November 11, 2016
Success in big or small businesses depends on several factors that work together in a seamless manner. However, it is important to note that what works for large enterprises, may not necessarily apply to small businesses. Here are some valuable tips that act as treasures for the success of small businesses.
Excellent customer service
If you operate a small business, success takes more than offering great products because even if they were the best in the market, without great customer service, then it is all in vain. You should employ customer service tactics that touch lives in a special way, to the extent that you create memorable experiences. Community projects provide a great avenue to touch lives, and this enhances public outlook as part of excellent customer service.
As a small business operator, you might not need to do a lot to attract new clients in some instances. The biggest challenge is how to retain them when they become loyal customers. Loyalty programs that suit your business and your customers are an excellent way to achieve this, and this is a strategy that large firms use as well to achieve success in business. Therefore, probability of customer retention is greater with relevant loyalty programs.
Price is a major factor when it comes to success in business, but small businesses lack the muscle to compete with larger ones in this aspect, as they try to either match or beat prices that large companies offer. The trick, in this case, is for small businesses to provide alternative experiences that are unique in comparison to price. That sets small enterprises apart and causes them to succeed.
November 9, 2016
The serious challenges that the US manufacturing sector has seen in the past few months is the source of the ripple effect in the economy. That is not tied to a particular country alone, but the effects spread to other nations that trade with countries with such challenges. Here are some of the consequences of a slow manufacturing sector in the US. Export drags Inadequate production of finished goods in the industries means that there are fewer goods to export to meet certain deadlines. When that is the case, industries have to buy more time to produce adequate supplies to provide the right quantity, and this is what creates export drag. The US manufacturing sector has seen this become a reality in the past months, while on the other hand, imports are at a steady pace. Trade deficits Exports are a source of earnings to every country when they trade with other nation from the sale of raw materials, minerals, finished products, among other goods or services. Countries that are rich in various resources stand a better chance to realize more and better gains from such trading activities. Fewer exports in the US due to export drag mean that the effect on the economy is trade deficits. Sluggish international demand for goods Various aspects affect demand for products and services and when it comes to international trade, exchange rates, and global economic weaknesses are significant factors. The US manufacturing industry bears this history, since the dollar does not receive favorable exchange rates in other nations, and the weak worldwide economy, affects demand for goods negatively as well.
November 7, 2016
The growth of financial technology has changed how we look at financing today. Individuals are rather passive when it comes to this developing technology as it’s only an advancement that creates convenience for them. On the other hand, businesses should be and often times are well aware of this influencing “fintech” (financial technology).
What is fintech? Fintech is the bridge between banks and the digital world. Almost everything is dependent on the internet. There are some businesses out there today that are strictly internet based. Banks were failing to make this online presence, so this allowed companies like PayPal, Lending Club, etc, to arise. They came and filled this gap that the banks had left behind, and smoothed out the financial struggle between our money and online businesses. Thanks to these companies we can make easy and simple purchases online, convert money into other forms of credit, and even distribute our money easier. But this is only what regular customers got from it.
Businesses saw other opportunities with fintech. Loans for those small businesses could now be easier to achieve, as online financial platforms allowed the handling of money in a completely different way than banks. There is more support and trust among those online loan agencies to help businesses grow. And these small businesses could now open themselves to the online crowd, allowing for more convenient business online. This helped them reach more customers and grow more than ever. Fintech is still growing today, at an even faster rate. Everything we used to depend on banks for can now be done online through other companies.
November 1, 2016
The gig economy is most often associated with lower skilled work, such as the omnipresent ride service drivers. However, as the culture around gig work evolves and the number of opportunities rises, increasingly talented and skilled workers are seeking short-term positions, including in the IT space.
The key to finding the right employees for your business is in taking a close look at your own business’ data, and matching it with the skills and needs of IT gig workers.
Here are three key facts about the gig economy, and how businesses can leverage the increasing number of IT workers who prefer temporary work:
- 53 million Americans work as freelancers. And that number continues to grow. That means businesses can turn their attention to finding the best employee for the job, even if that person interviews and works entirely from home. The IT field has many unique opportunities for telecommunication rather than on-site work, which opens up businesses to a vast pool of potential temporary workers, depending on the project.
- IT departments can save around 30% on payroll costs with temporary hires. While this requires some attention to detail with picking the right freelancers, the payoff is plainly large. As skilled IT professionals continue to turn to the gig economy as their primary income source, it is increasingly tenable to plan projects around scaling active staff to the exact needs of the moment.
- Not every IT job requires a permanent position. By predicting when a current high level of need is potentially going to taper off, using short-term subcontractors can save money and avoid the issue of having a large IT team with months of downtime.
By following these three small business tips and tricks, you can lower your IT overhead and focus on scaling your staff — and expenditures — based on the work at hand.
October 28, 2016
Manufacturers all around the business world are bracing for change. The ever-changing face of digital technology has led to reinvention of manufacturing. There is no place the impact of digitization hits more than the shop floor, which is the heart of any organization. To understand the impact, consider the following factors.
Reliability and efficiency are the driving force for any manufacturing enterprise that yearns for success and make an impact in the market. Changes in the way you can configure, make, assemble, and pack items is what determines efficiency.
For this services to pan out perfectly for better productivity, better and improved systems are imperative. Personnel at this level understand meeting customer’s current expectations is next to impossible at most. In most manufacturing enterprises, profits or losses occur at the shop level, so it is important to have up to date systems. Digitization does not only determine increase or decrease of reliability of systems, but it also improves the efficiency of services at this stage. Strategy teams in a manufacturing enterprise should prioritize improving the shop floor first.
Examinations of core systems
Evaluation of revenue generation opportunism is critical. Managers and directors understand which areas have loopholes, where the enterprise is falling short of expectations, where there is poor communication, or where there is unavailability of data that slows down the decision-making process. Often the stumbling block for systems is inefficient ERP solutions. If any manufacturing enterprise is to make progress in the competitive market, then their ERP solutions should meet the challenge of digitization.
October 25, 2016
“Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween costumes, decorations, and candy this year and many of those shoppers, who will spend on average about $74, will turn to pop-up Halloween shops.” ~ The National Retail Federation
Halloween is only a few short weeks away. As you can see, it’s full of money-making opportunities for businesses (yes, this includes your small business too). Of course, this requires you to do some marketing.
While the money you spend on Halloween marketing is tax-deductible, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money to make a lot of money. There are lots of great small business Halloween “tricks” you can use to ramp up your marketing while utilizing a small budget, including:
- If you sell any products that people could use in their Halloween themed projects, now is the time to showcase these. If you have a few of these products that lend themselves well to a specific Halloween theme, create a package so you can offer them together at a discounted rate.
- Encourage your customers to use social media to show you what they’re doing here as well.
- Create a special hashtag for sharing your products and your customers’ creations.
- Incorporate Halloween symbols in your marketing. Even a small pumpkin or Frankenstein on the special signs you hang around the office this month are enough to show off some Halloween spirit.
Many of these ideas are also quite easy to put into action. Hopefully, you can use some of them to collect revenue (instead of candy) this Halloween, making it a “spooktacular” one for your business.
October 21, 2016
In late September the World Trade Organization (WTO) revised its previous forecast for global trade for both 2016 and 2017, reducing its growth estimates to 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively. This presents a stark contrast its projection from a year ago, which estimated that trade would expand by 3.9% this year.
And with global GDP expected to grow 2.2%, the WTO notes that 2016 will mark the “slowest pace of trade and output growth since the financial crisis of 2009.” Several issues were presented as possible causes of the diminished outlook, including Brexit’s long shadow, financial volatility in developed countries and the possibility that anti-trade rhetoric will impact trade policy.
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent World Economic Outlook report was similarly stark, stating that the volume of world trade has “grown by just over 3% a year since 2012, less than half the average rate of expansion during the previous three decades.” The Fund, which in July had forecast 2.2% economic growth for the United States in 2016, revealed concerns regarding U.S. trade and manufacturing, weakening its predicted U.S. growth to just 1.6%.
In the midst of this global trade slump, and looking out onto a horizon of disappointingly slow growth, the leader of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, stated that trade restrictions would leave U.S. workers and families “worse off.” She also warned that “to turn our back on trade now” would “[choke] off a key driver of growth.”
However, all is not lost. As detailed by U.S. News, the strong dollar and weak outlook on global growth may mean that we can expect U.S. manufacturing to “flatline.” However, they estimate that service industries and construction may step as leaders to propel the economy forward.
October 20, 2016
Recruiting and hiring the best talent is a rigorous, time-consuming process, and one that can be especially high-stakes when you are a small business in the midst of growing a strong workforce. And if your hiring decision is high-stakes, keeping your talent on-board is critical.
The Cost of Employee Turnover
Employee turnover carries a high cost, much of it hidden from the balance sheets but no less real. According to INC., the cost of losing an employee is roughly 150% of the employee’s annual salary. Some of these hidden losses include:
- Lowered productivity
- Overworked employees
- Replacement hiring, recruiting and training costs
Why Onboarding is Important for New Hire Retention
According to Small Business Trends, onboarding is a “crucial development opportunity.”
- It’s your chance to make a good first impression, establish expectations, and introduce the new hire to the company’s culture.
- A well-structured, organized onboarding program will reassure, not scare away, your new hire.
- Data from WaspBarCode affirms the importance of onboarding: new hires are “58 percent more likely to stay with the organization after three years” when a well-developed onboarding program is in place.
Tips to Keep Your New Hire Onboard
- Have a written onboarding plan and revise it as your company grows and your culture matures.
- Train your onboarders in the onboarding process so that they introduce the new hire to the company in a structured, organized manner.
- Give new hires time to acclimate and learn their position, the company, and culture. Slow and steady wins the race!
- Establish two-way communications. Give your new hire the opportunity to ask questions and clarify information.
A well-crafted onboarding program provides the long-term benefits of consistent expectations and a cohesive workforce. To start crafting your onboarding program, you can download a Standard Operating Procedure template from North Carolina State University.
October 18, 2016
Like a scene out of the latest sci-fi movie, the robot armies are coming. And while it is generally accepted that they will be friendly to humans, they bring with them an undercurrent of danger. They will arrive initially to serve mankind, to perform tasks considered too mundane or harmful to human health. But as they get smarter, their ambitions may grow, until the next thing you know, they’ve stolen your job!
Sound far-fetched? Far from it. The very near future is likely to bring with it a landscape populated with ever increasingly sophisticated computers and robots. As technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning mature, the capabilities of these devices to perform more “human-like” tasks will increase exponentially. The economic impacts of this coming revolution could be dire if the technology is not managed properly. Many experts are predicting that future generation AI-driven robots will essentially be able to perform any task that humans can do today, from driving a bus to operating on a patient. The question then becomes, what will humans do in a world without work?
The threat to the economy is very real. According to the World Economic Forum, jobs lost to AI-driven automation could number 5 million by 2020. And another report, co-authored by Citibank and the University of Oxford Martin School, predicts that in the US alone, a whopping 47% of jobs could be at risk. Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t come to fruition, the disturbances to the global economy as a result of AI-enabled automation will certainly be profound.
Governments and businesses alike need to consider the ramifications of the coming ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Advanced automation will result in a sea change in the way organizations both large and small conduct business. And society as a whole will need to decide how to best harness this technology for the greater good of humanity, rather than allowing it to spawn economic hardship and inequality.
October 14, 2016
Every business owner, especially small business owners, are looking for new ways to save more money, be more efficient, and ultimately as a result increase profits. Let’s explore some ways that small business owners can save more of their hard-earned money!
Get Rid of The Paper
Paperless offices are the way of the future. Thanks to an array of business technologies it is no longer imperative to have paper copies of everything. Document scanners allow businesses to share and send documents instantaneously and they save them on printing and storage costs while making the office a more efficient place overall. This also includes offering your customers electronic invoices.
Think About Leasing
When buying equipment for your office consider leasing it instead of purchasing it outright. Not only do you avoid spending a lot of money upfront for the equipment, but you also will save on maintenance and repair costs too since most lease agreements will also cover these expenses.
Collect a portion of cash upfront from the customers that you extend credit too. It doesn’t have to be a substantial percentage, but if you collect even say 25 percent upfront from your credit customers you minimize your risks, improve your overall cash flow, and save money in your collection efforts.
Payroll Debit Cards
Issuing payroll debit cards instead of cutting checks every pay period is a great way to save money on administrative costs since the expense of cutting checks is cut out, and you lower risk of fraud, which is a major benefit since according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners 60 percent of all fraud incidents within a business involve employees.
Getting your business listed in online directories, like the North American Trade Registry, is a great way to make your business more efficient in terms of drawing more customers organically without spending too many of your resources on marketing efforts. Using trade registries is also a great way to generate more sales leads!