Chief Challenges Business of Today Must Face

Getting operations off the ground is a daunting challenge. Yet, it is just the beginning of a series of trials and tribulations: the process of navigating the market and outmaneuvering the competition. The pace of economic and technological change has never been greater. Great uncertainty and volatility loom over entrepreneurs. It is never easy to discover what customers want and do a better job at delivering that to them than the next company.  This can only come through long-term strategic planning and the ability to solve dynamic challenges on the fly.

Cash flow management

Cash is the king of the business realm and maintaining a steady flow of itis the lifeline of any business. Running dry is always a risk in a less-than-ideal lending climate we operate in, which is to say that businesses need to come up with a rock-solid financial plan. What is more, money management and bookkeeping may require them to hire professionals versed in dealing with financial tasks and obligations, including accounting, taxes and invoices. This can help businesses acquire enough capital, pile up reserves,and anticipate downturns and emergencies ahead of time.

Finding your audience 

Barriers to entering the market are as low as ever. That may be a good thing, but staying in the business long-term is a different ball game entirely.Companies are facing immense competition and consumers are enjoying a wide selection of products and services across different industries. Hence, it is extremely difficult for a new business to find and carve out a profitable niche. What gives you a real fighting chance is extensive market research. It paves the way to a highly-focused approach to catering to people’s wants and needs (your target market).

Marketing on a budget

Marketing wilderness out there is getting rather complex and incredibly crowded. A new channel or tool comes to life almost every day. The bulk of modern brands have an online presence and they are trying to make waves in social media and other booming hubs. Well, the key challenge is to pull it off without breaking the bank or spreading oneself too thin. In other words, you need to figure out which channels hold the biggest potential to arrest and retain the attention of consumers. Then, you craft optimal brand messages to build trust and cultivate loyalty.

Building the right team

People are the glue that holds companies together. To harness the full workforce potential and assemble the best possible team, you have to create a sound recruitment policy, your road map. Look into, but also beyond just skills and experience. Make sure candidates fit your business culture and relate to your vision. Find out what drives them and foster a positive and healthy work environment. Offer enough perks and benefits to attract and retain talent. Keep the engagement, productivity and motivation going.

Reducing the overheads

Expenditures tend to quickly add up and they can melt the budget in no time. The best way to prevent this disaster from shattering your entrepreneurial dreams is to keep the spending in check. So, calculate exactly how much money is coming in and out of your business. Next, identify major problem areas, where you can make savings. There is no shortage of tactics here: working from home, outsourcing instead of hiring full-time, improving power quality to trim electricity bills, buying supplies in bulk, increasing water conservation, etc.

Sow the seeds of success

If you really mean business, you have to compete on more than just price or product quality. Never succumb to the temptation to cut corners or fight on all fronts at once. Take your time planning and fleshing out strategies. Assess risks and tackle problems before they spiral out of control. Get to know your audience and adapt to rapidly-changing preferences. Keep up the pace technological advancements and market trends. You should be able to tap into a steady stream of cash and propel your whole organization forward. 

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to marketing and latest business trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

How Agile Changed Project Management for Good

Depending on who you ask and how liberal with your definition of Agile you are willing to be, agile project management has been around for centuries, perhaps even millennia. Simply put, the common sense tenets behind agile project management are just too common sense to be limited to just one industry, country or era.

However, when we talk about agile project management today, we mostly see it in terms of agile software development with a bit of lean manufacturing that directly preceded and influenced agile.

In that sense, we really can talk about a more direct and obvious way that agile changed project management in the last 20-odd years, with far-fetching consequences, both good and bad.

Agile branching out

Agile project management, as discussed today,was born in the software development industry as a way to address certain inherent problems observed when trying to deliver better, more valuable software. A number of methodologies, frameworks and approaches developed over the years, with many of them already having large numbers of proponents when the term Agile was actually chosen to denote this new approach to handling software projects.

Due to the positive effects of agile project management on the quality of software being delivered by the teams and companies that adopted it, agile slowly but steadily started to creep into other industries and it is currently present in industries and fields such as healthcare, manufacturing (where its roots lie), marketing, HR and even sales.

But, what is it exactly that makes agile project management so interesting and beneficial when done the right way?

Improved adaptability

One of the biggest benefits of agile project management over more traditional PM approaches is the improved adaptability, a true cornerstone of agile. Namely, agile accepts uncertainty and change as an inseparable part of any project and actually welcomes it. Planning done in agile is kept to a realistic minimum and the project is allowed to inform itself, so to say. The team estimates, inspects and re-estimates every aspect of the project as it is going on, making them more adaptable and reducing waste.

Emphasis on communication

The value of constant communication is one of the main themes in agile, extending beyond just communication within the team.Communication in agile entails communication with customers, other organizational groups and individuals, partners, suppliers, end-users and anyone else that could be considered a stakeholder. While all agile approaches preach this, some of them, such as Scrum (the most widely adopted agile framework)even prescribes events that are aimed at boosting communication.

Empowered teams

Another way in which agile changed project management is that it re-introduced the world to a very common sense concept – grown-up people do not require round the clock babysitting to do their work. In fact, they will be much more efficient and innovative if they are treated like adults and given autonomy. Agile project management therefore promotes self-organized teams that make decisions on their own, pull in work as they feel comfortable, but also adopt a shared and more pronounced feeling of responsibility for their work.

Better customer outcomes

At the very core of agile is delivering a superior product (originally a piece of software). In other words, we are talking about a product of high quality and high business value to the customer. The points we covered above all lead to this – adaptability which ensures the end product/service makes sense in the marketplace; communication with the customer and other stakeholders which also informs a valuable product and empowered teams that see this product as their own and do not just ‘put in 8 hours at the office’.

A few considerations

Agile project management has become an ecosystem of its own, with its own theory and the inevitable debates, its various approaches, certifications, roles and specifically developed Agile tools.If you are interested in adopting agile for your company, you would do well to learn more.

Also, you should remember that it takes some time and a lot of effort and dedication for agile to work. Just saying you are agile does not mean that you are – it is a huge shift in the way your business does things.

Finally, sometimes agile simply isn’t the best approach due to the nature of the work your company may be doing, your customers or the makeup of your organization. However, even in those cases, agile principles can be a welcome addition, if only in the company culture sense of the word.

AUTHOR: Jug Babic is a marketer at VivifyScrum, a company behind the eponymous agile project management software. You can find him on Twitter – @BabicJug.

Starting a Business: How to Find the Right Technology Solutions for Your Company

Starting a business can be a complicated experience, but it is often rewarding. If you are starting a business, you should consider using technology solutions to make the business run more efficiently.

Use Technology for Time Management

Time management is a necessary part of starting a business. You need to have a timeline, goals for your time and know what you’re doing at all times. If you know these things, you’ll always know exactly when you need to be performing a task or something similar. It’s important to start doing this right away.

IT Operations Matter

Handling IT aspects can be hard especially for someone who has never worked in IT before. Using Managed IT operation services might make it easier for you to handle different aspects of IT. It may also make it easier for you to form connections with the people you’re working with since it can be easier to get started with your business if you handle the technological aspects of it.

Team up for Technology

If there is a piece of technology you really want but just aren’t quite ready to invest in right away, you might want to team up with another company that’s getting off the ground. Split the cost of the tool and then split your use of it. There are different ways you can do this, but the easiest is finding software that can easily switch between different systems or companies.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Technology is all about working smarter instead of working harder. Dedicate different tasks to the way you want to work and make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the tasks easier. It’s important to try different things and make sure you’re prepared for anything that could come in the way of your business being successful.

Research before Investing

Always do your research. The chances are you researched about your business before you invested your time and money in it. Do the same thing with technology you plan to use in your business. If you know what you want, start researching it right away so you can make the necessary changes. It’s important to focus on how technology can improve your business instead of how it could cost your business a lot of money.

Starting a business doesn’t have to be difficult. Even though it takes a lot of work, there are things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly.

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

Growing Your Company: 5 Reasons to Consider Relocating Your Business

You are trying to improve the way you do business. This means you are attempting to grow your company, and you would like to have a greater impact on the local marketplace. Yet, in order to achieve your business growth goals, you realize that you must consider relocating your company to a new area. The following are five reasons why this is going to be an excellent move for your business.

An Exercise in Team Work

Sometimes a relocation effort can be great for company morale. The thought of moving to a new location can cause employees to pull it together like never before. They can even get the opportunity to work with an experienced full service moving company to ensure that the big move is executed in a timely fashion without any hitches. This will give you an opportunity to let your employees know how much you appreciate all the hard work they are doing to help your company relocation happen as it should.

Relocation Will Improve Visibility

When you started your business, you had to settle for a location that was a little off the beat and path. You did not have the necessary capital reserves to plant your operation in a highly visible area. This has hurt business to some degree, but these days you have more capital to put down on a better location; so, moving your operations to a more visible location is the right move to make for your business needs.

A Larger Space

A new location will provide more space for your company. With more space, you will be able to accommodate more customers at one time. This means you will be able to carry more items in stock, and your business will also experience an increase in sales volume. This will set your company up on a faster track to future expansion.

Better Logistics

In your old location, it was difficult for trucks to maneuver for dropping off shipments. In fact, the small space you were operating out of made this a nightmare for large trucks and their drivers. Your new location has more area for trucks to pull into, and it will accommodate more off-loading space for merchandise. This is good news, because it means you will be able to finally order goods at a higher capacity without it creating such a mess for your employees.

Community Support

With a bigger location to operate out of, you will also be able to get more deeply involved in the local community. You will have the right location for throwing large events which will be good for the community and your company’s bottom line. In addition, this will translate to a lot more media coverage than you were able to get when operating out of your older location.

Moving to a new location for your business is going to bring positive changes to your company. You will have more space, you will enjoy higher visibility and you will have an ability to do more business than ever before. For the first time, your business will start to feel like it has finally reached that next level beyond the startup phase.

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

Build Your Bottom Line with These 4 Surprising Business Strategies

When it comes to tracking your company’s growth, very few numbers are as important as the bottom line. As a business owner, you should constantly be on the lookout for new ways to increase your bottom line without sacrificing your core ideals. Here is a quick look at four proven tactics that will boost your bottom line no matter which industry you are in.

Hire a Good HR Team

According to one recent study, companies are now spending more money than ever on litigation costs. There is no surefire way to completely protect your company from all legal troubles, but hiring a good HR team could help you avoid a wide variety of issues. Your human resources team can help you come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid expensive problems such as workplace injuries and unlawful termination lawsuits. They can also gauge employee satisfaction and reduce your turnover rates.

Focus on Cheap or Affordable Marketing

Traditional advertising mediums such as television and radio spots are still effective, but smaller companies don’t always have the resources for those types of campaigns. A strong online presence will allow you to reach millions of people from around the world at a fraction of the price. At the very least, your company must have an eye-catching website and active social media accounts. Those spaces will give current and future clients multiple ways to easily contact you if necessary.

Create a Knowledge Base

If you are losing clients because of inefficient support, then you need to work on a solid knowledge base. Depending on which industry you are in, your clients might benefit from any mixture of white papers, how-to guides, and online video tutorials. Creating that content and then offering it to clients for free will also reduce the amount of time that your employees spend on customer support. Those guides and videos are especially important if you are providing a product or service that has never been seen on the market.

Build Camaraderie with Team Meals

Many business owners are surprised to hear that corporate catering can be an extremely powerful tool when used properly. Instead of sending your employees off on their own to have lunch, you might want to consider scheduling at least a few communal meals a year. In addition to potentially receiving tax deductions for those meals, you are also going to boost your staff’s efficiency and improve company culture. Offering healthy meals can reduce sick days and increase productiveness as well.

No single growth strategy is going to work for every business, and that is why you need to test out at least a few different options. As you try out these various tactics, you should carefully track their success to see which are working and which can be left behind.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

Strengthening the Backbone of Your Business, One Employee at a Time

Without our employees, our businesses are pretty useless. After all, who’s going to help us find clients, who’s going to manage our accounts and who’s going to do all of our advertising? Businesses should be pictured as gigantic machines with each cog being manned by a living and breathing person. If one of those cogs fails, then the machine could probably still work, but it’s not going to be as efficient as if everyone is working in harmony.

This is why we refer to your employees as the backbone of your business. Without their support, every other asset in your business will collapse and fail. Think of your employees as the glue that holds your business together and makes it successful. backbone

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Strengthen your team the correct way

 Now that you understand the importance of a solid core group of staff, here’s how you can strengthen them.

Firstly, focus on your employees and how to improve their morale. Are they suffering because their chairs are uncomfortable? Do you think they need vision insurance because they’re staring at the computer for too long and you’re worried about their eyesight? Is their equipment outdated, causing them to be less productive?

These are all issues that you should keep in mind, but it’s actually fairly difficult to tell if it’s the case unless your employees are giving you regular feedback. As such, it’s important to keep channels of communication open so that you can receive comments on how you’re doing, how your employees are doing, and how your business is running in general. Without this employee feedback loop, you’ll be left in the dark when it comes to strengthening the backbone of your business and it will become difficult to manage your employees.

A little happiness goes a long way, and the happier your employees are the more likely they’re going to stay with your business. They are, after all, the backbone of your company, so if they’re happy, then your business is going to be in good shape and they’ll go the extra mile to ensure that your company is running optimally.

Teaching your employees new skills

 One of the best ways to improve the productivity of each employee is to give them specialised training in their fields or teach them new skills that could complement their current skillset. For instance, if you’re working in a software development field, then your quality assurance testers could also make fantastic debuggers. Your social media management team could do with a course in interacting with media, and even your telephone operators could become fantastic community managers in the future.

It’s important to recognise when an employee is being held back by their current role. This is so you can create an effective means of promoting them. By teaching them new skills, they will become more productive, they’ll strengthen the core of your team and they will ultimately play a key role in your business’s growth and success.

Lock And Load: Your People Are Your Business’s Best Weapon

Creativity. Intelligence. Skills. Attitude. These are areas of the business that you want to excel, but it’s not something you can do alone. At the end of the day, most businesses are a collective of people who bring bits and pieces of these to the table. How they’re utilized, grown or stifled all depends on what kind of workplace they’re put in. As a boss, it should be your number one priority to get the best out of your employees.

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Engagement is your number one priority

Motivation, corporate culture, they’re all tools and parts of the core of any team. Engagement with their work. When people aren’t engaged, they don’t see a career or a calling. They see a list of tasks they have the skills to do. Getting them engaged makes them think more about what they do and what part they play in the whole. It gets them invested in the business and more likely to think creatively about what they can offer. Get your employees engaged by touching base with them. Find different ways to ask them about how they feel about their job and the direction of the business. Ask about concerns from the top levels of organization down to the everyday minutia that finds its way in their working life.

Negative gossip is your number one enemy

Cohesion is just as important to a workplace. Have no doubt, people will disagree on everything from working methods to their life-choices. But those disagreements shouldn’t get in the way of their work. If gossip is allowed to spread, it cuts communication and collaboration on projects. People are less willing to work with one another and more likely to pass responsibility. You need to handle negative gossip and disputes. As soon as you know of any perpetrators, start talking one-on-one. Try to get to the root cause of it without taking sides. Without getting into specifics, talk to the team as a whole, too. Try to get them to understand how it damages everyone in the end. Provide a channel for communicating criticism directly to address it. Not letting it fester under the surface of the working day.

Giving them a workplace fitting their talents

As important as communication is, you can’t neglect the environment that your staff works in, either. The office itself has a huge role to play. Physical characteristics such as more light and diverse spaces to work in improve productivity and morale. Cleanliness, good décor and visual branding increase pride of place. The better they feel about their workspace, the better they feel about the company providing it. Communal break areas also prove an excellent stress reliever for employees. They provide the opportunity for more cohesion, too.

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Showing real care for them

A suitable office space also includes ergonomically designed tables and chairs. This fights the risk of back pain and repetitive strain injury. Above all else, you need to consider your duty to your employees in providing a healthy, safe workplace. This means risk assessments and education on health issues should be common in the workplace. It also means that you should focus on health as being one of the major perks you offer your employees. You need to be looking at offers from places like http://oururgentcare.com/service-category/employer-services/. You need to offer them healthcare help that is more than token. You should be showing that you care for their health not just because it’s expected of you.

Trust is what builds a team

Beyond caring for them, you have to show them that you have some real belief in them as well. This means giving them the opportunity to step up. Giving them the opportunity to show their skills as well as developing new ones. You should have an employee development plan for everyone in your business, no matter their position. As well as providing training and career advice, you should provide responsibility, too. When your plate is full, your team can help you. Learn to delegate responsibilities that you believe someone is ready for. Don’t try to be the boss that thinks they have to handle everything themselves. Learn when to let go of the reins.

Treat them like customers

Far too many employers worry about whether or not their employees are expendable. They fear having someone who would be difficult to let to. Instead, you should be thinking about how to retain them. Treat them like customers. How do you offer them what they need to stay with you? Offering career progression alongside the other points mentioned above is an important part of that. At the same time, you need to recognize when it is also time to let someone go. If someone has no more progress to be made with you, you should even help them find a new position. You never know what they might be in future and they won’t forget how well you treated them.

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Work together towards better results

Let’s look at the conversation is around performance and productivity. In them, too often employers take the role of the wagging finger from above. Telling them they’re not doing well enough and better shape up. That helps no-one. It just makes your employee afraid and insecure in their job. Instead, get on their level, as suggested by https://www.hrbartender.com/2013/employee-engagement/how-to-have-a-performance-conversation-with-an-employee/. If they’re doing well, ask how they do it. See what they’ve brought to the job what you might not have expected. If they’re not doing well, find out the in-depth processes of their work. See if there are methods you can help them change or engagement problems you can help fix. Find measurements you can use together to track progress, like key performance indicators.

You should legitimately care about your staff and put the time into building them. Then you have a lot more than a platform for delivering products and services. You have a team of people dedicated to a cause, with the engagement and skills to keep excelling even without your guiding hand. For any owner, there’s no better indication of how successful a business idea can be.