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Top Things to Consider for SMEs in 2016

It feels like Christmas was only a blink of an eye ago, but we’ve already reached the end of January. As such, we’re well into 2016. This means that, if you’re yet to start your New Year’s resolutions, now is the perfect time. If your resolutions, like thousands of others, were to grow your SME, then you’re in luck. We’ve put together this list of the top things to consider for SME owners in 2016. Follow them carefully and you’ll easily achieve your resolutions.

Marketing Tactics

Effective marketing is one way that you can organically grow your business. From hiring an SEO agency to boost your visibility in search engine results to effectively running and managing your social media accounts, marketing could be simpler than you think, and it could hugely grow the reach of your business, improving sales.

Be careful though. It’s very easy to spend incredibly high amounts of money on online marketing. As such, plan your spend very carefully. Set a limit and stick to it. Also carefully consider what platforms you’ll use. Be relentless in asking yourself “why” you’re using a certain type of marketing over another and justify every expenditure.

By doing this, you’ll stand the highest possible chance of your marketing tactics succeeding. Targeted marketing can be highly effective, just don’t let your expenditure run away with you. If necessary, hire an expert.

Communications

Secondly, if you’re looking to grow a business, you have to think about how it communicates and whether you can take down any barriers. Effective communication is a great way to grow a business and it can be relatively cost free.

Technological innovations mean that communication is now simpler than ever before. As such, simple 21st century communications such as VoIP from companies like Gradwell are a no-brainer for SME owners. They’re cheaper than conventional phone lines and are far more reliable. Thus, you’re saving time and money as well as increasing your output.

Staff Retention

Finally, if you’re looking to grow your business, then you have to do so organically and naturally. As such, you have to think about staff retention. Without your existing staff members staying, you’re only ever replacing staff and not growing as a business. Plus, you’re actively setting yourself back as you’re losing knowledge.

To retain staff members, you have to ensure that morale remains high. Organise team bonding sessions (this could be something as simple as going to the pub on a Friday afternoon or as adventurous as a big paintballing day out). Also ensure training is in place so staff meet professional development goals. Happy staff members won’t want to leave, and they may even help recruit people they know if they’re in a positive working environment.

To conclude, we may have already reached the end of January but that’s certainly no reason why you shouldn’t be able to complete your SME based New Year’s resolutions. By following the above steps, you’ll maximise not only your chances of keeping your New Year’s resolutions, but you’ll also be able to grow your business. Here’s to the rest of 2016.



 
  


One of The Best Ways To Increase the Flow of Abundance

My good friend and client Lisa Sasevich is the one who first introduced me to the concept of “committed but not attached.” And the first time I heard it I thought “what on earth is she talking about? That makes no sense.”Money_01

You see, if you’re anything like me, you too may have confused what it means to be attached versus committed. And maybe (like me) you actually may be afraid that if you AREN’T attached to the process, you’re somehow letting the process down and opening yourself up to failure.

It’s taking me a long time to sort out being attached versus being committed — when you should be attached versus when you should only be committed — but the more I’ve relaxed being attached, the more I’ve attracted abundance into my life and business.

For myself, what I’ve found works best is being attached to attracting abundance into my life and business, and even getting specific to a certain dollar figure (i.e. I want to make an additional $10K next week). But, what you don’t want to be attached to is the HOW.

The easiest way to explain this is through an example. Let’s say you want to make an additional $10K next week, and let’s say you have a high-end group coaching program that’s costs $5K per person. So, to make an additional $10K next week, you would need to sell 2 clients into your high-end program.

Simple, right? Just focus on getting those two sales. (In other words, you start to get ATTACHED to making those two sales.)

The problem is, the Universe has lots and lots of ways to send you money — maybe instead of high-end programs, you get a bunch of low-end product sales. Or a client who had stopped paying suddenly sends you the rest of what they owe you. Or maybe someone wants to invest in a VIP day with you. Or maybe it’s not even business related — maybe you get an unexpected insurance settlement.

But, if you get so attached to landing 2 clients, you close down those other possibilities. You’re not allowing the Universe to help you attract the abundance you want — instead you’re busy trying to force your will on something that maybe isn’t supposed to unfold that way.

And, if you are trying to force something that’s not supposed to happen (which means it’s not happening no matter what you do) you run the risk of filling yourself with doubt, fear, anxiety and all sorts of negative emotions that further block the flow of abundance. (Can you say vicious cycle?)

Now, let’s turn it around. Let’s say rather than focus on the HOW you just focus on the WHAT. You let the Universe know you want to make an additional $10K but you don’t provide any other “instructions.” Instead you relax and focus on gratitude and abundance because you know the Universe is here to help you and support you — however that ends up looking.

Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel so much better than the first way (And the best part is it’s more effective too.)

Michele PW

About Our GE Network Expert - Michele PW

Michele PW (Michele Pariza Wacek) is your Ka-Ching! marketing strategist and owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting LLC, a copywriting and marketing agency. She helps entrepreneurs become more successful at attracting more clients, selling more products and services and boosting their business. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site at http://www.MichelePW.com.


start-up-own

Article Contributed by Daniel S. Williams

Let’s face it – we live in a world often defined by the norms of many. We aspire to be others. Be the president of a major company. Be an all-star athlete. We rarely place enough value on our own ideas, our own paths. Similarly, we all too oftensettle instead of stretching for “reach” goals. The startup ecosystem is not exempt from such influences, often subject to the “us versus them” demarcation that our daily lives engender.

As part of the newly-minted Accelerate@Shea Accelerator program being cultivated by the Edmund Shea Center for Entrepreneurship of the Carroll School of Management, Mr. Alec Stern of Constant Contact and its InnoLoft (geared for entrepreneurs) helped kick off the start of this new concept for Boston College on January 20th: The growing community of entrepreneurs with ideas ripe to rise from infancy.

Formatted as a presentation featuring lessons geared towards helping startups take ideas and maximize growth potential, Alec discussed everything from customer loyalty to staying in your “channels” as a business. Outstanding customer service is one type of differentiator, it allows companies to rise in the ranks while notably doing something differently than their peers lacking the customer enlightenment.

As part of Xperii, a SaaS startup selected to participate in the Accelerate@Shea Accelerator, what resonated even more strongly through Alec’s talk was the ability to become overly engrossed in the wrong things. The facets of your business idea which should have little attention relative to others. It occurs to me that we frequently are seemingly engineered to press upon the bad – and pass over what is going well. Alec gave the practice of marking new customer sign-ups on a foam football field plastered on the office wall in the early stages of his company as an example, moving a Velcro football at intervals of new customers. Celebrating the “victories” as growth occurs in your venture is crucial; especially heeding the fact that much goes wrong, often.

The victories are not necessarily milestone achievements, not always major accomplishments outfitted for vast celebration. They can be the small ones too, perhaps the acquisition of a few loyal, hard-earned clients, maybe the landing of a partnership with a valued firm. In the startup universe, the entrepreneurial ecosystem often presents the unicorn images of Uber, of Twitter and others. What I mentioned in the opening lines of this post relate back to this notion of needing to be the next Uber, or the next Twitter. The exception startups which become landmarks of our society are definitely worth admiration and are owed their share of credit for the success. But what about the startups never quite reaching “cult” status?

It does not take a mega-startup to “surprise and delight” the customer, as Alec Stern would say. It does not take a strategy encompassing any and all customers in existence. What is takes is the commitment to how your venture uniquely fits into its own space – and carves its own path not yet solved, or solved well today. Sometimes we make inadvertent comparisons where we “wish we were a certain individual” or our idea will be the “next big thing” with seemingly limitless potential.

However, startups are never guaranteed to be a success. In fact, most fail. But, I think the most salient example of why sticking to you “lanes” as a startup is vital comes from another anecdote told by Alec during his presentation. It relates to the beginnings of his company and securing funding to grow when money was tight. Rather than accepting funds from a group wishing to shape the offering to its own needs and therefore changing the startup’s business plans altogether, they passed on the funding. They stuck to their vision. Ultimately today it was the right decision to have made judging by the major success and growth the company has accomplished.

What underpins the ability to walk away from secured funding, a sense of being able to make payroll at week’s end? For me, it is the desire to be different than the rest. We conform many times in our lives, be it in our style of thinking, our choice of organizations. In the community of startups, it is the uniqueness that sets ideas apart from the herd. Not fitting in can be the (pivotal) catalyst. Different is good. And it is never too early to be different, especially as a startup.

About the Author

Daniel S. Williams is a graduating Advanced-Standing Senior at Boston College in the Carroll School of Management majoring in Management, with a concentration in Finance. Daniel has previously worked at several firms and startups fostering client-interactions, handling taxes, banking and filing systems, as well as marketing initiatives. He has been a part of Xperii Corp. since inception and has served in advisory roles with other ventures.


Customer-Service

Article Contributed by Abhishek Jain

We all do know and are aware of the fact that how difficult it is for the business organizations to stay ahead of their competitors when it comes to customer service trends. Consumers continue to demand a change and evolve unless and until your organization continues to stay current and the customers move ahead without even noticing you. Given below are the 6 major common misconceptions the business organizations generally believe about customer service this 2016.

If your customer has been complaining then give them something for free: A free card or product is not always the answer to your question. You would here need to find out and know what has made your customer upset and then correct the issue accordingly. Sometimes ensuring the root problem has been resolved and would not occur again is enough to please your customer back again.

Marketing would here own all aspects of customer relationship: When a customer reaches out to a call centre support, chances are a marketer does not have the answer for questions on your phone. If relationships are truly a focus for a company there must be a training across the board in order to educate and instil those relationships building considerations for everyone in the company.

Customers do not want to speak to the call centre agents anymore: Although customers could self-serve through online support that does not eliminate the need to have live agents. In a research study conducted by Gartner predicted that one third of the customer interactions would still require a support of human intermediary in 2017.

Customer complaints are a bad thing: On a first read this is something that would definitely sound to be strange. However one of the benefits of the real time insight is to hear what your customers have been saying and think of your products and services. And in occasion this would come in the form of complaints. Complaints are one valuable opportunities provided to the business organizations to learn and know what you could do better.

Making the service fast and speedy without even worrying about anything else: This is something that hold some truth. Customers are the one who want to resolve their issues quickly and easily. We would here definitely not want to deal with agents who are slow as molasses, and you do also don’t want them to rush through your service. The last thing you could do here is to feel like another number taking time that is generally required to do the right job.

Fewer calls means giving better customer service and experience to customers: Fewer complaints would here mean large pool of silent and unhappy customers. Unless and until you interact with all your clients and customers in order to find out what the real problem is, you aren’t able to respond or make improvements in the products and services you have been dealing with.

Focussing on positive customer relationship: Really?? Positive comments would not much about your business, but whereas the negative comments would tell you the most about your business helping you understand why your customers have been upset and find out the different ways you could improve them while dealing with them next time.

These are some of the myths business organizations generally believe when it comes to customer service in a BPO industry, and I am sure that there are more to come up yet. So if you have tips, advices and cautionary tales we would love to hear them in the comments below.

About the Author

Abhishek Jain has over 10 years of experience within the BPO Industry and Finance and Accounting outsourcing services. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Services India delivers and manages various offshore/onsite projects in various technologies and domains.


startup-acquired

Startups are always difficult, but with the right determination and hard work they can flourish into top companies. However, along the way other well-established companies might become interested in your business idea and may even offer to acquire your company. A case in scenario is the acquisition of Blue Coat by Bain Capital. Bain Capital had seen the potential of this company and that largely influenced the decision to acquire it. This is usually a difficult or confusing decision to make due to the many things one has to consider before either agreeing to the deal or rejecting it. Below are some of the pros and cons of being acquired that could also help an individual to reach a well-informed conclusion.

Pros

1 – Liquidity

When a startup business is acquired by a more established business or organization, the company acquired enjoys liquidity as well as adds value. This is due to the elimination of redundancies and overhead operation costs that the business used to bear in the past and which are now been taken care of by the parent company. The addition of value is partly due to the acquired business taking advantage of the well established distribution channels to leverage more of its services and products to a wider market. When a startup business is acquired it is able to experience a deeper market penetration due to the already laid out groundwork and marketing strategies of the parent company.

2 – Exposure

When your company is acquired by a bigger company, the acquired company (together with its employees) stand to be exposed to many new networks and influential people. The kind of exposure one will get is just immeasurable as you will find that most doors one considered locked will open with ease and thus open a new chapter on how you perceive things. The acquisition will lead to the creation of more networks which would mean more business.

Cons

1 – Control

When a company gets acquired, the founder of such a company will relinquish the powers of their own company into the hands of the parent company. Your startup business will no longer be yours and hence crucial decision making processes will no longer fall under your docket anymore. That means the execution model of the company you owned before will be taken up by the bigger company, thus leaving you with no control whatsoever as far as running the affairs of a company you nurtured since it was a day old.

2 – Expectation Mismatch

It goes without saying that the expectations of the acquirer will be very different from those of the acquired company. The acquired company’s owner had a dream of achieving certain objectives and had drawn its plan to achieve this feat. However, when the acquisition deal closes, it is then that the owner of the acquired company realizes that the plans of the acquirer are very different and opposite. This is a recipe for disaster as there will be some form of tension between the two parties and this could lead to friction. It is important to understand that some big companies acquire the startups in their industry in order to shore up the position they hold in the company or at times block competition. This is a clear example that the parent company cares less about your company thriving or not and this is the cause of the many fights witnessed between the acquirer and the acquired company.

3 – Vision

It is very hard to find that the parent company’s vision for the startup business goes in a perfect alignment. It is hard to find perfect ligament between these two companies as the acquired company no longer follows the ambition of the other and vice versa. The effect of this is general slowness in as far as efficiency is concerned and this could affect business due to the friction created.



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GetEntrepreneurial.com is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of GetEntrepreneurial.com Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.