Warning: The Biggest Threats To Your Business Come From Within

Business owners are always worried about possible threats hurting their company. Largely, this means paying lots of attention to outside sources. This can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Your main rivals
  • External cyber threats (hackers, etc.)
  • Changes in market forces
  • New government regulations/laws that affect your business

All of these things exist outside of your business and can cause a lot of damage. But, what if I told you that some of the most significant threats reside from within? 

It’s true, lots of small businesses are undone by internal problems. What problems do we speak of? Well, that’s what this article is all about! You’ll learn about some of the critical issues that hurt your business from the inside…

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A terrible IT infrastructure

Your IT infrastructure basically refers to all the different technology elements in your business. We’re talking hardware, software, servers, cybersecurity; everything. If you have an awful infrastructure, then that’s one of the biggest dangers to your business. It can lead to cyberattacks, so much downtime, and a loss of business efficiency. You can see on www.redkeysolutions.com that managed IT services could help you gain control of this. Realistically, you need to have an excellent IT infrastructure to manage a modern business. If you don’t, then you’ve got a fundamental weakness residing from within your company. 

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Your employees

That’s right, your employees can be guilty of being the single biggest threat to your business. Here are a few ways your team might pose problems: 

  • Poor performance and lack of productivity
  • Employee disputes leading to a lack of work
  • Terrible customer service causing disgruntled customers
  • An employee being caught doing something bad that reflects negatively on your brand
  • Employees stealing information or money

The list can go on for a pretty long time, but you get the point. It’s also worth stating that your employees can be your biggest asset. Mostly, it all comes down to your recruitment policy. If you hire the best people for your business, then you ensure that they become an asset instead of a hindrance. Here’s a vide that you should find useful when hiring new employees:

You

Yep, you could be a massive danger to your business. 

How does that work out then? Well, it’s mainly to do with your decision making and goal setting. As the business owner, you’re in charge of the direction your company goes in. All too often, you become stubborn and set in your own ways. You have sales goals that you want to achieve, but they’re just not realistic. Despite what other people tell you, you don’t want to shift your stance. So, you force your business to move towards ideas and goals that aren’t attainable. 

Or, you make decisions that can cost your business a lot of money – like investing in a new idea, only for it to fall flat. If you don’t run your business correctly – and listen to people giving you advice – then you will be the biggest threat to your company. 

You see, internal issues can have just as big of an impact as external ones. As such, make sure you spend some time working on all three of the problems discussed in this article. That way, you can at least be sure that all the potential dangers lie outside of your business. 

The Content King: How Does Different Media Impact Your Marketing?

Businesses have more options than ever before when they want to sell themselves to today’s customers. Some prefer to spend their time and money on traditional advertising, while others like to invest efforts into getting the word out about their business online, and each approach will come with its own benefits. This can make starting out as a business rather daunting. Not only do you have a lot of work on your plate, but you also have to think about how you’re going to sell yourself so that customers know exactly what they’re going to be getting from you. As a big part of this, it’s crucial that you think about the types of content available to you, and how you can use them to push your business further than ever before.

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(Image Source)

Physical Media

Leaflets, business cards, and posters all fall into the category of physical media. While this area is very important to a lot of businesses, it doesn’t represent the way that a lot of customers find the companies they want to spend their money with, and this makes it a mistake to focus on this as your main form of marketing. Instead, if you want to use physical materials to sell your business, it’s best to let them supplement the work you do in other areas. There are a range of different options which can be used for this, and some are more successful than others.

Information: Things like leaflets aren’t always designed to hook someone into buying something from you. Instead, they are often designed to provide information, with things like phone numbers being in easy reach when you have them in a physical form. This makes a business card the perfect way to keep in touch with someone, but will seldom be the best way to sell yourself, and you’ll need to look deeper into your marketing to achieve this goal.

Freebies: Not all physical media comes in the form of paper, and a lot of businesses choose to give things out which are a little more substantial. Pens, mugs, and even small toys can all prove to be a great way to have people remember you, but are unlikely to convince someone to buy from you without some additional support. It’s always worth being careful with options like this, as you can easily end up spending far too much on something which won’t help you.

Videos

A lot of research has been done into attention retention with digital marketing, and a lot of experts believe that the best way to capture someone’s mind is with video. In a March 2019 study, Oberlo found that around 54% of US residents would like to see more video content from the brands and businesses they like. Alongside this, numerous reports state that information conveyed in the form of a video is easier to relate to, with people finding it to be a far more personal option than simply reading something online.

The biggest challenge with something like this is making the video which you want to show your business off with. Companies like Zip In Media Productions, LLC can help you out with this, using their industry experience to give advice, assess your current marketing methods, and even help you to make videos for yourselves. Of course, though, as a big part of this, you need to think about how you’re going to show your business off in a way which makes it look truly unique. A lot of companies struggle with this, finding themselves following other people’s ideas when it comes to their video marketing.

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(Image Credit)

Social Media

According to Our World In Data, around a third of the world’s population has a social media account of some sort. While this doesn’t mean that you will be able to reach all of these people, it shows just how powerful a platform like Facebook or Instagram really is. Marketing your company on social media isn’t too hard; you just need to source some high quality images, write out some posts, and submit your work to one of the many companies out there. Of course, though, it’s a lot more complicated when you’re aiming for success.

You have to learn about the platforms you’re using, figuring out which methods will be most successful when it comes to selling on them. Likewise, you will also need to think about your target demographic, along with the type of people who use the platforms you choose. This can be a challenge and a lot of people fail to overcome it. It’s also crucial that you interact with the people who follow you and comment on your posts, as this will show that you aren’t just using social media to make money, while also giving you the chance to learn more about your customers.

Written Copy

Writing is something which a lot of people struggle with, especially when they’re using a computer for it. Written copy will be the cornerstone of your website and other marketing materials, though, and this means that you have to get it right. There are a lot of websites out there which can help you with this, putting you in contact with people who have the skills to make your business stand out. Of course, though, if you have to write content for yourself, there are a number of factors to consider.

Grammar/Quality: Grammar is crucial when you’re writing content for customers to read. Some people won’t care about this, but others will find it hard to take your company seriously if you don’t stick to common writing rules. Tools like Grammarly can help with this, and spending more time reading and writing will give you the skills to improve your copy in the future.

SEO: Most of the content you write for your website or blog will be designed to give Google a good chance to find you. This means that you need to follow a strict set of rules, while also working to optimise your content to make sure that it doesn’t get missed. Websites like SEObility have all of the tools you could possible need for this, giving you the answers to questions about your SEO which you may never have known you had.

Emails

For a time, emailing was one of the most popular ways to communicate, though this has changed somewhat since the rise of instant messaging services. A lot of people find themselves trapped when it comes to their marketing emails, though, and are unsure of what to write to push their customers in the right direction. For example, it’s easy to assume that these emails need to include special deals, though you can simply send out your latest blog post if you have nothing else. It’s worth being creative with your email marketing, as a lot of companies make the mistake of making this boring for their users.

When you first start emailing people, it will be hard to make sure that you have enough people on your list. There are companies out there that sell leads, making this job a little bit easier, but it will be much better to generate your own list. This can be achieved on your website, with most modern sites offering mailing list sign ups for their customers. It will be surprising to find just how many people are willing to sign up to something like this when they buy from you for the first time.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to become a Content King (or Queen). This sort of effort can be a real challenge, with many people never thinking for too long about marketing content. Of course, though, a huge amount of time and effort goes into this field, and you need to reflect this with your own business.

How to Grow Your Small Business’s Sales with Freelance Help

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The freelance workforce is growing, with 57 million Americans currently working as freelancers. Freelancing has its benefits for workers and businesses alike; while freelancers get the flexibility and autonomy they crave, business owners get access to highly-skilled talent without the commitment of permanent staff.

That talent is especially useful when it comes to big-picture projects like marketing. Most small employers can’t afford to bring on marketing, design, and web development professionals full-time, instead focusing their labor pool on the people who keep the business running from day-to-day. However, businesses still need access to these highly skilled pros in order to drive sales and scale their operation.

Are you thinking about hiring freelancers to grow your business’s marketing and sales? Before you do, this is what you need to know.

Freelancers vs. Independent Contractors vs. Employees

You’ll hear the terms “independent contractor” and “freelancer” used interchangeably to refer to self-employed workers. As far as the IRS is concerned, all self-employed workers are considered independent contractors when they fit a specific set of criteria. As long as a freelancer meets the classification requirements, businesses don’t have to withhold payroll taxes or offer benefits; they simply collect W9 forms from each freelancer and issue 1099-MISC forms for freelancers they pay more than $600 in a year.

It’s important to read those criteria carefully, however. If you exert too much control over where, when, or how freelancers do their work, they could be considered employees by the IRS. Businesses that treat employees like independent contractors are subject to steep penalties.

Freelancers for Small Business Marketing and Sales

Businesses can find freelancers for nearly any job imaginable. However, when it comes to growing your business’s revenue, there are a few types of freelancers to focus on.

Website development

Your business needs a website that appeals to modern users and meets a business’s needs. If you want someone who can customize and improve the performance of your website, look for a WordPress developer, but make sure they have the necessary skills. These developers should fully understand WordPress themes and plugins and web development fundamentals, and they should be able to maintain, debug, and troubleshoot WordPress sites. While many rates for freelance WordPress developers may seem high at first glance (some freelancers charge up to $150 per hour), the potential ROI of a well-designed business website makes it well worth the cost.

Graphic design

Graphic designers create everything from small business logos and packaging design to the colors and buttons you use on your website. While hiring graphic designers for one-off projects may save money, contracting with the same freelancer for all of your graphic design needs leads to greater brand consistency.

Social media marketing

Everyone is on social media, but that doesn’t mean anyone has the skills to run your business’s social media account. If your social media pages are filled with lackluster content and struggling to engage followers, a freelance social media manager can take over and develop a social media presence that reflects your brand’s voice.

Content marketing

Written content is great for sharing on social media and driving traffic to your website, but compelling blog content is harder to produce than it seems. Rather than tasking your admin assistant with the task, seek out a freelance content writer who has experience writing about your industry. With the right expertise and click-worthy headlines, you can create content that draws shoppers in and gets them to stick around.

What to Pay Freelance Help

The going rate for freelancers depends on the industry and skill set. In general, you can expect freelance rates to be significantly higher than — possible even double — your employees’ hourly rates. Some business owners are put off by freelancers’ high rates, but for most small businesses, it’s a bargain. That’s because when you hire freelancers, you’re not paying payroll taxes, workman’s compensation, health insurance, or any of the other hidden costs associated with hiring employees.

However, you should avoid falling into the trap of assuming a high rate indicates high skill. Rather than going by rate alone, review freelancers’ portfolios and customer testimonials to find professionals who fit your needs. Once you have a short list, contact references to be confident that you and your freelancer will work well together.

Where to Find Qualified Freelancers

Businesses have two options for marketing help: Hire a full-service marketing agency or contract with individual freelancers. While the former is more convenient, it can also be a lot more expensive.

If you’re on a budget and up for the challenges of managing freelancers, use these websites to find and hire freelance help for your business:

  • Upwork
  • Guru
  • 99Designs
  • Fiverr
  • Behance

Collaborating with Freelancers

Speaking of managing freelancers: This is where most business owners get tripped up. On one hand, you need freelancers to coordinate with your team and stay accountable to the project’s deliverables. On the other, you need to give freelancers enough freedom so they can do their job and you don’t risk an IRS audit.

Since you can’t micromanage freelancers, you need to set up expectations and systems from the start. These tips will help you work effectively with freelancers:

  • Set basic expectations with a freelance agreement that details deadlines, deliverables, and payment terms.
  • Schedule check-ins where freelancers give project updates and your team has an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
  • Establish a clear chain of command. When freelancers know who to report to, it reduces the risk of confusion.
  • Keep freelancers tuned into team meetings through video conferencing. When freelancers can’t join in on a call, use automated speech-to-text transcription to efficiently take notes and distribute them to team members shortly after the call. Some services provide over 80 percent accuracy and will charge $6 for an hour’s worth of audio.
  • Create in-house office space for freelancers. While it’s up to freelancers to decide where they work, sharing space builds a sense of company culture.
  • Pay your freelancers well and on time. Mistreating your freelancers only makes it harder to find quality help in the future.

Ultimately, how your business uses and collaborates with freelancers is something you’ll figure out with time and experience. Rather than diving in head-first, start with a small handful of freelance professionals and work out the kinks before expanding your freelance workforce.


Keeping Track Of Your Assets As A Small Business

If you’re running a small operation, you’re more in need than ever to keep track of everything you own. You have limited resources, after all, and you’ve had a lot of money sunk into everything currently in use in the office or the storeroom. 

But of course, it can be hard to properly keep track of all your assets. You’ve got a lot of responsibilities on your plate, and you can’t keep an eye out at all times. At the same time, your employees are going to be using them on a daily basis, so they can go walkabout from time to time, and there’s no guarantee the ledger will always be signed to keep you updated on where they are! 

Which is why it’s key to change tactic – there’s plenty of other ways to keep track of your assets, and a lot of them are far more reliable for your time and money. So, without further ado, here are some such ideas to get you started. 

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Know What’s Valuable

Not all assets are created equal, after all. You’re going to need to prioritize some assets over the others, simply because they’re worth more to you, and your business has a lot more use of them. In the business world, some assets are very much disposable, and it’s working out which ones are which that’s key here. Be sure to make this your first task, so you’re not wasting time keeping track of things that simply don’t deserve your time and attention! 

Big assets, such as the office you work in, the cars you use to get to and from work, and any digital device you know is quite pricey, all require a bit of more time and care when it comes to a tracking system. 

Use a Spreadsheet for Software

Computer programs make up a lot of the modern business world, so you’re definitely going to want to keep an eye on what you’re using and how it’s working for you. 

If you want to take inventory of the amount of software you use, you’re going to need to use a spreadsheet or similar program to keep track of things. If you can add new software and applications into a spreadsheet, unit by unit, it’s going to be a lot easier to add in dates and ways of use at the same time. 

Simply put, a spreadsheet is a good way to just lay things out before you, and see what you get out of the software your company uses, as well as what will need updating and when. 

Take Physical Inventory 

Of course, you’re going to have to take physical inventory every once in a while. As a small business just starting out, you might want to conduct one every 6 months or so. But once you get used to owning and operating your own business, you can change this schedule to every 1 or 2 years. 

How do you take inventory? Head into your stockroom. Hopefully, you have a list of all the assets you started with, and now you can compare the worth of that list with the list you're going to create now. You can use a computer program to help you out, or you can just count things up by hand and clipboard! 

You’ll need to take stock of hardware too. If your employees are on a constant cycle of use with tablets and smartphones, or e-readers and company laptops, be sure to install a system of mobile device management on these ‘endpoints’. 

Install a GPS into Fleet Vehicles

And finally, if your company is lucky enough to be using its own fleet to get from A to B, make sure you keep track of these vehicles with onboard GPS. If you can install one into every single car that’s on your business tab, you’ll be able to see what’s in the garage and what isn’t. 

At the same time, you’ll also be able to watch where a car goes – if you have a particularly errant employee, using an onboard GPS to keep track of their position on a five-minute cycle will be invaluable to you. 

So, Are You Tracking Your Assets Well? 

If you’re out to keep track of your business assets, good on you! It means you’re a responsible business owner, and that’s crucial at the small, first stages. Keep going with habits like these and you’re likely to never lose out in the business world. 

Why SEO is Important to Local Businesses?

Why SEO is Important to Local Businesses?

Several companies and brands know a little about SEO for their websites and online platforms, but few know about the vast benefits it provides for a business.

While it’s clear that SEO will improve the searchability and overall visibility of a website, there is additional value that comes with making the most of SEO. 

Here are some of the reasons SEO can help to take your business to the next level, with tips from the experts at IslandSEOConsultant.

Searching Organically Is the Primary Source of Online Traffic

When people search for a brand or business, they usually do so organic search engines. This factors into the way your website performs, and plays a major role in how many people actually buy from your business. The more people search for your website, the more likely these searchers will turn into customers and engage with your business often through your site or social media pages. 

Marketers are also aware of the fact that Google owns a large part of the search market in comparison to competitors like DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Bing and Baidu. 

This doesn’t mean that all search engines can’t make a brand more visible to potential clients. However, Google owns around 75% of the total search market, and if you want to be seen on the leading search engine, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. Don’t forget that the remaining 25% of of the search market controlled by the other search engines can be valuable to your brand as well. 

Learning More About Google 

Google is the most visited website in the United States as well as the world. Google is also the world’s most popular email provider – Gmail has over 1 billion users. YouTube, which is also owned by Google, is the second largest search engine. It’s also important to note that most of the world that has internet access goes to Google a minimum of once per day to get the information they need. 

As a brand, you should be highly visible and deemed a credible resource by Google. This will always work in your professional favor, and quality SEO is the way to accomplish this. 

SEO Makes Your Brand More Credible and Trustworthy

Experienced SEO exists to create a solid foundation for an appealing website with an enjoyable user experience that easily searchable. This increases the credibility and reputation of your brand. 

There are several factors that make your company authority on popular search engines like Google. In addition to the benefits we’ve already mentioned, your reputation is built over time with elements like positive user engagement, high-quality backlinks, and optimized content and on-page features. 

Making yourself an authority in your niche will do wonders for your brand and all your digital optimizations. Just remember that this won’t happen overnight. It takes time for your customers to trust you, just as if you were establishing an in-person relationship with your clients. 

It’s important to be patient with the process and commit to making our company one of the best. Engaging with your customers in a positive fashion and delivering quality products and services with each interaction will make your company more reliable in the eyes of consumers. If you are looking for software development, IslandSEO can help – check it out.

SEO Can Improve User Experience 

Finally, remember that good SEO can enhance the search experience for users. All companies want better organic rankings and as much visibility as possible. However, few companies know that creating a positive user experience will help them accomplish these goals. 

Google has learned how to decipher whether users are having a negative or positive experience. When users have a familiarity with searching and finding your business website, this will lead to success for your business. The bottom line is that consumers know what they’re looking for. When they can’t find it, they’re more likely to give up and go another route, which lessens the chances that they’d find your company. Not to mention your website traffic will suffer. 

Working with your marketing department to come up with proven SEO strategies for your business can bring about more consumer interaction and sales and increase the popularity of your company.