Category Archives: Small Biz Tips

Customer Complaints

Every business experiences it from time to time and it is hard to hear that someone is unhappy with your product, service, or policies.  After all, you work hard to provide quality and affordability to your customer.  Try to take this negative and make something positive out of it.

Dealing with a customer complaint can be an opportunity for you to improve your business, review an old customer policy, better train your staff and in the end, maybe even create a loyal customer.

Act In A Timely Fashion

When you discover that a customer in unhappy you cannot ignore it, you must act immediately.  A problem will simply become worse with time.  Find out what the problem is as quickly as possible.  Your willingness and effort to make it right will demonstrate to your customer that they are important to you and that you are a conscientious business person.  The longer you wait, the more upset the customer gets,  the more difficult the conversation will be and the chances of satisfying that customer become more difficult.

Offer A Solution

Ensure that you are well informed of the problem and offer your customer a replacement product at no charge.  If it is a service they are unhappy with, really look at why they are unhappy and offer them a repeat or even upgraded service, but be sure that it is up to par with their expectations.

Was it a communication breakdown that caused the problem?  Apologize and take this as an opportunity to provide some training to the employee involved so that they are able to improve the communication and potentially avoid a strained customer relationship in the future.

Is The Complaint Public?

With the popularity of social media many customer complaints are in this public forum.  Again acting quickly will help to diffuse the situation but never delete a complaint from your social profile.   That will make your customer feel that you do not care and could possibly create even more public bashing.  As quickly as you learn of the situation apologize and express your desire to correct the situation.  Move the conversation off-line by contacting them by email or telephone and resolving the problem quickly.  You will gain respect from others on social media by showing genuine concern and a quick response to resolving the situation.

Not every situation will have a happy ending but the key is getting an accurate understanding of what went wrong for the customer, fixing it and putting practices in place to avoid the same situation in the future.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

Building your Brand Online

Today online presence is an important part of a successful business. Without it, you are disconnected from a lot of potential customers.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re building your online brand.

  1. Have a vision for your brand.

Think you have a great business idea? Be confident in what you have to offer and have a clear vision and plan for where you want your business to go in the years to come.

  1. Choose a unique brand name.

Choosing a name that is long, hard to pronounce or doesn’t relate to your business is a common mistake. Choose a brand name that will stand out and be memorable.

  1. Get help with your website.

Setting up your business website properly is key to getting your business out to customers. Leave it to the experts, it may seem like an expense, but it will save you time and money in the long run.

  1. Send out a clear message.

It is important to be active on social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but make sure you keep things relevant to your business. Keep your business and personal social media sites separate.

  1. Google yourself.

Google is the most common search engine, so Google yourself and see where you rank. If your website doesn’t show up on the first page, there is a good chance you won’t be seen. This is where SEO and setting up your website properly comes into play.

  1. Proofread your copy.

Don’t underestimate the importance of proofreading your content before publishing. Not only does it make your business look unprofessional, but it also reflects poorly on your brand.

  1. Mention others.

The purpose of social media is to network with others so use it to build a friendly and supportive community where you can share information instead of pushing your product or service.

  1. Mention what you have to offer.

On the other hand, don’t assume people know what you do, especially if you have a unique brand name. Make sure what you have to offer is clear on your website and all social media.

  1. Join the conversation.

Customers like to see a personal side to the business. Engaging in discussions is an effective way to promote your product or service without seeming pushy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

Challenges to Running a Home Business

There’s no doubt that starting a home business has many perks. You get to be your own boss, work how and when you want. You set your own fees, earning what you’re worth. But there are a few drawbacks that many home-based entrepreneurs forget to mention.

You’ll get less respect

Although this is a little less than it was 10 years ago, for some reason, many people don’t view home businesses as legitimate career choices. Instead, it’s something people do on the side to make a few extra bucks, or until a real job comes along.

You don’t have all the time in the world

Because you work from home, you must have time to let the cable guy in for your neighbor, pick up your sister’s kids at school, and have lunch with your mother. To avoid becoming the go-to helper, have set work hours and be a stickler to others about respecting them.

You’ll use more mental energy than at a job

While jobs do require mental energy, owning a business, in which you’re in charge of every aspect, and your success is dependent on how well you manage it. Meaning you think a lot about your business. Even when you’re not working, you’re thinking about it.

Work isn’t always fun

Even if you start a business doing something you love, there are aspects that aren’t fun. Some of these tedious jobs can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, but even then, you’ll have days where you don’t like your business.

Work is rarely ever done

Calendars, schedules, routines, and to-do lists will help you stay on top of tasks, but you’ll probably never come to the end of your list.

You’ll sit more

Because you don’t have to get up, get dressed, and commute to a job, you’ll move less. Unless your home business is in landscaping or fitness training, you’ll likely spend a great deal of time at your computer.

Work and life lines blur

Flexibility can be an advantage of running a home business, if you’re not consciously making decisions about work and off time, you can begin to feel overwhelmed and scattered. This is where time management can make a big difference in the quality of your work and personal life.

It gets lonely

The quiet and solitude of a home business are nice for being focused and productive, but it’s lonely too. There’s no water cooler for gossip or feedback from a colleague. Social media and online groups can help with this, but it’s important to make an effort to connect with people in real life.

It gets harder to go back to a traditional work situation

Once you get used to having your own schedule and working without a boss, it gets difficult to want to go back to that situation.

You’ll work too much (or maybe not enough)

Especially in the beginning, home businesses take a great deal of time to get up and running. You may not have a day off for weeks or months. This can cause problems with your family. Or, it’s possible you’ll not work enough. A home business is flexible, but not so flexible that you can make a living during your child’s nap times or working only an hour a day.

Some days you may not get dressed

Working in your p.j.s is a perk of having a home business, but spending the entire day in your jammies will make you feel frumpy. Experts suggest getting up for your home business just as you would for your job; shower and get dressed.

You’ll be home all the time

Living and working under the same roof can get tedious. On the days you don’t get dressed, also means you don’t leave the house. Fortunately, many home businesses can be run from other locations and since many public spots have free wi-fi, you can take your work on the road for a change of scenery.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

Rules to Charging Provincial Sales Tax on Online Sales

One of the most common questions about Canadian e-commerce is – ‘if I sell online to people in other provinces, do I have to charge and remit their provinces sales tax?’

The answer to this question is ‘Yes’, however it is complicated by the different rules in each province.

Here are the general tax rules to determining what taxes apply to your online sale;

  • If you are selling goods or services in your own province, the tax rules for your own province or territory apply.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province, you would charge the GST/HST rate based on where the orders are being shipped to.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province to Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon (which have no provincial sales tax), you would charge only GST (5%) on the sale.

Note that you would not charge GST on taxable goods and/or services being shipped to other countries.

As an e-commerce business accepting and shipping orders across Canada, the taxes you would be collecting and remitting on your online sales are as follows;

British Columbia – GST 5% and PST 7%

Alberta – GST 5%

Saskatchewan – GST 5% and PST 6%

Manitoba – GST 5% and PST 7%

Ontario – HST 13%

Quebec – GST 5% and QST (Quebec Sales Tax) 9.975%

New Brunswick – HST 13%

Nova Scotia – HST 15%

Newfoundland & Labrador – HST 13%

Prince Edward Island – HST 14%

Northwest Territories – GST 5%

Nunavut – GST 5%

Yukon – GST 5%

In your home province, registering for PST is mandatory if you are selling taxable goods and/or services. With that being said, you should register as a Provincial Sales Tax Vendor with each province you will be doing business with and will be expected to collect and remit the sales tax accordingly.

For more information visit Canada Revenue Agency – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/cmm/gst-tps/menu-eng.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips

6 Strategies that Drive Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs can easily become overwhelmed in today’s ever changing business climate. It’s important to stay focused on your businesses goals amongst changing circumstances. Here are six points to keep in mind to clear your path to business success!

  1. Know your Competition

It’s important to identify your competitors and also understand the rival product or service they offer. This knowledge will help you market your product or service better to stand out.

  1. Research new Products & Services

With the world constantly evolving, there is always something bigger and better. Find new and improved products or services that will help you serve your customers and needs better. Look for tools that will help your business run more efficiently.

  1. Save your Money

During the early stages of business, there is bound to be a few rough patches. Get into the habit of saving money and living more conservatively. Most entrepreneurs keep a three month reserve aside for any unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Start Small

Tackle your niche market before you expand into a larger market. Niche marketing can be extremely cost effective if your business can meet the market’s unique needs. There is much more risk when you try to market your product or service to a larger target audience.

  1. Always be Adapting

Whether you’re adapting your marketing plan, simplifying a product or responding to new trends, pay attention to customer feedback. Listen to your customers, because after all they are who you’re trying to please. Be all ears.

  1. Respond to Change

In business, change is inevitable. As an entrepreneur you need to be prepared to accept change and adapt your business accordingly. It’s important to understand where you start is not likely where you will end up. Be flexible and versatile, don’t be left behind.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Small Biz Tips