Posts tagged " Business "

Getting Your Business Prepared for Tax Season

December 21st, 2017 Posted by Bartercard, Smart business tips No Comment yet

The end of 2017 marks the end of the fiscal year for most businesses, which can be the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holidays. It’s tax time! We know tax season can seem intimidating and daunting, so here are some quick tips to get your business ready for a visit with the accountant.

 

Plan Ahead

The number one reason people dread tax time is because they aren’t prepared for it. Even if you start taking a few hours a week now before the end of the year to get organized, you will have a much better experience preparing your taxes. Start by sorting paperwork and putting them into inexpensive folders or envelopes. Label important documents so you can easily find them when it’s time to do your taxes. While gathering these invoices and receipts, take time to reconcile your bank accounts to make sure everything matches up. The IRS has generated a handy checklist of things you need to prepare your taxes here.

 

Business Tax Deductions

The cost of running your business is what is called your business expenses. A business expense is considered to be tax deductible if it is ordinary and necessary. The IRS defines ordinary expense as one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business.

Two common businesses deductions are home office and auto deductions. If you use your home for your business, you may be able to deduct a portion of your mortgage interest, utilities or insurance. Visit the IRS’s website to see if you meet the requirements.

For your car, you can deduct expenses in one of two ways. You can either deduct the standard mileage rate (total miles driven multiplied by the standard rate for the year), or you can deduct actual car expenses like gas, insurance or repairs. For more information about these options visit the IRS HERE.

 

Put Bartercard to Work for You

The IRS recognizes 1 Trade Dollar is equal to 1 USD, so transactions would be reported as income/expenses depending on how they are used.  But, did you know you may be eligible to claim a charitable deduction on your tax return? We have a number of non-profits in our trade network that would be grateful for trade dollar donations. If you would like to make a donation please contact your Trade Broker for assistance.

Additionally, it is always recommended that when a Bartercard member is considering making a donation of Trade Dollars to a charity that you consult your tax advisor or accountant to discuss the particulars of the gift, and determine how much of the gift may be deductible for tax purposes.

 

Plan ahead and remember this is general advice only – please seek specific advice for your own circumstances from your own professional tax advisor and the IRS.

 

Article written by, and shared with permission of Bartercard Buffalo.

How to Avoid Holiday Burnout and Enjoy the Season

December 14th, 2017 Posted by Bartercard, Smart business tips No Comment yet

With the end of the year quickly approaching, a lot gets piled onto the calendar; events, parties, work obligations, family commitments, shopping and preparations. It’s hard to maintain your high holiday spirit when there is so much to do and only so much time to do it in. Here are a few ways to battle the stress of the holidays so that you can enjoy them.

Keep Yourself Healthy
One of the easiest ways to avoid burn out is to maintain your health. When the time crunch starts, the first thing to go often are sleep and healthy, balanced meals. Not sleeping enough or eating at your desk or on the run all the time will make you burn out faster. Make time for full meals and 6-8 hours of sleep to recharge your body.

Take Time Off & Delegate
During crunch times you might often find yourself “doing it all simply because you have passion for your work or business. However, everyone needs to take some time out to relax though and you can’t do that if you are doing everything. To free up your time to keep normal work hours or take a break during the day, delegate some of your tasks to other employees. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. Often, people are very willing to assist you so that you can get some relief and enjoy life.

Unplug
Once you have delegated your tasks to free up your schedule and have a proper meal and sleep, unplug from technology. It’s very easy to continually work without even realizing it. How many times have you “just quickly checked an email”? Your eyes and brain need a break from screens to unwind. Social media and emails can just be a constant reminder of all the things you need to do, which creates anxiety. Make a conscious effort to put technology away after a certain time of day to help you unwind and relax.

Have Fun
Remember to have fun at your job! Find ways to insert some fun and laughter into your day. If you keep your own morale up at work, you will find yourself coming home happy. Combine this with the other steps above, you will create a reccurring cycle of happiness during the crazy holiday season.

 

Written by Stacy Werner, Bartercard Buffalo. You can find the original post here.

Why You Should Take Time Out From Your Business

October 25th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

Taking a break won’t be the death of your business – Jess Van Den

 

We understand, you’re starting to get going and your business is seeing success. With every day, a new challenge arises and you have customers relying on your products or services. As time goes on, we’re so eager to please that we forget to take days away and we end up working for weeks straight. If it hasn’t already happened, however, one day you’re going to get sick of your business and lose your passion.

 

Although you love what you do (you wouldn’t have started the business otherwise!), taking a break and days away might just be the factor that separates success from failure. No matter how much we love something, we need time away to recharge the batteries and regain our passion. Not only does this apply to our business, it applies to relationships with partners and family members, your favorite hobbies, book series’, restaurants, sports, and more. If something you love becomes too easily accessible, we soon grow tired.

Sadly, many businesses have failed because the owner wasn’t willing to trust others, or they were scared of losing customers, but this is no way to run a business. In life, we need a balance. As you can see from the quote at the top, taking a break WILL NOT be the death of your business. Instead, it has the following benefits;

 

Recharge the Batteries – Wouldn’t it be great to wake up knowing you have no responsibility for the day ahead? Sometimes, our brain needs this downtime to recover after weeks of working late nights and burning out. As you read, watch TV, go for a bike ride, spend time with family, or whatever you do, you’re doing things because you want to do them and not because you need to do them for your business.

 

Regain Your Focus – Have you ever stared at a problem for so long that even the question becomes confusing (let alone finding an answer!)? If so, this is because you’re too close and you’ve spent too much time with your brain in ‘overload’ mode. With even one day away from your business, you’ll be surprised at how different the same problem looks when you return. In fact, you might even come up with the solution on your day off when you’re not even thinking about work.

 

Make an Assessment – With time away from the day-to-day responsibilities, you can have a day or week of reflection; how far your business has come and where you’re going in the future. When you return, you’ll have a clear idea in your mind and all decisions will be made with this in mind.

 

Work/Life – Finally, we’re going to finish on a personal note because many relationships and families have been destroyed by overworking husbands and wives. When you take time away from your business, you find the work/life balance and this allows you to spend time with loved ones. Rather than making promises you can’t keep, you spend time with your family and friends. Out of everything we’ve discussed, this might just be the most important of all because our relationships are the most valuable things we have; everything else is material. With the right work/life balance, you can excel in both and leave your children with brilliant memories in addition to a successful business!

Important Characteristics Every Entrepreneur Must Have

October 18th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

Are you planning to start and run your own business? Do you know the right qualifications and characteristics an entrepreneur must have to succeed? Does your profile match that of a successful entrepreneur? In this article, we will explore and discuss the essential characteristics that every entrepreneur must have. There are several important traits and values that are common among successful entrepreneurs.

Before you go and start your enterprise, it will be very helpful to think and reflect whether you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. If not, you can also start developing these character traits.

Successful Entrepreneurs are Self-Confident – to succeed in the highly competitive business world, confidence and trust in oneself is an indispensable trait. Self-confidence means trusting your own powers and capabilities. The world of entrepreneurship is not without failure and disappointment. To survive in such a cutthroat world, an entrepreneur must have the ability to look within himself and find the drive and persistence to pursue his dreams. An entrepreneur must have the gumption to face any adversity and tackle any problems that may be encountered in the world of business.

It may take time for your idea to take root. You will encounter plenty of people who will discourage you. They may even challenge your character for even “thinking such a thing” (as your idea). Having self-confidence can protect you from much of the negative energy that may come your way.

Successful Entrepreneurs are Risk-takers – being an entrepreneur means having the ability to trust your hunches and acting on them. Great business ideas sometimes start as a hunch which enterprising individuals act upon. There is always the risk of loss in any endeavor, and entrepreneurs have just the right confidence to take calculated risks to achieve their objective. However, an entrepreneur’s risk-taking does not depend on luck, but on sheer effort and hard work.

Risk must be measured against reward. There is no need to be a dare-devil. But there is a good reason to accept some amount of risk in order to achieve your goals.

Successful Entrepreneurs know the value of money and are careful about their finances – to succeed in any business; an entrepreneur must understand the value of money and the cost of things. Typically, successful entrepreneurs learned how to earn and value money at a young age. Most of them started out by earning loose change as teenagers mowing lawns, doing groceries, babysitting for neighbors, etc.

 

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Successful entrepreneurs have the so-called head for business – many entrepreneurs are gifted with intuition: they know what product or service is going to ‘click’ next. However, this ability does not involve clairvoyance or extrasensory powers of some sort, but rather, keen observation and understanding of what is going on around him. A good entrepreneur is always on the lookout for new ideas and new ways to make money.

Sometimes though, the entrepreneurial idea is not enough to win success. You need counsel for things you may not know about running a business. It is often said many start-up founders don’t know what they don’t know. Seeking out a reliable mentor is a good practice for helping to shorten the learning curve. Making early mistakes can be costly, if not fatal to your business. Surrounding yourself with trusted advisers can create a safety net.

Successful Entrepreneurs are competitive – the world of business is a very competitive environment. An entrepreneur must be aggressive enough to pursue his goal despite having many rivals and competitors. An entrepreneur must know how to stay ahead of his competitors, either by introducing new ideas and exploring new ventures, all in the spirit of expanding his business.

There is a big difference between being competitive and arrogant. A strong will to win is fine, but should not bleed over into an egotistical arrogance. Ego will block the ability to take feedback and input from those who want you to win. Be competitive, but be sensitive to the temptation to get carried away with the attitude.

Successful Entrepreneurs are honorable and have a good work ethic – although it is a fact that the business world is ruthless, the successful entrepreneur will strive to make every business deal honorable. The mark of a successful entrepreneur lies in a good personal work ethic that ultimately leads to good business practices, excellent reputation and good association with industry peers and business partners.

Becoming a business owner people can trust carries a great long-term value. The reputation you build is as important as the earnings you gather along the way. Your reputation will allow you to build other businesses at a later stage.

Successful Entrepreneurs know the importance of leisure time – hard work and determination are very important values every entrepreneur must have. However, a good entrepreneur knows when it’s time to take a step back from all the rigors of business and enjoy some downtime with their family. Besides, we all do need a little relaxation to refresh the body and mind before plunging back into the challenging (and stressful) world of business.

I like to call this time “re-calibration”. The stress and pressure of the daily grind demand periods of rest and recovery. Miss this and your endurance will suffer, if not your health.

SUMMARY

These are just seven of the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur. Of course, the characteristics every entrepreneur must have are not limited to the ones mentioned here. Having these characteristics is not a guarantee that an entrepreneur will be successful. Yet with these characteristics, an entrepreneur has just the right ingredients for success. All one needs to do is to find the right mix of these values, excellent timing, perhaps a bit of luck and, of course, faith in oneself.

So, do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Go over these characteristics and values again. Ask yourself if you are ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

 

Article reproduced with permission from Doug Thorpe. Read the original article here.

5 Tips for Growing Your Business When It’s Just You

October 11th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

With technology and increased opportunities, more people are starting their own business than ever before. This being said, the same old problem is still arising and it’s causing many new businesses to shut down every year; managing growth. With small business growth, it can be hard to navigate because you’re alone, you don’t know how to make the jump, and you can sometimes get too comfortable with being a small business.

While managing the day-to-day tasks, it can be tough to even think about getting bigger and handling the requests that come your way. Today, we’re going to address small business growth and how you can create a strategy to enjoy the wave rather than fighting against it.

 

Plan, Plan, Plan – Although this seems obvious, not enough people sit down and plan these days. If your business were to grow, what systems would need updating, where would you need help, what could you do alone, and how could you manage your time most effectively? Within your plan, you can see your budget, the resources you have available, and make an assessment of your facilities. At this point, you should know exactly where your money goes so there aren’t huge leaks as you expand.

 

Remove Administration – At the moment, you’re probably citing paperwork as the main reason you can’t expand; how are you supposed to deal with customers and do all the paperwork that comes with it? Well, nowadays there’s some fantastic technology around that’ll help to achieve your goal. With an automated administration program, you can spend your time on the most important tasks of your business rather than wasting it on simple tasks.

For example, bookkeeping, accounting, and payroll is a major inefficiency for most small businesses. By automating the whole system, even if it’s just you, everything is done through a computer system rather than doing it manually. What’s more, you could automate your invoicing and receipt system. Once you’ve created your invoice from a template online, it’ll be sent directly to the customer to take the weight from your shoulders.

 

Outsource – With small business growth, there are always services waiting to help and you need to remember this. As you grow, you might not be ready to hire just yet so you can turn to outsourcing instead. Nowadays, there are more freelancers than ever before so allow them to help with customer service (answering calls and replying to emails remotely), simple administration tasks, keeping social media updated, and more. What to learn more about outsourcing? Read our recent blog on the topic here.

 

Don’t Push Back – When more growth comes, look to find solutions, as opposed to reasons why it’s a problem. Whether the solution comes from more outsourcing, extending the delivery time of your service, or adding a new automated solution, don’t stop the growth that comes your way because thousands of businesses would love to be in your position and, let’s not forget, this is what you dreamed at the start!

 

Hire – Finally, as long as you’ve optimized your business and administrative tasks, you will eventually need help with the actual work and this is when you need to start hiring. Rather than hiring too early, reaching this point suggests you’re no longer a startup but instead enjoying the fruits of your labor. As long as you hire carefully, you can move forward with confidence knowing the basics have been automated, outsourced, and optimized; this prevents hiring just for paperwork and basic tasks.

 

If you’re experiencing small business growth, we wish you the best! Don’t forget, as a Bartercard member, your Trade Broker is an excellent resource for ideas of how to use Bartercard and save you cash as you grow.

Tips to Use Referrals to Boost Your Business

October 4th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

In recent years, technology and the internet seems to have taken over the world. However, we cannot underestimate the word-of-mouth as this has always been the most powerful free form of marketing around. Since we trust the word of our friends and family, we’re more than happy to try a restaurant (for example) they suggest. Of course, we also have word-of-mouth online now with social media and review websites such as Yelp but how you do use this knowledge wisely?

Considering referrals are the cheaper and (arguably) most effective form of advertisement, we have some tips you can use to make the most of this resource. With your customers having direct access to more people in your target market, it’s time to take advantage.

Incentives

For customers to refer your new business to friends and family, they need to have a motivation and this could come from vouchers, gifts, or any other reward. As well as both parties benefiting from the referral, you’re saying ‘thank you’ to an existing customer while welcoming a new customer for the years ahead.

Ask

Often, we see businesses not knowing how to ask their customers for referrals when the easiest thing in the world would be to just ask them directly. As a restaurant, for example, you could ask whether the customer has anyone who would enjoy the food. As an IT solutions company helping businesses, you could ask whether they have a sister company or any other business who could benefit from the service.

If you have a range of services and your existing customers only uses one portion of your offering, make sure they’re aware of the whole range. This way, they’ll keep people in mind who could use the services even if they can’t themselves.

Emails

Do you send regular emails to your existing customers? If so, there’s nothing wrong with utilizing this opportunity and adding a line about referrals at the bottom. Whether it’s ‘referrals appreciated’ or ‘referrals rewarded’, you should see a reaction so long as the line is clearly shown rather than being hidden. With this line alone, they’re likely to think of their friends and family to see whether you could help them.

In the past, we’ve seen businesses adding paragraphs regarding referrals but we don’t think this is necessary. The longer the message, the less likely people are to read it because it’s not a part of the main email. With a short and sweet two-worded message, your existing customers keep it in mind for the future.

Networking

In case you didn’t notice, there are new businesses all around the world (and just around the corner!) in the exact same position as you. Why not get in contact with them and create a referral system? Of course, we aren’t talking about your competitors because you’re looking for the same customers. Instead, we recommend a complementary service.

For example, a car mechanic who specializes in everything performance-related such as engine, brakes, exhaust, and more. If they were to start networking with a bodywork expert, the two could refer work whenever the opportunity arises. Similarly, a hairdresser might have a relationship with a nail bar where work can be referred. For the customer, your two services might actually become more attractive as a package than alone, so the networking could be a great move.

Extras

Even after these superb referral tips, you could conduct surveys of how people found your business, ask followers to share your valuable content, and run competitions on social media with the hopes your customers will inform their friends, family, and colleagues.

As you can see, there are several ways to use referrals. Use these tips to start creating more referrals for your business today!

Small business tips to boost brand exposure and sales

September 20th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

1. Fine-tuned customer targeting

The first step to boosting brand exposure is a clear-cut picture of who your customer is, so you can select the most effective channels to reach them. Do you sell custom-embossed tech accessories to females 25-40, working in corporate? You can do a targeted Facebook campaign to specifically reach these demographics. Trying to appeal to everyone will water down your brand, so have a clear picture of what your customers like and do, what their pain points are and what solutions you have.
Click here to read more about finding your online audience.


2. Do things differently 

Part of getting seen is doing things that stand out from the throngs. What pain points are you tackling, in what creative way, and what led you to launch? Brands like Dollar Shave Club mail out competitively-priced grooming supplies straight to customers while Coca-Cola appeals through clever emotive story telling. Think what you can do differently to impact the market – like Uber delivering ice cream – #ubericecream. As part of your brand story, everything in your business should be conducive. Are healthy deserts your specialty? Serve them in environmentally-friendly packaging to stay consistent. 

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3. Build your brand

There’s over one billion websites world-wide and this number is growing daily. So how can you set yourself apart from a sea of competitors? The key is making your brand speak loud and clear. Branding not only comes down to your logo, design, fonts and colors but your businesses personality, the way you communicate, the approach you take, and the way you are seen and perceived in the marketplace. It’s a lot to take into consideration but it all shapes the direction of your business. Whatever industry you are in, building a solid and unique identity is vital to stand out and get seen.

 

4. Nail all branch touch points – website, social media, blog, shopfront (or e-commerce store) and advertising

Ensure your information and branding is consistent across the board – so that if a customer, influencer or journalist does check you out further, you’ve done everything you can to shape and leverage the message. If you work in a service-based industry like accounting or law, see what current issues you can lend your expertise to through blogs and case studies. On top of a quality website, other essential customer touch points and channels to align include social media, e-newsletters, e-commerce and a physical store.

Check out these valuable insights into touch points from Survey Monkey.


5. Get seen – take out advertising and get exposure through PR

Marketing and PR are both essentials in business, and work in tandem to achieve business goals. If you don’t have a cash budget for marketing or PR, use Bartercard trade dollars to land exposure without the cash bill. Bartercard has hundreds of media companies, including magazines and industry publications, where you can advertise your business and showcase your brand.
For extra tips, read how to get the word out when you don’t have a marketing or PR budget.

6. Copywriting

Effective copywriting inspires consumers to take action like subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an e-book or purchasing products.  Ensure your digital content is unique, high quality and optimized. Low-quality will cause your site to rate poorly in search engines. Incorporating SEO basics like keywords, links and mobile optimization will boost your site’s ranking. Read about SEO basics at Smack Bang Designs.

7. Make the most of SEO tech and tools

Various free online tools are available for measuring how your website is performing, which is critical in tracking and testing what works and what doesn’t.  Google Analytics allows you to analyze your website traffic – what parts of your campaigns are converting the most and at what points visitors leave your site – visit Google Analytics.  Google Search Console checks your site for search results, click-through rates and any errors like broken links, plus tests if Google can make sense of your content, which is essential for SEO. Click here to get started.

8. Mobile optimize your website

With the ever-increasing use of smart phones and other portable devices, it’s vital to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. If your website doesn’t render to mobile, it automatically loses credibility. Check your site here.

 

Plus, keep your established business thriving

Looking for inspiration to stay on track or take your business to the next level? Consider these tips to always keep your brand and business fresh.

  • Quality over quantity
    It’s a bit ironic that in this day of mass communication, people are showing a preference for personalized service and marketing. So focus on creating more customized experiences instead of a one-size-fits all approach. This may involve narrowing down your target audience and working on building rapport and stronger client relationships.
    4 ways you can make your business stand out.
  • Establishing partnerships
    Some businesses partner with others to deliver enhanced services and boost their brand – think Apple + IBM, McDonalds + Lego, and Uber + Spotify. To partner successfully, both parties should have similar target audiences and the arrangement should be mutually advantageous.
  • Focus on always evolving
    It’s a fast-paced world and no business can afford to rest on its laurels. Even large and established corporations have gone by the wayside from not adapting and remaining relevant. So stay on track in your business and strive to continuously learn and evolve.

Article adapted from Bartercard Australia Blogpost. Click here to read the original post.

How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

August 23rd, 2017 Posted by Marketing, Online Business, Smart business tips No Comment yet

With technology introducing a number of new platforms and devices to the world, it can be hard to know which will be beneficial to your small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Should you make your website available on mobile? Where do you spend your time and money with marketing? Is LinkedIn a viable platform to receive small business growth? Today, we want to deal with this last question because there still seems to be some confusion surrounding LinkedIn.


What Is It?
 – For those of you living under a rock for the past few years, LinkedIn is a social networking site but it’s widely considered to be a professional environment. Whereas Facebook and Twitter will deal with social interactions, LinkedIn provides an opportunity for businesses to network and job-seekers to create an online profile (essentially acting as an online résumé).

As an entrepreneur, you might be wondering how you can use this platform to grow but we have compiled some of the biggest tips below;

Advanced Searching – Nowadays, there are various ways of reaching out to potential clients/customers and the ‘advanced search’ feature on LinkedIn can compete with the very best. After entering your search, you can filter by demographic, industry, position, company size, and much more. If you were to pay for the premium option, you can even utilize even more search options and this helps to recognize certain similarities between customers or potential customers themselves.

In addition to consumers, you could even use the advanced search feature to find potential employees so you don’t have to waste money on hiring the wrong people; an extensive LinkedIn research plan can help you choose the person with the right skills, mindset, and culture for your business.


LinkedIn Pulse
 – As blogging platforms go, LinkedIn Pulse is one of the very best and a great way to connect with people and show your expertise within your niche. Whether news articles regarding your industry or simple advice pieces, you can upload content regularly and the notifications system ensures that all your connections will be alerted immediately. With high-quality content, you can be seen as a market leader and gain the trust and credibility companies need to grow online.


Ad Targeting
 – As we all know, Facebook is fantastically clever when it comes to ad targeting but LinkedIn deserves a mention too. As an entrepreneur, you need to know that the right people are seeing your ads and this can now happen with the custom ad settings. After creating your ad, you can get as specific as you wish by selecting a certain job title, a certain company, or even an entire industry. With this, you know that the right eyes will see your ads rather than wasting money targeting a wider market; fewer of which are actually interested in your product.


LinkedIn Groups
 – At first, LinkedIn will encourage you to join up to 50 groups but between eight and twelve is a little more manageable. With key groups in your industry, you can contribute and really earn a name for yourself. As long as you provide genuinely useful information and appreciate the other users rather than constantly spamming, this can be a great way to make contacts.


In truth, there are so many tips for small business growth on LinkedIn that you would be reading all day if we listed them here. For example, you can upload PDFs and videos for your company, gain endorsements from previous clients and employees, use Alumni Groups, regularly post status updates, and just generally have a page where potential clients and employees alike can see what you’re all about and whether you are the right fit for them!

Branding – Online, Offline, and What Your Logo Says About You

August 16th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

In every single industry right now, the competition is increasing and improving continually. As an SME (small or medium enterprise), you lose significant ground if you stand still for even a moment. With this in mind, branding is more important than ever before. Across all platforms and on all products, branding allows the consumer to trust your brand both online and offline. Today, we’re going to provide some simple tips you can utilize while also looking into the impact of your logo.


Importance of a Logo – When we think of the color red in business, it isn’t long before you think of Coca Cola just as we think of Starbucks with green. Why is this? Above all else, it means these two companies have a very successful branding team. Whenever you see the name Coca Cola, it has always been accompanied by the color red whether it’s on the cans, company lorries, adverts, posters, online ads, website, billboards, and many other products they’ve offered through the years such as pencil cases and mini fridges.

Why do companies do this? Well, a recent study suggested that over 90% of all purchase judgements are made on visual perceptions; furthermore, 85% of people suggest color as their main reasoning behind buying a new product. Considering colors can also evoke different emotions in people, it’s fair to say this feature is important.

Along with the color, the logo plays an important role in the process because it should portray your message, what you’re trying to achieve, its context, and where you want to go in the world. If you look at FedEx, the negative space creates an arrow pointing forward; with Amazon, that smiley face you thought existed is actually an arrow from A to Z suggesting they cover every product imaginable.

 

Branding – If you’re attempting to improve your branding this year, we highly recommend making a list of all your products, documentation, and any other location where branding will be possible. From here, you can create one master copy of your logo before then applying it to your list. If you have different versions of your logo, we highly recommend working from just one because the smallest of differences between logos could see you lose trust and credibility.

Next, write a branding profile for your company including words that describe your service, colors, your logo, tone/voice you want to use, etc. If you choose a light blue color scheme, this needs to be applied across the board from company vehicles to your website. If you have a blue logo, there’s little point then making an orange website with employees driving around purple vans; you want your employees to drive past and everyone nearby to know the name of your brand within seconds.

 

Importance of Consistency – As a small or medium business, the goal is to grow as much as possible (we hope). Although it can be tough at times, you must remain consistent with everything written in your branding profile. As well as colors and logos, your voice needs to remain the same too. If you’ve always been a serious company, choosing to go fun/snarky all of a sudden will cause confusion and could be taken the wrong way. Every few weeks, take a step back to reassess your position to ensure consistency across the board.

If you follow this advice and introduce a clever, consistent branding strategy, give it a few years and people will be saying your name to a certain color. What’s more, the trust and credibility increase allows you to introduce a loyal customer base and join the path of business growth!

 


Need advice on your brand? We have many Bartercard members ready to help.  Talk to your Trade Broker today, or search MYBC for a list of businesses who can help you take your brand to the next level.

Becoming a Confident Networker and What it Means to Your Business

August 9th, 2017 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

Over the years, we’ve seen some dramatic changes in the business world and much of this is a result of advancements in technology. However, the same principles of business still apply and this will always be the case. If we use networking as an example, our topic for today, the platform for marketing might have changed somewhat but the principles are exactly the same as they were 50 years ago.  We want to help you become a more confident networker to stand out amongst the ever-growing crowd.

 

Offline – Firstly, we’re going to deal with the traditional form of networking which is face-to-face. To this day, people would much rather trust a person face-to-face than over the internet so it’s still relevant in 2017 and it will be beyond this year. If you want to be a confident networker, the first tip we suggest is knowing everything there is to know about your business. If you have all the information and really believe in your business, this will really shine through when you talk to potential clients, potential partners, and even potential investors.

 

After this, treat the event like you’re enjoying an evening with friends (without the alcohol and potentially deal-breaking dancing). As long as you remain calm, talk slowly, and stand up straight, you won’t be cowering and talking faster than everyone else in the room. If you have to, pretend to be an alter-ego when networking (more people do this than you realize). Instead of the shy person everyone knows, step out of habit and become the confident person that believes in a good business…your own business.

 

Once you have these basics, don’t just jump into the advertisement of your business. Instead, start a conversation and build the trust between you and your audience whether this is one or even four people. From here, you can start to talk about your offering and why you’re different. Instead of saying ‘we’re a financial solution’, for example, change this to ‘we’re the best financial solution’. Even as a small or medium-sized company, you need to have the confidence that you can outperform the larger businesses. If you don’t believe it, who else will?

 

Finally, never leave a conversation without handing over your business card. Despite all the changes in technology as we discussed previously, business cards are still winners because the recipient will find it again when they empty their pockets at home; it reminds them of the conversation rather than letting them forget you.

 

Online – Moving into the world of the internet, networking here can be a little harder because we don’t tend to trust people who approach us first. Unfortunately, this is the way it’s likely to stay in the years to come because there are too many scam artists hurting thousands each year. With this in mind, a kind introduction will always be necessary; without a ‘Dear Mr/Mrs Smith’, your email will get closed in a record time.

 

If you know this person, get the common link in early before they close the email. Whether you met them at a conference or simply attended the same university, this helps to build trust. From here, you can offer a light compliment (without being false) before then proceeding to your request. If you’re networking on social media, remember that the relaxed nature of the site doesn’t give you free reign to message them as you do your friends.

 

Summary – With more companies looking for people they can trust in the business world, networking is only set to get more important in the coming years. As long as you follow these tips, there’s no reason why you can’t find success and therefore grow in 2017 and beyond!