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Management

Analyzing and Auditing: Advice for New Businesses

analytics and auditing tips for small business

When you’re moving through the first stages of starting a new business, two of the most powerful concepts that you can focus on include analyzing and auditing. Because you can do anything you want. But until you figure out the results of your actions, you won’t know whether it’s something that you should repeat or not.

Some advice for new businesses might be to utilize Google analytics as much as possible, to understand how to work through big data trends, to use social media reach practically, and to work with feedback loops so that small changes can have a measurable impact.

Google Analytics

If you have a website, then Google is constantly analyzing your traffic. That’s why when you start learning how to use Google analytics, it’s such a powerful tool. You can see when people visit your website and for how long they stay. You can see how much interaction they had with certain links or pages. You can see how long it takes them to move their way through a page and then go somewhere else. All of that data is supplied for free, but it’s a skill to know how to use it to improve your business model.

Big Data Trends

If you can learn how to analyze big data trends, that will put you on equal footing with companies all across your industry. Since no human can comprehend the entirety of information flow that’s going on right now about any topic, computers have to do it. And the data that computers spit out is pretty much available to anyone who wants it. So if you’re in a position to start a new business, one of the first things that you should do is audit what big data says about trends that are on an upward trajectory.

Social Media Reach

Expanding your business’s social media reach is essential in today’s modern technological framework. Even with all of the static that social media is getting because of privacy concerns, it’s still vital that you at least understand how online conversations work, and how they can potentially benefit your bottom line. When you learn how to convert conversations into sales, that can be one of the cornerstones of your business model.

Working With Feedback Loops

The shorter you make your feedback loops, the better your results are going to be regarding adjusting your products and services as well. If you find out that your customers are responding positively to a certain style of messaging, you can quickly adjust that. Based on an analysis of interaction immediately after that change, you can tell whether it was a good move or not. A continuing process of working through these short feedback loops will ensure that your clients get what they actually want, and not what you think they want.

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Management

4 Networking Tips for Solopreneurs

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As a solo entrepreneur, everything falls on your shoulders. If you don’t do something, it won’t get done. This includes networking. In order to build a thriving professional network, you have to prioritize time for establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships.

The Value of Networking

Many entrepreneurs and freelancers see networking as something that they could do if they had more time. But it’s time to stop viewing networking as an optional or supplemental activity. Networking is, in fact, one of the single most important investments you can make in the longevity of your career.

Networking is all about building credibility and establishing long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial. It can take months or years for your efforts to pay off, but the results will come.

“Not all of your professional connections will need your services right away,” entrepreneur Neil Kokemuller admits. “However, since you have a connection with them, you have a top-of-mind-awareness advantage when they need your help. This point is especially true if you consistently keep your work and message in front of them.”

You’ll also find value in rubbing shoulders with people who are talented and skilled in areas that you aren’t. Not only can you gather insights and advice from them, but some of their knowledge may actually rub off on you.

4 Tips for Solopreneurs

As a freelancer or entrepreneur, you’re in a unique position. On the one hand, you don’t have access to some of the same networking resources that your employed peers do. However, you have the freedom and flexibility to pursue networking opportunities that others can’t. The key is to make the most of your situation and to continually pursue networking as a long-term investment. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Join Local Groups and Organizations

As a freelancer, you don’t have the benefit of being associated with an established business. This means you lack some of the same connections that employees of large organizations have. You can overcome this deficiency by joining local groups and organizations in your industry. Your membership in these groups will give you access to events, conferences, and career opportunities.

2. Leverage Your Personal Network

There’s also something to be said for leveraging your personal network to discover opportunities and find new connections. Every friend, relative, neighbor, or former classmate is a potentially valuable resource for you and your career. Cultivate these relationships by regularly catching up and/or informing them about what you’re doing.

3. Join a Coworking Space

For many freelancers, working from home is somewhat problematic in the sense that it eliminates your ability to rub shoulders with people on a daily basis. To combat this isolation, join a coworking space that allows you to mingle with other people, yet still remain focused and productive.

“Each tenant gets to be part of a larger network of lawyers, marketers, accountants, entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and students,” Novel Coworking explains. “You can meet other tenants at networking events, happy hours, and lunch and learns. Your next intern, business partner, or customer could be just across the hallway from your office.”

The beauty of renting coworking space is that you have the flexibility to work when and where you want. If you’re getting cabin fever working from home, you can head to the coworking space for a change of scenery. If the weather is nasty and you don’t feel like going outside, you can simply work from home one day. It’s your call!

4. Build an Online Presence

In today’s world, online networking is just as important as in-person networking. As a solopreneur, you have just as much opportunity as the next professional to take full advantage of this.

The key to online networking is to establish a brand and build up a digital presence. You can do this by creating a website, developing social media profiles, publishing content, and utilizing LinkedIn or other online communities that are specific to your industry.

Adding it All Up

Networking isn’t easy or effortless. It’s gritty, tiresome work that often feels unrelenting and low-returning. However, a long-term investment will ultimately yield a healthy harvest of new opportunities. Prioritize networking, and you’ll infuse greater potential into your career. It’s as simple as that.

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Management

Hospitality Help: Tips to Use from Successful Franchises

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What if your franchise investment financially ruins you?

Most entrepreneurs hope opening a franchise is their key to sustainable profit. However, it’s easy to make rookie mistakes that sink your business before it really gets off the ground.

Fortunately, you can follow the tips of successful franchises to make your own a smash hit! Keep reading to discover our handy hospitality help guide.

Adjust Expectations

We hate to burst your bubble, but there’s something you should know: you’re not going to get rich quick as a franchisee.

Owning a franchise is mostly about embracing the “slow and steady win the race” mentality. Your goal is steady profit, and it’s hard enough to meet that goal. Overnight superstardom is not going to happen for you.

It sounds simple, but adjusting your expectations is one of the best moves you can make early on in your career. Instead of planning for explosive short-term success, you’ll start planning for long-term gains and growth.

All in all, it’s very Zen: only by accepting the very real possibility of failure can you achieve success.

Cultivate Leadership

Many workers see training as a one-shot deal. Someone like a managers gets specific training when they are hired and then they are good to go…right?

However, the challenges facing your franchise are going to change from year to year. And over enough time, your key demographics will change as well.

The solution to this is ongoing training and professional development opportunities for your managers and upper leadership. You can provide such training via multiple methods.

For example, training may be delivered via computer, in-person, or even via productivity apps such as Slack. Not only does this build better leaders, but it shows your employees you are invested in their success.

Customer-Centric

A successful franchise is something of a paradox. On one hand, part of your appeal is that customers are already familiar with your brand.

On the other hand, customers still want a unique experience. And this is where many franchises drop the ball.

You need to appeal to customers at the individual and community level. Don’t just sell them products: host special events, sponsor local charities, and so on.

Ultimately, you will attract more customers because they’ll want to support a company they see as supporting their community!

Talk With Your Peers

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are also the most effective. Want to figure out what makes a successful franchise? Then you should talk to a successful franchisee!

Don’t talk to just anyone, though. Ideally, you should speak with someone who owns a franchise of the same company and is relatively close to your area.

Such a person will know the ins and outs of running a successful franchise while navigating various corporate rules and regulations. And they will also know what makes the local population tick, giving you an advantage when it comes to sales and marketing.

You can also pair such discussions with your own external research. For instance, this helpful page is invaluable for those wanting a hotel franchise!

Everyone Trains

Want to hear the three words that spell doom for a franchise? Here they are: “not my job.”

Every employee has a special role to play in your organization. However, some employees are unable (or unwilling) to do anything outside of that role.

In a successful franchise, everyone should be willing to train everyone else. Employees shouldn’t be limited to their special skills: they must be able and willing to teach those skills to other people.

Make sure you are clear on this policy to anyone and everyone that you hire. When every worker is also willing to be a trainer and a leader, you will create a culture of success.

Set and Measure KPIs

Look, we get it: chances are you went into the franchise business to get away from the corporate world and be your own boss.

Nonetheless, there are certain corporate concepts that will help your business succeed. One of the most important is that you must have Key Performance Indicators.

The basic idea is that your franchise is never truly successful enough. You should have specific goals for the next weeks, months, and years, and you must have ways of measuring your success.

One simple way to do this is to rely on secret shoppers. That way, you can accurately gauge the experience your average customer has been having.

Location, Location, Location

You can build your franchise pretty much anywhere. Of course, that can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Many owners pick a location by going with their gut. But trust us on this one: you’ll want to go with your brain instead.

It’s important to think like a customer. Is your location close enough to the center of town? Do you have enough parking for everyone?

Be brutally honest about what the location will mean for your customer’s experiences. If things are annoying or inconvenient, they will quickly move on to a more convenient rival business!

Focus on Retention

Know the phrase “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” That phrase applies to employees as well!

It’s great to think about strategies for hiring new employees. But it’s actually much more important to hold onto the employees that you already have. They are going to be your most knowledgeable and most efficient workers.

Try to pay attention to how long the average worker works in a position before quitting (management software can help with this). It may be possible to provide reorientation, training, or incentives to retain these workers for longer periods of time.

For the most part, your customer’s experience is determined by your employees. It’s worth it to hold onto the best ones for as long as you can!

Successful Franchises: The Bottom Line

Now you know the secrets of the most successful franchises. But do you know where to get more of the info you need?

At Business Blog Hub, we bring you the advice you need to make your company shine. To discover your next moves, check out our management tips today!

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Management

Happy Staff, Productive Business: The Best Employee Management Software Programs

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Did you know that over 21 hours are wasted each week by each employee in a company? It’s no wonder that employers are looking for ways to help put an end to time spent not contributing value to their company. The most successful businesses are those with well-managed, happy employees.

Keep reading for the top employee management software programs for your business.

The Top Employee Management Software Programs for Businesses

Profits in business are important because if you don’t bring in money, it is difficult to stay in business. Just like profits are important, how efficient your staff functions is equally as important. Employee management software helps employers have a more productive and engaged team.

When looking into employee management software, you have to understand what the company’s needs are. Knowing this will make it easier to choose the best features for the business.

Why Is Employee Management Important?

Employees are a company’s biggest asset. Without them, how will the company run? Employee management includes a few different things such as leave and vacation management, employee scheduling, task management, and attendance tracking.

With the right data from employee management software, companies can gain insight into staff shortage, when they need to hire new employees, and skill development.

What to Look for in Management Systems?

As you narrow down your choices for which software to choose, you’ll want to make sure that it offers some of these top features:

  • Employee self-service capability
  • Cloud platform
  • Analytic reports
  • Employee onboarding
  • Payroll capability
  • Applicant management
  • Remote work capability
  • Freelance integration

As mentioned before, make sure that you choose the software that will fit the needs of your company. Every company is different and requires different features to make it work best.

Saba

This is a cloud-based management system. It offers employee performance appraisals, learning management, and succession planning through a user-friendly platform. Their mission is to help their clients create a work experience that’s engaging, empowering and inspiring.

There are add-ons to choose from if your company needs certain extra features.

Gusto

Gusto is a popular cloud-based platform. It has automation for different activities such as payroll, and it’s user-friendly.

When a new employee comes aboard, it has a new employee interface where they can enter all of their information directly into the Gusto system.

Hubstaff

Hubstaff has different packages available starting from $5. Some features available include time tracking, scheduling, application monitoring, and screenshots. The features vary based on the package that’s chosen.

Hubstaff gives you the option to try them out with their 14-day free trial to make sure it’s a good fit for your company. You can set budget limits that are based on time or price.

Connecteam

This software is unique because they also have a user-friendly app that is made for the non-desktop employee in mind. Connecteam has different features available including operations, time tracking, scheduling, communication, and files.

With Connecteam, you can communicate the content you need to every employee. They also offer live chat group conversations, an employee suggestion area, and employee feedback surveys.

They have very affordable options starting from $29 monthly.

Timeclock Hub

This system is great and best of all Timeclock Hub offers a free online employee clock for up to 3 users. They also offer a starter plan for only $15 for unlimited users and a premium plan for $20 monthly plus $2 per user.

They have different features that depend on the plan that is chosen, but some of the features include PTO requests, employee scheduler, punch-in photo capture, and GPS location punch-in restrictions.

All of their plans include live chat, phone, and email support to give your company peace of mind in case there are any questions.

Bullhorn

Bullhorn is geared towards larger corporations and staffing agencies with many users. This software can be customized to fit the needs of your company.

This software system is made for the recruitment process. Some of their features include onboarding, invoicing, and time and expense.

Teramind

Teramind caters to companies that are looking for a user-friendly system that’s easy to learn and use. There are a ton of features including reporting, automation, and analytics.

Teramind offers remote employee monitoring which is perfect for the business that has remote workers. A company can track employee activity, productivity, and behavior from afar.

Another feature is for vendor access. You’re able to give vendors the access they need and have their sessions recorded and locked down.

If your company is worried about safety, Teramind has a feature that alerts a business when it notices suspicious activity.

Time Doctor

Time Doctor is great at telling you exactly how time is wasted which in turn can boost productivity within the company. Some of the features include screenshots, chat monitoring, time use tracking, billing, time use alerts, and track breaks.

Ready to Improve Profit Margins?

The first thing to consider is how efficient your workforce is. Employee management software is worth the investment if your company is looking to improve and grow. The list above gives you an idea of what different companies have to offer.

The best advice is to figure out what your needs are to ensure that you choose the best software.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Check out our management section to help your company level up.

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Management

3 Tips To Eliminate Scope Creep In Your Client Projects

marketing statistics

According to statistics, 43% of all projects are late, over budget, or are delivered with less than the original requirements. Thirty-nine percent of all projects succeed, and 18% completely fail. Projects usually fail due to lack of planning and breakdowns. A large number of unplanned breakdowns come from scope creep.

Scope creep is frustrating when your client doesn’t understand the additional costs and time required to implement their new requests. Some scope creeps are small enough to handle without bringing it up to the client, but sometimes they’re enormous. A significant increase in scope can postpone a project’s lifecycle, causing unnecessary distrust from the client.

The goal of any project is a happy client, so here’s how to handle scope creep to mitigate the risks of an incomplete project and an unhappy client.

1. Plan how you’ll handle scope management

Many businesses fail to define how they’ll manage the scope of their projects ahead of time, and that’s a huge mistake. You need a plan for defining, developing, monitoring, controlling, and verifying the scope of every project. You need a plan for dealing with scope creep and changes, including an escalation path in case there’s a disagreement. That’s the job of your project manager.

If your project manager isn’t accustomed to planning scope management, consider getting them the training that will provide them with that ability. The gold standard is Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from PMI.

If you’ve got a PMP certified project manager, you’ve got an expert in scope management. According to EdWel.com, the project scope management part of PMP training trains project managers to “ensure that the project contains all the work and only the work necessary, to fulfill project objectives successfully.” The training teaches how to define, develop, monitor, control, and verify the scope of a project. Most importantly, it teaches how to develop a process to define how requested changes to the scope will be processed.

If you’ve never considered creating a plan for managing the ever-expanding and contracting scope of your projects, jump on it. It will save so much time, frustration, and money.

2. Provide each client with examples of what will change the scope

It may be impossible to eliminate scope creep completely, but you can lay the foundation for a clear conversation and resolution when it happens. In the beginning, provide your clients with specific examples of what would change the scope of their project. Give them examples related to their project so they can understand.

For instance, if you’re a videographer, explain to your clients how a simple change in location can increase the cost of the project. Explain that when you’re hired to shoot an outdoor event, you don’t need much lighting equipment. However, if they want to change the location to indoors, you’ll need plenty of lighting equipment. If you don’t own it, you’ll need to rent it, and that cost will be passed to the client. It could cost an extra $1,000 or more, depending on the project specs.

Give your clients real examples of common scope creeps ahead of time so they aren’t shocked when you have to tell them their new request will cost more.

3. Explain how a change in scope affects your team and the project

From your perspective, when you tell a client their newest set of requests will increase the scope of the project, you’re thinking about how much work you have to scrap and how long it will take to rebuild the foundation. To the client, it’s just a phrase until you explain it to them.

A client only knows what they want and are relying on you to figure out how to deliver it. For instance, say you’re a website developer and you’ve built a client’s website in ASP, but a month later they want a WordPress website. WordPress is written in a different language – PHP – and unless you use a preexisting template, you’ll need to start from scratch. The only part of the project you can transfer without too much extra work is the design.

Explaining how a change in scope will affect their project gives clients the opportunity to stick with the original plan if they’re on a budget, or move forward if they can afford the changes.

Clarity is the antidote to scope creep

Some scope creeps are the result of unclear communication. It’s important to extract as much clarity from clients as possible regarding their desired outcome. For example, when they tell you they want a website, what they really mean is they want to increase ecommerce sales by 30% through redesigning the user interface.

Most scope creeps can be avoided by getting clear on the desired outcome from the start.

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Management

7 Steps To Creating Your First Product

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Every year, thousands and thousands of new companies are started, many of which revolve around a single product. While it would be great if every product created was successful, that isn’t often the case. Creating a product can be a difficult journey and one that could test both your will and patience.

In addition to potentially being expensive to get off the ground, creating a product often means going up against a lot of competition. As a result, product creation is something to take incredibly seriously. With that in mind, this blog post is going to go over a few different steps to creating your first product. We’ll look at everything from the inception of the idea up to the launch of the product.

Come Up With an Idea

The first step to creating any product is coming up with an idea for a product. Now, for many entrepreneurs, this is the most difficult part of creating a product. Coming up with a viable idea can be difficult and there is no guarantee you will ever come up with a good one, no matter how long you try. Generally, there can be a few different ways for a person to come up with an idea.

Sometimes it might be in response to an issue you’ve been having, sometimes it’s addressing a common pain point and sometimes a idea can just pop into your head. If you have an idea in your head that you are passionate about and can’t seem to shake, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Research the Potential of the Idea

Once your broad idea for a product has been thought of, it’s time to do a little bit of research. You need to see if your idea has already been taken, or if you’ll go up against similar products on the market. You need to look at the potential of your idea as well as the price, features and reputation of your potential competition.

You should also research if your idea has potential to be successful. In order for a product to be deemed successful, you’ll have to sell some of them. So you need to figure out if your idea is something people would be interested in or not. This can be done through looking at the success of competitors, or if there is a gap in the market.

Come Up With a Variety of Designs

Once you know the sorts of features that you want your product to include and what you want it to accomplish, it is time to come up with some designs. This stage or step can take a long time, as you will be using all the creativity you have. You need to create as many designs as possible and see what sticks out as a good option.

These sketches, ideas and designs are likely going to be very rough and ugly, but that is okay. This is a completely creative step and there is no right or wrong design to create. Eventually, you will be able to see which potential designs have legs and which have no business actually becoming a product.

Pick Your Favorite and Get a Prototype Made

Once you have come up with a number of designs, you need to choose your favorite to actually produce. While some products can be created by hand or manually, this isn’t often the case. Many products will require the help of an experienced production team who specializes in creating your prototypes and parts.

Of course, actually creating a prototype will cost some money. So be sure to either have enough money in your accounts to cover it, or be willing to get a loan or take on investments. The actual costs will vary depending on the complexity of your prototype and what it is made out of.

Complete Testing and Make Refinements

Once a prototype is created, it is time to test it. Testing it yourself is good, but there are likely biases that are going to exist. As a result, it is a good idea to get others to test your prototype as well. Not only can getting potential customers testing your product let them become familiar with it, but it will also tell you some areas where you can improve.

Once you have some feedback from testers, it is time to make refinements based on their response. The product is for the public, so you should listen to them and make the changes that they see fit. Too many creators or designers get stuck in their own ideas that they don’t listen to the market, which is a big mistake.

Bring the Final Product to Life

Once all of that is done, it’s time to bring your product to life. You need to begin producing or manufacturing them for your customers. You will likely need to find a factory capable of creating your product, unless you are able to do it by hand for the first little while.

While you might think your job is done once your product is released, that isn’t the case. You need to keep an eye on the market to ensure your product is getting a positive reception and no common issues or defects are occurring.

Communicate Your Value Proposition

Once your final product has been made and released, it’s time to start marketing and selling it going forward. Unfortunately, most products that are created will end up failing. In general, there are two main reasons why a product will fail. The first is just a general disinterest from customers due to a high price, low quality or that the product doesn’t address a pain point.

The second reason, however, is if you do a bad job communicating the value and merits of your product. Once you are ready to begin selling, you need to be clear, direct and straightforward about the value of your product. If customers can simply, easily and clearly see the value of your product, they will be more likely to buy it.

In conclusion, hopefully this article has been able to help you know the steps to take when creating your first product.

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Management

The Keys to a Successful Workplace: 5 Tips to Boost Employee Engagement

staff

Your employees show up every day and do their work without complaint. That means they’re happy and content with their jobs, right?

Not necessarily. A whopping 70 percent of U.S. employees report being disengaged in the workplace.

Employee engagement is essential if you want your business to succeed long-term. Not sure how to help your employees to be more engaged? Keep reading.

Listed below are five tips that will help to boost employee engagement at your office.

Importance of Employee Engagement

Before we get into employee engagement strategies, let’s start by going over some of the benefits of employee engagement. Employee engagement is important for several reasons, including the following:

  • More employee satisfaction and retention
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased profitability
  • Increased employee loyalty

If you’re not focusing on employee engagement at your office, you’re probably missing out on a lot of potential sales. You can lose a lot of money when your employees aren’t working to their full potential.

How to Boost Employee Engagement

Clearly, you need to make employee engagement a priority if you want to have a successful, long-lasting business. Keep these tips in mind to start boosting engagement at your office:

1. Put Employees in the Right Roles

Start by making sure your employees are in the right roles for their personalities and skill sets. If your employees aren’t doing the jobs they’re qualified or trained to do, they’re not going to perform to their full potential.

2. Emphasize Employee Training

Speaking of training, it’s also important to make sure your employees are trained to do the jobs you have them doing.

If employees don’t feel that they’ve been properly trained, they’re likely going to make a lot of mistakes, including potentially costly ones. They may also get frustrated and stop trying altogether.

3. Check in Regularly

Check in with your employees on a regular basis and find out whether or not they’re feeling satisfied with their job.

Do they feel adequately challenged and fulfilled with the work they’re doing? What would help them to feel more satisfied with their job?

4. Show Appreciation

Remember to let your employees know that you appreciate them, too.

Don’t just assume they know. You need to actually tell them that you’re happy with the work they’ve done, verbally or in writing.

5. Use Technology

Finally, make use of tools like Employee App that streamline employee communication and make it easy for everyone to stay in touch.

These apps promote collaboration and teamwork. They also allow everyone to stay engaged and informed on what everyone else is doing.

Looking for More Business Management Advice?

There are a lot of different strategies you can implement to boost employee engagement.

Start with these five tips and see how the atmosphere of your office changes for the better.

Do you need more help managing your employees and making sure your business runs as smoothly as possible? If so, we’ve got resources for you.

Head to the Management section of our site today for articles on accounting, finance, finding legal help, and more!

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