Is Going Green Good For Business?

 

If there is one trend which is catching on around the world, it’s going green. Cutting the firm’s carbon footprint for the sake of the planet is an excellent way to boost PR and reduce costs. In fact, there are lots of positives for companies, and that is why it is becoming more popular. However, will implementing eco-friendly practices definitely help the company? The answer is no because every business is different. To understand the impact, an organisation needs to understand the argument first.

With that in mind, below are the pros and cons of going green. Before the business makes a decision, it should consult the following.

 

Pro: Cuts Costs

Aside from reducing CO2 emissions, going green also reduces costs. The reason is simple: by reducing energy, you reduce the monthly overhead bill. Indeed, the stats are quite astounding. According to CNBC, a 2012 study found that individual organisations can save $15 billion over a decade. That equates to $1.5 billion a year, which is a significant sum in any billionaire’s book. Lots of business owners find this hard to believe, yet it is true throughout the industry. Even if the savings aren’t with the tens of billions, millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars are still massive amounts. From installing solar panels to energy-saving bulbs, there is a lot of money on the table.

 

Con: It’s Hard To Adjust

From a corporate standpoint, there is nothing worse than change. Why? It’s because change is new and unpredictable. Businesses love to follow the same framework on a daily basis. They know it works and can trust in the system. Going paperless is different. Yes, reducing the amount of printing might save the planet and cut costs, but it’s a difficult transition. Companies prefer to stick to the status quo and walk a familiar path rather than put the firm in jeopardy. Anyone who sees this as a problem needs to factor in the chaos it can cause in real business terms.

 

 

Pro: The Alternatives Are More Effective

However, the comeback is that green alternatives are efficient. Old school CEOs like printouts, but technology offers practical features. Take a business meeting as an example. A couple of sheets of paper on a desk are useful to catch the participants’ eye and keep them informed. For the presenter, it is also a structure they can revert to again and again. But, a PowerPoint presentation has the same effects. It is eye-catching, engaging, and short and sweet. Not to mention it’s also visually appealing and appears more professional.

 

Con: Pricey Initial Investment

As you know, things don’t happen in business without authorisation. So, when experts say that the alternatives are more effective and cheaper, they are speaking in broad strokes. In the long-term, that might be the case for companies throughout the sector. Initially, the “upgrades” are hard to use and take a significant chunk out of the budget. Say a business wants to cut down on its energy usage. To do that, it will need to invest in renewable energy resources or eco-friendly appliances. If you have tried to go green at home, you will know these are costly purchases. Some companies find the idea of saving money hard to stomach if they can’t afford the initial outlay.  

 

Pro: It’s Good PR

 

The links between Canon printer ink and increased brand awareness aren’t simple to spot. Because they have nothing to do with the product, lots of people don’t think the customer cares. On the contrary, they have a dog in the fight, and they are on the side of Mother Earth. For this reason, printing documents or burning gas can be the difference between generating leads and bounce rate. Simply put, they want to shop with a company which reflects their morals and ideals. By advertising the fact that the business is good for the planet, it gives people an excuse to buy your products. Even the individuals that don’t take it seriously succumb to peer pressure. So, they feel as if they have to help the planet, too. Businesses which don’t self-promote are distancing themselves from a lucrative revenue stream.

 

Con: You Have To Mean It

 

Plenty of sneaky businessmen and women have tried to pull a fast one in recent times. What they do is say they are going green but don’t make a change whatsoever. Therefore, they stick to the original plan while trying to create a strong PR buzz. Unfortunately, this isn’t a risk business owners should take because it can backfire. If the public finds out you’re a liar, they will bounce for good. And, no amount of publicity can change that fact. Therefore, companies have to make huge changes if they want to help the environment. For example, manufacturing firms have to ensure their vendors use green strategies. Or, a company needs to figure out the carbon footprint of their shipping partner. Of course, implementing these changes can cost money the business doesn’t have. Also, there is a time factor to consider.

 

Pro: Tax Cuts

 

Usually, this would come under the heading of “cuts costs,” but tax is unique. It is such a massive expense that it’s worth mentioning in its own right. How much do you pay a year in tax? Well, the business can slash the amount by going green. To do this, a company has to take advantage of tax credits that have been made available by the government. Because the powers that be want there to be a change, they have to find ways to encourage a shift in perceptions. In the business industry, the best way to do that is with money. Tax is a particularly sore subject as entrepreneurs believe it is an unfair expense. But, by switching to eco-friendly vehicles, a business can open itself to a tax credit. The same goes for installing green energy sources and reducing CO2 emissions.

 

The only person who can decide that is the boss. So, your next job is to figure out whether the pros outweigh the cons.

Boosting Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is incredibly important to any business. A loyal audience can help your business to grow, recommending you, sharing your content and offering up valuable feedback, as well as returning for more. But, an audience that isn’t bothered, don’t remember you, never come back or even worse, tell everyone about their negative experience. Here are some easy ways you can boost your customer engagement today.

 

Utilize Social Media

 

Social media is probably one of the most important tools available to businesses today. It’s an exceptionally easy way for companies, both large and small to advertise, engage and reach new clients. Hopefully, your business already has social media platforms on at the very least Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. But, are you using them well?

 

The key to social media engagement isn’t just advertising and sharing your own products or content. It needs to be genuine. Spend time chatting to your followers, sharing information you think could be useful to them, not just from your business, and share their posts. Make them feel like you care, and they’ll soon be recommending you to all of their friends and followers.

 

Email Marketing

 

In the world of social media, you could be forgiven for thinking email marketing is past it’s best. But, you’d be wrong. Email is still a powerful way of reaching your audience. It’s personal, can seem one to one, even when it isn’t and is a fantastic way to communicate with your customers. Set up an email list and start getting in touch.

 

Talk to Them

 

A big part of customer service is going above and beyond. To build relationships, spend time actually getting to know people. Customers love nothing more than to walk into a shop and have a chat with someone that remembers them. If you don’t have a brick and mortar store or work only with suppliers and clients, you can still build trusting and loyal relationships with being friendly and engaging. It’s always worth it.

 

Grow

 

Customers trust a brand that does well, that stays true to their roots while still moving with the times. They trust in success. So, let them know about yours. If you are moving into International Import and Export, let them know. Or, if you have a record sales week, thank them for their part in it.

 

Reward Loyalty

 

Customers love feeling like they matter. Rewarding loyalty is a fantastic way of increasing return custom, word of mouth advertising and engagement. Rewards don’t need to be big, generally people just like free stuff. Offer a voucher for later in the year, a free delivery service, or a free gift wrap option for the holidays. Just make sure you let them know that this is a special offer, for loyal customers, that not everyone will have access to. Make them feel special.

 

Increasing engagement with your customers can help boost your reputation as a business that cares, increase loyalty and ensure return custom. It doesn’t take much, just spend some time thinking about ways to make them feel valued and be genuine.

 

Promoting Your Online Business To The Outside World

The internet can be an all-consuming thing, particularly if your business is online-only. It can be easy to forget that there’s a whole world out there, and it’s filled with potential customers. Being able to promote your business effectively will help you to reach new clients and generate more income from your business. To do this, you’ll need an effective marketing strategy. Find out more about promoting your business to the outside world with the useful tips below.

 

Use traditional advertising methods

If you run an online business, it’s likely that your customers are global, not local. However, there is a lot of value in working with people in your local area to help you build some face to face relationships or even establish a premises for your business. Adopt the marketing tools of local business owners and find a way to connect with them. Advertising locally, through billboards or advertisements in the newspaper can help you to spread the word about your services and start building relationships with people in the local area.

Use PR to tell your story

Communities love a local success story, and if your online business has a good story to tell – make sure you share it. Getting press coverage for your business may not be as difficult as you think, and it’s a great way for local people to make a connection with your business and get directed to your services.

Network

 

Networking is important for businesses, especially if you want to connect with other businesses in a specific area. Attend trade or network events and start talking to people about your services and what you can offer. Having something they can take away with them with your contact details is important, so think of some promotional items that people can take as a way to remember you. You could try button badges to promote your message, which is great for events where children are present or try other promotional giveaways that are more interesting than your typical business card. Make sure that your business website is present on all materials to help it stick in people’s minds.

Go local with your social media channels

Your social media channels are great for communicating with people on a global level, but they are a fantastic way to build relationships with local customers and businesses. Start including posts that have a local angle to show that you’re a part of the community. You can also use Facebook ads to market locally and include special offers for people in your local area. You might find that concentrating your marketing budget locally could generate more income than focusing on a wider area.

 

While marketing your website online is a great way to find customers, and once you’ve mastered the basics of promoting your business through social media, you can start to turn your attentions elsewhere. While many people spend a large portion of their day online, remember that there are other ways to promote your online business that can help you increase your visibility to the outside world.

 

How To Bounce Back After A Social Media Disaster

With great power comes great responsibility, a saying which is very apt when it comes to social media. Facebook, Twitter and the ever-growing list of popular channels have swiftly moved on from individual users to become a free, widespread tool to connect with consumers. Get it right, and your profits will see a huge increase. If you get it wrong, your reputation could crumble before you. However, contrary to popular belief, a social media disaster doesn’t need to spell the end for your business. It is possible to bounce back, and below you’ll find some life-saving advice, should you ever need it.

How bad is the damage?

Like earthquakes, there’s a scale of impact when it comes to social media disasters. A silly typo, while enough to generate some sort of reaction online, is not as bad as an ill-timed comment or outright offensive post. If an incorrect post is down to human error, such as a well-meaning employee confusing their personal account with the business’, this can usually be rectified by explaining the situation. Plenty of people have been there before, and they will understand. Larger errors in judgement, however, will require some more careful thought to put right.

Avoid knee-jerk reactions

Social media is an immediate and ongoing phenomenon. While you might think that a quick reaction is the best course of action, thinking carefully and taking your time to create the right response will have a better pay off. 2017 has already witnessed some spectacular social media fails, and you can learn a lot by seeing how different organisations dealt with the aftermath. By reacting too quickly, you could end up making the situation worse, sending your mistake viral for all the wrong reasons. Get your best thinkers together and decide how to put the situation right.

Be honest

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to a social media disaster. If you were hacked (a situation that is easy to recover from), then say so, but don’t lie about it if that wasn’t the case. People will respect and appreciate your honesty, and there’s a lot to be said about businesses that own up to their mistakes. If it’s appropriate, make light of it, but in many cases, a straightforward apology will do the trick.

Protect yourself from damage

A potential PR disaster should be enough to alert you to the need for better social media policies for your business to prevent them happening again. Making sure that everyone responsible for your social media adheres to these guidelines and putting checks in place will help add that extra level of security and could protect your business in the future. It also makes sense to ensure that you’ve got legal protection on your side in case things take a more formal turn. When checking business insurance quotes online, assess whether their policies will cover you against these issues to give you and your colleagues peace of mind. The cost and resource involved in putting safeguards in place will seem like a small price to pay versus the financial and reputational cost involved in putting out PR fires.

 

Helping your business to succeed through social media requires determination and plenty of common sense. Learning the fundamentals will put you in a better position to avoid making a wrong move and keeping your business’ reputation intact. Bookmark this page as a handy point of reference should a social media disaster strike your business.

Getting Your Business Out of A Drought

It happens to every business at some point or another, everything will grind to a halt and the future will look bleak. It’s hard to know what to do when this happens to your business, but there are some things that you can do to get your business going successfully again, so long as the market that you deal in hasn’t gone bust!

 

Get A New Brand

Your branding is an incredibly important part of your business, and it’s importance should not be understated. Your brand is how customers and other businesses perceive your company, it’s the first thing they’re going to see when they look upon your business and so it has to be good in order to draw people in. If your business is going through a dry patch then getting your brand redesigned is definitely the way to go. You can hire them off websites such as toptal.com, these freelance designers are able to give you the look that you want for your business, meaning that you can get back on the success ladder again because people are interested in your business!

 

Cash Injection

Businesses are about making cash, and if your business isn’t making you any then you know you’re doing something wrong! However, there are a few ways you can dump money into your business to start expanding and growing it to get it on it’s feet again. You have 2 options; you could either get a loan from websites like smallbusinessloans.co or you could get investors. A loan is obviously a loan, you get money and you have to pay it back over a certain amount of time, but investors are different. They may give you money to fuel competition between you and one of their competitors, or they might ask for a certain amount of your profits, maybe even a trade deal. If you can get a good investor then definitely jump on the chance to, you’ve just got to keep your eyes peeled!

 

Create New Products

If your business is faltering it could be because no one is after your products, so the way around this problem is to make new ones! Your products will be the problem 99% of the time, so we have to address this. If they’re not selling, ask yourself why? What flaws are there with your products? If you can fix them then by all means do, but a lot of the time it’s going to take something new, interesting and useful to get yourself back on the market, so have a good analysis of your business before you do anything!

Doing all of these things are guaranteed to get you out of a difficult spot. If you manage to get an investor to get money into your business you can focus on growth and expansion which will get the ball rolling again, getting a new brand will help attract new people to your business and so will introducing new products and services! Another important thing for you to remember to use is social media, so read this to find out how to make the best use of it.

 

Using Old Planning Methods To Produce Modern Website Success

Planning is essential for the efficient running of any business. From the moment you have your idea, you should turn to this stationary fuelled problem solver. In truth, proper planning is the only real path to success. There should be no such thing as leaving it to chance with your company. Instead, you need to know what’s happening, and when. You need to plan out profit margins, marketing campaigns, and much more.

 

When it comes to your company’s website, planning should be just as important as ever. Sure, these modern methods may not seem like they would need the old planning touch. But, don’t fix what isn’t broken. By turning to the planning methods you know and love, you can ensure your website runs as smooth as possible. To get you off on the right footing, we’re going to look at a few of the steps you should consider.

Highlight hosting companies

As with any plan, you need to start at the beginning. And, the first step to starting any website is to find a hosting company which serves your purpose. To make this job easier, you could head to another website for web hosting comparisons. This is a fantastic way to metaphorically highlight the best contenders, as it allows you to compare options side by side. Or, you could ask for recommendations from a friend. Instead of jumping in with the first host, jot down your choices, and try to whittle it down to the best one.

 

 

When attempting to distinguish the best from the worst, consider everything from pricing to cloud capabilities. If it helps, draw up a pro and con list. Let’s be honest; they’re the planning staple which so often saves the day!

Brainstorm domain names

Ahh, the good old brainstorming session. It’s how some of the best business decisions are reached. And, it still has a place in your modern methods. Your domain name is essential for your success. For the most part, you’ll pay a yearly fee for the use of said name. Plus, once you get established with one name, it would do real damage to change. So, you want to make sure you get this right before you go ahead. So, get out that whiteboard, and discuss ideas with your team. As above, write down all the options. Then, narrow them down through a process of elimination.

 

 

Sketch out your design

Many a fantastic idea has come out of the idle sketches drawn during a planning session. So, when it comes to your website design, this may be the best way to go. Have a little fun, and draw out a few different options. Seeing them in physical form will help you decide whether they’re workable ideas. To inspire yourself, visit a few competitor’s sites, and sketch features you like. Then, find ways to incorporate these methods into a style which is unique to your company. Once you’re finished, pin these sketches somewhere visible, and give yourself time to decide a favorite!

Are You Paying Enough Attention To Client And Customer Opinion?

The answer is more than likely no. After all, why would you be? If anyone has an issue with your business, it’s not your fault, it’s theres. They can choose whether they want to buy your product or use your business. If they don’t, good riddance. One customer will not make or break a business. One customer will not determine whether a company is a success. But let’s stop right there because you have to remember that when it comes to client opinion, it’s never just one customer.

 

Did you know that 88 percent of customers online have admitted to being swayed on whether or not to buy a product by a negative review? Just think about how many sales you could be losing with that rather scary statistic. It could even be the reason why you business has failed to reach it’s maximum potential on the market. So yes, customer and client opinions are important. You need to listen to them, understand their issues and do what you can to resolve them. It won’t always be bad news, but you can’t bury your head in the sand when it is.

 

Open The Channels

The first step you must take is to make sure that your customers and clients know that you welcome their reviews, feedback and yes criticism. Every company should be willing to do this and should not shy away from the possibility of negative opinions. Indeed, businesses that open up channels in this way often have more positive customer reviews online. That’s certainly true for businesses like Peninsula. Peninsula business reviews are often extremely positive, and the company has determined it’s their encouragement of reviews that has lead to this reaction. They are not the only ones. Plenty of other businesses who have embraced reviews have reaped great benefits.

 

Is The Customer Always Right?

It’s fair to say that these days customers can complain, name and shame anything they want. Often, they have loud enough voices online to reach business owners like you. But should you always bend to their will? Is the customer really always right? You may have to start judging their complaints on a case by case benefit. Otherwise, you might find that customers have more power over how your business is run than you do. In a way that might make sense as surely, they know best what they want from your business.

 

Responding

There are two ways to respond to bad business reviews. You can respond directly to the individual who has put forward the complaint. Or, you can look for trends in negative reviews of your business and change the company accordingly. It depends on the situation. If you think one bad review is having a serious impact, it might be best to offer a direct response and reduce the damage.

You should be able to see now why it’s important to pay more attention to customer reviews and ensure that they do not damage your business.

Digitally Enhance Your Working Life

Many things are done online or via technology these days. As technology advances the more we find that software, the internet, and computers are doing things for us and making things easier and convenient. However, we can often forget to utilise such things during our working lives. Whether we are running a business, a department, or are part of a bigger organisation, there are certain ways you can digitally enhance your working life. I thought I would share with you some of the ways it can help you with your workload or with the running of your business empire.

 

 

Scheduling tools

Keeping on top of every work task you have can be overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of platforms to be using or systems to keep track of. So scheduling tools can make life simple by allowing you to time block work tasks. Here are some of the areas where a scheduling tool could digitally enhance your working life.

 

Social Media

Social media can be exhausting, but for many businesses, whether that is just you or a whole team of people, social media is a vital way to advertise and market your company. However, with the introduction of different social media platforms and ways you can promote on their with words, visuals or video, it can be hard to keep up and be ever present on them all. Which is why a scheduling tool could really help. Enabling you to write updates and share content for the day ahead, the week or even the month if you are organised. There are many websites online that will help you do that.

 

Blog content

Many companies have blogs these days, but again it can be hard to schedule in content and keep it consistent. There are many websites, even software at the back end of your blog, that can help you to create editorial calendars and schedule in blog posts to publish in the future.

 

Online calendars synced with email

It can be hard to keep track of appointments and meetings you have, so a calendar synced with your email can take some of the hard work away. Appointments made could be transferred to your calendar instantly, and your calendar could even be linked with other employees or partners to help you keep in line.

 

 

Software to keep contracts and leases in one place

When you work for yourself, it can be hard to keep all contracts and leases in one place. Of course, you could have a paper filing system, but often, being out and about, you may want to access this information quickly. Thankfully, there is software out there that can help you do this digitally. Websites like http://symfact.com could help and have an abundance of information all about it. Being able to access things instantly is what this world is all about these days, so there is no surprise that this should be reflected in your working life.

 

Applications to make life much easier

With the introduction of smartphones some years ago, the increase in popularity for applications is rising on a daily basis. There is an app for most things these days, and using them to digitally enhance your working life is a productive way to use them.

 

Social media apps

As mentioned earlier, social media is ever more present with businesses these days, and having an application on your phone means you can constantly be in touch with your audience on the go. The commute into town means you can reply to comments on the go. The lunch break means you are keeping up to date with the latest trends.

 

Appointment trackers

If making appointments and keeping on top of things is part of your working day, then an application to help track your appointments, where you are and times, can really help you to be more time managed and productive throughout the day. A lot of the time these applications can be synced to emails, other calendars and even other people. Websites like https://zapier.com have a lot of information about using them.

 

Contacts

Finally, having your contacts in your phone is one thing, but we all know that this can be one big long list of anyone you have exchanged numbers with, both personal and for business. So applications specific for work contacts or for personal use is a great way to keep in check of the numbers you need. Furthermore, you can add social media links, emails, etc. So that you are never out of touch with your business colleagues and clients.

 

I hope these ideas help you to digitally enhance your working life.

Breaking Down (Fire) Walls: How Businesses Should Deal With Hackers

 

With credit card details, sensitive information and access to personal computers up for grabs, hacking is big business. Indeed, more than one trillion of intellectual property is thought to be stolen year upon year. If you are a small business, you can’t afford to let this happen. The key is to fight back and stop the digital thieves in their path. Of course, it is easier to say than do because hackers are relentless and talented individuals. Thankfully, it isn’t impossible if you have access to the right information. Here’s how to deal with hackers and prevent from being a threat.

Assess Your Needs

It is all well and good investing in antivirus software, but it might not mean anything. The reason is there are numerous ways for a thief to gain access to your server, and AVG’s free trial might not cover every base. Therefore, it is essential to analyse the needs of the company before you make any investment decisions. For example, does the staff require access to the server? If so, employee training is crucial to teach them about the dos and don’ts. Or, do you store data in the cloud? Okay, make sure the supplier takes security as seriously as you.

Create And Update Security Plan

A study by AVG found a shocking 52% of small businesses didn’t have a security plan. In essence, this means half of all SMEs are at the mercy of hackers. In simple terms, your plan is how you make the company secure in the first place. Without a detailed set of rules and regulations, there is no strategy. Plus, there is no way to implement it throughout the whole business. Once you have one in place, it is vital that you update it once every couple of months. The industry changes and you have to adapt or else you could die out.

 

Work With Professionals

The first port of call is a security expert with years of experience and a strong knowledge of the subject. With their skills, your IT team should be able to prevent a hack from occurring altogether. However, it isn’t only security professionals you need to hire. Agencies like Rouge Media might deal in websites, but they are a vital part of the security team. As web designers and creators, they know which features to add to make the site safer from criminals. Also, coders will update bugs and glitches to fix any hacking issues.

 

Report It

Far too many businesses are the subject of an attack and take it on the chin. It is almost as if hacking is acceptable in this era. But, it will won’t stop being acceptable if you don’t report the issue. Theft is theft and should be detailed to the authorities as soon as possible. If you don’t know who to call, try your web provider to begin with so that they know attacks are taking place. Then, call the local police force. If they can’t deal with the problem, they will report it to a team that can.

Hacking can cost a company money and its reputation, so you have to fight back or risk losing everything.

 

Safety First: Protecting Your Business From Online and Offline Threats

Most businesses take their security seriously. It’s not just about keeping your company safe and not to let anyone steal it away from you as a lack of security will also put your employees at risk, their personal details, as well their general safety. Safeguard yourself completely by looking at it from a broader perspective; companies today are subject to threats from traditional robbers, cyber criminals, social engineers, and thieves who have made their way to the inside of your company.

 


 

Offline Safety: Alarm Systems and CCTV

If you’ve been robbed once and think the criminals won’t return, you’re in for a sad surprise. It is common for criminals today to target a specific trade, such as a restaurant or a hotel, and steal a small amount – only to come back for a bigger scoop later on. When you’ve already been robbed, the first thing you should do is to install a loud alarm system and a CCTV camera.

For most business owners who experience such a thing, it is common sense to invest in these right away.

When and if the robbers return, the system will have a preventative function as well; the sight of a red blinking light tends to scare most of them away. Think prevention when it comes to all aspects of your business and avoid having anything taken away from you in the first place.

Depending on the kind of business you’re in, it could be a good idea to get in touch with reputable security guards as well. Their mere presence signals safety and control to both outsiders and employees; you can even get in touch just to have a safe place to store your spare keys, for example.

Spend time with your employees and talk about how they can help you to safeguard it. They are the ones who are present in the office at all times and are able to spot crime right away with the proper training. If an attack is to happen when they are in the office, everyone needs to know how to handle the situation – such as complying with the robber’s instructions, memorising his or her characteristics, and securing the crime scene until the police arrive.

 

Online Safety: Safe Browsing and Employee Training

Your safety online starts, first of all, with a proper anti-virus software. Cyber criminals may attack from any corner and scurry away with your business details, employee’s personal details, and all of your credit card information. It’s important that your team knows how to spot unreasonable requests for information, strange-looking emails, as well as any other signs on your computers that the system has already been hacked.

Treat your company to a cyber security conference that focuses on training your employees to recognise attempts at phishing and other cyber security threats. Keep the training up and repeat it at least once a year; launch a mock attempt after a month or two to see if the information has sunk in  – and reward the ones who are ahead of the others.

Also for reference, take a look at this post about email phishing, whats the risks and how to identify them and deal with them, from pixel privacy

 

Business security encompasses so much these days and you have to read more about it to be completely up to date. The reward is unquestionable, though, and provides your company as well as your employees with a sense of security as well as the actual security in case something should happen.