7 Reasons Employees Quit

Business.com
7 Reasons Employees Quit

Today, job-hopping is a common phenomenon in the business world. Many assume that money is the root of workplace dissatisfaction, but really, only 12 percent of employees actually leave a company because they want more money. In fact, a survey by HAYS, a recruiting agency, found that 71 percent of employees would actually accept a pay cut if it meant finding a better job.

So, what’s causing the increase in employee turnover rates? Check out these seven reasons employees quit so you can prevent your workers from leaving.

1. Their work arrangements aren’t flexible.

Most employees expect a more relaxed schedule today. They’re not looking for a typical 9-to-5 gig that requires them to be in the office every day. If a company offered them a more lenient arrangement, workers would likely choose them over an employer that doesn’t.

In fact, 37 percent of employees would quit for another job that allowed them to work remotely part of the time, while 82 percent of employees would be more loyal if their jobs were more flexible.

2. Their boss lacks empathy.

A recent Businesssolver survey revealed that 92 percent of employees are more likely to stay with their job if their boss expressed more empathy. Some people are naturally more empathetic than others, but we can all tap into the trait if we practice self-awareness.

This is crucial for leaders who want to manage a team of workers with various personalities. You should at least try to understand and have compassion for each worker, so they feel you care about them as people, not just employees. In doing so, they’ll also be more willing to help out and go the extra mile.

3. They feel disengaged.

According to Gallup, engaged employees are 59 percent less likely to look for a new job. On the other hand, disengaged employees are quick to seek employment elsewhere.

If your workers have a difficult time connecting with and finding interest in their work, they likely won’t want to stay the company. Find out what piques your employees’ attention, and let them have a say in their responsibilities.

4. They feel undervalued.

No one wants their performance to go unnoticed, especially if they’re putting in extra hours or working harder than other employees. However, many workers feel this way, and 66 percent would consider leaving their job for lack of appreciation.

A simple “thank you” or “great job” can go a long way. Acknowledge your employees’ efforts, and let them know when you’re proud of or grateful for them.

5. They have no advancement opportunities.

Most employees accept a job offer in hope of future advancement within the company. But when they hit that two-year mark without talk of a promotion, they’ll likely get antsy. In fact, more than 70 percent of “high-retention-risk” employees want to leave because they aren’t given the chance or resources to grow in their current role. Depriving your team of advancement opportunities is a surefire way to lose top talent.

6. They’ve reached burnout.

Burnout is a dangerous state to be in. Employees in this condition often lack energy, passion and motivation to do their work.

A 2017 survey found that half of HR leaders blame up to 50 percent of workplace turnover on employee burnout. To help your employees avoid burnout, read this article for preventative tips.

7. Their company’s culture is poor.

A positive company culture is crucial. Now more than ever, workers want to feel like they belong in their workplace. However, not all businesses achieve a welcoming atmosphere. A survey by HAYS found that 47 percent of people actively looking for new positions blame company culture as their main reason.

To ensure your employees feel fulfilled and secure at work, openly communicate with and encourage them to provide honest feedback. If they have issues, don’t just say you’ll solve them – actually follow through.

Finding Your Niche: 5 Ways to Create Your Buyer Persona

When my business partner and I started The 125 Collection three years ago, we were elated about our new product idea. We created soy-based quote candles that were sassy, funny, inspirational and stylish. In our minds, everyone would buy these cool candles, and business would be booming in a matter of weeks.

Although I am a proponent of “thinking big” and setting lofty goals, a goal of “everyone would love these” wasn’t exactly a realistic or smart one. Our first year in business was great, as we started right at holiday time. We participated in various flea/craft markets and pop-up shops in New York City, where we met some amazing customers, established business relationships and gained some local buzz.

After the holiday season was over, however, business was slow and extremely quiet. We were barely crawling into our second year, and sales were just high enough to keep us afloat. 

We continued getting our products in front of customers at pop-up shops and events until we started seeing a shift in who was buying our product. During the holidays, anyone looking to buy a cool, easy gift under $40 fit our customer profile. However, as time went on, we really had to home in to who wanted our products. We had to get specific, asking ourselves, “What do they do professionally? What are their interests? What do they do for fun? How do they spend their discretionary income?” 

Once we identified who this person was, we gave “her” a name and based the majority of our marketing decisions around this persona, our target market. Once we did that, sales became steadier, and we began investing our time and marketing dollars into the lifestyle of our persona. Our candles finally found their niche. 

Although we are continuously learning and understanding our target customer, here are some tips that helped us create our buyer persona.

1. Survey your existing customers.

Put together a survey for your current customers, and either email it to them, get them on the phone, or interview them in person at your store or location. 

2. Go outside and learn about your customer.

Get to know the habits of your customers. Where does your ideal customer shop? What other brands do they like? 

3. Research.

Find out where your customers are from. We are an online company, so we researched where in the country most of our sales were coming from. Are your sales coming from major cities? Small towns? Do you have product variations, and, if so, is there any correlation between where your customers live and which product they are buying? 

4. Analyze and create.

Once you have collected all your information, you need to create your persona. A good persona should have the following information: a name, personal interests and professional background, basic demographics, goals, wants and needs, and buying patterns. Also, don’t forget a photo of your persona – what do they look like?

5. Embed.

Once this persona is created, embed them into everything you do at your business. We introduced our persona to our marketing and PR teams and our illustrators and graphic designers to really push the creative process and give them an understanding of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of our ideal customer.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.

Starting an Online Business? Here's What You Need to Know

Anyone following my recent string of articles may have noted that I frequently write on subjects like e-commerce, m-commerce and digital enablement. This is because I feel businesses globally need to act quickly to establish themselves on the internet or face mass extinction. 

Many of the most valuable brands are either dot-com or technology companies. That says a lot about where we are today. Our once-disconnected global community is increasingly finding and establishing borderless communications and business channels.

Some of the readers and businesses I advise have reached out to me and asked something along these lines: “I understand that you’ve been voicing your opinions about going digital, and I’m sold to a certain extent, but I’m lost when it comes to the operational leg of this journey. How do I get my preferred domain? What is hosting, and why do I need it? Who designs my website? I have a basic brick-and-mortar business and don’t know the first thing about taking my business digital – how can I make sure that I am building a future-proof e-commerce setup that won’t disrupt my existing business?” 

To answer all these and other questions, here is the step-by-step journey to take your brand digital.

1. Research, research … and research. 

The first thing to do when starting any new business is to understand your target audience. This is something I religiously follow for one simple reason: You need to know who you’re selling to. 

A good targeting strategy to facilitate your online sales and marketing process will almost certainly ensure that the right audience lands on your platform, whether that’s your e-commerce website or your social media pages. It’s simple – you need to be where your customers are and have what they want. Because the digital market is borderless, you can use tools like Google Trends to review what global or local trends are being extensively searched over a period of time. This gives you good preliminary data to break down your product’s popular regions and optimize your digital marketing strategy (including budgets, digital channels and vehicles). 

2. Establish your digital channels.

A lot of people ask me if a website is the only sales and marketing channel you need to set up your digital storefront. The answer isn’t always simple. While I am a strong advocate for building and managing a digital presence through your website, I have to be honest – a lot of small businesses (such as home-based food and clothing sellers) operate just fine without websites, relying on social media to push their products. While a lot of them see organic results, many put money into promoting their brands online. 

Obviously, I endorse the need to create, manage and maintain your social media presence, but to all those businesses looking to grow and establish themselves online, I’ll tell you that a website is a pivotal investment. This investment includes all of these components: 

Domain registration

The myth that building and maintaining a website is a costly affair should no longer apply in this day and age. The first thing you need to know when building a website for your business is that there are now multiple extensions you can purchase online. 

Hosting

Once you’ve locked in a name for your website, it’s important to understand what sort of domain hosting works for you. Simply put, your hosting is the space you require to keep your website up and online. A lot of things can damage your digital brand, and bad hosting decisions are one of them. Whenever I am choosing a hosting plan for any one of my digital assets, I rely a lot on research. Websites like Hosting Facts benchmark 30-plus hosting companies. This sort of information lets users understand the kind of hosting option that would facilitate their web traffic, as well as the costs and included support features. [Read related article: The Best Web and Cloud Hosting Services of 2019]

Website development

Building your website nowadays isn’t about knowing programming languages, nor is it a costly affair for which you have to hire a customized development team or an agency. That’s an option if you’re looking to do groundbreaking stuff that requires a customized solution, but for your standard SMB, blog or services brand, you need to consider site builders that can quickly deploy a functional website at a fraction of the cost a normal developer might charge. Again, it is very important to compare website builders to decide which is best for you. According to a recent Hosting Facts study, 2 out of 10 website-building projects fail. This might be due to a lack of research and need analysis – I make it a point to first establish that the service I will use can scale with my business. 

 

Editor’s note: Looking for a website builder for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

 

 

3. Focus on building winning content.

The next step after you’ve identified your target audience, market and digital channels is to write strong content. Some people say that this step should precede establishing your digital channels, but I feel one should focus on the tasks and not the order, and this approach has helped me focus the bulk of my time on developing content. 

This process involves all your online and offline assets; a key to understanding your content strategy is to build an omnichannel experience. These are the foundations of writing and publishing powerful content:

It should be focused on sales and conversions but should not oversell. It should flow naturally and be accurate and engaging.  You should follow a content schedule using a calendar. Small businesses can use services like Canva to create regular social media posts, web banners, etc. You should update your website content regularly. You can use tools like Crazy Egg to set up heat maps that will audit your customer journeys and see which content works for you and which doesn’t. If your product is technical, you should offer educational materials for it, such as a FAQs page or YouTube explainer videos. In conclusion

These three steps are what will get you in shape online. They serve as broad guidelines of what you should do as an offline brand or even as an online brand struggling to complete its transition. These tools and techniques are not absolute, but they are solutions I use to keep my digital brands relevant.

The internet has opened up huge potential to build future-proof digital businesses. This is the right time to do your research and take your brand online.

Startup Industry Trends to Ignore in 2019

Like every other current or prospective entrepreneur, you’ve likely already read far too many blog posts discussing all the trends “experts” predict will impact your startup success in 2019.

Well, this isn’t one of those posts.

It’s not that trying to get a handle on industry trends is a waste of time or that you can’t potentially benefit by researching that information. In fact, as long as you trust the source and don’t get caught up in biased reporting, you should definitely stay up to date on what’s going on in the larger business community and your own industrial niche, and let that information affect your decisions going forward.

However, there’s another side to the entire trends topic that’s always so highly saturated this time of year. It can sometimes overshadow the far more important aspects of starting and running a successful business, distracting and even misleading some entrepreneurs to the detriment of their startup success.

So, with that balanced view in mind, let’s take a look at some commonly reported “trends” that you may need to ignore as 2019 progresses.

Industries that are “dead” or “on fire”

It’s incredibly common for articles about business trends to boldly call out entire industries or business sectors as dead or dying while insisting others are set to explode. Like recommendations to buy and sell stock, these published “trends” can easily push prospective business owners toward or away from these industries based on bold predictions and often limited research.

Often, there’s some truth to these predictions and looking into the details can be beneficial, especially if you’re already pursuing a business concept related to one or more of the sectors under discussion. Where it gets dangerous, though, is in taking these predicted trends as gospel and either halting plans or diving headfirst into a startup without fully evaluating the validity and accuracy of the prediction.

As an example, this 2019 trends article boldly proclaims that IoT is fading away. Now, if you have a spectacular, unique and innovative concept for an IoT product, service or app, you might read that prediction and assume you’ve already missed the boat. This could lead you to devalue your concept, lose steam on funding or development or scrap the idea altogether. In reality, though, even if the basis of the article’s prediction is sound, no industry is ever completely dead. There’s no way a truly fantastic IoT concept that solves existing market problems can be called a guaranteed failure based on predictions and trends alone.

If you research the trend, objectively evaluate the situation and decide your startup concept can and should still succeed, then you should pursue it, regardless of what the experts say.

Likewise, the prediction that a given industry is set to blow up shouldn’t instantly chart your startup’s course. Whether it means you feel obligated to develop a concept within a trending industry, or to unnaturally shoehorn your existing startup concept into it, you’re bound to waste time, effort and money on what is likely to be misdirection.

What investors are currently flocking to or ignoring

The message here is very similar to the point made above, so let’s not belabor it, but it’s important to note that fear of missing out on necessary funding based on nothing more than a timing glitch can keep founders up at night. Realistically, however, it’s an empty threat.

Any angel investors, venture capitalists or investment groups that make their decisions based on the same articles you’re reading are likely not worth your time and effort. You want investors who are interested in evaluating your startup’s worthiness based solely on your concept, roadmap and potential. Of course, they’ll want to evaluate all that through the lens of what the market is doing, but no reputable investor is going to pass on a potential unicorn based on one “expert” opinion about what might happen over the next 12 months.

In conclusion, remember this: Successful startups and profitable businesses are built on good ideas that are executed well. They’re built on unique and effective solutions to real problems customers face. So, if you’re working on a business idea that checks all the right boxes except for the fact that it bucks some published trend, then you’re probably best off ignoring that trend and moving forward.

MIT Sloan Management Review

Alibaba, a relative newcomer to financial services, has seen its small and medium-size enterprise (SME) lending business grow rapidly in the last four years, making it one of the leading lenders in China. Western banks should take note. Such explosive growth is a harbinger for an unfamiliar kind of competition — legacy business incumbents pitted against new digital giants.

In 2017, Alibaba issued SME loans worth 446 billion China Yuan Renminbi (RMB) (about $63.4 billion U.S.), amounting to 30% of the loans issued by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the top SME lender in the country. Alipay, Alibaba’s payment wallet app, and Mybank, its internet bank, attracted deposits of 1.6 trillion RMB, matching 89% of the total value of deposits attracted by Bank of China.

These results mirror the competitive threats Amazon, Facebook, and Google pose to incumbents in the retail, health care, insurance, music, entertainment, and automobile sectors. Such digital giants, whether from China or the United States, are poised to unleash a new category of digital disruptions powered by their digital ecosystems.

We looked at recent events in the Chinese banking industry to highlight how these massive digital newcomers gain powerful consumer experience insights from their digital ecosystems and how this changed the nature of competition for incumbents.

Chinese Digital Giants Forge Into Banking

From its early days in Chinese e-commerce, Alibaba saw the need for digital money to alleviate the inconveniences of collecting cash on delivery, because credit card penetration was poor. Alibaba’s solution: a digital wallet, Alipay. The wallet allowed customers to deposit money in lump sums, then use that balance for the real-time purchases needed for seamless e-commerce.

Soon, Alibaba expanded this service outside its own e-commerce platforms, letting other retailers and small businesses use Alipay. Quick response (QR) codes, bar codes readable by cellphones, allowed millions of mom-and-pop merchants to begin using Alipay, without expensive credit card readers and with dramatically reduced fees. With Alipay, small businesses built digital storefronts, transforming them into online businesses. By adding a vast range of services such as booking taxis, hotels, and airlines, the company transformed into an omni-service platform.

Tencent, one of the world’s most valuable technology companies, followed a similar pattern. Its WeChat messaging platform attracted millions of users through services such as curated content, gaming, social networks, chat, and search. The company added peer-to-peer money transfer, cleverly adopting a digital version of the old Chinese tradition of gifting money to family and friends in red envelopes. Within six days of its launch around the New Year in 2017, WeChat users sent 47 billion red envelopes to one another. Alibaba and Tencent both now support 80% of the day-to-day online activities of Chinese consumers.

Following their surge into payment services, Alibaba and Tencent quickly shifted their attack to both the liability and asset services of traditional Chinese banks. They added checking and savings accounts, deposits, and wealth management, in addition to standard personal and small-business loan services. In four short years, these companies seized a significant market share of loans and deposits from formidable Chinese incumbents. In large part, their approach relied on utilizing unique consumer insights gleaned from their ecosystems.

The Structure of Digital Ecosystems

In business, ecosystems are built around interdependencies, or how entities and their activities mutually support and draw value from each another. Traditionally, we’ve recognized such interdependencies in producing and selling goods or services as production ecosystems. Looking at banks, generating deposits, allocating and servicing loans, collecting interest, dispensing cash, and managing a vast network of branches are all interdependent activities that shape their production ecosystems.

A different ecosystem comes from the interdependencies of consuming products or services — consumption ecosystems. For banks, interdependencies in how people consume money shape their consumption ecosystems. The consumption of a mortgage is interdependent with getting home insurance, buying furniture, or doing home improvements. But before modern digital technologies, such interdependencies were difficult to leverage for economic advantage.

Chinese digital giants were uniquely positioned to leverage advantage from the consumption ecosystems of banks. They used their deep consumer insights to attack incumbent banks’ production ecosystems and built new services consumers needed.

How Economic Newcomers Cause Digital Disruptions

Alibaba and Tencent had five core interrelated components in their digital platforms: search, e-commerce, payments, social networking, and entertainment. Collectively, these services routinely extract treasure troves of information about users and their interests and needs. This information allows digital platforms to build unique individual profiles on each customer’s intricate money consumption needs, thus placing these new platforms at the epicenter of the consumption ecosystems of banks.

Traditional banks, on the other hand, are organized primarily around production ecosystems: attracting deposits, delivering loans, or dispensing cash. Because they are solely focused on production ecosystems, they lack reliable mechanisms for predicting the financial needs of their consumers. This lack makes them vulnerable to attacks from digital giants, who can leverage their consumption ecosystems to anticipate and precisely detect their consumers’ needs for money, much sooner than traditional banks.

Impacts for Lending

One example of digital giants spotting and leveraging consumer needs is a customer looking for car recommendations on chat or search. The act of looking is an early signal of a need. E-commerce or payment site history adds insights into spending and borrowing power, leading to suitable buying recommendations. Offering a loan to this customer is the next logical step. The pattern is similar for college loans, appliance purchases, or short-term loans for vacations.

Similarly, by providing small and medium-size enterprises with digital payment processing, storefronts, logistics, and digital marketing, digital giants gain insights into a merchant’s business. With this information, they can predict an SME’s creditworthiness and when it will likely need funding. This strong position in the consumption ecosystems is a compelling lending advantage over traditional banks.

Finding Consumer Opportunities for Deposits

When customers use Alibaba for a vast majority of their day-to-day activities, they can easily be convinced to park deposits, too. Unlike in Western countries, government regulations in China did not prevent these digital giants from collecting deposits and acting like banks, ostensibly to bring millions of rural adults into the banking system.

Chinese customers soon found depositing money with digital giants attractive, because their digital loan processing was faster, needed less documentation, and provided competitive interest rate offers using smart algorithms that leveraged credit history profiles. Customers spending 80% of their money in Alibaba’s ecosystem, and also making deposits with the company, are likely to get a loan faster because of precise insights based on their profile: the right car, the right college, or the right home.

Digital Disruption’s Unique Features

The digital giants’ strength for disrupting legacy businesses comes from their ability to swap information from consumption to production ecosystems and vice versa. The most powerful disruptions are two-sided attacks — those aimed at both production and consumption. These disruptions earn the “digital” label because they get their power from the newfound information and connections in the digital economy.

Modern digital connectivity has created consumption ecosystems and provides a strong launchpad for competitive attack, as seen in the case of Alibaba and Tencent. Because these companies could track activity within the users’ ecosystems, they possessed superior consumer information compared with incumbent banks. They could also use this information to overwhelm incumbents by offering more prolific and customized services associated with a loan. For a home purchase, they could direct customers to the most appropriate available home, provide relevant information on the home, and connect them to real estate agents, furniture suppliers, or moving companies on their digital platforms. Such customized consumption-based services ultimately relegate traditional banking activity of approving and offering mortgages to just a commodity.

The concept of consumption ecosystems is still new to many legacy businesses, because they don’t track products and services digitally after they are sold. Competitive attacks from consumption ecosystems can be lethal because legacy companies may not even see them coming, and these attacks can detach or weaken the incumbent’s connection to customers.

The growing digital economy means legacy financial companies must develop a better understanding of their digital ecosystems, reframe how they assess competition, and position themselves to influence consumption of their products and services, as an integral part of their competitive strategy.

Kamyar Shah

Data governance as a framework defines, and helps implement the overall management of the obtainability, usability, integrity, security and effectiveness of data used in any ecosystem.

Read the full article at: www.information-management.com

The courts have seen a significant rise in the number of employment claims brought by large groups of individuals. The most common employee ‘class actions’ relate to equal pay and worker status.Caroline Stroud from Freshfields looks at the types of class action claims on the increase and how employers…

Read the full article at: www.personneltoday.com

High dependencies on external vendors with unclear security policies is a concern among IT professionals, according to a Deloitte report.

Read the full article at: www.techrepublic.com

Do you want repeat customers? Have the right markup for your products….

Read the full article at: smallbiztrends.com

HBR.org

Show your colleagues that you appreciate their candor.

Strategies for coming up with good ideas when you need them.

It’s an old approach that still works today.

Strategies for extroverts, introverts, and everyone in between.

Periods of uncertainty don’t have to be paralyzing.

Our bodies may sense what kind of content people will share.

Based on interviews with 54 CSR managers in German multinationals.

Are you dreading a work discussion? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Leslie John, a professor at Harvard Business School. They talk through what to do when you need to set your boss straight, meet with a direct report who wanted your new job, or hash things out with a negative team member.

If they do their job too well, they might put themselves out of business.

Better information doesn’t always lead to better teaching.

People tend to respond less quickly to managers they’re friends with.

We need computers with some common sense.

And how managers can deal with them.

It’s hard for people to stay motivated when nothing is ever good enough.

Don’t leave it to the high priests of R&D.

Teresa Amabile, professor at Harvard Business School, is approaching her own retirement by researching how ending your work career affects your sense of self. She says important psychological shifts take place leading up to, and during, retirement. That holds especially true for workers who identify strongly with their job and organization. Amabile and her fellow researchers have identified two main processes that retirees go through: life restructuring and identity bridging.

Enjoy what the destination has to offer.

If you’re a large company using AI, you need one.

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/7-reasons-employees-quit.html

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3 B2B Relationship-Selling Techniques for Driving Growth

Business.com
3 B2B Relationship-Selling Techniques for Driving Growth

Trust is a powerful growth driver. As a small business owner, you’re likely responsible for the sales in your business – especially considering that 66 percent oversee multiple departments, from operations and human resources to customer service and IT.

You already know that innovation, strategy, the right solution and the best value should be at the core of every sale. But your differentiator is your relationships. A trust-based selling process can be the difference between making a deal and going back to the drawing board.

Earning trust is not a technique.

It’s not a method either. It’s a hard-earned result. Clients want to be sure that you know their business, of course, but it’s more than knowledge. They want to be sure you care about their business – that you’re so committed to and invested in their success that you can go beyond merely responding to anticipating their needs.

You also spend a tremendous amount of time with clients, and they don’t want to work with someone they don’t like. The more you know your clients and their businesses, the better you can understand their needs and come to them with solutions and growth opportunities.

But when, according to an infographic by EY, 41 percent of people would love to network but can’t find the time, trust-based relationship selling can seem almost impossible.

In the constantly changing and challenging business landscape, clients want and need a partner they can trust with their most valuable opportunities for growth. When you earn that position in their hearts and minds, the right solutions and counsel will be there. Trust is an equal-opportunity driver: As your client’s business grows, so will yours.

Relationships open doors.

We have a client who routinely followed an expensive and exhausting competitive bid process for their major meetings. But our trusting relationship led to the company awarding us this valuable business without the bid. “No one understands our strategy like you do, and the learning curve for other companies would just be too steep.” The client trusted us – and literally invited us to be a part of their team. That made all the difference.

You never know when new opportunities like that could come along. Focusing on the next sale is important, but you also need to use a trust-based selling process with your current clients and anyone you’ve worked with in the past. After all, businesses are 60 to 70 percent more likely to sell to an existing customer than a brand-new one.

To start building trust, here are some important steps to take.

1. Create a predictable presence.

Build a regular cadence of client engagement – distance learning just doesn’t work in sales. You have to be there. Email or virtual touchpoints are fine, but nothing tops face-to-face interactions. Face-to-face meetings allow you to gain greater insights about a person, and, according to the Harvard Business Review, any requests you make will be “34 times more successful than email.”

The goal of each touchpoint is to learn something new about your clients and their business, and for you to share at least one valuable piece of information. Pass along industry trends, research or ideas about how to grow their business. Leave each interaction with something you can follow up on during the next, whether that’s a proposal, additional information on a concept or a future solution. Your clients’ time is valuable, so make sure you always have thought-provoking questions and information at the ready.

2. Treat projects equally, regardless of size.

It’s not the size of the project that matters; it’s the depth of the connection. I worked with a client on smaller projects for a couple of years – in fact, throughout our relationship, no sale was too small. I built our relationship to the point where I understood her work ethics and habits, her career aspirations, and her organization’s business.

After a few years, however, she left. At her new company, she got an opportunity to run one of its largest meetings, and she came to us for help. As our internal advocate, she did everything she could to ensure we got the opportunity, and her efforts were successful. The meeting was a huge hit, and we gained countless other opportunities within the organization as a result. That was three years ago, and we have nearly tripled our business with them since.

3. Have conversations, not sales pitches.

The focus needs to be on your client’s needs and goals, not on the sale. People want strategic partners who know their business and are looking for both short- and long-term solutions to help their business grow.

Authenticity works. Showing that you care works. Your objectives for a conversation should never be just to complete another transaction and call it a day. There is simply no sustainable growth in mere transactions. Aim higher, and make trust your target.

If you want to drive your growth, you need to become the integral, knowledgeable team member your client can’t imagine working without. Make the investment in clients, show them loyalty, earn their trust, understand their perspective, and bring solutions that truly fit their needs. With a trust-based selling process, your sales will come naturally.

McKinsey Insights & Publications
Technology and data can help cities absorb future growth and weather any shocks that come their way.

As the digital world becomes increasingly connected, it is no longer possible for infrastructure owners and operators to remain agnostic in the face of evolving cyberthreats. Here’s what they can do to build an integrated cyberdefense.

By looking at their supply of skills and talent in a new light today, organizations can take actions that better prepare their companies for tomorrow’s challenges.

The country’s long-term vision, use of innovative technologies, and stakeholder engagement efforts have been critical to its success.

Alexander Cummings discusses the continent’s potential and ways companies can establish a presence there by partnering for development and building local relevance.

To promote wider adoption of document and process standardization in the infrastructure industry, public- and private-sector organizations should foster greater collaboration during the early stages of project development.

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/3-b2b-relationship-selling-techniques.html

How to Get Your Business Ready for a Remote Workforce

Business.com
How to Get Your Business Ready for a Remote Workforce

When you run a remote business, there’s an entirely different set of rules you operate by. A brick-and-mortar business has different requirements and processes compared to a remote company. That’s why, when preparing to bring on a remote workforce, it’s important to know what you’ll need to do to prepare for success.

In a survey by Upwork, 38 percent of hiring managers predict that remote work will dominate in the next 10 years. Telecommuting is gaining tremendous popularity with workers, because advanced technology allows for productivity and success in all the same ways as in a brick-and-mortar business. You no longer need to go into an office five days a week to meet your professional goals.

If you’re trying to get your business ready for a remote workforce, here are three tips to help you get started.

1. Get your data on the cloud

In preparation for a remote workforce, you’ll need to keep your data organized in one place where it can be accessed by you and other members of your team. You can do this by putting your data on the cloud with a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) program.

CRM is a platform used to collect customer data, store customer and potential contact information, recognize conversion opportunities, manage marketing campaigns and more – all from the cloud. A CRM solution will give your business a proper strategy and help you focus on your relationship with customers so you’re able to tailor your content and products to customers’ needs.

It’s easier to increase productivity and collaborate as a team when your data is in one spot. Analyzing your relationship toward consumers will give you insight on how to further your reach, increase engagement and focus on what drives customers to make a purchase.

Editor’s note: Looking for CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 

2. Use a messaging communication system

It’s even more crucial when you’re setting up your business for a remote workforce that you will all be communicating with each other effectively and efficiently. Without clear communication, your business is prone to mistakes, lags, glitches and other predicaments that otherwise could have been avoided.

To keep up with everything surrounding your business, you need to use tools that will make your daily communications more efficient. There are several instant messaging systems that eliminate the need for pesky back-and-forth emails, making it easier to get in touch with your team for faster response times. Project discussions, announcements and keeping up with co-workers is made simple and, best of all, useful to build the remote workforce you want.

3. Onboard the right employees

Remote work sounds like a dream come true for those who dread the 9 to 5. Who wouldn’t like to work in their pajamas and stay inside on days when it’s ugly outside?

The reality, however, is that not everyone is well-suited for working remotely. Remote work has increased 140 percent since 2005, according to research by GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right situation for everyone. To ensure your business is ready for a remote model, you have to make sure you have the right people on your team.

First, you need to have an idea of who you want working for you and who you think could handle telecommunication. Try to narrow your focus and create a picture of your ideal remote employee. What are the traits of your ideal employee? What is their communication style? And, as you interview candidates, the more information you can get about an individual’s remote work experience, the better you’ll be able to understand if they have what it takes to succeed as a remote employee under you. 

When looking for remote employees to join your workforce, consider their attitude and behavior and reconcile that with what you envision for your company. Brainstorm a list of behavioral questions to ask potential candidates based on the results you’d like to see. This will ensure you go beyond inquiring about mundane, run-of-the-mill routine questions so you can focus on how candidates act, their skills and their outlook on remote work.

Ask candidates questions around the following subjects:

Prior teamwork experience Remote work experience Leadership skills Problem-solving Handling conflict Remote work ethic Over to you

Preparing your business for a remote work team means knowing what you want and finding the people who can do it for you. By uploading your data onto the cloud, you and your team have easy access to all the information you need in one place. You also have to ensure a communication system is put in place so everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively. Finally, hiring the right people for remote work is crucial because some aren’t cut out for it or don’t work as productively in that environment. What would you do to get your business ready for a remote workforce? Leave your recommendations below.

Don’t Listen to Your Heart When Naming a Business

When you are coming up with a business name, it can be challenging to know how to pick the right name, especially if you are expecting love at first sight. You may have tons of ideas, and all of them fit, but none of them feel like “the one.”

So what do you do?

Sometimes, illusions must be cast aside. When it comes to naming a business, love-at-first-sight is not the most productive approach. In fact, going into the naming process with the expectation of falling in love with a name right away often leads to disappointment.

But if you can’t depend on your emotions, how do you know which name is the right name?

A big myth in naming your business is that you should feel an immediate emotional connection to your business name. This is simply missing the main benefit your brand name can offer to your future success. Instead, consider what a name actually should do – function as a tool that supports your business.

It is better to follow logical naming criteria to find a name that supports your brand than to worry about finding a name that makes your heart leap. Your name should function as a productive and powerful marketing and branding asset.

Setting up your naming criteria

Because emotions are subjective, it is better to choose your final business name based on how well it fits your naming criteria. That means you need to set up naming criteria before you begin brainstorming business name ideas.

General naming criteria

Make sure your business name meets the following standards:

Easy to say

A good business name makes referrals easy. Any obstacles in memorability may prevent your customers from passing your name along to other customers. A name that’s difficult to say will discourage people from sharing it. It will also make it more difficult to remember.

Tip: If your brand name can’t pass the crowded bar test, it might be a good idea to pick another name.

Easy to spell

A name with a confusing spelling makes it difficult for your audience to find your business online. If they are depending on memory when searching for your social media accounts or website, but they can’t spell your name, they may not find you. That means you risk losing out on sales with a name that’s difficult to spell.

Easy to remember

By picking a brand name that’s memorable, you ensure that customers can easily remember your name when looking you up, referring you to others and engaging in repeat business with you.

Captivating or evocative

A captivating, evocative name will attract people to your business. With the right level of appeal and intrigue, people will ask questions about your business just after they hear your name. That’s why it’s also important that your name captures the right values and tone.

Contextual

Does your business name make sense within your brand? If not, it may not make sense to your customers. Avoid picking a confusing name that does not have anything to do with your business, industry, values or audience. While using metaphors, symbols and intrigue in a name is a great technique, make sure your name makes sense.

Appealing

An embarrassing or cringey business name can set your success back. An unappealing name will hold people back from saying it, so be mindful of any hidden meanings, odd sounds or bad translations of your name.  

Unique

When naming a business, a unique name helps you avoid trademark conflict. Using a business name that is already taken will only invite messy legal battles.  

Avoid being vague

Is your business name a personal reference only you and your close friends understand? A business name should not have to be over-explained. That detracts from its power and memorability. Names that resonate with you might be too personal. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean it will help your business grow.

Your personal needs

Although the above criteria are helpful in naming your business, you also need to have parameters that are specific to your personal business needs. This is why a project statement is a helpful tool in setting up your naming criteria.

A project statement is made up of tone and secondary branding elements that are the basis of your brand.

Tone is the immediate impression your brand gives off. At SquadHelp, we think of tone in five styles: classic, modern, playful, practical and emotional. Having the right name for the right tone plays a huge role in brand perception.

You’ll also have to consider secondary branding elements that might be relevant to your name. Including a few of these ideas in your project statement will help you narrow your focus. Secondary branding elements include big ideas, values, stories, industry specifics and benefits and feelings. You want to understand the big picture focus of your branding when trying to settle on a name.

Once you put together your tone and secondary branding elements, you can produce your project statement, which contains your core concepts and summarizes your brand.

Here’s what that might look like for a brand that sells unique, vintage and upcycled clothing:

“We need a unique, intriguing name for a boutique that sells artistically-modified clothing and curated vintage finds. The name should speak to standing out, art, being yourself, radiating creativity and quality.”

The project statement becomes something you can refer back to as you continue to settle on a business name.

Making the decision

As you continue to brainstorm and narrow your choices, consider what names fulfill the criteria you outlined prior to naming. It’s OK if you don’t absolutely love a name at first. In all likelihood, you will learn to love it and discover that it fits in more ways than you imagined.

Once you’ve narrowed your list to 5-6 names, you should consider audience testing to get unbiased feedback from your target audience. When we have helped people with audience testing in the past, they sometimes found that the name they loved performed very poorly with the target audience. This kind of imbalance should inform your final decision. 

In other cases, names you love might not be usable for trademark reasons. In these cases, it is always important to have some backup ideas before getting too emotionally attached to a name.

Overall, you need to view your business name as more than a name. Naming a business is not like naming a pet. The name must support your business objectives. You should view it as a tool to help you achieve your goals and pick based on what you think will best accomplish them.

When it comes down to it and you end up with a few strong names that you love, of course it is acceptable to go with your preference or gut feeling.  

At the end of the day, emotional attachment to a name is hard to pin down. You should love what the name does for you. You should be excited about how the name helps you launch your business, rather than how it resonates with your past or your preferences.

As long as you can envision your business name helping you succeed, you’ll be in a good place to launch the name.

Graphic Design Trends and Predictions for the Industry's Future

Graphic design is an ever-changing industry. Even in the last five years, I’ve seen massive changes. When I first started doing design work, I started in the corporate world and then migrated into freelance work.

Whether you’re just getting started in a corporate career or want to start your own design firm, it’s vital that you stay up-to-date on current trends to remain competitive and relevant. Here are five of the trends moving us into the future.

1. Remote work rises.

When you first break into the industry, you’re eager to prove yourself. One of the drawbacks of working for a corporation is that they tend to already have standards and guidelines in place. If you don’t follow them to a “T,” then you risk getting in trouble. While they do want your work on trend, they also don’t want to think too far outside the box of what they know works for the majority of their clients or their business model.

Fortunately, remote work has become more accepted by companies around the globe. Instead of being tied to a desk, workers are taking their laptops home or designing on the fly from a coffee shop or library workstation. You’re still bound to the company’s guidelines, but at least you can complete work from the convenience of home and save on commuting costs.

2. Millennials are interested in freelancing.

The average pay for a graphic designer is about $48,700 per year, but just starting out, my salary was much lower than that. Entry-level pay meant I had to take on some side gigs for a little extra income. The more you work for yourself, the more attractive freelancing becomes, but there is also some uncertainty that comes along with working for yourself. Will my income remain steady? What about insurance and a 401K?

Out of more than 250,000 graphic designers in the U.S., almost 25 percent are self-employed. Expect this number to rise in the coming years due to the desire of millennials to ditch the corporate culture for a freelance lifestyle.

Before you jump in as a freelancer, it’s a good idea to at least intern at a local company and gain some experience in the industry. Basic management skills are another vital part of running your own business.

3. Experience takes the stage.

In the last few years, flat design made a comeback, but it seems to be making its way back out, replaced with three-dimension designs and experiential graphics. One of the innovations in visuals includes a more immersive experience for consumers. Imagine wrapping every element of a shopping mall in visual property, including the water fountains, or adding signage to the floors and ceiling.

4. Mobile becomes more vital.

Mobile responsiveness has been a buzzword for a while now. Each year, more people access the Internet via mobile devices. Plus, studies show that smartphone ownership jumped from 35 percent in 2011 to 77 percent in 2018.

As a graphic designer, I access my work on the run more than ever before, whether I’m using my phone to respond to a client’s question or jumping on team boards to see what we’ve completed so far on a particular project.

When I look back on the perhaps dozen times a week I used my phone five years ago compared to the dozen times a day I use it now, I expect mobile access to become even more important, both in the tools I use as a designer and for the design itself to be mobile responsive.

5. Artificial intelligence shapes the future of design.

As technology advances, we have more tools at our fingertips than ever before. Taking the time to analyze data shows me how well-received any particular design element is. With cold, hard facts, it’s easier to tweak a design, so it has the most impact possible for the brand.

Expect to see designers spending less time on creative endeavors and more time figuring out which features work to increase traffic and convert site visitors into customers. The nature of design work has slowly been changing for the past 10 years, and this trend is likely to continue into the 2020s.

The world of design is ever-changing. Even in the short time I’ve been a graphic designer, the market has shifted toward a mobile focus and innovative trends every year. The best way to stay on top of trends is by studying the work of designers you admire. It will be interesting to see where the future takes graphic design.

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/how-to-get-your-business-ready-for.html

Future-proofing infrastructure often means going back to basics

McKinsey Insights & Publications
In the effort to tackle the backlog of infrastructure maintenance in the United States, five steps can help prioritize projects to not only meet the greatest needs but also build resilience.

Climate-related risks are on the rise, and our critical infrastructure is underprepared. Both public and private infrastructure owners should pursue three actions immediately to shore up our assets.

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/future-proofing-infrastructure-often.html

Letter Folding Machine Buying Guide

Business.com
Letter Folding Machine Buying Guide

Prepping a mailing to reach out to your customers? A good letter folding machine can save you an extraordinary amount of time. In addition to folding letters, these machines can ensure that folds are neat and accurate and even score, glue and batch letters. 

There are two main types of letter folding machines: pneumatic folding machines and feeding systems. Pneumatic folding machines (sometimes referred to as air-powered paper folders) use a vacuum to push paper. It’s common for pneumatic folding machines to have a built-in compressor. In addition, pneumatic folding machines have folding plates or knife folds that can be adjusted either manually or electronically. 

Feeding system folding machines are the more popular of the two and are cheaper. A good pneumatic folding machine costs $500 or more while a good feeding system folding machine starts at around $150. Unless you are in the printing business, you won’t need a heavy a duty machine that costs thousands of dollars. Your everyday small and medium-sized business can benefit from a folding machine that costs less than $100, and in many cases, less than $200. 

Folding machines come in freestanding form and desktop. Freestanding machines typically cost more and are best for larger businesses that will be folding aggressively; all other businesses can benefit from a space-saving desktop machine. 

Both types of machines work by feeding air of some sort with friction or they utilize an air-controlled suction wheel. Certain models have a table or rollers that push paper through to be folded. The paper is separated by air that blows through it.  

What to Look for in a Letter Folding Machine

When shopping for a letter folding machine, consider what type of paper you’ll be folding. Standard printer paper tends to be the easiest to fold. Some letter folding machines cannot accommodate glossy paper as their surface jams up folding machines. If you plan on folding glossy paper, opt for a pneumatic folding machine over any other kind of machine. 

Letter thickness also needs to be considered. Standard paper can be accommodated easily, but once you start getting into cardstock paper, you’ll have issues if you don’t have the right folder. 

Next, be sure to consider the size of the paper you’ll be folding. Most machines have a minimum and a maximum paper size. Typically, folders that handle oversized paper cost more (something you won’t need to worry about just folding letters). Since time is money in business, any folder that can fold fast is worth looking at. Some of the best selling folding machines have a folding speed of 4,000-plus sheets per hour. 

As we mentioned above, a desktop machine is a good space saving solution. However, because purchasing any new piece of technology for your business is an investment, you should also consider the size of the space where the technology will be stored. If you’ll be purchasing a larger machine that’s heavy, not planning out the space in advance can be a real issue. Desktop letter folding machines are easy to move around and store. Freestanding machines would require at least two or three people to do heavy lifting. If you have a small office where space is limited, you don’t want a machine that takes up a lot of space. 

Common Types of Paper Folds

The final feature to consider when choosing a letter folding machine is type of fold. You can get creative with your letter folding, but every single machine will not offer multiple folding types. The basic C fold letter fold is best for standard letters. If you want your letters to have more of a fancy fold, look for folders with the following: 

Accordion fold – z shaped Single fold – v shaped Double parallel fold – your typical two-page pamphlet fold Engineering fold – half accordion Cross fold – also known as the French fold. One side of the paper is folded shorter than the other. Baronial fold – resembles a tri-fold Gate fold – similar to the tri-fold 

As with any piece of office technology, you should carefully research letter folding machines to make the best purchasing decision for your business. To save yourself time and energy, look for feeds that are easy to use, efficiently optimize folding time, does not have limitations in jobs, and does not require any downtime between projects.

4 Effective Ways to Generate Leads with Social Media

Now that you have established your business, the next step is to expand it. And for that, you need to generate leads. However, you don’t want to generate just any leads. You want to attract people who are relevant and likely to convert. But that’s easier said than done. Generating leads is the top marketing challenge, according to 61 percent of marketers.

That said, channels like social media can help you overcome that challenge. There is a tremendous increase in the number of people using social media. By 2021, you can expect to see 3.02 billion people using it.

With those kinds of numbers, brands have realized the potential of social media. It is one of the most powerful ways to reach and engage with your target audience.

This post will talk about four of the most effective ways to generate quality leads with social media.

1. Use custom hashtags

Use personalized and brand-specific hashtags in your posts to stand out from your competitors. This will help you increase brand awareness and generate high-quality leads.

However, you need to make sure that you add hashtags only when it’s relevant and applicable. And try not to add too many hashtags to your posts just for the sake of adding them. Hashtags need to be precise and targeted.

You should create a mix of unique yet simple hashtag for your brand. Make sure that it’s not too long or too simple. This will help your potential customers discover you and your posts easily. And don’t forget to encourage your existing customers to use those hashtags for even better visibility.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s hashtag campaign to generate quality leads was one of the most successful campaigns. In 2017, the brand wanted to promote their personalized Coke bottles and boost sales. So, they came up with the #ShareACoke hashtag on their social media posts.

The hashtag campaign went viral, and it resulted in increased sales of personalized Coke bottles. The brand even launched a website just to take orders for personalized Coke bottles from consumers. Like Coca-Cola, perhaps you can create and run unique hashtag campaigns for your brand on social media to generate leads.

2. Organize contests

Organizing contests on social media platforms is another effective way of generating leads for your brand. When done correctly, it will help you get the attention of your target audience. Contests are one of the best ways to excite your audience since you’re giving them a chance to win prizes.

And if the prize includes your products, it’s a great way to give them a taste of what you’re offering so they will come back for more. You can either organize a contest related to your brand or collaborate with influencers and ask them to run contests on your behalf. Influencers can help you expand your reach and engage with a highly relevant audience.

However, there are a few important things to consider when organizing contests on social media. Always use simple and clear language to write the rules and instructions. And don’t forget to mention the criteria to win the contest. If you’re going to randomly select a winner using software or an app, mention that beforehand. This will avoid any confusion among your contest participants.

3. Host live videos

Live videos are a fairly new feature on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. But regardless of its age, they have made it much easier for brands to engage their audience and generate leads. This is mainly because videos are simple and fun to watch, and everyone can understand them easily.

In fact, 80 percent of people on social media prefer to watch a video instead of reading a post. Using videos, you can easily establish a connection with your target audience and get their attention. If your live video was compelling and engaging enough, your target audience will remember you for a longer time. This means you’ll be generating leads.

You can use live videos to communicate your brand’s value and the emotions so your target audience can relate to you. And it will give them the chance to communicate with you by commenting.

It’s common for brands to host a Q&A session through live videos so their target audience can ask important questions about the brand and products. This is a highly effective way to generate more leads, as the audience will have their doubts answered and get more assurance to buy their product.

You could also leverage live videos to talk about your new product and pitch it to your target audience.

4. Offer flash sales and discount codes

No one can resist a discount or flash sale on their favorite products or services. So you can leverage them to generate high-quality leads. This also helps you raise brand awareness, as people are likely to share the news with their friends.

Create a sense of urgency when you organize flash sales by clearly mentioning the deadline and using a timer to count down to the hour. Don’t forget to use attractive templates to write a strong call to action to make it even more effective.

Promoting your discounts on social media platforms is a cost-effective tactic to get the attention of your audience. This will help you generate more quality leads through the channel.

You can also collaborate with bloggers and microinfluencers on social media who are looking for affiliate marketing opportunities.

This strategy can also help you boost engagement with your target audience on social media. And this will likely result in building a strong community of people who are followers and fans of your brand.

Final thoughts

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s important to generate quality leads, but this is a challenge for most marketers. These four tactics can help you generate quality leads using social media channels. Organize contests or promote attractive discounts to get the attention of your target audience and generate leads.

You can also use hashtags specific to your brand and host live videos to engage with your audience. Do you know any other ways to generate quality leads via social media? If so, leave a comment.

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/letter-folding-machine-buying-guide.html

Small Business Survival Guide: How to Sustain Cash Flow During a Government Shutdown

Business.com
Small Business Survival Guide: How to Sustain Cash Flow During a Government Shutdown

A federal government shutdown causes a lot of inconvenience, especially when it goes on for a protracted period. For small businesses, in particular, shutdowns drive a litany of concerns that only snowball the longer they go on. These include challenges like loss of public contracts, delayed payments and the inability to obtain a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. At the core of each of these problems is one thing: uncertainty around cash flow. Even for small businesses that primarily operate in the private sector, shutdowns have a significant economic impact.

“The negative consequences of one of the longest shutdowns in U.S. history is now fully impacting our country’s small business community,” Keith Hall, president and CEO of the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE), said in a statement. “From uncertainty around how the shutdown could impact delays in tax refunds small businesses were looking to … to the shuttering of the Small Business Administration impacting small business loans, America’s small businesses are on the frontlines feeling the adverse impact.”

Editor’s note: Need a loan for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

 

In an environment where cash is king, the solutions all must revolve around generating new revenue and getting paid. How can small businesses do that in a pinch? Through a combined strategy of revenue-generating moves, small businesses can find some solace during the tumultuous time of a government shutdown.

Sustaining cash flow is the critical goal.

The chief concern of a small business owner, even in the best of times, is cash flow. According to Lyneir Richardson, executive director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers University, government shutdowns often have an adverse effect on cash flow, and not just for small businesses that rely heavily on public contracts. When those companies feel the squeeze, he said, they will often delay capital expenditures and invoice payments to other businesses they work with, creating a “ripple effect” in the wider economy.

“The biggest fear for small businesses during a shutdown relates to cash flow,” Richardson said. “Will my payments be processed? Can I get a loan? Will I get the green light on a contract I’ve been working on? Will I get paid for the work we’ve done, or will there be a long line to get my invoice paid? Cash is oxygen, and without oxygen, you quickly start to feel the pressure.”

Therefore, every strategy a small business owner employs during a government shutdown should come back to driving cash flow and shoring up operating capital reserves. This includes leveraging outstanding accounts receivable, drumming up new short-term business and exploring financing options. It also includes finding room in the budget on the expense side of the balance sheet, cutting the fat until the government shutdown concludes.

Lean on accounts receivable to increase cash flow.

If your company is sitting on a significant amount of money in accounts receivable, a shutdown is a good time to call those clients on what they owe. Naturally, your clients will often be in a similar position during a government shutdown and will want to hold onto as much cash as possible themselves. If your need for revenue is strong enough, consider offering a discount on the total amount due in exchange for immediate payment.

“If new cash isn’t coming in, reserves start to dwindle, and the entrepreneur starts to feel the pressure,” Richardson said. “When there are no revenue or invoice payments, that’s the biggest challenge.”

Negotiate reduced or delayed payments with vendors and creditors.

For many small businesses, simply delaying or reducing upcoming payments to vendors could be enough to carry them through the shutdown with more cash on hand. Consider going directly to your suppliers and requesting an extension on payments for a month. Many vendors will extend flexibility during a shutdown, especially if you’ve been a loyal and timely-paying customer.

“There are a lot of options like making minimum payments on debt or talking to vendors about delaying payments,” Hall said. “We’re already in a longer shutdown than ever before, but the hope is it’s relatively short-lived. Delaying a payment for one month, deferring a couple things, is a great idea from a cash management standpoint.”

Signing new business with a quick turnaround time.

Of course, there are few revenue-generating options better than simply signing new business. However, since the need for cash flow is pronounced during a shutdown, new business should have a quick turnaround time, so you can get paid as soon as possible. Make sure any new clients are aware you expect payment within a short period (for example, two weeks rather than 30 days). Again, depending on the severity of your situation, you might consider offering discounts for a guaranteed immediate payment if clients seem hesitant.

“There are advantages to having government contracts, but best-in-class businesses have both public and private clients,” Richardson said. “When situations like this happen, look to private clients to greenlight new work and pay invoices quicker so you have cash flow.” 

For some companies, relief might be found in former customers who haven’t ordered products or required services in a while. Combing through customer lists and reaching out to see if an old contact needs your business could drive some revenue in the short term, Hall added.

Accept a loan to reinforce capital reserves.

Any wise entrepreneur will think long and hard before taking on debt, but in an environment where a prolonged government shutdown is slowing cash flow across the board, debt could help buoy your capital reserves. Specifically, Hall said, entrepreneurs could potentially seek short-term working capital from a community bank.

“This type of situation is one that bankers typically respond to very well, because it’s not a downturn in your business. It’s out of your control, and the expectation for most people is that this is going to end,” Hall said. “Short-term working capital financing at a local bank is a great way to go.”

Small business owners could also rely on lines of credit they might have at their disposal, although Hall cautioned that if left unchecked or used for an indeterminate period, that method of financing could become quite expensive.

As a last resort, consider invoice factoring.

If you’re having trouble securing a more conventional loan or calling some of the money owed in your accounts receivable, you might consider invoice factoring. Factoring is a type of financing that leverages your outstanding A/R as collateral to get a large portion of the cash you are owed upfront. The factor, or lender, will then typically collect the outstanding balances directly from your clients. Small businesses generally pay a portion of their total A/R to a factor in exchange for this service, but it avails them liquid capital immediately and can help to avert an otherwise challenging situation.

“I think it’s always a good idea to look at options; however, when you get into factoring or selling A/R … that can be a very expensive option,” Hall said. “The first step should always be to find more conventional lending opportunities.”

If you are looking for an invoice factoring partner, though, it’s important to make a wise selection. For help, see our best picks for invoice factoring companies in 2019.

Cut expenses to slow capital outflows.

Finally, in conjunction with efforts to raise new sources of revenue, small businesses should consider cutting any unnecessary expenses until a shutdown concludes. This includes putting off capital investments such as purchasing new equipment or expanding your staff until normalcy returns. For small businesses that are especially tight, it might even mean instituting furloughs or laying off some employees altogether. Ensuring your business operates as lean as possible, at least in the near term, will make each revenue-generating step you take go that much further.

“[Cutting expenses] could include laying off staff, delaying business trips, delaying the purchase of new equipment,” Richardson said. “That’s how this sort of ripple effect on the economy happens. Once I’m concerned about my cash, I have to delay capital expenditures. You’ve got to hold on to that cash to continue to survive, operate and see another day in business.”

Engage with your legislators and stay informed.

While it’s not a direct step to improving cash flow, the most concrete action you can take toward ending the shutdown is taking time to contact your legislators and urge them to do whatever they can to ameliorate the situation in D.C.

“The true way we can make a difference is take that six minutes and send an email to your congressmen,” said Hall. “Let them know this is not what we intended when we voted for you guys.”

Use this opportunity to build a cash reserve fund.

According to Hall, the shutdown represents an opportunity to shore up cash reserves. He recommends saving up to three months of cash reserves depending on the nature of your business.

“Depending on your company, if you don’t have … some level of reserves for your operations, this situation is a great wake-up call to build that reserve,” Hall said. “As you go through the year, concentrate on savings. Delay one vacation, one bonus or something to get your business in position so when there is an issue … you have that reserve.”

The bottom line is top-line revenue.

Driving top-line revenue amid a government shutdown can be challenging, but it’s critical to keeping business operations afloat. Companies with strong reserves will be best positioned when a shutdown occurs, of course, but there’s no reason companies with less cash on hand should suffer. Preparing a strategic plan ahead of time for use in the event of a government shutdown can help small businesses set these wheels in motion the moment the news breaks, hopefully sustaining themselves for the long haul.

According to Mike Trabold, director of compliance at Paychex, staying informed is critical. Understanding the facts of the situation, which many government agencies have been diligently trying to communicate to the public, will help entrepreneurs craft a strategy to move forward effectively.

“We’re trying to tell people the best thing you could do is just stay informed,” Trabold said. “The advice we give people is that it’s not a savory situation, but keep informed and do something with the opportunity to expand offerings a bit more – cut back on expenses and reach out to some of your creditors, and talk with them to find out if there are ways to extend payment terms.”

Remember, government shutdowns don’t last forever, so implementing a multifaceted strategy for driving unconventional revenue until the government reopens in its full capacity serves as an interim measure. Still, the ability to adapt to tough market conditions also demonstrates the resilience of a business, which can help boost long-term prospects and better position a small business for growth. Adversity is merely a new opportunity to the seasoned entrepreneur, and a government shutdown is no different.

6 Tips to Develop a Quick Pitch for Potential Investors

Did you hear about the consultant that ordered an UberPool and the other passenger turned out to be the director of business devolpment at her dream client?

How about the startup founder who took a daytrip with his family and struck up a conversation with a nice guy on a bike, who happened to be an investor?

What about the entrepreneur that landed a client from a conversation that started as a casual discussion while waiting in line for coffee at Starbucks?

These are all true stories!

The world is your networking event – there are opportunities literally everywhere. You never know if the next person you meet could change your life, business or startup. The challenge is – you must be armed with the perfect story of your venture or business at any given moment.

Before you create a full investor deck or sales deck, it’s important to have a series of “quick pitches” – short messages that get your idea across in a clear and powerful way that anyone can understand. Being able to tell your story in a few minutes or less in a way that captivates the audience might sound effortless, but it’s not. You don’t want to just stand there mumbling, so you must be prepared to pitch your idea clearly to potential investors, users, partners or even friends and family.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to create the ultimate quick pitch for your business.

1. Grab them at the get-go

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is starting with the product or solution. They push why it’s great. Potential investors don’t respond well to this, they prefer to ease into the pitch. You want to grab their attention right away, so make it about them, not you. To best do that, start with a story that illustrates the problem. Something that resonates with them, makes them identify, nod, feel that you understand your target audience.

The best way to do this is either using a personal story of why you came up with the idea for your business. Share something that happened to you or someone you care about that led you to create a solution. It can also be a story of something that happened in society, the world or a trend. Whatever it is, it should be a story that illustrates the gap, need and challenge that people face and why they need your product or service.

Tip

Don’t over-tell this story – take away any extra, unimportant details that make it too long winded. You want them excited to hear about your solution, not waiting impatiently for you to finish.

2. Simplify your solution

This is your one shot at getting investors engaged and excited. The last thing you want to do is talk about your product, service or solution in a complex, boring way. You want to explain it simply, so that anyone can understand it. Use this formula for a simple solution statement: “We do X for Y by Z.” Meaning “We have a platform, service or tool (X) for a specific audience (Y), enabled by a specific technology, experience or expertise (Z).

For example: “We have an app (X) for parents (Y) tracking their child’s development using motion detectors (Z).” Another example would be, “We help gig workers (Y) find their next job and get paid on time (X) with our vast network of hospitality venues (Z).” Your solution could be: “We have an AI-powered platform that helps small and medium businesses (Y) maximize their ad spend (X) using AI and machine learning (Z).” Get the picture?

Tip

Create a bunch of these simple solution statements and try them out on different people at different times. See what works best. It’s best to try them on people that don’t come from your industry to see if they get it.

3. Proof that it works

Before potential investors buy into your concept, they want proof that it actually works. This is the perfect place to mention another client or many clients who have benefitted from your solution. What has their outcome been?

Tip

If you can mention a specific user or company, or if you have a testimonial that proves that a client loves you, pull it out now!

4. Why you?

What are your unique selling points or USPs? Why are you and your product the right ones for the job? What sets you apart from other solutions?

Tip

Don’t try to make yourself look better by bashing the competition, especially if your audience members are currently using a competing solution. They don’t want to feel that you are negative, or that they made the wrong choice with the other solution, just that there’s hope for better.

5. Why now? 

Is there a pressing reason why potential investors should be engaging with you now? Are there market trends that prove that you are a hot investment opportunity? Can you solve a problem that’s about to appear, like a pending regulation or law change? Do you open up a new avenue of opportunity for them? Make them feel the urgency of why they need you now. 

Tip 

The more solid your sources are for these trends and changes, the more credibility you have.

6. End with action 

This entire conversation should have taken around three minutes. Any more and the audience is probably losing steam, though if they are interested, they are ready to take the next step. Your audience probably won’t invest or buy on the spot, but if you can elicit a next step, there’s a much better chance of you closing the deal. Set up a call, schedule a meeting or a demo or get their email to send them more details. Lead to something that is actually on their calendar.

Tip

If they seem hesitant to continue and take a next step, don’t push too hard. You can follow up gently by email, but don’t make them feel uncomfortable or pressured. That’s not the way to build a relationship.

The purpose of a “quick pitch” is to open the door for a longer meeting or the next level of engagement. This is the ultimate goal. Have your pitches in place and be ready for the next great opportunity to emerge.

 

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/small-business-survival-guide-how-to.html

Do Workplace Wellness Programs Really Work?

MIT Sloan Management Review

Corporate wellness programs are a lot like New Year’s resolutions. While announced with the best of intentions, they don’t lead to enough real action — let alone the kinds of transformations they’re designed to bring.

Just as numerous reports bemoan the way our personal resolutions quickly fall to the wayside, analyses of corporate wellness programs bring similarly dispiriting news. “The most credible research,” Fortune reports, “suggests mixed, if not ambiguous, results.”

A 2018 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that spending on corporate wellness programs has tripled to $8 billion since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and today 50 million workers have access to them. These programs promise all sorts of economic benefits, such as reduced medical spending and absenteeism, and increased employee productivity and satisfaction. But the researchers found that the people who chose to take part in such a program already had lower medical expenditures and healthier behaviors. The study did not find causal effects “of treatment on total medical expenditures, health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status” in the first year of most programs.

Through my work founding and growing companies, I’ve discovered ways to make wellness a corporate value that leads to concrete changes and positive results. Managers play a crucial role in making this happen by working with their reports to change workplace habits and boost participation in all health-related activities a company offers.

Get your employees to take vacation. Americans’ stress levels are on the rise. A report by the American Psychological Association in 2017 found the country “at its highest stress level yet.” As Rice University professor Akane Sano cited in research published while at the MIT Media Lab, 83% of Americans are stressed at work, which reduces productivity, can lead to insomnia, and increases absenteeism in the workplace.

People need vacations to rejuvenate. But the majority of employees don’t use all their paid time off. In its State of American Vacation 2018 report, “Project: Time Off” found that 52% of employees have unused vacation days at the end of the year — a figure that’s been dropping slightly in recent years, but remains far too high. A whopping 705 million vacation days went unused in the most recent year surveyed.

Why aren’t stressed employees taking time off? The three biggest reasons involve the culture of the workplace: People fear looking replaceable in their jobs, they have workloads that are so heavy they dread the pile of tasks they’ll come back to, and there’s a lack of coverage for them at work.

It’s up to managers to allay these concerns. When evaluating corporate wellness, managers should take time to examine policies already in place, such as paid time off. Leaders should ensure their organizations and teams are structured so that business-critical tasks are covered during breaks. This also means having more open communication with employees about the importance of using their paid time off. One way to set the standard is to walk the walk: When employees see their manager taking vacation time and encouraging them to use theirs, it sets the right example.

Make healthy food available. According to the CDC, people are gobbling up an average of 1,300 calories a week from their workplaces, and the vast majority of it is what they’re given to munch on for free. Research has found that workplace-provided food is often high in empty calories; one only needs to see the dessert tray at a catered lunch to understand how little nutrition most workplace-provided food is giving employees.

When managers hold team meetings or one-on-one get-togethers with individual employees, make a habit of providing healthy options for people to grab. When veggie trays, whole fruits, and nuts are around, people eat them. The American Heart Association also recommends limiting when free food is available and organizing a potluck build-your-own-salad bar.

Offer a range of wellness activities. Meditation isn’t for everyone. Neither is yoga or cycling. So bringing in trainers and teachers to run these kinds of sessions may attract some employees, but others will stay away.

Most people have some form of exercise they might enjoy. Managers should ask their reports what kinds of wellness activities they are interested in and help to organize them. For example, if an employee likes going for walks, make your next meeting with that employee a walking meeting.

Some physical activities can fall under “learning” or “education,” which may help managers find funding in their budgets.

Provide stipends. More and more businesses are starting to offer employees monthly stipends for health and wellness activities, such as gym memberships. But these often go unused.

As with paid time off, managers are in a strong position to encourage employees to put these to use. Without pressuring any individual employee, managers can provide frequent reminders about the benefit and the various ways the reimbursement can be used.

Wellness programs can take many forms. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, wellness programs can include programs to quit smoking, fitness challenges, weight control and nutrition guidance plans, and more. Just like with any other investment or KPI, managers, not just HR, should revisit these programs, analyze their effectiveness, and use them throughout the year.

When businesses make it a habit to check up on just how well their wellness programs are going, they can help their employees make this the year that some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions — to eat healthier, get more exercise, and increase self-care — finally stick.

Kamyar Shah

SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan says that its customers, not numbers on a screen, that will most help you stay the course.

Read the full article at: www.entrepreneur.com

From John Kheit’s “Tim Cook Is a Failure at Operations,” posted Friday on the MacObserver.

Read the full article at: www.ped30.com

The US healthcare workforce is female-dominated, but healthcare companies’ C-suites are the complete opposite, a new report has found.

Read the full article at: www.businessinsider.com

Bubble economy marketing seems oblivious to the outside world, says freelance writer Amelia Tait…

Read the full article at: www.theguardian.com

Source: https://www.tampabusinessconsulting.com/2019/01/do-workplace-wellness-programs-really.html