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Why Facebook Is Good For Your Business

If you are wondering where most of your prospective and existing customers are, we can tell you with a great deal of certainty that they are probably on Facebook.  If your business is not currently on Facebook, then you are missing out.  While it is true that there are a lot of specific businesses and companies that need Facebook when it comes to reach out to their audience and marketing their products or services, it is hard to ignore the fact that there are well in excess of 3 million people worldwide who spend a few minutes each and every day on Facebook.

There is no other way to expose your business to that amount of people for free, with little to no hassle without your business having a Facebook page.

In the following post, if you need to be convinced further, we will look at other great reasons why you should consider setting up a Facebook page for your business.

55 Minutes to an Hour

Did you know, according to recent statistics that the average Facebook user spends roughly about minutes to an hour on the social media site every day?  That means there are ample opportunity and enough time to grab the attention of your target audience and customers.

Facebook Pages Are Easy and Effective To Use

When you set up a Facebook Page, one that is different to a normal profile page, you can categorise your business very precisely, all auto-accepts from fans (Facebook Page fans) and create a completely interactive area where people/potential customers and clients can come to engage with your business.

Offers Increased Visibility Online and Improved SEO

If you don’t like to take advantage of any free marketing tools that you can get your hands on, you should and Facebook is one of the most effective.  When you create a Facebook Page you improve your chances of getting better rankings in search engines.  By using informative and engaging content on your business page and some basic SEO, you will rank higher and this in turn will improve your business’s level of visibility online.

Real Time Search

If you allow the content on your Facebook Page to be available to the public, as well as fans of your page, real time search results will display your page when a relevant search is performed.  This can help improve your Business’s reputation and SEO

A Typical User Has Around 130 Friends

As statistics show that the typical Facebook user has roughly 130 friends, this can be a great way to further improve your exposure.  If your page is liked by one person, it shows up on the Facebook News Feed of their friends, which may lead to their friends clicking through to your page and liking it or better still, spending money through your business.  This is like a virtual version of the old fashioned and very effective ‘word of mouth’ marketing that can determine whether businesses sink or swim.   If you want your business to be a success, you should take advantage of Facebook.

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Twitter For Business

With millions of users worldwide Twitter is a very effective form of communication.  It would be wrong though to think that it is reserved for just celebrities and teenagers who want to share the ups and downs of their everyday life.  Hundreds and thousands of small businesses have found realised the potential of Twitter to help their business grow.  If you still need convincing that setting up a Twitter account is a step in the right direction for your business, check out the following benefits and tips.

Connects You to Your Customers

As mentioned above Twitter has millions of users and each and every day that number is multiplying.  This is why it is one of the best places online and offline to find prospective customers.  If your business is catering to a very specific market or niche you can use Twitter to connect and communicate directly with people who are in your target audience.  It also enables you to interact with existing customers to help you understand what your business is doing right and wrong.

It Helps To Build Relationships with Clients and Customer

It is important though that once you have followers on Twitter that you continue to keep a line of dialogue running between them and you.  While it is possible to setup and even buy automatic tweets so that your account appears very busy, you need to post relevant tweets and updates that your customers will find useful, interesting and maybe even entertaining.  Many businesses that use Twitter make the mistake of bombarding their followers with sales and promotional tweets, or send too many tweets out too often.  Scale it back as much as you can and remember that as long as you are posting every day or every other day, less often means more.

Creates Awareness OF Your Business/Brand

While big brands do not need to introduce themselves to get followers on Twitter, you should be using Twitter to build awareness of yours.  For instance, unless your brand or logo is well known it is better to create a personal profile as your audience will prefer interacting with an individual rather than a faceless business.

Provide Your Followers with Information

As you are probably already aware, news travels much faster via the internet than it does via TV or radio.  Therefore, Twitter is often the best place to share news or make special announcements with your customers.  While radio and TV might do the same, Twitter is less expensive and allows you to speak directly to your audience and customer base.

Helps You Collect Customer/Client Feedback

Twitter can not only be a good platform for communicating and promoting your products and services to your customers, but can also be used to gather vital feedback from your customers and clients that will help you to improve your business.  You can do this by simply looking at your followers conversations and tweets without asking them directly.  However if there are specifics you need to know, you could ask directly or run a poll from your account.

Enables You to Watch Your Competitors

Twitter search, when used properly, can be a great way to not only track your own company’s reputation on Twitter, but your competition’s reputation and operations.  By learning what the completion is doing, you can improve your own strategies by adopting techniques and methods they are using effectively and avoiding mistakes they have made.

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Read Business Related Books Every Month

Whether your business is successful or not, you should never stop learning new things.  One of the best ways to keep learning about business is by keeping to having good reading habits.  Our recommendation would be that you should try to read a new business related book every month – to ensure that your business skills are razor sharp.

In the following article we list some of the best business-related books we have come across that you should consider reading and why.

Rework

Why it’s Important – It will teach you an easier, faster and better way to be successful in business.  When you read it you will understand why plans can be harmful, why it is best to just ignore competition and why you don’t need outside investors.  In fact, you will learn that you don’t need as much as you think you do.

Inbound Marketing

Why It’s Important – It will teach you to how you can stop pushing your message out there and start actually pulling your customers in.  It is a “how to” guide to getting noticed trough social media, blogging and Google.

Awaken the Giant Within

Why It’s Important – It includes practical guidelines on how to concentrate your emotions and thoughts to reach your goals.

Outliers

Why It’s Important – It teaches you that instead of paying as much attention to what successful people are like, that you should be paying more closer attention to where they came from.  For instance, their generations, family, culture and the various idiosyncratic events and happenings they experienced during their childhood.

The Dip

Why It’s Important – It teaches you whether your business goal is worth bothering with at all.  If you feel as if you are in the Dip, a temporary slump that you think will improve if you keep pushing at it, it could be that you are actually in a Cul-de-sac that will never get better.  This book helps you understand which situation you are in.

Good to Great

Why It’s Important – This book helps you understand how and why bad, mediocre and great companies have success.

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Why It’s Important – It teaches you the business related principle that all income creating assets will always produce more profitable bottom line results than any of the best traditional jobs.

E-Myths Revisited

Why It’s Important – This book teaches you all about the life of a business from its infancy, through its growing pains to its maturity.  It also helps you distinguish between whether you are working ON or IN your business.

War of Art

Why It’s Important – This book aims to show you the resolve you need to identify and get past or through the many obstacles you will face when trying to reach your goals and how to reach the highest level of discipline related to creativity.

4 Hour Work Week

Why It’s Important – This book is the blueprint for enabling yourself to work less hours.  Whether you want to live more, work less, earn a figure income without any management, travel around the world or just escape the rat race – this book is for you.

The Lean Start-up

Why It’s Important – This book is inspired by lessons you can learn from lean manufacturing.  It relies on rapid scientific experimentation, validated learning and many other counter-intuitive practices that shorten the development cycles of practices and measure progress without requiring vanity metrics.  It helps you learn what your customers really want.

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Networking – 5 Great Reasons Why It Is Essential

Although you may consider attending trade conferences, business networking and business breakfasts to be a waste of time, there are many reasons why it is vital for building relationships that will improve the productivity and growth of your business.

It is a wise to remember that all human beings thrive on having interaction with other humans.  That is why networking is one of the oldest tools used by successful business who remain successful.

Cultivating useful and good relationships is crucial to the success of your business, including relationships with businesses or individuals who operate with in the same field as you.  It’s interesting that a lot of people think that you should only have competitive relationships with people working in the same field or niche, however there are many ways in which networking with them can be of benefit to your business.

In the following post we will look at just 5 possible benefits of networking.

Present You with Opportunity

Every single time you leave your home and get out there, you have the chance to meet new people.  You need know the type of people you might meet and what they may be able to offer you and your business.  Prospective partners, customers and clients are everywhere and you should seize every opportunity you have to network with as many people as you can.

Gives Your Business Exposure

In order for your business to get out there and for people to learn about the products and services you offer; your business needs exposure.  Whether you are launching a new product, struggling to attract customers and clients to the services you provide or anything else related to improve your business’s productivity – the more people you know, the better your chances will be of success.  Customers, clients and partners will not only communicate with each other but may even communicate outside the social and business circle you are in, which could yield new clients and customers for your business.

Builds Contact Lists and Relationships

Whenever you are a little reluctant to participate in networking remember the old saying ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’  The more names and numbers you have in your contact list, the people you forge relationships with, the more likely it will be that you know the right person.  As the ‘right person’ for one thing relating to your business will change often, it is worth making as many contacts as possible; rather than worrying about discretion.  Stay in contact with people in your phone or address book as this will give you a good pool of people to dip into in the future.

Discover Common Interests

When people share common interests, they enjoy being in the company of each other.  Therefore, when you are networking, look for commonalities with the people you meet and use these shared interests and opinions to build relationships with them.

Learning Experience

Networking is a great learning experience because when people build relationships with one another, they like to share news, information and tips with each other.  It is very likely that through networking, you will find someone who offers new insight or ideas that could benefit your business.  As mentioned further up the page, knowing who the right person to go to for help is vital.  The only way you can learn what people are capable of is by networking and building proper relationships with them

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Need To Improve Productivity? There’s An App for That!

It is very likely that, as a modern business owner, you own at least a smartphone and maybe even a tablet of some kind.  Remember the tagline for App Store products “There’s An App for that”?  This is actually very true when it comes to business.  You can use your smartphone or tablet during your working day for more than just idle mucking around and playing games; in the following post we will look at some of the great apps out there that can help improve your productivity.

Daedalus Touch

If you don’t like to be stuck behind your desk in the office or at home all day you can use Daedalus Touch for any written work you want to get done in a more comfortable setting.  It features a whole host of handy features, but keeps the focusing on the actual writing and not the app.

Sunrise

Sunrise is a very comprehensive, but very easy to use calendar app.  Not only does it look good and offer all the functions you would expect, but it also integrates locations you have entered for particular days and times with Google Maps.  This is handy if you need to be somewhere at a certain time next Tuesday for instance, but also need directions on how to get there.  You can find all the information about your appointment, business meeting etc. from the Sunrise app.

Scraps

If you are forever thinking up ideas on the go or at times when there is no pen and paper handy to jot them down, Scraps is a great app to download.  It enables you to organise your thoughts and record them, so that you can look over them at a more convenient time.

Carrot

Do you love making up “To Do” lists or find it hard sticking to them?  Carrot might be the app that helps you make better use of your time and stick to those lists.  It alerts you every day to your current to-do lists, encouraging you to tackle them.  It is a very unique and in some ways quirky app in that it gets cross with you if you don’t do what you are supposed to do.

Thinglist

Thinglist should be seen as more than a simple “To Do” list.  It can be used to store and organize products you want to try, people you want or need to speak to and books you are planning on reading.

Inkflow

If you have a more creative mind, you may find Inkflow very useful.  It allows you to sketch you’re your ideas and enables you to export your Inkflow creations into JPEG and PDF file formats that you can access later when you are at your computer.

Cue

Cue is an app that can help you organise your day so that you use your time in the most efficient way.  It links and syncs up all your accounts including Dropbox, Twitter, Calendar, Gmail and various other networks and platforms to give you a clear view of what needs to be done on a specific day.

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Don’t Be Lazy

If there is one piece of advice any expert will give you it is not to be lazy.  Procrastination is a big word and a big problem, particularly when it comes to small business owners.  Many people have great ideas, maybe you do a well, but for one reason or another, do nothing to actually work on them and put them into practice.

Some Reasons That May Be Holding You Back

It could be that you are in denial about your procrastination and laziness.   Therefore, we have listed some of the most common reasons why people hold back from doing the work they to make their business a success.  Be honest and identify your own reasons.

Nervous and Afraid

It is normal to feel a little nervous or afraid when you setup your own business.  The fear of success and now knowing what that will be like can often be as powerful as the fear of failure.  This is why so many people may have good ideas that they like to talk about all the time, but never actually put into action.

Feel Unqualified

Perhaps you have great ideas, but do not feel as if you have enough qualifications, abilities or skills to put those ideas into practice; so skirt around it all and do as little as possible, hoping that you never have to push yourself.

Lack Confidence

This is intertwined with the reasons above but can be seen as a separate reason in itself.  Confidence in your business and your own capabilities is obviously important if you want to be successful, so when you are not it definitely holds you back.

Get Off Your Arse by Brad Burton

If you are having trouble finding the necessary motivation to put your business plans into action, we can’t recommend the book Get Off Your Arse by Brad Burton enough.

The book is a very real, frank, and honest but also hilarious book that includes helpful and insightful advice that will have you rolling about on the floor laughing your head off on one page, while filling you with emotion on another.

Why Should You Listen To Brad Burton?

The above question can easily be summed up in Brad Burton’s hilarious 140 character Twitter-esque description: ‘Born Manchester 1971, adversity, brilliance, adversity, heroic failure, dole, dotcom leader, marketing genius, pizza delivery, MD of 4N!

In case you are not familiar, 4Networking is the fastest growing joined-up business networking organisation in the UK.

The book is Brad Burton’s warts and all lessons that he has learned the hard way from trying to be successful in business and is written in a very uncompromising – take no prisoners – fashion.  It would be wrong to completely spoil the book on this page, but to briefly explain one of the major streams of thought with regards to business that runs throughout the book – being successful in business is actually only about 1% having a great idea and about 99% actually doing something about it.

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Delegation – Hiring Online Workers Via oDesk

Although you may think of your new business as your little baby, your project that you want to be involved in every step of the way; you can’t do everything by yourself.  Even if you manage to convince yourself that you can do everything yourself, it may go well for a while but eventually you will find that you are spreading yourself way too thinly and in trying to do everything, certain areas of running your business – more often than not  the most important ones – will suffer as a result.

The Importance of Delegation

That is why any good business owners, regardless of size, logistics or even the industry they are operating within, knows and appreciates the importance of delegation.  There seems to be a misconception that delegating means that you are either too lazy or incapable of doing those particular tasks by yourself.

Frees Up Your Valuable Time

While it makes sense to delegate jobs that require skills that you do not possess, hiring dedicated workers is more important in the sense that it frees your time up.  This means that you are able to use your valuable time more productively to concentrate on the areas of running your business that are more important, such as growing your customer base or working on your products and services.

Hiring Online Workers

Whether you work online or not, one of the best ways of hiring extra staff is using the internet.  There are a selection of websites out there that enable you to have jobs and tasks, regardless of whether they are regularly occurring or one off projects.

If it is just that you need content written up for your blog, you can find writers who are willing to work for competitive prices to take that load off your mind.  Similarly if you a website or logo designer, someone to carry out monotonous PA tasks like phoning a list of businesses to make appointments or simply just dealing with your email – hiring online workers through a site like oDesk is perfect for this.

Easy To Use

ODesk and other sites like it are very easy to use, regardless of what you are looking for in online workers.  It is free to register an account with the site and you are then able to post jobs, in a similar way as to how you would advertise jobs offline.  ODesk users then have the opportunity to post their proposals that explain why they feel they would be right for the job you have posted.  You are not obligated to work with any of them, but can choose the individual(s) that meet your criteria and who fall within the available budget you have for paying extra staff.

You can then contact them either through oDesk itself or another preferred means of communication.  There is no need to worry about whether or not they are going to be as productive as you would like them to be or not, as you can set things up so they have to track their work and have screenshots taken of their work automatically and you only have to pay for work that they did and not if they waste time doing other things.

It may take a little getting used to, working with others and managing them, but once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you didn’t do it from the start.

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Accounting – Great Reasons Why You Should Hire an Accountant

It’s time to be honest now, who actually enjoys the accounting side of running a business?  It’s true that it can be a real pain in the neck, unless you are a maths whizzkid or just love dealing with money numbers and figures.  Staying on top of your business’s finances is a tricky job and therefore there are good reasons why you should consider hiring an accountant to do all the complicated calculations and other associated tasks for you.

Besides freeing up your time to enable you to concentrate more on what you are good at – running the business/producing products or providing services for clients and customers, we will also look at several other great reasons for hiring an account to handle your business finances in the following article.

Advice for Your Business Plan

If you need to write a business plan, an accountant can give you helpful advice and tips.  Hiring an accountant for this purpose alone can be a great help as they can use financial and accounting software they are familiar with to add financial reports and projections to help you understand the numbers better.  This in turn can help you produce a professional and realistic business plan that is more likely to be successful.

Advice about Your Business’s Legal Structure

Depending on the size and industry they are operating within, all businesses have different legal structures.  An accountant will help you understand the legal structure that is right for you, whether you are operating as a partnership, limited company or sole trader/.

Help You with Your Business Finances

If you have always done your accounting by yourself, things could get more complicated and complex as time goes on.  If you feel that you are losing control of your many creditors and debtors or feel that your own understanding of your financial situation is limited; hiring an accountant will help you understand your business financial situation and get back on track.

Help Dealing With Government and Taxman Requirements

As your business expands there is a lot of regulatory and tax related paperwork that you need to fill out and dealing with the government and taxman can require a lot of technical knowhow, which can be overwhelming if you are not a trained accountant trying to do it all by yourself.  It’s important to remember that an accountant will not only help you will your annual tax returns and day to day bookkeeping, but will also help you to stay on top of compliance and regulatory requirements related to your business.

Help When Your Business is Audited

If you are fortunate enough to see your business grow and become a success, there will come a point when you reach a certain level of turnover or size that your business may have to be audited.  This can be a very expensive, time consuming and stressful process and is the perfect situation to avail your business of an accountant’s expertise.  Not only will they help you understand the auditing process better, but they will help to ensure that you and your business comply with audit and tax laws.

As you can see, it may feel good to try and do everything yourself, but we hope the above article shows that there are many good reasons to employ the services of an accountant for your business.

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9 Good Reasons to Work from Home

There seems to be a lot of negative aspects out there with regards to people who work from home.  Perhaps you have come across some yourself?  Do people you know, maybe friends and family, think you are lazy and that working from home is just an excuse to sit around and do nothing?  Don’t be disheartened if they do, because as long as you are making productive use of your time; working from home is often a more effective way of running a business.

In the following post we will look at 9 great reasons why you should continue, or start working from home.

It’s Inexpensive

If you use your home as the base for your business, you save a lot of money by not needing to rent office space.  That money that you save can then be put to better use and invested in marketing, technology and anything else that will help your business to grow.

No Commuting

You’ll be amazed how different you will feel at the beginning of a working day if your daily commute involves walking a few feet into your home office setup – and that’s if you even have one!  Not having to get up early to catch that train or bus at 7 in the morning or driving through the busy rush hour traffic can allow you to work for short or longer hours as you see fit.

It’s Convenient

If you feel that you are more capable of working at odd, out of office times, or are a creative type who works more on feeling and impulse; working from home is a great option because of the convenience.  If you want to work, you can work.

Easier and Less Expensive Childcare Options

Although it can be something of a double edged sword, working from home if you are a parent, makes dealing with and arranging childcare a lot easier and less expensive.  It also means that you are able to fit in sports days and school open days around your work, rather than having to apologise to your children or their teachers because you can’t make it.

Coffee Shops

If you work from home you may not want to hold a business meeting there, instead you can arrange meetings at a local and convenient coffee shop.  Modern coffee shops are great for those who work from home and need to attend meetings or need time away from the four walls of their home, because they normally have a wireless broadband connection that enables you to stay connected.

Easier To Deal with Domestic Problems

Life is full of problems and issues and it is not always easy to deal with these when you are away from home at work.  Working at home therefore makes it a lot easier to deal with these, even if it’s just by being at home so the plumber can fix a tap.

More Comfortable

While it is obviously important to have some kind of work-like environment, you can dress as comfortably as you like.

Tailor Your Working Environment to Your Needs

When you work from home you are able to say goodbye to no having a choice of what you listen to, whether the windows are open or closed and so much more.  When you work from home you are fret to tailor your working environment to your own needs and wants.

Colds

Working from home is a lot healthier too as you avoid the inevitable colds that get passed round.

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How To Excite Customers With Your Branded Shipping Box

Small businesses, even home-based businesses, can use customized shipping boxes to leverage their marketing in a big way. Branding boxes is an often overlooked but powerful way of increasing advertising in a cost-effective way.

To illustrate this point, imagine the following scenario:

You come home from a hard-day of work. You are tired, cold, and grumpy from driving through streets of snow or black ice. Then, you notice a box in your driveway. You recognize it at once. It has a smile illustrated on it. You recognize your order from Amazon.com has arrived. As soon as you get it into the house, you tear it open and pull out your much anticipated video game.

So what just happened?

Amazon made you feel special, like you were receiving a Christmas present, because you immediately recognized who it was from. They grabbed your attention and lifted up your mood by the way they branded their box. It elicited memories of the excitement you had when ordering the video game and then it created a sense of satisfaction when you recognized that what you had desired had finally arrived.

Now imagine the same scenario without the clever brand name and branding strategy. Imagine a plain box with a boring label. You would not have had that sense of glee. At the most, you may have experienced a mild sense of satisfaction when you finally figured out why a box was lying in your driveway.

A box that is enticingly customized looks much more interesting than the same merchandise delivered in a drab way. The magic is all in the wrapping. That same magic is responsible for customer loyalty. Customers buy more from merchants who make them feel good. A simple lesson in psychology, perhaps, but it works.

Although Amazon was one of the first eCommerce merchants to distinguish themselves with the speed, quality, and presentation of their drop shipped services, the idea is not difficult to model. In fact, many businesses, including home-based or small businesses, have adopted this idea of using something as unassuming as a cardboard box to create emotion-arousing brand identity. People like to know what’s waiting for them on their front doorstep. They view anonymous boxes with suspicion. Then when they discover that the box is something they ordered, they have a feeling of relief. Smart online retailers, sophisticated subscription service companies, and other marketing-savvy merchants who deliver packages to homes or offices recognize that shipping box stylesare good for their business.

What about the Cost?

Online retailers who resist the idea of using custom shipped boxes in a way that delight their customers often fret over the petty notion that the cost of using custom shipped boxes may not be cost-effective. After all, they argue, one way to improve the bottom line is by simply trimming operating expenses. In actual fact, the cost of printing only has a small impact on the cost. This applies to boxes of any size. Costs are affordable because a flexographic process prints on the cardboard before the box is made. This method does not affect pricing factors like stock or size.

7 Branding Tips to Wow Customers

There are at least 7 ways that you can improve how you brand your boxes:

  1. Choose a nifty design. It can be something simple, but it will help you distinguish your company as a cut above the competition. Customers will view your company as chic and upscale.
  2. Select only a few box sizes for your merchandise. This makes it easier for the shipper to fulfill your order, simpler for the customer to recognize it, and easier, possibly even cheaper, for you to figure out and deploy your branding strategy.
  3. If you are already shipping out custom-sized boxes, then it is only a small leap to add some evocative branding elements.
  4. As a merchant, your job is not to deliver something that someone has ordered from you. Your job is to provide your customers with a delightful experience. This is a subtle, but important distinction to bear in mind when thinking about how to go about branding your box.
  5. Besides attention-getting printing, boxes can be further branded by doing some other simple things. For instance, the side or back of the box could have a QR code. When customers check it out with their smartphone, it leads to a contest that you are hosting on your website. If you are offering a subscription service, it could be a clue to a game you have running on your website that will result in a big prize.
  6. When customers open their box, you could have a welcome note. It could be instructions on how to use the merchandise or a list of benefits of using the product.
  7. Another idea is to have a letter in the box that asks customers to share photos or videos of themselves before they used the product and after they used it. You could offer a prize for online winners who shared the most interesting picture, video, or results.

Summary

You’re already selling an excellent product. Why not add to the excitement by adding branding elements to your packaging?

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