Essential Business Elements (That Startups Keep Forgetting)

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You have a lot to think about when you’re starting up a business, so you could be forgiven for forgetting a few important elements. But there are certainly some business elements out there that most business owners don’t seem to pay any attention to at all. This may be because their significance is wildly underrated. We’re going to take a quick at some important business areas that you may be ignoring. Ignore this advice at your own peril!

 

Social media

 

You might be thinking to yourself that there’s no way social media can be considered an underrated aspect of business. After all, you may have seen countless articles on the Internet about the importance of social media as a marketing tool. The key term here, though, is marketing tool.

More startups than ever are utilizing social media as a marketing tool in very effective ways. The problem isn’t so much with a lack of use of social media for business – but its potential is definitely underrated by many.

Social media shouldn’t just be used as a means to get people to hear about your business, or as a means of sharing the content from your website. You should be using social media as part of your customer service.

Many business owners may not like the sound of this idea at all. After all, shouldn’t customer service take place over a more private medium, such as email or phone, instead of social media, which is almost like encouraging users to air their grievances in public?

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Here’s the problem with that sort of approach: people are going to call out your business over social media. You can’t avoid it. All it takes is the use of your Twitter handle, for example, and suddenly there’s a comment or question regarding a problem ready to be shared all over social media.

Perhaps a couple of years ago you could have gotten away with not responding. These days, people are expecting a response. Make sure you’re providing great customer service over social media as well as email and phone.

 

Branding

 

When most people think about companies, they tend to think about things that relate to that company’s branding. When people think about Coca-Cola, for instance, they don’t only think about the body-wrecking brown sugar-water the company sells; they think about the company’s logos, their adverts, the distinctive red-and-white color scheme that makes one think almost automatically of Coca-Cola even when you see the colors in other places.

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A lot of startups forget about the importance of branding. It’s the development of visual cues that will make customers think immediately of your company. It’s the crafting of a particular image for your business that will determine how skilled, friendly, and modern people will assume your business is within the first few seconds of seeing your adverts, or your store, or your website. You may not think that customers make so many snap judgments so quickly, but they do.

Therefore, your branding should be an integral part of your business plan. Of course, the quality of your product or service should always come first. But if you don’t pay enough attention to the personality your company will develop, of the color scheme and logo you’ll use, then your company will simply look a lot more bland than you’ll want it to.

Many business owners shy away from this because branding elements are often so expensive, but there are always cheap and effective alternatives. You can design your own logo for free, if need be.

 

HR

So many businesses these days are going without a human resources department. They assume that it’s something that doesn’t require a full-time employee. After all, how difficult can it be to deal with the sorts of problems that HR deal with? If there are payment disputes, the bookkeeper can deal with it. If there are any other problems, then employees should just be able to go straight to the boss. Right?

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This may work for very small businesses, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the need for a full-time HR employee manifests. At the end of the day, bookkeepers and bosses end up getting overwhelmed with other work, and find it difficult to deal with everyone’s needs regarding payment, annual leave, sick leave, healthcare, and disputes.

Another thing you have to consider is the ever-rising levels of employment lawsuits. You may not like to think of your employees as potential plaintiffs against your company, but you never know what kind of employment laws may be broken or exploited if you don’t have a full-time employee on the case.

The average employment lawsuit is often estimated to cost about a quarter-million dollars, though many others would estimate something closer to half a million dollars. The most common claims are ones that are difficult to protect yourself against if you don’t have an HR employee.

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Employee satisfaction

 

A problem that plagues so many businesses is that business owners forget the vast majority of employees wouldn’t be working for them if they weren’t being paid to do so. You may be thinking: Well, duh. Of course I know that. Perhaps it’s not so much that business owners forget this fact as much as it is the brutal truth that lies behind that fact: employees, by and large, would much rather be doing something else with their time.

Why, exactly, is this important? “People would rather not be at work.” Not such a newsflash, right? The problem is that business owners tend not to see things from the employee’s point of view. They expect a great deal of dedication from employees based simply on the fact that those employees are being paid – but the truth is that you’re only going to get so much from them if they’re not that satisfied with their jobs. And most workers certainly aren’t very satisfied with their jobs.

Don’t forget to give deep thought to how you’ll help keep your employees happy at work. Deeply dissatisfied employees are nowhere near as productive as satisfied ones, so don’t neglect to make employee satisfaction a clear focus in your business.

 

Face-Off: Knowing Your Customers In A Faceless World

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We’re living in a world where, for the most part, we are faceless. You can work in the same company as somebody and recognize their sign-off to an email more so than you would recognize what they look like. We are hidden behind screens and let our fingers do the talking.

With this in mind, how can be assured that we are talking to the person that they say they are? This is so important when you are running a business and have to verify who you’re talking to – and to let your customers put a face to the name also.

 

Utilize Video Calls

 

If you are connecting with a client over a contract or the potential for a lot of work, using Skype can be a bonus. Seeing each other face to face and being able to see the context behind the words (which you wouldn’t really be able to gauge via email or text) can mean big things in terms of securing jobs.

Being able to express what you can do, how you’re going to deliver services and anything else the customer may require to know is of utmost importance – but so is being able to determine whether they are genuine or not.

 

Invest In A Verification Service

Nowadays, we don’t necessarily have the time to get to a location and prove our identity. There are so many places that require bills when most of us have gone paperless; passports need to be gotten out at any time when they should be stored safe; drivers licenses are needed for verification when a lot of us are choosing to use public transport and don’t actually possess one.

In terms of verifying who your consumers are, it can be tricky. You don’t want to put off potentials by demanding too much, or driving away existing customers by continually asking for ID.

Netverify identity verification services offer a chance to reduce the stress experienced by consumers by giving them the chance to scan documents directly from their phone, get facial recognition and a whole host of other ways to prove their identity.

Using a verification service is definitely the new-age way to assess a person’s credibility and prevent fraud.

 

Old Fashioned Is Best

If you haven’t got the means to invest in verification services or aren’t the type of company who can commit to Skype calls for all of their customers, having a real-life presence is just as important. There was a technological boom towards the end of the nineties, where more people were inclined to spend online and were looking for web-based credentials for most, if not all, businesses that they were using.

Now, it is going in reverse – more people are looking for a branch to pop into or some sort of presence where they can interact without having to go online or pick up a phone. Especially with customer service, your consumers are looking for empathy and a relationship with your brand – something that can’t be offered on a screen.

From Blogging To Business And Beyond

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If you are working to become a professional blogger, you have to remember that it’s not just about the writing. Writing great, thoughtful content is definitely part of your role, but you have to remember that a blog isn’t just a website—it’s a business. It needs to be treated like one, and this is the aspect of blogging that most new bloggers forget. Focusing on the writing will only get you part of the way there and won’t ensure you reach the wide audience that you deserve.

These are some of the areas that you might have overlooked because you weren’t thinking in terms of business:

Web Hosting

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A lot of bloggers don’t understand the importance of hosting their own website. By hosting your site, you can ensure that you have complete control over it. You’ll be able to add as much or as little information as you like and the best part is that it won’t slow down.

If you’re not hosting your blog, there’s a strong possibility that as you add more content, you see reductions in speed. That’s going to cause difficulties for users and visitors of your blog. It could even impact your site ranking if users decided to click away before it loads.

Hosting a website is all about spending money to make money. It actually doesn’t cost that much to host a blog. For a business expense, an average of twenty-five dollars a month is pretty small.

Content Like Clockwork

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You are probably only adding content to your blog when you feel like writing, or you think you have something important to say. That’s not enough, and professional bloggers need to add content like clockwork. One of the ways you can do this is by ensuring you have a content management system in place.

A fully operation CMS is just one of the services that bloggers can get by using a pro IT support service. They can also ensure that your blog doesn’t crash and if it does, it’s back up in minutes. But for now, let’s focus on content.

With a management system, you can set up content to be added automatically to your site on a schedule. This will ensure that even if the level of content is lacking, your site remains active.

Expansion

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You might want to think about getting more from your blog rather than just looking for readers. For instance, you can consider opening a shopping area where visitors can purchase products or items that you have for sale. These will typically be related to your blog topics and can provide a second income. Diversifying your site this way is a great way to keep it profitable and keep moving forward.

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Business prospects like this are something that new bloggers hardly ever think about, but you should. Alternatively, you can think about accepting sponsored content on your site. Doing this, you’ll get paid for posting articles from other people that naturally fit on your blog.

Remembering issues like this you can make sure that your blog is more than just a place to share your writing; it can be a fully functional business.

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With Great Rewards Comes Great Risks Too

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Starting your own venture and going it alone is one of the most exciting, rewarding and valuable ventures anyone can hope to do, and one that can lead to the financial freedom employees stuck in the corporate machine can only dream of. However, it ain’t easy to be successful.

Anything that offers the chance of a great reward comes with great risks too. That is how life works; it is yin and yang, actions and reactions, contrary forces working with and against each other. What’s more, it is these risks that tend to see a lot of small business become financial failures, and quickly too.

However, while most of these risks can be fatal to a business, most can also be avoided, and we are going to cast a light on which ones these are.

No Business Plan

Having a plan is one of the most crucial instruments a business owns. You see, a business plan is where you detail everything you hope to achieve with your business and how you plan to go about achieving it all. Your short terms hopes and long term goals, your financial predictions, your funding requirements, the markets you plan to target and which marketing strategies you are going to use to target them all factor in. It is your guide and, without one, it becomes far too easy to get lost.

Bad Marketing Decisions

To cut back on marketing to try and save money is like stopping your clock in an attempt to save time. Small businesses need to market themselves and their brand from the get go onward. Digital marketing, direct mail, promotional offers, word of mouth, social media, email marketing, referral schemes, discounts for existing customers; all of these are marketing channels that your company should explore. Trial and error.  

Competition is more fierce than ever these days, and so the need to invest in marketing and promoting your business through the right channels is imperative to you surviving and thriving.

Going It Alone

Most first-time entrepreneurs make the same mistake of trying to go it alone. Sometimes it is a matter of pride, other times it is a matter of funds, but it is always the same result. As the owner of a small business, you are going to have a lot of plates to spin and keep spinning, and most of these plates will fall outside your comfort zone.

You may have a knack for marketing, but not bookkeeping, which is why you will need a team of people that can balance each other’s skill set out. Employee management, advertising, public relations, financial responsibility, sales; all of these things matter, and you can’t do them all alone. Trust me on that.

Not Enough Money

Another common denominator in the what makes small businesses fail is the lack of capital. All too often, entrepreneurs think they will start turning a profit the minute they open their doors or launch their website, and that just isn’t the case. That is why it is so important that you consider every single possible overhead you can, and work backwards from there.

Rent, employees, utility bills, equipment, fuel; absolutely everything needs to be considered. Once you’ve done this, aim to raise enough money to keep running even if you don’t make a dime in your first year. That’s the kind of risk you need to be protecting yourself from.

What Color Is Your Parachute

In 1970, Richard Nelson Bolles asked everyone who wasn’t quite convinced they were in the right job, “what color is your parachute?” The idea was that too many people had fallen into their job without really thinking whether it really was the right one for them.

If you think this was a problem in 1970, it’s an ever bigger problem now: some 70% of workers aren’t wild about their work – and, in fact, Bolles actually still updates the book every single year. But you don’t have to fork out the cash for the book. Here’s a guide to ensure you’re in the right profession.

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What Went Wrong Before?

 

We’re going to assume you currently have or have had a job. The first thing to recognize is: what, exactly, did you not like about your last job? If the job didn’t feel right, pinpoint whatever the issues were. Perhaps you really liked the work, but didn’t quite like the atmosphere of the company you were working for. Or, you might have loved the people, but couldn’t quite get excited about the work. Make a sheet of pros and cons – it may not give you an answer, but it’ll set you on the right path.

 

Think Big

When it comes to thinking about what they could achieve in their career, many workers start by thinking from the bottom and then work their way up. Instead, think from the biggest point you can muster.

For example, ask yourself what you would do with your life if money was no object – or if every job came with the same wage. You might come up with something completely from the left field, but that’s okay – so long as it’s within the realm of possibility, it’s worth pursuing.

 

New Opportunities

 

Another thing that tends to happen is people not widening the scope of their job search enough. There are many, many jobs out there in the world – not just the limited number of jobs that people tend to do. There are also new jobs and industries being created all the time. The idea of making and selling beer would have ten years ago be unthinkable, but now everyone is doing it.

 

Finding the Right Job

 

It’s not just about identifying the type of work you want to do; you need to work hard on finding the right company to work with, one that complements your personality and ambitions. If you haven’t done so before, look at working with a recruitment agency. Visit NelsonJobs.com for details on recruiting services and find the right team for you. You’ll be spending a large portion of your waking hours at work – you need to love being there!

 

Being Ready for Change

Sometimes, it’s not new opportunities or lack of jobs that holds us back, but ourselves. We’re all too easily convinced that we’d be better staying where we are rather than taking a new path in life. Ignore these doubts and be ready to step into the unknown – it’s scary, for sure, but in the end it’ll always be worth it.