Posts tagged " Smart business tips "

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

Leaders: Want to Up-level Your Communication?

February 21st, 2018 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

Managers face a constant struggle to improve communication within their work teams. Besides being able to accurately articulate any technical aspects about thework (every industry has its key phrases, terms, and buzz words), business leaders have to be ever-mindful of some very basic principles of effective communication.

We usually think about communication as a two part/two person transaction. You speak, I speak, we hear and we act. This is the way most adults perceive the process of communication. When we need to talk to our teams, we usually just think about crafting a message as though it is being addressed to one person.

I submit to you that there are really four stages of communication. Being an effective communicator requires a laser focus to insure the parts are working to their maximum potential.

The four stages are:

1. What You Mean to Say –  Your communication as a manager must first be grounded in the thoughts you develop as facts and circumstances come together. When you process all of the information at hand, SOME kind of thought process should lead you to a decision. A message to the team begins with the thoughts that you will have. Sometimes the thoughts are significant and profound. At other times they are pretty simple. Your thoughts become the root of your message.

Be sure your mental checklist is functioning clearly before you start talking to the team. Be clear about what you mean to say.

2. What You Actually Say –  You have your thought, but then words must be applied to express that thought. Numbers 1 and 2 here are very closely tied together but are just different enough to cause a potential problem.

Let’s face it, most of us have had a moment where an idea pops into our head, but we cannot find the perfect words to explain the essence of that idea. Our words fail us. This phase is especially troublesome when you have to communicate ‘on the fly’, meaning impromptu communication.

When you have a chance to write a speech, you get more time to process your thoughts and formulate the words. Great speechwriters make careers doing this for politicians and celebrities. However, managers on the front line seldom have that luxury. As events unfold at work, you are required to respond quickly. Your words can easily become muddled.

If words fail you, it is possible you will be sending a message that is different from your original intent. Also, words that have double meanings can confuse the message. Tone and positioning of words can impact the meaning. There are numerous ways that the words you DO choose to express may send a message different from what you intend.

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3. What the Listener Hears –  When we think of translating a message from one language to another, we often hear about ‘something getting lost in translation’. Unfortunately, that can happen with communication within the same language. You can take a perfectly structured thought (Item #1) that is represented well by the words you choose (Item #2) but still have trouble getting your message across.

Clearly, the responsibility to correctly hear a message falls on your listener. Any form of translation that changes the message corrupts it. The risk at this stage is that word meanings can vary from person to person. As the manager, if you make a statement “I am concerned about this _______”, some may hear the message as saying “I am mad, but just not telling you”.

4. What the Listener Now Feels – Whether the translation being heard is correct or not, there is still one last hurdle to overcome. How does your message make the listener feel? The content of what you meant versus the listener’s conclusion after processing your words may spawn a surprising reaction.

For some, there are trigger words that spark bad feelings. For others, there are words that inspire and motivate. The listener’s initial feeling about the message will have a direct impact on the success of the communication. If the effort ends poorly, the manager must essentially start over with this entire 4 stage process.

We’ve discussed the four stages of communication. What is a manager to do?

In situations where people have solid, effective relationships, there is a history that can smooth any of the rough edges stemming from a breakdown of any of these four parts. When people have worked together for some time, they can (and should) develop a sense of understanding that helps to bridge the communication gap. Keywords and phrases take on meanings of their own and become the go-to way to express a topic.

Yet, when someone new joins the team, communication bridges are not yet available, so the manager’s message needs to stick to the basics until the history can be accumulated. The latter is also true when new topics are introduced to the team.

As the Manager, it is your responsibility to watch for breaks in all four of these stages. Better communication can be achieved by effectively using all elements. Find ways to let your team know that for their benefit you want to be a good communicator. Let them provide feedback, too. Iron out phrases and words that miss the mark or generate the wrong conclusions.

 

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

12 tips to successfully sell on MYBC (or anywhere online)

January 10th, 2018 Posted by Bartercard, Online Business, Smart business tips No Comment yet

In today’s digital world it’s critical to cater to your market in the digital space.  MYBC is Bartercard’s online platform where you can list and shop 24/7 to increase sales and conserve cash flow.  Follow these tips to boost sales in MYBC, or anywhere online actually.

1. WRITE CLEAR DESCRIPTIONS
List the product’s main features within the description. Be concise and give shoppers everything they need to make a purchase on the spot, including the brand, size or dimensions, color, condition and model or make. Not listing enough detail might compromise the sale because the shopper may have to take the extra step of contacting you.

2. USE HIGH QUALITY IMAGES
If shoppers can’t see the stock in person, the images need to do the selling. High resolution images set a standard, add credibility and make an impact on sales – source a professional photographer through Bartercard and ask them what backdrops, angles and lighting will highlight the best features.

online shopping.jpg3. SHIPPING AND LOGISTICS
Consider the shipping and logistics of getting the stock to your customer. Although some online retailers offer same day shipping, delicate items may require more robust wrapping and take longer to send.

4. FAST RESPONSE RATES attracts repeat business. The most successful sellers dispatch within 24 hours of the sale, or are clear when dispatch will take place.

5. USE CATCHY HEADLINES
A headline will determine whether or not a customer will open a listing – make sure yours is catchy and always include the sale item in it. Don’t use acronyms – someone looking at your listing might not know what it is, and it could be a lost sale.

6. CHOOSE THE RIGHT KEYWORDS
Keep in mind what keywords customers will be searching, and include those words in your description. Consider if the term is ambiguous. A coffee table could also be a side table – cover all possibilities in the description.

7. INCLUDE YOUR BUSINESS NAME IN THE DESCRIPTION
If a customer knows you already and searches your business name, your listings will come up straight away.

8. BE CLEAR ON LOCATION AND SHIPPING
Not specifying the exact location will deter a sale. For example, if a shopper is in San Diego, CA, the location of the product is listed only as USA, and it’s not clear whether shipping is available, they might hesitate to buy. Be specific on the location and clear on whether you ship.

9. TAKE THE GUESS WORK OUT OF POSTAGE
Offer a flat postage rate on smaller items or include postage in the price to make it easier for your customers to make a snap decision. When it comes to larger items, list the postage costs for popular cities, so if your customer will have a rough estimate of what postage will cost them.

10. LIST PACKAGES
Whether you are a retailer or specialize in a service, you can package items on Bartercard’s website MYBC which is essentially free advertising for your business. For example, if you’re a café on Bartercard, you could place a listing for event platters or whole cakes baked to order. If you run a hotel or resort, you could list a 2 night stay & dinner package at your onsite restaurant. Or if accounting is your specialty, you could list a tax pack. Listing packages will put you in front of customers and drive new sales.

11. GET YOUR LISTING FEATURED
It’s worth investing a small T$5.95 (trade dollars) to get your listing featured on MYBC which will take the sale item to the top of the list. Featured listings are shown to sell five times more than unfeatured listings, so it’s a small investment to make for more sales.

12. VARIETY IS KEY AND WILL BOOST SALES – having several listings on MYBC will let you see what’s selling fastest.

 

Written by Bartercard Australia.  Read the original post here.

New Year Resolutions for Small Business Success

January 3rd, 2018 Posted by Smart business tips No Comment yet

This week we have the tips and tactics to stay on top and keep success on lock down in 2018.

Wrap your head around the figures
Crunching figures is a favorite past time of few, but if you know where you stand financially, you can clearly plan ahead. When it comes to traffic and followers, Google analytics and your social media stats are a good place to start. See where your customers are coming from, who they are, what they are buying, and when. It’s as simple as looking at what’s working and repeat.

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Get social
If you are not on social media, then you are missing a big slice of your market. Take a strategic approach to posting at least once a day and map out content that appeals. Investing in digital marketing services (available through Bartercard) can boost results.

Invest time in creating video
According to Forbes, more than 80% of business executives are watching more online video today than a year ago. 75% watch videos on business-related websites at least weekly and 65% have visited a brand’s website after watching a video. Video is so much more dynamic than still photos – as a tip include subtitles to still reach viewers watching on silent.

Get Slack…and other cool tools
Spend an hour researching and setting up apps to streamline your business. Collaborative tools like Slack are replacing email for internal communication. Check out Streamtime for Project Management or Infusionsoft for sales and email marketing. Implementing automation tools will simplify your business, keep important tasks from falling through the cracks, and put the focus on growth.

Conserve cash with Bartercard
Bartercard is a tool to keep costs down in business every day by sourcing essential products and services without the use of cash. If you are in a position to take on extra business, then Bartercard can put you in front of new clients. Combining modern technology, Bartercard has the tools to conduct 24/7 transactions anytime, anywhere.

PR and market your brand
Local media is always on the lookout for fresh and relevant stories. Research journalists covering your industry to see where you can contribute in a way they cover. If you are advertising in a publication, check if you can get complimentary column space.

Refresh your digital assets
When was the last time you reviewed your website? Ask a co-worker or colleague to test out the user experience and report back. Does it make sense? Is it easy to navigate? Is it mobile friendly as that’s where most people will find you? If you have a shop, ensure it’s easy to transact.

Upskill
Set aside time to learn and upskill to stay ahead of the curve – you might need more marketing know-how, insight to leverage your business or digital expertise.

Create compelling content
Every successful brand wants to be seen as an expert. Online courses, weekend workshops and New Year challenges flood our inbox. Consider how your content can stand apart and appeal to the market. This comes down to knowing your customers inside out.

Consider your sales approach
Look into the sales system of your business. Could it use a little attention? Is your team completely across how customers make decisions, what their buying signals are and how to work your sales strategy into this? Keep your sales approach fresh to continually stay ahead of the market.

Get Connected
You are surrounded by people with the skills, expertise and desire to help your business succeed. Find out where they gather then meet, connect and collaborate. The New Year is a great time to work collaboratively and create a positive outcome.

Start a conversation with millennials 
Millennials represent the largest segment of the buying population. They are smart, think and act differently, shop around and analyze down to the details. If you want to succeed in this market, get to know and understand them.

Get Giving
What charities, causes or local organizations mean something to you? Giving back is our basic responsibility but doing it strategically can build your brand further.  Choose a charity that aligns with your core values and lets you engage with your local community.

 

 

Article adapted from a Bartercard Australia blogpost.

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.

Digital etiquette 101 and curbing email

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

Email is a tricky thing. On one hand, seeing every message is crucial (especially if you own a business), leaving us sweeping our inboxes every five minutes. On the other, we’re trying to curb and cull email to prevent complete takeover.

So in this week’s blog we tackle two topics: Should you send a follow-up email? and how to curb the email overload.

Why you should always send a follow-up email 

You’ve picked up the phone, pitched the idea and received a positive response. The next question is, do you send a follow up email? (And when does it cross the line?)

The answer is, always send a follow up email, and do it straight away. 

Within 24 hours (and preferably asap), remind them of who you are, recap the points discussed, and what you want to achieve. Keep it short and succinct, and include a link to more information.  If you’re speaking to a journalist, paste the additional information in the body of the email instead – i.e. write the email, sign off with ‘Thank you for your time, please find further information below’ and drop the information in. Journalists are always short on time and it’s easier to scroll down on a phone than clicking a link.

What if you don’t hear back?

If a week has passed and you still haven’t heard back, send another follow up. If you still don’t receive a response, pick up the phone. Tip: when calling, have some new information in your back pocket so you have a relevant reason to call which isn’t just self-serving.

If they haven’t said no, it’s appropriate to continue contacting them until you receive a concrete answer – as long as you are polite and not doing so every few days. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right but it could be down the track. In this day and age, an email can be easily overlooked, so calling to follow up can put you back on the radar.

Most inboxes in today’s digital-rich, information saturated world are bursting at the seams, which is why at the same time, it’s important to curb the email overload. Think of all the time you spend replying to emails as soon as they popup, deflecting your attention from revenue-focused tasks. Outside of work, how many times has email caused stress and sleepless nights? It’s why many blogs today will tell you it’s critical to unplug or to ‘digitally detox’.

Get a head start with these quick tips to declutter your inbox and regain control of email.

 1. CONTROL WHEN YOU CHECK EMAIL

Block out two, three or four time slots in your calendar each day to check emails.
It will let you single task your responses, make better decisions and write quality responses.

2. TURN OFF EMAIL ALERTS TO REMOVE CONSTANT DISTRACTIONS

Multi-tasking is only possible when tasks are familiar and routine – completing one task at a time without distractions is a much more effective way to work.

3. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS

Set up your signature block to advise others that you only check emails at certain times of day, and let recipients know how they can reach you urgently, whether it’s by text or phone call.

4. KEEP YOUR INBOX TO A MINIMUM

Clearing out your inbox will ensure you don’t miss a thing.

There are two ends of the spectrum, but it’s important to be smart about using email so that you can make the most of this tool and still breakaway from checking your inbox every five minutes.

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.

 

entreprenuership.jpg

 

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!