Category Archives: Business Boosters

How to Turn Your Desk Setup into a Work Sanctuary [Infographic]

Header for desk sanctuary infographic

Each person is acclimated to their own desk style, but are all desk styles conducive to feelings of calm and relaxation? According to a recent article published by Entrepreneur.com, an average office employee spends more than an hour a day “looking for things.” A cluttered space can result in haphazard workflows, misplaced documents, and a lack of ability to focus because everything is fighting for your attention at once. Lack of organization usually means lack of efficiency, which can result in an increase of stress. Simply put, more mess leads to more stress.

But all is not lost. There are ways to bring more Zen into your work day. It’s all about how you keep things organized for your office desk setup.

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“Sanctuary” may be the last word you think of when it comes to your desk space, but it may not be as far-reaching as you might think. For starters, the placement of your desk can align with the benefits of feng shui to introduce a good energy flow around where you work. Who wouldn’t want to create an environment more prone to prosperity and creativity?

For balance and clarity, place your monitor near the back of your desk and keep things tidy near the center. Additionally, keeping a journal or sketchbook situated in the front right section of your desk helps generate more creative vibes.

Continue to build your desk sanctuary in other ways by making it more personal with photos. Add your family, pet, or a travel scene to your desktop. Bring in a plant or include some splashes of color or new lighting to brighten up the space. By incorporating some simple touches to the area typically known for housing only a computer, pens, and notepad can make it feel more Zen.

Want to learn more about turning your workspace into a desk sanctuary? Get inspired and get ready to update your desk with the tips from our infographic below.

Benefits of handwriting vs typing

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Rise with Fall: How to Embrace the Changing Business Environment

Every industry has its ebbs and flows in business, typically gauged by quarterly reports and monthly revenue goals. Embracing the inevitable changing business environment equips you with the right tools and mindset to tackle any hurdles that may arise, thus setting you up for success.
Board Meeting to Discuss Business Environment

In order to keep the pace with the ever-changing business climate, your company must know how to be agile enough to ride the ups and downs. Let’s review three ways to embrace the change of seasons and highlight how you can end the year strong – even with both predictable and unpredictable industry change.

  1. Adopt and Embrace an Offline and Online Marketing Strategy

    Users want to see a tightly aligned message with a company’s online and offline marketing strategy. According to the Data & Marketing Association, direct mail customer response rates increased by 43% year-over-year, according to 2016 statistics. If your current offline strategy involves the use of direct mailers, include customized products your clients can use year-round. These may include personalized calendars, pens emblazoned with your logo, or business card magnets they can hang up in their own office or at home. However, while direct mail still is successful for most industries, don’t forget about the industry change of an ever-increasing mobile audience who may prefer to receive their messaging electronically.

    According to a 2016 report analyzing over 1 billion emails, there was an open rate of 24.88% when averaged across all devices and sectors. This scrapes by the average email marketing open rate of 22%. People consistently rely on email to receive information. If you’re not utilizing both offline and online strategies to align with each other, you may be, quite literally, sending your customers mixed messages.

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Don’t abandon tried-and-true offline methods. Just make sure they match what you’re presenting online as well, and test which performs better per campaign.
    Market Research for Industry Change

  2. Put on the Blinders and Live Out Your Own Mission (Don’t Follow Competitors)

    It’s still recommended to do market research and keep on an eye on your competitors to help gauge your place in the industry. But, you may also want to pay close attention to what sets your company apart from others. Brand identity is crucial for a small business, because marketing budgets most likely can’t compete against the bigger brands. Live out your own mission by engaging your entire team to be an advocate for your brand.

    Do this by becoming a “walking, talking billboard” at the places that matter most, such as trade shows, local events, conferences, and other opportunities where it makes sense (and is expected) to promote your brand. If your budget allows for it, sponsor a well-attended event and set up a booth to sell your products or services.

    Once you have finalized your calendar of events, equip your staff with promotional merchandise to give away. Items should include your company’s name, contact information (phone, email, and/or social media), and a tagline, if applicable. Customize note pads, water bottles, drawstring backpacks, and other swag-worthy items to pass out at your next event. It will give people a reason to stop by and learn more about your company, buy your products, or schedule an appointment for your service.

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Stop focusing so much on the competition. When it comes to promoting your company, sometimes you have to ignore the industry chatter to hone in on your specific goals and audiences.
    Small Business Team Meeting to Define Goals

  3. Think Big and Stay Small

    The term “small business” is defined by the number of employees and amount of revenue generated. These numbers range by industry as outlined by the Small Business Administration. Whether you are a small business of 25 employees or a company of 250, you must always be willing to think big to keep up with the changing business climate.

    Thinking big, though, often refers to looking at goals that go beyond revenue. It involves asking questions like: How do you want to present yourself in the industry? What kind of opportunities can you provide your employees? Are you a company that encourages leadership and advancement? Maintain open communication within your company and have scheduled internal brainstorming meetings or quarterly initiatives to further your company’s culture and value. What goals would you like to see your company achieve?

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Define your company by more than revenue; find out what else motivates employees. This will help reduce turnover and improve loyalty within your company, which in turn saves company hiring costs.

There will always be climate change in business, especially as technology shifts and audience mindsets evolve. As a small business, it’s important to stay relevant among industry change. Ensure you have stability internally, so you can maintain your business goals among your clients and new audiences. Empower your team to be flexible and adaptable through industry changes.

Want to gain a new perspective and learn how to embrace change? Download a free copy of our Weekender Guide, a work-life balance calendar, to help you set goals for your entire team.

 

Construction Management: Tools of the Trade

The digital age has proven we can get things done efficiently and effectively online. But when it comes to construction management, there are processes and business needs that require a good, old-fashioned, pen-to-paper mentality and construction management tools.

Group of Construction Workers Standing on Worksite

To ensure a smoothly run construction company, there are several pieces that must work together for the process to be successful. There are internal processes, marketing, and operations to think about, but there’s also the actual project management required to handle several construction jobs at once. Although there are several online apps and tools necessary to keep everything organized in a centralized place, especially if there are multiple collaborators, there are those office supplies you’ll always need no matter what new technology is introduced over the years.

Day-to-Day Operations

From invoicing to memos to attending conferences and off-site meetings, you’ll need a few office basics to make sure you have information and materials posted where they’re most visible to your team. Every construction office will most likely have:

  • Pens

    Whether to use on-the-go, give to customers, or use internally, you can never have enough pens.

  • Notepads

    Use these to jot down ideas, notes to enter into a database later, or self-reminders when you don’t have access to an online portal.

  • Wall calendars

    While it’s likely you’ve gone digital with your project timelines, seeing upcoming projects at a glance are still nice to have for everyone to see. It helps paint a broad picture of timelines and scope of work being done.

  • USB flash drives

    If you need to transfer several files or blueprints at once between team members or to clients, a flash drive is a useful and practical way to get the job done.

Construction sites may have fewer office supplies than most, but there are still essentials required so that day-to-day tasks may be achieved in a timely manner. By having the basics in stock, it prevents any unnecessary, operational setbacks.

Table with Blueprints and Construction Tools

Construction Management Specifics

Construction management projects require time and attention given to many moving parts in order to see the final result come to fruition. The actual management of the project is ints own category, but there’s also budget, time, safety, and quality assurance components to consider.

The use of construction management software helps align these different categories to follow the scheduled timeline and achieve the required goal. The software you choose will be based on the size of your construction company, how many projects you handle at once, and the extent each project requires, among other factors such as price and usability.

Capterra has listed its top construction management software picks, but review each on its own merit to see how it could work best for your company. Software options such as CoConstruct, NoteVault, and Smartsheet all receive high consumer reviews for their capabilities offered.

The Digital Era

Back in the day, it was all paper invoices and tracking receipts. Now most paperwork is kept more organized with cloud-based systems and other ways where several people can be logged in at once to view the status of a project and leave notes that relate to the progress.

Companies range from using sophisticated software systems that house all their materials and project specifications, while others use different platforms to organize documents and information. Some of the most commonly used programs and software includes:

  • Google Docs

    Google Docs make accessibility easy for anyone who has WiFi and a Gmail account. You can share, view or edit permissions, leave notes directly on the document, and refer back to previously saved versions.

  • Dropbox

    Another free tool is Dropbox, which is a place to house all your shared documents and images and organize them into labeled folders. There is an upgraded version available for $9.99 a month that expands your storage availability, which is great for those who have a lot of digital media being passed back and forth.

  • Skype

    Even with central offices, it’s most likely many of your employees are working remotely or rarely in the office. Skype is a great way to keep in contact with each other and create specific groups for different constructions projects where everyone can chime in. This can help get quick answers and keep the process streamlined so everyone is on the same page.

  • GoToMeeting

    GoToMeeting has proven to be a valuable resource when you need to gather several people for a conference call. The service allows you to easily share your screen in order to demonstrate walk-throughs or present visuals for your team to better understand your projects.

Construction Worker Using Construction Management Software

Marketing Opportunities

The construction world relies on putting forth a positive reputation in the industry. If no one has heard of you or know what kind of work you’ve done, it’s less likely for a company to immediately agree to have you come in as the construction lead on any project. Make sure you are being competitive and properly branding yourself, whether it’s at a tradeshow or in person for kickoff meetings.

Carry professional business cards with all pertinent information to make it easy to contact you and make yourself known within your industry, not only among potential clients, but associated vendors or associations. Next time your company is in a position to network, make sure you carry:

  • Business Cards

    Include your company logo and contact information so clients have a way to get a hold of you always at their fingertips.

  • Business Bags

    Whether you carry a laptop or briefcase, here’s a prime opportunity to spotlight your brand in a way that makes sense. The idea is to subtly remind anyone who sees your bag who you are and what you do.

  • Customized Lanyards

    When you attend any conference, you can use and give away branded lanyards. This is especially useful if you sponsor or host an event.

  • Banners

    Banners are great for marketing if you’re at a tradeshow, at your job site, or even in the office. Make sure you have a logo, tagline, or other relevant company information that will keep your name in mind for new and long-standing clients.

With any industry, organization is key to ensure projects are done on a timely and cost-efficient manner. Are the right resources in place? Is the project on track for delivery? What are potential challenges and how can they be minimized or avoided altogether? The right construction management tools will help you stay efficient, on track, and relatively sane for the duration of your project.

Building Your Brand – Turning Your Idea Into a Business

You’ve done it.  You’ve finally decided to launch your business.  Now to get your name out there so you can have customers.  You have all these skills, but running a successful business requires more than just knowing the service you provide, it requires getting your business brand out there.  ready. Set. Go.  Here’s what you need to start building your brand!

Name

“Keep it simple stupid,” The saying our mom’s have been telling us our whole lives.  A name should be easy for your customers to remember, and even easier to spell.  Anything more and anything less and your customers will either never find you or not remember.

Logo

A lot of money has gone into studies about colors and shapes, but realistically, your logo should reflect your company. The best thing to do is think about all your favorite brands, gather up images of their logo and ask yourself what comes to mind when you look at their logo.  Do you think the person who created this logo wanted you to feel this way?  From there, write down what you like and try to incorporate it into your logo.  Once you have a prototype, think about investing in graphic design help from a professional.  Meet with them, tell them your vision and list out the qualities that inspired your prototype and w3atch them bring your logo to life.  Try to give them as much detail and direction as possible to keep cost down and money in your pocket.

Business Mantra

What solution are you providing? If you’re a lawyer, are you helping win cases?  Of course, you are just like all the other lawyers out there!  So what makes you different?  Is it your pay as you go pricing or your ability to communicate the law to the average Joe?  Think about the solution you provide, how you are going to deliver it and why they should choose you.  Write it down, and more importantly, make sure your business practices this every day, from you the business owner, to every employee who represents you.

Start Small, Build Big

If you are a lawyer, everyone you know and interact with should know you are a lawyer. Going to the grocery store and you strike up a conversation with someone, give them your card.  If you can’t sell your service to the people around you in your daily life, then throwing money at high dollar marketing plans will be risky.  If you say things like, “they won’t buy from me because they know me too well.”  Well then ask yourself, why they don’t trust you and work on yourself to build your brand and gain their trust.  Sometimes convincing the people that know you best will be your toughest test, but overcome those obstacles and you will set yourself up for success.

Do It yourself Marketing vs. Paid Marketing

There’s time to go cheap and there’s times to spend the dough. Knowing when to and when not to can be tough.  But like step 4, start small and test.  Exhaust all your free options and take the lessons learned from them to figure out a solution for paid marketing techniques.  Perhaps contract work out to test again new theories you are not experienced with.  When you find someone or something that works, invest smartly and capitalize.  Many programs these days offer simple, easy to use paid marketing techniques for business owners looking to develop this skill set.  Watch the videos, contact the company and soak up as much knowledge.  Facebook business offers simple solutions but find someone with success using their programs so you can know what you are getting into.

There’s probably a million more things to list and even more to do, but starting with some basics to help you develop a roadmap to success will keep your wallet full and your knowledge growing.  Good luck!

Selling for Business Owners Running a Business

You wanted to open up a mechanic shop, a photography business or restaurant.  You love working on cars.  You can find the beauty of how light should reflect off the subject you are photographing.  Your friends have been raving about your chef skills for years and you never have leftovers after a night in the kitchen because everyone eats it all like it’s their last meal.  Whatever your skills are, you have now accomplished the dream of opening up your own business.  Now to keep that dream alive, you realize, you have to sell that dream to investors for money, your coworkers to work hard and your customers because you need their consistent business.

In this article, you’ll get the basic fundamental tools you’ll need to learn, or at least get comfortable selling for business owners. 

Greet

More than just hello, the greet starts as soon as the customer sees you or your business. Clean appearance, dressed for the occasion and an organized look even before saying hi will get you started on the right foot.  Make eye contact, shake hands sternly, and say “pleasure to meet you!”  After pleasantries, the most important aspect is to ask an open ended question, meaning, ask a question that can’t be answered with a “yes or no” response.”  For instance, if you’re a photographer, and someone ask what are your rates, before answering, get the customer invested by asking some simple question such as, “what kind of pictures are you looking for me to take, who are you giving them to, and what inspires you to take these?”

Understand

When the customer answers your questions, don’t interrupt, but listen. Absorb as much as you can and find things to build on.  Find what the customer truly wants from her interaction and experience with you and find a way to deliver the desired results.

Evaluate

Think, think, think – it’s okay if you don’t have an answer right away, just make sure you are asking questions to drill down as deep as you can to find what your customer wants. Gather all the info, confirm you have everything correct and then think about how you can match your service to her expectations.

Suggest

Now you have a few options to suggest and suggest away! It’s best to give customers a few options, at different price tiers so they can make the decision on how much to invest. Perhaps you baseline package offers what the customer wants, but a premier package solves a customer’s future issues making it easier for them in the long run.  Always suggest based off what they ask for and mention as valuable to them.  Never guess or assume what they need or don’t need as you are still trying to gauge a customer’s level of interest and readiness to buy.

Take Action

You’ve listened, you offered different packages and now you know what the customer is interested in. Time to take action.  This is the step most people are often afraid of.  They don’t want to come off as pushy and aggressive, but at the same time, you know you’ve offered a great deal and the customer just needs some reassurance.  To go along in our mock example, a suggestion could be during the negotiation process, to start snapping a few fun photos of the person on the spot. Show, sample and give them the fun, light hearted feeling of working with you.  Show the pictures to them share some more ideas and ask “what day do you want to take pictures?” or “a deposit today will lock in your date, do you want to use cash, check or card?”

Re-evaluate

The customer still isn’t ready. That’s okay!  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  If it still doesn’t work, list out the entire customer’s request again, and explain how each request is solved by your product and service.  Suggest they look up your reviews.  Offer them a low cost incentive for purchasing today or within a 24 hour period.  Tell them to talk it over with their spouse but make sure they have all the info in a clean offer letter with an incentive to purchase sooner rather than later.

Referral

Great news, they purchased. Your work isn’t done yet.  After fulfilling your customers request and making sure they are satisfied comes round 2. Ask them if they know anybody who could use your service.   Perhaps even offer a discount or finder’s fee.  Ask to be tagged in their photos on social media.  And last but not least, ask them for a review of your services on your website or social media accounts.  Always ask for a referral.

How Premium Gifts Can Uplift Employees

Premium gifts serve the basic purpose of your standard gifts, to reward good behavior and encourage your employees to strive for more.  Encouraging this type of behavior will make your employees feel respected and appreciated.  It will also help determine who wants to develop their career for the long term. Here are some reasons to give your employees the not just gifts, but Premium Gifts!

Thank you gifts

Numerous studies have often said employees love when their manager tells them “good job!” A thank you gift can go a long way to improving employee morale. It doesn’t have to be over the top or too expensive either.  It just simply has to display how thankful you are to have them on your team.  Consider a pen and journal set with a special thank you message.

Top Performer Gifts

everyone knows the saying of “Show me the money” but sooner or later, your staff will want to be recognized as the top worker bee.  Reward the person, the department or the company who performs the best.  Maybe it’s a special coffee mug, stainless steel water bottle or portfolio for them to show off around the office.

Most Improved Gifts

Keep morale in the office high by showing you notice the people putting in effort, trying to develop their skills and taking on challenges they once hid from.

Consistent Award Gifts

They show up every day, rain or shine, with the same can-do attitude. They put out the “fires” at work and find ways to still make the office life enjoyable for the people around them.  Need them to work a little late and they have no problem.  They are your consistent performers who you cherish.  Show them why you love to have them in the office.  Deluxe Lunch bags or ice coolers that resemble them grabbing their “lunch pail” and hard hat for a great day of work is a gesture to show how much they are cherished by your organization.

Team Award

Did accounting figure out a way to save on spending?  Customer Service find ways to keep customers coming back for more?  Or maybe sales knocked their quota out the park?  Reward the departments that show the best results and let their team celebrate together. Its important to foster an environment of winning together and rewarding the victories.

5 Sport Promotional Items to Give at Sporting Events

Sporting events are a great place to gain exposure for your brand. There you will find a diverse group of people in a relaxed environment, coming together for a common goal.  An easy way to connect with them is to offer promotional items they can use at the game displaying your logo to go along with the positive feelings of the game itself.

Here are 5 winning sport promotional items to distribute at sporting events:

Can coolers

Start simple. Most people in the lead up to the big game, from pro to college football, often enjoy more of the pregame festivities than the game itself.   Walking around in the tailgate section of a big game handing out can coolers for all the thirsty potential clients to keep their beverages nice and cool while keeping their hands dry.

Bottle openers

Those same thirty tailgaters will love bottle openers they can use that same day and to keep for future use. Bottle openers are great for targeting men and a high-quality bottle opener can go a long way for very little investment.

See Through Bags

We live in an ever-changing world of new security restrictions intended to keep us safer at large gatherings. The NFL in recent years has led a charge to only allow see through game day bags in for fans.  Being as these bags are not yet too popular, tis is a good idea to hand out these types of bags wth your logo on it as many people will need these at the stadiums.

Rally Towels

Down by 6 with 2 minutes to go. Bottom of the 9th inning, bases loaded and two outs.  Whatever the game is, rally towels do a great job of generating a positive reaction.  Seeing multiple people in the stands with rally towels, will get the people without a rally towel asking “where can I get one?”  And even better, rally towels are sport promotional items that often find their way into homes because people generally don’t throw towels away for no reason, instead they will try to find a reason to use your rally towel.

Pens?

I’m assuming if you’re reading this you already know the great benefits of the Pen. But did you ever notice that there are millions of different kind of pens, all doing the same thing, writing and promoting your business.  So make sure you get a good deal, with high quality ink and trustworthy service!

4 Basic Drinkware Options and Their Advantages

With so many options to choose from, knowing which one to invest in can be excruciating.  Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of some of the options is the goal if this blog.  Here you can find some basic options to choose from and great ways to use these drinkware options.

  1. Coffee mugs: Full color vs. one-color

    Ummmm Coffee! Who doesn’t love it and need it to get the day started.  Coffee mugs are a great promotional item that you know will be used.  Full color options give you the ability to display your logo the way it was meant to be.  Also coffee mugs offer large decorating areas to enhance your brand and logo with cute and funny comments or decorations.

  2. Water bottle: Plastic vs. Stainless Steel

    If your brand has anything to do with a life-style, water bottles can bring it to life. Healthy living, sustainable energy, green living or just out to display a positive refreshing message, water bottles deliver.  Like a lot of things, timing is everything and January for New Year’s resolutions is a great time to be giving out your water bottles for all the new gym membership owners.

  3. Glassware: Glasses – Size – Shots

    Tends to not be used as daily when it comes to promotional items but does bring a high quality presence to your brand. Investing in Glassware will be playing the “long game” but will surely pay off.  Often times, people buy drink ware as a souvenir that brings positive feelings and promotional glassware will do the same.

  4. Plastic Cups

    Inexpensive drink items for the day will get people noticing your brand as strong as possible. If you can strike a deal with an event to hand out your plastic cups with your logo, great!  And even if you can’t, sometimes handing out your plastic cups at a sporting event, outdoor event or casual get together can do the trick.

4 Easy Ways on how to have a Successful Happy Hour with Clients

We’ve all been there, trying to open a new account, someone you’ve been prospecting for ages but just can’t seem to find the solution to closing the deal.  You call, email, mail and sometimes you even fly across the country but can’t get it done!  Sales are slow and you know if you can just get this one client, all the hard work will have been worth it.  Well, a good sales person knows that if you can’t get in the front – back – side door, well then, change the venue.

In this blog, you’ll find the basics on how to have a successful happy hour to set the setting on closing the deal.

1 – How to ask – It’s simple. Just ask.

For some, asking a client out can be scary, and for others it the perk of the job.  I often go with the basic “Hi XXXXX, I’ll be in town on this date, what’s a good bar or restaurant we can meet for happy hour?  I’m buying!” It’s simple, straight to the point, provides a small sense of urgency with open ended response, plus the client knows he won’t be spending much money to go to his/her favorite watering hole or place they have been wanting to try.

2 – People

Sometimes talking one on one can lead to some downtime or awkward moments as you try to get the client to relax and open up. So ask him if there is a co-worker or manager who might want to come with. The client will fill more comfortable and now you have someone else who you can try to convince in case you get stonewalled by your client.  And perhaps you may even find out better perspective of who the client reports to, what he struggles with in the office or what his manager looks for.  Tip: if they do invite someone, think about inviting one of you coworkers so you’re not out numbered and so if you stumble, you’ll have help to overcome obstacles.  But make sure they add value to the conversation and mood.

3 – Place

As mentioned earlier, try to let the customer decide. If you take them to a place they have wanted to try, it will evoke a positive experience.  Just make sure, it’s a place where you guys can talk so not too loud music, comfortable seats and a not too complex menu for picky eaters.  And have a backup place just in case you can’t get a seat or the place just doesn’t turn out to what you expect.

4 – Perception

Nobody like a Debbie downer. Stay positive, upbeat and remember just because you’re not in office, you’re still working and representing your company and/or business.  Keep the conversations light, ask more about them and listen to what they are saying, or even not saying sometimes.

5 Reasons Promo Calendars are Good Marketing Gifts

Promo calendars represent the perfect gift to help you increase visibility for your brand

Marketing managers across the nation will tell you promotional marketing gifts truly do work to enhance the visibility and prominence of a brand within a specific industry. Whether these promo items are used at a tradeshow as a handout for customers and prospects, or they’re sent out to clients or prospective customers during a high-volume mailing campaign, promotional gifts work. And there are few promo gifts that are as effective as top quality promo calendars. Continue reading