May 20, 2019

3 Updates to Keep You Competitive in eCommerce

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It’s exciting to have your ecommerce site beautifully designed and ready for business. But that’s not the end of it, however. It’s very important to stay on the cutting-edge of technology if you want to stay competitive in this sphere. Could your site use any of the following updates?

Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

In this electronic age, the use of the standard desktop computer is declining. Patrons can now access their tablets and smartphones at an easier pace than sitting down and turning on their desktop computers. Professional tablets are now replacing desktop computers. Tablets are lighter, and the computer chip processors are in some cases faster than the desktop computers.

Every time you design your webpage for e-commerce, you want to make sure that you have a mobile-ready website for your business. People will normally recommend your business more to their associates with a mobile website. The mobile website should be easy to read, easy to navigate, and lovely to view.

Point of Sale System

It is prudent to understand all the tax implications of the dynamic and ever-changing economic nexus laws. States are collecting revenue from online sources because of the declining brick and mortar sales in their respective counties. The South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. case provided incentives for States to continue their aggressive collection efforts. The judge decided in favor of South Dakota in June 2018.

There are currently 16 states that have adopted economic nexus laws. A further eight states are considering revising their legislation to collect online sales tax. Businesses that sell to clientele in states that have adopted economic nexus laws need to update POS systems so they can collect sales tax from anywhere.

Once you understand which states have adopted economic nexus laws, you will want to determine if you will need to charge your customer sales tax from each specific state. This process should be easy and automated as possible. Some online ecommerce POS systems automatically collect sales taxes for you and send them to their desired destination. If this platform is unavailable for your business, you can purchase automation sales tax software to be embedded into your website for convenience.

Sales Tax Forms

Most POS software companies will give you a detailed analysis that demonstrates the amount of sales tax that were collected for each state. You can then use this information to file your monthly sales tax return. As always, you want to check for any sales tax discounts. The sales tax return can be submitted automatically online.

It is important to stay current with advanced technology for ecommerce websites. Utilized technology leads to a better experience for your clientele.

Get consulting from Shannon that will help you increase revenues, develop a high performance team, and avoid costly mistakes! Book a complimentary 30 minute Business Strategy Session here.

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3 Tips for Getting Your Product Listed on Amazon

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You can easily start a business on Amazon with little to no investment. Whether you sell your own products or act as a reseller, the e-commerce site offers a simple way to help you get started. Its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) system functions as a drop shipper, so they can take care of packing and shipping for you.

Amazon lets you expand your reach easily. It already has more than 310 million active customer accounts, and since 2016, it has accounted for 43% of online retail sales, says market research firm Slice Intelligence. The e-commerce giant provides you with a ready customer base of online shoppers. Here are three tips to help you get started more quickly on Amazon.

Prepping Your Product

Pick your product. Make sure you choose something Amazon allows. You can speed along the process by choosing something that does not require Amazon’s permission to sell. Items that don’t need permission include beauty products, cameras and their accessories, home and garden equipment, home improvement items and sporting goods. Other categories, like clothes, fine art, automotive and grocery require approval to sell on Amazon. Banned items include weapons, illegal drugs, pornography, tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Once you find the right product for Amazon, the next step is to set up a shipping plan.

Go Pro

You can sign up for a pro account for $39.99 per month. This lets you sell an unlimited number of items on the site. Without a professional Amazon account, you’ll only be able to sell 40 items per month. You will also need to pay a $.99 cent fee each time you sell something as well as a referral fee, which is about 15% of the selling price of most products.

Brand Yourself

Establish your brand and keep it cohesive across all of your listings. Use your logo and store name on each product listing. Complete each product listing with a clear, relevant title and detailed, well-written product description. Include high-quality images that accurately show the product. Amazon provides space for nine photos per listing.

Sharing as many quality photos of your product as you can will boost your chances of success on Amazon. Your main product image should show the product against a white background. The other images can show other angles or sides of the image.

Following these simple tips can help you get started more quickly on Amazon. While nothing can vault you to top-seller status immediately, with a little hard work and perseverance, you can turn your Amazon business into a dependable stream of income.

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3 Fun and Unusual Ways to Strengthen Your Team

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A dynamic team culture has the potential to buoy your business to a stronger bottom line. In order to strengthen the bond of your team, it is important to engage them in activities that will build friendships and encourage trust. Although there is value in the typical company picnic or holiday party, sometimes it pays off bigger dividends when you think outside of the box when planning activities for your employees. Here are three unique activities that will strengthen your team:

Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are the latest rage in entertainment. During these adventure games, employees are split up into teams and have to compete against each other and the clock by solving a series of puzzles and riddles. This form of reality entertainment is engaging and requires people to work together toward a common goal. According to The Escape Artist, every team member is required to contribute to problem-solving, giving everybody a chance to connect. Escape rooms are ideal for new employees or those who have already spent a significant amount of time together.

Equine-Assisted Team Building

Horses are dynamic creatures that survive through teamwork, so it’s only natural to include them in team building exercises. Wonder Valley says that team building sessions with horses can teach trust, communication, nonverbal cues, decision making, creativity, and leadership. This new and different activity will give your employees a common purpose and teach them the value of trusting one another. The uniqueness of the team building event will keep everyone talking about it long after the day has passed.

Obstacle Course

As corporate outings gain in popularity, there are more and more dedicated activities designed to encourage teamwork and to promote bonding. An obstacle course is a great way to get people moving. Many of these obstacle courses are specifically designed for team building. This means that they incorporate a variety of trust exercises and other activities engineered to bring people in your department together. One of the most popular forms of obstacle courses is a ropes course. JustWorks explains that a ropes course is beneficial for teams because during this adventure, people must overcome their fears and learn to trust their team members in order to reach the finish line. This makes this activity the perfect metaphor for corporate life.

Team outings can facilitate friendships inside and outside of the office while also reducing employee stress. Your employees will thank you for the opportunity to connect with others!

Do you need more help with getting your team to work more cohesively? Try a group coaching session!

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3 Tips to Save You Time During the Hiring Process

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The hiring process can be very time-consuming, which is a big problem because time is money. Forming the best team you can is worth all of that time and money though, so long as you’re creating it correctly. If you want to complete various phases as quickly as possible in order to save money, these three tips can help.

Use Phone Interviews

In small office buildings, phone interviews can be quite helpful because they help small businesses save money in a strategic way. According to this article, “phone interviews have several pros and cons. The benefits of phone interviews are: it can happen whenever, wherever, lowers pressure and stress, you can use notes without interviewer noticing, flexible, and no time or expenses for travel. The disadvantages are: more difficult to connect or build rapport, can’t read body language, less time for nuanced communication.” In order to understand how this tactic works, you’ll have to understand what happens during a traditional interview situation.

During a normal hiring routine, many potential hires meet at a business’s location, and everyone waits in a room until it’s time for an interview. Candidates will want to feel welcomed when they wait in the holding area, so a gracious manager usually needs to make the space inviting. The process of accomplishing this requires funds because a great holding area needs snacks, décor, and a television. By conducting interviews over the phone, you won’t have to spend money in order to make a holding area appealing for your guests. Instead, you can focus on asking important questions about skills and qualifications.

Use Pre-Employment Assessments

According to this article, “testing to measure a candidate’s hard skills during your hiring process allows you to save time down the road by validating and ensuring your new hire has the skills that you want and need in your position.” You can test a candidate by discussing possible situations that could happen after the individual is hired. For example, if you run a retail business, discuss how the individual would handle consumer conflicts. The feedback that you get will help you determine whether or not the person is a great business asset. If you’re looking for a leader, you’ll need a candidate who understands how to interact with teammates when a consumer conflict affects everyone. Since time is money, you must always take notes during every assessment so that you’ll make smart choices long after the assessments are over and save time and money in the long run.

Increase Your Reach Using Social Media

In some cases, a few people that you hire will earn a promotion, and you’ll need to find replacements after this happens. A position shouldn’t stay vacant for a long time because this could harm your company financially. The fastest way to find replacements and save money is by taking advantage of the tools available on social media. According to this article, “in 2015 alone, 84% of job recruiters were using social media to seek out job candidates, almost a 30% increase from 2011 where 56% of recruiters were using social media. As the internet becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, it now has an effect on if we land that job we want or not.” If you run a campaign, you can narrow down the results based on skill, location, hobbies, and more. These options will help you find the right candidates for an interview fairly quickly.

Hiring is something that every manager will tackle on many occasions, which is why money-saving strategies are helpful. If you conduct phone interviews, assess candidates, and use social media, frequent hiring situations won’t dramatically impact your bottom line.

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4 Things Every Business Owner Should Do to Help Their Marketing Strategy

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As many business owners know, marketing is the difference between a good company and a great company. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to offer a viable product at a reasonable price if no one is aware of your company or its products. Certainly, there are few business subjects that are quite as important as marketing. With that in mind, let’s look at four quick tips to improve your marketing strategy.

Communicate

Advertising is all about communication. Not only do you need to maintain a solid line of communication with your customers, but you also need to maintain good communications with any ad agency whose services you might employ.

Make sure that there is more than one way to get ahold of your company. A phone line, an email address, maybe even a few social media accounts. This is necessary because if there is only one line of communication between you and the customers, that line will be tied up all the time, making it more difficult for everyone.

Source: Provide Support

Solicit Reviews

Give your customers some incentive to fill out surveys and give you good ratings. Offer them some special discounts, for instance, if they agree to a customer survey. If you make a real and honest effort to keep your customers happy, you should have no problem with the results.

Honest reviews are vitally important when it comes to diagnosing the health and progress of your company. Without honest and direct criticism, you may not be made aware of a serious problem that is driving the customer away. Online reviews help local SEO as well, so make sure to focus on these. The more positive reviews your business has, the higher up in the results your business will be.

Source: Podium

Keep Up with Trends

Advertising is supposed to be “hip.” That is to say, it should be in line with society’s most current trends. You don’t want people to see your product as being outdated or stale. Using outdated lingo, for example, can be a serious detriment to an otherwise good ad campaign. The use of outdated slang causes younger people to cringe, and thus, it is undesirable.

This is where you need to find a good team of public relations analysts with a good track record for success. There is a science to the process of keeping your finger on society’s pulse, so don’t hesitate to employ those who specialize in this aspect of marketing.

Source: MarTechSeries

Cast a Wide Net

Advertising should focus on multiple demographics. Unless your goods and services are meant to appeal only to a certain kind of person, you will do well to embrace as many demographics as possible. This can be very important in terms of advertising because you don’t want to offend anyone with the content of your ads.

Perhaps the best advice that can be given on this subject is to avoid all references to politics or religion. These issues tend to be so sensitive and so divisive that you cannot really talk about them without taking the risk of offending someone. Look at it like this: You aren’t trying to tell your customers what to believe. You just want their business, and that’s all they want from you.

Source: BrandingMag

Make sure that you don’t confine yourself to one or a few forms of media, either. Everything from billboard ads to social media marketing should be utilized. Much like the process of fishing, your success will often depend upon casting the widest net that you possibly can.

Marketing is, in essence, nothing more than the way that your company interacts with its current and potential customers. By putting your best foot forward and tailoring your message to the widest audience possible, you can create a positive association with your company in the minds of potential customers. This always translates into a higher level of brand recognition, which usually translates into higher levels of profitability.

For additional guidance on your marketing and business strategy, schedule a free consultation with Shannon!

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Fun Team Building Exercises Any Business Can Do Right Now

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Before you hear your team groan about having to complete another team-building exercise, you may want to try these exciting and engaging activities. After all, the purpose of team-building activities is for employees to learn more about each other while having a great time. Here are some that you may want to consider the next time you need to lead a team.

Employee Bingo

Start by drawing a Bingo card on pieces of paper. Find out something unique about each of your employees that are going to be in the meeting. For example, one employee may have been born in a foreign country while another one may have four dogs. Then, label each square with a different notable characteristic while making sure each sheet is unique. Have participants ask each other to sign the square that applies to them with the first one who gets five in a row winning the game.

Related: http://www.howdoyouplay.net/icebreakers/how-to-play-people-bingo.html

Egg Drop

Gather many different office supplies. Divide participants into two groups. Assign each group to use the office supplies to build a contraction that when an egg is dropped in the middle of it, the egg will not break. At the end of the assigned time, drop the eggs with the winner getting a prize.

Name the Office

If you have several people who normally work in different offices in the same building, then you can play “name the office.” In order to play this game, have your employees come up with names for your conference room and then as a group, decide what the final name will be. Naming an office space or conference room as a team makes your employees feel like they have some investment in their workplace and it reflects the interests and humor of your employees.

Related: https://blog.davincimeetingrooms.com/workplace/100-plus-conference-room-names/

Office Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of unusual items found in your office. For example, it may be an employee’s chapstick that they always keep in an unlocked office drawer or a plant that has died from being long neglected. Divide the participants into two teams and give the same list to both. Set a timer and yell, “go.” The team returning with the most items is the winner.

Related: https://www.goosechase.com/blog/team-building-scavenger-hunt-ideas-for-the-office/  

There are many different team-building activities that you can do with your crew. Ensure that everyone feels free to participate. Sit back and watch the fun abound as people learn to work together as a team.

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Nail Your Short Presentation at Work with These 5 Tips

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Making a brief presentation at work may seem like a no-brainer, but preparing one can prove to be challenging. It’s always a good idea to iron out the details of your presentation well ahead of time so you can nail it when the time comes. Here are five easy tips that can help you give an informational, inspiring and persuasive presentation in the workplace.

Keep the Audience Interested

Few things are less interesting than having to sit through a presentation that’s given in a monotone voice. Use voice inflections and intonation to emphasize important words and transitions, and pause momentarily to let important ideas sink in. If the occasion is informal or semiformal, you might address the audience directly rather than discussing the topic in third person. Use examples and details that relate to listeners so they can feel included, making references to daily life or demographics that connect with people in the audience. Also be sure to make eye contact occasionally with the audience throughout the presentation.

Resource: https://minutehack.com/guides/5-ways-to-keep-your-audience-interested

Pace Your Presentation

Rather than choosing to simply wing it and hope for the best, practice pacing your speech beforehand. Make an outline with key points and rehearse the talk smoothly from one point to the next. Keep an eye on the time to ensure your speech stays on track. A good rule of thumb for giving presentations is that every minute is roughly 125-150 words spoken, so a 5-minute speech would usually require 625 – 700 words. That being said, it’s always a good idea to plan for a few extra minutes in case audience members wish to ask questions afterward.

Resource: https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many-words-is-a-5-minute-speech/

Incorporate a Story

Everyone loves to hear a good story, so aim to include some type of story in your talk that illustrates one of your presentation’s principles. A good choice is to draw from current events in the news that many in the audience will have heard of and perhaps identify with. You can also use personal experience or observations about the lives of others in certain situations. Using characters, real or fictitious, and a narrative format often encourages the audience to listen more attentively, and it can stoke their interest in your topic.

Resource: https://blog.slideshare.net/how-to-tell-great-stories-during-presentations

Use Humor

Like smiling, humor is a universal element that everyone can relate to. Many successful speakers start a presentation with a humorous anecdote or a comical remark about the context for the presentation. Use lighthearted humor rather than a sarcastic tone. However be sure to avoid slapstick comedy, which can dilute the seriousness of your topic and cause the audience to feel more entertained than educated. Self-deprecating humor is another easy way to start the presentation and often helps to put the speaker on par with the audience.

Resource: http://totalcommunicator.com/vol2_2/funnymeeting.html

A short talk can feel like it is over much too soon for audiences who enjoy and appreciate what they hear. Practice beforehand and give listeners fun and interesting things to consider. By following these steps you can ensure that your talk will not only be interesting to hear but also have the desired impact on your audience.

If you feel a little lost on or anxious about leading or running a business, then let Shannon Gronich help you out!

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It’s Time to Expand! Here’s How to Do It

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Your hard work and sleepless nights are starting to pay off as your business grows rapidly. The expansion stage can bring its own set of nightmares for many businesses. Here are some tips that you will want to keep in mind.

Choose the Right Location

Chances are that you need more warehouse space as your business is expanding. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of different locations before you move your business. Think about the supplies that come into your business and choose a location where you can get those supplies in a cost-effective and timely manner. Inventory management is an essential part of fulfillment as you grow your business. While there are advantages to using offsite inventory storage, you should still look for a location that matches the warehousing needs of your company. In addition to considering the available space, take a look at security to make sure that you are relocating to a good neighborhood. Different markets can be loyal to different companies, so be sure to consider if you can adequately compete in the market. Finally, look for local, state and federal incentives to move to different locations.

Equipment

You will need a variety of equipment in the new location. Consider which pieces you can move from your current place and which you will need to secure to make different locations work. One piece of machinery that you may not have thought about but which could be helpful with business automation is a conveyor belt. If your business specializes in products, then creating an efficient assembly system will go a long way to helping you keep up with the growth of your business. The more your business grows the more you will need to implement automation which will smooth the flow of work from production to packaging. While a conveyor belt needs to fit the size, weight, and type of product you produce, it also needs to be the right length and design to work in your new location. You may even want to consider hiring an industrial engineer to help you think through different aspects of making your business more productive.

Workforce

If you are moving to a new area where your current workforce is unlikely to follow, then it is vital that you think about the availability of a well-trained workforce. Moving near a college where there is an active program within your field often gives you an advantage as recent college graduates are often reluctant to move. See if you can partner with a community college to create classes in areas where you cannot find good employees.

Financing

If your company has investors or shareholders, then make sure to keep them in the loop about your thinking as your company expands. If they are experienced businessmen, then they may have valuable feedback on what has worked for them in the past. These people may also have friends or family who can lead you to the right location for your company’s expansion.

Congratulations on building a business that is ready for expansion. Focusing on these four factors will help you make the final decision on where expansion makes the most business sense. You may need to spend some time writing it all out in a business plan that embraces your company’s promising future.

If you’re looking to continue your expansion in other ways like branding, and website design and more, keep us in mind! We want to coach you through this growth and we want to help your business thrive, but also understand that sometimes a little extra help is needed to get you on your way!

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5 Great Countries to Start Your New Business

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Starting a new business can certainly be a daunting task. While you have many decisions to make as an entrepreneur, one of the most important is where you will form your business. The following are five of the best countries to consider based on affordability, access to capital, low manufacturing costs, and low levels of bureaucracy.

Indonesia

According to the World Bank, Indonesia boasts the largest economy in Southeast Asia, making it an attractive location for entrepreneurs ready to capitalize on economic growth and the country’s maturing democracy. Indonesia is predominantly a middle-income nation with a sizeable middle class, yet it offers a low-cost base for production and the perfect launchpad for the Southeast Asian region. Business opportunities in Indonesia don’t end there; they can extend to nine additional members of the ASEAN that enjoy favorable trade relationships with Indonesia. The country also makes it easier than most to start a business with its Program for Eastern Indonesian Small and Medium Enterprise Assistance (PENSA) that educates new business owners.

Singapore

As an entrepreneur, there’s a lot to like about Singapore. According to KC Ha Consulting, Singapore is ranked number one in providing best investment potential and is also ranked number 3 in foreign trade and investments in economic performance. Additionally, Singapore is also ranked highly for maintaining governmental transparency and has a good track record of keeping low levels of bureaucracy. Additionally, Singapore is also ranked highly for maintaining governmental transparency and has a good track record of keeping low levels of bureaucracy. With high regulatory performance and a high-income society known for its infrastructure, public transportation, and English skills, the country offers an excellent framework for starting a new business with a process that can take as little as three days.

Singapore is unique in many ways compared to its neighbors. It’s home to many of the top companies in the world thanks to its central location in Southeast Asia and proximity to emerging Chinese and Indian markets. With an ideal location and excellent global connectivity, Singapore has received the top rating in Asia for logistics. Singapore also offers an attractive corporate tax rate that maxes out at 17% with 21 free trade agreements with 27 economics and more than 70 avoidance of double tax agreements to reduce tax barriers in trade.

Mexico

Mexico has become an increasingly attractive location for entrepreneurs and investors with a vibrant economy and low costs. Mexico ranks among the top 30% in the world concerning regulatory performance and has undergone business registration reforms that have increased its number of registered businesses. It typically takes as little as one week to start a business in Mexico.

Of course, there are trade-offs including high crime rates and a steep learning curve for learning administrative procedures and unwritten rules. Despite improvements in regulatory performance, Mexico continues to perform very poorly regarding corruption. Only ten countries rank below Mexico in the Americas for corruption in government, banking, politics, and business. This corruption can affect foreign companies in Mexico as bribery is a long-held tradition. Even the growth of retail giant Wal-Mart in Mexico involved substantial and systematic bribes, according to the New York Times. Bribery is so common and accepted that it’s practically considered a part of cost analysis when opening and running a business in Mexico.

Malaysia

Malaysia makes it incredibly easy to start a business with a streamlined process that takes around 19 days. In fact, most of the paperwork to register a new company in Malaysia can even be done online. Malaysia offers a stable economy, educated yet low-cost workforce, and a high rate of English fluency. It can also be a more affordable alternative to expand or get into the Southeast Asian market compared to other countries in the region like Singapore.

Of course, Malaysia it does come with drawbacks. Malaysia does still have a problem with government corruption and complicated bureaucracy that can complicate business operation. Malaysia also has a high corporate tax rate at 24% which is the third highest among Southeast Asian nations.

Thailand

Thailand almost ties with Singapore when it comes to fast and easy business formation. It also offers a unique perk: it has a low business density compared to other countries in the region with reduced competition and room to grow. It’s also one of the most affordable countries in which to operate a business although you will face some restrictions concerning acceptable industries as a company that isn’t Thai majority owned.

While these aren’t the only nations that can be considered pro-business, each offer advantages worth considering as an investor including low labor costs, affordable tax rates, and stable economies. And when you finally get that business started, be sure to look to us for your marketing needs.

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5 Strategies for Building Strong Communication in Your Mobile Workforce

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Facilitating effective communication among their employees and associates can provide businesses with a range of potential benefits. For organizations that rely upon a decentralized business model and a mobile workforce, many unique challenges need to be overcome. The following strategies can help to ensure reliable communication within a mobile workforce.

Seeking Ideas From Employees

Arbitrarily dictating policies rather than allowing a communication strategy to grow and develop organically could be a misstep. Employees and workers can provide valuable insight and a range of ideas that businesses might have otherwise overlooked. Encouraging workers to become more involved in the development of a new strategy or policy could prove to be a very smart move.

Cloud-based Infrastructure

Tethering a workforce to one location can hamstring their effectiveness. Cloud-based services and mobile apps allow teams to be flexible and improve communication regardless of their physical location. Moving things online also makes it possible for businesses to store necessary project documents in one centralized location. This allows all virtual team members to access the project from their respective locations. Investing in the right digital resources and architecture could end up making a real difference in the success of your virtual team

Unifying Communications

Mobile communication strategies often need to draw upon a wide range of resources in order to be effective. While chat clients and mobile apps allow teams to be flexible and improve communication, failing to properly integrate and unify all resources could lead to an endless supply of problems. Unified communications is one of the cornerstones of any effective strategy. 

Leveraging Mobile Technology

Current and next-generation smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can provide businesses with a variety of different communications resources and solutions. Mobile apps allow teams (virtual or otherwise) to be flexible and improve communication in ways that conventional technology may be unable to rival.     

Soliciting Feedback

Failing to update or fine-tune a strategy once it has been implemented could blunt its effectiveness in the long-term. The needs of a business or organization will continue to shift and evolve over time and strategies may need to be adapted to remain effective. Outdated strategies are rarely able to benefit from the latest technologies.

 

Each business has different needs, and no one strategy can provide the same quality and level of results for every organization. A little trial and error may be required in order to devise or develop strategies that will provide superior results. For businesses that rely on a highly mobile workforce, crafting a strategy that will allow for more effective communication among workers, staff and associates should always be a top priority.

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