Business Owners, Don’t Let Your Tech Overwhelm You!

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As a blogger and social media professional, I’m often asked by less techy start-up owners about the best way to incorporate more tech into their business. Hopefully that’s some consolation if you thought you were alone in finding modern tech totally overwhelming! It’s true that if you’re simply neglecting modern tech then you’re losing money, but you don’t have to go on feeling overwhelmed by all the tech that makes your business tick. Here are a few ways to keep your head above water…

Take It a Step at a Time

If your business is a fledgling start-up, then you probably won’t have the kind of budget needed to outsource all your tech and IT needs. The DIY approach may not be ideal, but it’s certainly not impossible to make a success of it. Instead of biting off more than you can chew by trying to deal with every little facet of your business tech in one big flurry, I recommend formulating a strategy for taking it one step at a time. If you can’t afford a specialised PPC copywriter, for example, and need to learn about the best practices yourself, focus on PPC for a while and put everything else off. You’ll find managing your tech less stressful, and much easier to understand.

Outsource It

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If you’ve got the capital and your tech is continuing to overwhelm you, then my next best piece of advice is to outsource it, and let someone more experienced deal with the issue. It’s only the worst leaders who think they know everything. The best ones know that they don’t know everything, and when they need to reach out for help! Rather than wasting time by fighting a losing battle with your tech, find a company that offers full IT outsourcing, and pass the issue onto them. Even if your budget is a little tight, it can often be a great idea to outsource your tech issues, and invest your time in an area where you have more expertise. While I understand the want to avoid outsourcing, it’s important to consider what your most cost-effective option is.

Reach Out for Help

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Finally, we have the middle-ground between the two suggestions I made above; get support from free or more affordable resources. There are many free resources available online which can provide valuable information on your tech needs. Simple tutorial videos on YouTube have helped a lot of business owners and higher-ups out of tough times, and there are many groups on social networks where people can ask questions and receive answers. Technical support should always be a big consideration when you’re buying tech in the first place. A lot of modern business tools come with in-built help resources or links to contact live advisors. Be sure to think about this before investing in any new business tech.

If the tech at your business feels like it’s doing more harm than good, try tweaking your approach with these tips, and you’re certain to make things easier for yourself!

 

Category: Business

Sad Staff? Get Them Fired Up For 2017 And Beyond!

2016 has been a hard year for a bunch of people. It’s likely that your staff were negatively affected by the many impacts of this year in one way or another.

And that’s not ok. If your employees are unhappy at work, not only is it going to affect productivity, but they are going to be sad. As a leader, you might want to do more to ensure your employees are ok, and not just ok to work.

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Happy employees ensure happy profits, according to financial experts Forbes and they are right! Writing for the website, Meghan Biro had this to say: I can walk into a company and tell within seconds whether or not its employees are well treated and happy on a basic level. The level of employee engagement, warmth and sense of a shared purpose is palpable. It’s something I simply feel after being in the business of talent management for several years. And while my conclusion may be subjective, there’s plenty of hard evidence that shows that happy employees lead directly to better performance and higher profits. Last year revenues increased by an average of 22.2 percent for the 2014 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these same companies added new employees at rate that was five times higher than the national average.’

 

If someone can walk into a workplace and instantly assess the happiness of your employees, you might be blind if you’re struggling after working with them for so long. That being said, fresh eyes on a situation can uncover hidden issues, but you should be the person to solve these issues. It’s your job!

 

Not only that, but happy employees are going to do great things for your workplace. Professor Andrew Oswald found that ‘companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to succeed in generating happier workers. At Google, employee satisfaction rose 37% as a result of those initiatives—suggesting that financial incentives aren’t enough to make for highly productive employees.’

 

If things aren’t going well, it can be far too easy to make a bad, and drastic decision. It might not be time to react in a silly manner, but more a time to refocus and get ready to fight back in the coming year. 2017 is coming up and if 2016 has been a bad year for business, it’s time to change that with the new year. There are many ways you can fire up your employees and even though some changes may be drastic, it’s better than not making changes at all!

 

For starters, are you paying your staff fairly? People can access paygrades through sites like Glassdoor and sooner or later might wise up to you if you’re being tight with the purse-strings. Pay people what they are worth or they will move on. While many will love their job, they are their for the cash. Make sure you are compensating fairly or you’re going to have problems on your hands. Problems you could have solved a long time ago. Paying people what they are worth isn’t something you should avoid. As proven above though, it’s not always about the cash.

 

Training your staff is something you should also be doing. And no, not just for the good of your company. Talk to your team about where they want to go and personalise their development. It’s all about being relevant as well – If you have a staff member who wants to improve their skills in marketing, send them on marketing training and not something like a database management course. Doing the wrong thing in regards to development is a great way to bore your staff and waste money.

 

If your business is doing well, make sure to pay some dividends onto the staff who got your business there in the first place. If you reward your staff with bonuses when the good times are around, they will aim to keep your business in the black and doing well. Again, don’t be stingy as the cost can be huge. On the opposite side of the coin, if your business isn’t doing well, don’t ignore the advice of your staff. In times of crisis, the entire workforce should be the leadership team.

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Make your business a fun place to work. Start off by sacking off the pointless morale boosting activites. Simply encourage your staff to be themselves at work. Laughter and fun are the best stress busters of all time and rarely require your own effort. Don’t stamp down with authority when it isn’t needed.

 

There should also be places for your staff to decompress. Consider a workplace gym, which can help your staff let off steam, or even redevelop a workplace canteen stocked with food suggestions from your employees. All these little methods can help in the long term.

 

Customized employment perks might do wonders for your team in the future. For example, if you can’t afford to build an on-site gym, why don’t you try and offer gym memberships for your employees? An easy perk is to offer a flexible working environment and thanks to Dropbox and other cloud storage solutions, your employees can pretty much work from anywhere they have a computer and an internet connection.

 

Firing up your staff and workforce all falls onto your shoulders. Drilling and boosting your employees doesn’t just involve paying them well and shoving perks into their faces, but it involves you being the best leader and boss that you can be. You are in that role for a reason and it’s a role that requires many faces. One day you can be a trainer, the next you might have to pretend to be a best friend and sometimes, for younger staff you might have to act as a parent. Be there, at all times, for your employees and don’t just make sure you’re getting the most out of them , make sure they are getting the most out of working for you! Work hard and well for them and surely they will notice it and repay you. It’s about moving in one direction as a united team and not leaving anyone behind.

 

Category: Business

Cost-Effective Tech: How to Save Money on Digital-Related Expenses

IT has created a new level of engagement that businesses can utilise to increase customer retention and sales. There are so many digital platforms for a business to use that it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to decide which one to focus on. For example, there are major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to advertise and promote on, but what separates the two and, given a constrained budget, which service would give better returns for the cost?

It’s important that businesses do not spend too much money on technology because it can be easy to go over budget with the high advertising and maintenance costs. This guide will hopefully answer some of those questions. It will delve into the specifics of IT systems that a business can utilise, and how effective they are at ultimately drawing in more profits.

 

 

Social Media

Social media advertising is a commonly discussed topic among budding entrepreneurs that want to engage their audience in the digital world as well as physical. Unfortunately, it can be easy to spend too much money in the wrong places which will result in poor exposure and terrible customer growth. The only way to target your marketing accurately is to first research how digital marketing works. Terms such as SEO and keyword relevancy might seem alien to a first-time business owner, but they are commonly used in the world of online advertising and you should become familiar with them before proceeding to waste money advertising to the wrong crowd.

 

Cloud Services

Managed IT Services & Consulting for businesses can tell you that cloud services will be your saving grace when it comes to value for money. Not only do cloud services remove the need for bulky physical storage mediums and high-cost software, they also act as a continuity plan for when something goes wrong with your system due to an accident or natural disaster. One of the most disastrous things that can occur to a business is a loss of data such as sales records and customer information. Prevent this from happening by ensuring that you have sufficient cloud services implemented in your business so you can continue working no matter the conditions.

 

 

Hardware

Computer hardware can seem like a mysterious thing. All the numbers and values make little sense to most business owners so they need to hire a specialised consultant or team member to deal with buying the proper hardware. However, many people underestimate the power of relatively cheap components and they assume that an expensive computer is needed to run the latest software, but this simply isn’t true. Unless you are running a content production business (such as video and art) then a powerful computer is a waste of money. Applications such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite and 3D modelling tools do require workstation-level computers that cost a lot of money, but running cloud applications such as Google Drive can be done on cheap office laptops and computers that cost a tenth of the price.

 

Category: Business

Create The Perfect Look For Your Business

You need to remember one thing when running your company if you want it to be a success. Appearance matters, and we’re not just talking about the big things here like your office or your work environment. It’s true to say that how your employees look, how your website feels and plenty of other factors could impact whether or not a customer or client decides to buy. If you want to secure that sale, everything has to be perfect. Let’s look at some of the boxes that you’ll need to tick off to do this.

Office Space

The first factor you should think about is your office or business environment. If you’re running a typical business, this is one of the first things a new client or customer will see. You need them to be impressed and overwhelmed by how wonderful it looks. It should ooze appeal and suggest that your business is already incredibly successful. There’s a specific idea that you want to convey here. You need new clients to think that you don’t need their business. But they would be fools not to use your services. After all, you’re clearly doing quite well on the market.

Remember, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve bought or rent your business property. If you’re renting, you need to make sure that you choose the absolute perfect location for your business. Have a look at businesses like The Hoxton Mix. They offer brilliant rental possibilities for offices that look fantastic and convey the exact message that you want.

Web Design

Did you know that the smallest detail on your site can stop a customer from buying? It’s true, and the reason for this is simple. The web is filled with literally countless websites. Many of these sites will be offering the same or similar services to yours. Therefore there is no reason for customers to automatically decide to use your service. So, the pitch must be perfect. You need to make sure that your site makes it seem like you can offer everything that customers want or need. You should speak to a pro web designer about the possibility of shaping your site around a specific concept that you want to convey.

Employee Appearance

Last but not least you need to think about the people working for you in your business. Your employees are ultimately the people who your customers are going to be dealing with. The truth is that they probably won’t be meeting you. Their impression of your business will come from interactions with these individuals. How can you make sure that they are impressed by this encounter? Well, believe it or not, it does matter how your employees appear. They should look like professionals at work who can be trusted and deserve the high profile job they have been entrusted with. You also want to make sure that they are neatly groomed and well dressed.

Think about this when you hire employees for your business. Remember, if they look like a mess in the interview, that’s probably how they are going to look when they show up for work.

Category: Business

Why You Need To Create A Business Plan ASAP

Not every business needs a business plan. Many successful businesses have started and thrived without one. However, if you can take the time to create one, you can enjoy many benefits. Here’s why you need to create a business plan ASAP:

Stay Focused On Your Goals
A business plan will help you to stay more focused on your goals, as you outline everything here to do with your business, including plans for the future. Things will be chaotic in the beginning, which is why having something like this can be really helpful.

Agree On A Vision With Your Business Partner
You’re going to need to make sure you and your business partner agree on a vision for the company. After all, having different visions for your company is only going to cause problems in the long run. Having things like things written down can help you to avoid conflict later on.

Have All Of Your Important Information In One Place
Having all of your business information in one place will be really helpful, not only to you but to investors. You should have everything in here, from how you plan to secure funding, to paying that funding back and even exit strategies.

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Find It Easier To Secure Funding
Whether you need lots of money or a small business loan, having a business plan can help with this. It won’t only be helpful to you, but to investors. When investors see that you have your head wrapped around your business and know exactly what you’re doing, they’ll have far more confidence in you.

Sell Your Business Later On If You Want To
There may come a time later on where you want to sell your business. You might not think it now, but it does happen. Having a detailed business plan can help you to do this.

Balance Out Your Emotions
As things are going to be pretty chaotic and stressful, especially at the beginning, your business plan can help you to take a step back and regroup. You’ll be able to see that everything you’re doing really does make sense. Of course you can also have a great network of family and friends around you, but a business plan will have all of the facts to keep you going.

Avoid Big Mistakes
Avoiding big mistakes is crucial. How would you feel if you started your business, only to realize you were pretty much doomed from the start? This does happen sometimes! A business plan allows you to iron things out and get a better handle on things, so big mistakes can be avoided. Of course you can’t expect your entire entrepreneurial life to be mistake free. As long as they’re not too serious, just learn from them and move on!

Now you should see why it’s crucial you make a business plan ASAP. It really will help you to stay focused, keep moving forward, and secure the things for your business that you really need. If you have any thoughts and comments you’d like to add, make sure you leave them below. See you again soon!

Category: Business

Social Sellers VS. Non-Social Sellers [Infographic] – New Research

Original Post – Sales For Life 

We asked over 500 sales, marketing and sales enablement professionals: who gets the better ROI when it comes to volume of new customers and hitting revenue goals—social sellers or non-social sellers?

The results from our State of Digital Sales Survey 2017 gave some unique insight into some of the priorities and challenges of sales leaders today, as well as some of the benefits of implementing a long-term social strategy.

Here are what sales executives in small and large companies are saying:

  • The majority of sales leaders (71%) said their top priority in the next 12 months was converting contacts/leads into customers.
  • The top challenge for sales leaders today was a close tie between lead generation (55%), and conversion rates/speed (54%).
  • Companies that consistently do social selling see 65% faster volume of leads, compared to 47% of those companies that do random, or inconsistent, acts of social.

5 Warning Signs That Your Business Is Overspending On Tech

Wherever there is a business these days, you can guarantee there is also technology. Computers, software, systems – every business owner has plenty of tech to use at their disposal. But is this always a good thing?

As I’ve covered before on this blog, there is a good, bad, and ugly side of tech. And with so much choice around right now, it can be easy to become a little purchase-happy. And all of it costs money, whether you like it or not.

So, the big question for today is – are you spending too much money on tech? Here are the warning signs that you have to look out for.

You use technology to look good

It’s all well and good buying the latest kit from Apple and turning your office space into a technological marvel. It looks great – sure – and your customers will be impressed at first. But looking good is one thing – being good is another. It’s less sexy, of course – but ultimately your customers want results. And they don’t care what equipment or systems you use to deliver those results.

You don’t understand the return on investment

There is no point using technology just for the sake of it. Every last piece of kit or software in your possession needs to do one of two things. It should either save – or make – you money. Or, it should save you time. If you are using software just because it is the next big thing, you are wasting both.

Your systems and equipment are too old

That said, it’s all too easy to go the other way and use old, geriatric machines and systems. The trouble with this approach is that you will never get anything done. Older systems tend to be slower, costing you in productivity. And, they need a lot more maintenance, which costs you excessive time and money. While you don’t need the latest, all-singing-all-dancing gear, you don’t want to be left behind the times, either.

Your network is flaky

Every service and system you use costs money. So, if you are experiencing constant server dropouts and slow Internet speeds, you are throwing money away. The Internet plays a vital role in your business’s performance, and you need a reliable provider that you can trust. Look into a dedicated server, cloud, or the colocation cost with other companies and find one that will do a proper job for your business.

You never analyze

Of course, how can you tell if you are spending too much if you aren’t analyzing your technology’s performance? Robust, diagnostic testing is needed to ensure you are running everything at maximum efficiency. Look into doing regular technology audits, and have people on the lookout for newer, better alternatives. It’s also important to be more collaborative as a business. Your sales team and IT support team might not meet up right now. But if you give them the opportunity to collaborate, they are more likely to find better technology solutions.

So, what do you think? Is your business displaying any of these warning signs? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!  

Category: Business

t’s A Dog-Eat-Dog World Out There: Does Your Company Need To Slash Costs?

When it comes to your business, profit margin is everything. It doesn’t matter how long you spend pouring over your accounts, the bottom line is the bottom line. For any business, there are two ways to increase your profit margin. You either win more business and get more customers. Or you slash your costs right down to the bone. But when pricing is so cut-throat, reducing costs may be the only way to compete.

Here we’re going to look at a few of the ways you can cut costs that you may have overlooked. Check this out.

Slash Your Travel Costs

As companies become more global, they’re reaching out to buyers abroad and setting up locations in new countries. This is perfect for expanding their businesses overseas, but it’s not exactly good for their bank accounts. For many global companies, travel costs are excessive, especially when including “business” services. Flights, hire cars and hotels can quickly eat away at your profit and leave you penniless by the end of the year. So what should you do? First off, limit the number of times you travel abroad to meet a particular client to once every six months. The rest of the time, make use of the internet and use Skype or Zoom. If a client complains, just inform them that you’re too busy to deal in person right now. After all, you probably are! www.businessinsider.com/ has more information on reducing business travel expenses.

Cut Out Unnecessary Overheads, Including Your Office

Offices aren’t what they once were. In the past, they used to be a hub for reputable businesses of all stripes. But today, upwards of 30 percent of small businesses don’t bother with one. The reason? Cost. Once you start investigating the commercial office space market, you soon realise how expensive they are to rent, fit out and run. Many small companies can’t be bothered. Instead, they use sites like www.yourvirtualofficelondon.co.uk to bypass office costs. Essentially, they rent a virtual office that forwards all their mail to some cheaper address, like a home office.

Change Your Marketing To Focus On Existing Customers

Marketing to new customers is an expensive business. You’ve got to find them first. And then you have to craft a message that they will find interesting. It’s easier said than done, and often very expensive.

There may, however, be an alternative route you can go down – one with a bigger ROI. That route is advertising to your existing customers. Your current customers already know you, and they know that they can get a quality service from you. What’s more, these clients have already shown an interest in your product before. This indicates that they’re interested in what you’re selling.

If you’ve got an email list of existing customers, use this to your advantage. Send an email out detailing a new promotion or offer you have running. Or use email to remind clients that they can get a lot more value for money if they upgrade their existing service with you.

Category: Business

These Crucial Things Could Be The Difference Between Success and Failure in Your Small Business

Setting up your own company and working for yourself is the dream for many. But when risks are high, many can be put off taking the plunge. There are so many things to consider, and so many factors that you need to get right. Any of the following things could be letting you down, and so make sure you’re not overlooking these three important things.

An Excellent Website

The perfect website will be easy on the eye but without putting style over substance. It will have clear navigation, be intuitive to click around and have a search box to make it easy to find anything that’s not on the main page. It should have clear contact information, social media information and all errors should be fixed immediately. Research has shown that if customers have to wait more than three seconds for a site to load, or if a website is down when they click on it it would put them off so badly they’d be unlikely to return. This highlights just how important it is to keep on top of this. You’ll need to hire a professional website designer to put everything together, and have the right support on hand for when things go wrong. You could research IT support companies for SMBs to find the right services for you.

An App

While your website should be properly optimized for different devices, this alone is no longer enough. To take it a step further, you will need an app. An app is a fantastic way to get your business onto the phones of your customers and potential customers. It means all your information, products, and contact details are accessible to them at the click of a button. Plus it makes you look more trustworthy and legitimate which is what customers want from a business. And is of particular importance for the success of newer companies. In the not too distant future, every small, medium and large company will need an app. Right now you can use this time to get ahead of your competitors, since many SMBs still have not set one up.

A Social Media Strategy

Using social media as a marketing tool can help you grow your brand awareness. This is useful for all businesses, regardless of what you sell. It shouldn’t be thought of as an added extra and is instead something that needs to be an integral part of the marketing approach of your company. Research has shown it to be twice as effective at leading to sales than traditional outbound marketing, so it’s something that should be taken seriously. A good social following makes you look reliable and provides customers with another way to contact and interact with you. Using it right will build your relationship with customers. It will make you look more reputable, boost your website with Google and so much more. Getting a social media expert on board your team could be an excellent investment, someone who can look at the information and come up with a good marketing strategy.

Category: Business

It starts with a Referral – Not a Salesperson

Harvard Business Review posted a recent article, with some interesting statistics. The headliner being :

84% of B2B Sales Start with a Referral — Not a Salesperson

Here is the article for you reading pleasure

 

Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. In fact, a recent survey found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.

Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the buying process? Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

The answer to the shift away from reliance on outbound sales could reside in social selling, the strategy of adding social media to the sales professional’s toolbox. With social selling, salespeople use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions. As a result, they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to buy.

This is different than social media marketing, where a brand engages many, aiming to increase overall brand awareness or promote a specific product or service by producing content that users will share with their network. Social selling concentrates on producing focused content and providing one-to-one communication between the salesperson and the buyer. Both strategies create valuable content from the consumer’s perspective and use similar social networks and social software tools. But with social selling, the goal is for the rep to form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and answering questions rather than building an affinity for the organization’s brand.

Social selling makes sense for achieving quota and revenue objectives for multiple reasons. First, three out of four B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. In a recent B2B buyers survey, 53% of the respondents reported that social media plays a role in assessing tools and technologies, and when making a final selection.

In addition, more than three-quarters (82%) of the B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact on their buying decision. A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. Another survey showed that 72% of the B2B salespeople who use social media report that they outperformed their sales peers, and more than half of them indicated they closed deals as a direct result of social media.

Social sales content also gets salespeople involved earlier in the sales cycle, which means they’re more likely to define the criteria for an ideal solution or the “buying vision,” and thus, more likely to win the sale.

It doesn’t take a significant amount of time to get started in social selling. B2B salespeople only need to invest 5% to 10% of their time to be successful with social. Salespeople should begin carving out a small percentage of their daily time for social media. Regular interaction with a prospect may not lead to a direct sale this week or quarter, but could result in a significant win within the year.

Salespeople should also collaborate with their social marketing counterparts to make the most of their social efforts. Marketing can train salespeople in social media systems, processes, and best practices. According to a survey, 75% of B2B salespeople indicated they were trained in the effective use of social media. This training can encompass everything from working in specific social media channels to using corporate social media software, understanding the business’s social media guidelines, and orienting social media content around customer interests and needs, rather than on brand features, benefits, and prices.

What’s more, sales and marketing can collaborate on information to ensure that their efforts are aligned and to identify common goals and metrics that both teams can support. Since sales pride themselves on their one-on-one relationships with customers, they can discuss with marketing customer successes and concerns, changing customer needs, customer questions, and industry updates.

Integrating systems and encouraging transparency will also go a long way. Salesforce, for example, emphasizes the importance of improved communication between sales and marketing citing an App Data Room and Marketo study that found sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts.

 

Social media is too important to be left to marketing. In fact, a recent study found skilled social media sales professionals are six times more likely to exceed quota over peers with basic or no social media skills. It is time to get started with social selling and meet your prospects where they’re spending their time. Your organization could be halfway there if marketing has already made the shift to integrating social media into their strategies. When marketing combines their long-game with sales short game in social selling, it can be a win-win for both teams — and for your overall business.



This article is was originally published Here