Many businesses incorporate email marketing in their promotional and marketing strategy. But very few are seeing tangible results.
Why is that?
The simplest and most reasonable answer is that your targeted audience isn’t engaging with your emails. And when a subscriber doesn’t find your emails engaging, the easiest way to get rid of you is to mark one of your emails as spam. Then straight to the spam folder all of your subsequent emails will go. You obviously don’t want that. It would defeat the purpose of sending out marketing emails in the first place.
The first step to solving a problem is by identifying its cause. Therefore, ask yourself these questions:
Are my subscribers’ email provider diverting my emails to spam?
Are my emails delivering or not? Find out by checking your deliverability and spam score using this tool.
Do your subscribers think you are spamming them? This typically happens when your subscribers don’t find your email content engaging enough, when your emails arrive too frequently, or when they are too focused on making sales.
Are people unsubscribing from your mailing list?
Are your subscribers marking your emails as spam?
Remember that merely identifying a problem doesn’t magically solve it. Don’t just ask questions. Don’t just try to identify the causes of your email marketing failure. You need to address and solve the problem. Otherwise, your email marketing campaigns will keep failing.
Try Email Content Filtering
This simply helps your filter both your outbound mails so as to help you avoid dispatching spammy emails, depending on your filtering parameters. When you don’t send out spammy emails, you lower the chances of your emails getting tossed into the spam folder. Services like Every Cloud Tech will even help you generate reports detailing how your emails fares out there.
Don’t Hide the Unsubscribe Link or Button
You might think that hiding the unsubscribe button or making it difficult to find will help you lower the rate at which you lose subscribers. But trust me, it’s a mistake. It would only frustrate subscribers. And when frustration sets in, the easiest way out is to toss the email causing that frustration into the spam folder–problem solved.
Why is this bad?
When a user marks your email or address as spam, their email service provider (ESP) automatically begins to divert subsequent emails from your address into the user’s spam folder. Now, when a lot of users under the same ESP mark your email or address as spam, the ESP could blacklist your address. This means the ESP will begin pushing emails from you into everyone’s spam folder. That’s including the spam folders of people that are actually interested in your emails.
Therefore, always make the unsubscribe button visible and easy to find.
Avoid Sending Emails to Non-Subscribers
Mining the web for email addresses is a shady strategy scammers and spammers use. Therefore, avoid sending newsletters or marketing emails to people that don’t want them. Doing so would only undermine your brand’s reputation and increase the chances of your emails landing in the spam folder. Also avoid sending emails to people that have already unsubscribed from your list.
Use a Reputable Hosting Service to Improve Your Email Marketing
Where do you host your email server? Make sure the IP address is not blacklisted by top email service providers–learn more here. Better still, use a reputable hosting services.
The above-mentioned tips may not entirely save your email marketing campaign. But they will go a long way in increasing your chances of finding success. They will help you keep your marketing emails from your subscribers’ spam folders.
When running a website (whether a personal or a business website), the main goals are usually lead generation, conversion, and sales. However, whatever leads your site manages to generate would translate to nothing without engagement. Thus, conversion and sales via the site would remain elusive.
The question is: why engagement?
One answer to that is ‘to beat competition’. No matter how small your niche is, you will always be faced with competition. Statistics show that there are over 966million websites online today, and they are all clamouring for attention. This brings us to the second reason engagement is paramount.
Considering the mantle of information online today and how easily accessible it is, the attention spans of internet users have become meagre and fleeting at best. This makes it essential that your website begins to engage your visitors as soon as they land on it. Otherwise, you risk losing them a few seconds afterwards.
How then can you drive engagement?
The answer is simple. Do everything you can to make your website useful, informative, compelling, user-friendly, and attention-grabbing. Here are five ways you can do that.
Make Your Website Speedy
Apart from the fact that page load speed is a major Google ranking factor, it can also affect your bounce rate. This is because no one wants to spend their precious time waiting for a slow site to load. The longer your site visitors have to wait idly for your pages to load, the more disengaged they would become. One survey discovered that nearly a half of web users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Therefore, why not do yourself, your site, and your brand a favour and seek out and apply as many strategies for improving page load speed as possible? Some of them include choosing the right web hosting package, using a minimalistic design, optimising your images, and compressing your files using Gzip.
Make It Responsive
In this age when the majority of the world’s population carries a mobile device in their pocket wherever they go, in this age when smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular, it’s very important that your website is optimised for both mobile devices and high-resolution screens. Responsiveness means that your site is designed to format and display well on various devices. This makes it user-friendly on all platforms, making it easy for visitors to engage with your content.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a designer/programmer that can design your site to be responsive, you could go for a website-building package like the ones offered at freeparking.co.nz/websites/. The great thing about these site builders is that they make your site automatically responsive, they are cheap, and you don’t need prior coding knowledge to use them.
Make Your Navigations User-Friendly
This means making your site easy to navigate. Users love it when they don’t have to work hard to discover what they are looking for on your site. Thus, navigations that are well-structured, simple, and easy to find can go a long way in keeping your visitors comfortably browsing through your pages and even encourage them to take an action that results in sales.
Also pay attention to proper integration of internal linking and use of calls-to-action.
Tailor Compelling Content
Typically, people visit websites in search of information. The problem is that information is everywhere online. Why should they digest yours? What makes yours stand out? When you don’t address these questions, you risking publishing unremarkable content on your site and thus driving your leads away.
Here are some things you can do to ensure your content is engaging:
Be original. Don’t copy. Think out of the box. Always find an angle that hasn’t been explored.
Make your content informative. Everything you write should count.
Use evocative images in your posts.
Catchy headlines are great.
Use short paragraphs. They are easy on the eye.
Backup your points with citations.
Try various post formats–text, info-graphics, videos, how-to posts, and so on.
Engagement is all about communication and involvement. You can’t hope to engage your audience if you don’t interact with them. Don’t simply publish your post and then dust your hands. Read the comments your posts generate and reply to them when necessary.
People relish recognition. It’s that simply. And when you reply to comments on your site, not only are you letting your visitors know that you recognise them, you also engage them by answering their questions, offering further information, and acknowledging their contributions.
There are many other ways you can drive engagement on your website. Check this out. You can start with the five mentioned above and work your way to other tips across the internet. Do this and you will see your engagement and brand loyalty improve.
Gone are the days when business owners and corporations are the only entities faced with protecting their online brands. That’s a truth that can’t be disputed. Individuals now need to protect their personal brand.
Of course, it’s easy to imagine that, since you don’t own a business, there’s no brand to protect. However, instead of imagining, first try to understand what a personal brand and brand security mean. How their absences can affect his or her personal life.
Personal Online Brand
Your personal online brand is your public image online. That is, what you represent online. How people perceive you online. It’s your online visibility. Your online authenticity. Your online authority. It’s that name you use across all online channels. It’s the opinion you share on various web platforms.
Online Brand Security
Online brand security, on the other hand, is all about protecting that image. It’s all about plugging all holes via which an unauthorised person can leverage or hijack your brand (or some aspects of it) as their own. Usually, such a person would be looking to achieve a dubious goal with your brand. Perhaps, one that profits them, harms your online reputation or presence, or even hurts you as a person.
Therefore, while you may not have a corporate brand to protect, there are still your online handle and image. If you think nobody could be interested in stealing them, then think again. The threats to a brand can come in many forms:
As a desperate corporate competitor looking for an edge over you.
A cyber squatter.
Even as a spammer.
It could even be someone that answers the same name as you trying to establish their own online brand. This can be especially damaging if the person posts ideas that go against your values.
Or as your abuse of the internet. For instance, what you post on social media today can hurt you tomorrow.
Even if you have no need for a personal online brand today, chances are that the need will arise in the future. For instance, an aspiring writer could become a popular professional author tomorrow. It’s only reasonable to secure your name across all channels from the onset.
About 63% of recruiters use social media to learn more about prospective employees.
Secure your online name against cyber squatters.
Protect yourself from scammers.
Protect yourself from competitors.
About 8% of companies have laid off an employee because the employee abused social media
Hence, if your personal online brand is compromised, so might your chances at some great online and offline business or employment opportunities.
How to Protect Your Personal Brand Online
Secure Your Domain Name
Since you are looking to secure your personal brand, it’s ideal to choose a domain name that is closely related to your legal name. If possible, use your legal name. Thus, if your name is John Lock, then use JohnLock.com or something close to that.
Depending on your resources, it’s also ideal to register variations of the name or the same name under top domain extensions. Example, [dot]net, [dot]co.uk, and [dot]org. This will tightly distinguish and protect your personal brand from other people answering the same name.
You can also register free subdomains with WordPress and Blogger. It doesn’t matter that you might not use them. This will help prevent someone else from stealing your identity there.
Build a Personal Website or Blog
There are many reasons you need a personal website or blog as a way of protecting your personal brand online. Here are the major ones.
It’s a way to build your authority online. When you run a personal blog, and share original, compelling content—your expertise and experiences—you create awareness about yourself, people get to know you, and with time you could become established as an influencer.
You offer yourself a better chance at landing business and employment opportunities.
You increase your visibility on search engines and put your name out there. Hence, when people, an employer or a potential business associate, google your name, you site appears. This can be especially beneficial when there are many other people online answering the same name as you.
Secure Your Social Media Handles
Be sure to register your social media accounts using your legal name or something close to that as your username. It’s recommended that you use the same username across all channels. That’s including in your domain name. If you have multiple domain names, one of them should reflect your social media username.
Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn may allow you to answer the same profile name as another user. But then your username must be unique. And that’s what you should focus on securing. To simultaneously check for the availability of your legal or chosen name as a username on multiple social media sites, use this tool.
If there are social media platforms you don’t want to use, you can prevent someone else from registering your username. Simply create accounts on the sites for the sake of locking the username down.
A very important way to establish and protect your personal brand online is by interconnecting all your online accounts. For instance, connecting all your domains to your website and connecting your social media accounts to your website and vice versa. That way, people can find your website via your social media profiles. Or your social media pages via your website. It’s a powerful way of showing your authenticity.
Select the Domain Privacy Option
When you register a domain, your personal information (that is, your phone number, address, email address, fax…) is publicly listed on the WHOIS directory. Other info like your domain registration and expiry dates is also listed publicly. This means that anybody can easily find your personal info by running a search for your domain name on the directory.
This exposes you to many security issues:
Scammers and spammers looking to take advantage of you and your personal brand.
You become vulnerable to identity theft.
Domain hijackers looking to take over your domain name.
It becomes easy for stalkers to find your personal information.
To protect your identity, simply elect the domain privacy option. That way, your registrar will have dummy domain registration info, instead of your true personal details, published on the WHOIS directory.
Finally, never stop researching more ways to build and secure your brand online. Because as the years go by, new threats will sprout. And you want to be ready for them. Leave nothing to chance.
Talking about brand identity without mentioning ‘design’ is like talking about a building without including its foundation. This doesn’t mean that brand identity ends in design. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t.
The job of a great brand identity is to shape a business or product into a persona consumers agree with. Therefore, a brand identity has to engage all five senses when possible in order to create the perfect impression and incite the right feeling.
Sound? Think of the sound that plays you turn on your Windows computer. When you hear that sound coming from another room, it makes you think of Microsoft windows even without you seeing the origin of the sound. That’s branding.
Smell? When last did someone pass you by and the person’s scent made you think of a perfume brand or even a friend that wears the same perfume? That’s branding. Another example, one petrol station mini-mart increase coffee sales by 300% by pumping the smell of coffee near its gas pumps. That’s branding.
Taste? Pick any three wine brands with the same ingredients and taste them. Why do you think they taste different?
Touch? Have you ever bought a coat, a dress, or even a duvet because of house it feels when you touch it?
Sight? This is where design comes in. In the case of a wine business, design as a branding tool can range from the wine label and the shape of the bottle to the wine company’s website and logo?
Any of the above mentioned senses can be factored in when developing your brand identity, depending on what your business is about. However, design is the most popularly used branding tool because of its versatility. And we are going to focus on that.
Developing Your Brand Design
To develop your brand design, you need to start with the basics. When you get seamingly tiny aspects of design like fonts and colours right, every other thing falls in place.
This is the font (or set of fonts) you select for your branding materials. Typically, you can choose from four main typography categories. Check below.
Serif Fonts. These are fonts like Garamond and Time New Roman. They seem a bit old school and traditional, but they are the perfect fonts to use when you are looking to incite trust.
Sans Serif Fonts. These are fonts like Franklin Gothic and Helvetica. Unlike Serif Fonts, the letters have smooth edges and are ideal if you are looking to give your brand a more modern and sleek feel.
Script Typography. This category imitates cursive handwriting and include fonts like Pacifico and Allura. They make for a more feminine or luxurious feel in designs.
Display Fonts. These fonts are perfect when you are looking to make a bold statement–something not easily forgotten. Metallica’s lightning bolt font is a great example of display font.
Now that we have acquainted you with the four main categories of typography, be mindful as you choose one, as whichever typography you go with will go a long way in determining how people perceive your brand.
Next on the list of design attributes you need to worry about as you develop your brand identity is colour palette.
Believe it or not, colours are just ordinary. Each colour, depending on your culture or side of the world, denotes something. This means that when people see a certain colour, certain image, feeling, thought etc comes to mind. For starters, let’s take a look at the most common colours, what they denote, and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage as you develop your brand identity.
Black can be incorporated in your designs to give your brand a modern touch or a tinge of sophistication.
Brown: when you are looking to stand out from the crowd, this could be the colour to use, if only because it’s rarely used in branding. Brown may also be used to convey masculinity or ruggedness.
Pink. This is the mother of gender stereotypes. In most cultures, it is associated with femininity. If your target audience is women, this can be an ideal colour to incorporate in your branding designs.
Purple: This colour is often used to portray royalty. Thus, it might work for you when you are looking to give your brand a luxurious feel.
Blue: this is a colour that appeals to most people. It’s easily accepted by both genders. Perfect for when you are looking to appeal to a wide demographic, it can make your brand seem more trustworthy and stable.
Green calls to mind ‘money’ and ‘nature’ in most cultures. If your brand has to do with wealth or eco-friendly products, this might be the perfect colour to use.
Orange: This is often used to denote friendliness and playfulness. Use it when your brand is looking to exude those feelings.
Yellow makes most people think of sunshine. It’s the colour of happiness and cheerfulness. It can be the ideal colour to use when you want to portray your brand as fun, affordable, and accessible.
Red. This is the colour of excitement and passion. Do you want a youthful or loud brand identity? Red might be the perfect choice.
Shapes & Lines
Just like colours, shapes can incite various reactions in people. For instance, a person’s reaction to circle will most likely be entirely different from their reaction when they see a triangle. By researching the various reactions surrounding certain shapes, you can integrate a shape in your design to inspire a designed reaction with your brand.
Round shapes, for instance, often inspire feelings of love and unity.
Straight edged shapes like squares and triangles, on the other hand, can inspire a feeling of trustworthiness and stability, since they generally denote efficiency and strength.
Straight Lines too have their own connotations. While horizontal line can convey peace and calm, vertical lines often depict strength and masculinity. So pay attention to them as you develop your brand identity.
Designing Your Brand Identity
Now that you understand the foundation of your design, it’s time to choose your design assets and then work with a designer to bring them and your brand identity to life. Of course, the design assets you select should be dependent on the nature of your business. Below are the most commonly used design assets:
This is a must have design asset for every business. You should aim for a logo that achieve the following:
Make a memorable impression on your prospects.
Conform with your industry’s standards.
Favour a classic feel over a trendy one, as you don’t want a logo that could go out of fashion in a few months.
Is simple, uncluttered, and neat. In order words, visually appealing.
Clearly conveys your identity and value as a business.
Comes in various formats (JPEG, PNG, etc) and multiple sizes
Has a black and white version
Learn more about designing a great logo. https://99designs.com/blog/tips/how-to-design-logo/
This is another vital design asset worth making part of your brand identity, especially in this digital age. This is where consumers find information about your business online. If you run an online business or sell digital products, not having a website or at least a landing page is like trying to fill a gallon without a funnel. You will end up missing out leads that could propel your business to success.
Learn more about building a website.
Your Product Packaging
Whether you sell products or services online or offline, how you present that product to consumers can make or mar its success in the market. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but unfortunately that’s exactly worth people do. Therefore, never neglect your product packaging. Ensure that the designer you use gets it right.
This might sound a bit old fashioned, but trust me business cards are still in vogue. The best part is that you can reinforce your branding and the message you want to get across to consumers by having a stock up of business cards to give out. Who knows. A long lost customer could come calling simply because you gave them a way to reach you–a business card.
Remember to keep the design of your business card simple. The card should also have your logo and important contact details.
Your Email Design
If a website or landing page design number in your list of design assets, then so should an email design. Email marketing can become a means of reaching out to your customers once in a while to promote both old and new products or even educate about your company. While you are at it, remember that a simple design is better than a cluttered one. Also, stunning images can go a long way.
Your Branding Style Guide
This is a document that shows your design assets and how to use them. It can serve as a blueprint for your brand identity to ensure that future designs conforms to your original brand identity and inspires the desired perception among your prospects.
Now that You have learnt the most basic aspects of creating design assets for your brand identity, it’s time to reach out to a designer and give your business the best brand identity it can get.
Before we dive into the topic brand identity, let’s try a more familiar question: what makes up your public image?
A typical answer can entail a host of things, from your sense of fashion to how you behave in public. These all come together to make up your public image or personal identity.
Brand Identity is similar, although it involves more conscious decisions. It’s simply the marketing elements and practices that shape your business’ public image (your brand).
Before we go forward, it’s worth noting that ‘brand identity’ isn’t the same thing as ‘brand’, as is obvious above. Neither is it the same thing as ‘branding’. The three terms are very different even though they are often interchangeably misused.
Let me explain.
Your brand is your business’ public image. That is, how people perceive your business. Sometimes, perception can be false. Kind of like how some celebrities drive very flashy cars, even though they are dead broke. Thus, a brand is sometimes not how a business looks on the inside. It’s simply how it looks on the outside. It’s simply a public image.
Brand Identity, on the other hand, is that selection of elements that make up your brand (your desired public image). For instance, take the James Bond character as a brand. Some of the brand elements that make up that brand would thus be: a dark fitting tuxedo, a pair of shiny Oxfords, a clean-shaven face, a Rolex watch, a fast sophisticated car, and a healthy dose of confidence.
And finally Branding is all about actively promoting a business or a particular product through advertising and distinctive design. Branding is simply where your brand identity and marketing meet.
Why do entrepreneurs have to worry about brand identity?
Well, I will tell you why. It’s all about perception. You are either in control of how people perceive your business or you are not. Brand identity helps you be in control.
How to Develop a Brand Identity that Works
The foundation of brand identity resides in design as found in elements like your logo, the packaging of your product, your business website, your paid media, and so on. But before you jump into design assets, you need to first reflect on your business. Otherwise, you could end up creating a brand identity that falls apart once your brand is out there in the world.
Lots of brands out there are false public images. You don’t want to be one of them as you would be setting yourself up for failure in the future.
Therefore, in trying to develop your brand identity, look within. Ask yourself these questions:
What’s my mission? That is, why did you start your business?
What’s my values? What beliefs and values do you as a company identify with?
How is your company any different from other companies in your niche?
Is your company special? How?
In three words, how would you want people to describe your business?
If your business had a voice, what would it say and how would it say it?
Answer these questions and the picture of the public image you are trying to build for your business will become much clearer to you. Now, let’s do something else.
You As an Outsider
Remember we defined ‘brand’ as how people perceive a particular business. I want you to think of yourself as one of those people–you know, as a potential consumer.
Now, be honest. As an outsider, what do you think of the business you are trying to build? The image you have in your head, is it a good one? Does it match the public image you desire for your company?
Don’t panic if it doesn’t. It just means you have work to do.
When people say they need a domain name, the first thought that comes to mind is, “they want to set up a website”. While that may be appropriate, a domain name can do much more. Are you holding off on registering a domain name? Perhaps because you are not quite sure what to do with it? Here are seven ways you can use it.
Secure Your Online Identity with a Domain Name
Cyber-squatters and domain investors are getting more desperate to make money online every day. Securing your online identity has never been more important. You may not need a website for yourself or company today (very unlikely). But you most certainly will in the future. Registering your ideal domain name now will save you the headache and cost of acquiring it tomorrow from any domain investor who beats you to it.
Also, if you own a company, then securing your domain name become paramount. You might also want to secure similar names relevant to your brand. This will protect you from competitors or traffic hijackers looking to divert some of your customers or site visitors to their websites.
Even if you aren’t currently making use of the domain name, you can let it sit there, until you are ready to use it. This is referred to as domain parking.
Make Money Through Monetized Parking of Your Domain Name
People sometimes confuse domain parking and monetized domain parking. With domain parking, you simply register a domain name without using it. But with monetized parking, you opt in for your registrar to set up a dummy webpage for your domain name and list adverts targeting type-in traffic to the domain.
Making tangible money with monetized parking is not as easy as advertised online. Going with the meaning of ‘type-in traffic’, your domain name should be a popular keyword or keyword phrase. One people are likely to type into the URL bar out of curiosity or when searching for a website related to the keyword. Example: people.com. Your domain can also be a misspelling like twtter.com. The goal is capture people searching for twitter.com, but who omitted the “i” by mistake.
In any case, the number of such domain names you register will also count towards how much you make from monetized domain parking.
Sell Your Domain
Many people are into domain investing. And it’s extremely profitable for those that understand the mechanics. It involves registering domain names you believe will be in demand in the future. It also involves a bit or a lot of waiting. After which you then sell the domains off to whoever is willing to pay the price you want.
While many domain investors make hundreds or thousands of dollars on a single name, some great domain names go ahead to land their owners deals worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—sometimes even millions.
This is the major reason for domain name registration. When someone types in your domain name into the URL bar of their browser, your website is what they should find. It doesn’t matter what type of website. It can be:
A blog, where you share regular compelling content about a topic in which you are an expert.
An ecommerce website where you sell products online.
A company website where you display information about your company and your product or service, generate leads, and relate with your customers.
A personal website with info about you (this can come in the form of an author website, an online resume, even a virtual business card listing where you can be found online and offline, and so on).
Have you have ever wanted an email address that says @yourname.com? Perhaps for your personal use or for your business? You must have at a point wondered how to procure it. Well, it all starts with you registering a domain name that equally says yourname.com. Whether you set up such an email via your domain registrar or Google app, there is no denying that it will make you appear professional to whomever sees your email in their inbox.
The best part is that you can even set up as many email addresses as you want at that domain.
Forward Your Domain
There are many applications for this. You can forward your domain name to your website, Facebook page, twitter timeline, or to some other social media profile. This is especially handy when you have high-traffic domain names you simply don’t want to park. Instead of letting the traffic waste, you redirect it to any webpage of yours that needs it.
To forward a domain, simply login to your domain account manager, select the domain you want to forward, input the URL of the page you want it forwarded to, save, and you are done.
Lease Your Domain
This is another alternative when you don’t want to sell your domain name. However, it’s not a very popular one. Even so, if you find someone that is willing to pay monthly or yearly to host a website on your domain, by all means enjoy the opportunity. With leasing your domain, you can eat your cake and have it. But your domain must be a hot cake (commands much traffic or benefits whatever the renter wants to do with it) for anyone or company to want to lease it.
Just make sure that your contract with this person clearly states what they can’t use the domain for, as you don’t want them jeopardising its value by doing something illegal or something that may get it blacklisted by bodies like Google. The contract should also include the conditions under which any of you can terminate the lease.
These are the major ways you can utilise your domain name. Here are other alternatives, although most of them fall under the abovementioned ones. Learn more about domain names here.
No-one goes into a business knowing everything to expect. Business has a learning curve. There are things you learn through research or mentorship and there are things you only learn through experience. However prepared a new entrepreneur is, there comes a time early in their business life when they say, “I wish someone had mentioned that.”
This is why learning from the experience of other business people is paramount to the survival of any start-up. Although that certainly will not equip you for every single arduous and unbidden hurdle along the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur, it will guide you through most of the challenges.
Here are Ten important lessons to get you started.
Don’t Abandon Your Mission
A core mission, a prime objective, is the bedrock of every business. It’s what gets you started, and it will be what guides you through the darkest hours in your business life. It’s what nudges you in the right direction when you misstep.
Never forget why you started your business.
It’s Okay to Be Unconventional
The business world has its apparent ‘status quo’. But then making a difference in the world is about diverging from the norm to create something new.
As a CEO, you have your personal beliefs, some of which don’t agree with the perceived business norm. While following the norm can yield good results for your company, the role of a CEO, in this modern age, has gone beyond the results.
It now entails leaving your own mark on the world. It’s now also about the ‘how’—your actions, reactions, influence, and so on. It’s about the legacy you leave behind, about how you impact the world as a CEO.
Become an Expert in Every Aspect of Your Business
A good CEO leads by example. Apart from that, you should be able to temporarily fill up any role in your company if the need arises—for instance, if an employee acts up or misses work, or if extra hands are needed for a task.
Acquaint yourself with the technology used in your company, become conversant with sales, legalese, data entry, and even the manual works. The knowledge will give you more control over your employees and your company as a whole.
Employ Smarter People
You may dread that employing people smarter than you would hurt your ego, but the truth is that if this were a competition, you had already won. As the employer; you were resourceful enough to start a company—something the smarter folk couldn’t do.
If they are truly smart, they would understand you have worked harder than them, and they will respect your decisions.
Never hire people that are ineffective, even if it’s not to save your ego. Either they lead to your company’s downfall or you end up doing most of the work for which you hired them.
Maintain a Backup Plan for Your Employees
As a new company, your resources are probably limited and you want to maintain a lean team. That is okay. However, be mindful of the specialised positions. You need a backup plan for them, as you do not want your operation to decelerate or halt if you lose a team member.
Hire smartly. Hire for growth.
Consider Everything an Experiment
Nothing is perfect in business—neither an idea nor a product. While it’s okay to trust your instincts or make assumptions, you can never really understand the potentials of a product or service until you take it on a field test with real customers.
The first batch may not live up to expectation. With time, however, your products get better, but only if you experiment and learn from the flaws.
Customer will always leave feedback. Be open-minded. Take suggestions. Implement the viable ones. And produce better products.
Criticism Will Always Come
Whether from customers, rivals, or employees, criticisms are here to stay. Don’t take them so hard. Instead, fish for the gold inside them, and learn to ignore the ones targeting your company’s success.
Also, hold a regular company meeting where your employees can voice their improvement opinions. You may discern a gem that will help your company expand.
Leverage People Who Believe in You
Before establishing your company, you obviously researched your market, and you possibly already had people who loved what you do or make—or perhaps like minds in a network that has an affinity with your niche.
What location are these people in? How did you meet them? What did they love about you, your product, or service? Are there more of them whom you haven’t met? If they are in City A, then that’s where you need to start. Reach out to them first. Then grow from there.
Know When to Say No
With many opportunities out there, this is a discipline every businessperson ought to master. What you need to keep in mind is that opportunities, while enticing, always come with costs, some of which can cripple your company.
Learn to take only what you need. Don’t get greedy simply because opportunities are everywhere. Master focus and discipline.
Keep these tips with you all the time, scour the internet for more, and reach out to successful business people for advice, and you may yet scale through any hurdle on your road to becoming a successful businessperson.
Expertise doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible for a talk, course, content, or project you gave or created to go viral overnight, that doesn’t make you an expert. Expertise is not about giving talks, creating content, writing a book, or building a brand. Those are merely the manifestation of possible expertise and not the real deal.
Think of it. Anyone can research a topic today and produce content about that topic overnight, but that doesn’t make them an expert in that topic. Why? Because they simply reproduced someone else’s work in their own words.
Another example: anyone can easily don a white coat and a stethoscope, but does that make the person a doctor? No. It only gives the person the appearance of a doctor. It’s all a charade.
Who then Is an Expert?
An expert is someone that has immense skills and knowledge of a specialised subject. And the knowledge and skills have to be rooted in long-term studies, experience, and practice. This is the reason we admire experts, the reason we enlist their services. Because we are simply looking for a quick route to learning and using what they know and have.
For instance, when you hire Macaulay Gidado to help grow your business, you are simply leveraging the knowledge and experience the agency has gathered over many years of helping other small and medium businesses grow. And that’s a smart move.
How Do You Recognise an Expert?
Experts Command the Respect of Their Equals
Trust me, it’s not enough that your mindless followers respect you. Recognition means receiving endorsements from the top players, celebrities, and mentors in your field. If you claim to be a world-class expert in Internet entrepreneurship (emphasis on world-class), then you should be receiving endorsements from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Reid Hoffman. I mean, they are some of today’s world-class entrepreneurs.
An Expert Offer Value
If you call yourself an expert in blogging, then you must have a successful blog to show for it. If you call yourself a business consulting expert, then you ought to have a long row of businesses you have helped build. These show your hard work and the value you have offered over the years.
An Expert Can Mentor
Being an expert means you have ample knowledge and skills to pass on. And before you can pass on knowledge or skills, you must first learn. Guess what? Learning takes years. This bring us back to my previous point: the knowledge and skills of an expert have to be rooted in long-term studies, experience, and practice. Take a look at soccer club managers, for instance. Many of them began their career as soccer players. Jose Mourinho of Manchester United and Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid are two great examples. They each became soccer expert through many years of practice, of playing in the field. Today they are mentors.
Experts Receive First-Class Rates
The truth is that you are either a pretender who collects chaff from your clients or you are the real deal and have invested yourself in many years of studies and practice. Which would you rather be? The former is often paid chaff while the latter charges first-class rates and still have individuals and businesses begging to enlist their expertise.
Let’s face the truth. When you are endorsed by your peers, deliver value, and are truly in a position to impact knowledge and skills, people will give anything to learn or use what you know.
How to Become an Expert
Are you discouraged yet? Well, there’s good news. Expertise is achievable. Think of it. Top experts in the world started somewhere. If they were able to do it, chances are that you too can.
Here is How:
Find your passion.
Choose a field, one you are passionate about.
Set a goal. For instance, where would you be in your chosen field in the next five years?
Invest your time, money, concentration, and more into learning.
Practice, practice, practice. That the one way to improve your expertise.
As you learn and practice, always remember this quote from ‘Outliers’, a book by Malcom Gladwell: “you need at least 10,000 hours of involvement and practice to become an expert in something.”
And while you grow in your field, also remember these two points:
Expertise is relative. An expert in one location can be looked upon as an amateur in another location or on a global scale. It all depends on the standards expected of your profession in your environment.
There will always be someone better than you in your field. However, instead of becoming intimidated by this person, make him or her a challenge. That way, you will remain motivated to grow.
Any businessperson that wants his or her business to remain competitive among its peers has to channel a lot of efforts into improving its operational efficiency. This is especially true for small and midsize businesses, considering their limited resources.
To manage your business efficiently, you have to analyse every aspect of your operation and curb any excess inputs that can come back to haunt your outputs.
Plug all those holes from where money is leaking out. Don’t hire more or fewer employees than you need? Are you customers unhappy? Are you running an in-house server when the cloud can help you manage costs?
Learn how to control your expenses. If not, your business isn’t going to last long. It’s Inevitable; Companies that aren’t running efficiently drown in competition and eventually find their deaths.
The death of your venture. That is obviously not what you want. Therefore, here are some tested tips that can help you maintain an efficient operation—that is, reduce costs, stay ahead of competition, boost customer satisfaction et cetera.
Embrace the Internet
This cannot be skirted. An online presence is a requirement when it comes to doing business in this digital age. Especially if you want your establishment to remain afloat despite the many business-related hurdles that came with the Internet.
Doing business is like a ‘war’ and the emergence of the Internet is the introduction of guns into the war. You cannot keep relying on your swordsmanship or archery skills to stay life. In fact, your chances of surviving the war improves as soon as you pick up a gun.
The internet is that new weapon. New and formerly small companies adopt it and suddenly their successes resonate across the world.
To upgrade your business online, here are some of the things to do:
Set up a company website
You will need to register a domain name and a web hosting solution. You also need a web designer to give your website an appealing appearance and structure.
Run a company blog where you post free regular valuable content relevant to your niche to attract an audience that you can convert to customers.
Create social media accounts for your company. They can be a helpful set of marketing tools.
You may discover along the way that establishing your company online has saved you costs by cutting your business’ need for salespeople and offline advertising. The best part is that you may also find that sales have improved, since you have exposed your business to a much larger audience.
Only Go into a Business You Are Passionate About
An efficient operation isn’t all about the business decisions you make along the way. It can also be about you and your employees’ zeal. This is because it is with fervent passion that you and your workers can transcend the hassles and occasional disappointments, which come with doing business, without making poor decisions.
It is also your passion that compels you and your employees to prepare for work every morning with the intentions to improve your business. It means you enjoy what you do and are dedicated to it. You do it not just for the money but for the fulfilment it brings.
Passion can be contagious. When your employees see that you are passionate about your company, it becomes a sort of motivation for them and compels them to work harder.
One way to gauge your passion for your business is by examining how easily you may abandon the venture in a time of hardship or even in a time when you have ample income streaming in through another source.
Value the Help of Others
There’s no such thing as a self-made person. Along the road to building a successful business, you will bump into many resourceful entities—mentors, clients, companies, colleagues, employees et cetera. Whether you pay them for their services or they pay you for yours, the bottom line in that they help boost your business.
Therefore, if you believe you can go the road alone, then you might as well abandon the venture all together, because no one person can run a business singlehandedly and maintain operational efficiency. When you value the services of other people or companies, your business mind becomes wired to recognise when, where, and how to seek professional help.
You really don’t have to drown when there are lifeguards nearby. Reach out to other professionals. If you need to outsource a business need in order to run your company more effectively, by all means do so. If you have colleagues or employees, favour teamwork.
Plan How You Introduce New Technology
One of the keys to stellar productivity is focus. Your employees need to be undistracted in order to carry out their duties efficiently.
Introducing a new technology—software or hardware—perhaps to replace an old one can cause a great disruption in your workers’ ability to concentrate. Think about the time they would use trying to figure out a new tech and how to integrate it with their daily work routines.
If you plan how and when you introduce technology and stick to that plan, you may be able to carry out the integration without risking productivity. In every business, for instance, there are seasons when orders for products and services peak and there are other seasons when they are at their lowest.
Analyse your company’s sales statistics with finding a pattern in mind. There should be a slow season, and that’s where you should focus. If you are going to bring in a coach along with every new tech, then make your timing coincide with a slow season when you know that low productivity wouldn’t be much of a problem.
Also, if your employees already undergo yearly general training, then perhaps it’s during the training that you should present a new tech.
That way, you won’t have to worry about productivity whenever you introduce a new technology into the company.
Use Cloud Computing
There are a lot of things cloud computing can do for your business. In fact, cloud computing is the epitome of efficiency, especially when running an in-house server is taking more than it is giving back. Here is how cloud computing can benefit your company:
Flexibility. With an in-house server, your company may only be utilizing just a fraction of the system’s capacity. Yet you suffer costs to run and maintain the whole system. With could computing, however, you don’t have to pay for the disk space or bandwidth you don’t use.
You are protected against disaster like theft, fire outbreak, virus attack et cetera.
You claim costs your company would have suffered via capital expenditure—like acquiring an on-premises server.
Your employees get to access needed data and collaborate even when not in the office. That can surely boost productivity.
The cloud can offer your business more with respect to efficient operation. You just need to make sure you understand your company’s IT needs so that you can be able to select the perfect cloud computing package for you.
Maintain a Professional Customer Service
Depending on the size of your business, you need to have a customer service department. When customers can easily reach your company to communicate their issues, the risk of bad reviews goes down. This protects your company’s reputation and also increases your chances of retaining your clients.
The work of your customer service is to provide support—that is, to encourage customers and also resolve any issues they may have concerning your product or service before it escalates. Neglect that goal and you are bound to frequently lose your customers to your competitors—which does not say much about ‘efficiency’ and ‘competitiveness’.
To maintain an effective customer service, the staff in that department should possess the following traits and skills:
Patience and attentiveness. They don’t hurry when attending to customers. They stay with customers, listen, try to understand what customers want, and then proffer support.
Good communication skills. They don’t use vague words or make vague statements. You staff should talk to customers in a way that the customers will understand.
They are excellent at managing surprises.
They are persuasive.
Your staff should be very conversant with the product or service your company is selling. That way, they can easily attend to any issues pertaining to the product or service without any doubts.
There is more to a good customer service–you can find out here.
And there is also more to increasing operational efficiency, and it is not all about the general guides and tips crowding the Internet. It is also about the kind of business you do and what works for it.
Thousands of people launch their business every day. Unfortunately, many of them have little or no idea of what to expect and they end up falling into the same pitfalls that brought down a lot of start-up companies in the past
If you are in the process of starting a new business, this post is meant to bring to your attention pitfalls to avoid. As a wise man once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Waiting Too Long to Launch Your Business
People stall for various reasons. Some wait to have a certain amount of audience (for instance, 5,000 subscribers) before launching. Some are simply afraid to start. Others don’t know where to start. Whatever your reason for waiting is, you can’t grow a company without taking the first step. If you need help, then reach out to the right people and begin somewhere. Most successful businesses didn’t start with a bang. They started small.
Solving the Wrong Problem
Don’t solve a problem no one has. Business is all about making money by meeting needs, by solving problems. This means that if you want a bigger audience for your product, then that problem should be solving a problem a larger number of people have.
Not Paying Attention to Customers
Customers are the backbone of any company. And since businesses make money by solving customers’ problems, the only set of people that can establish that your product or service is effective in solving their problems is your customers. And this is why success in business requires listening to your customers.
Don’t just listen to the customers that love your product. Also listen to the ones that ask for refunds and use the information you have gathered to tweak your product to better serve the needs of your customers.
Not Being Unique
Competition is one aspect of doing business every entrepreneur contend with. When you and another brand offer similar products, you have to give customers a good reason to patronise you and not that other brand. This is where your product’s unique selling point comes in. What extra features does your product have that the other brand doesn’t have?
Focusing on an Idea You Are Not Passionate About
Passion is good for business. As a small business owner, you need to have a broad knowledge of your niche, a knack for coming up with creative ideas relevant to that niche, and the stamina to see your goals ideas. This is what passion is all about. If you are not passionate about your business focus, then it’s very likely doomed to fail.
Having Wrong Expectations
We are all dreamers. Some expect their company to take off immediately. Some others expect their business operations to be easy. Unfortunately, life is unfair, and overnight success is a fairy tale. To succeed in business, you need to be somewhat flexible and resilient. Failure and disappointments will always come, but what will elevate you is your ability to learn, tweak your strategies and goal, and forge ahead.
Many Ideas, Very Little Done
Thinking is good. But when it’s all you do, your business is bound to fail. There’s no point in thinking up new ideas if you are not implementing any of them. There has to be a balance. Thinking should take at most about 20% of your business time. The rest should be ‘doing’.
Going It Alone
Nobody can grow a successful business alone. You need people. Depending on your type of business, you need employees, partners, suppliers, consultants, service providers, and, of course, customers. You can even reach out to other entrepreneurs for support.
The bottom line is that you cannot do it alone. Get help whenever and wherever you need it.
Thinking Your Social Platform Is a Business
Whether you run a blog, YouTube channel, Podcast, or even an Instagram account with a large following, thinking it’s a business is a mistake. It’s simply a platform for sharing ideas, networking with people, and growing an audience. Not a business. If you want to make it a business, then you need to create a marketable offering around such a platform and invest both time and money into making it earn money for you.
Quitting Before You Start
Fear of making mistakes and that of failure are common feelings that accompany doing business. Often, people succumb to the fear and quit before they even start. What these people don’t realise is that by quitting early, they have already failed.
We are human. Prone to mistakes. We all fail sometimes. Mistakes and failure aren’t the end. They are just part of the process. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or fail. Instead, challenge yourself, and when you fall, get up, learn from the mistake, and move on.