Saturday, November 29, 2014

Taking Your Small Business or Home Business to the Internet

What You Should Consider When Building an Online Business Presence

small business, home business
Nowadays having a presence online has become vital to connecting with customers. It is possible that businesses that are not using the Web to distribute information to their target markets are missing valuable opportunities and often leaving money on the table in a big way. While jumping from being a small or home business to being online may be scary, it is important to understand the impact being online can have on your business’s success. After making the leap to the Internet, it is important to ask some important questions to make sure you are doing the best things for your business on the Web.

Are Your Marketing Messages Consistent Across All Platforms?

When a business begins their life online, it is usually a mix of different types of platforms. For example, a business may use a website as well as social media to help promote and brand its business. While having different platforms in play when it comes to online marketing, it is also important to make sure that the messages that these platforms send is the same. Having different promotional or marketing messages on different platforms will confuse customers and have your business looking like it is unprofessional and unprepared. Whether it is a website, Twitter account, or Facebook page, the messaging and branding should be the same to help present a strong message and brand image.

Where Does Your Business Rank in Search Engine Results?

Many consumers will search online for a product or service they are looking for in order to find a company from which to make a purchase. Consumers will always take notice of those businesses that fall toward the top of the list of results when they search on sites like Google or Bing. In order to see where you rank on these types of searches, it is important to visit the pages and do your own search to see where your business falls on the list if it shows up at all. If your company’s name does not come up as high on the list as you would like, you can use a service called search engine optimization or SEO to help make the company more prominent when consumers are searching for products and services online.

Do Your Online Platforms Translate to Mobile Devices?

A large number of consumers use their smartphones and tablets on a regular basis to access different information online. Because of this, it is important to make sure that your company’s Web platforms translate to mobile websites so they can be accessed on these devices. For mobile websites, make sure the most important information about your business is included front and center, such as the business’s contact information and address. Consider adding a “click to call” cell phone number to help consumers contact you more easily when they are on the go. After the mobile website has been created, make sure to test the accessibility on different types of devices like Android phones, iPhones and different tablets.

Do you need help with your small or home business? Are you looking for opportunities to create your own financial freedom? Stacy O'Quinn might be able to help you! To learn more about Stacy and his home business opportunity, please click here.

*Photo Courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Creative Commons License

Friday, November 28, 2014

Stay Focused on Business during the Holiday Season

3 Ways to Help Keep Your Focus throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas

small business, small business advice, small business tips
The holiday season is here and while it may be easy for us to get lost in the turkey, sugar plums, family and friends, as business owners we know how important it is to keep our focus on the business. It is a normal occurrence for professionals to lose focus and motivation during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas simply because they are more interested in their personal lives – being with loved ones, taking trips, and holiday shopping – than they are on being dedicated to their job. While this is normal in most cases, it can often lead to problems within a business. Luckily there are some ways for professionals to combat the holiday laziness and keep their business on track.

Communicate Holiday Expectations to Your Employees

Holiday fever affects more than just business owners – this truly has an impact on everyone who works across the country. Employees lack of focus can have just as much of a negative impact on the business as an owners, so it is important to make sure the expectations for work around the holidays are set and communicated effectively. When creating this plan of expectations, however, it is important to keep the employees needs in mind.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually filled with family activities, including children’s concerts, pictures with Santa, and family gatherings. Because of this, if your business operations allow, it may be beneficial to have a flexible holiday schedule, no mandatory overtime, and even a few extra days off for employees around the holidays. When a business owners shows their employees that they care, the employees are more likely to continue working hard.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Business owners have a ton of tasks on their plates at all times from payroll to meeting sales numbers for the year. But the end of the year is an especially busy time when you consider year end evaluations, next year plans, and everything else that comes with closing out a fiscal year. While the holidays fall around the same time as many year-end business practices, it is important to make sure you prioritize the items that need to get done and allow yourself to put off less important tasks until the New Year.

Also, do not over commit – understand your limitations and do not commit to extra work that will inhibit you from completing the other important items on your to-do list. Prioritizing your to-do list and keeping commitments to a minimum will help to ensure that everything that needs to be done gets done and also allows you to kick back, relax, and enjoy the holiday spirit with family and friends.

Get a Head Start

If you know the end of the year and holiday season is going to be busy, why not get a jump start on tasks that can be completed early? When the mid-year hits, take some time to sit down and decide what tasks will need to be completed before the end of the year. Then, take that list and assign the tasks specific completion dates. If a “year-end” task can be completed before the end of December, do it! This is one less thing on your plate for the true end of the year. Scheduling out your tasks will also help to keep you on track when the holiday season crunch does come around. Planning ahead and sticking to that plan will help to relieve a lot of stress as well as guarantee that important items get accomplished before it is too late.

Do you need more help keeping or getting  your small business on track? Did you know that Stacy O'Quinn has helped dozens of entrepreneurs create a six figure income and he would love to help you too! For more information about Stacy and to find out what he can do for you, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of Ed Schipul via Creative Commons License

Monday, November 24, 2014

Save Money by Saving Energy

How to Make Your Business More Energy Efficient

small business, save money, evergy savings
In today’s business world, being efficient is one of the most important keys to success. While streamlining your procedures and process can help employees be more efficient, have you ever thought of ways to make your energy consumption more efficient as well? Being proactive with energy management can help your business to run better, not to mention save some serious dollars of overhead cost. The good news is that energy efficiency is not just achieved by putting expensive solar panels on the roof or special lighting and equipment in the store or office – there are some relatively simple, quick ways to help your business use energy more effectively without breaking the bank.

Energy Saving Strategies for Lighting

Lighting an office or retail space can often be one of the highest consumers of energy. Luckily, there are a large range of things that can be changed or updated with a lighting system to make it more efficient and help business owners save some money. The simplest thing that can be done is remembering to turn lights off when leaving a room that is not going to be used (this goes for other pieces of equipment as well). Think about making up signs as reminders to co-workers and associates to remember Mother Earth and save energy by turning lights off. Additionally, you can replace regular light bulbs with more energy efficient CFL bulbs and install motion sensing light switches that turn lights on and off as needed.

Energy Saving Strategies for HVAC

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning throughout a space can be another energy hog that is relatively simple to manage. The most important thing to do to make sure your HVAC system is running efficiently is to make sure you have annual tune-up and maintenance work done. Additionally, you can ask your HVAC company to install more modern controls – modern HVAC controls can allow you to set “occupied” and “unoccupied” times for the building when the system will turn itself on and off as to not waste energy when the building is not being used. Also, making sure the windows in the building are sealed and have no leaks to help keep warm air inside during winter and cool air during the summer.

Energy Saving Strategies for Office Equipment

If you are working in an office setting, chances are there are some larger pieces of equipment that are needed to make the business run, like printers, copiers and even paper shredders. To help manage the energy these essential pieces of equipment use, there are some simple operational changes that can be made. First, make sure equipment is turned off when it is not being used – there is a common misconception that equipment loses longevity when it is turned on and off which is completely false. Turning off equipment can have a huge impact on the amount of energy a building can save and this savings will be reflected in electricity bills. Additionally, if you are outfitting a new office, make sure to lean toward equipment that has an ENERGY STAR seal, indicating the most efficient equipment.

If you found these small business tips useful, you should check out Stacy is a small business mentor that has helped dozens of entrepreneurs create their own home business. For more information about Stacy and to see how he can help you, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of FH Furr via Creative Commons License

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Protect Your Online Brand Reputation

Maintaining a Positive Brand Image in the Digital World

online brand management, brand reputation, online reputation
It is no secret to anyone, especially business owners, that the introduction of the Internet has changed a lot of things from our social interactions to how we make purchases. Before the World Wide Web came into existence, a reputation was something a business worked to build and did not necessarily worry about managing. Now, a lot of how a company is perceived has to do with how they are presented on the Internet, whether the company is Web based or not. In a world where anyone can write anything about anyone or any business in any forum, it is important to make sure your business’s brand reputation is being monitored to protect it from defamation and other damaging instances online.

Know the Importance of Protecting Your Reputation

While online review sites can be great for businesses, they can also be very damaging. All it takes is one disgruntled customer, a computer, and an audience of other current or potential clients and the business’s entire reputation can be ruined with a single keystroke. This is why it is vital for business owners to know the importance of brand reputation and how they can effectively protect it. One way is by hiring a reputation management company – these organizations will use different tools to help monitor what is being said about your business online and report back findings so you can take action.

Another, more cost effective way to handle protection is to utilize some free or inexpensive tools to do the same thing. Some of these tools include TweetBeep, Social Mention and Google Alerts among others – all of these tools will help you to locate and monitor when your business is being mentioned and help you to counteract any negative posts or comments. If you choose to hire an outside company to monitor this for you, make sure they do not employ tactics like creating social media simply to flood the Web with positive comments about the business. These tactics are generally frowned upon and can sometimes be more damaging to the company than negative comments from actual customers.

Be Realistic About What You Can Control

The truth is, no matter how much you monitor or counteract negative feedback online, there is no full proof way to prevent unhappy clients from posting potentially damaging things. This is why it is important for you to know what exactly you have control over and what you do not, which will help to not send the business over the deep end when it comes to preventive measures. Although there is no way to stop negative comments, there are ways to stop potential new clients from seeing them. While it may be easy to send someone looking for more information about the business to a review site to research the information themselves, this is probably the worst thing a business can do. Never point customers directly to a source that could potentially have a damaging effect on your reputation.

Do Not Ignore the Internet

The Internet is everywhere – on our computers, our smartphone, and our tablets or iPads, and everyone is using it to do pretty much everything. While it may seem like a good idea to just ignore its existence and pretend nothing bad is being said about the business online, this can actually do more bad than good. Unanswered negative comments or lack of improvement in areas being complained about online can lead to speculation from clients and customers – this laid back attitude about online review sites can lead consumers to believe that you simply do not care about what is being said, and worse, you do not care about your customers. Being proactive in knowing and counteracting any negative feedback is the key to making sure the business’s reputation is not smeared across the Internet.

If you found this small business tip useful, you should read Stacy O'Quinn's blog! Stacy has helped many small business and home business owners create a more successful and profitable business. For more information about Stacy, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Once You Get a Customer, Keep Them!

How to Properly Manage Client Retention

customer retention, small business tips, home business
As many small business owners already know, one of the keys to business success is not just making the initial sale but also retaining clients for future business. Although many companies have found a formula for success with making initial sales, they sometimes struggle with keeping customers for repeat business. Transactions from loyal customers can account for almost 40 percent of a business’s overall revenue, which is why customer retention is so significant in today’s market. With this in mind, it can be easy to see why having a customer retention plan is so important to your business.

Have a Post-Sale Plan in Place and Share it with Customers

Although it may seem like making an initial sale is the difficult part, the more challenging and more important part of the deal is guaranteeing the customer will come back and do business with you again. This is where the post-sale plan comes into play. After making an initial sale, share with customers how you will be following up with them in the future to make sure the product or service they are purchasing met their needs or explain your businesses post-sale plan. This is a great way to show customers that you truly care about fulfilling their needs and meeting their expectations. When a business begins a relationship in this way, it is much more likely that client will come back and make another purchase.

Do Your Results Measure Up to Expectations?

Once a post-sale plan is in place, it is important to make sure it is the right one for the business. A great way to measure success is to measure the results against what the expected outcome is. By doing this, it can help reveal holes in the plan or areas that need improvement in order to boost customer retention. One tool that can be used to make these measurements is by sending clients a post-sale survey – ask them to rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 10 and also ask them what can be done to make their experience better in the future. Active monitoring of your and your customers’ expectations is a great way for a business to be able to show empathy to their clients when things do not go exactly right.

Employ Transition Marketing

Many clients are in the “not there yet” phase of the buying process – they have not made a purchase and may need some convincing, which is where a lot of a business’s marketing efforts are focused. But, once they have transitioned to the point where they do engage in business with the company, the way they should be marketed to needs to transition as well. Instead of barraging them with the same marketing materials they have seen already, start mixing in different materials like white papers, invitations to special events, and customer loyalty sales and discounts. These types of marketing campaigns are not meant to bring them in for the first time, but bring them back time and time again.

If you found these small business tips useful, you  should talk to Stacy O'Quinn. Stacy has mentored dozens of work from home professionals to help them turn their struggling businesses into a six figure income. For more information about Stacy and to find out how he can help you, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of jm3 on Flickr via Creative Commons License