Meetings can be necessary to bring your team together and onto the same page, and when used strategically they are a powerful tool. The energy in a room full of engaged employees who are communicating face to face can often form the catalyst for powerful innovations and progress. That said, when you overdo it with meetings, not only do they being to bore your employees, but through dreading them they will often actively disengage and reduce the value that they are intended to create. Instead of calling a meeting for every situation, instead ask yourself if there is an alternative action you can take that will enable more productivity. Whenever you feel the need to call a meeting, stop yourself and ask yourself a few questions in order to determine if it’s really a meeting that you need. How many team members are involved? If your whole team doesn’t need to be there to get across the reason you feel the need for a meeting, then

WordPress is a great tool for small business owners, since it has enough functionality to satisfy their website needs, and is easy enough to use that even if they don’t have a strong background in technology, they can still easily update their own blogs and learn to manipulate more advanced details through editing child themes. However, like anything that small businesses use over the internet, an understanding of potential security risks and how to combat them should be an elementary part of the learning process. Update themes and wordpress versions, as well as plugins. Through storing changes to a website theme in a child theme, business owners can avoid losing edits they have made when their theme updates. Updating themes and making sure that the latest version of WordPress is installed will help you rest easy knowing that the latest security features are in place. However, if you are using plugins, which is almost certainly the case given the wide range of functions that they can

The internet has had a pervasive and transformative effect on all parts of society. In particular, small businesses have had their ability to reach new markets and do business over a larger area increase dramatically, but also internally the internet has opened up the means for communication between teams and management of remote employees like never before. However, the dependence on the internet means that modern businesses now have to consider internet safety and access as parts of their essential operations, instead of as extra amenities. While a business may have an internet connection, if it is too slow it can create functional bottlenecks. When an internet connection is slow, it can create problems with streaming video and downloading documents, making it difficult to take advantage of collaborative technology such as clod based document sharing and programs like Skype or Gotomeeting that can allow two employees to meet remotely or even share views of their screens in order to work on projects side by side. CRM

Preparing for holiday sales is just one part of getting ready for the busy times that come with the end of the year. It’s also a great time to court new, talented employees. Along with the end of the year, many potential hires are in the process of looking for new jobs. This could be because of layoffs during the last quarter of the year, dissatisfaction with a corporate environment, or simply the knowledge that many businesses choose to hire in the first part of the new year, having renewed budgets for the first quarter. Make your hiring ad as appealing as possible by highlighting the unique elements of your business. It is often the case that high level talent leaves the corporate world in search of a more flexible environment, or one where they feel that their contributions will have a larger proportional impact on the growth of the business. Being explicit about the benefits that come with your position, including the company culture and

The end of the Summer isn’t even here yet, so why should business owners think about the beginning of the holidays? Because, with the buildup to the largest shopping weeks of the year beginning with the advent of the Fall, the time between then and now isn’t as immense as it might seem and with so much to be done, getting a jump on the business to be won is a powerful strategic move. What do you need to do to prepare for the changing seasons? Marketing campaigns should be based on research, so one thing that business owners should begin to prepare for is directing their marketing spend in a way that can create the best response and sales. Apart from preparing to allocate marketing dollars, business owners will have a list of things that they need to tie up before the end of the Summer. Highlighting and attacking the priorities that they have remaining is another way to make sure that as Fall arrives,

Customer service is a hugely important part of running a business, since it is directly related to making sure that your customers are getting what they expect from you, and if not, are having their issues addressed, preventing them from taking steps such as leaving negative reviews or spreading their grievances through word of mouth. While maintaining a strong level of service, business owners should be aware of the types of issues that customers really dislike that can make them more likely to take negative actions. Not being able to get in touch with anyone. When a customer has an issue, one of the worst feelings is when they are unable to get in touch with anyone from the business in question in order to fix it. Having poor quality customer service reps on the phone is arguably better than having frustrated customers hit a voice-mail or  send emails that never get answered. Ignoring complaints is a surefire way to turn a minor customer service issue

In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, research from the Fed was cited indicating that the negative effects of the recession, the worst since the two recessions in the early 80′s, had a disproportionate impact on smaller businesses (in this case, businesses with 50 or fewer employees). These businesses were cited as experiencing an approximately 5-10% worse drop in job creation, paired with a slowdown on the creation of new businesses by 25%. Financing constraints pointed to as one of the root causes of small business stagnation. The credit crunch which accompanied the recession has been cited as one of the causes of the lack of growth coming from the small business sector, with former SBA chief Karen Mills also pointing to lack of loan accessibility as an adverse condition for small businesses. Without reliable access to financing, businesses have a hard time expanding beyond the constraints imposed by their cash flows and ability to borrow from friends and family or out of personal

  Taking steps to control your business’s public image is a major part of business development. The way that people perceive your brand can be directly influenced by the first impressions they have of it, and when making your introductions to members of the press, potential investors, business partners and other valuable contacts, it is important to get off on the right foot. One tool that small business owners can develop to make this task more manageable is a press kit. A press kit is essentially a collection of marketing papers that explains your business’s origins and mission statement, includes materials that media are able to use such as quotes, figures and photographs, as well as your essential contact information. Depending on your goals for media coverage and the event or venue wherein your business is distributing its information, including a full press release in your media kit may also be an option. The idea is to create a folder that you can either physically

A child theme in WordPress refers to a theme that is able to be edited by a user that takes its core code from an already written theme, the “parent”. The benefits of a child theme include retaining customization even should a parent theme be updated, which would reset any custom coding that was done directly to the parent theme. An additional benefit is that business owners can create child themes and edit them without the risk that they will fundamentally break a part of their parent theme. Backing up their themes before they edit them is one way to safeguard against catastrophic errors, but for someone who is just beginning in WordPress, having a safe place to play around and get a sense of how the code works without the need to back up constantly is a major boon. How easy is installing a child theme? Really easy! In fact, like so many things related to WordPress, there is a plugin for that. One click

When it comes to making progress on goals, having a deadline is necessary. However, all too often the art of setting  a deadline that is both reasonable enough to account for the unexpected and strict enough that things actually get done is ignored and deadlines set in a haphazard manner. While sometimes this is fine, and the deadline will be met without any problems, on other occasions a poorly planned deadline can create issues such as customer complaints, disorganization when synchronized processes don’t line up, and in the worst case, major waste in budgets or missed opportunities. Planning a deadline that makes sense doesn’t take much time to do correctly, and as business owners get a better sense of how long it takes their team to do certain things, they can arrive at a much stronger ability to create deadlines that allow for the most effective use of time. When creating a deadline for a project, account for the potential for issues to arise. Even a

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