It’s All about Who You Know: 3 Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, knowing how to effectively network with prospective clients, investors, and partners is essential, regardless of the market and industry you represent. Knowing how to network with professionals within your industry is imperative to connect with those who have the power to help and support the growth and expansion of your business as you begin to generate sales and leads among your target consumers. Here are some tips to help small businesses with networking.

Create Branded Business Cards

Branding is one of the most important elements to keep in mind when building a business of your own from the ground up. Develop branded business cards and marketing material to travel with anytime you are actively representing your company or planning to attend a networking or business event.

Always carry your branded business cards and marketing material to ensure you are fully prepared for new encounters and potential connections you make with other professionals in your industry—they can happen anywhere. Be sure your cards and materials represent your business well and include all of your website, contact, and social media information.

Attend Local Business Networking Events and Gatherings

Research and attend local business networking events and gatherings to boost your brand’s awareness while making your presence as a new entrepreneur known. Attending relevant business networking events and gatherings provides ample opportunity to get to know other entrepreneurs and business owners in your local area.

Attend networking events as a traditional attendee or consider the opportunity to rent your very own booth or trade show space to showcase your products, services, and the purpose of your business and brand. Downtime will give you just enough time to check out and chat up other professionals at the show. These strategies can help you gain insight into good universal business practices, commercial vendors, equipment suppliers, and more. Talking about business with fellow professionals is a unique experience that should not be neglected.

Build Your Online Presence

With the advent of the internet, social media, and smartphone technology, networking online with the use of social media has become more prevalent than ever. Building your online presence is extremely important, whether you are selling generic unisex t-shirts or if you are currently selling niche handmade one-of-a-kind home decor items.

Use social media to streamline your brand’s online presence using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Create pages for your brand using the same username, logo, and color scheme to prevent confusion among users and new prospective followers. Connect with followers and create a sense of community among those who have a genuine interest in supporting your business and the products or services you provide.

Understanding the significance of networking among professionals and peers in your market is a must whether you are launching a startup for the first time or in the midst of expanding an existing business and brand. With the right networking abilities, set and achieve goals to expand your business in no time.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

4 Ways to Build Subscriber Lists for Your New Business

If you have a new business, then you need to have the right approach to increase sales and customer engagement. There is no better way to do that other than building a subscriber list with email. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, if you follow the four tips below you can have a solid list in no time:

In-Store Calls to Action

When people walk into your store, they are seeing everything for the first time. They might notice a new product, your design, the layout, or something else. However, if you have a call to action to get on your list, then you are going to increase your chances of converting them in the store without having to say a word. Don’t miss out on the money you could make by getting people signed up from a simple logo or banner.

Text Messages

The reality is that sms services for small business can help you build your list. When you think about it, everyone has a cell phone today. This is different than a few decades ago.

People are checking their phones constantly. No one lets their text messages go unchecked. Eventually, they are going to look down and check their texts. When they see something from your business, you have a chance to convert them. You can use a number of enticing angles and offers to get them to sign up. Either way, having an email list is much easier when you manage them with texts.

Website Opt-ins

Do not just put up a website and hope people will come. You need to do much more than that if you want to get people on your list. You need to have some kind of offer. For instance, you can offer a free service or a discount when they sign up.

Social Media Posts

Underestimating the power and scale of social media is a big mistake. With a small budget, you can get a lot of results with social media. The key is to understand which platform your users are going to be on and then execute.

Getting more out of your business means building a list in today’s world. However, without a strategy you can execute, it is going to be difficult. So make sure you give yourself and advantage and use the tips above. That way, you are ensuring your list will grow by the day and put your business in a great position.

Emma is a business strategist-turned blogger. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Emma is a  passionate traveler and yoga aficionado. She is in love with coffee, interior design, books, and good vibes. 🙂 

Getting Your Name Out There: 3 Tips for Business Promotion

One study showed that one-third of businesses lacked significant marketing resources. While some business owners may let that stop them, we already know that you’re a true entrepreneur. But the question still stands: how can I market my business when I don’t have a lot of money for advertising? 

The answer? There’s a lot you can do with limited marketing resources, especially if you decide to get creative and resourceful. Here you’ll learn three ways that you can promote your business. You will get a much better idea of what you can do to put your name out there to your ideal customers. 

Go Social 

A set of researchers from the Pew Research Center found that over 75 percent of adults now use some sort of social media network. This number multiplied by ten from 2005, the last time the study was done. 

Don’t just jump on several social media channels and then quit all of them a week later. All the social media channels have their own etiquette and rules of engagement, so pick one or two and really try to make them work. But if you put in the effort, you could find that you’ll get fans of your business to engage with you.

Create Viral Content 

Your ideal customers want valuable content that they will want to share with their loved ones. Search engines such as Google want you to do the exact same thing. You can do such activities as creating infographics, making videos, blogging, hosting a podcast, and writing guest posts for authoritative websites. You won’t just become an expert in your niche, but you’ll also get web traffic. Other ways you can establish your expert status is appearing on podcasts in your niche and becoming a guest blogger on blogs in your space. 

Don’t want to sit at your laptop for hours crafting the perfect guest post for your favorite blog? You can hire freelancers and agencies to help you create high quality content. Find companies that specialize in strategic communications and promoting businesses in your industry for the best results. 

Guerilla Marketing Works 

Guerilla marketing can work if you work it. Many small businesses use this type of advertising to compete with their larger competitors. You can plenty of tactics to advertise your business. Hire an artist to draw a mural on the sidewalk in front of your coffee shop. Get a flash mob to bring people into your clothing boutique. You’re only limited by your creativity. 

Don’t let a lack of funds keep you from fighting the good fight. If you’re going to be in business, you have to weather a lot of bumps in the road. Getting your name out there in any way you can could give you great results if you stay the course.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

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

How to Increase Exposure of Your B2B Content

Content is considered king in the marketing world for both B2C and B2B sectors. Many companies that provide special products or services to suit their clients’ needs, seek to help their audience better understand their offers. This is especially true if your company offers a wide variety of various services. The market is especially crowded and competitive, which makes it difficult for clients to choose which company’s services to opt for. That’s why  the goal of every company is to help their clients make that decision easier.

There’s no better way to achieve this than through content marketing. However, when developing content for your B2B marketing you must focus on making it highly relevant for your audience and ensure that it’s top quality as well. That way, you can ensure your content gets the required exposure and that your clients can easily familiarize themselves with your company through your well-placed content. Therefore, here are a few ways to increase the exposure of your B2B content.

Optimize content for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become an integral part of every company’s content marketing. The main reason is that SEO helps you build more visibility, awareness and credibility for both your content and your company. It’s important to understand that B2B audiences differ from B2C ones.

That means that your clients are more likely to do some extensive research after reading your content and before they decide to contact you for business. That’s why it’s important to properly optimize your content, so that your audience can easily find and access it. Make sure you choose the right keywords to rank for and build your content around those keywords for more exposure. The better and more relevant your content is, the better your rankings will be.

Ensure brand consistency in your content

Branding helps companies elevate themselves on the market and differentiate themselves from other companies. Having  a strong brand image and consistent tone of voice online helps establish a more personal and long-lasting relationship with your audience.

However, maintaining a consistent brand image across channels, assets and markets is not an easy task. If you have difficulties in managing your content distribution and creation, you can always opt for content creation services which will not only help ensure brand consistency in your content but also yield the best results in terms of exposure.

Share content on social media

Social media platforms have become quite business friendly as of late. Having a good social media strategy will not only increase the exposure of your B2B content, but also help you build your online presence and reputation. What’s more, it helps you actively engage with your clients, in order to establish more relevant relations with them. However, not every social media network is best suited for B2B content distribution.

If you try to build a presence on every social network, you’ll only end up wasting both time and resources. Instead, focus on social media channels that your clients are present on. For instance, LinkedIn as a social network, is more suited for companies and business of every size. Their business-friendly environment will help you publish relevant content to your clients and ensure you favor good exposure.

Educate your clients

As mentioned before, helping your clients familiarize themselves with your services and your company in general is essential. Content can help you do that, but only if you focus on educating your clients in an interesting and relevant way. You can publish how-to guides and descriptions to help your clients understand your services or products. Including visuals is also a good way to ensure engagement and interest. For example, you can share product videos or demo guides for your audience to watch.

However, you don’t have to solely focus on explaining your products or services. Consequently, you can also provide educational content on important topics, problems or other industry-relevant information and news. That way, you’re not only helping clients understand your company better, but also helping them keep updated with the current industry trends. This type of content will help you position yourself as an industry expert, who provides useful and relevant information to their clients.

Share content through other media channels

Social media isn’t the only way to boost exposure for your content. Other media channels also present a good opportunity for your content to get the required recognition. For example, you can share content on your own blog and website. Moreover, you can engage in guest posting on other reputable sources. That way, you’ll gain more exposure and more credibility.

In addition, nurture leads from your email list of subscribers with content. Sharing content via email is a good way to send out personalized messages that will encourage your leads to consider doing business with you. Whichever method you choose, you have to make sure you have the right strategy in place. Building exposure isn’t easy, especially the kind of exposure your business needs, in order to grow and develop further.

When creating content for your B2B marketing, you have to focus on your clients and their expectations. The purpose of content marketing isn’t just promoting your company to clients, but also educating them and convincing them that your services are the right solution for their company. The more relevance and quality your content possesses the more efficient it will be in driving your business goals.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com

 

 

How Can My Small Business Achieve a Significant Online Presence?

The internet has changed our lives dramatically over the last couple of decades. It has changed our behaviour as consumers (meaning that businesses have to keep up) and one way they can go about doing so is being visible online. One thing small businesses struggle with is competing with more established companies, as an entrepreneur you need to show people that you’re reliable and trustworthy- and that they will have a good experience shopping with you. One way you can go about this is by having a good online presence; when a customer types your business into a search engine, they need to be able to see that you’re very much present and that everything is being run correctly. Here’s how you can go about it.

Get Your Website Right

When you’re a small business without much money to start off with, it’s tempting to want to cut costs on things like web design and have a go yourself. But while you may be able to knock up something that looks ok, it’s always going to lack that professional edge. If you want to make a good impression on customers and clients, you absolutely need to invest in a decent website. It needs to look good, be properly laid out and free of clutter and spam. It should be fast to load and free of errors. A web designer will be able to create something custom to you, so do some research and look through a few designers portfolios. Your website represents your business online, something that looks tacky will do nothing but put people off- after all, if your website is poor its easy to assume that the rest of your business is run the same way. We’re all guilty of thinking this way, how many times have you clicked off a website because it looked a little DIY or it was slow to load? It’s not something that would make you want to part with your money.

Have an App Created

Lots of smaller businesses still aren’t reaping the benefits of what an app can do for their business, meaning rightnow you have the chance to get ahead. Research how much does it cost to make an app and work this into your budget, it’s an investment that could mean big returns for your business. An app makes you look smart and professional, and for now it puts you ahead of your competition.

Get Social

Social media is one of the biggest things to come out of the internet in recent years. It’s something that business owners have been able to take advantage of, as it allows you to get closer to your customers and to communicate with them in a more informal way. You can quickly answer queries and questions, you can share positive comments, reviews and customer photos of your business. You can share marketing materials to your followers including sales, deals and discounts and you can run giveaways and competitions (which will increase your following further). Having a good following and being responsive on social media is a great way to improve your online presence.

Ask Customers For Reviews

Reviews really can make or break your business. When you’re thinking of shopping with a new company but are a little unsure, what’s the first thing you do? Chances are it’s go online and check the reviews. If you were already on the fence, a few bad reviews are going to sway you and lead you to go and shop somewhere else. Great reviews on the other hand will give you confidence, if most others have had a good experience then it shows that you probably will too. As a business owner, you should be investing time into building up your reviews. Ensure you’re putting out a quality service every time, and if there are any problems they should be dealt with quickly and professionally. You need to come to some kind of agreement where your customer is left happy, this will prevent them from leaving you a bad review. You can’t provide any compensation for positive reviews, but you can politely ask and if people have had a good experience with you then chances are they’ll be happy to leave you one. As well as adding a review tab to your Facebook business page, ask people to review you on a third party site like Trustpilot. These reviews are well respected as you have to sign up and verify your identity to post and so you know that anything posted is truthful- not just a company writing their own positive reviews! Another way you can get impartial reviews is by working with bloggers, if you send them out a free product for example they will review it fairly- of course if your product and business is good then it will be a good review. Having lots of reviews online when customers search increases your online presence and can sway anyone who’s a little unsure into making an order.

 

 

 

7 Helpful Hacks to Get the Best Out Of Your Super Staff

When you started up your business, you never thought it would grow to the size it is today. You started off scribbling ideas on the corner of a notepad whilst in corporate meetings at your old 9-5 job. You knew this life just wasn’t for you and you longed for an escape from the rat race. Your initial business idea stemmed from your lifelong passions and since then it has grown into a somewhat successful company that you are extremely proud of. Although you have conquered a lot in the last few years, you are always looking for ways to build up your company. Hiring employees to help with your workload is the top of your priority list at the moment, but you have no experience in managing and recruiting a team of people. Bringing new people into your company is a scary step for any entrepreneur to take, but it will all be worth it in the long run. You need to focus on what is best for your company when hiring staff; once you know a person is going to fit in, you can then shift your focus onto them and nurture them as they progress through the ranks. You were once a new starter at a company, so you know how daunting this can be. Be kind, considerate and fair at all time and you will soon have a new team of super staff to be proud of.

  1. Innovative Interview Techniques

If you have never interviewed anybody before the thought of this might terrify you. However, you will have been through interview processes before in your previous jobs, so you will have more knowledge than you think. Write down the key traits you’re looking for from each candidate and don’t forget to research great exit interview questions. You will only be able to gain valuable information, by asking good questions. Use open questions to gain a deep insight into your prospective employees, so that you know you’re hiring the right person for the job.

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  1. Explain the Job Description Clearly

When you put out the advertisement for the job, make sure you are laying out the job description clearly and concisely. People can often be misled by job descriptions and this will ultimately end up wasting your time. You should clearly state the qualifications, background and experience you are looking for, as well as the salary details and start date. If you miss out this important information from the job description you might just be leading somebody on. You want people to know exactly what they are signing up for, so clearly list their roles and responsibilities before you offer them the job.

  1. Listen to their Problems

When somebody first starts working for you, they might not feel completely comfortable coming to you with their issues. Make it clear from the get go that you offer an open door policy in your workplace and you are available to talk at any time. You never know what people might be going through at home, so make time for them and help them out as best as you can.

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  1. Allow them to Progress

Every worker wants to know that their career will progress over time. Clearly outline the opportunities for promotion and progression to everybody who joins your company. They want to know there is something to work towards and it will keep them motivated every time they step into the office. Allow certain employees to shadow their superiors and offer insights into what their other colleagues do on a daily basis. Growing their knowledge and enhancing their skills will benefit you, them and your company as a whole.

  1. Trust Them

Nobody wants to be micromanaged at work; it is extremely demotivating and demoralizing. Make sure you establish a level of trust amongst your staff so that they feel free to carry out their duties effectively and without being judged. Schedule regular catch ups with each of your members of staff, so that you can monitor their progress regularly and talk about where improvements could be made. Equally, make sure you give them credit when they deserve it and offer incentives for those who are excelling.

  1. Spend Time Getting to Know Everyone

Your employees want to feel important and valued in your company, so don’t just see them as another body to carry out an important task. Get to know them on a human level and it will work in your favor. You will be able to learn their hobbies, likes and dislikes; this will actually help you to schedule them on shifts, organize business trips and other work related activities. You might find that someone is really interested in travelling, so they would be the ideal person to send on a business trip overseas. Getting to know people and how they operate will work wonders for your business as a whole.

  1. Socialize with your Employees

The time you spend with your staff doesn’t need to be limited to the office. Organize social events and seasonal activities so that everyone gets the chance to blow off some steam after a big deadline. Offer to take everybody out for a coffee at lunchtime, or throw a surprise birthday party on somebody’s special day. Socializing with your colleagues and going that extra mile is really important, as it helps you to build friendships and solid professional relationships outside of the workplace.

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Every entrepreneur has to take huge leaps at some point in their career and now it is your turn. Allow your company to grow and flourish, by hiring people that are going to be excellent representatives of your business. As long as you trust each individual and you treat them with respect you will be able to have excellent working relationships with them all. Over time you will become confident in your interview skills and managerial know how; your employees will grow to respect you and you will be setting yourself up for huge success in the future.