Small Business Saturday Blog

How Small Businesses Should Deal With Adversity

Monday, July 24 at 10:28
Inspiration | Planning | Quick Guide | Small Business | Small Business Saturday

Credit: pexels
My typical approach when faced with adversity is to see every problem as having a solution. This healthy attitude helps me problem solve, and prevents me from wasting any time. These days, you are spoilt for choice with resources and advice that can help you navigate the testing first few years of your new business. This advice is useful regardless of what vertical you are in, so keep reading for some advice on how small businesses should act when faced with challenging situations. Don’t panic – find a solution As a small business owner, you are important as the leader of the team. A lot of responsibility rests on your shoulders. One of these responsibilities is the need to stay calm under pressure. Panicking will hinder you from staying level-headed and coming up with a problem to your solution, and it will make your employees stressed too. Problem #1: Insufficient funds to make necessary investment Financial problems are common in businesses of all sizes. However, your finances may be a little more unstable if you are just starting up. It’s commonplace for businesses to make a loss until their third year. You need to pull up all of your data and analyse it thoroughly to determine where the leaks are in your ship.Are any of your accounts or departments operating at a loss? Perhaps your clients aren’t paying you what you truly deserve for your services?Here are some points for you to consider if you are running into financial hardship:● If you feel you deserve more money for your products or services, consider showing your clients the great results you have delivered to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for more, within reason.● Are there any projects or product ranges that just don’t yield enough of a profit margin? Take a look at this article for inspiration on ways you could cut costs, from shopping around for the best deals on your overhead costs, to embracing cloud technology.● Have you thought about diversifying into different lines of business to supplement your existing revenue? Maybe selling your product offering online will help you generate the revenue that you need to grow? This is so easy to do – there are a lot of online store creators on the market for you to get set up in a matter of hours. Take a look at start up favourite Shopify, popular among SMEs thanks to its premium designs.● Securing funding might be what you need to do when all else fails. This article has more information on these sources of funding, including loans and grants.Problem #2: No time to make important changes to your business 
credit: Pexels
 As a small business owner, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work and responsibility that comes your way. You need to be realistic about your workload and manage your time effectively. Here’s how:● Delegate the tasks you feel can be handed on to your employees, once they have received proper training. This will allow you to focus on the big picture task of growing your business.● Getting a good night’s sleep, exercising and eating well will help you stay focused and productive, reducing the time taken to complete important tasks● Luckily, there are plenty of time-hacking apps available to help you with your time management. Toggl is great to keep track of how long tasks are taking you, and Rescuetime helps you understand your daily habits so you can focus and be more productive. Give these apps a try make your days go further.The most important thing about the problems you face is to see every experience as a valuable lesson.Make sure that you make a report for every problem you face and document exactly what your solution was. Offering your employees guidance on how to implement solutions is key here, too – communicating effectively with them will save you from encountering the problem again.Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to help them blossom. She loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge with the world and encouraging entrepreneurial dialogue.

A Beginners Guide to Corporate Wiki

Friday, May 20 at 17:17
Digital | Planning | Quick Guide | Top Tips

In the business world wikis have begun to boost performance and overall client satisfaction as they provide various functions and assist multiple goals. Maybe the Wiki concept you have in mind is associated with Wikipedia but it´s important to understand that it´s not the same thing starting from the fact that they pursue very different objectives.
In order to understand the concept, let's begin with a simple example which I´m sure is common to any type of organization: A project was recently started and team members began to search for past experiences and relevant information only to find that experiences had not been properly recorded and that information remained in the PCs and personal file servers of previous team members. Step by step set of instructions that explained: what to do, what you should have done and what needs to be avoided is not readily available for the team so they start from scratch and along the way they begin to encounter the very same roadblocks.
The above example is a common scenario for organizations that don't have a centralized place for information and experiences to be stored. What's worse is that resources are wasted as teams invest time doing things over and fail to reach consistency. Even client expectations are juggled as this sort of practice does not reinforce what your brand stands for. So what can be done about it? How can we avoid those angry reinventing the wheel moments and help teams incorporate best practices and important information?
Corporate wikis are a great place to start as they provide various functions in order for team members to store and co-create content together. In this sense it´s important to mention that the Wiki experience is different from having intranets as they are more dynamic and users are at the center of the strategy as they are responsible for curating and creating content across the company.
Wiki software also allows you to create FAQs, manuals and other form of vital information which can also prove to be extremely helpful in the service desk sector in order to assist client requirements. For example, ticket handling and calls can become stressful when customer agents have to attend the same requirements over and over again while clients are put on hold and have no early and proactive access to information. Wikis can centralize important product or service information so that clients can search for answers themselves which in turn helps create a better customer journey with little to none bottlenecks.
Wiki software comes in many forms and prices. Open source options are available but they have one basic problem: you need extra coding hours in order to customize it so that it suits your company´s identity and security patterns. You might also have existing software and programs, so having a Wiki that can integrate with them is a must in order to avoid multiple access points. Evaluating content reuse is also important so that you can have a clear idea of what information is valuable in terms of customer service and projects. This can also help you spot trends and insights regarding your customer´s behavior. So, being able to incorporate tools such as google analytics is great.
Existing SaaS companies like ProProfs, incorporate these functions and have the advantage of being cloud based which helps reduce costs associated to storage and maintenance.
From the above we can clearly perceive the benefits of having wikis as opposed to losing valuable information and not being able to reach out properly to customers.
These type of benefits are not just meant for big business, on the contrary if you start from day one when your company is small, meeting new challenges and growth won’t be a problem since everything will be properly centralized and structured. The challenge is bigger when companies start when they are already big as the amount of information and experiences to be handled will also be greater.
In this sense make the right decision and embed wikis in to your company´s culture from day one!
"David Miller is an educational researcher who has several years of experience in the field of teaching, online testing and training. He is associated with prestigious universities and many leading educational research organizations. Currently, he is pursuing research in online knowledge base software and is also a contributing author with ProProfs."

How to use social media to grow your small business

Friday, May 20 at 09:46
Quick Guide | Social Media | Top Tips

Three quarters of SMEs are planning to implement a social media marketing plan by 2017.  But having the expertise to do this right can be challenging, especially if your time is limited.Here at Digital Mums, where we train mums to be social media managers and help businesses with social media solutions, we’ve developed a straightforward approach that will simply define your approach to social media. And it works whatever your business type.  We call it the Test, Measure, Reflect and Refine model. How it worksThe premise is simple - expand upon what works on social media and throw away everything else.  It focuses on constantly tweaking and improving on content, conversations and engagement.Step 1:  TestThink about your target customer and develop detailed user personas of who they are (to find out how to do this check out the first in our #SocialDoneRight blog series).  Then test out different approaches on social media to see what works best.  So for example;
  • push different content formats i.e. photos, videos and text
  • push different content subject matter
  • schedule posts at different times of the day and week
What you choose to test first doesn’t really matter - the important thing is to get started.Step 2:  MeasureIt’s best to wait about a week before you start analysing posts.  As nearly everything on social media can be measured (almost there Instagram!) you can establish the success of every single post.Some of the analytics can seem complicated, but they’re worth persevering with as the data is incredible. Step 3:  ReflectOnce you have your data, you’ll need to dedicate some time to really analysing  it.  Distilling key insights will really help you improve your activity, These are some of the key things to look out for:
  • Date / Time
Are there are certain times of the week or month you posts are more successful?  Perhaps the weekend is always quiet so you need to post more mid week, or vice-versa.
  • Audience/demographics
Depending on the platform you’ll get data on the people following you and even who has viewed your profile.  If you’re not quite reaching your target demographic, think again about the type of content you’re pushing out.
  • Impressions/reach
This is helpful for brand awareness as you can check how many people have seen your activity. Certain content or a big influencer sharing may mean a spoke in content.  If you see a dip you might need to post more often.
  • Engagement
The more likes, comments and shares you’re getting, then the more engaged your audience.   You should be able to see what content works best and when it’s best to post it.
  • Clicks
If you’re aiming to drive people to your website then look at the click throughs.  These analytics are also useful in establishing if brand awareness is translating into a deeper interest in your company.
  • New fans/followers
Spikes or drops could be related to the amount your posting and joining in with conversations.  You may see more followers when you use a popular hashtag or piggyback an event, in which case do it more.Step 4:  RefineOnce you have these insights you can then refine your social media activity accordingly.  Do more of what is successful and get rid of anything that hasn’t worked.Then once you’ve refined, you can begin testing again.  It’s a never-ending cycle to consistently improve your performance! It takes patience, but over time we guarantee you’ll build an engaged and strong community and truly see results from social media.
By Richard Miranda, Head of Growth at Digital Mums. For a step-by-step guide to social media for small businesses follow our #SocialDoneRight blog series over on blog.digitalmums.com.  Join us every Thursday 11am-12pm for our #SocialDoneRight tweet chats on @DigitalMumsBiz to get advice from social media experts.

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