For me, having my own business is a freedom and a privilege that I was unable to experience in the corporate world. As a business owner, I feel entitled to make my own decisions about how my business should be run. After all, I’m the boss!
Your business should be run the way you see fit. If you have employees, you can of course (if you wish) take their needs into consideration as well. If, on the other hand, you are a sole proprietor like me, having strong standards can go a long way towards keeping you happy and satisfied in your career.
What is important to you? If you haven’t already done so, think hard about this. Make a list of the important things in your life, and base your business standards around them. If maintaining a good balance between your business and personal life is important, create a standard that allows you to stop working at a reasonable hour each day in order to spend time with your family. If going grocery shopping on Wednesday mornings is what you prefer to do, work that into your schedule.
I think you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. Create a solid set of business standards today. Then stick to them. Remember, you’re in control of your business and your life.
Organizations are always at risk of developing inertia which means they are doing the same things the same way to meet current, rather than future, goals. Plugging along with no vision for the future usually equates to a lack of innovation, uninspired myopic employees and eventually an organization unable to compete well in the marketplace. The business environment is now in a state of constant transformation due to globalization and technology advancements, so organizations that fail to do strategic planning risk failure. However, calling together executives, managers and unit heads and ordering them to prepare a strategic plan is not likely to be successful because they may not know how think strategically.
First Things First
Successful strategic planning requires strategic thinking. People who are able to think strategically can bring new perspectives and contribute a fresh point of view. This is one of the reasons that an organization with a diverse workforce tends to perform better financially. The business has access to new perspectives and new approaches through its employees. Diverse employees are not locked into conventional thinking, so there is a large capacity to imagine new ideas and solutions to future market needs.
The characteristics of a strategic thinker are quite different from conventional thinkers. Blake Woolsey with the Mitchell Communications Group, a public relations firm, did an excellent job of describing eight characteristics of strategic thinkers. A strategic thinker is future-based, curious, a good steward of resources, a risk taker, able to recognize projects that are urgent and important, able to adjust and modify approaches based on circumstances, a life-long learner, and creative. The strategic thinker is proactive, rather than reactive. Being a proactive thinker means actively looking ahead to find new business opportunities and to identify unique solutions that enable the business to take advantage of those opportunities.
Let the Ideas Flow
Strategic thinking is a bit of an art form. Ordering someone to think strategically in preparation for strategic planning will not work. Assuming key people do want to overcome conventional thinking, there are several strategies for developing strategic thinking. One is to ask business leaders to question how work is currently done and to learn if their employees understand how their effort connects to strategic priorities. Doing the same things the same way without question stifles imaginative thinking. Another strategy is to hold sessions where business leaders are asked to suspend criticism and judgment as people imagine the future. Unfortunately, everyone has conscious and unconscious biases, so it may take some real effort to avoid being judgmental.
Other strategies include giving employees at all levels of the organization access to communication tools that let them present new ideas and solutions that others can comment on. For example, employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can carry on crossover communication between groups or include diverse people in their groups (i.e. a woman’s leadership ERG includes men or an ERG for Hispanic employees has representatives from the African-American employee community). People who surround themselves, in the office or in ERGs, with only others who agree with them and have the same background are likely stifling the imagination and creativity needed for strategic thinking.
Any forward thinking commercial enterprise that is determined to be in the market for a long period will have to employ good moral practices when dealing with clients. This will entail putting in mind the rights of the consumers, employees, and the best interests regarding the society at large. Consumers nowadays are familiar with their rights and the laws that govern the enterprises in regard to their protection; hence, a good relationship with customers will keep them coming back.
Good practices bring forth goodwill from the customers and the public in general. This goodwill earned over a certain period of time can translate into profitability for the company. People will tend to do business with firms that value and are concerned about them. Profitability of an investment translates into the sustainability of that particular investment in the market.
Some of the principles of admirable practices in a commercial environment are trust, respect, open mindedness, community involvement, and maintaining an accounting control. Customers will always want to do dealings with a company they trust for both the quality of services and goods they offer. The trust of the organization will be reflected within its ability to deliver and in what manner it delivers.
Participating in community based issues will give the enterprise a good view from the society. It is deemed as a way of giving back to the society and the customers will definitely see that they are perceived as valuable people by the company. Advertisements, brochures, magazines, and communications sent to the public should be crafted in a professional and precise manner in order to avoid issues with other competitors in the market.
Maintaining better moral practices in a company prevents the firm from far too many lawsuits. The customers and employees are nowadays amply educated on their rights and most of them may opt to go to court when they realize their rights are infringed. Realizing the importance of business ethics as a tool for achieving the set goals and aims of the company is the beginning of the success story for any enterprise. All the dealings and branches of an organization must adhere to moral practices in order to have a successful balanced business.
A business merchant account is the best way to expand your company’s operations and conduct e-commerce without risking too much of an investment. Simply apply for a merchant account the way an individual would apply for a personal credit card. As with individual applicants, a company needs to show a positive credit history and the ability to make payments on a merchant account at present. In addition, it cannot be involved in shady dealings with which the underwriters might not agree. Many lenders will let you apply online, although some charge a fee for this. Often you will get a decision on your application within a day or two. If approved, you can begin making arrangements to accept credit payments in a variety of ways. Pay attention to fees and payment terms. For example, you may be asked to pay 15 to 25 cents per transaction. Or you could have the choice of paying a low overall percentage rate. Some lenders impose minimums, though, meaning you will have to pay a “bottom line” fee no matter how many transactions you make.
Your business merchant account will let you purchase or lease a credit card processor that can be plugged into your store. Or you can take a wireless version with you when collecting payments from other locations. Many business owners prefer to use a telephone ordering and payment system. This can be automated, reducing the need for staffing except for questions or glitches. Customers can speak or touch-dial their credit card numbers into the phone to process orders at their convenience. You will need to make sure your system is fully operational at all times and that it is customer-friendly to keep from annoying or even driving away current or new clients.
When you utilize a business merchant account, you can receive a printed monthly statement, discounts for other services, and occasional other benefits as well. Being able to accept credit card payments suggests that customers will look at you a little differently, knowing that you have earned an underwriter’s trust for this important role. Posting signs for accepting credit card payments places your company in the ranks of the elite, since many smaller or newer companies do not yet enjoy this privilege. When you begin accepting credit card processing, you can move away from cash-only payments or checks that can bounce. The time saved from managing cash flow can be channeled into more meaningful tasks.
Getting a merchant account means that you’re ready to upgrade your business, and that you are taking extra steps to accommodate your customers. Be proud to receive a merchant account, knowing that not everyone is approved. Handle it responsibly, since you have much to be thankful for with your new business merchant account.
Connectivity is an important part of the modern workplace for many businesses and can mean the difference between a slick well oiled workplace and one where problems abound and upload speed and reliability can leave businesses struggling to fulfil their potential.
Good business connectivity can make all the difference to businesses allowing for day to day tasks to be dealt with quickly and efficiently by staff whilst causing the least amount of stress. The importance of good business connectivity is vital in allowing a good upload speed which can be critical if your business often sends important documents to existing and potential clients as well as colleagues as most businesses invariably do. If uploading takes a long time on your servers and your business is impeded by this you could do no worse than to look online for alternative options that could provide you with the upload speeds that you require and deserve.
Business connectivity plays a part in many aspects of a company and a good server can mean that online webinars or business meetings can be used with ease by your business allowing for a company to make the most of the Internet and the opportunities and platforms that it provides for businesses to network and share information without the need to leave the office.
If your business needs to share regular information over the Internet a poor network and service provider could make what could be a simple task a very hard one. Making sure that the business connectivity you have suits your company and allows you to be the best you possibly can be in a competitive marketplace can really give you one up on your competitors and place you in the perfect position to succeed.
Your business should consider contention ratios when looking for business connectivity as this can be a crucial factor in connection speeds. The less amount of people using a line results in a higher bandwidth for your business. If connectivity is important to your business operations, you should consider a Leased Line. A Leased Line offers a contention ratio of 1:1. In short this means that if your business uses a 2Mb Leased Line you will receive a 2Mb connection. Compare that to a 10Mb connection with a contention ratio of 50:1 where you will only receive 200Kb bandwidth with a much lower security level.
Reliability has become a key word for the modern business. Services that have regular problems and hinder the work of the company cost time and money and could ultimately lead to slowing of work processes leaving workers at their desk but unable to complete even the simplest of tasks. It could also lead to the loss of important files or data that are stored on the network, something that could be easily avoidable with a good service provider and secure and reliable servers.
According to Nielsen research, the second set is nearly 55% of the consumers of the 60 countries that were a part of the research conducted by Nielsen. They are more concerned about the social and environmental impact that the product will have. They are basically the segment who needs to be targeted for the upliftment of the business along with keeping up with the sustainability models. They even check the seal to confirm whether the product is sustainable or not before the purchase is made. As such the products need to be marketed likewise.
There are certain positives of achieving sustainability in business:
- It helps in boosting up of the reputation of the business. Lately BMW i3 has been getting the dividends for being reputed likewise.
- As the percentage of the consumers looking for sustainable products are ever rising, it results in increase of sales.
- Certain companies like Apple Rubber have even managed to decrease their cost of production by going for sustainability initiatives.
Sustainability has been recently seen as one of the most essential marketing tool for apparel companies like Eco-Fashion Trends who has been planning to drive the market only by marketing sustainability over the next few years. Apart from that Kellogg, ConAgra, General Mills, etc. has been forced to re-plan their marketing strategies in order to merely survive in the market from the perspective of the food giants.
Only setting up of the sustainability goals and marketing likewise might not be sufficient though. It must be complemented by the proper implementation and the execution of the goals.
- The primary thing perhaps is a knowhow regarding whether the sustainability goals are compatible with the business goals or not. These should not become parallel lines. They should rather be interconnected and interdependent aspects.
- A specific knowhow regarding how often the goals needs to be reset are required. This would particularly depend on the market survey and the knowledge of what the rivals are up to.
- Regarding the implementation of the new goals we are generally confused about the pace and timing of the setting up and the resetting of the goals and knowledge about their limitations if any. These need to be looked after with immense importance.
Finally, we can conclude by saying that the myth named sustainability has grown up so fast that it can obviously be used as an essential tool of marketing as it has its own set of consumer and as such target segment which is so large that a company can do some serious business depending mainly on them only.
- If it is easy, it won’t work. If you love what you do, you are more likely to be able to do the work that a small business requires, but it is still work. You have to learn about your business, set it up, and promote it, no matter what it is. You even have to do that with a distributorship or business package. If it is not work, it does not pay.
- There are no secrets, only skills, strategies and techniques. Anyone promising to tell you Secrets, or teach you Tricks is on the shady side of integrity. There are no secrets, and there are no tricks. There is knowledge, time saving strategies, key bits of information that can transform your understanding from unworkable to workable, and techniques that make the job either simpler or more successful. You need knowledge, tools, and experience. So look for that instead of looking for something that does not exist.
- If you want to make money you have to work every day. OK, so you don’t have to work EVERY day, but you have to work every day that you reasonably can. That means you have to FIT IT IN! It has to be your priority. If you are a weekend warrior, then you have to work the majority of the weekends. If you are a work at home mom, then you need to find time each day around your family and get in at least a few minutes of work. If you are committed to replacing a full time income with working at home, then you’ll have to put in 4-8 hours a day more days than you take off. You have to give it the same dedication that you would a standard job. You cannot just let the days drift by, and not schedule in time when you HAVE to work. Just DO it… and stop making excuses.
Working at home is very doable. It is often chaotic, frequently frustrating, and always hard work. But I do it every day. It has become part of who I am. I learn and grow in it, and I gain more understanding all the time.
What if I told you there’s a better way? The lines between creator and consumer, buyer and seller, author and reader have blurred. If you invite the consumer, buyer, or reader into the creation process it incites ownership.
We all take pride in the work that we do. We want it to be the best that we are capable of and we are rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically when we have a sense of ownership. Customer co-creation not only incites ownership, but generates a greater “ownership mentality” in your clients. That’s a big win. People proudly display their kid’s “artwork” on their refrigerators. They don’t display the work of the neighbor’s kids. But, if your kid and the neighbor’s kid co-created a finger painting masterpiece you now have two families anxious to display it.
You share context. Each of us has a limited well of experience to draw from. When we share context with others it gives our solutions depth and richness far beyond what anyone is capable of doing in isolation. Diversity of thinking and inputs yields better outcomes. That’s another win.
Co-creation makes for stronger content. When we combine your chocolate with my peanut butter the result is a far more creative solution.
We live in a world where we all want to participate. Teachers don’t just have students memorize state capitals anymore; they have kids create maps and globes and 3D representations. Which method do you think generates higher learning retention?
How can you involve your followers and clients in the creation process? I think it’s often as simple as just asking them. You need to maintain your position as the expert but you do so in a way that invites them to participate in the sculpting of a solution. Their input matters; it makes the solution stickier, more relevant, and more effective. They will now be your biggest advocate and internal sales team because they too will have the pride of ownership.
My advice is to look for an opportunity to experiment. Customer co-creation isn’t for every situation; there are times where you need to be the expert and do what you do. I wouldn’t want my plumber to allow me to co-create a plumbing solution given that I have little interest, passion, or insight in that area. However, there are opportunities where you can manage an engagement that has a co-creation element to it. You’ll wind up with a better, richer client; a more engaged, satisfied client; and the experience itself is refreshing and intellectually gratifying for everyone.