What’s Holding Your Business Back?

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Does it feel like your business is going nowhere fast? If so, the chances are you’re not moving forward with a dedicated plan. There are a few areas that may be slowing down your business. 

Being Stuck in the Past
Businesses that are still stuck in bygone eras never last for very long. You should try to make sure that your business keeps pushing in the right direction if you want to make sure that things improve at a steady pace. Make sure that your use the best technology and target your customers through modern channels. Determine your idal customer and make sure you are reaching them where they are spending time. 

Poor Work Ethic Within Your Team
This might sound like a pretty basic thing, but a strong work ethic can actually go a really long way in the world of business. You should try to make sure that everyone is working hard for your business and pulling in the right direction. If you can do that, you will find that your team achieve more and you don’t get left behind by more united and cohesive rivals. One way to do this is to let each person know the goals for the quarter and year and how to achieve those. Each person should have objctives that will allow them to help reach those goals. 

Bad Company Structures
Companies that are structured in entirely the wrong kind of way will always find it difficult to progress and achieve great things. It’s up to you to make sure that when you structure your business, you keep the future in mind. You want the structure to make the most of the talent as your disposal, while also making sure that everyone is accountable.

Not Understanding What Your Customers Want and Need
When you’re not offering your customers what they want from you, it’s going to hold you back and make your job of selling to them almost impossible. So it’s time for you to start learning more about exactly what it is your customers want from you. Getting this right really will pay off in the long-term. Explorer Research shopper research is a good place to start. It’ll help you learn more about habits and wants of your target customers.

A Lack of Ambition and Urgency
If your business is simply not ambitious enough in what it’s trying to achieve, you will end up holding it back in unnecessary ways. How can you expect it to go further if you’re not really reaching for the stars? That’s something that you should give some thought to. Injecting some urgency into your business can really help you to push on faster, which has to be a good thing.

Just because your business is struggling now, that doesn’t mean that it has to continue to do so. It’s up to you to make sure that you improve things and help your company find success going forward. Once you know where your problems lie, you can start to take action rectifying them so you’re not held back for a second longer.

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Don’t always be selling

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Getting the word out about your business can be difficult. Customer loyalty might seem to be at an all-time low, but the reality is the methods of gaining customer loyalty has changed. Gone are the days of town square gatherings and support for local businesses, but now there are online communities and opportunities to reach an even wider audience. Consider refining your sales strategy and be sure to note the rules.  

Use the Internet
But go deeper than the usual social media post linking back to your blog or company website. Give people the option to get closer to you, which is much more personal for them, whilst also meaning they don’t have to put any extra work in. It’s a great way to generate some customer interest and work on building that into loyalty. Don’t be afraid to start a mailing list, electronically or regular. But don’t abuse it. Be sure to contact customers only when you have something to say, don’t just use your list to remind customers you are there. 

Create the best newsletter email template for your purposes, and offer people discounts, exclusive promotions, and news they won’t hear anywhere else. Everyone loves to get the heads up about a sale, and even the innovation of a new product. An email is also a great way to make sure customers can get their opinion across, and that’s something invaluable for a small business trying to find their way in an oversaturated market.

Make Yourself Some Friends
And no, you don’t have to meet them coffee at noon every Saturday. You simply need to know who’s who in your chosen field, and then open up a line of communication with them. You’re going to need to be genuine, however, and make sure you’re never coming across as a walking and talking sales tactic. Have something you know you would be interested in if you were the other person, and don’t be afraid to tell jokes and steer the conversation away from your product or service. After all, you don’t want to exhaust your script 10 minutes into the night.

Marketing you and your company out when you’re new to the game can be extremely intimidating, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Take it one step at a time and be genuine. Don’t always be selling and work to make real, honest connections with your customers and local business community. 

Tips to perfect your products and services

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

When it comes to business, there are so many different elements to get right. Each of these areas should work independently, as well as in harmony with everything else for your business to function. It’s comparable to a machine in that if one part goes wrong, the entire thing will stop working. There are so many different plates to keep spinning as a business owner, however, there’s one thing that should never be overlooked and that’s whatever it is you’re selling. Your products or services are what people have come to buy, so everything else could be perfect but it won’t do well if this is wrong.

Get Your Product or Services Spot On
To get things right from the get-go, you should spend plenty of time doing market research. Make sure what you’re selling is in demand- and it’s at a price that people want to pay. If you’re manufacturing a product (or using a third party to do this for you) make sure you’re perfecting things like the design and materials until it’s exactly right. Things like PCB design software, for example, can be helpful if you’re dealing with electronics, as it allows you to create accurate models. That way you can see the finished product exactly. This gives you chance to make adjustments and alterations before going into production. You could make mockups first, and get people’s opinions of what you want to sell before churning out the mass product. If you’re offering services, be sure to test everything out before launching so you know it all works. Whatever it is you’re selling, this should be the focus. There are lots of other things to get right in business, but this should never be left as an afterthought- it should be the very best it can be.

Check Your Reviews
Hopefully all of your planning, hard work and preparation work will have paid off and you’ll have created something that people enjoy using. But you will start getting feedback once customers start purchasing. Don’t be afraid to check your reviews. If you’re noticing a running theme with any complaints then this is a cue that something probably needs adjusting. Market research is essential but the real test comes when people use your business. Do customers find that your products are easily broken or bad quality? Do they find that your services are slow? Whatever it is, get problems resolved quickly. Look at your competitors reviews too, and find out what kind of issues they are having. There could be a way for you to avoid these yourself or perhaps offer the customer something that they’re missing. The competition for customers is fierce, so keeping an eye on what similar companies are doing can be helpful.

Consider Delivery
If you’re selling services, the delivery of your product will be the employee who is selling them. This means excellent customer service is a must. You will need staff members who are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable so ensure everyone has the right training. If you’re selling physical products then the packing, handling and shipping is something to bear in mind. The last thing you want is to create an excellent product and it arrive at the customers home either in the wrong style or color, broken or past the quoted delivery date. In some cases, outsourcing your fulfillment can be the best option. Here a third party experienced company will deal with picking, packing and delivering so you can be sure that everything is being handled correctly. Otherwise, make sure you’re hiring good employees to do this for you and the best delivery company you can find. Some delivery companies are notoriously bad, with drivers leaving parcels everywhere from in bins to thrown over gates. Do your research, find one with great reviews. If you sell items that are a higher value, you could consider using a company that provides live tracking information on the day and sms alerts. If your items are smaller or lower value, using the postal service could be the best option. Either way, don’t overlook this because as well as having great products, they need to arrive at the customers homes on time and in one piece!

Whatever you’re selling, the creation and delivery of these products and services needs to be top notch. Otherwise, it defies the whole object of your business.

Essential Startup Expenses You May Have Missed

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

One of the trappings of beginning a start-up is spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. The costs of your new business are going to differ greatly compared with other businesses, so it is important to pay close attention to your business plan and where you have been allocating funds. Your business may be the newbie on the block, but that doesn’t mean that you have to penny pinch with every expense that comes your way.

There are some expenses that are wholly necessary when it comes to your business, and it’s going to depend on the type of business that you are running how you spend your cash. For example, if you have hired a warehouse to manufacture goods, you may need to allocate cash for electricians to regularly check and install variable speed drives for better process control. Most small businesses wouldn’t need to think about this, but yours would. Understanding where the necessary expenses are versus the unnecessary will make a huge difference to your bottom line and save you from wasting your cash. Below, we’ve compiled a list of essential expenses for your business that you may have missed:

  1. Business Plan. Hopefully, this is one of the essentials that you haven’t missed at all. Some entrepreneurs don’t believe in the rigidity of a business plan, but if you want to know where you are going and how to get there, then a business plan isn’t optional for you.
  2. Market Research. A lot of companies skip this step, believing that what they read on social media is enough to get them through any marketing hiccups. You may be setting up that warehouse and ensuring the best production equipment is available, but you shouldn’t be spending a penny on that until you’ve heard what people have to say about your product.
  3. An Accountant. You are running a business but that doesn’t mean that you know everything that there is to know about every area of it. Don’t panic though; that’s the whole idea of bringing on a good accountant who can manage the financial difficulties a new business brings.
  4. Tech Support. Even a small business needs a good IT team backing them up. If you haven’t allocated a portion of your funds to an IT company to manage and care for your business data, then you need to get that sorted as soon as possible. Don’t spend your own time dealing with your website when you could be putting your time to better use elsewhere.
  5. Lunch. If there’s one place that you should be spending some of your business expenses, it’s buying lunch for those who are higher than yourself. Even the savviest entrepreneurs know when to show respect to mentors and those who have given them advice along the way, so a budget for paying for lunch is a way to show that you appreciate those who have helped you get this far.

Expenses for a business can seem endless, but as long as you have yours sorted, you won’t miss.

Make sure customers can reach you

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

If you have a business of any kind, it is imperative that you do whatever you can to make sure you can be easily reached by current and potential customers. This doesn’t mean you have to be available 24/7 but it does mean you need to keep an eye out for potential issues.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to make sure that you are easily reachable, as long as you pay attention to few certain things. Ultimately, it is about knowing how people are most likely to try and contact you and simply ensuring that you have made arrangements for that to be not only possible but easy. Let’s look at a few of these examples in a little more detail.

Email
For most customers these days, email will be one of the first ways they think to contact you. It goes without saying that you need to have an email address, but you should also be doing whatever you can to make that email address easily accessible. One of the best ways to do that s to simply display it on your website, ideally on every page and on your social media profiles. It’s also worth ensuring that there is someone manning the email as much of the day as possible so that your customers can get a swift response to their query. As long as your email is open and actively being handled, your customers will be able to contact you the majority of the time.

Fax
You might not think that fax is all that common anymore, but a lot of customers do still like to use a fax machine, and for certain things, it can be especially handy, such as when they need to present you with a copy of a document as fast as possible and they don’t have access to a scanner. However, if you have not yet installed a fax machine in your office, you might find that a much better way to send and receive faxes is to use a faxing online service, as this will inevitably lead to more people being able to communicate with you – but you won’t have to worry about having the proper equipment in the office.

Phone
For a lot of people, communicating by phone is still the easiest and most direct, and you will absolutely need to make sure you have staffed phone lines during office hours. It is also hugely important that you train your staff to answer the phone in a professional and engaging way, and that you are able to ensure that calls are answered within a strict timeline. If you can achieve this, your customers will be appreciative, especially if they do not have to sit in a queue very long.