Essential Digital Tools For Non-Profits

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Non-Profits|Essential Digital Tools For Non-ProfitsRunning a non-profit can be challenging enough without being able to rely on profits and consistent paying customers, which is why there are plenty of excellent tools designed to make your non-profit excel without paying the same prices that massive corporations do. If you’re looking for your non-profit to be as successful and as rewarding for its clients as possible, here are the essential digital tools you need to know about.

Make Donations Easy

Donations are a massive part of any non-profit, so it makes sense that one of the main tools you want to invest in is a way to make them as easy as possible. Instead of shaking a collection jug as passersby on the high street, you can reach people from the comfort of their sofa watching football.

Donation software makes it possible for millions of people to feel charitable, and the best of this software can set a page up in fewer than 15 minutes. If you’re still not convinced, there are more than 7,000 non-profit organizations worldwide who use this software, and they can embed your forms or popup widget to make it easily accessible for those who are feeling generous. There are paid and free services, so take your pick of whichever works best for you.

Keep Systems Up and Running

With so much to take care of while running a non-profit, you can often neglect other parts of the organization. If you’re going to make the most of digital software and services, then Non-Profits IT support is crucial.

This means you have one less thing to worry about while you do your campaigning, and they can also solve any issues as soon as they arise, often with 24-hour support, seven days a week. With everything running smoothly, you can focus your energy elsewhere and focus on making your non-profit as fantastic as it can be.

Keep Subscribers In the Loop

Services such as Mailchimp or any of its competitors are a fantastic way of keeping your subscribers firmly in the loop when it comes to what you’re doing, what you plan to do next, or any other big news you want to share, especially at the end of a highly successful campaign.

It’s too easy for donors to forget about non-profits they were once so passionate about. However, with a dedicated email and newsletter service, you can ensure that the good news spreads sufficiently, and you can also reach out to other potential donors to help you fight for your cause. With such an excellent tool for marketing automation, you can also get a wide range of data and information about your subscribers.

Final Thoughts

A non-profit still needs to keep up with advancements in technology and the potential that it can offer if it wants to demonstrate that it can make a difference. By investing in the best and most essential digital tools, you can guarantee that your organization keeps on changing the world and committing to causes on a local, national, or even global scale.

Corporate offices: How to make them fit for purpose for clients

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Corporate Office|Corporate offices: How to make them fit for purpose for clientsAs we all know, offices come in all shapes and sizes. There are some huge companies that still operate in very basic facilities (or none at all) – and have absolutely no plans of adding anymore glamour to them, despite of their huge revenues.

However, there are also some much smaller companies who have invested heavily in their office space. This isn’t necessarily because they just feel the need to work out of snazzy offices, but it’s quite often related to clients. In other words, if they are regularly inviting clients for meetings, they need an office that is fit for purpose. And, fit to impress them above the competition.

So, how can you achieve this without breaking the bank? Today’s article will now investigate some of the ways you can achieve this.

Show off with digital signage

Once upon a time, companies may have left leaflets and other paper evidence of their achievements in the reception area. Suffice to say, technology has taken this over.

Now, bigger things are almost expected by clients. Digital signage solutions from Cenareo certainly falls into this category and if you can show off your business in the most visual form as soon as a client walks into reception, you’ll have done wonders for their first impressions.

Try not to lead them through the main office space

Admittedly, this next point might be somewhat out of your control. However, if your office space allows, try and have separate areas for meeting clients and the space in which the main bulk of your work occurs.

It can be really awkward for clients to tiptoe through the main office space, with all eyes seemingly on them. Not only that, but this is something that also tends to showcase all of the bad parts of your office. Whether its papers strewn all over the desks, or just general clutter, day-to-day working environments aren’t going to do your image any favors.

Provide them a working area

This will differ between industries, but there can be occasions where clients need to work from your offices.
What’s the worst thing that can happen to them in this regard? Being perched on the end of a desk, like a spare part.

As such, have a designated area for clients to work from. Ideally it will be enclosed, and offer them all of the facilities they would have as if they were working from their usual environment.

Sometimes, it’s just offering convenience

We appreciate that budgets are small, and not everyone is going to be able to afford new desk areas, or digital signage. For those of you who fall into this category, don’t discount the power of convenience. From a client’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than not having access to the regular Wi-Fi, or not being offered a hot drink on arrival. These are tiny tips, that won’t cost you much, but can make the world of difference to a client who is visiting.

Garage-Industry: Manufacturing Your Own Products From Start To Finish

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Entrepreneurship | Garage-Industry: Manufacturing Your Own Products From Start To Finish

A lot of modern business have turned their focus away from factories overseas, opting to make their products closer to home. Of course, this is a great selling point for a business. And, it’s one that a lot of businesses use to get customers interested in their goods. Tactics like this can often offset the extra costs of manufacturing at home. Especially if you can do it from your garage. This makes most of the operation free, as you’re already having to pay most of the bills. And, it gives you a way to keep your work at home. This is a great benefit to a lot of business owners.

The very first step to taking a product to market is the design. A product needs to be immortalised on paper before it can be made. This is a hard process, and it might require a little bit of help. To make it easier, you can try and enlist the help of a product design. But, with some hard work and sound advice, you shouldn’t have many issues doing it on your own. Of course, there’s a lot to this stage. So, it’s important to take your time.

Concepts
Photo courtesy of Jordanhill School D&T Dept via flickr

Most people can’t draw very well at all. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t sketch your ideas on paper. Trying to draw something will help you to visualise it much more clearly. It will also help you to notice issues with your design before you start making it. These drawing don’t need to be detailed. They just need to give you a visual representation of your future product. Of course, if you intend on showing these to companies, they should be done professionally. But, that’s easy to have handled if you use a drawing service.

Once you have a rough idea of what needs to be made, you can start making a digital model of it. Once again, this is a skilled field. So, it can be hard to do it by yourself. Thankfully, companies like Autodesk have some easy-to-use 3D modeling software, that can export machine-readable files. You can use this software for free. But, you won’t get amazing results. The best way to design a product is using professional software. This means that you may have to do some learning or have someone do the job for you. In some cases, though, free software could be fine.

Engine
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Some people also find that they benefit from making physical models of products. This is something that everyone can do. You have loads of options when it comes to the materials that you use for this. Cardboard is usually chosen by people on a budget, as it’s something most people already have. But, foam is much better. Hard, closed-cell foam is a great material for making models. It’s easy to cut and shape, without having to use tools. It enables you to create a realistic model of your product.

Once you know what the product will look like, you need to do some research. The way that you make a product will have a big impact on the item itself. And, so will the material. Using the wrong methods and parts, it’s easy to create poor products that people won’t want. This makes it incredibly important that you try to make sure know about all of the options.

The materials that you use will be the difference between a product looking and feeling great, and something that is somewhat disappointing. In recent years, plastic has lost a lot of it’s popularity. In the past, it was used because it was easy to work and abundant. But, nowadays, it is associated with cheapness. So, for most products, metal is a good material. Glass is also very good, as it makes a product feel premium. Ultimately, you should be using materials that suit the purpose of your product. For example, you wouldn’t want to make a luxury watch out of a polymer. But, you also wouldn’t want to make a rugged phone out of gold. These are some obvious examples, but you will find that the same applies to your own products.

Different materials will require different machines to be worked. This means that you need to find out which machines are best for the materials you choose. There have been loads of advancements in the ways that materials are worked with. This has had a huge impact on the amount of choice that designers have. In a lot of cases, you want to look for a balance between speed and accuracy. You need your machines to work fast so that you can keep up business. But, you don’t want them to be producing low-quality results because of speed. The machines that you use will have to be bought. So, you need to consider processes that could work for other products, too. Otherwise, you could find that you need more tools as your business grows.

The most important part of the research phase is prototyping. As you choose materials and methods, you need to be testing them. For each material that poses a good option, you should make a prototype. And, if you can, you should make prototypes using as many different processes as possible. This will give you a chance to test each choice before you make the ultimate decision. Sometimes, where one material is good for one product, it could look or feel bad as another one. Making sure that you’re able to test this will ensure that you end up with the best possible quality product.

The prototyping phase should give you a good idea of what you’re going to be using. So, now it’s time to get the ball rolling. But, you still have plenty to think about. First, you’re going to need to get your hands on the machines to do the job. This will involve doing a lot of research, to find the tools that have the best price. At this point, it might be worth asking what your prototyping companies are using. This will give you a chance to make the products exactly the same as the prototype. You also need to think about other tools, as well. Most products need some sort of finishing. This will vary from product to product. For things that are made out of metal, you may need a painting or powder-coating booth. Or, for plastic, you may need a buffing wheel. All of these tools can be found online, and you can get items from Reliant Finishing Systems to get you started.

At this point, you will also need to find suppliers for your materials. Don’t buy these from places that sell to retail customers. Instead, you need to look into wholesale and trade. These sorts of companies only sell to businesses. So, their prices reflect the amount of materials that you will be buying. This will make things much cheaper. Always do a ton of research here. It’s easy to save a little bit on each order, which will mount up to a lot in the future. Just like with your tools, you can ask your prototyping company if they can tell you where they get things from. They may even be able to help you get some money off!

Once you’ve got your machines and materials, you’re almost ready to get started. You just need to make sure that you’re not going to be breaking any laws. Working from home like this may present different rules than other businesses have to follow. If you have a mortgage, you may have to tell the lender what you’re doing. Or, if you lease the property, you may need to tell the owner. And, of course, insurance will be altered by this activity. If you have insurance that protects the building, the risk will be increased for a business. So, if you make these changes without changing your policy, you may not be covered.

Having a business run from your garage is a great way to save some money. Most people have the space to build a small factory, and they don’t even know it. But, it gives you access to your home when you’re working. It allows you to spend less time working, and more time with family. Ultimately, for most people, working like this is the best option. But, of course, you have to make sure that it’s right for you. If you put in all of this time and money, you’ll feel bad if it goes wrong. So, you need to be realistic and make sure that you’re confident in your ability to work from home. It presents certain challenges. But, once they’re overcome, living at work can be a great benefit and a pleasure.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to start designing and making your own products. This isn’t going to be cheap. But, any money that you spend at this point can be considered an investment into your business. And, most businesses can’t start without investment. In future, when you’re making money, this work and time won’t feel like anything at all.

A Small Business Owner’s Emergency Preparedness Checklist

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Entrepreneurship | A Small Business Owner's Emergency Preparedness ChecklistIf a natural disaster were to impact your city or town, would your small business be prepared for it?

Many small businesses are, unfortunately, not ready for emergency situations. It’s why about 40 percent of small businesses end up closing down following natural disasters and other emergencies.

You can avoid this fate by creating an emergency preparedness checklist for your small business. You should be especially mindful of doing this if your small business is located in an area that gets hit with a lot of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other weather-related emergencies.

Take a look at some of the things you should do as a small business owner to protect your property and, more importantly, yourself and your employees.

Identify Potential Emergency Situations

There are some emergency situations that will pop up out of the blue and catch small business owners completely off guard. If, for example, a car drives through the front of your business, that’s not something you would have been able to predict.

But most of the emergency situations that small businesses face have to do with the weather. And while some of these situations can catch small business owners asleep at the wheel, most of them should be things that are on your radar.

Depending on where your small business is, it could be subjected to:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Earthquakes
  • Blizzards
  • Flash Floods
  • Wildfires

Your emergency preparedness checklist should include details on how you’ll respond to each of these things. But it all starts with identifying which of them are most likely to impact your small business.

Figure Out Ways to Respond to Each Specific Type of Emergency

Once you know which types of emergency situations your small business could potentially face, the next order of business will be to figure out how you’ll handle each one. This will require some careful planning on your part.

Sit down and take a look at each type of emergency situation and think about how it could affect your small business. This will help you decide what you’ll need to work your way through an emergency situation.

For instance, if your small business is positioned right in the middle of a city that gets hit with bad hurricanes every few years, you’ll need to find the best ways to respond to hurricanes. You should plan to do it by:

  • Boarding up windows and doors prior to a hurricane touching down in your city
  • Moving electronic equipment to a place where it won’t get wet if water makes its way into your small business
  • Securing anything that could get washed away during flooding in your area

Every emergency situation is a little bit different and will require you to take different steps. The key is outlining a detailed response plan for each individual situation.

Outfit Your Small Business With the Right Tools to Handle Emergencies

In order to respond to emergency situations, you’re going to need to have more than just response plans in place. You’re also going to need a series of tools that will help you carry your plans out.

Prior to a hurricane, for instance, you’ll need to have everything from hammers and nails to plywood and sandbags on hand to prepare your small business. Without these things, it’s going to be difficult to get your small business ready for an emergency.

Yet, you would be surprised to see how many small business owners wait until the very last minute to try and obtain these tools. Some end up not being able to get the tools they need to shore up their small businesses and make emergency situations worse for their businesses.

See which tools you will need to respond to different emergency situations and invest in them long before you ever have to pull them out. It never hurts to have these tools stored away since you never know when you could need them.

Put a Communication System Into Place for Emergency Situations

Communication is going to be of the utmost importance when an emergency situation strikes.

You’re going to need to communicate with your employees to let them know what you need them to do to keep your small business safe. You’re also going to need to communicate with other small business owners in your area so that you can lend a hand to one another.

And of course, you’ll need to communicate with your local police station as well as your local fire station in many cases. You might need to have them come out to assist you with an emergency.

Figure out who from your small business is going to be communicating with others during an emergency situation. Whether it be you, your general manager, or someone else, there should be a point person in place for all communication efforts.

Get Out Ahead of Emergencies as Best You Can

As we mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to predict all emergency situations. There are going to be emergencies that sneak up on you from time to time.

But you can get out ahead of many emergency situations by paying close attention to what’s happening in the news. If there is a hurricane threatening to touch down in your city, you can map its progress and see how much damage it could potentially do to homes and businesses in your area.

This will help you prepare for emergencies so much better than you would be able to otherwise.

Start Checking Items Off Your Emergency Preparedness Checklist Today

You don’t have to allow a hurricane, an earthquake, or another type of emergency to cripple your small business. By creating an emergency preparedness checklist, you can limit the amount of damage that an emergency does.

Use the tips listed here to formulate your own emergency preparedness checklist based on the potential emergency situations your small business might face. You won’t have to worry about an emergency shutting your business down for good when you prepare for it ahead of time.

Read the articles on our blog to find out more about the emergencies that could bring your small business to a halt.

The Services That Can Pull Your Business Together

There are many services that you should be trialing for your business, with trialing being the key word here. Your business should have a lot of services that it relies on, and these will grow over time. From the moment you establish yourself as a trading business, you will begin building those connections. You’ll find yourself an accountant who can help you manage your books. You’ll dabble in companies that offer marketing solutions. And one by one, you’ll have a team of people who you rely on to keep your business ticking, without even thinking about it. But there are no doubt going to be some services that you might be missing out on at the minute, simply because you’ve been managing it in house, or haven’t thought about it before. But it’s these services that might mean the difference between steady growth, and struggling growth. So, keep on reading, and we’ll show you what services we think you should look into.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Entrepreneurship | Business Services | The Services That Can Pull Your Business TogetherCustomer Related

Customer related problems are ones that we’ve all experienced at some point or another. In fact, the biggest headache we often have problems with customers, is trying to retain them, and trying to bring in new ones. And that’s often because we don’t understand how to build and secure that relationship with them, and work on it so that your customer base only keeps on growing. WhiteOwl is just one company that can help you to do so if you choose their CRM service. CRM stands for customer relationship management, which will be right up your street if this is what you’re struggling with. It will focus on customer relationships, and building bridges with them so that you can progress. The more your business grows, the more important this is going to become simply because there’s just so much to try and understand in terms of customer relationships and how to keep them strong, and you might have so many age ranges to try and connect with, that will require different tactics to be used.

Financial Saviours

Financial saviours are what nearly every small business is looking for. It’s hard to find a small business that has not long been established, that isn’t struggling financially. Often the investment can be crippling, especially when profit is slow to build. So, the perfect people to liaise with, are business financial advisors. These can help you to decide where your money should be going, where you might be able to get more from, and how to progress your business financially. All you have to do is find a trusted one that can understand how your business works.

Investment Gurus

Investment is one you should be thinking about as soon as profit starts to build. It’s so easy to find an investment route that will suit your business. From small investments to big investments, you can use them all depending on the profit you have to play with. But an investment broker can help you properly manage them, making sure that you’re getting the most out of them, rather than losing out all of the time.