoid monotony, and shake things up in both small and large ways. For example, try new meals at restaurants, rearrange your office furniture periodically, take an exotic vacation to a new destination, attend a professional seminar and more. By doing so, you can bolster creativity, meet new people, and constantly keep your mind active and inspired.

8. Commit to Lifelong Learning

Entrepreneurs do not see education as something that is attained or completed. Instead, they see it is a lifelong effort. They are always curious, and they read books, watch documentaries, or attend seminars and trade shows to learn about different things. They may also sign up for podcasts or webinars, take an online course, or download an educational app ─ today, educational technology offers almost limitless possibilities. So, remember to keep your mind open and always strive to learn more.

9. Take Care of Your Health

The most successful individuals understand that mental aptitude is linked to physical wellness, and both are necessary for success and profitability. Avoid working nonstop as this can lead to burnout and fatigue. Instead, leave plenty of time in your week for downtime, such as yoga and meditation to de-stress. Also, focus on favorite hobbies, exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet that gives you the energy and nutrients necessary for productivity.

10. Be Persistent

Perhaps one of the most important habits that entrepreneurs develop over time is persistence. While there may be a time and a place to throw in the towel knowledgeably, such as when cutting losses, entrepreneurs do not give up simply because the going gets tough. Instead, they dig down into the trenches, avoid feeling discouraged and keep their eye on the prize.

Final Words
As you can see, there is far more involved to being successful than simply getting a good degree at a top school. You also must adopt the right habits. Did you notice that the first five habits listed here are people-oriented and that the second five habits are self-oriented? Both are critical if you want to be as successful as possible in life. So, don’t waste another minute and start adopting these habits today!

 

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BIO: Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she’s not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her @eagleton_helen

Give Your Customers Something To Remember You By

What’s the one thing which is necessary for repeat custom, above all else? Great customer service and an outstanding product are essential, but most of all, you need to be remembered. When competition is so fierce, it’s easy to blend into the background. Which means you need to be outstanding, high-quality, and memorable. It isn’t about offering a product or service which is zany and off the wall, but about offering a service which leaves the client feeling warm, welcome, and wanted.

Great service

One of the best ways to be remembered is by going above and beyond your call of duty for a customer. This practice proves to them that you want their custom, but most of all, that they’re important to you. It means that they leave feeling like the experience they had was so unexpectedly positive, they can’t imagine not wanting to go back. This requires you to be attentive, on the ball, and a great listener, forming a natural connection. Being able to understand their wants and desires, even if they’re not necessarily able to verbalize what it is they’re looking for, enables you to offer top class customer service. Try to avoid being too over-familiar, as this can sometimes come across as overbearing and uncomfortable for the client. A friendly, professional, and no-job-is-below-me attitude are all it takes.

A parting gift

It might seem strange, but letting your customer leave with a small parting gift, as well as their goods, can be a great way to cement their loyalty. A die-cut sticker of your company logo, such as those at http://www.bluebeeprinting.com/diecut-stickers/, is the perfect example. If they loved the service they received (and your logo is attractive), chances are they’ll pop this sticker somewhere visible. That means that they’re constantly being exposed to your logo, and when the time arises that they require your services again, your brand will be the first one that comes to mind. A pen in the company colors with the logo, a drinks cooler, or even a keychain are all great ideas, and work like a charm.

Follow-up

Once your customer has walked out of the door with their goods (and parting gift) in hand, don’t let that be the last they hear from you. In a week or a month, give them a call and ask how they’re getting on with their product. Offer any advice for any concerns they have, and ensure they know that the follow-up service is free. What this serves to do is remind them of your existence. It acts as a memory jog, making your company a more prevalent memory than it might previously have been. It’s also great customer service, so it helps to solidify that reputation in their mind, meaning they’re more likely to come back and far more likely to recommend you to a colleague or a friend. The follow-up is a vastly underused sales method, perhaps because it has no immediate benefit, but the long-term positives make it more than worth your while.

When your client walks out the door, you want your company to be the first one in the industry that comes to mind next time they need your services. A great customer experience and a few tactical memory jogs are all it takes to keep them coming back.

Let Your Website Do The Talking

When you’re operating a business, whether from an office or your own home, you need to have an online presence. It is through this that you will be able to gain custom. This isn’t necessarily just through your own website; there are so many more platforms to be used in conjunction with this, especially social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It’s through the combination of all of these that you have got the recipe for online success – it’s just about finding out the dashes and sprinkles of your own branding and personality to add to it and following it down to a tee rather than deviating off down other paths.

Make It Stand Out

There are a myriad of different ways to get your website to stand out, but the most obvious (and the one that needs the most attention) is the design of it all. If you are not too au fait with getting websites built yourself, it’s time to outsource to somebody who does. There are plenty of freelancers available online for you to get in touch with. Look for somebody who has been highly recommended by people who have used them before; there are usually websites with reviews on them that have come from trusted sources. These people are living off the recommendations that they to get their next job, and so they want to impress you. Make sure that you communicate your ideas clear and effectively to get the best job done for you. Include what you want from your website, who your target demographic is and other bits and bobs that you want added in – maybe a few online games, for example, if your site is more child-orientated. Remember: the longer that you keep the customer on your website, the more invested in your business they will be.

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Keep Them Coming Back

After the design of your website, you need to ensure that you are keeping those who have originally visited coming back. This can be for a number of reasons; those who are bloggers and are living off the revenue of their website may be wanting people back on their site so that they can generate more money via sponsored links and posts. For those who aren’t generating any money, it’s still important to keep a good presence. Whether it’s through small updates to your website, blog posts informing your customers of what’s going on with your business (even just a quick update can be enough to satisfy their interest!) or links to your social media accounts, these are all things which will keep your site active and current. The last thing that somebody wants is to head over to a point of information and find out that it hasn’t been updated in months (or in some cases years – shocking, isn’t it?). You have to keep up to demand when you’re in business and recognise that the majority of this demand is now coming from the digital side rather than in person.

Are You Working with the Right People?

As you run your small business, think about all the different people that come into your life on a regular basis. You have employees, vendors, customers, those pitching their products, and many others.

With that in mind, how do you know if all these people have your best interests at heart One of the ways to go about learning more on someone is by background checks.

No, you do not need to spend time on a background check with everyone entering your life.

That said doing some research on those who will matter to you is not a bad idea.

What Should You Look for in a Background Check?

If you move forward with background checks, what exactly should you be looking for Well, the answer to that depends on how these individuals will incorporate into your life.

Here are a few examples:

  • Vendors – Hiring the right vendors to assist your small business can be a tricky proposal at times. While you may very well be on a limited budget, you still want quality products for your business. The best thing to know about vendors is if they’ve had any run-ins with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and others. Always know who is supplying you with the products you need to run your company.
  • Customers – Often, you’re not going to delve into your customer’s backgrounds. Sure, you want to know what their spending habits are etc. but that is often going to be about it. On the flip side, if you’re a gun shop owner, you want to do background checks on those purchasing weapons. If you spot any red flags, make them know so the wrong individuals do not end up with weapons.
  • Partners – It is not uncommon for small businesses to look for partners. That is even more the case when financial times get tough. That said a background check of a potential partner is but one of the things you want to do. Even when you find out about their background, you must decide if working with them would be the right call.

Among the factors to consider:

  • Who will have primary control of the business or will it be 50-50?’]
  • Can you see yourself having joint ownership with one or more individuals? For some owners, sharing the fruits of their labor with others is something they’d rather not think about.
  • Will working with another manager or managers be an issue? Some individuals will find over time that their managerial styles will clash. Always iron out ahead of time what your expectations are and understand their goals too. By knowing all you can about how they’ve run their companies, you will be better prepared.

By doing a background check when you deem it to be appropriate, you are much more likely to find out what you need to know.

In some cases, that information can prevent you from making a bad business decision.

To set your brand apart from competitors, knowing those you are working with is worth your time.

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

 

How to Tell You Are Running a Successful Small Business

Running a small business can be extremely rewarding when done correctly, but it can also be a significant source of frustration. If you are a small business owner, it can be difficult to determine exactly how you’re doing. A perfectionist business owner might feel like they’re failing, when in reality they’re doing a great job and just need more time. On the other end of the spectrum, many business owners think they are perfect and fail to see the imperfections in their own companies. How exactly do you know if your company is doing well?

Motivated Employees

One of the best barometers of how well your small business is doing is the condition of your employees. Do you have a high turnover rate or are your employees staying for the long-term? If your employees are highly motivated and feel sufficiently challenged, that is a good sign that you’re doing well.

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Happy employees provide better customer service and seem generally fulfilled in their roles. In an environment that employees are comfortable in, they will be free to express both praise and criticism without feeling fear of consequences. Conducting anonymous employee surveys is a great way to gauge how the employees feel about their work environment.

Happy Customers

Are your customers happy when you’re done conducting business with them? Do they refer others to you and sing your company’s praises? If so, this is another great sign that you’re doing a good job. It should be easy for new customers to find you and it’s simple to do business with you.

If customers like what you’re selling, believe in the product, and tell others about you, this is the goal of any successful small business. Making a positive difference in the lives of your customers should be what you ultimately strive for.

Expert Credibility

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If others seek out you and your employees as experts in your field, this is a sign that you’re on the right track. For example, when a local news story pertaining to your industry comes up, the news seeks you out for a comment. This shows that they believe in you as a leader in your industry and in the local business community. When you can call yourself an expert and people believe it, this leads to increases in profit and margins. Experts can charge more for their services and people will pay the price.

Flexibility

One of the major advantages that small businesses have over big companies is that they can be flexible. They don’t have hundreds of employees that require a cultural change every time something in the industry changes. You can stop on a dime and pivot to a new direction if need be.

If your company is able to be flexible and adapt to the changing market, this bodes well for your success overall. This also requires you to stay up-to-date on changes in the industry. Embracing change is the key to success in any small business, and those who do it the best are the most likely to succeed.

A Healthy and Caring Work Environment

One of the biggest indicators of success in small business is a healthy and caring work environment. The happy employees that you have all care about each other and the ultimate success of the business. They are constantly putting others before themselves and sacrificing for the good of the business and their fellow employees. This creates a positive and infectious culture that is palpable.

While this is a great sign, it can also lead to problems over time. If too many employees are working too hard for too long, it can lead to burnout. As the business leader, you have to look for signs of burnout and do whatever you can to avoid that. That could mean randomly giving your employee a day off or recognizing them for their hard work in front of others. Regardless of what you decide to try, make sure that their sacrifice for the company does not go unnoticed.

Don’t be overly demanding of your employees at any point. Give them plenty of leeway to do their work without micromanaging them. It’s up to you to set the clear guidelines of what you expect and then get out of the way. One option that you might want to consider is allowing employees the option of telecommuting. By allowing them to work some from home, you’ll help them avoid burnout and get some time away from the office.

You should also have fair and transparent HR policies that determine how time off will be handled. It needs to be the same for everyone, and make the policy as compassionate as possible. Allowing for holidays, vacation, and sick days is important to ensure that your employees stay happy over the long-term.

Focusing on the Future

While you have to be aware of the day-to-day details of your business, focusing on the future of the company is another good sign that your heart is in the right place. You should want to ensure the success of your small business over the long-term for you and your employees. Seek out industry experts to help with things like management strategy, growth, and innovation.

If you take the time to analyze your business from an outsider’s perspective, your chances of success are amplified. Periodically evaluating your company and its culture are imperative to your success over the long-term.

 

About the author

JenJen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie