Tag Archives: business

Lawyers: think marketing isn’t necessary? Think again

As a lawyer, your services are always in demand. You may be a divorce lawyer helping couples come to amicable conclusions or a labour law professional dealing with the CCMA or labour disputes on a daily basis – whatever your speciality, legal services are usually in high demand.

However, many lawyers overlook the power of and the need for marketing in their industry. If you do not market yourself or if your firm is not marketing itself, you may be losing out on high-paying clients. Taking marketing courses will help you to understand just how useful marketing can be.

Why do I need marketing?

You may have studied for years to become a lawyer and can understand complex topics, but marketing is most likely a new and confusing concept to you. There are some pertinent facts as to why you need to market your services, including the following.

Competition is intensifying

Arguably the most important reason why lawyers need to market their practices or firms is the fact that competition in the legal world is fierce. And unless you can come up with a catch-phrase as memorable as Saul Goodman’s, you will need to be creative to beat the competition.

The increase in law students also means that there is more competition in the job market, so you will need to learn how to market yourself to potential employers and clients.

Beating bad press

It is well known that lawyers and legal professionals often receive bad press from the media. Marketing and PR strategies can help you to beat this press or to allay the repercussions. Not having your own publicist is no excuse to ignore your public image, this is what potential clients see before considering you as their legal aid. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to market your firm or yourself, but remember to create a professional Facebook profile and avoid using your personal profile for anything business related. If you show yourself to be a professional at all times, bad press will not be an issue for clients and can easily be avoided.

Technology is evolving

Articles and speaking engagements are a great way to become noticed in the legal world, but your clients are most likely more active on social media platforms. You should be more active on these platforms. Using techniques such as podcasting allows you to introduce yourself and the work you have done and are able to do.

It is not advisable to continue using outdated marketing techniques while the current ones are changing on a near weekly basis. Lawyers can make use of content marketing, video marketing and even post entertaining social media pieces to get their name out there to clients and potential employers.

What can I do to market myself?

Aside from hiring a marketing firm or taking marketing courses, there are simple tactics you can use in your marketing strategy.

  • Understand how clients find you: People will only use lawyers they know they can trust, which is why word of mouth is such a powerful tool. However, in today’s modern world, many people do their own further research rather than relying solely on the words of others, which is why it is important to have an online presence.

 

Maintain the relationship with current clients to strengthen the word of mouth referrals, but set up a LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ profile for those who want to be entirely certain that you are trustworthy.

  • Use content to build awareness about your services and/or firm: Other than word of mouth and social media reviews, having professionally written, relevant content on your website or profiles can work wonders toward garnering new clients.

 

If you are unable to write content in layman’s terms or in a manner that is appealing to your audience, you need to hire or reach out to a professional content or copywriter. These marketing experts will craft copy that is on point and that will tell clients that you are the best choice for their needs.

  • Build your social media presence: As mentioned previously, social media is an ever-growing platform that people use on a daily basis. For any company looking to build their customer base, having a social media profile is a highly effective way to do so.

 

If your posts focus on customer service and on articles written by employees or by yourself, you will not be breaking the confidentiality clause between lawyer and client.

Final thoughts

Any law firm or private practice needs to include a marketing or PR strategy in their budget. Using traditional methods of marketing is successful to a point, but if you want to grow your client base and flourish in today’s world of technology and modernity, you will have to implement a marketing strategy that includes digital tactics.

Why you need report writing skills for business communication

Business communication requires a number of skills, ranging from effective presentation skills to the ability to understand graphs, charts and data. There is also the need to write effectively and concisely while including all pertinent information that can help to understand the communication sent out.

This is where report writing skills are important and will come into play. Report writing skills are different to normal business communication or simple writing skills as they encompass a different set of abilities, such as the ability to write objectively and factually rather than using emotion and persuasion in your pieces.

What are report writing skills?

Report writing skills are vital to effective communication in any office. The skills that are required for writing an effective report can include the following.

The ability to focus

This is essentially keeping in mind the objective of your report. You should not be distracted easily by information that does not relate to the report or is not necessarily needed for inclusion in the report as this will make for an unstructured and unfocused report.

An analytical approach

Being able to analyse and utilise data are essential report writing skills, as having an analytical approach will allow you to interpret the information you have been given, such as financial data, SEO numbers or performance data on employees. You’ll also have to make an analysis of the target audience, the purpose for which audience requires the report, the type of data the audience is looking for in the report, and the implications of report reading.

An objective mindset

When writing a business report that’s regarding an employee’s behaviour or a disciplinary action report, it is important to be able to take both sides into account without bringing emotion into play. Meaning that you will have to apply an objective eye to the information provided. It will not be conducive to decision making if you write a report that is fraught with emotion and is subjectively biased toward the employee in question.

The ability to be clear and concise

A report for business purposes does not need to be lengthy or convoluted, but rather it should be accurate, clear and concise, including only the most important details and information. This does not mean, however, that you should aim for a short document, but that you should practice the ABC of report writing: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. Your report can be over three pages long, but should never read like a conversational piece or include information that has no place in it.

Quality assurance

Simply put, quality assurance means the proof-reading, editing and fact-checking of a report, which further increases the effectiveness of the document and the information. It is important to verify every piece of information that goes into the report as not only will incorrect information reflect badly on you, but it can hinder any decisions made regarding the report, such as budget cuts or hiring a new employee.

How can report writing skills help in business communication?

Report writing skills can help improve business communication in many ways, such as improving general writing ability and boosting the effectiveness of further business communications. Some of the ways that having and improving report writing skills can help business communication:

  • The quality of writing in business reports will improve.
  • The content and format of business reports will always be correct.
  • General writing and document sequences will be logical and meaningful.
  • The presentation of business reports will improve, as will the formats.
  • The clarity and efficiency of all business writing will improve.
  • Organisation skills will improve, due to having to remain focused and accurate when writing reports.

Improving your report writing skills is of vital importance to any successful business communication and there are some effective ways that you can improve them aside from going on a report writing course, which in itself is extremely helpful.

Thinking before you write applies not only to report writing, but to every type of business communication you may be writing. It is important to ask yourself what the audience should know or think after reading the email, proposal or report. And if the answer is not immediately clear, then you may have started writing preemptively.

The writing structure you learnt in school does not cross over well into business writing, where you need to be direct and clear without writing long introductions and conclusions. Business reports should be direct in their message and remain clear and accurate throughout, so be sure to keep this in mind when writing a report that is meant for a business situation or will be read by an analyst or decision maker within the company.

Your home (office) away from home

For most, their careers consist of getting up in the morning and going to work until the end of the day. At work, they interact with colleagues, use office supplies and equipment and stick to a strict work schedule. But for some, earning money doesn’t involve commuting to and from an office. Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur or sales representative, you’re likely to be based at home with sporadic visits to clients or partners.

This type of career comes with unique challenges. Your schedule, deadlines and interactions are all in your hands and it can be difficult to stay motivated throughout the day and week. Especially with all the temptations of leisure at home and plenty of time on your hands. If you’re one of these people and are wondering how to optimally conduct your business at home, you’re in luck. Here are some things to consider when working from home.

Your routine

At this point, you’ll know that a schedule is near impossible to maintain at home. Everything that makes your life enjoyable is under the same roof – food, television, sleep. It can be quite the task to work a set number of hours a day when you’re not surrounded by colleagues who all work those same hours.

In order to be your optimally productive self, you need to set up a routine that you can stick to. There’s no use telling yourself you’ll work from 8 to 5 when you’re not a morning person. Consider when you’re the most productive and adjust your work schedule accordingly. Just keep in mind that the people you’ll do business with will likely follow standard working hours. Keeping that in mind, working from 6pm to late won’t be the best option.

Once you have you scheduled worked out, stick to it by seeing it as your office hours. In other words, you have to get up and get ready at a certain time in order to get to work when you need to.

Your social life

In an office environment, you’ll have many interactions with colleagues around the coffee machine or over lunch. When you work from home, you won’t necessarily have these social breaks unless there are other people at home with you. This can damage your productivity as these social interactions provide you with time to clear your head and sometimes even the opportunity to discuss work-related ideas.

To avoid missing out on these necessary breaks, leave time in your schedule for breaks, social interactions and idea creation. Take some time every hour or two to make a cup of coffee and stretch your legs. This will get the blood flowing again and you’ll be ready for another productive session.

Avoid checking your phone constantly. Instead, leave time in your schedule to answer any personal texts or catch up with friends and family over the phone. Who knows? Gran might have a brilliant idea for you to explore. And lastly, head to your nearest coffee shop over lunch for a bite and a quick internet browse to see what’s going on in your field that day.

Your environment

Office spaces are designed to be conducive to work. Your house, on the other hand, might not be. It’s important to have a designated space for work where you can sit at a table and plug in your computer. Ideally, this space won’t be in your room.

In terms of the elements inside of the room, some planning can go a long way. Think about the kind of work you do. Are you constantly on the phone with clients? Make sure you have a phone nearby. Do you need to scan a lot of documents? Ensure that your scanner or printer is close enough that you can easily access it. Nothing ruins workflow quite like having to go find the equipment you need.

In order to make your workspace fully functional, you might need field-specific equipment. Whether you’re employed and working from home or running your own business, there will be equipment finance options for the apparatus you need.

Your sanity

Lastly, it’s crucial to look after your sanity. By implementing these guidelines, you should be able to strike a balance between home and work life. The most important thing to remember is that these things are separate. When you’ve reached your knockoff time, close up until tomorrow and get some rest. After all, you won’t be very productive if you burn out.

Remember why it is that you’re working. Keep the goal in mind and remind yourself of the rewards your hard work will earn. But also afford yourself the necessary time to rest and ready yourself for the next working day.

It’s time to upgrade your office space

Office spaces can make or break a company’s reputation. For many clients or customers, it serves as their first impression of the product or service offered. If not their first, it certainly contributes to the general impression of the brand. In today’s visual society, it’s no longer enough for your office to be practical and professional. It needs to say something about what you do and how you do it.

So, if your office space is still stuck in the functional stage, it might be time for some upgrades. Making minor changes will go a long way in representing your brand positively and increasing its appeal to your target market. Think of times you were in office spaces and how the appearance influenced your perception of the company. Whether it was good or bad, it definitely said something about what you were paying for.

Your look

The first and most obvious place to begin your upgrade is your office interior. But it’s not as easy as, out with the old and boring and in with the modern and stylish. Your office interior should match your company brand. This means that your office should reflect not only your products or services, but the personalities of the people who work there too. If you have a young and dynamic staff, it makes no sense to decorate your offices like a traditional study. The same goes for the inverse.

Start by giving your walls a fresh coat of paint. This is an opportunity to bring some colour into the space if that fits the feel of your business. Otherwise, simply applying a fresh coat of the existing colour will also freshen up the space. Next, try to change up the lighting in the building. Something as simple as opting for bulbs with warmer lighting can drastically change the feel of your office. You could also include some coloured lights in the reception area to add some vibrance. If there are sofas or other forms of seating in the space, add some decorative pillows for an extra pop of colour and detail. You can then easily change the office style every so often by just replacing the scatter cushions.

Your tech

With your stylish new office space, your old technology will seem out of place. It’s time to consider upgrading or replacing some of your machinery assets. Look into getting computers that will best suit the needs of the company staff and optimise their performance. There are machinery asset finance options for technology, which are available so you don’t have to use up all your capital in one go.

Next, it’s time to update how your information and data is shared in the office. Switching over to digital data transferring platforms such as Google Drive will not only streamline your office’s workflow but will also save paper and add to your green status. All your data will be in a secure and easily accessible location, and your staff will no longer have to lug around binder after binder of printouts.

Your staff

The final and strangely least likely place to implement change is with your employees. A common thought process is that a happy employee is a hard working one, but few business owners actually take this to heart. By implementing a few feel-good initiatives, your company morale will improve and production will soar.

Treat your employees to some new office chairs. Not only will this improve the general appearance of the office but with the added comfort, your employees will happily produce better work. Get a coffee machine for the kitchen. Your staff will be more productive if they can take quick coffee breaks inside the office. And the smell of coffee will add to that great new vibe you have in the building. Try out some bonding activities where employees can mingle and have fun inside the office. Start a lunch party so employees are encouraged to share meals and stories. This can be done in the normal lunch hour (so no loss in actual work hours) and within a budget. Simply providing beverages or snacks should suffice if everyone still supplies their own lunch.

You can also play around with other ideas like Friday games nights where employees stay after work and take part in card tournaments, for instance. Make it commonplace that weekly winners are rewarded with vouchers for time off. Interactive events like these can result in employees looking forward to coming to work.

Ultimately, you can optimise the effect of your brand on consumers by ensuring that your office space feels inviting. Your systems will function efficiently and your staff will feel comfortable and satisfied. Welcome to your new business.

Tips on starting a small business

Starting your own business can be exciting. You have a lot of ideas and plans to make a success of whatever it is you want to do. And you like the fact that you don’t need to work for someone else anymore. You’re your own boss who is leading a team and making your own decisions. Finally, you can make your dream a reality. If you have an idea, the mindset and drive, and a well-detailed business plan, then take it away.

However, with all this enthusiasm, starting your own business can be quite stressful as well. There’ll be a lot of demands that are going to need your attention. You have to work extremely hard if you want to be successful. A dedicated and committed entrepreneur is what your business needs. Bear in mind that not everything will be perfect and you’ll make a few mistakes along the way. You have to go through that in order to learn.

Many start-ups don’t make it beyond their first two or three years because of inadequate planning, knowledge and lack of resources. Make sure your business doesn’t fall into this trap. Having perseverance in order to succeed is a must. Ask for help if needed, whether it’s for network or finance. You sometimes have to approach your acquaintances if you want to keep your business alive.

Here are a few things to take into account when starting your own business.

Register your company

As an owner of a business, every rand you spend must provide a return on your investment. One of those expenses has to be the registration of your company. It may seem like an unnecessary money waster but, unfortunately, this issomething you have to do. You can’t run a business without it being registered. Also, if you want to take out a loan for your company you need proof stating that your business is registered. Registering your business is an investment made in your company.

Identify your market

At some stage in the preparation of your business plan, you need to conduct research on your target market. You need to know how big your potential market is before starting your business. Research whether or not there’s a need for the product or service you’re offering. Do consumers really want it? Also, check out your competitors and what exactly they’re offering. How many other companies are offering the same thing as your business? Are their products or services more affordable? If you’re not sure about that, then your business won’t succeed. You need customers to buy what you’re offering in order to make money. So be sure to check that out if you don’t want your business to fail.

Organise suppliers and equipment

What is a business without its necessary equipment? It’s important to understand your objectives and what you want to achieve. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment in order to offer or produce your product. You have a small business, so look out for suppliers that offer affordable but good deals. Make sure your suppliers are legitimate. You don’t want to find out that you bought stolen equipment. As a business, you’re also a customer. So make sure to shop around for great deals and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Company premises

Deciding on your business premises is just as important as the registration of your business. This is something that needs to be included in the planning process. Consider all the available options for the premises. Check for the cost of the buildings, where it’s located and the safety of it. On that note, it’s also recommended to install a video wall controller to ensure that your premises are secure and being watched on CCTV at all times. As a startup and small business, you might be able to share your business space with another company.

Start an online platform

We’re in the 21st century and everything these days takes place on the internet. One of the first things you can do is create a website for your business and social media profiles. Many customers love to connect with companies online as it’s easier and saves time. If customers visit your website and social media pages they’ll be aware of what you’re offering and it’ll make the selling process easier. There you can also share the background of the company. It’ll simply improve your company’s image and target a global market. Having your business online means you can basically work and market your company from anywhere in the world.

Be patient and remember that success won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some time before you make a profit. Don’t give up and work hard to make a success of your business.