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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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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What Is Customer Engagement and How Does it Help?

It is now known that customer engagement is a hugely important element in the success of a business. This is why companies like Webio, who enable businesses to capture and increase customer engagement, are now so popular. Customer engagement is something that is seen across three distinctive elements of business, and it is important to understand that, so that you can appropriately measure how successful you are being. Let’s take a look at the three areas of customer engagement, as well as at some ways to measure this.

Advertising

According to the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) engagement is best described as getting a prospect interested in a new idea by introducing them to the context. In other words, it describes how various viewers, readers, or other customers interact with a newly presented advertisement. There are different schools of thought about this. The old fashioned idea was a stepped approach:

  1. Catch the attention of the customer.
  2. Stimulate the desire interest of the customer.
  3. Drive the customer to make a purchase.

Today, however, things have changed. Now, the focus is on combining the message of the advertisement with symbols, associations, and metaphors.

Within advertising, a customer is considered to be engaged when they interact with the specific advertisement. This means they have purchased the product, decided to purchase the product, or recommended the product to others.

Website Analytics

Customer engagement is also very important in website analytics. This is one of the newest forms of customer reengagement. It describes how customers interact with the website of a brand. The goal of websites is to attract traffic, and to turn traffic into customers (conversion). However, there are different forms of conversions within website analytics, including:

  1. Making an online sale.
  2. Gathering new email addresses for the newsletter.
  3. Encouraging people to sign up for a free trial.

There are numerous metrics used to define engagement. A popular one is to calculate how long someone stays on the website, but also how many pages are viewed on average per visitor, or how many comments an individual makes on social media platforms.

Marketing

Finally, there is customer engagement in marketing. This describes the level of engagement with a specific brand. Very often, marketing customer engagement speaks of things like customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction. This is because the focus is strongly on how attached an individual is on the long term to a certain company. The result of high engagement is usually seen in an increase in customer advocacy and word of mouth advertisement and referrals. A lot of companies focus strongly on changing their customer engagement strategy with a focus on marketing. This is because a lot of research has demonstrated that there is a direct link between marketing customer engagement and elements such as share of wallet, ROI, stock price, and profit levels.

In an idea world, customer engagement is about all three things. Being aware of this makes it more likely that you will also be able to truly increase the number of customers who feel engaged with your brand.

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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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Business books that entrepreneurs should read in 2017

One of the greatest things that any entrepreneur can do for their personal and business development is to read books on a continuous basis.

If you are looking to keep learning and evolving in 2017, it is vital to choose ones that will teach you relevant skills, inspire you, and prepare you for what is coming in the near future.

In this post, we will review four books that have caught our eye for the amount of actionable information that they provide their readers.

1) Performance

Although this book was published 10 years ago, its recent listing on Amazon has allowed this under-appreciated guide to creating a performance-based organization to become better known by those in the business community.

Authored by Mark Stiffler, this book aims to provide a practical framework that owners can use to streamline their organization’s processes, thereby allowing them to replace the disjointed system that they presently have in place.

2) Tools of Titans

2016 saw the return of business and personal development author Tim Ferriss to the world of non-fiction books with his latest release, Tool of Titans.

The first of his books to eschew the 4-hour branding he had used in previous works, he has taken hundreds of hours of information from his podcasts and has condensed it into one of the best attempts at an instruction manual for life that you will ever see.

Containing wisdom from people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Seth Godin in its 674 pages, it will be a constant source of inspiration and strength for you throughout this coming year.

3) Building the Internet of Things

From cars that drive themselves to smart home systems that turn on the heat and the lights via a smartphone app, the Internet of Things is quickly becoming an integrated part of our daily lives.

While it may not be perfect, as evidenced by several massive dDOS attacks orchestrated by hackers using insecure IoT networks this past year, it is clear that this technological development is here to stay.
In his book Building The Internet of Things, author Maciej Kranz outlines the various ways that business enterprises can make use of these advances to prosper in 2017 and beyond.

It also details how the IoT threatens to disrupt various sectors of the economy, allowing managers to prepare their organizations to adapt to changes that will reorganize the economy in the near future.

4) The Power of Broke

Created by Shark Tank co-host and FUBU founder Daymond John, The Power of Broke argues that having little cash and a lack of access to other resources has the effect of unlocking mental assets that can help propel anyone to success.

Starting with the story of how Daymond launched his brand with $40, a sewing machine, and a lot of hustle, this book examines the ways how anyone with an idea and the will to make it happen can overcome the lack of cash and other disadvantages.

The essential concept of this book is this: when your back is against the wall and you have next to no cash, your only choice is to succeed or perish.

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Top Tips For Business Travelers

If your job or your business calls for you to spend a lot of time on the road then it is important that you stay fully prepared to make your life as easy as possible whilst you are traveling. You are likely to be spending large amounts of time alone, taking many flights or trains and you will need to stay organized and at your best during your travels. We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that you can employ during your time on the road to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible and that you will be fully effective during your business dealings.

Bought a travel wallet :(

Keeping Your Itinerary up to Date

Even if you have a secretary organizing things for you, it is still important that you stay on top of your itinerary in order to avoid missing meetings or flights. Another reason for this is that if you are traveling through different time zones, you need to ensure that you are managing your sleeping pattern in accordance with it so that you avoid unnecessary tiredness. There are some great apps on the market that you can download to your smartphone to ensure that you are on top of your plans.

Staying in Touch Back Home

Staying in touch with family or friends can be particularly difficult if you are traveling a lot and you should take advantage of the many ways in which you can stay in touch with loved ones back home. Many services like Skype and Facebook offer video, audio calling options as well as instant messaging services, this will allow you to easily stay in touch providing you have an internet connection. It has never been cheaper to make calls abroad and you can often call direct from your cell to your family for just a little extra money than a normal call back home. Should you run out of credit abroad, your family can easily top you up again with www.recharge.com, a great service that will ensure you never run out of credit.

Filling in the Time

If you have a lot of time to fill in whilst you are in the hotel and want to avoid spending too much money then try to utilize the hotel’s gym and spa facilities if they have them. Prior to your trip you should also try to download any films or games to your computer or tablet to keep you occupied during the quiet times. It can be easy to simply hit a bar or a restaurant but if you want to stay at your best then you should use the downtime that you have to relax and prepare yourself for that upcoming meeting or presentation.

Flying Through Airports

If you are traveling for just a short amount of time then ditch the suitcase and just take a carry-on, you’d be surprised at the size of bag which you are now allowed in the plane and you can fit at least 3 or 4 days worth of clothing in your carry-on. This will cut down your waiting time and check-in time at the airport and allow you to breeze through the airport once you leave the plane.

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