5 Best Remote Working Strategies to Stay Safe During Social Distancing
1 April

5 Best Remote Working Strategies to Stay Safe During Social Distancing

With a bulk of the world’s businesses being thrown into a completely new remote workspace dynamic, many employees and employers are trying to adapt to the changes as quickly as possible to minimize the strain that’s been placed on their normally structured routines. The sudden transition from well-designed productivity spaces to much less formal home working environments has caused a great deal of confusion and challenges for workforces in practically every industry out there. The change has left some managers and employees scrambling to adjust their approaches in a number of ways in order to find the best remote working strategies during the global social distancing practices. Whether you’re adept at remote working conditions or you’re completely inexperienced with continuing business outside of the office, here are a few tips to help you restructure your approach to navigate the distance between you and your team:

Remote Working Strategies Starting Point: Assess the Situation

With the sudden drastic changes business owners and employees are facing, many entrepreneurs feel like they’re fumbling around in the dark in their attempts to navigate the new process of working remotely. For those who are struggling to get started, one of the easiest ways to begin is simply to assess the current situation and take stock of what has changed, what isn’t working, and what needs to change in order to smooth things over during this transition.

By taking a quick step back and assessing your current situation, figuring out the best plan of action to successfully continue working remotely can become clearer. To put it simply, your first step should simply be to take a look at what aspects of your structured work environment are most essential to its effectiveness and find ways to provide these aspects to both your own home work environment as well as those of any of your employees. These items can be as simple as providing the necessary equipment (laptop, printer, phone, etc.) or more complex like providing remote access to a server, network connectivity, files, and other more industry specific items. Whatever you or your team need access to in the workplace, there needs to be access remotely in order to successfully work from home.

Address any Team Concerns or Questions Immediately

After the initial setup has begun and you (and/or your employees) are settling into your home working environments, it’s important to do another assessment of the situation. As things begin to progress remotely, there will inevitably be bumps in the road as well as several unforeseen frustrations that arise over the changes. It’s important to take stock of what is (and what is not) working for you and your work team in order to address any issues or concerns as quickly as possible.

Staying flexible and acting swiftly are the best ways to overcome any of these hurdles that will come up over the course of the remote phase. This is done by being understanding of the expected changes and by making note of any issues as well as checking frequently with your team to find out what their needs may be. From there, you need to attentively make the changes needed to provide solutions to any issues, questions, or concerns.

Have Necessary Resources on Hand for You and Your Team

As you and your team adapt to the social distancing conditions, understand that each person will likely have a widely varying degree of what resources they’ll need access to. For the more obvious reason (different team members need access to different areas and items based on their position within the team), needed resources may seem obvious (vendor files for sales, accounting software for bookkeepers, etc.). For others, however, resources needed may not be as obvious.

Some of your team members may need remote access to a shared server, while others may need access to high-speed internet if they live in more remote areas and don’t have reliable service at home. Speak with your team members and find out what items they may need to help them with their processes at home and address these resource needs in order to make sure they can stay connected and as productive as possible in an environment that’s much less structured than their usual workspace. If you’re an employee and feel as though you’re struggling with the resources you’ve been given, be sure to speak to your team leader or manager and allow them to help you find a solution that works best for you all.

Stay Connected Regularly with Team Members

The only way to effectively keep the wheels turning during the remote working phase is to stay in frequent contact with all members of your team. Understanding that not all employees will need a constant link to their managers in order to stay focused, you need to be available often and as needed. You’ll want to make sure your team knows you are there for any support or questions, but you also need to give them the space to navigate their own remote workspaces as well as give updates and feedback on how things are going.

Having regular video or conference meetings scheduled can help keep a form of structure in an otherwise unstructured work environment as well as provide a prime opportunity for updates and feedback. It’s important, however, to keep these brief so they aren’t overbearing or adding to the stress of working remotely. Try to remain positive and brief with these updates and keep detailed discussions limited to more direct task-specific conversations. Assigning partners or teams for various areas with a designated team leader can help keep everyone connected with additional resources and less demand on overall managers as well.

Provide Positive and Consistent Feedback Frequently

“Optimism is contagious. Leaders who demonstrate hopefulness and confidence in the future are better able to help their team members find meaning and purpose in work, especially under stressful conditions,” explains Harvard Business Review.

Remaining flexible and ensuring your team’s resources are being met are some of the most important aspects to navigating a change in your work experience, but they aren’t the only factors involved in its rate of success. Keep your finger on the pulse of your team members and be sure to address any issues quickly (or as an employee, bring any issues to your manager’s attention as soon as possible) in order to minimize stress levels and maximize productivity. Communicate with your team frequently and remain positive with a focus on optimism and progress updates as much as possible. Keeping these essential tips in mind will help you successfully manage the social distancing work scenario.

Technology and Coworking: The Collaborative Effort and Invaluable Opportunities
2 March

Technology and Coworking: The Collaborative Effort and Invaluable Opportunities

If you’re a coworking space member or contemplating joining a nearby community, you’ve likely done your research on the many benefits of these spaces. For many, the overall savings when compared to a traditional brick and mortar office space for start-ups and freelancers is a huge draw to the coworking world, but it’s not the only perk, by far. One of the greatest advantages, in fact, can be found in the invaluable opportunities that come with technology and coworking combined.

Standing Out with Technology and Coworking

With technology being utilized in virtually every aspect of our lives today, it only makes sense to see it in the workplace as well – that’s a no-brainer. The problems arise, however, when you’re trying to incorporate the most useful and effective technology into your own business – the costs can add up very quickly, hitting your budget a lot harder than you’d like. As a result, lots of start-ups and small businesses are forced to skimp on technology, opting for the basics in favor of lower costs, but costing your business advancements at the same time. This can hurt your future endeavors by limiting your ability to effectively get your business ventures out there in the best light and in the most efficient way.

The Technology Advantages

Since coworking spaces have been on the rise in recent years, most spaces today offer members not just a beautiful workspace, but also one that comes equipped with the latest technology – and under budget. It’s no wonder then that these spaces can offer some serious technological advantages over the traditional (and limited budget) options of brick and mortar spaces. So, just what are the advantages of having the latest technology at your fingertips?

Well, for starters, since technology is essentially the media you utilize in every step of communicating your product or services, it’s clearly a pretty important (yet often overlooked) part of your business’s success equation. Using unreliable and outdated equipment can limit your ability to get your image out there, let alone make a favorable lasting impression on prospective clients. If, however, you utilize a workspace that already has all of its tech components seamlessly connected and ready to use, you stand a much higher chance of wowing your business connections as well as save yourself the time and headaches of dealing with shoddy equipment.

Invaluable Opportunities with Tech

Technology advantages don’t end with impressing clients. Some of the most invaluable opportunities that arise from having state-of-the-art tech at your disposal come from the dramatic increase in productivity they tend to promote. By allowing you the best network connections and the accessibility of easily connecting multiple devices for sharing and collaborating, technology promotes some serious productivity. Technology has become one of the hidden gems of the coworking communities that allows users to quickly connect and share ideas with others as well as brainstorm new ideas from anywhere in their space at virtually any time of the day. Can you imagine the invaluable opportunities that can (and do) arise from combining such technological advantages with sleek and affordable office spaces for entrepreneurs? They’re practically limitless!

Networking 101: How to Make the Most of Your Acquaintance Resources
1 February

Networking 101: How to Make the Most of Your Acquaintance Resources

By now, you’ve likely learned that your business associates and acquaintances can be an extremely valuable commodity for any entrepreneur. No matter what line of business you’re in, having meaningful connections with others in your field and your community can help your business ventures exponentially… but how?

The Key to Successful Networking

When it comes to networking, there’s one key concept to keep in mind: it’s always better to focus on having true connections with your associates than it is to branch out and stockpile a laundry list of networking individuals. In other words, as with most relationships, focus on the quality of your relationship versus the quantity.

While you may be tempted to get out there and spread your business card all over town and collect those of others with fervor, networking is more than simply meeting an individual in the same line of work. It’s also not about the “big” names in the business either. Networking takes – wait for it – work. Yes, you need to work at developing meaningful connections with your network or it won’t get you anywhere. So, how do you do that?

Stay Relevant with Meeting Room Functions

Developing and maintaining relevant networking connections is a multi-dimensional process that involves both getting to know your associates as well as making it known what kind of worth you bring to the table as well. Networking is about a mutual growth in which we offer help to others while gaining connections and opportunities simultaneously (but without expecting anything in return).

In order to achieve this, you’ll need to find ways to stay relevant and at the front of the minds of others in your area and field of interest. You want to be the one they think of when they have a need in your area. How do you do this? Offer your time and/or your services. Try hosting a training seminar or workshop to offer valuable advice or tips to help others. Don’t have the space to do this? Check out meeting room rentals or event spaces you can utilize regularly to impress your connections with both professional presentation as well as valuable information.

Be Helpful and Be Appreciative

“As you meet new people and build your network, keep in mind the value of each relationship. Reaching out to someone you’ve met once when you need something isn’t going to build trust – you need to offer your resources to open the door for mutual benefit down the road,” explains Forbes.com.

In other words, if you want to have truly valuable networking experience, you need to remember the road goes both ways. You need to invest your time and effort into developing meaningful relationships in order to get the most out of potential future opportunities from them. Take the time to get to know your acquaintances, invite them to relevant opportunities like workshops or conferences, and be sure to show them you appreciate their time and acquaintance. Invest your time and effort into building not just an expansive network, but a quality network that’s rich with solid potential.

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.

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line
15 November

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

Whether you’re a new business owner or a veteran staple in your market, business owners share one major concern: how to increase their bottom line. Let’s face it, the point of being in business is to turn a profit, so naturally, finding ways to increase that profit would be a prime topic of discussion, yes?

Traditional Means

Many business owners are familiar with the concept of spending money to make money – it’s Business 101. More often than not, business owners need to invest funds into proper areas (marketing, staffing, office space, products and services are just a few of these) in order to boost their sales. These are considered the traditional means of boosting strategies, but they are not the only ways to achieve a bottom-line bump.

Non-Traditional Means

It may surprise you to know there are actually ways new business owners (and even veteran business owners) can improve their bottom line without spending a single dime. Yes, you read that right – there are ways to fatten your pockets without thinning them first. How? Let’s take a look at some of the lesser known, non-traditional means of increasing your bottom line.

The Best Strategies to Increase Your Bottom Line

“Getting over that seven-figure (revenue) hump is often an indicator that your business has longevity to it. But getting there can be tricky, stressful, and time-consuming,” writes Forbes.com.

Learning how to get to that pivotal revenue point boils down to initiating successful profit-boosting strategies. It’s also about minimizing the outflow of cash needed to implement these strategies since without minimization, the profit boost can be negated. Not to mention, it’s tough to let go of funds when you’re trying to increase them.

Tweak Your Online Marketing Strategies

One of the easiest ways to add to your profit margin is by pairing up with other local businesses or related products and services. Essentially, by including promoted products or reviews via a link inside your existing digital marketing strategies can bring about extra cash flow. How? It’s what’s described by Forbes as Affiliate Marketing and means that by utilizing links within your website for other products, your business can earn funds each time your customers follow the link.

Utilize Your Email Lists

Another completely free asset you can use to boost profits? Your email lists. As advanced as digital technology is today, it’s easy peasy to set up automatic emails to your customer base that will entice them to visit your site. Don’t let your customer contact lists sit dormant, use them to promote your business by way of sharing blog posts, upcoming events, and even set special VIP sales as appreciation for those on your current list.

Initialize Semi-Annual Audits

Simple as it sounds, one of the best ways to boost profit margins is by cutting your expenses. Make it a priority to go through your budget a few times a year and make sure you’re only sticking with the things you need for your business. If certain areas are no longer working, don’t be afraid to cut them before they eat up more of your existing budget. Also, be sure to take stock of all of your material items and products, to ensure you’re not continually pouring out funds for items that have very little benefit to you.

Overall, the best tricks you can utilize to keep increasing your profit are ones that make the most of your existing resources. Be sure to maximize your budget and audit yourself frequently, as well as continuing usage on all of your available (and free) assets.