In elementary school, one of my teachers stood out, with a can do attitude and an easy smile. She would encourage us during the hardest parts of our studies, reminding us not to cheat ourselves. What she meant by this was taking the easy way out, while often a tempting option, cheats your future self of the benefits of the learning experience. The toughest struggles can stand in front of us seeming as impassible as a cliff face. It’s only after struggling up that incline step by step, pulling ourselves along as needed, that we can arrive at the other side of a dilemma with the full benefit of the experience behind us. This hard won learning usually teaches the most worthwhile lessons in our lives, and thanks to the difficulty inherent in gaining it it is also the last to be forgotten. How small business owners can avoid cheating themselves. A common deterrent to trying something new is not only the fear that things won’t

Team building exercises don’t have to be awful to bring people together. In fact, the more fun that your team building activities are, the more effective they are likely to be, since all that took place during the exercise is much more likely to be remembered and brought up between employees. Here are a few suggestions of team building activities that your employees are sure to remember and enjoy much more than a seminar. Paintball. The great thing about paintball is that there are many venues to play it, outside of urban centers and in suburban and rural areas as well. Another thing about paintball is that is a highly exciting and team oriented, but since a paintball gun does not require physical strength to use, anyone can participate, provided that they wear adequate protection. Paintball makes a big impression, especially in a relatively young office people tend to get very excited at the prospect. Rafting. Rafting is similar to paintball in that it is an adrenaline

  One of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to creating content for small businesses is figuring out what to write about in the first place. Another issue is divining what type of content target demographics will be interested in reading and engaging with. Both of these issues can be partially addressed by the inclusion of short polls in your blog allowing visitors to vote on the topics to be covered in your next installments. How to include a poll using wordpress.  Installing a plugin is pretty simple. Find one that you like, preferably with positive feedback and user reviews, then activate it in the plugins screen within your wordpress dashboard. Once this is done, you should be able to fine tune the settings in order to put the poll you want within any one of your blog posts. You may also wish to place polls on product pages to gather information regarding what products are the most popular, and for what reasons. Alternately,

When you have to come up with a great idea with a limited amount of time in which to do it, an engineered thinking session may be in order. People, being different, will all have their own methods for brainstorming. Aside from techniques that can allow business owners to approach a problem from different angles, there are also things they can do to create an environment that is conducive to thinking clearly. 1) Figure out whether you want to think alone or with a partner. Depending on the problem, you may want to go into your brainstorming with the benefit of your business partner, mentor or colleague. Thinking in pairs can be beneficial at times when a single perspective might miss part of a problem. You may also wish to present your problem to someone who you know has experience dealing with issues in your industry. If you can save time by getting a ready made solution tested by experience, then so much the better. 2)

In an article on, the idea of having a Chief Customer Officer is explored, with some stats put forward to back up the idea of a manager dedicated to optimizing how customers interact. For example, the article cites a CCO Council study that reported 67% of participating companies reported positive financial growth while employing CCOs. The potential for upside financially is a powerful argument towards a more comprehensive approach to customer relationship development, but a dedicated department that works solely on customer relationship building and promoting loyalty can have positive effects in other areas as well, for example through increased brand recognition and word of mouth advocacy. Does your small business need a CCO? Each small business has different needs depending on the strength of already existing customer relationships as well as the size and market share of the business. In general, implementing a set of CRM policies and using software and cloud based technologies to get organized should be the first step that businesses

The LA Times summed it up in their article lamenting the foul-heavy, ungraceful play style that the Brazilian team espoused during their run at the World Cup before the match even began. Now, with Germany having punished the host team with a final score of 7-1, there’s not much to do but take a step back and apply some lessons from the debacle. The Brazilians became famous in the soccer world for producing a long string of dynamic players known for their ability to play with a trademark grace, but in the semi-final match, just one game away from the final, something went very wrong to the level that it could not solely be blamed on the absence of two key players. Stick to what you do well when in doubt. One major pitfall that business owners can often stumble into is deciding to change their game to an extent that is bad for business. This is the same issue that plagued the Brazilians. Usually so graceful

The term “data visualization” refers to the presentation of data gathered during the operation of a business in a format that is represented through images. Commonly the types of charts include bar graphs, pie charts which many business owners probably remember learning about in grade school. Apart from these basic types of charts, business owners can also use spider graphs to organize their thoughts, tree shaped graphs or pyramid graphs to denote managerial hierarchies, and other forms of charts that will allow them to see the data that they need to manipulate in a clear and intuitive way. There are many softwares that can assist in data manipulation for small business owners. Mind42 is a free website that allows for the creation of spider charts, or “mind maps” that can help business owners organize departments, project management tasks and other components where groups are centered around focal nodes. Lucid Charts is a program that business owners can use limited on a free basis, with subscription packages

While no business owner wants a disaster to occur in their workplace, every business owner should at least allow for the possibility of a natural or man made disaster occurring and have a plan in place for how to react. An emergency response plan should be understood by your employees, and depending on the size of your staff, it may be prudent to appoint floor captains or designated employees who are charged with ensuring that their groups are aware of emergency procedures in the event of a calamity. Know the strategic points within your location. In the event of a fire, business employees should know the quickest and safest ways to exit the premises, however in the event of a hurricane, they should not go outside at all but rather find a secure location within the building. Different emergencies will necessitate different responses, so being aware of all of the strategic points within an office location is important in order to be prepared for all scenarios.

Inspiration is like a plant that can grow in any soil, no matter how rocky, but regardless, it still needs cultivation to truly flower. As leaders, business owners are in a position to truly benefit those around them with their leadership abilities as well as their ability to serve as a positive public example. Business owners may feel like they are not in industries with the exposure to make a real difference, but they would be wrong. Any business can create a positive influence in their communities by demonstrating positivity in their dealings with their customers and those around them. What are some ways that business owners can lay the framework for positive inspiration in their workplace and beyond? Here are a few standard practices for making a better and bigger impression. Embrace customer service as the key to business growth. In every business, you are going to be dealing with customer inquiries and sometimes those will take the form of complaints. Nothing can be expected

Employee engagement is an important factor in the effectiveness of a business, making a large difference in the speed and quality of production within your offices. Aside from management techniques that enable employees to become accountable and vested in their results, adding some fun incentives to the work week is another strong way to bring your staff into a more productive and committed state of mind while on the job. Towards that end, here is how you can set up an employee of the month contest in three easy steps! It’s always a good ow your employees that you appreciate them, and when there is a little bit of competition in the air (in the spirit of fun) it can lead to better results on the part of your employees. 1) Decide what you are going to use as criteria. There are a few ways you can spin an employee of the month contest, and depending on your desired result, different criteria will be more important

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