Team Building to Take Your Company to the Next Level

At one point or another, maybe now, your small business may require the help of others to continue to grow. This may be a huge decision as hiring a staff member requires what amounts to a substantial investment for many small businesses. Having quality employees in a company has long been one of the secrets for being successful.  I have had the opportunity to work on both innovative engaged teams and uninterested stagnant teams.  It is amazing how much money a company wastes when they have individuals that aren’t vested into the success of the organization.  It is also interesting how a few influential team members can be cancerous to and entire team, department, and company. When it’s time to hire, follow these tips below to ensure that you are on the path to success.

Hiring the Right People

There are many reasons companies have bad employees. The most common reason is hiring the wrong people.  Many times, I have seen employees that have the talent and intelligence to make a significant contribution.  Most of the time the reason these individuals don’t work hard is they think they are underpaid.  The fact of the matter is they figure they aren’t going to put in 100K effort when they are only making 45K.  The big problem is they want a significant raise before they put in the maximum effort.  In business, it never seems to work like that.  Normally, a boss or manager needs to see an outstanding contribution before they will consider a significant raise.

A Matter of Attitude

There are ways to make sure you hire a team that is going to take the company to the next level.  The first thing I look at when hiring an employee is their attitude.  Do they seem like the kind of candidate that is going to do everything in their power to make a difference on a daily basis?  If not, there are probably better candidates to be interviewed.  Learning a skill set or trait can usually be picked up on the job.  The guy with the good attitude may not be the most qualified, but will do the most long-term good for the company.

Monitoring Performance

After you have hired your team, you need to think about how you are going to monitor their performance.  The most important thing is to have clear success metrics in place.  It is also wise to have those metrics public.  That way, employees can see how the stack up against their coworkers.   A new form of performance monitoring that has been gaining popularity in the last few years is 360 degree feedback. This gives you the power to get input from everyone that works with an employee.  Many times this type of analysis will have the boss, coworkers, subordinates, and suppliers fill out a survey that has questions about an individual’s performance.

Hiring a quality team is definitely one of the main ways to ensure company success. Hiring the wrong people at an early stage will lead to failure. Be smart about it, and don’t settle. Follow these additional tips for finding the right people for your small business, at the same time, consider your own role in how you will manage your employees. Good luck!

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling application that helps small businesses and solopreneurs streamline administrative tasks. Try it for free.

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Preparing to Establish Your Small Business

Out to conquer the world? Be sure to plan ahead. Consider these steps first.

There are many potential entrepreneurs aspiring to establish their own business and begin a life running a small business of their own in a niche or industry that they truly enjoy. It’s fair to say there is a lot of success to be had in starting your own business; if done properly and with great dedication there is no limit to the popularity and revenue you can hope to generate. Take British entrepreneur and face of ‘The Apprentice’ Sir Alan Sugar for example; famous for his ‘rags to riches’ tale of success. Over a period of forty years he has produced a personal fortune, and all this started by just selling electrical equipment out of the back of a van.

It is important to plan far ahead when intending to start a small business; so here are a few simple tips to help ensure you have a bright future with your business.

Research Your Industry

Throwing yourself into an industry without having a proper understanding of how popular it is and how successful similar products or services are is a bad move and is likely to waste any time and money you have invested. Gather enough information about your competition and potential niche to judge whether or not there is a suitable gap in the market for your product or service. If planning to sell a product locally then properly research the area, see what rival competition currently exists and where they are located. Is a more advantageous location available? Does the rival business provide a quality product or could yours snap up their customers? Ask yourself as many questions as you can about the area and gauge exactly how suitable your business idea is to the locals.

Business Plan

Constructing a business plan is absolutely essential looking to raise money or expand your small business; it also works well as a list of goals and objectives when planning for the future of the business. Ideally for a starting business, try and aim for your business plan to be between 10 – 25 pages long; it should include all information and statistics that possible investors could hope to see, be it a bank or otherwise.

Include information on the service or product you provide, any specialist staff you may have and any details outlining the history and owner/s of the business.

Feedback and Market research

Get feedback on all aspects of your business as early as possible. Create a range of questionnaires to gather the thoughts of your target market on subjects such as your brand name, the quality of the product or service you provide, your customer service, and any suggestions they may have. This can help you to tackle any serious problems early on, before mistakes are made on a much larger scale. Keeping customers happy early on is a great way of starting as you mean to go on, it can help to iron out any creases and build a great reputation; after all, word of mouth is one of the most effective means of promotion.

These simple tips can help you establish a great foundation on which to build a successful and popular business. Remember to always take in the opinions of your target market, they are the ones who can make or break your business!

Written by Daniel Travis – Brown on behalf of Golf 24/7, suppliers of quality golf club sets Follow him on Twitter @DanTravisBrown

How to Overcome Overwhelm

Overwhelm is a common feeling for many solopreneurs. As the chief, cook and bottle cleaner you have more responsibilities, and more different types of responsibilities than the average worker. As the boss or sometimes the sole employee, customers, colleagues and everyone else come to you with every question and need. You on the other hand have no one to turn to. The buck stops with you. Your list of responsibilities may be as longer than the number of hours you have available, yet all of it must get done. Then comes the overwhelm leading sometimes to paralysis. What is a solopreneur to do. Here a few tips for conquering that overwhelming feeling, bit by bit, one step at a time.

Don’t let it be an excuse

First step to conquering the overwhelm that is stopping you from doing whatever you need to do, is to tell yourself that feeling overwhelmed is no excuse for not doing something. You can feel overwhelmed and still do what needs to be done despite it. While you’re at it, don’t pity yourself for feeling overwhelmed. This will only stand in your way. Now that you accept that you have to do whatever needs to be done, with or without the overwhelm, you can do your thing and also work on feeling less overwhelmed. Read on for how.

Clean up your to do list

Put everything you need to do on a long list. Get it all down on paper. Now the fun part. Edit. First, cross off anything that isn’t important. Really important. As a business owner, making money is usually the most important thing on your list. Only you can decide what can be scratched off; be realistic, ask yourself honestly if each task is truly important for making money. People tend to become fixated on unimportant matters giving them more time and attention than they truly deserve. Put these things on a list to be done later. Next, outline anything that someone else can do and delegate. Delegating also can become work in and of itself. So start small. Buying supplies, for instance. Or delegate personal items so that you have more time for work. Send the laundry out rather than doing it yourself—any  little thing that doesn’t require your magic touch and can be handled by someone else. Now you have a list of important things that you yourself need to do.

Prioritize your important tasks

Now that you have a list of important things that you need to do, prioritize those tasks. Give each task a number, number 1 being the top priority. For the high priority stuff, establish a schedule. The point is to avoid wasting any of your precious time trying to decide what to do. Make a schedule of when you will do what, then do it.

Tips for handling your priority list

  • The little stuff: Usually people have a long list of little things that don’t take long to do, but aren’t a high enough priority to get done first. For these, set aside a day or a day and a half and just blow through them, one at a time, keep going. Get them all done.
  • The big stuff: Some things will take lots of time. Don’t let this stop you. Schedule blocks of time for dealing with the bigger projects. Let’s say every morning from 9 to 10 a.m. you work on your marketing, or bookkeeping. Create a routine, a set time for working on that project. Everyday move it forward. Acknowledge the progress you make.
  • All the different stuff: Switching from task to task takes energy. To minimize the impact of switching gears, group your like projects together, so that you don’t have totally switch your mindset.
  • The dreaded stuff: Maybe there’s something you are dreading doing. Not doing it can really add to your overwhelm. You will feel so much better when you do it. Get it out of the way and feel lighter as you go about tackling the rest of your list.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping small businesses to run more efficiently. Our online invoicing and appointment scheduling software helps entrepreneurs to better manage their time, while projecting a professional image to clients.

7 Ways to Increase Your Small Business Sales

Need more sales in this tough economic climate? Here are 7 tips for growing revenue even in the hardest of times.

1. Build Retention

An existing customer is worth as much as 5 prospects or more. You can grow sales by keeping more of your existing clients around longer. Remember to reach out to existing clients with additional services to support their  growth and always provide excellent service.

2. Give quantity discounts

Offering discounts based on quantity can spur sales (i.e. but 10 lessons get 20% off). Developing a package deal to lure more business is one way to grow revenue. However, you need to know your breakeven point. Take note that offering package deals and discounts won’t be helpful if you lose money. Once you determine your breakeven point, you can easily tell how much discount you can give to customers without compromising cash flow and profit.

3. Keep up your sales effort

Make sure that your sales effort is highly productive. Take note that the more productive the sales effort, the higher the profit. You can use your sales force to market your business to your existing clients or new prospects. You can make phone calls, emails, or write your customers about the new products and service.

4. Keep your prices steady

You may think that the fastest way to increase revenue is to sell your product or services at a higher price. Think again. Pricing is part of a long term strategy, not a short term fix. If your product is priced properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about this issue now. Instead, keep prices steady, while finding ways to slash expenses.

5. Promote your product online

One of the most effective ways of selling your product or service is marketing your business online. Setup a website and list yourself in online directories to help your prospective clients find you when they are looking for you.

6. Accept credit cards

It’s about time that you accept credit cards online as a mode of payment of your customers. There are some people who buy products or services using their debit or credit card instead of paying through cash. You will need a merchant account to accept credit cards. There are several credit card processing companies with whom you can open a merchant account starting with your local bank. They will check your credit history and other factors about your business and determine the terms for your merchant account.

7. Build Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth is still a leading method for marketing. In simple terms, people trust their friends’ recommendations and endorsements more than a sales pitch. Keep your customer service on point, and your social media marketing up to help ensure people are speaking positively on your behalf.  As you pursue social media, avoid these mistakes. Otherwise, full speed ahead, following these seven tips to increase sales.

Lauren Tessin is the writer of, a website that offers 1,000+ Job Applications as well as the salaries and job descriptions for each.

Before You Start Blogging: A Checklist

Blogging is an effective marketing method for climbing to the top of search results. The best part is blogging can very well be a D.I.Y. marketing activity.  The only barrier to entry is your own time available to the task of maintaining your campaign. Much of the success of a blog lies in the planning and prep. Here, a list of 7 steps you’ll want to take before you get started blogging.

  1. Identify your audience, and what their information needs are. What do they want to know. Think back to the types of questions clients typically ask you. Put yourself in the heads of your readers. Make their information needs your editorial objective. i.e. this blog helps small business owners and solopreneurs to manage and market their businesses. Write yours down, so that you can measure all of your future ideas for blog posts against it.
  2. Search for similar blogs. Get familiar with the space in which your blog will exist. If you will be blogging about the benefits of massage therapy, check out other massage therapy blogs. Subscribe to blogs that you like, read them regularly, become part of their communities and comment when you can.
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Blogging for Online Visibility (Small Businesses and Solopreneurs)

Blogging serves many business purposes. A well executed blog can help to position you as a thought leader, help you to network with other professionals online, humanize your business, foster brand loyalty, encourage people to form an emotional connection with your brand and more. A blog can also increase your online visibility, or what is known as your Web presence, and help people to discover your services.

Blogs can be a lot of work and take time to maintain. As you’ll be investing time and perhaps money into your blog, it’s wise to determine what your objectives are for blogging, and a plan for achieving them. You’ll also need to understand who your audience is, and how they use the internet. If your audience is actively looking for your type of service through search engines then blogging with the objective of gaining visibility online may in fact be one of your best options for marketing your service. If your customers don’t typically look online to find your services, but rather turn to their friends for referrals, then your time may be better spent invigorating your existing clientele.
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Five Tips for Better Blogging for Your Business

Blogging tip #1: Write for people, not Google

Whether you’re blogging to increase visibility online, or you’re blogging to build credibility, or for another reason entirely, you want to make your content as readable and shareable as possible. Follow these tips while blogging for your business.

Write for People, not search engines

Search engine optimization is about making your site easy for Google to read and classify, so yes, fill in the title tag and description tag in the content management system. Use your keyword in the blog title as well as the title and description tags. Also use your keyword at least once in the first few lines of text on your page, but beyond that, don’t get too crazy about SEO. Your best bet for content that ranks is to write for people, not search engines. When you write for search engines, and stuff your post with keywords, not only does your post read badly, but you risk even getting penalized by Google. Remember, all Google is trying to do is to simulate a human experience—and it’s getting smarter all the time. Your best bet is to write for people.
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Utilizing Free Advertising to Cut Start Up Costs

In business nothing is more important than the bottom line. With the cost of business rising, the line for spending definitely needs to be the lowest possible. Start-ups are in a position today that twenty years ago was non existent. With internet marketing constantly being honed and simplified, start-ups can now advertise for free and get their business started right. Here are a few ways of marketing your business online without spending a dime:

Social Networks:

I am starting with social networks for one reason; it should be where you start. Social networking can allow your startup to reach thousands of people in seconds. However that is only once you have it set up properly.

Start by setting your social up during the planning of your start-up. Once you know what your business will be about, the product or service you will be offering and the areas you will be offering it in, sign up for the popular networks. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are the current monsters of social networking. You should create your account and begin adding users, finding followers, and following others (follow SimplifyThis on Facebook now) to begin building a database of people who will see your ads and posts later.
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Lessons Learned on the Way Up

By Jonathan Wickman

When I think about the person I was when I started my career, it makes hard for me to believe I have come as far as I have.  Most of the personal development I have had the last several years has come directly from the office.  The lessons I have learned have helped me become a better husband and father.  Here, a few of the lessons I’ve learned in the workplace, that have helped me to be a better professional and person.

Importance of Mentors

I started my professional career with an internship at Utah Valley University. I was majoring in marketing but had no real hands on experience.  I was lucky enough to score a job with an online marketing company. At the time, I didn’t know the first thing about using the Internet to marketing to people.  The company only had the 3 owners and 2 interns.  I would come in everyday and work my hardest on the tasks I was assigned.  I learned quickly that if I put my nose to the grindstone and had a good attitude, one of the owners would give me a little bit of one on one training.  This mentoring has proven to be invaluable to me in terms of building my knowledge. If you work hard for people, they are much more inclined to mentor you. As a small business owner, you can also turn to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) SCORE  program for personalized one-on-one small business advise! The SCORE program, standing for Service Corps of Retired Executives is credited with training 590,550 aspiring and existing small business owners in 2010. Those businesses generated $19.4 billion in revenue. Their dedicated volunteers represent over 270,000 years of experience across 62 industries. Amazingly, SCORE is completely FREE, making SCORE a must-do for any small business owner.
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Grow Your Profits with Customer Retention

Customer retention is central to successfully building a business. As many of you already know, it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one. If you’re not already aware of the importance of customer retention, here are a few facts:

  • According to some studies it costs up to 7 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.
  • Studies also show that a 10% increase in customer retention can translate to as much as an 80% increase in profitability.
  • They also state that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on a business as decreasing costs by 10%.

Overall, customer retention should be central to your small business marketing activities. Not surprisingly customer retention relates directly to the strength of your relationships with your clients. Follow these tips to keep your relationships strong, and retention rates high.
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