5 Items Business Owners Must Include on Their To-Do List

5 Items Business Owners Must Include on Their To-Do ListStarting up a new business takes a lot of proverbial blood, sweat and tears. From the most basic tasks like choosing what products you will sell and a company name to more complex decisions like how you’ll handle payments and if it’s a good idea to hire your Uncle Bob as manager, it’s a time-consuming and even stressful process. For people who are getting their new business ducks in a row, the following to-do list can help streamline and simplify the entire process.

Register Your Business Name

Have done your homework to make sure your new business name is not shared by anyone else? A business name availability check can find out if your business name is currently being used and can help you avoid spending money branding a name that you cannot adopt. The free, non-binding business name search is simple—the form requires information including your contact information, business name and state. After you have secured your name, you can move forward by filing your Articles of Incorporation with your state or regulatory agency. Each set of Articles of Incorporation forms and fees differ from state to state; follow these four steps to make the filing process quick and seamless. For more on name search and business and trademark information, visit the Learning Center and click “Business Name.”

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4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team Efficiency

4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team EfficiencyOn a regular basis, you probably know by heart that team spirit is very important and that your employees need to come together as a team in order to be successful in whatever branch of business you may be. Even when job applicants submit in a resume, they’re always careful to include a mention that they’re team players and consider what they can bring to the business to be imperative to the team’s overall success. But simply being supportive within a team is not enough. You also need to be able to step up and take all the necessary steps to make the team efficient. Every team has many members and personality types and leading and managing this kind of team isn’t easy to do either. If you want to be successful, you need to inspire your team to reach that point along with you.

Know how to put the team together.

How do you know what kinds of people will best work with you and what characteristics you need to have on board to help out? You can’t compose a team consisting solely of just managers – everyone would be fighting each other to take the reins of the project at all times! If you aren’t even sure of what you should be doing within a team, try taking a test with Belbin.com to find out more about what role is perfect for you and then give the same test to your employees to take for themselves too. You may know your employees well enough already to ensure you don’t need to take this kind of test, but be sure to note that when you assemble the team everyone is able and willing to work together to meet the same goal.

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Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of Experiences

Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of ExperiencesIf your company is going through or has gone through the hiring process, you probably know it is not easy to select a potential candidate. Sifting through hundreds of resumes and cover letters can be not only tedious and frustrating, but sometimes it doesn’t even help you find the best person for the position.

Next time you’re looking for a new hire, instead of hiring someone based on how good they look on paper, try centering your hiring process around personality instead. Here’s why a new hire with a great personality can be a better candidate than one with more experience.

You Can Train From Scratch

In many cases, hiring a candidate with a lot of experience is not always a good idea. Their previous positions may have had different methodologies and strategies than your company, making it difficult for your new hire to do things the way your company likes to. An employee hired with less relevant previous experience, but the right personality, can often have the perfect skills for the job with the help of a little initial training. By training a new hire from scratch, you can teach them exactly what you want, without previous experiences and practices getting in the way.

Every Job is Different

If you are looking at the resume of a seemingly qualified potential hire, chances are they may not be as qualified as their paperwork makes them appear. A one or two sentence job description on a piece of paper and a list of past job experiences does not tell you much about a prospective hire’s past work, making it hard to determine if their past experiences are applicable to the new job you are hiring for. However, picking up on a candidate’s passion, energy and hard working spirit in an interview is something that is hard to miss and can often speak volumes more about a candidate than a resume.

More Personality Means More Passion

By choosing a new employee who truly is interested in and passionate about your company’s goals and services, you will be hiring your company’s next best advocate. Hiring someone who has less experience, but more energy, will help bring you a more committed employee who will work hard to learn new skills to help ensure your success.

For a case study, let’s look at Hydroworx, who specializes in water rehab therapy. They do a lot of sports rehab with NHL superstars like Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. When they were voted in the top of “Best Places to Work in PA” for the fifth year in a row, I asked them how they pulled it off. Their answer was simple: they hire people who were passionate about helping people. They’d pick the person who loved sports rehab over the person who had 10 years of experience but was just looking for a paycheck.

Quality Over Quantity

If you are choosing between someone with more experience and a candidate with a better personality, keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. If you are noticing that the person without as much experience knows more and seems more enthusiastic about your company, then they could be the better overall candidate than someone with more previous relevant work experiences but less enthusiasm. Sometimes a candidate with fewer experiences can be better than an experienced one who has had bad past experiences and may be burnt out.

Choosing the right candidate for your company’s open position doesn’t have to mean hours of reading and comparing resumes and cover letters. It can be as simple as going with your gut.  Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink shows that your gut is right more often than you give it credit for.  Getting a good feeling about a candidates personality is often much more important than a long list of experiences, and it can lead to finding a better candidate.  So make your next job search about passion and personality, and expect nothing less than a great new hire.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania and with his wife and son, writing about social media and doing research for UB Solutions. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington.

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How to Develop Lasting Relationships with the Right People

How to Develop Lasting Relationships with the Right PeopleAs an entrepreneur, relationships are some of the most valuable assets you’ll ever create. There are the relationships that you form with your customers, with your suppliers and with other small business owners. . You won’t find a column for “relationships” on your balance sheet but you should always be working on growing this asset no matter what.

When you focus your marketing activities in the following three steps, you will be working towards building strong relationships with customers and potential customers. By becoming an authority in your industry, building connections and bringing great value to the table, you’ll find yourself with a stable of strong business relationships in no time.

1. Establish Credibility in Your Industry

The first step is to position yourself as an authority in your industry. Don’t be afraid to highlight your credentials! Take advantage of inbound content marketing and create an informative blog, write a newsletter, and learn to use social media effectively. Every one of the aforementioned avenues are great places to build, grow, and nurture an audience.

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Understanding the Necessity and Limitations of a CGL Within Your Small Business

Understanding the Necessity and Limitations of a CGL Within Your Small BusinessAs a small business owner, you’ve invested a great deal of time and money creating a company you take pride in. In order to protect it, you may consider purchasing a commercial general liability insurance policy (or CGL for short). But what is a CGL and how can it help protect you and your business? Keep reading for a breakdown of the basics.

What is a CGL?

Commercial general liability insurance policies are designed to protect businesses when they are sued. They usually protect against claims of bodily injury or property damage. According to the American Bar Association, these policies are written using forms generated by nationwide insurance industry organizations. The ABA points out that, “Because CGL policies are products of insurance industry draftsmanship, courts in most jurisdictions construe any ambiguities in favor of the policyholder.”

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Never Miss Another Sales Tax Due Date!

Never Miss Another Sales Tax Due Date!Guess what? You owe sales tax to at least one state this month.

Did that get your heart going? Then you’re like business owners all over the country trying to get sales tax under control but struggling to do so. It’s one of the most annoying aspects about doing business these days, particularly for eCommerce businesses.

Why? Because so many states are trying to get as much money as they can, including from online business owners who sell taxable goods to customers in their state. Do you have an employee in one state? You likely have sales tax nexus there. Do you store your inventory in a warehouse in another state? Then you’re likely required to collect sales tax in that state, too.

Some states want your payments monthly. Some want them quarterly. Some even just annually. But if you’re paying sales tax to a bunch of states, how are you supposed to keep up with all these due dates?

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How Your Business Can Fail If You Aren’t Careful

How Your Business Can Fail If You Aren’t Careful One of the least understood aspects of entrepreneurship is why some businesses fail while others succeed. The painful truth, according to a recent study by the University of Tennessee Research is that most businesses fail for one of the following three reasons.

1) Incompetence

46% of businesses fail due to emotional pricing, reckless spending, nonpayment of taxes, lack of planning, record keeping problems, and no knowledge of financing. Companies that succeed take pricing seriously. The prices they set are influenced by facts instead of emotions. As you set your prices consider the cost of material, labor, and overhead. Also, remember to keep in mind competitor pricing. Does this mean that you have to be the cheapest to compete? Absolutely not. You don’t have to compete on price, but you can’t ignore how much your competitors charge either. You can’t succeed on pricing alone, but your business will fail if you can’t get your pricing right.

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How to Keep Your Sales Team Motivated

How to Keep Your Sales Team MotivatedThere is no denying that your sales team can either make or break your business. If the members of the team hit their marks, then success is going to be in abundance for the entire team. But if one team member is unable to uphold their responsibilities, that requires everyone else to work even harder.

While this competitive drive can sometimes be exactly what a business needs to grow, the fierce competition that comes with working in sales can sometimes lead to a loss in motivation among its team members. Seeing the same person always surpass their sales goals can be disheartening to other members who are having a hard time hitting the mark. That is why keeping your entire sales team motivated matters so that everyone can continue to do their best and keep the company moving forward.

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What Your First Website Needs to Know About SEO

What Your First Website Needs to Know About SEOAs a new entrepreneur, the prospect of running your very own website may seem daunting, but in reality it’s not difficult at all. Registering for a domain and setting up your site are fairly easy to do. It’s getting your website read by others and using search engine optimization (SEO) that is the most challenging part – but we’ll help you tackle everything:

Your Domain Name Matters

Your site’s domain name is a huge part of its brand. Great domains showcase exactly what the website is about, so the visitor knows what to expect before hitting ‘enter’ on their browser’s URL bar. For example, domain names like buyfauxstone.com and motorcyclelawyercalifornia.com have very clear, focused keywords in their domain names. This gives them a big advantage when someone is searching Google for the exact words “buy faux stone” and “motorcycle lawyer California.”  When you’ve settled on the perfect domain, check out sites like Dreamhost that offer affordable domain-hosting combos that are easy to use.

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How to Take Action When You Hire Someone and Come to Regret It

How to Take Action When You Hire Someone and Come to Regret ItInevitably as a business owner, you will make one mistake that you’ll look back on and wonder how you ever thought it was a good idea.  We all have our own stories of doing this –it seems to be an unspoken rite of passage in the world of owning a business!

But what is that one thing? That one thing is you’re going to hire someone and then come to regret it.  Some of you reading this are probably already laughing because you know exactly what I mean.  Others could be in the midst of this right now, so you might not think it’s so funny.  No matter how established you are, remember that this happens to all of us, but matters even more are the actions you take next.

1) Don’t Take It Personally

Anytime you hire someone, whether an employee or a service provider, you’re rolling the dice.  Regardless of how well someone interviews or the bank of credentials and references they bring with them, sometimes the fit just isn’t right between the two parties.  What makes this so difficult for most small business owners is they take it personally.

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