10 Ways to Make Your Job Postings Get More Candidates Faster

10 Ways to Make Your Job Postings Get More Candidates Faster

Published in Uncategorized on 3rd December 2016


Recently the U.S. government announced that we’re at a 40 year low in unemployment filings. At the same time, there are more unfilled jobs than ever in the U.S. If you’re looking to hire people, you know what this means. The labor market is incredibly tight, and finding employees with the right skills is tough.

What can you do to beat this market? As a long time recruiter who now helps people fill jobs at Betterteam, the company I co-founded, I constantly recommend that people take a second look at their job postings. 

A little disappointed with that advice? Give me a moment, and do one thing for me. Jump on your favorite job board, search for a position you’re hiring for and read through the titles for each post.

This is for the very competitive position of a software engineer: 
Job posting examples.

See how many of them have exactly the same title? And the additional descriptions offer very little to entice the potential applicant to click. Imagine for a moment that you’re a candidate and you know it’s a tight job market. Employers are fighting for you. What about any of the jobs you see would get you excited? Probably nothing, right?

Writing a good job posting is an easy win for your hiring process. Just taking a little extra time to think about it from the applicant’s perspective will give you an edge over most other companies. Here are 10 tips to help you stand out, bring in more candidates, and beat a tough hiring market.

1. Know the difference between a job ad and a job description. A job description is a document meant for internal use that describes the job, and the type of person who should occupy it. A job ad should sell the job to potential candidates as if they were customers.

Think of it as the difference between the instruction manual for a new car, and the advertisement that makes you want to buy it. Not many cars would be sold if the manufacturer just published the instruction manual.

2. Really know your audience. What frustrates the people you’re trying to hire? What about your company will they love? Answer these questions by talking to your current employees, and checking employer-reviews on sites like Glassdoor, or by visiting forums for people with that job. Write a job posting that speaks directly to their frustrations and shows them what they’ll love about your company. 

Here’s a quick, step-by-step guide to learning more about your potential applicants via forums.

  • Go to Google. 
  • Do a search like this: inurl:forum [position you’re hiring for] cons. See example in the image below.

Using Google to research job postings.You’ll look for the “cons,” things people don’t like about this particular job. In marketing, these would be called “pain points.” If you can relieve these pain points, you’ve got a good chance of making a sale, or in this case, finding an applicant. So, with the dentist forums, I noticed one of the big cons is the amount of student loan debt dentists carry.

If your practice had some way of helping with student loans, you’d want to mention it in the job posting title. 

3. Study your job boards. Besides knowing which board is best for the particular job you’re posting, you’ll also want to browse as if you’re a job seeker, and see what stands out. Take notes about what makes you curious and gets you to click. 

4. Don’t leave out salary and benefits. Lots of people are reluctant to put this information in a job posting, but it’s essential. It is make-or-break for a lot of candidates, and it’s better to filter out people who wouldn’t have taken the job because of compensation issues before you get a few interviews into the process.

5. Sell the location. The world is a big place, and there’s a good chance the best person for your job lives outside your city or region. Moving is a big deal. Be sure to sell them on the reasons they’ll love living in this location in the job posting.

6. Sell the team. If someone takes the job, they’re signing up to spend a lot of time with their new coworkers. Give an idea of who they’ll be working with or what the work culture is like.

7. Tell them about the gear. Does your company use any gear that the applicant will be excited to use? Something they’ll brag about to their friends in the industry? Put it in the job posting.

8. Tell them about the office. Is there something cool about your office? Is it new and state-of-the-art? Or maybe historic? Located in a great neighborhood? Let them know!

9. Get creative. Is there something that people in your industry really geek out about? Maybe a television show or a particular website? See if you can work in a relevant cultural reference into the job posting. If done right, it’ll get shared by people who read it and amplify your job post.

10. Make the title stand out. Don’t let your job posting be like the others I used for my example. Make sure your title contains at least one or two specific things that will interest your candidates and get them to apply.

Ok, hopefully, you’re 10 steps closer to having a much better job posting that brings in lots more candidates. If you don’t feel like you have time for all 10 of these tips, just keep tip #1 in mind the next time you write a job posting.

Write a posting that’s focused on what the applicant wants, rather than what your company wants, will make a huge difference.

 

 

Photo credit: one photo/Shutterstock

 

Progressive Web Apps Increase Conversion Rates: What You Need to Know

Progressive Web Apps Increase Conversion Rates: What You Need to Know

Published in Uncategorized on 3rd December 2016


Progressive web apps are a somewhat new and emerging concept, bridging the gap between what is currently possible with websites and mobile apps. Promising offline capabilities, improved speed and performance compared to both apps and websites as key selling points. We’ll take a look at how PWA’s can be used for businesses.

With both websites and mobile applications commanding large number of users, visitors and potential leads, online businesses stand to gain from implementing these technologies correctly.

By implementing methods which combine the best of both of these worlds, there’s the chance of improved user experience, better visitor engagement & retention as well as increased conversion rates.

Several large companies have already reported on positive results with decreased page load times, bounce rate decrease and conversion rate improvements, to mention some of the more interesting metrics.


Features

  • Offline mode
  • Improved conversion & bounce rates
  • Feels like an app, works like a website
  • Improved performance
  • Fast install on devices
  • Push Notifications
  • No app store submission
  • Retaining users


Offline mode

In certain situations websites are limited when it comes to internet connectivity. Without it, websites cannot be displayed properly, if at all. On the other hand, mobile apps are often self contained, with the added option of having extra data downloaded once there’s a connection established, allowing users to browse the app when not online, thus increasing the engagement and availability greatly.

Technically, this works by saving the information the visitor has already accessed, meaning the pages already visited are available through the progressive web app at all times, even without internet.

If there’s no internet connection, and the user browses to a page not previously visited, instead of getting an error screen in the browser, it is possible to show a custom offline page, complete with brand logo, information and sometimes even more advanced features designed to keep users on the page, rather than them closing the browser and waiting for online connectivity before continuing their surfing.

This has been one of the major reasons for the substantial growth of apps over these past years, leading to a multi-billion dollar industry, but now Progressive Web Apps are slowly chipping away at that market segment, by allowing ordinary websites to implement offline functionality, for all devices.

For some business models, this might not make sense financially. For instance, sites relying on services like Google AdSense would probably not be interested in showing content without the possibility for their visitors to click on ads, but e-commerce stores are an obvious platform for PWA’s.

By allowing visitors access to the product catalog in offline mode as well, businesses can potentially increase their customer retention & engagement rates dramatically, and in countries where users pay for internet by data usage, allowing people to browse in offline mode can be an extra incentive for visitors to choose the business with a progressive web app, over one that doesn’t.


Improved conversion & bounce rates

Google has released several showcases from prominent businesses like The Washington Post, AliExpress, FlipKart Lite, NET-A-PORTER and many others. Most of these websites have seen improvements in the double digit percentages regarding conversion rates,


Feels like an app, works like a website

A major selling point is the fact that PWA’s are often designed to look and feel like mobile applications, letting users operate in familiar settings while still having the full functionality of websites with dynamic data and database access.

While it’s up to each individual developer how exactly the PWA is designed and programmed, most are taking full advantage of existing frameworks and conventional theory on how mobile apps provide superior user experiences compared to websites.

Like websites, PWA’s can be accessed via URLs and are therefore indexable by search engines, meaning it’s possible to find the pages on Google and Bing for instance. This can be a huge advantage compared to mobile applications where all internal data is just that, internal.

Depending on the project in question, progressive web apps can be designed to look and feel exactly like the existing corporate website or mobile app, or they can be purposely different, to let users know they’re now browsing the PWA. It is even possible to seamlessly integrate the PWA into existing the website/app structure and design.


Improved performance

Without going to into too much detail, suffice it to say that the way that progressive web apps work allows for faster loading times on all types of content.

Technically, this is due to something called service workers, which work separately from the website, only requesting the raw data and not any style or layout information.

While it might be obvious that increased speed leads to improved user experience and retention rates, there’s been numerous reports showing that conversion rates also benefit greatly from optimized performance, adding weight to the worth of progressive web apps from a sales perspective.

 

This table shows the performance increases to be rather significant, where desktop users on average load a webpage with progressive web app enhancement 30% faster than websites without it.

For mobile users that number is a solid 22%, partly due to the fact that mobile phones are slower than desktop computers, and mobile users connect from less stable and fast internet.


Fast install on devices

Another highly interesting point is that several browsers are automatically prompting users to install the progressive web app when users are visiting the website. This comes in the way of a call to action implemented in the browsers themselves, lending credibility to the PWA and adding values in terms of authority and reliability.

Compared to mobile applications, when users install PWA’s, there are no long download times, and visitors are not routed through Google Play or the App Store, but directly downloading the app onto their device.

This means that the progressive web app gets it’s own icon on phones and tablets, just like a mobile application, but without the need to go through the sometimes tedious and slow App Store submission process.


Push Notifications

Progressive web apps have the option of implementing various device specific hardware features, such as push notifications. Publishers and developers have full control over how to implement this option, allowing for creative solutions with regards to advertising new content.

For e-commerce sites, this could mean an entirely new entry channel for sales, since push notifications directly displayed on phones are getting read far more often than either e-mail newsletters, status updates on social media etc.

Add to that the fact that users having installed the PWA also sees the icon on their home screen, getting a reminder of both the brand name and products every time they use their phone, this is not just another sales tactic, but can lead to valuable brand awareness.

Publishing the latest products, blog posts, articles or other relevant information through push notifications can result in a cluttered notification area for users having many apps and PWA’s installed.

One interesting example highlighting the benefits of Push Notifications comes from Jumia, One of Africa’s leading e-commerce websites.

They’ve noticed an improvement in conversion rates of 9 times on abandoned carts when using push notifications to let customers know that their previously added items are still in their cart and ready for checkout.

This has resulted in a conversion rate of 7.85% for website notifications, compared to 4.5% on their mobile app notifications.


No app store submissions

With ever increasing regulatory points to adhere by, having an app published in either Google Play, Windows Phone Apps or Apple’s App Store can be a tedious and time consuming process.

By using progressive web apps, it’s possible for developers to push new updates without waiting for approvals, allowing for regular updates on a level not currently possible with traditional mobile apps.

New updates will be downloaded automatically when users relaunch the progressive app, and with the possibility of push notifications, it’s possible to let users know that an update has arrived, but similarly, it’s not mandatory, allowing the publishers full control over what content and information to show users.


No universal browser support

While there are quite a few advantages to using progressive web apps on websites looking to increase performance and boost conversion rates while lowering bounce rates and page load times, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Samsung Internet are some of the most popular browsers that already support progressive web apps and service workers. There are however a few key browsers missing from this list, namely Microsoft’s Edge, and Apple’s Safari browsers.

Microsoft has published a few blog entries, announcing that they are currently working on implementing the new features into their popular web-browser Edge, but as of October 2016, there haven’t been released anything yet.

Apple,on the other hand, has only briefly touched upon the subject, with its 5-year roadmap indicating the possibility of adding this feature to their popular browser. Whether Apple will bend over to the will of the web, or whether they will focus on other areas remains to be seen.

According to various sources with regards to browser usage, Edge and Safari currently have a combined market share of roughly 23% of all browser users, meaning that a significant portion of the average website’s visitors will not be able to see the progressive web app sections of the website.

However, for browsers not supporting this concept, no error messages or compatibility issues should arise. In fact, these users will simply see the website without the enhanced functionality.

Of course, the percentage of Edge and Safari users will vary from website to website, and will thus require individual consideration, as to the feasibility of implementing a progressive web app.


Retaining Users

These days, it’s not enough to have visitors coming to the website, it’s equally important to keep users engaged, and coming back for more. Progressive web apps offers a few different ways of retaining visitors, such as adding the PWA to the home screen, and enabling push notifications to help with re-engagement tactics.

5miles is a mobile marketplace where users can sell and buy almost anything the heart desires. While they had a great success with their mobile application, with more than 7 million downloads, most of their online website visitors showed poor performance.

The company found it difficult to get website visitors to download and install their mobile app, whereas the visitors who found the mobile app via the app stores showed much better engagement and conversion rates.

The solution for 5miles was to develop a progressive web app, so website visitors would be asked automatically to download the app, and skip the visit to the app stores entirely.

Once people had added to app to their home screens, 5miles worked hard on making the push notifications as enticing as possible, resulting in positive improvements such as a 50% decrease in bounce rates, an average of 30% more time spent on the site, and 30% better conversions for visitors using the progressive web app, compared to their other users.


Conclusion

If not for the lack of universal browser support, it would be difficult to come up with reasons why not to at least consider developing a progressive web app to enhance existing websites.

Still, the reported results concerning both performance and conversion increases, as well as bounce rate decreases might very well be enough of an incentive to have a progressive web app developed.

Like all other technologies, not every business will have the need for this, but given the solid results so far, it makes sense to at the very least give the subject some serious consideration.

Do you have experience with a progressive web app project, or are you considering using one for your business or company? Let us know in the comment section below.

Image by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com.

As a Business Owner, Always Look Forward

As a Business Owner, Always Look Forward

Published in Uncategorized on 2nd December 2016


In sports, people say that the best athletes have a short memory. Of course, there are plenty of reasons that you’d want an athlete to have a longer memory – memorizing strategies, recalling lessons learned in training and practice and so on. However, the conventional wisdom still holds true: the best athletes have a short memory. But how an athlete carries themselves and moves on after a mistake is important. The best athletes don’t dwell on the negative aspects of their mistake.

Much like athletes, entrepreneurs can benefit from having a short memory, so to speak. As an entrepreneur, you’re bound to make mistakes. In fact, you should probably create some type of safety net in case you or somebody you work with makes a would-be fatal error. While we shouldn’t allow mistakes to happen, we should understand that they will happen.

But what do we do when we make a mistake? There are different approaches to take, but I recommend taking a page out of the athletes’ playbook. Athletes and entrepreneurs have a lot in common, particularly when it comes to leadership. A leader won’t be able to guide their team effectively if they’re doubting themselves, and mistakes can shake anybody’s confidence.

When something goes wrong, the only way to get it is by moving forward. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, learn a lesson and apply your knowledge. Keep moving forward, and spend as little time as possible looking back. 


Don’t dwell on mistakes

Mistakes happen. What’s important to understand is that they’re just mistakes. The most important thing to do when you make a mistake is to move forward and avoid making the mistake again. Many entrepreneurs who are relatively new to the profession will make a lot of mistakes early on. However, they shouldn’t define their business or their success as an entrepreneur based on these mistakes.

Entrepreneurs can’t dwell on the mistakes they’ve made, however, you can learn a lot from your mistakes. Many mistakes are easily avoidable, and figuring out the root cause of a mistake could save you from dealing with a similar error in the future. Take enough time to understand what went wrong, and then move forward. After all, you don’t want to have a business that is constantly cleaning up after itself. You want to have a business that is moving forward and avoiding mistakes.


Notice problems before they occur

After you’ve accepted your mistake, it’s time to forget about it, much like how an athlete does. Learn from your mistake, figure out what went wrong and move forward. The more time you spend thinking about your error, the more likely you are to make a mistake elsewhere. By keeping your eyes on the present and the future, you may be able to notice something that could easily hurt your company if it isn’t addressed.

If you’re learning from your mistakes, then you’re more likely not only to avoid future mistakes but ensure a more successful future for your business. Entrepreneurs celebrate mistakes – not because of the damage they do, but because of the lessons, you can learn from them.

The lessons you learn help you move forward after an issue is resolved. By using these lessons, you can ensure that your business avoids as many mistake sin the future as possible. Your business’ success is going to be determined by what it does, so don’t was time worry about what happened. While all your past errors may harm your business’ image, avoiding more mistakes is going to help create more opportunities to succeed. 


Keep your vision forward

The worst thing about focusing on the past is that you miss out on the present and the future. There are a lot of reasons people dwell on the past, even beyond mistakes. If your business set a record quarter, you should feel accomplished. However, you need to immediately get over the fear and look forward. How are you going to make the next quarter even better?

The best entrepreneurs don’t focus on the past. Mistakes happen, but they don’t define our business. Achievements also happen, but we don’t want to get stuck remembering the glory days as our competitors blow past us.

The market is always changing – and sometimes it changes so quickly that we don’t even notice. You should always be looking forward, figuring out how your business or startup is going to take the next step. The market never slows down, and neither should your business. As long as you keep your gaze ahead of you, your business is going to have a better chance of succeeding. You’ll be able to spot potential problems before they occur, and you’ll notice great opportunities before it’s too late to act on them.

Spend as little time as necessary in the past. What happened, happened, whether it’s good or bad. But the past is already gone. We can learn a lot from the past, but our knowledge won’t help us if we’re not looking forward.

Keep your business, and yourself, moving forward. The past is gone, but you can do anything you want with the future.

 

Photo credit: Ollyy/Shutterstock

Not All Business Lessons Need to Be Learned Alone

Not All Business Lessons Need to Be Learned Alone

Published in Uncategorized on 2nd December 2016


Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the first conference solely focused on the contingent workforce and the gig economy. It was put on by the leading analyst association in our industry, the Staffing Industry Analysts.  The contingent workforce has been a great enigma for many years, however, with recent successful gig business models such as Uber and AirBnB, the growth of this category has been explosive the past few years. 

It was exciting to hear from industry leaders such as WorkMarket and Upwork sharing insights about how they reached success and where they are going next. The innovation and business model pivots in an industry that is so human capital intensive are remarkable.

The conference brought together company buyers of contingent solutions and the various providers within the marketplace. There were many apparent themes throughout the conference. The two that struck me most were lessons learned and collaboration. As unique as I like to think of myself, it became clear I was not alone. I am not the only one who has accrued numerous frequent flyer miles of lessons learned and am looking to collaborate to avoid as many as I can moving forward.  I discovered this at breakfast when the individual next to me asked why I was at the conference. My answer was met by every person at the table with a head nod or an “amen.”  My response was simply, “I’m tired of my own lessons learned and would like to learn from someone else’s.” 

Any CEO, entrepreneur or business owner can relate.  We are taught early in our career that learning our own lessons was a badge of honor. However, as someone who works with business owners to find the right advisor or interim executive to grow their business, I have learned there is a fine line between it being a badge of honor and it being a business downfall.  

Being willing to go beyond one’s walls is the first step. Learning from others is the next. Applying those learnings is invaluable. As business owners, we need to be willing to share and collaborate. As a step towards that, here are five of my favorite lessons learned so you don’t have to learn it the hard way:


1. Focus on Your Customers

Does the vision for your company include your customers?  We often get so focused on growing the company and either following our gut or single points of information that we forget to frequently stop and talk to our customers.  Stay focused on solving your customer’s pain points. In some cases, I have seen products and services create new pain points rather than solve them. Look to see how customers’ businesses are changing and what you can do to help them.


 2. Let the Experts Be Experts

Few companies have all of the expertise they need. Most of us need to beg, borrow and steal expertise from outside our companies. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and not stop and realize when some expert advice is needed. There is always someone who knows more in any one specific area. Leverage it. Take Greg as an example. Greg has worked in the food and beverage industry for over 10 years. He has worked with over 30 companies during that time. What do you think Greg knows that could be of value to a small and growing company in that industry? You’d want to grab a pen and paper to keep track as you count. Why learn the lessons yourself when someone can give you the cheat sheet to avoid them?                


3. Don’t Be All things To All People

We need to remember our brand and the core competencies we leverage to support it.  It is easy to get distracted going after various business opportunities not knowing which is going to be “the one.” First, make sure opportunities align with your brand and core competencies. Second, determine if it will deliver great value to your customers. Stay focused on your vision.


 4. Differentiate Between Cool and Value

When getting feedback, I often hear, “You know what would be cool?”  Ask questions and work to differentiate what is cool vs. what is of value to those buying your products or services. The only time customers will pay for cool is when they see value in cool. Customers pay for value.


 5. There May Be Something To Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor problem-solving principal, “Other things being equal, simpler explanations are generally better than more complex ones,” is true. When working with customers and developing solutions for them, it is tempting to want to build and deliver the ultimate product with all of the bells and whistles. But start with solving clients’ biggest problem, pain point or friction, get feedback and go from there. The simpler it is, the more likely it will be understood, accepted and adopted.

 When learning from others, think of it more as collaboration.  Share as much as is being shared with you. The shortest path to get anywhere is to learn from others. 

 Image from Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com.

If You’re Doing a Startup, Don’t Overlook Your Finances and Credit Score

If You’re Doing a Startup, Don’t Overlook Your Finances and Credit Score

Published in Uncategorized on 1st December 2016


If you’re embarking on a startup, you should be prepared for a roller coaster ride. Your journey will include a lot of ups and downs. You’ll be faced with making tough decisions that you don’t want to make. However, you’ll also be doing something that most people never have the courage to do.

One of the drawbacks of starting your own business is that you won’t have the comfort of having regular paychecks. Those days are long gone. Whether you’re paying yourself a low salary just to get by or depending on the monthly recurring revenue, it’s without a question that budgeting is more important now than ever.


Checklist before you start 

Before you take the leap of faith to start your own business, you’ll want to make sure you’re mentally prepared to cut back on a lot of your spending. If you’re carrying credit card debt or student loans, explore some options to reduce your interest rate or consolidate your bills into one payment. Having one single monthly payment can help you worry less about paying multiple bills only worry about one payment every month.

You should do everything you can to lower your monthly expenses. This includes looking into balance transfer credit cards, exploring debt consolidation, canceling monthly subscription costs, and most importantly, changing your lifestyle to let go some of the luxuries in life. There are countless ways to save money, some will be more obvious than others. Unfortunately, starting a business isn’t easy and will take a lot of willpower, and the last thing you want on your mind on top of the stress you’re going to face is worrying about money.

When was the last time you actually looked at your bank statements and itemized all your transactions into different spending categories? Mint is a great option to help you facilitate this. You’d be surprised to see how much you’re spending on extracurricular activities or even eating out. This finance audit can help you create a realistic budget and put things into perspective.


Cut most expenses, but not all of them

As mentioned above, trimming down on some of your expenses will be crucial since you won’t be receiving a steady stream of income. However, there are some things that you probably shouldn’t do without.

Gym memberships are a great way to blow off steam. In a study by Karen Postal, a certified neuropsychologist, research shows that exercising not only gets your heart rate up but also leads to improved focus and concentration. It also showed that problem solving, memory, and attention improved dramatically. It makes sense, right? How many times have you felt like you needed to “talk a walk” to clear your head? If you’re stuck in the office all day, you can quickly lose focus and get clouded in all sorts of thoughts that will impede your ability to think straight.

Another item on the list that you shouldn’t cut are healthy foods. Working long late hours can easily make you take the easy route and grab fast food on the way home. Either that or eating out every meal for lunch. One of the worst feelings during a packed day with multiple meetings and schedules is having a food coma.We’ve all been there. Instead, consider eating food that’s packed with nutrients that will give you long last energy throughout the day. Eating unhealthy food can quickly make you feel super sluggish and unproductive.


Don’t forget to take care of your credit score

Despite working around the clock every day, the one thing you never want to forget about is your credit score. Anyone can be easily distracted to forget to make their credit card payment. However, as long as you’re not 30 days past due, your creditors won’t report 30 or more days past due remark on your credit report. In addition, creditors can’t raise your interest rate until you’re more than 60 days past due.

One of the primary reasons you don’t want to hurt your credit score is that you’ll never know if you’ll have to apply for business financing in the future. If your startup is going the “seed round” through angel investors and eventually getting financing from venture capitalists, then you’ll probably not have to worry about this too much. However, if you’re going to take out any type of business loans, lenders will most definitely check your personal credit history. On top of this, even if you decide to get a business credit card, part of the qualification process will also be based on your personal credit score.

So what happens if your credit score isn’t in top notch shape? First, you should take a look at your credit report and see what’s impacting your score. There are many free credit score monitoring services out there that you can choose from. Next, if you see anything that looks odd, you should take the necessary steps to dispute any type of incorrect information. Depending on what type of item you’re trying to dispute, some items might be as simple as calling the original creditor or negotiating with the collection agency to remove the account. Lastly but least, try to pay down your debts as much as possible. Thirty percent of your score is comprised of your debt utilization, so paying down your balances can help improve your score over time.

Embarking on a startup journey is a road not taken by most individuals. It takes a lot of grit and hard work to succeed but overlooking your personal finance and credit score may hurt you in the long run. Your credit score will be used for any future financing and it may be difficult to get the loan you need if you’ve neglected it.

 

Photo credit: lOvE lOvE/Shutterstock

5 Common Entrepreneurial Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

5 Common Entrepreneurial Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

Published in Uncategorized on 1st December 2016


While many people dream of starting a company, the experience can be fraught with pitfalls, risks, and problems that can blow up into catastrophes.

This is why so many entrepreneurs fail, or give up before they’ve begun.

Fortunately, being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean dodging calamity on a regular basis. When you’re aware of common entrepreneurial pitfalls, and you know how to avoid them, you can safeguard yourself and your company and streamline the entire entrepreneurial process.

With that in mind, here are the top five mistakes to avoid as an entrepreneur: 


Being too stringent (or too generous) with your budget 

As a small business owner, you cannot afford to have startup costs become personal liabilities. You also can’t afford to put so little money into your company that it never gets off the ground. One of the hardest but most critical aspects of being an entrepreneur is learning to develop a budget.

Today, spending on content marketing is increasing year over year, and finding a balanced budget that works for you will require you to take a close look at your priorities, available resources, and goals. Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” rule for a budget, and too much or too little can do severe damage to your young company. 


Setting impossible goals 

While the call in the entrepreneurial community is “fail often,” “fail fast,” and “fail forward,” you can’t fail all the time. We’re only human, and not reaching your goals gets disappointing and disheartening over time. Because of this, it’s critical to avoid setting impossible goals. 

While reaching for the stars is smart, you also need to be able to achieve your objectives. Setting attainable goals is key to keeping morale high and maintaining forward progress.


Not outsourcing some of your responsibilities

Even if your company started as a one-person show, it’s common for outsourcing to become necessary as the business grows. 

With this in mind, outsource your biggest pain points. For example, if you hate writing content and learning to blog for your business, but you need written material, outsource your content to a professional copywriter. If you need a functional website, but the idea of coding makes your hands shake, find a web designer to help you.

Today, sites like Fiverr and Upwork allow entrepreneurs to connect with qualified freelancers at affordable rates. Entrepreneurs who outsource time-consuming responsibilities will find that they have more time, energy, and effort to focus on growing their business.


Focusing more on sales than you do on building relationships 

One of the worst mistakes entrepreneurs make is to focus too much on selling. While there was a period when the hard-sell was common, it’s fallen out of vogue in recent years. As a general rule, today’s customers are turned off by pushy sales methods. 

With this in mind, focus on building relationships first and making sales second. For example, when your customers reach out on social media, respond to them personally. When you sit down to create content, write to serve and assist your readers. When a customer presents a problem, address it thoroughly and quickly, even if it means losing a bit of money in the process.

When you focus on building relationships first, the sales follow naturally. 


Being too afraid of the unknown to take a risk

Doing anything entrepreneurial requires you to get cozy with risk. If you can’t do that, you need to get out of the game. That said, though, smart entrepreneurs aren’t reckless. Instead, the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs approach risk with intent and careful planning.

While it’s true that risk is an essential component of entrepreneurship, you must calculate it carefully, and have a backup plan at every turn. This keeps you from betting the farm and guarantees that, even if you fail, things won’t be beyond repair. 


Smart Entrepreneurship Made Simple

Entrepreneurship is a fulfilling pursuit, but it’s also a difficult one. By understanding these five common pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them, though, you can attain your goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur with a thriving business.  

 Image from ra2studio/Shutterstock.

The Basics on Managing and Retaining Freelancers

The Basics on Managing and Retaining Freelancers

Published in Uncategorized on 30th November 2016


Freelancing is on the rise, especially with the flexibility of the gig economy. Currently, there are 53 million freelancers in the U.S., and it’s estimated that by 2020, roughly 40 percent of the workforce will consist of independent workers. (This includes temporary workers, contractors, and, of course, freelancers).

Part of the reasoning for this growth in freelancing is that, following the recession, companies in the U.S. needed to downsize while simultaneously boosting their operational efficiency. With freelancers, companies could increase its productivity without taking on the added expense of hiring full-time employees. In other words, companies need freelancers. Advancements in telecommuting have also made it much easier to work remotely, offering the average American worker the attractive opportunity to make a sizable income while setting their own schedules. In short, it’s safe to say that the “age of the freelancer” is upon the U.S. 

Managers, business owners, and leaders need to be open to working with freelancers-it’s simply the way the job market is moving. However, managing a team of freelancers is slightly different than directing an in-house team of employees. Of course, certain basic principles, such as communication and leadership, overlap between the two. Since freelancers operate remotely, managers and business owners need to put in a little extra effort in order to effectively maintain a freelance team.

In short, it’s crucial for managers and business owners to do their best to make their freelancers feel like they’re a part of a company, even if they’ve never actually stepped foot in the company’s office. By doing so, a manager can boost a freelancer’s sense of loyalty, which in turn, will positively influence both the freelancer and the company’s overall productivity.


Guidance

As with any employee, it’s critical for managers to offer guidance to freelancers. Once a freelancer completes an assignment or project, a manager should take the time to provide the freelancer with feedback and guidance. Even if the feedback is minor, the freelancer will understand that the company is invested in their work. Feedback showcases that the company views this freelancer as more than just a remote worker-they’re actually a part of the corporate team.

Offering guidance will not only ensure that the freelancer’s work maintains a high level of quality, but it also highlights to the freelancer that the company is genuinely invested in their professional success. When a freelancer understands that a company cares, they’ll respond by hitting their deadlines, work hard, and maintain a steady level of communication. 

Over time, as the guidance continues, the freelancer will grow professionally. They’ll refine their skills, take on new tasks, and develop new talents-their value as a worker will only increase over time as the freelance relationship positively progresses. When companies invest time and energy into a freelance team, that team will, inevitably, respond in kind. 


Communication

Freelancers thrive on steady and effective communication. Telecommuting in the workplace has increased by 79 percent from 2005-2012-freelancers rarely have to step into a physical office. They can work efficiently and productively from the comfort of their own home-even if that home is 1,000 miles away from corporate headquarters. However, because many freelancers operate remotely, managers may find that communication with freelancers is a little challenging, especially since they can’t just pop into the freelancer’s office on a whim. So, in order to guarantee that the freelancer still feels like they’re a part of a team, managers need to push for constant communication. 

With video chatting, texting, instant messaging, and email, it’s fairly easy for a manager to quickly check in with a freelancer with minimal effort. Regular communication helps to keep freelancers on task, and it also helps to avoid any errors or misunderstandings (which often arise when communications are limited or vague). Lastly, constant communication can help a freelance feel like they’re working with a company, as opposed to for a company. Regular emails and occasional phone calls will remind the freelance they’re a part of a team effort, and that others are counting on them to keep working hard. 


Ethics

An ethical business owner would never skip out on paying an employee, so it’s extremely important to always pay freelancers on time. In fact, 79 percent of employees note that positive ethics are critical when it comes to continuing to work with an employer.

If a freelancer isn’t paid on time consistently, then that freelancer may come to view their employer as somewhat unethical-not only will this effectively sever the freelancer’s sense of commitment, but freelancers often network and communicate with one another, and the company in question may develop an unfortunate reputation among the freelancing community. If a company wants its freelancers to operate at full capacity, they must act ethically, which means that they should always pay their freelancers on time.

When it comes to managing and retaining freelancers, managers, and business owners should remember to follow the basics: offer freelancers genuine guidance, remember to communicate effectively, and always act professionally and ethically. By following these basic rules, a business owner will be able to manage a freelance team properly, and as a direct result, the company’s quality of work and overall productivity will remain top-notch.

 

 

Photo credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock 

 

 

 

Sources:
https://hbr.org/2015/08/7-tips-for-managing-freelancers-and-independent-contractors  
https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/rework/3-ways-work-effectively-freelancers 

 

Grading Your Prospects? How Lead Scoring Helps Small Businesses Prioritize Sales and Marketing

Grading Your Prospects? How Lead Scoring Helps Small Businesses Prioritize Sales and Marketing

Published in Uncategorized on 29th November 2016


For any company, regardless of size and category, an integral part of the sales cycle is the ability to understand where your prospects are in their buying journey – that is, how likely they are to making a purchase.

One effective method for ranking your prospects based on likelihood to purchase is “lead scoring.” Lead scoring is likely something you’re already doing, at least informally, without even knowing it. How do you prioritize which leads to respond to first? Which to follow up with? Which get a certain promotion or message? At the fundamental level, the factors you consider behind these decisions are the same attributes you would include in your lead scoring model.

Like many marketing processes today, lead scoring can be automated to make your sales and marketing efforts more efficient and better performing. Automated lead scoring is the process of assigning a numerical score to each prospect based on their various actions, such as visiting your website, opening an email, downloading an eBook or completing a form.

With online technology tools today, marketers can now categorize and segment leads in their CRM systems by this score and use this assessment in building out marketing campaigns and messages to nurture them through the decision-making process.


The Benefits for Small Business

For small businesses, in particular, lead scoring helps preserve valuable internal resources. It allows entrepreneurs and sales teams to become more efficient and focus their time and efforts on prospects most likely to end in a sale. Your best sales people are freed up to have in-depth conversations with leads who are ready to buy, and the less ready prospects can be engaged through automated, educational email and content. This strategy is proven effective – companies who focused on lead scores increased close rates by 30 percent and increased deal sizes by 17 percent in a recent survey conducted by Oracle.

Lead scoring offers actionable analysis. For example, if you’re investing time and resources into a lead generation program or to boost your sales with Google Advertising and social media promotions, lead scoring is an excellent way to measure the resulting engagement your campaigns are generating throughout the sales cycle.

By taking the time to analyze your efforts through a lead score lens, it will become easier to identify which channels and specific content are referring the best quality leads. This analysis lens also can help you test detailed marketing tactics such as images, content, and web or email copy, further helping improve performance over time. 


The Two Methods to Score

Lead scoring can be executed within your CRM and marketing automation system and works best when combined with automated marketing workflows. You’ll need to create rules in your system, so that when a user takes an action, such as interaction with an email, form or your website content, their score will automatically be updated in your database. While there are variances in scoring proficiencies customizations available depending on your specific CRM and marketing automation solutions, at a high level, there are two ways to score:

  • BASIC Works. The first step to any lead scoring efforts involves building your default scores. The standard lead scoring attributes include website visits, website page views, email opens, email link clicks and form submissions. You’ll want to set up these lead scores in your system so that contacts’ scores are updated each time they take one of these actions.

  • But you can CUSTOMIZE. You also have the option to take lead scoring power even further with your own methodology tailored to what you already know about your business. You likely already have a good idea of which prospect demographics and marketing channels are most valuable for your business. Take this insight and add greater scoring weights to those actions and characteristics you know are most likely to lead to a customer by increasing the scoring increments for the criteria you are confident will convert to a sale. Also, consider the actions that make the most sense. Is a prospect filling out your form showing more interest than one who clicks on a Twitter ad? Likely. Weighing out these scores appropriately will ensure that the best-qualified leads get the attention they need. 


My Leads Are Scored and Segmented. Now What?

Lead scoring works best in tandem with marketing automation workflows and campaigns. In addition to tracking a score, prospects’ relevant actions can also trigger an automation so they’ll receive a prompt response. The automation can be anything from a pop-up message to a timed email or a note to your sales rep to make a call. For contacts who are early in the sales cycle, consider setting up an email nurture series so that, over the course of several weeks, they’ll receive content and personal messages from their sales rep to cultivate the relationship until they are much closer to making a purchase.

Giving your prospects a “score” when it comes to their potential to make a purchase is a smart way to improve the value and performance of your sales and marketing efforts. Lead scoring is a must for any small business considering hiring more sales people, spending advertising dollars or investing time into building personalized marketing campaigns. By further aligning sales and marketing, any small business owner can rest assured that their resources are allocated to the most promising sales opportunities.

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

SEO is Not Lead Generation Strategy

SEO is Not Lead Generation Strategy

Published in Uncategorized on 27th November 2016


Search engine optimization (SEO) has been the buzzword of inbound lead generation for the past few years. SEO enables you to reach relevant leads and guide them to your Website. However, it is a mistake to focus your efforts on just SEO. SEO is unable to be the lead generating strategy, it must work in concert with other techniques to create sales and build a business.

Many small business owners get trapped into the lead generation cycle and fail to build bridges to convert those leads into sales. Never forget the purpose of SEO lead generation, to find you, potential customers.


The goal of SEO

SEO is not a lead generating strategy on its own. SEO acts as the initial “funnel” that brings traffic but then it is up to the other aspects of your marketing strategy to seal the deal. It improves your website’s prominence on search engine listing, but it does not improve conversions. SEO cannot convince someone to subscribe to a mailing list or purchase a product from you. It is up to your content, quality, website construction, and customer service to accomplish that.


Content marketing and SEO

SEO cannot convert those leads into subscribers or purchasers. In fact, the latest trend in Google analytics is to emphasize content-based SEO over raw SEO strategies. That means your best strategy is to combine your content and SEO strategies to improve your Google search list ranks and increase conversions.

In 2015, 88 percent of B2B marketers used content as part of their online marketing campaign. Moreover, 61 percent of those marketers reported daily or weekly updates in their content. You achieve better search results by marrying your SEO strategy with effective content generation. Google search engine bots are constantly tweaked to generate ever more relevant results to its users. That means you need to ensure you are creating useful content for your customers.


Search engine marketing

Sixty-six percent of B2B inbound marketers report using search engine marketing and 55 percent report that it is their most effective B2B inbound marketing tool. These statistics are likely set to grow as the importance of online marketing and search grows.

Regardless of the influence of social media, search engine lists remain one of the most powerful ways to generate B2B inbound leads. It is centralized, easily accessible, and universal. Conversely, social media marketing requires an intense investment of time, management, and it is split across multiple platforms.  


Convert visitors to leads

You need to gain your visitors trust to convince them to purchase a service or product from you. A common tactic is to offer a lead capture form, which is a coupon offer or free e-book that is valuable to your leads.

Anticipate their needs and fulfill them before they need to ask. The more useful your website, the more likely you will generate conversions.Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on lead generation and forgetting to seal the deal with useful content and trust building strategies. A large mailing list is great, but it does not amount to much if you are unable to convert these leads into sales. 

Inbound marketing requires dedication to the entire inbound lead process, not just SEO. Remember to build trust with your customers, and your company will generate the conversions it needs to grow. 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Websites, Domains, and Hosting: Understanding What You Need For Your Business

Websites, Domains, and Hosting: Understanding What You Need For Your Business

Published in Uncategorized on 26th November 2016


Thousands of new domains are registered every day, but sometimes the process can be confusing, especially when you don’t understand the words like domains, hosting, and name servers that you hear being thrown around. This is true even for people who have been using the internet for many years. Don’t let your lack of technical knowledge intimidate you. Read up a bit, and you’ll have the vocabulary down in no time.

In this post, I’ll break down the difference between the terms domain and website, as well as provide some of the basic information on hosting your first website and domain.


What’s a domain?

A domain is a name that you register and use to direct people to your website. As a business owner, your domain will be one of the most important aspects of bringing your business online. If your business name is long or not available as a domain, you will want to choose something short, to the point, and memorable. This will serve as a branding tool for you and help with your marketing efforts.

If you’re an individual solopreneur and not a business, you’ll still want a domain name. Domain names are basically your calling card on the web. They’re how people find you and how they will remember to come back.

Domains now come with a choice of many extensions on the end. If you want to register a domain name for your brand, you have a lot of choices. Most people try to stick with .com or .net because they are still the most prominent domains on the web, and the most memorable. There are, however, unlimited options for other domains that can help you differentiate your website from the competition. Domain extensions such as .accountant are appropriate for professional accountants as a business domain, while domain extensions such as .boutique are usually chosen by upscale retail shops.

You can choose a domain name that’s creative, but don’t go overboard. People need to know what your website is about. Keep the name short and memorable. After all, your name is your address on the web as well as an extension  of your brand.


What is a website?

Once you have registered your domain name, you’ll need a space on the web to store your content and make it available to the world. A website contains all the files and content that will be stored at your domain’s address. Your website may be designed by a professional, or you may use a template to create the website of your dreams. The website design and content is completely up to you. Make it easy to read and navigate, and make sure you install buttons for social sharing.


Hosting your website

When you have a completed website, you’ll need a place that will host it (i.e. store it) online and make it available to visitors. The web host will help you configure your website so that the domain you have chosen will point to the website’s front page.

There are different kinds of hosting available, depending on your website’s needs, including hosting that’s optimized for WordPress blogs and lightning-fast hosting that’s essential for high-volume business websites.


Keep this in mind:

In the early days of the internet, free hosting was plentiful, but you always got what you paid for. Often, these hosting services would shut down and take your website with them when they went out of business. A few free web hosting services exist to this day, but they’re not appropriate for anyone who wants to make a good first impression.

Free web hosts often place a large amount of flashy, distracting advertisements on your website in exchange for the “free” hosting. This is why most people consider “free” web hosting a gamble; they are often fly-by-night operations that make no guarantees about availability. If you choose a free host, there will be periods of downtime. There is also an increased risk of hacking and other internet trickery, such as installing malware through the host’s ads.


Choosing a web hosting option

Once your website is ready to be seen by the world, you’ll want to choose a web hosting plan that’s appropriate for your website size, type, and traffic. Most people will start with an inexpensive hosting plan until they outgrow it. Building traffic takes time and energy.

You may want a virtual private server or a website that’s optimized for WordPress or another blogging platform. Whatever your needs are, make sure that you ask about each pricing option and ensure there is room to scale up if you need more space or bandwidth. You’ll want a website that’s up most of the time and grow into a bigger hosting plan, if necessary. Now that you understand the difference between a domain versus a website, it’s time to decide what hosting package helps you get the most for your money.

 

 

Photo credit: Georgejmclittle/Shutterstock