August 22, 2019

4 Foundations of a Scalable Business Model

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If you have decided that you want to build a scalable business, you’ll need to quickly learn how to lay down the proper foundations to support it. Not all profitable businesses are able to climb up the business ladder quickly. To build up a business, you need a business model that can quickly multiply revenue at a minimal incremental cost. For example, a piece of software takes a lot of labor to develop, but once developed, it can be copied repeatedly with the same minimum cost. However, a family restaurant is vastly different. Labor and fresh ingredients are costly, and while a family business can grow well and be profitable, it would be a poor business model. Here are some ideas on how to lay the proper foundation for a rising enterprise.

Set Your Business Plan

One of the most crucial mistakes when building a scalable business model is not starting with a business plan. Eventually, businesses will need to begin searching for investors and having meetings with bankers. Your business plan should be ready to go. However, a business plan is more than just a description of your product. Your business plan should contain information about the problem you’re solving for your target market, your solution, how your solution will benefit your target market, and the financials and forecasts to back it up.

Automate Wherever Possible

One of the key requirements of a scalable business model is that there is a set system for accomplishing tasks, and everybody follows the same system. Automating as much of your mundane tasks, such as data entry, is one of the first things you should set up so that you can save on hiring additional employees. You can also automate email responses and appointment reminders. At instances where automating is not possible, consider hiring a virtual assistant instead of a full-time employee to manage routine tasks. This will save you time and resources so that you and your key team members can focus your attention on the clients, product development, and potential investors.

Intelligent Sales Software

Many software solutions such as CRM and POS can help generate more sales, improve customer experience, and scale your business. When searching for software solutions, try to search for those that have integration functions so that you can integrate as many applications as you need into an application suite. Not only are application bundles usually less expensive, but software from the same family are also usually more powerful when synced together. In addition, adequate training and education on existing software can help your retail stores save time and money at the point of sale.

The Corporate Shield

Setting up your business as the right business entity can save you a lot of hassle and headache. While there are many business entities types available to register as LLCs and LLPs are the main business types that can help protect your business assets in the event of legal proceedings.

Building a scalable business model is a hefty enterprise that requires a lot of preparation beforehand. If you are thinking of building a business or is interested in making your current business profitable, make sure you follow these tips to build with a solid starting foundation.

If you need help setting up your business, I can help! Contact me to learn more about my coaching services!

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3 Marketing Strategies That Are Easily Trackable

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Establishing a good marketing strategy is essential to running a successful business. A good marketing strategy will provide you with the right data to help you better understand your overall revenue as well as the type of clientele that is actually responding to your marketing strategy. To obtain this information, you will need trackable marketing strategies. But how do you achieve this? Take a look at our top three recommendations to find out.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the few proven strategies used by both small and large businesses. A well-crafted email marketing strategy can provide you with valuable data that can result in repeat customers. However, common mistakes such as buying an email list or simply making it very generic and forgetful can cost your company valuable time and money. One of the best ways to utilize email marketing is to test various sales pitches and visuals with your customers. You’ll also want to make sure you personalize your emails. You can do this by adding the person’s name as well as delivering your email within their time zone to increase the chance of it being opened.

Direct Mail Marketing

Who says physical mail marketing is dead? Direct mail marketing can be a very effective way to obtain new customers; you just need the right tools to take advantage of it. This means sending out a few hundred flyers to test out the effectiveness of your approach. Another thing to keep in mind is the length of your message, people are not looking through their junk mail, and when they do they read them, you want your message to be quick and effective. Outline any deals or discounts in a simple to understand format. Don’t forget to proofread before sending out hundreds or thousands of letters. Not only will this look unprofessional, but they will most likely never take a second look at your advertising again. In addition, don’t mail to everyone and anyone. You know who your potential customers are, so begin with them first. Roughly 5% of mail is undeliverable, so it might be helpful to utilize address verification to ensure that your mail is arriving where you want it to.

Direct Response Marketing

When people hear about direct response marketing, they often think of an email. Although that has been the traditional way to do it, technology has allowed us to do it in more modern ways For example, one method of direct response marketing you might see today is an e-commerce ad on Facebook or Instagram. With direct response marketing you can not only target your preferred audience, but once people start interacting with your ad, you can accumulate data. This data can then be utilized to track which of your customers are most likely to interact with your company.

Tracking the effectiveness of your marketing strategy is one of the most crucial things you can do to ensure the survival of your company. Therefore, it is vital that you understand not only the various mediums available to you but also how they can be utilized to provide you with the most effective results.

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How Managers Can Build a Team By Taking a Walk

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In recent decades, technology has provided us with the necessary tools to do practically all of our work from our desk. Gone are the days of having to track down your co-workers or boss to get their input. We have become much more sedentary as a society. This has caused a decrease in the average worker’s health, which can also affect productivity. As a leader, your role in the workplace is not only to supervise but encourage the most healthy, hard-working and effective team possible.

Clear Your Head

If you look at an average American workplace, it may seem relaxed. However, looks can be deceiving, as those who have worked in an office can attest. The constant back and forth emails, deadlines and the ever-glowing light of our computers can be stressful. For a different kind of break, managers can gather their teams once or twice a day and take a walk with them. This will allow them to build face-to-face relationships with managers and co-workers. In addition, walking will provide them the opportunity to clear their minds from the everyday stresses of the workplace. 

See Things from an Employee’s Perspective

Many times, solutions can only be discovered when different perspectives come together. A manager who constantly sits behind a desk attempting to solve all the company’s issues will probably not get too far. Gemba can help managers to solve any issues on hand and also boost morale around the office. Gemba walks are designed to take a manager around the workplace for the purpose of observing employees and their work, learning more about how things work at their level, and developing respect for them and what they do.

Create Healthy Competition

Friendly competition between employees can be a good thing. Competition boosts productivity and gives people something to work towards in an otherwise mundane workplace. Creating a challenge that encourages employees to see who can get the most steps per day is a great place to start. This will not only create a morale boost, but employees will also begin to become healthier throughout the weeks.

There is no doubt that focusing on team building can increase the morale of your employees. However, if you choose to implement this into your workplace, always make sure to think about how everyone can be included in the program. This will allow for greater discussions and a more inclusive, friendly workplace.

Get consulting from Shannon that will help you increase revenues, develop a high performance team, and avoid costly mistakes. Book a strategy session today!

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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: https://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.pegasustransit.com/transportation-news/7-team-building-activities-for-your-next-company-outing/

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: https://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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