Business Basics: Return on Investment (ROI)

Welcome back to business basics! In case you’ve forgotten, every week we take a look at a basic business concept in order to try to help new business owners better understand it. This week, we are covering Return on Investment, or ROI – a fairly straightforward, but often misunderstood, part of running a business! Though you may think you know all about ROI, you could be using it incorrectly. But first… ROI

What is ROI?

Return on Investment, or ROI, is pretty easy to grasp – heck, the definition is right in the name. It’s whatever return you get after your invest in some part of your business. So if you hire 2 new salespeople, a basic measurement of ROI will be the money they bring in, minus their wages. Continue reading

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Why User-Generated Content Matters for Businesses

Why User-Generated Content Matters for BusinessesUser-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that is produced by consumers or users. It can take the form of social media updates, reviews, blog posts, Q&A forums, photos or videos. Many businesses use different kinds of UGC as part of their overall marketing strategy and the benefits getting involved with UGC provides are nearly endless for your business.

  • Enriched user experience – UGC allows your customers and prospects to interact with like-minded people and share their opinions – this could be through posting comments on a blog, on discussion forums or status updates.
  • Enhanced understanding of your audience – User-generated content offers you an excellent opportunity to listen to your customers and be able to better understand their needs.
  • Established trust – Consumers usually base their buying decisions on what other people are saying. Having positive reviews on your site enhances the chances of prospects using your service or buying your product.
  • Search engine optimization – Search engines like Google rank sites based on how unique and relevant their content is. Having user-generated content on your site can play a major role in improving your search engine rankings and even make your site more visible.
  • Cost effectiveness – Hiring designers and writers to create content for your business site can be very expensive, but if you work with an in-house team instead, it’ll help you save on money and time.

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Why Knowing When to Step Back from Your Business is One of the Most Important Entrepreneurial Skills of All

Why Knowing When to Step Back from Your Business is One of the Most Important Entrepreneurial Skills of AllWhat are the defining characteristics of a successful entrepreneur? Passion, tenacity, and flexibility all make the list, for sure, but how about being a bit of a control freak? That probably figures somewhere in there too. And undoubtedly, the determination to constantly succeed can make it difficult for entrepreneurs to let go of the reins, even a little.

However, learning to loosen your grip marks a coming of age for any business owner; it’s an essential part of growing a business. It’s those who cling on to controlling every last operational detail that are often the ones holding their business back from reaching its full potential.

So why is it beneficial to detach yourself from your precious business venture? The main reason – and it may seem a little at odds with itself – is that while you may be a veritable business-building machine, part of becoming a truly great business leader is recognizing that you possess neither the time nor the expertise to do everything by yourself.

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What’s the Easiest Way to Resolve Work Conflicts?

What’s the Easiest Way to Resolve Work ConflictsHave you ever witnessed – or even experienced – a workplace dispute that seemed to get worse any time somebody tried to intervene? Even good intentions are not effective in resolving work conflicts sometimes. Trained managers who have the focus to mediate have demonstrated time and time again that they can succeed in supporting the aggrieved parties to reach an amicable agreement.

If your managers know how to handle problems between employees, they will find it much easier to motivate their teams and protect against hits to productivity. However, according to a 2008 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), 66% of respondents reported that their managers needed to improve interaction levels with their staff and 27%  stated that their managers had received no training whatsoever in dealing with workplace conflict. This suggests that there is definitely room for improvement within UK businesses on the use of mediation and skilled practitioners in managing difficult situations.  A study in the U.S. found that an overwhelming majority ( 85% ) of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree.  Furthermore, it was found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, so these issues are proven, not surprisingly, to be affecting workplaces all around the world.

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How to Market Your Small Business Successfully From the Start

How to Market Your Small Business Successfully From the StartIn the early days of a start-up, you have to wear pretty much every hat possible. You have to develop your products, sell and support them, keep your accounts and other legal documentation up to date, and never take your eyes off cash flow. All of which, plus managing a few people, takes up lots of time and energy.

Marketing is one of those things that are a bit ethereal. It’s not concrete. It doesn’t deliver immediate results. It’s so intangible that it’s easy to push it to another day. Isn’t it?

You may want to reconsider doing that. Ignoring your marketing could be the biggest risk to your company’s survival. There’s still time to get started though, if you keep a few of these tips in mind.

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7 Pieces of Small Business Advice You Should NOT Take

7 Pieces of Small Business Advice You Should NOT TakeAs the owner of a small business, you no doubt receive a lot of advice on how to run your brand from friends, business associates, management books and leadership TED Talks, and blogs, but a lot of that ‘conventional wisdom’ is not worth taking. Here are 7 pieces of small business advice that you should NOT listen to.

1.) “There’s No Additional Room for Your Product (or Service) in This Market.”

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, nor do you always have to go to a completely empty area to start or enhance your small business. Starbucks wasn’t the first company to sell coffee at retail, but they were able to win the market by not just selling coffee. They sold an “experience” along with a wide array of coffee products as well as pastries. And despite the dominance of Starbucks, there are many other boutique coffee retailers across the country, even though there may be a Starbucks on the next corner.

You don’t have to come up with a completely novel idea. Just look to fill a niche that has a large potential market.

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Six Ways to Boost Your Credibility and Close More Deals

Six Ways to Boost Your Credibility and Close More DealsWhen it comes to sales, be a product of the product. If you don’t use the product or service you’re selling, why should your prospect? If you sell Hondas, don’t drive a Jeep. These six strategies will help you build credibility up with prospective customers and clients – and also ensure you make some money in the process for your business.

1. Determine quickly if you really can help.

I recently got a call from a prospective client who wanted help completing interviews. It took me about 2-3 minutes to find out that their budget was too small for me to work with. I politely offered a referral to another firm that might be able to do the job. I didn’t want to waste any more of their time, and I didn’t want them to waste any more of mine.

A good salesperson should know the type of customers they work best with, and if the people they are meeting with are the right kinds of customers for their organization. After a few questions, you should be able to determine if it makes sense to keep talking. If not, end the meeting.

2. Address concerns completely.

When a concern is brought up, don’t skip over it. Stop for a moment and consider what could be causing it. Is it a real objection?  If so, take a moment to prepare your response.  Then fully address the concern with the customer.  For example, if a prospect says your price is too high, focus on showing the value of your product or service. Frame your price in terms of the immediate and long term benefits the person or company will receive.

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What Kind of Entrepreneur Should You Be? (Infographic)

Do you know what your entrepreneurial style is like? Our latest infographic is a handy flowchart to help you decide if you’re a solopreneur, mompreneur or dadpreneur, social entrepreneur, or partnership. And once you figure out the kind of ‘trep you are, check out what our panel of 75 small business experts have to say about the kind of entrepreneur they classify themselves as!

What Kind of Entrepreneur Should You Be

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3 Keys to Crafting the Perfect Logo

3 Keys to Crafting the Perfect Logo No exceptions: all entrepreneurs need attention.

There are many things you can do to get attention. But start by asking, attention to what? What will people see and instantly recognize as being your business? It’s all about your logo, the first-and-always visual ambassador of your brand. In that sense, it’s the foundation and future of your entire business. What makes a great logo, a great ambassador? Here are five keys to ensure that your logo will match the “look and feel” of your business.

1. Simplicity is your friend.

Day in and day out, you constantly see incredible amounts of visuals and colors. But just because something sticks out visually, doesn’t mean you’ll remember it or feel good about it. Clean design is key. Graphics professionals spend years in training to consistently translate ideas into clean design: the right shape, size and proportions without distracting bells and whistles. “Civilians” like us can get professional-looking results by using a make-it-yourself website like LogoGarden.com. Often these sites are free, so you can experiment and get a finished, clean-design logo quickly with no risk.

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How to Build a Solid Sales Team

It can feel odd hiring a sales team after you start your business. You were probably the only salesperson for the first few years of your company’s life, and giving up such an important responsibility can be jarring. However, if you want your business to succeed, you have to learn how to delegate and grow. Sales Team Actually having a sales team is very different than doing sales yourself. You need to trust them, and their skills, implicitly, even if how they sell is different from how you sold. With that in mind, when you first begin to hire and train your sales staff, remember to…

Look for personability

Friendliness and personability are two of the most important qualities of a successful salesperson. It doesn’t matter if someone has three decades of sales experience – if they’re pushy or irritating while selling, they’re going to lose clients. Sales has changed a lot over the last few years. Cold calling is a wash, and the best way to bring in customers is actually through inbound marketing. Your sales staff has to be able to connect with your customers and talk them through the sale, rather than throw pitch after pitch at them.

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