6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out from the Crowd

Running a small business is hard. Standing out from the crowd and elevating yourself above your competition is even harder.

small business tips
small business tips

With all the responsibilities for running your business already on your shoulders, it’s a big challenge to also become an expert marketer, too. You can only do so much!

But consider these 6 tips and you’ll have a major leg up on your competitors:

1) Understand Your Brand

Your brand is not just a name or logo. It’s comprised of everything that makes your business what it is. The way you present yourself, what you offer, the way you want to be perceived.

The first step towards the big leagues is ensuring your brand is clearly defined.

2) Give Stuff Away

A simple and time-tested marketing technique is to give away your product or service. Sounds outlandish, right? But depending on your industry, it may be ideal.

Restaurants that dish out free food at charitable events, for instance, expose people to their food and win themselves new customers.

3) Use the Social Media Your Customers Use

You’ll often hear that you have to be on Facebook because it’s the most widely used social media platform, but the truth is that the only place you need to be is where your customers are.

That can change depending on the nature of your business, so it behooves you to find out. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter – they all have advantages, so find out which is best for you!

4) Create An Event

Networking events are fine, but the real power comes in events you create yourself. Whether they are community events, open houses, or hosting your own networking event for local businesses, organizing your own puts you and your business in focus in a big way.

 

5) Be Good At What You Do

This one seems like it should be obvious (and it should probably be listed at #1), but it’s all too easy to forget. If you want to make your mark and you want your business to succeed, you need to strive to be the best at what you do.

Make people walk away and think, “Wow, why can’t others offer a (product/service) like that?” Your competitors won’t stand a chance.

6) Embrace Technology

The nature of your business doesn’t matter: technology is your friend.

Portable tech, new software, cloud computing, document scanning, mobile devices, and much more, all are things that can enhance your productivity, connect you with your customers, and save you a lot of money in the long term.

There are a lot of things to manage when you’re running a small business, but if you keep the above in mind you can give your business a major boost.

4 Common Mistakes Many Small Businesses Make

Owning and operating a small business is a lot of work.

Often headed by just one person or a small handful of people, there are a million and one things a small business owner has to keep in mind in order to keep their business running.

small business tips
small business tips

And that’s exactly why the mistakes listed below are so common. But they don’t have to be. Take a look, know what to expect, and be prepared so you don’t get caught in these common traps:

1) You Try To Do It All

It’s not uncommon in small business to tackle anything and everything yourself. In many ways, it’s an essential part of being a small business owner. However, you can take it too far and get in over your head, be overwhelmed with work, or try and do something beyond your capabilities – and all that can add up to trouble.

Solution: Don’t be afraid to outsource essential work that is beyond you or your team. If you’re not a good bookkeeper, for instance, hire someone to do it for you. It’s an expense that could actually SAVE you money in the long term.

2) No Written Goals, No Written Plan, No Clear Direction

This is an incredibly common mistake. Someone starts a business with good intentions – they have a particular skill that is marketable or they see a niche to be filled – and from there they just wing it.

Huge mistake. You can get by for a little while on luck or momentum, but in the long term it’s vital to have clear goals and a clear plan to get there.

Solution: Create a written mission statement, put a set of one-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year goals in writing, and create a written plan to achieve those goals. You’ll be amazed at how that can refocus and improve your business.

3) You Don’t Have A Website

It’s all too common for small local businesses to think they don’t need to be online because they are a local business serving the local community.

They just assume the locals will find them. Big mistake! These days, nearly 97% of consumers search for goods and services online, and half those searches are for things local to them. Being online is essential to being found by new customers and clients.

Solution: This one is pretty obvious. Get a website! And while you’re at it, get yourself on social media, too. It’s essential to being seen.

4) You Haven’t Embraced Technology

Small business owners usually operate on pretty tight budgets.

We understand that. Because of this, small business owners are often reluctant to invest in technologies that could make them more efficient and profitable in the long run – and while saving money in the short term is nice, in the long term that is a mistake.

Cloud storage, document scanning, digital storage, mobile devices, and other tech can give you a major leg up on your competitors.

Solution: Don’t be scared to invest in your future! The businesses that do best recognize that they have to look further ahead than next week if they want to succeed. You should, too.

Running a small business can be tough, but by avoiding these common mistakes you can make life a lot easier for yourself, and as an added bonus get an advantage on your competition. Good luck!

5 Big Reasons You Should Be Shredding Documents

If you are doing business in the modern world, you have more rules, more regulations, more laws, and more taxes to worry about than businesses of yesteryear – basically more of everything. And that means more paperwork.

All that paperwork may assist you in tracking information, managing your accounting, keeping your staff paid and ensuring the money keeps rolling in, but it comes at a cost: security.

All the paperwork you deal with contains vital information that can be used to do damage to you, your business, your employees and your customers.

That’s why document shredding is so important for 21st Century business owners. It allows you to make sure all that sensitive information does not get into the wrong hands.

So with that in mind, here are the top 5 reasons why document shredding is something you need to take seriously:

5)HIPAA Requirements

If you work in the medical field, you know about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Passed by Congress in 1996, this important law covers patient privacy and confidentiality, including what you can and can’t do with patient documents.

In many cases, HIPAA requires that these documents be stored securely or disposed of, which is where document shredding services and document scanning can be helpful.

4) Going Green

One advantage of document shredding done is that it’s green. Shredding your business documents makes sure paper you would be unnecessarily saving is recycled, and that helps reduce demand for new paper.

Rather than tossing out that paper, the documents get recycled into dozens of new products, including more paper.

 

3) For Security

Like any other business, you have client lists, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, employee names and social security numbers, internal memos, pay stubs and tax records, and more on file.

This is vital information to running your business, but in the hands of information thieves all that data can be used for nefarious purposes.

From competitors stealing your secrets to thieves stealing your identity, security is a key reason to ensure you are shredding paperwork no longer in use.

2) It Clears The Clutter

Running a business means long hours, but it doesn’t have to mean a lot of paper. A good document shredding service can help you keep your office clear of unnecessary documents. And that’s good, because it’s far too easy to let them stack up and take over. Shred them to reclaim that space.

1) It’s The Law

Doesn’t get any more direct than this, does it? In some instances, the proper and secure disposal of certain documents is the law. If the other entries on this list don’t convince you, this one should. Shredding documents may be your obligation as a business owner!

6 Things You Should Be Storing in the Cloud

A case can be made that there is no more powerful an online tool for business than “the cloud,” a term for online storage services that allow you to access your scanned documents from the Web.

cloud staorage
cloud staorage

After all, when cloud services allow you to virtually expand your office to reach anywhere a laptop or mobile phone can go, that is nothing short of a game changer that brings the paperless office closer to reality.

Consider how much you would benefit from having these six types of scanned documents stored in the cloud:

1) Business Correspondence

Letters and emails that go back and forth between you and clients, correspondence that outlines key dates and milestones in a business relationship, and other business correspondence is ideal for cloud storage.

This ensures this data is not only safely backed up, but it allows you to easily share it with relevant parties. These documents will even be accessible no matter where you are, making it easy to reference them from anywhere.

2) Multi-User Documents

If you’re collaborating on a document with others in your company, cloud storage is the way to go. At one time, such documents would be traded back and forth by email.

This was not only cumbersome and inefficient, it was also a recipe for disaster, with it being far too easy to accidentally access an older version of a file. When everyone is working from the same document, such disasters can be averted.

3) Calendars & Schedules

Giving your staff or partners easy access to calendars and scheduling documents keeps everyone on the same page and ensures everyone is working from the same game plan. It should go without saying why that is a major boon for your business.

4) Site Photos

For contractors, real estate agents, and others, the ability to make photos of job sites or real estate locations easily available via the cloud can make life far easier.

They can also be shared so that sales staff can use them as examples for potential clients, other work crews can use them as reference, and so on.

 

5) Price Lists

An invaluable resource for a wide variety of reasons, cloud-based storage of company price lists allow staff to have this vital data available at all times.

No more calling back to the office to check on their numbers, accidentally giving clients the wrong information, and so on. The latest can be shared with everyone who needs it.

6) Password Manager Files

If you use a password manager program, you can consider backing up the program’s database to the cloud – provided it’s fully encrypted, of course.

That way you’ll be able to access the web services you use no matter where you are without having to remember the password. It also serves as a valuable backup.

What are YOU sharing or storing in the cloud that has changed the way you do business?