Be Your Own Brand Ambassador: How to Market Your Small Business
15 December

Be Your Own Brand Ambassador: How to Market Your Small Business

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for decades, it’s always a good time to review your marketing strategies to make sure you’re getting the best exposure possible. With ever-changing technological advances, small business marketing efforts can evolve quicker than you may imagine, rendering your entrepreneurship irrelevant or unseen rather quickly. With a few good business practices, however, you can stay on top of the changes and become your own brand ambassador, keeping your venture at the forefront of your market.

How to Market Your Small Business

According to Forbes.com, “Marketing is a concentrated effort to push your brand across a variety of platforms and hope that enough makes it through to your customer.” Often times, your business needs to be seen a number of times before it is truly recognized and converted to business, so the more you brand, the higher your chances of a successful effort. This is Marketing 101 and likely something most business owners are already aware of. So how do you convert this concept into something that stays current?

Becoming Your Own Brand Ambassador

The most important step to marketing your brand is organization and revision. This is the process of taking a look at what areas you are currently marketing your products and services and analyzing how they are performing. You’ll want to highlight areas that are working well – are customers bringing in mailed fliers or using certain promo codes you issued? These are things you’ll want to continue, or even tweak to keep things fresh. You’ll also want to note which areas aren’t bringing in the traffic you’d like to see so you can either rethink them and try a new angle or scratch the idea altogether. This process of reviewing what’s currently going on is one that should be repeated at least quarterly in order to stay relevant and give you the best response time.

Research Current Trends

If you want to stay relevant, you need to make sure your business is growing and moving along with technology and the digital age. Doing a little research will help you ensure you’re reaching the full extent of your client base with your marketing efforts. Take a look at what related businesses are using to promote their brand: are they pushing social media platforms or improving their mobile-friendly visibility? Also, take a look at more organic resources in your area that you could tap into. Is there an up-coming local festival or charity event you could sponsor or get involved with? These should give you ideas for what is trending currently and how you can adapt your branding efforts to match the trends.

Network, Network, Network

Let’s be honest here, of all the methods an entrepreneur can market their goods or services with, few compare to the benefits of networking. Networking is simply the act of getting out into your community and/or line of business and making connections with others. This is done by attending conferences, joining local organizations such as a Chamber of Commerce or utilizing communal work spaces, sponsoring related events, and just plain being seen. By doing this, you’re expanding the potential client base by bringing awareness to your business as well as giving yourself an essentially limitless pool of future connections.

Recap and Adapt

To recap, the best thing you can do to become your own brand ambassador and increase your bottom line is to review your efforts frequently, research what’s trending, and get out there and network in your community and trade. By keeping up with what is working, and changing what is not, you’ll be able to stay on top of marketing trends and boost your brand more effectively.

How to Shop for a Coworking Space
1 December

How to Shop for a Coworking Space

If your current office is the corner coffee shop and you’re thinking of ways to improve your workspace without breaking your budget, you’ve likely considered trying a coworking space. You’re not alone. Coworking spaces are on the rise, and for good reason: they are flexible and affordable without compromising the necessities and functionality of a professional workspace. Beyond the practicalities behind them, let’s face it, coworking spaces are a lot more professional to present as your home base than your local barista.

Taking the leap and moving your business into a shared office environment has a multitude of benefits. Since most spaces today offer a wide range of amenities, space availability, and membership options, it’s easy to find a great space for you without breaking the bank. Imagine having access to flexible work hours, essential technology, and impressive spaces for those all-important client meetings and business conferences – without the high cost of a traditional brick-and-mortar lease. That is the appeal of the coworking space movement today.

Shopping for the Right Coworking Space

So, you’re sold on the idea of moving out of your local café and into a more professional workspace; how do you go about shopping for the right space? The best way you can find the perfect solution for your entrepreneurial needs is by taking stock of what those needs actually are. Before you can choose a space that works for you, you should have a good understanding of what it is you need from your space.

Take a look at your daily routines and make note of what items you use most and what items seem to be lacking. This will give you a good idea of the type of amenities you will want from a coworking space as well as help you figure out any potential problem areas. Keep in mind what hours you like to work and the frequency with which you meet with clients to determine the caliber of availability you will need from a communal meeting room or private work area.

Things to Consider

Once you have a good idea of what you need from your space, it’s time to consider any additional criteria that will optimize your work environment. These are things that will determine how well-suited a potential shared workspace is for you, such as its location or how well it fits within your budget. Some of these factors will be much more critical than others, so be sure to rank them accordingly when comparing them to what’s available in your area.

Give it a Try

If you think you’ve located a coworking space that’s perfect for you, but you’re hesitant to make the plunge, explore the membership options available. Many communal workspaces today offer fantastic trial offers and other flexible options that allow members to give things a try without any form of long-term commitment. Utilizing spaces that offer trial periods or month-to-month memberships can eliminate the financial anxiety of larger annual obligations by giving you the chance to walk away from them at any time if you find they don’t work with your needs or your budget.

 

 

Seasonal Planning: For More Than Just Seasonal Businesses
15 October

Seasonal Planning: For More Than Just Seasonal Businesses

You may think holiday marketing doesn’t apply to your particular business niche, but the truth is, seasonal planning is for all businesses, no matter the goods or services provided. If your business is hand-crafted toys or candies, it’s quite obvious the holiday season is peak time for sales, but it’s also the same for practically every other form of business out there.

Know Your Angle

If you’re struggling to come up with an angle for your seasonal strategies, start by looking at your books. Find out what your customers have been interested in the most and use that information to anticipate what they may be needing shortly.

Remember that holiday planning isn’t all about retail sales and shopping. Consumers also have needs for specific services, practical items, and unique finds as well. Figure out what you can offer them and plan to highlight that for your campaign.

Begin to Prepare

Understanding that seasonal planning begins well before the holiday season begins, is the most important aspect of your process. It’s recommended to begin your planning months in advance – some even beginning as early as mid-summer. Why?

By allowing yourself ample time to research your top performers, study customer habits, and brainstorm with your team members for campaign ideas, you’ll give yourself the best chance at a highly successful campaign. You should always allow plenty of time for changes, new ideas and stocking any necessary supplies for the season.

Take Stock

Seasonal planning is more than simply finding the greatest marketing campaign to put out there this year. It also entails making sure you are fully stocked on any anticipated items, well-staffed for an influx of customers, and prepared for all your basic needs as well. How do you do this?

Start by taking inventory on your stock. Determine what items you’ll need to order if you are in the retail business. Plan for any additional stock items like shopping bags, receipt paper, shipping supplies for online orders, and any seasonal items like specialty flavors of coffee or printed fliers to hand out at purchase time.

Plan Your Schedule in Advance

Another key seasonal planning step is to make sure you are fully staffed to cover any potential increase in customer activity. It can help to make up schedules well in advance to allow employees time to plan for working hours around the holidays, as well as note any potential scheduling issues before they become problematic down the road.

Get Festive

Even if you’re not big into the holiday scene, getting festive at work is part of the seasonal planning process and your customers (as well as employees) will appreciate the gesture. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this – from simple decorations to planning events for employees and/or clients.

If you need ideas on how to get festive, include your team members in a brainstorming session to get their input – this is especially helpful in coworking spaces where members come from all walks of business (and all walks of ideas!). Not a coworking space? No problem – do some online research on local events to see what fun things are going on around you that you could include in your seasonal planning.

The best thing you can do is understand that seasonal planning takes time, and it’s not something you want to miss out on. Start planning early and get those festive ideas flowing to set your plan in motion!

Improved Productivity: Making Your Workspace Work for You
15 September

Improved Productivity: Making Your Workspace Work for You

Practically everyone in the working world is familiar with the concept of improved productivity. The phrase is tossed around by employers everywhere and is often considered one of the most coveted assets.

Whether you’re being encouraged by your boss to improve productivity in your work place, or you’re a self-employed entrepreneur looking for a productive boost, workplace productivity has likely entered your vernacular on more than a few occasions. So just how do you go about achieving this boost?

“Workplace productivity isn’t about getting from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time… Your personal workspace is one of the most overlooked factors that affect productivity,” explains Jamie Fertsch, Director and Co-Founder of XDesk, via an interview with BusinessNewsDaily.com.

Improved Productivity Starts in Your Workspace

Increasing your productivity is a much larger picture than simply churning out projects and tasks in shorter time. There are many factors involved in reaching optimal productiveness, and it’s easy to get stressed out trying to keep up if any of these factors are out of whack.

In fact, according to Fertsch, the first step in becoming more productive should lie within the spaces closest to you during working hours: your workspace. By tackling a few simple things within your work area, you can cut stressors and increase productivity simultaneously.

Staying Organized

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the most important step to streamlining your workspace is to stay organized. Keeping files in optimal order with clear labels will help save time and frustration when searching for items later.

Beyond the obvious filing, you’ll want to cut down on any unnecessary items within your space that take up room. A junk drawer or odd knick-knacks that cover your spaces or clutter your drawers can detract from potential workspace optimization. They also serve to add tension and crowd movement and free-thinking by adding stress.

Give Yourself Space

Once you’ve got your space optimally organized and decluttered, make sure you give yourself space as well. Sometimes when working, our minds can become too overloaded to efficiently finish a task or train of thought.

Fertsch recommends that you allow for ample break times and changes of pace. If you feel you’ve reached a wall, get up and take a breather. Go for a quick walk, spend 5 minutes outside or chatting with a coworker to reset your mind and then come back to your task to try again.

“Productivity is not directly correlated with time spent on a task… it’s important to make sure that you’re recalibrating and refueling every once and a while,” Fertsch explains.

Give Your Tech Items a Space

One of the greatest detractors of productivity is our beloved tech gadgets. The ping of a new email or ring of a new text message is often too powerful to ignore. While we understand there are times when we truly need to have up-to-the-minute notifications for things, let’s be honest, most times those items can stand to wait until we’re ready to answer them.

Designating a space in your work area to keep tech gadgets stored until you’re ready to check them can help increase productivity big time. Make sure the volume is off and place phones, tablets, smart watches, etc. in an area that’s out of view to keep you on track without unnecessary distractions.

Consider a New Workspace

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your productivity is a change of scenery. Coworking spaces offer a great way to maximize your space and get the most out of your work day. How?

Since coworking spaces offer a community setting with professionals from all walks of business, you’re essentially giving yourself a never-ending supply of networking and communication opportunities to bounce ideas off of during those productivity slumps.

Another bonus? Most coworking spaces offer a level of flexibility not seen by traditional workspaces, making it easy to come and go as you need in order to maximize that productivity!

 

The World's Most Unique Coworking Spaces
1 September

The World’s Most Unique Coworking Spaces

When it comes to work spaces, most people think of the same basic essentials: desks, connectivity, technology, and room for meetings. While these things are certainly the core of any working space, many creators are taking inventiveness to a whole new level with some of the most unique coworking spaces around the world.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, coworking is one of the latest trends in the entrepreneurial world. By allowing individuals and small businesses of all kinds to co-work in a single space, these community work areas are gaining momentum all over the globe. The reason? They allow for an affordable and professional work space and an invaluable set of coworking mentors and essential networking.

That said, here are some of the world’s most unique coworking spaces that take this experience to a whole new level:

The Hub – Chiang Mai, Thailand

While you think of the basic essentials for a work space, there is nothing basic about The Hub coworking space in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Made entirely of repurposed shipping containers, The Hub has one of the most unique designs of any space around the world.

With out-of-the-box thinking and architectural design, The Hub is truly a unique working space atmosphere that is said to inspire creativity and productivity. The shipping containers allow for a resourceful use of existing elements, giving a green element to the coworking experience.

Village Underground – Lisbon, Portugal

Similar to The Hub, Village Underground in Lisbon, Portugal makes use of recycled shipping containers for coworking spaces. The repurposed containers give ample office spaces that are shared by creative entrepreneurs of all walks of life, but they aren’t the most unique aspect of this space.

In addition to the unusual office space design, Village Underground boasts even more architectural creativity. The space includes attached double-decker buses that have been transformed into an on-site café and restaurant as well as a recording studio for its audio artists.

Naplab – Bangkok, Thailand

If you’re the type who just needs a quiet space to work, then Naplab coworking spaces in Bangkok, Thailand may be perfect for you. Known for its quiet spaces, Naplab caters to entrepreneurs who need some serious focus time.

As the name suggests, this coworking spot includes a second level designated solely for – you guessed it – nap time. Yes, this space has individual bunks and pods where its members can retreat for a nap to recharge their minds on-site.

Dojo – Bali, Indonesia

If it’s a retreat you’re looking for, then you can’t go wrong with Dojo – the tropical coworking experience in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s most unique feature? Take your pick between the open-air conference areas, private poolside nooks or the mere one-minute walk to world famous Echo Beach.

In addition to the resort-like atmosphere for working spaces, Dojo also offers extended stay options. Yes, they have rooms you can rent for an overnight stay, making it a great place to plan a company retreat.

Coboat – Providence Mahe, Seychelles

Want to shuck the whole concept of an office in general? Coboat in Providence Mahe, Seychelles will definitely get you there! The concept? Coworkers can book their stay on the Coboat, sharing working space on an enormous catamaran as it sails around the globe.

All of the essential working space necessities are included (high-speed internet, tech gadgets, etc.), as well as ever-changing high-seas views. The concept allows coworkers to stay connected while simultaneously embarking on coastal adventures and truly fresh air thinking as they detach themselves from the mainland for weeks at a time.