Archives for January 2015

20+ Businesses Came Out to Our Barter 101 Luncheon

Thank you to our wonderful new clients who joined us this afternoon for Barter 101 Luncheon! We had more than 20 businesses show up to learn! A big thank you to Copeland’s of Cumberland who hosted the event and provided outstanding food as always. We hope everyone walked away with lots of new information and insight to make the most of your barter experience.

Call (770) 591-4343 to register for the next new client Barter 101 Luncheon.

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4 Goals Every Small-Business Owner Should Set in 2015

Whether it’s saving more money, eating healthier or spending more time with family, now is a time for making changes to improve upon our happiness. This applies to businesses too.

As we settle into 2015, it’s the perfect time for small-business owners to reevalute old processes and implement new ideas for a happier and more productive year ahead. Here are four goals that every small business owner should set this year:

1. Focus on your employees

Focus on taking better care of your employees for the year ahead. Keeping employees happy at your company is not only important financially, but it also influences overall office morale. If your employees enjoy coming to work, they’ll be more productive, and that attitude is contagious.

Ask your employees where they see themselves several years down the road and do what you can to accommodate their desires and goals. Maybe you need to rearrange job titles or project assignments. Additionally, reevalute your office culture. Look into offering occasional happy hours or team-building activities so your employees can get to know each other better on a personal level.

If you have working parents at your company, consider offering more flexible hours or bring-your-child-to-work policies. Lastly, consider offering or increasing other benefits such as health insurance, 401k plans or even gym memberships. Try to think outside the box and offer employee perks that really make a difference to the health and happiness of your employees.

2. Talk to your customers more

Customer needs and wants continuously change over time. Your company’s product or service might be on target right now in terms of customer demand, but don’t get too comfortable. This year, make it a goal to talk to more customers. Whether it’s one-on-one conversations, focus groups or surveys, try to get a better understanding of where the customer mindset will be in the next year.

Once you’ve taken the time to understand your customers better, reevalute your product or service. Maybe it’s time to make a few small changes to stay ahead of your customer demand. Consider testing new products or services in addition to those that are already working. Maybe offer discounts to get customers to try something new.

Don’t make extreme pivots that will take your business off track. Make sure you’re still able to focus on your core offerings that make your business successful.  Think about exposing more of your employees to customer interactions.

3. Evaluate your stress levels

As business owners, we’re always on the go. We rarely work “regular” nine to five hours, and have poured our heart and soul into our companies. But, this constant work mindset can have a negative effect on your personal well-being over time. Evaluate your stress level and consider personal initiatives to make sure that you’ll still enjoy running your business several years down the road.

It’s easy to want to please everyone, but sometimes it’s important to take some time to yourself. Mark off one to two hours a day on your calendar for “planned work time” and stick to it. Don’t schedule any meetings or calls during this time. This gives you a few hours a day to clear your mind and focus on tasks you may have put off in order to help others. Other routines such as lunchtime walks, morning workouts or completely disconnecting for several hours each night can also help you rejuvenate.

As a business owner, even when you are “not working” your mind is still working. By taking time to work out, spend time with your family and making sure you do not burn out, you will start to notice that sometimes you solve your toughest problems on that morning run, or while lying in bed with your 2-year-old as she falls asleep at night.

4. Plan ahead financially

Of course, it’s always important to plan financially for the year ahead. Without a solid plan that includes a budget, forecast and goals, it’s difficult to increase sales and revenue over time. Determine where you see your business in six months, one year and three years down the road, and set benchmarks along the way that you need to meet in order to achieve these goals.

Once you have a plan in place, be sure to constantly track your progress. Monitoring key performance indicators daily will help you understand if your financials are on track. If you’re consistently meeting your goals, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything is working well. If you’re not meeting goals, constant tracking will help you catch it soon enough to make changes or pivots before your business heads too far off course.

As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily operations and tasks that keep your company running. Take some time to reevaluate your processes and consider changing the status quo. Make resolutions that you can keep and are right for you. A few small changes can really go a long way when it comes to happiness and productivity in the year ahead.

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3 Small Business Resolutions To Keep in 2015

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It’s a new year! The holiday season brings with it a substantial uptick in sales, fulfillment, and marketing, but now that you’ve turned the corner into 2015, it’s time to start thinking about your business’ strategic goals, and how to achieve them.

No doubt you’ve already made a dozen lists of growth strategies, hiring plans, marketing goals, etc. As a small business owner, you know that making resolutions for your business in the new year is hard. We wanted to make sure that you prioritize the kinds of changes and tactics that will help your business become more sustainable and profitable not just in this quarter, but over the long term. Read on to discover the 3 small business resolutions your small business should keep to make 2015 your strongest year yet.

First Resolution: Update Your Web Presence

Your customers don’t just interact with you in place. Your website, Facebook page, online ads, Yelp listing — to your customers, they’re all an extension of you and your brand.

This year, resolve to update your entire online presence. Make sure it reflects what your business does in the strongest way possible, and make sure it’s consistent across all of your channels and media. That means language, keywords, logos, imagery.

Start by making a checklist of everywhere your business exists online. Then add places where you might want to expand this year. Considering an Instagram account? Want to add a Bing listing? Add everything to your checklist, and work your way through it. You may need to set aside a few hours, but it will bolster your brand, and set you up for success across the entire year.

Second Resolution: Set Concrete Goals To Accomplish

This may sound so obvious that it’s ridiculous. But setting out clear quarterly goals with regards to cash flow, visitors to your website, new stores to get your products into, etc., is harder than it looks.

Make sure you detail achievable goals in each area of your business, and don’t be afraid to evaluate your progress at the end of every month. If something isn’t working, change course. By setting goals in smaller increments, you can test and learn rather than looking back on a lagging strategy six months after the fact.

This brings up a second-part to thisresolution: Get to know your data. Don’t just understand your sales figures, but look at your full financial picture, your web traffic, the number of people who come in and out of your store during a given weekday or weekend day. All of this will help you benchmark what you do during the year, and it will let you make smarter decisions month after month.

Third Resolution: Update Your IT (or your IT roadmap)

Many small businesses that we work with don’t have an IT roadmap. They upgrade or purchase new IT products just to overcome a sudden challenge or issue. This means your small business is always reacting. Instead, start off 2015 by deciding where your IT needs will go over the next 24 months.

Start by looking at your current and future business challenges. What’s a pressing need today, but also, what needs can you imagine coming up later in the year? Or a year from now? Will you need to renew your website domain? Buy newer computers? Update your servers? Get a VoIP system for the office? Maybe you’ve always wanted to add e-commerce to your site.

Then, map your challenges to the technology solutions you need. Look at costs (both in terms of dollars and time) and start making a roadmap of what you can afford to update, and when. By working this way, you won’t be caught off guard when technology needs pop up.

Have A Great Year!

Don’t be one of those entrepreneurs who’ll let 2015 slip right through their fingers. With a little big-picture planning and some calendar commitments, you can keep your small business resolutions and achieve your annual goals. The key is to set some time aside this month to envision where you want to go, and then draft logical, manageable steps to take you there. Feeling overwhelmed? There is no need to go at it alone!

What other resolutions will your business be keeping in 2015? Cheers to a prosperous and productive new year!

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