Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fitness Tips for Small Business Owners

Easy Ways to Stay Fit with a Busy Schedule

work fitness tips, small business
Small business owners would love to be more active, but when long hours in the office or store run into the evening it can be hard to fit in any exercise. This lack of movement is only exasperated by the fact that many business owners sit behind a desk most of the day which can add to health risks overall. The good news is that being a business owner means you can add flexibility into your schedule and with some planning and creativity, being more active can be easily attainable.

Start Standing at Your Desk

Simple changes in a work space can help aid in better fitness. For starters, invest in some form of a standing desk instead of consistently using a traditional, sitting desk. Standing, as opposed to sitting down, helps to increase blood flow throughout the body and especially to the brain as well as better posture and improved alertness. These changes in the body can help health overall, not to mention increased blood flow to the brain and alertness will help with efficiency and accuracy with work. 

Although professional experts suggest purchasing a retractable desk there usually is not an extra $1,000 in the business’s budget. A great alternative to purchasing a standing desk is utilizing a high cabinet or even adding a small podium to raise your existing desk. If standing for long periods of time to work seems overwhelming, start by setting a goal to stand while completing certain tasks or for set time periods throughout the day and build from there.

Change Your Seat

A more common change that helps boost overall fitness is replacing a regular desk chair with an exercise ball, also known as a yoga or stability ball. Making this easy switch can benefit health by engaging and strengthening core muscles and improving posture. For those suffering with back pain, using a stability ball for desk work has been proven to give some relief. When choosing an exercise ball for this purpose, make sure you can sit comfortably and easily reach all the necessary items on your desk.

Walk During Meetings

Instead of everyone piling into a conference room to meet, why not have walking meetings? Since small business owners usually have fewer employees than larger corporations, walking meetings are completely possible with a smaller group of colleagues. Have a conference call for the next hour? Why not take the call on the go! Using meeting time that is otherwise spent sitting in a chair or on the phone is a very easy way to fit in your daily exercise and start getting more fit.

Many small business owners do not have enough time in their days to get to the gym or go for a long run. But, owners also have the flexibility to work fitness in throughout the day when they can – items like standing desks and stability ball chairs as well as walking meetings are simple ways to improve fitness without using a large amount of time. By making simple changes to the things that are done in the office every day, business professionals can take big steps to being more fit and more healthy.

Now that we have you straightened out on fitness, let's get you started making more money! If you are interested in having a small business mentor like Stacy O'Quinn, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of Joe Hoover via Creative Commons License

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Finding the Right Staff to Expand Your Small Business

How to Choose the Right Employees and Help Pave the Road to Success

hiring the right people for your small business
Congratulations –you struck out on your own and started a small business but you have managed to be successful and expand your current company. It is now time to start the sometimes dismaying process of hiring more employees to help carry the growing workload. It can be difficult for small business owners to not only find qualified candidates but also be able to retain their employment over time. It is important to ensure the right people are being hired for the job in order further the business’s success.

Stop Filling Positions

Too often hiring begins with the idea that positions need to be filled. Secretary, vice president, and account manager are titles and business owners are quick to fill a specific role. A better way to begin is to determine if the business needs more support–look at the entire workload, evaluate the culture and gauge current employee’s stress levels. Once it has been announced that the company is hiring, take interest in how a candidate’s personality, work ethic and skill set fit into the business’s culture.

Use a Hiring Window

Business owners will usually jump to hire the first “qualified” candidate that applies for an open position but hiring this way short hands the business on finding the best possible candidate. Set a time frame in which to conduct interviews and, instead of hiring the first candidate that meets the requirements, use the entire window to interview as many individuals as possible. Only make a final decision when the window has passed – doing this gives you more options and more time to make a great choice.

Have Candidates Demonstrate Their Skills

Business owners usually read a list of skills off the candidate’s resume. Although this is a simple way to understand and evaluate an individual’s skill level, it can also be effective to have the interviewee demonstrate those skills. This allows business owners to see first-hand what the candidate can do and better evaluate their skill set. Although putting a candidate on the spot in this way may be uncomfortable, there is nothing unprofessional or unfair in asking them to do so.

Probation Periods are Important

Hiring a candidate should never be the end of the process – many business owners forget the importance of a probation period. During this time, the individual should meet the rest of the staff and begin working. Once this period has passed, review their performance and discuss whether the business is a good fit for them as well as them being a good fit for the business. There is nothing wrong with discovering an individual and a position are not a match and interviewing other candidates.

When it comes to expanding a business, having the right talent on board to help the company be successful it vitally important. By implementing these hiring techniques, business owners can find the right candidates for their company and ensure continued success down the road. By leaving options open and understanding that candidates are not simply bodies within a position, business owners can choose the best possible people for their team and relieve some of the stress of finding new talent.

Would you like more help getting your small business organized? Stacy O'Quinn serves as a small business mentor to dozens of business owners and he can help you too! For more information about Stacy, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of bpsusf via Creative Commons License

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Is Your Small Business “Green”?

Tips to Help Your Business Go Green

In today’s business market, “going green” is something that many companies are taking into consideration – the buzz around renewable resources and becoming environmentally friendly reaches not only business owners but also consumers. In recent years, discussing and implementing green business practices, products, and services has become expected and something that consumers look for when they consider a company. Although solar panels on the office roof may not be in your budget, there are some things that can be done to help the business “go green” without breaking the bank.

Stop Using Disposables

On average, an office worker uses up to 500 disposable cups within one year – it has even been estimated that office workers go through enough disposable products such as plates, cups, and silverware every year to circle the Earth 300 times! A great way to combat this and take small steps toward green business is by purchasing reusable kitchen items for the office. Although this has a much larger cost up front, it will significantly cut down on the amount of garbage being created in the office. Also, purchasing reusable items can help the business save money over time by not having to purchase disposables periodically throughout the year.

Use Virtual Meetings to Reduce Travel

Traveling for meetings or visiting clients can use a lot of resources and fumes from vehicles that can be harmful for the environment. Instead of hopping in the car to meet with colleagues, using virtual meeting tools can help to reduce fuel consumption, saving you money and doing less damage to the environment. Even though virtual meeting tools can be expensive, there are a number of low-cost and even free meeting tools available to businesses online. If you are concerned about sharing documents or not having face-to-face interaction, a number of these conferencing tools allow clients to video chat, share documents, and use a simulated white board during their meetings.

Use Paper Wisely to Save Energy

Although using paper in the office does not have a direct effect on the environment, the way this valuable resource is produced and shipped definitely does. Paper manufacturers consume a huge amount of energy when harvesting and shipping trees, processing them into paper and shipping the product out to different retailers. In order to make the most out the paper you have on hand and cut down on energy consumption overall, make sure to only print documents when it is absolutely necessary and try to print double-sided copies whenever possible. Not only will reducing paper consumption help the environment, it will also help cut down on office supply costs for the business.

More often than not, going green within a business not only has a huge impact on the environment but also a positive impact on the productivity and efficiency within the business. By using reusable products, cutting down on paper usage and utilizing virtual meeting tools businesses can easily and inexpensively take steps to become more environmentally friendly. An added bonus of implementing these tips is that they can also help the business save money over time, which is just one more reason for you to consider making your small business “green”.

Do you need more help with your small business? Stacy O'Quinn would love to serve as your small business mentor. For more information on how Stacy can help you, click here.

*Picture Courtesy of epSos.de via Creative Commons License

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Improve Your Customer Service and You Will Improve Sales

Why Customer Service is So Important to Any Business

customer service tips for small business
Customers are the reason that every company is in business – without them, there simply would be no business. That is why customer service is so important to not only large corporations but also small businesses. Depending on company’s structure, customer service efforts are made in person, over the phone and/or through email. Since customer service personnel may be the only contact to customers, it is important provide the best service possible.

Great Customer Service Can Put One Business Above the Rest

In a competitive market, great customer service can be the key to setting your business apart from the rest. If two businesses offer the same products or services with similar pricing, how does a customer make their decision? In most cases, it is how they are treated and how valuable they feel their business is to the business.

Positive Publicity from Great Customer Service

When customers have a bad experience with a business, studies say they will tell at least ten other people. Social media has taken this one step further and bad publicity can reach further into a customer base. Because of this, it is important to provide great service and have customers leaving their experiences with your business carrying smiles and happy stories to share with their family and friends. Word of mouth publicity is one of the biggest marketing resources, so make sure the message is a good one!

Great Customer Service Can Resolve or Eliminate Complaints

When customers have unresolved issues or complaints, it is common for them to register their grievances with organizations such as Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, or even take it to the court system. Situations like this can cause major damage to a business’s reputation, not to mention its sales. In order to avoid issues that escalate to this level, it is important to implement and uphold a high customer service standard.

Customer service is a high calling – dealing with disgruntled, unhappy customers is tough. But, when it comes to maintaining and increasing sales as well as protecting a business’s reputation, great customer service is the easiest way to make an impact and have customers telling others about their positive experiences. You may not be able to satisfy every customer, but you have to try. Even the effort will be recognized and that can be the difference in customers using you over your competitors.

Looking for more tips on how you can make your small business successful? Contact Stacy O'Quinn today, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Saving Money on Your Small Business Marketing

Getting the Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck

When starting a small business, knowing where to invest time and resources can be a delicate balance. One of the areas that many small business owners neglect is marketing under the notion that they do not have enough funds or hours in the day to make a big impact on their customers. Marketing is essential to launching a business and maintaining a strong customer base. When money is tight, there are some ways to help stretch your marketing dollar without sacrificing quality.

Do Not Recreate the Marketing Wheel

When developing a new marketing campaign many business owners start from scratch creating content such as posters or advertisements. More times than not, small businesses are generating marketing pieces that already exist or is very similar to what they have already done in terms of overall style and message. Instead of wasting time and resources starting over, it is much more cost effective to look at older campaigns and see if elements that have already been established can be repurposed.

During the brainstorming phase, pull out old marketing pieces such as flyers, emails or postcards – review these pieces and see if they can be tweaked to fit the current campaign. Unless there has been a major overhaul in the branding or messaging of the business, these older materials can be used as templates for more current marketing pieces. Reusing old files, even as just a skeleton for new content, will help eliminate unnecessary work and give a basis in which to work from with the new content.  

Be Efficient with Content Creation

In the small business world, there is usually one employee who handles creating materials for a marketing campaign. This person creates one version of a marketing piece at a time and then customizes this single piece into multiple other versions, one for each local market or customer base. Although this may seem efficient, creating and finalizing pieces in this manner can be time consuming for the employee and a long run process for the business, not to mention financially straining.

A simple way to streamline this process is by bringing in a professional graphic artist to help with customization. Once the main marketing piece has been created, a graphic artist will be able to create the individual versions that are needed for each market segment quickly. Although this may seem like it would cost more money, graphic artists can be much more efficient with small changes and allow the in-house employee to move on to the next marketing piece and using their time more wisely.

Utilize Distributed Marketing Solutions

Content creation is usually what small business owners pinpoint as the most expensive aspect of marketing – in reality, planning, implementing, and distributing campaign materials can be where most marketing dollars are invested. For business owners on a budget, this can be a daunting and even panic inducing thought. To manage this process correctly and within budget, consider using a marketing solutions program to help save money and keep timelines on track.

Small business owners face many challenges and knowing where and how to invest money can be one of the biggest issues. It is vital to remember the importance of marketing in order to build a solid customer base – even when funds are scarce, there are ways to still implement a successful marketing campaign without breaking the bank. By streamlining content creation and utilizing the services of professionals, small business owners can get the most bang for their marketing buck!

Need more tips on how to operate your small business more successfully? If you need a small business mentor,  Stacy O'Quinn can help! For more information about Stacy, click here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Small Business Owners Can Save Money

small business, save money
As a small business owner, I am always looking for ways to save money in my daily operations. In addition, through meeting new people, I find ways for people to save money in different types of operations. I have put together a small list of the things that I think will help most of you keep some extra money in the bank and allow your business to continue to grow.

·         Contract Workers or Work from Home Employees - depending upon your business, you may be able to take advantage of some tax laws that enable you to employ contract workers. If so, you will notice a significant decrease in the payroll taxes you have to pay. Even if you cannot hire contract workers, allowing your staff to work from home often results in lower salaries, since they have no travel costs. Explore both of these options if available.

·         Office Share - do you really need a full time office? Renting a space can be very expensive and for many business owners, it is a complete waste of money. If you are only bringing clients into your office occasionally, consider splitting an office with another business or using a company like Regus that allows you to use an office only when you need to but also provides a very professional set up when the office is in use.

·         Advertising - you would love to have a commercial for your business, but you cannot afford it. Have you ever considered doing a YouTube commercial instead? You can promote it in on your social media channels and it will help in your overall rankings! 

·         Vendors - if you are physically buying products, your vendors can provide significant savings in several different areas. For instance, they may offer a discount if you buy in bulk. If you are able to get terms, you may be able to purchase products that you can sell rather quickly but would not normally be able to front the money to purchase. Even if you make a smaller percentage on the sale, it is found money because you were not even able to offer the product before! In addition, vendors will sometimes help with advertising and marketing if you are highlighting their products in the campaigns.

·         Buy in Bulk When Possible - look for items that you use all the time, like paper, ink, etc... When good deals come up, buy these items in bulk when you can. For instance, an office supply store offers 100 percent rewards on up to five cases of paper. You use about one case per month, but you will eventually need to use this paper. Why not buy the five cases now and get all of your money back in rewards points? Now you have all of the money you usually spend on paper to spend on other supplies or perhaps boost your advertising efforts.

When you own a small business, you need to get creative when it comes to the monthly budget. Take a hard look where you are spending your money each month and there are surely more than a few areas where you can trim the budget or use some of my suggestions here to save money. 

*Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2012 via Creative Commons License