You’ve Been Doing it Wrong: Discover The Right Way to Implement Technology Into Your Business

Business owners aren’t the most tech-savvy people around—but that’s completely fine. If everyone that created a startup knew how to handle all the tech-related challenges they’d face, then there would be no need for IT professionals and everyone that studies IT would have a really tough time finding a job related to their field.

 

Fortunately for all the tech graduates, that’s not the case. In fact, most teenagers who grew up with computers probably know more about technology than the average businessman, and it’s mainly because of the generation gap that’s slowly being blurred. Many successful business owners try to learn about technology to understand the risks and benefits of using something specific, but also to cut costs on how much they pay for tech support.

 

If you’d prefer to be someone that understands technology and how to implement it into your business properly, then read on to upgrade your knowledge and promote yourself from being tech-clumsy to tech-savvy.

 

 

Cloud solutions are all the rave—for now

 

There’s a reason why businesses still hire lawyers, accountants and buy expensive storage hardware. Small business owners employ the use of cloud accounting and bookkeeping software to pay their employees or send invoices to their clients. This is great for when there aren’t many things going in and out of your books, but when your business expands it doesn’t matter what type of software you use if you aren’t organised.

 

Large businesses that get a lot of monetary traffic hire accountants because they’re dedicated professionals with organised workflows that know how to handle lots of numbers. They’re irreplaceable once you get into the big business leagues, so don’t assume that you won’t ever upgrade from cloud solutions. It’s fine to automate processes and start cheap, but sooner or later you’ll need to fork out the money for a full-time accountant unless you want to stay in the little leagues forever.

 

Prevention is the best form of security

 

Much like illnesses in the real world, the best way to combat something is to prevent it in the first place. Antivirus software is rather useless once you’ve got an infection. The damage is probably already done, it may have spread across your network and more computers might be infected than you could imagine. It has probably stolen files, logged your passwords or even stolen customer information.

 

You can hire IT support for businesses to help you install prevention methods instead of wasting money on consumer-grade security software. A simple freeware firewall isn’t going to cut it for a business. You need a hardware firewall or an industry-grade protection solution if you want to priotect your data.

 

 

Excessive use of smartphones

 

It has become increasingly common for employees and business owners to rely on store apps for their daily tasks. For example, it’s possible to use your phone to log into computers or services that your staff use. While this adds an extra layer of security, it also adds an extra layer of human error.

 

If a business shifts so much of their business to smartphones and other mobile devices, then it’s adding to extra startup and maintenance costs and if your employee was to lose the phone due to human error or being robbed, then it’s going to take a long time to replace it and get them into a working condition again.

Does Your Company Successfully Reflect Your Ethos?

 

Your company ethos is the image you would like to portray to all prospective clients. It embodies your values and attitudes towards everything, from the global markets, your competitors, and your attitudes towards customers, employees, and the general public. Your ethos is portrayed in absolutely everything you do, from your staff’s appearance, to your letterheads and business cards and choice of marketing technique. Your ethos should be something of which you are proud, and of which your employees should be proud. It is everything from your history to your future, and everything along your journey, so it boils down to the quintessence of who you are as a company. Here’s how you can ensure your company always reflects your ethos.

 

In its customer service

Presumably, you’d like a company renown for its great customer service, its attention to detail, and the amazing representatives? Ensuring your company’s positive attitude towards its customers lies almost entirely with your staff. Careful hiring and thorough staff training are the best way to get your staff to treat your customers on the way which reflects the attitudes of your business. Your customer service ethos can make your brand seem aloof, accessible, fun and interesting, or anything else, all depending on how your staff members interact with customers face to face. The only way to ensure they’re expressing your values is by great staff training and regular constructive feedback.

 

Your marketing messages say a lot

Your marketing is the most explicit way of conveying your company’s sense of ethos. Whatever the medium is, whether television ad, flyer, or business card, a user should be able to take away your company’s ethos almost at first glance. Other than maybe word of mouth, this is going to be your customer’s first impression, so it has to speak well to your target audience and explain who you are as a company, in as few words as possible. This is where style, design, and font all come in.

 

 

In its design

From the color of your business cards to the shape of your logo, many of your customers’ first impressions will be on your design. Anyone can look at a design and decide if it’s friendly, professional, arty, luxury, or anything else – even if they can put their finger on why. It’s all down to the colors, shapes, fonts, and textures used. These designs will demonstrate your ethos immediately, and usually through the subconscious, so make sure you’ve got someone on board who understands you and your company, and who’s able to reflect this in their design.

 

In your reputation

As they say, your reputation precedes you. Before most potential new clients approach, they’ll scope you out first. Either through word of mouth or online reviews, your reputation will help them to decide whether to approach you at all. So you want to be seen in a good light. You want potential clients to know your staff are happy – and believe me; they’ll talk. Customers want to know you’re au fait with the legalities of your business and doing everything you can to support equality in your workplace. Reporting gender pay services are great for demonstrating a larger company’s ethos and commitment to equality in the workplace – something which many customers will find tremendously important.

 

 

It’s in your tone and vision

The tone of voice your company chooses to use is the way it will reach its target audience. If you’re too formal for a young audience, or too hip for a more mature audience, you have a clashing of ethos and attitude. The way you choose to communicate with your target market can be very telling about your company’s ethos, and your core values should be at the center of this. Keep your tone maintained throughout correspondences to ensure a sense of cohesion and image, but also ensure that your standards and vision for the future are always the main focus.

 

Your staff attitudes say a lot

If your staff are happy, chirpy, and informal (think Lush Cosmetics) then that’s a particular image of friendliness and informality that you want to portray. That sort of attitude has its place, but it might not work so well at a funeral parlor – every company’s ethos has to be reflected in their staff’s demeanor. It’s also important that their dress code reflects the company’s ethos too – while you may not think that a uniform is suitable, it’s usually a good idea to give staff a guide on what clothing is and isn’t acceptable, so that they reflect the company’s attitudes to clients effectively.

 

Every possible means of communication between the company and its clients is another means by which to convey your ethos and attitudes. The best marketing makes the most of this ethos and results in one large cohesive picture that becomes an easily recognizable brand.

 

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!

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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!

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!  

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.