Facebook ads

Are Facebook ads even worth it?

Ah, Facebook ads. Those things that show up along the sidebar while you're falling deep down a rabbit hole of loose acquaintances' photos at 1 AM because you can't sleep. If you are a small business owner, you have probably wondered whether you should do some of those. There is also a chance you decided it wasn't worth it. If that's you, you should seriously reconsider because Facebook advertising works. Really well.


One of the main reasons that Facebook ads work is that they have massive reach. Facebook has about 1.5 billion active users. Yes, billion. With a "b." Considering that there are about 7 billion people on the planet, that's pretty impressive. So, with a Facebook ad, you know that at least one person is going to see your ad. It's more likely to be a lot more than just one person, though. That also means that you are pretty much guaranteed to find your target demographic on there. Facebook has groups for everyone: knitting enthusiasts, Dungeons and Dragons players, deep-sea fishers, Botox fanatics. Whatever floats your boat, you can probably find something about it on Facebook. Which means whatever floats your business is on there too.


Another reason is that Facebook has some pretty good algorithms. It's an ongoing debate about whether or not Facebook knows too much about its users. Does it know too much? Probably, but here's your chance to use our digital overlords' all-seeing eyes to your advantage. After all, having a wide audience is excellent, but having a specific audience that is more likely to buy your service/product is even better. When posting your ad, you can get really specific about who you want to see your ad. For example, when making an ad for protein powder, you can target it to males, ages 20-30 who "like" lifting and Vasa Gym. Of course, if you know that your product attracts a not-so-stereotypical demographic, you can specify whatever applies.


The fact that the ads are visual helps a lot too. Who doesn't like things that look pretty? Visual appeal and beautiful aesthetics are going to stick pretty hard with people when they see them. Even if they see them while scrolling through photos of their friend's unfortunately ugly baby (or in that case, would the comparison make it stand out?). Pretty ads, fun ads, ads that make people think are all going to catch the eye and stick with them. This is true of all visual media platforms, but now people are going to see it while wishing their sister's boyfriend's co-worker a happy birthday.


If the information above hasn't convinced you, this might; Facebook ads are cheap, dirt cheap. Like, $0.24 per click cheap. Which, yes, does add of if you are getting a lot of clicks. But in theory, if you are getting a lot of clicks, you are getting a lot of business. So, that's not too bad. The prices do vary depending on what you are advertising and what format of ad you are using. But the averages never get higher than $3.77, which is much cheaper than a TV ad (and will probably work better in these days of streaming services).


There is one crucial thing we need to address is the annoyance factor. We have all been annoyed by Facebook ads at one point or another. When ads annoy you, do you click on them? Probably not. If you're like me, you probably store that brand away in a file in your head marked "Don't give these guys money" and spend the rest of your life actively avoiding them. If the ads bug you enough, you may even mark them as spam, or say they aren't relevant to you or do whatever it is that you need to do to make the ads go away.


You are going to want to keep from making people block your ads or avoid your company like the plague. The best way to go about that: make a list. I know, a content writer advising you to write something, what else is new? But I mean it. Try making a list of the ads that annoyed you and why they annoyed you. They were poorly made; they had nothing to do with you; they made wild claims that are impossible. Now, do the opposite. Having that all laid out in front of you can be so helpful when you start making your ads.


Another thing to pay attention to when making your Facebook ad is to what you like about ads that you, well, like. What is it about them that you find appealing? Is it the images they use? Is it the content on the ad? What about them makes you want to click on their ad to buy or learn more about them? If you can pinpoint what that "it factor" is for you, you can then translate it into your ad. But remember your demographic. What may work on a woman in her 30s may not work on a man in his 60s. You may have to do some adjusting to fit your company's overall vibe.


The short answer to our big question is, yes. They are not expensive; they reach a lot of people, especially your target demographic, and, if you do it right, people won't find your ads too annoying. They could help bring in a lot of new business and remind old business that you're still there for them. If you have decided against Facebook ads in the past, it may be time to look into them again.


If you're worried about your ads not looking or doing great, check out this article from Forbes that talks about the dos and don'ts of Facebook ads. If you would rather not have to worry about making the ad at all, shoot us a message here at Avant8. We're pretty good at this stuff.

How to write content

Content Writing for N00bs

The day has come and you can’t avoid it any longer. Extroversion and networking have gotten you as far as they can and now you venture where small businesses adventurers before you have only dreamed: to write content for your business. Think of us as your helpful Content Dungeon Masters as you take this journey with words. Here are our top tips for writing copy that can promote your business online, in print, by carrier pigeon, whatever.


First, we’re going to create a plan for our piece of content. And our first three steps are going to revolve around that. We’re going to set goals for the content, review our assets, and strategize what kind of content is going to be most beneficial. A product catalog that informs retailers and takes advantage of a fun brand voice to create a memorable customer interaction might look very different than a product catalog of service offerings designed to get a salesperson in the door with a client on a cold call. The backbone of the content game isn’t just writing the first thing that comes to mind, but being strategic in how to invest your time building a piece of content that will serve the business’ other goals. That starts with deciding on the right format or source for your content. 



  • Choose the right format for your content


A .pdf on the home page might be your immediate choice for providing your restaurant customers with the menu, but maybe there’s an integration with Google my Business that will allow your users to access it on a more intuitive platform. 


If your customers are mostly on Instagram (we’ll talk more about knowing your audience shortly) then making a blog post isn’t going to be nearly as effective to get their attention as say a video with a voiceover.


Picking the right source and format for your content right out of the gate can save you a lot of time and heartache. Don’t believe me? Try needing to cut painstakingly-written copy that no longer works within the parameters of the project. That’s heartache. Being clear about your goals for the piece from the beginning will help you keep the time investment cost effective.



  • Ask what people want 


Now that you know what you’re delivering and how, this is where we add the secret sauce. You have an advantage that even the most thorough marketing company can’t bottle (except at Avant8. We found the recipe in a dungeon on an old vellum parchment some years ago.) That advantage is your industry knowledge. 


Anyone who knows a trade is equipped with the raw material to produce content. Shape that content according to the holes in the market. What helpful info for your industry can’t be found online? Is it a tutorial that doesn’t exist or a reference table? What are you well-equipped to explain? Nobody gets views for free and if your content is going to compete with big dogs and their big bucks content writers, you have to give something away for free in your content in order to get views.



  • Read similar content 


To know what’s worth writing about, check out your competition. This stage can get out of control quickly. It’s a good idea to set a timer, pick some keywords related to your topic and just start Googling. Keep an especially close eye out for content produced by your competition and any inspiration brands you follow. 


If you do this kind of work quickly and with some kind of regularity, it will come in handy over and over again. If you’re starting from zero and itching to get writing, it may take a little longer, but it will be worth the step! Writing ideas don’t get worse the longer they sit, but a single glance idea during some research can pay dividends. 



  • Know your audience


As an entrepreneur, you probably have heard the mantra “know your customer” a lot. Well, get ready to hear it again. It is just as important in content writing as it is in setting up your brand. It’s just focused on readers instead of customers.


Knowing who you are writing to will make all the difference in how you approach it. If most of your customers are parents, write copy about how your product or service will make their hectic lives easier. If your customers are youths, maybe try some copy that suggests that what you have to offer is the coolest, most ironic hipster trend out there (but be wary of going too meme-y here, kids don’t love that).


Catering your content to your customers is more likely to get the attention of that crowd. I know this likely seems obvious, but it is a good thing to remember. Plus, we’re about to talk about why explaining something that might seem obvious is a good idea.



  • You know it all


One assumption you have to make when writing content is that your audience knows pretty much nothing about what you’re writing about. Some of them may know as much as you, but there are still plenty of others who have come to you to learn. 


You never know what blog or post will be someone’s introduction to your world, to your company. This means that you may have to explain some of the basics often. Since this is your business that shouldn’t be too hard. Who knows more about what you do than you? In doing this, you will have established yourself as a fount of knowledge, hopefully encouraging people to come back to learn more.


However, be careful when approaching this. Tone (which we will talk about in more detail next) can sometimes be a tricky thing. While you definitely know a lot about your field, no one likes being talked down to. When going over the basics be friendly, helpful, but not condescending.


To avoid this, you could read your copy aloud. See how it sounds to you. Have someone else read it. If they say it makes them feel dumb, you may want to do some rewording. One trick is to imagine a customer you’ve never met before and imagine you’re delivering the information to them.



  • Ask for help


You’re probably thinking, “Ask for help? Why should I do that, when I’m trying to write the content myself?” This may initially seem counterproductive, but you would be amazed at what a difference an outside eye can make. Afterall, by this step, you should have most, if not all, of your content written. Now it’s time to have someone else look at it.


Have another person look over your content and edit it before you do. There are a lot of mistakes that are easy to overlook when you’re the one writing. Someone else will probably be able to catch those errors. They can also catch messy sentences and help you reword them. They may even be able to help you find the tone you’re looking for.


If you are struggling with a particular section of your blog or what have you, there is probably someone in your life who can help you out with that. Even just one suggestion from someone else can be enough to get you moving again when you hit writer’s block.


When it comes down to it, no one writes alone. Any writer worth their spit should be willing to let someone else look at their writing and give them notes. Do you think that Hemmingway did all of that amazing writing on his own? Well, I don’t actually know if he did, but I am willing to bet he didn’t.



  • Keep it Evergreen


Now that you’re putting all this effort into the content, make sure that it’s going to be useful to you for as LONG as possible. Try to keep the content devoid of timelines or information that might become invalid before the piece too quickly. Save yourself plenty of copies in multiple formats and save them in places you will have easy access.





Another tip that might seem like a no-brainer to you, but it is always a good reminder. Your content is what people will judge you on. If you’re reading a product description and it is riddled with typos, how likely are you to trust that company? Probably not very much. So, editing is always a good idea.


If you have followed the steps we’ve been laying out you have probably already had someone look over your copy. You might be thinking that you’re done with editing. Nope. Look it over yourself again. There is a good chance that something has been overlooked.


If your eyes are tired and you don’t want to read it again, try running it through a program like Grammarly. These programs aren’t always perfect (especially the free versions), but they are helpful sieve for catching all of the things that may have been missed.


This doesn’t mean you need to edit your content to death. In fact, overediting can take away the natural voice of your writing, making it lose its charm. We (the members of the Avant8 content team) tend to do about two to three rounds of editing. That tends to catch any mistakes and clear up any confusing language, without overediting. It’s the sweet spot.



  • Share it


This is the most important part of the content writing process; sharing what you’ve written. This doesn’t just mean publish it on your site. It also means post it on your social media!


Any time you publish a new blog, make a post on twitter, instagram, facebook, and whatever other social media you use. This post should consist of a brief description of what the blog is about, a link to the blog, and a picture. You want these posts to be enticing. You want those clicks, so tell people why they should read your blog, but without giving away the meat of what you’ve written.


It is also a good idea to tag the post with relevant hashtags. This way it reaches, not just your followers, but also people who are just scrolling through social media. It is a great way to expand your audience and, hopefully, customer base.


Content writing takes some time and practice. It is one of those skills that you never truly master, because there is always something to learn about it. This process that we’ve laid out for you is just the starting point to becoming a content master. Your first few blog posts/articles may not be exactly how you want them, but that is why you keep doing it. It can only get better from there.

Tackling COVID-19 as a Small Business

During these crazy times, it’s understandable to have anxiety around keeping your small business up and running. We here at Avant8, want to help diminish that anxiety so that during this time you feel prepared for anything and can continue running your successful business.

Working From Home (WFH)

  • While working from home is not an option for everyone, there are still many companies that can. This can be a difficult adjustment for those who have never worked from home and are used to a certain routine. Keep in mind that this is an adjustment for all of your team. If you work for a small business that has been given the task to work remotely, here are a few tips to help you through this uncertain time.
  • The Technology Front - So, you are able to work from home? It’s likely that you have a technology-based position. You are definitely one of the lucky ones. In order to work properly and efficiently, tech needs to be at the forefront.
    • Make sure you have all the physical technology in order. If you have a work laptop, make sure you’ve brought it home! This also includes bringing a keyboard, mouse, or any other accessories that will make your job easier from home.
    • Software is another important one. Depending on what your job is, software could be make or break. Make sure you have access to what you need to be successful.
    • Internet access! Generally, our day-to-day lives depend on some type of internet access. During this time of uncertainty, most internet providers are committed to keep you up and running.
  • Home place turned workplace - The place you once called a sanctuary is now a place you have to call a workplace. There will likely be distractions of all types and the adjustment period may never end. Do you have kids? A spouse? These things are generally not at your place of work. How do you metaphorically separate your home from work?
    • A workspace is of the highest importance. Find a room, corner, or area that you can turn into your home office. Finding a space of your own will assist you in being a successful employee from home.
    • What about those kids you love so much? It’s likely they have begun a “summer” mind set. With school closures, their online classes are different, and their time is spent differently. Everything is just different. If you have young kids, entertainment and educational activities could be of assistance.
    • Do you have a quarantine partner? Lucky you! Or maybe unlucky. It’s likely that you will both get on each other’s nerves once … or twice. A schedule could assist with this. Keeping a somewhat normal schedule during your work week may assist you and your quarantine partner. Stay in different rooms when you would be at work, eat lunch separately, and “come home” at the same time you would during a normal workday.
  • You, you, you - You are not going to work the same at home as you do in the field. The world is uncertain and working from home can cause some discomfort. It’s okay. Communication with your managers and co-workers is key to getting a small business through a time like this.
    • Manage your expectations for yourself and what you are really able to do while working from home. Speak with your managers to see what is absolutely necessary and what may be able to sit on the backburner.
    • We all have weaknesses. Know yours! For example, some people can work through anything. In college, this writer would watch movies while writing lengthy reports on feminist theory. But there are people that need peace and quiet while working. If you have a weakness, do your best to keep it at a distance to assist the business you work for.
    • Stay connected! This is important during social distancing. Keeping connected with co-workers and managers through webcam conferencing may be helpful. Here at Avant8, we use Slack and Uberconference to keep connected for work-related purposes as well as nonwork-related purposes.

Supporting Local Businesses

You may be thinking, “that’s great and all, but what about those who can’t work from home?” There are millions of people that have lost their jobs because they are not able to work from home. The number of people that have applied for unemployment rises every day in the U.S.
Through this tragic time, there are ways to help those around you keep their small businesses alive.

Supporting local businesses is a huge way to assist these people. Most local businesses have been forced to close to assist in stopping the spread of the COVID-19. But, not all of these businesses are closed-closed. Local and global eateries are still open for business, but, in a different way. No-contact deliver is available at some places as well as drive-thru options. This is a great way to continue supporting small businesses through this tough time as well as providing a consistency with your regular life. Go pick up dinner for a date night or have a pizza party with your family!

There are also local retail stores that are hurting as well. There may be some that have opted to be an online retailer for the time being. Purchasing something online could contribute to their business. Calling and purchasing a gift card may also assist your favorite clothing, beauty, or any other type of shop in getting through this tough time. Donating to any other type of small business is sure to help them keep up their hard work to keep employees and their business intact. Support local businesses and they may support your small business as well. We need to stick together!

But wait, there is more

Here are some more points to consider for your small business during the pandemic.

  • Plan for the long term. There is no way of knowing the length of our current situation. Planning for it may assist in stress management.
  • Communicate with your customers. This is key to keeping your small business alive. Be transparent with your customers on what you are able to do and what you are not. This also applies to your employees.
  • Upskill your staff. Keeping your staff motivated and engaged may be difficult during this time. Perhaps teaching a webcam class on a new skill could assist in engaging staff and motivate them.
  • Feedback is important during this time as well. The type of feedback you provide is important. It’s likely that most of your staff has never worked from home and needs a different type of feedback than in the office. Ask your staff for feedback on the type of feedback that would be most helpful to them.

Government Resources

There are other resources that have been put into place to assist small businesses, specifically. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has put together a list of resources that could potentially help you and your small business. This list includes directions and information on Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance, SBA Debt Relief, SBA Express Bridge Loans, Guidance for Businesses and Employers, SBA Products and Resources, Government Contracting and local assistance. There are acts in place to help small businesses and there are people out there that want to help. Don’t give up on your business!

Now what?

This is an uncertain time for everyone and everyone’s small businesses. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help your small business succeed, or at least keep your head above water during this time. The most important thing is to stick together and help each other as much as we can.

How to Overcome Data Dump and Conquer Analytics

It’s easy to fall prey to accumulating tons of data. But how many businesses actually know how to utilize this monster of data they’ve collected? When data needs to be presented, why go through slide after slide of super-small text just to fit all the analytics in? Will any of the information stick in the client’s mind with that much content to sift through? Without having a specific purpose or end-goal in mind, you may as well not talk about data at all. Don’t waste company time on info that is only interesting. Instead, center on what will make a difference.

It’s time to make these analytics presentations not only easier for you, but for all involved. Get out of the data dumping habit, and learn how to share your analytics the right way.

It’s time to hone in on only the data that is "need to know". Data that will help improve your business rather than just be intriguing to look at.

You Need More Than Metrics...You Need KPIs

There can be plenty of interesting metrics in your collective social data. Metrics range from page views (and who doesn’t want to see how many times people clicked your blog right?), impressions, followers, and time on page. These are all interesting factors to look over, but how do these numbers connect with business success? Here enters the importance of KPIs. These metrics are specific to your core business outcomes.

KPIs that could be imperative for your company include monthly active users, loyalty members, and conversion rates. These adhere more specifically to how your company may want to improve. If these numbers are low, you know where you need to improve. If they’re high, you can see what you’re doing right.

Now don’t go overboard and consider too many analytics as a KPI. That misses the point. Pick maybe a few per department. Get as specific as possible. Narrow it down. Don’t dump tons of info into a small funnel.

Shoot Towards a Target

It takes a lot of hard work to forecast what targets your company should aim for. With this in mind, remember to target KPIs that are worthy of this hard work. The analytics you’ll uncover will be well-worth the time.

What does your company consider as an indicator of success? Before you comb through data, make a specific numerical target. Without these, there won’t be a way to chart whether performance is good or bad.

With time, your company will be much faster in finding helpful information, forecasting company plans, and directing money solely towards analytics that make a real difference.

Now get out there and conquer your mountain of data! Impress those clients and prove that your company knows how to make a campaign successful. After all, you’ll have that right data and analytics to prove it.

7 KPIs Your Company NEEDS To Be Tracking

Are you aware of what makes your marketing campaigns successful or unsuccessful? Do you have the power of KPI in your marketing toolbelt? This knowledge is imperative and crucial to running a business. You need to know what is and what isn’t working in your marketing efforts. This data is known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and they are essential to reaching your goals. Living in the social media age makes it so easy to measure analytics to chart your successes and failures. If you don’t already track KPIs, then it’s time to get started.

Measuring your company’s KPIs will not only allow you to understand your company better but to help you improve your success.

“If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it” -Chuck McMahon

Here are 7 KPIs your company needs to track:

  • Website Traffic to Website Lead

The people that visit your website are prospects to become paying customers. Understanding your website traffic allows you to discover what type of people are drawn to your site and how many of them return to it to make a purchase. Improving these conversion rates is a common goal for businesses. Tracking the ratio between website traffic and conversion rates (that then become leads) helps you understand who’s interested in your company and how you can hook them to your brand.

Website Traffic Analytics can include:

-Number of Sessions

-Number of Users

-Number of Page Views

-Average Session Duration

-Bounce Rate

The funnel from website traffic to customers is listed below.

Visitors - Leads - MQLs (Marketing Qualified Lead= more engaged) - SQLs (Sales Qualified Lead= worthy of a sales call follow-up) - Quotes - Customers

  • Blog Post Visits

Do your customers like the blog content you create? Researching which of your articles received a higher click-through rate and even what time of day they usually visit your blog is extremely helpful. Curating your content towards what your visitors want will drive more people to your site and invite them to return more often.

Blog posts are a huge traffic driver, which is why almost every online business has a blog page on their site. Don’t forget to remind your audience when your newest blog is live, either through an email newsletter or social media. If you don’t post about it, most people won’t know it’s there.

Keep up with writing your blog. Many companies fail to maintain consistent blog writing and lose traffic because of it.

  • Sales Growth and Leads

Be sure to chart your sales revenue. It will take time to compile, but the results will be well worth it. Recognizing what marketing tactics caused dips or rising in the amount of money made will help you understand what worked and what didn’t.

No company wants to pay for something that isn’t earning them money. Charting revenue allows a company to recognize where they should and shouldn’t put their funds.

  • Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)

Cost of customer acquisition is when a company has convinced a prospective customer to officially make a purchase. To calculate the cost of obtaining customers through marketing tactics, divide the total marketing investment (the amount of money you spent on sales) by the number of customers acquired. The numbers don’t lie. They’ll tell you how your marketing campaign really went.

  • Customer Lifetime Value

To maintain customer value and extend their connection with your company, reach out to your current customers. Keeping up communication with these customers will increase their satisfaction, help you discover new leads, and retain your customers even longer. After all, the biggest goal for a business should be converting average buyers into lifetime customers.

To calculate the lifetime value of a customer, multiply the average sale per customer by the average number of times a customer buys per year and by the average retention time in months or years for a general customer.

  • Landing Page Conversion Rates

No matter how attractive your landing page, if it isn’t increasing conversion rates, it isn’t working. Make sure that the content and design you’ve crafted for your landing page is driving more than simply traffic, but customer purchases as well. Be sure to monitor your landing page’s conversion rate as often as possible. If a campaign doesn’t seem to be doing as well, update the page with either more persuasive copy, clearer, and more navigable design, or with positive customer testimonials.

  • Social Media Traffic:

Tracking the metrics from your social media can prove just how much (or how little) traffic it’s bringing your business. Social media is a free tool that all companies should utilize and maintain. No matter the social media accounts you use, don’t forget to chart the leads, customers, and percentage of traffic to see how it’s improving your sales.

Mobile is now one of the most popular ways that people visit sites on the internet. Be sure that if a customer clicks to a landing page from your social media, that your website is optimized for mobile and still easy to navigate.

Want to learn more about COCA and Social Media? Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog! We’ll get into the nitty-gritty on how to utilize these.

Market With YOUR Origin Story

How do you make your company stand out? Is there a secret formula for finding success and triumphing over the competition? Truth is, there really is a way to market yourself without using up all your dough and resources (so you don't need to seek out a magic genie to grant your wish for a profitable brand). The process is so simple and sadly, not enough small businesses take advantage of it. The secret is this: Tell your company's story.

No one has the same unique story as you. Utilize that! Think like a skilled movie producer. What attracts us to a film is not how many (or how few) awards it's gotten, but it's the plot that draws us in.

A great example comes from superheroes. Every superhero has an origin story. Would you be as drawn to Spiderman if you had never heard how he got his powers? Would he seem very relatable if we never learned about Gwen Stacy or Uncle Ben? No. You wouldn't feel as interested in what happens because he seems too distant from your own life. It's important to bridge that gap between the brand and their audience.

Now let's transfer that to your business.

Let's say you own a dog food company called "KibbleBits". You're starting a marketing campaign and planning on using TV ads, along with social media, to increase customer awareness.

Which of these ads stands out more to you? "Buy my dog food, KibbleBits! It has real, fresh ingredients for your beloved pet." OR  "I've grown up with pets my whole life, and when I saw that my collie, Scooter, was hardly eating his food. I decided to make a change in his diet. Then my company KibbleBits was born."

Which ad do you think a customer would connect with more? The second one! It shows a person behind the product and a reason for what they do. It creates a human connection between businessman and customer.

Use your social media to connect with your customers. If you do own a dog food company, share videos of cute dogs running around, discuss trending topics like the Olympics (maybe add that dog-sledding should be included this year), and of course share pictures of your dog and how you came up with the idea for your business.

Whatever your business is, it has a story. Tell people how your company came to be. Your brand's story is unique to you and no one else can claim it as their own. Show your customers what you're all about and why they should listen to what you have to say. Give them a story to latch onto.

Extra, Extra...Social, Tech, Creative, Insight, Success FYI!.... Click for links that stick.

We at Avant8 value your time. In this light we’ve scoured the net for 3 of the best Articles & Lists & Links you may have missed this week. Staying updated & in the know is essential to success. Don’t be left behind.

We do the searching while you do the enjoying. Get caught up with us!

A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Insights


10 Laws of Social Media Marketing


3 Critical Metrics in Measuring Community Engagement


Your Business Strategy: Firm Focus Or Piece Of Paper?


How is your business strategy being implemented?

Do your employees understand your firm’s current goals? Is it viewed and updated often or is it tucked away at the bottom of your desk drawer? A business strategy is at the root of what your business is and where it is going, without it you may just end up going through the motions and wake up one day to find you are far behind where you want to be. Here are some key points about building a business strategy that will help ensure growth:

  • "Vision without action is a daydream. Action with without vision is a nightmare.”- Japanese Proverb

Anyone who has managed people on any level can relate to that quote. The most important part of a strategy is actually having one. This goes beyond just having a list of goals. What are you doing to accomplish your goals? Are there specific plans of attack next to them? Is there a timeline? It’s not enough to have goals, you need specific plans to accomplish them. More over your strategy needs to be treated like it is important or else it won’t be. This means having it properly formatted and well put together, viewing it often, and keeping it in a safe place.

  • “The result of bad communication is a disconnection between strategy and execution.” - Chuck Martin, former Vice President IBM

Your business strategy won’t mean a thing if you are the only one who knows about. Almost every employee should have an idea of where the business is going and how it intends to get there. Now this doesn’t mean you should share all your trade secrets, but it does mean creating internal messaging. Maintaining a consistent internal message within your organization keeps your whole team moving in the same direction: it provides purpose, focus and coordination. Without these employees won’t feel like they are “a part” of something and will go off in different directions. Cohesiveness goes a long way towards growing your business.

  • “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”- Winston Churchill

When performance is measured performance improves. No matter how clever your strategy is for your current environment it can become useless if you are not paying attention. Even very well established corporations can suffer under the growing pains of changes in the market place (the internet is a great example of this). Update and refine your strategy, adjust your messaging, and you will be successful and stay successful.

By following this advice you can take your business strategy, make it a shared vision amongst your employees, keep track of it and make your goals become a reality. A business strategy, properly utilized, is the focus your employees will draw from and the plan you will use to keep driving forward.

Hiring As A Start-Up: 5 Options You Need To Know

          The biggest running expense for almost every business is the payroll, and when you are a start-up adding full time staff  can be outright impossible. You need the help, but how are going to stay on a path towards success? Here are 5 alternatives to hiring you need to know:

  • Retrain Current Employees- A very simple way to save money is to retrain employees you already have. Many workers enjoy picking up new skills or becoming more efficient at there job and will jump at the opportunity. Whether teaching or paying for courses, retraining will pay off in the long run.
  • Outsourcing- Outsourcing is a viable option for even the smallest of businesses. Many services are available from foreign sources for a tenth of the cost, with no payroll taxes or workers comp! It can easy to find bad sources though, so be sure to look close at who you are hiring.
  • Do It Yourself- One of the simplest solutions to do it yourself. There are a surprising amount of seemingly difficult skills that can be picked up with a bit of work. This is the cheapest option, by how efficient it is depends on you.
  • Overtime And Worker Incentive- Business waxes and wanes, there are busy season and slow season, and sometimes a big order comes in that you aren't prepared for. Overtime may seem expensive on paper, but if it saves you from hiring a whole new employee it is more than worth it. This same truth applies to work incentives.
  • Contracting And Temp Employees- Several services do not need to be in-house. Janitorial work, delivery, security, payroll accounting, and website design are all examples of work that can be done by hiring a service or agency. Services from agencies are vetted easily and are comparably inexpensive.
  • Change Who You Are Hiring- Some start-ups may not be right for experienced older hires. If your start-up is new to the field or doing a lot of research, then hiring a fresh graduate can be a great solution for saving money. Graduates are used to doing a lot of research and have a fresh eye for the industry, valuable assets if you start-up is changing the game in its space, and are cheaper than older, more experienced hires. Another option is find current college students who are need of internships, your intern (and you) will be happy they are being paid in experience and knowledge.

       Entrepreneurs (especially start ups) need to be careful where their money is going. By slimming down the number of employees you have, you can increase the size of profit by an incredible amount. There are businesses out there worth $500,000 with only two full time employees, how many will you have when you get there?

Great Bootstrapping Advice For Start Ups... As featured in Forbes.com


Recently our CEO Ross McGarvey was featured in Forbes.com, sharing some advice on how to boot strap as a start up if you have a bad credit score or in Ross' case, no credit score at all! Please note that Ross moved to the US in 2009 from Scotland and thus didn't have a credit history in America. Despite this, he knew he wanted to run a successful business, but had to kind of think out of the box to achieve his goals without traditional business funding options.  Here are some of the points he shared to achieve success without cash to hand or the chance to borrow some...

  • Never be afraid to learn something new: Realize that success will likely require you to do things you’ve never done before. In fact, you’ll probably have to spend a significant amount of time doing the things a bigger company would probably hire someone else to do. Don’t be afraid of learning new skills. Having been through this myself, in one business, I had to learn to be a digital retouch artist to fill the gaps in my business. Since I couldn’t afford to pay my retouch artists overtime, I often stayed until the wee hours of the morning to help keep our workload under control and meet our deadlines.
  • Don’t get caught up in the idea that you must have money to succeed: Of course, capital makes things easier, but McGarvey suggests you can bootstrap, you can reach out to friends, you may even need to sacrifice, but if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, you can figure it out. He also suggests networking, but you’ll have to work the room. He argues you can find people willing to help you at networking events, you just need to do more than stand around hoping someone approaches you—you need to do the “approaching.”
  • Overcome the obstacle of “I don’t know how to do it”: You’ll likely need to learn and do some things that aren’t in your wheelhouse right now. Jump in and learn what you don’t know now and don’t be afraid.
  • Define what you need (the skills or expertise) and start searching for the right person: McGarvey says the startup community is such a thriving group, you’ll be able to find the right partner if you look. If you can’t offer a big salary and benefits package, you’ll likely have to give up some equity, but it can be worth it. The right partner might have the skill set you need to take your idea to the next, and more profitable, level.

Read the full article here at http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2013/11/13/credit-score-what-credit-score/