It’s true: people work for money. Even people who love what they do and are willing to work for free won’t do it without a salary. The corporate world has always been perceived as a ladder with people climbing looking at the “carrot” or more money as incentive. However, there is a new generation of employees now filling up the workforce called the millenials. According to a growing body of studies, this generation is not just in cubicles for their paycheck. They are indeed looking for something more.
But with an equally growing evidence of more mature working generation’s working motivations, there is a higher demand for work and life balance, something that goes against the very nature of providing more money as it equates to more responsibilities.
What is an employer to do? Here are some ways to make a winning team that’s on the ball even without the pay increase:

1. Instead of a ladder, create a jungle.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s famous COO and author of Lean In said it best: think of one’s career and the rise to the top as a jungle, not a ladder. In it she explains that going sideways or learning laterally is the way to go, with different departments and different managers contributing to one’s capabilities.
One sure way to achieve this is by having a great mentorship program wherein managers are transformed into leaders, providing key insights to mentees when it comes to the industry. It’s true, not all employees will stay even after being mentored, but the act itself shows the employees how invested the company is in their growth.

2. Make them do personal projects—on company time.
Google is famous for their innovative nature, but innovation rarely happens during the throes of work, which is why employees there always have personal projects that they work on during company time.
For employees who have kids or who commute, money is not the problem—time is, so providing at least three hours from their 40-hour work week to work on personal projects is giving them ample time to rest and yet be productive at the same time, something that the company in the end will benefit from anyway.

3. Offer telecommuting as an option if possible.
Family first is a message every company espouses or at least they think they do. But like most mantras, this is easier said than done with a ton of deliverables on a person’s head. Telecommuting is a way to bridge the gap. This can be offered to employees who are parents to kids at least 10 years old and below for starters.
The great thing about telecommuting is that employees feel that their company values their families and at the same time trusts them to get the job done.

4. Have a cause.
Most employees spend most of their lives on the job, no doubt about it. And it is truly something that no salary can pay for. Having a solid CSR program then gives the employees the chance to work for something greater than themselves and makes all the hours worth it.
No matter what, a company’s vision to make a difference counts to attract and maintain employees who are determined to make it happen without the need for adding zeroes to their salaries.

Outsourcing to virtual assistants or VAs has becomes popular among business owners in the recent years. This is because many businesses in various industries have experienced the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant, including saving time and cost and generating more income for the company. If you haven’t tried working with a virtual assistant and you are considering hiring one to help you with your day-to-day operations, it would help to know the types of tasks you can outsource to a VA.
Tasks that You Can Outsource to Virtual Assistants

Michael Hyatt, virtual mentor and one of the leading business bloggers in the world, says that a virtual assistant can do anything for you, as long as it does not require physical presence. If you think of jobs that don’t require a person to be physically present, you’ll realize that there’s a lot that you can outsource—from accounting to marketing, to recruitment.

You can outsource almost any kind of task to a virtual assistant. Gregg Landers, CBIZ MHM director of growth management says in an article published in Entrepreneur that there are three categories of tasks that are best outsourced. These are: specialized knowledge, expertise, and highly repetitive tasks.

Expertise tasks are those tasks that require a high level of skills such as management of legal matters, analysis of your sales and financial performance, and other tasks that require executive-level expertise. Highly repetitive tasks are those that include data entry and general administrative work like responding to emails or organizing your inventory. Commonly outsourced tasks like blogging, graphic design, and web development all fall under specialized knowledge, or those tasks that require a specific set of skills.
Here is a list of tasks that are commonly outsourced or assigned to VAs:

1. Blogging and Blog Management – Writing blogs and ensuring that your blog is regularly updated can be done by a VA who has the writing skills and a working knowledge of blogging platforms.

2. Graphic Design – Tasks that involve designing corporate identity materials, marketing collaterals, product packaging and the like can be performed by VAs with graphic design skills.

3. Website Design and Management – VAs can also design and manage your website, as long as they have designing and programming skills.

4. Video Creation and Editing – Another technical and creative task that you can outsource to VAs is creating and editing videos. This can be done by VAs with the creativity and knowledge of video editing software and media production programs.

5. Social Media Management and Marketing – A social media-savvy VA can help you set up and update your social media pages. VAs can also create a social media plan for your business.

6. Email Management – You can ask your VAs to respond to incoming messages and filter your emails on your behalf.

7. Transcription – A VA with excellent typing, listening and transcription skills will be able to accurately transcribe audio and video files like interviews, podcasts, etc.

8. General administrative work – General administrative work that are usually done by executive assistants like scheduling, answering phone calls, taking down notes during meetings, and even doing personal errands for you online can also be done by a VA.

9. Research – Work that requires research like reports, product development, and strategies can be done by a VA.

10. Marketing – All marketing tasks, as long as they can be done online, can be performed by VAs with sales, marketing, or advertising background.

Defining Your Scope of Work
Before hiring a VA, the first thing you should do is to determine what you need to outsource. What will be your goal for hiring a VA? After determining your needs, define your scope of work. Specify your job requirements, including the skills you are looking for. Doing these will help you attract the right candidates for the job.

Starting a business is one of the best and worst decisions a person can come up with. As much as being your own boss brings with it a level of freedom and independence, entrepreneurs are also the most stressed and harassed, having to deal with the needs of the business almost 24/7 without rest. While you can see business owners spend their weekdays doing activities they love other than business, it does not mean that they have fewer responsibilities.

Simply put, choosing to be in business is hard work and it takes a lot of commitment from a person when they finally take the plunge. Here are some ways to break into the jump and make it more manageable:

  1. Know the market.

The last thing a person can do is invest all their hard earned savings on a whim. It is important to remember that getting into business is part intuition and part calculated risk, but is never about gambling. Following one’s passion can be great, but it also makes for very risky business decision basis. Knowing your market is one of the first crucial steps that you should do when starting your own business.

Today however, an article on Entrepreneur suggests that knowing your market today shouldn’t be limited to getting details on their income, gender, ethnicity or education. Entrepreneur suggests taking your marketing strategies to the next level through personalization and customization and that means understanding the lifestyle of your customers. Understand the lifestyle of the generation where your target market belongs. You can also do your research by area. There are also tools that you can use to study your target market’s behavior, such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

  1. Know the underserved market.

Another good way to get into business is by knowing the underserved market. What makes your life miserable? One may be surprised to know that it’s also what makes others’ unbearable and these underserved customers are actually willing to pay for a service or product to ease off the hassle.

Being in the underserved market also makes one a highly uncontested market, something the bigger players will be very wary to get into. This translates to income at the fastest way possible. In addition to knowing the underserved market, it would also be good to think of how you can beat the competition. Jim Koch of Boston Beer co. and Samuel Adams Boston Lager says in an article published in Business Insider that your business is only feasible if what you are offering is cheaper or better than the alternatives.

  1. Prepare for the worst.

Although getting into business is a true act of faith, one must also not get into it without a safety net of at least six months. Anything is possible in business, unfortunately, including bankruptcy. If the person has a family to support, blindly getting money into a business without ensuring that they can live comfortably is a reckless move.

Preparing should also include the right paper work to protect the name, the finances, and the assets of the business from unscrupulous people.

  1. Delegate.

Budget may be a concern when you are starting a new business. However, multitasking just to accomplish everything that needs to get done from accounting to financials would not be beneficial for your business. If hiring is not an option at the moment, consider outsourcing to virtual assistants. It is best to outsource tasks that are repetitive in nature, those that are time-consuming, and technical tasks that are not part of your skills set. As a business owner, it is important that you oversee all processes without losing your focus on growing and grooming the business to reach its full potential.

Coaching may be one of the most rewarding jobs out there. After all, what can be more fulfilling than making a living doing what you do best, leading others to accomplish their own goals and watching them grow and flourish as you nurture them? It comes as no surprise that coaching is also one of the fastest growing industries, with an annual revenue amounting to $2 billion.
However, the benefits of working as a coach do not come without challenges and this is where hiring virtual assistants can make a huge difference in how you conduct business. Whether you’re a life, business, health, career, sports, or a personal coach, you can benefit from having a virtual assistant. Read on to find out how hiring virtual assistants can add value to your coaching practice.
1. Increase productivity.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with business-building activities, especially when you are just starting out as a coach. You have to find the time for every important aspect of the business—accounting, administration, marketing, planning and strategizing, coaching your clients, and finding new clients. Delegating time-consuming tasks like scheduling, bookkeeping, research, managing emails, or even updating your social media pages to virtual assistants can help you maximize productivity and achieve the elusive work-life balance for busy coaches.
2. Focus on growing your business.
The more you delegate repetitive and administrative tasks to virtual assistants, the more you’ll be able to focus on growing your coaching practice. Finally, you can have more time to attend training and learning sessions for your career growth, work on growing your network, and strategize to attract more clients.
3. They can do it better than you.
The point of outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants is not just to help you save time by taking several tasks off your load, but also to ensure that these tasks are done in an efficient and excellent manner. If you hire reliable virtual assistants, you can count on them to deliver high-quality work because they specialize in the type of task you assign to them. This is advantageous for you and your virtual assistants because you’re both focusing on tasks that you enjoy doing.
4. Save money.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of hiring a virtual assistants is it the cost-savings. This is a lot cheaper than having a full-time salaried employee. You just pay for the services you need and only when you need them.
Should you hire virtual assistants? Definitely yes if you want to experience the benefits listed above.

 

Interested in finding out more on how we can SAVE you money… Click here to make your appointment today and let’s talk.

You look at the time it’s already 3 P.M. Glance over your to-do list and see that nothing’s been crossed out!

Where has all that time gone?

Most people imagine that working from home is a casual affair that should not be treated with seriousness. However, if you are thinking about venturing into any form of home business, you have to acknowledge the fact that it requires as much seriousness as any other business. In as much as operating a home business allows you the flexibility to choose the time to work, you should always ensure that you manage your time well for you to get good results.

Some of the reasons why time management is important when working from home include:

1. It plays a big role in the success of your home business:
When you are writing down your business plan, you have to include time management. This is because time is one of the major resources that you have when it comes to propelling your business to greater heights. No matter how much capital you invest, if you have not internalized the essentials of time management, you will flop.
You need to realize that there are a lot of distractions for people who run home businesses. There will always be phone calls from friends and relatives who want to catch up because ‘you are always home’. You may also have children who reach for your attention simply because they see you around. You should find the right way to manage your time such that these distractions do not interfere with your business. First, start by 5 creating a work schedule and sticking to it. If your phone rings, you can either ignore it if it is not an emergency, or politely inform the callers that you are working. You should also let you friends and family know that specific hours of your day are reserved for working. Remember, nobody will take your business seriously if you do not show them that they need to.

2. It reduces stress:
The temptation to indulge in the many distractions at home can be overwhelming. Admit it, sometimes, you promise yourself that all you will do is to respond to a few Facebook messages or check out what is going on in the world of twitter. Then before you know it, you have spent a lot of your valuable time reading random things on the internet. Or maybe you decided to catch up with your friends, and hours later, it hits you that a lot of work concerning your business is undone. The result is instant stress! It can be very frustrating trying to make up for lost time. A lot of people who have not grasped the importance of time management always end up straining themselves in an attempt to meet deadlines and fulfill their clients’ needs. Think about how easier it would be if you managed your time well. You will get everything done on time, and get time to relax after everything is done.

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Every business demands growth, and double-digit growth is the dream of every dedicated business owner, even when lackluster results show up at quarter’s end.

Most entrepreneurial business owners need a guide to navigate their way toward substantial, sustainable growth.  It can be done even in a slow economy as demonstrated by such companies as Harley Davidson, Starbucks, and WalMart.  Even smaller companies such as Paychex and Oshkosh Truck have been able to make gains in revenue, gross profits and net profits.

Here are 5 disciplines of sustained growth:

  •  Retain Your Customer Base:  Keep the growth that you have already earned by coaxing customers into complex relationships that make it a hassle for them to switch to your competitor.  Tailor your products/services using data gleaned from your customers giving you an advantage.  Proactively managing customer defections will help you anticipate and pre-empt them. Bonding with customers wherever emotion is tied to an interaction is another great way to retain them.
  •  Gain Market Share at the Expense of Your Rivals: Give customers a reason to abandon a competitor’s product/service for yours.  Do what it takes to lower the switching costs.  Pulling customers away from a competitor can be difficult, so you must devote many resources to raiding their customer base.  Offering higher value and quality are crucial to this end.  Buying a competitor is another way to do this.
  • Exploit Market Position:  Show up where growth is going to happen by spotting it early.  This can be done by watching the industry for shifts in buying criteria, product or service innovations, and population trends.  You must be able to spot positioning opportunities to make the most of them by continually using a systematic approach to the process.
  • Invade Adjacent Markets: Before moving into a nearby market, decide whether it offers significant long-term growth and profitability.  Determine whether you have an advantage over a competitor, and ensure you can match its standards of quality and value.
  • Invest In New Lines of Business:  If you take this approach, never overpay for a new line.  You must find simple strategies instead of complex ones, and partner with the new business by assessing its leadership team and balance sheet

Although a successful growth portfolio might not include all five of these disciplines, it must contain more than one.  Only a balanced growth portfolio can keep an organization growing when the market shifts dramatically.

 

In closing I wish a happy and safe Memorial Day to all my entrepreneurial buddies and readers. Drive carefully!

 

When the first generation of women entered the workforce in earnest in the 1970s, they succeeded in the only way they could – by imitating men.  Authoritarian leadership and tight control was the hallmark of that day’s businessman, and women were not exactly welcomed into the ranks of management.  Well ladies, that was yesterday, and today is today!

Forget what your mama or your boss told you, because following the rules can be bad for your career.  Today’s CEO/entrepreneur can no longer tap his/her company’s full potential using a “command-and-control” style.  The 21st century business woman needs to be able to build a vision based on the awareness of economic transformation, then help her partners and staff fulfill that vision.  She must draw on a wide range of skills to get to the top and stay there.  Following are 7 Key Characteristics that are essential:

 

  1. Sell the Vision: A leader with a fresh, independent plan for her company’s growth and future has a distinct advantage in luring and keeping great talent and investors.  Vision is not some lofty ideal, but an obtainable concept that is easy to understand and will make the company grow to another level.
  2. Reinvent the Rules:  While women have traditionally been socialized to please others, the 21st century leader knows that good girls rarely post great returns.  The strong managers/owners today not only anticipate change, they create entirely new organizations that respond to shifts and search for innovation.
  3. Achieve With A Laser Focus:  Go where others fear to tread! Being aggressive and ambitious has long been considered male traits, but they are key qualities for new leaders.  Today’s business woman has the ability to home in on opportunities that others may simply not see, and then excel in that uncharted territory.
  4. Use High-Touch in a High-Tech Era:  When a number of leaders are conducting business by e-mail, voice mail, passwords, and PINs, the female entrepreneur succeeds because she guides with a strong, personal, bed-side manner. Today’s business woman is just as technologically savvy as her peers, but her skill with staff and customers is “high-touch” which gives her a critical edge and separation from the “pack”.
  5. Challenge or Opportunity? – Women are great at turning a challenge into an opportunity instead of using the “slash-and-burn” approach.  They are able to make bold strokes, but they also win the cooperation of others in the organization in making any transformation a success.
  6. A Customer Preference Obsession:  In this information age which makes it easier to shop around for the best “whatever”, businesses must work harder to give people what they want before their competitors do.  There is no substitute for spending time with clients to become expert at their businesses and learn their demands.  Female leaders are almost intuitively adept in doing just that, and without the client even suspecting.
  7. Courage Under Fire:  Show me any career woman or female entrepreneur today that isn’t able to “stand-the-heat” in any tough-call situation.  Their decision-making skills are rooted in a high level of confidence, because they’ve had to weather and surpass any and all “corporate” storms they’ve encountered over time.

 

It takes a certain mind-set and bravado for anyone to start their own business and succeed, but it’s even more difficult for a female entrepreneur.  Let’s face it, ladies!  We’ve always had to be twice-as-smart and twice-as-confident as any male counterpart in the corporate world.  After all, if we can bear and raise the future generation, how can running a successful business scare us?

 

Affiliate Marketing is a derivative of Internet marketing where the advertisement publisher gets paid for every customer or sales provided by him. Affiliate marketing is the basic for all other Internet marketing strategies.

In this type of marketing, affiliate management companies, in-house affiliate managers and third party vendors are effectively utilized to use E-mail Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, RRS Capturing and Display Advertising for the success of the product. The web traffic can be traced with the help of a third party or own affiliate programs. A lot of work is involved in this process. At first marketing by this method involved lots of spamming, false advertising, trademark infringement, etc. But, after the invention of complex algorithms and advance security this has been regularized to make it safer for doing business and shopping online. This even led to the better scrutinizing of the terms and conditions by the merchants. Affiliate marketing became more profiting with the opening of more opportunities but at the same time it also increased the competition in marketing.

Due to this pressure in house affiliate programs for merchants became a thing of the past and were replaced by out-sourced programs. The companies that offered this service have expert affiliate and network program managers who have various affiliate program management techniques.  These affiliate networks have publishers associated with them who help them with the advertising part.

Affiliate marketing was started by cdnow.com who had music oriented websites. They placed list of music albums on their site and they paid others if they put those links in their websites when a visitor bought their album through their site. The first company to link with cdnow.com was Geffen Records. Two months later, Amazon was offered by a woman that she would sell Amazon’s books on her website and she should be paid a certain percentage in return if she sold Amazon’s books through her site. They liked the idea and started the Amazon associates program. It was more of a commission program where they received a commission if a visitor clicked their links and banners on other’s site and bought anything through it.

Since its invention, the affiliate network has been adopted by various businesses like travel, education, telecom, mobile, gaming, personal finance, retail, and subscription sites, the most common being adult and gambling sectors. In UK alone, affiliate marketing produced £ 2.16 billion.

The compensation methods used are Cost per sale (CPS), Cost per action (CPA), Cost per mile (CPM) and Cost per click (CPC). The first two are the more famous methods today. This is because in CPM and CPC, the visitor which turns up on a particular website might not be the targeted audience and a click would be enough to generate commission. CPS and CPA have a compulsion that the visitor not only clicks on the link but also buys something or signs up for some service after it which proves that he is among the targeted audience. Only in the above case the affiliate gets paid. So the affiliate should try to send as much targeted traffic as possible to the advertiser in order to increase his/her returns and for this reason affiliate marketing is also known as performance marketing because it totally depends on the performance of the affiliate. The affiliate team can be differentiated from a sales team from the nature of their jobs. The job of the affiliate team is to drag targeted traffic to a point and from that point it’s the job of the sales team to influence the visitor to buy the product or the service.

This is a very effective kind of method because the money is being paid only when results have been achieved. The publisher incurs all the cost except that of initial setup and development of the program, which is incurred by the merchant. Many businesses give credit to this method of marketing for their success.

Did you know that mobile marketing not only covers the most commonly referenced area of mobile devices, but also mobile billboards, travelling expos and any type of advertising that is in some sort of motion. If you ever wanted to further your knowledge of mobile marketing, then check out the next few paragraphs.

Take your time to make your mobile marketing fun for other people if you really want it to be effective. As someone is out there waiting for their bus to come or waiting for that traffic jam to relent, they could be watching a funny advertisement created and released by your company.

Mobile marketing provides a great opportunity for you to offer up a wide assortment of discounts and other information about your business, so you should use this format to make sure you’re always giving out good deals. Your customers need to feel special, so make sure you’re sending them info on your discounts and other specials.

Keep setting expectations and keeping yourself safe, legally. After a person opts-in, or even during the process, inform them of how often they can get text messages from you. Also, give them an “opt-out” option if the messages are too frequent or if they want to avoid possible message charges. Always include the line, “standard rates may apply.”

Set up a poll for your marketing campaign. Polls can be set up as a question-response format or a response message. Polls are an excellent source to use to get the options of your customers to your products. Always check with your mobile provider to make sure they can support real-time results for your polls.

Make your messages fun. Remember that mobile can also be used as a source of entertainment. Make your messages interesting and exciting, while providing the subscriber with either meaningful information or entertainment. When subscribers are doing something or just waiting for something somewhere, they will look to mobile as an exciting or enjoyable distraction.

The number one rule in mobile marketing is to never spam. This is the quickest way to not only lose existing customers, but to ensure that your marketing campaigns fail to reach new ones. Spam is a major problem in marketing and people who are perceived to send it lose a lot of credibility.

Even though you’re marketing in the mobile world, you still have to make sure that you keep improving your efforts outside of this realm. Allowing other areas of marketing to lapse and putting too much focus on mobile marketing will hurt your business, no matter how well your mobile marketing is doing. Use your calendar and task list to allot regular times for each kind of marketing campaign.

Social media is one big and long conversation. Lots of it is meaningless and trivial. Do not link your mobile campaign to this kind of disastrous discourse. Keep your messages brief and to the point. Social media is a key to any marketing campaign, but you have to use it wisely to get beneficial results.

Remember that mobile marketing works best to keep your current customers and not necessarily to attract new ones. This is because most mobile users are not browsing around the internet the same way PC users browse around theirs. Mobile users are hard fish to hook if they haven’t already nibbled on the bait.

In conclusion, not only does mobile marketing cover a wide amount of media types, but it can also be used to appeal to a wide variety of customers. You should definitely give the tips and tricks provided in this article a try; and you should be ecstatic with the results that you see.

Just as an experiment, a friend of mine subscribed to ten different opt-in e-mail marketing lists to see which ones are effective. Many websites and online businesses have resorted to sending promotional materials to people who have subscribed to them in an effort to boost their sales or traffic. Opt-in email marketing sends newsletters, catalogs, updates and many more promotional materials to website visitors who have agreed to be updated whether monthly, weekly or semi-annually.

Through e-mail, an internet user that is on the list will receive their updates through email. If a promotional material piques their interest they will go to the site to learn more or to purchase outright. For the website operators or owners, this is a chance to remind their list of their existence and parlor their wares. With the numerous sites on the internet that offer the same products or services in one way or the other, the competition can get pretty tight and it is easy to be forgotten.

Back to my experimenting friend, he tried to find out which opt-in marketing strategies grabbed a person into begging for more. Some would send in very simple fashion, some were very outlandish, while there are some that would just lie in between. The differences could easily be noticed and some have gotten the idea of an effective opt-in marketing strategy. He dubbed them effective because he felt like he just couldn’t wait to go their site and learn more, the more persuasive ones even got him halfway to reaching for his wallet and to his credit card before he realized this was only an experiment.

Many companies and sites present their promotional materials in a wide variety of concepts. Each has their own distinctive style and designs, but more than the outline and the presentation, the content and the articles are what keeps the attention of your potential customer locked on to your opt-in marketing medium. Creativity is the key here.

From talking to many satisfied opt-in list subscribers and forums, I have learned of what is essential in opt-in marketing and what makes the subscribers begging for more instead of lining up to unsubscribe.

Keep your promotional materials light, creative and original. Many people are stressed out as it is. Getting a stuffy business proposal rather than a light hearted e-mail may just agitate them more. A warm friendly smile or banter is always more welcome than a serious business meeting or proposal. While you do want your customers to take you and your products and services seriously, you also want to show them that you know how to have fun.

Splash some color in your emails as well as provide some photos and articles that can be related to you but show good news or good light hearted images as well. Provide a newsletter or promotional materials that will keep them in a light mood. Make your materials eye catching and grabbing that they wont be able to take their eyes of them. Pique their interests.

Have good content and article, even if it means investing in an experienced and professional copy writer to write them for you. An effective copy writer should be able to build trust between you and your customers. They should be able to establish your credibility in what they write. It must be informative but not too stuffy. Let go of the professional jargons and “talk” to your recipients.

A good article and content should be able to outline the benefits of your product and services and why they need what you are offering. But do not look to be overeager and too persuasive. It should be able to entertain as well as lead them to buying from you.

Your promotional materials should be clear. Don’t leave people guessing. You should lead them to you and not vice versa. Explain to them what they need to do in a manner that won’t be confusing. Try to anticipate also what your target client needs. Do your research and information gathering, many sites will be able to help you with that.

Provide clear and crisp images of what you are offering. If the people know what you have for them, they are more likely to beg for more. For example, if you are selling a car, provide them photos but only enough to encourage them to go to your site for more.