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Tips for First Time Managers

Are you about to be promoted to a leadership position in your company, or have you just gained employment in your first management position? First of all, congratulations! Being in charge of a team is exciting and requires juggling many things at once. If you have never been in a leadership position you may be a bit intimidated at the thought of being a leader and having team members look to you for answers and directions. There are, however,  a few things that you can do to make the transition to leader/manager a little easier. Here are a few tips from management experts and human resources professionals.

  • Know Your Stuff – In other words, know the business inside and out.  This may take time to study, research and ask tons of questions but the more you actually know the more you will be respected and seen as a source of information. This also goes for knowing what each member of your team does. Spend time with senior leaders as well as team members and ask questions. The more you know, the more you can help your team focus.
  • Delegate – A common problem with new leaders is that they tend to take on too much and get overwhelmed. Realize that you can not be everywhere at once  or do everything alone. Create an environment where you are actively relying on others to help carry projects. You will still be informed, but you need to let others lead so they can grow their abilities and perspective.
  • Create Priorities – As a team leader or manager, there will be lot on your plate.  Start by prioritizing what needs to be done and communicating that to your team.  The more they understand what is important to you the better they can work.
  • Find a Mentor – Whether it is senior leadership or someone in your field, find someone you can trust to be a sounding board in tough times. This person should be someone you are not in direct competition with but has a vested interest in seeing the company and you succeed.
  • Be a Role Model – As a leader, you are probably the inspiration and model for your team members. Your employees are going to look to you to gauge how they should act and how to persevere through workplace challenges. Be a role model and lead by example.  Allow for give and take and learning opportunities. Remember, you are still learning too.

 

Instagram for Business

Is your company active on social media? Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are quickly becoming not just a place to chat with friends and find out the latest gossip, but to do some serious marketing for business. Unfortunately, the growing number of social media platforms and the millions and millions of posts daily can be more than just a little bit overwhelming for businesses to keep up with. Take, for example, Instagram – every second there are 2,100 new posts on Instagram bringing an average of 180 million uploads each day. Businesses need to get beyond the overwhelming aspect of posts, likes  and views and on to how this rate of content creation spells nothing but opportunity for businesses.

Today we are looking at the benefits of Instagram for your business. Yes there are other social media platforms out there but this highly visual platform could be just the thing your business needs.

Why Choose Instagram as a Social Media Platform? 

  • Instagram is a highly engaged global community with more than 500M active accounts.

  • Instagram is capturing the most sought after audience on the planet – millennials who are 18-24-years-old and earn $50,000 to $74,000. This demographic uses Instagram as their favorite social media platform over those of the same age earning $25,000 – $49,000 annually.

  • Instagram users aren’t just browsing through the endless content; they’re using it to discover new products and brands. In fact, 47 percent of Instagram users rank the platform in their top 10 channels used for product discovery.

  • Additionally, 45.6 percent of Instagram users are more likely to remember a brand marketing themselves on the social network over television commercials and other traditional media.

  • People go to Instagram for visual inspiration and the simple design allows captivating visuals to take center stage.

  • Instagram can give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your company. When you share some photos that offer a behind the scenes look at your business, it can go a long way towards building a sense of rapport and familiarity between your work and those you are offering it to.
  • Advertising on Instagram has the power to move people — inspiring them to see a business differently or take action.

If you want to get your business started on Instagram read more on Instagram’s business page. 

Common Mistakes When Starting a Business

Every entrepreneur makes mistakes along the way when making their business dreams become a reality. Some rookie mistakes may be easily overlooked and may not be more than a blip on the radar. Unfortunately, other mistakes may be costly both in a financial sense or may harm your reputation as you attempt to make your business grow and mature. Knowing what the potential problems could be may help you strategically avoid them. Top entrepreneurs were questioned on what mistakes they made along the way to business success. Here are some of the most common mistakes.

  • Compiling the Wrong Team – When hiring for a new business, it is important to hire people that understand that start ups can be stressful. It is also important to find employees that can juggle several skills at once since most start ups do not have a budget for specialized positions. For example, a web site company may have to ask a graphic designer to also handle customer service as well as his/her primary job responsibilities. According to Entrepreneur, choosing the wrong team is the single costliest error entrepreneurs make, resulting in not only lost income and time but depleted morale.
  • Marketing Mistakes – Many new companies don’t know what to spend on Marketing or, worse yet, under-budget to save money. Most successful start up leaders suggest aiming for 10 to 20 percent of your targeted gross revenue.
  • Doing Too Much Too Soon – Most business leaders know that launching a company, no matter what the field, is HARD work. Yes, there will be late nights and tons of paperwork. Unfortunately, too many young business leaders take on too much, too fast. Burning out mentally and physically is a real risk. In addition, growing too fast can put a strain on a young company. Be sure to have solid legal and financial advisors who can guide you as your business grows.
  • Not Planning for All Contingencies – All new businesses should have a business plan. This doesn’t just mean a rough idea of your business pricing, financial goals, marketing plan and employee guidelines. It should be a well thought out plan. Your business plan will change and evolve but a well thought out one can help you as you encounter tough times or grow too quickly.
  • Financial Mistakes – Fifty percent of new businesses do not survive the first five years. Ninety-five percent of businesses will not make money when they first open, and a large proportion of new businesses will not make significant money for years. These stats are scary unless you have done your homework when it comes to financial backing, support and a budget.

 

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!

Presentations: Engage your Audience

Being an exceptional speaker is a wonderful skill, but sometimes even that skill does not engage the audience the way planned. Business speakers giving their “pitch” have limited minutes to gain the audience’s attention and hold it. Getting an audience interested and listening can be a struggle unless you put into practice some of the tried-and-true speaking tips from expert orators from all lines of businesses. Here are just a few strategies to get your audience not only listening but engaged in what you are saying.

  • Speak Clearly and Simply. Viewers are guaranteed to tune you out if they are having trouble hearing you or following your terminology. Practice speaking and delivering your “pitch” to others who are not in your field of work to see if they can follow your line of thought and understand your terminology. Avoid acronyms if you are unsure the audience knows them.
  • Eye Contact – Since elementary school, we all learned that if you look someone in the eye when you are speaking they will be more apt to listen and remember. The same is true for adults. Make eye contact with as many people as possible to ensure that they are listening and not checking Facebook or answering texts.
  • Know Your Audience – This should go without saying to know the audience’s skills, needs, wants, interests and experiences before speaking. Some people prefer a pre- engagement questionnaire while others mingle with the group prior to the discussion. The better you know the audience the more you can tailor your talk to them.
  • Ask Questions – Give the audience an opportunity to take part in the discussion by raising hands, writing or discussing with a neighbor. The more they connect with you and your topic, the more they will retain and engage as you continue.
  • Give them Some Resources – Most people love getting something or learning something so, give them what they want. For example, if you are talking about a service, give them a coupon or access for a discount to try-out the service. If they are gathering information give them a list of resources that they may not have known about previously.
  • Be Visual and Active – Using technology has long been a practice of speakers but be sure to have slides that are graphic in nature, not just slide-after-slide of text. And do not read from the text. They could do that later. Instead speak normally and in a conversational tone. Along with using visuals try to get your audience to move a little. If they have to speak to the person at their table or write, they may be more apt to be listening rather than be glazed over tuning you out.

 

Avoiding HR Issues

Owning a small business can be a major juggling act. Being a leader, chief financial officer, office manager and all the other roles that go into making a successful business can be hard. Keeping all the “balls in the air” can be a tough juggling act, which can cause mistakes – sometimes serious ones. Mistakes in the human resources area can be easy to make if you don’t understand and are compliant with the law.

Here are five of the most common HR management pitfalls small businesses face today and how to avoid making them. 

  • Outdated Employee Handbook – The employee handbook is your guidebook for all employees and company leaderships about work-related policies. These policies could include: discrimination policies, standards of conduct, compensation, benefits, work schedules, security, and vacation/sick policies. Each business is different so the policies laid out in the handbook should be updated regularly and be specific to your field of business. Not having company policies in writing and updating regularly is just asking for trouble.
  •  Staying knowledgeable of Changing HR Laws

    Understanding federal, state, and local labor laws are critical when running a successful small business. Compliance with these laws can be a big headache for small businesses. There are a multitude of regulations, and these laws continue to change rapidly. Have a dedicated employee or HR consultant who can stay on top of changing laws and compliance requirements.

  • Handling Terminations Poorly – No business leader wants to deal with a termination but they happen all the time. Messy fires can lead to unwanted lawsuits. Both performance and policy violations require documentation and a paper trail. “Make sure that you document any disciplinary issues, safety inspections, performance discussions, and the like. These records can save you if done right — or kill you if done poorly or not at all.”(Source: Intuit Books)  This is yet another reason why the well-written employee handbook is needed.
  • Develop a Reward System – Employees want to know how they are doing.

    Recognition of good performance is essential to a healthy workplace; without it, your business could face retention issues. Plan and maintain a reward system that will allow your company to maintain employees that do their job well. It is easier to maintain a good employee than to train a new one. 

  • Weak Hiring and On-boarding System – Too many employers hire hastily because they need the position filled quickly. Spend time weeding out unqualified candidates and on-boarding exceptional ones. Take the necessary time to be sure the candidate feels at home, has a mentor and understand the daily running of the office so they don’t feel overwhelmed or out-of-place.

Signs You Need to Update Your Website

When was your business website designed?  Was it the late 1990s or possible the early 2000s?  Websites built and designed even just a few short years ago may not have the capabilities and look of a modern website. Your business website is a window into your company where clients, consumers, employees, and vendors can learn about you and interact with you. So, if your “window”  is poorly designed, old or just hard to “see” through, then it may be a time to update. Here is a quick list of red flags that may be trying to tell you that it is time for a face lift, either aesthetic or technological, in nature for your business.

  • Your key words are not showing up on Google or any of the major search engines.

    Search engine algorithms have changed quite a bit over the years, so if your organic search engine rankings are low, it could mean it’s time for an update.

  • You can’t update your own content. If you have to constantly contact your web design company or harass your IT department to change the content, then you don’t have a website designed to be used by employees. Many companies have switched to platforms such as WordPress that allows them to change blogs, prices and other items on their site easily.

  • Your website takes too long to load. For every second it takes to load your page, whether it is on mobile or desktop, you lose visitors.

  • You have a high bounce rate. If your web analytics show a high bounce rate, low time on site and low average pages per visit, that’s a pretty strong indicator that your visitors don’t find your current site useful for one reason or another.
  • Your website is not mobile compatible. According to Smart Insights, over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device, and when it comes to local searches, more than half are performed on mobile devices. In the United States, a whopping 25% of internet users only access the internet on a mobile device. If these stats tell you anything, it’s that the world has gone mobile, and if your website isn’t optimized, it’s officially time for a responsive re-design.
  • Your website looks outdated. It’s been proven time and time again that a person’s perception of your company is directly affected by their perception of your website. Think of your website as a virtual storefront on main street. Make sure it looks new, fresh and is easy to navigate.

Kickstart your Start Up

Starting a new business can be exhausting with the intricate planning, making financial decisions, and filling out the appropriate legal paperwork and licenses. But, embarking on a new business venture can be exhilarating as well. How do young entrepreneurs walk that fine line between being exhilarated and exhausted? Experts say that they kick off their start up with some common strategies that will take them on the path to success. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • Plan on Doing a lot of Planning – Create a simple business plan that includes your vision, mission, goals (both short and long term), strategies and an action plan. Break down your goals into smaller goals before you take on too much. The U.S. Small Business Administration has template and strategies to making the most of your planning stage and Business Plan stage.
  • Assess Your Finances – How are you going to afford to run your business? What sort of financing have you secured? Startups requiring a lot more funding up front may want to consider an investor.
  • Define your Legal Structure – What kind of entity is your business? If you own the business entirely by yourself and plan to be responsible for all debts and obligations, you can register for a sole proprietorship. Alternatively, a partnership, as its name implies, means that two or more people are held personally liable as business owners. If you want to separate your personal liability from your company’s liability, you may want to consider forming one of several different types of corporations.
  • Register Your Business Name – Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.
  • Obtain Permits and Licenses – Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business. Read More 
  • Register for Tax Identification Purposes – Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.
  • Build Your Team – Define what positions you will need to kick start your company and then find the best and the brightest.
  • Grow Your Business – In order to make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. Reinvesting and making connections are a great way to get started on this. Stay active on social media platforms, take part in networking groups and keep your brand in the forefront in your community.

Recruiting the Best Talent

Growing a successful business is dependent on so many components from securing adequate financing to providing excellent customer service. On top of the priority list for a first-rate company should be hiring and retaining a great team of employees. Attracting the right talent to your business can be a challenge, but there are certain techniques that can be employed to recruit the best.

Most successful business leaders will tell you that they could not have gotten where they are today without loyal, hardworking and intelligent employees. Finding that type of team member can take some trial-and-error in the recruiting department. Here are a few suggestions from Business News Daily, HR Affiliates and Undercover Recruiter  to keep in mind to attract quality candidates.

  • Sell Your Business – The key is selling potential employees on the benefits of working with you. Do you have a strong benefits program, flexible work hours an innovative idea or even a perfect location for commuters? What is it that makes your company a perfect place to work?
  • Use Social Media – Many young people are looking for a place they can call home that fits not only their salary needs but, also, their personality. Use social media to highlight what it is like in your company. Do you take part in outings together, or do community centered projects, or take part in a philanthropy that they can get involved in? Candidates usually check out the business they are interviewing with on all social media platforms before even stepping in that door.
  • Interview with a Purpose – During the interview process, look not just for competency but also assess whether the candidate will fit in with the team that you already have assembled. Will the person “play well in the sandbox” so-to-speak? Evaluate whether the candidate is also looking for a place to call home or just a stepping stone to something better. Try to figure out, as well, if the candidate has the same values as your company. These are not easy things to do but, if you listen to answers and pay close attention to answers during the interview, you will be able to get a sense of who the person is.
  • Increase your Contacts – Even when you don’t have an open position do you keep your eyes open for competent candidates? Finding the “right” person for the job doesn’t necessarily happen during an active interview process. If you network and maintain good contacts in your field, you may have already met the right person – even if that person isn’t  “looking.” Sometimes knowing someone who knows someone is the best way to fill a position.

Best Small Business Accounting Apps

A large part of being a successful small business owner is managing the financial accounts including: invoices, billing, expense reports, financial reports and reconciliations. For many business owners this part of the job can be stressful and may cause you to want to ditch the confusing spreadsheets and financial reports in search of something better.

What you may be looking for is an easier way, with less headaches, in an easy-to-read, affordable format. That is where small business accounting apps come in to play.  While there are seemingly millions of accounting programs out there (just Google it,) there are some that the experts tend to recommend more than the others. Here are the top accounting apps that made the cut: 

  • FreshBooksOf all the accounting software we looked at this name kept coming up over and over again. FreshBooks wins for its ease of use, excellent customer service, and for offering all the features small businesses need to manage their finances on the go. FreshBooks allows you to quickly create professional-looking invoices and set up credit card payment support. Other features include repeat invoicing, estimation, and one-click snail mail sending.

  • QuickBooks Online is an accounting app with a walloping set of features presented in one of the simplest accounting interfaces ever.  Quick Books handles accounting, billing, and invoicing, all from the same spot. Its colorful, user-friendly interface is home to a powerful set of features. These include estimates invoicing, time tracking, accounts payable, reporting, inventory, contacts, sales, and tax.

  • Wave With more than two million users, Wave is one of the most successful online accounting services – and it’s completely free for accounting, invoicing and receipts, although if you want personal technical support you’ll need to pay for it.
  • Zoho – Zoho Books offers all the basic features microbusinesses need, as well as advanced tools that grow with your business. Furthermore, compared with other accounting software for really small businesses, Zoho Books has the best price for all of its capabilities.

Still confused about the specific accounting software you may need to stay organized and in the black?  Check out Accounting Software Reviews for a complete list of the top accounting apps used by small business owners. They break down the cost, features and can link you to free trials.