The Future Of Your Business Is Now

StrategyDriven Business Management Article
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One of the hardest things any business owner is faced with is the task of keeping their business up to date with all the latest technologies. This doesn’t mean you need to have office chairs that have in-built keyboards and fridges integrated into the armrests or anything. But it does mean you need to be abreast of what technology will help your business boom. It may be that your business isn’t interested in having the latest tablet that has all the design features a graphic artist could possibly want because you own a bakery, or an old school sweetie shop. But there is still software that will make your life easier, and your customer’s experience better.

As such, we have compiled a list of tech that will bring your company up to speed with what is on offer. We will bring your business into the 21st Century.

Accepting Payment

Cash is pretty much a thing of the past. Barely anyone carries cash anymore and certainly not Millenials. It’s all about the card these days. Everyone puts everything on cards. May be it is to do with ease, maybe they don’t see it as departing with cash in the same way handing over notes. Whatever the case, your business needs a credit card reader. In addition to this, it’s all about contactless payments too. The tap and go. The ease of it all. Something that has seen a rise in payments through people smartphones.

Slick Websites

No business can hope to succeed without a slick website. A website is the first impression people will get from your business, whatever that is, because once they hear your name that’s the first thing they’ll do. They’ll check out your website. They may even just stumble across it. As such, you need something that is going to be representative of your brand and provide them with all the information they could possibly want from you. It doesn’t matter if you are a plumber, copywriter, IT support company or into digital learning; a website is your best chance at being found and hired.

Blogging

A website is good, but without a decent SEO strategy you may not get discovered. That’s where blogging comes in. Blogging is the most effective way of improving your hopes of getting found on search engines. The best way to do this is to add links to your other blog posts as well as external sources, while always considering what keywords search engines may pick up on. Another great tactic is to link your blog to your social media pages as well, so that every time you post, your social media gets updated too. This will also improve your chances of being shared online, thus bringing in more viewers. The most epic thing that could happen on this front is for something of yours to go viral. How incredible would it be to wake up one day and see that 100,000 people ha liked a blog post that links back to your website and thus your business. Amazing.

Internet Marketing Failing? Let’s Take a Look at What You’re Doing Wrong

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Even the strongest businesses in the world have had their weak moments. Maybe things aren’t going so well with your business at the moment. Perhaps it’s just one factor of your business that isn’t performing as well as it should be. If we look at the most common elements that come into play when things aren’t going amazingly for any given business, it quite often has to do with poor Internet marketing.

Many business owners are becoming cognizant of just how important Internet marketing is. But a lot of them are making a bunch of mistakes. One of those mistakes was assuming that Internet marketing would bring them immediate success and riches. This sort of attitude betrays a sort of ignorance about how Internet marketing really works and how it should be approached. This can cause a lot of errors when it comes to the marketing campaign as a whole.

So perhaps it’s time that you took a serious look at your Internet marketing campaign! If your marketing hasn’t brought you the return you were hoping for, then it’s crucial that you take a close look at things and perhaps rethink your approach. After all, most digital marketing methods out there aren’t exactly cheap. And that’s fine, as long as it can actually bring results, right?

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Internet marketing isn’t the magic wand that a lot of businesses seem to think it is. It needs to be done properly. You can throw all the money you want at your campaign, but if it’s going in the wrong direction then you might as well be throwing your cash into a black hole. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common and severe fundamental problems that many modern businesses have with their digital marketing approach. If you start to get feelings of recognition as you read through this article, then it might be time for you to make some serious changes to your marketing techniques!

Overestimation

I made a brief mention of this above, but it’s worth going into a little more detail. Essentially, a lot of businesses out there massively overestimate the power of Internet marketing. Yes, if done right, it can be very powerful. But the fact of the matter is that Internet marketing is vulnerable to many of the same sort of flaws you see in any other medium.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
Photo courtesy of Infusionsoft Sales & Marketing via flickr

Internet marketing isn’t going to guarantee you a truckload of new customers. A lot of people understand this when it comes to working with advertising in other media, because they’re more used to have ineffective, say, a television advert or a newspaper advert can be. Most people will probably overlook those sorts of ads, right? Well, the same goes for most kinds of Internet marketing. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in them! It just means that you have to be careful not to commit one of the most common mistakes in this field: that of overestimating the results you’re going to get.

Temper your expectations! You may even have started reading this article because you thought you would get hundreds of thousands of new customers from your campaign. This sort of thinking may have given you a false impression of the success of your campaign: it might be that it’s working as good as it can – it’s just that your expectations are unrealistic!

The DIY approach

A lot of business owners seem to be working under the assumption that Internet marketing is easy. They’re also looking for any way they can find to save some money. Well, it’s true that it’s possible to do your own Internet marketing. And, with that in mind, you can cut a lot of costs if you do take this approach. But the fact is that Internet marketing is much more complex than many of these business owners realize.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
If you want to take on this task by yourself, then you should really be an expert at this sort of thing. If you’re not, you could be wasting a lot of time with ineffective marketing techniques. Remember that the right Internet marketing company has a lot of connections in the marketing industry, whereas you’re likely to have none at all. If you do want to take this approach, then you should make sure you really know what you’re doing. Look into taking an online course in digital marketing to boost your skills and knowledge.

The substandard marketing company

Having said all of this, working with a bad marketing company could be even worse than taking the reigns yourself! While there’s a lot to be said about the many problems that overconfidence in your own abilities can bring, there is also much to be said about putting too much confidence in the hands of those who claim to be experts. Just as in any other industry, there are companies in this field that simply don’t know what they’re doing. Not every Internet marketing business is some angel that will be able to save your business.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
You need to make sure that you’re signing up to work with an incredibly good Internet marketing company. These guys don’t come cheap, after all! You need to keep an eye out when it comes to these companies, because there are a bunch of potential problems that could really put a spanner in the works. What if their customer service is terrible? What if the methods they use to get results work only in the short term? And what if they’re using ‘black’ techniques? (More on that in just a moment!) You should ensure that you’re checking the online reputation of these companies, as well as the feedback they’ve received from previous clients.

Villainous techniques

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “black hat” before when you’ve explored the realm of Internet marketing. You may even know that it’s bad, though you’re not entirely sure why exactly that is. As clichéd as it may be, “black” Internet marketing techniques are bad and “white” Internet marketing techniques are good – or, perhaps, to be more accurate, “black” is illegal and “white” is legal. (And we’re talking in terms of search engine rules, not the actual judiciary reality of the real world!)

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
Photo courtesy of freezelight via flickr

Essentially, “black hat” or “black label” Internet marketing methods (and they’re usually SEO-based) actively use the sort of techniques that spam search engine algorithms with the sort of content that used to provide shortcuts to the very top of search engine rankings. Keyword stuffing, false leads, and unethical link sharing and selling are all parts of this game. Of course, black hat and black label SEO don’t often produce results, because companies like Google are very wise to their games these days. So you need to ensure that you’re looking into white hat and white label SEO if you want your campaign to go anywhere in the long-term.

“SEO” and “social media” are just buzzwords, right?

An alarmingly common problem is that business owners often find themselves trying a little too hard to go against the grain. Yes, you should be unique in your approach. But it’s possible to take that too far. If you’re of the opinion that SEO and social media are mere buzzwords as opposed to things that can actually help your marketing in big ways, then you’ve definitely gone a little too far from the beaten track!

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Without the use of SEO and social media, you’re throttling the efficacy of your digital marketing campaign. And I mean really throttling. Like, Homer-Simpson-choking-Bart-Simpson level throttling. SEO and social media are what help your digital marketing breathe and expand to new corners of the Internet. Don’t try to be so unconventional that you don’t use these at all.

Problems with your business

And so we come to the least fun possibility of the lot. The one that’s probably the hardest the solve of all of them. Let’s say your marketing isn’t actually flawed. Perhaps you’re working with the best Internet marketing company in the business. You’ve invested in all the correct tools and employees, and at a reasonable price, too. You have all the data you need to make the right decisions. But business still doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. An SEO audit didn’t reveal any problems with your marketing approach, so what could the problem be?

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Unfortunately, it could very well be the case that the problem is with your business. After all, all the great marketing in the world simply isn’t going to help you out that much if your website, product, or service really isn’t that up to scratch.

But how exactly can you tell if this is the problem? Well, this is why you need powerful analytics for your website and Internet marketing campaign. If people are being directed to your business in droves, then you should be able to tell. If they are, but not enough people are actually clicking through to complete a purchase, then this is a sign that something is wrong with what you’re offering, or how you’re offering it, as opposed to something being wrong with the marketing itself. In this case, you’re going to have to do some market and customer research in order to pinpoint the problems you’re having!

Building Residual Income By Franchising Your Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleThe vision for every entrepreneur is to eventually figure out how to scale to the point where the day to day business isn’t reliant on the owner every minute of every day.  For many, this objective never comes to fruition as the business is structured in a way where the business owner is consumed and literally devoured by the entity.  The business owner becomes an employee in reality and the business never grows beyond what that business owner is able to accomplish with their own two hands.  The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber, says it best, to build a business, one must figure out how to get themselves OUT of the business before they can start to work ON the business.  Franchising is a the ultimate definition of scale where a business owner removes themselves completely from operational responsibilities in order to become a coach to others who wish to enter the world of entrepreneurship.  The reason why franchising lends itself to scalable, high-residual income is the same reason that Larry Ellison has a net worth of $49.6 billion and a boat that is larger than some countries.  Once you are able to create the formula for what you do and replicate that formula through scaled growth, you have achieved the ability to generate income for your intellectual property.

Franchising is a unique vehicle in that it allows businesses that traditionally are not scalable, such as restaurants, retail and service businesses to become scaled through franchisee’s investment and willingness to manage the local business.  When you franchise a business, you create a vehicle that supports residual income through long term relationships with independent franchise ownership and contiguous brand equity.  Franchisees pay a fee to you as the franchisor for the rights to your intellectual property and brand recognition in addition to making the investment in opening the new franchise location of your business model.  Where the residual income is derived from franchising is that a franchisee typically commits to a 10-20 year relationship where they are agreeing to pay a percentage of their revenues on a weekly or monthly basis.  In addition, many Franchises also require franchisees to purchase products and business items from the franchisor as well which may be sold at a profit to the franchise network.  This is where residual income is generated and at the time where a franchise system becomes self-sufficient is when the business owner can step out of day to day operations entirely and focus on building the business and moving the company forward.  Visionary entrepreneurs who leveraged franchising to expand such as John Hewitt in the tax preparation business or Ray Kroc in the hamburger business were most likely not the best tax preparers or burger flippers, they were great at finding scale and achieving residual income for their ideas.

To franchise a business one must be in a position where they have the right formula in place, systems, processes and procedures to be able to teach a third party how to do what you do.  In many cases, I’ve found that business owners don’t realize that franchising is a viable expansion model and that they could achieve this residual income sooner than expected.  My advice is always to let the market drive this decision of whether to franchise your business, if people are asking for what you do in their market and how to invest in your business, the franchise expansion model needs to be on the table.

For more information on how to franchise your business, visit Franchise Marketing Systems: www.fmsfranchise.com/


About the Author

Christopher James ConnerChristopher Conner, President of Franchise Marketing Systems has been in the franchise industry since 2002 working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting.  To read Christopher’s complete biography, click here.

How Much Should You Pay Your Staff?

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article, How Much Should You Pay Your Staff?

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If you’re a start-up business looking to hire employees, you’ll need to consider how much money is enough to keep your staff happy without your business suffering. To stop you skimping out or overspending, here are some ways to budget for your staff and ensure they get the most suitable rate.

Know how much you can spare

Consider how much you need to comfortably live on and if you will need to make any cuts. You will need to be making enough money from your clients to cover the cost of your staff’s wages, plus compulsory insurance schemes such as employer liability and vehicle insurance if they are planning to drive. You’ll also have to account for any training and any wastage that may occur as a result of that (if it’s a restaurant you may need to prepare practice dishes resulting in wasted food, if it’s a professional electrician business you may have to pay for health and safety courses).

If after all this you still can’t afford to pay your staff minimum wage, you should reassess your business plan before making the decision to hire employees. Taking on a financial advisor or accountant temporarily may be necessary in order to budget this.

Commission or salary?

Next you’ll have to decide what kind of contract to give your staff. For businesses in which payment is not always guaranteed from week to week, commission pay may be more appropriate. In some sales jobs this can be a great incentive to make those big sales. However many employees may be put off by the uncertainty of not always being paid. Salary-based pay works best when you have a regular enough income to always assure payment to your staff. Failing to be able to provide for your staff could get you into a lot of trouble, so make sure you have that regular income to fall back on.

Account for age and experience

For young employees, the minimum wage bracket varies. This ranges from £3.40 for apprentices to £7.20 for those 25 and older. For businesses wanting to take on staff cheaply, apprenticeships are popular choice. However, apprentices are limited to what work they can legally do, and may still have to do their apprenticeship alongside a college course, so don’t look at them as a full-time solution.

It’s important to also account for experience. If you’re hiring an assistant manager, they should be getting more than your average worker. When advertising for experienced workers, make sure you’re charging more than the starting rate to ensure they don’t choose another business over yours.

Compare other businesses

A great way to gage the going rate is to find out what other businesses are charging. Job sites are a good indicator of this, as you can see what other employers are charging. For an even better pointer, you may wish to pay for a salary benchmarking and comparison survey. This involves paying a professional to review similar businesses to your own and find out exactly what they are paying their staff. From here you can set your own rate and know that you aren’t being too tight-fisted or over generous.

Incentives and bonuses

On top of regular pay you may want to provide extra incentives to keep staff happy. The most popular form of incentive is to offer bonuses to staff that perform well. This could include setting a yearly target that the whole team must aspire to or individual targets. Of course, make sure that these targets are realistic so that staff want to achieve them and don’t alter the goalposts halfway through the year – find a target and stick with it to keep people motivated (keep it on a big board or continuously talk about it weekly meetings).

Another incentive is to offer your staff stakes in the company. John Lewis is the most famous company to have pulled this off, but you don’t have to be retail giant like them – small business can offer shares too.

You can also offer other incentives such as free dental care, childcare vouchers, a company car or free lunches. Christmas parties and social events can also be provided to improve morale. These are some of the best incentives as they don’t just offer workers money but offer experiences. Such benefits are often known as employment packages. It is important to realise that these are affected by tax and NIC implications (another thing you may want to ask a financial advisor or accountant about).

This Is How You Can Grow Your E-commerce Store

If you have an E-commerce store, chances are, you’d like to expand and grow. Everybody wants to make more money and get more conversions, right? Here are a few ideas that can help you to achieve the success you want:

Make It As Easy To Check Out As Possible

Make it as easy as you possibly can during the check out process. Just because somebody is checking out, doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind if it’s taking too long. Go through it yourself and make it as simplified as possible to stop people from abandoning their cart and going elsewhere. This could mean offering a guest check out rather than forcing people to sign up with you, for example. However, there are a few things you might need to change.

Show Complementary Products

Make sure you find a way to show complementary products on the page as a way of up-selling. Show the customer what others have bought, or what goes well with what they’ve bought. This can help you to achieve more sales. If you’re a clothing company, you could show complementary shoes with a particular dress, for example.

Offer Coupons And Discounts

Offer coupons and discounts for certain things. For example, signing up to your newsletter, or even birthday discounts to loyal customers. You could even offer discounts when somebody recommends a friend. Many stores are also offering point systems, so customers can earn themselves a free product after so many purchases. The following infographic can give you even more useful information!


Infographic Created By Red Stag Fulfillment