Is Your Business Wasting Time?

What is the biggest challenge or challenges in your mind of running your business?

Some business owners will automatically point to having to manage workers, while others will note keeping within a budget can prove quite the challenge at times. Still others single out the issue of having to properly market and/or advertise their brands.

One item that can oftentimes go unnoticed is making sure you’re properly using technology.

With all that technology has to offer your business, you would almost be irresponsible not to use it to your advantage.

Not only can technology ultimately save you money over time, but it can also speed your daily tasks up, leaving customers happier with the services you provide.

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That said is your business wasting time?

Make the Most of Your Time

In today’s fast-paced business world, not meeting the demands of your customers is akin to throwing money out the window.

Your customers expect a level of service that is second to none, so make sure not to disappoint them.

So, what are some of the ways you can best service your customers?

Among these would be:

  1. Technology – For starters, never underestimate the power and precision of technology. As an example, if you run a small medical practice, it is safe to say that you have a fair amount of patients coming in on a daily basis during the week. With this in mind, what are you doing to make sure they get in and out in a fairly fast amount of time? If you are seeing a backlog being created on a fairly regular basis, you run the risk of not only upsetting some of them, but in fact losing a number of them. In order to minimize such risks, have you looked at different software programs that can speed up their visits, yet still deliver quality care at the same time? Whether you opt for Revenuexl.com or another such product, you can see a difference in no time. The benefits to your medical practice would include shorter waiting periods for patients to be seen by a medical professional, easier means with which to bill customers and the ability to record and analyze payment trends. In all, the customer comes out ahead due to the fact he or she is not saddled with long waiting times, while your business also wins as a result of less time dealing with mounds of paperwork;
  2. Interaction – While you never want to overdo it when it comes to interacting with customers, you can’t expect them to be very loyal if you simply view them as nothing more than a number. That said you should make it known that each and every one of them is a priority to you. By being active on the Internet with both a website and a social media presence, you show them you are pretty much accessible to them 24/7. While your physical office hours are limited, having an active presence online allows you to not only provide them with information such as blog posts, interactive guides, podcasts, videos and more, but also engagement via social media. When a customer contacts you with a question and/or issue through your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other such social networking venue, don’t waste time in responding. Customers like it when they see that a business they deal with takes them seriously, along with doing the best job to respond to their needs;
  3. Solutions – Finally, having a zest for technology in your business allows you to better solve problems. As an example, if you’re medical practice relies entirely on paperwork to add up bills etc. it is easy to make an error. Such an error can not only upset customers, but it can also lead to a delay in your ability to receive compensation for your services. With the right software program in place, the technology takes care of crunching the numbers for you. In doing so, you save time and frustration in getting your invoices out.

There are many ways by which your business may be wasting time and you are not even aware of it.

Take the time to see how technology can improve your business functions, allowing wasted time to go by the wayside.

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Picture a Better World of Marketing with Video

Marketing with Video gives your business a buzz unlike any other ... photo by CC user Pattymooney via wikimedia commons

Photo by CC user Pattymooney via wikimedia commons

Is your brand getting the best marketing possible?

For many companies, the answer to that question unfortunately is no.

Whether businesses opt for email marketing, digital marketing, mobile marketing, social media usage, the list goes on and on.

One thing too many companies drop the ball with is opting for video promotion.

When you stop to think about it, video promotions can open up doors you probably never even thought about.

With that being the case, picture a better world of marketing with video.

Let the Professionals Give Your Brand Positive Light

If you’re thinking video promotions can help your business, the next question is then do you shoot the videos yourself or call the professionals?

Yes, you may be a bit of a whiz behind the camera, but there is much more to shooting a sound brand promotion than just the camera itself.

Keep in mind that you need to decide who will be in front of the camera, what the brand’s message will be, what the setting should be, how long the shoot should be and much more. When all is said and done, that is a lot of planning and detail to think about.

So that your video promotion catches the eyes and ears of consumers, your effort to find a Tampa Video production company or one closer to home should include the following:
 

    • History – Your search should begin with how long each video production company has been in the business. Do they have the long-term knowledge of the community that your business resides in? If no, can they quickly learn about the demographics you are trying to reach out to with your video aspirations? While there is nothing wrong going with a younger company in terms of experience in the business, finding one that has the video and local history behind it certainly does help;
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    • Customer service – As great as their video productions may be, your company of choice also needs to provide unparalleled customer service. In today’s fast-paced world, customer service sometimes seems almost like a lost art. You want a video production company that has not forgotten the fact that the customer always comes first. While many companies earn stellar customer service marks through word-of-mouth, you can also turn to the Internet to get to know something about a company. Along with going to the company’s website, look on social media to see if there is a buzz about the business. Are customers (current or former) talking about the video production company you might be thinking of using? If so, are the comments positive or negative? Remember that some consumers use social media to lash out at bad experiences they’ve had with products and/or companies, so take that into consideration with any questionable comments. Then again, positive comments could definitely lead you to the right company sooner rather than later.

     
    Once you have narrowed down your choices, ultimately deciding on the one company that best suits your needs, the actual video promotion comes next.

    Here is another area where it is important to remember just how fast-paced today’s world truly is.

    Many of today’s consumers can barely take time to eat breakfast in the morning, let alone sit down and watch a 30-second or longer video. As a result, your video has to deliver a message that makes your brand stand out in their minds.

    Once again, this is why letting the professionals shoot your video is so key.

    With the knowledge not only behind the camera, but also with how best to present your brand in front of the camera, video professionals can mean the difference between a product or service that gets so-so attention and one people can’t stop talking about.

    Since you want your brand to be the latter of those two choices, having professionals on your side is typically the best way to go.

    Yes, you could try and muster up the equipment and know-how to shoot your own productions, but there are many question marks involved as to how well it will come out.

    By turning to professionals with experience and dedication to the video production industry, you can all but be assured of picturing more business.

     

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Are You Growing Your Small Business Too Quickly?

Photo by CC user Виталий Смолыгин on http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

Photo by CC user Виталий Смолыгин on http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

If your small business is taking in lots of new customers (along with retaining many of your older ones), you are likely feeling pretty good about things.

So, is there anything to truly worry about as you look out over the financial landscape?

Unfortunately, there can be storm clouds out there, specifically in growing your small business too quickly.

As great as growth is for a business, it must be managed properly. Otherwise, one can find themselves with too much work and not enough time and/or resources to complete that work. They can also discover that they do not have all of the financial resources they need to handle the demands.

Take Baby Steps Early on

So that you can grow your small business at the proper rate, remember these tips:

    1. Big picture – What is your brand’s big picture? Are you planning to stay local or would you like to take things nationally at some point and time? Can you manage your small business all on your own or will you have to seek help in the form of full-time or part-time workers? Lastly, do you have the means to get fast cash for your business if needed? There may very well come a time when you need a fast capital infusion to keep your business moving forward, perhaps even to save it from going under. Recognizing the signs of when one or both could be occurring is important;
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    3. Never forget your customers – One of the most (if not the most) important tips in successfully running a small business; never forgetting who got you to the business world in the first place. Yes, those people you call customers, they can never be forgotten and/or taken for granted. Just as people look to maintain healthy relationships in their personal lives, relationships in the business world are equally if not more critical. One of the dangers of growing too quickly is losing touch with what got you to where you are in the first place. Yes, growth is certainly good, but do it at a managed pace;
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    5. Where to turn for financial assistance – If more financial capital is required to let your small business truly take off, where are you going to get it from? Some business owners may have just enough extra capital on hand to do it all on their own. Others, meantime, may turn to family or friends, perhaps with the idea of encouraging one or more of them to invest in the small business. Still others will seek to do business with financial loan companies, banks etc. No matter who you turn to for the financial push you need to move your brand forward, make sure you understand each and every word of the contract drawn up between parties. It is especially important that if you so choose to seek financial assistance inward (family, friends etc.), a contract is put together. Some may think that dealing with people close to them doesn’t require an official contract, but not having one can be the death of a relationship should things go sour;
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    7. Need help or don’t need help? – Your last big decision in determining if it is time to grow your small business is seeking employees. Some small business owners are perfectly comfortable being in charge of all aspects of their companies, meaning no help apply. Others, however, know that moving the business forward will require additional hands on deck. One of the dangers in moving too quickly with your business is bringing on employees, which translates into paying them. Some business owners will look to cut down on expenses (salaries, health insurance etc.) by hiring people for less than 30 hours a week, including using independent contractors. Once again, this is where your business smarts come into play. If you grow too quickly, you may end up finding worker salaries and other benefits will eat into your profits. By the same token, not acquiring the assistance you might very well need could end up in too much work at once for you, potentially leading to burnout.

     

    Growing your small business at just the right pace can oftentimes be a tricky call.

    When you need some financial help along the way to grow as the business climate dictates, knowing where to go for it might be the biggest call you ever make.

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Is your company taking credit for a smooth business operation?

Top notch customer service is at the nexus of a smooth business operation ... photo by CC user rahulrodriguez on Flickr

Photo by CC user rahulrodriguez on Flickr

In order to run your business down the path of success and not failure, you need to make sure you are giving customers everything they want and then some.

With that being the case, what exactly are you doing to make sure consumers have all the options needed to make their browsing and buying from you as smooth as possible?

If you’re not sure, take the time now to put a winning game-plan in place to ensure smooth business operation.

Technology is a necessity for smooth business operation

Start the process by looking at what level of technology you are provider customers with.

If it is great, then you don’t need to make any major changes. On the other hand, brands with average to poor technology offerings for their customers are the companies looking for trouble.

In order to best determine what level of technology service you are providing customers, look at the following and see where you’re at:

  1. Website – Face it; your website is your company’s greatest selling point. Without a formidable website, your brand will have trouble reaching countless consumers, many of whom could be your next customers. Review your site regularly to make sure it is firing on all cylinders. If your site offers an Ecommerce store, it is imperative that it is running properly 24/7/365. With more and more shoppers doing their browsing and buying online these days, it is imperative that your Ecommerce store (if you have one) works flawlessly. This is especially true when shoppers go to the “checkout” phase of a purchase. Nothing frustrates customers more than taking the time to fill out all the needed information for a purchase, only to have the credit card processor fail. That’s why it’s important to use a reliable credit card processor. Even without an online store, always review your website, looking for any potential shortfalls that could have a negative impact on business;
  2. Customer service – Put yourself in the shoes of customers for a moment. Don’t you get frustrated when you phone or email a business over an issue, only to essentially be ignored? It happens more times than not, leaving many customers disappointed, a disappointment that can lead to them changing businesses. Make stellar customer service a priority when it comes to your brand. Whenever a customer has an issue with your brand (online shopping, in-person matter etc.), always make their problem your problem. If you stop and think about it, bad customer service will become your problem sooner rather than later if you start losing business over it. Your website once again oftentimes plays a key role in this department. If customers are emailing you and/or reaching out on social media, make sure you do not keep them waiting when it comes to response time;
  3. Consistency – Whether you have been in business for many years or just recently started up your company, consistency is something you should never overlook. How you treat your customers, how you promote your brand, even how you go about ordering supplies, all should show a degree of consistency. While there is nothing wrong with trying out some new initiatives (in fact, encourage this), most customers want to know that they can count on your business for efficiency and dependability. Unveiling some new tech initiatives, especially things such as mobile marketing (see more below), are great ways to increase the odds of landing new business;
  4. Mobility – Speaking a moment ago about mobile marketing, how much of a role does it play in your present business affairs? If the answer is little or not at all, change that moving forward. As more customers turn to their mobile devices to browse and ultimately buy goods and services, you need to have a presence there whether you want to or not.

 

In today’s world, taking credit for running a smooth business operation is something you should be doing on a regular basis.

No, you’re not tooting your horn too much to say you’re on top of your game as a business owner.

What you are doing is reassuring consumers that you are a brand they can trust.

When you do that, your business stands to reap the public relations and financial benefits for all to see.

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How to Avoid Startup Failure

Despite the growing popularity of startups, small companies and independent businesses fail each and every year. While some companies fail due to product errors, a dip in the market, or, unfortunately, a particularly bad idea, many companies actually have the skills, product (or service), and passion to build a financially stable company.

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However, there are key mistakes many startup owners make, unknowingly sealing their businesss fate. Before quitting your current job and opening the doors to your new business, make sure you have researched the venture adequately, and know to avoid these specific mistakes:

Hiring In-House for All Positions

Small businesses should avoid hiring in-house employees for all positions. When building a business, the beginning financial stages tend to fluctuate dramatically, and hiring too many employees on can lead to an unstable financial structure. Moreover, in todays economic business age, many businesses are downsizing marginally, using third party companies to outsource certain business tasks to, such as accounting, payroll, and other human resource positions.

Companies like National PEO work to provide small and large companies alike the ability to delegate tasks and work more efficiently by outsourcing. This is a smart business practice, as you are not only confident in the ability of the company, rather than relying on an employee, it also saves you a great deal of money.

Being Unprepared

Starting your own business will turn your life upside-down temporarily. First-time business owners are often not prepared for the upset running a company brings to their accustomed lifestyle, as they find themselves working more hours for less pay. This unexpected change can leave business owners feeling drained and overwhelmed, thus it is important to ensure that if you are going to start a business, you are prepared for the changes.

Thinking Your Product Is Your Business

Many people have a brilliant idea for a product or service, but they have absolutely no idea how to run a business. More often than not, they attempt to build their business around the product, but, unfortunately, that often leads to quick success but longterm failure.

While a product does solve a problem, providing customers with an answer to a need, it is not a stable foundation for a business, as it does not bring customers back to a business. There needs to be something deeper within the business than a product.

Ignoring the Market Research

Many people who believe they have a great idea often ignore the market research, especially if the research is telling them they need to change their business plan. Most first-time entrepreneurs are guilty of holding onto their idea and being resistant to change, as they are adamant that their idea will work.

There is nothing wrong with hanging onto an idea that you believe in, as it is critical to be passionate about your business if you want to be successful; however, when the market and experts are educating you on tweaking your idea, it is a wise idea to heed their advice. The results are usually astounding, as their expertise can provide you with the link you were missing before.

Expecting Overnight Success

Unfortunately, all businesses take a great deal of time to pick up momentum. Many new owners underestimate the amount of time it will actually take to sell a product, find clients, or, generally speaking, turn a profit. It can be easy to attribute the competition you are facing to getting lucky or having overnight success, but building a solid business takes time and dedication. Most overnight success stories are filled with financial woes, sleepless nights, and plenty of almost-failures, but they managed to overcome the problems and build a stable business. Thus, when starting a company, do not be surprised at the amount of time it takes for you to grow. Keep your head down, work hard, and visualize the future success.

Believing Money Solves All Problems

Many business owners are guilty of thinking that if they could just turn a profit, find financing, or make another sale, all their problems would be solved. While all of those thoughts might be helpful to the business, it will not solve all of the businesses problems. Throwing money at problems will never solve them, thus you need to fix the holes in your business model first.

These tips can help you avoid devastating mistakes that could lead to ultimate failure.

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Come Home to Assisting Others in the Community

Running a home business keeps many men and women busy for more hours than they might like at times.

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That said having your own business out of your residence doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to help others as many small and larger companies do on a regular basis. While the latter oftentimes have more resources to help individuals and families both locally and nationally, those working out of their homes with a business can do many good things for people in need.

While you may think that you don’t have enough resources in place to assist others, there are myriad of ways you can do just that. It oftentimes just comes down to a little time and effort on your part.

So, are you ready to reach out to your community as a business leader and give a helping hand to others?

Put Your Business to Good Use

In order to do good things for those in your community, try these ideas as a home business owner:

  1. Community – There are likely many fund-raising type events going on in your local community on a regular basis, so get active in them if you are not already. You can work with other business owners, the local chamber of commerce and so on to make good things happen for others. It is not uncommon for home business owners in communities to network with one another, so this is another avenue of outreach. Get together with other home business owners and do some brainstorming as to how you and others can assist individuals and families locally. If there are local fairs and other such events going on, make sure you register to attend. Not only are you showing others in the community that you are there to help, it is also good public relations for your home business;
  2. Nationally – Many of the bigger-named brands are regularly active in doing good things for others on both a local and national level. Las Vegas Sands Corporation is a good example of a business that has done a number of outreach efforts for those in the communities it is present in and elsewhere for that matter. From a Las Vegas reading week – that is going into some local elementary schools to read to children and provide books for the kids – to embracing International Mentoring Day through a UNLV Partnership – the company has been an active player. While you likely do not have the resources of a brand like this or others that are active both nationally and worldwide, you can learn from their activities. Take a look and see how you can do likewise on a smaller and more local level;
  3. Socializing – If you’re not already using social media to promote your home business brand, what are you waiting for? Social media is a great tool to use for your home business, one that can certainly be used when you want to do good things for others in your community. Look to blog posts or create your own that discuss fund-raisers, reading events, special runs and walks etc. on a local level. You can also turn to forums on local websites and even in your area newspaper/s or magazine/s that discuss events to help raise funds for others. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. are also good avenues to travel down. If you have a business Facebook page, put a post on there about a fund-raising event that your home business would like to sponsor and/or participate in. Share the post with as many people locally as possible. In a short amount of time, that post will hopefully circulate among others in your area, allowing it to get maximum exposure. Also look for similar posts that others running businesses in your community have posted, providing them with ideas and your participation in if you so choose.

While it will of course take up some of your time, helping others in need is a very rewarding thing that one can do in life.

In the end, it may also help drive some business your way, something every home business owner is sure to appreciate.

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