5 Big Mistakes No Successful Entrepreneur Will Make Again

It may seem like some of the biggest companies out there are being run by people who know everything about the business world. While they may know a lot about it, it doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. In fact, almost every entrepreneur has made at least one mistake in their career. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake as long as you learn something from it. And if you don’t want to learn from your own mistakes but you’d rather learn from other entrepreneur’s experiences, make sure you read on.

Not using social media

There’s no need to say that social media is huge right now. Just in New Zealand, there are 3.5 million active social media users and we can expect this number to grow in the future. However, some entrepreneurs believe using social media is a waste of time and decide not to create social media presence for their business. This is definitely something you don’t want to do, especially because people now often turn to social media search when looking for a product or service. In order to make sure everyone can reach you, you need to create pages on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and use them on a daily basis to communicate with your customers directly.

Forgetting to pay themselves

Many rookie entrepreneurs get so excited about running their own business that they completely forget about paying themselves. Even if they do remember to do so, they often decide not to do it in order to leave more money for their company to work with. This can seem like an amazing idea at first but it can seriously hurt both your personal and business finances. If you don’t pay yourself, you’ll soon find yourself with no money on your bank account. Also, you won’t get a clear picture of how well your business is doing and doing your taxes will be more difficult. Those who decided not to pay themselves have learned the hard way that they deserve to receive a paycheck for all their hard work.

Not being formal enough

Running a business is a serious task and only those who take it that way will be able to succeed. That being said, you should try to be formal whenever you get the chance. Let’s say you’re responding to a negative comment from a customer. Instead of arguing with them, you should try to be as formal and polite as possible. This will show your customers that you care about what they have to say, which can be a big plus for your company. When meeting a business partner, renting a vehicle from companies such as Avis Car Rental is a good idea as it makes you look more professional and helps you bring your A-game to the meeting.

Setting unattainable goals

Running your own business sure is great and just like most entrepreneurs out there, you dream of conquering it all. While dreaming big is an important part of success, you can’t just expect your business to do exceptionally well from day one. Many entrepreneurs end up setting unattainable goals for their business right from the start which ends up affecting their operations. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to be extra careful when setting goals for your business. It’s important to start small and adjust your goals as your business grows. We recommend putting your goals in writing so that you could review them every once in a while and make any necessary adjustments.

Taking everyone’s advice

The business world is full of “gurus” who believe they’re the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Ellison. Those people will often give you advice in order to help you grow your business. Taking everything they say seriously is a good idea and it could help you take your business to the next level. However, this doesn’t mean you need to do everything they advise you to do. Instead, you need to rely on your own knowledge and instincts. Therefore, every time you need to make an important business decision, you should think about what you want to do and only then listen to what other people have to say. Many of those who’ve taken every piece of advice they’ve got ended up failing even before they got a chance to show what they can do.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Make sure you don’t make these 5 mistakes and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Even when something goes wrong, fix it as quickly as possible and try to learn something from it.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in latest business news and new social media trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

Defending Your Reputation When The Knives Come Out For You

When you own a business of your very own, your reputation is everything. It’s what makes your clientele choose you over your nearest competitor. It’s what engenders a sense of trust in the brand you have created and in you; the guiding hand behind it. Thus, when the knives come out for you and others seek to besmirch your good name it can have disastrous consequences for your brand and your business. You must defend your good name with every ounce of might you can muster. This is a battle on several fronts. You must not only be reactive and deal with threats to your reputation as and when they appear, you must also lay a firm foundation to limit your liability and protect your reputation from damage. Here are just a few of the measures you can take…

Hire a lawyer with a sterling reputation

No matter the size of your operation, it behoves you to find a sterling legal team. If someone accuses you or your business of malpractice, the outcome in court is more than likely to spill over into the court of public opinion (which can be notoriously unforgiving). A good legal team will mount an aggressive defense on your behalf and ensure that the truth comes to light. See Brian Zeiger for more information. Of course, prevention is always the best cure, which brings us to…

Make sure that you have the right insurance

If you have a physical place of business, it goes without saying that you need some form of public liability insurance to protect you if a customer or client injures themselves on your business.However, businesses are increasingly investing in reputation insurance to insulate you against a wide range of risks to your reputation and to help employ potent damage control measures. While entrepreneurs can be gun shy when it comes to the prospect of more overhead costs, the right insurance is absolutely essential in protecting your operation and your reputation.

Deal quickly and decisively with social media complaints

Every customer service policy should have a comprehensive and effective customer complaints policy at its core. However, in the social media age, people are much more likely to air their grievances in the public forum of social media than submit an official complaint.

The longer a complaint is left undealt with on social media, the more potential damage it can cause to your reputation. It’sup to you to deal with these types of complaint quickly and decisively. Set up a Google alert to help you to respond quickly. Address the complaint publicly. Be sure to apologize and demonstrate your willingness to make amends.

Know the needs of your target market

While you may enjoy the regular custom of your target demographic now, make no mistake, they will turn on you if they feel that their needs are being neglected. Lose focus and you may find yourself the focus of negative buzz which will almost certainly result in a loss of sales.

Take the steps to guard your reputation and you will not be pushed off the path to prosperity.

5 Actionable Tips for Scaling Your Small Business

Do you know how to scale your business? Starting your business took a lot of hard work. Now that you’re ready for expansion, you will likely face an entirely new set of challenges.

Already, as part of your routine, you must serve customers, supervise your staff, keep the books and fill other administrative roles. With so much to do, scaling your business might seem impossible. Where do you start? How do you find the time?

Use the following actionable tips for scaling your small business to do the job without becoming overwhelmed or busting your budget.

Embrace Success

Already, you’ve overcome the odds by building a successful small business. You know what failure looks like and you probably don’t like it. So, as you scale your business, think big and approach everything you do with a “success” mentality.

You can probably find thousands of fantastic ideas that can help you scale. Prepare yourself right now to say “no” to most of them. You have limited amounts of time and money, so stay focused on the things that matter the most.

Always keep the big picture in mind. Make every decision with an eye for the future. If you don’t, you could incur unnecessary expenses. For example, if you skimp on your data network or software applications, you may have to replace them if they can’t grow with you.

So, when you invest in systems, make sure they can scale with your business. Take a similar approach while assembling your team.

Get Help

Find someone who can serve as your mentor and advisor. Such a person could be anyone with experience either in your industry or your type of business. An investor, business owner, or someone with similar experience can fill this role.

In addition to getting advice from peers, you should learn to depend on your team. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, try delegating responsibilities. By letting other people share the load, you can have more time to plan and execute your growth strategy.

Of course, as your business grows, you will need to expand your team. Avoid the temptation to take shortcuts with your team. You need well-qualified people who can deliver a high level of performance. To do this, you’ll need to offer competitive wages, perks, educational opportunities, and other benefits.

Use Technology

As you scale, look for ways to work smarter rather than harder. Here, technology can play a vital role. For instance, you can use a cloud-based collaboration app to unify remote workers with your traditional employees.

When done right, your entire team can work together on documents, share files, and hold group brainstorming sessions. Tools that support instant messaging, live chat, video conferencing, and virtual whiteboards can also help your staff become more productive.

Automation offers you additional ways to scale your business. Thanks to technology, you can eliminate redundant data entry and automate many routine tasks. In the end, you can substantially improve productivity while eliminating opportunities for making errors.

Other opportunities for improving your business’ performance include analytics tools. These can collect and analyze multiple data points from your organization and provide insights into its performance.

Get Online

Your website and social networks are assets that you shouldn’t ignore. Spend time assessing their current state and then develop a plan for moving forward. Remember that a fresh and active online presence can grow your sales.

Now is a fantastic time to refresh your market research. First, identify the type of customers that need what you offer. Next, learn about the problems and challenges they face. You should also learn about their desires and aspirations.

Based on your research, create a persona that represents your ideal customer. As you create content, keep this person in mind. Create value by addressing the real-world issues that your persona faces.

Most of all, be consistent. On social media, share your brand’s personality. Socialize with your followers and share content. Do more than pitch sales. Become part of the community.

Encourage Feedback

In your quest for growth, never forget about your current customers. For starters, you can dramatically reduce your selling costs by closing repeat sales. In other words, by expanding your base, you can boost your profitability.

Your customers can also provide you with feedback that can support your ongoing success. They can provide you with answers to important questions:

● What new products and features should you sell?
● How can you create a better customer experience?
● What factors limit their frequency and volume of sales?
● How can you deliver more value to the marketplace?

Consider sending customers a survey after every sale. This gives them a chance to express their level of satisfaction and share their opinions. To encourage participation, keep your surveys short and simple. Additionally, offer an incentive such as a discount on a future purchase.

In conclusion, rest assured that you can successfully scale your business. However, to avoid the mistakes that have doomed other business, you should apply the above tips. Start by thinking big. your winning attitude will help you overcome failures and mistakes.

As you make progress, avoid distractions, get the help you need, leverage technology, and build your online presence. In the end, scaling your business requires a lot of work and some risk. What do you think about this topic? Share your comments or experiences that may help small business owners rise to the next level.

Joe Peters

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

Unique Marketing: 5 Ways to Increase Sale for Your Business

Gone are the days when you could drum up business just by putting an ad in the paper. Today’s consumers expect a lot more flash and bang than the kind offered by old-school advertising. Here are just five ways to give it to them. 

Host a Challenge

Let your customers choose your new mascot by submitting pictures, videos and drawings. Ask them to snap selfies of themselves using your products or employing your services. See who can create the best hashtag for an annual event. Challenges are a fun way to engage your customers with your brand, and in addition to boosting your sales, they can also bring positive media attention to your company if they go viral. 

Participate in Social Media Trends 

Speaking of viral, you never know when that #ThrowbackThursday photo will get thousands of retweets. Don’t be afraid to hop on the bandwagon of whatever is currently trending. Businesses have gotten a lot of press from things like Gangnam Style parody videos, and the more that you put yourself out there, the more likely it is that you’ll strike a chord with the public someday. 

Hire Promotional Models 

You don’t have to run a clothing line to employ models for your brand. Promotional modeling can be a benefit in many different industries, and it’s something found at expos, conferences, trade shows and launch parties around the world. These men and women can do everything from promoting a specific product to bringing general attention to your brand. 

Offer Freebies 

Everyone loves a freebie, especially when it’s something valuable and not just a pen or key chain with your company’s logo on it. Think about offering doorbusters at your next big sale, or hand out high-quality gifts with the purchase of certain products. You might also choose to distribute prizes and rewards to completely random customers. Intermittent reinforcement is a powerful psychological tool. 

Consider Local Collaborations 

Sponsor a youth soccer league. Pair up with a non-competitor to offer mutual discounts on your services. You’ll find more customers by expanding your reach, and you’ll also establish yourself as a local, trusted brand by becoming a regular part of the community. People will think favorably of your business because they see your name every time that Junior hits a home run. 

Say goodbye to traditional marketing campaigns. Today’s businesses need to have innovative, forward-thinking ads that can capture hearts and minds despite the increasingly short attention span of society. Think outside of the box with your marketing efforts to ensure that people still notice you within the noise.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Best Ways Managers Can Motivate Their Team

It’s hard to keep everything right on schedule when the office morale is low and people are slacking at half of their work capacities. According to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 55% of them are unengaged and as many as 16% are actively disengaged. So, how do you get the other 71% to wake up? Simple, by following the instructions below:

Make it worth their while

No matter how interesting your employees’ job may be, sooner or later, their initial enthusiasm will fade, and they’ll feel like dogs chasing their tails. As a result, their productivity levels will drop, leaving you with a workforce operating at half-capacity. To avoid this, you need to constantly be raising the bar and setting new challenges for your employees. According to these statistics, 86% of millennials would keep their current positions if their employers provided them with career training and development, while 87% of them stated that professional development and career growth opportunities are very important. This could be anything ranging from specific job-related skills, languages, computer skills, and so on. In essence, by investing in your employees’ development, you’re effectively hitting two birds with one stone, as their newly acquired skills will keep them both motivated and more productive at the same time.

Provide them with regular feedback

Providing your employees with a steady stream of feedback will show them that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. According to PwC, 69% of employees stated that they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. Give praise where praise is due and acknowledge all of your employees’ hard work to keep the morale afloat. Also, don’t hesitate to hand out constructive criticism to those employees who might be slightly under-performing, as 92% of people surveyed agreed that, when appropriately delivered, negative feedback is an effective performance booster. So, skip the dry formalities of the annual and quarterly reviews, and call up a meeting face to face. Just be wary, as some employees are more sensitive than others. Always give positive examples of their performance first, before criticizing them, in order to avoid hurting any egos.

Give out incentives

For some of your more competitive employees, a simple pat on the back simply won’t do. Instead, they’ll want a more formal sign of recognition for their troubles that they can share with their friends and families. Show them that you care and give them a master gift card, take them out for a fancy dinner, or offer them some paid time-off to spend with their loved ones. This will give them a sense of accomplishment that will motivate them to work even harder. Also, don’t forget to commemorate important milestones with your employees, both company and individual ones, as they are the ideal time for you to be generous and thoughtful.

‘Laissez-faire’

One of the worst possible things you could do inside the office, is to try and micro-manage each and every one of your employees. This is not only highly demotivational, but counter-productive at the same time, as frankly, no one likes having someone breathe down their neck while they’re working. What’s more, employees will get the opinion that you don’t trust them and as such lose confidence in their own abilities. Rather, what you should be doing is giving them some increased autonomy by letting them do things their way. Be flexible, let them organize their own schedules, don’t choke their creativity with unnecessary rules and regulations, and they’ll respect you more for it. According to this survey, 89% of companies reported better employee retention due to the implementation of flexible work options. So, focus your attention on more important matters, and cut your workers some slack every once in a while.

Create a positive working environment

Nurturing a healthy office atmosphere is vital for the overall productivity of your employees, and their mental well-being as well. Team-building events are an excellent way to break up the monotony of the daily grind and let your employees have a bit of harmless fun. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be something elaborate and expensive, but something as simple as a casual Friday, or a spontaneous night out. The most important thing, however, is that it’s something totally unrelated to work, as the main idea is for people to let off some steam and get their minds off work. All in all, these events present the perfect opportunity for your employees to bond with their co-workers and improve their mutual working relationships.

To sum up, different strategies appeal to different people. What works for one employee may not be the case with the rest of the lot. Therefore, it’s vital to keep experimenting with various combinations of these methods, in order to find just the right concoction for your specific workforce.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

5 Ways to Run a Successful Food Truck Business

Running a successful food truck business is a lot of hard work. Yet, many make the mistake of treating it like a hobby. If you are serious about making your food truck business successful, then follow these five tips.

Offer the Best Food

You need good recipes to make your food truck successful. Think about foods that not everyone in town is already serving. Then, find a great source of high-quality ingredients for those recipes. Prepare them to the best of your ability. Finally, test them out with people and incorporate their feedback until you have perfected them.

Get Quality Equipment

You will need to get quality equipment like stainless steel test sieves from a reliable supplier like newarkwire.com to run your business. Think about making a list of all the equipment that you will need to fix your recipes, and then get the equipment needed to prepare them. Buying quality helps to keep costs down in most cases as you will not have to replace them as often. Finally, consider buying more than one of each piece because equipment always seems to break at the most inopportune moment .

Employ Social Media

Part of the secret to running a successful food truck business is to connect with people on social media. It is a great way to let your customers know your location each day. Show them how great your food looks, so they are tempted to come to your location. Social media is also a great way to show customers the personality behind your company, so do not be afraid to post something funny or something that will tug at your customer’s emotions.

Be Dedicated to Customer Service

You need to be sure that your customers know how thankful you are for the opportunity to serve them. Start by offering them quality containers for their food and drink as flimsy containers can be hard to handle in an outside setting. Once they make the decision to order, then make sure to thank them for their order. If there is a problem, then correct it as quickly as possible. Remember that a satisfied customer will brag about your business to a few friends, but an angry one will tell everyone they know including posting it to social media.

Keep the Area Clean

While cleanliness is hard to maintain in any food environment, it can be especially difficult when running a food truck. Concentrate on keeping everything spotless. This includes the outside of your trailer as it will be the first thing that the customer sees. You and your employees also need to be sure that your personal grooming is above reproach.

Keeping these five tips in mind will help you run a successful food truck business. Now, go show them what you have to offer. Stay in a positive mindset and soon your customers will be hunting your food truck down to get your wonderful creations.

3 Ways the Internet Can Make or Break Your Home-Based Business

The internet has absolutely transformed how companies do business and how consumers purchase products. This transformation has been dramatic and has affected all sectors of the economy. If you ignore how the internet has changed commerce, you will likely be left in the dust of competitors that have implemented the internet to expand their reach to consumers.

However, despite the benefits of the internet for businesses, selling your product online from your home isn’t necessarily easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are a lot of common mistakes you need to avoid. With that in mind, below are three ways the internet can make or break your home-based business.

SEO

One thing that can make or break your home business on the internet is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO includes the strategies that are utilized to obtain a preferable ranking on the major search engines like Google.

Google processes about 1.2 trillion searches a year. It’s how nearly everyone on the planet finds what they want on the internet. If you have poor SEO, it can certainly hurt your bottom line significantly. Definitely make fine tuning your SEO a priority. You also need to adjust your SEO over time since Google is always tweaking its algorithms.

Downtime

However, there are other issues apart from SEO you need to worry about. One of them is downtime. Downtime refers to times when your website can’t be loaded by visitors or refuses to operate properly. Downtime is a serious issue that causes businesses to lose millions a year. Most often, the cause of downtime is a higher volume of traffic than what a website’s hosting account is designed to handle. Make sure to search for web hosts and internet providers that will grant you the bandwidth you need to ensure that your website is always online and available to customers.

User Experience

Lastly, even if you obtain a high ranking on Google and avoid downtime completely, you can still fail. Part of this may be the fact that your website’s user experience is poor. This may happen, for example, if your website is hard to navigate. Today, most people surf the web on their smart phones. If your website scrolls from left to right instead of just up and down, most smart phone users may get frustrated. Make sure to test your website’s user experience on multiple different platforms.

Overall, running a website for your online business isn’t easy. Your success isn’t guaranteed. However, if you make sure your website has strong SEO, is always online and produces a good user experience, you can significantly increase your chances of success.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley