Tips to Help You Avoid Business Failure 

Being in business is about striking a balance between your desire for success and your commitment in the avoidance of failure, focus too heavily on one or the other and you may find yourself in difficulties. Both striving for success and watching out for failure can be done best though looking at what successful and failed businesses have done in the past and how you can learn from it.

Success may come and go but failure is forever and this is one area which should in all honesty, keep you awake at night, especially if you want to avoid it. Let’s take a look at some of the recipes for failure and how you can make sure that you do not fall foul of them.

Financial Mistakes

Behind every failed business on the planet is finance, lack of it, the mismanagement of it or the careless attitude towards it and if you want to avoid catastrophic failure for your business you should ensure that you are focusing on every cent that comes in and goes out of your company. Equally you must make sure that whoever is looking after the finances is a professional and can give you the best service possible. Your role as the leader is to understand the finances, not do them so you should ensure that you are not getting lost in the detail.

Reputation

Reputations can be incredibly frail, they are hard to build and hard to maintain, yet surprisingly easy to destroy. If you want to look after your reputation in the best way possible then you should consider hiring a reputation management company such as reputationmanagementconsultants.com who will work on your behalf to ensure that the company’s reputation is the strongest which it can be and continues to instill confidence in clients and customers. Many businesses fail to understand the importance of a strong reputation and in today’s world of stiff competition, the truth is that a reputation could very well be the difference between the success or failure of your company.

Over Expansion

It is vitally important that your business understands its scale and whilst you should always be looking towards future growth, you must also understand when it is right to do so. Far too many businesses try to grow up too soon and they will expand their business dealings before they are attracting the revenue which they need to pay for it. If you want to ensure that you are growing at the right time then seek advice, plan carefully and take everything in to consideration before you opt for expansion. Success never happens overnight, you must take it in stages and grow to the demands of your business. Bigger premises, bigger ad campaigns and bigger staffing numbers is all well and good but not if you cannot afford to fund it, do this at the wrong time and you could be facing big trouble.

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What Benefits Are There to Using a Reputation Management Firm?

For many years celebrities, politicians, important pubic figures and large firms have used public relations services to ensure that their reputations remain intact. These days that type of PR is still very much in operation and has taken to the internet to help out a great number of people and businesses in building, growing, maintaining and protecting reputations, you only need to look at the reviews to see for yourself just how many people rely on these services to  protect themselves online. Such is the way of the internet that these days, protecting a reputation is not only for the cells and big businesses, but for small and medium enterprises too. If you aren’t sure what benefit you could get from this kind of service then read on to find out more.

Knowledge

the first question is are you even aware what kind of reputation you have online? Most people aren’t and this can be quite damning in itself. A bad reputation can do terrible damage to a business and if you are not aware of whether you have a good reputation or a bad reputation online then enlisting the support of a rep management firm can help you to get on top of it and take action.

Removal of Slander

Reviews online are a great tool to help you to attract more customers but these review systems are very open which makes it easy for anyone who may have a particular grudge with you, to leave a scathing and slanderous review. Equally, if you have ever had any unfounded accusations leveled at you then this may be the most popular result online when searching for your company, regardless of how unfounded the accusation was. An online reputation management company can ensure that your prospective clients see the truth about your business online and not the slanderous comment of someone with an axe to grind.

Guilt by Association

One of the biggest reputation management consultants complaints is the guilt by association which takes place online. For example, if you have a partner or associate who has run into trouble or who have been operating unethically then you will of course want to cut ties with them. The trouble is that removing all of the links that tie the two of your tougher online can be very tricky and this could cause many to think that you are guilty, solely because your partner is. A reputation management firm will be able to help you to cut all ties with your former partner and ensure that any prospective clients and customers do not put you in the same category as the company which you were previously associated with. There is nothing worse than being considered guilty of something purely through association and if you ant to avoid this then a reputation management company is the way forward, for the future health of your company and its success.

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These are the Areas Where Businesses Always Need to Focus 

There is a great focus today by businesses on making sure they present themselves properly in the marketplace. They devote lots of time and energy to social media marketing, building their website and keeping up with the latest marketing trends. Business experts like Chip Paige, President of Pacific Aviation Holdings, know that these are no doubt important areas of focus for business success, but there are others that should never be overlooked. They include:

Cybersecurity

Cybercriminals are a consistent and never-ending scourge of businesses today. Their targets include businesses of all sizes and locations, including internet security companies proving that no one is immune. Oftentimes cyber-criminals attack those businesses feeling most confident, perhaps too confident, in their abilities to ward them off. This over-confidence sets up the perfect conditions for the cyber-criminals to strike.

The need for securing a company vital information has never been more important or complicated. To be effective in this area a business must have all of its employees involved and make sure that their IT department is fully aware of the current and evolving wave of data breaches that are threatening companies. These will always include: malicious programs, unauthorized access into the systems, ransomware, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks that individually and collectively threaten the livelihood of the company.

The great news is that companies can engage strategies and utilize software tools that can keep cyber-criminals away from their valuable data. Companies need to create and institute company policies around how data can be disseminated by employees and procedures around how to utilize the internet and particularly email and communications sites like skype, where many of the cyber-attacks occur. Further employees must be prohibiting form connecting non-approved devices to the company network. These devices can harbor rogue software and other dangerous programs that employees are unaware of and can infect the company’s entire network.

In terms of software, today there are ways to keep these cyber-criminals out, recover any stolen data and even recover files encrypted by a virus. Companies should be vigilant about purchasing this software and making sure it is updated with the latest protection protocols. Being vigilant will keep any company safe.

Making the Business About the Customer

It is perhaps the oldest business axiom, to always put the customer first. Many businesses find this approach at odds with their goal of being as profitable as possible. However, when you operate your business properly both of these goals con not only co-exist, they propel each other to bigger growth and higher profits.  A business should always be customer-centric and fully focused on what the customer needs to thrive.

To be clear, focusing on the customer may mean that you have to put aside some short-term company desires for long-term and sustainable gains. Companies must reject those ideas that work against their best interests, and their best interests begin and end with the best interests of their customers. The most successful businesses today continue to demonstrate that this is the best and most sustainable business model.

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The Best Ways to Improve Employee Satisfaction

When it comes to getting good results for a business, any good business owner knows that keeping employees happy at work is the key to success. When your employees are not happy in the workplace and dissatisfied with the experience that they are having, then they are much less likely to stick around and work hard to gain good results for your brand. Employers who don’t invest time and effort into employee satisfaction often have to deal with high staff turnover rates, increased complaints, and low results when it comes to productivity. On the other hand, investing in employee satisfaction truly pays off; employees who are satisfied and happy at work are more likely to deliver the best results for your company and be loyal to your brand. Here are some of the top ways to improve employee satisfaction in your business.

#1. Invest in Training:

For the most part, employees don’t tend to be happy with simply turning up to work and never making any progress. Whilst some staff members, for example those who are there on a temporary basis, may be happy with simply having a job, many employees will want to know that they have the chance to learn more, improve their skills, and be in with a better chance of getting a promotion. Offering training and options to gain qualifications such as a bsb50315 diploma of customer engagement, for example, will give employees something to work towards and help motivate them in work.

#2. Listen to Employees:

Just as you must come into work every day, so must your employees. Because of this, it’s important that you lend a listening ear to your workforce and allow them a voice when it comes to letting you know their likes and dislikes, and even offering their suggestions on how they feel the workplace could be improved for them. Bear in mind that when employees have their views and opinions taken into consideration, acted upon and respected will always be much happier in the workplace since they know that they are valued by their employer. Employee surveys, suggestion boxes, and focus group meetings are all just some of the best ways of making sure that your employees have a voice.

#3. Encourage Fun and Friendship:

Whilst everybody knows that the main reason for going to work is for working and earning money, this doesn’t mean that the workplace can’t also be a fun and exciting place to be. As a company owner or manager, it’s important that you respect the fact that work is the one place where your employees will spend most of their time during the day and week, so it’s important to make sure that they have an enjoyable experience there. For example, you could hold ‘bring your dog to work’ days, or encourage other fun games and activities amongst employees to strengthen relationships and get people talking to one another. As a result, the team will only become stronger! It could be any sport activities.

Would you like to add any suggestions of your own for improving employee satisfaction? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

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Secrets of the Virtual Office: 4 Things You Might Not Know about Flexible Workspaces

 

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In recent years, the popularity of the virtual office has soared in Hong Kong. It makes sense in a lot of different ways. For one thing, space is at such a premium in a city this densely populated that it’s no surprise to find businesses eschewing traditional work environments.

Rent costs are on the rise, it’s getting harder to find great offices, and there’s no real evidence to prove that a fixed workspace is more productive. So, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small business owners are deciding to ‘go virtual’ and keep their options open for longer.

The question is, how exactly do virtual offices work and why are they such a big asset for businesses in Hong Kong? Keep reading to find out more.

Virtual Offices Are Real Places

If you haven’t used virtual facilities before, you can be forgiven for thinking that they exist only as a concept. This is a misconception. It is true that they are designed to be used as distance resources. Check out www.servcorp.com.hk/en/virtual-offices/ for more details on this.

However, the best virtual facilities also offer full access to a physical office and a range of IT, secretarial, and administrative tools. The idea is that tenants use telephone lines, mailboxes, and other services to support flexible working arrangements at home or other locations.

The Telecoms Tools Are Local

It might seem like a trivial detail, but something as small as having a local area code for your telephone lines can make a big difference to how your company is perceived. It conveys a sense of stability and longevity which can be hard to obtain when you’re working from home.

Furthermore, high-end virtual providers in Hong Kong offer a range of telecoms services to suit all kinds of needs. So, if you want to set up a customer helpline, you can appoint a qualified receptionist to man the phones on your behalf. You choose how the information is passed on.

You Don’t Have to Stay in One Location

Another common misconception is that, once you sign up with a virtual provider, you can only use the facilities at the original sign up location. This is not usually the case. Most providers operate a number of facilities across Hong Kong and you can visit any of them.

It is a great asset, particularly for small businesses. Though you may not have a traditional, full-time office yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on building up your market presence. It is perfectly possible to visit multiple locations (even in different countries) and continue working.

There Are No Long Term Contracts

Asking tenants to sign a long term, unchangeable agreement would go against the ideas and principles that a virtual office is trying to foster. When you register with one of these facilities, you may be asked to sign an agreement, but this is usually to allow services to ‘roll on.’

So, in other words, unless you cancel or tweak your terms of use, you’ll pay a fixed access fee each month. This can be terminated at any time. Some providers charge a slightly higher rate for the privilege of using any of their virtual offices, anywhere in the world.

Where to Find Out More about Virtual Offices

If you would like to find out more about virtual workspaces, talk to a provider directly. There are a number of high-end facilities in central Hong Kong. They include offices at the Two International Finance Centre, the Hong Kong Club Building, and at One Peking Road. If you head over to any of these locations, you’ll be able to chat with an onsite team.

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How to Motivate Your Team to Success

Motivation is a tricky thing to master in business. It requires that you dedicate your efforts to create compelling reasons for wanting to reach a particular goal. When your goal is to motivate your team, you need to tap into the reasons why they might want to accomplish the goal you put in front of them.

This takes an understanding of what is important to them and how you can get them to put aside what they might want personally so that they can focus on giving you what you want. Leaders like successful real estate construction entrepreneur Lloyd Claycomb II align the goals they have with the individual goals of their team members so each team member can be motivated toward the reaching the goal, for his own reasons.

At the core of any motivation strategy must be the correct demeanor and attributes of the leader. How this person acts will determine in large part whether the team member will buy into the goal and be sufficiently motivated to go for it. Here are the characteristics of the leader that is most likely to get people motivated.

Infallibly Passionate

Reliability is a core quality needed to get people motivated. Teams need to know with 100% surety that the person who is asking them to commit is also committed all the time and that he or she is consistent in their thoughts, beliefs and conversations. This individual needs to demonstrate over time that their demeanor will not change during hard times or good ones in regards to the quest for the goal, and that he or she can be relied upon to offer the same level of enthusiasm about the goal throughout the journey.

Consistently Reliable, Prepared

Team members will check to see how important the goal is to the motivator before they will commit. Does the leader get to meetings early and stay late to answer any questions team members have about the goal? Is the leader fully prepared when discussing the goal? The level of seriousness regarding the goal will be communicated by the behavior of the leader, so he or she needs to be reliable and prepared.

Accessible

Leaders need to be available for team members when needed. This means making sure everyone has direct access to the motivator via his phone, e-mail and other contact information. When the leader receives communication from a team member, he or she needs to respond timely with either an answer to the question or comment or a specific time when it will be answered.

Good Listener

A good leader is always prepared to listen. Enthusiasm is great, but what is better is to let a team member know that his comments and questions are appreciated and important. Not every question will be a good one, but every question will be an important one so the leader must listen and give a thoughtful answer. This not only builds confidence in the team member about the goal but also gets team communication flowing which will aid to reaching the goal.

To keep everyone on your team motivated takes time and commitment. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on motivation because it is at the core of every project’s success story.

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Wireless vs. Non-wireless Card Solutions

There are a lot of wireless card solutions out there

Finding credit card solutions that work for a unique business is crucial to maintaining a healthy profit margin. But, before a business owner can decide on a system and equipment, they’ve got to know the fundamental differences between different types of payment terminals.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences, and similarities, between wireless and wired credit card processing:

Free to be Wireless

A wireless credit card and debit machine involves very different equipment and processing than a wired terminal. First, wireless terminals do not require a direct link to a phone jack or Internet connection. Instead, a wireless terminal transmits card information to a radio tower, which then transmits the information to a credit card processor.

The benefit of wireless credit card processing services is obvious; business owners can take payments anywhere, which gives them more freedom and flexibility to grow their business.

Similar to wired terminals, wireless processors have features including a magnetic stripe reader, display screen, and keypad. However, wireless terminals are typically more expensive than wired options and may suffer connectivity issues should the device be out-of-range of a radio tower.

Wired to do Business

Wired credit card processing relies on phone or Internet connectivity to transmit data. More importantly, these terminals are not designed to work outside a store.

Wired devices that connect via phone line are typically less expensive and slower than devices that connect to the Internet. Depending on the nature of the business, this may be something important to consider.

For example, a credit card machine hooked up on a phone line may have to share the line with other equipment. This congestion could slow payment processing and discourage customers from returning.

Terminals connected to the Internet process faster and may be more reliable if the business has peak periods for customer transactions.

Now that you understand the basic differences between wired and wireless credit card processing, it will be easier to pick an option that works best for your business.

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Skyrocket Your Sales with Business Text Messages

The number of people with cellphones is almost uncountable. We live with mobile communication all around us now. And if you own a business, you need to find yourself a business SMS solution if you are to benefit from all of this. So how can you benefit from this process the most?

Use an SMS Webform that Customers Can Opt In to

If you want to grow your customers, but you don’t want to spam them, then an opt in form is a necessity. This means that people give you their consent to be contacted first. By providing an opt in form, you build trust among your customers, and it is far more likely that they will read your message.

Tell Customers How Often You Will SMS Them

If you tell your customers from the word go how often you will message them, they will feel more respected, which in turn builds brand trust and loyalty. If you message your customers too often, they are likely to block your number. But be honest and upfront, and stick to your promises, and they are likely to remain engaged.

Promote with Media Links

The great thing about cellphones is that they are linked to the internet. Hence, you can add links to videos, images, promotions, and so on to your SMS messages, and make sure your customers remain interested in what you are doing.

Provide an Opt Out Option

Make sure that your customers always know exactly how they can opt out of the SMS messages at a later stage. You can add this to each message you sent, but since you are limited in characters, it is better to make this very clear on your web form.

Make Sure You Are Effective with Your Time

Do not send text messages first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night because you most likely will be wasting your time. If you have customers from all over the country, you may have to create groups based on their time zones so that they receive messages at the appropriate time. Also make sure that you do not promote items that won’t be available for another month. Teasers are good, but not that long in advance.

Provide Mobile Coupons in Your Physical Store

Make sure that you have mobile coupons available on your premises to attract more people to sign up for the service. Offer them a first order discount for signing up, for instance, and make sure the coupon has a QR code on it to make it easy for people to leave their details.

Make the Messages Personalized

Even though you will be sending the same message to lots of people, you should personalize it as much as possible. Your opt in form should have, for instance, included your customers first and last name. Using that as a macro in your SMS message, so that each individual receives a message that is actually addressed to them, can make a huge difference in terms of how positively the message is received.

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John Bradberry Consulting – Have a Start-Up Idea? Don’t Forget to Patent It!

Startups involve bringing a new service or product to the market in order to solve a current problem or to respond to a present need.  Because of this, it is likely that many people or teams are working to develop a solution to the same problem – in fact, many of the greatest inventions of our time have been developed almost simultaneously because they are spurred by a general perception of a problem.  The reason we know the name of one inventor and not another is often because one of them made it first to the patent office.  As industry experts like John Bradberry Consulting can tell you, there is a great deal of competition to find the next big startup idea.   If you think you might have found it, be sure you consider applying for a patent to protect your rights.

What is a patent?

A common misperception about patents is that they give the holder “ownership” of an idea.  This is not the case – instead, a patent gives an inventor the exclusive right to develop an idea in order to bring it to the market. Even then, this right is not forever.  A patent will expire after a period of time, allowing competitors to develop their own version of the same product.  There are some limitations on what kinds of ideas can be patented.  First, the idea or process needs to be new – this means that it can’t be something that is already available to people.  It also needs to be something that is not obvious to other people.  This is because if an idea is so obvious that someone could simply “stumble across it” then there is not likely to be a significant intellectual process that needs to be protected.  Finally, in order to be patented, an idea needs to be actually possible to develop.  This means that you cannot patent ideas for technologies or processes that aren’t currently possible.

Things to remember

If you are considering applying for a patent for your idea, you need to keep a few things in mind because they might affect your rights.  For example, in the United States, the law is that if you have publically demonstrated or used your product, you have 12 months to apply for the patent (because remember, patentable ideas must not be in the public realm).  You also have only 12 months to apply for a patent if you have sold your product.

Patents are quite expensive to apply for and can be quite complicated.  For this reason, some developers choose to protect their idea by keeping processes, ingredients and technologies “secret” rather than patenting the idea.  While you don’t have an exclusive right to develop the idea without a patent, if it sufficiently complicated you may find that you don’t need to patent it at all.

You do need to make sure, however, that any great idea you have for a startup has not already been patented by a competitor.  Be sure to do your homework on this issue before you invest any time or money developing an idea that someone else has secured the rights to.

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Drive Ahead with a Better Business Model

In running a business, what do you find to be some of your biggest challenges?

Probably one challenge that most if not all business owners would identify when being asked that question would be keeping customers satisfied.

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No matter what it seems company owners do, some customers will never think it is enough. As a result, the latter may move from business owner to business owner, looking for the one that will deliver each and everything they want.

With that in mind, running a business tied to transportation can prove to be quite a task.

For starters, you’re going to have to make sure that you get customers to and from where they need to go without hassles.

Secondly, given the time element is so much in play, even small delays can end up irritating any number of customers. When this occurs, they might never come back for more business.

At the end of the day, driving ahead with a better business model is doable if you put as much time and effort necessary into the process.

Transporting Success for Your Company

When it comes to a car sharing platform, if you’re in this line of work, you know how important it is to not only make being on time quite important, but also a smooth and hassle-free experience.

At the end of the day, some key areas to focus in on include managing all of your customers, the suppliers you work with, the vehicles involved in the operation, and of course your employees. You also want to make sure your technology is up to date, allowing you to identify and check drivers before they ever get behind the wheel.

If you’re in the delivery business, you also know how crucial a smooth transportation process needs to be.

For example, let’s say you deliver medicines for a pharmacy.

Unlike some other delivery services where being a day or two late wouldn’t have quite the consequences, many people (especially the young and senior citizens) depend on receiving their medications on time. If your driver/s prove to not always be reliable (not focused, get into accidents rather easily etc.) your customers can pay the price.

While there are many pharmacies and those related to the industry doing things online and via the regular mail these days, some still make deliveries to their customers.

No matter what kind of delivery service you have, make sure transportation bottlenecks do not come to define your brand.

Let Consumers Know Your Brand Works

For those businesses in transportation related industries (or any business for that matter), it is crucial that consumers know not only how your brand works, but how it can help them.

One of the best ways to get that word out in today’s digital age is of course through the Internet.

For instance, if you don’t have a website or it is lackadaisical at best, that is something you need to change moving forward (sooner better than later).

With a strong website in your hands, you have the opportunity to move your brand ahead, with the potential to leave competitors in the rearview mirror.

Speaking of that website, make sure it focuses on the following:

  • Content – Having solid content on your website is imperative. With that content, you can reach millions of consumers near and far. Most notably, make sure that content is both fresh and relevant;
  • Visuals – You also need a website that is strong on imagery, notably positive imagery;
  • Functionality – If your website has functional issues, you can’t truly expect consumers to want to come back again and again (if at all). Test your site regularly to make sure it is functioning with as few errors as possible.

If you are prepared to drive forward with a better business model, what are you waiting for?

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