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30 Do’s And 20 Don’ts In Starting A Small Business

Small scale businesses are easier to set up compared to the middle or large scale businesses that require more time, feasibility reports, ad...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

18 Easy Tips To Start Your Business

Blueprint to starting a business -from ideas to implementation.
Starting a business, where do I begin? Information overload. I've complied what I've learned over the last 8 years of being on the internet.
  1. Write down a list of services in your area that could be filled.

  2. Write down a list of what your hobbies, interests are.

  3. Research and see if there is a need for the service. Check if there is competition. If there is, see if you can do something easier/better/different. Is there a problem you can solve for your customers? In our area, I would love a delivery place that offered healthy foods such as good old-fashioned green beans with a hamburger instead of fries. Research a need in your area and see if you can fill it. Research the laws in your state. If you're thinking of starting a bakery, check with your local health inspector to find out what is allowed. If you're thinking of running a business out of your home and will have customers pick up orders, make sure and check with your local business zones. Some areas may not allow excessive traffic, it's best to do your research.

  4. Once you've decided what you want to do, research the business name and make sure it's available. You'll need to register it with the state. Most states allow you to do this online for a minimal fee.

  5. Taxes- get legal. If you're selling a product, see if you need to collect state sales tax. In my state, I collect taxes on products purchased in my state only and then forward to the Department of Revenue once a year.

  6. Buy a domain name with your business name. 1and1.com and GoDaddy offer domains. This usually costs less than $10 for a year.

  7. Hosting-ask friends and family for referrals. I love my host. Uptime is very important as well as response time. I host with a smart entrepreneur who owns her own servers and monitors them regularly. If there is a problem or I have a question, I know that she is one email or phone call away. I don't get referred to another person for another issue.

  8. Create a website. There are tons of ways to do this. There are many templates you can find, both paid and free. I've used both, plus created mine from scratch as well as paid to have my website created from scratch.

  9. Shopping cart-How are you going to sell your product/service? There are as many shopping carts out there as there are ways to start a business. A free shopping cart that is easy to use is Mals-e. It integrates easily with Paypal.com. PayPal also has their own shopping cart and buy now buttons. When considering a shopping cart, look at the features that you are going to need. Are you selling 20,000 different products? If so you'll need a shopping cart that lets you use Excel or other programs to upload information. If you're selling 10 or even 50 items then Mals-e will probably work for you. Mals-e creates a HTML button to insert into your page. The customer is taken to a secure form where they input their payment information.

  10. Are you secure? If you will be accepting credit cards, you will need to be certified PCI compliant for credit cards. Some shopping carts take care of this for you. I currently use Ultracart and they offer PCI compliance with their cart. I have a SSL certificate that I pay a yearly fee for. To get the certificate, I had to prove who I was and get it verified. This protects both you and your customer.

  11. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-Learn it and keep learning it. This is how you get the best search engine results, which can mean the difference between your business making a profit or losing money. If your website is optimized correctly Google and other search engines will find you and send traffic to your website, resulting in more sales. Cricket's search engine optimization class is the best and it's free!

  12. Now that your website is up and running and you have a working shopping cart, it's time to advertise. When you built your website you used keywords that others would find you with, right? It's important to understand that just because you have a website up and running, it doesn't mean customers will magically find you. There are many new websites going up every day so yours has to stand out. You can start by adding original, unique content using your keywords. To find your keywords, use a keyword finder. Google has a free one. Another way is to brainstorm. What would you type into Google to find you? Who needs your services? Who is your target market? Where can you find them?

  13. Accounting- set up a method to keep track of sales and expenses. It doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or even old-fashioned pen and paper. QuickBooks is a popular program that is easy to set up and maintain, just do it from the beginning or you'll spend time backtracking to put information in.

  14. Marketing plan-Create a map of where you're going and how you are going to reach your goal Get your free business marketing plan workbook.

  15. Ideas- Keep track of all your ideas. I write them down and put them in my folder of ideas that could be implemented with time and money.

  16. Have a support system. I have a fabulous group of women who have their own specialties. I've learned so much from them. When I'm having a bad day I can go to them and vent. It's extremely important to have a support system in place. Realize that you can do this but it will be hard work, long hours and little pay up front.

  17. Work, Love and Enjoy- My best advice comes from Kay Green, work your business like a business every day. Set up a business schedule and stick to it. Work on your business every day. My friend and mentor taught me this. She went from one product to having a storefront and being a leader in child safety and baby products, all within less than 10 years..

  18. Read these tips, make notes and read it again. Remember that although this is step by step, it can be accomplished by doing more than one thing at once. When you're an entrepreneur you will wear many hats. If there's something you don't know, reach out to your network and ask for help.
Terra Williams is an entrepreneur who balances a home, career, husband, and four kids. She offers scratch off stickers and free scratch off templates at http://www.EasyScratchoffs.com to create your own scratch off tickets.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How To Market A New Product Or Service For Your Small Established Business

There is so much to do to successfully market a business, most of the time we hope that our products or services are enough to get us that beautiful repeat business, but what do we do when we need to do a special push of an item?
Website and email marketing
Of course, there is online, plastering your new product or service across your site. Setting a launch date and trying to gain some hype for the new element of your business. Email marketing can deliver consistent results and is a great way to softly contact those who you already know have an interest in your business.
Social media
Slightly easier for companies who are B2C as you have numerous windows that can literally put your message in your customer's hands. The tricky part is getting the content to go on these networks and to keep up with the trends. Just think about what your USP (Unique Selling Point) is and why people would be interested. The great news is with social media is that it can be quite forgiving to the occasional dull or boring post and so you can test the waters and gradually find your tone.
In house
Get your staff excited about your product and then you will naturally have word of mouth. You could try to incentivise sales of your new product or service with staff rewards. Get a buzz going in the office. Staff that care about what they are doing will work so much harder for you!
Make sure, especially if you are customer facing, that your place of business has lots of beautiful visuals up and around to explain the new feature of your business. This should be linked to leaflets of details that you can give your customers on exit, or you could send to them through the post. For example, you could craftily minimise the product explanation and value down to the size of an attractive plastic business card. Thinking slightly differently, using different materials and defining convention in marketing in small way can really serve to capture consumer's attention. A business card that is not a business card... interesting.
Be sure to get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce as they will be sure to have local small business events. These are the perfect places to meet like minded business professional who may just hold the key to unlocking that new market or a good business contact.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

How To Build A Sales Strategy That'll Increase Your Customer Base

What does it take to turn your carpet cleaning business into a success? If you're like most cleaning companies, you're looking to grow your customer base. You can never have too many leads, but this won't mean much if they're not hot. Becoming a marketer for your brand is essential if you want to entice prospects to becoming customers. You've got commercial carpet steam cleaners and other carpet cleaning equipment you can use to perform excellent jobs.
Now, you need a quality sales strategy to start raking in more customers. There are five key systems that every business should have to grow their company:
  • Marketing: This is everything to do with spreading the word about your company and its services.
  • Administration: You need organization, so that numbers are being properly tracked.
  • Leadership: Without this, everything will be in disarray. Order begins with your teams, so leaders are needed to keep your business moving forward.
  • Operations: This is your business model of how you please your customers. The better quality your service, the more happy customers you'll have (and keep).
  • Sales: You can't expect to grow your business without a sales plan and team. Your company should be actively seeking ways to convert prospects into loyal customers.
Marketing and Sales Go Hand-in-Hand
Don't get it twisted - marketing and sales are not the same. The two have a similar end goal, but the methods used to reach it are unique. Marketing is all about attracting customers and sales is about closing the deal. What keeps them around are your operations. If you're not great in these departments, then you can always resort to hiring an expert or agency that can handle these tasks for you.
When you use sales and marketing together, you can potentially build a winning strategy that will attract more clientele.
Building a Sales System
There are times when businesses get their marketing and sales all wrong. Take for instance this scenario: A guy was looking around for a new car for his wife. He went to the Chrysler website and was impressed with the quick form on the side that put him in touch with a sales agent. The woman was courteous and professional and scheduled an appointment for him to come by the following day. This is all the marketing process. However, once he arrived to the dealership, the woman he spoke to wasn't there - she was in the internet marketing division. Then the guy that did assist them was poorly trained to where the guy decided to purchase his vehicle from elsewhere.
With that said, you don't want to focus too much on the marketing and forget about training your sales staff, so they can learn to seal the deal. In sales, it's all about converting prospecting into paying customers. And it's all about consistency, just like for your commercial carpet steam cleaners - they need to perform well each and every time.
There are seven key areas of a great sales system:
  • Establishing rapport: Build rapport with the prospects that contact you. Find out how they heard about your business and whether someone specifically told them about your company. If so, use that person to help build rapport.
  • Connect with customers emotionally: Consumers make purchases based on emotions, so learn how to trigger the right ones.
  • Build up your credibility: Start establishing trust and believability right away. Don't oversell your services - focus on showcasing the benefits of your portable carpet cleaning machine and other carpet cleaning equipment.
  • Identify key problems: Then use it to sell them on the benefits of your services.
  • Focus on solutions not features: As they say, sell the sizzle not the steak!
  • Quote the investment: Not the price - carpet cleaning is an investment that can improve the quality of living in a home.
  • Learn to overcome objections: Not everyone is going to buy into your sales tactics, so you need to be prepared for potential objections.
It takes more than having the best commercial carpet steam cleaners - it takes a great strategy to run a successful cleaning business.
http://www.steam-brite.com/ is one of the leading distributor of quality cleaning supplies and cleaning equipment all around the USA and abroad. Steam-brite also sells starter kits to individuals who are interested in starting and/or expanding their own cleaning business. steam-brite.com offers the most comprehensive cleaning equipment and cleaning supplies selection for the best prices on the web.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

3 Reasons Your Business Isn't Growing As Quickly As You'd Like

I love nature. I loved studying Biology at school. There's something elegant about much of it. It's not all elegant though, some aspects of it are dysfunctional. But that's the essential quality of a work in progress - it's never perfect. So it is that I think we can learn a lot from nature about business, particularly some of the weirder ways that nature goes about the basic processes of surviving, growing, evolving, reproducing and dying.
For example, have you heard of auto-cannibalism? This is where an animal eats part of itself. It's well documented, for example, that snakes sometimes mistake their own tails as other snakes and start to eat themselves. Or they start eating their own shed skin and perhaps because of the scent of prey on it, they get carried away.
Don't Be Like the Snake
As a business owner, does running your business sometimes feel like this. You're running around so fast it feels like you're chasing your tail. Suppliers need paying, employees have constant questions, customers want to deal directly with you rather than your staff and there's never quite enough time to do all that admin that's piling up, let alone do "strategy" or planning!
At some point all businesses reach a plateau in their growth because of this. The ones that breakthrough break the vicious cycle by getting their employees do most of the heavy lifting with customers and suppliers leaving the directors free to develop and implement growth strategies. Getting started can be as simple as having a consistent delivery and distribution system in place.
Instead Emulate the Sea Squirt
A more elegant form of auto-cannibalism (yes, elegant cannibalism!) occurs during metamorphosis. The sea squirt for example consumes its own brain. In the larval stage it swims around filtering food and it needs a rudimentary brain to move around and sense its environment. At the end of the larval stage it attaches itself to a surface and never moves again. It consumes its nervous system and re-purposes the brain sac to help it feed. If the larval sea squirt didn't consume part of itself it wouldn't mature and wouldn't be able to reproduce.
What part of your business do you no longer need? Is it stopping you moving to the next stage in your business cycle. It's not unusual, for example, for businesses to continue offering products and services to customers well beyond their profitable or strategic life.
There can even be an emotional attachment to these services, particularly for people who started their business because they were good at something. For example, starting a web design business because you're good at building web sites is great. But it can be difficult to scale a business if you're spending all your time building websites. The strategic thing to do might be to switch to website maintenance. It might not be as sexy to deal with hacking threats, platform updates and shifting security trends, but there is long-term value in building a business around this rather than one-off website building. Continuing to supply websites could stop the business from offering maintenance programmes just from sheer lack of time.
Changing technology might signal a need for auto-cannibalism in business too. Accountancy, for example, have been transformed recently by the rapid adoption of cloud accounting software. Those practices that embrace the move to cloud accounting are having to re-purpose their people, consuming the technical accounting departments and creating departments to offer other services, such as business advice.
Escaping A Trap
Finally, some animals will chew off a limb to escape a trap. It's not really auto-cannibalism because they don't eat the limb, but close enough... Do you need to chew off part of your business to escape a trap? Maybe a supplier who won't give you credit? A customer who won't pay on time, an employee who is disengaged, or maybe a whole department that isn't performing or that has been left behind by the competition? Maybe it's time to take the 72 hours of pain involved in making and announcing the decision you know you should take but are avoiding. Bite off the trapped limb - your business will grow faster afterwards because you'll be able to focus your efforts on more productive parts of your business.
Pareto's principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort, 80% of profits from 20% of your products, 20% of your customers or 20% of your employees, 80% of problems stem from a different 20% of products, employees and customers. Ditch the 20% of problem customers, products and employees and focus on the rest.
In Conclusion
In summary, your business may be failing to thrive or move to the next level of growth because you're eating your own tail or because there are parts of the business you should be cannibalising that you're not or there are parts of the business trapping you in the present that you need to bite off in order to move to the future...
Auto-cannibalism is a natural process in the life-cycle of growing organisms (and organisations) but don't be a snake, be a sea squirt!
If you're interested in building a stronger business that delivers more to you, your employees and your customers in the North East of England then find out more about coaching for business growth and the tried and tested methodologies of the World Number 1 business coaching organisation, ActionCOACH. Download the ultimate Business Plan Template to plan the next phase of growth for your business.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

How To Future-Proof Your Small Business

According to Richard Branson CEO and Founder of Virgin "A business's long history is meaningless if it doesn't provide the best-designed, most reliable products or services at competitive prices and back up those offerings with the finest customer service. In these fast-moving times, longevity is more the exception than the rule. According to a 2012 study by Richard N. Foster of Yale University, the average lifespan of a company listed in the Standard & Poor's 500 index has decreased to just 18 years, from 61 years in 1958.
Are you becoming complacent?
Almost no products are so good that they cannot be constantly improved on. In the UK they have a great saying: like painting the Forth Bridge in Britain," which is an unending task. This is because the painters of this massive bridge in Edinburgh were never done - once they had finished painting it, they then were needed to immediately start again. The task came to an end in 2011, because workers had switched to a new kind of paint. This is a great example how your businesses product development should be a similarly endless quest for improvement.
According to Bluecorona Small Business Statistics for 2016/2017
  • 66% of small business owners say that finding new customers is a top concern.
  • 40% of small business owners say that retaining customers is a priority.
  • 43% of SMBs says that improving customer experience and retention is their top strategy to improve revenue growth.
  • 30% say that keeping up with technology advances is a major concern of small business owners.
What is Future Proofing?
The term "future-proof" refers to the ability of something to continue to be of value into the distant future; that the item does not become obsolete. This information can be distilled into many principles depending on industry group which can then be applied to many areas.
10 Ways to Future Proof your Small Digital Business
  1. Work with millennial and change your thinking.
  2. Think from your client's standpoint and create a positive product experience from this viewpoint.
  3. Common Q&A if you get the same questions try re-writing your website copy to better answer common questions.
  4. Focus on creating a long-term client not just a one-time sale.
  5. Read about marketing trends and the directions on technology
  6. Eliminate untrustworthy or toxic people from your life, this could be a lifelong friend, family member, a dishonest bank that has cheated for so long it's become common practice, or even your mortgage broker who breaches your client trust and confidentiality.
  7. Monitor What direction your top 5 closest competitors are doing and create an average for your new direction if a new change is needed.
  8. Have a upsell strategy built into your product purchase process.
  9. Train your staff right from the start on exactly how to carry out the tasks they are expected to complete.
  10. Cut your costs, all businesses have expenses. Most businesses have expenses that can be cut. Don't wait until you need to cut your operating costs to start eliminating unnecessary services and expenses from your monthly burn rate. Take a look into the expenses that don't equate to your basic bottom line and ax them. Remember for every dollar you save it's then directly reflected to your profit.
Small Business Digital Marketing that Converts
If you know anything about small business, then you know its overall mission is to attract customers that are interested in your products and services. You might have tried Google ads, or FB and social media marketing to some success. The problem with many digital marketing methods is you pay your money and cross your fingers that sales with convert. I have personally tried almost every type of digital marketing you can think of and the only one that sticks out for me is official email marketing. Email has been the only marketing method that provides the ability to grow massive contacts databases easily and responsibly. With email marketing you can send out thousands of emails an hour and have a web-based dashboard manage and automate the entire technical process. If I had to choose only one digital marketing platform to build my business it would be email marketing.
Thinking about creating an email marketing campaign for your business? Learn how email marketing can increase your sales and client acquisition for much less than you realize: http://www.officialemailmarketing.com

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Top 5 Benefits Of Cloud Computing For Small Business

Many hosted services are offered over the web for a variety of business needs. The general term used to refer to all of these is cloud computing. Cloud computing allows online companies to use resources over the internet rather than build and maintain their own in-house infrastructures.
Cloud computing is a trendy term that can be heard everywhere these days. Simply put, it refers to storing and accessing information and applications over the web instead of getting them all stored on the hard drive of your computer.
Storing or running programs from your hard drive is called local storage. This means that everything you need is physically there with you, making access to data easy and fast, especially for the one computer and the others connected to it through a local network. This was how many industries functioned for a long time before the cloud came along.
The "cloud" refers to the internet. This calls back to the times in office presentations when the internet was represented by a puffy cloud that accepts and gives information as it hovers above everything.
You may be using cloud computing at some aspect of life without realising it. This applies to online services that you use to send email, edit your documents, stream films or TV shows, listen to music, play games online, or store files and images. Cloud computinga makes all these things possible behind it all.
The first services to use cloud computing are a couple of decades old, rising fast so that a wide range of organisations are already using the service. This includes startups to big corporations as well as non-profits and government agencies.
Cloud computing at a glance
According to a study by the IDC, 50% of information technology will transition to the cloud within 5-10 years. Among the industries that rely heavily on data are the financial sector, telecommunications, technology, health care, government, advertising, retail, gaming, energy and data services.
Furthermore, 82% of companies have found significant savings in moving to the cloud. 60% of businesses already make use of cloud-based IT for operations. 82% of companies are also planning for a multi-cloud strategy.
These stats show that cloud computing holds much promise as a rising industry as well as a valuable resource for companies to take advantage of.
Cloud solutions for business 
There are three different types of cloud solutions that businesses can choose from to find the best fit - private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud. Each offer different features and benefits. But with each type, the end result stays the same: cloud computing can be done wherever you are, at any time.
Private cloud
Private cloud works in industries with concerns for privacy, including medium businesses and more established enterprises that need to meet standards for security and compliance.
One example is IoT companies, such as those who trace customers through their phones. Other examples include health data companies, e-commerce sites that store credit card data, industries with high intellectual property concerns, and companies that emphasise data sovereignty.
Private cloud is managed by an in-house team of IT personnel or by a private host.
Private cloud offers complete control and flexibility, enabling businesses to manage their own dedicated resources within a third party datacentre.
Hybrid cloud
Hybrid cloud is for companies that prefer the security offered by private cloud. This type of cloud solution is best for workloads that are highly dynamic and prone to changeability. This includes enterprises that can be split into two spheres, sensitive and non-sensitive.
Hybrid cloud also works best for businesses with seasonal data spikes, big data processing, and those with workloads involving API compatibility and requiring solid connection to a network. Hybrid cloud takes its name from the fact that it is managed by both in-house and external resources.
This mix of private and public clouds offer blending of such services as Office 365 for email with other applications that businesses don't want to be made available in a shared environment.
Public cloud
Public cloud is for industries that have a significant amount of data with no major concerns for privacy. Companies that use this service opt for a pay-as-you-go structure. This type of cloud solution is managed by third party providers.
Industries that use public cloud include those in development and testing, development platform, training servers, one-off big data projects and websites with public information, product descriptions and brochures.
Public cloud is perfect for services, applications and storage that are made publicly available as well as those that use shared resources that are managed by the cloud provider.
More benefits in the cloud
Now that you know the different types of cloud solutions available, it's time to go over the benefits of moving to the cloud. As a growing trend, cloud computing offers many. Here are five of them.
1. Time-saving, on-demand services
Cloud computing features self-service delivery for different types of workloads and needs. What makes it so attractive to businesses is that any service can be available on-demand. This effectively removes the need for companies to maintain in-house IT staff, especially for small businesses, or manage physical computer resources.
Cloud hosting allows users to get access to their files from any device, anywhere and at any time. This means that files don't get stored in just one computer, enabling faster operations and availability. Storing in the cloud also makes it safer for businesses to protect their files, with faster backup options and recovery in cases of breaches or similar scenarios.
According to TSG, 45% of companies that use private cloud solution in their operations have enjoyed significant reduction of the time it takes to install applications. This time-saving feature enables companies to enjoy faster processes and improve productivity for employees.
Cloud computing can make integration easier for you. A lot of cloud computing applications include an Application Programming Interface (API) where you can find apps that are compatible instead of having to pay to have them customised for you so you can integrate them.
2. Flexibility
One of the biggest benefits offered by cloud computing is its flexibility. People on your team can access files and information that are relevant to work anywhere and on any device. In a highly mobile world, this is especially important.
Moreover, many companies now offer flexible working arrangements, such as remote workers and telecommuting. With cloud computing, employees can access work files even when they are not in the office, making it easier for them to work wherever they are. For small businesses, this also makes it easier for them to easily manage their operations wherever they are.
Increased flexibility and mobility enable businesses to let their employees use the devices they are comfortable with. This can include tablets, laptops and smartphones, helping employees improve their personal productivity.
With this type of elasticity, companies are able to scale up as their computing needs increase as well as scale down when they decrease. This saves them from having to invest in infrastructure that may not be needed later on in time.
3. Lower costs with pay per use
One of the best immediate benefits of moving your business to the cloud is that there is significant financial savings involved. Cloud computing fully makes use of hardware. With virtualisation, the value of the physical server is increased, giving businesses the opportunity to do more with less.
Cloud computing enables businesses, especially startups, to decrease the need for physical space, power usage, IT resources and more. As a result, there is a lower need for installation, maintenance, upgrades and costs for support and hardware. For SMBs, this is a valuable way of saving resources so they can concentrate on online growth.
Cloud-based resources are measured at granular level, which means that users only pay for the workloads and resources that they use. You also don't need to buy software anymore or pay for someone or a team to update or install the software, manage email or file servers or run backups.
The benefit of cloud computing is that all of the applications and services are taken over by the cloud vendor, instead of you having to be responsible for any of it.
4. Improved collaboration
Productivity is increased by cloud computing due to its accessibility. Since everyone who needs access to files and data can get them wherever they are, there is less need for employees to be in the same room. This is especially relevant for workers or employees who need to travel a lot.
Teams in different locations all over the globe can readily collaborate on projects without needing to actually meet. Easy sharing and real time updates on files are facilitated, and more things will get done with web conferencing for meetings.
Cloud computing lets small businesses grow quickly online. It's faster, easier and more convenient to sign up for a cloud-based app than to purchase a server, run it, and install software on it. Expansion is cheaper as there is no need to invest in hardware and software for the startup.
Cloud-based applications can also be accessed on common web browsers at any time. This means that users across the company can adopt to the applications without the need for intensive training. This is especially valuable for businesses with employees in different locations.
5. Enhanced security with instant updates
There is increased security for companies as software is automatically updated, bugs are fixed and content is remotely stored.
Those who have doubts on what the cloud has to offer are concerned about the safety of data outside the company's internal firewall. The truth is, due to the robust security standards established by ISO, safety is increased when cloud solutions are used. Moreover, cloud providers are strictly required to follow the rules.
As a result, risks are reduced when it comes to loss of laptops containing confidential information as well as the threats of hackers. You can also remotely wipe sensitive data from lost laptops and gadgets so nobody else can access them.
When it comes to ensuring security with the cloud service you choose, you need to know first where your data is stored. Firewalls, detection and prevention tools as well as data encryption can help prevent intruders from getting at your information. However, you still need to know where your data goes when you stop with the service or in cases where the cloud provider closes down. Dedicated hardware is what cloud computing providers need to pass the highest security guidelines.
Data backup is recommended to make sure that you can increase your control over your data. Ensure that the data centre you're using takes security seriously. Find out what security measures are in place in the server and data centre where your data is stored.
Managed services are also a valuable option in making your data and apps stronger. This includes managed antivirus, firewalls and detection tools. High quality cloud providers offer these to allow for better security.
On top of it all, updates, including on security, are automated.
Cloud service providers can regularly update offers, giving customers the most up to date technology possible. This can include software, servers and computer processing power. Customers can avoid wasting their time maintaining systems and updating them once new features roll out. Suppliers take care of those themselves, out of sight.
As a result, businesses can focus on growing their business while enjoying the best that the latest technology has to offer.
To round up, the top benefits you get from cloud computing include:
- Saving time resources with services that you can enjoy on-demand
- Flexibility and mobility of access
- More affordable services with pay per use
- Better collaboration within teams, especially for overseas or traveling employees
- Heightened security measures in place plus automated updates
With the rise of the cloud computing trend, small and medium businesses can now create websites and power up online influence like never before. With many benefits to enjoy, moving to the cloud is an unmissable opportunity for companies.

To have a custom cloud solution designed for you...public, private, or hybrid...simply ask at the link below.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Standard Social Networking Advice Is To Go Where Your Audience Is....But Where Is That?

The standard social network advice is to “go where your audience is.” For most, that means Facebook…
That sounds like good advice. After all, “everyone” is on Facebook.

The catch?  It’s hard to reach enough folks from “everyone” to build a following. And then it’s just as hard to reach a decent percentage of those folks. For every 100 people who follow you on Facebook, only 6 will see your content in their feed…
And it’s getting harder…
Since Facebook announced that it will start giving higher priority to content from friends and family over brands, that “6%” has probably dropped further.  

“It’s all in the name of a better experience,” they claim.
Um, no…
It’s about forcing solopreneurs to advertise to reach those they’ve converted into followers.
After all, if someone engages with your Facebook page more than they do with a friend’s, shouldn’t your posts be rewarded with greater priority?
So, are we saying not to use Facebook?
Nope. Just don’t let its ginormous number of users be a huge factor in your decision-making. Once a network has passed the 100,000,000 mark, what matters most are…
  1. network relevance/fit with your target audience, and
  2. can you actually grow a following and then reach them?
We’ll talk about relevance/fit in a future blog post. Today, let’s think about WINNABILITY.  The must-ask question…

Which network enables me to win the largest and most engaged following?

Think of social media as a game – several games, actually.  Each game (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has a set of rules that makes it different.
That difference determines two key points…
1) The nature of its users. To oversimplify…
  • Facebook = general
  • Pinterest = visual, discovery
  • Twitter = news/insight-oriented
  • Instagram = visual, “cool” (younger)
2) Winnability.  Understanding the user is key to winnability. Few understand this simple-yet-important point: The game with the best rules for you gives you the best chance to win. You need to know the…
  1. Nature of users
  2. Nature of marketers
  3. Influencer marketing friendliness (how easy it is to reach out and build relationships)

Instagram’s Hashtag Rule

Instagram is much more winnable than any other major social medium. And it’s all due to its hashtag rules.
Hashtags are to (most) social media what keywords are to search engines.  They are how people discover you.
What’s so special about Instagram’s hashtag rule?…
  1. They actually do get found and bring targeted people to your account!
  2. You may use up to 30. If you know how, you can cast a BIG, targeted net,one that catches tuna but not dolphins (just don’t include “#dolphins” in your set of 30).
Note: In August, 2017, Pinterest has changed its stance on and treatment of hashtags. Details and best practices are still vague at this time, but could factor into your “most winnable network” decision in the future.

How to Perform Better Than 95% of Instagramers

Don’t let the size of a social network sway you. Once a network has passed the 100 million mark, it’s more important to think about…
  1. Relevance.  Is your target audience there?
  2. Winnability.  Can you actually grow a following and reach folks every time you post?
So what’s the most winnable social network (currently)? Instagram, because of hashtags.
Hashtags are how people discover you. On Instagram you can use up to 30 of them, allowing you to cast a great BIG targeted net, as mentioned above.

How to Win With Hashtags

  • Use the 30 hashtags allowed. You’ll see advice to the contrary (“it’s cool to use fewer”). Ignore it.
  • Use words that people would use as search terms. High counts may only indicate popularity among content creators. To improve your hashtag selection (and your results!) think about what keywords the searcher would use.
  • Avoid hashtags with too-low or too-high counts. Ever notice “TOP RESULTS” after a search at Instagram? People click on them! You want to be there!  It’s tough to rank for high counts, though. And ranking for low counts is pointless. No one is searching!

How Do You Find the Right Range For You?

Great question. Here’s a slick technique…
Examine your last 10 posts.  Add up…
  • the number of likes
  • 3x the number of comments (Why 3x? Because comments are a higher form of engagement than likes, so you want to weigh them more heavily.)
Now divide by 10 to get your “average Instagram engagement.”
Next, search for some hashtags that you think are relevant to your post. Look at the “Top Posts.” What engagement numbers (likes plus comments) do those top posts have? Do most of them have numbers within 25% (plus or minus) of your “average Instagram engagement”? You have a winner.
So, if your “average Instagram engagement” is 200, for example, you want to find hashtags where the top posts have engagement numbers between 150 and 250.
An example?  Sure. Have a beeeeautiful pic of Southbank, London?

Which hashtag are you going to use for this pic?

Is Instagram for Everyone?

Depends on your niche.
Instagram is winnable. But if your audience ain’t there, there’s nothing to win.
How can you tell who’s there?
Got a visual niche?  You really should be on Instagram.
Not visual? Search Instagram for some of your most common keywords – your competitors may have figured out a way to make the “unvisual” visual.  You’d be surprised at what a little creativity can do!
No niche competitors? You may be better off at Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter!

Bottom Line Takeaways?

When choosing which social network(s) to use, ask two questions…
  1. Is the social network right for your niche audience? No point being there if your audience isn’t!
  2. How easy is it to build and reach an ENGAGED FOLLOWING? This determines how valuable a social media channel will become for your business.
Also, remember that hashtags are how people discover you (like keywords in search).  Instagram’s hashtag rule makes it the most winnable social network, so long as you…
  1. use the full 30 hashtags allowed
  2. use hashtags that people actually search for
  3. choose “Goldilocks” hashtags (neither too high nor too low).
Assuming your audience uses Instagram, the “rules of the game” make it easy to win!
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Planting Seeds For Sustained Business Success...How To Think Strategically

Melissa's mind races, all day long. She's a small business owner, and between that and her family demands, she jumps from decision to decision quickly. It's often a whack-a-mole situation, where she gets one thing dealt with and quickly moves on to the next.
That feels good to Melissa, most of the time. She has a sense of movement, of getting stuff done. She is a do-er! A woman of action. Think Wonder Woman with those cool bracelets.
Though things move quickly in Wonder Woman's... err, Melissa's world, she sometimes gets tripped up by her fast thinking.
While momentum and movement are important in business, some decisions simply require you to slow down and think more strategically.
For things like hiring, pricing, or defining your ideal audience, where the consequences of a bad decision are significant, slow thinking is required.
To help slow down your thinking when it's an important issue, use this highly evolved tool: pen and paper. There's something that happens in our brains when you write instead of using the computer. You have a closer connection to what you're writing down, and you are also forced to think at the speed of your writing. It slows down that rapid stream of consciousness, like Melissa's. Write down all the details of your issue.
Give yourself time to think things over and get the necessary information.
For those of us who aren't Wonder Women (or Superman), we tend to seek information that agrees with what we've already decided to believe. So do your own fake news filtering and ask yourself, "How do I know this is true?" before accepting information as the basis for a decision. It's a big value-added step.
Put on the brakes when you need time. "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you" is a very useful response.
If it's a client and you want to send the message that they are important and that you're not just floating in a pool drinking umbrella drinks while they're waiting, you can elaborate with a little more detail, like: "I need to do some research" or "I'll check in with my colleagues so I can give you a decision that will help you best".
To get the most out of your decision time, practice solitude without distractions. There's something about water and nature that profoundly liberates our thinking. Set aside time for solitude each day, if you can.
Another benefit of this slow-down is that you can think strategically. Strategy is the big-picture view. When I'm working with clients, I often start by distilling strategy into just two questions:
1. How do you want to be perceived? This question is about brand alignment and how you're projecting your values.
2. How do you want to contribute? This question is about what you choose to offer and where you can offer the best value. It's also about impact: what kind of positive contribution do you want to make?
These two questions will put you solidly on the path of thinking strategically about your business.
Successful people have developed a habit of slow thinking. They do it because the temporary discomfort of slowing down is subordinate to the impact that they could have.
Like Melissa, you can develop this habit too! Cultivate the ability to slow down and think strategically. It plants valuable seeds that you can harvest for abundance in future.

Ursula Jorch, MSc, MEd, mentors entrepreneurs starting their businesses and seasoned entrepreneurs in transition to create the business of their dreams. Her coaching programs provide knowledge, support, clarity, inspiration, and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs to empower you to reach your goals. Start with a free guide and other valuable info at http://www.WorkAlchemy.com.