Tips for Effectively Recognizing Employees on a Budget

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When you’re running a startup and trying to make ends meet, it’s unlikely you have the funds available to spend on lavish perks and rewards for your team. However, it’s still vital to recognize the efforts of all your employees, so that company morale and results stay as high as possible. Read on for some key ways you can show gratitude and recognize the hard work of your staff members without spending a fortune today.

Give a Heartfelt Thanks

For starters, a very low-cost option for recognizing your team is to simply thank them for their efforts. A heartfelt thanks can show people straight away that they’re appreciated, and that you have noticed all the hard work they put in.

Wherever possible, try to have an in-person conversation with your worker to express your gratitude, or else relay your thoughts via a handwritten note. Alternatively, if employees are remote, you can send them a letter or email, or pick up the phone or arrange an online chat.

Whichever method you opt for, just make sure you are specific, genuine, and direct, so that workers really understand the difference their contributions have made to you personally and/or the company and its results or culture.

Recognize Employees Publicly

In addition to, or instead of, thanking your team members privately, you can also make a lovely fuss over them through public recognition. For example, you can express your appreciation at a corporate event, in a business newsletter, or via one or more social media pages.

Another good way to give employees a boost is to present them with trophies, certificates, plaques, crystal awards and other validations which aren’t expensive to source but which can really make your staff members feel special. You might like to set up an Employee of the Month or other structured awards program, or simply hand out a commendation when you think it is warranted.

You might also like to instigate low-key celebrations where you and your top workers can get together as a way of honoring a job well done. For example, you can set up office parties, head out to lunch together, enjoy a picnic, or spend time together in some other celebratory way. A few drinks, sandwiches and other nibbles don’t have to cost much but can have a big impact.

Give Time Off or Low-Budget Rewards

Many employees also like to be rewarded when they have been working really hard or achieving amazing results. As such, even when you have a small budget, it is worth looking into ways you can give out perks which will put a smile on people’s faces.

For starters, something that doesn’t cost you any extra money is simply giving workers some bonus time off as a reward. This could be a day off, longer lunch breaks for a set period, or extra vacation time. You can also consider perks such as a better parking space at the office, some free lunches or massages at work, or even relieving them of having to complete a least-favored task.

When it comes to gifts, there are also plenty of low-cost options to select from. For instance, consider buying things like a movie voucher, bunch of flowers, hamper, book, bottle of wine, store gift voucher, magazine subscription, tea set, or any other gift you think might suit the employee you are wishing to reward.

Provide Opportunities for Employees to Grow and Develop

Lastly, don’t forget that something else that’s important to more and more staff members these days is the opportunity to grow and develop. People want to achieve their career goals and continually learn and try new things, and you have the power to help them do this. As a result, promote people through the ranks over time, and/or look at ways you might be able to give additional responsibilities to your top workers, which they can then use to highlight on their resumes as important experience.

You should also conduct annual, or even quarterly, employee reviews with your team members so you can sit down and discuss their goals for the coming months and put a plan in place to help them achieve them. Another great way to recognize your employees is to give them opportunities to attend key industry or company events. This allows them to network, learn and grow, and shows them that you see them as a key part of the team. You might also want to look into investing in training and mentoring programs, or bringing in speakers to motivate and inspire your workers.

How To Get People Offline & Into Your Store

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Although many retailers are focusing their attentions on their online sales and their website presence, for many of us our businesses are all in bricks and mortar. Having a retail startup in the digital age comes with its own set of challenges. Whilst online retail is all about getting traffic to the site, physical retail outlets are all about increasing foot traffic into the store.

With the continual rise of online shopping it has never been more important to be looking at unique and creative ways to make our retail stores thrive. So today we are sharing our top tips on how retailer startups can boost foot traffic by using different approaches to garner attention in-store.

USB Chargers

This is a bit of a new development when it comes to the sorts of things that shoppers are looking for. Providing USB outlets within your store is a great new way to keep people in your store for longer than they would usually stay. Have you noticed people gathering around USB portals in train stations and airports? We have such a dependence on our mobiles now that keeping them charged has become really important.

So whilst it might seem like an unnecessary detail just think about all that extra time shoppers will be spending browsing as they wait for their phones to charge. It is a super simple strategy to creating a solution to the age old problem of how to keep shoppers in your store for longer periods of time.

Free Wi-Fi

This again is tapping into our love of mobile phones. With many mobile phone providers no longer offering unlimited data, people are now turning to more and more places and areas that offer free wi-fi. Advertising in your store window that you offer free wi-fi can seriously boost the foot traffic to your store. A recent study revealed that over 60% of shoppers spend more time in-store after they have tapped in wi-fi details. So again this is a simple trick to getting more people inside your store and keeping them there for longer periods of time.

Your Entrance

If your entrance looks shabby and old then you are going to struggle to get people through the door. Think of design features such as aluminum canopies to offer shelter to customers coming in and out, whilst also offering an attractive design feature. Focus on your window displays in order to best show off your products and keep these fresh by changing things around every month or so. You can even ensure you bring in dog lovers, by offering somewhere for people to tie up their dogs with a bowl of water (and even biscuits, if you want to show that you really, really love dogs). You’d be surprised how much custom is lost by customers not being able to find anywhere to tie up their dogs, so use little tricks like this to your advantage.

In-Store Events

All store owners should be looking at ways to promote their company and ways to peak interest in the local community. In-store events and clubs, depending on the type of products you sell, are one of the best ways to do that. Look at your store as a way of being a key member of your community, a company that pulls people together and a company that thrives to connect the local people through the products that you stock.

You can also think about sponsoring and co-hosting local events, again to raise your profile and to have a bigger and more well respected presence in your local community and stronger relationships with your customers.

So, as you can see, it only takes a few simple details and a bit of strategic thinking to get more foot traffic to your store and to increase the profile of your store in your local area. So get thinking about the different ways you can ensure the success and future growth of your retail business.

Open Up To Attract Talents For Your Startup Business

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Getting people excited about your business tends to be left to the marketing expert. Indeed, more often than not, when you think of people engaging emotionally with your startup business, you are thinking about customers. Consequently, it seems that getting your future customers excited is about making the loudest possible noise in the marketing sphere, from social media campaigns to event presence. It’s about being seen and heard so that everyone knows what’s coming and wants a piece of it. But as a startup owner, you will need to attract a different kind of persons first. Customers come second. First, you need to build a team, and it’s not an easy task in your business position. Indeed, startups are businesses that have not yet proven that they can survive on the market. In other words, candidates are cautious about starting to work for a startup. So you need to find ways to attract and excite them. You need to open up…

Open up to the idea of remote collaboration

Most employers don’t feel comfortable with remote work options, as they often fear that the work will not be done the way they intended to. However, in a startup mindset, you need to be open-minded and to accept that a remote option is the best way for you to gather talent from everywhere in the country without needing to build an office. As flexible work is becoming increasingly trendy in the digital sector, so are collective co working office possibilities too. A collective office is a place where different talents from a variety of companies come together to use the facilities and work. By offering the possibility to candidates to work from local co working stations, you can provide them with the office facilities they need – a desk, Internet connection, secured office, etc. – with the freedom of home office work.

Open up to the idea of transparency

Young talent is interested in an honest, open and human approach. Candidates prefer to know exactly what they are signing for. And this means that it’s your role is not to let them guess what is going on or what you are planning, but to share with them the exact position of your startup. Yes, you might be in debts now, but if you’ve got a plan about it, then make it known. Building trust is essential to attract talent, and this starts by being completely honest about your business decision, strategy, and vision.

Open up to the idea of foreign talent

American companies can find it difficult to hire international talent. In fact, a lot of Americans consider that it’s anti-patriotic. In truth, there are specific industry sectors such as high tech and digital where the US lack domestic talents. Accepting that you can find the talent your business needs outside of the USA means that you get access to a wider pool of skilled people. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft hire talented graduates from China or India to improve their products. These candidates are remunerated exactly at the same rate as national candidates. It’s not a cost-saving approach. It’s a talent hunt for the best!

As a startup owner, you need to convince candidates to believe in you. Open-mindedness and respect for the person are your best allies to attract the talent you need to thrive.

The First Steps to Opening a New Store

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Opening a new store can feel like taking a leap into the unknown. Not only do key factors such as choosing the perfect location and decoration have to be taken into consideration, but you’ll also want to consider loading bays, parking for your customers and the neighbors too. 

Are you new to the retail scene? The thought of high overheads and leasing fees can be a nightmare, coupled with your cold sweats about attracting those customers through your doors. Worry not. Check out the first few steps that you should consider when getting your business off the ground.

Location, location, location

Location really is crucial when opening a new store. Don’t feel rushed into choosing an imperfect location. Check out the floor space – remember to think about extra rooms for storage, staff area and office space – these are essential for retail, and are as important as the front of house area. Have a look at the neighboring units, do they sell products that are complementary to yours? Or are they direct competition? Remember to take time out to visit the location at different times of the day or evening, you want to make sure that your chosen location is going to be secure and safe for your staff. 

Staff and shopping experience

Right from the get-go your staffing and the shopping experience you will provided are essential for your success. Your staff are the number one point of contact with your customers, and they represent you and your business, so recruit wisely: tardiness and rudeness are not acceptable. 

Keep your merchandising fresh and fun. Looking for a stylish, versatile solution? Store fixture and retail display supplier AAA Displays provide a range of options that guarantee results. Think about the lighting you will use to enhance your displays, and set the ambiance it will provide for your shop – you want your products to be seen, but you don’t want the light to be glaring and uncomfortable for your customers.

Marketing like there’s no tomorrow

Don’t be afraid of taking to social media to really tell the world what you are about. During your first few months in any new location, a successful marketing campaign will get you thoroughly noticed. From a timeless sandwich board to a super Saturday offer, don’t forget to be creative. Give your customers a reason to keep on coming back; they are bound to share the news with their family and friends if you provide a welcoming and positive experience. Make sure that your shoppers know you are here to stay right from day one, and make sure they celebrate your successes too. 

Super suppliers

Suppliers are the lifeline of your business, and as you grow, your relationship with them should too. Keeping your supplier on side is essential to helping you establish yourself in a fast paced, competitive market. Make sure you are aware of the latest trends and offers and don’t forget to make sure you show some mutual interest. Nice touches such as a gift during the festive season or a holiday hamper show that you really care about your suppliers. Be smart. Showing interest and keeping your suppliers happy could result in better business deals in the future.

Hiring Talented Employees Just Got A Lot Easier

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It’s common for small startups to be a bit wary of hiring new employees. In the beginning, you almost want to keep your company as small as possible to minimize overhead costs and what have you. Plus, the hiring process can be complicated and cost money also.

However, hiring employees may be essential for the running of your business. This leaves you in a tricky situation that needs solving. Luckily, hiring talented employees is a lot easier when you know the right tactics to use.

Conduct Video Interviews

Potential candidates hate interviews as they can be a very tense and nervy affair. Well, employers hate them too as they take up a lot of time and effort. Having candidates come into your premises over the course of a few days can lead to disruptions. Alternatively, you can save yourself lots of effort by conducting video interviews. Interview candidates over Skype and you will find the whole thing a lot easier. You don’t have to go out of your way to do anything, and the interviewee is likely to be more confident and give a more accurate representation of themselves.

Use Software To Sort Through Resumes

A big part of hiring employees is looking at the resumes of many candidates. As a startup, you might be hiring for multiple jobs at once, which gives you lots to look through. People hate doing this, and it can often lead to rushing through it and missing important info and losing a great candidate. Or, you just don’t request resumes in the first place and hire someone without knowing much about them. Instead of doing either of these things, you should find software that deals with the problem for you. As it mentions on the Applicant Tracking Systems website, there is software that will scan through resumes for you. With this type of software, you typically set a few keywords and skills that you want to pick up on, and the software does the rest. It saves a lot of time and ensures you find the best resumes from the best candidates.

Ask Questions During The Application

The traditional way of applying for a job is to submit your resume, wait for a call, go to an interview, and hopefully get hired. But, your business should do things slightly differently. When the applicants have to submit their resume, you should ask them certain questions. Think about a couple of questions that are important to the job role. They could be simple things like ‘What experience do you have in this role?’ or ‘What makes you different from other candidates?’. These questions can be answered on an application form or in the cover letter of their resume. It’s a great way of trying to narrow down your options depending on how well the questions are answered.

With these three tips, hiring employees becomes a lot easier. The whole process will be quicker, and you will hire the best candidate every time. Try them out and start hiring talented staff for your startup.

Site Visits Into Sales: It’s Not Rocket Science!

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It’s easy to become bogged down with all the information and rhetoric on how to convert visitors to your site into people that buy from you. There is a lot of advice out there, and in typical marketing form, it’s all seems like you need to be an expert in the science of sales. However, in reality, great success can be achieved with the application of a few simple principles. In fact, converting site visits into sales isn’t rocket science at all. Read on for more information.

Free downloads

The first thing to do is to offer something on your website that no one else does. A popular way to do this is by giving site visitors access to a free download. This could be in the form of a pdf document showing how to solve a particular problem like how to wash your windows without streaks, or how to create a particular item like a bird house. Obviously, the information needs to be relevant to the field in which you are working. If it can involve demonstrating the benefits and uses of one of your products that is even better. Just remember to not make this too obvious as it could out potential customers off.

You don’t have to just offer document downloads either, it could be in a more interactive form as well. Such as an audio track, podcast, or video. Actually, the more entertaining and interactive the better.  As this is likely to encourage visits, as well as stick in people’s mind the longest, and that is what you are trying to do with this strategy, forge a positive bond between you and potential customers. Making them much more likely to visit your site and buy from you than your competitors.

Data collecting

Something else you can do to convert those site visits into sales is to use a service like Visual Visitor. You can find out how visual visitor can help you increase leads in detail by clicking the link, but in summary, it captures the data of all site visitors. Allowing you to store this and then use them as leads later on.

After all, if they have viewed your site, they are likely to be more interested in your products. Making them a warm lead and much easier to convert.

Urgent messages

You can also use the old call to action strategy to help convert site visits into sales, you can see a good example of this here.  Although, do be aware that most customers are aware, to a certain extent of this method. That means they may well recognize language calling on them to make a purchase.

Although you can be more sophisticated with your approach and use strategies like timed vouchers for free items. As well as coupons for money off, if the customer chooses to purchase now today, or before a certain date. What these do is to provide the potential customer with an incentive to make the purchase of the item they are considering, now, rather than later. As they will be getting a better deal for their money, on something that they may well be looking to buy anyway.

Crafty Content Writing Tips and Tricks

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In today’s online business world, content is king. But that doesn’t mean that you should simply be creating content for the sake of it. You need to make sure that it is doing its job – namely that it is attracting attention and people are actually reading it. Ultimately, you want your content to be clean, compelling and characterful. So, before you get started, here are a few basic tips and tricks that you should follow.

Start with Research

There is no point writing without doing some research. What is it that people are looking for that relates to your particular business? Are they looking to be entertained or helpful answers to their questions and concerns? Also, you need to research keyword ideas so you can include these in the articles. SEO needs to be a focal point of your content, though that doesn’t mean that you should stuff in keywords too heavily or they will affect the overall quality of what you are producing.

Think About Structure

Reading a book and reading web content are two very different things. To start off with, people tend to skim over what they are reading online, so you need to make sure you break up your content. Five or six line paragraphs are usually fine and you should also include subheadings so people can easily find what they are looking for. Don’t overdo things with long, rambling sentences. People tend to be a lot more ruthless with their time online so you don’t want to put them off.

Include Links

All the pages of your website should link to one another so you can get people spending more time there. And you also want to be directing people to the parts of your site where they can actually make purchases. However, remember not to overdo this as it tends to look spammy if every other word seems to be linked up and taking people off in different directions.

Avoid Using Jargon

You have to assume that anyone who is currently reading that page has landed on it for the first time and may not be familiar with your business or even the industry that you are talking about. Therefore, you don’t want to put them off by using too much jargon or people may be put off. Similarly, try not to use acronyms unless they are common. You never really know who your reader could be and how much prior knowledge they have.

End with a Call to Action

At the end of your content, you should be encouraging your reader to do something – whether this is to sign up to your newsletter or buy a particular product – with a call to action. Ultimately, if you have provided them with interesting and informative content, you are much more likely to have gained their attention.

These are just some of the basics when it comes to writing high-quality content that helps to boost your website and your business as a whole.

Getting People Excited About Your Business

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When it comes to building a business, you can do everything right. You can get the funding, follow all the tips for building a brand, create a website, and have social media profile for your company. But all of this means nothing if people don’t care about your company, or have no interest in your products and services. You can have the most groundbreaking product or service in history, but without building anticipation and generating interest in the months leading up to the launch, your business will fall flat, right from the start. You can increase your chance of success if you start getting people excited about your business before you even launch. Here are a few ways you can build up the hype.

Use social media correctly

It’s not enough to just have a social media page for your business and post links to your blogs and products; you need to use it to grab people’s attention and make them care about what you have to say. The easiest, and hardest, way to do this is to get something trending on social media. It can help if you tweet about something controversial on Twitter, use a unique hashtag, and post things at a time when more people are likely to be online. It also helps to have an established audience to share your posts, but that will come after you’ve built an online personality.

Attend events

Generating interest online is definitely a good way to make sure you have a global audience waiting for your product, but sometime you can’t beat doing a pitch in person. Attending industry events is an excellent way to showcase your business in a way that just isn’t possible to do online. With a killer presentation behind you, and Conference Data Services microphones in your hand, you can let your charm and personality shine through as you tell your audience why your product matters, why you believe that your services can help them, and why they should be excited about your launch.

Create a waiting list

Waiting lists are beneficial for you as a business owner because help you gauge consumer interest early on. They also play on many psychological triggers, such as scarcity, that make us want access as soon as possible. To give further incentive to your potential customers, offer a reward for the first 20 or so people to sign up to your waiting list. You might want to change the reward depending on how many people are actively talking about your product, and you want the prize to be something useful, but not too expensive for you.

Start a countdown

Countdowns act as a reminder for your audience and they build anticipation. Once you have enough people talking about your product and signed up to your waiting list, start a countdown to the launch date. You can publish it in your website sidebar, on your homepage, or across your social media accounts so no one misses the big day.

How To Get Your Startup To Hit The Ground Running

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Having a startup business is a very risky thing to own, you’re going to have to make your business work otherwise it’s going to fail and you’ll have wasted all your time and money on it! Because we don’t want to lose the time and money, you need to get your business started the right way, so carry on reading to learn how to!

Get A Designed Logo

Your logo is going to be one of the most important parts of your business. In just one image, it’s going to represent your company and what you do, it has to be informative and clear cut whilst also being entertaining and memorable. It’s your customer’s first impression of your business, so it has to be done in the right way! Trying to design a logo yourself is often something that you should avoid; most people don’t have the experience or tools to properly design a logo, so it’s a good idea to hire a logo designer so that you can get the best logo that you can, avoiding any silly mistakes that you might make if you were going to do it yourself!

Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Kit

A lot of areas of business are going to require specific equipment in order to perform the task of that market. If you don’t have the right equipment for the job then your business is going to suffer whilst you try to find the right equipment. You’ll have wasted money and time, both of which you have precious little of! This is why it’s good to check what kit you need before you start. Of course, this is entirely dependent upon what your business is, if it’s a coffee shop you’re going to want to head over to kickstartmycoffee.com, or if you’re setting up a car mechanic shop you’re going to want to get tools from sears.com, so do your research before you buy things you may not end up needing!

Get Everyone To Work At Home

One of the biggest mistakes that startup businesses make is that they think that they need an office straight away; but you don’t! Sure, you’re going to need one eventually but you’re not going to need one right away because you’re not going to have the employees to  justify it. Hiring out an office space can be very detrimental to your business’s finances; hiring office space is expensive and your startup business will not be able to support this amount of outgoings which will result in its collapse, so don’t do it until you can afford to!

As long as you keep all of these things in mind, you’re going to have a successful startup. Everyone involved is going to be working from home so you won’t have to worry about getting an office space, your logo will be as unforgettable as it is professional and you’re going to have everything you need to start off right! However, there are some more things that you can do that are a bit more internet related, so check them out!

Small Scale Manufacturing: What You Need To Know

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For businesses that create products, as a pose to creating services, the manufacturing process can be a daunting one, especially when the business is still new and it’s on the small side. Manufacturing can be expensive, which can make the process unaffordable for many small brands.

Obviously, if a business is built around product creation, it needs to be able to afford to manufacture its products. Otherwise, it will fall flat and fail. That is why it is vital to ensure that before launching a business in product supply and distribution, you ensure the manufacturing side of things is affordable.

Launching a business is stressful enough, without the added worry of a lack of funds. Bearing that in mind, below are some tips and pieces of advice that will help to make the process of manufacturing on a small scale easier and more affordable. Read on for everything that you need to know.

Be clear about what you want & need

First things first, be clear about what you want and need. Don’t get talked into having things that you don’t need – your business is small, you are on a budget, so it is important to keep your manufacturing as budget-friendly as possible. One of the most common reasons businesses fail is because of a lack of funds – don’t let your startup be next, be clear about what you want and need and stick to your guns. Don’t be tempted to overspend, because you will live to regret it.

Research every last detail

Before you even think about choosing a company to handle any part of the manufacturing process, from product design to product packaging, take your time to research every detail. Look into the areas that you will need to outsource, as well as the part of the process that you may be able to deal with in-house. For instance, to cut costs, a lot of smaller brands invest in a digital label printer, so that they can print their own product labels to attach to their product packaging. A lot of smaller brands also opt to pack their own products, to help cut costs further.

Compare, compare, compare

For every quote that you get, make sure to compare. You want to ensure that you get the best deal for the best price, which is why getting a range of quotes and comparing them all is so important. If there is a company that you prefer, but they charge more than another brand, don’t be afraid to haggle with them to try and get their prices down. Explain that you are looking to build a long-term partnership, and that you would love that partnership to be with them.

Read reviews

Once you’ve compared the different options, take the time to read customer reviews and testimonials of the brand. It’s important to make sure that any company that you work with is reputable and puts their customers’ needs first. So it’s worth taking the time to read reviews and testimonials before agreeing to partner with a certain company.

Want to make small scale manufacturing easier (and more affordable)? Take note of the tips and advice above, and you can do.

10 Ways To Make Your Office A More Productive Environment

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Improving the conditions of your office could help to make you and your employees more productive. Here are a few ways in which you can improve your office space for the better.

Let there be light

Poor lighting can cause eye-strain and make your staff more tired. Let in as much natural sunlight as possible or position lamps around the office to brighten the place up.

Control clutter

Clutter doesn’t just make the office more disorganized, it’s been proven to be psychologically bad for concentration. Hide unused items away in drawers and filing cabinets and try not to have too many ornaments around the place. Going paperless can help prevent clutter.

Consider your desk’s ergonomics

Being comfortable at your desk will make you work more efficiently. Ensure that your chair is at the right height and that your desk is not too close to a wall. You could even buy an ergonomic mouse and keyboard for smoother control.

Keep the workplace warm

Don’t let the chill distract you from work. If your heating isn’t working effectively, industrial heater repair may be needed. Of course, you don’t want the office too warm, and an efficient air conditioning unit may be needed for the summer.

Clean your keyboards

Keyboards are breeding grounds for bacteria. It’s thought that they are major cause of spreading illness in the office. Give you keyboard a deep clean once in a while. Don’t eat food over your keyboard as crumbs could attract vermin in the night.

Go open plan

Encourage communication within the team by getting rid of cubicles and going open plan. If concentration is required for some jobs, have a designated quiet time for everyone to knuckle down.

Centralize information

Put important information such as workplans, databases, training documents and contracts in one place. This could be pinned to a wall in a communal area, although may be better suited stored online in a cloud folder that everyone can access at all times. You may even be able to create your own custom software for storing this information.

Stimulate with plants

Plants have been shown to help with concentration, as well as purifying the air. Place plants around the office to help stimulate your team.

Feed employee’s productivity

Food and drink can help serve as a pick-me-up. Provide a few snacks to spur on your workforce throughout the day. You could also invest in a coffee machine and put this in a communal area. Food can also be a great incentive – if your team achieves a goal, why not treat everyone to a meal or bring in a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Have a ‘break zone’

It’s important to have a zone where people can go on their break. Eating food at your desk is unhealthy both for the body and the mind. Encourage your staff to go to this space when they’re not working.

How Startup Entrepreneurs Become Small-Business Leaders

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On one hand, being part of a startup is exciting and cool — the feelings you get when you are part of a trend. On the other hand, few entrepreneurs want anything less than success, so you are probably eagerly looking forward to the time when your startup transitions to a fully fledged small business.

However, startups don’t become stable small businesses without work. Specifically, you must be able to transition from an entrepreneur to a business leader. Though these roles share many responsibilities, there are some habits and traits that differentiate the best leaders from the best entrepreneurs. If you want to survive the evolution from startup to small business, you need to:

Have a Clear-Cut Vision

Plenty of entrepreneurs dismiss having vision as daydreaming or living outside reality, but in truth developing a vision is a good way to create a guide for your startup. The quality of your vision matters. For example, if your vision shifts from day-to-day or if your vision doesn’t elucidate goals and values, it is essentially worthless. Your vision should be clear and focused — and you should be able to make it clear and focused to others, as well.

If you are having trouble collecting your ideas and ambitions into a single, clear vision, you might need to put your small-business dreams on hold. Instead of steering a startup toward the unknown, you should gain experience and education in business management, which might mean considering enrolling in MBA online programs. In the process of acquiring an advanced business degree, you should attain insight into possible routes for your business — thereby developing a strong, practical vision.

Constantly Communicate

This one should be obvious: To lead any group of people — be it your startup staff to small-business success or your family through a tough day — you need to be able to communicate well. Because startups are relatively intimate business endeavors, effective communication is especially important. You should be able to express ideas and intentions to your staff, your board, your investors, and anyone else with a stake in your business’ success, such as your spouse.

Contrary to what you might believe, good communication is not an inborn skill. You can improve your ability to communicate today by practicing the following habits:

 

  • Listen more than you speak
  • Put down distractions, like phones and computers
  • Be aware of body language, like eye contact and arm position
  • Have icebreakers and small-talk starters ready
  • Remember your audience

 

Commit to Your Business

Starting a business is fun; running a business is work. If you want to earn the adjective “successful” and establish a strong, stable small business, you need to commit to the business you already have. If you don’t exercise commitment and willpower, you could soon turn into a serial entrepreneur who has several poorly functioning startups to his or her name. Until you are confident that your staff can handle daily responsibilities — that is, until you are certain your startup has graduated to a small business — you should avoid pursuing other ventures.

Be Honest in Your Evaluations

After confidence, honesty is perhaps the most important quality for a business leader. If you reach even moderate success, several lives will depend on your business decisions. Therefore, it is imperative that you are honest with yourself and with others in all regards. Your staff, your board, your investors, and your family have a right to know when business is going well or poorly. Similarly, they should know what you are doing to reach success and what they can do to ensure it.

If for no other reason, you should be honest to improve your startup’s brand. In modern markets, most people are adept at sniffing out inauthenticity. By being open and sincere, you establish a culture of honesty that forms the foundation of your brand.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, successful entrepreneurs tend to be good at self-maintenance. Though your startup will make your life somewhat uncomfortable until you reach success or at least stability, depriving yourself of loved ones or healthy food and exercise will not ease your discomfort — such action will only compound it. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, the only way you can ensure your startup succeeds is to give yourself time to relax. Then, your mind and body will be ready for the hard challenges ahead.

Marketing Masterclass – 5 Tips for Building Your Small Company Brand

Multi-Ethnic Group of People and Brand Concept

For smaller companies and start-ups, business can sometimes be too hectic to focus much attention of branding. Often it can be a case of “we’ll get to it when we have the money”. Other times, it might simply be a lack of resources to give your organization’s brand the attention that it deserves and needs. However, there is much to be said for elevating branding to a higher position on the priority list. A strong brand has been shown to assist in building loyalty not only among customers and clients, but also employees. People simply want to be associated with brands that they feel project the right image. With that in mind, let’s look at a few important ways to get your brand out.

 Consistency is Key

Keeping your image consistent across all media and touch points is a critical part of building a successful brand. Everything from promotional products, external signage, email signatures, corporate apparel and stationery should carry a unified look and feel. This helps to communicate who you are, what you stand for and the values you represent.

Do Your Research

It is critically important to ensure that your brand is appealing to the right audience. The corporate world is overflowing with companies that fell by the wayside because they got their marketing horribly wrong, and targeted the incorrect audience. Being able to clearly define your target market is an asset that will ensure you get the greatest bang for your marketing buck, rather than wasting resources appealing to demographics that might be less interested in what you have to offer. Resources devoted to quality market research today could make a huge impact on the long-term success of your company or venture.

Digital Dreaming

There are few businesses that can survive in today’s world without some form of digital marketing. Your website is the hub of your digital strategy and should clearly reflect who you are, what you believe in and the purpose that you serve. Remember, your website is your 24/7 sales person. It never takes holidays or sick leave, doesn’t ask for a raise or time off to attend the kids’ concerts. Consider this when you’re deciding what sort of budget to allocate to your web design project. Once completed, it is worth thinking very carefully about which digital strategies you will pursue. Whether it’s social media, SEO, paid search, email, content or affiliate marketing, it’s crucial to understand where your target market is and how they interact.

Healthy Competition

Understanding the competitive landscape in your market will be a key to your success. Knowing your competitors, what they offer and he shortcomings that can be exploited to win market share is key. Develop a product or service offering that fills that niche in the market, and you have a potential recipe for success. The trick is then to adequately sell your advantages by demonstrating your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to clients.

Get Emo

The best brands succeed by tapping into the emotions of their audience. They strike a nerve by reaching them on a personal level that speaks to their inner feelings, thoughts and desires. When you stop selling a product and start selling an idea, a dream or a vision, then you are truly on to something. Identifying the emotional triggers and developing a branding strategy that zeroes in on them is a perfect recipe for success.

This is my no means an exhaustive list. Nevertheless, by following these simple guidelines and doing some additional research, you will be well on your way to developing a killer brand.

Mass-Prolific: Turning A Creative Endeavor Into A Business

Cup of coffee on background of business strategy

For anyone looking to escape the 9 to 5 struggle, the prospect of running your own business, in relation to something you have an extreme passion for, is not just the goal for business people. It’s probably fair to say across the board that everyone would rather make a career out of their passion. This couldn’t be more applicable to the artistic or creative worlds. Both areas require a lot of extravagant thinking, but a lot of businesses that try to go down the creative route can end up struggling because they aren’t so savvy on the business side. So how can you create a successful business from your own artistic endeavors?

The Work Is The Most Important Thing

In other words, what you create, i.e. your product. By sticking vehemently to your passions you will have a zeal for creating great work, and this enthusiasm will naturally bleed into your product. So be clear about what you want to make, but also who you want to make it for.

Identifying Your Target Market

Integral to the selling process, you need to make sure that you know exactly who it is you are able to cater your product for. If you are unable to do this, it’s going to be a very difficult process, and the best way to define your target market is not to go for the broad canvas, but rather focus on a niche part of the market. Have a look at inc.com for some inspiration on hitting your target market in this respect. This will concentrate your efforts more on building your product, and also helps you to tailor your marketing strategies to better suit the audiences, so they are more inclined to purchase your product.

Manufacturing Your Products

If it gets to the point that your artistic endeavors are proving lucrative enough that you need to start making copies of your work for mass production, you need to think about the best way to manufacture these at a rate large enough to meet the quota, but also making sure that your product doesn’t reduce in quality. It is at this point where you may start to think about machinery, depending on the type of business you’re operating. For an arts and crafts type of business where engraving is a key part of the process, you may want to think about investing in something that can get your products engraved and out there quickly. If you see the laser cutter at bosslaser.com, it is something that can lend itself well to various artistic applications from photo etching to wood cutting to engraving signs. By using a specific item of machinery that can be used for various things it will make for a useful return on your investment. Your manufacturing process needs to be well thought out if you are planning on creating one piece of art, be it jewelry or photographs, and distributing them en masse.

The artistic pursuit when it comes to running your own business is a very fine tightrope to walk because you need to establish the business side properly before working on your art. This means that you will have a better structure and framework in which you can operate so you are likely to get a better response from your intended audience.