Is the Time Right for Your Business Aspirations?

Multi-ethnic Superhero Businessmen Confidence Concept

If you’re considering starting a business during what’s left of 2015 or anytime in 2016, there are a number of factors to keep in mind.

From the current health of the economy to the type of business itself, starting a successful business oftentimes boils down to timing.

Here are just a few tips for starting a successful business the first time around in the coming year:

Strike While the Startup Iron is Hot

Although many small and large businesses alike are still recovering from the financial crisis of 2008, all signs point to a recovering economy. This means good news for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business in the coming year.

The U.S. has regained close to nine million jobs in the past year and banks are beginning to lend to business startups again.

Likewise, if you’re trying to start a business without relying on a line of credit from a bank, crowd-funding through sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter is also at an all-time high.

It’s also important to note that a healthy economy means less competition for industries of all kinds.

Whether you’re starting an online brand or a local business, when the business world struggles less, it gives your business a better opportunity to set up shop without competing with other similar businesses hungry for sales.

Ask for Advice

Regardless of whether you’re starting your business tomorrow or in the New Year, it’s always wise to ask for advice and tips from successful business owners.

As the following article looks at, whether you’re looking for 8 tips for starting a massage therapy business or you just need some help in the marketing department, a little advice goes a long way.

You can reach out to other business owners on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, read up on business blogs, or meet with business owners in person. You’d be surprised at how willing successful entrepreneurs are to share advice on the startup process.

Timing is Everything

Although the economy is currently ripe for new businesses to take shape, that doesn’t mean you should jump right in to starting your business.

Successfully getting your business off the ground takes a ton of planning and perfect timing.

That’s why it’s so important to choose the right time to get the business ball rolling.

For example, if you’re starting a consumer retail business, consider opening your doors closer to the holidays as opposed to after the New Year.

Starting your business at the right time could give you a much-needed sales boost during those critical beginning stages.

Study the Competition

In the weeks and months leading up to your grand opening, be sure to study the competition closely. Keeping an eye on the success rates of industries and local businesses similar to yours will provide you with valuable insights.

Are similar businesses currently struggling or are they experiencing unprecedented sales numbers?

By studying the competition and asking these questions, you’ll know when the best time is to jump in the business arena.

If you’re trying to decide whether to start your business in the coming year, then keep in mind the helpful tips mentioned above.

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About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including business startups and the economy.

Make Content Marketing a Leading Strategy

Child scratching head with question mark on blackboard concept fContent marketing has been around for hundreds of years, but only recently has it been getting a lot of attention.

Essentially, content marketing is the process of advertising without advertising. This is to say that content marketing provides valuable content to consumers without overtly advertising, all while slyly incorporating a brand’s products or services.

A good example of this may be where a pest control service provides 10 essential pest control tips on Facebook with the hook that, if these tips fail, contact XYZ Pest Control.

The objective, getting the brand out there, is achieved by providing real-world tips that are valuable to the potential customer.
What Qualifies as “Valuable Content”?

Before you begin a content marketing campaign, stop and think … what would be valuable to me if I were a consumer?

While it’s easy to get lost in the world of industry jargon and technicalities, the consumer will, by and large, not understand what you mean. Therefore, try to think in simplistic terms.

What does the potential customer hope to get out of your company? What are the fears holding them back from doing business? What makes your company unique from the competition while ensuring that you can provide all that the consumer needs?

Consider all of these questions when crafting your business’ content.
Content Marketing is Great at Generating Leads

One of the biggest advantages to using content marketing is that it generates not only web traffic, which can boost search engine ranking, but it also boosts leads. The more valuable the content, the more likely people are to share this content.

In the article, “How to Generate More Leads Than Ever in 2015 With Content Marketing“, it’s pointed out that leads need to be nurtured through content.

Basically, you need an overarching theme to your brand message that transcends the content at hand.

You’ll want to form a full-force brand message about your new or existing product or service that implements value through your company’s website, social media channels, and traditional advertising in order to gain traction.
Don’t Just Throw It All at the Wall

Finally, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to generate content, throw it at the wall and see what sticks.

While it’s true that you need to monitor metrics in order to see what works and what doesn’t, taking a shotgun approach can prove to be disastrous.

Many business owners try to offer up valuable content from across a very wide spectrum of their offerings, only to find out that they lose business as a result.

Instead, plan out a strategy, determine which content marketing channels are the best bets, and then focus on target audiences in order to achieve success.

Valuable content isn’t valuable if you aren’t reaching the right people.

About the Author: Andrew Rusnak is an author who writes on topics that include content marketing and social media.

Book Your Small Business for Success in 2016 and Beyond

Diversity Business People Seminar Presentation Team ConceptThe right trade show can do wonders for your small business, especially for those business owners who are just starting out and are in need of getting their names out there.

All across the country, small business owners are attending trade shows to help boost their brand presence and so can you.

Here are just a few of the many trade shows worth attending in 2016:

The Small Business Expo

If you’re looking for a trade show that features a diverse number of networking opportunities, then look no further than the Small Business Expo.

This massive trade show covers consulting, start-ups, finance, insurance, real estate, non-profit, education, marketing, advertising, technology, ecommerce, and a number of other small businesses.

In terms of an all-in-one trade show, the Small Business Expo focuses on a variety of industries, which can really help you increase exposure for your brand.

Another benefit of this trade show is it takes place throughout the year in 14 major cities including New York, Chicago, Houston, San Diego, and Atlanta just to name a few.

ASD Market Week

The retail and consumer goods industry is competitive and if you’re in the retail business, then you already know the importance of brand presence. The ASD Market Week trade show in Las Vegas can help you hone your retail sales skills and stay ahead of the competition.

This trade show invites both small businesses and distributors, which creates an effective networking atmosphere.

As the following article looks at, along with the 2 philosophies that ensure tradeshow booth success is taking advantage of future distribution.

ASD Market Week, which takes place in late February and early March each year, segments attendees based on the products they sell.

This makes it even easier for distributors to seek out your small business during the trade show.


If your small business needs a hand with marketing and SEO, then Pubcon is an absolute must.

Part trade show and part conference, Pubcon brings together online marketers, social media experts, and SEO masterminds for the benefit of your small business.

At this trade show, you can improve your own marketing tactics while increasing the visibility of your brand through networking and workshops. Pubcon takes place in Las Vegas and Austin, Texas every October.

CES International

Consumer technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

Whether your small business builds smart devices or improves technology that’s already on the market, the CES International trade show can help you build a strong following for your brand.

CES International takes place every January in Las Vegas and features small tech companies and innovators from all across the globe.

If you’re looking for a trade show where you can market your consumer tech innovation while networking with distributors and investors, then this trade show is a must.

America’s Small Business Summit

Having a relationship with your local chamber of commerce is an important part of running a small business.

America’s Small Business Summit connects business owners with state chamber executives in order to help build lasting business relationships. The summit takes place each June in Washington, D.C. and features discussion panels from chamber policy experts.

If you’re ready to book your small business for success in 2016, then consider some of the trade shows mentioned above.

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About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including trade shows and small business.

Are You Up for a Content Audit?

Start Now Thumbs UpYour website is the front door to your virtual store.

The content you offer on your site is akin to the fixtures, services and products that you would have in a brick and mortar store.

Just as you would want to make sure your customers have a positive experience inside your store, you should make sure your customers enjoy visiting your website content.

Website content consists of anything and everything on your website.

That includes the written word, pictures, infographics and navigation menus. Making sure that all of your website content is optimized is critical to the success of your business.

One way to ensure that your website is working the way you want it to is to have a content audit. A content audit is a third-party, objective review of your site’s content.

When you subscribe to a content audit, you will receive a detailed, thorough report of all the things that are wrong – or right – about your website content.

Visitors are Fickle

If you’re wondering why you should invest in a content audit, consider this.

Recent studies report that most site visitors give your website no longer than 15 seconds before deciding if they are going to leave or if they are going to stay. That’s only a quarter of a minute.

As the following article looks at, if you wondered why your website needs a content audit, that should firmly answer your question.

Type of Content Matters

Some things that a content audit will uncover include problems with the content itself.

Google’s constant updates require more and better written content. Those site owners who think they are pulling one over on the Google Panda update by regurgitating old website copy are penalized with low page rankings.

Unique, engaging written content will get your website up front and in front of the competition.

Effect of Images on Your Site

Another aspect of your site that a content audit will uncover is if you have too many or too few images on your site.

For better or worse, many people who browse the Internet need images to help retain their interest.

Without pictures, many visitors will feel overwhelmed with content that appears boring or bland. Images help break up content, but at the same time, there can be too many images and not enough of the written word.

That’s where the content auditor comes in.

Through experience and analysis, a content auditor can arrive at the exact number of images your site should have in relation to the number of pages on the site, and the rest of the content.

Don’t fear a content audit. No matter what they turn up, the solution is an easy one.

You’ll either have to have a complete site redesign, or simply have to adjust a few things on the site.

Whatever the results of the audit, the answers are within your control.

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About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.

The Proper Business of Text Messaging

young business people group have meeting and working in modern bYou’ve got all of the right social media tools to help your small business out, a Facebook page, Instagram feed, Pinterest boards and a Twitter handle. Now what?

What else is your marketing calling out for? Are you working on text messaging to your client base?

If not, this is something you should consider as it’s a huge market to reach clients and increase their loyalty and longevity.

Mobility is Key

Because so many people have mobile devices these days, and keep these devices with them at virtually all times, mobile marketing has become a great platform to reach customers.

You won’t want to miss out on this market, and with a text messaging service, it’s all the easier. It’s just a matter of choosing the right one to fit your needs.

As the article, “How to choose the right text messaging service for your business” looks at, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Do some research – Find out the different services that providers offer, and decide what options you are looking for. Do you want it all, or will you be happy with a basic text messaging service? Check out how fees are calculated while you are doing this, because your budget is something to consider when choosing options.
  • Look at client support – You don’t want to get stuck with text messages going out willy-nilly, or encounter other issues with no help or support. Read some reviews and find out how the different services manage a problem and how much support they offer. You’re paying for a service; you should be able to count on support.
  • Compatibility – Make sure the text messaging service is compatible with the mobile service providers in your area. You want to be able to reach the major providers and if you have some smaller ones in your client base, those, too.
  • Look for someone willing to work with you and your needs – You want to be able to trust your text messaging service, just like you want your customers to trust you. Not only do you want support if there’s a problem, but you should also be able to look to your service for advice on what’s best for you. At the very least, you don’t want them pushing something you don’t need.
  • Talk to colleagues and other small business owners – Whether in person or via social media, reach out to similar business and see who they are using and if they are happy. You know how important work of mouth is, tap into it.

Any new endeavor is exciting and a little nervy.

Check into some different text messaging services; see what they offer and how each fits your needs.

Soon your customers will look forward to that weekly text from you, and your business may increase before your very eyes.

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About the Author: Heather Legg is an independent writer covering topics related to small business, social media and working from home.

Beach Notes: Unchain My Logs

Our first thought that this was a Beach Sculpture, then we looked around and we saw people using tires as exercise equipment.
It was obviously part of a fitness program
It just goes to show you can make a business out of anything, even chains and pieces of wood.
The mind boggles.
logs tied up on the beach


Authors Bios: Suzie Cheel is the Heart Whisperer at Suzie Cheel You can find Suzie on Facebook and on Twitter as @suziecheel

Des Walsh is a Digital Disruption Navigator at Des Walsh Dot Com You can find Des at LinkedIn and on Twitter as @deswalsh

Secrets of an Enduring, Successful Business

It was a crazy idea. What if we quit our regular jobs and went all-in on a business of our own? Could we really do that?

Turns out, yes we could. And have been for almost 17 years now.

In a world where we’re surrounded by “unicorns” and big exits, upstarts and startups, hardly anyone gives thought to what it takes to build an enduring, successful business. I’ve been in the trenches for a long time now, and here’s what I think the “secret sauce” is:

  • Be willing to do the hard thing
  • Go out of your way for your customers, treat them all the same, and with respect
  • Have a singleminded vision
  • But be flexible enough to change strategy when necessary
  • Watch the trends but don’t be a slave to them
  • Make all decisions as if you will be around for 15 years (no exit strategy unless you want your customers to be planning theirs)
  • Hire people who care as much as you do
  • Plant relationship seeds wherever you go, with no motive
  • Help others build their businesses
  • Don’t take anything (or anyone) for granted
  • Listen actively and constantly
  • Never burn bridges
  • Underpromise and overdeliver
  • Be accessible and real
  • Don’t be a doormat; stick to your guns on the important stuff
  • Decide what’s the important stuff
  • Make time for working on the business
  • Be a sponge; never stop learning, reading, growing your skill set
  • Inject humor whenever you can, and keep your sense of humor
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Establish good partnerships with other business builders who compliment your own business
  • Let the competition worry about you; be aware of, but not focused on, your competition
  • Be loyal to your customers, even when they’re not loyal to you
  • Be gracious and kind, even if you’re not selected…you’ll get the next one
  • Internalize your customers’ dreams and their pain points
  • Take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor

Have you been in business for a long time? Please share your insights with us!


Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee



Featured image via Flickr CC: scott1346

Should You Be Prone to Hiring Big Data-Skilled Workers?

Keyboard With Key LearnShould you be hiring candidates with big data skills?

As big data becomes a big part of many businesses’ operations, there are more candidates out there who have gained big data skills either through their job, or by specializing in big data during their studies.

If you’re considering taking on candidates with big data skills, what can those skills do for your business?

Big Data and Business

Big data has a wide variety of uses for your business. Sometimes the difficulty is deciding what to focus on first.

You can use big data to analyze your customers’ behavior.

This could include anything from purchasing trends to how they interact with your website. You can gain insights into who these individuals are, where they are, what they want and how they interact with you.

You can use big data to track your business processes and finances.

From tracking the way sales ebb and flow throughout the year to analyzing data from different departments, big data can give you insights into the way your business works.

You can use big data to keep your social media game on top form.

From figuring out which posts are getting the most customer engagement, to finding out what customers are  saying about you, big data gives you insights via social media.

Where to Find Your Big Data Candidates

So just where can you find your big data candidates?

There are two main ways:

Hiring a candidate who recently studied big data, or looking for someone with experience. Both have their advantages.

With more schools offering big data courses these days, you can find candidates who have been taught an in depth knowledge of big data.

As the article “Hiring Smart: The 5 Best Schools Cranking Out Big Data Job Candidates” says, big data students will have learned while training on real data sets, giving them the skills your business needs.

You can also hire candidates who already have experience in the field.

With more businesses making use of big data, so more professionals are learning big data skills and applying them in their roles.

Whether you hire a dedicated data scientist, or a skilled multi-tasker with big data smarts, experienced candidates will bring expertise to their role.

Big Data Can Be Applied In Many Roles

With so many uses for big data, there is the potential for you to make use of big data skills across departments.

Candidates with big data skills will bring an in-depth knowledge of how big data works, and how to make the most of it. Those skills can provide a real boost to your business; giving you candidates who can undertake in depth analysis and use the insights they gain to drive your business forward.

From analyzing data about your business processes, to streamlining your marketing efforts, candidates who can handle big data can do a lot for your business.

As well as hiring someone specifically for the role of data specialist, you will also benefit from looking for big data skills in any candidate who will be in a position to use data to gain insights.

There’s no doubt that big data is here to stay.

By hiring candidates who are confident handling big data, you will be providing your business with valuable skills that will benefit you in the long term.

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About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on a range of topics including social media, SEO that works, and how to make big data work for your business.

Is Your Company’s Network Management Sound?

Young Business Executive Using LaptopTechnology is changing rapidly.

Is your business’s network management staying on pace with those changes or falling behind?

The antiquated main IT focus on hardware setup and troubleshooting has morphed to include tasks related to cloud services and more.

Since sound network management is directly linked to effective internal communications and business success, here’s how to ensure yours is staged for success now and in the future:

Consider Information Security

Your top concern regarding the rapidly changing technological landscape must be the security of your company’s information.

Hackers are a dime-a-dozen and information can be compromised on many fronts.

Work with your network management team to pinpoint holes in information security and take rapid action on any concerns that are voiced by the team.

Assess Company Technology Policies

Whether on a work computer, a personal smartphone or another device, employees can now access thousands of apps and software programs with ease.

This shift in available technology has softened the edges of once-strict company technology policies.

Workers who once feared the wrath of their IT department after downloading software without permission now don’t see the problem of installing an app for the transfer of company photography or of using an online spreadsheet program for the input of company data.

Before the use of such software at your company gets out of hand and possibly compromises the business’s security, take a hard look at your technology policy.

Assess whether the policy addresses the latest evolution in smartphone apps and other technologies and work with your network management team to revise the policy as needed.

Look to the Future Workspace

Employees who sit at desks in the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day are quickly becoming the exception rather than the norm.

Flex and telecommuting policies are changing the way people work.

This workspace revolution is also changing the standards tasks that are associated with network management.

Just a few of the issues to consider regarding your company’s future workspace include how to deal with employees working from their private computers, how cloud services will change the way you do business and more.

Rather than ignoring these impending changes, face them head on to keep your network management one step ahead of the game.

Hire Innovators

If you are asking the question as the article, “Are you ready for the next generation of network management?” looks at, take an overview of your current workforce and consider the answer to that question.

If your company has an in-house IT department, consider the best professionals to hire into the department who can help lead your network into the next generation.

If your network management is outsourced, take a close look at how it’s being managed and if changes are needed.

By placing your network management into the hands of innovators, you can rest easier knowing it will stay in step with the future of business technologies.

Is your business ready for the next generation of network management?

Answer that question with confidence by considering the security of your company’s sensitive information, by assessing the business’s technology policies and more.

By taking action on the network’s weak spots now, you can keep pace with future changes in the technological landscape.

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About the Author: Shayla Ebsen is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional writing experience both in the corporate and freelance settings.

Should You Be Dialed-in to After Call Surveys?

Customer Services RepresentativeIf you have ever been asked to provide your opinion or give feedback after you complete a call, you have just been involved in an after-call survey.

You may wonder if these surveys provide any value to the business, especially if you were one who elected not to participate.

Do they have any value in today’s business world? If so, what do you need to know to make them effective?

Know What You Want to Learn

There should be a reason for everything you do in business, and after-call surveys are no exception.

You should know what information you want to find out, how you will learn this information and what you will do with it. If you do not have answers to all of these questions, you don’t need to take a survey.

Creating a goal doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, for these surveys, you should keep it simple.

Learn which call agents receive the best marks in customer satisfaction. Find out what percentage of customers have their problems answered when they call.

Keep your goals to one or two points to ensure that you get the information you are looking for.

Know What to Ask

Even if you know what you want to find out in these surveys, you won’t get the information if you don’t ask the right questions.

Make sure the questions are straightforward with enough options for the customer to answer accurately, but don’t overwhelm the person.

You cannot get feedback for complicated issues in this manner; keep your expectations simple and your questions easy to answer. You will use these surveys to gauge perception about general topics.

This may include finding out if the customer had a long wait time, if his or her questions were answered and if he or she was treated courteously.

Know How You Will Use the Data

Customers don’t mind filling out surveys or answering questions if they know their answers make a difference. They want to see that you make changes in your business based on the information they provide.

You should know before starting a survey what actions you will take with the results.

Obviously, if everything comes back positive, you won’t need to make changes. If you have less than desirable results, you should have a plan of what you will change.

As the article, “After Call Surveys: Are They Really Effective?” mentions, you should have a plan to follow up on any negative feedback.

You may even want to implement a mailed survey or contact specific customers if the reaction is strong enough.

The goal of any survey should be to make your business stronger, better and to improve customer satisfaction. When you accumulate information directly from the customer, this is your best weapon to improving your services or product.

Take your survey results seriously and they will be a valuable tool to help ensure that you retain customer loyalty so that your business thrives.

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About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including customer service and technology.