Archives for March 2011

Stay Healthy, Grow Your Business

It takes a lot to run a successful business—hard work, dedication, patience, and vision, to name a few. But in order to keep your business healthy, you need to be in good shape yourself. Your health is just as important to your business as any of the tasks you perform each day—perhaps even more so.

But in today’s business world, who has time to take care of their health? It’s easier to grab fast food than to prepare healthy meals, easier to sleep in than to exercise and easier to work late than to make time for relaxation. But a healthy, balanced life should always be a priority, no matter how many plates you’re spinning. Here are some ways to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally so you can give more to your growing business.

Physical Health

Preventing illness is much better than treating it. Work healthy habits into your daily routine. Exercise before work or take a walk on your lunch break. Store healthy snacks in your office and keep a water bottle handy. Doing these simple things to work healthy habits into your routine will pay off.

If you do get sick, take care of yourself. Give yourself an extra hour of sleep or take an afternoon off. No one will mind if you’re missing for a little while, and those couple hours will be much easier to make up than three days of sick leave.

Emotional Health

Staying emotionally healthy means you can cope with the pressures and stresses of life in a productive way. This ability is especially important to business owners. Address issues with your business before they get out of control. Let yourself have fun with your co-workers once in a while. Get plenty of sleep. Your emotional health is as important to the success of your company as your physical health, and you should thus give it just as much attention.

Mental Health

Especially if your business is young, you likely spend well over 40 hours a week tending to it. Working such long hours is mentally taxing and can become counterproductive as you become fatigued. Give yourself time to relax and socialize. Go on dates or get together with friends. See a movie or read a good book. It’s important to work hard, but leisure keeps you mentally balanced.

Keeping balance in all areas of your life will help you and your business succeed. Physical health keeps you functioning at full speed, emotional health allows you to cope with stress and mental health prevents burnout. With all three functioning together, both you and your business will be unstoppable.

How To Defend Your Brand!

advertising agency, brand consultants, starting business, business directory, personal branding, personal brand, branding experts, brand management, business coaching, coaching executiveOne of my clients is having new signage put in front of their manufacturing facility. They’ve had three sign contractors bid and present concepts as to how the brand image will be applied. I was amazed at how little effort was placed on maintaining the integrity of the logo. To make it fit they broke it apart and grouped them differently.

When asked for my input I quickly told them that following our brand standards manual would set the contractors straight as to how the logo was to be used. These contractors broke all our rules. My client was being polite.

Does your brand image have a standards manual? What is a standards manual you might ask? It is a document outlining acceptable configurations and colors to be used. It points out good and bad usage examples. Essentially it is your brand’s rule book to all things pertaining to the brand logo. It can even be just a single sheet of paper. But having it helps your contractors to know “what not to present.” It saves everyone a great deal of wasted time and strengthens consistency.

Creating a hub for your company – Where are people going to find your information

Companies often face difficulties when determining which outlets they will utilize to broadcast information. Ideally, a company’s information would be broadcast directly from one spot – or “hub” to the source. In most cases, however, companies maintain several entities on the Web such as social networking sites and blogs. Companies must execute a successful strategy to encourage visitors to their social networks to visit their website through calls-to-action.

Think of a “hub” as the trunk of a tree, the backbone of online strategy. The social networking sites and blogs are the braches, but branches cannot survive without the trunk; the trunk provides stability.

The benefit of a hub allows for a coordinated use of social networking tools such as Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Flicker accounts, etc. to lead visitors to your website where you control the outgoing message. In order to control the outgoing message, it is imperative that companies have the ability to update their website with new content without the help of an entire development team.

The simplest way to manage all of your online content is to implement a content management system (CMS) to organize and control the flow of information.

Content management systems allow website administrators to add and edit content on their own; some enterprise content management systems allow users to login from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. One of the major advantages of using a content management system is that eliminating the need to contact a company’s development team will ultimately result in decreased costs. In addition, companies are given the freedom to update their content at their leisure.

Once a company has developed a strategy to drive visitors to their website from social media sites, they can begin to focus on developing compelling and relevant content that will encourage visitors to come back multiple times. Ensuring people are visiting a controlled information source, whether it is directly though the website or through social media sites, is vital when delivering important information.

Building a company website in a content management system allows companies to deliver relevant content to current clients and their target market as often as they please making it an ideal hub for all marketing communications. Learn more about implementing a content management system.

15 Branding Things That Your Competition Doesn’t Want You To Screw With!

After years of running your business, things change with your brand. Edges wear and everything gets a little tired. I wrote this eBook to address exactly those issues. It’s entitled – “15 Branding Things That Your Competition Doesn’t Want You To Screw With!” to draw attention to specific issues that should not be ignored in regard to your brand’s health. If you do ignore it (so the premise goes) your competition with extend their hand of fate and thank you for your inaction.

But if you’re smart, you’ll pull up your britches and get your brand back on track and avoid that bullet.

I hope that you enjoy this new offering to you my readers.

Essential Tips for Small Business Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is one of the most important aspects when it comes to running a business, but as an owner you might also encounter situations when you will regard this aspect as an overwhelming one, especially if you are new and never managed to handle such a process before. The following tips will hopefully point you in the right direction and make bookkeeping easier for you.

Set Up a Record Keeping System

A good thing to do is to have folders with suggestive names, such as ‘To be paid’, ‘Data entry’ or ‘To be filed’. In this way, dealing with the amount of paperwork in date order will be much easier for you and your office will be paperless and cleaner.

Furthermore, another good thing to do is to use a red pen for every kind of notation you wish to make on your paperwork. This might include the reason for the expense or the client related to the paperwork. If relevant, make sure you include other information like, for example, the amount and date for the actual payment.

Finally, ask your tax accountant for some advice related to what specific documents you will need to supply at the end of each year and try to maintain a separate file for each time. Also make sure you discuss with him the necessary steps for registering your business for GST, if applicable.

A Good Relationship With the Taxation Office

As a business owner, it is very important to keep an active communication with the Taxation Office, because they can offer you seminars with useful information and a great number of workshops related to the process of bookkeeping and other similar issues. Most of these seminars are especially designed for small businesses and it is very important not to miss them.

Furthermore, you should also know that there are a number of online security credentials that allow you to submit your activity statements to the taxation office through the online environment. This is undoubtedly more comfortable and can save you some time and money.

The Ideal Way for Recording and Consolidation of Data

It is very important for every small business owner to decide upon the perfect way of handling with bookkeeping data. Some of the most common options include accounting software, which must be set up properly in order to provide you with a great user experience. In this matter, you can always have someone specialized to your office in order to obtain some useful advice about the specific software and some ways to use it properly and more efficiently.

More Important Steps

You might also want to consider the establishment of a chart for your accounts. This chart must be suitable for your business and provide you with some useful and meaningful information that is always easy to access.

Next, you should also design a business invoice that is complete and efficient. It is necessary to include only correct information in it and always check for mistakes. This will ensure your company gets paid on time.

Some more good things to consider include setting up a good system for dealing with your expenses and chasing the payments, as well as the creation of checklists for all the bookkeeping procedures. Whether you use them weekly, monthly or once a year, they will always come in handy at some point.

All in all, if you follow these simple steps and indications, the bookkeeping process will be significantly easier for you as a business owner and your office will be cleaner. Finally, before hiring a bookkeeper, make sure the person is completely qualified for the position.

“I’ll Do It Right When I Get The Money.”

BrandingWill they really?

How many small business people do you know – whether in a seasoned business or as a start-up make this statement with a straight face? Anyone who understands a brand will tell you that you have to get it right first. Going back and mopping up the mess years later will cost you big-time. If they thought it is expensive now, what will be their reaction be a then? From my experience they stay with their weak brand and tough it out not realizing there’s a better way. There are always self-imposed barriers to allocating dollars to fix the problems they initially chose to ignore, which are now holding them back. The sad truth is many don’t realize that their weak brands are the cause of their current flat sales.

What is the benefit to making it harder to market your brand?

In business you want to put your best foot forward. You want your brand perception to to be as a leader. Look around your community – based on brand image alone you can tell most of the local businesses because of their low-end do-it-yourself images. Those who do it right look bigger than they are. You might argue that bigger is not necessarily better, but in business success feeds success. Perception is reality in branding. Money well spent in those formative years boosts your brand both from an image and strategy perspective.

I believe the comment, “I’ll Do It Right When I Get The Money.” is usually referring to marketing. This reflects the author’s low appreciation of the benefits of effective branding/marketing. Case in point: Do they properly insure their business and cover it – “when I get the money?” Do they protect their assets properly – “when I get the money?” Do they watch their numbers properly – “when I get the money?” Do they decorate their offices with the latest equipment – “when I get the money?” Do they set up manufacturing properly – “when I get the money?” Do they even mow the lawn regularly – “when I get the money?”

Almost everything else comes before marketing the brand properly. These business people choose the do-it-yourself route and settle. There is one beneficiary of the this attitude that absolutely thinks that they are on the right path with the – “when I get the money strategy” and that is the COMPETITION. They are the leaders and they thank you for that honour. I can think of no one better to invest in than myself, whether that is a time or monetary investment. One of the most startling things is that their perceived cost of marketing properly is exaggerated, (except when compared to DIY).

Of course I’m more than a little biased, but can you sit back and look around and see people who’s brand image is professionally done, who network regularly on and offline, who have a clear differentiator to attract the attention of their prospects, who are regarded as experts, who local media regularly go to get their opinions over others, who look and act successful and say all of that doesn’t matter if you want to be successful?

All that COMBINED is your brand? What’s it worth?

Cyclical Strategies – How A Business Can Thrive Amidst Fluctuating Demand

In business, there is almost always a high and low season. If you deal in thermal apparel, expect a dip in sales during the summer, and a rise in moving units as fall and winter set in. People shop for items seasonally, when they need it, according to the weather, the market, and of course, the trends. Many retailers expect their sales to have a peak season, and a slim season.

There are also those who have specialized, seasonal merchandise where they are tied to a specific event that occurs annually, like Christmas or Halloween. These businesses tend to have a month or two during which the profits pour in, and the remaining months are dry. Seasonal businesses have to work creatively and smartly to deal with the highs and the lows of their business so that they will be able to survive, or even expand profit year to year. This is where imaginative business strategies work.

There are certain business strategies into making your seasonal business profitable all year round:

Treat your customers well.

You know what they say about the customer always being right? Take that into mind when dealing with your customers, so they will keep coming back. In a seasonal business, it is a great strategy to take care of your customers so that they will return season after season. Do what you must so that they associate your business with their need. Marketing certainly plays a large role, but the finishing touch is customer service.

Keep them informed.

There are many marketing tactics that can keep you at the edge of the customer’s awareness. If you have a catalog, send a new one every 3-4 months. Email them with a monthly dossier of special sales, or an upcoming collection. Make a favorable impression with bold colors and clear information. People are inundated with information each day, and unless you stay within their awareness, they tend to forget about your business. Using any number of marketing and sales techniques will allow you to remain in contact with the customer each season, and offer them something new.

Give the customer a reason to come back.

This section ties into the customer experience. Shoppers love discounts, and love getting something for free. Many businesses have a version of a Preferred Customer Program. Tailor this program to provide a service or product that complements your business, such as a clothing boutique offering free pants hemming (very valuable!) or a ski shop offering free repairs if the customer spends over $1,000. Many seasonal businesses need to be creative in bringing customers to the store, so offering an incentive to return in the off-months offers them plenty of incentives. When they arrive, make sure you’ve created a happy atmosphere in your store, whether online or brick-and-mortar, that encourages the consumer to spend.

Help them look at your business in a different way.

Use the seasonal lows as an opportunity for your products to be seen in a different light. The Wizard’s Orchards in Ann Arbor had traditional daytime autumnal activities for families, such as apple-picking and a corn maze. By adding a haunted house attraction that stretched into the evening hours, they opened themselves up to a new market. This new market included teenagers or young adults who wanted a date-night experience, or something to do with a group of friends. Rebranding some of your items into something that can be used differently or exploring a new demographic removes the restrictions of your marketing strategies and your business – you’re no longer tied to a specific date or specific promotion.

Get into Web 2.0

If your website was first designed in 2004 and looks dated, lacks functionality, or is incomplete – update it. The internet is the first step for any new customer to research your business, and a good online presence and reputation will not only inform them about you, but will also be their first step (hopefully) to making a purchase with your company. Hire a designer and developer to update your site so it is represents your brand, is easy to navigate, and makes purchasing simple. Your website also allows you to stay connected with your customers via social media. Keep a blog and update everyone with what’s going on in your business, what they want to watch out for, what they might have forgotten.

Maintain a twitter account with updates on sales and promotions. Have a Facebook fan page so customers can easily connect with you, and you with them. Your online reputation is important, so be sure to check that frequently, as anyone can post a review about your business. These websites that host reviews also usually give the merchant a chance to rebut the review with an explanation of the incident. Make sure to counter all these negative reviews as much as you can with an honest, clear explanation of the circumstances.

Discount.

A sale is always on trend, anywhere, anytime, and with everyone. Offer a sale on overstocked items that may not be on trend the next season for a price that people will have a hard time saying no to. Move units from the warehouse by offering them for the lowest price you can, without hurting profit. Give corporate accounts special offers for off-season months if they buy in bulk. Slashing prices doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing for every business, as it may be the key to keeping your business afloat in the lean season.

Keeping a seasonal business profitable during the slow seasons definitely requires you to apply creative marketing strategies and the ability to keep your customers interested, even when they traditionally “shouldn’t” be. From expanding into new markets to showing the versatility of your product to staying connected to your customers via snail mail and the web, there are plenty of opportunities for you to keep your seasonal business healthy and profitable.

Get The Complete Step-by-Step Process

To Cultivate A Responsive List eBook (FREE)

Subscribe to download this guide for FREE and work through the steps at your own pace.

Launch A Profitable Podcast

Discover how to start your own podcast business, leverage it to grow an existing business, grow your influence, and more.

There's No Better Time To Start Your Store

Have Your Own Store By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Launch Your Own Profitable Store Online.

The Time To Start Your Service Business Is Now

Launch Your Own Service Business By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Starting A Service Business Online.

Today Is The Day To Kickstart An Affiliate Business

Have Your Own Store By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Launch Your Own Profitable Store Online.