Tag Archive: small_business_owner_report

Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer

Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer.Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer

Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer. One summer, I interned at a law firm in San Francisco. I wanted to impress the partners so that they would offer me a job after I graduated the following year. This was back in the day when law firms really wined-and-dined their potential associates.

 

Man, I loved that summer.

 

The partners took us river rafting, invited us to fancy dinners and drinks at their homes, and yes, they even took us in a hot-air balloon. Oh yeah, we also did a little work too. Needless to say, I really wanted to work at that firm. Well, I got my chance a year later, and let’s just say that the real world was a tad different than my summer of fun. Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer.

 

It turns out that many businesses are learning that one of the smartest things they can do, especially at this time of year, is to take advantage of the natural rhythms of the season and give employees their own summer fun. Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer.

 

In fact, if you take a close look at the latest edition of the spring 2013 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), it turns out that many employers are taking this idea of creating a strong culture seriously. The Report found that almost nine in 10 small business owners offer some type of benefits to their employees.

If you want to engage your employees this summer, here are a few tips mentioned in the SBOR that will make your employees feel more engaged:

 

1. Offer flexible work hours: Forty-five percent of the entrepreneurs surveyed in the SBOR said that they reward their staff with flexible hours and/or they let them work from home. While this used to be an exotic idea, it is much more commonplace today. Between the cloud, smart phones, apps and laptops, anyone can work anywhere at any time. Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer.

 

So let them.

 

Especially during the summer, it makes sense to give employees some flexibility and some time to enjoy the nice weather.  By allowing your employees to get work done at a time more convenient for them, they will reward you with their loyalty and hard work.

 

2. Share amenities like free lunch, massages, etc. When you visit a large, successful Internet company like Google or Facebook, one thing that is very noticeable is the amount of free (or subsidized) food available. No, it’s not cheap, but it is a benefit that keeps people at the office and not taking two-hour lunches.

 

For small businesses, one alternative might be to provide free, healthy snacks like fruit and water, which are affordable and appreciated.

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3. Lead team building events:  According to the SBOR, only about 25 percent of the small business owners surveyed used this tactic, and I think that is a mistake. In the summertime, when everyone is thinking about a lot more than just work, a fun event together away from the office is often just what the doctor ordered. Whether it is going out to dinner, a game, or a concert together, a team-building event is the best way to grow as a team and build a strong culture.

 

4. Allow social media at work: This is a tricky one. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said they use this tactic to reward employees. However, as we all know, social media can easily gobble up a whole lot more time than one anticipates and potentially decrease productivity in the office. I recommend offering this perk to employees as it is a great way to take a short mental break from work, but certainly speak up if you feel the privilege is being abused.

 

5. Give unexpected freebies: Give employees some free time off. Have a spontaneous contest and give the winner a pair of seats to a game. Buy gift cards from Starbucks and hand them out. Give everyone an unannounced afternoon off.

 

This is the time of year when people like to take advantage of the outdoors. Let them and you and your business will both be rewarded. Ways to Engage Your Employees This Summer.

 

Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

3 Ways To Grow Your BusinessGoogle Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business Google “business networking” and you’ll see links to articles on how to increase your Facebook Likes and Twitter followers. Connecting with potential customers and business partners via social networking is, by now, an essential part of any company’s growth. Despite the skyrocketing impact of social media over the past decade, however, the importance of old-fashioned, face-to-face networking has not faded. Shaking hands at conferences and making chit chat at cocktail parties is still one of the best ways to expand your brand’s reach, build your business, and create vital partnerships. So, just how good are your networking skills? To turn that annual conference small talk into a critical company connection, look over this list of networking Dos and Don’ts.

 

DO research who is coming

If possible, look over the guest list for any conference or party and make a mental list of those folks you want to meet. Shawna Tregunna, founder and owner of ReSoMe.com, a social media company, explores who is coming online and uses social media to reach out to fellow attendees before the event. “I watch for mentions of [the event] on social media by hashtag or name. I also check out the guest list if it is public. If I see someone I want to connect with, I look for them on Twitter or LinkedIn and [send them a Tweet or message such as] ‘I see we are both headed to XYZ event! I would love to get a chance to say hi. Looking forward to connecting!’ Then, at the event, I have a list of people I know I will connect with,” says Tregunna. Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

DON’T be afraid to approach someone

“Take every advantage possible to meet new people,” says Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of Cheekd.com, a sort of reverse-engineered dating site that provides its members icebreakers they can use to introduce themselves to new people. “When attending networking events, I find that it’s most advantageous to go alone so that you’re forced to talk to new people,” suggests Cheek. “Understand everyone is there for a similar reason and, for the most part, want to make new connections, so don’t be shy—just walk up and introduce yourself. The only thing you have to lose is an opportunity.” Cheek also offers a reminder not to make quick judgments. “Efficiently communicate and never dismiss a single soul—you never know who you’re talking to, who they might know, or how they’d be able to contribute [to your company].” Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

DO listen…and listen and listen

“Listen more than you talk. People invariably like someone who listens to them and makes them feel interesting and appreciated,” says Lisa Thompson, L.P.C., director of professional services for Pearson Partners International, Inc., a full-service retained executive search firm. Thompson suggests keeping your own story to a minimum. “Avoid immediately going into too much detail about what you offer. Unless they indicate a real interest by asking direct questions, you will bore them and they will want to escape,” suggests Thompson. “Practice describing what you do in just a couple of sentences.” Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

DON’T stay in just your industry

Getting beyond the folks within your industry can benefit your company in surprising ways. New ideas for marketing partnerships, insight on fresh ways to approach sales, and more solid business opportunities may arise from chatting with someone in another field or specialty. “It pays dividends to diversify your connections. Raise your awareness of the circles you spend your time in and if the circles have become too narrow—one type of industry, one type of profession—make it a point to widen the circle from time-to-time,“ writes founder and CEO of Impact Instruction Group Amy Franko in her e-book 35 Tips to Build Lasting Strategic RelationshipsGoogle Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

 

SmallTalk_PQ.jpgDO take notes

Katie Shea, director of marketing at OrderGroove.com, a company that launches and manages subscription programs for major retailers, suggests taking a brief moment to take notes on people you meet. “If you are at a large networking event like a cocktail party
or fundraiser, it’s easy to collect dozens of cards, yet difficult to keep
track of all of the different two- to three-minute conversations,” says Shea. “After a few
conversations, take a break to write personal notes on the back of each
card you’ve received—[things like] ‘NYU alum, born in South Africa, avid traveler.’ Not only will this jog your memory of the conversation, but your new
contact is likely to be impressed that you remembered such a personal
detail about him or her during later conversations.”

 

DON’T get stuck in conversations

Having a few ideas on how to exit a conversation is just as important as having opening lines to start one. Being “trapped” with one person for too long means missed opportunities to connect with others. “Learn to handle networking vultures and elegantly get out of a conversation with someone who wants to stick with you,” suggests Thompson. “You might say there is someone across the room you just have to speak to, or introduce that person to another and move along, or have other possible strategies up your sleeve.”

 

DO follow up in person

Keep that brief conversation going after the event with another face-to-face meeting—even if you don’t see an immediate use for the relationship. “You’ve heard the saying that if you need a relationship, it’s usually too late to build it. It’s often why people end up feeling as though they’re being insincere, because continual relationship building isn’t a habit built into their everyday life,” notes Franko. “A quick conversation with a new contact is rarely a bad
thing, but where the deals happen is later down the road. Be sure to follow
up—offer to buy coffee, lunch, a drink—with those individuals that you
believe offer synergies to your business,” offers Shea. Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

DON’T have an out-of-date online presence

To cultivate and grow relationships, many go beyond “just touching base” periodic emails. They build on that face-to-face networking with social media, which means it is vital your LinkedIn account is always up-to-date, and you are active on at least one social media channel. “I will connect with everyone within 48 hours [of an event] on LinkedIn with a unique greeting and ask for their other social channels so we can stay in touch,” notes Tregunna. “I then try to do mentions of them on social media if they are active – ‘Great meeting at on ! If you haven’t connected with them here you should try!’” That virtual connection keeps the lines of communication open and ready for future business opportunities that happen in person. Google Business Networking Tips for Building Your Small Business

Getting Ready for Your Busy Season

Getting Ready for Your Busy Season

Posted by Steve Strauss in Advertising, Sales and Marketingon Nov 20, 2012 9:04:36 AM

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngI saw a statistic recently that was pretty interesting: According to CNN, last year, despite all the bad news about the economy, Black Friday set a record with over $50 billion being spent with sales up 16% over the previous year. So that’s good news for small businesses this year, right?

 

  1. Wrong.

 

Here’s why: I recently saw some other statistics that are even more interesting, and for our purposes, far more relevant. According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (click to download PDF),

 

  • The vast majority of small businesses see little to no benefit from Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In fact 91% of small business owners surveyed said that the two post-Thanksgiving shopping days had minor (or no) impact on their business.
  • As such, and not surprisingly, 81% said that they thought that Cyber Monday was overhyped.

 

At first blush, I was surprised at the results of the survey, but after thinking about it more it made sense. All of those post-Thanksgiving sales tend to revolve around big box stores. That’s who has the sales, that’s what the press focuses on and that’s where people put their attention.
Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

But that does not mean that the holiday season may not be important to your business, for instance many retail stores still rely on holiday sales. But whether December is your busy season, or yours occurs in the summer or fall, the question remains: How do you get ready for your busiest time of year?

 

Here are 4 tips to help you along the way:

 

1. Get your store or website ready: When you know more people, and new people, will be coming into your business, you need to put on your best face. If the store needs some paint and repairs, get to it. If your site needs some new content, do it. If you do your job right, not only will you impress them, but you will sell to them too.

 

2. Get your staff ready: Businesses that succeed during a busy season get their staff on board. This means getting them to have the right attitude. If you expect them to work extended or odd hours, make sure you make it worth their time and show your appreciation. Small gestures of thanks can have long-term benefits.

 

3. Choose a loss leader: If you want to increase sales, then try the loss leader strategy. Pick an item that you know will be popular and put it on sale. Discount it to the extent possible and then get word out via your advertising and social media. This will do two things:

 

  1. It will get people in the shop: Having a super deal on a super item will draw people in.
  2. It will get people to buy other things: The purpose of a loss leader is that, while you may not make a profit on the sale item, it will lead to more sales of other items, items that you will make a dandy profit on.

 

4. Prepare your e-strategy: These days, as you well know, people often check you out online before coming into your business. So before your busy season starts, it would behoove you to put a social media schedule in order and have people sign up for your e-newsletter to get early-bird word on special offers and sales.

 

Nov 20 pull quote.pngFinally, a word of caution: The worst thing you can do is get your promotions and programs all revved up and not be ready if they do, in fact, pan out. I once worked with a local pizza restaurant that had great pizza but no customers. So we put together a promotion and PR plan and before long, the local food critic came in are tried the place out. He loved it and the next Friday wrote a rave review in the paper. That night, the place was packed.

Getting Ready for Your Busy Season

Getting Ready for Your Busy Season

Posted by Steve Strauss in Advertising, Sales and Marketingon Nov 20, 2012 9:04:36 AM

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngI saw a statistic recently that was pretty interesting: According to CNN, last year, despite all the bad news about the economy, Black Friday set a record with over $50 billion being spent with sales up 16% over the previous year. So that’s good news for small businesses this year, right?

 

  1. Wrong.

 

Here’s why: I recently saw some other statistics that are even more interesting, and for our purposes, far more relevant. According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (click to download PDF),

 

  • The vast majority of small businesses see little to no benefit from Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In fact 91% of small business owners surveyed said that the two post-Thanksgiving shopping days had minor (or no) impact on their business.
  • As such, and not surprisingly, 81% said that they thought that Cyber Monday was overhyped.

 

At first blush, I was surprised at the results of the survey, but after thinking about it more it made sense. All of those post-Thanksgiving sales tend to revolve around big box stores. That’s who has the sales, that’s what the press focuses on and that’s where people put their attention.
Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

But that does not mean that the holiday season may not be important to your business, for instance many retail stores still rely on holiday sales. But whether December is your busy season, or yours occurs in the summer or fall, the question remains: How do you get ready for your busiest time of year?

 

Here are 4 tips to help you along the way:

 

1. Get your store or website ready: When you know more people, and new people, will be coming into your business, you need to put on your best face. If the store needs some paint and repairs, get to it. If your site needs some new content, do it. If you do your job right, not only will you impress them, but you will sell to them too.

 

2. Get your staff ready: Businesses that succeed during a busy season get their staff on board. This means getting them to have the right attitude. If you expect them to work extended or odd hours, make sure you make it worth their time and show your appreciation. Small gestures of thanks can have long-term benefits.

 

3. Choose a loss leader: If you want to increase sales, then try the loss leader strategy. Pick an item that you know will be popular and put it on sale. Discount it to the extent possible and then get word out via your advertising and social media. This will do two things:

 

  1. It will get people in the shop: Having a super deal on a super item will draw people in.
  2. It will get people to buy other things: The purpose of a loss leader is that, while you may not make a profit on the sale item, it will lead to more sales of other items, items that you will make a dandy profit on.

 

4. Prepare your e-strategy: These days, as you well know, people often check you out online before coming into your business. So before your busy season starts, it would behoove you to put a social media schedule in order and have people sign up for your e-newsletter to get early-bird word on special offers and sales.

 

Nov 20 pull quote.png

http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/growing-your-business/salesandmarketing/blog/2012/11/20/getting-ready-for-your-busy-season