Archive for the ‘Business Development’ Category

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Standards set the bar for achievement, and in business, that bar raises and shifts position. No wonder professionals often burnout — they’re competing in a rat race, never making it out of the maze. Work culture must move from a focus on performance to a focus on learning.

The prioritization of performance over learning persists in education, where the root of the issue lies. Many studies have shown test results are not accurate indicators of student potential, talent and knowledge. Still, the goal remains to get the A and move on to the next score goal, rather than truly learning the material — as if they’re given the time to do so in the first place. When students graduate, this damaging mindset often persists in work culture.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but without learning, you continue to fight the same fight. You lose in the end when you burn out and limit your potential as a professional. Prioritize education to achieve improved, sustainable performance over the long-term with these four tips.

  1. Ask for Feedback

Like tests, annual performance reviews rarely get into the nitty-gritty of generating improvement. This once-a-year picture usually fails the employer and employee. Feedback notes feel like a chore for both parties and don’t encourage growth or nurture development of talents.

Feedback must function collaboratively — employees want and deserve better feedback. Of all generations, millennial workers most desire regular feedback, but every worker should frequently seek it out.

CEOs should also seek feedback from their employees. More constructive, transparent and positive feedback opens the door to improved trust, communication and performance. View feedback as a learning opportunity on the road to improved performance.

  1. Focus on Learning Outcomes

Reviews measure how someone performs at a specific time, offering only a snapshot of an employee’s work while a focus on learning stretches the view longitudinally. Regular reviews help track the results of knowledge and provide a more holistic vantage point of learning through time. The focus on both performance and learning outcomes adds value to employee contribution and growth, but a broader lens is needed to nurture success and growth.

Develop a customized feedback process with your supervisor and plan timeframes during which you’ll regularly ask for feedback. Communicate your learning objectives to measure your performance more holistically and get a better view of how on-track you are to achieving your learning outcomes. You’ll feel less stressed and more focused on your professional development.

  1. Participate in Mentoring

Open up mentoring opportunities for yourself to gain knowledge and give back to those rising in the ranks. Do you admire a specific professional or entrepreneur? Arrange a time for a coffee meetup — your treat — to discuss the possibility of a mentorship.

Come to the table with your learning objectives and possible outcomes in mind. Don’t worry if what you have outlined feels abstract — this is part of the learning process. You’re gathering information and developing a pathway to learn and grow professionally.

Senior-level employees who give back usually feel good about passing on their knowledge but could stand to learn more about how they work through the process of exchange. Of Fortune 500 companies, 71 percent offer mentoring programs for employees because they realize the proven link between learning and performance.

Does the company offer mentoring programs? Why not be the first to pitch this as an idea and help set it up? Cultivate something bigger than one employee — an opportunity that benefits you in the long run, too.

  1. Pursue Enrichment Opportunities

Achieving the work-life balance feels like trying to clone a dinosaur — nearly impossible. You must make the time. Build a full life in your personal and professional worlds by pursuing enrichment opportunities.

Enrichment opportunities is a broad term, but one that encompasses endless potential. What opportunities for learning exist on the job and in your personal life? Take advantage of exercise programs, employer tuition reimbursement and stipends for night or online classes. Attend that life drawing or marketing class you always wanted to schedule.

What opportunities might you cultivate by talking to the right people and pitching the right ideas? Speak up.

Research reveals that satisfaction among employees relies on having a fulfilling experience on the job. One study found employers who deepened worker knowledge through enrichment opportunities possessed higher motivated teams and company loyalty. The workers were also more productive and happier due to benefits and programs that promoted recognition, achievement, advancement and responsibility.

It’s possible to achieve the right balance of completing duties and pursuing growth through learning. Open up the lines of communication toward a culture of knowledge and enrichment, and productivity and performance will follow. Honor quality over quantity.

Don’t let your focus on performance hold you back from the wealth of the learning experience. By redirecting your attention to creating learning objectives and outcomes, you can broaden your horizons and improve your performance over time.

This article originally appeared in Personal Branding Blog.

 

This article was written by Personal Branding Blog from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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A solid team can make or break your business. Even if you are a control person, you can’t handle everything in your business. Having team members you can trust and rely on makes a huge difference.

While finding a promising team can seem like a challenge, keeping those people onboard and happy should be your true focus. That way, you can focus on long-term goals and start to build a routine.

Here are some tips for keeping team members happy.

Set Clear Expectations

As the business owner, you have to clearly define your expectations for team members. Make sure you communicate effectively about job roles and what you expect. If you notice any issues or slip-ups early on, be sure to address them so everyone is on the same page.

When your team knows what you want and expectations are set, it makes it easier for all parties to be happy with the process.

Show Appreciation

Showing appreciation is important and easy to do. Members of your team may be the first people to interact with clients or customers on your behalf. If they’re doing good work, be sure to say thank you. A nice gesture around the holidays is also a nice way to show appreciation.

Make the hierarchy in the business as flat as possible and you will have an appreciated and engaged staff. Encourage your frontline staff to be creative in coming up with new ideas and ask for feedback on what the clients really want.

Make the Environment Pleasant and Comfortable

Every business has a company culture even if you just work virtually. You want each team member to fit in and feel comfortable with the way things are run.

Be sure to make the workplace as comfortable as can be with suitable conveniences and regular team meetings so everyone can interact. If you’re working in an office give your employees the freedom to personalize their workspaces.

When I worked for a small business, I loved the environment. We got to decorate the office and our workspaces and there were often weekly informal meetings to discuss the team’s progress and share suggestions.

Reward Small Achievements

Nothing makes employees like being recognized for the small and big things. It doesn’t have to be anything major. A simple ‘thank you’ email or an inquiry on how your employees spent their weekend. Your employees are more likely to feel great about their work when they know you care about them.

You may also want to take things a step further and incentivize certain activities that your team helps with. At a previous job, my boss offered Amazon gift cards to anyone who could get a client to leave a review on our company on Google or Yelp. Your reward doesn’t have to be monetary either. You could consider doing an ’employee of the month’ type of recognition easily.

Consider Offering Benefits

Depending on the size of your business, it may or may not make sense to offer employee benefits. Doing so, however, can make a big difference and lead to employee retention.

If you have part-time team members or can’t afford to provide benefits like health insurance or a retirement plan, consider other benefits your team members may enjoy. Providing a monthly gym membership may not cost much but can help your team members focus on their health. Maybe you have a product or service that your team can get for free or at a discount when working for your business.

If you run an online business, structure work schedules to allow unlimited vacation days and time off so long as team members meet their deadlines.

At the end of the day, be mindful that with no staff there may not be a business. Focus on keeping your team members happy and treating them with respect to grow your business.

How do you keep your team members happy and productive?

This article originally appeared in Calendar.

 

This article was written by Choncé Maddox from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

00The piece highlights Goddard’s volunteer hours policy, in which employees have paid time off/flexible work hours to engage in volunteer projects.

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In the competitive world of business, it is vital that you are always on the look-out for opportunities to take your operation to the next level. Otherwise, it will be near impossible for you to stand out from your competitors and to make an impressive impact on your area of the industry. With so many options available to you, the prospect of expanding your business might feel overwhelming. That is why you should establish a clear plan and take this process one step at a time. Below are five pieces of advice that will help you to do this.

Aim high with your networking plans

As a business owner, it is vital that you are an expert at networking. Failing to successfully interact with your industry peers will make it extremely difficult for you to move your business forward. That is why you should attend at least one networking event per month. You should also look out for events that aren’t specifically for networking purposes but could still be a great chance for you to find new contacts. For instance, you could attend the launch party of another company. If it is an organization that you admire, you should use this as an opportunity to meet with their branding experts, their public relations team, and their accountancy firm. Once you have identified these professionals, you could pick their brains or find out if they would be willing to provide you with a similar service. During the networking process, you should endeavor to aim one step higher than your own business. Of course, it is important to have contacts on your own level. However, you should also look out for businesses that are a little further on than you. Associating with these companies will help you to appear successful by association. It could also give you access to their resources and help you to secure impressive trade deals.

Work with the right organizations

In order to avoid time-consuming and costly mistakes, you need to ensure you are working with the right organizations. Instead of going it alone, it is a good idea to find experts in expansion. This is especially important if you have no prior experience in growing a business. If you are determined to benefit from competitive marketing strategies, online marketing, website developing services, content marketing, business and cost analysis, and vendor management, you should go online to learn more. Not only will this help you to grow your business, but it will also allow you to do so on an online platform. This is a fantastic way for you to thrive in the modern world and to engage with a younger audience. It is also a great opportunity for you to push your expansion outside of your local area. If your organization has the potential to function nationally or even globally, why place limits on your success?

Take your business national or even global

If you are determined to see your business conquer the world, it is important that you create a clear plan for expansion. Although it is essential that you aim high, you don’t want to run the risk of spreading yourself too thinly. That is why you need to ensure your local business is running effectively. Before you make any big moves, you should take a step back and evaluate your existing operation. Are there any areas where you could be saving money? Perhaps you could automate an element of your production. Or, maybe you could consider moving your business to the cloud. Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that you come to these conclusions before pushing forward with your plans for growth. Otherwise, you could end up making the same mistakes on a larger scale. Another important step is to invest in your human resources department. As your business grows, it is likely that you will have to delegate even more of your important tasks. This will give you the time you need to focus your attention on more pressing matters. In order to make this a straightforward process, you need to ensure you have the right people working for you. This is your best chance of managing your stress levels. It is also a great way for you to protect staff morale, as you don’t want to face giving your team more work than they can handle.

Make clever investments

If you are hoping to successfully take your business to the next level, you will also need to get your finances in order. You can achieve this by establishing an impressive investment portfolio. This could involve anything from backing smaller businesses to purchasing stocks and shares. You should also have multiple savings accounts on the go, with funds that can be directed towards different areas of your operation. Whilst there are a number of benefits to going it alone, it is vital that you also consider securing a substantial loan. Although this could be a risky strategy, it could also be a great way for your business to gain momentum. Instead of taking lots of small steps that are spread out over a number of years, a huge injection of cash could help you to move your business forward at lightning speed. This is a fantastic way for you to create a buzz around your company and to establish a large following.

Get feedback from your clients

Finally, you should endeavor to get helpful feedback from your customers. This is an essential step if you are going to avoid alienating your existing client base. As your business grows, it is important that you don’t lose sight of your customer care. Of course, you will want to generate impressive profits, but this should never be at the expense of the services you provide. That is why you should send out anonymous surveys to your company mailing list. You should also host an online live chat, where loyal customers can offer constructive feedback, urgent complaints, and uplifting compliments. Then, after you have collected the necessary information, you will know whether or not you need to drive more money into your customer relations team. It will also be easier for you to put together useful staff training days that will help your operation to stay on track.

 


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This article was written by SmallBizViewpoints from Small Biz Viewpoints and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

borrow-these-innovative-ideas-in-2018Check out VP of Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations, Paul Koulogeorge’s latest article in Forbes, Get Inspired By Borrowing These Innovative Ideas In 2018, where he shares some marketing strategies that are worth taking a look at this year.

5 Keys to Successful Email Marketing

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

successful email marketing

Successful email marketing is a critical, and often overlooked, element of digital marketing.

According to an article on Inc:

But after a couple decades of Nigerian prince schemes, Spanish lotto scams, and mountains of unsolicited spam (which is never a good marketing tactic), how do people feel about email now? Is it still a worthwhile tactic for small-business owners and marketers to pursue?

The simple answer is yes.

Take a look at the graphic below and you’ll see how important successful email marketing is to your bottom line–generating nearly 2X the ROI of the next more cost-effective tactic.

successful email marketing

Image courtesy of Data Mentors

Successful email marketing

Successful email marketing requires 2 tactics: 1) list building and 2) email campaigns.

So, you’ve really got your work cut out for you. Here are some tips to get you started:

List building

Before you can have a successful email marketing campaign, you need a good list. In the bad old days before CAN-SPAM, you could simply buy a list and spam a bunch of folks with your message. Some experts advised against such “cold messaging”, but it worked well if you were very selective in purchasing a list of likely buyers. List buying was an art in those days and I got paid a lot of money to guide businesses on which list purchases were likely to result in high returns. And, selling lists is what kept a lot of small, specialty magazines in business–they provided unique access to highly targeted subscribers.

Now, of course, you can’t buy lists, so you have to develop your own (and comply with CAN-SPAM regulations which you can find by following the link above). Since, the law makes your email client (for instance, Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp) responsible for your violations, they can get hit with a big fine, so they’re invested in keeping you honest in this.

So how do you go about building a list?

  1. Include your sign-up form everywhere-on the home page and each page of your website, in your store (if you’re a brick and mortar), at events, on social platforms …
  2. Offer something (like an ebook, coupon, etc) in exchange for signing up for your email list
  3. Don’t ask for information you don’t need so it’s fast and easy for visitors to sign up. Maybe all you need is an email address and name. Don’t forget you can get additional information after they sign up.
  4. Make your sign-up form obvious without interfering with user experience (I hate those popups that block content until you either sign up or x out). I prefer a small band at the bottom of the screen that asks for an email address or something that pops up as the visitor starts to scroll away from your site. Remember, your website is critical for SEO and you don’t want to mess with anything that reduces visits, bounces, or time on site.
  5. When you send an email, include social sharing and the ability to subscribers to forward your email to a friend. These are great ways to build your list.

Email marketing campaigns

Your email client should make it easy to create attractive and professional email campaigns to subscribers. I use AWeber because of their flexibility and ease of creating campaigns (they recently added drag and drop capabilities).

Here are some things to keep in mind as you craft your campaigns:

  • Your goal. What do you hope to accomplish with the email.
  • Timing — how often, time of day, day of week, etc. Sure, email is available whenever a user wants to view it, but it’s more likely to get opened soon after it’s sent. The better your timing, the better your open rate.
  • Optimize open rates with a great pre-header, the description users see when they check their email. Check out the image below:

successful email marketing

  • Make your email easy to read and inviting on multiple screens (especially mobile) with great design.

Keys to successful email marketing campaigns

1. Strong content

Just like everything in marketing, the message is everything.

  • Make your content (both text and images) attractive and inviting, use lots of white space and a little humor doesn’t hurt. The more an email looks like a personal conversation with a friend, the better it will perform.
  • Personalization doesn’t end with including the person’s name. Make the email look like it was designed especially for each reader.
  • Don’t waste your readers’ time with nonsense: say what you need and provide links to more information.

2. Timing

You don’t want to overload your readers by sending too many emails, but you want to use your email marketing to build loyalty and engagement with your target audience. That’s a tight balancing act.

And, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. A good gauge of the right frequency comes from analytics. If your open rates drop or you start getting complaints or a bunch of folks unsubscribe, you’re probably emailing too often. If you’re not getting folks unsubscribing or complaining, you could probably send more frequent emails.

The key is to send emails when you have something worth saying to your audience.

3. Use marketing automation

Marketing automation often receives a negative knee-jerk reaction because it sounds like you’re treating your subscribers as robots who all get treated the same. But, it’s actually the opposite. Whether you prefer Salesforce or Hubspot or some other marketing automation tool, successful email marketing requires you send the right content to the right people at the right time and that means using marketing automation.

No marketing automation platform works well unless you spend time keeping information up-to-date to ensure the content the subscriber receives is targeted to their product interests, stage in the customer journey, and other key elements, like gender.

4. Use analytics

The wonders of digital marketing provide a plethora of metrics which should guide every marketing decision you make. Here are some metrics you should watch:

  • Subscriber data such as new subscribers and unsubscribes
  • Performance of your email form–I do this by setting up goals in Google Analytics, but AWeber also shows me how many times my form was shown and how many subscribers were generated. I periodically do A/B testing to determine the optimal form, placement, etc.
  • Campaign performance–how many opens, how many clicks, and, if you’ve installed tracking codes, goal completions based on each campaign.

5. Mobile-friendly

Making your content mobile-friendly is a key to successful email marketing. According to Buffer, 47% of emails are opened on a mobile device. Here’s their advice for making your content easier for mobile users:

  • Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
  • Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
  • Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
  • Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
  • Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.

The do’s and don’ts of successful email marketing

Here’s a nice infographic if you want more keys to successful email marketing:

successful email marketing

Infographic courtesy of: Campaign Monitor

This article originally appeared in Hausman Marketing Letter.

This article was written by Angela Hausman and PhD from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, announces its latest school in Avon Lake, OH is open. Located at 430 Avon Belden Road, the new school is operated by franchisee Eric Baker.

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Ten Steps to Starting a Franchise

Thursday, August 24th, 2017
  1. Read through the franchisor’s franchise disclosure document (FDD). The franchisor is required by law to supply this document to prospective franchisees. The FDD provides information about the franchise system, such has its history and corporate structure, as well as the information about the franchise relationship, such as fees, financing, obligations, intellectual property and financial performance. Be sure to study the FDD before making any decisions. Pay particular attention to the FDD’s Item 19, which details the franchise’s earnings data. A franchise that values transparency will include the grosses, expenses and EBITDAs of all its franchises for the previous year. In other words, it should provide information so you can make the most informed decision.
  2. Do your due diligence. Talk to other franchisees who have been in business a while. Ask them what they think of the business. What are the challenges? What are the rewards? What made them decide to open a franchise? Is the franchisor easy to work with? While this is obviously a great way to get information, it may also help to form working relationships with other franchisees if you decide to open a franchise.
  3. Experience a franchise in action. Visit a franchise during business hours, see how it works, see what the franchisee and the employees have to do on a day-to-day basis. This should give you a better idea of what being a franchisee is like. Also be sure to talk to customers. Are they happy with the service the franchise provides? Would they recommend it to others? Getting a feel for the customer base is just as important as seeing what a franchise does every day.
  4. Find a franchise that offers excellent support. The great thing about buying a franchise is that you go into business for yourself, not by yourself. But this concept only works when the franchisor offers the best support in all aspects of business operations, including, but not limited to, marketing, advertising, IT, finance, training and real estate. Visiting the corporate headquarters is highly recommended.
  5. Visit the corporate headquarters. Some franchisors host a “meet our team” day that allows prospective franchisees to tour the corporate office as well as meet the people who will be supporting their business needs. This is an excellent way to get a first-hand look at how the franchisor operates.
  6. Review the terms of your franchise agreement. If you decide to pursue a franchise, the franchisor will give you its franchise agreement, which lists your obligations and theirs. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer with franchise experience to review the agreement to make sure it meets your expectations.
  7. Obtain financing. When you sign the franchise agreement, you will need to pay the franchisor. These initial costs, which vary from business to business, can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many entrepreneurs need to secure a loan, such as a Small Business Administration loan or a bank loan, to pay those fees. A franchisor that offers excellent support will often have a franchise finance team that can help you navigate the loan process.
  8. Locate a suitable site for your business. Many franchises have specific site requirements that your business will need to meet. These may include things such as square footage, a minimum lot size and a minimum number of parking spaces. A high-quality franchise will staff real estate experts who will help you with the process of finding a suitable site.
  9. Receive training. You will need to complete a series of training courses, either at the franchise’s corporate headquarters and/or online, that will teach you what you need to know to operate a franchise.
  10. Prepare to open your business. If you have never opened a business before, which includes many different things that need to be done, this process can seem daunting. A franchise with best-in-class support will provide assistance with this process, usually in the form of an openings team who will work with you to ensure your business is ready to open.

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, announces its latest school in Newtown Square, PA is open. Located at 3810 West Chester Pike, the new school is operated by franchisee Kavita Ghai.

Goddard Systems’ VP of Marketing, Paul Koulogeorge shares three key insights along with actions to help business owners market to the Millennial generation.

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