Signs That Your Business is Ready for Expansion

Jul 26, 2018

Business owners understand that taking risks is essential for business growth. While being a risk-taker (even if by necessity) is a great characteristic to have, all entrepreneurs must be careful when making decisions for the overall health of the business; especially when considering expansion. Some business owners don’t properly gauge when it’s the right time to expand. They’ll do it when business is on a decline in hopes that doing so will increase revenue, but in the end they risk their existing sales. It’s very important to analyze each aspect of your business, in order to help you properly determine risk/reward outcomes. Here are a few signs that your business may be ready to expand:

Strong Revenue Your business should be in a place of stable growth and sales generation. Having strong revenue for at least three years is a key sign that your business is hitting a strong consumer market, and expanding would be beneficial.

Loyal Customers A strong base of consistently returning and loyal customers is key for growth. These customers show that there is a demand for your product and that they prefer your business over your competitors. Having customers that continually come back allow for recurring revenue, making your business more stable. When you have plans to expand, take their suggestions into consideration for things like location, convenience, and pricing options.

Abundant Workload If your business or service is constantly booked or busy, and you and your employee’s calendars are crammed, then it’s time to expand. Hiring more people will allow you to delegate some power and will ultimately bring in more money.

Meeting Goals If your business continuously meets its goals, that means the work you’re putting into your business is paying off. It also means that it's time to set up another set of challenges for yourself. The dedication that you put in is what will make your business become successful.

Solid Team Employees are the backbone of your company. You want to have a strong group of people who have the skills and abilities that align with your company’s growth objectives. When you expand you will have a lot more to manage, so you’ll need to be able to trust these individuals to help out. They will also be the ones responsible for making sure to maintain the company culture that you have.

Industry Is Growing If you continue to provide something in a market that is growing but has not been oversaturated, consider capitalizing while you can. There are ways to expand your business through franchise, partnerships, and licensing.

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Jul 26, 2018

When you combine a group of people with different skills, abilities, and personalities there is bound to be a time when a conflict will occur. As much as we want everyone to work harmoniously, no amount of behavioral tests or job-fit assessments can prevent conflict from happening.

You shouldn’t look at a conflict in a purely negative way. Instead, look at the positives in that it allows your co-workers to understand each other better, strengthens communication, and allows individuals to grow. If you look at it it through this perspective, you will foster a work environment where people feel comfortable coming forward when there are issues.

The first thing to do is to acknowledge the conflict when it first occurs and execute a meeting. You want to handle the situation as soon as possible before the tension increases and it escalates. Have each co-worker involved in the conflict meet one-on one with you or a supervisor. Once the supervisor has knowledge on the situation, conduct a meeting where all persons are involved. Allow them to openly discuss the issues that they have and try to figure out the root of the problem. Don’t rush to come up with a resolution within one meeting. The conflict must be one that is well thought out and that both parties agree on. It will prevent the conflict from resurfacing in the future.

As a leader, when solving conflict it’s important not to take sides, keep an open mind. Each individual is responsible for their own actions. The main purpose of you or a supervisor being present is to help them work through their problems. Do this by listening closely and following along with what each individual says. Then, give advice and guidance on the ways that they can work through these issues.

If the conflict is resolved, after a few weeks or months have a follow up meeting to see if the resolution was successful. Continue to strengthen the relationship between the two. Be mindful that sometimes there isn’t a clean-cut resolutions to conflict, and both parties must learn to maintain good working relationships.. Further action can be required in the form of performance appraisals, department switches, or disciplinary actions- depending on the severity of the situation. Whether there is a clear resolution or not, a lot will be learned about conflict resolution and how to handle the situation properly.

Establishing Company Culture

Jul 19, 2018

One of the cornerstones of a successful business is its company culture. A company’s culture is more than just perks you may offer to your employees, or your mission statement. It is the behavior, attitude, goals, and characteristics that encompass an organization, by the people that are employed there. All these different factors attract like-minded people to take interest in your company, and with the right hires, you will continue to fulfill and grow that company culture. Think of the company culture that Google, Disney or Twitter employs, versus companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Pfizer or a Law Firm. They are vastly different, and for many reasons.

How company culture is reflected. Company culture should become a deeply rooted part of daily life as an employee. You can tell your company culture is being carried out successfully when individuals all collectively follow the same routines and protocols seamlessly, and new hires meld into this routine as well. Everyone stays past 5 pm to be sure all work is complete and no other team members need assistance, important communications are shared via text versus formal email, happy hours are spontaneous versus pre-organized. You ideally want all members of the company protect the company or organization equally, and that no one is taking their position as an opportunity to take advantage. No matter how large or small, these are all examples that affect or mold a company culture. Share your culture proudly, it will encourage others to do so. This can be done by hiring people that have similar values, promoting those who implement them, or hosting activities that focus on your company’s values.

Write down the values of the company. This should include what is important to your company, what you strive to provide for employees and clients alike, and where you want your company to be years from now. These principles will set the foundation for your business in the future. You don’t need a long list, come up with four solid values that embody your business and you should be set. After you have made that list, make sure to incorporate it into your mission and vision statement for your company. If you need advice on a creating a mission and vision statement, this may help. This written statement of your culture should also be included in job descriptions and employee handbook or on-boarding paperwork.

Continuing with success. As your company grows it can be easy to lose sight or underestimate the importance of your company’s culture. As a business owner, you want to make sure that you continue to reevaluate company culture and are actively trying to implement and changes as you grow. To stay on top of these values, periodically ask employees for feedback and consider the responses. Make sure that employee voices are being heard and taken into account appropriately. Providing a work environment that people enjoy, value and feel engaged in will boost their productivity, increase your revenue, and will cut your costs.

Tactics for Branding Your Small Business

Jun 21, 2018

So much time and effort goes into choosing a brand logo. It’s not just cool designs and obscure color choices that are brought together over coffee; most times the choice for a logo is made after numerous drafts, and consideration for appeal, originality, marketability and recognition.

Effective branding, aided by the selection of a logo, can mean a world of marketing opportunities, while poorly planned branding can hurt your business. Never underestimate the power of properly branding your business. Why? A brand is the perception your consumer has of your product before even fully understanding your business. When you form a brand for your business, it becomes the identity and the foundation for all marketing efforts. It allows for a relationship or a connection to occur between your business and its customers, and it sets a tone.

A brand logo can give your customers a sneak peek into the kind of business you have, and what your culture is like. Fun bright colors and graphics lend to more casual and playful types of businesses while more muted and font-heavy logos lend themselves to a more serious understanding of the industry your business may fall into.

Beyond the physical logo, the characteristics of a brand is what differentiates it in the marketplace. Familiarizing potential customers with how you present yourself on social media, how you convey your messages, and what you choose to post, are all presentational characteristics that may make a potential customer feel more comfortable moving forward with you. Depending on the impact your brand has on someone or something can build brand-loyalty and lead to referrals.

So, who is the target audience for your brand? When choosing content, think about how it appeals to your target audience. Does the post reflect the values that you represent? Once you have covered these questions, think about your brand and how you want to position it to make it memorable. Be as creative as you want, because brands with personality stand out to consumers far better than those that lack differentiation.

Online Resources that Offer Continuing Education Courses

Jun 21, 2018

We’ve all come across situations in life that in hindsight could have easily been solved if we had the right tools, information, and skillset at the time. It’s always after you experience a small setback that you value preparation for the future unknown. As a small business owner there’s a lot you need to know to be able to handle the demands of owning a business. Business management tactics, good human resources practices, finance, basic accounting, product development, and customer service skills are all integral pieces of understanding what it takes to run a business.

Let’s say you want to strengthen your knowledge in one of these areas. You could turn to a friend or search google, but sometimes you need more than just someone’s personal account of an experience and a few articles found in search. Running your own business is a physically and mentally draining lifestyle, and your time is especially precious. Finding the time, energy and expenses for additional educational courses is likely not a feasible option, so luckily when it comes to learning more about running a business, or a more concentrated area of business practices like marketing, management and finance, there are many online courses that are affordable and flexible. Here’s a little quick-list to help you find the one that works best for you, (because we know you’re probably reading this on your smart phone while working.)

Stackskills: If you’re looking for courses that will teach you more about the general areas of data, software, writing and marketing, this course site is the perfect place to start. Varying from trainings in Salesforce, Python, Photoshop and more, and the prices are just as varied, anywhere from $20-$300 a class. Since they offer so many programs, you can find one that is most affordable for you. Once you purchase the one you’re most interested in, you can access it anytime, anywhere.

Udemy: This online program offers courses in just about anything from personal development, marketing tactics, foreign languages, and even teaching. Need to hire more employees for your growing company but don’t know a thing about proper hiring and onboarding etiquette? Udemy can help you out by providing general HR courses on recruiting and interviewing practices. These courses vary from $30-$200, but they frequently offer sales where courses drop to as low as $9.99. Once you sign up, you’ll have access infinitely, so you can get right back to learning when it’s most flexible for you.

Coursera: Imagine a place where all kinds of continuing education and certificate program courses lead by top notch university professors are listed and accessible in one place, searchable by term and content. That place exists at Coursera.The best part is you can take these classes inside your home, office, or wherever is most convenient for you. They offer a variety of degrees and certificates from a Master of Computer Science to a Google IT Support certificate. These courses range from $29-$80 per month.

Edx: Is similarly structured like many of the other online course sites and offers classes in all things from music to chemistry. This site is similar to Coursera in that it partners with universities from all over the states, where you can earn your degree or certificate from home. Some of these classes have start dates which are great for those who like to have a set schedule, while some of the other classes are self-paced. These classes cost anywhere from $50-$600.

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