Monthly Archives: March, 2018

Spring Cleaning Your Business

March 28th, 2018 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

The first day of Spring has officially happened and even though a chunk of the country is still experiencing snow, that means one thing; spring cleaning! Most people think it’s just for cleaning their homes, but business owners should be thinking about doing some business clean up too!

Spring cleaning is more than just physical clean up. It’s about reviewing routine processes that have become habitual so you can see if there is room for improvement. For most modern businesses, here are three areas in which you can look at to spring clean your business.

hands on keyboard 393312226.jpgWebsite & Social Media
Open all your social media sites where you have an account and your website. Take a look around and take stock of what your online presence looks like. Is your branding up to date and being represented as effectively as possible? Do you need to update your copy? Take the time to fix all your little details. Check things like your address, correct services are listed, your logo is sized properly, cross check your links and that you have a consistent graphic scheme. These small things don’t take a ton of time to unify but they make a big impact on your audience.

Operations
Part of your spring cleaning should also be an evaluation of the operation of the business. Ask your employees what’s working and what isn’t working. You see your business from the owner’s chair, you may not know the pain points of your employees. Make sure that you are ready to hear this critique before jumping in and let your staff know that you are welcoming the information.

Part of your daily operations are your expenses like supplies, services and utilities. Take a few minutes to review what you are spending and see if there are any opportunities to get better pricing.

Once you know where you want to improve your operations, make a business plan. You don’t have to change everything overnight! Set a timeline of goals for the business to have new processes in place.

Customer Relations
Much like you just asked your employees for a review, ask your customers! Ask your customers to take a customer satisfaction survey. If they don’t like something, they are more likely to just find a new place to shop rather than let you know. So find out how you’re doing and see where you might strengthen operations. This is also a great time to reward your customers for taking the time out of their day for providing feedback. Offer them a special coupon or promo and when they use it, make sure to thank them again so they know you are genuine.

Spring cleaning isn’t always about the physical cleaning that you can do. It’s the opportunity to dust off old habits and tune into how your business can be better.

 

Written by Stacy Werner, Bartercard Buffalo.

Top Ways to Attract New Customers

March 22nd, 2018 Posted by Marketing, Smart business tips No Comment yet

The world is forever changing and standing out in a market that’s louder, faster and where customers are more discerning can be harder than ever.  Follow these tips to re-think your approach and attract new customers to your business every day.

Change the status quo
A killer business idea starts by recognizing a problem and finding a solution, but changing the status quo takes a concept to the next level by completely altering the way we do things.  It’s one of the hardest things to do, but pays off when it’s done well – consider CD stores (iTunes), libraries (Google), DVD rentals (Netflix), department stores (eBay), and restaurants (UberEats).  What could you be doing to change the status quo in your industry?

Content marketing and SEObusiness owner on iPad.jpg
The best efforts in building a brand takes a combination of direct advertising and inbound methods – content marketing and SEO. While advertising continues to be at the core of selling a brand, customers research everything online so companies have shifted the way they reach their markets.

In the past, content was the articles in newspapers or stories in magazines.  Today it’s the copy on your website, blog posts, articles, videos, social and ebooks; anything your viewers read, download or watch.

Posting relevant and reliable content will boost your search engine ranking (SEO) and let customers find you more easily online.  So it’s critical to ingrain content marketing into your SEO strategy to attract new customers.

Content marketing shouldn’t be centered on advertising your business – it’s about conveying valuable information to your target market to build trust and credibility which eventually creates longstanding customers.  This could be cooking hacks or expert tips from the chef, inside vision or little-known facts behind a brand.

Build an online community
Although a shift online certainly isn’t new, a strategic approach combining in-store (or in-restaurant) and digital is. Consumer trends are seeing more bookings resulting directly from a combination of customers interacting at a digital level and coming into the establishment.  So creating a consistent and high-level dining experience that integrates a digital is a must.  A few tips to reach customers through Instagram when it comes to hospitality: launch new foods or signature beverages, post Instagram videos straight from the kitchen and create limited menu items which stand out on screens.

Many brands on Instagram include a link in their bio that allows followers to purchase items in their Instagram feed, so spending is inextricably linked to the platform and will attract more consumers to come in.  If you have a service-based business, do you sell anything in addition to complement your brand?

Want more tips like these? 
Download our FREE ebook – 8 ways to attract new customers below. 

 

Written by Bartercard Australia, March 21, 2018

Finding Work Life Balance

March 7th, 2018 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

Finding your own sense of work-life balance can be a daunting task. Depending on your current circumstance, the ability to find a real balance can be hard.

Is work-life balance a destination or a decision?

Much has been written about this elusive notion of real balance between your job and your personal life. How does family tie to work? And vice versa. Do you find yourself living a dual personality; one at work, the other at home?

Pressures of a fast-paced work world can certainly impact your ability to find this delicate balance. The problem I see is that too many of us think about work-life balance as something to achieve. Like a destination. “I’m going to get there” I hear people say.

True balance in your life is more about choices and decisions rather than final destinations. If you could “arrive” at a perfect balance, how long would it last? What other factors might tip the balance once you achieve it?

No, work-life balance is a continuing sense of equilibrium you can experience by making better, more consistent choices in what you do.

Work-life balance means something different to every individual. These days, work-life balance can seem like an impossible feat. Technology makes workers accessible around the clock. Fears of job loss make us work longer hours.

In fact, a whopping 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School survey. Experts agree: the compounding stress from the never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health, and overall happiness.

Here are some quick tips to help ease the bad choices you might be making.

Let go of Perfectionism

A lot of overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It’s easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated.

As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive, says executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, who wrote The Office Survival Guide.

Unplug

From telecommuting to programs that make work easier, technology has helped our lives in many ways. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The workday never seems to end. “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment,” says Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life.

Brooks says that phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. So don’t text at your kid’s soccer game and don’t send work emails while you’re hanging out with family, Brooks advises. Make quality time true quality time.

Exercise and Meditate

Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up.

Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Limit those Time-Wasting Activities

First, identify what’s most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.

From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from the schedule. If email or internet surfing sends you into a time-wasting spiral, establish rules to keep you on task. That may mean turning off email notifications and replying in batches during limited times each day. If you’re mindlessly surfing Facebook or cat blogs when you should be getting work done, try using productivity software like Freedom, LeechBlock or RescueTime.

And if you find your time being gobbled up by less constructive people, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. Cornered every morning by the office chatterbox? Politely excuse yourself. Drinks with the work gang the night before a busy, important day? Bow out and get a good night sleep. Focus on the people and activities that reward you the most.

Change the Structure of Your Life

Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our habits are set in stone. Take a birds-eye view of your life and ask yourself: What changes could make life easier?

Instead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Delegate or outsource everything else. Delegating can be a win-win situation, says Stewart Freidman, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. Freidman recommends talking to the “key stakeholders” in different areas of your life, which could include employees or colleagues at work, a spouse or a partner in a community project.

Start Small

These ideas may seem too large to tackle all at once. Start small. Make simple changes toward better choices.

Record your “wins”! I see too many high achievers who never celebrate a win. Our sense of knowing we’re winning helps build momentum in this life. Get it going in the right direction by recognizing the small wins in your day. Keep a journal if you need to. Write nothing but the wins you experience in a day. Enjoy the journey!

Make a difference for yourself. You can start today.

 

Written by Doug Thorpe. Read more blogposts by Doug Thorpe here.