The Importance Of A Strong Business Reputation

If you want your new business to succeed in any way, focusing on building up a positive reputation for your company is the best way of laying the right foundations. Whether you want to attract new customers, build up your brand, or expand your business’s horizons further afield, there is nothing that will impact on your ability to do so than your reputation.

The trouble for small businesses is that you have no reputation. And it can take a lot of time and effort to ensure that your audience sees you in a positive and credible light. With this in mind, here are a few ideas that you can use to get things off to the best possible start.

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Always keep your promises

When you let down a customer, statistics suggest they will tell ten other people about their experience. And while the obvious solution to that is to ensure it never happens, the simple fact is that you will never satisfy everyone all of the time. Your job is to make sure that you keep any promises you make, and ensure that you deliver at every opportunity. And if you do make a mistake, be quick to address it. It’s easy for customers to complain in public these days, thanks to social media and review sites. But as long as you are honest and straight up in your responses, you can limit the damage of these issues.

Be secure

Don’t underestimate how much safety and security plays on the minds of your customers. It’s a huge issue, thanks to the many news stories on data hacking and online security threats, but it’s vital that your clients know you have their best interests at heart. Look around for identity verification services with the security you need to gain your customer’s’ trust. Highlight the fact you take security seriously on your website, too, and offer sound advice to customers on how they can protect their data.

Do more

When you are just starting out in business, you have to make a lot more effort to impress. But, if you go above and beyond the call of duty for your customers, they will always keep coming back, and you will establish a loyal customer base. Try including extra services for no additional cost, or offer recommendations to customers if you don’t have what they are looking for. Always try to help, even when it might not be profitable. Treating anyone you encounter with respect, kindliness, and integrity will always win out.

Say sorry

As we mentioned above, people will make complaints, and everyone in every business will make a mistake. And while some individuals in the world will grumble and complain about anything, the vast majority will be happy with a simple apology. Most people realize that mistakes happen, and a foul up won’t damage your business in any way – as long as you ‘fess up and react positively and appropriately to their concerns. Don’t forget, you can learn a lot from your customer’s complaints, and who knows? Perhaps the next big complaint will lead to you changing things and improving your business offering altogether?

Options: The Gold Standard For Business

You walk up to the fast food counter – you’ve been in a rush, you always are, but you know at the counter there will be a big grand board full of delicious options for you to choose from. From burgers to hot dogs and fries as well as shakes and soda pops – you know you’ll be sorted. That’s the standard everywhere, right? Big boards full of options.

So, you get to the counter and look up – there are no options, you’re going to have to suffer for their choice of food – but you really wanted something else! There’s nothing even close to what you want! How does this make you feel? It won’t be good. The thing is, if that business offered a wider range of choices to you, the customer, they may have made a sale – but you went to your favorite place after being left unsatisfied. They lost out on a sale by bottlenecking their sales into one product that might not be enjoyed by all. Does this make sense? Only if the product captures the heart of many audiences! That’ll be a one of a kind product, though.

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Businesses always need to offer choice – choice allows for compromise and compromises mean a deal can eventually be done – whether it means a different color for a design, or even removing cheese from the burger of someone who is lactose intolerant. Choice allows for a sale to be made when one may not have been made originally. Choice could be the thing that saves your business. When is a variety of choice not a good idea? Only in specific circumstances – vegan eateries might not cater for dairy lovers and meat eaters, but that is only part of the choice, they will still offer a wide range of options via a menu or specials board. Even in this situation, options are available.

What can you offer options in? Well – everything. You can offer different ranges of products that bridge the gap between different audiences. Video game publishers do this by signing up developers to make games for both kids and adults. Restaurants do this by offering various menus at different price points. These aren’t the only options you can offer – will you take cash, card, check, credit or organize a payment plan with http://vyze.com/consumer-financing/point-of-sale-financing/?

There are plenty of options that you can offer to your customers and expand the chances of a sale, but some of these aren’t suitable – so be smart. Allowing yourself to offer payment options gives your business a great chance of bringing in more customers, as they find themselves being able to pay for their goods. If customers can’t pay, they won’t be able to buy goods – so offer the choices.

If you can find yourself attracting secondary markets beyond your target market, you’ll expand your profit margins easily. Offering options is the way to do this. Options and choice? They are the gold standard for your business, don’t give anything less.

How To Overhaul Your Bland Brand

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Realising that a business is about far more than hiring hard-working people and selling a great service is the first step towards expanding your eyes to the true scope of your potential market. You might have achieved some success already, but perhaps branding has been holding you back even though your team is professional and extremely motivated to help the company succeed and deliver an amazing product or service to consumers.

If you want to overhaul your bland brand, the key is to start showcasing the aspects of your business that your customers want to see in as concise a manner as possible. If you have the talent, dedication and amazing service that customers should be rushing in to buy, then you need to portray that effectively throughout your branding. Here are some pieces of advice to help you achieve that.

Keep it focused

Your brand needs to be clear to the customer. You may have many different dreams in terms of directions the business could take, as your entrepreneurial mindset could lead you down many creative avenues, but your brand can only succeed if it focuses on the consumer. You need to be addressing their wants and needs, which means you need to keep things simple.

The name needs to be straightforward, the product or service needs to be unified in solving a specific problem or meeting a specific market. If you’re running a beauty salon, you need to remain focused on the beauty element of things and not start offering a jumbled selection of services related to clothing or other “vaguely related” industries. You need to define what your brand does. You can provide different services, but they must be related.

Create a strong internal brand

Your brand doesn’t just flourish through marketing, but through the team behind the logo. In order to create a real brand that customers can believe, it needs to be real for your employees too. That means you need to put effort into making the workplace modern, engaging and fun, perhaps with a pool table in the break room, so as to deliver on your promise of a contemporary, fun and relaxed business. You could look into office cleaning services if you don’t have the time to constantly keep a workplace spotless on top of your workload. There’s always a way to prioritise the appearance of your office area and keep your workers as happy as your customers.

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Build an airtight reputation on trust

Your brand is more than pretty images and catchy marketing slogans. Your brand is a name, and that name signifies something to your target market. If you want to start reeling in great numbers of potential customers, you need an airtight reputation in order to prove your worth to them before they take a leap of faith in trusting you. You need to be making solid promises and guarantees to your customers in order to build a very real, personal bond of trust between you both.

Promising that you’ll give the customer their money back if you were lying about the fantastic nature of your product or service proves to them that you’re really committed to genuinely pleasing them, rather than simply taking their money and leaving them to deal with a dodgy product. You need a voice which makes a real impact on your customers. This is the difference between a company which tries to make a quick buck and one which tries to build a permanent, long-lasting reputation for itself amongst a growing client-base. This is how you create a real brand, rather than simply a business.

Never Bet Your Bottom Dollar In Business!

Business can be a risky thing for many reasons. A lack of planning can see a start-up fail before it has started up. Annoying customers can lead to a lack of income. A lack of income can derail a business and turn any sign of success into failure. But business doesn’t have to be risky business, no.

Many businesses operate on unsteady incomes. For a prime example of that, take freelancers and designers who charge invoices to clients. These invoices might make up all, if not most, of a freelancers income. Most clients pay invoices bang on time and do you know what, that’s great! Some clients might have other priorities though and might not meet payment terms often. For a freelancer, that can be a huge problem.

For any business that relies on invoicing, it can bring insecurity to mind – the invoice has been sent, the work has been done – but the cash isn’t there. Frankly it’s an unsustainable business model for that to happen, but it does and it is because of circumstances out of the workers hands. That being said, you need to work to the situation at hand and not the hypothetical best case scenario, which in this instance simply does not exist at all.

If a freelancer spends on the basis of invoices that haven’t yet been completed by the client – it can be a huge issue. What if the client never pays up? What if bankruptcy is declared and the invoice is never fulfilled? In these circumstances, it might be your invoice that sits at the bottom of a steep list of creditors – which might mean you won’t see your money – ever.

If you spend that invoice and don’t see the cash, you’ve made a gamble. Big mistake. You need to think these things through and seek alternatives – debtor finance – for example. It’s not your fault, no, but businesses cannot be run on pure assumptions. Always consult the spread of options before you before putting it all on black…

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Gambles in business shouldn’t factor into anything you do. What could be seen as a gamble? Any move without the backing of hard facts and data! For instance, if you are looking to move premises without taking into the key considerations such as why, how and cost – you could be setting yourself up for business disaster! Every move you make in business needs to be grounded in reality, and not hypothetical situations. If you make decisions that cost, it could be a bigger expense than you initially thought – and that could sink your business. Another example would be in the hiring of employees – are you hiring to fill a need in your team or are you expanding your payroll for no reason? These ungrounded moves are going to lead you to disaster if they are made recklessly and often.

Every move you make in business needs to be grounded in reality, and not hypothetical situations. If you make decisions that cost, it could be a bigger expense than you initially thought – and that could sink your business. Another example would be in the hiring of employees – are you hiring to fill a need in your team or are you expanding your payroll for no reason? These ungrounded moves are going to lead you to disaster if they are made recklessly and often.

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There’s no excuse anymore and data is available in all forms from income to production statistics. The foundations of plans lie before your very eyes and if you are making big business moves without consulting the truth, and the facts – you might not be in business for long. Don’t bet your bottom dollar in business, because it could be the last mistake your business makes.

Business Continuity is More Important than You Think

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When people talk about running a business, a lot of essential elements get covered. Financing, recruitment, health and safety, energy usage, social media, etc. But something that isn’t spoken about quite as much is business continuity. Sure, its importance may not be as immediately obvious as with some of the other business elements listed previously. But although it doesn’t sound very sexy, there’s no doubt that your company needs a business continuity plan.

What is this “business continuity plan” you speak of?

Some businesses put a lot of focus on disaster aversion. They’ll put up all the barriers they can think of to assure that nothing goes wrong. They’ll install hundreds of dollars worth of Internet security measures. They’ll install fire alarms, put sprinklers on the ceilings, place fire extinguishers in every corner of the office. They’ll make sure their office is somewhere with as low a risk of earthquakes as possible. But they won’t put any focus into how they’ll keep certain areas of the business going if these disasters strike, and how they’ll recover afterward.

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Business continuity puts a focus on just that. Putting together a business continuity plan is a way of acknowledging and uncomfortable but simple truth: sometimes, disaster can’t be avoided. Fires, earthquakes, cyber attacks, falls, floods – these things can’t always be averted, regardless of how many resources you pour into prevention.

That’s not to say you should take the attitude of the person who smokes because “they’re going to die anyway”. Disaster isn’t guaranteed, and putting measures in place to prevent them from happening in your business are worth the trouble. But without a business continuity plan, your business could be in serious trouble if you find yourself unable to avoid those disasters. It’s about making sure you lose as little work time as possible; keeping the ship moving towards its destination even if some of its parts need fixing.

To better elucidate what we’re talking about and highlight its importance, let’s take some examples of a few problems that can cause severe disruption to your business and how they can be best dealt with. We don’t need to look to the possibilities of fire and floods to do this – we can look at much less dramatic scenarios to get the point across.

 

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Common disruptions

One of the simplest and most common examples – seriously, if you run a business, then you’ve probably dealt with it – is that of a disruption in employee availability. It’s a crucial day for your project and you need all hands on deck. But one of your workers has been struck with a terrifying illness and can’t make it in. A disruptive scenario indeed. How do you keep the train moving?

This isn’t a scenario in which you should have to come up with a solution on the spot. If you need a certain number of employees on a particular project at any given time, then you need to plan for the continuity of that project should numbers fall short. You could ensure that you have more than the minimum numbers of workers at any one time on a project. Or you could look into telecommuting methods that allows housebound employees to contribute from home, should they feel okay to do so.

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Something else that affects more businesses than you think is service discontinuation. Let’s say your office relies on another company in order to do its job. This can take many forms. Perhaps you work with a particular supplier. Well, what if something happens to that supplier? What if they go out of business, or are unable to make an important delivery? You need to come up with a way to keep the business running regardless.

Another area this can affect is in software and Internet services. What business doesn’t rely on some sort of software these days? Let’s say your business uses, for example, Google Docs for collaboration purposes. It’s how you create and share documents. One day, Google Docs is down. You need an alternative to turn to if this happens; you can’t take its functionality for granted at all times. And if software that you use is discontinued due to the creators going out of business, then you either need a backup program that can take on the same task and import the required data, or you look into source code escrow in order to retain access to the software.

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I’m going to paraphrase a sentence I wrote earlier to help highlight what it is business continuity planning is supposed to do. It’s not the avoidance of a disruptive scenario; it’s the avoidance of a disruptive scenario in which you should have to come up with a solution on the spot. There should already be a measure to which you can turn in order to keep your business moving towards its goals.

Considering the size and work of your business

As you can probably guess, how global your company is and what service it actually provides to others will influence just what scenarios you need to plan for to keep up business continuity. If you’re running an airline. Some of you may remember the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull (no, I can’t pronounce it, either) in Iceland back in 2010. When volcanoes erupt, it’s a pretty big deal for business the world over. No, the lava eruption doesn’t reach so high that it can reach planes – but the ash plumes they emit afterward can cause serious problems. They spread far and wide. Flights were disrupted for over a month due to many businesses being unsure how to keep up business continuity in such a scenario.

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Now let’s say you’re a business that is fairly simple in its operations. It’s office-based and fairly small. Let’s say it’s in New York City or London. But some of the servers you’re outsourcing are based in Thailand or Japan – this is fairly common, and you may not necessarily know they’re based in such countries. Back in 2011, a flood in Thailand caused the destruction of a lot of servers and other computer-based companies. This caused problems the world over.

So while you may think you’re safe from natural disasters where you are, disasters in a completely different continent may affect you in some way! Remember this as you go forth and plan to preserve your business continuity.

Don’t Neglect To Protect Your Business

Smart business act preemptively, rather than waiting for problems to occur before they develop a solution. If you want any chance of success, you shouldn’t be neglecting to protect your business. This is about putting measures in place to prevent damage from not only the things your business can control, but the things it cannot. External factors in the wider market will have an effect on your company, and you need to be prepared for shifts in the tide of consumers or the economy as a whole.

You need to also ensure, of course, that your business doesn’t make foolish mistakes on an internal basis. You have control over your employees and the general operational processes of the company, so it’s your duty to ensure everything is up to scratch in terms of regulations and what the general consumer expects. If you’re wondering what more your organisation could be doing to protect itself from all manner of threats, then here are some broad and varied pieces of advice.

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Foresee danger

Organisations of all sizes will face threats in all forms over the course of their lifetimes, and not all of these threats will be preventable or even directly related to your company. For example, you could head here for a look into a notification system to help prepare your business and its employees for emergencies in the form of natural disasters.

Of course, danger can come in many forms, and a smart business, which protects not only its assets but its reputation, will put measures in place to prevent cyber threats; for example, backing up data on a cloud server in case the physical onsite server is damaged and also installing firewalls along with other defensive measures as a preventative tactic.

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Secure the premises

In a more physical sense, you should be protecting the office in which your business is based. This might seem like an obvious piece of advice, and perhaps your business doesn’t seem as if it would be a likely target, but most burglaries are unplanned. That means if somebody is feeling opportunistic and they see a weakness in your work premises, they might try their luck. A loss of important information or resources won’t just cost you the money required to replace them, but likely put a dent in your profits whilst operations suffer and you try to bounce back from the theft; depending on the scale of the robbery.

Whilst strengthening doors and windows should be a priority, there’s always a chance that somebody determined enough will find a way into a premises. The key is to deter people from doing so, as it’s uncommon for people to plan burglaries, as mentioned above. If you install CCTV, you’re essentially telling criminals that, even if they manage to break into the premises and steal something, you’ll have captured the crime on tape. This will be enough to discourage most people from even attempting to do so.

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Protect your brand

The business world can get vicious, and you need to protect your intellectual property. If your company finds itself onto a good thing, then other competitors or aspiring imitators might attempt to jump on the bandwagon and steal elements of your branding and products. That’s why it’s so important to patent everything so as to ensure that another company doesn’t take the beginnings of your product idea and race to the finish line, gaining all the credit and all the profit.

Ultimate Guidelines For Protecting Your Business

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When you first have an idea for a business, your mind will be whirring with excitement and creativity. You’ll be keen to get started with the fun stuff of drawing up your long-term plans, designing products and websites, and getting out there and networking and marketing your ideas.

However, the unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you start a business. And unless you spend a significant amount of time and energy looking at the broad range of protections you need to take, you’re just setting yourself up for trouble, rather than success.

With this in mind, we thought we would give you a brief outline of everything you need to cover when starting out in a new business. Yes, there are probably more interesting things you want to be doing. But, ultimately, it will all be for nothing if you don’t have the right protections in place. Let’s take a closer look.

The basics

First of all, make sure you form the company in the right way. There could be a multitude of issues later on down the line if you don’t choose the right legal framework for your new business, so get it right from the off. You can visit Your Company Formations Limited or head over to the HMRC website for more information on setting up a limited company or forming any other type of business. It’s advisable to hire a business lawyer and an accountant in the early stages, too. Your accountant will help you keep your nose clean with regards to finances and tax laws. And having a lawyer on board right from the start will give you a secure and experienced foundation that you can draw upon in any legal situation – which will occur, no matter how you try and avoid them.

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Your Intellectual Property

Don’t underestimate the threat of industrial espionage and the impact it can have on your business. Your ideas – if good enough – are an attractive prospect for other entrepreneurs, who may be in a better position than you are to make them happen. It would be catastrophic to be beaten in a race with another company to launch a product you have created, so make sure you have protections for your intellectual property. Trademarks, patents, brand protections – get cover for them all.

Contracts

Here’s another big reason to get a business lawyer involved at an early stage – your contracts. You will need to have agreements with everyone involved with your business, from your co-founders and your investors to your suppliers and customers. Employment contracts are essential, too, of course, and the slightest mistake or incorrectly worded statement in a contract could result in a lot of financial pain. Contracts give you legal protection when hiring people, trading goods, and enforcing processes with your suppliers, so do not neglect this vital part of starting a business.

Insurance

If the worst happens – which it will do at some point – you need insurance to cover your costs. Let’s assume a worker or a visitor to your business premises suffers a severe injury while in your workplace. A day or two in court could result in crippling compensation payments, which could well see you going out of business. There’s theft to consider, too, as well as product malfunctions, service disruptions, and anything else a customer might take issue with.

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The technical side of running a business

Make sure that you don’t get carried away with the exciting side of running a business and leave the core stuff to one side. No one likes doing admin, of course, but if you forget about the basic corporate and legal responsibilities – such as keeping your accounts in good order – your business dreams might end in tears. There is an enormous range of things that will need doing, from license renewals through to meeting minutes, but you need to make sure that you cover yourself by doing everything in the correct way.

Day-to-day cover

As a business owner, it can be hard to track everything that needs doing on a daily basis – you just won’t have the time. There is a solution, however, which lies in the field of human resources. Whether you hire an HR team full-time or outsource to a third party HR service, they can be a great help ensuring your business is going about its duties in the right way. While many business owners look at hiring sales or marketing teams first to grow their businesses, you might be better off installing an HR presence instead.

 

 

 

Make An Exhibition Of Your Business At Any Trade Show!

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Despite all of the advances that technology and the internet have brought about in the world of modern business, one thing that will never change is the importance of being able to communicate with your customers and investors face to face directly. Human beings are social by nature, and no amounts of technological advancements are going to change that. One of the most consistently effective methods of being able to speak to customers directly is by having a stand at a trade show. People might find out about products and businesses online more than ever these days, but there really is no substitute for some hands-on experience when it comes to enticing customers. The problem that presents itself is that your business is probably one of dozens of stands at any given trade show. If you want to draw in customers, then you’ve got to make sure that you’re able to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, there are a few pretty simple ways to do just that.

1. Visual interest

The hardest thing about standing out at a trade show is that you’re just going to be one of many stands that are vying for the attention of various attendees. This makes is incredibly easy for you to fade into the background unless you do something about it. You should aim to get people’s attention from the second that they step into the venue. Distinct branding, bright colours, and large displays are all ideal for this. Flags either side of your booth are a fantastic way to keep yourself in people’s eye line no matter where they are. Companies like Selby’s provide all kinds of opportunities to create visual interest for potential customers. Once customers reach your stand, then you can let your charm and passion for your business reel them in, but you won’t get the chance to do that unless something draws them to it in the first place. Whether you want to use portable banners that you can set up in front of the booth, or you’re looking for something a little more ostentatious like large flags with your logo on them, it’s absolutely crucial that you make your stand as visually striking and engaging as possible.

2. Do something unique

It’s just the visual elements of your booth that should be unique, bringing in customers with exciting flags and banners is only going to get you so far. Once people are at your stand, then you need to make sure that their experience with you doesn’t blur into the dozens of others that they’ll potentially have throughout the day. Try to think about what you can offer that other companies might not. Of course, there are few things more effective than giving people a hands-on experience with your product, allowing them to discover it for themselves rather than having you just explain to them why it’s amazing. Of course, if you wanted to combine such an old school approach with more modern technologies then why not look into things like VR? Virtual Reality might seem like the realm of science fiction, but tech like the Oculus Rift and Vive are bringing it well and truly into the present. So why not take advantage of that, give your customers a virtual tour of how your product is made. It’s the same basic idea as the videos that many businesses have had at booths at trade shows for years, but it’s guaranteed to leave a much greater impression on your customers.

Are You Providing Your Customers With the Very Best Products You Can?

If your customers are not getting the very best that your business has to offer, then it’s up to you to make improvements. Your customers can easily head to one of your rivals if you don’t offer them products that are of the highest quality. So, don’t leave things to chance and don’t take steps that save money but harm the products that customers buy. Saving money in the short-term is a false economy if you lose lots of customers in the long-term. Here’s how to offer the best products to your customers.

Offer a Promise and a Guarantee

Offering your customers some kind of promise or guarantee when they come to you and buy from you can really help a lot. It shows them that you really care about them and the products that you sell to them. It also shows that you believe in the things that you’re selling. And if something goes wrong, they will be backed up by the guarantee you offered. It’s an extra layer of security that your customers will really appreciate, so don’t underestimate how important it could be.

 

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Create Products That Are Built to Last

Your products should always be built to last. If they’re not, then your customers will be left disappointed sooner or later. Many businesses give in to the temptation to create products using cheap methods and cheap materials. Although this might seem like a good idea from a budgeting point of view, it’s one of those decisions that is highly likely to backfire on you, so you really do need to be careful. If you create products that people are not able to rely on for a long time, customers won’t come back for a second purchase. If you want to improve the protective coating of your products, you can view spray booths online. This will show customers that your products are strong and reliable.

Never Skip Product Testing

The product testing phase of your product’s development is one that cannot and should not be skipped. If you think that this part of the process is not really that important, you’re very wrong. When you test your products, you often find minor flaws and problems. You can then rectify these problems before your customers hand over their cash and their hands on the products. It’s always better for you to find these mistake during testing than for your customers to discover them after the purchase has been made.

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When a Customer Has a Problem, Make Sure it Doesn’t Happen Again

Finally, you need to know what to do when one of products does have a problem. Listen to customers and what they’re saying about your products. When you do this, you can be sure that you are on the right tracks and able to put right the problems that are there. Then, the next batch of products that are manufactured can be sent out to the world without any of those same problems. That’s really important. You should never let mistakes repeat themselves.

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How to Ensure You’re Giving Your Customers the Best Possible Attention

Put your customers first at all times, and you will be able to generate more business. It’s really important to make sure you come up with ideas that will help you retain clients. And these suggestions are great for helping you give them the full care and attention they need.

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Take the Time to Understand Them

Take the time to understand your clients and what they want. Not enough businesses do that anymore. It’s no good coming up with ideas that you think are great if the customers don’t. Use your initiative, make use of marketing and market research, and find out what people want. Giving your clients care and attention is really important. And the best way of doing this is to focus on exactly what they want and make sure you get it right for them.

Service is the Most Important Thing

Don’t forget how important customer service is. Your business goal should not be to simply secure sales then get people out the door as quick as you can. You want them to have an experience and enjoy themselves. You want repeat custom, and you can only get this by giving the customers attention and service. It costs a lot more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. So it’s hugely important to make sure all of your customers are satisfied with your business. This is the reason customers service is so vital.

Free Up Time in the Business

A great way of giving your customers better attention is to free up the time to do that. This means making changes within the business to make sure everything is more efficient and better run. There are so many ways you can go about doing this. For instance, you might use Physical Address to secure virtual mail for the company. This will save you time and effort by organizing important documentation for you. It might also be worth going down the route of running man a leaner company. This will save money and free up time and manpower to dedicate to customers. Freeing up time gives you more to focus on making sure the customers have all the attention they need.

Deliver on Promises

There’s nothing worse for customers than businesses not delivering on their promises. People don’t like being deceived or lied to. So you need to make sure you don’t make promises you are unable to fulfil. And you have to honor the promises you do make to your clients. This is the best way of making them satisfied and keeping them around. Stop talking about being customer-oriented and start actually putting it into practice. Too many companies aren’t focused enough on customer experience sustainability. And this can end up being their downfall.

You have got to remember that, as a business, your success starts and ends with your clients. If you can’t bring in and retain customers, you aren’t going to be successful. That’s why it’s important to give your customers the best attention you possibly can. This will help you provide them with the best possible experience, and help drive the business forward.

Don’t Overlook These Important Areas Of Your Company

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Businesses are big. They’re a lot bigger than most people realize. Even small companies have different parts, and it’s best to think of businesses as giant machines. Overall, they may look like one thing but beneath the surface, there’s a lot going on that you don’t see or even notice. However, like a machine, if you take just one of the moving cogs away, the whole business collapses. The machine stops working, and it can take quite a long time to fix it. That’s why you can’t neglect certain areas of your business, even though they might not seem important. We promise they are playing a vital part in chartering your business towards success. Let’s start by thinking about HR.

The Key Role Of Human Resources

Human resources probably isn’t an area of your business that you’re too familiar with. They solve problems, and if there aren’t any issues, you may not hear from them for quite some time. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re not an important part of your company. In fact, if you don’t have an HR team in your business, you could find yourself in a tricky situation. To understand why, we need to think about the role that HR plays in business.

One of the main functions of HR is for recruitment services. They’ll recommend people who you could hire for your company. They may also highlight issues with your own choices for potential hires. Usually, HR and management form two separate teams. Both should have some level of say in recruitment decisions. For legal reasons alone, it is never a wise decision to ignore the opinions of HR completely.

The other role of HR is to manage and look after staff that you have already hired. They will deal with any issues that may have arisen in the employee population. This could include questions on new office regulations or emotional challenges. They may also monitor stress levels of the employees in your business.

Thus, HR will help you get a strong and effective team hired for your business. As well as this, they will help you tackle any issues that could affect productivity. Therefore, they are part of your business that is crucial to success rates. If you don’t have a full HR team, you may want to consider using an outsourcing service. Through outsourcing, you can get the benefits of HR without the expensive hiring costs.

The Crucial Part Tech Has To Play

Can you get away without having tech in your business? We highly doubt it, and it’s not just the process of buying the technology. After it’s setup, you need to make sure that it stays running. That’s far from a guarantee. Particularly, if you don’t have an IT support team on staff. An IT support team will ensure that your business tech is always running as it should be. If your tech fails or breaks down, you may go through a period of disaster recovery. Without a team of IT experts, this can take weeks or even months. With them, your systems can be back up and running again within minutes. The longer you are out of the market, the more likely it is to have an effect on your long term prospects. Do not let your business become a victim to these types of issues. Remember, that with an outsourced IT director, the issue of technology isn’t even in your hands. It will be handled by a separate company, trained to deal with common issues effectively.

As well as this, IT support isn’t just about keeping your business running online. You need IT support to protect your data and keep it safe from hackers. As a business owner, you will be responsible for a large amount of data from your customers. Data that, in the wrong hands, could lead to cases of financial fraud. This is the type of situation that can easily damage your business reputation. You’ll be lucky if customers ever decide to buy from you again. Particularly, if the source of the fraud is rooted back to poor security on your end.

It’s clear that technology is important for keeping your business efficient and active on the market. As well as making sure that the interests of your customers and clients are protected.

Deliveries And Receiving Products

These days businesses put so little thought into deliveries that they simply outsource the issue. If you call up a business today asking about a delivery, they will redirect you to a completely different company. You might then be redirected again to speak with the company that took responsibility for the product last. It should be noted that there is no issue with outsourcing the issue of logistics. In fact, it makes a considerable amount of sense considering how much delivery costs can be. That said, though, you have to make sure you still deliver a quality service. Or rather, you’re working in partnership with a company that will keep up high standards. Otherwise, your customers will notice. It’s incredibly difficult to grow and expand a business when you continuously receive bad reviews online. Customers hate problems with deliveries. For a company to reach higher levels of success, this area of the business must be running like clockwork. This brings us to the final aspect of your business you can not neglect.

Customer Service

Deliveries are certainly a part of the customer service and support you provide. However, the customer service team of operations may not be part of your company that you want to outsource. We suggest keeping this area of your business in-house. That way, you can keep track of performance and customer satisfaction levels. It’s far more difficult to do this if the customer service team is not the main part of your company.

Our advice is that you offer customer feedback for calls and complaints. That way, customers feel as though they are being listened to, and you get the data you need. If you improve levels of customer service, you will see reviews of your business become more positive. This will ensure the future success of your company.

Photo Credit

Get Your Business Off To A Flying Start

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If you are in the process of setting up your startup, then there is a lot that you need to consider. All business owners ultimately want their business to be a success. However, knowing how to achieve that is something else altogether. If you are keen for your business to do as well as possible, then this post might help you. In this post, we will look at some of the main things that you need for your business to get off to a good start. Once you can be sure that your business is up and running smoothly, it is more likely to enjoy continued success further down the line. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what those essential qualities are.

Proper Funding

It goes without saying that no business can get going without the right capital behind it. After all, you need to spend money to make money. However, finding adequate funding for a new business can sometimes be a little tricky. If you are keen for your business to get off to a good start, then you need to ensure that you have enough money to get it going strong. Looking for funding is one of the more challenging aspects of setting up a business – but it is essential that you get it right. The most common way to secure funding is through business loans. These are usually your best bet for a new business, though they are not your only option. It might also be worth considering applying for a grant, for example.

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Clear Goals

Of course, your business will have some central reason for existing. This might be that you have a certain product you think the public needs. Alternatively, you might be keen to provide a service which you have noticed seems to be lacking. Whatever your business’ main function is, you should also be sure to have smaller goals in mind. These could be sales-orientated, or they could be based on growth. As long as your business has something to aim towards, it is much more likely to succeed overall. Set yourself clear goals and make sure you actually work towards them with diligence.

A Detailed Plan

In order to achieve those goals, and beyond, you need to have a plan. Your business plan is probably one of the first things you worked on when you got started. However, it is always worth double-checking it to ensure that you have included everything you need to. After all, without a proper plan, you can’t expect your business to really take off. Take a look at your business plan and make sure it is as detailed as it can be. That way, you can be sure that your business will do well.

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Image Credit

Customer Focus

Your business would be nothing without your customers. This is something which every business owner would do well to bear in mind. After all, your customers are the reason that your business can continue to exist. With that in mind, be sure that your business has a strong focus on the customer. Only then can you be sure of its continued success.

Avoid These Fatal Mistakes At Your Start-Up

I’m fascinated by business, and I’ve read countless stories about it over the years. I’ve heard some truly inspiring success stories. Then again, I’ve also heard some heart-rending horror tales. There are a few big mistakes which your company needs to avoid if you want the best chances of success.

Here are a few you should be checking for right now.

Don’t overthink every single move you make

The first mistake you can make as a business owner is overthinking each little move. This is natural for almost every new entrepreneur.Starting your own business is nerve-wracking, especially when you’re always reading posts like these! Determined not to fail, a lot of young new, first-time business people will question their own judgement at every turn. Often, this will only slow down the progress of your business.

Yes, you have a lot to learn. However, if you don’t approach your business with confidence, it will show up in everything you do. In your start-up phase, try to keep a proactive, positive attitude in all your big decisions and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you lack confidence in your own ideas, so will your customers and investors. Exert confidence, and it will have a positive effect on every aspect of your venture.

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Photo Creative Commons Source – Pixabay

Don’t get overconfident

Then there’s the opposite problem; being too confident in your company or yourself and biting off more than you can chew. Okay, when your first big client comes along, it will feel fantastic. However, if you’re not ready for them, your business could grow so rapidly that the whole thing spirals into chaos.

If you start a partnership with a larger company, but don’t have fundamental things like PR and IT support, your firm could outgrow itself. It’s integral that you never enter into a deal unless you’re confident your business can accommodate all the requirements involved, no matter how great it sounds. Understand your limitations and have a reliable system for measuring progress and goals. I know baby steps might be irritating, but they’re often a lot better than the alternative!

Don’t go it alone, get advice, a mentor, advisor, coach

Finally, not seeking advice. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably not affected too much by this issue. However, reading blog posts and seeking a business mentor are too very different things. Of course, in business you can’t expect anything to be spoon-fed to you. However, if you rely too much on your own limited experience, you’ll be setting yourself up to fail.

You may already have a pretty good advisor in mind (click here to contact me!), with a respected coaching philosophy. If not, network like your life depends on it, and find as many business owners you can talk to. Try to find someone in a similar industry, but obviously avoid your competitors! Business owners are squeezed for time, but you’ll be surprised at how happy some of them are to dish out advice and guidance.

Make sure you’re getting constant pointers from valid, reliable sources like my blogs. Business is constantly changing, so don’t overlook this point!

By steering clear of these mistakes, you’ll be saving you and your company a lot of “avoidable” mistakes. There’s a lot more to guaranteeing success, however, you should certainly be wary of these three pitfalls in the beginning to get started on the right foot.

Road To Success – There are no shortcuts

I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this photo – but the message remains vividly clear – there are no shortcuts to success.

Road To Success - Truck

Yet we see it every day – people who buy into the “get rich quick” schemes promoted by the spruikers… If it’s too good to be true… It is.

That doesn’t mean success can’t be achieved more quickly – it just means KNOWING what works versus what DOESN’T… To avoid the silliest, costliest of mistakes – the avoidable ones!

If you want to learn how to succeed with less effort, contact us and we’ll show you the way – safely and efficiently!

Thank you to Gavin Buckett of the Gourmet Guardian for this priceless photo!

 

2016 Australian Holidays

If you are planning an event or activity this year, you’ll want to have a look at the 2016 Australian Public Holiday and School Holiday Calendar.

You often hear about value creation as a key to business (sales and marketing) success.

Creating something like this calendar for your clients, friends, suppliers, creates value – quite inexpensively. It also establishes sincere reciprocity with no strings attached (no email opt-ins!).

If you want to maximise your SEO, you’ll link back to the calendar instead of re-creating or copying it. There are half a dozen reasons you should do this, which I explain in detail in my Internet Marketing Toolkit.

 

 

Top 10 Blog Posts Of 2015

Every year, I publish a list of the top 10 blog posts for the year. Here are this year’s top picks from my collection of blogs.

Take a few minutes and enjoy – the best of the best.

  1. Anyone using Social Media needs to watch this video, because THEY KNOW.Top 10 Blog Posts 2015
  2. This emotional Christmas commercial will make you cry, but in a good way
  3. If you want to create a memorable business card, check out this info graphic.
  4. This blog post about Man Flu is well – hilarious!
  5. This is why drones and kangaroos don’t mix.
  6. I don’t know about you, but I thought we’d all have jet packs by now!
  7. An inspirational mother leaves a legacy for her daughter – priceless and timeless
  8. How to create a new habit – we all need it, especially at New Year’s Resolution time!
  9. Perseverance is something that has to be seen…
  10. No one wants unhappy employees – this infographic shows why

Overheard at a recent private workshop

If you are a subscriber or regular reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed that the frequency of my blog posts has been reduced quite substantially over the past few years. I have refocused my time, effort and attention on my most elite, high performance clients – my Platinum Program Members. Since these are private workshops, you wouldn’t be aware they are taking place. I thought I would share with you a few quotes that were captured over the two days of discussions – the discussion themes included:

  1. Determining the WHAT and WHY of difficult business decisions
  2. Creating Winning Proposals
  3. How to structure compensation plans, divisions and entities to achieve your corporate outcomes
  4. Determining what you want and don’t want from your business
  5. Business models – which one(s) should I choose?
  6. Determine the WHAT and HOW of important business decisions
  7. Preparing a business to be sold
  8. Stakeholders – How to deal with them effectively
  9. Project Management Principles – how to get them done on time and on budget
  10. Work-life Balance – is it achievable or even realistic?
  11. The Internet, the easiest thing that’s hard to do
  12. Automating Your Business – how to leverage limited resources while producing maximum results

Some of the quotes captured during the workshop:

  • The only crisis you will have in your business life is when you stop caring.
  • Your singularity of focus in all dimensions of your life should drive you especially when the waters around you are stormy
  • When you get conflicted internally – it’s because you’re unclear or unsure of the outcome you want to achieve
  • Successful people were where you are now BEFORE they were successful.
  • If you focus on what you don’t want you will attract more of it.
  • Your self motivation is directly related to the level of satisfaction you have with respect to the reward you expect – within your decision-making horizon.
  • There is always a cost of making a decision just as much as there is always a cost of NOT making a decision.
  • FOCUS on the WHAT – your Reticular Activation Systems (RAS) will come up with the HOW (solution).
  • You don’t publish blog posts for humans to read them – They are for the search engine (robots).
  • Your integrity, congruency and authenticity have to be in alignment with your ultimate (life’s) purpose.
  • The more components you can identify, value and communicate to your clients/staff the more valuable the proposition becomes.
  • You need to demonstrate all the components of the value proposition so you are able to “discount” from the top line and maintain your needed profit margin.
  • Separating the “what” from the “how” is how great decisions are made. Always start with the what and the how will take care of itself.
  •  Don’t hope for things to happen – expect them to!
  • How we are seen is how we are perceived.
  • You must know what your outcome is, before you start to do anything, otherwise you are wasting time, money and/or effort.
  • You must recognise who is supporting you (internally and externally) in your business to make sure they are justly rewarded and/or appreciated.
  • Never oversell what you are providing, your belief and conviction will speak louder than you could ever scream.
  • Everyone is begging to be led in at least one aspect of their life. Be that mentor, leader or inspiration for your clients, friends and family.
  • Don’t think about failing, always see yourself succeeding.
  • You must be able to substantiate a claim or value proposition to amplify the benefits.
  • Never forget who you are doing this for. There has to be a purpose to your business investments (sacrifices). Otherwise you will lose faith, belief and motivation to stay the course.
  • Inflection points are produced by a catalytic moment.  To take advantage of them you have to get the catalyst under your control
  • When you get conflicted, where something isn’t right; the conflict is within you because you don’t know what you (really) want.
  • We erode our destiny moment by moment through the decisions we take and the decisions we defer.
  • The more components of the value proposition you can identify and quantify, the more compelling the case becomes.
  • Each component of your value proposition has a cost and value, the more accurate you are in calculating (estimating) these, the more profitable and defensible your position becomes.
  • Disintermediation means you have to become the glue that makes it work better than it did before.
  • Your client or supplier’s calculator is different to yours. Their evaluation of the value proposition will be based on their calculator, not yours.
  • The value proposition you are presenting might be too complicated for the person you are presenting it to. If they can’t work it out, you have to explain it, step-by-step.
  • The more stakeholders you involve in your decision making, the more genuine and authentic you are, the more effective you can be in negotiating win-win-win outcomes.
  • Considering all stakeholders’ vested interests should be an integral part of your process, not by letting them make the decision, but ensuring their vested interests are fully addressed in the final solution.
  • The burden of the future should not prevent you from enjoying the present.
  • The future should never be a burden, if it is – change it, now!
  • The basis of your (current) thoughts is the result of your (previous) thinking.
  • If you knew you could NOT fail what would you do?
  • You should know the cross-road before you get there.
  • Reconcile what you WANT versus what you NEED.
  • It¹s not the client’s role to tell you what they want; it’s yours!
  • You should NEVER complete your to-do-list. Only do the top 20% items because they give you 80% of your results and conversely the remaining 80% is a waste of valuable time because it only produces 20% of your results!
  • Be decisive, don’t use tentative words like: but, or, maybe, might, could, should, hopefully, possibly, probably.
  • If the reward is too far, you will probably give up on your dream. Create smaller goals to achieve that are closer in time, easier to achieve.
  • Don’t hope, expect.
  • There is no word for fortunate in French, only lucky. We are not lucky, we are fortunate to have the opportunities and choices – that we create.
  • Prepare for the worst, but expect the best.
  • Think different, not differently.
  • Be authentic and genuine, never manipulative.
  • When you come to the fork in the road you need to take it.
  • If you believe, it will happen.
  • If you’re not trying to do something out of the ordinary how do you know it’s not just ordinary?
  • Vested interest is always how the other person sees it. If you can’t see it you need to take yourself outside of your way of thinking, think like they do.
  • The more appreciation you have for outside-the-box thinking the better off you will be.
  • When you are spiraling “stop it!”. You need to come back to the “what” not the “how”.
  • Entrenchment is how wedded you are to the current way you’re doing things.
  • As you second guess yourself, it lowers the value of your service or product.
  • In sales, hunters are needed just as much as farmers.
  • Singular focus is the key, but this doesn’t equal one thing for life!
  • You’ve got to own who you are.
  • Think through the complete set of scenarios before you start implementation.
  • Prepare your business for sale 2-5 years before you want to sell it.
  • The intimacy of the relationship with the stakeholders in your business
    will vary on their degree of involvement.
  • The more stakeholders you have, the more leverage you can have.
  • Figure out your timeline …. and start the clock.

If you read the lists and thought to yourself – WOW! That’s a lot of content! You’re right. All our workshops are value-packed, outcome-driven, results-focused. Platinum Program Members have no time to waste and want to get to the bottom line – YESTERDAY!

The Platinum Program is based on my unique coaching philosophy and mentoring methodology. It’s not for everyone, in fact it’s only for the most committed business people who “measure up” to an exceptionally high level of commitment and desire to achieve.

If you think you’re up to it and want a challenging environment that will hold you accountable to your goals (and dreams), contact us.

5 Ways To Improve Efficiency In Your Business

Photo Under Creative Commons License: ThinkPanama

Photo Under Creative Commons License: ThinkPanama

Efficiency is extremely important in any business – you don’t want to be wasting time on simple tasks, and you also want to be able to have time left over to brainstorm new ideas and strategies. However, efficiency is a team effort, and you need everyone in your business to be as efficient as possible to see a significant impact, not just one or two people. If you think your business could be a little more efficient, here are some ways you may be able to make that happen.

1. Update Your Technology

Make sure all your technological hardware and software is up to date. If your computers are lagging or getting old, get them replaced. New software will usually also have better functionality, and some of these will make a world of difference, depending on what kind of industry you are in. For example, if you have a lot of stock lying around, you may want to invest in stock inventory management software such as Fishbowl to increase the efficiency of your business.

2. Clear Communication

Clear lines of communication are important for efficiency in the workplace. This means people know what they are doing and are also not afraid to ask for assistance or advice when needed. Open communication will also ensure the right messages are getting to the right people, and that employees are not getting a variety of directives from different managers.

3. Set Goals

Your employees will be more efficient if they are given goals or targets to meet by the end of the day or week. They will be more on task because they know what they are supposed to do and they have a direction in which to go.

4. Online Services

There are a number of online services you can use to not only increase efficiency but to also cut costs. VoIP, for example, is a popular alternative to installing set landlines and allows you or your employees to take calls even when you are out of the office. Cloud storage services are also a great way to make sure everyone can access documents at all times, meaning that employees can catch up on work no matter where they are.

5. Ergonomics

Ergonomics may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about efficiency, but it can have a significant impact. Uncomfortable chairs and desks can be a barrier to productivity and efficiency, as these are a physical barrier to getting work done. Invest in some comfortable chairs and maybe even some adjustable desks, so employees can stand or sit while they work.

Efficiency is key to running a business, and these are just some strategies you can implement in order to boost this in the workplace. Remember that every business has its own nuances, so what works for another business may not necessarily work for yours.

Do you run a business? How do you make sure it is as efficient as possible? Have you found some strategies to work better than others? If so, which ones? Leave your advice and experiences in the comments section below.

Business Insurance 101: What SME Owners Need To Know

Photo Under Creative Commons License: Steve Wilson

Photo Under Creative Commons License: Steve Wilson

Whether you’re starting out in your own small to medium enterprise and are looking for basic information on insurance, or whether you’re looking for a refresher, you’ve come to the right place. Knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming, particularly while navigating the many legal and business requirements of starting an enterprise. Don’t fret if you’re feeling confused! Below is a list of some basic information you need to know to get started.

Insurance is everything

Before you even begin to contemplate your business as a whole, you need to think about insurance. Insurance is what will keep you financially secure if something goes drastically wrong. Take plenty of time to consider your options and, if in doubt, speak with someone about what would suit your needs. It’s even a great idea to find a particular industry insurer for advice. If you’re a tradesperson, for example, have a chat to a specialist company like Tradewise Insurance for industry-specific information.

Insure your goods and your business

Asset and revenue insurance will help cover the things that keep your business operating and flourishing. For instance, tradies rely heavily on their vehicle and tools. It’s vital they insure their vehicle against all motor-related issues, and that they insure their tools against burglary and breakdown to help protect their business. You can also insure against unexpected interruption of business or loss of profits due to unexpected circumstances. This protection is vital for small and medium enterprises!

Cover yourself and your workers

Personal and workers insurance is your best way of protecting yourself and other employees as well. Injury, illness or even death in the workplace can cause extreme hardship for the worker and their family. Workers insurance will not only save your business from expensive costs, but it will ensure your workers are protected should an accident occur. Personal insurance will also ensure you and your family are looked after in the event of an accident or illness. This can include short or long-term absences from work, a diagnosis of an illness, or any other type of trauma that will cause you to give up work. While it’s not fun to think about these potential circumstances, it’s incredibly important to look into the right type of cover.

Cover yourself against claims from the public

Public liability insurance means you will not need to pay any costs incurred from illness, injury or damage caused to a member of the public or their property as a result of your business and work. Put simply, if someone trips over your toolkit and breaks their leg, your public liability insurance will cover any legal costs incurred. This is an invaluable type of insurance to have for small and medium businesses.

These are the basic types of business insurance in a nutshell. Have you found insuring your business a confusing process? Or perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you wished you had the right type of cover? Share your best tips and thoughts in the comments.

Women In Business Resource

As you (should) know, I am a huge advocate for more women in business and a proponent of female entrepreneurs. If you would like to know how much progress has been made and what still needs to improve, have a look at this valuable up-to-date infographic on women in business….