Customer loyalty has the ability to make or break a business, but then again, so does the loyalty of a business’s employees. While performance is at the core of an employee- employer relationship, business owners should also value the human element of the relationship, which goes beyond the metrics of their business, yet can palpably add value to it. Reducing turnover and creating a culture of accountability can increase organizational efficiency, stop losses created by employees leaving and help avoid the costly process of hiring and training. A “birthday budget” is a small pool of cash set aside for honoring employee birthdays. Covering the cost of a cake and a small break to celebrate on employee birthdays is not only low cost when the costs are spread over the entire year, but also a nice way to say thank you to long term employees, and even to make relatively new hires feel welcome should their birthdays occur soon after they join your staff. Another benefit of honoring

Additional technology training isn’t always necessary for small business owners. Even if they are considering picking up a new program in order to broaden their ability to handle digital projects, a lot of the time they can get by through online lessons or simply searching for answers to issues when they become constraints. The drawback of a DIY approach to software learning, however, is the fact that it can take a lot of valuable time that business owners could otherwise spend improving business processes or pursuing new avenues of growth. Generally speaking, the more features and nuances present in a software’s interface, the more likely it will be that investing in a professional training program is worthwhile. Case in point, Photoshop. Why is Photoshop useful in a small business context? When people think of photoshop, their first thoughts might be more along the lines of funny edited pictures and less towards the potential uses that it brings to a business. That said, photoshop’s usefulness in a

As a business grows in both popularity and production capacity, there will come a time when the physical location that they began with no longer supports the level of business that they are handling. At this point, business owners will either need to open up a second location or move to a larger one in order to make the most of all the potential business they can create. In the event that they opt to go with a larger location, there are a few things that they need to get a handle on before they are able to commit. Fumbling the transfer of their business to a new area can not only disrupt cash flows and waste liquid capital, but it can even lead to them losing business to competition during the down time of their move. In general, business owners should begin to consider moving to a larger location when they are unable to handle the capacity demands imposed on them by business growth.

It can be tough to know what the best way to gather and sort customer information is, but given the fact that the more you know about your customers, the better you are able to make sales, it’s an important area for small business owners to work on. What can they do in order to keep track of who they are working with? Here are a few ideas for gathering and cataloging information on who is driving your sales numbers. Create a follow up to your lead forms. A lead form should really only collect the essentials, since the longer and more complicated that it is to fill out, the harder it is going to be to get visitors to the site to take the time to fill it out at all. One solution to this issue is to make extraneous fields non-required, but even the site of a long and daunting lead form can deter people from taking the time to fill it out. You

Design work in a business context can often get pretty pricey, and when you have a set amount of time within which you need a project completed, you may want to take steps to make the process of getting a design you can settle on expedited. All business owners should agree on a rate and a pricing plan that they feel comfortable with before allowing the designer to begin doing work for them, and once they have begun a relationship, ask for a clear invoice after each completed job, possibly itemized if there are multiple components that go into getting the job done. Before even approaching a designer, however, there are a few things that you might want to take care of on your end before you start the clock, especially if you are going to be managing them on a remote basis. Have an idea of what you want them to create. While business owners don’t always know exactly what they want to have done

One of the main challenges of managing projects with remote employees and contractors is the fact that face to face communication is not always an option, yet it is through face time that many breakthroughs are able to happen. Often, a project will be broken up between people who communicate with a project manager, but rarely with each other. Unfortunately, that can often lead to a slower rate of progress due to a need for revisiting and tweaking results. Imagine assigning a team to assemble a puzzle. Each team member is given a number of pieces and told to meet up again when they have finished putting their share together. The problem is that each team member is both removed from the insights of the other people on the project and they also will have a harder time envisioning what the fully assembled picture will look like. The metaphor of separate rooms with puzzle pieces represents the challenges faced by a team of remote workers.

In an article on Business Insider by Martin Zwilling, the idea of travel being essential to the growth of a small business was discussed, with the conclusion that business owners should both expect and be willing to hit the road in order to grow their companies. Some of the points made in favor of traveling as a small business owner included the fact that, thanks to the reach of the internet business owners can successfully win contracts from clients that are physically very far from their actual locations. Traveling to meet these clients and affirm relationships can be a good use of time and resources if the potential for a long and productive relationship is there. Another thing to note is that business owners can often benefit from attending industry specific events in order to speak as experts or simply to present their wares and create connections. In order to determine the importance of travel for your business, think realistically about the relative value. While you

A growing small business needs new clients like a plant needs water, but business owners should think of their repeat customers and loyal referrers as the stable ground from which that plant grows upwards. Digital marketing has vastly opened up the audiences that small business owners are able to reach, and their marketing can make a huge difference in how fast they are able to tackle larger and larger projects, but in order to ensure that their business is ready to accelerate, business owners should use the strength of their word of mouth referrals as a barometer. If you are not getting word of mouth referrals, that could be a sign something is wrong. People will generally tell others about when they have a good experience, which is why checking on how much business is being sent to you from satisfied customers is so important for gauging satisfaction with your business. An apparent lack of customer referrals could be an indicator that part of your business

Smaller businesses often don’t have wellness programs in place, citing costs or the time it takes to put them together as their main issues. However, the benefits of wellness programs are manifold, from improving the health of employees, reducing the number of sick days that they take and even contributing in higher morale and reduced turnover within your organization. What is wellness, exactly? Wellness programs take many forms, but most commonly they refer to programs that are put in place in order to improve the health and quality of life of workers in a business. They can be perks, like healthy snacks in the break room, or they can be active programs such as communal yoga classes or a post work day stretch. In some companies, there are educational resources available to employees, such as classes on healthy eating or how to improve posture after sitting for days in an office chair. If you have an idea of how to make a positive impact in the

Summertime is a season that brings along warm memories, as well as the promise of new ones yet to be made. For small business owners, some of these memories might include the rush of the busy season along with longer daylight hours and sudden influxes of beach-goers. In order to make the most of this time, business owners should create a strategy allowing them to plan marketing, inventory and sales so that things go without a hitch. Planning ahead is also an essential component of getting ready to take a well deserved vacation, as leaving your employees with a road map will allow them to remain on track and you to remain sane while away instead of worrying about what’s going on. Review your historical data. A good indicator of what is going to sell is what sold last year, so dust off your records and look for trends indicating which months are going to be your most busy. If you have not already made collecting

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