How to Make Your Customers as Happy as This Cup of Coffee

As your business grows, it will become more and more important to maintain good relationships with your customer base. As a small business, keeping track of customers’ needs is comparatively easy but for larger businesses it is all too easy to become a faceless corporation.

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Ask Your Customers What They Want — Then Listen

All customers have certain expectations and your business should be designed to meet those expectations. If you find that you are going off track and you’re not sure how to get back, asking your customers is the best way to find out what they want. A great way to do this is through a community or forum where customers can share ideas with each other too.

But the key part is listening and acting on their responses.

If there is one thing you can do that will make your customers happy, it is simply listening to them and then making a change. Not every customer will give you a good idea — and you shouldn’t let customers cloud your vision —- but quite a lot of them will tell you how to resolve a problem.

All companies will have moments where they wish they could have done better, but if you are seen to be making improvements or helping customers out, it will do wonders for your brand image.

Invest in the Best Software to Analyse Your Results

To make the most of your conversations with customers — especially if you are running a call centre — you really should invest in some analytics software like Evaluate Quality. This will help you to set procedures in motion to deal with similar problems consistently but it will also give you the opportunity to see where you can improve your relations.  

By giving your team the best software, they can really start to make a difference to the way you deal with customers, improving retention and providing a high quality service.

Be Active on Social Media and Interact Naturally

Social media is both brilliant for companies and a potential minefield. You really do need to watch out for how your social interactions come across and be certain that when you post, you are looking out for the best interests of your audience. Basically, don’t say or do anything offensive!

That being said, there are all sorts of creative ways that you can draw your customer’s attention on social media. For example, you could use light-hearted GIFs, make self-deprecating jokes or even tease rival companies. Social media is a great way for brands to make themselves a bit more approachable so a great social media exec will take you a long way.

As your company grows, customer relations are going to be even more important to you. You need to be able to gather the right information, analyse the results and put processes in place to make sure that you can deal with any problems, encourage other customers to get involved with your brand and, above all, be consistent with your message.

A business is nothing without its customers, so do whatever it takes to make them as happy as that cup of coffee!

Creating A Stellar Website

Creating a website for your business is one of the first steps to take in any marketing plan. It’s one of the things that cements the reader to your brand and really allows them to explore who you are, what your business is all about. It also tells them why they should use you for your stellar product(s) and or service(s). Think of it like a window into the soul of your business, because that it essentially what it is.

Your site should be exciting, clean and straight to the point. Lay out who you are, what you do and any other information you think will be useful. Sell yourself and your products.

Think about the way you design the website to begin with. No one wants to be looking at a screen with 20 different colours, a flying unicorn going across the screen and flashing lights, do they? Refer to this article to give you some ideas on how to start off.

Simple, clean and refined is the best place to start. You can build on that and make your website reflect who you are as a business after that. The key is to build your foundation first.

Typography and calligraphy is what comes next. Take a look at some different fonts and find one which is dynamic, unique but easy to read too. Then once you’ve decided on that you should look at your line spacing, the size of the text and the colour. Black is traditional however slate grey may add that air of modern to the site.

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When you pick your colour scheme, don’t think that more is more; because it’s really not. If you try to incorporate every colour of the rainbow into your website you will fall flat and the customer will be confused as to what your theme is supposed to be.

Think about the implications of certain colours and what they will mean for the tone of your website. Here are a couple of examples of colour schemes to get you started:

Grey, Yellow, and White – Monotone colours with a splash of vibrancy can make your website spring to life and feel incredibly clean and modern.

Red, White, and Pink – Using different hues of the same colour is a clever way to add tone and depth to your design when you want to stick to just one colour.

Green, White, and Blue – Cool tones will always make you think of the great outdoors or a sense of calm. Using pastel shades is a way to make the space feel larger and more sleek, whereas splashes of colour add that element of character.

Your logo and branding is possibly the most crucial step in creating that website which is ready for your information and content. Designing a logo that represents the tone, mission and overall feel of the brand can be difficult, but it is a rewarding mission once you have completed it.

You will need to take extra time making sure that the banners and headers for your website and social media platforms are cohesive with the logo and fit your tone of voice well.

Finally, once everything is designed you can look at the content. Remember to stay engaging, informative and to be transparent in your delivery. Gaining trust as a company takes time, and the website is the perfect place to start.

The Sure Signs You’re on Your Way to Entrepreneurial Success

If you are keen to succeed in the world of business, it is often necessary to ensure you have a number of qualities. Being able to see a business through to the end you want is hard, but with the right understanding of what it takes anyone with enough dedication can surely achieve it. The truth is that there are certain things you are going to need which will ensure that you can take your business where you want it to go. Some are personal qualities, while others are external influences you will need to harness. Let’s take a look at some of the sure signs that you can expect some entrepreneurial success in your life soon.

Having Access to Strong Capital

Without the financial impetus necessary to drive a business onward, you can’t really be sure that it is going to go anywhere. Having that capital behind you is definitely absolutely necessary if you want to see success in your life, and one of the biggest questions facing you will certainly be how to ensure you get hold of it.

You need capital in a strong and consistent manner, otherwise the future of your business might be inconstant too. Getting hold of a short-term business loan is often a necessary start, and you might also need to have a plan in place for ensuring future capital flow as well. With the money behind you, anything in business is possible.

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Being Dedicated to the Cause

There is something driving you to business, but what is it? If you want to be successful, it is likely that you will benefit from having a strong sense of what it is that drives you to do so. There has to be some cause which is underlying the business itself, and this is something you’ll need to think about if you want to make sure you are as likely to succeed as possible.

After all, without a clear understanding of your own motivations it is much less likely that you will be able to see the goals through to the very end. Get to the bottom of why you are doing what you’re doing, and you will be able to be more and more dedicated to what you are trying to achieve.

The Right Level of Delegation

Do too much yourself, and you will be in trouble. Do too little, and the same applies. It is often said that a good manager knows how to delegate, and there is definitely some truth to this. The reason it is true is because you need to know how much work needs to be delegated in order to keep the business running as smoothly as possible.

It is therefore a good idea to have a strong sense of who needs to do what if you want your business to succeed and live for as long as you like. Delegate well, and your business will be run more effectively, making it more likely to see the success you want to see.

Here’s Why Having a Mentor Can Be a Catalyst for Your Success

Are you still trying to chase success, even after a few years of working towards your goal? Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for the project you have given yourself. It just means that you might need a small push in the right direction. And a mentor is the perfect person to give you that little push. Whether you are trying to find business success or a more personal-focused success, these are the best people to give you some help.

Still not convinced that you need a mentor? Maybe these reasons might change your mind.

Mentors See Where there’s Room for Improvement

We can’t always see our own flaws. We also aren’t always able to see how we might be able to improve. Thankfully, a mentor will be able to look at you and your work in an objective way, and by doing so will be able to come up with effective ways you could improve. As a mentor, they will be brutally honest with you and can provide you with some very useful constructive criticism.

Mentors Can Connect and Direct You to Resources or Experts

Even though your mentor might know how you can help and improve yourself, they might not be specialised in the area that you need particular help with. Your mentor will be able to point in the direction of a reputable entrepreneur blog if you are looking for insights into your professional life. If it is more personal help that you require, he or she might be able to put you in touch with a counsellor or therapist.

Gary Vaynerchuk in the streets of New York City | Image Credit: GaryVaynerchuk.com

Mentors Motivate and Inspire

Do you think you are just lacking a bit of encouragement with your projects? This is something else that a mentor can greatly help you with. They can offer you as much encouragement as you need, and they will know exactly how to reignite the flame inside you again. After a meeting with your mentor, you will definitely feel a lot more energised and ready to get on with your project!

Mentors Can Help You Improve Your Network

Think you could do with a better network of like-minded contacts and acquaintances? Most mentors will be more than happy to put you in touch with other people who they think can help you. This is especially the case with business mentors, as they will have a very large phone book filled with various names and email addresses! They will be able to quickly put you in touch with other people in your local area who can help you reach your goals.

Mentors Bring Their Life Experiences to the Table

If you don’t have many life experiences, don’t panic. You can always draw on those of your mentor. Your mentor will be able to look back at their previous successes and see what went right. They can then implement all of this into your project!

So, ready to find a new mentor and hit your targets?

Keep Things In-house to Maintain Your Control over Your Small Business

Nowadays, more and more small business owners are outsourcing aspects of their work. But if you’re new to the field, you might be a bit unsure as to what outsourcing is and what best suits your personal business needs. Here’s everything you need to know about the outsourcing process!

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What is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is a commonly used business practice where businesses use independent third-party companies to complete specific tasks, operations, jobs, or processes. There are various reasons that companies do this. Sometimes outsourcing can save money: it can be cheaper in the short term to use third-party manufacturers to create a short run of goods.

It may also be easier to draw in individuals with independent expertise to complete one-off tasks rather than training one of your own employees or hiring a full-time employee to do one task and serving little more purpose for the benefit of your company.

Why Will It Benefit Me to Keep Things In-House?

While outsourcing is great for one-off tasks, or short production runs, it’s often better to keep things in-house if you plan to repeat the same tasks and manufacturing over and over. For these kind of things, outsourcing can prove more expensive in the long run. It’s better to own the means of production or employ the expert individual in the long-term if you’re going to require their services more regularly.

There are more benefits to doing this than mere cost and profit too. When you outsource, you hand a portion of control of your company over to someone else. You have to place your trust in them and hope that they complete the required work to the quality that you expect.

By keeping things in-house you regain control: you can oversee processes and make tweaks and changes along the way.

What Can I Keep In-House?

Manufacturing

Manufacturing can easily be kept largely in-house. Consider investing in machines that you will get repeated and long-term use out of. For example, milling machines, robotic arms, and conveyor belts. This can ensure that your goods are produced, assembled, and packed as quickly as possible and that you can check up on them during every step of the process, assuring quality and precision.

Market Research

Many people use outsourced market research to save time. But if you have a little patience and work a few extra hours you can do the job yourself. Most of the research is already out there with results posted online. Then you can conduct small-scale specific interviews yourself. Simply use your social media page to find volunteers who will be able to give you a deeper insight and understanding of your brand and brand image.

These are just a couple of areas that you can shift from outsourced work to in-house work. It’s definitely worth the effort in the long run. While you may not see immediate results, you’ll notice the savings that you make mounting up over time. Any outlay for machinery or robotics will pay for itself and slowly turn into profit.

Is It Possible to Increase Profits Without Increasing Turnover?

At some point, most successful business owners will saturate their markets and find it almost impossible to increase turnover. When you reach that stage, it’s vital that you create a plan for the future that will enable your firm to continue its growth. In many situations, that will mean launching new products or services for your clients and customers.

You might also think about expanding your operation and trading in new markets. However, sometimes you just have to rethink your approach. It’s usually possible to increase profits without improving your turnover, and there are some excellent tips below that should help you to achieve that goal.

Know when to outsource

There is no getting away from the fact that outsourcing is often the best solution if you want to cut back on spending and boost your profits. Business owners just need to identify the areas in which that strategy will provide the most benefits. Lots of companies choose to outsource tasks like:

  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Social media management
  • Market research
  • Customer service

You just need to search online for specialist firms that offer those services to other businesses. You can then obtain some quotes and perform the calculations to ensure you will save a fortune. Then it’s just a case of getting rid of a few staff members.

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Think about automation

It’s possible to automate many of the processes within your operation without breaking the bank these days using modern technology. There are lots of software applications that could remove all the hard work out of invoicing and ordering.

Using automation in construction, warehousing, and other manual operations will often involve the use of robotics. If your business exists within those industries, you could replace many of your human staff members with computers. It’s just a case of getting in touch with suitable experts, letting them know your goals, and then taking their advice.

Increase your prices

There is a benefit you won’t want to overlook if you’ve managed to saturate the market in your home country. If your company is the most prominent supplier or the only supplier of a product or service, you can set the going rate. That means sometimes it makes sense to increase your prices once your position in the market is secure.

If you don’t have many competitors, customers and clients will have to cover the increase whether they like it or not. Just remember that greed is not an attractive attribute. So, you need to work hard to ensure you don’t price your brand out of the marketplace. Still, increasing your asking prices will assist when it comes to boosting profits.

As you can see from the tips and information in this article, you can always make more money, even if you can’t find any new customers. You just have to use some common sense. Also, do yourself a favor and seek the advice of an experienced business advisor if you don’t have any experience. People in that profession will often take a look at your plans and highlight any potential issues before you set the wheels in motion. Good luck!

Boost Your Chances of Getting Sponsored with a Winning Proposal [Infographic]

We all know that running a business can be expensive. From the costs of running your business to the money you pay for marketing, it’s a struggle to stay afloat. One of the best ways to help you pay for something expensive is to receive a sponsorship from another company. Whether it’s to help you pay for a new project or to help you cut the costs of your first public appearance at a business event, you need to understand a few core things before writing a half-baked proposal. After all, first impressions count, so you don’t want to make a fool of yourself by sending off something that isn’t written or researched to a professional standard.

Your sponsorship proposal needs to be well-researched and you need to source the right leads to help you improve your chances. The companies you seek need to be within your industry and they need to have interests that align with yours. It helps to have a template that you can build your proposal on, but each company you interact with is going to require a different approach and that’s where most businesses struggle.

A handmade and personalised sponsorship proposal will turn heads and increase your chances of striking a deal to bolster your business’s exposure. It sounds difficult and you might be considering the possibility of hiring a writer to do it for you — but that’s not necessary. The infographic below will help you write a winning proposal in seven easy steps all by yourself.


Infographic Design By: https://sponsorshipcollective.com/definitive-guide-sponsorship-proposal/ The Sponsorship Collective

Big up Your Brand with These Exposure Tips

If you dream of your brand one day becoming a household name, you need to build your brand exposure. While you might not reach Coca-Cola levels of fame, you could still become a well-known brand within your industry. At the moment, you might feel like there’s not much recognition for your brand. If you’re unsure, conducting a survey can help you find out what people think of you, including whether they recognise your name and logo, and if they know what you do. Think you’ve still got a long way to go to get the brand recognition you’re after? Here’s what you could do to change that.

Sponsor an Event or Charity

Getting your name or logo to appear anywhere other than your own marketing materials is always a smart move. Find an event you can sponsor — it will be great exposure for your brand. Sponsoring a charity event is one idea, but it definitely doesn’t need to be linked to a charity. Businesses and various organisations will also use sponsors to help them fund their events.

In return for your sponsorship, you’ll likely get a range of benefits, such as your logo on official event material. You might also consider attaching your brand to a charity for a longer partnership that benefits you both.

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Sign Up for Trade Shows and Conferences

Going to a trade show or conference can mean a lot of work, but it’s worth it to boost your brand’s presence. Some of them are for other businesses in your industry, while others are open to the public. Which type of event you choose might depend on whether you’re promoting B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business) products or could just relate to whose attention you currently want to get.

If you want to be successful, you need to make your trade show portable displays stand out. Getting some custom items made will ensure you present a strong brand identity at the event. If you decide to go to a conference or trade show, make sure you start organising early.

Get More Active on Social Media

Creating a strong online presence is essential in the modern age. Social media is one of the key factors to pay attention to if you want to get people talking about you. There are several ways to stay engaged on social media, from starting conversations to using paid advertising. Having a social media strategy will help to give you a direction that will build your brand.

Come Up with a PR Campaign

If you’ve got something you want to promote, a PR campaign could help to get your brand more exposure. You might simply want to tell the story of how your brand came to be. Or perhaps you’re about to release a new product or service. Maybe you’ve conducted a survey and found some interesting statistics.

Whatever it is you want to say, getting in touch with some media professionals could get your voice out there.

If you need more brand exposure, there are several things you can easily do. Take action instead of waiting for something to happen.

Seven Personality Traits of an Amazing Boss

It’s shocking, but around 50 percent of employees who quit their positions do so because they have a bad boss. Having a boss who doesn’t know what he’s doing, or a boss whose mean and unfair is also the biggest cause of disharmony, disengagement and poor performance in any organisation.

It is for these reasons that it is important that you do whatever you can to ensure that you or the managers you appoint are great bosses. How, by ensuring that you have some of the personality traits of an amazing boss.

1. Optimism

I would be lying, and you wouldn’t believe me if I said that it is possible for things to always run smoothly in business — things are always going to go wrong occasionally. That’s why it’s important that, as a boss, you have a positive outlook on life.

If when things go wrong, you can put a positive spin on it and look to the future with optimism, you’ll be able to steer your staff through those choppy waters with ease and bring them along with you. If you’re negative, everyone will be bummed out, and productivity will undoubtedly drop as a result.

Learning optimism

It can be tough to develop an optimistic outlook if it isn’t your default setting, but keeping a gratefulness journal, where you point out the positive things in life each day and repeating optimistic mantras when things aren’t going right can really help you to get better at this.

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2. Honesty

Honesty really is the best policy, especially in boss-client relations. Why? Because one likes to be lied to especially when it affects their job and quite possibly their livelihood.

Amazing bosses are the ones who are always willing to speak truth to their staff, no matter how good or bad it might be. By being transparent, they gain respect and ensure that employees feel secure in their work, which can really boost morale and productivity.

Of course that saying that knowledge is power also holds true in business, which is another reason to be truthful.

Develop a habit of honesty

Start by admitting any small mistakes that you make throughout the working week. It might feel really hard at first, but you’ll soon see how much better it makes your employees feel to know that you too are infallible and that you won’t push your mistakes onto others. Once you can admit your own personal failings, it’s much easier, to be honest about pretty much everything.

3. Fairness

An amazing boss must be fair at all times. That means, you can’t afford to play favorites, and if you know that it’s a client being difficult, not your employees being bad at your job you must know how to fire a toxic client and be willing to do so.

Stand up for your staff against bad employees and treat everyone in the office absolutely equally and you will be loved by all except, perhaps, those toxic clients.

Developing a sense of fairness

Humans are naturally programmed to favor their friends and allies, but you can increase your sense of fairness by spending more time with your employees, giving them equal opportunities to be with you and express their feelings.

You should also ensure that if you discipline or praise one person for a particular thing, then you should do the same to everyone who does it. That way, no one can accuse you of playing favourites, and pretty soon the thought of doing so won’t even enter your mind.

American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor, Elon Musk at a Tesla Motors unveiling
4. Delegation

An amazing boss should also be good at delegation. Knowing you want your employees to be happy and your business to run as smoothly as possible, you can’t just go handing out assignments haphazardly. You need to understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to be more effective in assigning tasks.

If you have a knack for doing this then your staff will enjoy their work. This leads to more productivity and less of your time spent micromanaging — a common annoyance for all involved.

Learning to delegate

Start by getting to know your staff’s strengths and weaknesses and trusting them to know what to do. I know it is, like many of the things in this post, a lot easier said than done, but practice makes perfect.

5. Good Communication

Good bosses are bosses who know that communication is one of the most important factors in building a successful business. After all, if you do not communicate effectively with your employees, how are they to know what is expected of them or what needs to be done?

Of course, part of being a good communicator is knowing when to keep your mouth shut and knowing how to effectively explain things and motivate your team. It only takes a few misplaced words to strike discord in your team. You don’t want to become the kind of boss that drives people away from the company.

Becoming a better communicator

Think before you speak, use as few words as possible to explain various concepts, and perhaps take a course in leadership communication or public speaking. If you aren’t already, you’ll be an excellent communicator in no time at all.

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6. Inspirational

Amazing bosses don’t just get on well with their teams and make the time spent at work as pleasant as possible — they also inspire their staff. They do everything they can to help their employees achieve more and be more.

They are willing to let staff have time off for personal development, and they will invest in courses and events to boost their employee’s skills. They will also lead by example.

Learning to inspire

If you aren’t already an inspirational individual, or at least not as inspirational as you think you could be, start working on some of your own dreams and ambitions in your own time. Your zest for life and passion for improving yourself will rub off on your employees and give you a passion for helping them too.

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7. Team Player

An amazing boss is a team player. He or she does not think that she’s bigger and better than any other employee in the business. If you want to be seen as a great boss then be as willing to get stuck in on the ground floor as you are to take executive meetings.

Be willing to do this without any complaints. Getting involved with your employees will help to keep them motivated and focused on the goal at hand and ahead. It helps to eliminate divisions based on perceived rank in the workplace.

Being part of the team

I know team-building exercises get a bad rap, but going away for a weekend with your staff, so you can really get to know them is a good place to start. As is realising that every role in your business is vital to the successful running of the place, which means that no job is too demeaning for you or anyone else.

If you have, or you know you can develop, as many of these traits as possible, then you are undoubtedly going to be a good boss — a fair boss — a boss that makes people want to stick around rather than go running for the hills, and that’s exactly what you need to be if you want your company to be productive and successful in today’s global market.

3 Instances in Which Your Small Businesses Should Outsource

If you’re a small business owner then the chances are you’ve been told to outsource. This usually leads to some small business looking to outsource every single job they have. It’ll save money, they think. In reality, outsourcing only saves money and benefits your business when used correctly.

So, today’s your lucky day — here are some pointers that outline when it’s right for your business to outsource.

Jobs That Aren’t Always Constant

In your small business, there will be some jobs that are constant and some that aren’t. Now, here’s a question worth considering — why would you hire a full-time employee for a job they won’t have to do every single day? It’s a waste of money. Hire on an as-needed basis is the best approach — and this is where you’re far better off outsourcing.

Things that come to mind include content writing for your website or even web design. It’s unlikely you’ll need new web content everyday, or for new web design. So, it makes way more sense to outsource these jobs whenever you need them, cutting your overheads quite dramatically.

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Complex Jobs That Require Specialist Skills

There’s no denying your business will have some complex tasks that need to be fulfilled. Attempting these yourself can take a long time, and you might not have the skills to do them. The problem is, if you bring someone in on a permanent contract, they could cost a lot of money as it would be a skilled job. Here, we have the perfect opportunity to outsource.

If your business outsources a bookkeeper, they handle all the complex financial tasks because that’s what they’re good at. You could outsource a marketing team to handle the complicated marketing strategy, and so on. There are loads of tasks that require skilled individuals, and you’ll find it cheaper to outsource rather than hire permanently.

Plus, you could get a team of people doing one task, rather than having to physically hire individuals to make up a team.

Large-scale Jobs That Need Multiple Hands on Deck

This final point kind of plays off the last sentence of the above point about outsourcing a team of people. You’ll find this is one of the main benefits of outsourcing — you can pay a company to do a job, and they’ll provide their team for you. This comes in handy when you have quite large-scale jobs that mean you need a lot of people working at once.

The main thing that pops into my mind is customer support. Even a small business needs a decent support team for their customers. This could mean hiring a lot of people, even a small support team of five or 10 employees is costly. By outsourcing jobs like this, you get a team working for your business, and all you do is pay the company that supplies them. It’s easier to manage, and you get rid of the overheads like employee benefits, etc.

The whole point of this article is that you don’t have to outsource every job. In fact, some jobs are better done in-house. Hopefully, these points help you figure out when you should outsource to gain the most from it.