5 Ways To Focus Your Strategy On Delighting Customers

my-tesla-arrivedThe world keeps changing, and visible business strategies that worked well in the past, including being the premium brand or low price producer, simply don’t get the customer loyalty they once did. Today, customers are looking for real relationships, a memorable shopping experience, and satisfaction of a higher purpose. They follow leaders who live and promote these strategies.

For example, Tesla and Elon Musk have capitalized on the environmental benefits of electric vehicles, coupled with a more memorable shopping experience by eliminating dealers. Other companies, including Ritz-Carlton, now incent their employees to build real relationships with guests, by authorizing them to spend up to $ 2,000 per guest to solve an individual concern.

Of course, these new customer-facing strategies shouldn’t preclude you from focusing behind the scenes on reducing costs and broadening your product line to supersede competitors. Amazon and Jeff Bezos have managed to do this well, with customers only remembering the fun and ease of shopping online, seemingly instant no-cost delivery, and no-hassle returns or replacements.

If you are rolling out a new business, or focusing on a revamp for your existing one, here is a summary of the key elements I recommend as a long-time business advisor for a winning customer-centric strategy today:

  1. Demonstrate a commitment to purpose and vision. What you say in your mission statement means nothing unless customers see you and your team living it every day. They need to see results in the form of sponsored events, social media, and feedback from influencers and customers that your mission is more than the low-cost producer.

    Whole Foods, for example, have continuously demonstrated their commitment to natural and organic foods, and have amassed an large and intensely loyal customer following for their 475 stores. As a result, they recently were acquired by Amazon for $ 13.5 billion.

  2. Highly focused customer segment targeting. This has to start with doing the customer interaction work to isolate the needs and drivers in the market you intend to serve. Trying to be everything to everyone doesn’t work any more. You need your team to be engaged with customers, finding what gets them excited, and tuning your message and offerings.

    In addition to their focus on purpose, Whole Foods continues to target high-income, educated city-dwellers who are health- or eco-conscious. This approach may not have worked in the startup days of traditional grocery stores, but it fits today’s urban reality.

  3. Dominate your industry before expanding to others. Many businesses are too quick in their efforts to become a conglomerate like General Electric, rather than globally dominating the one they are best suited for. Today, scaling an existing business in a large interconnected environment is generally easier than growing a disparate portfolio.

    Apple, as an example, have consistently focused on consumer electronics, since their early days with personal computers. They now dominate that industry, and achieved massive growth, loyalty, and credibility, without trying to move into enterprise solutions.

  4. Align employee incentives with customer values. Many companies still measure and reward employee productivity on internal processes, such as service calls closed per hour or revenue generated, rather than delighted customers. Results in the short-term may be optimized at the expense of repeat business, customer advocates, and loyalty.

  5. Seek opportunities to leverage competitor shortcomings. Make sure that everyone in your business understands your competitive advantage from a customer perspective, and continually seeks to optimize it. This requires continuous communication up front, agility in adapting to change, and continuous innovation improving satisfaction and experience.

Above all, continuing success requires a constant focus on strategy, and an agility to move quickly with the latest trends and innovation. Too many existing business become complacent, and the world changes around them, including former growth leaders Radio Shack, Nokia, and Enron. All too quickly, customers move on to other players that address their changing needs.

If your business strategy today doesn’t reflect one or more of the elements outlined here, your time for change may be past due. Winning customers in business is a lot more fun than the alternatives.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on Inc.com on 09/10/2020 ***

Startup Professionals Musings

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up

Communication is a skill that all successful leaders need to acquire and maintain — not just in business, but also life. Having the ability to speak in a calm, concise, and clear manner will help your team be able to do likewise. Sharing your vision, goals, and expectations is only one piece of the puzzle. It takes an accomplished communicator to encourage a team to speak up. After all, excellent communication helps strengthen relationships, allows the exchange of ideas, and assists your organization in overcoming barriers. There are 12 ways to encourage your team to speak up.

Unfortunately, a study from VitalSmarts shows that “one percent of employees feel “extremely confident” when it comes to voicing their concerns in the workplace at critical moments.” Additionally, “a third of employees say their organizations do not promote or support holding crucial conversations.”

How can you change these types of statistics? Start by implementing the following 12 techniques.

1. Get to the root of the problem.

The absolute first step you need to take is identifying why people aren’t raising their hands. If you don’t know why, then how can you fix the problem? It’s like if your car doesn’t start when you leave in the morning. You can’t repair a problem unless you know precisely what’s wrong in the first place.

You could interview your team or conduct focus groups. Someone other than you should do this interviewing, as they’re probably afraid to tell you why they don’t raise their hands. You could also issue surveys to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The issue may be because they’re afraid of being criticized by others on the team, or being overlooked for a promotion. Or, they may not understand what you expect from them.

In short, you need to find out what’s holding people from voicing their opinions. Then you can find ways to correct the course.

2. Don’t overwhelm your team.

Let’s say that you have everyone gathered for a team meeting. Without even giving attendees a chance to get settled, you bombard them with way too much information. Even worse, what if the assignments you’re throwing at them are abstract, complex, or even utterly boring.

If every member of your team has their head spinning, or they’re yawning, then they’re not going to be engaged. How can they ask questions or provide input when they don’t know exactly what’s happening? Or, they don’t even have the opportunity to participate because as the CEO, manager, or boss — we’re jumping from topic to topic too quickly.

Whenever presenting information, keep it as simple as possible. Skip the jargon and only focus on the top one or two issues. Remember, you don’t need to cover everything right now. Save the less critical stuff for another time.

3. Apply radical candor.

Kim Scott, a former executive at Google, coined the phrase “radical candor.” It may sound like a complex system. But, in reality, it’s merely creating a bs-free zone.

“Radical candor is clarity offered in the spirit of genuine support, where people feel it’s their responsibility to point out one another’s weaknesses to give them a hand up to the next level,” explains Grainne Forde on Teamwork.com. “Scott illustrates radical candor with an example in which her very inconsiderate boss told her she had a lousy speaking habit.

Scott was saying, ‘um’ too often. In front of the group, he told her that “um” made her sound unintelligent — and then offered to pay for a speaking coach to improve the problem.” Some would consider this a bit harsh, “her directness compelled her to take the feedback seriously and improve.”

I’ve found the degree of “radical candor,” Scott is talking about, should be saved for a one on one. Then after your “radical candor,” hand out a little extra encouragement. With one small compliment, your employee doesn’t consider you an enemy.

To achieve radical candor, both leaders and employees need to realize that feedback is constructive because it allows for growth and development. Additionally, there needs to be transparency. It’s the only way you’ll be able to assist them in working through their weaknesses.

4. Reward people for speaking up.

I vividly remember the first year I went away to a summer camp. The first couple of hours, I was fine. But, I became incredibly homesick later that night. After a couple of days, I was over my bout with homesickness and had no problem enjoying myself.

Towards the end of the week, the other kids in my group began discussing who would receive an award along the lines of, “camper of the week.” I suggested that maybe I would get nominated. This lead to the camp leading asking, “Why? You were homesick and didn’t say anything for a couple of days — and now you talk?”

Some people might think that he was out of line. But, he was right. Sure, I was engaged and did my best to be an ideal camper. But, that didn’t mean I deserved an award. At the same time, the person who did receive this award mentioned that they were proud of me. Now, that recognition was an awesome feeling.

My point is this. You don’t need to throw a party for an employee who asked a question during a meeting. But, you can still show them that you appreciate their contribution when they offer a comment. For example, if they make a high point during a meeting, genuinely thank them for participating. A genuine thank you can be two words. Thank you!

Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala write in the Harvard Business Review, “[I]f you want your employees to be more vocal and contribute ideas and opinions, you should actively encourage this behavior and reward those who do it.”

5. Make meetings more engaging.

Meetings can be a serious time-waster. They can also crush productivity and morale when not when properly. However, there times when meetings are necessary. That’s why making them more effective should be a priority.

While there a multitude of ways for you to improve meetings, making sure that they’re engaging should be at the top of your list. You can achieve meetings worth showing up for, by:

  • Kicking things off with an icebreaker like telling a story or playing a fun game or activity.
  • Not using industry slang or terminology.
  • Asking invitees to leave their phones somewhere else.
  • Saving handouts until the conclusion of the event to avoid distractions.
  • Leaving time for a Q&A at the end.
  • Sending out an agenda in advance so that no one is surprised. Also, this gives invitees an opportunity to review any relevant information and prepare their questions or concerns.

6. Stop dominating the conversation and listen.

While I wouldn’t say this trait is part of all entrepreneurs — I do think that some of us have such a healthy ego that we love hearing ourselves talk. The problem is that if you’re always dominating the conversation, others won’t even bother chiming in. What’s the point when they know there’s hardly a chance to be a part of the discussion.

While there are times when you need to speak, work on talking less and listening more. It may take some practice. But, this is probably one of the most straightforward strategies to get your team to speak up more often.

7. Be aware of body language and power cues.

Body language and power cues are probably not something on the top of your mind. But, your nonverbal communication most definitely impacts the people around you. Think of it this way. How likely would you be to “willing” share your thoughts with a leader who is continuously frowning and standing there with their arms crossed? Probably very unlikely.

But, what if they smiled, made eye contact, and stood in a relaxed, upright posture? You wouldn’t feel as intimidated. A quick couple of words about mastering your body language — soften power cues. For example, leave the expensive wardrobe at home and wear something that doesn’t intimidate your employees. Consider replacing your office’s rectangle desk with an oval one so that you can sit next to them.

8. Boost teamwork.

“When employees work in teams, they actively practice sharing their thoughts and speaking up to accomplish tasks as a group,” writes Eric Friedman over at eSkill. “This gets them used to talking about their work, whether it’s sharing new ideas or concerns, and can be applied on a wider scale to the entire company.”

Fridman adds, “Teamwork also works on a psychological level by bringing employees closer together, helping them form bonds to each other and the work, which will help them feel more confident to speak their minds.”

9. Accept different types of feedback.

When you need to collect feedback, use a variety of methods to do so. Allow your team to express themselves; however, they’re most comfortable. If they have no problem speaking, then don’t force them to write down their thoughts. If they don’t want to discuss a sensitive issue out in the open, block out time for a one-on-one or place a suggestion box in the office.

10. Explain the consequences of participating.

Explaining the consequences of participating does not mean retaliating against employees whenever they share their thoughts. Nor does it indicate that you’ll punish those who aren’t contributing to the conversation. Instead, a consequence in this setting means letting your team know the importance of speaking up.

For example, what if an employee isn’t crystal clear on a task that was assigned to them during a meeting? They might be embarrassed about asking for more details in a meeting. But, by not raising their hand, they aren’t able to complete this responsibility, and likely there were a few others that didn’t get the information. As a result, this can impact not only their career, but also this action can put the rest of the team and organization in jeopardy.

11. Encourage them to take a public speaking class.

In the early days of my career, I was terrified about speaking in public. But, this was a fear I had to overcome. So, I took a public speaking class. Not only did it improve my speaking skills, but it also made me feel more at ease in front of a crowd.

If there are members of your organization, why have nightmares about public speaking, recommend that they also take such a class. It could be online, at a community college, or through an organization like Toastmasters. Here: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

12. Lead by example.

Do you think that your team will feel comfortable enough to speak their minds when you aren’t? Of course not. It may sound off a vibe that this isn’t an environment where people can openly share thoughts and ask questions.

While you should certainly listen to what others are saying, the other part of being a great communicator is clearly expressing your expectations. It’s also asking precise questions and not being shy when it comes to public speaking.

Moreover, don’t hide in your office all day. Walk around and chat with your team. Check-in with them to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them with. Go to lunch. These connections may not seem like a biggie, but the relationship shows that this is a workplace where people can comfortably speak up.

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up was originally published on Calendar by .

The post 12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up appeared first on KillerStartups.

KillerStartups

5 Ways to Make Budgeting and Strategic Borrowing Easier

Over the nearly 40 years I’ve either owned or otherwise worked in a small business, I’ve observed that even businesses that might not be considered “seasonal” in the traditional sense ebb and flow over the course of the year, creating times when capital becomes tight and the cash flow pinch can cause an otherwise healthy business to struggle. In today’s world, small business budgeting and borrowing are more important than ever. I use these two words together intentionally, because I believe there is a synergy there for business owners who take a strategic approach to capitalizing their businesses.

A reactionary approach to a small business’ need for capital can satisfy a short-term need or meet an unanticipated shortfall, but might not help the business grow. We see evidence of this by the failure rate of small businesses in our country. Of the 30 or so million small businesses in the United States, those that survive the first few years are far too few; and only 40 percent of small businesses are even profitable. What’s more, the most common reason for business failure is a lack of adequate cash. In fact poor cash flow causes 84 percent of the business failures in the U.S.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

Can you anticipate your business cycle?

This probably sounds like a gross oversimplification, but anticipating your business cycle is what the most successful small business owners are able to do to recognize when a peak season ebbs and they need to accommodate for an anticipatable lag in income. This enables business owners to be more strategic and less reactionary to the business’ ebb and flow.

Having spent nearly half of my career in seasonal small businesses, I came to appreciate (and anticipate) the seasonality of what I was doing and the need to plan for the times when I knew cash would be tight. But, we still needed to keep the doors open to prepare for the surge of business that was coming in with the seasonal tide.

During the peak season, it’s far too easy to forget that it’s not going to last forever and to become cavalier in managing cash. I’ve been there myself and understand. I had to learn the hard way that it takes discipline to invest in saving when revenues are fat so you can keep operations going (and even invest in the business) during a lean season. I also came to appreciate this budgeting restraint even more at the end of the slack season.

Depending on the nature of your business, budgeting could also include a lot more than your cash flow. Many businesses reduce staff during an “off season” or may reduce their business hours. We couldn’t do that, but we would invest in projects to keep busy during the slower seasons. That was when I painted our building, upgraded facilities, or attacked major renovations—provided I had anticipated the season and had prepared to make the investments.

Being strategic allows you to invest when you have the time, but maybe not the cash flow. It also enables you to avoid the seasonal “crisis borrowing” that takes place in many small businesses to bridge from one season to another.

Don’t get me wrong, borrowing to bridge the seasons can be a good strategy—provided it’s a strategy and not a reaction. I’m a big advocate of strategic borrowing because it’s easy to make poor decisions when you’ve got to borrow to meet payroll or pay your lease.


Related: Are Business Loans More Affordable Now Due to the Pandemic?

Five ways to make budgeting and strategic borrowing easier

It’s much easier to talk about being more strategic, but it’s a lot more difficult to actually do it. Anticipating the business cycle is only the first step.

Here are five things that will make taking a strategic approach to budgeting and borrowing easier:

  1. Create the plan: You don’t need to wait until the first of the year to create a strategic 12-month plan; you can do it now. Plan for those times when you expect revenue to be tight and decide what you will do to compensate when cash is flush. Will you set aside a percentage of profits to tide you over, or borrow to fill the gaps? Planning now will make it easier to execute at the time that best fits your situation, rather than reacting to the drop when it happens.
  2. Stick to the plan: Creating a plan doesn’t do anything if you don’t take action. I don’t think that means you follow the plan regardless of what happens. If situations change, you may need to adjust (or pivot) a little, but make sure you consider the costs of deviating from the plan and compensate for the changes.
  3. Set goals and measure: Make sure you stay on top of your cash flow goals and consult with your accountant or another trusted financial advisor if you need help setting goals or ideas on how to achieve them. We tend to impact the things we pay the most attention to, so establishing goals and measuring performance against those goals will help you achieve them—even your cash flow goals.
  4. Stay on top of your accounts receivable (AR): Don’t let a day go by without being engaged in your accounts receivable. I know for many small business owners, accounting isn’t their thing, but if you’re going to be strategic with your budgeting and cash flow, you have to be diligent here. It doesn’t take long for an overdue invoice to have lost all profit, and too many of them will start your business on the slog to going out of business. In my view, your AR is every bit as important as generating sales.
  5. The rainy day is on the way: Whether or not your strategy for the year includes borrowing, setting aside a percent of profits for a rainy day is just a good idea. There are a lot of unexpected business expenses that can easily be addressed if you have a little extra cash in the bank. Some of the smartest business owners I know regularly set aside some of their profits to ensure they have at least three- to six-months of operating expenses stashed away in the bank.

Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

I’ve discovered over the years that good advice doesn’t always have to be new advice. Taking a more strategic approach to budgeting and borrowing will help you become less reactionary and help you build a strong and healthy business that will outlast your small business peers who ignored this advice.

Let us know what you’re doing to be more strategic and how it’s helped your business.


This article originally appeared on Nav.com by Ty Kiisel

The post 5 Ways to Make Budgeting and Strategic Borrowing Easier appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

5 Actionable Ways to Grow Your Side Hustle Using SEO

Launching a side hustle takes a lot of work, and if you want to eventually grow yours into a full-time business, you cannot afford to ignore Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are an estimated 5.8 billion searches on Google every day, leading to 93 percent of online experiences. In short, SEO helps potential customers find your business on their own when they search for something on Google. A good SEO strategy helps increase your brand awareness, brings visitors to your website, and helps you meet your businesses goals for very little cost.

Below are five actionable ways to grow your side hustle using SEO.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

Conduct keyword research and find the right terms to target

One of the most important parts of any SEO strategy involves keywords. A keyword is the term or phrase that someone enters into Google when they start a search. It is very important to be thorough with your keyword research so you know what keywords to optimize your website for. When you do your research, look for keywords that have a good search volume. You also want keywords that have a manageable difficulty score, which tells you how difficult it is to rank for that keyword.

Keyword research is necessary for pretty much every part of your SEO strategy. You write your content around target keywords, you make your anchor text in link building campaigns based on specific keywords, and so on. The keywords you target should be relevant to your business, but you should also prioritize keywords that actually lead to sales.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when starting your keyword research: 

  1. Reverse engineer the keywords your competitors are ranking for to know what they have targeted.
  2. Keep “search intent” in mind so you are writing content specifically for what people are trying to find when they use certain keywords.
  3. Look for long-tail keywords that have lower search volumes but are less competitive, and therefore easier to get a higher ranking.
  4. Look for keywords in the form of a question and then write content that answers those questions.

Once you have finished your keyword research and have a good list to work with, you can move on to the next most important element of SEO.


Related: 10 SEO Tips and Tactics to Improve Communication During COVID-19

Create great content (that your audience wants to read)

With your new keyword list, you can start by planning out your content. If you execute this well, content by itself can help you generate business in the long-term.

First, you need to find content ideas. Enter your most important keywords into a search engine and see what content ranks at the top. You can also check what content your competitors have written about on their website. Think about the common questions and concerns your customers have and write content to address those needs.

Secondly, think about the type of content you create. Content doesn’t just mean written copy. Your strategy should also include images and custom graphics, videos, case studies, audio and more.

Now. it’s time to actually start creating content.

Here are some tips to guide you in the process:

  1. Create a content framework using the keywords you want to target, the information you want to cover, and what types of content you want to include.
  2. Use tools like Hemingway App or Grammarly to make sure your content has no mistakes and is at an acceptable reading level.
  3. Use bullets to break up paragraphs of text that contain useful statistics or helpful tips.
  4. Mix in useful links to both your other content and outside, high authority websites that provide more relevant information.
  5. Use Google Analytics or other data to see what content is working well and what isn’t so can refine your process for future content.

Once you have the content drafted, you can move on to the next step.

Follow on-page SEO best practices

The next step is publishing your content to your website. There are a number of what are called “on-page SEO factors” that help your content rank better, so it’s important to follow best practices here, too.

First, there are the meta tags. Each page that is published should have a meta title and a meta description. The meta title is the hyperlinked portion of text that you see in search results:

meta

This acts as a “title” for the page and should include the page’s most important keyword. The meta description is the text below the meta title, which offers a lengthier explanation for what the page is about.

Other on-page factors include your headings and URL structure.

The H1 is another type of title for your page, but it should not be the exact same as your meta title. Your H2s are the sub-headings that introduce each section of your content. You can have H3s or lower within each sub-section, but they aren’t as necessary.

For the URL structure, make sure to keep it as short as you can while describing what the page is about in a few words.

When writing each of these technical elements, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Write your titles, headings and descriptions in ways that entice searchers to click on and read the content.
  2. Update your content regularly, especially if the keywords you initially targeted don’t get searched for as frequently anymore.
  3. Make sure your main keyword is included in each the meta title, description and headings.
  4. Track how the content performs using common SEO metrics so you can keep working on pages that aren’t performing well.

With your content written and optimized, your work isn’t done yet. Now it’s time to promote it with an effective link building campaign.

Create quality links with link building

Link building involves a set of strategies and methods for getting other websites to link to your website. Search engines like Google use backlinks as a signal that other people like and trust your content, and will improve your search rankings as a result.

There are good ways and bad ways to go about getting links, the latter of which can actually result in Google penalizing your website. In general, avoid low-quality links from irrelevant websites. You want to focus on getting high quality links from other websites that are relevant to your business.

Here are some tips you can follow for an effective link building strategy:

  1. Search for broken links on other websites so you can notify the webmaster and ask for them to replace it with your link instead — it’s a quick win.
  2. Find websites linking to your competitors so you can get links from them if you offer up better content than theirs.
  3. Avoid working too much on getting links from websites that only add them as nofollow, since you won’t get the same boost to your rankings.
  4. Make sure the anchor text used in the links is optimized using relevant keywords that also describes the page.
anchor

(Source: NeilPatel.com)

The final tip to follow is to focus on getting links from websites that are locally and topically relevant, so Google doesn’t think it’s spam and ignore it. You should also try to get links from higher authority websites, such as universities, government websites or respected news websites. They provide a more significant benefit to your SEO rankings.


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Use technical SEO to ensure search engines can find your site

Last, but not least, you need to make sure your website and each of its pages is set up properly from a technical perspective. Technical SEO means optimizing the coding and server elements of your website to make it friendlier to search engines.

Optimizing the technical elements of your website helps search engines easily and efficiently crawl and index your website. That way, they fully understand what your website contains. When they understand your website, they’re more likely to show it in relevant and valuable searches.

SEO

(Source: HubSpot)

Here is a quick outline of the most important technical SEO elements you should focus on:

  1. Site structure: Create logical categories for your content using menus and URL strings based on topics, products, locations, and so on.
  2. Make sure each page links to other internal pages that are relevant to pass the link juice around.
  3. Set a canonical URL so search engines know which version of a page to crawl, and which ones to ignore.
  4. Optimize the page loading speed by compressing images and making the server and page coding more efficient.
  5. Use 301 redirects for pages you are getting rid of so you don’t lose any link juice you built for it.
  6. Make sure your website uses an SSL certificate to encrypt the communication between the browser and server.
  7. Create HTML sitemaps and submit them to Google via Google Search Console so they know the structure and pages on your website to crawl.

The technical parts of SEO can seem more complicated, and you might not have the technical expertise to do it yourself. If that is the case, you can also hire a freelance expert to assist with this part.

Summary

These actionable SEO tactics form the core of what you should be doing with your website in order to help your business grow.

Let’s recap. To set yourself up for success, you need to:

  • Know what keywords to target
  • Write great content
  • Optimize on-page elements
  • Build backlinks
  • Fix technical elements

The real benefit of SEO is that while it can take a lot of work, executing it properly can lead to a long-term surge in online growth for your business. More people who are actively searching for a business like yours will find you online, and those are customers you don’t have to pay for.

The post 5 Actionable Ways to Grow Your Side Hustle Using SEO appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Why founders should invest in personal branding – and three ways to get started

At first sight, personal branding might seem mystifying – maybe even a little narcissistic. This is especially so if you’re a first-time startup founder, driven by the all-consuming challenge of launching your product, building your team, and attracting your first customers. With an endless to-do list, the task of elevating your own profile probably won’t…

This content is for members only. Visit the site and log in/register to read.

EU-Startups

Key ways and strategies to build a successful online business

Everything is digital these days and the digital transformation is reshaping each and every industry across the world. For many years, there has been an immense surge in number of online users. And so, businesses with an online presence are able to get global traction quickly and easily.

Also, people nowadays expect to see business online to know more about that particular company. And also, to do some research about the products and services that the company offers before they make their purchase.

Online platform usage for product details

Therefore, businesses must have a robust online presence these days in order to grab the opportunity for building a strong customer base and for gaining a competitive edge.

Understanding this, many businesses both small and big have found a way online to connect with their target audience globally. But, not all of those entrepreneurs who venture into the online industry and who move their businesses online succeed in engaging users and in enhancing their brand awareness. So, eventually, they might fail to beat the main players in the online industry. And thereby, fail to accelerate the sales growth of their online businesses.

This is mainly due to the lack of meticulous planning and not knowing about some successful tips and factors that are significant to make the online business thrive. Therefore, the proprietors who are looking to plunge into the online industry and those who want to grow their online businesses in this digital era must know some online business-enhancement ways and profitable growth hacks.

If you are one among those aspiring entrepreneurs striving to launch your own lucrative online business in 2020, then this blog is for you.

In this blog, we are going to see key strategies and successful tips to grow businesses online; some trends to leverage in order to be successful in the online business venture in 2020. We will be also seeing why you can use an online solution to create a professional online presence for your business.

Successful tips to grow your online business in 2020

Irrespective of the size of online business, niche, etc, there are some significant factors that will work effectively for online businesses to attain tremendous growth within a short span of time. Now, we are going to see those key concepts and tricks that will help you in building your online business.

Build a strong online presence

An online business without an effective online presence will fail to get the lucrative opportunities to beat the competitors and to stand out from the crowd. A robust online presence will build a positive image for your business and will boost your sales. This is because a professional website can attract prospective users and will allow you to grow your customer base.

Online business with professional website

So, have a powerful online presence and showcase your services and products in a better way. Only then your customers will prefer to come to your online platform whenever they are in search of any product or service.

Know your customers

Customer expectations vary over time and so by only understanding your customers and their requirements, you can easily develop your services and products that best meet the market demands and your user needs. Knowing your users will also help you to take the necessary steps to enrich their experience on your online platform.

Build trust with customers

Building trust among your customers is essential to promote your business growth. Customers will be more likely to use the online platform that they trust. Most of the online businesses do a mistake by replicating what others are doing in their niche market. Such as coping the online business model, features, functions, marketing approach, technologies, and so on.

These activities will make you inauthentic in your online business sector. And, will definitely make your customers lose confidence in your business. So, it is the smart move to take those core ideas and develop a unique online platform that fits your online business concept and needs.

Connect with your audience

It is important to win your customers’ hearts in order to elevate your online business. So, steps should be taken to make target users feel more special and valued. This is possible only by providing the best customer service.

Your users must be able to get immediate responses to their problems and queries as required. Therefore, pay more attention to include effective communication channel in your online platform. So that you can allow your customers to reach you instantly whenever they are in need.

Effective communication with customers

Also, by interacting with potential buyers, you can gain valuable insights about your customers. So that you take steps to improve the quality of your services to meet their expectations. You can also encourage your users to leave feedback and ratings for your products. This will help you greatly to know the areas that need improvement.

Know what works

Learning from your competitors is the best way to know what works and what doesn’t works for your online business. Analyze the strategies that work well for the competitors. And, check out how they are implementing those to grab the attention of users.

This will help you to enhance your online business operations to face the cutthroat competition in your online business venture.

Open ways to scale up your business

Expanding your online business operations is the best way to impress your users in the long term. So, your online platform must be flexible enough to include additional features and functionalities in the future. Therefore, you can streamline your online business processes easily.

Thereby, you can also incorporate various beneficial revenue-generating factors into your online platform.

I hope you can now understand some crucial strategies to promote online business growth in this digital era. So, consider these successful tips and grow your online business. Also, there are some growth trends that you need to know in order to run a successful online business. Let us see those now.

Growth trends to survive the fierce competition in the online industry

Optimize digital strategy

If you want to run a profitable online business, it is not enough to get potential customers on your website. You must convert those leads and increase sales on your online platform.

Therefore, conversion optimization is important. And, for this, you can focus on enhancing your online presence and improving your multi-channel marketing activities. By this, you can uniquely position your online business and drive conversions on your online platform.

Preference for convenience

Customers of today prefer to buy and get everything from the comfort of their homes without any hassles. So, they will be more likely to make use of the online platform that offers them a convenient online shopping experience.

Online platform providing convenient shopping experience

So, the online businesses that provide ultimate comfortableness for the users while getting products and services will thrive in the current market trend.

Make the most out of trending technologies

If you want to get ahead of others in your online business sector, you need to stay up to date with the latest technologies and keep track of the customer interest in the emerging trends. So, include those modern functionalities and features that the user wants from your online business and surprise them.

Create personalized experience

Personalization is the key to attain success in your online business venture, So, it is essential to leverage personalization technology. Thereby, you can provide rich experience to the users on your platform. You can gather and analyze the behavior, previous actions, and other personal data of buyers and visitors on your online platform.

Online platform providing personalized experience

This will help you to personalize the customer experience by tailoring the site performance to your user needs. Thereby, you can have a personal connect with your users.

From the above sections, it is very much clear that only by following some successful tips, and by building a powerful and full-fledged online platform, you can reach entrepreneurial goals in your online business venture. But, how to build such a feature-rich and attention-grabbing online platform?

Build a spectacular online presence with ready to use online solution

For developing your own visually stunning online platform for your business, I would suggest you to utilize a readymade online solution that is pre-built with significant features and functions. This is because developing an app or site from scratch will cost you more resources and time.

So, if you want to develop a striking online platform within your budget, then go for a ready to use online solution. Also, pay more attention while picking a felicitous online solution for your business. Because all the readymade solutions available will not best fit your online business model and varying business requirements.

So, choose the most appropriate online solution with an unrivaled performance that suits your varying online business needs.

Also, with a scalable online solution, you can easily include required, innovative features and functionalities in the future. So, go for a unique and dynamically adaptable online solution to materialize your online business dreams

Closing thoughts

I hope you can understand the successful tips and factors that are needed to be considered for running a lucrative online business. Also, as said in the above section, it will be a very good idea to use a ready to use online solution that fits your online business type in order to give life to your online business dreams by creating a strong online presence.

You can get such an apt solution for your online business only from a well-known online solution provider like Appkodes. Appkodes has been delivering optimal clone solutions for diverse online business verticals over the years. The online solutions are rigorously built with significant functions, responsive design, and the latest technologies to show unmatchable performance across various platforms. Therefore, reach Appkodes and discuss your fresh online business concepts with their team of experts and get shine in your online business venture.

Reach us…

Do you want to build a profitable Online business?

The post Key ways and strategies to build a successful online business appeared first on Appkodes.

Appkodes

What are creative ways to use Google search to research my competition?

Hello all, I recently read about a creative way one person used Google to research competition.

This article showed how to do a Google search that returns all webpages that talk about the company being searched for, minus any pages on the company’s site. The theory is to then contact those websites with a press release about a new product in that same industry.

Are there any other similar searches out there that help in this same manner?

submitted by /u/ReaperCombatives
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

6 Ways To Make Customers Remember You As Exceptional

ecstatic-customersFor decades, efforts to satisfy customers have been built around demographics – capitalizing on race, ethnicity, gender, income, and other attributes. Today, in this age of pervasive social media and two-way communication, the focus needs to get beyond demographics into personalities. Customer personalities define customer experience, and sets what they love, and what they hate.

Even businesses with highly specialized market segments will find it more effective and simpler to focus on who customers are as people, rather than the “what” of their demographic attributes. Customers today expect highly personalized and exceptional experiences to stay loyal and become advocates, rather than just conventionally “satisfied.” Satisfied is far from memorable.

The challenge for every entrepreneur and every business is to understand the pragmatics of identifying and reacting to what their customers love and what they hate. I found some excellent guidance on the specifics in the classic book, “What Customers Crave,” by Nicholas J. Webb. As a popular strategist in the areas of customer experience design and innovation, Webb knows.

He outlines six key steps in your journey from yesterday’s customer service to today’s required delivery of exceptional customer experiences:

  1. Define the whole customer experience versus service. Traditional customer service, focused on fixing bad transactions, is too little, too late. The total customer experience includes identifying with your company culture, the shopping experience, the customer-facing team and social media interaction, as well as resolution of any transaction glitches.
  1. Add the extra mile to make the experience exceptional. There is no one set of exceptional experiences that will work for all customers. That’s where you must know the personalities of your customers, to know what they love and what they hate. Ideally, you need to convince each customer that you have personalized the experience just for them.
  1. Display real customer value feedback versus value claims. Customers react poorly when they hear your value claims for them, and see more value to you (bottled water in your hotel room at a high price as a “convenience” to you). Customer value statements must come from customer feedback to other customers, rather than from your marketing.
  1. Build blended digital and non-digital experiences. Some businesses excel in customer-facing people, but have poor digital interfaces for feedback, shopping, or communication. Others have delivery silos, where one fragmented deficiency can override all other positives. Integrate and blend all elements of your customer experience.
  1. Train customer-facing team to collaborate with customers. Internal training and policies are not adequate to create great customer experiences. Employees must learn to develop relationships with real customers, and engage these customers to understand what each customer expects, and how to get customers to engage other customers.
  1. Assure exceptional commitment within your customer-facing team. Commitment means signing up willingly, showing up mentally, standing up for the customer, and never ever giving up. To get this, you need to find the best people for each role, give them the latitude to do their job, and reward them publicly and privately for achieving results.

Many business leaders still believe that exceptional experiences cost too much, and reduce profit margins and growth. In fact, just the opposite is true today, since more and more customers expect good feedback from others before they consider you, and decline to return if they don’t get a great first experience. The result is that an average business can spiral quickly into the ground.

If you are looking for a lasting competitive advantage, I recommend that you follow the steps outlined here to create experiences that your customers crave. It’s not only good for your business, but it will add meaning and joy to your customers, and will also enhance your personal satisfaction and well-being. That’s a win-win-win opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

Marty Zwilling

Startup Professionals Musings

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up

Communication is a skill that all successful leaders need to acquire and maintain — not just in business, but also life. Having the ability to speak in a calm, concise, and clear manner will help your team be able to do likewise. Sharing your vision, goals, and expectations is only one piece of the puzzle. It takes an accomplished communicator to encourage a team to speak up. After all, excellent communication helps strengthen relationships, allows the exchange of ideas, and assists your organization in overcoming barriers. There are 12 ways to encourage your team to speak up.

Unfortunately, a study from VitalSmarts shows that “one percent of employees feel “extremely confident” when it comes to voicing their concerns in the workplace at critical moments.” Additionally, “a third of employees say their organizations do not promote or support holding crucial conversations.”

How can you change these types of statistics? Start by implementing the following 12 techniques.

1. Get to the root of the problem.

The absolute first step you need to take is identifying why people aren’t raising their hands. If you don’t know why, then how can you fix the problem? It’s like if your car doesn’t start when you leave in the morning. You can’t repair a problem unless you know precisely what’s wrong in the first place.

You could interview your team or conduct focus groups. Someone other than you should do this interviewing, as they’re probably afraid to tell you why they don’t raise their hands. You could also issue surveys to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The issue may be because they’re afraid of being criticized by others on the team, or being overlooked for a promotion. Or, they may not understand what you expect from them.

In short, you need to find out what’s holding people from voicing their opinions. Then you can find ways to correct the course.

2. Don’t overwhelm your team.

Let’s say that you have everyone gathered for a team meeting. Without even giving attendees a chance to get settled, you bombard them with way too much information. Even worse, what if the assignments you’re throwing at them are abstract, complex, or even utterly boring.

If every member of your team has their head spinning, or they’re yawning, then they’re not going to be engaged. How can they ask questions or provide input when they don’t know exactly what’s happening? Or, they don’t even have the opportunity to participate because as the CEO, manager, or boss — we’re jumping from topic to topic too quickly.

Whenever presenting information, keep it as simple as possible. Skip the jargon and only focus on the top one or two issues. Remember, you don’t need to cover everything right now. Save the less critical stuff for another time.

3. Apply radical candor.

Kim Scott, a former executive at Google, coined the phrase “radical candor.” It may sound like a complex system. But, in reality, it’s merely creating a bs-free zone.

“Radical candor is clarity offered in the spirit of genuine support, where people feel it’s their responsibility to point out one another’s weaknesses to give them a hand up to the next level,” explains Grainne Forde on Teamwork.com. “Scott illustrates radical candor with an example in which her very inconsiderate boss told her she had a lousy speaking habit.

Scott was saying, ‘um’ too often. In front of the group, he told her that “um” made her sound unintelligent — and then offered to pay for a speaking coach to improve the problem.” Some would consider this a bit harsh, “her directness compelled her to take the feedback seriously and improve.”

I’ve found the degree of “radical candor,” Scott is talking about, should be saved for a one on one. Then after your “radical candor,” hand out a little extra encouragement. With one small compliment, your employee doesn’t consider you an enemy.

To achieve radical candor, both leaders and employees need to realize that feedback is constructive because it allows for growth and development. Additionally, there needs to be transparency. It’s the only way you’ll be able to assist them in working through their weaknesses.

4. Reward people for speaking up.

I vividly remember the first year I went away to a summer camp. The first couple of hours, I was fine. But, I became incredibly homesick later that night. After a couple of days, I was over my bout with homesickness and had no problem enjoying myself.

Towards the end of the week, the other kids in my group began discussing who would receive an award along the lines of, “camper of the week.” I suggested that maybe I would get nominated. This lead to the camp leading asking, “Why? You were homesick and didn’t say anything for a couple of days — and now you talk?”

Some people might think that he was out of line. But, he was right. Sure, I was engaged and did my best to be an ideal camper. But, that didn’t mean I deserved an award. At the same time, the person who did receive this award mentioned that they were proud of me. Now, that recognition was an awesome feeling.

My point is this. You don’t need to throw a party for an employee who asked a question during a meeting. But, you can still show them that you appreciate their contribution when they offer a comment. For example, if they make a high point during a meeting, genuinely thank them for participating. A genuine thank you can be two words. Thank you!

Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala write in the Harvard Business Review, “[I]f you want your employees to be more vocal and contribute ideas and opinions, you should actively encourage this behavior and reward those who do it.”

5. Make meetings more engaging.

Meetings can be a serious time-waster. They can also crush productivity and morale when not when properly. However, there times when meetings are necessary. That’s why making them more effective should be a priority.

While there a multitude of ways for you to improve meetings, making sure that they’re engaging should be at the top of your list. You can achieve meetings worth showing up for, by:

  • Kicking things off with an icebreaker like telling a story or playing a fun game or activity.
  • Not using industry slang or terminology.
  • Asking invitees to leave their phones somewhere else.
  • Saving handouts until the conclusion of the event to avoid distractions.
  • Leaving time for a Q&A at the end.
  • Sending out an agenda in advance so that no one is surprised. Also, this gives invitees an opportunity to review any relevant information and prepare their questions or concerns.

6. Stop dominating the conversation and listen.

While I wouldn’t say this trait is part of all entrepreneurs — I do think that some of us have such a healthy ego that we love hearing ourselves talk. The problem is that if you’re always dominating the conversation, others won’t even bother chiming in. What’s the point when they know there’s hardly a chance to be a part of the discussion.

While there are times when you need to speak, work on talking less and listening more. It may take some practice. But, this is probably one of the most straightforward strategies to get your team to speak up more often.

7. Be aware of body language and power cues.

Body language and power cues are probably not something on the top of your mind. But, your nonverbal communication most definitely impacts the people around you. Think of it this way. How likely would you be to “willing” share your thoughts with a leader who is continuously frowning and standing there with their arms crossed? Probably very unlikely.

But, what if they smiled, made eye contact, and stood in a relaxed, upright posture? You wouldn’t feel as intimidated. A quick couple of words about mastering your body language — soften power cues. For example, leave the expensive wardrobe at home and wear something that doesn’t intimidate your employees. Consider replacing your office’s rectangle desk with an oval one so that you can sit next to them.

8. Boost teamwork.

“When employees work in teams, they actively practice sharing their thoughts and speaking up to accomplish tasks as a group,” writes Eric Friedman over at eSkill. “This gets them used to talking about their work, whether it’s sharing new ideas or concerns, and can be applied on a wider scale to the entire company.”

Fridman adds, “Teamwork also works on a psychological level by bringing employees closer together, helping them form bonds to each other and the work, which will help them feel more confident to speak their minds.”

9. Accept different types of feedback.

When you need to collect feedback, use a variety of methods to do so. Allow your team to express themselves; however, they’re most comfortable. If they have no problem speaking, then don’t force them to write down their thoughts. If they don’t want to discuss a sensitive issue out in the open, block out time for a one-on-one or place a suggestion box in the office.

10. Explain the consequences of participating.

Explaining the consequences of participating does not mean retaliating against employees whenever they share their thoughts. Nor does it indicate that you’ll punish those who aren’t contributing to the conversation. Instead, a consequence in this setting means letting your team know the importance of speaking up.

For example, what if an employee isn’t crystal clear on a task that was assigned to them during a meeting? They might be embarrassed about asking for more details in a meeting. But, by not raising their hand, they aren’t able to complete this responsibility, and likely there were a few others that didn’t get the information. As a result, this can impact not only their career, but also this action can put the rest of the team and organization in jeopardy.

11. Encourage them to take a public speaking class.

In the early days of my career, I was terrified about speaking in public. But, this was a fear I had to overcome. So, I took a public speaking class. Not only did it improve my speaking skills, but it also made me feel more at ease in front of a crowd.

If there are members of your organization, why have nightmares about public speaking, recommend that they also take such a class. It could be online, at a community college, or through an organization like Toastmasters. Here: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

12. Lead by example.

Do you think that your team will feel comfortable enough to speak their minds when you aren’t? Of course not. It may sound off a vibe that this isn’t an environment where people can openly share thoughts and ask questions.

While you should certainly listen to what others are saying, the other part of being a great communicator is clearly expressing your expectations. It’s also asking precise questions and not being shy when it comes to public speaking.

Moreover, don’t hide in your office all day. Walk around and chat with your team. Check-in with them to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them with. Go to lunch. These connections may not seem like a biggie, but the relationship shows that this is a workplace where people can comfortably speak up.

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up was originally published on Calendar by .

The post 12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up appeared first on KillerStartups.

KillerStartups