Category Archives: Business

Build the Perfect Business Machine

Want to take your business to the next level? There are tons of different ways you can give your business a boost through unique strategies like gamification and using various online platforms to boost brand loyalty. From pitching your idea to growing that idea to unparalleled success, here are 10 tips to build the perfect business machine.

Build Brand Loyalty Through Amazon

Amazon is a popular platform for eCommerce sellers. And it can also be a powerful way to create some brand loyalty among your customers, if you use it correctly. In this post on the Social Annex blog, Prasad Dhamdhere shares some ways you can use Amazon to build brand loyalty.

Consider Gamification for Your Next Event

For businesses that hold events, adding some interest or unique activities can be essential to getting the most out of them. And that’s where gamification comes in. This Pathable post by Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey includes more information about adding gamification features to your next event.

Use These Social Media Advertising Tips and Tricks

Chances are, you already use some type of social media to market your business. But you can also use ads on those platforms to make an even bigger impact, especially with the tips and tricks featured in this MyBlogU post by Ann Smarty.

Improve Customer Retention With Social Media

Social media can also be a great way for you to boost your customer retention. This Social Media Examiner post by Small Business Trends chief strategy officer Tamar Weinberg explains how you can use social media for this purpose. And BizSugar members discuss the concept further here.

Learn How to Pitch a Complex Business

If the concept behind your business isn’t one that people are already familiar with, then it might seem like a challenge to explain your business to potential partners or investors. That’s why you need to learn how to pitch a complex business. Check out this Smallbiztechnology.com post by Ramon Ray for more.

Use These Tips to Handle Adversity in the Office

No matter how hard you work to avoid it, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some adversity in your small business office at some point. So you need to learn how to deal with that adversity. The tips in this CorpNet post by Nellie Akalp can help.

Reach More Mobile Customers

Reaching mobile customers isn’t just about ensuring that your website and marketing materials are viewable on mobile devices. You also need to create messaging that’s relevant to those customers. This RightMix Marketing post by Andrew Gazdecki details how you can do just that.

Consider These Key Issues Before Incorporating Chat Bots

Chat bots offer a unique opportunity for small businesses to provide customer service and other personalized communications without expending tons of extra resources. But there are some key things to consider before integrating them. Ivan Widjaya of SMB CEO discusses more in this post.

Know the Four Levels of Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different levels of brand loyalty, which Dave Taylor details in this Taylor Brand Group post. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.

Don’t Ignore Baby Boomers in Your Marketing

Millennials are all the rage when it comes to targeting marketing campaigns. But baby boomers can still be an attractive target to a lot of businesses. This Target Marketing post by Sue Yasav goes into more detail.

Small Business Owners Need to Know About the Internet Privacy Repeal

The House has voted to block Obama Era online privacy regulations for Internet use. The legislation has been sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. That leaves the security of small businesses’ online data in a state of limbo where sharing information and client privacy is concerned.

Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. It invokes the Congressional Review Act (CRA) law which allows Congress to undo regulations already passed. Here are the issues for small business owners who use the web to do business and interact with clients there.

The Internet Privacy Repeal: What You Need to Know

ISPs Needed Permission

The rules passed last year by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were intended to give consumers, and by proxy small businesses interacting with those consumers on the web, control over how their online information was being used. The new regulations would have made customer information private requiring ISPs to seek permission to collect, sell or use data. This would have included browser history, app usage, location data and other revealing statistics.

The FCC rule would have required clients be informed when they had been hacked or their data had been breached. It also would have required ISPs to take actions to prevent criminal activity.

Restricting the FCC

However, the current administration wants to undue these regulations before they can go into effect. What’s more, they want to restrict the FCC from being able to write rules like these in the future.

Critics have said the FCC rule would have unfairly impacted ISPs and stifled innovation while adding to the costs of doing business. The administration also wants the Federal Trade Commission rather than the FCC to police privacy issues connected to broadband companies and bigger internet companies like Google. But for small businesses, reversal of the regulations will likely shift the burden of protecting customer privacy back to them.

ISPs Will be Collecting Data

Regardless of the potential implications for small businesses, it’s expected that Trump will sign the bill. That means internet service providers will be able to continue to monitor small business and consumer behavior online and use personal and financial information to sell targeted ads. That will make them more like Facebook and Google, two companies currently unregulated when it comes to the kinds f customer data they can collect.

Translation for Small Business

Again, all of this means small businesses need to be able to safeguard consumer data privacy themselves. If you’re selling any goods or services online, you’ll need to take steps to make sure your customers feel safe.

Here’s a couple of things you can do.

The Virtual Private Network End Game

“Small business owners concerned about their own privacy and the privacy of their business should consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for company business as well as ensuring that websites used are encrypted,” says Jocelyn Baird at NextAdvisor.com.

A VPN provides the security measures businesses need. In the same way a firewall protects the information stored in your computer, these VPN’s protect data you’re sharing through public networks. This is the end game you can use to run around the proposed security roll backs to assure clients their data is safely shared with you.

Use an Encrypted HTTPS Protocol

Sound complicated? It’s not really. The “s” at the end of the older “http” means that all the information passed between your browser and the website you’re connected to is encrypted. That “s” means all the data you share between you and your client is safe, regardless of any changes to privacy laws.

Final Word

Baird has the final word for small business here, cautioning against panic but suggesting diligence.

“It’s important to understand that Congress did not create new laws, and instead created legislation designed to overturn existing regulations that had been passed — but not yet gone into effect — by the FCC,” she says.  “Essentially, not much has changed since the FCC’s rules hadn’t even had a chance to go into effect. What this brings to the forefront is an ever-present need for individuals as well as businesses, large and small, to pay attention to their privacy and the privacy of their customers.”

Manage Your Business with Teamwork Projects

It’s not without reason that Teamwork Projects was voted one of the best project management services around. In a sea full of solutions promising to take the pain out of multi-member collaborations, Teamwork Projects stands out, first and foremost, for its simplicity.

Especially relevant to small businesses, Teamwork Projects employs an intuitive and easy to use interface particularly suited for smaller teams.

The following tools highlight the practical power of the platform.

A Look at Teamwork Projects

Gantt Charts

At it’s core, Teamwork Projects is designed to make your project, whatever it may be, easier to manage. Whether the project is the day-to-day operations of your small business or a specific client-based job.

Teamwork Project’s Gantt charts provide a color-coded snapshot that’s marked according to your timeline and chosen parameters.

Assigning or adding new tasks, updating progress and making changes are done with a drag and drop format.

One of the many convenient shortcuts, a simple hit of the “G” on your keyboard, will pull up your chart — giving you quick access to the flow of your project.

The “Help” icon at the top of your chart provides tutorials and answers frequently asked questions — encouraging you to take advantage of Teamwork Project’s features.

Probably most helpful, every team member and collaborative partner involved has real-time access to the project, keeping everyone on the same page. The seamless connectivity means that access across all devices and every browser is not a problem.

Connectivity

Your project Gantt chart and Teamwork Projects as a whole operate on the cloud and are accessible anywhere — anytime.

Teamwork Projects also integrates with a long list of tools that your team is probably already using. The app allows you to have one interface, making them all easy to use and organize.

Tagging

Team members, responsibilities, files and messages can all be tagged. Hover over anything, click the tag icon and instantly it’s labeled with your chosen color and action.

This easy to use feature ensures that everyone can easily stay informed. Tag titles include: approved, denied, invoiced, review and pending — as well as custom tags that you can name yourself.

With the help of charts and tags, everyone involved remains connected and up to date.

Status Updates

Real time status on everyone involved, increases productivity and keeps the project moving forward.

The chat-stream type flow can also double as a communication tool for those working from different locations. Check-ins and status updates are sent to every intended recipient, with privacy and permission options to omit the ones that aren’t.

Knowing the Weather Forecast

Your small business is connected to the weather whether you work online or in a brick and mortar location. Knowing what’s going on outside affects everything from sales to marketing and of course profits.

Understanding that relationship is just as important as ordering stock and deciding which social media platform best suits your marketing purposes. Here are 10 ways knowing the weather forecast can boost your small business profits.

How Weather Affects Businesses, and What You Can Do About It

Understanding Your  Buyer’s Mood

AccuWeather, a leader in global weather information, and Spotify, a music streaming service, understand this well. They’ve collaborated on a new site called Climatune. The site analyzes the effect weather has on the music people like.

Mark Ebel is Vice President of Business Services for AccuWeather. He knows the implications for small business well.

“ You need to understand how weather affects the moods of your specific customers,” he says adding sunshine, clouds or even severe storms can affect the number of patrons you get on any given day.

Matching Your Labor Needs

Knowing what you can expect as far as the weather goes can also help you decide on the size of the workforce you’ll need during any weather event.

“You can ask yourself questions like how a fast approaching storm can influence your breakfast business if you own a small restaurant and how many people you need to have in,” Ebel says.

Juggling Your Inventory

“Hyper local accuracy is what you’re looking for,” says Ebel noting forecasts can be pinpointed for every location on Earth. Being able to predict when a bout of unseasonably warm air will pass through can be a great help.

“If you own a ski lodge, it can help you order the right number of hamburger buns for a weekend.”

Running Promotions

Running Facebook ads? You need to know when your target market is most likely to be online to see them.  Ebel uses a spring time example to highlight how the weather is important to getting  promotions right.

“The temperature has to be warm and the ground can’t be frozen to sell fertilizer in the United States. Small business owners can use the forecast information to decide which areas to run marketing programs in.”

Making Quick Decisions

The weather facing today’s small business can be unpredictable. The predictive analytics offered by AccuWeather is indispensable for making quick decisions. Even an unexpected snowstorm can send a small business scrambling to call an overnight crew in an hour early.

Tyler Dewvall is Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions.

“It’s great when the managers can make those kinds of calls early, but it’s also good for employees to know their company is taking advantage of weather warnings and forecasts,” he says.

Keeping People Safe

“Making the decision on whether or not to take shelter can be costly,” Dewvall says.

For example, if you own a small manufacturing company in St. Louis and decide to shut down operations and shelter your employees because of inaccurate storm warnings, profits can suffer.

On the other hand, small business has a responsibility to keep their employees safe from disasters like tornados and the threat of physical injury or death.

Handling Supply Chain Issues

Another advantage to this technology is in the ability to juggle real-time scenarios by using predictive analytics. It’s an invaluable tool for small businesses who rely on supply chains in different geographic areas.

For example, by being able to look at state-of-the-art weather forecasts, a small construction company in Pennsylvania can see if supplies and shipments from New York are going to be held up by advancing nasty weather patterns that can wash roads out and knock down trees.

Delivering as Promises

One of the bigger challenges for ecommerce sites is battling the free shipping offer made by bigger competitors. Being able to gaze into a crystal weather analytics ball helps these smaller firms keep the delivery promises they make in this highly competitive space.

“We have services that can analyze how one or two or three inches of rain over a period of time will impact important things like road traffic,”  Dewvall says.

Industry leaders in weather forecasting often have the ability to present their clients with hypothetical small business consequences of different factors.

Getting The Right Insurance

A small bakery in Alabama can look at long term weather patterns in their state to decide on the right kind of insurance. Once again, predictive analytics plays a central role. Of course small businesses all across America need to be aware of the rising tide of unpredictable and sometimes costly storms.

It’s good to know that some insurers have websites for filing claims quickly. However, you’ll still need to document any damage by taking pictures. Knowing as much as possible about the weather patterns affecting your small business is an invaluable first step.

“In 2016 there were 16 separate events that cost over 1 billion dollars in damages and sadly death,” Mark Ebel says.

Being Green

Finally, a big part of selling any goods and services is the responsibility of knowing how much of a carbon footprint you’re making. Being able to access weather patterns and forecasts in your locale can help you to see the big picture. With that information, small business owners can make any changes necessary to increase sustainable green models.

Energize Your Team and Grow Your Business

To make your small business as productive as possible, you need a great team behind you. But it’s not always easy for small businesses to get the most out of their employees.

Luckily, members of our small business community have plenty of experience in this area. Below are some tips for getting the most out of your team and out of some popular online tools to make your business as productive as possible.

Boost Happiness Among Hourly Employees

If you want to get the most out of your team, it helps to keep them happy. Even hourly workers tend to get more done and stick around longer if you can provide some little things that make them happier at work. William Harris elaborates in this When I Work post.

Learn How to Hire Consultants Online

Adding to your small business team doesn’t necessarily have to mean hiring hourly employees. You can potentially grow your business by utilizing the help of consultants. To learn more about hiring consultants online, check out this SpareHire post by Julie Stewart.

Look for These Traits When Hiring for Early Stage Startups

Growing a small business team is a different process than growing a team for a large corporation. In this Noobpreneur post, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share some of the most important traits you can look for when hiring for startups.

Know These Small Business Marketing Deductions

Tax season often means extra expenses for small businesses. But if you know all the deductions you’re eligible for, it can help with your tax bill. This post by Zeenath Haniff on the Overnight Prints Blog includes some marketing tax deductions you shouldn’t overlook.

Avoid Distractions and Consistently Hit Your Targets

It’s easy to say that you want to get more done in your business. But there are tons of distractions out there that can keep you from reaching your goals and targets. In this Process Street post, Adam Henshall shares some tips for avoiding distractions and getting more accomplished.

Maximize Your Team’s Productivity

You can also get more done by focusing on the productivity of your team. There are some key things you can do to make sure that your employees get as much done as possible, as outlined in this SUCCESS Agency blog post by Mary Blackiston.

Create a Sales Page for Your Online Course or Product

If you want your online customers to be able to complete their purchases easily, you need a great sales page. In this Blogging Wizard post, Elna Cain offers tips for creating a sales page for your first online course or product. And BizSugar members share thoughts on the post here.

Avoid These Mistakes During a Website Audit

You can also get more done in your business by making your website work for you. A website audit can be helpful in making sure all the features are working as intended. Just make sure you avoid the mistakes in this Marketing Land post by Pratik Dholakiya.

Get More Traffic from YouTube

In addition, you can use platforms like YouTube to bring in more potential customers to your online business. In this Basic Blog Tips post, Ileane Smith shares some tips for how small businesses can bring in more traffic using YouTube.

Use Social Listening for Your Business

Social media isn’t just for promoting your business. You can also use it to learn from your customers and followers using social listening. This Search Engine Journal post by Danny Goodwin explains how you can use social listening to benefit your business.