Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Awards Ceremony will Honor Top Brands Serving Small Businesses

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Small businesses employ 58.9 million people and account for 44% of U.S. economic activity. For B2SMB brands, this segment represents a $500 billion market.

Recognizing these brands allows small businesses across the country to identify the top performers. And this is what the BEST2 SMB AWARDS 2019 looks to do.

The award will recognize the best in business-to-small business products, services and innovation.

The winners will be chosen by the B2SMB Institute’s Influencers’ Circle. It is made up of an independent council of journalists, bloggers, thought leaders and authors reaching millions of small businesses worldwide.

Our own Anita Cambell, CEO and Founder of Small Business Trends, will be one of the judges choosing the winners.

Winners will be showcased during an awards luncheon on October 3, 2019, at the B2SMB Institute’s Global Conference in Chicago.

The deadline for all submissions is 5 pm EDT, September 4, 2019.

There is no fee to enter, so click the red button to get the full submission guide.

Get The Guide



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

TWITTER CHAT: How to Attract and Retain CustomersTWITTER CHAT: How to Attract and Retain Customers
August 27, 2019, Online

Join in a Twitter chat on how to attract and retain customers at 3PM ET on August 27, 2019. The SBA will be sharing tips and resources to help you start, grow, expand, or recover your small business. Follow along with the hashtag #SBAChat. See you there!


Best SMB AwardsBest SMB Awards
September 04, 2019, Online

Does your product or service stand-out in the crowded marketplace for Small Business? The B2SMB Institute invites any enterprise that markets, sells and delivers products and/or services to Small Businesses to submit their entry for the 2019 Best2SMB Awards. We’ll be awarding excellence and achievement in three categories: Best2SMB Product or Service Offering, Best2SMB Innovation, Best2SMB Brand of the Year. We will also be awarding our first-ever Best2SMB Hall of Fame recipient.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Francisco, CA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Francisco, CA)
October 15, 2019, San Francisco, Calif.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Irvine, CA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Irvine, CA)
October 17, 2019, Irvine, Calif.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Diego, CA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (San Diego, CA)
October 18, 2019, Online

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Miami, FL)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Miami, FL)
October 22, 2019, Miami, Fla.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Boston, MA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Boston, MA)
October 24, 2019, Online

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (New York, NY)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (New York, NY)
October 25, 2019, New York, N.Y.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Seattle, WA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Seattle, WA)
November 12, 2019, Online

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Denver, CO)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Denver, CO)
November 14, 2019, Denver, Colo.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Chicago, IL)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Chicago, IL)
November 15, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Atlanta, GA)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Atlanta, GA)
November 19, 2019, Atlanta, Ga.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Small Biz: Banking ConferenceSmall Biz: Banking Conference
November 19, 2019, Los Angeles, Calif.

The small biz: banking conference delivers access to thought leadership, best practices and leading solution providers. Discover how industry leaders attract and retain small business deposits, fee-based services, and loans, and much more.
Discount Code
BIZTRENDS ($200)


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Dallas, TX)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Dallas, TX)
November 21, 2019, Dallas, Texas

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Phoenix, AZ)Free seminar: Learn how to optimize your business (Phoenix, AZ)
November 22, 2019, Phoenix, Ariz.

Join us to learn how one complete view of your business, with apps that effortlessly integrate, can enhance your productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and help you effectively collaborate with staff, partners, and investors. Our free educational seminar will cover basics of the Zoho One platform, plus tips, tricks, and best practices to help optimize your business.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Awards Ceremony will Honor Top Brands Serving Small Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source

10 Tips for Juggling the Elements of a Startup

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

 

There are a lot of little things to consider when you’re getting started in the business world. From cash flow to marketing strategies, all of these moving pieces can be a bit overwhelming for new entrepreneurs. Luckily, members of the online small business community have plenty of helpful insights to share. Here are some of their top tips for new businesses.

Take Steps to Effective Cash Flow Management

Lots of new businesses face challenges when it comes to cash flow. But if you manage your money properly, you can avoid a lot of potential issues in the early years of running your business. Ma-Keba Frye outlines some of the essential steps you should take in this post on the Acuity blog.

Get More Value from Your Email Marketing Tech

Email is one of the most important marketing channels your small business has access to, especially early on. The tech that you use can make a major impact on your reach and the success of your campaigns. So check out this Content Marketing Institute post by Jodi Harris for tips on getting the most out of your email marketing tech.

Set Goals for the First Year of Your Franchise

Goals are important no matter what type of business you’re starting. But it can be easier to follow a standardized set of benchmarks when you opt for a franchise model. In this post, Joel Libava of The Franchise King goes over a few of the goals you should track throughout the first year of running a franchise business.

Try Internal Link Building Strategies

Link building is essential for optimizing your site for search engines. Internal link building is one aspect of this strategy. To make the most of your small business’s early efforts, David Leonhardt offers some tips in this Socialnomics post. And the BizSugar community discussed the post here.

Utilize Photography in Your Social Media

Strong visuals are essential for grabbing people’s attention and making your brand stand out online. Since social media is such an important marketing strategy for many new businesses, take a look at the tips for utilizing photography in this Upcity post by Natasha Ponomaroff.

Create a Competitive Corporate Identity

Every brand needs an identity. During the early years of your business, you may still be searching for what that is. But it’s important to be intentional about the identity that you create so that you can compete in your industry. Read this DIY Marketers post by Lana Miro for tips on doing just that.

Increase Productivity Using Technology

Technology can sometimes create distractions for small business owners and employees. But if you choose the right tech, it can really make you more productive. If you’re looking to get more done in your business, here are some tech tips from Ramon Ray of Smallbiztechnology.com.

Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

Running a business requires a lot of creative problem solving. That means you need to be able to approach situations using critical thinking. But not everyone jumps into the business already in possession of those skills. If you’re looking to hone your critical thinking skills, check out this Search Engine Journal post by Julie Joyce.

Try Free Web Design Tools

A website is essential for any small business. But you also need to make sure that your site is well designed. Even if you don’t have a ton of money to work with, you can try the free web design tools included in this Pixel Productions post by Shawn Byrne. Then see what BizSugar members had to say here.

Reduce Expenses for Your Small Business

New businesses don’t usually have a ton of cash to work with. That means you need to keep expenses as low as possible when you’re just starting out. For those who are looking to lessen the financial burden of their business, Ivan Widjaya shares some tips for reducing small business expenses Biz Epic here.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “10 Tips for Juggling the Elements of a Startup” was first published on Small Business Trends

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39% of US Businesses Have No Employer Brand Strategy, How About Yours?

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

39% of US Companies Do Not Have an Employer Brand Strategy

Brand strategy generally means the effort which takes place with the consumer side of a company. But it also applies to the workforce of an organization. Employer branding now plays an important role in recruiting and retaining the best candidates.

However, a report from iHire shows businesses are not all the way on board with this concept. More than two thirds or 39.8% don’t know enough about it to come up with an employer brand strategy. Another 59.3% say they don’t have an employer branding strategy or they are not sure of their branding efforts.

In today’s highly competitive labor market, your employer brand plays a big role in attracting the best talent. The CEO of iHire, Steve Flook, shared this very point in the release for the report and eBook.

Flook says, “An extremely competitive job market requires employers to make extra efforts to stand out from the competition if they want to recruit and retain top talent.”

What Exactly is an Employer Brand?

An employer brand is a perception of what your current and potential employees have about your company. If you have a strong employer brand, more people are going to want to work for you.

Everything from company culture to mission and core values plays an important role in making a strong employer brand. The more reasons you give candidates to come work for you, the better your brand will be in attracting them.

According to iHire, your employer brand should communicate the mission of your company at a glance. And this should be very clear, leaving no doubt about where you stand on the principles on which you founded your company.

Survey Results

The iHire 2019 Employer Branding Pulse Survey was carried out with the participation of 688 U.S. employers from across 56 industries.

The concept of employer brand strategy is still not widely shared by employers. Only 40.7% say they have a strategy, with 39.1% saying they don’t, and another 20.2% who are unsure.

But those who have a strategy, fully appreciate the value of having one in place. More than half or 51.2% say it supports their broader marketing efforts. Additional benefits include building credibility and trust (41.2), hiring for culture fit (34.9%), improving employee morale/engagement (32.5%) and it is critical in retaining top talent (30.1%).

When it comes to promoting their employer brand, companies use a wide range of platforms to reach their audience. It all starts with social media at 85.7%, which is followed by a company home page (83.3%) and external job postings (69.9%) for the top three. Other platforms include print, email marketing, advertisement, videos, blogs and more.

39% of US Companies Do Not Have an Employer Brand Strategy

As to why they don’t have a brand strategy, the top answer is employers don’t know enough about the subject at 39.8%. This is a reasonable answer, but employers also say their size (28%) and budget (22%) are reasons for not having a strategy in place.

However, iHire says virtually any company – regardless of size, budget, resources, and hiring needs – can build an employer brand.

39% of US Companies Do Not Have an Employer Brand Strategy

The Low or No-cost Way to Get Started

With the available technology to small businesses, employers can quickly and easily deploy these elements of employee branding. And in most cases, you can do this at no cost. If you start getting positive results, you can implement low-cost solutions to drive your efforts further.

These are the recommendations from iHire:

  • Gather employee testimonials describing what makes your company a great place to work and share them on your website.
  • Post a video to illustrate “a day in the life” at your workplace.
  • Describe your company benefits, perks, and other incentives in your job ads.
  • Revamp or launch a “careers” landing page on your website comprising open positions, fun company
  • photos, and a list of benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, 401(k) options, volunteer
  • opportunities, discounted gym memberships, etc.
  • Turn your employees into brand advocates — encourage them to provide positive feedback on employer
  • review websites or contribute to your blog.
  • Take advantage of job boards that offer free company profiles and add your logo to external job postings
  • whenever that is an option.
  • Apply for local and/or national awards that recognize workplace excellence (note that some of these
  • awards come with an application fee).
  • Implement a monthly employee survey to solicit ongoing feedback.

Just like word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising for the consumer side of a brand, it also applies for employer brand. When your employees say good things about your company, it will attract top candidates. And this works for companies of all sizes. Being a small business doesn’t preclude you from having a strong employer brand strategy.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “39% of US Businesses Have No Employer Brand Strategy, How About Yours?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source

In the News: Independent Professionals Thrive Despite Recession Fears

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

We’ve been hearing some negative economic news lately. But what may be the case for some — or could amount to nothing more than worries — may not be the case for others.

Take, for instance, this report we got from Upwork this week. It identified the top 20 highest paid independent professionals in the US right now.

These are people who have marketable skills and are either out there making money hand-over-fist by themselves or expanding operations, taking on more clients and starting a small business.

We’ll let you find out what these top 20 independent professionals are doing to make their money in our report from earlier this week.

But as you learn more, consider that 1 in 5 Americans last year identified as an independent contractor. And we’ve seen signs that this number will only increase. So for a large portion of these independent professionals, according to the report, their income is steadily rising.

As you hear fears of recession in the near future, consider there are just as many of these reports from Upwork that shows the opposite trend happening.

And don’t forget to check out the rest of this week in small business headlines with our weekly news and information roundup below:

Employment

These are the Top 4 Reasons Your Employees Might Prefer a Home Office

With a growing trend of telecommuting, you cannot always expect that your employees will gladly work in your office. Flexibility at work (or a lack thereof) now plays an important role in hiring employees and keeping them on board. According to FlexJobs’ 8th annual survey, 30% of respondents have left a job because it lacks flexibility at work.

Management

Engage Talent Offers AI Services for Employee Retention

Employee retention is always a challenge, but when unemployment rates are at historic lows, it becomes that much harder. What if you could find a solution which could predict turnover? According to ENGAGE Talent, the predictive assessment it offers measures the likelihood of a candidate looking for new options.

HIPAA Violation Penalties: Could They Impact Your Small Business?

One of the most personal types of data is medical information. And when it comes to protecting this information, the government doesn’t give anyone wiggle room to make excuses. Armed with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S.

Marketing Tips

Business Texts with Emoji Now Welcome by Most – Even Baby Boomers!

Do you hesitate to use emojis in your texts because your consumers may find it unprofessional? Well, you should think again! According to a survey from Zipwhip, emojis are welcome if used in the right context. Even baby boomers are ok with the businesses who use emoji in an appropriate context.

Small Bookstore Owners: 98% of Parents Prefer Reading to Kids from Physical Books

The number of independent bookstores grew by 40% between 2009 and 2018, and to date, there are 2,400 stores. This doesn’t include national chains and other retailers. The point is the growth in retail stores and books sales show people still like reading a physical book. Reading to Kids When it comes to parents reading to their children, it is almost unanimously the preferred way.

Retail Trends

How Can Brick and Mortar Stores Compete with Online Retailers?

Can a small, brick-and-mortar store ever hope to compete with online retailers — specifically, with Amazon? Apparently yes: Nearly 86% of retail sales still happen in physical stores, Internet Retailer reports.

Increase Customer Engagement at Your Sports Bar with this Service

The way people consume content has changed. Whether it is binge-watching a whole season of a particular show or a live event, there are more options than ever. For restaurants and bars showing sporting events, it means getting more creative to put people in their seats.

Want to Play Music Legally at Your Small Business? Read This First

If you play music at your small business, the review of ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) will likely have some consequences. The DOJ is reviewing two music antitrust consent decrees which have been around since the 1940s. And with this review, the way how music is played live, broadcasted and streamed could change.

Small Business Operations

12 Techniques for Making Business Travel More Affordable

Even though technology has significantly reduced the necessity of travel, entrepreneurs still need to go places for a variety of reasons. Without smart management of modern business expenses, or figuring out the best methods of traveling and accommodation, such trips can end up costing your company a lot of money.

Social Media

30 Great Instagram Quiz Questions to Help Promote Your Business

Instagram recently added a quiz feature to Stories that allows users to ask multiple-choice questions to their followers. And it could be a perfect opportunity for small businesses to engage with their audience on the platform. Using the feature is simple. And it’s another great way to market your business with Instagram. Just create a Story on your Instagram account.

Startup

Number of Young Entrepreneurs Declines to Just 4% Since 1989

As of 2018, there were 30.2 million small businesses operating in the U.S. And on average Americans start around 400,000 businesses every year. But there is one group which is not doing well when it comes to starting a business, young entrepreneurs. The number has gone down so much, The Wall Street Journal labeled them an “endangered species.

Technology Trends

Remote Workers: The Biggest Cybersecurity Risk Your Business Faces

If your small business has an online presence, there are many vectors of attack hackers can use to find vulnerabilities. And as more of these businesses use remote workers, it becomes yet another point of attack which can be exploited. Yet, only half of U.S. small businesses have updated their remote work security policy in the past year.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “In the News: Independent Professionals Thrive Despite Recession Fears” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source

Rick McCutcheon of Full Contact Selling: How Does CRM Benefit Your Business? It’s In The Data, If the Data is in Your CRM

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

A few months back we posted a question here at SBT asking what are the biggest challenges when it comes to using customer relationship management solutions.  Over 500 people responded, and the biggest challenges — hands down —  were manually entering and maintaining data, and understanding how CRM really benefits “my” business.  So I asked a number of CRM vendor execs how artificial intelligence (AI) — the current phrase on everybody’s tongue right now — might be able to address these issues.  Their answers will be featured in my October column for CRM magazine.

In the meantime, as part of a broader conversation on what’s going on in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM world, I had a chance to ask Rick McCutcheon, CEO and founder of Full Contact Selling, for his take on this. Rick is an expert on social selling, and is one of only 85 Microsoft Dynamic MVPs in the area of customer engagement.

Below is an edited transcript of our discussion on how AI and automation in CRM can benefit SMBs.  But to hear the full convo about how Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM and other pieces of the Microsoft puzzle are coming together to create an integrated productivity/engagement platform watch the video, or click on the embedded SoundCloud player below.

Meeting the Challenges of CRM

Overcoming the Challenges of CRM

Brent Leary: How would you answer those challenges? A, data too hard, too much time, too difficult to put it in, maintain it, find it. And the one that really, still in 2019, is really interesting to me is, I don’t know how CRM benefits my business.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, so I run into this question all the time. The only answer, again, is the data. If you’re a small business owner, that data’s worth tens of thousands of dollars to you, if you’re a medium sized business owner it’s worth hundreds of thousands, if your business is a little bigger, that data is worth millions to you.

So what do I mean, that data’s worth money? Well, if I want to capture my customer, if I want to sell services my customer, if I want to understand my customer’s business, it’s got to be data. Even if I go to a third party company and bring in data, I need the data. And when I’m working with salespeople — that’s been my career, my company’s Full Contact Selling – I look at it this way; You can remember who you’ve got to follow up with on the short term sales. So something’s going to close over the next 90 days, you’ve probably got it figured out. But the ones that take longer, 30, 60, 90, 123 days to close. If you don’t have that in CRM, you will forget about it. You won’t follow up with it.

And we can prove that by looking at the email of a sales rep a year back and saying, who were you talking to then that you’re not talking to now? And did they go and buy? Or are they still in that buying cycle? And you know what? If you would have put them in the CRM, you’d still be in the selling cycle with them. So once they start to understand that I’m good at short term and short term memory, but I need CRM to really keep me in the game for the longer term.

Confronting Resistance from Your Team

Brent Leary: All right, I’m going to play devil’s advocate. Let’s say they understand that, but it’s still difficult for them, or they feel the perception is still there that I just don’t want to spend all my time putting in data. I don’t want to sit in front of a computer and input data. I don’t want to have to try to figure out where it is or try to figure out the little nugget of information that might help me close a deal. What do you say to those guys?

Rick McCutcheon: Well, there’s a couple of ways to look at it. I usually get rid of those guys. (Both Rick and Brent laugh) But if we can’t get rid of those guys and we got to keep them, they have to understand they’re keeping the data somewhere.

I did a project two years ago, east coast of Canada, probably about 20 sales reps selling technology. We customized the whole system for them and it was all pull-downs. They could go down and add an opportunity, just pull-downs, click, click, click, click, click. Selections, the companies were in there, select what company. It would take them no longer than, I would say, maybe a minute and a half or two minutes to complete an opportunity.

So the sales rep says to me, “I’m not giving you that data.” I says, “What do you mean you’re not giving me that data?” He said, “You don’t need it.” I said, “I don’t need it. I’m just here to help. I’ll go talk to your VP of Sales. He needs it, right?” They only want to give you what, and I’m not saying all sales reps like this, but there’s a lot of that still out there. You’re on a need to know basis on what’s my pipeline, because I really don’t want you to know how I’m performing.

Understanding the Benefits of AI

Brent Leary: But if AI allows them to actually start feeling like they’re getting a benefit… Let’s say AI helps them find an insight, because hopefully it’ll pop up the insight and say, hey, you should talk to this person right now, because if you do it right now at this stage of the cycle, you’ve got an 80% chance of closing, or something like that.

Which you know that AI helps with. But we also know that there’s integrations and there’s more and more ways that this data is getting into the system without them having to type. But so isn’t it maybe just letting them know that, hey, it’s not just about putting data in at this point. The data is finding its way in. But in addition to that-

Rick McCutcheon: How’s that data related to other data?

Eliminating the Challenges of CRM with Automation

Brent Leary: And instead of you having to look for it, now it’s popping up and you don’t do anything. You just have to use the system now. It seems like there’s still a large group of people who feel like CRM has basically been etched in stone for the last 10 to 15 years. And they don’t understand that, it’s actually not just a place that people put data anymore. It’s a place where systems put the data, and then the system should tell you what data you might want to use, and then how you may want to use it at this point.

Rick McCutcheon: Absolutely. Absolutely. Especially when we start to talk about LinkedIn Sales Navigator, another product for Dynamics, InsideView. There’s these products that can say, let’s look at your pipeline, let’s look at who you’re going after. Here’s 20 other companies that fit that profile. Have we talked to them? What have we done with them? All that sort of stuff.

So it’s hard for me to argue with the person that doesn’t want to add data to the system. Because to me, it’s ridiculous. If they don’t want to do it, they don’t want to do it. But if they want to learn what they can do with it and understand with it… And that’s what companies are investing in now. They’re saying, okay, we have this data. How does it set up with other data? How does it relate to other data? And what can we do with it? We’re in that digital transformation.

Benefiting from the Data Without the Effort

Brent Leary: I tend to believe that the folks, they want the data, they just don’t want to have to work to put it in or maintain it.

Rick McCutcheon: That’s a different issue.

Brent Leary: So if they are open to the fact that, hey, you don’t even have to do much of that, or at least as much of that, as you had. Maybe those are the folks that Rick will want to talk to.  (Laughter)

Rick McCutcheon: Absolutely. And you know, we can do stuff, like I use Dragon Speak (speech recognition software). I don’t know if you ever used it, but I can type [via speaking] 80 words a minute with Dragon Speak or I can pick up my keyboard and type at about 25 words per minute. So there’s voice, and the voice stuff’s getting better all the time. So if you’ve got to add data to a system, add notes to a system, you can do it over a phone, you can do it over a PC. There’s tools that can help you.

Seeing the Benefits of Conversational CRM

Brent Leary: And just generally speaking, in the CRM industry, you’re starting to see the whole idea of conversational CRM come to life, where instead of typing and clicking and swiping, you are talking directly to the system and getting answers or inputting data. But as long as you’re able to do so without having to type sit down and type or click or search.

I think as people become aware of systems that are more conversational in nature that allow you to do more with your voice, they’ll start coming to see that this is not the CRM that they’re probably used to and maybe gotten burned by over the years. But it’s there and it’s coming. Once people realize that, then you’re going to see an acceleration and adoption that we probably haven’t seen before using them.

Rick McCutcheon: And as these millennials get older, you got to remember, they grew up on keyboards. Whereas in the 90s, we didn’t grow up on keyboards. We got on the phone and called people, where everything today now to them is chat and whatever. So adding data to a system, to them, it’s just a natural thing and they can do it very quickly. So it’s going to become less and less of an issue going forward.

This article, “Rick McCutcheon of Full Contact Selling: How Does CRM Benefit Your Business? It’s In The Data, If the Data is in Your CRM” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How Do You Celebrate Success in Business?

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

We’re near that time of year, football season.

And that means we’re going to see the latest in creative touchdown celebrations.

But what do you do when you score a proverbial touchdown in business?

It doesn’t make sense to spike a ball but those wins in business — both big and small — do deserve a least a pat on the back.

This could be anything from landing a big new client to scoring a great deal on your next business flight.

These little celebrations can get addictive. It confirms the old saying, “success breeds success.” And these celebrations don’t even have to be outlandish or even audible.

Maybe it’s a high-five with one of your salespeople who just landed a big deal for your company. Someone in your company just welcome a new member to their family? A creative and thoughtful email can celebrate the occasion nicely.

These are just a few ideas.

Tell us in our poll question below: How do you celebrate success in business?

And because we’re in a good mood, we’ll let you pick 2. In the comments, tell us about the moment you really celebrated.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “How Do You Celebrate Success in Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Out of the Mouth of Babes – Literally!

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

This article, “Out of the Mouth of Babes – Literally!” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Need New Skills for Your Business? Here are 14 You Can Learn Online

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

14 In-Demand Skills You Can Learn Online Now

Improving yourself and diversifying your skill set has never been easier thanks to online courses, webinars, video tutorials and guides that are readily available on the internet.

Whether you’re building your own business or looking to get hired by your dream company, adding these skills to your resume will help you stand out like a unicorn in a sea of donkeys — and best of all, you can learn them online.

Skills You Can Learn Online

Here, discover 14 in-demand skills and where you can learn them!

Chatbot Development

Facebook Messenger marketing is huge — it’s driving 80% average open rates and 20% click-through rates.

If you have the skills to build and operate a Facebook Messenger chatbot, you’ll prove invaluable to any marketing department.

I’m so invested in the future of Facebook Messenger marketing, I went all-in with my own free chatbot building software company MobileMonkey.

MobileMonkey has tons of helpful how-to articles and video tutorials for building, using and optimizing chatbots — all without writing a single line of code.

Coding

Even if you are not aiming to become a full-time programmer, having fundamental knowledge of coding is a major asset.

Whether you’re launching an app, working on AI, optimizing a site for search, creating content, etc., basic coding skills can go a long way.

You can get started through Codeacademy, which is great for both beginners and coders looking to learn more and improve.

Advanced Excel Skills

Spreadsheets are a staple of any business process, and learning how to use formulas and other features to organize and process data in Excel can help save tons of time.

You can learn advanced Excel skills through Data Monkey.

New Language

Becoming fluent in a new language can open new doors and broaden horizons for just about anyone in any industry.

Language learning platforms like Livemocha help greatly with excellent instruction and a community for other users to help each other out.

Photography

Good-quality photographs can enhance any blog post or social media post, making them more digestible.

Platforms like Udemy have tons of photography courses, from beginner lessons to in-depth instructionals on its various facets.

Photoshop

Knowing how to edit images can let you do things from making memes to designing graphics for websites, brand logos, and marketing materials.

Adobe offers its expert tutorials that are more than enough for introducing Photoshop fundamentals to beginners, as well as advanced courses for experienced Photoshop users.

Writing

This is perhaps the most ubiquitous skill in this list, as well as the most fundamental.

No matter what field you work in, being able to write well is always an asset.

You can brush up on your writing through SkillShare and even learn new writing skills along the way.

SEO

There is literally no business in the world that can’t benefit from more web traffic.

Anyone looking to gain visibility and exposure online needs to learn search engine optimization.

You can learn the fundamentals using the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

You can also visit Search Engine Journal for a huge library of guides and how-to articles on SEO.

It has updated information on how to make your website easier to find on the search engine.

Social Media Marketing

Marketing on social media is an ever-changing field, so staying on top of it is important.

Whether you want to learn the basics or more advanced skills, there’s no shortage of online courses for social media marketing.

Try an indepth guide that covers all major social media platforms like How to Dominate Social Media, or a niche course like Mari Smith’s Fast Facebook Results.

Leadership

Want to learn to take control, inspire others, and lead teams to success?

Mindtools has high-quality courses to help you develop your leadership skills.

Budgeting

Managing one’s money seems rather basic, but it’s surprising how many people get it wrong.

Budgeting is one of those skills that gets used everyday, both on a professional and personal level.

Boost your budgeting skills with sites like The Motley Fool or apps like Intuit’s Mint.

Graphic Design

Having the ability to your own graphics can be a boon for your business.

You can make your own logo, images to go with your social media posts, and so on.

Lynda.com for LinkedIn offers a course on graphic design where you can get a solid foundation in typography, color, layout and more, while practicing with InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.

Project Management

Management skills which can help you apply leadership in an organized and productive manner.

Being able to manage every aspect of a project to completion is challenging — you must know how to keep everyone organized, productive, engaged and motivated.

Try a project management course from Edx.

Public Speaking

As it’s often said, one of most people’s greatest fears is public speaking.

It’s a skill that takes a lot of practice to perfect, and doing so can pay dividends.

Being able to speak to a crowd with confidence is invaluable, wherever you may go.

There are many online courses for public speaking — I recommend the Introduction to Public Speaking on Coursera.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Need New Skills for Your Business? Here are 14 You Can Learn Online” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How Do I Write a Performance Review?

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

How to Write a Performance Review

A reader from Florida asks:

“How do I write a performance review? My company is growing and while we try to give verbal feedback, I feel the need to get more formal. But I am a bit at a loss about where to start. I need performance review examples and a step-by-step guide. Can you help?”  

  –  Tomas from Miami 

Thanks for your question, Tomas.  As you probably recognize, there is more to conducting an employee performance review than simply writing out a form.

However, the written form is very very important. Why?  It puts structure into performance evaluations. And it tells the employee you think he or she is important, because you’ve taken the time to write out an evaluation.

Unfortunately, many managers and business owners approach performance reviews with as much enthusiasm as a root canal.  So kudos to you for wanting to do a “formal” employee performance review.

Let’s cut to the chase to help you understand how to give an awesome annual review and get the best performance from employees year round. We provide sample phrases and we will link you to a performance review form and completed performance review samples.

How to Prepare for a Performance Review

Think of an employee performance review as a year-long cycle, not a one time event.  After all, your employees don’t just sit “on ice” until a once-a-year event, do they? They are performing. And you are (hopefully) coaching them all year long.

Each year’s cycle culminates in a formal review. But that annual review should reflect what has taken place throughout the year.  It should not be the only time you talk about performance or give feedback.

Here are the 5 stages of the annual performance review cycle.

  • Give regular feedback throughout the year
  • At review time, ask the employee to write a self evaluation
  • You write out a performance review evaluating the employee
  • Conduct the review meeting face to face
  • If you are giving a performance-based compensation increase, communicate it then or shortly afterwards.

Then rinse and repeat each year.

Let’s break it down into more detail under each stage.

1. Give regular feedback throughout the year

If you want good performance all year long, you have to give feedback and provide  coaching regularly throughout the year. Here are some guidelines for giving feedback:

  • Keep feedback verbal most of the time.  Employees will be less fearful and more receptive if you give little bits of feedback on a regular basis.  Don’t make a big production out of giving feedback.
  • Give more positive than negative feedback. What do they say about catching more flies with honey than vinegar? If you want more of something, positive reinforcement works. This doesn’t mean you must avoid correcting or making a critique. Just go out of your way to find positive things to say. Some employers adopt a ratio of 3-to-1 or even 5-to-1 when it comes to  positive over negative feedback.
  • Deliver proactive training, too, not just after-the-fact critiquing. Everyone can benefit from some kind of training – no matter what level of experience or how many years on the job. We all have to sharpen our skills. Sometimes it helps to put down guidelines or instructions in writing, for better retention.

2. Ask the employee to write a self evaluation

As the time for the annual review approaches, ask the employee to complete a self-evaluation. Basically, employees can use the exact same performance evaluation template that you will use to review them.  The employee simply completes a version of the document reflecting on his or her own performance.

The benefits of a self evaluation are powerful:

  • It makes employees more self aware. When an employee has to sit down and reflect on all the categories that he or she is being evaluated on, there will likely be a few private “uh oh” realizatations. Employees start to imagine how they appear in others’ eyes. This makes for a more effective employee in the upcoming year.
  • A self evaluation also instills confidence. When employees consciously reflect on what they’ve achieved, and the good work they’ve done, they will naturally puff up a bit with a sense of pride.  They will go about their jobs with more confidence.
  • A self evaluation could be very illuminating for you, as the boss. You may have forgotten some of the employee’s accomplishments.  And you may start to see things through their eyes better. Working conditions that may negatively affect performance sometimes reveal themselves — conditions you can fix once you learn of them. I’ve often changed my evaluation after reading an employee’s self evaluation.

Annual Performance Review Employee Self Evaluation Examples

Ask the employee to get you their filled-out self evaluation form slightly in advance of your scheduled meeting. A day or two ahead should be enough time to read through the self evaluation.  Don’t forget to give employees time in their workday to complete the self evaluation.

Occasionally an employee has trepidation over filling out the form. Don’t make a big deal out of it.  Remind them that it’s for discussion purposes and not any other reason. You could always just let the employee tell you verbally how they feel about their performance. Don’t let the form be a sticking point.

Check Out Our Performance Review Template

Here is a performance review template that I developed over the years. This shows a sample employee self-evaluation so you can get an idea of sample phrases an employee might use (please save a copy in your own Google Drive or download a copy to your computer, and then you can edit it):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1na3J4PxoFXUX3KNdzc7wb7Vi-5ZpbgvVaLgdXvNY_Ms/

3. Write an employee performance review

Using the performance review template linked to below, complete your own review of the employee.  Take into account their self evaluation for input (because you may learn something new).

I prefer a form that includes a combination of individual attributes or areas where you give a score with a check mark. But you must also write a few sentences underneath each area.  I think it’s important to write some observations, because it shows that you really thought about your employee’s performance, beyond checking off boxes.

Don’t feel you have to go overboard with page after page of written observations.  You’re not writing an essay. Write plainly and to the point, yet couching feedback as positively as possible (even if you are being critical). Save some of your observations for the verbal conversation.  You can adjust tone and meaning more effectively verbally than in writing, anyway.

Employee Performance Review Phrases to Get you Started

A lot of managers wonder what to say in an employee performance review. Here are some sample phrases to give positive feedback:

  • “Great job in several areas”
  • “Very impressed with how you did YZ this year”
  • “You’ve made tremendous progress this year”
  • “You’ve improved so much this year”
  • “I’m really pleased with how VWX is coming along”
  • “You’ve been on fire with ABC”
  • “Nice work on the PQR project”

But of course, be honest.  It’s one thing to emphasize positives.  It’s another thing to fail to give accurate feedback that in the long run will be more valuable to the employee’s career.

Overall Performance Review Phrases

Confront areas needing improvement or where you feel the employee could do better.

Here are some sample negative phrases (but softened so the employee still feels good about himself or herself):

  • “This year I’d like to see you work on D and E more”
  • “I’d like to see you bring the same enthusiasm to G as you do for H, where you’re very effective.”
  • “You pay a lot of attention to detail in EFG, but I’d like to see you temper that by moving a bit faster. Balance the two.”
  • “I think if you set your mind to it, you could accomplish a lot in the area of RST”
  • “Project LMN could have gone a little smoother by emphasizing planning. Planning is something I’d like to see you work on this coming year.”
  • “You’re so good when you do AB, we really need you bringing that same attitude to the table for CD.”

The performance review template I recommend has a section for accomplishments on last year’s goals.  And it has a place to set a few goals for the upcoming year.

Goals are perhaps the most important part of the annual review.  Limit it to no more than five goals per year. No one can focus on a lot of goals. You will just overwhelm the employee.

Goals can be projects or a self improvement target. Simply signal to the employee a few things you consider important for them to do in the coming year. Don’t worry if you feel you left something out.  Even two goals is enough.

More Performance Review Templates

In the sample performance review template, I’ve included some sample goals to trigger a few ideas.  Here is the performance review template with sample phrases. (Please save a copy in your own Google Drive or download a copy to your computer, so you can edit it):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wPsfxj1QWe0g9Q0AZ4Kts5_jvcvtFP1vv-p0R-jpyUs/

Hold the review meeting face to face

Get together for an hour in a private place. Schedule it in advance. Make it clear to others that you don’t want to be disturbed.  Sit down together, and make the employee comfortable. For instance, you could offer the employee a beverage.

Then talk through your evaluation. Be conversational. Break the ice by emphasizing as many positives as possible up front.  Use really enthusiastic language at the outset to set a positive tone.

4. How to Conduct a Performance Review

Make eye contact and smile.  Talk about the employee’s future with the company or how you’re looking forward to working with him or her this coming year.  That shows you are not planning to terminate your employee. This is very important! You never know what goes through an employee’s mind.

Once you complete your discussion, let the employee take the form and mull it over.  Encourage him or her to come to you with any questions or comments. Ask him or her to sign it and return the form within a couple of days.

One final point: never use an annual performance evaluation as an ambush or a ruse to fire an employee.  The employee should not go into the meeting fearing they will walk out unemployed. If that happens, it means you have not been giving feedback regularly or you did not set up the right expectations for the performance review meeting.

4. Give compensation increase

If your company is one that gives a pay increase as a consequence of an annual review, then you have two options.  You can communicate the increase at the end of the review meeting. Or you can communicate it when the employee returns the signed review form, perhaps a few days later.

State something like, “Thank you for all your hard work. We value what you do and I’m delighted to say we will be increasing your pay to X.”

If performance needs improvement to the degree that an increase is not warranted, then explain that to the employee.  Some managers will ask the employee to improve for say 3 months, and agree to evaluate compensation again at a later date.

Some employers do not give annual pay increases connected with performance reviews.  If that is the case — let’s say you give an annual cost of living increase once a year, or you give year-end profit-sharing bonuses — then presumably your employee already knows that.

As you can see, giving an employee performance review can be a positive and beneficial experience for everyone involved, if done correctly.

Good luck!

Get more employment advice.

All answers to reader questions come from the Small Business Trends Editorial Board, with more than 50 years of combined business experience. If you would like to submit a question, please submit it here.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “How Do I Write a Performance Review?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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20 Jewelry Products to Sell in Your Business

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

20 Jewelry Products to Sell

Selling jewelry can be a very viable business model for a new crafty entrepreneur. But before you set up shop, you need to get a feel for your specific product line.

The best place to sell your jewelry depends on exactly what type of items you create. If you create handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces, you might use Etsy or sell at local craft fairs. You could also create high end items out of precious metals and open your own online store or a local storefront. If you’re selling vintage pieces, you could rent a booth at a local antique mall.

Ideas for Jewelry to Sell

Whether you’re selling jewelry on eBay, at local retail stores or in your very own online shop, there are a ton of different pieces that you can create to stock your shelves.

Beaded Necklaces

Beaded necklaces add color and texture to any outfit. They can include a ton of different color combinations and lengths. And these pieces are often fairly simple to put together. So they’re a perfect product for new jewelry designers.

Engagement Rings

For those who want to offer high end pieces, consider engagement rings. You can either resell estate pieces or create your own unique offerings. You can even utilize engineered or raw diamonds to set your products apart.

Engraved Wedding Bands

You can also specialize in wedding bands. As a small business, you can create a unique offering for customers by engraving initials, dates or quotes on the interior of the rings so buyers can customize them.

Personalized Charms or Pendants

Another product that’s easy to personalize, you can offer either charms for bracelets or pendants for necklaces that include a short saying or set of initials. This can be especially popular for parents who want to include charms for each of their kids’ birthdays or birthstones on a charm bracelet.

Charm Bracelets

You can also offer the actual bracelets that hold these charms. You might consider offering both the bracelets and charm options to create some repeat customers.

Pendant Necklaces

Simple necklaces are very popular with a wide array of consumers. You can very easily create these necklaces using simple chains and small pendants that make them stand out.

Gemstone Rings

There are a ton of different gemstone options that you can use to create simple rings. You can offer birthstone options like amethyst and aquamarine to serve as perfect gift options.

Hoop Earrings

Hoop earrings are classic jewelry pieces that come in a variety of sizes and styles. You can even customize them with beads or other embellishments.

Gemstone Earrings

Gemstones also work well for creating simple earrings. You can simply add them to post settings or have them dangle for a more dramatic look.

Precious Metal Rings

Precious metals include materials like gold, silver and platinum. You can use these items to create simple or intricate rings. They cost more than many other jewelry making materials. But you can also sell them for higher prices.

Turquoise Bracelets

Turquoise is a stone that’s especially popular in Southwest style jewelry pieces. Use it to create unique bracelets that you can sell at local flea markets or gift shops.

Bangle Bracelets

Bangles are structured bracelets that are often made of metal. They can include small charms, engraved quotes or even gemstones for color and variety.

Stacking Rings

Stacking rings are small rings that can easily fit on top of one another. They’re especially trendy right now and can really appeal to parents that want a ring for each of their kids or people who want to commemorate special occasions.

Choker Necklaces

Choker necklaces have come back into style in recent years. You can make them out of fabric, metal or a variety of other materials and customize them to fit with different trendy styles.

Statement Earrings

Statement earrings are large jewelry pieces that usually dangle and include multiple beads or gemstones that make them really stand out.

Vintage Costume Jewelry

Vintage jewelry is popular with collectors and fashionistas, and you can often find it for bargain prices. Some of the best places to sell vintage jewelry include Etsy, eBay, local antique malls and flea markets.

Class Rings

If you have the ability to create completely customized designs, you might contract with local schools to create class rings for graduating seniors.

Brooches

Brooches are large, statement pins. They were especially popular in decades past. So you can often find them at vintage or resale shops and then polish or fix them and sell them at higher price.

Raw Gemstone Pieces

Raw gemstones like amethyst and moonstone are very popular right now, especially with the growing prominence of crystals. You can use these natural looking stones in necklaces, bracelets and rings.

Vintage Watches

Crafting watches is a very intricate process that is often out of reach for very small businesses. But if you have the knowledge and funds, you can purchase vintage watches, fix them up and sell them at a decent profit.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “20 Jewelry Products to Sell in Your Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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