Category "Business"

What to Consider When Hiring Your First Employee

- - Adam Kidan, Business

What TO Consider When Hiring Your First Employee By Adam KidanIf you’re a growing business, the time will eventually come that you need to start hiring employees to help you carry the weight and continue to grow.  But before you do this, you need to make sure that your business is ready for a new employee, and that the employee in-question is a good fit.  I recently read a post on the blog Young Upstarts that looks at what you should do before you finally decide to hire your first employees:

Review your finances: Employees, for all their benefits, cost money.  You might be able to pay an employee’s salary for one month, but you need to find out if you can afford the payroll for an extended period.  This goes beyond base salary; depending on your state, an employer will also be responsible for employment taxes workers’ compensation, and insurance.  One way to attract talent is by offering your employees various benefits, but those cost money too.  If you don’t have the finances to make all of this happen, then a freelancer might be the way to go. 

Legal: As an employer, you need to navigate all sorts of legal red tape, which varies depending on where you are.  So you don’t end up in court for any sort of oversight, consult a lawyer before you end up launching a new business; coughing up a couple hours’ worth of legal fees could save you a huge amount in the future.  

Find the right payroll system: While you obviously need to pay your employees, you also need to consider how to provide your staff with the appropriate information on their take-home pay, taxes, deductions, and contributions.  Make sure that you have a proper payroll system instated.  Do your homework, and find one that works with your budget.  

Identify your needs and expectations: By identifying the needs of your business, you can determine what kind of employee you should be hiring.  Assess which areas of the business require the most assistance.  Consider how an employee will affect your bottom-line as well.  

Making Your Meetings Productive

- - Adam Kidan, Business

making your meetings productive by adam kidanMeetings can be, and in many cases are, the very bane of a company’s existence.  They often drag on for hours and accomplish absolutely nothing.  What can you do to ensure that your meetings aren’t a waste of time?  Here are five strategies for getting the best value out of your meetings, taken from an article I read online:

Is it necessary? A physical meeting isn’t always necessary.  While it might seem more impersonal, a text or email will solve an issue much quicker than a meeting.  Before you find yourself making slides and setting off an hour in the conference room, ask yourself if it’s necessary.  

Plan the agenda: By creating an agenda for the meeting, it will be easier for everybody to prepare for the meeting, and also make sure that nobody gets sidetracked on a tangent.  It allows you to focus on the most important issues at hand, ensuring that you don’t waste anybody’s time.  Of course, people can still go off on tangents, but if you set up a clear agenda, you’ll be able to much more easily steer the meeting back to its proper course.  

Bring key players to the table: After you’ve figured out your agenda, think about who needs to be at this meeting.  If somebody doesn’t need to be at the meeting, then they’ll just bring down productivity.  

Think about the goal: Piggybacking on the second post, stay focused on the goal at hand, and avoid spending too much time on items outside the agenda.  One way to stay focused on the goal is to ask pointed questions to “teach” and guide participants.

Summarize the key points: If there isn’t any follow-up action, then a meeting might as well have been for nothing.  To make sure that your meetings are effective, you need to follow up.  Summarize key points, then distribute them to everybody in the meeting.  Make sure that every key player who should take an action after the meeting knows what they’re supposed to be doing.  

How Big Businesses Look Small

- - Adam Kidan, Business

How big businesses look small by adam kidanI recall seeing a McDonald’s ad for “artisanal grilled chicken” a couple years ago.  The idea was pretty absurd; whether or not you like McDonald’s, “artisanal” is about the last adjective I would use to describe their food.  I don’t think that they were fooling anybody, but this betrays an interesting business trend: consumers, particularly in the field of food and beverage, are more interested in local, smaller, “mom and pop” shops with improved quality.  I recently read a post from entrepreneur blogger Chris Brogan, who talked about this trend.  It was a really interesting post, and it made me think about modern business trends.  In the post, Brogan talked about the Belgian-based brewing giant AB-InBev.  Over the years, they’ve bought out smaller breweries and merged with other breweries until they now brew everything from Budweiser to craft brewery Goose Island to the Czech Pilsner Urquell.  It’s an amazing roster of brews, and  AB-InBev has got their fingers in the two big pies of the beer industry: the mass-produced standards that college students love, and the “craft” beers that have been growing in popularity.   

Consumers want something that seems “small batch”, so that it feels local and “authentic”.  Look at the two examples I wrote about above.  AB-InBev and McDonald’s are both publicly-traded companies that get about as corporate as corporations can get.  But they’re still courting that increasing demand for “local”.  Even Wendy’s, another fast-food giant, has recently been running commercials about how their beef, unlike that of their competitors, comes from local farmers.  And look at Chipotle.  True, they’re in big trouble now, but about four years ago they were on top of the fast food chain.  A large part of that had to do with their image of being a company that “cares” and sources “local”.  

The large, impersonal brands of today such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola owe their existence to American consumer trends that took off in the aftermath of World War II.  As the country was becoming more and more connected, people wanted that consistency.  It’s something Andy Warhol touched on in his paintings of coke bottles.  The idea that no matter who you are or where you are, whether you’re the President in the White House or a bum on the streets of New York, a bottle of coke will always taste the same.  But now the emphasis has shifted: consumers want a product and company that cares about them.  This is something that smaller businesses inherently need to do if they want to stay alive, and something that bigger businesses will need to do if they want to stay relevant.  These are companies that were able to navigate business trends to become the giants that they once were.  And it’s not too much of a stretch to think that they can navigate these new trends, even if they’re a lot different from those before.  

Growing Your Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

growing your business by adam kidanRunning your business requires more than just walking through the day-to-day.  You need to keep a big picture in mind of where you want your business to be going.  Your vision.  The “where you see yourself X years from now”.  This will help inspire both you and your team.  It’s easy to lose track of your vision with the everyday challenges that come with running a business.  Yet there are some ways that you can keep track of your business’ vision, and help chart the course there, taken from a great article by Rich Allen that I read on the blog

Start at the top: Imagine how you want your business to look like in 10 years.  Think of any and all particulars to make your vision as specific as possible.  Include the size of the business, your locations, what you’ll offer, your business structure, your customers, and your own involvement.  

Back up five years: When you’ve charted out your 10-year vision, back up about halfway.  It’s that cliched “where do you see yourself five years from now” question they always ask you during job interviews.  Cover the exact same details that you did when asking yourself where you’d be in 10 years.  Look at where you need to be to achieve your 10-year goals.  Then connect the dots to there.  

Back up another two more years: With a five- and 10-year vision clearly charted, back it up to where you want to be, or more appropriately need to be, three years from now.  Think about if this backs up your five-year plan.   

Back up to next year: Once this is all planned out, time travel once again to one year from now.  This offers you a ten-year perspective on how to get there.  Ask yourself where you need to be a year from now to be on track to reach your three-year vision, using the same criteria.  This allows you to set up your goalposts, so that you can structure your business for each benchmark.  

Branding on a Budget

- - Adam Kidan, Business

branding on a budget by adam kidanNot every business is going to have a giant budget, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to create a solid, far-reaching brand.  Branding doesn’t need to be expensive; if you’re willing to put in the hours, you can still brand your business successfully.  I recently read a blog post that shared some tips for creating your brand on a budget.  Here’s what they had to say:

Develop and understand a “buyer persona”: A buyer persona, is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on a combination of market research and data about both your own competition and existing customers.  This lets you identify the needs, goals and behavior of potential customers, which in turn tell you how to convey your product or service.  While it might seem time-consuming and trivial, it sets you up to be able to attract valuable traffic in the future.

Find a confident and consistent voice: Once you’ve created an identity for your brand, then stick to it so your brand can truly take shape.  Establish a voice for your brand, one that’s consistent and always on message.  

Use social media: Most potential customers these days hang out on social media.  Find out which social channels your customers use the most, and then you’ll know where to dedicate the majority of your resources.  But using social media properly requires creativity and dedication; consider how your posts add value to your customers.  

Do customer service well: Few things hurt a brand quite like bad customer service.  It’s something that many business mess up, which can seriously damage the public persona of a brand.  But great customer service is a great way to turn your customers into advocates.  

Blog: Blogs are the most powerful weapons for building a brand.  They help you reach your target audience by creating informative and interesting content playing to their interests and problems.  So don’t just settle for mediocre content; make sure it’s good quality, relevant and being posted regularly.  Blogging is also a great way to populate your social media channels while also attracting visitors to your website.  

Focusing on Content

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Focusing on content by adam kidanIn this day and age, the real key to successful marketing is a successful social media reach; if you aren’t doing that already, then you should start ASAP.  You don’t just want to have a Facebook page with an address and phone number.  If you want your business to be heard, you need to create high-quality content across numerous social media profiles.  And the crazy part is that this isn’t something you can just throw money at and hope it works out.  The key is “organic” content.

A lot of marketing professionals have dismissed the idea of “organic” content, especially in the age of paid advertising.  Paid social media has enormous upside, but great content amplified in subtle ways is much more effective.  That’s not to dismiss the idea of paid social media, but the simple fact is that bad content, no matter how much money you throw at it to promote it, is still bad content.  If you have good content, you can do wonders by simply pairing the proper hashtags with minimal paid amplification.  This is why investing in good content for your brand is such a valuable asset.  If you’re a small business, it pays off to invest your time, money and effort on creating great content.  You want to spend more on creating great content than amplifying your mediocre content.

Quality content is arguably the most important part of marketing to a younger audience.  People under the age of 40 tend to discover a business by either searching it on Google or finding their content on social media.  If they see a heavily-promoted piece of solidly mediocre content online, they might click on it, but chances are they won’t stay on it for a long time and it won’t yield a positive impact.  Somebody who finds your content organically is an infinitely more valuable lead than somebody who comes through an ad buy.  

There are a whole lot of paid tactics to help grow your audience, and this isn’t meant to discredit any of these.  But if you’re going to use them, and see effective results, then they need to be paired with good content.  Organic social traffic is the most natural and current state of the Internet, and it’s an amazing opportunity for brands to make their content grow properly.

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Easy Ways to Boost Sales

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Easy Ways to Boost sales by adam KidanWe all want to close more sales, yet sometimes that’s not the best way to make more money.  It’s actually much easier to double your sales by doubling the amount of your average sale than to double the number of sales that you close.  Quality, as the saying goes, is more important than quantity.  I recently read a report that shared three ways to dramatically increase your sales, and here’s what they had to say:

Go after the big ones: Many salespeople spend their whole careers calling on low-level prospects with small budgets.  Only go after the high-paying prospects, who have both the authority and budget to agree to large investments.  Prioritizing highly profitable sales allows you to turn down the smaller deals that wouldn’t offer a large return on your investment.  Big opportunities take just as much time and efforts as smaller ones, but have a much better outcome.  

Establish your expertise: Salespeople have a unique 30,000 foot perspective on the industry of their prospects.  To close the bigger deals, present yourself as the expert; start off sales meetings by commenting on some things you’ve observed about the current industry.  By starting out with an observation, you’ll set yourself up as a true expert, boosting your value and serving as a powerful way to build up to a larger sale.

Uncover the cost of your clients’ challenges: After talking to your prospect about the issues in their industry, ask how they’re related to them.  This helps get prospects to open up about the challenges their organization faces.  Ask probing questions that will help determine what’s really happening.  After identifying the key challenges of your prospect, ask what these challenges cost their organization, which will put a price tag on the value of your solution.  Helping clients see the value of your solution will in turn lead to bigger sales and higher profit margins.  

Balancing Parenthood and Entrepreneurship

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Balancing parenthood and entrepreneurship by Adam KidanBeing an entrepreneur is a major time commitment, and often a huge risk.  It often takes up all of your time and then some.  So many people think that it’s impossible to balance a family and a career as an entrepreneur.  It’s not necessarily easy, but I can tell you from experience that it can still be done.  I recently came across an article that shared some tips for balancing the two, using advice from several successful parents/entrepreneurs.  Here’s what they had to say:

Prioritize your commitments: With family and work both taking up your attention, it can be hard to figure out which one you need to prioritize.  You need to be realistic about what you can accomplish, and not try to take on more work than you can handle.  Even if you’re busy, make sure you stay involved with your child, keep a routine and always have a back-up plan.  

Hack your time: While most work-at-home parents can’t stick to office hours, you can always hack your time.  Various time hacks can help with your work day, such as cooking for two meals at once, shopping online, doing things in batches and having your dry cleaning set to pick-up and delivery.  Removing these distractions from your work allows you to save far more time and get a lot more done with the limited time you have.  

Outsource/delegate work: Family activities often make it difficult to make obligations, so train your staff or hire somebody who can take your place when you can’t be there.  Try online outsourcing, getting a virtual assistant, and even teach your kids about how they can help.  

Grow your parents’ network: As you meet other families through school, playgroups and your neighborhood, you grow your “parent network”, helping you earn your place in the community.  This allows you to meet interesting people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, who could turn into valuable contacts or even partners.

Famous Politicians Who Struggled with Debt

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Famous politicians who struggled with debt by Adam KidanAs the debate about Trump’s taxes and bankruptcies continues, it’s important to remember that financial trouble happens to everybody regardless of age or net worth.  I recently came across an article that discussed some politicians who have struggled with debt.  Some of the names will surprise you:

Thomas Jefferson: The man behind the Declaration of Independence came from the upper-class of colonial Virginia, who had reputations for accruing large amounts of debt due to their expensive tastes (one family held onto a debt for 150 years!).  And Thomas Jefferson was no exception; while his prestigious reputation saved him from creditors while alive, after his death his family was forced to sell much of his property to pay off his enormous debt (estimated to be between $1 and $2 million in modern money).  

George McGovern: In 1984, the former US Senator and presidential hopeful amassed around $113,000 in campaign debt, but was saved by three other contenders for the 1984 Democratic Nomination that set up a fundraising party for him.  Four years later, McGovern opened a hotel that shuttered and fell into bankruptcy in less than two years.  

Linda McMahon: In 1976, long before she ran for the US Senate, Linda and her husband racked up about $1 million in debt, partially due to a bad investment in an Evel Knievel stunt.  They made up for it later in life, with a combined net worth of $370 million when she ran for senate in 2010.  

Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln may be known as one of the greatest Presidents in US history, but he certainly had a lot of setbacks.  Early in life, he owned a general store that amassed $1,000 in debt, a massive amount in the early 19th century that brought him to court.  Lincoln was forced to forfeit a horse, and took several years to pay back what he owed.

Marco Rubio: While Trump’s money has raised questions this election, he wasn’t the only candidate with money problems.  Rubio has long struggled with debt for everything from education to mortgages.  After an $800,000 book deal in 2012, Rubio’s money problems seemed to be over, and he celebrated by buying an $80,000 luxury speedboat.  While Mitt Romney’s campaign was vetting Rubio as a possible running mate, this financially careless decision caused them to think twice.

Myths About Content Marketing

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Myths About Content Marketing by Adam KidanContent marketing is an essential technique for marketers, allowing companies to raise brand awareness, increase leads and elevate their status.  Yet despite such benefits, there are still misconceptions about content marketing.  Here are 11 myths about content marketing, based off an article I found online:

Your audience won’t fall for it: Consumers aren’t interested in reading a sales pitch, they want to form long-lasting relationships by interacting with brands.  Take a look at Millennials; 62 percent of them have reported that they feel a connection with a brand when they see or read about it online.  And if the brand’s content isn’t sales-y and feels authentic, a third of them have reported that they’re willing to buy a product.  

Content marketing won’t work for your business: Not every brand is as exciting as Red Bull or Coca-Cola.  Yet this doesn’t mean that they can’t succeed in content marketing.  Take, for example, GE.  They’ve been using visual content, which has allowed them to let go of the brand and become part of internet culture.  

It’s too expensive: There are costs associated with content marketing, but it’s a lot more affordable than traditional advertising.  You do need to hire writers and pay for ads online, but leading marketers are very good at repurposing content without much cost.  

It’s free: While it’s cheaper than traditional advertising, content marketing won’t achieve the required goal for free.  The idea is of course to let your content grow organically, but you do sometimes need a little push to make that happen.  

People don’t read anymore: People still read.  It isn’t always from a book, but they still read, particularly if the content is valuable, informative, solves a problem and isn’t promotional.

You don’t have the resources: Not being able to create enough content is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers.  To address this, try repurposing content, using social media scheduling and monitoring tools and hiring freelancers.

You can’t prove the ROI: Content marketing should be based around goals and objectives; you can track increased traffic by seeing how many visitors originated from Facebook or Twitter.  If you set these goals in the first place, you can absolutely prove the ROI of your content marketing.

Results are fast: Content marketing takes a lot of time, trial and error.  Everything from conducting research to actually creating content to analyzing its results takes months, even years.

Your business can’t compete: While you have a lot of content to go up against online, people still want to see content that serves a purpose.  If your content is valuable and can make the lives of your audience better, then there’s plenty of room to compete.

Traffic and shares means success: Just because your video has 20,000 views doesn’t mean it was a success.  A popular video won’t necessarily drive traffic to your website, obtain leads or catch the eye of industry leaders.

Your content can’t be published anywhere else: Scour the Internet long enough and you’ll notice that content gets republished in multiple places.  If you want to tap into a large audience, republish your amazing content, whether that’s on LinkedIn, Huffington Post, Business2Community or any other medium.