Tag Archives: business

Getting your business noticed online

In the increasingly difficult to get noticed in a world swarming with information. Everyone wants to be at the top and thus needs to find a way to get there. Being good isn’t sufficient any longer and we need to figure out the various ways we can get noticed in today’s furious online culture – where information is instant and consumption is particular.

The first thing people think of is that you need expensive marketing budgets: billboards, TV adverts, giant posters. Some of the most expensive adverts cost in the tens of millions of British Pounds. But, for the average small business, we simply could not afford such expenses.

But your budget need not be about having lots of money – or, indeed, even about money. Primarily, you can market yourself primarily on time and energy. One of the best, and most powerful and efficient, ways to do this is to market yourself properly on social media.

You need to learn how to engage directly with customers, using services like Twitter and Facebook. But just because you’ve signed up and have a profile doesn’t mean you’ll be doing it correctly.

As Entrepreneur notes:

“Just like a person who constantly talks about himself, a company that never stops selling on social media is a bore. Don’t use every post and tweet to tout your product or service. Instead, mix in some links to interesting stories that are relevant to your industry and community, as well as personal posts, such as a fun anecdote about your office culture.”

Another good way is to become a resource for HARO.

“From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories. Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.”

If you or your company is then taken up as an authority, you could find yourself being given a platform in some of the most read spaces online. It might important to keep track of this and then request links back to your site if you are mentioned.

Of course, all this won’t make sense if you don’t have a website. Maintaining your website is essential, as today most of your customers are more than likely finding out about you online – thus will be presented with a first impression with how they are presented to you digitally.

All of this, of course, doesn’t make sense if your own office is lacking. Keeping your equipment up-to-date is essential in order to not lose connection and staying ahead of the game. It might mean you need to consider asset finance, but considering you’re paying to stay connected, it is a priority you must maintain.

How to be more effective at HR

As the world becomes smaller, more and more people from greater walks of life are starting to enter fields previously unattainable. Thanks to widespread and increasing equality, pools are no longer dominated by one kind of group but are, increasingly, finding themselves diverse in who enters: various races, genders, cultures are all meeting and competing to try get the latest, hottest jobs and make a name for themselves to find stability in this face-paced world. To handle such a situation requires engagement with people, management of affairs that understand what various people need.

This is where human resources comes in. As About.com notes:

“[Human resource management] is the organizational function [in a business] that deals with issues related to people such as compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training.”

It’s clear than what the importance of this role is to a business. But many might scoff at yet. Yet, business people themselves – looking at it from a purely business perspective – are preaching the importance of it. As IOL recently reports:

“Employers should do a lot more to ensure the physical and financial well-being of their employees and ultimately to ensure they retire comfortably, key people in the financial services industry say.”

This was the findings of a recent report. Addressing employees, the article notes experts conclude “Your company has a moral obligation to help you, as an employee, achieve financial stability, and in doing so it will ensure that you remain a productive employee.”

Many key figures note that as the world becomes increasingly competitive, “HR should be doing everything possible to retain every employee possible.”

But HR itself is therefore a viable employment opportunity, so it is advised that you consider human resource management courses. Considering the demand for it right now – and also the demand for good human resources management as it benefits businesses – it might be prime time for everyone to consider this often neglected part of business. But even then, there is work to be done.

As Bloomberg notes:

“Human resource managers should learn some foreign phrases, use public transit and take in local landmarks when they travel for work, efforts that help to bridge cultural differences as companies increase their international presence, said Howard Wallack, global markets executive at the Society for Human Resource Management.”

Again: we can’t ignore that the world is diversifying and expanding – often into areas it has never gone before. This means both business and those who work there will be encountering situations they might not have years ago. This requires a deft engagement with negotiating different people to help retain them and get them to want to work in the first place.

This isn’t just good for people, it’s good for business.

The business of management

There are fewer things more important than proper management. It seems like a discipline that is primarily for more skilled people or those with experience; yet what matters isn’t just having management but effective management.

Global management consulting film, McKinsey and Company did extensive research into just this and came up with measured results. The result

“shows that the core elements of management can be assessed and scored and that well-managed firms have higher productivity, market value, and growth, as well as a greater ability to survive adverse conditions, such as global financial recessions. Our research further indicates that more than 80 percent of all productivity variation occurs within a given sector for a given country and that there’s a “long tail” of persistently badly managed firms in all countries and across all sectors. These findings suggest a significant potential for management-led productivity improvements in every country on Earth.”

The question is, what does bad management actually look like? We can’t just say it’s a “bad business” because something led to that business being bad. According to Mind Tools, good managers are encouraging and engage with their employees – this shows both that they have a handle on the situation of their employees’ work as well as the employees themselves.

This benefits in two ways: the first is by knowing what your employees are actually doing, it means you have a greater handle on all work in general. Second, by knowing your employees, you can better steer them to get the work done. For example, if you know an employee is stressed because of a home situation, it might be better for everyone – the employee and the business – to help put that work on to someone else or at least reduce his workload. In that way, the work gets done and the employee is treated with respect.

Bad managers however do bad things. As Bloomberg Business highlights: “Bad managers don’t say these things. Helpful, encouraging, and trust-based words and phrases don’t occur to them.”

Rather they threaten employees.

“Lousy managers… love to remind employees that it’s all about the transaction: ‘You work for me.’ They never fail to remind team members that someone else would take the job if you ever got sick of it or let the lousy manager down in some way.”

Of course managers have to themselves manage many things. For example, those who handle fleet management say “time spent on administration has increased in last 12 months”, according to Fleet Point.

Nonetheless, managers need to care about how they operate and treat their employees – because you can’t separate a manager who mistreats his employees from bad businesses. Poor management is poor management – and poor management is detrimental to a business’ success.

Will the internet destroy traditional forms of information gathering?

Some of the biggest names in the world today emerged as a direct result of the Internet. For example, one of the most popular videos on YouTube “Gangnam Style” has been seen 2,092,676,383; the creator, Psy, has travelled the world and been received with lavish praise. The young popstar Justin Bieber emerged as a direct result of the same site. There’s little doubt it’s aided careers of performers all over the world to break into industries and accelerate their popularity.

The internet has of course changed various dynamics in how we get careers. Aside from world famous celebrities, many people are taking courses in subjects they either couldn’t or would never have thought of; the barriers to knowledge are mostly dropped as vast swathes of information are freely available for consumption. Everything from WikiPedia to the Guardian is available to read online.

Online learning has also taken off. Of course, many are not legitimate enterprises so it’s necessary to take stock of which ones are real and accredited, and which are not.

Many things can be done online, including various kinds of trading as seen with sites like Mirrovest. We can shop for our groceries and have them delivered to our door from accredited stores. We communicate and debate and laugh, we watch films and play games and investigate foreign countries – all from the comfort of monitors.

Many people might think this is detrimental to experiencing life itself. After all, looking at the sea from a monitor versus being at the beach are two different experiences. Falling to earth from outer space versus watching a Go-Pro of someone doing it are two different things.

The question is whether this is a difference in degree or kind.

Degree and not kind

Before the internet, did there exist a format where we experienced adventures, foreign lands, strange people, without ever leaving? Was there a way for us to communicate our opinions and ideas without engaging with them directly? Of course: that’s what books and letters were for.

Newspapers have been around for hundreds of years, conveying information from foreign places and about distant events. Again: people have not been directly involved in events they knew about and had an opinion about for ages.

The Internet does only one thing differently: it conveys things in real time (and notifies you). But being instant is the only way it is different in kind, rather than degree. Otherwise, the Internet is not particularly unique in how we as a species have engaged in information.

This means any concerns about how we learn and think and market, about how we advertise and distribute knowledge isn’t unique to the Internet. People have always had to think about the medium of communication. The Internet is simply the latest medium in a long, ever-growing list of forms we’ve communicated.

(Image credit: Rock1997 / Wikipedia)

Is franchising really worth the investment?

We’ve all encountered franchising, even if we haven’t realised it. Today, the major focus for nearly all businesses is its identity online and how it exists in the digital sphere.

To be able to assess franchising, however, especially in terms of the digital age, we should know what it is.  Franchising.com notes:

“Franchising is a network of interdependent business relationships that allows a number of people to share:

  • A brand identification

  • A successful method of doing business

  • A proven marketing and distribution system”

Obvious examples of this are usually places like fast food outlets. The actual description is that it is an arrangement, says the Business Dictionary:

“… where one party (the franchiser) grants another party (the franchisee) the right to use its trademark or trade-name as well as certain business systems and processes, to produce and market a good or service according to certain specifications.”

In the case of food outlets, it would be the logo, name, brand, etc., of, say, KFC or Chesanyama.

“The franchisee usually pays a one-time franchise fee plus a percentage of sales revenue as royalty, and gains (1) immediate name recognition, (2) tried and tested products, (3) standard building design and décor, (4) detailed techniques in running and promoting the business, (5) training of employees, and (6) ongoing help in promoting and upgrading of the products.”

This means deals are made between the franchise’s senior people, such as Praxia Nathanael, and the person wanting to use the various techniques, resources, etc. of the business. As a franchisee you benefit by being linked to an established brand, with access to its resources; as the franchise itself you get more visibility, more customers, more sales.

But franchises need not only be, say, another shop or outlet. They can also be digital spaces. For example, if you’re a franchise, how do you manage your digital presence – your, say, website – if you have franchisees.

As MSA Worldwide notes, in an article about the internet and franchising:

“There are … a host of issues that must be addressed, including whether a franchisor’s existing agreements with its franchisees allow them to enter into e-commerce and, once established, how the website will benefit not only the franchisor but its franchisees.”

The internet has been a great equaliser in terms of businesses, and this is perhaps its most important quality. Franchises must keep this in mind when managing their digital presence, before even considering the various policies in regard to what franchisees can and should do with regard to an online presence.

The Entrepreneur’s Mark Siebert writes:

“Two decades ago, if you wanted to compete with “the big boys,” you would need to advertise to get franchise sales leads… That kind of… commitment was simply not economically feasible for most startup franchisors.

Today, while the new franchisor has the same operational and legal costs to get into the marketplace, a college kid with a lemonade stand and a credit card can create a first-rate franchise website over a weekend, run pay-per-click ads on the front page of Google and be talking to prospects by Monday.”

The Internet is one new, major aspect to how businesses should consider themselves – and this will then carry over into their considerations for franchising. Some have made the argument that with the Internet, it’s probably better to consider partnership as opposed to franchising.

“There will be more networking on the Web instead of franchising,  [Vincent Thompson, principal at Middleshift] predicted. ‘In earlier years, Internet franchising may have made more sense, but no longer. The Internet has changed drastically since then. Business[es] online need much more than [what] is available through a franchise,’ he added.”

There is therefore plenty to consider when it comes to franchising, because there is a lot to consider with regard to business and its presence itself.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)