The Reality of Hiring a Consultant for Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you probably like to be involved with every aspect of your business, from the mundane to the most critical tasks. Hiring employees is one step to getting help for your business, but there may be some problems outside your and your employees’ knowledgeable scope.

Perhaps you need the help of more specific professionals — which is the void a consultant can handily fill. Still, you find yourself wondering if you really need a consultant, and if paying them would be worth the knowledge and skills they bring to the table. As a small business owner, you have to learn when to ask for — and find — cost-effective help.

Do You Really Need a Consultant?

Consultants come in a variety of flavors with different niche skill sets to potentially suit your needs. Trying to figure out if you need someone’s specific experience to help your business might be as easy as asking yourself a few questions.

First, make sure you’ve done all the research on the subject you could. If information was beyond your grasp or unavailable, reaching out for paid help might be the way to go. Second, focus on the job you want them to bring to your business. Is this skill something you or an employee can learn in a few days or weeks, or is this an area that takes years to master? If the funds are available, but the skill set isn’t, a consultant may be exactly what you need.

What Does a Consultant Do?

A consultant is an outside expert you hire through an agreed-upon contract to help your business. The consultant is independent of your company, so they keep to their own schedule and may have more clients than just you at one time. You might even hire a consulting team, rather than one person.

There are many different types of consultants for different jobs. Some of the most commonly used consultants work in accounting, IT, human resources and legal services, each able to bring a new and better direction for your business.

There is a general process for every consulting project. The pre-consulting phase is before the work starts, where you and the expert discuss terms and come to an agreement. The consulting period consists of discovery, research and the final presentation for your business. Lastly, the post-consulting phase is where you may choose to extend the agreement or implement your own.

Find a Consultant

Finding a consultant for your specific needs may be easier than you think. You have to know what you need from the hired expert. Searching through friends, business partners and online are sure ways to find the person you need. However, you need to make sure they fit the role. They should be fluent in data modeling, in addition to an ability to connect information from seemingly random sources, also known as dot-to-dot literacy.

An ideal consultant is someone who has experience as a coach and a fellow small business owner to relate to the process. Coaching skills are important so they can take action and get involved with your employees. You can also check their LinkedIn profile for testimonials and recommendations if you’re still in any doubt.

While looking around for a consultant, you may run into a lot of contractors and need to know the difference between the two. Both are temporary experts hired via a contract, but a consultant works outside the business, while a contractor is an internal component. Knowing the difference can keep you from hiring the wrong job title, especially if you’re in the market for a contractor instead.

Payment and Budget

Typically, your consultant is going to work with you for about three to six months, with the open option to renew the contract. The pre-consulting phase is the time where you talk to the expert you’re wanting to hire to hash out pay, time and your budget. An important bit of advice is to remember value determines price, not any pre-set rules.

However, on average, expect the price to be anywhere from $150 to $10,000 an hour, with projects ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. Here is where you have to find your budget. Once you discover how much the expert help is worth to you and how much you can afford, the rest should be easier. Figure out your sales percentages and where you need them to be, versus what you’re willing to pay the expert, and discuss your options with them personally.

What’s Best for Your Business

A consultant will be an expensive add-on to your business either way if you discover you need the help. However, the reward can easily outweigh the cost. Decide what you want the future of your business to look like, and explore all the avenues to get you there. A consultant may be expensive, and hiring one could be a process, but they could bring your business to new heights you likely hadn’t imagined before.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

 

A Beginners Guide to Online Growth!

With the boom that is being experienced within the world of e-commerce, it is no wonder that more and more online businesses are popping up all over the place. This is a good thing that you should take advantage of and use to finally get you in a position that you are doing what you love and able to leave that job that ha a dead end. There is a lot that you need to make sure that you keep in mind before you even begin this journey for your business needs. Having this information beforehand will help to reduce the number of mistakes that you will make when you get ready to begin your online business. Let us take a look at a few of the things that you need to make sure that you keep in mind before you start this journey.

Market to the Right Demographics

There is something to be said about making sure that you are sending the right message to the right people. One example of this would be to make sure that if you are going for a crowd that is into surfing, then you do not want to target people that are into buying customized dog collars. The key to being popular is to make sure that your marketing is hitting the mark in the demographics you are aiming for. This can save you a lot of trial and error that many beginners will make when trying to get their business up and running. The next tip will be just as important as you will want to make sure that you look at the method of getting paid for your goods and services.

Setup a Payment Gateway to Accept Payment

Having a way to accept payments will be just as important as the business end of things. This is why you need to make sure that you set up a payment portal that is reliable, safe and easy. This is a step that many people will forget about as it will not be at the top of their thought process. Knowing how to find a good payment gateway and how to get it set up will be a very important process that you have to make sure that you keep in mind.

Accept Multiple Forms of Payment

There is no need to move forward if the payment side of your business is not in place. Even once you get the payment gateway established, you will need to make sure that you are accepting all forms of payment. Many businesses lose out on potential customers due to the fact that they limit the types of payment that they are able to accept. If you only accept cash, then that will reduce you from being able to be an online business. If you only accept Visa then you are not getting the customers that have other forms of credit cards that they use online.

Mobilize

Make sure that you are making yourself mobile ready to deal with all of the customers that will be doing business with you on a regular basis. More and more people are living online and as such, they want sites that are mobile friendly. Nothing is more frustrating than having a site that has not been optimized for mobile devices and as such will not display the correct way. This can hurt you in the fact that customers will not want to do business with you as well as it may affect the ability for you to accept payments.

Offer Feedback Options

A customer having the ability to leave feedback is one of the most important things that you can do in helping to build a customer base that will in the end trust you. Having the ability to accept this feedback as well as helping to listen to the feedback and take the advice that is being given to you via the customers. The feedback that they are able to provide to you will help you to better cater to their needs and allow you the chance to make things better for your business and thus allow you to improve on areas where you are a little weak.

Market the Business as Much as Possible

Marketing the business is as essential as the other parts of running the business. If you fail to market it correctly, then your efforts will not be as successful when trying to get new customers to come and check out your business. The ones that you do have will get bored as there will not be anything there to help and keep the customer engaged. If you are not sure what you need to do in the marketing of your business, then you can always hire a firm that will handle all of the details for you.

As you are able to see, there is a lot of running your own business and the more that you understand from the beginning, then the better results that you will have. Following these tips, will make sure that you have a business that will be profitable and will go a long way in helping to give you a sense of accomplishment.

Have Content/ Products that People want

There is no use in having products to sell if the people do not want to buy them. This will involve a lot of research to see what people are and are not into and what types of goods or services that they are seeking out. A little research, in the beginning, will lead to a lot better results for you down the road. Look closely at the things that are doing well and those that are not doing so good and shift your focus on these accordingly. Take ideas from established online stores like Oroton outlet to have a clear idea and implement them in your case. This will help to lead to you having a lot better results with getting products sold in a timely manner. After you have established the selection of products that you are going to sell, you will then want to make sure that you focus on the marketing of the products.

5 Ideas For Improving Your Checkout Conversion Rate

For any e-commerce business out there, checkout conversion rate is one of the most important metrics. The main reason for this is shopping cart abandonment rate, which measures how many of your customers chose to leave the shopping cart once they’ve already decided to purchase something. Today, shopping cart abandonment rate for online stores is almost 70%, which means that only every third person proceeds to buy a product. Improving your checkout conversion rate means lowering your shopping cart abandonment rate, and this guide will help you do just that.

Move to a Single Page Checkout Process

Today, shopping is all about simplicity. The simpler your checkout process is the better conversion rates you’ll have. The reason for this is that the mobile devices are completely taking over the market, and most people don’t have the patience or time to go through multiple pages just to buy your product. Think about it this way, every time they click NEXT and nothing has happened yet, you’re giving them a chance to reconsider their decision. For that reason, you should at least try to setup your checkout process to be as simple as possible.

Don’t Ask Users to Sign Up

Most people aren’t content with sharing their private info with anyone online. There are a ton of people who would more than gladly pay for your product but won’t go through a process of entering a relationship with your store. Mandatory sign-ups are one of the biggest reasons why people abandon their shopping carts, and you should avoid it if possible. The truth is you can’t force someone to sign up for your own benefit of sending them newsletters or promotional materials. Instead, you can offer them to sign up but allow them to go through the checkout process even if they don’t.

Free Shipping

One of the biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment are definitely shipping prices. Your customers want your product, but they just won’t pay an extra fee just to get it delivered to them. The truth is most people value free shipping as the number one incentive to increased purchases and that’s something you should definitely consider if you’re looking to improve your conversion rates. Even if you up the prices a bit but offer free shipping you’ll do better than asking your users to pay for it knowingly.

Don’t Overcomplicate your Forms

Having a complicated form is probably the best way for your users to turn their backs on you forever. They want to pay for your products or services yet they just can’t complete the form – there’s nothing more frustrating than that. This is why you’ll want your forms to be as easy to fill as humanly possible.  Google Autofill is a great place to start for your customers that are using Android or Chrome since it will use the saved information from your users and they’ll have an easier time filling up the form.

Retargeting

Only around 3% of your total visitors will actually buy something, according to most researches. The other 97% will bounce off from your website without buying anything. However, these people will be aware of your brand and some of them most likely left during the checkout process. The point being – it’s much easier to sell to the users who already have an idea who you are, opposed to completely new visitors. Much like with web design, people are more likely to be affected by something they already know about, which is why you’ll want to invest some resources into a retargeting campaign.

Final Words

Some of your visitors will never be persuaded to buy something, some of them will. But once they’ve decided to buy a product, it’s frustrating to see them leaving the shopping cart and never come back. Online stores around the world are trying to cope with the problem and increase their checkout conversion rates, so don’t despair if you’re in that group too. Instead, try to implement the tips we’ve provided in this guide and make the whole shopping experience more enjoyable for your customers – and you’ll surely see the improvement.

Leila Dorari is a freelance writer and business-improvement enthusiast from Sydney. Currently, she is consulting companies on various effects different marketing solutions can have on their business. In her spare time you can find her window shopping.

Saving Your #Business Money On #Legal Costs

If your business is unfortunate enough to become the victim of a lawsuit or legal movement, then it could prove costly.

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Flickr

This could spring from dozens of situations, including failure to pay taxes, poor staff treatment and breach of contract. However the case arises, reducing costs will prove tricky – but not impossible.

So, if you’re concerned about the legal status of your company or just want to prepare for a rainy day, look no further. This is how you save your business money on legal costs!

Control the working environment

The best time to prevent accidents is before they ever happen. So, perhaps the best way to cut legal costs is to simply… not get involved in any type of legal movement. If someone slips at work or if your health and safety isn’t up to par, it could be you who ends up being sued.

So make sure you take a basic set of steps to protect yourself from litigation. It’s not going to take thousands and thousands, though it could if things go to court. You could try the following:

  • Placing ‘wet floor’ signs above slippy patches.
  • Lighting dimly-lit areas.
  • Give staff regular breaks to prevent accidents
  • Run emergency drills frequently
  • Maintain and check equipment for faults
  • Place floor markings
  • Thoroughly train staff in health and safety

This way, you reduce the chance of an accident happening, which could lead to a lawsuit further down the line. A safer environment can also bump staff productivity and increase revenue.

Consulting law experts

Let’s look at an example. You have had a severe disagreement with one of your employees, which is resulting in legal action being taken. By enlisting the help of a company who offers employment tribunal services, the impact on your business is reduced.

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WikiMedia

This tribunal could lead to a lengthy court case and could result in your company losing lots of cash. By seeking aid at this stage, your company is more likely to live to see another day!

Don’t pay with money

You may not think it, but yes, this is possible. In some cases, anyway. If your business has a valuable service to offer the lawyer, then perhaps they’ll take that instead of a cash payment.

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Pixabay

For example, you could be a marketing firm and offer these services to a lawyer in exchange for legal aid. Or, you could be a web designer and spruce up their website at no extra cost. It’s worth a go – if the lawyer needs those services anyway, then it makes sense to offer them for free.

Alternative payment arrangements

If you’ve ever haggled the price on a house or a car, you’ll know exactly what to do here. By attempting to negotiate the cost of your legal fees or trying to pay them in a different way, you can cut them substantially.

For example, some lawyers may lower their price if you pay in a cash lump sum, while others allow you to spread costs over many months. Not every lawyer will agree, but it can’t hurt to give it a try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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