Improve Your Business Website

Whether you are a home based business or actually have a physical storefront, your business website represents you 23/7.   Naturally, you want it to be the best it can be to promote your business in a professional manner, which in turn can assist you in turning more profit.

#1 – Clear Out The Clutter

The information your customers need may be on the page they are looking at, but if there is too much on the page they could be distracted and won’t find what they are looking for.  Clean it up by reducing the amount of flashy advertising and having a fair bit of white space.  This will keep it clean looking and less distracting.

Organize content so that it is easy to read.  Sometimes using bullets and sub-headings is easier on the eye and is less overwhelming.  Use graphics but within reason.  People love to share graphics and they do attract attention, but too much is annoying.

#2 – Check Your Speed

How many times have you personally left a site because it was loading too slowly?  Be sure that your own site satisfies your expectations.  If it is too slow, look into why and how to fix it.  Size of photos and other reasons might be the culprit and a quick and easy change may be available.

#3 – Go Mobile

More and more people are using smartphones and even tablets to search online, so being mobile friendly is becoming a must.  Many site themes have added mobile capabilities, so be sure that you are using one that has.  Remember, if your site is not responsive, your ranking in Google may suffer because of it.

#4 – Call To Action

Give your website visitors a call to action.  In other words give them a reason to connect with you by email, or phone or coming in to your physical store.  It could be a sale, a reason to go to your facebook page, leaving a comment on a product or service, signing up for a newsletter – something that will benefit them and ultimately you!

#5 – Promote Your Social Media

Not everyone will realize that you also have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.  These are great ways to connect with potential and current customers on a regular basis.  Make sure they know and make it easy for them by including icons and direct links.  Be sure to put them in a location that is easy to see, such as the top bar of your home page.

#6 – Purchasing Made Easy

If your website is an e-commerce site, meaning visitors can purchase items on your site, then the easier you make it the better.   The more pages and clicks they have to complete, the more difficult it is.  Trying to keep this to a minimum can be a challenge as you will want to provide them with various options for shipping, etc.  Check out other e-commerce websites and make note of what you like and don’t like about those sites.  This will give you insight into designing or updating your own site.

Remember that your on-line presence is extremely important.  It can be a great marketing tool for your business and it can help to create a relationship with current and new customers.  Spend a little time to perfect it and it will pay off !

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5 Money Management Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Saving money is easier said than done. However if you want to start a business, you need to break away from living paycheck to paycheck and start saving. You need to budget and save if you want to invest in your future as an entrepreneur.

Follow these five tips if you want to start managing your money more effectively.

  1. Make organization a priority.

When you’re organized, you can track every aspect of your finances. Record all of your financial information in one place so you can refer to it and track your progress. Being more organized with your personal finances will help prepare you for entrepreneurial success.

  1. Check your credit.

About 30 percent of people don’t know their credit score. If you’re among that 30 percent, it’s time to request a free credit report. If you have poor credit, set goals to improve you score.

  1. Save where you can.

People often cringe when they think about cutting back, but there are many painless ways to save. Look at your daily spending and see if you have any spending habits that you could do without, like that $5 latte you get every morning.

  1. Search for additional information.

There is plenty of free information about money management right at your finger tips. Subscribe to websites and follow podcasts that offer advice on money management.

  1. Set long-term and short-term goals.

You won’t achieve financial success overnight, which is why it is important to create long-term and short-term goals to keep you on track. Keep in mind your goals should be SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

 

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How to Make it Past the Ten-Year Mark

Business failure is a harsh reality. 80 percent of business start-ups make it past the first-year mark, and then the rate begins to drop each year after. Ten years out… only 30 percent, meaning seven out of ten businesses fail within the ten-year mark.

So let’s look at the steps you need to take to avoid failure and give your business longevity.

Deliver Value

The heart of any business is value. If you’re looking to get rich quick, you’ll find yourself at a dead end. Instead, focus on the real value proposition. If you’re not adding as much (if not more) value as your competition, you need to rethink your approach. Value creates buzz, plain and simple.

Connect

If you can’t connect with your target audience, your business will fail. Know who they are, what they need, and what they really want. Ask yourself, how will your product or service help solve their problems? Then pin point your target audience.

Be Transparent

Focus on being authentic, transparent and find ways that you can give rather than take from your customers. Businesses that lack authenticity and transparency will lose the trust of customers and they will fail.

Compete

Smaller businesses generally can’t compete with larger companies in their market. It takes a keen business sense and true guts to pivot and stay afloat with the ‘big guys’.

Control Expenses

It’s easy to spend money if you have it, but having a sense of control of the business’s expenses is imperative. When the expenses get out of control or are being used for personal expenses, it’s almost impossible for the business to survive.

Leadership

With no real experience in the business world, most new entrepreneurs struggle with the demands placed on them. When problems come up, navigating through them can be a difficult task. Build up your board of trusted mentors and leaders to guide you through those murky waters.

Build your ‘Tribe’

Your employee tribe is a crucial factor if you want long-term success. Businesses often fail because they forget about their employees. Even the best employees jump ship to go somewhere they will be more appreciated. Always keep your staff in mind.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, what matters is that you didn’t fail because you didn’t give up!

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Top 10 Productivity Tools for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, your time is very valuable. With endless tasks and to-dos, and countless distractions on a daily basis, don’t you wish you could get more done? These productivity tools, apps and services will help keep you focused on your goals without losing your mind.

  1. StayFocusd is an extension for Google Chrome that will help you work uninterrupted. StayFocusd keeps your attention from straying towards distracting websites, apps and activities.
  2. OffTime helps you manage the time you spend online. OffTime automatically unplugs your connection to online distractions so you can spend more time on the important things.
  3. Calendly is an online productivity tool that makes it much easier to connect with contacts to schedule meetings, calls, or interviews. So you can skip the emailing back and forth and set your meeting with just a few clicks.
  4. Inbox When Ready for Chrome keeps your inbox out of sight by default so you can focus on getting work done rather than being distracted by email notifications.
  5. Boomerang is a Gmail add-on that schedules when you send and receive emails. This tool also reminds you to follow up with previous emails and hides messages in your inbox until you need to see them.
  6. Todo Cloud is a task management service that allows people to collaborate on things they need to do. Todo Cloud integrates calendars, contacts, emails and geolocation services to boost your productivity.
  7. Google Drive gives you 15GB of free cloud storage to save photos, videos, music, files, pdfs, presentations, spreadsheets, and any other digital documents. You can access these files anywhere, anytime, from any device. You can also keep these documents private or you can share them with contacts.
  8. RescueTime analyzes your daily habits and tells you when you’ve been too distracted. This productivity app updates you on how much time you’ve spent on different websites, doing certain tasks, how much you’ve accomplished and if you’ve achieved your productivity goals.
  9. MeetEdgar organizes and republishes your best content across connected social media channels to drive more traffic to your website. MeetEdgar automatically posts status updates and shares content at pre-determined times each day.
  10. OneTab for Chrome is an extension for Chrome to reduce browser clutter. It frees up to 95 percent of memory by converting all of your tabs into a list instead of a bunch of loading pages. You can restore the list as individual items or as a whole anytime you’d like.

Start using these tools, apps and services to work, play and live better!

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How to Create a Social Media Plan – Part 2

  1. What is the budget for your social media plan?

Most business owners invest their time rather than money into social media. A study shows that businesses spend $10k or less on social media per year. Although most social media is free, it’s important to still reserve a percentage of your marketing budget for social media. Review your marketing plan and budget, and integrate your social media plan into it.

  1. Who is going to implement your social media plan?

Before you decide to be the one implementing your small business’s social media plan, ask yourself how many free hours you have on a weekly basis. You also need to be aware that social media is one of the biggest time-sinks ever invented. It can be easy to get hooked on social media and spend too much of the time you don’t have. Think seriously about your time commitments and decide whether or not you want to take on the task of putting your social media plan into action.

Once you’ve answered these five questions, you will be ready to start figuring out how to use social media to accomplish the goals you’ve set for your social media plan.

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Entrepreneurial Resiliency

A few years ago an article entitled “SME’s were the light in the recession storm” was published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In spite of providing interesting insight on the position of small businesses during tough economic times, one term in particular stood out to me when reading the article: “Entrepreneurial Resilience”.

Anyone that has completed research on small business start-up will come across questions such as:

  • Are you adaptable?
  • Do you like to make your own decisions and try your own ideas?
  • Do you make sound judgments?

Having resiliency from the moment of becoming an entrepreneur is key; as you cannot predict what will come your way, whether in the economy or specific to industry.

As a small business owner, you are the manager of every department. As difficult as it may be to separate personal life and business life (which can be a fine line for an entrepreneur, and even employees) tough decisions need to be made with careful consideration.

But according to this article, entrepreneurs have succeeded in making strategic decisions to preserve their goals and mission statements, although noting that some small businesses “did not come out unscathed”.

Resiliency

In the early stages of business start-up you must be sure to control what you can to optimize resiliency:

  •  Stress relief (sleep and eat well, exercise)
  •  Make personal time ( for hobbies or spending time with friends and family)
  •  Set your core goals (your business plan will help you define this)

When doing additional research on entrepreneurial resilience, I came across an interview with Sara Blakely, owner of Spanx. Her personal testimony of resilience discusses how to rise up from challenges, especially in the beginning stages of business start up.

Blakely’s story emphasizes how staying grounded, being persistent and receiving motivation from those around you will allow you to achieve your dreams.

To read both articles, please visit:

SME’s were the light in the recession storm (Canadian Federation of Independent Business)
Sara Blakely on Resilience (Entrepreneur.com)

 

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How to Create a Social Media Plan – Part 1

You many have social media accounts for your business, but are you using them to their full potential? Social media for business is meant to connect with your customers and increase your sales. To get the most out of it, you have to have a plan.

Ask yourself the following questions to create a social media plan that will benefit your business best.

  1. What social media is the best fit for your business?

You don’t have to have a presence on every form of social media; you have to have a presence on the ones your target market is using. A great way to find out is to just ask. If you get a lot of traffic on your website, create an online survey or ask them as they leave your store to get the most accurate respone. Entice customers with prizes or other tangible benefit to fill out the survey. Once you know which ones are used more frequently, create accounts if you haven’t already and familiarise yourself.

  1. What are you social media goals?

Now that you’ve determined which social media is the best fit for your business and you’ve created accounts, you need to decide what your purpose is for being there. Do you want to use social media to; increase your referrals or leads, build on your word-of-mouth, increase sales, become known as an expert, provide customer service? Once you decide, set one or two specific goals that can be measured and prioritize them.

  1. How will you measure the success of your social media plan?

This is a step that is often left out. What good is all your effort if you don’t track and measure the success of your social media? Success is measured by the cost and return on investment (ROI), the same as any other marketing efforts. To make measuring return on investment easier, use your social media account to drive your target market to your website then analyse your website statistics. Google Analytics is a great tool that makes it easy to see how your site engagement goals are being met.

To be continued…

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