Friday, July 28, 2017

Following These 4 Tips will Make Leaving the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship Easier

Following These 4 Tips will Make Leaving the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship Easier

Link to Small Business Trends

Following These 4 Tips will Make Leaving the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship Easier

Posted: 28 Jul 2017 02:00 AM PDT

4 Steps to Follow When Leaving the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship

After two decades in the workforce, Ohio businesswoman Deborah Wasylko found herself faced with the prospect of having to move to keep her job while dealing with challenges in her family life. Wasylko concluded that she had a choice: continue her corporate career or become an entrepreneur.

"I decided to start a corporate gift company, because that's what I love to do," says Wasylko, the founder and president of Baskets Galore, which creates gift baskets for corporate clients. She had long been enthusiastic about visual design and making people feel cared for, she says, and her new venture touched on both interests. "It was my opportunity to re-engineer my career and follow my passion."

The allure of becoming your own boss seems strong: As of 2014, there were more than 29 million small businesses in the U.S, up 6% from 2010, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

4 Steps to Follow When Leaving the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship

But excelling in an office doesn't mean you're bound for entrepreneurial success. In addition to many logistical and financial challenges, the transition from employee to entrepreneur involves a distinct shift in mentality. Before you make the leap, take these steps to make sure you're ready beyond the numbers.

1. Talk with Other Entrepreneurs

The best way to psychologically prepare for the jump from a corporate job to calling the shots is to talk with those who have already made the transition.

"You don't want to reinvent the wheel every single time," says Cathy Posner, a small-business coach in Ohio.

Ask other entrepreneurs how their roles in corporate America prepared — or failed to prepare — them to run a small business. What do they wish they had done differently? What do they wish they had known ahead of time?

And, most importantly, would they do it again?

2. Identify Your Resources

A small-business mentor from SCORE is invaluable to entrepreneurs, Posner says. This free program, which is supported by the SBA, connects seasoned professionals with small-business owners. A mentor can help you turn your understanding of corporate goals into a business strategy. He or she can help you define your services, determine the fees you'll charge and give advice on daily business tasks you may not have handled before, such as marketing and managing employees, Posner says.

Ultimately, you are your best resource. The skills you developed in a corporate environment — project management, organizational skills, employee management — will be even more important, says Posner. "Everything that you do starts to be magnified."

Wasylko particularly appreciates having learned in the corporate arena how to remain calm in the spotlight, giving presentations in front of executives or large crowds. As a fledgling business owner, "I wasn't intimidated, and I had more poise as a result of doing all those things: being clear, being decisive, being organized," she says.

3. Prepare Yourself for Uncertainty

Being an entrepreneur involves higher highs and lower lows than working in an office, Posner says.

"In many corporate environments, your responsibilities can be pretty segmented," she says. But when you're a small-business owner, "the buck stops 100 percent at you."

Brainstorm ways to keep yourself grounded in the face of uncertainty. After JJ DiGeronimo transitioned from Silicon Valley startups to running a consulting firm for women in tech fields, she found she had to redefine what success looked like.

"I think entrepreneurship brings out your own deficiencies, and for me, a lot of that was around self-identity," DiGeronimo says. After years of identifying with her title and salary, she found herself in a role that emphasized the less concrete objective of personal and professional growth.

"Our society often aligns success to money, but as an entrepreneur, it can take time to make money," she says. "Finding ways to align to the goodwill of your work is important."

DiGeronimo found support from fellow entrepreneurs, blogs and books; a favorite was "The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources."

4. Network, Collaborate, Repeat

In a corporate environment, you've likely already dipped your toes in the networking pool. Take advantage of those connections before you leave your 9-to-5. Contacts and resources may prove invaluable, and you never know who may become a client. Networking events are also a good place to meet other business owners with whom to collaborate, Posner says. For example, wedding photographers and florists often cross-promote services.

And networking groups provide a partial replacement for one of the major benefits you'll lose after leaving your job: colleagues.

"When you go off and work by yourself, sometimes you need that energy," DiGeronimo says. "You need that soundboard."

Ditching the Suit Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Following These 4 Tips will Make Leaving the Corporate World for Entrepreneurship Easier" was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Marketing Strategy

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 02:30 PM PDT

Facebook Marketing Tips

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) advertising can be overwhelming, especially if you are working on your first campaign. Before you jump in and get started, use these Facebook marketing tips to help you make the most of your time, effort, and budget.

Facebook Marketing Tips

Start with a Clear Goal

Before you can create any kind of successful Facebook advertising campaign, you must define your goals and the metrics you’ll need to measure to determine how successful the campaign is. This will set the stage for the methods you’ll use to optimize the campaign, so skipping this step will be costly to your ROI.

Common Facebook advertising goals include:

  • Generating sales: Your approach will vary depending on whether you’re in the B2C or B2B sector. When in the B2C, your best bet is to use page post ads to promote in the news feed, where you can use larger images to promote your products and services. When in the B2B sector, you should use both page post ads and right-hand column ads to focus on acquiring more leads you can nurture through the sales funnel to convert to sales. Your goal is to send more traffic to your website or landing page, and you should target based on interests, age range, and gender (if appropriate.)
  • Building more brand awareness: Use page like ads to get more likes for your page. You should aim for likes only from highly targeted people, so it means using targeting competitors, similar interests, and custom audiences to get newsletter subscribers to like your Facebook page. Exclude people who are already fans of your page to avoid wasting ad spend.
  • Getting more engagement on your posts: Use link ads, photo ads, and video ads to get more engagement for your posts. Your ad creatives should be extremely visual with stellar photos. If you’ve built a relevant audience, start by advertising to them. If not, target people who fit your ideal customer persona based on interests, age, gender, and purchasing behaviors.
  • Getting installs of your mobile app: Use the mobile app ads for install ad type. Once your app is published in the app store, you should implement Facebook event tracking. Use app screenshots in your creative, and target based on the audience you believe to be most interested.
  • Increasing app usage and profit: Use mobile app engagement ads. These people have already installed your app, so be specific as possible and use the ad to direct users exactly where you want them to go. Use custom audience targeting. Use event tracking in your app so you can see what each user is doing and use that to target them precisely.

Keep Desktop and Mobile Ads Separate

Facebook gives you the option to run various ad types in different locations. You can run on mobile newsfeed, desktop newsfeed, right column, and Instagram. It’s a good idea to keep your desktop and mobile ad campaigns completely separate, even if you’re aiming to achieve the same goal.

Keeping them separate allows you to optimize your ads, bids, and conversions based on device. Your ads and calls to action are likely to perform differently on desktop than they would on mobile, so your ad setup needs to fact that in. If you’re using the Power Editor to design and build your ads, then you can choose the device targeting on the ad set menu.

Test Different Images

Images will draw attention to your ads, but no two images will perform the same way. That’s why you should test the same ad copy with different images, to see which ones your audience responds to better. Then, stop running ad campaigns that use the images with the lower click through rates and conversions, so you can maximize your ROI.

Use Lookalike Audiences

A Facebook Lookalike Audience is a list of users who have similar characteristics to your website custom audience. You can use it to find other people who are already like your customers, or to find people like the ones who are already like your page.

If you want to create a lookalike audience, login to the Facebook ads manager and click audiences. From there, click “Create audience” and choose “Lookalike audience” from the dropdown menu.

Then, choose the source of your look alike audience, such as the people who already like your page, or the people who’ve visited the thank you page on your website. Choose your target company, and select your audience size. The smaller audience size you choose, the more targeted it will be.

Use the Remarketing Pixel

Any potential customers who’ve visited your website from any traffic source, but didn’t convert, are likely comparing prices and providers. They’re in the research phase and are trying to get the best possible deal. So, by the time they’re ready to actually make a purchase, chances are high they’ve forgotten about you.

The Facebook remarketing pixel allows you to target people who’ve visited your website in the past on Facebook with ads. This is an excellent way to make the most of traffic that originally came to you from AdWords. All you have to do to setup a remarketing pixel is login to your Facebook advertising manager, click on Audiences, then click “Custom Audience and Website Traffic.” From there, you’ll be able to start the process of creating a remarketing pixel.

You’ll need to install the code in the footer of your website. It may take a day or so to start pulling in data, but you can then go back to your website traffic menu and choose “people who visit specific web pages.” From there, you’ll be able to create lists of people who are visiting a certain page on your website, and target them or exclude them from your campaigns.

One of the best ways to make use of this is to exclude anyone who has visited your thank you page, since they have already converted. You’re not wasting time or money advertising to them.

Target Your Email List

Facebook lets you create a custom audience based on your email list. Create a .CSV or .TXT file with a single email address per row. Remove any other data your email marketing platform includes in your exported file.

Click “Audiences” and click “Create Audience.” Then choose “Custom Audience” and “Customer List”. From there, you’ll be able to upload your list.

You can also upload a list of phone numbers and target those people on Facebook ads, but it only works if their phone number is listed in their account. You can create a lookalike audience based off of these targeted lists, too.

Schedule Your Ads

On Facebook, you can segment your ads by days and hours, if you have a lifetime budget, rather than a daily budget option. This issue is why many businesses aren’t using this feature. If you use this approach, you’ll need to think of the total budget of your ad set. If you don’t have a successful performance pattern over time, then don’t use this setting. It’s not a good option for the first run of an ad for testing purposes.

If you have an ad you know works, you can set up the days and times you want it o run in the budget and schedule section of your ad set.

Use Carousel Ads

If your audience seems to respond well to a series of product images, you can combine those images into a single ad with the carousel ad. This is a newer ad type that allows you to show more than one image at once within a single ad. Ecommerce brands can use dynamic product ads that allow them to cross-sell complementary products, or even retarget customers who click through to their websites, but don’t make a purchase.

Ecommerce brands can also improve their Facebook marketing strategy using multi-product ads. This allows you to show multiple products in a single ad, giving customers more to choose from.  You can also use these ads to show different benefits of a single product. An Adobe study showed these ads are more cost efficient per acquisition, saving you up to 35 percent in cost per click because of higher engagement. And, they can boost your click through rate as much as 50 percent to 300 percent.

Advertise on Instagram, Too

Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can create the same ads on Instagram that you can run on Facebook. You can choose to run your campaigns solely on Facebook, or duplicate them on Instagram. If you know your audience can be found there too, then it’s a good way to build more traction.

The key with Facebook is to segment, and run multiple ads on a small scale to see what works before spending more money. Always be testing, and paying attention to your conversions.

Facebook Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "7 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Marketing Strategy" was first published on Small Business Trends

Wisconsin Company Offers Optional Microchips for Employees — Would Your Business?

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 12:30 PM PDT

Would you ask your employees to implant a microchip into their hands? Do you think they'd even agree to it?

One tech company in Wisconsin is taking this step. Three Square Market has offered employees the option of being microchipped, which could allow them to easily enter the office, unlock their devices and even make payments. The microchips are implanted between the thumb and forefinger and are about the size of a grain of rice.

Unlike pet microchips, these don't include GPS features. So they're not being used to track anyone. And Three Square Market isn't the first company to take advantage of this type of technology. Other startups in countries like Sweden have tried out the technology already.

But many still have concerns about privacy and other issues. That's likely one of the big reasons the company didn't make the program mandatory. But the company reported that more than half of its 80 employees did agree to using the microchip.

Are the Three Square Market Employee Microchip Benefits Worth the Downsides?

So this technology offers a unique opportunity for small businesses and employees. It could make a lot of things easier throughout the day. But is it worth it?

Image: Three Square Market

This article, "Wisconsin Company Offers Optional Microchips for Employees — Would Your Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Talent Gap Puts Small Private Practice Doctors Offices in Tough Hiring Position

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 10:30 AM PDT

Small Business Healthcare Recruiting Trends

One thing threatening the future of health care at the local level is a private practice’s ability to attract top talent.

Small Business Healthcare Recruiting Trends

Without nurses and the staff needed to run a small doctor’s office, it’s more likely that the healthcare landscape will continue to shift to larger companies. The one “positive” is that it’s not just small businesses that are struggling to find qualified nurses.

“There is a severe nursing talent gap across all markets, so it’s no surprise to see the demand with small businesses in the U.S.,” said Indeed SVP and head of HR, Paul Wolfe.

Nurses of all kinds are right now the most in-demand small business healthcare jobs, according to data from Indeed.

Registered nurses (RNs) are the most in-demand profession right now. Then there are Nursing Assistants, the second most in-demand small business healthcare job. Nurse Practitioners (4th), LPNs or Licensed Practical Nurses (5th), Medical Assistants (9th), and Directors of Nursing (10th) all made the top 10 list, too.

Private Practices Also Need Doctors

Physicians, from just general Physicians, Family Medicine Physicians, and Internal Medicine Physicians are in demand at private practices.

Indeed calculated the number of postings for healthcare job titles for businesses with less than 200 employees for the last year.

Wolf says, “Private practices are a large part of the small business healthcare landscape and are in constant need of high skilled positions that often require an advanced degree.”

This article, "Talent Gap Puts Small Private Practice Doctors Offices in Tough Hiring Position" was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Strategies for Better Managing Client Relationships

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 09:00 AM PDT

7 Client Relationship Management Strategies

So much time and effort is put into acquiring clients, yet very few businesses spend the same energy nurturing existing relationships. This is unfortunate, since a current customer is much more profitable than a new one.

Relationships: The Heart of Business

We, as a business community, often try to make success too complicated. We focus on all of these little fragmented components while ignoring the one thing that matters.

"The key to business success is winning and keeping customers," entrepreneur Steve Tobak definitively says. "And the key to winning and keeping customers is, and has always been, relationships. The world’s greatest business experts — Peter Drucker, Mark McCormack, Regis McKenna and others — have all said the same thing in one way or another."

Sadly, entrepreneurs and business owners like to spend all of their time and energy on things like social media, productivity hacks, advertising techniques, etc. These can all be helpful little elements, but their value begins to pale when you look at them within the context of the bigger picture.

"No matter what you do for a living or aspire to become, none of those fads du jour will have a material impact on how things turn out for you or your business," says Tobak. "But building real relationships with real people in the real world will."

Client Relationship Management Strategies

Saying relationships are the heart of business success and actually prioritizing relationships are two totally different things. The latter takes a lot of hard work over a lengthy period of time, but there's no better time to start than now. Here are seven client relationship management strategies to consider.

1. Respect the Client's Time

Time is the most precious and finite resource you and your clients have. If you want to build healthier relationships, you have to respect their time. Here are a couple of ideas to help you do that:

  • Don't just tell a client to drop by if they want to meet with you. You'll inevitably be in the middle of something and have to make them wait. Open yourself up to clients and allow them to schedule appointments with you. There are free tools that can automate this process.
  • Small talk is definitely part of building relationships, but recognize when it's time to talk shop. Don't waste a client's time. Get straight to business and you'll be seen as respectful and self-aware.

This might seem like a really small thing, but it sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. When you extend respect, you're telling your client that they matter to you — it doesn't get much better than that.

2. Get Face to Face

"When things go wrong and the client knows, call. Email does not always translate circumstances or feelings well as there is no voice inflection and a client usually places more value on a phone call," entrepreneur Marshall Zierkel suggests.

While Zierkel is right — a phone call is better than an email — there's something that's even better than a phone call: meeting in person. If at all possible, you should get face to face with clients — when things go right, wrong, or are otherwise indifferent. The more you're able to be face to face with a client, the stronger your bond will grow.

3. Over Promise and Under Deliver

It's a cliché saying, but it can't be stressed enough: over promise and under deliver. If you make this a habit, you'll rarely put yourself in a situation where you'll let a client down. Instead, you'll dramatically increase your chances of looking good — even when you barely exceed your own expectations.

4. Don't Burn Bridges With Pettiness

How many times do you let small, petty things cost you a relationship with a client? Entrepreneur Craig Valine is one of the first to admit how dumb he used to be in this area. As he explains, there was a time where "I wouldn't return phone calls; I wouldn't follow-up with a referral from a client; I'd miss an appointment and not call to apologize; I wouldn't pay my vendors on time; I'd squabble over a few dollars; or I'd act apathetic from a good deed from another."

How many times have you let something small and petty cost you a relationship with a client? If you're honest, burning a bridge rarely turns out to be a positive thing when you look back on a situation. Try to understand this and be willing to lose the battle in order to win the war.

5. Set Mutual Goals

Do you ever feel like you and your client are on totally different pages? Well, it's probably because you are. You have your objectives and your client has his. The solution to this common issue is to set mutual goals from the very beginning.

As soon as you start a new project with a client, sit down together — face to face, if possible — and come up with mutual goals. This puts you both on the same page and gives you something to point to later on when challenges arise.

6. Build Credibility Over Time

It takes time to build credibility, so stop trying to make it happen overnight. So what if a client doesn't fully trust you the first or second time you meet? You haven't done anything to make him trust you!

Remember that trust takes years to build and can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. Be consistent and methodical in how you deal with your clients. Focus on slowly building credibility with each and every thing you do and say. With this sort of conscious precision, you'll eventually wake up and realize that you have healthy client relationships that are defined by trust.

7. Be Transparent and Human

Stop trying to be such a polished version of yourself in front of customers. In an effort to clean yourself up, you're actually cheapening your image and transforming yourself into someone you aren't. They don't want some ideal image of you. They want the real deal.

Mistakes are going to happen and it's much better to be open about them. This proves that you're human and, while they may be frustrated at the moment, it ultimately puts them at ease.

How Are Your Relationships?

How would you grade your client relationships on a scale of 1 to 10 right now? If you're like most, you'd probably struggle to honestly reach a 5 or 6. You might even fall closer to the 1 end of the spectrum, which is — unfortunately — totally normal these days.

In an effort to push your business to the next level, you have to start prioritizing client relationships over things that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. It's hard work, but the payoff can be tremendous.

Meeting Client Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "7 Strategies for Better Managing Client Relationships" was first published on Small Business Trends

3 Essential Calculators that Will Help You Do Cost Benefit Analysis for Reducing Energy

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 07:30 AM PDT

Sponsored Post

3 Essential Calculators that Will Help You Do Cost Benefit Analysis for Reducing Energy

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a method applied to compare the cost of a project or appliance with its benefits. Small businesses need to save where they can and one place where companies may be able to lower what they spend is on their energy bills, according to Constellation, which provides solutions for homes and businesses.

By carrying out a cost benefit analysis on commercial appliances and features, businesses can have a greater understanding of their energy consumption, the effectiveness of energy saving efforts, and where further valuable savings can be made.

ENERGY STAR® provides interactive calculators designed to help small businesses estimate energy and cost savings for energy-efficient products.

Take a look at the following three essential calculators that can help you do a cost benefit analysis for reducing energy on several common commercial appliances.

Energy Cost Savings Calculator for Air-Cooled Electric Chillers

In a typical commercial building, chillers can be one of the biggest consumers of electricity. The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has calculated that a 175-ton, air-cooled chiller meeting the mandated 10.05 energy efficiency ratio saves money if it costs no more than $5,690 above less efficient models.

ENERGY STAR® provides a cost calculator that small businesses can use as a screening tool, which estimates an air-cooled electric chiller's lifetime energy cost savings at various efficiency levels.

This cost benefit analysis calculator for reducing energy of air-cooled electric chillers uses an energy efficiency ratio (EER). The EER is the ratio of net cooling capacity to the total input rate of electric power applied in watts.

The efficiencies expressed as an EER are converted into kilowatts per ton using the formula: kWton = 12/EER.

ENERGY STAR's cost benefit analysis calculator for reducing energy of air-cooled electric chillers only provides data about the relative difference between two equivalent products, all other factors being equal.

When using this calculator, a small business must enter whether the project is a new installation or a replacement. The performance factors must also be entered, including whether the new design will be handling a full or partial load.

The calculator user must also enter the new chiller's cooling capacity in tons, as well as what the full-load efficiency is of the new chiller in EER. The partial-load efficiency of the new chiller must also be entered in EER.

The cost factors must also be punched into the calculator, including the current cost of energy per kilowatt hour. The user also needs to enter the annual hours of operation in equivalent full-load hours.

When the data has been entered the calculator will determine the energy cost savings of the appliance.

Energy Cost Calculator for Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Lighting is an unavoidable energy cost for small businesses. By using an energy saving calculator, small businesses can see how much they could save in money and harmful emissions by switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs.

ENERGY STAR's calculator for compact fluorescent lamps determines the payback period for your small business's investment in more energy-efficient bulbs.

Small businesses must enter their existing incandescent lamp wattage, the costs of incandescent lamps in dollars and the incandescent lamp life in hours. You'll also need to enter the projected wattage for your replacement lighting along with the expected cost of using them and their projected life (6,000 hours for moderate use and 10,000 hours for high use).

Further information required by the energy cost calculator for compact fluorescent lamps includes the number of lamps in the retrofit project, the hours operating per week, the average cost of electricity, the relamper labor costs, the time taken to retrofit all the lamps in the project and the time taken to relamp one lamp.

The calculator enables small businesses to figure the simple payback period for a lamp replacement project, as well as the simple payback period of spot relamping.

Savings Calculator for ENERGY STAR®-Qualified Office Equipment

The savings calculator for ENERGY STAR®-qualified office equipment was developed by the U.S. EPA and Department of Energy in order to estimate the energy consumption and operating costs of office equipment and the savings businesses can make with ENERGY STAR®.

The calculator compares new ENERGY STAR®-qualified products to the average available non-qualified new products. The average savings may vary depending on the use of office equipment and other factors.

Users of the calculator need to type in where their equipment will be used, including whether it is for commercial or residential use, the location, and the electric rate. The average commercial electric rate in the U.S. is $0.128/kWh, but if you know your own rate, you should enter it on the calculator.

Users of the calculator must enter what office equipment they are planning to purchase, as well as the quantities of the equipment. Performance levels of the devices should be stated, as well as the number of units turned off at night and the number of units with sleep settings and low power enabled. The additional cost per unit for ENERGY STAR®-qualified models must also be entered onto the calculator.

The energy efficiency of printers, VoIP Phone equipment, signage and multifunction devices can also be determined using the savings calculator for ENERGY STAR®-qualified office equipment.

The calculator then provides a results overview, informing small businesses of the approximate  savings they will see each year and over the life of the equipment. The calculator also informs users of the carbon dioxide emissions reduction annually by choosing ENERGY STAR® equipment.

To learn more about cost saving energy options for your small business, contact Constellation today.

Calculating Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "3 Essential Calculators that Will Help You Do Cost Benefit Analysis for Reducing Energy" was first published on Small Business Trends

Don’t Be a Bully Boss! 10 Signs It Could Be Happening to You

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 06:30 AM PDT

Are You a Bully Boss? Here are the Signs

Bosses have a duty to incentivize and encourage workplace success by being a strong leader who has gained the respect of colleagues. By contrast, being a bullying boss creates an air of discontent and anguish, often leading to an underperforming workforce.

It is within every boss's interest to be a leader others look up to instead of cowering away from.

Are you concerned that you may be a bully boss? If you are a bully boss, what damage could it be doing your business and how do you overcome your bullying ways?

Are You a Bully Boss?

Small Business Trends spoke to Tracey C. Jones, M.B.A., President of Tremendous Leadership, a professional development firm that advises Fortune 500s, government agencies and universities on issues of leadership, ethics and employment engagement.

Jones provided us with a number of workplace bullying pointers everyone in a position of leadership should consider.

You're Giving Destructive Criticism Instead of Constructive Criticism

According to Jones, "The tough boss gives constructive criticism; the bullying boss gives destructive criticism. It all centers on the motives of your boss; are they there to intimidate or to inspire?"

A tough boss, says Jones, will insist employees work hard and give their best effort and submit high-quality work all the time.

By contrast, an abusive or bullying boss deliberately provides employees with false or misleading information, humiliates workers in public, calls them demeaning names, puts the blame on employees and treats them like servants.

Being treated in such a derogatory way naturally isn't good for workplace morale or staff retention. Bosses should therefore work hard and channel their criticism to be constructive rather than destructive.

You Suffer From Insecurity as a Leader

"Much of bullying is rooted in insecurity," says Jones.

Bosses should strive to become more secure in their leadership role and grow out of their juvenile behavior. Making the effort to be a more secure, stronger and less immature leader is good for business, as it will help avoid members of your staff from suffering and leaving the company.

Your Employees Are Leaving

Another telling sign your bullying exploits at work are having a negative impact on your business, is members of your staff are leaving.

This 'dysfunction' in the workplace, when employees have exhausted their chain of command, both internally and through HR, is a sign that a business is on a downward spiral.

"My personal experience is that these companies do eventually implode publicly or dissolve through a merger or acquisition," says Jones.

It’s therefore up to the boss to start becoming more tolerant and less bullying or be faced with the challenge of team members quitting, which can soon result in a failing business.

You Are Contradicting Company Policy on Workplace Bullying

Some companies have policies in place regarding workplace bullying and what isn't acceptable. If you are concerned that you are becoming an intimidating boss, make the effort to familiarize yourself with your firm's workplace bullying policy.

Jones advises employees to become "fully versed on company policies regarding workplace bullying." The same level of diligence can be shown by employers to ensure they don't cross the line about what's acceptable and what's not acceptable in terms of workplace bullying.

You Are Not Being a Role Model to Employees

According to Jones, "There is one thing the bully boss is good for; teaching you how not to behave when you step into the leadership role."

Good bosses are effective role models. They teach others about the importance of effective leadership and how to achieve it. If your bullying antics are meaning you are not a good role model to your colleagues, it's time to step back and evaluate your behavior.

Quality leadership role models get more respect and productivity from their workers. Those who intimidate and scare are left with a fragile set of workers, who will not be able to do their best work.

You Are Losing Respect

Earning respect is the cornerstone of effective leadership. Bosses who shout their orders and bully and intimidate will not earn the respect of their workforce.

If your harassing attitude towards your team is resulting in your employees no longer respecting you, it's time to approach your relationship with your colleagues differently.

Finding a way to make workers respect you and your authority is vital in ensuring employees work to a high standard and contribute to the successful business.

Make greater effort to recognize workers are people too, and they must be shown respect from their managers in order to enhance their performance.

You Steal the Credit from Others

Stealing or taking credit for colleagues' ideas, innovations and contributions without acknowledging them is another sign you are a boss practicing bullying at work.

Naturally, no employee wants to see someone else take credit for their hard work and good ideas, let alone their boss!

Make the effort to recognize and applaud the good ideas and vision of others, instead of stealing the credit in an attempt to enhance your own career.

You Are Deliberately Misleading Others

According to Jones, an abusive or bullying boss deliberately provides employees with false or misleading information.

Misleading others and concealing the truth is a sign of bullying antics and is not conducive with nurturing a happy, contented workforce.

Endeavor to tell the truth to your workforce and refrain from deliberately misleading others. This will create a happier, more honest working environment.

You Are Undermining Work

Deliberately undermining work and delaying an employee's progress on a project is another tell-tale sign of leadership bullying. Instead of undermining, belittling and hampering work and progress, make the effort to show support.

A supportive boss will be rewarded with a workforce determined to do their best and help the company succeed.

Removing Workers' Responsibilities

Taking away the responsibilities of others, or deliberately changing their role without any reason or cause is an ineffectual and bullying leadership strategy.

Give your workers the opportunity to work at their best and let their creativity thrive by encouraging greater responsibility instead of deliberately hindering it.

As Jones notes, "The tough boss will ‘break you down’ to build you up; the bully boss will ‘break you down’ to see you crumble. And nobody wants to work for a crummy boss."

Don't be that crummy, bullying boss. Be an effective leader that has gained the respect of your team and you'll put your business in a much better position to be collectively driven to success.

Mean Boss Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Don't Be a Bully Boss! 10 Signs It Could Be Happening to You" was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Ice Cream Franchises to Beat Baskin-Robbins

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 05:30 AM PDT

Ice Cream Franchise List

Ice cream shops tend to be especially popular in the summer months. And there are so many different ice cream business concepts out there, ranging from classic shops to trendy ones that serve things like charcoal ice cream.

Ice Cream Franchise List

One of the easiest ways to break into the ice cream business is to open up a franchise. An industry leader like Baskin-Robbins might seem like the obvious choice, but here are 10 alternative ice cream franchises you might consider, too.

Dairy Queen

Ice Cream Franchise List - Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen is one of the most recognizable ice cream shop brands in the country. And the company offers a few different franchising concepts, including the classic Dairy Queen, DQ Orange Julius and DQ Grill & Chill. Prices vary based on location and type of franchise.

Cold Stone Creamery

Ice Cream Franchise List - Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery offers a unique ice cream franchising concept that features a variety of flavors and toppings in a quick serve setting, as well as ice cream cakes and other desserts. There's a $27,000 franchise fee to get started, among other costs. And the company is currently open to both single and multi-unit deals in the U.S.

Ben & Jerry's

Ice Cream Franchise List - Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry's scoop shops feature iconic Ben & Jerry's flavors in a classic ice cream shop setting. The company offers different opportunities ranging from full shops to kiosks. And the franchise fee ranges from $16,000 to $37,000.

Dippin' Dots

Ice Cream Franchise List - Dippin' Dots

Dippin' Dots is famous for its "beaded" ice cream concept. And the company offers franchising opportunities for those interested in owning stores, kiosks or mobile concession businesses. The initial franchise fee is $15,000. And other costs vary based on business type and location.


Ice Cream Franchise List - Yogurtland

Yogurtland, a franchise business focusing on frozen yogurt, currently has more than 325 locations around the country. The company provides training and support for marketing, real estate selection and more.

Rita's Italian Ice

Ice Cream Franchise List - Rita's Italian Ice

Rita's Italian Ice is a franchise business that focuses on flavored ice rather than dairy based ice cream, offering a differentiated product from most of the other businesses in this list. The initial franchise fee is $30,000, among other upfront and ongoing costs.


Ice Cream Franchise List - Haagen-Dazs

Haagen-Dazs offers its own chain of ice cream shoppes in addition to selling its ice cream in stores. The initial franchise fee is $30,000. And the company requires franchisees to have at least $200,000 in total net worth in order to get started.

Bruster's Real Ice Cream

Ice Cream Franchise List - Bruster's Real Ice Cream

Bruster's Real Ice Cream has been in business for 25 years and focuses on quality ice cream and sustainable growth for its franchisees. The franchise fee is $30,000. And the company requires $100,000 in liquid assets for its franchisees.

Marble Slab Creamery

Ice Cream Franchise List - Marble Slab Creamery

Marble Slab Creamery is an ice cream franchise that offers more than 75 flavor varieties and various mix ins. Franchisees should have a net worth of at least $250,000 with $100,000 in liquid assets.

Andy's Frozen Custard

Ice Cream Franchise List - Andy's Frozen Custard

Andy's is a franchise business that specializes in frozen custard. The brand has been around for more than 30 years and has both franchise and corporate owned stores in operation. The initial franchise fee ranges from $28,000 to $32,000.

Ice Cream Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Ice Cream Franchises to Beat Baskin-Robbins" was first published on Small Business Trends

How Does Your State Stack Up for Small Business Loan Approval? Study Reveals More

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 04:30 AM PDT

10 Best States for Getting a Small Business Loan

If you're based in New Jersey, you're most likely to be approved for a small business loan. That's according to a new report by Biz2Credit, which has identified New Jersey as the top state for small business loan approval rates.

The report found nearly one-quarter (23.4 percent) of funding requests made by New Jersey-based businesses were approved by lenders.

New York-based companies came in second in the report with approvals on just under one-fifth (19 percent) of loan requests.

The study examined over 50,000 loan applications in the last 12 months.

Why New Jersey-based Businesses Have an Easier Time Getting Loan Approvals

Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora, who oversaw the research, explained, "New Jersey business owners have the unique combination of high average annual revenues and credit scores with a close proximity to two of America’s biggest cities."

"Despite being sandwiched in between New York and Philadelphia, New Jersey-based businesses have much lower overhead costs while still enjoying the benefits of a high volumes of traffic."

Illinois Comes as a Surprise

Surprisingly Illinois, a state potentially on the verge of bankruptcy, ranked third for highest loan approval rates.

"Despite recent reports of Illinois having the lowest credit rating of any state, the Midwestern hub was very welcoming for business owners seeking financing," said Arora. "It’s booming technology sector, which does not have close ties to the state, is driving the economy."

Doing Business Still a Challenge in the Garden State

Although it's easier to secure funds for your small business if you are in New Jersey, doing business is still quite difficult.

A recent study conducted by WalletHub found New Jersey to be the state with the worst business environment for startups.

10 Best States for Getting a Small Business Loan

According to the Biz2Credit report, the top 10 states by loan approval rates are:

  1. New Jersey (23.4 percent)
  2. New York (19 percent)
  3. Illinois (15 percent)
  4. California (14.2 percent)
  5. Pennsylvania (12.9 percent)
  6. Florida (11.1 percent)
  7. Georgia (10.2 percent)
  8. Texas (10 percent)
  9. Ohio (8.8 percent)
  10. North Carolina (7.9 percent)

Check out this infographic from Biz2Credit highlighting its findings:

10 Best States for Getting a Small Business Loan


This article, "How Does Your State Stack Up for Small Business Loan Approval? Study Reveals More" was first published on Small Business Trends

3 Ways To Free Up Cash and Grow Your Business

Posted: 27 Jul 2017 03:30 AM PDT

Three Ways To Speed Up Cash Flow and Grow Your Business

Nearly every business that exists shares a common goal: to make more money and find financial success. You have to constantly focus on cash flow management, profitability and increase the value of your business if you want to prosper. This is why it's vital to monitor your infrastructure and tweak it regularly. If you're ready to grow your business, take a look at these three easy-to-implement ways you can speed up cash flow.

Try These Tips to Speed up Cash Flow

Create Incentives for Early Payments and Penalties for Late Payments

Invoicing is often a long and somewhat painful process that may require a lot of back and forth. If it's challenging to keep your accounts paid up and you loathe having to check in when your clients are late, you might find now is the time to implement a program to reward those who pay on time and penalize those who pay late.

A good plan of attack is to apply discounts to any account paid on time or add some interest to accounts that are overdue. This will encourage payments to come your way early and immediately make a positive effect on your cash flow. This will also save a lot of time eliminating the need to check multiple times to see if the payment has been received.

Utilize Invoice Factoring

Invoice factoring companies let you turn current, unpaid invoices, into cash without adding new debt. Free up your cash to help you meet payroll, add new products and services to your offerings and extend the geographical reach of your business.

Factoring companies allow you to transform your business cash flow and will give you the access to the funds you need without worrying about invoices staying open as long as 120 days. Instead of sitting and waiting for payment, you can proceed with new work, pay employees, or buy needed supplies. Check the online Factoring Directory to help you find the best factoring that aligns with your business needs.

Improve Your Marketing

Any steps you take to make your business better will lead to better cash flow, and marketing is a key piece of this puzzle.

The reason why is because improved marketing slashes your cost-per-lead and boosts the lifetime value of your customers, reaching out to untapped markets. Plus, effective marketing is a way to make a positive first business impression.

In order to improve your marketing, you need to first figure out your areas of struggle and approach them head on. It might be time to implement content marketing if you're having trouble building the trust of your customers. Utilize content marketing to educate your leads and improve your conversions, boosting your company's image as a result.

If you want to upsell but aren't sure what products you should offer, create a survey or use a third-party to help you determine what your next offering should be. Product quality is important for businesses of every size, so don't lose focus on maintaining the quality of the current and potential goods you offer.

No business likes to deal with lack of funding. It is important to find ways to free up cash to improve your cash flow management systems. Insufficient or unsteady cash flow can prevent your business from providing the best service to your customers. Use these ways to transform your business cash flow, prepare for future growth, and position yourself to make your company better than ever.

Invoice Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "3 Ways To Free Up Cash and Grow Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends


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