How to Change Your Business Methods

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.

Take a moment to think about the first time you got the idea in your head about starting a business and working for yourself. The excitement, the inspiration you had, the motivation to make that dream a reality. Taking the plunge may now seem like a distant memory to you, but the one thing we can all agree on is that you can’t stop taking those chances, pushing the boundaries and trying new things. Otherwise, your business stays stagnant. 

Recycle old methods and try new things
There is no right way to do things, which is why your business will be unique. Communication methods, storage, servers and hardware options. These things could be explored and be streamlined. It might be worth looking online at a budget VPS (virtual private server) and also cloud services. This can help you have one hardware access point and give you access to relevant software systems. Making the use out of it could then see you upgrading your package.

Chatbots and emails are the way forward
Maybe the way customers can get in touch with you needs to change. You only have to consider your own lifestyle and how you do things to see that this could be of huge benefit to you as a business. Sometimes we want information fast. Or it isn’t necessarily convenient to speak to people over the phone. This is when chatbots and email services could transform your business. Answering those frequently asked questions and generally pointing people in the right direction on your website. It could free up time for you to then focus on other areas of the business.

Making your social media engaging
Any business owner knows the value of social media marketing these days. (and if you need help, contect us!) After all, as an example, at least 70 percent of people who have a Facebook account will check there feeds at least twice a day. That is a lot of potential eyes that could be on your business if you have the right campaign in place. But what a lot of businesses do is remain too serious with it, and this can then cause your content to be less engaging. You may want to put some focus back on your content and to try and add an element of fun sometimes. Or even show off your personality in a professional way that makes sense for your business.

Placing a value on your time
Finally, as a business owner, you are every job title, but that can mean that you spread yourself too thin. You may want to work on placing a value on your time. Considering when something may be more worthwhile outsourced than using up your time. Which could then be put to better use? Have you valued your time and input into your business recently? Could you do anything to make that better?

Change is never easy but it can be the difference between growth and status quo.


The Benefits Of Working Part Time

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.

Most people who are looking for a job will automatically assume that they have to be searching for something full time or that most employers will only offer a full time working option, and although like everything, working full time certainly comes with a lot of benefits, such as more money, sometimes a part-time working option could actually be the better choice for you, and should perhaps be something you think about from a long-term strategy point of view.

There are some very real benefits of working part-time, and this option might be better suited to you and your lifestyle.

More Time
Whilst it may be pretty obvious, it’s most definitely a good benefit of working part-time that you should consider. Whether you need more time during the week to take care of other things, or simply don’t want to spend eight hours per day every day in the office, then working part-time will definitely free up a good amount of hours for you during the week.

Better Work/Life Balance
Part-time can be the ideal compromise for those seeking a better work/life balance. This is especially true for parents who want to be there when their kids return from school, but who also don’t want to stay home all day. It can also be good for those caring for relatives or who just simply have other commitments that they need to work around, but that typical working hours don’t really offer the freedom to do.

Can Focus On Other Things
When working a typical 8 to 5 schedule, plus the hour or two needed on each side for a commute to and from the office, then it really doesn’t offer much time for things like appointments that are typically held during business hours. Whether it’s a doctors appointment, or even just extra time to focus on studying for your online MBA in business intelligence, working part-time will definitely offer you the freedom and flexibility in your schedule to focus on doing these things without having to take time off or squeeze in studying in the evenings after a long day at the office.

Can Still Make The Same Or More Money
Many people hold a misconception about working part-time where they think that it means less money, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Depending on what your job is, and what your qualifications are, you may be getting paid for your level of skill and not necessarily for the hours you work, so working part-time could bank you just the same or even more than someone working full time. Another important thing to consider is that, if you’re a working parent, depending on where you live, you may be eligible for extra support in the form of working tax credits and other government incentives. You may also find you pay fewer taxes, so overall you could actually find yourself better off financially each month by working less.

Your Recruitment Process Is Failing Your Business: Here’s Why!

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.

Your business cannot thrive without the very best people positioned in the right roles. Of course, that means you need to create a recruitment process that is as effective as every other part of your business, something that many companies could do better. 

The Devil In The Detail
Job descriptions are vital to the recruitment process, and a poorly written one will certainly not help you achieve your aims in this area. That is why it’s essential to invest some time and effort into getting these right.

What that means is checking through for spelling and grammar mistakes, which at worst will put people off entirely, and at best make your company look less than professional. 

Also, you need to walk the fine line between having enough detail for the potential candidate to understand what is required from them in the role, and so much detail that the description becomes inaccessible. With that in mind clarity and bullet point formatting can help a great deal.

Last of all, when it comes to the detail of the post, do not forget to include a salary range for the role you are advertising. After all, applicants will want to know that they will be rewarded with a wage commensurable to the position they are applying for, and not proving this info makes it much more likely that good candidates will just skip your add and move onto another company’s instead.

 Data Counts
I bet that if someone asked you about your sales data you would be easily able to give them a breakdown of conversions, drops offs, and even the time it takes to make most sales. After all, this day is what will be driving your approach, as well as allowing to check your levels of success.

Sadly, most businesses forget that a similar approach can be applied to the recruitment process as well, to make it not only more responsive but more effective as well. To that end, using software that allows recruitment metrics optimization is a smart move. The reason being that you will be able to see instantly which areas are letting the process down and need to be tweaked to improve it.

Take Control
Tempting as it may be to hand off your recruitment process by outsourcing it to an agency, this may not be the best approach for your business’s long-term success. This is because that while recruitment professionals often work on a commission basis, which means they are much more interested with filling the vacancy with someone from their recruitment pool than actually finding the perfect person for the role.

With that in mind, it’s hugely important to take the time to get involved in the recruitment process yourself. Especially if you are looking to fill a single vacancy rather than fulfilling a massive rolling influx of people like warehouse or call center situation.

In fact, by taking control of your business’s own recruitment process you can include trials, and interviews in the style that will best allow your business to see who is the better match. Something that is crucial if you want your company to succeed over the long term.

Talent Pooling
Also, when it comes to recruitment, many businesses fail because they aren’t making the most of the resources that they already have. What this means is that investing in training and development of current employees who can create a talent pool of which you can draw from when a vacancy becomes available, is a smart idea. Why go through the whole costly and time-consuming process again if you already know where to find good people?

Similarly, when interviewing candidates, keep the contact data of those that are the best, even if you choose someone else above them for the particular post you are currently looking to fill. Then you will have a good pool of talent on which to draw from and invite into the interview for other roles in your business, without having to go through the entire process again. Something that can save time and resources, and still allow you to get an employee that fits your business.

Improve Inductions
Last, of all, don’t forget that inducting new employees into the business is also a crucial aspect of the recruitment process. In fact, if you don’t do this well, you could end up losing those that you have put so much time and effort into because they don’t feel integrated into your business’s culture.

Therefore, if you want a holistically successful recruitment process, spending time inducting and training new employees, as well as the improvement points mentioned above need to be high on your priority list.

Marketing: Perfecting The Basics

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.

The interesting thing about marketing is that you can have the best business idea, product, or service in the world but if you can’t market your offering in a way that’s attractive and resonates with your target audience – success is going to be seriously restricted.

Today, the majority of entrepreneurs have a basic understanding of marketing in terms of the importance of market research, yet, business owner often leave many questions unanswered, such as why is knowing market size important or what makes a marketing campaign effective?

In this article we’re going to look at some of the principles relating to marketing that will help your business the most.  Rather than cover the “marketing basics” in an academic sense to sum up terms such as market share and the mathematical concepts behind ROI, this article is going to offer a level of more practically relevant and actionable advice – providing an overview of some of the most effective ways to market your business and position yourself for success.

The first thing we need to look at is the topic of positioning.  Everything in life is positioned, for instance, the difference between a BMW and a Skoda is that each car is positioned very differently.  It’s not that one car is intrinsically better than the other – it’s that each car is positioned to a specific audience (known as a target market).  

In the case of Skoda, the focus is on providing value for money and the target audience is likely to be families that require a reliable no-frills car that is still comfortable.  Skoda positions itself to meet these needs — from the pricing strategy to the product specification to the advertisements you will see on TV.

BMW, on the other hand, aims at a more affluent target audience that doesn’t view driving as a function of getting from A to B (like Skoda drivers).  BMW is focused on a group of people that want fun and adventure from their driving experience, that crave a feeling of significance and luxury… meaning they view driving as an experience and a statement about their personality — therefore, the advertising, product specification and pricing strategy reflects these values.

Indeed, for some BMW customers, if the car was exactly the same specification but wasn’t priced at a premium, they might not be as interested – because to them, they are buying a status symbol; which would be diminished if everyone could afford one.

The key point is that in your business you are positioning yourself to a particular audience whether you realize it or not.  Your price alone is a huge determining factor of positioning – if you are the “cheapest” then you are positioning yourself as a budget option rather than being “the best.”

In this sense, positioning must be congruent.  After all, if you are positioning yourself as a premium provider but are offering your products or services at a rock bottom price, it isn’t congruent – people will question what’s going on and feel uncertain.  If however, you positioned yourself as a premium option and charged premium prices, your positioning makes sense as it follows suit and is congruent.

This is one of the foundational principles of marketing.  You must position yourself to meet the needs of a particular audience.  If you’re producing a car – you don’t want to target “all car drivers”, you want to be aligned with a particular segment so that this group can resonate with what you offer.

If Apple came out with an iPhone for $50 it would devalue their positioning as an innovative leader in this field.  They have to charge premium prices in order to remain congruent with their positioning – this is why they very rarely offer discounts or sales, which for Apple is a positioning strategy that creates a strong brand identity.

Niche Market
In a similar vein to having a target market is that of focus on the specific needs of one group of people, or a particular challenge your product solves — this way, rather than being a jack of all trades you are positioning yourself as a leading authority in that particular field.

This makes you more relevant to a specific group of people that are facing a particular challenge or are looking for a particular solution.  It’s often said that’s it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond that a small fish in a big overcrowded pond.

The power of having a niche is that you can quickly gain market share and be seen as a leader within your particular category.  For instance, if you were creating a cat food brand, it would be hard to compete against Whiskas or Felix that fulfill the general needs of cats – whereas if you were to go a little more niche in the sense of being a gourmet provider, or even an organic cat food provider your market has suddenly been massively reduced, yet your relevance to cat owners looking for organic cat food has shot through the roof – making you easier to find and connect with your target audience.

Then, with some clever content marketing that discusses the benefits of organic cat food, you can very quickly be perceived as an expert within this field.

The benefit to this is that you will have much more authority and credibility – in a relatively short space of time – due to the relevance of what you offer.  Furthermore, your PPC marketing (such as Facebook Ads) will become much more tailored, meaning you will get a greater return on investment as fewer people will click on your ad but those that do will be much more qualified prospects.

Relevance is what all business owners should strive for in their business. Business relevance is considering what connects humans and a feeling of something or someone being relevant to their needs.  If you look at this from a dating perspective, people are attracted to those that seem relevant to fulfilling their emotional needs — the thing that makes people successful on first dates or at speed dating events is that they are able to position themselves as being relevant to the person they are speaking to; in the sense of meeting their needs.

The same is true with business.  The more relevant you seem to be to solving a particular problem or meeting someone’s needs, the more time that person will feel happy to give you in terms of engaging with your brand and being advertised to.  

The challenge, however, comes in the form of determining a customer’s needs.  This can be easy in a one-to-one situation but is much harder on mass, and that’s where market research comes in.

Market Research
The importance of market research is that you are able to obtain real-world feedback into the needs and challenges of your customers.  The key thing you need to do, at this stage, is LISTEN.

It’s very easy to conduct market research and only hear what you want to hear or dismiss relevant feedback because it’s not aligned with your product or service – yet this is a very precarious situation to be in, as insisting that you know better than your target audience is a recipe for disaster.

You should be creating your product in response to market research, rather than using market research as an opportunity to validate the fact you have come up with a great idea.  Market research is valuable feedback that should be used to shape your offering.

Sharing your message
Once you have determined the needs of your target audience and carved out a unique niche for yourself, with some brilliant positioning – the next step is to start promoting your offering and getting your message out there.

This can be a challenging and costly experience, and often requires an iterative approach, meaning you create something then test it and adapt it according to the feedback received.  This is key to your success. You need to listen and respond to feedback – there’s no point trying to force something at your target audience’s, as it’s just going to cost you a lot of money and be dismissed by the very group of people you are trying to be relevant to.

The key approach here, once again, is to listen and respond to feedback.  This way, you can shape your offering to the needs of your market rather than create something and hope for the best.  This is particularly important if you’re on a budget as you don’t have the ability to just throw money at the problem and see what sticks – you need a tailored and targeted approach that is personalized to your specific target market.

In summary, you need to consider how to position what you offer and ensure subsequent marketing efforts are tailored to the specific needs of your niche target audience.  Then, once you have considered the needs of your audience, you must do as much testing and market research as possible to tailor your message to be relevant to your audience and the only way you can do this is to listen and respond to their feedback by adapting your approach accordingly.

How to Increase Your Sales without Exhausting Yourself

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.

You have never doubted your abilities as a business owner, but recently you have been working longer and longer hours to try to reach your goals. You always knew it would be an exhausting process when you set out as a first-time entrepreneur, but now you are really living it and it’s taking its toll.

You want your business to keep expanding and growing. However, if you are struggling with your workload, you need to figure out some new strategies. Incorporate some of the following ideas into your business to get your time back under your control. 

Ask the Experts
You have been working tirelessly to try and figure out a streamlined strategy that is going to set your business sales soaring. The truth is, you won’t always be able to do everything on your own and sometimes an external source can help you to achieve more. Look into a reputable sales operations team and they will be able to work closely with leadership, support your sales team and deal with hiring new employees. Your sales goals and objectives will be tightly aligned with their missions for you, so take on board all the advice you can get and you will soon see a spike in sales.

Reassess Your Marketing Strategies
If you have been re-versioning the same old marketing campaigns for months and months then it might be time to start switching things up a little bit. The sales operations team will be able to help you with this, but you need to start thinking about what your target audience looks like, cares about and wants. Carry out market research and research their opinions about your current campaigns; they might not be overly thrilled with your current approaches, so now is your perfect opportunity to make a change for the better.

Scope out The Competition
You need to keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing, because they will spur you on to do better and accomplish more. If they are launching innovative products and engaging their audiences with interactive campaigns then you need to start following in their footsteps. Having competitors is an excellent thing for any business, as it allows you to compare and contrast what works and what doesn’t. Use your competitors as motivation to achieve bigger and better things.

Stay Current and Fresh
Make sure that your products and services are always bold, innovative and fresh so that your target audience don’t get bored. You want to keep drawing them in with new launches, so they keep on coming back for more. Regular research will help you to determine the next best step for your company to take.

So keep your customers coming back for more, without having to work sleepless nights to achieve it. With the right help and strategies, you can get more of your time back.