Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

Are You Ready to Launch Your Restaurant? Interior Design Tips to Help You Started

If you have been watching the TV shows or Gordon Ramsay, you might have already realized that the interior design of your kitchen and restaurant has a huge impact on the turnover and the popularity of the place. If you would like to create an inviting and practical space that will inspire your staff and engage with your guests. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started with designing your restaurant.

Make It Look Unique

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No matter if you have a theme or just a couple of colors in mind, you will need to find a way to make your restaurant look special and inspire your staff and your guests. You might want to consult with an interior designer who can create period pieces and decor items that will soon become a talking point in your town. Alternatively, you can make it modern and practical, using sleek design and smart contrast.

Natural Light

When you run lunch and breakfast service, as well as dinner, you will have to let natural light in. There’s nothing more depressing for guests than not being able to see what they are eating. Most people will want to take in the food with all their senses, unless you are offering a “dining in the dark” service. Open up the space as much as you can, so your guests will arrive and eat in better mood.

Practical Considerations

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Your tables and chairs need to be arranged in a way that they are easy to see from the kitchen and the bar, and your servers can identify them easily. No matter if you are buying or renting a commercial space, you will need to adjust it to your needs. At the same time, allow enough space for walking around, and for people pulling their chair out. There is nothing worse than trying to have an intimate conversation with a partner and knowing that the next table can hear everything.

Easy to Clean

Your dining and cooking space also has to be practical. You want to avoid soft furnishing as much as you can, as it can be tricky to dry clean them every week. Surfaces should be easy to wipe clean, and you must take care of the flooring. Find the right balance between practical and pretty by installing decorative concrete floors that are simple to clean and give your dining room a modern look.

Create Intimate Corners

Of course, you will also have to provide some nooks and corner tables that people can use for business meetings or dates. Your interior decor should include a few tables that are more private and allow your guests to have a conversation, discuss business or private life. Offer these tables for the regular guests and business clients arriving for lunch, so they can enjoy their time without distraction.

When you launch your restaurant, you will need to take into consideration your target customers’ needs and preferences, as well as practicality to make your staff’s job easier.

How To Operate A Business Through Emergencies

In truth, there are very few things in the professional world that count for ‘emergencies’. They are few and far between which is only natural as disasters cannot occur unless you’re running a two-bit operation. Most of the time they are not of your own making entirely and something always happens on the outside of your business to catalyst major malfunctions. However, it’s not always about things and something occurring such as a blackout and no way to run your business due to no power. It can also be about people, who suddenly need to have a break from work and therefore leave you holding the bag as it were. Where do you shift responsibilities in such a scenario where you key team members are unable to work? What if there is an economic crash and it was unforeseen like in 2008, how will you cope or have a plan to survive? These are just a small example of the various kinds of emergencies that can affect your business, but how do you broadly prepare for them?

 

Fly in the ointment

Depending on your circumstances, you may need stop taking the power your office receives for granted. Those that are startups and have to share offices because they can only afford such a style of workspace are at the mercy of their landlords essentially. Usually in new high-rise buildings the owner of the building will lease out to office space per floor and, then someone is likely to buy a long term lease in order to rent it out to startups and entrepreneurs. Already, you have a double layer of people who you are relying upon to make sure your office is always powered and things run smoothly.

Responses to mains shortages are often slow and can take more than 2 working days to get fixed or even more. The problem may be solved on your floor quicker if you could call out a commercial electrician that deals with professional environments such as offices and commercial buildings. They can handle pretty much any repairs and can help with emergency lighting systems so your staff can continue working without the ceiling lights working as they normally do. This is great for late nights at the office, during the winter time when sunlight hours are minimal and generally speaking helps people to see what they’re doing better.

 

Replacing a project leader

When a team leader is no longer able to perform their duties late on into a project, it can spell disaster for a business. There are many reasons why this could happen to you as one thing is for sure, there aren’t ever any shortages of those. One of the more common reasons why suddenly a team leader cannot come to work is they are sick. And during a crucial time such as giving a presentation to investors or pitching to potential business partners and clients is maybe the absolute worst time this can happen. The other reasons could be, they simply cannot handle the stress when the moment of truth arrives, they are no longer supported by their team members and a mutiny occurs, they are injured such as in a car accident and maybe even they jump ship and are hired by someone else.

Regardless of what the reason is, you as the business owner should plan for this. Don’t just think about who in that team could take over, because they know the project and seem to be supported by the other members. A project leader is a very important position and you need someone that is savvy to your wider aims. Essentially, picking someone who is just competent is not enough, you need to choose someone who is going to have the bigger picture of your business aims in mind. This could mean giving that team a leader from outside the circle of members, however this may be the proper option when you aren’t so close to an important event. This is so some kind of personal relationship can form with the team and the team in turn trust them and respect their authority. If it does come to a head and you need someone to take charge quickly, you should have already made you second and third best options at the time you chose the original leader. Therefore, the next in line takes over and you have a meeting with the entire team to patch things up.

 

 

The expendables

There’s a line in the famous action movie ‘Heat’ when the main antagonist says “never get involved with anything you can’t walk out on in 30 seconds”. For business that’s incredibly extreme but in certain aspects it’s the truth. In case of an absolute emergency whereby the economy is collapsing and trillions of dollars are being flushed down the drain, companies are going bankrupt and consumers are retracting from spending their money, you need to slim and trim down.

There are parts of business that are not essential, they just make life easier. For example, virtual assistants and virtual mailboxes make life easier for small businesses and make them look larger and more international than they actually are. You can and should drop these services when economic times are tough. Other things can be dropped quickly when you’re in business is cloud storage services. You should already be backing up your vital data onto hard drives thereby having two copies of things like customer data and accounts etc. Even certain luxuries like a free meal service or coffee for workers may need to be axed when things are getting tough. It may not seem like much, but these things tend to add up when you could be spending that money securing your future.

When the bottom drops out, a business will either drown or learn how to swim. As the business owner, you need several different plans ready for almost any scenario in case the economy flips upside down, a team leader is no longer in a position to lead and when you need to make any and all kinds of cutbacks. Emergencies come when you least expect them, but a clear plan b and plan c will save you from collapse.

Finding the Right Commercial Property for Your Small Business

Setting up your own small business or expanding from working at home to working in an official and professional commercial space is by no means an easy feat. But by securing the right commercial property to suit your needs straight off the bat, you can save yourself a whole lot of hassle and stress. So, to help you along the way, here are some sage pieces of advice that could help you to learn the perfect commercial property space without a problem!

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Office Space

First, let’s focus on office space for small businesses. Now, securing appropriate office space as a small business is notoriously difficult. Increasing numbers of commercial property owners are requesting that you agree to a longer lease in order to reduce their own costs in regards to regular re-advertising. However, small businesses can be relatively volatile, and you don’t want to sign up to a long term contract in the early stages of your business. You never know when you might decide to call it a day, or when you might have to move to a larger office space in order to accommodate success and expansion. The commercial spaces that are on offer in desirable locations also tend to be extremely expensive, which can be difficult if you have a limited budget. A good solution when it comes to securing the perfect office space for your small business is Novel Coworking. Novel coworking aims to unite two or more small businesses in a desirable office space. Essentially, you would share your office space with other unrelated professionals and businesses. This means that you can all benefit from lower commercial rent costs at the same time as setting up in a high-quality, productive environment.

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Retail

Another common form of commercial property is property where you can set up a retail store. These properties are drastically different to office spaces, as they are purposefully designed for accommodating large quantities of stock, as well as showcasing stock in its best light. When you look for retail properties, you should consider the following factors very carefully if you want to experience as much success as possible.

Location

Location is key when it comes to retail. You need to look out for properties in a prime location with plenty of traffic and footfall passing by. This will mean that you expose your brand to more people and that more people are likely to pass through your doors, browse what you have to offer, and perhaps make some purchases. Sure, prime locations may come with a higher price tag. But generally speaking, the investment will be more than worth the results.

Window Space

Your retail store should have plenty of window space. This will allow you to create eye-catching window displays that can draw potential customers or general passers by into your store. Without a window display, people won’t be entirely sure what products or services you have to offer and will walk on by into the arms of a competitor.

Out Back

Sure, you might find a store in a prime location, and the front of a store may look perfect for your needs, but you need to make sure that everything out back is ticking your boxes too. Every retail property should have plenty of storage space where you can keep your stock. You’re never going to be able to put all of your stock out on the shop floor. Instead, you should have examples and then draw different sizes or options to purchase from your stock room which should be located away from customers. You should also ensure that there is some sort of office space where administrative tasks can be carried out, a small room where you or staff members can take breaks comfortably, and a bathroom for your use and staff use.

As you can see, there’s a whole lot that goes into securing the right commercial property for your small business’ needs and there are also plenty of differences between areas of importance in office spaces and retail spaces. But hopefully, the above advice will help to guide your way effectively. Remember to take your time when browsing potential properties and to not let yourself be rushed into a deal. However, if you see something and find that it is practically perfect, it’s worth snapping it up before someone else does!

Why Does Exterior Business Customisation Matter?

In the current business climate, it is more important than ever before to distinguish your business from the competition. One of the ways you can do this is with exterior customisation. Even when there is a need for considerable investment in the overall look of a company, it can be easy to turn to basic design elements. However, it is imperative that your design is unique to your business and considered carefully. This is how you can edge out the competition. With that being said, read on to discover more about why exterior customisation matters for all businesses.

Your brand gets you noticed – There is only one place to begin, and this is with the fact that your brand is what is going to get you noticed. It is likely that you have already spent a considerable amount of time and money when it comes to putting together your own brand. This is now what you are recognised by. Therefore, you need to make sure this brand image is present in everything you do, which is why the exterior of your business needs to perfectly match other important points of identification, for example, your signage. This seamlessness is what creates an approachable and professional business feel.

Stand out from other businesses in the area – Another reason why you should invest in exterior business customisation is that it enables you to stand out in the local area. In recent years, the high street has come under fire due to large shopping centres that are located out of town. To combat this, you need to make sure you reclaim an identity of your own so that you entice people to your store. Blending into the background is never a good idea for any business, no matter what you sell.

The visual impression you provide is what your business is assessed on – The third and final reason why exterior business customisation matters is because you are providing a visual impression, and this is what your customers are going to be assessing you based on. By investing in commercial landscaping and ensuring your company’s exterior is clean, professional, and well branded, you can ensure you give off the right impression. If you don’t take care in what your business looks like, people will assume that this lack of care applies to the rest of your operations.

All in all, it is not hard to see why exterior customisation matters for your business. Not only does it help to tie your brand together effectively, but it ensures that you stand out from the other companies and stores in the area. Do not underestimate just how important this is, especially in today’s competitive economic environment.

Boosting Your Business With The Power of Niche Marketing

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The majority of small business owners have already heard the wonders of niche marketing being shouted from the rooftops, as almost everyone is starting to shape their offering to a more niche focused crowd… yet perhaps, due to the fear of limiting the size of your market you might have opted to play it safe with a more generalist positioning and value proposition to ensure you don’t exclude key market segments.

This article explores the power of niche marketing and why this is often a wise alternative to being a generalist provider.

WHAT IS A NICHE?

A niche is a focused subset of a particular market group.  If you were to think about cat food, for example, we could chunk that down to dry food and wet food – but this is still a very broad market that is essentially the same target audience.  If, however, we were to look at gourmet pet food that is organic with pieces of proper meat, such as chicken breast, then this could be considered a niche market as there’s a select portion of the market that would be interested in a premium product like this vs. the more cheap and cheerful standard options.

A further example within the same category could be cat food that is designed for specific issues, such as poor eyesight, heart conditions, or joint conditions – this way, with just a few tweaks of the actual product itself, for instance by adding a few different supplementary nutrients to the same base product you have created a special interest product that solves a particularly problem for a particular set of people.

In that sense, a niche is very simple – you are solving a particular problem, or scratching a particular itch for a specific group of people that are seeking a solution.

WHY HAVING A NICHE IS IMPORTANT

In broader markets (e.g. pet food) you are up against competitors with massive marketing budgets and global brands, therefore to launch a generic product such as cat food, your best option is to compete on price or quality.

Unfortunately, big companies have the purchasing power to undercut your prices, so there’s little point entering into a price war, whereas the one place most will aim to differentiate themselves is quality – and this, in itself can be somewhat of a niche.

The largest challenge facing most businesses, however, is that of people finding out about your products.

Often, broad markets are very crowded and well established meaning people have buying preferences based on habitual patterns the big companies have worked very hard to condition.  In you coming along, as a like for like comparison against a well known brand, the majority of people aren’t keen on trying something new – they need a compelling reason to give something else again; often the compelling reason most people respond well to is special offer discount pricing… yet a more sustainable option would be to position your product within a niche category that means you’re now appealing on a different metric – relevance!

See, when you are more relevant to a consumer in terms of meeting their specific needs, or solving a particular challenge, people will try out your product and are often happy to pay a little extra due to the alignment in place and the relevance to their lives.

If you were to then think about this from a marketing spend perspective, you clearly want to get the greatest return on investment possible, and in spending money on digital marketing the cost per click for an advert relating to something broad (e.g. dog food) is going to be much greater than something more niche focused such as “organic dog food” or “dog food for arthritis” because the search term is less competitive and less dominated by the big players.

It also means people clicking on your advert are likely to be more relevant in the sense that they are specifically looking for your particular solution, as what you don’t want are hundreds or even thousands of uninterested people clicking on your adverts, which costs you money each time.  You only want qualified prospects, and the more niche focused your marketing is the better the conversion rate will be (i.e. people that go on to buy and become customers) thus the greater the return on your investment.

This is particularly relevant in terms of search engine optimisation; as it is entirely possible for a small business to get featured on the front page of Google yet you need to follow a good strategy in order to achieve this… indeed there are a number of ways to boost your online business that become much more accessible when you focus on a particular niche, as you can have a specific cluster of focused terms and keywords that you become known for by the search engines… meaning they will start to naturally and organically present your product or business to people looking for the solution you provide – without you having to spend tons on adverts.

WHY YOU WON’T LOSE CUSTOMERS

A common concern amongst business owners when looking into the power of niche marketing is that it can feel counterintuitive to limit your market, by focusing on one specific group, particularly if you’re offering a service that has broad market appeal (e.g. hairdressing or personal training) as surely you don’t want to limit your market when both hairdressing and personal training could be relevant for pretty much everyone.

It’s a valid point, but think about specialists within the medical profession.

You have general doctors that are there to cater to everyone, then you have specialist consultants, that focus on a particular niche and as a result charge much more for their time.

In focusing on a particular niche (e.g. a certain type of cancer), yes they limit themselves to not treating any of the thousands of people with other illnesses, but they create a massive pull toward their offering to the select group of people that are specifically seeking out a solution to the specific problem they face!

In doing so, the consultant is positioning themself as the go-to-expert and this is something you and your product can do too.  See, when you align your product, service or knowledge base so strongly with a particular audience, this audience are magnetically attracted to your ‘specialist area’ of expertise.

Remember, the whole premise of marketing is that people have problems and they seek solutions – if you can position your product, service or business as offering a more relevant solution to their specific problem than a more broad competitor, they will choose you.

In marketing, relevancy is everything and one of the best ways to make yourself stand out as a relevant service provider is to use niche marketing to your advantage.

CAN YOU HAVE MULTIPLE NICHES

A question that often gets asked is whether you can have multiple niches, and the answer would appear to be yes – presuming they are congruent and form an overall branded suite of related niches.  A good example to look at in this context is Tony Robbins. His main niche is to help people transform their lives and condition peak performance, yet, like a spider with eight legs he has different channels for different people.

For instance, he has a business mastery program that is specifically relevant to entrepreneurs whilst he has a relationship program that is specifically relevant to those seeking to improve their relationships; two completely different products, operating in their own individual niche, each with a completely different marketing strategy – but with a common theme, that of transformation and optimising one’s life.

Today, it has become a lot easier to manage multiple niches due to technology, for instance, you can create a number of microsites that each deal with a specific category and come with their own phone number as 1300 numbers cost has become much more affordable in recent times.  This service has the benefit of allowing you to do business anywhere, but more importantly for the purpose of managing multiple niches, is that you can have a different phone number per niche – making it appear, for instance, like a personal trainer only helps clients looking to improve their posture, or get fit after having a baby… meaning, technically, you can offer a number of services whilst still appearing to be a very niche provider.

Even if you offer a broad service such as “personal training” it is wise to focus on a particular group of customers (e.g. new mums) and market to those specific needs.  At the base of everything what you’re really looking to do is connect with your audience on their level and in a way that is benefit driven to their unique requirements.

In summary, niche marketing makes you more relevant to your target audience which means people will start being drawn toward you as the go-to expert, as your product, service or business is so relevant to their lives that they will seek you out rather than you having to chase after customers or incentivise them with discount offers.

Relevancy is everything when it comes to marketing and there’s no better way to be relevant than to start utilising the power of niche marketing.

The Resources Every Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

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There is more to running a business than knowing how to sell your product or service and there are some things that every potential entrepreneur should have if they are to succeed.

Commitment

To have a successful business you have to be fully committed to it. It has to come before anything else for quite a while. You have to be prepared to work long hours, go without holidays and possibly not even pay yourself a decent salary to start with.

When you are running your own business you lose the safety net of being an employee and not having to worry about how many sales have been done, or how the bills will get paid. Most new business owners have to go through this, and they are more like to make a success of their venture if they give their business priority.

Other Traits You Need

Running a successful; business needs more than commitment. It needs you to have the desire for success and the drive to achieve it. You may have brilliant business ideas but are you able to see them through?  You should be able to solve problems and not give up at the first hurdle, as you will face many challenges along the way. Discipline and determination are what will help you succeed with your new business venture.

Skills You Will Need

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No one will sell your product or service as well as you do, but there will be other skills you need. Really, with these, you have two options. You can take part in online education classes to learn how to do accounts or manage your website, for instance. If you have had an education that includes things like this then you may not have the need to learn any more.

But if you do need to know more about the other skills involved in running a business, online education programs, like these Business,  RN to BSN and SEO Marketing courses, are a great way to learn. They are more flexible than attending a physical school and you can fit the studying in to suit you. They usually allow a longer time period to finish the work, as it is recognized that you will be fitting classes and study in between the other things in your life.

The alternative is that you employ people to do these jobs for you. You can usually find bookkeepers, accountants and web designers that work freelance so that you only have to pay them for the work they do.

Support

As a new business owner, you will need the support of friends an family. You will need someone to discuss problems with or to run your ideas by, as often talking through these things solves them. The solution can become more obvious when you discuss matters with someone else.

Talk to other business people and find out how they coped. You may be surprised some of the hassle some of them have been through to achieve the success they now have.

You should also chat to professional people who have helped others in the past. They will have experience that you might not find among your family and friends, but they are usually very willing to help and advise you all they can.

Good luck!

5 Things All Entrepreneurs Need To Stop Doing

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If you have ever looked for online advice about life as an entrepreneur, you will have noticed a trend— almost all of the advice tells you what you should be doing. You can find endless articles about managing your time more efficiently; learning to pitch to clients; expanding into new markets… and so on and so forth.

However, what about the things you shouldn’t do? It’s all well and good to know what you should be doing, but sometimes, you need to know the things you avoid; the things that you absolutely need to stop doing.

So, let’s dig into those right now; the behaviours, habits, and ways of doing business that all entrepreneurs should stop doing as soon as possible…

#1 – Taking your work home with you

As an entrepreneur, you’re likely far more committed to your business than you were ever committed to any standard job you performed. However, that doesn’t mean you should completely sacrifice your independence and your downtime. Taking work home with you — or continuing to work outside of normal business hours, if you work from home — is guaranteed to raise your stress levels and could potentially even edge you towards burnout. It’s fine to do this on occasion, when you’re working on a big project or to a tight deadline, but don’t let it become a habit.

#2 – Performing non-essential tasks yourself

Replying to customer emails; dealing with enquiries from potential B2B partners; going through order details; constantly updating your schedule… these kinds of administrative tasks will truly clog your schedule as an entrepreneur. As soon as you possibly can, hire yourself a PA to take care of these kinds of tasks for you, or hire a virtual assistant who works out of virtual headquarters to support you. Your mind needs to be focused on achieving all you can with your business, so outsource the management of admin tasks as soon as your budget allows you to do so.

#3 – Comparing yourself to your competitors

You have probably heard the saying that comparison is the thief of joy, and this is particularly true when you’re an entrepreneur. While you cannot ignore what your competitors are doing — you have to keep an eye on your competition for the good of your business, after all — you shouldn’t spend too much of your time on this task. If you start to compare your own business to your competitors, then you run a very real risk of become disenchanted with your own efforts.

So don’t do that to yourself. Check in with your competitors, but then move on, and focus on your own business. Constant comparison is not beneficial, nor is it necessary, so don’t fall into a trap of endless, unfavourable comparisons.

#4 – Neglecting your mental and physical health

Struggling with a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression is relatively common for entrepreneurs, while many business owners work so hard they neglect their own physical health. While it’s great that you are focused and dedicated to improving your business and meet your entrepreneurial dreams, there’s little point in doing so if you’re not going to be well enough to enjoy your success.

We touched a little on how to prevent burnout in the first point of this post, but realistically, avoiding burnout is the bare minimum you should be doing to protect your health. Make sure you take time off from your business every so often, and fill your working week with time that is specifically set aside for self-care. You might want to work hard, but you have to see that hard work must be balanced with taking care of yourself— if it isn’t, you run the risk of working so hard, you eventually can’t actually work at all.

#5 – Focusing too far in the future

Of course, entrepreneurs have to focus on the future in some regards. You have to be able to see what might happen in your industry, and to plan effectively for the potential for business growth.

However, looking into the future constantly is a bad idea. Sometimes, you need to draw your focus back to the present; to the here and now that is influencing the everyday running of your business. Having plans for the future is good — essential, in fact — but not to the point where it distracts you from what’s happening in the present.

In conclusion

By ensuring you stop doing the five things as listed above, your life as an entrepreneur — and the success of your business — should be able to flourish.

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How to Improve Your Brand’s Image Fast

In case you have just started a business and would like to get the word out about what you have to offer and how it can benefit customers, you might want to get creative and start planning your branding campaign carefully. From raising awareness about your company and offers to allowing your potential customers to interact with you, there are plenty of ways you can start connecting with your market. Find out more below.

Branded Clothing

You have to present your logo and main messages in every channel. This means that you and your employees might want to wear clothing that displays your logo and your headline. If you have a company car or van, you might also get it branded, so people know that you are there. Make sure that you choose a slogan that sticks and display all the important information, such as website address, physical address, email, and phone number.

Gifts

Sending out corporate gifts can also be a successful way of branding your new company. You will have to find some creative ideas that will represent your business or industry, and will be used by your potential customers. Check out www.fancyinc.co.za for some great ideas for corporate gifts, including pens, calendars, and other items that will help you brand your company.

YouTube

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If you already have a brand but it doesn’t stand out, you will have to do more than sending out some leaflets. To overhaul a bland brand, you could create your own YouTube channel and create videos for your potential customers. Intro videos are great to communicate what your brand is about and what your unique selling proposition is. Branding videos or “behind-the-scene” funny content can go viral and get shared hundreds of times, giving you free exposure in your local community.

Social Media

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No business can survive today’s competitive market conditions without using social media for branding. As a minimum, you will have to create a business page on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, if you are in the creative business, you might want to take advantage of Instagram and Pinterest marketing as well. Video and image content and straight-to-the-point messages will do better than long-winded content on social media.

Review Sites

To boost your reputation and image, you will need to be present on more than one social media sites and review sites. To make people trust you, it is important that you allow them to find out more about how you work and what other people think about your product or services. Whenever you get a new customer, ask them for a feedback, and get them to vote for you. A five-star review on a local business directory can increase your brand’s exposure.

New companies often struggle with creating a buzz about their brand. Today, thanks to social media, it is possible to get the message out without having a huge branding budget. Create a powerful message, and use every channel available to connect with your target market on a personal level.

Why Customisation Is Key For Business Success

‘Customisation’ is a word that gets used a lot in businesses of today. It almost feels like every company is trying to find as many ways as possible to customise themselves. There’s custom this and custom that, but why is this idea so important for business success?

In many ways, it’s the key to setting up a successful business. When you off customised experiences, you’re tailoring them for your customers. People can choose specific things based on their needs, and this leads to increased customer happiness. Everyone ends up with exactly what they wanted, not the same thing as a load of other people. Not only that, but customisation can help you and your employees as well. In reality, the best way to illustrate all the benefits of customisation is to talk about some of the main areas of your company you should customise, and the effect this has.

Let consumers decide what they want. Image

Custom Services

Firstly, we start off with something that’s already been mentioned; custom services. By offering a service that’s fully customisable, your customers have greater control over what they purchase. You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that this is a highly positive thing. Customers like being in control as it helps them know they’re making a good decision. No one enjoys spending money that they end up regretting. Immediately, you build trust with your customers because you give them the ability to take control. Furthermore, the chances of someone being dissatisfied are now lower than before. After all, if someone has customised a service to suit their needs, then it generally means they’ve got what they want. You’ll deal with fewer issues, fewer refunds, and complete more sales.

Use software that’s tailormade for your business. Credit

Custom Software

Stepping inside your company, and you’ll undoubtedly have ways of doing your general work. Orders have to be logged somewhere, employees have to be managed, and finances need to be worked out. Now, you can make life easier for yourself if you create custom software for some of these processes. All you need to do is find the best software development companies around, and talk to them about your idea. With custom software, you can use something that’s specifically designed for your company, and your company only. This has a massive impact on how your employees work, as they use something that’s tailormade. With a lot of business software, you end up with a big package of things that you rarely use. You might only need one feature, and the rest is there as a distraction. When you have custom software, it’s all relevant, and should be easier to use. As a result, you can boost productivity and improve your work output.

Make your business stand out with a unique website design. Source

Custom Website

Everyone knows how important a website is for businesses these days. It forms the basis of your whole online marketing strategy. However, there are different approaches to website design and development. You’ll find website building tools online that offer a quick way of creating your business site. Many companies choose this route because it’s cheap, provides a professional looking site, and doesn’t take a long time. But, there’s one major downside; your website can look very similar to other sites. It may have the same template, use similar design elements, and so on. This is one of the reasons I believe a custom website is the better option for businesses. With a custom site, you automatically set your company apart from everyone else. You use a unique design that doesn’t copy other templates, and this helps strengthen your brand. There’ll be no confusion between your site and similar business websites. Everyone will know the site belongs to you! As well as this, you can customise every element of the site to properly reflect your brand values. No stone is left unturned, and you can full align your site with your brand.

In summary; every business should try and offer a service that’s customisable in some way. Even if you sell products on an online store, you can offer custom delivery slots or a choice to customise designs, etc. Alongside this, your business needs to use custom software to help speed up processes and streamline your work. Finally, a custom website is beneficial when it comes to solidifying your brand and standing out from the rest.

When you combine all of the benefits of customisation, you start to see how great it truly is for your company. You end up with happier customers, employees that can do their work to a higher standard, and a thriving brand that people will recognise. So, if you run a business and are looking for new ways of improving your success, then think about customising certain elements of it.

Important Ways For Small Businesses To Protect Their Reputation

The trouble with any business is that people only see the window dressing. If you run a restaurant for example, they only see the pristine table cloth, the napkins and the glittering silverware. They don’t see the turmoil going on in the kitchen, the care attention and effort that goes into each and every dish or the years of hard work and personal sacrifice from all parties that went into making the business what it is today. A good business is like a swan. It must be elegant, graceful and beautiful on the surface while a striving mass of activity beneath the surface. The trouble is that even the most elegant of swans can flounder every once in a while, or encounter something above the surface that ruffles its feathers.

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If you own a small business, you know that your reputation is everything. It’s what brings customers to your establishment rather than your competitors and what keeps them coming back to you again and again at the expense of all others. Every day in business, entrepreneurs face challenges that can damage their reputation from disgruntled customers to angry ex employees to tardy suppliers. If you’re to effectively manage your reputation, especially in your early years when your small business is vulnerable, you need to be proactive and assemble the infrastructure that will enable your business to keep its head held high at all times.

Lawyer up!

It’s important that your legal interests are protected should someone make a claim against your business. This will help to settle matters quickly and decisively without impinging on your business’ reputation. Thus you should have numerous attorneys on standby to protect your business in the key areas in which they often find themselves vulnerable. These include asn employee law firm like Ogletree Deakins, a business transaction lawyer and a tax attorney. By investing in the right legal representation you are well placed to protect your business’ reputation.

Always be training

Outstanding customer service is the key to ensuring that your reputation isn’t damaged by angry tirades from disgruntled customers on social media. While you can mitigate the damage caused by this (which we’ll get into shortly) your first line of defence is your customer facing employees. As such you need to invest in regular training and incentivize outstanding customer service with challenges, competitions and rewards.

Keep that cash flow healthy

Nothing will derail your business more than insufficient stock or cracks in the veneer of our physical store that just scream “underinvestment”. As such you need to ensure that your business maintains a healthy cash flow so that you can pay your debtors on time and ensure that you never experience lapses in normal service. Of course this is easier said than done but here are some pointers on maintaining healthy cash flow.

Be responsive and decisive on social media

Social media is a great tool for consumers to hold businesses accountable to them, but it’s important to manage interactions with customers on social media effectively. Ensure that someone is responsible for monitoring social media platforms for comments that could be damaging to your reputation. Deal with them openly and responsively on those platforms and demonstrate your willingness to make things right. Most customers can be turned around if you give them a platform to let you know what you can do to repair that relationship.

Cooking Up a Storm: Rules for Restaurant Success

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Starting a restaurant is one of the most popular business ideas for budding entrepreneurs, but it is also a field in which it is very difficult to make a profit. You need to have a watertight business model, put in a lot of hard work, and have food that gets people talking about you. Don’t expect to be an instant success as it takes a long time to build up the reputation that you are looking for. However, once you establish yourself in the restaurant sector, it is an area that provides rewards both financial and professional. Here are just a few rules for restaurant success that you can follow yourself.

Stand Out from the Crowd

There are so many restaurants out there these days that you can’t expect to go down the middle of the road, open a generic eatery and get the attention that you are looking for. Instead, you need to aim to create a place that gets people talking. Just like starting any other kind of business, ask what your unique selling point is. Perhaps you are offering a new take on some already established classics. Maybe you are simply serving up some hearty favourites using high-quality local produce. And as well as the food itself, the decor and atmosphere will play a part in the overall impression that you leave your customers with. On top of all this, you also need to put a lot of thought into the branding and marketing. As you can see, there is an awful lot to think about!

Choose Your Location Wisely

Once you have the idea for your restaurant firmly in mind, the next thing which you need to consider closely is the location. Obviously, a place with high foot traffic will allow people to stop and come into your restaurant when they are passing by. However, the price of renting the premises will be higher and you are unlikely to be able to offer parking spots for people coming from further afield. Choose a place outside of the city and you are going to have to work much harder to build a reputation for yourself, but it is likely to be cheaper and you will probably be able to offer parking.

Refine Your Menu

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You are much more likely to achieve success by carving out a particularly niche for yourself rather than trying to please everybody with your menu. Concentrate on doing a limited number of dishes with skill and panache. Customers tend to get overwhelmed when they see a huge menu, and it is also assumed that you can’t possibly do all those dishes fantastically well. When you are trying to stock so many different ingredients, it also becomes extremely difficult to stock fresh ingredients, so you are left cooking food which turns out to the sub-par.

Consider the Layout

Obviously, the more people you serve, the bigger the profit that you will be able to make. But that doesn’t mean that you should just pack as many chairs into the space as you can. Perhaps you are aiming for the kind of big communal atmosphere that you get in German beer halls, but if you are looking to create something that offers a sense of intimacy, you need to think about spacing the tables out properly so people can enjoy their meals with the people who they came with.

Customer Service is Everything

In today’s world of Tripadvisor, Google and the like, a few bad reviews can seriously damage the reputation of your restaurant. And one of the biggest things that people complain about is poor service. So, when you are hiring staff, you need to ensure that they understand the importance of treating customers well. As well as the food, people go to restaurants for the overall experience. If there are any issues, try your best to deal with these at the time in a polite and friendly way. The last thing that you need is for your reputation to suffer online because of something which could have been dealt with at the restaurant.

Plan Out the Logistical Details

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You need to be rigidly organised when you are looking to open your own restaurant, and you should write everything down to ensure that you don’t forget about anything. Just some of the obviously considerations include furniture, decoration, croquery, uniforms, and signage. And then you have the details of partner companies and suppliers that you will be working alongside to provide a full service delivery. These include your food and beverage options as well as waste disposal such as Instant Waste Management professional grease trap services. The more planning you put into the details both big and small, the more likely it will be that you will make a success of your restaurant.

Generate Some Attention

You can’t expect people to simply turn up at your restaurant without generating a buzz about the place. So, you need to ensure that all your traditional marketing activities are done thoroughly. Create and hand out flyers, advertise in the local press etc. But since so much is done online these days, you don’t want to miss out on building a website, creating social media profiles and building up an email marketing list. And once you have that initial excitement, you need to keep this going by hosting events, tying your restaurant in with special occasion, and offering specific promotions. You also need to be attracting attention from online community by inviting bloggers along to build up some attention etc.

As we mentioned at the start, launching a restaurant is always going to be packed with difficulties and a huge number don’t end up keeping their doors open for a long period of time. However, hopefully, this article provides you with some of the basics to give yourself the best chance of achieving the success that you are looking for.

Office Upgrades That Every Entrepreneur Should Consider

You’ve been researching and planning everything for months, and are finally ready to launch your business. You’ve got a fantastic product or service that your market research has shown people are willing to buy. You’ve got a smart looking app and website set up, and have hired a fantastic workforce. Everything is perfect and you’re ready to go. But have you made the right decisions when it comes to your office? So much more than just four walls, your office space can be crucial to the success of your business. This is where you and your employees will be spending a huge portion of your day, it’s where customers and clients will visit and gain and impression of your business. When it’s done well, it can help you secure more deals and create a happier and more motivated workforce. Here are some of the things that you need to consider when it comes to your office.

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The Right Location For Easy Access and Lower Crime Rates

Before considering the building or office itself, you first need to think about the location. A central location is good for many businesses, it’s easy access for customers, clients and employees. However renting or buying in a town or city centre doesn’t come cheap, and so for certain businesses you might be better off going a little further out- especially if you don’t rely on foot traffic to make sales. Just make sure there are good transport links, and that employees who don’t have a car are able to get to the office using public transport. Choosing a secure, well lit location will also help to reduce your chances of being targeted by physical crime. Burglars like office blocks as they’re usually empty after 6pm and contain lots of expensive equipment such as computers, printers and other tech that’s easily sold on. If you’re on a low floor or the ground floor, sliding window shutters can be useful. These can be slid open during the day so it doesn’t feel like you’re working from a prison! Using a safe that’s securely bolted down is another thing implement in your office, although ideally you will have regular cash collections and will never have too much kept on site. Of course you still have to be wary of cyber criminals, which is why it’s worth using a business records management company. That way your records are stored in a secure, off-site location so they’re not vulnerable to criminals, fire or floods. But in terms of your office, it’s important to keep it as secure as possible, and choosing the right location from the get-go can help with this.

A Nice Aesthetic to Make Employees Happier and More Productive

A pleasant aesthetic in the office will benefit both your employees and clients. First of all, providing employees a spacious and calming environment to work from can help to boost productivity and even job satisfaction. Spending eight hours a day sitting in a dingy, old-fashioned and grubby office is never going to allow anyone to do their best work. Even if you’re renting an office, you will be allowed to change and refresh the decor. Go with light, neutral walls to make the space feel bigger and brighter. Ideally, choose an office with large windows since daylight is a natural mood booster, and according to psychologists can promote productivity in the workplace.

Good Quality Equipment to do Tasks Efficiently

There are lots of fantastic business equipment and software out there these days that companies can take advantage of to make their lives easier. Investing in good equipment and technology in your office could mean the difference between success and failure. Modern tech allows you save money since you need to hire fewer workers, with the employees you do have being put to their best use. No need for a human to sit doing manual, tedious work that takes hours when a computer can do it in seconds. There are all kinds of incredible softwares out there these days which allow you to automate areas of your business as well as save time. From accounting software to keep on top of your books, to presentation software to customer relationship management software and much more. In terms of physical items in the office, high quality storage solutions, desks and chairs are also essential on a practical level as well as keeping employees comfortable. Decent chairs which offer proper pelvic and lumbar support will prevent pain and injury. These kinds of strains could lead to decreased productivity or even lead to time being taken off sick.

Areas of Expertise Small Businesses Need

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When you launch a small business, you can’t possibly expect to know everything. Of course, there is plenty that you can learn over time, but there are some things that are worth getting expert consultation on. There are plenty of agencies out there which you could outsource service to or firms that you could get on board with your company. Here is a list of a few of the most important areas of expertise that businesses need to obtain.

Accounting and Finance

A startling percentage of small businesses are trying to deal with payroll all by themselves. But if you outsource this service or employ someone to handle it for you, you are actually likely to decrease your costs and increase your tax compliance. If you make any mistakes yourself, these could end up being costly for your business in more ways than one, so why take risks when you don’t need to?

Legal Matters

There are all sorts of legal matters involved in running a business, and it is always worth enlisting the support of a professional team such as Ogletree. Staying compliant with the law protects your business from getting sued or battling with employers or other companies, and since it is such a complicated area, it is always going to be worth getting expert advice.

Information Technology (IT)

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All sorts of businesses need to rely heavily on technology these days, and if anything goes wrong, it can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating trying to solve the problem yourself. Having an IT team on hand gives you the peace of mind that you always have someone to call in case anything should go wrong – and when it comes to technology, it is bound to at some point down the line.

Marketing

Without proper marketing, you will struggle to keep attracting new customers and retaining the ones that you have. When you are first starting out, you may find that your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a member of staff full-time, and you instead prefer to outsource this service. There are all sorts of marketing agencies out there depending on what area you would like to focus on (social media, print etc) as well as the specific company that you are running.

Logistics

As your business starts to grow and develop, all sorts of logistical challenges will start to present themselves. Perhaps you are looking to upscale your operation or move to a new office. There are plenty of business consultants out there who can give you advice on the best way to do this without jeopardising the company that you have worked so hard to build up.

Business is difficult when you try to do everything all by yourself, and though you may be on a limited budget, these are just some of the areas of expertise that it may be worth paying for. Work out what is most valuable to your business based on your individual needs and go from here.

Financial Mistakes Most Start-Up Owners Make

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If you are in the process of setting up your first business, there is certainly a lot to think about. This can be an overwhelming process, albeit an exciting one. Nevertheless, you cannot afford to make any critical errors. You are probably already well aware of the statistics regarding start-ups and survival rates. You don’t need to be another number, though, but you do need to get your numbers right. Read on to discover some of the common financial mistakes start-ups make so that you can avoid them.

Not keeping a cash reserve – This is one of the biggest mistakes that new business owners make. It can be very tempting to spend all of the cash that you have available for the purpose of bettering your business. But, what happens when you run out and someone does not pay you on time? You are then faced with the prospect of not being able to pay your staff, or not being able to take advantage of any new opportunities that come your way.

Mixing business and personal funds – While it can be very tempting to operate everything from the same bank account for greater ease, it is only going to make your life more complicated in the end. It can make it almost impossible to track your expenses, and then filing taxes becomes a massive headache. You could even find yourself with legal issues on your hands if the government decide to audit your company.

Not taking any advice – Financial advice comes in many different forms. It is important that you use the service of a financial advisor so that you can make sure your financial plan and projections are solid. Financial advisors can also help you to do more with your money so that you can build your wealth and operate with a better cash flow. You should look for the best robo advisors for assistance with this. These advisors leverage the power of technology to help you manage your money better. They will select investments that are right for your business, helping you to achieve your financial goals.

Not having any goals – Last but not least, you need to have financial goals in place if your business is to succeed. This doesn’t mean that your goal should be creating a business that is worth millions of pounds. Yes, we would all like this. But you need to create daily, weekly and monthly goals as well as that you can stay on track and make any changes that are required for business growth.

Hopefully, you now feel more prepared for managing your new company’s finances. There is a lot to take into account, but one thing you certainly want to get right with any business is money. If you run into cash flow problems, you could miss out on some amazing opportunities to expand your business and take it to the next level.

So Your Business Is Expanding – Why Worry?

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If you have achieved any level of business competence whatsoever, you will likely experience some form of growth. This might be due to needing to expand operations due to increased orders, building new departments on top of the current structure of your firm, or simply because you’d like a new office.

This can be an exciting time. It shows you’ve made the right decisions to develop your firm in a competent way. It shows your self-sacrifice has been worth it to a degree. It gives you the strength to keep pursuing the next level. It can also be atrociously worrying. After all, how can you feel comfortable when you have a whole new set of responsibilities to take care of now? This might mean managing more departments, or having more staff salaries riding on your shoulders. The adage of ‘do not ask for a lighter load, but broader shoulders’ applies here.

Now, in order to gain those broader shoulders you will need tools to increase them. On a personal level, it might be the barbell that helps you overhead press in the gym. In a professional business setting, it’s going to be the support network around you. Here’s what you need:

Complete Services

It’s important to implement solutions that can be set up quickly, and in a compatible manner. For example, is it superior to install many different computing systems with variant software, or to provide one entire, cloud-based, uniform computing solution for each employee? Of course the latter. Using complete services along these lines that outfit your company with the tools and equipment it needs for success is important, both to save setup time and even discount a little cost.

Services such as BCI Worldwide even offer a full outfitting of the equipment requirements of your firm, from top to bottom. It’s much better to consult with companies like this as they offer tailored, easy to communicate with services. When perfection matters and you need your setup quick and thorough (because time is money,) there is no better option.

Communication & Policy

Moving is relatively worrying for staff. An upheaval of this sort makes staff unsure of their positions. They might worry for their jobs. They might need to relocate. This is why you absolutely need to communicate well in advance about your plans to move. By in advance, we mean the moment you do decide on a location, or on a new growth strategy. Wait until you implement it, at least in a reasonable timescale for your staff. It can usually pay to do this at the end of the year if possible, as the long vacation time allows staff to get their affairs in order.

Also, set up customized policies regarding how you expect staff to behave during this period. This will provide them the platform to follow when unsure. Open your doors to communicate at all times. Daily office emails can help your staff stay informed and prevent any strange rumors or decrease in morale from occurring.

With these two suggestions in mind, your move is sure to be worthwhile. We wish you the best of luck.

Minimize Business Costs And Boost Profits With These Smart Tactics

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The bottom line, it’s something that those of us in business always have to be aware of. In fact, it can make the difference between staying afloat and going under in the viciously competitive business world. That’s why it is so important to be able to minimize commercial costs and boost profits wherever possible. With that in mind, read our short guide on just how you can do this below.

Cut costs – refine your manufacturing process

One way that you can cut costs in business is to refine the process of creating your product to the point where it costs you less to make each unit. Yes, you may have to put some initial finances into assessing the current situation through auditing, and then into research and development to reduce the cost of the production process. However, if you do you figures beforehand and the investment will pay off in the long run, this can be a very smart move concerning cutting the costs of your business.

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Boost profits – increase price to customer

Something else that is worth considering is increasing the price you charge your customers. However, this is an action that needs to be made with caution because hitting the right price point can be a sensitive issue. It can even put customers off if they believe they aren’t getting anything additional but the price is higher.

That is why it’s best to launch a luxury model of your product, one that is aimed at a more aspirational market. Then the price increase seems justified as the customer is subconsciously buying into the lifestyle that they desire as well as just the physical item.

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It may seem like this works better for some type of product that others, such as cars, or other big-ticket products like music systems and home tech. However, this isn’t always the case, and recently some companies selling everyday items such as fabric softener have has success by creating a product packaged in a more high-end way and selling it at an increased priced. Just see the video below for an example.

Cut costs – import a cheaper product

You can also cut costs as a business by importing products made elsewhere to repackage and sell to your customers instead of manufacturing them yourself. This usually only works if you haven’t already got a manufacturing plant set up, as the money you would lose having created this will offset any savings you could make. However, if you are a new company or looking to expand the range of items you are offering to your clients, it can work very well.

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 Importing products to sell from overseas can be a smart move to boost profits.

Although, it is important that you realize importing items from another country isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Especially, if you don’t choose the right important company. What some businesses do to remedy this is use facilities like our sourcing agent service that can seek out the exact product that you need, check the quality and then get them shipped to you with the minimum of hassle. Otherwise, you could end up making sales that you can’t then fulfill, and this isn’t going to do your company’s reputation any good or help you more profits in the long run.

Boost profits – increase marketing

A very savvy way of boosting profits that many top businesses used is to shore up their marketing strategy. This can be a complex process that includes creating a funnel that helps to get new potential customers interested in your brand. Something that can be done by creating engaging content that is valuable to your target demographic. Such a strategy also includes encouraging engagement through social media, comments, and sharing of products photos, in addition to putting effective sales closing techniques in place.

Also, a tactic that can seriously help to boost your profits in the marketing field is the use of automation and personalization of ads online.

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Now, this sounds a lot more complicated than it is because, in fact, it’s just about the IT system that you are using learning to identify which available leads fit best into your demographic. Then when these leads come up as advertising opportunities, you can select them over others. Something that means you can end up spending less on advertising costs but improve the conversion rate that each impression makes. An action that can definitely help you boost your profits over the long term.

Cut costs – automate manufacture

Automation is also a strategy that you can consider for your manufacturing and other business-related processes. After all, if you have physical robots or digital system that is designed to be able to carry out the work that you normally have to pay someone a wage to do, you can most certainly cut costs over the long term.

However, that as such automaton becomes more widespread, the taxes charged on it could also increase. This is in part, to fund the universal payment system that will be necessary to enable people to survive if the job market is minimized dramatically. An issue that could seriously eat into the cost-saving potential of such a move.

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Cut costs – negotiate resources

Last but not least, businesses can also use the tactic of reducing the price of the resources they buy to create their products in the first place.

This may sound like a lost cause because people believe that things cost what they cost, but in fact, there is usually room to haggle with you supplier especially if you are a valued customer. This is because they don’t want to lose your account, as it is a good steady income stream for them. Therefore it may well be worth their while to reduce the price of the individual units they supply to you to keep you as a client.

With this in mind, always negotiate prices before you sign a deal, and you can even try your luck at getting the price reduced when an agreement has already been made. After all, you don’t know if you don’t ask, and if it could cut your costs significantly, it is a tactic worth considering.

Making Your Small Business Appear Bigger

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As a small business owner, competing against the larger firms can be difficult. This is especially the case if you are a one-man band. For some reason, a bigger company is one that often appears more professional and trustworthy. However, this does not mean that you simply need to bow down and let these potential customers get away. Instead, you can make your company appear bigger than it is to create a sense of trust. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that this can be achieved…

Start from a higher invoice number – This is a simple trick that you can start using today. If you invoice someone, and it has let’s say ‘#12’ at the top, this will make you come across as inexperienced. It shows that you have not provided your service many times or that a lot of people have not purchased your products. This could set off alarm bells in the customer’s mind, and they may be worried about using your service again due to a lack of experience. The best way to stop this from happening is to simply start numbering your invoices from #1000. So, that #12 will now be #1012.

Invest in virtual receptionist services – One of the best ways to make your small company appear bigger is to invest in a professional virtual receptionist service, such as the one that is provided by Virtual HQ. By enhancing your customer service and having dedicated professionals available at all times, you make your company appear much more substantial. A lot of these services also come with expert software so that customers can be tacked and a more personalised service can be provided, which will enhance your level of service and create a loyal consumer base.

Grow your social media presence – How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many likes do your posts get on Facebook? If the answer is not many, then you need to start working on your social media presence. Social media offers customers a unique way to get closer with brands than ever before, and it also serves as an important customer service platform. If you do not have a great presence on social media, it can seem like your business is behind with the times or that you simply do not have the staff to do so. Therefore, it is a good idea to make the most of social media scheduling software that is available, enabling you to post throughout the day without having to be logged into your social media accounts at all times.

Give your website a bit of TLC – If your website appears amateurish, then this gives off the impression that your company is also of this level. The importance of an impressive and high-quality website cannot be ignored. You need a website that looks sleek and operates efficiently. This is critical for your brand image. Your website needs to say who you are, it needs to be intuitive to use, and it needs to be quick to load. The contact page is also incredibly important, as customers get frustrated if it is not easy to get in touch with a company. This creates an instant lack of trust, and most people will look elsewhere because of this. Instead, make sure you have numerous methods of contact, and state your hours of availability too. Also, it is a good idea to offer numerous payment methods. If you only allow customers to pay via one method, this also creates the appearance of a small company, and you may be alienating people that cannot pay via that system

Choose a prestigious business address – This last point is especially important for companies that operate from their home address. You probably won’t want to put your home address on your website, nor should you. Instead, why not pay for a virtual address? This won’t cost a lot, and it allows your business to benefit from a premium location. Your mail will simply be emailed to you electronically, enabling you to manage all of your mail efficiently.

Hopefully, you now are armed with plenty of suggestions that you can use to make your small company appear bigger. From changing your invoice numbers to making the most of a virtual receptionist, there are many different ways to give your company a bigger feel, which will make your brand more professional too.

Knowing Your Customers As Well As Yourself

The world of business is a lot like competitive fishing. You’re trying to be the best by catching the most and the biggest prize. You do so with skill, finesse and above all else knowing who and what you’re trying to capture. Consumers want to be impressed; there’s very little reason why they should fork over their hard earned money to a company that is anything but. However, it’s not always as simple as licking your finger and seeing which way the wind blows. Business and trade are getting more to grips with the psychological aspect of consumerism in the online world. The beauty and perhaps double-edged sword action of online shopping is, you get a substantially larger crowd to entice. They’re called browsing consumers; they visit many websites before they make a solid purchase. On the other hand, this means you don’t really meet them or get enough time to understand why they came to your website. So how can you grab them hook line and sinker?

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Just ask them

Many shopping websites now have the tried and tested, humble survey. This usually pops up in the bottom left, or right-hand corner and respectfully asks if the potential customer would spare some of their time. From a once ‘nothing to give back’ kind of information retrieved, to now actually giving something back in return. Surveys are great if you keep them short and sweet. So make them your best questions and don’t word them too complicated. Choose from one to five questions are making them a blend of aesthetic enquiry into functional categories. Ask the customer why they end up on your website with a few options like ‘just browsing’, ‘looking for a specific product’, or perhaps ‘a friend recommended me’, etc.

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Lift the veil

Let’s face it, we all like the ability to shop anonymously. We get to browse products at our own leisure, with no one being able to intrude into what or why we like something. However, when it comes to running a business, information is like gold dust. It’s simply invaluable because it stops you from stabbing in the dark hoping to connect meaningfully with your consumers. Services that offer Anonymous Visitor Identification are a resolute solution to this issue. Around 2% of visitors are willing to identify themselves via their own free will. That leaves 98% who are left in the dark. If you utilize this kind of service for your business, you get access to vital information of the overwhelming majority. You’ll see their country, gender, potential interests and their clicking habits. This paints a picture of how they got to your business and where they like to snoop around. With this vital information, you’re better able to market products toward them with a much higher chance of securing a purchase.

Without knowing what the customer wants, businesses are lost at sea. It’s almost like a conveyor belt method of grabbing attention; you just throw as much of yourself out there, hoping someone will take it. Not only is this time consuming it’s also costly. You’d be surprised at the interaction rate you’ll receive when you offer them something back when they commit to a survey. Anything from a 1-5% discount on their first purchase, and they’ll happily answer the same amount of questions. Equally, lifting the veil on just who is visiting you at all hours of the day allows you to channel your products and services to the right person.

Highly Effective, Low Effort Ways To Improve Your Business

You have to put more work in to make effective changes is a facility that too many people believe in the business world. It’s something that can lead to burnout and disappointment as well, especially for those in higher level positions. However, what you really need to do is work smarter not harder. Something that can be achieved by following the tactics discussed below.

Better marketing

You can improve your business hugely by making your marketing strategy work harder for you. That doesn’t mean that you have to come up with catchy taglines or stunning print campaigns though. Instead, why not consider the low effort solution that automated online marketing offers.

Automated online marketing works by using the information collected by cookies on a customers computer to help you identify whether they are a good match for your marketing impression. What that means is you can more effectively target people in the demographic that is likely to be genuinely interested in your product. Something that making it much more likely that you will get a conversion into a sale.

With up and coming technology in the field, you can even personalize the content a potential customer sees to a very specific niche. Something that can further improve your chances of an effective result. This is such a low effort tactic because it is a process that once set up runs on its own, meaning human interaction isn’t needed, despite it having the potential to greatly improve the success of your business.

Better networks

Many businesses find that a great deal of time and effort are used up by firefighting issues with their online and internal networks. Such issues can easily cause problems internally in the business, or be responsible for poor customer satisfaction and complaints. A matter that can cost additional resources and time to deal with.

However, such problems can be improved by using network monitoring tools in a proactive way. These are so useful because they enhance the efficiency of your business quickly, and stop problems becoming so big that they are difficult to manage.

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This then prevents any bottlenecking of services you provided and can help your business run smoothly much more of the time. Something that can improve productivity, and prevent sales atrophy caused by customers lacking access.

Better customer service

While you may have to put in some initial work in improving your companies cultures towards customer service, it is definitely worth it in the long run.

This is because over the long term good customer care can reduce the effort, time, and resources your business expends on keeping customers happy. Something that can help to ensure that they buy your product as well as come back for more.

To illustrate this point, consider the following example. You sell your products online, and a customer checks your website at 11pm to buy an item that they are desperate need of. In fact, they are so desperate for it that they need expedited delivery.

However, because it’s late, there is no one that can check with to make sure it is exactly the right item, and they also can’t see whether it’s actually in stock at the moment. That means they either go to a competitor or delay their purchase until the next morning, then contacting your company directly to find out the answer to their questions.

 

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However, if your site has a chat box, and a stock level already displayed, this sale would neither be lost or delayed. These aspect of customer service are very easy to install as well and can be done created your website designer to function automatically. Something that means you could increase the effectiveness of your website for sales with very minimal effort.

Hire better employees

They say a team is only as strong as its weakest member, and this is nowhere more true than in a business situation. That means employing the best people for the job is vital if you want to ensure that those in higher position are doing all the heavy lifting for the company.

Basically, what we are saying here is that your business is going to be more effective if you employ the right people in the first place. Of course, doing this is often easier said than done, because there are all sorts of constraints that govern who you give a job to.

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The amount you have available for salary and wages is one such constraint. Although, many businesses find that they if they pay well, at least some of the issues with low productivity, morale, and poor quality candidates are automatically reduced because they attract high caliber applications in the first place.

Another constraint is knowing enough about the person you are employing before you give them the job. Unfortunately, traditional interview techniques aren’t always the most effective tools for weeding out those that would rather coast or bitch and moan than do a hard days work.

]In fact, some people are fantastic at interviews but don’t prove to be such a valuable asset when they are actually in the role. To assist in this process, it can be worth putting a little extra effort into the recruitment process and take the time to interview people personally and give them a trial run.

Then you can see what they are like in the actual job situation, rather than relying on what is essentially a performance in the interview. In doing this, you can greatly reduce the effort you will need to put in, in the long run, in term of training, mentoring, motivating and even disciplinary actions.

Teach better management skills

Lastly, while it often seems attractive for those higher up in the business to keep hold of things as much as possible, investing in management training for those in mid-level roles can be very useful.

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This is because if they are better equipped to run their departments, things will be more productive without you having to expend any extra energy. In fact, you don’t even need to do the training yourself, as you can send them on an outside course. Something that means higher managers can trust those under them to run things properly, so they won’t have to put as much effort in for the business to be successful.

Making Your Brand Really Work

Branding is always going to be one of the biggest things that you need to do in business, and it is something which can cause a surprising number of headaches too if you are not careful. If you want to make your brand work, however, it is essential to figure out just how you can master it as a process, as doing so is bound to improve the performance of your business in a great many ways – not least by increasing the number of sales you receive, and improving the public perception of your business. Making a brand work takes a lot of hard work and dedication, however, so it’s a good idea to know what you are about to get into. Let’s take a look at some of the major things to bear in mind when you are trying to make your brand work for you as well as possible.

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Consistency Is Key

The number one concern you need to be aware of here is that your brand is as consistent as possible. You might well have heard this before – but what does it really mean? Put simply, consistency in branding means that it appears the same wherever it might show up. Whether it is on your website, on a billboard, or in the way that you interact with your customers via any medium, your brand needs to always look the same – or as close to the same as possible. Achieving this consistency is vital because this is actually how branding works. If there is not this consistency, it is not really a unified brand – just a random assortment of logos and designs.

Online & Offline Are Equally Important

It can be all too easy to allow your online branding to fall by the wayside, even as you are working diligently on your offline branding. The truth is that you need to try your hardest to give them equal attention, as the facts show that they are both about as important as one another. If you fail to employ any offline branding at all, then it will be as though your business doesn’t really exist in the real world – and you need to avoid this perception, even if it is an online business. If you ignore the online side, you will not be providing your business with the essential opportunities that it needs to thrive upon. Consider using the help of professionals like BrandBits to secure your online branding, and the traditional marketers for your offline branding. Both are essential for your ongoing success.

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Don’t Be Afraid To Rebrand

From time to time, it might prove necessary to rebrand your business. When this happens, it can sometimes be concerning, as you might feel that this means you have failed. But actually, it is all about the perception of the situation. Most of the biggest brands in the world have had to be redesigned at some point in their past, and it is usually at that point that they really started to flourish. So don’t be afraid to do this when it seems to be necessary – but the rest of the time, make sure you don’t spoil a good thing. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, as they say.