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Article Contributed by Abhishek Talreja

Embracing technology is inevitable for every business. Using social technologies can terrifically improve business productivity.

“By using social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent” (Source)

Building interactive communities that share information and collaborate is a need of the hour for businesses of today. A community of employees and partners that is engaged and motivated will surely steer ahead faster.

Social enterprise technologies can be integrated with mobile, giving employees the freedom and the flexibility to execute tasks from anytime and anywhere. Data analytics further ensures that each employee can work on a set of tasks that are most important for the business at a particular time.

Social media is already prevalent in the day-to-day lives of customers as well as employees. Businesses now have an opportunity to leverage this behavior to connect with both these types of audiences for a better outcome.

Social technologies take collaboration to the next level, helping teams to share knowledge and ideas quickly and more efficiently.

With an active enterprise social network, a business can align its employees and business processes with its organizational culture.

Here are some of the benefits of an enterprise social network:

Improved Employee Motivation

Employee motivation is directly correlated with their happiness and their ability to work in a harmonized environment. An active social network gives employees a platform to interact with each other and work towards a common goal. It helps in improving the productivity level of the teams along with their retention rate.

Ease of Internal Communication

An enterprise social network helps organizations to do away with email communication. It helps in sending out relevant information and knowledge to all the employees, quickly and efficiently. It also helps in reducing meeting times by simplifying team communication.

Brings Global Teams Together

Large enterprises usually have teams that are spread across the globe. A social network helps in simplifying communication and collaboration among such teams.  The system ensures that communication flows freely across geographical boundaries as well as departments.

Here are some of the key strategic steps for implementing an enterprise social network for your business:

Have a Vision

Before implementing an enterprise social network in your organization, you need to have a clear cut vision that drives it. It is essential to know what exactly the platform will do to improve individual process productivity and employee motivation. The role of the leadership team is important in understanding how knowledge and information will be shared on the platform. You need to ensure that there is genuine engagement and collaboration on the platform to get real benefits from it.  You should also figure out the requirements of the teams and their expectations from the system. You can use a survey like this to gather some key insights.

Get the Teams to Use the Network

The key challenge that any business would face would be to get the teams to use the social network on a regular basis. For this you need to get your Human Resource team to motivate the rest of the employees by communicating the program benefits. Employee orientation and training are some of the essentials for getting commitment from teams to be a part of the community. You need to communicate about the advantages that the system would bring to the employees, in terms of professional growth, improvement in productivity and more work engagement etc. Initially, you can get your leadership team to actively use the network. The strategy would give the network a user-base that will keep it active.

Cater to Each Department

The network must help each department in the organization. An employee from the finance department must be as happy as somebody from the marketing team or any other team, in using the platform. Building a community across the organization is important to get more acceptance.  Make sure that the system is user-friendly and similar to the popularly used social networks. You need to create a project team with representatives from each of the departments in the company. The project team members know the processes of their respective departments and they can raise their concerns, during the implementation of the project, if any.

Identify Active Users

You need to build a team of influencers for getting everyone in the organization to use the system actively. These are those users who are enthusiastic about it. You have to train your influencers to understand the benefits of the system and how to use it effectively. This will enable you to spread the word to the rest of the employees relatively quickly and easily.

Process Analysis

While implementing an enterprise social network, you need to identify all the business processes that will benefit from it. Develop case studies for on how each of the processes would get streamlined with the help of the implemented system. Present these studies to the respective departments while launching it. The more comprehensive you make your presentation; the higher will be its usage rate.

Internal Promotions

You need to promote the enterprise social network within your organization. Put it on your company website and run email campaigns, highlighting its benefits. You can also put up posters in your office premises. Be persistent with your marketing efforts, after you have successfully implemented and tested it. This will help you to ensure that the teams do not go back to the older ways of doing their tasks.

Measure and Analyze

You must have a predefined set of goals. The goals should be related to the overall productivity of employees and their level of motivation. Another important metric that you need to track is the employee retention rate. Understanding the return you are getting from your investment is crucial although it may not be simple to measure it in the beginning.

There are quite few enterprise social network platforms that you can try out as well. These include the likes of Tibbr, Jive, Yammer, SocialCast, Convo, Kaltura, Chatter, Zyncro, Socialtext and Workplace by Facebook. You can choose from these according to your business requirements. You can also opt for a customised solution business to fulfill specific business needs.  Have a plan and vision for your ESN implementation to get the precise outcome. Get your teams to get involved and it will be surely be a success.

Author Bio 

Abhishek Talreja is working as a Digital Marketing Manager with Enterprise Monkey. He has a keen interest in technology, and small business productivity.  Enterprise Monkey helps Small to Medium Enterprises and Not-For-Profits save time & money and increase revenue through automation, optimization & intelligence.



Preparing for Your Business’s Expansion

Posted by Pamela Swift in Operations

Article Contributed by Finnegan Pierson

Many entrepreneurs aren’t satisfied with only being the head of a local small business. For many business owners, their true dream is to oversee a rapid expansion of their company into a national or even international brand. However, actually performing such an expansion successfully isn’t easy. It can be a very complex and risky process. With that in mind, you should take all the precautions possible before launching a significant expansion of your company. Here are some tips that can help you prepare.

Set Goals that Are Actually Attainable

Before you launch an expansion, you must first set down specific goals so you can focus on laying the groundwork towards achieving those goals. However, unlike your lofty aspirations for your company, these goals must actually be something that can be feasibly accomplished.

Launching four new locations for your chain restaurant is one such goal. Alternatively, it may be adding ten new distributors for your fashion products or increasing revenue by $1 million. Overall, you need to know where you’re going, and it has to be something realistic. Keep in mind that the largest companies didn’t expand to that size over night. According to Walmart, it took the retail giant five years to expand to 24 stores.

Plan for Sustainability

Even if your goals are achievable with your current resources, they may not be sustainable. Keep in mind that even the big corporations often fail at expansions. As Harvard Business Review reported, Target’s expansion into the market in Canada failed spectacularly.

Determining sustainability isn’t a simple task. It requires significant number crunching. Factors you have to consider include your current infrastructure, your workforce, your suppliers, you distribution pipelines, your management personnel, your financial capital and more. You also have to examine your ratio of debt to equity. Whether or not you can sustain the growth you want with what you have needs to be determined by taking all these factors into account.

Consider Financing Options

An expansion of course needs to be funded. If you have enough funds in reserve to invest into such an expansion, you may be on firm ground. In other cases, you may have to borrow to allow the expansion to be realized. Beyond traditional lenders like banks you may want to consider other options. For example, you could implement marketplace lending. This is a form of peer to peer lending in which individual investors lend funds to borrowers directly. These kinds of transactions have become popular as of late and are mostly transacted through online lending platforms.

Whatever kind of lending you implement, make sure you have a solid plan for paying back the borrowed funds. If you borrow more than your forecasted revenues, you may find yourself in bankruptcy court. According to Fundivo, the number of outstanding loans to small businesses has surpassed 23 million.

Prepare Your Employees

To make an expansion happen, you need your personnel and workforce to on board with your plan. Certain employees may need to be shifted to other locations to oversee new branches. Make sure you alert the employees you have in mind of the need to move well in advance so they can make the proper adjustments with their families to prepare. It can cost up to $97,166 to relocate a single employee.

You may also need to institute new training programs to train employees on how to handle the expansion. Recruitment efforts will also of course have to be made to facilitate your company’s growth. Do the research to determine exactly how many new positions you will need to fill. Some may be full time. However, others may be part time positions or even temporary third party contractor work to complete the expansion.

Overall, you are likely to experience some growing pains as your company moves along with its expansion plans. However, if you have done the proper planning to prepare for the growth in question, you should be able to successfully exit the transition as a larger and more profitable company.

Article Contributed by Ian Pearson

According to a study conduct by Scott-Macon, the cleaning and janitorial industry is expected to grow at a rapid pace by 2020, and as a result, the market sector will surpass $60 billion in 2017. There are more than 800,000 cleaning services companies operating in the U.S. alone, and this number is expected to grow 1.7% on an annual basis. Taking all of this into consideration, it is evident the cleaning industry is highly competitive. For this reason, we have listed 7 most essential aspects of running a cleaning business you should cover in order to stay ahead of everyone else on the market and ensure your business achieves stellar success.

1. Define what differentiates you from the competitors

In this jam-packed marketplace, it is essential to highlight unique characteristics of your business to ensure it stands out from the crowd. When choosing cleaning services, customers will want to know what you can offer that others cannot.

First step is to assess your main competitors: determine what their unique sales proposal is, not only regarding the message they are sending, but also their actions. Is there anything they haven’t already covered? Are there services they have overlooked? Take into consideration flexible cleaning schedule, offering services in the evening and on the weekends, including more eco-friendly cleaning products, and similar.

Furthermore, it’s good to incorporate yourself into one niche, instead of offering everything to everyone, scattering your resources. Pick one market to serve, focus on excelling at it, thus building consistency in the services you provide.

2. Take your business online

Setting up a business website for your cleaning company might seem like a trivial advice, but since almost 50% of SMBs still don’t have a website, we believe it is essential to emphasise the importance of this business aspect.

When establishing an online presence, you should not stop at designing a responsive website. Consider writing a blog and publishing valuable content and current industry news, sending out newsletters providing cleaning tips, ultimately establishing yourself as a field expert. You should also provide information about your team with their bios and images, as well as pictures of your work as a proof of the quality, like SBHI Office Cleaning Sydney experts did.

3. Put the focus on the customer every step of the marketing process

With many companies getting so involved in running their business seamlessly, they often forget to take a step back and define a marketing strategy that could boost their business efforts.

First off, define your company’s buying cycle, as you are likely to have customers at every stage of it. From raising awareness of your business, through discovery and the stage where they attempt to learn more about it, to referral status, when you provide satisfactory services and they recommend you to others.

4. Go through the back door

Over the years, door-to-door sales proved to be a highly effective strategy for both commercial and residential cleaning services. Sometimes, this will mean literally, other times you will sit behind the desk making phone calls. However, cold calls are not the only way of expanding your customer base. We recommend contacting real estate agents and homebuilders, as well as investing time and money into building mailing lists in order to send direct marketing pieces to higher income residents on a monthly basis.

5. Never stop networking

Especially when your cleaning business is still in a development stage, it is of prime importance to join local communities, networking groups and/or local Chamber of Commerce. In their regular meetings, you will get the opportunity to share information about your business, as well as to get to people who may be in need of your services. We advise you to offer a special discount to the first month’s billing to a person who gave you a lead that ultimately became a sale.

6. Remember that employees are your top priority

A happy employee is an integral part of a successful cleaning business, as it is the quality of their work that affects the customer satisfaction. Invest in their continual education, treat them with respect and make sure you offer them bonuses and incentives.

 7. Invest in Customer Service

Almost 60% of Americans claim they would try a new company for a better service experience – that is more than half of your customers. A quality customer service can help build strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers. Although the quality of your work is extremely important, you cannot stop at that; even if your performance is satisfactory, upon finishing the job, we recommend following up on your customers to ensure everything is still in good order.

One final tip: remember there are times when you should not take the job you are offered. If you realise you cannot earn profit or that the work is for any reason undesirable, it is better to turn it down. Focusing your and your employees’ time on a more lucrative work will prove to be a smart decision in the long run.

Article Contributed by Jane Bolto

As your business evolves it may become necessary to consider rebranding to ensure that it stays in line with the values it represents. And while rebranding can be fraught with obstacles, in the end, it could lead to more success and an increased customer base. Here are some of the things that you need to consider when rebranding your business.

Define Your Niche

There are many companies that fail during rebranding because they do not define their niche properly. This tends to happen when a business makes itself to look the same as every other company in the market. It is going to be difficult to gain customers if they cannot distinguish your company from its competitors. Therefore, it is important to be specific when rebranding your business.

Hire a Consultant

There are multiple complexities in rebranding a business and sometimes it can be nice to have the help of a seasoned professional. If you are unsure as to the steps that you should take in redefining your brand, getting advice from someone who has experience in rebranding can save you a lot of trouble down the road. At the very least, an opinion from an independent source will help prevent any bias during the rebranding process.

Don’t Overthink It

Many times, the most successful brands are those that do not overthink the aspects of rebranding. A logo may be used to symbolize the ideologies behind a brand, but this does not mean that there has to be some complex inner meaning to it. Instead, go at it with a more relaxed attitude, and the simplicity of the results may lead to a more successful rebranding.

Utilize Social Media

If a business is going to grow in the technology-based world we live today, it must utilize the power of social media. In doing this it is important to note the effect the rebranding will have on the social media presence of the business. When rebranding, it is important to remember that your logo might be attached to every post that is made, so you always want to make sure that it is simple enough to be easily shareable.

Check the Legal Aspects

The last thing you want to encounter when rebranding is legal issues. After all, it can cost a considerable amount of money to rebrand a business, and to add legal fees to the list of expenses might be too much to overcome. It is for this reason that it is imperative to make sure that the rebranding does not involve any trademarked material or slogans that have already been taken.

Keep Employees in the Know

The is no doubt that employees are vital for a business to function properly, and they too need to be privy to any details about the rebranding. This does not mean that they must know every detail and step of the rebranding phase, but they should be informed on the generalities. Not only with this prepare them for the change, it will also help to show them that they are valued.

In Summary

Whether your brand has hit a bump in the road and needs a fresh start, or you simply want to change the scope of your target market, rebranding is sometimes necessary. And while the rebranding process can be a bit nerve-racking, if you take the proper steps, you can help to ensure the that the transition is as seamless as possible. When rebranding, always consider the statement you are trying to make and be careful not to overthink it. Remember these tips and the rebranding of your business will be a success.

About the Author

With a background in Marketing, Jane Bolto currently works as a Content Specialist at Always willing to share her passion for new marketing strategies.

Article Contributed by Christina White

In this fast-paced tech-oriented world, more and more people are focusing their advertising efforts towards online and mobile marketing practices. This is perfectly understandable; as more than half of all internet traffic is now coming from a mobile device. However, when it comes to grabbing the people attention, it may be sometimes better to use an old-fashioned, well-thought-out graphic sign. And the design that goes into making a sign can have a substantial influence on the number of new customers your company could potentially acquire. That said, here are 5 signage tips you can use to help better promote your business.

1.      Keep it legible and visible

You’ve probably already heard the old “less is more” saying. It is an integral part of sign design process, as keeping the message clear and short makes the sign easier to see and read its content with a single glance.  Although signs come in many different shapes and sizes, choosing the appropriate one becomes fairly important once you realize that not every sign size is appropriate for every viewing distance. This is why you have to consider the location where your sign will be placed and remove any obstacles that might interfere with the sign’s visibility.

Another factor to consider when it comes to visibility is clutter. A good sign has to communicate the message concisely and efficiently. Overstuffing your sign with too much text not only makes it harder for people to read it from a distance but also moves the reader’s attention away from the message you’re trying to convey. Marketers tend to fill up any blank space on a sign in order to get the most out of their investment. What they don’t realize is that this “blank space” around words and graphics is equally important for conveying the message as the text itself.

2.      Choose the right color scheme

The right color scheme is crucial for any well-designed sign. Not only does it grab the reader’s attention, it can also be used to convey the brand’s identity. Think Coca-Cola red or Starbucks green for example. Trademark recognition has more to do with the choice of color than the actual logo representing it. Avoid using background colors which make reading the message difficult. Choose a color which contrasts well with other colors, such as black on white or black on yellow. This allows for an easier reading experience, even when viewed from a distance.

3.      Add contrast for better readability

It’s not the color scheme that determines the sign’s readability. Sure, it does play a great part, but if you wish to increase the readability, you have to think about the contrast. Most signs these days’ place graphics and text in the foreground, with the background being filled with a single, continuous color. This creates a contrast between the background and the foreground, allowing the reader to focus on the content more quickly and with ease. The bigger the contrast, the easier it is to view the text from a distance.

4.      Find the right font type

The best fonts are the ones that are clean and easy to read. And there’s a big misconception that as capital letters are “bigger” than the lower case ones, they are easier for reading from a certain distance. This is simply not true, as capital letters produce quite the opposite effect then, let’s say, using both capital and lower case letters. As nothing is ever written using only capital letters, it’s only natural to keep the text as “normal” as possible.

You can, however, use bold, italic and extended text, in order to shift the focus towards a specific part of the message. Finally, avoid using extremely small fonts for the contact information and if you insist on using two different fonts in the same design, make sure that they complement each other and make the message really stand out.

5.      Don’t forget to illuminate you sign

Whether you’re using a banner, poster, billboard or even corflute sign, don’t forget to check if they are properly illuminated, especially during the nighttime. A well-placed light source can be used to accent the sign and draw the reader’s eyes towards it. Not only does it result in a controlled and in turn, more attractive visual, but illumination increases the chance of your sign remaining effective even beyond the regular business hours.

No matter how good you make the sign look, it’s basically a pretty, but empty shell without good copywriting. The message you’re trying to convey is a direct representation of your brand and business, so make sure to write a compelling and engaging message. If you don’t have the necessary writing skills, then hiring a professional writer might be your best choice. Fortunately, they are easy to find online and usually don’t cost that much. The same can be said about graphic designers, but their services tend to be a tad more expensive when compared to hiring a writer. Never go for the cheapest option, but at the same time avoid spending your entire marketing budget on a single sign.

About the Author

Christina White is a marketing consultant from Sydney. She’s been working with different companies for 6 years now. When taking a break from making new marketing slogans, you can find her hiking with her furry four legged companion or just sharing positivity among her friends.

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