| How To Handle A Business That Just Won’t Stop Growing!

Posted in Small Business at 4:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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Rapid growth in a company is a dream come true for most business owners. But it can also be a source of great difficulty on its own. While you may have got used to running a business of a particular size, you may not have been prepared for such quick expansion in such a short space of time. It’s easy for the overall ethos and values of your company to become lost, which in turn can have a negative impact on your business in the long run.

If you’re running a business that is experiencing some rapid growth, take a look at a few ways to stop things getting out of control.

 

Stay Focused on Customer Experience

It is likely that people are turning to your business ahead of your rivals because of the customer experience that you provide. If this becomes lost, you may well find yourself losing the reputation that you worked so hard to build up. Reinvest in your business, helping to keep up the same standards if you are recruiting people on a regular basis. Make sure your training programs are standardized so new staff get up to speed quickly and can offer the same level of service as your original team.

 

Invest in Your Technology

As your business rapidly expands, you may well find that you need to improve your business technology to keep up. Click here if you are looking to build a strong foundation for your IT systems. Ultimately, technology helps to streamline your business and makes your life easier. If you make sure you invest in the latest systems, you will stay ahead of the curve and be in a better position to handle rapid expansion.

 

Don’t Lose Your Business Culture

Every business has a strong culture. When you are running a small company with just a handful of people working for you, it is easy to make sure everyone stays on the same page and is working towards the same aims. The more staff members that you recruit, the harder this becomes to maintain. Try to set in place a stringent recruitment process so that you are recruiting the type of people that have similar values to the company.

 

Keep a Grip on Finances

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If your business is expanding quickly, that means that you will be seeing a lot of money pouring in that you may not be used to. Focus on investing in the core areas of your business to keep these running strongly. However, don’t go crazy and pump everything back into the company. Set some aside in case of a financial downturn. It’s better to be realistic and accept that everything won’t always be as rosy as it is right now.

 

Make a Plan

Set out a realistic growth plan of where you would like to be in the next few months or years. Rather than focusing on the here and now, you are showing that you are able to see the bigger picture.

| Contractors Building Success From the Ground Up

Posted in Small Business at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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The world may have recovered from the huge meltdown of 2008, but it hasn’t forgotten the hardship that plagued the follow-up years. However, this hasn’t affected the construction business quite as badly as it has other industries. The reason for this is simple; the demand to build is still there. Big contracts are still rolling in, houses still need to be built, and home improvements are still an attractive proposition.

But with so much competition out there, how does one succeed in the construction business? Well, we’ve spoken to a wide range of successful contractors, and here are the tips and tricks they taught us about.

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You Have To Have an Eye For Talent

The trait of a great contractor is knowing where the good talent lies and who to trust, that is where their own employees come in. If you’re employees enjoy working for you then they are going to recommend you to other tradesmen. What’s more, if they know of someone talented who has just be laid off by another contractor – for whatever reason – they’ll come to you. That is how a great contractor works. They keep their ear to the ground and trust an employee who is willing to vouch for someone.

 

You Have To Stay On Top of Technology

The big change in the world at the moment is technology, so you have to know what is new and how it can benefit your business. To enlighten you a bit, less than ten percent of those contractors that work within the earthmoving sector use GPS technology, and yet more than fifty percent of the most successful contractors do. That has to go some way in convincing you of the returns on investment. In short, technology improves efficiency, accuracy, and productivity.

 

You Have To Build Good Relationships

If you want to succeed in the industry, you need to maximize your profit margins, and a great way to do this is through relationships. Loyalty discount, bulk purchases, credit deals, and a helping hand when cash runs tight; all of these will benefit you. It could be that you have a close relationship with a trade merchant, and they’ll save stock for you when it starts to run low. It could be that you build a close bond with a maintenance company, who will go above and beyond should you ever need NSK linear bearings. Close relationships have been the key to success across all business since trading first began, and the construction industry is no different.

 

You Have To Look After Your Employees

With competition as fierce as it is, tradesmen, foremen, and managers are spoilt for choice. That is why it is so important that you look after those that are important to you. Pay them what they deserve to be paid, provide them with training, keep them safe, help them improve, and make them feel valuable. The latter point can be done very easily. It could be that you listen to what they have to say about a certain issue and how to solve it, or it could be that you take a personal interest in their career ambitions. These are the guys that are doing the hard graft, and that means they are responsible for your success, so make sure you value them and hold on to them.

| Building Your Business A Home

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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Most businesses can get by without having to even buy their own buildings. Instead, they can rent office space or warehouses to suit their needs. But, sometimes, work will require something a little more specialized. And, in this case, you have two choices; buy or build. The cost difference will usually be very minimal. But, building something yourself will be much more satisfying. And, will allow you to make something that’s designed for your purpose. It will take some work. But, at the end of the day, it will be worth it. You just have to be prepared to put down some hours and investment into this project.

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The first stage of a large project like this is planning. At this point, you will probably already need to get some help. You will probably know what you will need for your business to run. So, that’s covered. But, most people don’t know how to make plans for the structure of a building. And, in most places, this work has to be carried out by someone who’s qualified to do it. This means that you’ll have to get the help of an architect. They will be able to design and plan the entire build for you. They will discuss your preferences. And, most will give you the chance to have a large part in the creative process with the appearance of the building.

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Once you know how the building will be built, you can start to look for people to build it. Of a project of this size, you’ll need a lot of companies to help you. For example, for water alone, you’ll need a company like DM Civil contractors to help you. To find the best tradesmen to do work for you, it’s good to talk to the company who designed the building. They will probably have their own connections and they may even be able to help with estimating the prices for the work. If you have to find companies on your own, you’ll have to do some research. Most of your local contractors will have reviews online. You can use these to decide which companies will be best to complete work for you.

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Now, you’ll be ready to get the ball rolling. It’s time to take the back seat and let people do their work. This time might be stressful for you. And, it could take longer than you expected. So, you’ll need to provision extra time for it. Once you have a solid estimate for the end of the build, you’ll be able to start arranging to have the building fabricated. What you do here will depend on the type of business that you run. If you have to move heavy machinery; you may have to get a company to help you. Sometimes, friends will just be enough, though.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what needs to be done if you want to build for your business. It can be hard process. And, it will take some time. But, once you have the finished product; it will be very worth it. Your business will feel much more like your own. And, your building will always be fit for purpose.

| How Well Do You Know Your Business?

Posted in Small Business at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

How well do you know your business? Be totally honest with yourself here. You might assume that because you set it up and are guiding it forward that you know it better than just about anyone else. And there’s a good chance that that’s true, but does it mean that you know it well enough? If you’re trying to push your business in the right direction and make it as successful as possible, then you should know every aspect of it inside and out. The problem that many business owners have is that they let their attention focus on certain areas of the business that they are more interested in while ignoring others. It hardly takes a genius to see why this is a bad idea but a lot of the time this behavior comes from simply not being aware of the full spectrum of their business. The problem is that you can never really give your business the full attention it deserves if you’re not aware of exactly what it needs. With that in mind, here are two aspects of a business that many business owners often tend to ignore and that every business could benefit from getting to know better.

 

Equipment Requirements

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Depending on your business you may or may not be that keyed into the technological requirements of it. If it’s a small web startup, then there’s a good chance that your tech needs are going to be pretty standard. A few computers, some dedicated software and an internet connection is basically all you need to get started. But what happens if the business you’re running has more specific requirements. Things like the manufacturing and industrial businesses are going to need much more complicated systems in place in order to function. Because of this, it’s especially important that you’re always up to date with the latest developments and equipment. Even for those working within industrial sectors, it might seem impossible for some to understand the difference between, say, traditional water filtration systems and an industrial reverse osmosis system, but when your business depends on it, then that and many other systems like it are going to have to become second nature to you.

 

Staff Requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One mistake that a lot of businesses make is that they assume that their staff requirements are going to be the same as any other’s. After all, no matter what your business is, you’ll always need employees, right? Well, yes that is true. But the number and kind of employees that you need is going to vary wildly depending on the size of your business and the industry that it’s within. Going back to our previous examples, a web startup might only need a handful of employees and will perhaps outsource things like design and marketing to an external company. Whereas industrial or manufacturing companies are not only going to need larger staffs but they’re going to require employees with specific training and skills. Knowing exactly what employees you need and what it is that you need from them is incredibly important to making sure that your business is as well staffed as possible. It’s not just a matter of having the right number of staff, a smaller team of dedicated people is worth far more than a huge team that isn’t putting in any effort.

| The Host With The Most – Running A Business Event

Posted in Marketing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

It’s easier than ever to start a business. It is easier than ever to run a business. It’s easier than ever to make money and it is easier than ever before to reach out to customers.

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It’s also easier than ever to market your business to a target audience. Promotional activities are key to the success of any business and should be a foundation of your day-to-day workload. What have you done today to make people aware of what you do and what you sell? You might be seriously missing out on sales if you aren’t shouting your name from the rooftops.

And thanks to the internet? You don’t need to do that. You just need to put the work in with SEO, social media and networking. Your business needs blogs, it needs content and it needs to share these to a target audience.

But what about marketing that takes place in the real world? It doesn’t just have to be big banners and campaigns. Simple networking events are the foundation of marketing in the real world and making connections – business to business. Of course, you can make waves in the real world as much as online but success is based on how well you can use every tool and every option – not how good you are in a single avenue!

One way you can market your business is not only by attending events, but hosting your own event.

The key to hosting is planning – plan your event well in advance of opening day and ask questions of it. Demand good answers of your ideas as well. Set your business goals in advance and then find ways that the path to these goals can be measured on the day of an event.

Then you’ve got to choose a place to host the event. Does it have the right facilities? Is it too big or too small? Do you need an indoor positioning system to map the conference hall for online mapping tools so people can find it on their phones? What about toilets? The best thing you can do with a venue is question it – not for the sake of being a questioner, but to ensure your hosting venue is right for your business.

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Invite the correct people, ideally the people you want to sell to and try to get some big names and other businesses in to either meet or deliver talks. Of course, give plenty of notice and market the event well over the correct channels.

When the big day arrives make sure everyone knows who is hosting the event – your brand needs to be on display here. Make yourself and your staff available to meet your audience and answer questions. Of course, cater well and make sure needs are met. Be sure to market on the day as well.

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Anyone who is anyone in business knows the value of a lead, so be sure to spend the days after the event following up on those who showed an interest in your business. You don’t want to waste a good event, now, do we?

| Tips For Keeping Your Ecommerce Site Secure

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Ah, the exciting world of selling online. It should be a fun adventure, and for the most part it is (besides those long hours!), but there is, sadly, something else that should be toward the top of your priorities: the security of your website. Like it or not, it’s just a fact of life that there will be people out there whose intentions are not as pure as your own. Follow the tips we outline below, however, and you’ll be keeping them at bay – and helping to keep your funds and your customer’s privacy intact, too.

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Don’t Store More Than You Need

You’re entrusted with large amounts of data, and some of this you need to keep in your database for future use, such as email addresses for your email marketing campaigns. But you don’t need to keep everything. While storing credit card details and the like can have its benefits, it also means that should a hacker make it behind your wall they’ll have all the data they need to cause some real damage, so keep the harmless stuff and dump the rest.

 

Have Layered Security

Ultimately, you want to make it as difficult for people with bad intentions to profit from your site. As such, you should be having layered security measures in place. This can be as simple as making sure that a person who’s buying from you is actually buying from you and not trying to defraud you. Have a BIN checker system in place and you’ll know whether they’re using stolen credit card details to try and buy your products. Also, having captcha checks in place can stop bots from getting behind the scenes.

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The Latest Encryption

Hackers and the like are getting more and more sophisticated when it comes to hacking into websites, and if you’re using outdated technology to keep your site secure then it won’t be difficult for them. There is always new encryption software coming out, so make sure you have the latest on your website – ultimately, they won’t be able to get into your site if you have the best!

 

Going Further

If you’re concerned about the security of your site then you can always go beyond the software offered and have a full on audit done by security experts. If you’ve got a highly valuable site that might be of interest to hackers, then it’s probably the correct thing to do. They’ll look at all the vulnerabilities of your website and make it completely watertight.

 

Stay on Top of Everything

You know the secret coded messages that were sent during World War II? They were terribly difficult to break at the time, but completely easy for us to understand now. That’s what it’s like with site security. If you’re not constantly revisiting your website security then you’re liable to have a chink somewhere in the armor that could be all a hacker needs to get behind the closed doors and cause you damage that could spell the end of your site. Always stay on top of your site security!

| Can Your Business Survive A Disaster?

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

There are all sorts of things that can go wrong in business, and part of your job as business owner is to ensure that your company could survive no matter what happened. To be certain of this, you need to be sure that you have prepared your business for every eventuality – something which is difficult to be absolutely certain of. However, it might be necessary to think long and hard about the possible problems your business could run into, so that you can properly protect it from the worst happening. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to protect your business from disaster.

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Compliance

As with anything else, the best form of protection is often prevention, and knowing how to prevent your business from suffering any kind of disaster is more important than knowing how to lift it back out again. To be able to do this, you need to ensure that your business is as compliant as possible. Having a proper compliance system in place means that your business can be much more likely to prevent anything untoward from happening. It is vital that your business follows any local bylaws, all national and international business laws, and industry regulations which might apply. That way, disaster is much less likely to strike.

 

Insurance

Of course, there is only a certain amount that any business can do to keep itself afloat; to a certain degree, you will also need to plan for when things do inevitably go wrong. One of the strongest forms of protection a business can hope for is insurance. There are all sorts of insurance out there which your business might benefit from – whether it’s simply fire and contents insurance for your building, or something more complex and central such as key man life insurance, which ensures that your business is able to carry on after an important figure within the company dies. Insurance is a great way of protecting your business from a variety of potential angles, so makes sure you consider it.

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Persistence

Sometimes, during a disaster, it can truly seem as though your business is not going to be able to survive. This can be a terrible situation to be in, and it is hard to know exactly how to fix it sometimes, but something which is likely to be key is the act of persistence. As long as you are able to be persistent with your business, you should find that your business continues on for much longer than otherwise, no matter what disasters might befall it. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but ultimately it is just a matter of practice, and in truly believing in your business enough to know that it is worth it.

 

Coherence

Finally, let’s talk about the value of coherence. It is hugely helpful for any business if it is run in a way which makes sense to all involved. This ensures that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done at whatever point in the process of running the business – and that itself is vital if you want to push your business on to greater and greater limits.

| Want to Trade Full-Time? Start a Business.

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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A lot of people see trading as something people do in their free time – at least until they become really successful at it and start parlaying the winnings and doing it more often. When it comes to trading as a business, however, more people have a hard time picturing it. Not so much because they don’t know these businesses exist, but more because they don’t see how they could start such a business.

Starting a trading business doesn’t require you to have already made millions in the stock market. It’s actually a much more realistic business venture than you may think, if you’re interested. Here are some of the key things you should keep in mind if you’re thinking seriously about starting a trading business.

 

Risks, Risks, Risks

You can’t get too far into an article about trading without seeing the word ‘risk’, right? There’s a good reason for this: before you start this sort of venture, you need to know that it’s a very risky one. But is it really much riskier than other businesses? Judging from the failure rates, not so much.

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The vast majority of trading ventures fail within their first year. And when I say majority I mean in the 90% region. But the fact is that the failure rate of any type of new business is very similar. Businesses that fail at trading often fail for the same reasons other businesses do: bad planning and financial management. Don’t be put off the idea, though: it’s an unavoidable fact about the business market. It doesn’t mean you have only a 10% chance of success – it just means that 90% of other businesses made fatal mistakes. There’s a difference!

 

Assistance

If you’re going to set up a trading venture as a business, then it probably stands to reason that you’re going to need employees, right? It’s true that this is probably the desired position to be in, but, as with any new business, hiring a bunch of employees in those early days is often financially unfeasible.

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It’s more difficult to gauge just how much profit you’re going to make from any given pursuit in this business. But if you agree to given a percentage of that profit to an employee, then this may be a good way to get people into the business in the early days, especially if they’re confident in their abilities. But you could also consider getting the help of robots. Yes, you read that right. Who knew options trading robots can make money for you?

 

The Capital

You shouldn’t underestimate how much you’re going to need to start this sort of business. You may think the overhead would be fairly low, considering it can be done remotely – and this is true – but the fact is that you should really be starting with quite a healthy initial investment.

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A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that a few hundred dollars is a brave and smart amount of money with which to start trading. But if you’re looking to get serious and start a business out of this, you’re probably going to need at least a couple thousand.

| Is Data-Driven Content Marketing The Future?

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

We all know that data is fast becoming the most valuable commodity in business. It’s data that allows us to make sensible decisions about where to spend our marketing dollars and it’s data that enables us to understand what consumers want.

The world of business has changed a lot since back in the day. Back then, being successful in business was all about meeting people, getting to know them, building trust and doing deals. But many companies today don’t ever meet with their customers, and yet somehow they’re supposed to generate rapport and loyalty.

The key to doing this today is through a data-driven content marketing campaign. Campaigns should be “data-driven” so that marketers know that they are connecting with the right people in the right way. And they should be based on content since inbound marketing is now widely accepted as the best way to build sustainable customer relationships.

Today’s top up-and-coming businesses are all using big data to their advantage. Arby’s, for instance, is using data to highlight relevant cultural events to improve its online marketing efforts. And Kohl’s is using data to help personalize content to individual users. Here are some approaches your business needs to take to make its content marketing more data-driven.

 

Regularly Measure and Test

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No matter how much content you’re producing, you’ll never know whether it is effective or not unless you take measurements. Think of your content marketing as a kind of scientific experiment. Ask yourself what happens to your engagement if you change the style or topics of your posts? Does engagement go up or go down? Taking measurements allows you to be more innovative and creative than if you are working blind. By taking measurements, you can actually test whether or not your ideas have the intended effect or whether you need to rethink your strategy. Collecting data allows your company to take more risks and test the water.

You also want to measure where you’re having the most impact. Do you get more conversions if you post to Twitter, or are your customers more interested in what you’re doing on Instagram? Knowing which platforms are most effective is important in making sure that you’re using your time in the most efficient manner possible.

 

Don’t Let Big Data Stunt Your Creativity

Is it possible for companies to be “too data-driven?” The Content Marketing Institute think so. They’ve argued that businesses that obsess over data wind up losing their creative flair and their marketing turns stale. Everything becomes about maximizing keyword throughput and dwell time, rather than creating something that is truly innovative, interesting or useful. It’s a good idea to use data and learn from it, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that drives content creation. There’s still room for human ingenuity.

 

Use User Data for Content

The data you collect will throw up lots of information about your clients. This, in turn, will allow you to create dozens of unique buyers, all with their own personas that you can target. Because of changes to the rules on data security, companies need to make their marketing GDPR-compliant. But so long as you’re following the rules, you’ll be able to use user data to your advantage. It’s no longer sufficient to focus only on the age and gender of a person and call that an online persona. Instead, you need to cast your net wider and measure things like purchasing patterns and location-based marketing to include local things of interest.

 

Use Content to Build A Community

Some companies have all the data in the world, but they’re unable to turn this data into a meaningful, real-world conversation. And if they can’t generate meaningful, real-world conversations, then they’ve collected all those data for nothing.

The best way to make sure that you are engaging your audiences is to ensure that every contributor to your blog is following a set of clearly defined guidelines. The purpose of these guidelines shouldn’t be to stifle creativity and flair: instead, they should be aimed at making sure that the content is relevant to your audience, according to the data you’ve collected. One way of doing this is to create a handbook, explaining to contributors exactly what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re targeting.

Sometimes it can be difficult to build external relationships with writers for your content. And so it’s a good idea to host regular Hangouts meetings with them online to explain the sort of thing that you want. This will give them a chance to give you their thoughts, allowing you to fill out your editorial calendar.

 

| Is Your Company About You Or Your Customers?

Posted in Small Business at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

When you started your company, you most probably had a pretty clear outline of the steps you would be taking toward success. You had the products lines or services you were going to offer. You had a timescale of roll outs and targets. And you had a vision of the types of customers who will be attracted to your company. This last one, in particular, poses an interesting question for new companies: to what extent is your company about your own ideas, and to what extent is about the will of your target demographics?

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Finding the Balance

There are a few companies out there, such as Facebook and Apple, who have got so big that they can more or less do what they want without losing customers. They can infuriate their customer base and still not see a dent in profits. You, of course, don’t have that luxury. But it’s still hugely important that you do have an identity. Your company will not be able to succeed if it changes every time the wind blows. It’s all about finding the balance between what you as business owner want to say and do from your seat as company leader, and the tastes of the people who will help keep your company going.

 

Making it Work for the People

If you view digital marketing services as a tool that allows you to share your company ideas with the world, then don’t let it be a surprise if you’re not able to build up the size of audience you were hoping (or, indeed, that you need). Instead, your digital marketing should be all about your customers, what their interests are, what they like to read and view online, and so on. Of course, this varies depending on the medium through which you’re delivering your message. You can be more company-centric in an email newsletter than you can on Twitter, for example.

 

Customer Focused, Your Lens

With this in mind, it’s best to think of your approach as being more or less about your customers, but through a lens that you’re able to define and control. Everything you put out online (and other, offline marketing you engage in) will not able to be tailored for every single user. You’ll have your general message/identity dripping from every Tweet or Facebook post, and if it’s robust enough then you’ll lose some people straight away!

 

The Loyalists and the Newbies

There’s another factor in this equation, and that is: who are we talking about when we say customers? Is it the people you’re trying to get into the net, or the ones you’ve already caught? You should have two strands of marketing (not necessarily all the time): one for repeat customers, and one for the newbies. The people who have bought from your company before are much more likely to be interested in the details that you are passionate and get excited about (and also spend more). The new, potential customers shouldn’t be bogged down in these details, but should rather be sold a much vaguer vision of your business.


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