Technology is an important tool in building a business today. After reviewing your current technology being used, our teams will provide insights on ways to optimize it or recommend and implement other technology solutions to improve how your business operations. Whether it’s something as simple as email & a website, or something more complex like eCommerce, Invoicing, Online Payments, and much more…
Our world is online, businesses need to be online too building an identity and a brand that customers can experience. Go beyond a website footprint and reach your customers across various digital media platforms whether that’s a Google maps location, social media presence or in their inboxes with marketing campaigns.
The health of a business can often be defined by the operational strategy, do the people, process and technology all work in a seamless efficient ecosystem? Developing an operational strategy will impact the entire business.
Our mission on The Hub is to educate, inform and help provide knowledge to Small and Medium business owners. We have a team of experts that will feature articles, strategies and cutting edge insights for building and growing your small or medium business.
It is summer. Now the kids are home all day, and your home office has been taken over by art projects and LEGO creations. Or maybe you are just itching for a change of scenery to get out of a work rut. Possibly you get distracted by your personal to do list during the day if you work from home, but you don’t have an actual office to use.
Enter co-working. These are spaces designated for workers to work, exchange knowledge and ideas, and support each other. They are designed with the home office employee in mind, and it gives people a chance to escape their usual scenery for something different and inspiring.
How do you make the most of these spaces? By embracing all they have to offer.
Show up with a to do list.
While these spaces are great for innovation, they can also be loud and a little distracting. Before you leave for the co-working space, make a to do list of everything you need to do that day. Make it your goal to get those things do. Try to make any necessary phone calls before you leave so to avoid the noisy backgrounds that can sometimes exist in these spaces.
Be sure to pack everything you need to accomplish the tasks on the list.
During your hours working, do not disturb others while they are in their workspace. People are paying for their time there, and it is important that they can get their work done. That said when at the coffee machine or in the central area make sure your engagement is constructive for everyone. Ask about their careers. Ask for professional input. Do not ask what they did over the weekend.
Keep your space organized
Remember this isn’t your office. Just because you employ a random organization system at your home office doesn’t mean you can do that here. These are shared spaces. Keep your papers in an organized system, whether files or neat stacks, so that it doesn’t impact others’ productivity. Make sure to throw away any food and coffee trash, unneeded notes, and other trash at regular intervals.
Buy good headphones
Background noise is usually a big issue in co-working spaces. Find yourself a pair of headphones that will cancel noise as well as fit comfortably. It is important that you find a way to tune out conversations and the sound of typing while working. Turn on your favorite podcast or Spotify channel and get in the zone.
Know the calendar
Most co-working spaces also offer social opportunities, professional meetings, and more. Make sure to take advantage of these. This is a great way to meet like minded people with whom you can learn and collaborate. It’s also a great way to make some new friends.
Co-working is growing quickly. It is a concept that appeals to so many people. Take advantage of these spaces in a way that is both productive to you and the community. Make sure to follow these easy tips to make it even better!
This is a great opportunity to learn more about BizSwoop and how we can help support your small business. If you are local, stop by and say hi! You can learn more here.
We are very excited to announce BizSwoop is opening a brand new location in Akron, Ohio. We are looking forward to expanding our business to Akron, a growing and innovative city. On May 22, 2019 we are joining Bounce Innovation Hub as part of their large grand opening. We are doing demos of the following: Omni-channel software system for eCommerce & Point of Sale software, facial recognition product using facial recognition, algorithms and artificial intelligence, and event ticket system software and business leads software.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about BizSwoop and how we can help support your small business. If you are local, stop by and say hi! You can learn more here.
When you started your business you knew that it needed to grow. To increase the chances for growth you created a marketing plan, built out the support needed for success, and made sure your overhead was low. Now, however, you are growing, and you have no plan. You feel like everything is a fire that needs to be put out, and there isn’t time to think about what comes next. What you are missing is a growth plan.
What is a Growth Plan?
A growth plan is a tangible document that deliberately outlines a strategy for your company. It means anticipating what fires may occur before they start and having the tools necessary to put them out quickly before they negatively impact your business. It helps determine what will limit your growth as well as positively impact it. Most importantly, it increases a company’s chances of making it beyond the five year mark and then again beyond the ten year mark.
Know Your Value to the Market
It seems like such an easy thing to do, but it is important to identify why customers and clients are coming to you and not competitors. Is it because your employees are more knowledgeable? Your pricing? Your location? Understanding why you are being set apart from others will help you decide how to support growth. This helps to clearly define a business’ strengths and weaknesses as it moves forward.
Identify Your Ideal Customer
While not every customer is perfect, it is easy to know what you want in a customer. Most businesses would prefer a laid back client that lets you do whatever you want with an unlimited budget. That’s not what we mean here. What we mean is identify the type of client in your industry that would come back. If you are a home nursing company, for an example, your ideal client may be families that need medical support for adults and children with special needs. If you are a restaurant in the middle of a tourist town, your ideal client may be a middle class family with disposable income for a nice meal out.
Understand Your Competition
This doesn’t mean you should send in employees as covert spies or try to hack their email. Instead, know why they do well. Have you met the owner? Is he friendly and accommodating? Do the employees receive extensive education on their products and services? By knowing what they do well you can understand what it takes to survive and eventually thrive in your industry. It’s okay to befriend competitors and ask for advice, receive mentoring, and learn about their decisions. A good way to do this is through professional organizations.
Invest in People
This can be a hard one because good people cost money. However, deliberately and purposefully hiring talent that support your long term goals as well as have great client skills is very important. As your brand grows these employees will be your greatest support. It is absolutely important that you surround yourself with people who recognize their personal investment in a business.
By doing these things it becomes easier to survive growth. So many small businesses grow quickly, panic, and close. By evaluating and recognizing how to grow your company it can help get through the murky waters of change.
Technology moves so fast that everyone struggles to keep up. Before everyone even understands how their new software works properly an updated version is available. Tablets that are used for checkout services are outdated before they are six months old. This comes with a heavy cost burden. In order to stay on top of technology, small businesses owners feel like they need to sacrifice a significant amount of money. They also feel like they have to sacrifice time. The resources it takes to research and understand technology investments can be fairly substantial. There are a number of factors that can impact a small business owner’s decision to adapt new technology, and we will work through them here.
The most obvious reason is age. A recent study found that 82% of small business owners are over the age of 50. Of that 82% half are over the age of 60. This means that the demographic is already fairly set in their ways. They have owned their businesses, on average, for over ten years, and they are comfortable with how they have done business all of this time. Like most things as we get older we find our routines even if they aren’t the most efficient or easiest. Change can see intimidating and unwelcoming, especially when trends move so quickly.
Since most small businesses run very lean it can give more decision making power to employees. While they tend to do the work of more than one person, this means they don’t want to take on the responsibility to learn new technology too. It is easier to keep doing things how they are being done than to switch. The inverse is that businesses that have more employees have to meet the needs of more people, also making it hard to switch.
New technology can be a big financial burden for most small businesses. Even buying laptops for a dozen employees can cost a few thousand dollars. That doesn’t include the cost for subscription fees of software, additional technology improvements, and more. Small businesses run with very tiny budgets. A technology investment can throw a wrench in all other expenses.
So how can a small business adapt when facing these different obstacles? A slow, confident transition is best. Entrepreneurs should make a list of the technology that needs changing from most immediate to least important. For example, are your employees begging for a more efficient way to handle a customer’s check out experience or order experience? Learn what you can about that investment and prepare to make it sooner rather than later. No one cares that their laptops are three years old? Hold off on that. Having a clear and easy-to-follow plan makes it easier to navigate the changing technology landscape in a way that best benefits your business.
Most importantly know that just because technology changes quickly doesn’t mean you are obligated to change each time. Things like web platforms updates are easy and take just minutes, and improve website performance and integration with plugins. You are not required to buy new cellphones or laptops just because there is a new version. Prioritizing which technology is important to your specific business is key to wisely spending your money and making decisions that improve and streamline your business.
When you started your business you were passionately obsessed with your mission. You survived on Nitro coffee and pizza while working late into the night, every single night. You hustled and sold and spent far too much time working. Now things are settling down, and you are exhausted. You are sleeping later and going to bed earlier. You put off returning emails or making phone calls. The desire to see your business succeed hasn’t faded, but you aren’t putting in the time or the effort anymore.
This is burnout.
How do you prevent, recognize, and get through burnout? We have some suggestions.
When a new business is getting off the ground hustling is one of the most important things to get it moving. There are networking events and meetings and professional organizations. It is easy to get wrapped up in the constant pulls of launching from nothing. However, maintaining a grounding point is important. Yes, you need to work almost everyday but not actually everyday. Save two days per week as your days off to focus on friends and family, go the gym, and even just sleep. Burning the candle at both ends won’t do you or your business any favors.
Slowly you have started waking up later and rolling into work at a new time. It isn’t because you are extra tired, you just can’t find the energy to get moving. You want to toss your cell phone out the window unless it is to play Candy Crush. You know something is different. This could be the beginning of burnout, and it is important to recognize what is happening. These are early signs that you need a break. It’s time to take a few days, ignore your email, and recharge. Make a list of why you started your business in the first place. Think of some responsibilities that can be handed off to someone else or even automated.
Getting Through Burnout
When the burnout has settled in, and you are struggling it’s time to make some big decisions so you can lay the foundation to avoid it again in the future. First, evaluate your mental health and decide whether or not you need to speak with a professional. This is helpful even if you feel like you are just exhausted. Beyond that take a vacation, even if it doesn’t mean going anywhere. A separation from work for a short period of time is a chance to recharge, and it gives your employees a chance to take on leadership roles in the company. Make a list of your professional and personal priorities and goals so that you can refocus on those things while assigning other tasks to employees. The important thing is to know it is okay to take a step back and figure out what needs to change.
Burnout inevitably impacts everyone, whether employee, boss, or sole proprietor. Part of the routine of working everyday is in itself exhausting and hard. Understanding how to make the most of your time and recognizing changes is an important way to manage your professional life and personal life.
Over the past few weeks we have covered WordPress topics, including our own newly released plugins. This week we wanted to close out our series on WordPress by discussing three of the most common issues people run into on the platform and how to fix them.
WordPress is a great platform for every type of website, but even the best options have user errors sometimes. Thankfully most of the issues that present on WordPress are easy to undo, and you can keep your site up and running with little problem.
Fixing the Scheduled Post Issues
If your website has a blog, you have probably relied on the scheduled post feature. This is great for writing content when you have time, and then scheduling it to post for a more convenient, high traffic time. Every so often WordPress misses the scheduled posting time, and you are left with a post that never went live. If it happens more than once or twice, it is time to fix the issue. The easiest solution is to confirm that your website is set up to the correct time zone. If you wanted it to go live at 7:00 AM EST, but your WordPress is set up as MST you will have issues getting it up at the right time.
White Screen of Death
This is the scariest issue for most WordPress users. You log on to just see a white screen, nothing else. It locks the user out of their admin panel, leaving you to try to guess what went wrong. The most common reason this happens is because you have used up all of the memory available. The best option is to increase the PHP memory (find a professional to do this or a really good tutorial online) so that your site can run properly again. Once this is done try to open the website again. If you are still having issues it may be a plugin.
Once you have upgraded the memory, go ahead and disable all of the plugins on your WordPress admin page. This is the most second cause of the white screen of death, and while rarer than the memory issue it still is worth investigating. This is a great time to clean up and remove the plugins you are no longer using as a way to improve your site.
Harmful Programs Error
This is most commonly the result of corruption from a virus or malware. Google and WordPress mark this when harmful code is found in a website, because the code can spread from site to site. It needs to be shutdown and stopped, so they flat your site keeping you (and others) from accessing it. The best thing to do in this case is to use Google’s safe browsing tool and check your site.
The second most common cause of this error is your ad network. If you are running ads on your site through a third party this warning can mean their content was corrupted. In this case turn off your ad platform and see if that improves your site.
This concludes our basic WordPress series. The versatility of the platform makes it ideal for almost any type of website from casual blog to serious shopping site. With help and education most people can set up and run a WordPress site to support their business.