In their new book, Reverse Innovation in Health Care: How to Make Value-Based Delivery Work, Vijay Govindarajan and Ravi Ramamurti make the convincing case that the costly U.S. healthcare system has a great deal to learn from efforts in India. Faced with the challenge of providing services to consumers who can afford to pay very little, the seven “Indian exemplars” profiled in the book have developed the ability to provide quality heart surgery and eye care at a fraction of the cost charged in developed markets like the U.S.
Work remote often? We’ve got you covered with twenty-five of our favorite working from home tips for you to implement into your daily routine. Working from the comfort of your couch, home office, or bed, offers flexibility and work-life balance that most professionals desire.
After all, who wouldn’t want to work whenever they wanted, on the couch in front of the TV in their PJs with a laptop?
Spend more time with their children?
Or have more home time in general?
Although working from home seems like the ultimate luxury, most professionals forget about one crucial element:productivity.
Working from home is great, but it can be a real drag if you struggle with staying productive.
Tips to Stay Productive When Working From Home
Here are the top 25 working from home tips that will help you stay productive—and successful.
1. Build a Permanent Work Space
The first step in your “work from home” journey is to designate an area of your home specifically for work. This could be an empty or spare bedroom that you convert to a home office. If you are pressed for space, you can set up a desk for your computer and office supplies.
Regardless of space or location, establish an area of your home where you will work, and commit to working in this space every day. Be sure your work space is comfortable (especially in any season) and enjoyable, and where you can work quietly when needed.
2. Invest in Technology
Yes, setting up a home office or work space may require a small investment. Much like starting a new business, you may have to purchase technology, such as a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone system to do your job every day.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may also need to purchase applications, hardware, and/ or software. Our recommendations? Invest in whatever you need to comfortably and easily do your job.
3. Invest in Comfortable—and Functional—Office Furniture
You may also need to invest in office furniture, if you haven’t already. Depending on the amount of space available, consider purchasing a large desk, bookshelves, and a comfortable office chair.
Remember, the point is that you will be working in this space every day. So, be sure to purchase comfortable and functional furniture, including ergonomic furniture or equipment, if needed.
4. Set “Work Hours”
Now that you have your office or work area set up, it’s time to get down to business—literally. If you are going to make working from home an everyday affair, then set specific business or work hours.
The beauty of working from home is that you can be flexible in setting your own working hours. For example, if you are most productive in the morning, or if you need to get the kids off the bus at 3 pm, then you may want to set your work hours from 7 am until 3 pm.
Regardless of your schedule, be sure to establish set work hours to follow each day. Be sure to also communicate your work schedule to colleagues, staff, and your boss, if you have one.
5. Avoid “Work Creep”
Some people believe that a work from home career can be invasive in your personal life. This is because if you are constantly home and near your work, then your work will begin to creep into your home life. Yes, the risk is real, but only if you let it…
This goes back to setting work hours. By setting specific work hours and sticking to them each day, then you can manage a healthy work schedule. When your work day is over, whether that is at 3, 4, 5 or 6 pm, shut your laptop and shut your office door and leave it behind until the next day.
6. Discover Your Peak Productivity Periods
Every individual and professional is most productive at different times of the day. For example, some individuals are “morning people” and they are most productive, alert, and focused during the morning hours. Others are more productive in the afternoon and evenings.
The point here is to discover when you are most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods. (More tips on this point to come later in this article.)
7. Make To-Do Lists
When you work from home each day and you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, it can be challenging—and sometimes overwhelming—to keep track of what you have to do each day. It’s easy to lose sight of priorities, tasks, deadlines and even the little things.
In order to stay on task, quickly write down all the things that need to get done at the start of each day. If your list is quite lengthy, then set goals and time limits for accomplishing each task. After you complete each task, cross it off the list. This simple technique is both effective and fulfilling.
8. Use a Planner
In addition to making to-do lists, get into the habit of using a calendar or planner. For example, if you work from home some days but you are on the road others, get in the habit of using a planner to write down and keep track of deadlines, appointments, and meetings.
9. Use Apps
If you aren’t a “write-it-down” to-do list or planner person, don’t worry—there are plenty of digital calendar and task management apps available that can still help you.
Some top task management and calendar apps include:
Most of these apps offer both web-based and mobile versions, so you can download them to your phone. Some can even be integrated with other apps, such as Slack for team collaboration. And the best part? Most of these apps offer a free version.
10. Don’t Work in Your PJs.
We know—this is one reason why people love working from home… If you love working in your PJs, then you are probably killing your productivity.
Even if you don’t have to leave the house, make it a point to set a morning routine and stick to it. Therefore, when you are ready to sit down to work, you will be mentally and physically prepared for the day.
11. Don’t Work in Front of the TV
This is another productivity killer. Although you might treat “working from home” as really a “day off” that involves your couch and Netflix, glancing at your laptop from time to time, making this a habit will not get you very far…
Again, as mentioned above, treat your work day as just that: a work day. Avoid the TV and other distractions so you can focus on your work and getting things done. If you need the TV on as background noise, then do so, but avoid looking at it every few minutes. If you find that the TV is distracting you, shut it off and try listening to music or using a sound machine instead.
12. Do Set a Morning Routine and Stick to It
Another enjoyable perk of working from home is not having to get up, rush out of the house, and commute to an office. However, working from home doesn’t mean you get to skip your morning routine altogether. You should still set an alarm, get up early, take a shower, grab coffee and breakfast, and prepare your lunch, just like you have to leave the house.
13. Do Set an Alarm
Even if you don’t have to be up as early to leave for the office, you should still set an alarm and commit to getting up at a certain time each day. This will prevent you from sleeping in too late, and will keep you on a healthy sleep schedule.
Human beings are creatures of habit. We are incredibly dependent on routines, schedules, and structure. Therefore, by setting an alarm, following a strict morning routine, and setting specific work hours you will be healthier, more focused, more alert and more productive. Remember, a healthy body is a healthy mind.
If your day allows, take a lunch break and go for a walk, go to the gym or stretch. Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, which increase happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity. If you are an early-morning jogger or gym-goer, then work that into your routine each day.
If you want to make exercise a habit, or become an early-morning exerciser, but struggle with getting out of bed, set an alarm across the room so you are forced to get up out of bed to shut it off. You can also leave yourself motivational sticky notes by your bed, so they are the first thing you see and read in the morning.
15. Eat a Healthy Lunch or Snack.
Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. So, when it’s time for lunch or a snack break, we are immediately drawn to the usual snacks, such as chips, chips, cookies or leftover pizza. When we work in an office, we are at the mercy of whatever is available in the cafeteria or whatever lunch we brought from home.
However, research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables has a direct link on overall productivity levels. If you are an avid snacker, then make it a point to make yourself a healthy lunch, just as you would if you had to go into an office. You can also avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether.
You can also reward yourself with a sweet snack on Friday after a long, successful, and productive week.
16. Take Short Breaks
Although we have focused most of this article on how to stay productive while working from home, sometimes the opposite can happen… We think that by working from home we will be able to get more done because there are less distractions. Therefore, sometimes we end up overcommitting and working too much, which also kills productivity.
You can easily avoid this by working short, five-minute breaks into your daily schedule, or even make them a part of your “rewards system”. Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels.
17. Use a Rewards System
We mentioned using a rewards system in the point above. This is an easy way to help you get things done—even the things you have been procrastinating or putting off.
For example, take a five-minute break to go for a stroll through your neighborhood, grab a healthy snack, take your dog to the park down the street, or switch over the laundry once you finish a phone call or complete a difficult task or deadline.
Although it seems simple, using a basic rewards system will help you get things done and also feel fulfilled.
18. Do Use Productivity Apps
If you struggle with staying on task while working from home, even if you have already tried some of the tips above, then you may need to kick things up a notch and use a productivity app.
For example, some productivity apps will track the amount of time you spend on each task, and even minimize distractions. Some examples of these types of apps include the following:
Even if you work for yourself, and you do not need to report time to a manager, using a time tracker app will help you see your productivity levels each day and week. This will not only provide you with insight as to when you are most productive during the day, it will also show you how much time you spend on each task.
If you are spending too much time on a particular task, or more than what is necessary on repetitive tasks, then it may be time to look into some automation solutions for even more productivity!
19. Stay Off Social Media
I think we can agree that we are ALL guilty of this one from time to time—or every day. Social media can be a giant time suck if you aren’t careful. In fact, studies have shown that the average adult spends nearly nine hours per day on social media. That is more time than most people spend sleeping or working!
Furthermore, according to an article recently published by CNN, Facebook and Instagram now reveal to users how much time they spend in each app.
If you are a social media addict, then make it a habit to shut off social media notifications during the day, if possible. This will help avoid distractions, so you can focus on getting more done.
20. Listen to Music
Okay, so you shut off social media and the TV, and you are sitting at your desk and focused on your work. But, now it’s tooquiet…
Listening to music while you work can help boost productivity levels and even enhance creativity. Even if you aren’t a huge music fan, studies have shown that listening to soft, classical music while you work can help improve focus.
21. Leave the House
You just invested time and money in setting up a designated work space or home office, and now we are telling you to leave the house? Yes and no. Leaving the house on occasion can give you a change of scenery, which can help boost creativity and productivity. If you need a slight change of pace, try working in your backyard or at a nearby coffee shop.
22. Use Video Chat
Interact with others! Working from home every day can get pretty lonely, especially if you are single or live alone. Make it a point to chat with colleagues, team members, or clients each day.
Video chat is a great way to stay connected with other human beings. There are also a number of video chat applications available today, such as:
- Uber Conference
- Google Hangouts
Depending on the nature of your work and your position, you could end up spending almost all of your day on calls. If you spend a lot of time on the phone or in video conferences each day or week, then set aside time in your schedule each day for calls or video chats.
23. Use Your “Lunch Break” for Errands and Appointments
If you work from home each day, then you have a ton of free time to do what you want and go where you want, right? Maybe, but we don’t recommend that. Structuring your day is important. If you need to run errands, or schedule the occasional doctor or dentist appointment, try to schedule them for your “lunch break”, just as you would if you worked in an office.
24. Avoid Family, Friends, and Pets
This can be difficult, especially if you have young children at home, or have multiple pets, all of whom want your attention. If you are home all day, every day, then family and friends might think that they can show up whenever they please.
Of course, you probably welcome and enjoy the company, it’s important to remember that this is your work time. Be sure to set and stick to specific work hours and clearly communicate those hours with your family and friends.
25. Create a Vision Board
If you have been working from home for several years, and have mastered most if not all the points above, then you working from home might be becoming boring, dull or stale. You might struggle with sticking to your schedule, or enjoying your work. If this sounds all too familiar, then it might be time to take a step back, re-evaluate your business or work, and then approach it from a different angle.
A vision board can help. A vision board is just that: a board that you can use to write notes and post pictures of your dreams and aspirations. The visualization aspect of a vision board is a great and powerful mind exercise. It can help you feel the way you want to feel. This could help you get out of your work from home slump, and pave a new, clear path to productivity and success.
Start putting these working from home tips into effect today to streamline your routine and increase your productivity.
Republished by permission. Original here.
Photo via Shutterstock
Leaders must increase their capacity to learn amid changing conditions. Take our quiz to find out if you are seeking opportunities to grow. For more insights, see “Leaders: Break Through Your Learning Blockers.”
Instructions: Evaluate each of the following twelve behaviors and rate your experience regarding how consistently you demonstrate.
Almost 13 percent of all beer sold in the U.S. meets the Brewers Association’s “craft brewer” definition, according to BrewBound.com.
But if you look at these beers’ journey from brewery to your lips, it isn’t always direct. Small Business Trends chatted with Brian Connell, co-owner of HK Hospitality, a group of eight bars in the northeast which specialize in local and imported craft beer. The origin story of HKH began in the late 1990’s and actually isn’t rooted in craft beers, but when Connell and co-owner Tony Doyle decided to pair classic pub food with craft beer, it was an instant hit.
Not every trend will be right for your business, but finding the right one can be transformative.
Small Business Trends: What advice works well for a bar to grow?
Brian Connell: We brainstorm a lot because in any business, being relevant is key. In the 2000’s, the trend of craft beer became an opportunity for us. We thought craft beer could help our first bar, B.B. Doyle’s, turn into something more than just a typical Irish pub.
But we knew nothing about craft beer, so we relied on sales reps to teach us. One turned into a mentor for us. Through his knowledge and enthusiasm, we were able to immerse ourselves in the world of craft beer. In that decade we opened two House of Brews five blocks apart. One was the old B.B. Doyle’s. It was fitting and profitable to keep B.B. Doyle’s a “regular Irish pub” during the Broadway run of “Riverdance.” If you remember, that was the show with Irish dancers. The Gershwin Theatre was across the street and still is. However, we knew that if Riverdance were to end as most Broadway shows do, we’d be smart to be “different” in some way. Riverdance eventually came to an end, so we decided a new name and craft beers were good decisions.
Today, HK Hospitality has eight established locations — four in Hell’s Kitchen Manhattan and four in Astoria Queens. In Manhattan, the one that’s more of a restaurant is Mom’s Kitchen & Bar Midtown, Jolly Monk was its previous name. New York Beer Company is our bar closest to Times Square. In Queens we have Oliver’s, Astoria Craft, Mom’s Kitchen & Bar, and Halsey’s Tavern.
Small Business Trends: How do you research competing bars?
Brian Connell: My partner Tony is more creative; I’m more technical. I jokingly say it’s my duty to visit every bar in the neighborhood, but we certainly tap into the wisdom of our employees too. Many on our payroll have been in the bar and grill business for years, so it’s helpful when they keep that “professional eye” open, even if they’re just out having fun.
Because if other bars do things differently than we do, it’s useful to know this, and it’s not for copying; it’s more about how we could maybe expand on something or add our own flair. It’s important to have a sense of what’s effective, what’s trending. New York Beer Company is a very large space and it’s not easy to keep it full seven days a week, as much as we’d love that. So it’s great having a partner with a creative mind and an ability to spot good trends. I also attend official community boards! When you run a business, be informed.
Small Business Trends: That’s cool. Not every bar owner attends CB meetings. What are some facts about your business that even your regulars might not know about?
Brian Connell: We also offer catering from any of our locations through ezCater.com. We’ve served music and TV studios, movie sets, parties, investment companies, all-day affairs and the like. Because all our locations have complete kitchens, if necessary we can split responsibilities between two or more of our kitchens. Catering works out nicely for us. And we can even cater in 24 hours, but most of our clients give us a week’s advance notice.
Our Manhattan bars are so close together on the map, it’s almost a ready-made pub crawl, so when NFL games are on, football-themed pub crawls are something we’ll do seasonally. Beverage companies love our pub crawls because people are sometimes more receptive to a new product in a fun atmosphere.
Small Business Trends: What are some tough decisions you’ve faced that small businesses can learn from?
Brian Connell: Most of our UFC fans (Ultimate Fighting Championship) have shifted over to our 51st Street House of Brews. At New York Beer Company, UFC showings have given way to live music nights, because travelers staying in nearby hotels were asking about where to go for live music. So Saturdays at New York Beer Company need to be “one or the other,” meaning UFC or live music, not both. But there’s a high-profile UFC fight coming up in a few weeks, so we’re wondering if we should make just that one night a UFC night. But there’s been positive feedback about the live music nights; it has momentum; we don’t like to disappoint. We’ll decide on that soon, but having multiple bars thankfully allows flexibility, for example with catering. Needing to make tough decisions is the reality for every business owner.
Bar exterior: Amanda Stevens, FireTheCanon.com
Pub crawl poster: Alex Yong
Others: HK Hospitality
This article, “Riding the Craft Beer Trend Successfully” was first published on Small Business Trends
If you want to get inspired by CEOs of global companies, thought leaders, entertainers and authors, Dreamforce is the place to be.
Staring on September 25 and ending on Sept. 28, the four day event will have over 2,700 sessions for hands-on training and certifications.
Dreamforce is known for providing the latest Salesforce product innovations for users across all industries.
These include insights for companies of all sizes, whether you have five employees or thousands.
The conference is hugely popular, so it is sold out. But you can click the red button to register for a special code to gain access.
Featured Events, Contests and Awards
September 25, 2018, San Francisco, CA
Every year, the world’s most innovative minds come to Dreamforce to inspire, excite, and motivate attendees. Past speakers include Michelle Obama, Taraji P. Henson, Klaus Schwab, and Susan Wojcicki. With 2,700+ sessions to help every role in every industry succeed, opportunities to get hands-on with the latest product innovations, and thousands of Trailblazers to learn from, Dreamforce is not to be missed. Register now to lock in your spot and blaze your trail to the best Dreamforce ever!
- DigiMarCon India 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 19, 2018, Online
- DigiMarCon Asia Pacific 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 19, 2018, Singapore
- Fall Tech Fest 2018 – Richmond VA
September 20, 2018, Richmond, Va.
- Privacy and Security 2018
September 25, 2018, Washington, D.C.
- APQC’s 2018 Process and Performance Management Conference
October 01, 2018, Houston, Texas
- Digital Book World 2018
October 02, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.
- LeadsCons Connect to Convert 2018
October 03, 2018, Boston, Mass.
- The Customer Service Summit NYC (October 4 – 5, 2018)
October 04, 2018, Brooklyn, NY
- Chief Analytics Officer, Fall 2018 – Boston, October 8-11
October 08, 2018, Boston, Mass.
- Gartner Sales and Marketing Conference 2018, Las Vegas, NV
October 09, 2018, Las Vegas
- Brand Partnership Forum
October 10, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.
- Listening to the Voice of the Customer Workshop
October 10, 2018, Chicago, Ill.
- Rhodium Weekend 2018
October 11, 2018, Las Vegas, Nev.
- Real Estate Wealth Expo Featuring Tony Robbins and Pitbull – Bay Area 2018
October 13, 2018, San Mateo, Calif.
- CPI Global Summit, 16-17 October, New York
October 16, 2018, New York City
- Agriculture 4.0
October 16, 2018, San Francisco, Ca.
- Small Business Expo 2018 – LOS ANGELES
October 18, 2018, Los Angeles, Ca.
- LEAP HR: Manufacturing
October 23, 2018, Chicago, Ill.
- FUND Conference
October 24, 2018, Chicago, Ill.
- Crowdsourcing Week
October 24, 2018, Online
- Public Vote to Crown America’s Most Unique Small Business Underway
November 08, 2018,
This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.
You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.
I attended HubSpot’s INBOUND conference last week, where about 24,000 marketers descended on Boston for four days. It was a far cry from the 200 folks who were at the very first INBOUND a decade ago.
While at the conference I had a chance to spend a few minutes with Jon Dick, HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, and pick his brain on a few of the hot topics currently facing marketers today. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To see the full conversation watch the video below, or click on the embedded SoundCloud player.
Small Business Trends: HubSpot is known for inbound marketing and marketing in general. But recently you added Service Hub. You are the inbound marketing company. Now you’re saying, okay we have customer service too. How challenging is that from your perspective to sell?
Jon Dick: From my point of view, HubSpot is an inbound methodology company. And I think that unsurprisingly over the past 12 years the inbound methodology has just evolved a lot. It started with this inbound marketing thing. But pretty quickly we were like this sales space, something’s fundamentally changing here. And there’s something we have to think differently about.
And now, over the last 12, 24 months we’ve really been looking at the role of the customer and delighting the customer in the entire growth of a company. And we realized that it’s just such a core part to what inbound is. And so, you know if you think about inbound and its most abstract level, it’s about adding value to people.
It’s about adding value before you extract value. And I think what we believe is that the customer’s kind of been ignored in that. And that once someone buys they don’t get a ton more value from you as a company.
And so as a marketer I’ve personally found it a very natural extension.
Small Business Trends: So, being not only an inbound marketing company, you’re a VP of marketing and you deal with customers who are trying to figure a lot of this stuff out.
Jon Dick: Yeah.
Small Business Trends: With change and technological advancements, and best practices, what are some of the things that your customers are needing help with or are challenged by from a marketing perspective today?
Jon Dick: I’ll tell you what HubSpot has needed help with, and the things that my team has been really focused on. And we tend to publish about this stuff, and I think that drives our customer community to adopt a lot of these things.
I think first of all unsurprisingly and as everyone has witnessed, search has just continued to change a lot. And at the core on inbound marketing is the ability to track people through search. And so, we’ve spent a lot of time, and Matt Barby who runs our SEO team has spent a lot of time trying to figure out how you deliver a modern SEO strategy.
We’ve done a lot of testing. We’ve published a lot of content around it. And we’ve actually enabled our software to deliver on it. We call it the pillar content model. And it’s all around topic clusters, and pillar content, and how to really tell Google these days what your company does.
We’ve done a lot to figure out Google snippets. And how to help Google index your articles, and your blog posts for snippets because obviously that reduces your clicks from SERP a significant amount, so you want to get into those snippets. Search is always changing, continues to change. I think keeping up with that is something that our teams invested a lot in.
I think one of the most oft said things in the marketing space is that email is dead. They’ve been saying that for how long?
Small Business Trends: Forever it seems like.
Jon Dick: Probably since 2008 when you came to INBOUND. I don’t think email is dead. My personal observations around email are the following though. Number one, I don’t do a lot of communication with my friends anymore through email. And that has me a little bit worried as a marketer because it means I only communicate with my colleagues and with businesses through email.
And I think your personal indications are kind of a leading indicator of how you communicate in all walks of life. So that has me worried. And so one of the things we did last year was we said we gotta get our email kind of up to speed with how people want to be communicated through email. So we set a goal last year to cut our email volume 50 percent.
Small Business Trends: Wow.
Jon Dick: We just went, and we said we’re cutting volume. We’re going after all these pools that we’ve just been sending all of this email to. And guess what happened? We get more traffic to our website from email and 50 percent of the volume than we did when we were sending higher volume because people weren’t opening our emails anymore.
It just seemed like too much. So now folks are getting an email from us hopefully. You can tell me if this is true or not. Hopefully you’re finding that it’s valuable to you and you’re getting a lot of value from it.
Small Business Trends: Wasn’t that one of the stats that Dharmesh actually popped up about? Either Dharmesh or Brian, that if you send an email, and it’s kind of more of a self serving email that like 85 percent of the people actually think less of your brand?
Jon Dick: Yeah.
Small Business Trends: So in this case less is more.
Jon Dick: Less is literally more for us. I think that’s a common thing. I think getting obviously your chat experience great. Figuring out how to leverage bot automation. It is popular for very important reasons right? If you’re gonna fight so hard to get traffic to your website, create a way for them to engage with you right away.
The model that worked for a really long time was fill out this form, and we will follow up with you and you will follow up with us. And we will go back and forth. And we’ll find a time to talk and meet. And that was fine in a world where people weren’t overwhelmed with emails.
But things get lost now and people have been trained by companies like Netflix, and Lyft, and Amazon, to expect things now. And so, we’ve really done a lot of to embrace what we call just real time connections. The ability to book a meeting right away, the ability to chat right away. And I think that’s an important part of any company’s monetization strategy.
Small Business Trends: Well you mentioned chat bots. So I have to talk a little bit about the voice end of that, talking about voice interfaces. There’s a lot of people who have Alexa, and Amazon Echo devices, Google devices, Siri’s on the phone. Are you starting to see any kind of movement in terms of leveraging voice as an interface into some of the things that you’re doing around marketing?
Jon Dick: I think it’s going to be a very natural part of the evolution of chat bots candidly. I kind of view chat bots as a stepping stone in the path towards voice bots. Some things are always I think going to be done through text. And I think many things are going to be best communicated back to someone through text, or through image if you’re looking at data and stuff like that. I think it’s really hard to just hear a stream of data and make sense of it.
But I think that what we’re learning as marketers with chat bots is we’re learning how to create experiences, and leverage machine learning to actually create really good intuitive experiences that allow people to get to the answer they’re looking for more quickly.
And I think we’re just going to see that people are going to keep asking those questions, but they’re gonna ask them via voice instead of via typing it out themselves. I think we’ll see that. I think we’ll see a lot of companies in this space start launching voice services at some point fairly soon.
Small Business Trends: Do you think that with the Echo Show, who has the screen and Google is coming out with one of theirs, I think the Lenovo that has a screen. Do you think that’s going to impact or accelerate the adoption of voice from a consumer perspective in marketing?
Jon Dick: I think so. I mean again, I think it’s the fusion of information. One of the big things we’ve learned in the past 12 or 18 months is that people want options, they don’t just want to communicate on one channel. Think about your life and the way that you communicate right?
You know if you and I were trying to connect, you might email me on LinkedIn or InMail me on LinkedIn and I’ll be like, okay cool this is good. Can you email me so we can find a time? I’d give you my email, you’d send me an email. And then the day of I’d be like, what’s your mobile so I can text you? Like people just move through channels.
Anytime we think we know exactly what someone wants and try and limit them to that, we almost always have lower conversion rates and lower engagement rates. So when we open up options, on our website where we say, do you want to book a meeting? Do you want to chat? Or you want to call us? We see 50 percent of people book a meeting, 20 percent chat, and 30 percent call us.
Small Business Trends: So it’s all over.
Jon Dick: It’s all over the place. People want options. I think it’s the same thing when it comes to voice and visualization. To imagine that anyone just wants voice is probably not the right answer.
Small Business Trends: Right.
Jon Dick: It’s the same in my opinion with bots and forms. Bots and forms are the same product. It’s the same thing. It’s just an evolution of how you capture information and how you get people to the right content that they want. So I think we’re just going to see all of that kind of merge together. And I think the presence of screen is going to accelerate voice.
Small Business Trends: So there’s so much coming at marketers today. Consumers are smarter, their more tech savvy. And so much coming at them from a content attention span kind of thing.
Jon Dick: Yeah.
Small Business Trends: What do you suggest over the next 6 to 12 months is going to be the biggest challenge that marketers have to get across and get over in order to stay connected with customers over the long haul?
Jon Dick: I think it’s the data challenge more than anything else. I think we all can see and envision what the futures going to be like. And this ability to have this omni channel experience and multiple approaches to how to communicate with people effectively and have all the context.
I think the problem is going to be having all your data underlying it effectively. And I think having great CRM is an awesome first step for that. I think you’re going to see CRM’s evolve a whole bunch in the way that they fundamentally operate and the data underlying them.
I think that’s the biggest challenge. And I think unsurprisingly marketers who are really data savvy and can help envision how that needs to evolve are going to be really successful.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it’s an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.
Hurricane Florence is slogging its way toward the North and South Carolina coastline. But in one community smack in the middle of the cone of uncertainty, small restaurant owners are telling Flo to kiss their grits … or fondue.
As it sits now just off the coast of Wilmington, NC, Florence is a Category 2 hurricane. That’s a dramatic change from Wednesday afternoon, when it was listed as a major Category 4 storm.
Small Business Impact of Hurricane Florence
However, the downgrade isn’t reducing much of the risk to small businesses in the path of the storm. Flooding and storm surge remain a very dangerous threat to these businesses — threats that could put some companies, sadly, out of business forever.
In a tweet Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center warned residents in the affected areas not to get a false sense of security now that Flo is a Category 2 storm.
“Do not focus on the wind speed category of #Hurricane #Florence! Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected,” the agency insisted.
Do not focus on the wind speed category of #Hurricane #Florence! Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected. More: https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/eiD4c8pkRx
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 13, 2018
Experts expect the hurricane to make landfall on Thursday evening or it could stall off the coast but still bombard the area with torrential rain.
Restaurants in Wilmington Prepare for Hurricane Florence
At around 6 p.m. Wednesday, the owners of Little Dipper Fondue published this celebratory post to their Facebook following:
“And…. done! Flo sho! Now we can only wish that the penny on the road brings luck to us and those businesses around us!”
In a late-night message to Small Business Trends, owners of Little Dipper Fondue summed up the experience, saying, “It’s been a whirlwind of emotions!”
One of the last businesses open in Wilmington on Wednesday was extra busy. It’s reported that Goody Goody Omelet House kept extra staff on hand the day before Florence was expected to make landfall to satisfy all its customers.
Photo via Shutterstock
Most companies got out early this week. On Tuesday, the Cape Fear Seafood Company restaurant posted this message to Facebook followers:
“Cape Fear Seafood Company will be closing tomorrow Tuesday, September 11th at 8 p.m. in order to give our staff and their families time to prepare for and evacuate the area if necessary with Hurricane Florence approaching.
We wish you all the best through the next several days and hope that everyone remains safe throughout the storm.
We will reopen as soon as it is safe and look forward to serving you all again soon!”
Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn, which has four locations, including one in Wilmington, NC, posted this message to followers on Facebook Wednesday:
“We will be CLOSED WEDNESDAY, Thursday, and Friday.
Due to Hurricane Flo, we will be closing ALL FOUR LOCATIONS at 2 p.m. Wednesday and will be closed Thursday and Friday. Depending on conditions, we will try to reopen on Saturday, Sept. 15.
BE PREPARED and STAY SAFE, folks!”
Florence Will Cause Scheduling Nightmares
Restaurants aren’t the only businesses facing disruptions and a likely drop in clientele with the approach of the storm . The down time is going to hurt a lot of beauty salons wherever Florence makes landfall.
In Wilmington, the owners of The Rockin’ Roller Salon decided to close up shop on Wednesday, too. They expect to be closed until Sept. 18, next Monday.
They let clients know on Facebook they’ll get to their appointments after they return and open for business. But imagine the headaches caused by a week’s worth of appointments needing to be rescheduled — on top of whatever Florence causes.
Even the local Chamber of Commerce pulled up stakes earlier this week as the storm advanced. According to the group’s Facebook page, Wilmington’s chamber closed on Sept. 11 and expects to remain closed the rest of the week.
Check out all these other images from around downtown Wilmington as businesses there prepare for Hurricane Florence:
This small business kept the doors open to customers on Tuesday but boarded up the windows in advance of the storm.
Photo via Shutterstock
Farmin’ locked up tight on Tuesday, a full 48 hours before Florence was ready to strike Wilmington.
Photo via Shutterstock
The On a Roll shop was getting ready to roll out of town on Tuesday as well.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “Small Businesses in Wilmington, NC Prepare for Worst of Hurricane Florence” was first published on Small Business Trends
Who’s really to credit for the booming economy?
The party responsible may more likely be found in a small business office than the Oval.
NFIB Small Business Optimism Index August 2018
The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index reading for August hit 108.8, the organization reported this week. That’s a new record, topping the previous high of 108.0 set way back in July 1983. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index has been tracked for 45 years overall.
The term optimism may be a bit misleading here, however. Usually this index gauges a sentiment but as NFIB officials are noticing, the record was reached because the feeling of optimism and expectations turned into real actions by businesses.
“At the beginning of this historic run, Index gains were dominated by the expectations: good time to expand, expected real sales, inventory satisfaction, expected credit conditions, and expected business conditions,” says NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg in the release announcing the new numbers.
The beginning of the run he’s noting was November 2016. By December of that year, the Index reached the top 5% of its all-time readings and hasn’t gone below that mark since.
Dunkelberg adds, “Now, the Index is dominated by real business activity that makes GDP grow: job creation plans, job openings, strong capital spending plans, record inventory investment plans, and earnings. Small business is clearly helping to drive that 4% growth in the domestic economy.”
So, what’s fueling the record heights for small business optimism? Mostly, according to NFIB data, it’s the amount of jobs previously created and the inability to fill those jobs now. Job creation and unfilled jobs each hit new records in the August report. Job openings, as tracked by NFIB, are at a 45-year high.
NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan suggests the policies of the current resident of the Oval Office may be helping, too.
“Today’s groundbreaking numbers are demonstrative of what I’m hearing every day form small business owners — that business is booming. As the tax and regulatory landscape changed, so did small business expectations and plans,” Duggan adds in a prepared statement.
“We’re now seeing the tangible results of those plans as small businesses report historically high, some record breaking, levels of increased sales, investment, earnings, and hiring,” she says.
Here are some other highlights from the NFIB Optimism Index:
- August marked the 9th consecutive month of reported sales gains among small businesses.
- Number of small business owners planning to build inventory rose to a record level, a net 10%.
- A net 34% of owners say now is a good time to expand, tying a record set in May.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “Small Business Optimism Smashes Reagan-Era Record for August” was first published on Small Business Trends
Selling items on eBay can be a lucrative way to make money. Like with any business, the more streamlined and efficient your operations are, the more you can increase your sales. This is when using tools that save time and effort when listing items on eBay can prove a godsend to high volume sellers, enabling them to list more items and consequently sell more products.
eBay Listing Tools
If you’re a high-volume seller on eBay, take a look at the following ten best eBay listing tools.
Jazva is an all-in-one ecommerce cloud-based system designed to help retailers optimize multi-channel selling operations, attract new customers and increase sales. You can automate listings from Jazva, gain full visibility of stock and stay on top of sales to keep customers happy. Jazva’s eBay Repricer feature allows you to automatically adjust pricing based on eBay competition. Contact Jazva for more information on its pricing plans.
Skubana is a tool that is specifically aimed at helping high volume merchants on eBay. It automates repetitive tasks, enabling you to connect and import orders from each channel you sell on. Skubana automates everything for you, so you can stop wasting time and sell with greater confidence in the likes of eBay. You can request a quote by getting in contact with Skubana.
Supreme Lister is software designed to help eBay sellers increase their sales. The software allows you to make responsive eBay designs which will make your listings appear perfectly, regardless whether buyers are viewing your items on a desktop or mobile device. Supreme Lister also comes with free listing scheduling, helping you save time on listing items. The software’s basic plan is free, which includes 100 design templates.
CrazyLister claims to be the easiest eBay listing software available. This simple and extremely popular listing management software allows you to create new listings quickly, edit live listings instantly and keep ended listings forever. With CrazyLister’s drag and drop editor, you can create professional eBay listings in minutes. CrazyLister’s Starter package for entrepreneurs and small businesses costs $20 a month.
Vendio is a one-stop solution to help vendors sell more efficiently and effectively on eBay. This eBay listing management software enables you to schedule listings, track inventory, fulfill orders and communicate with customers, all from one place, making your eBay selling efforts easier and more profitable. Vendio’s packages are available in different tiers, ranging from the $29.95 per month Topaz plan to the $249.95 Dimond plan.
Algopix is innovative software, which enables eBay sellers to make data-driven decisions which decrease risk and optimize sales on eBay and other ecommerce platforms. By providing actionable product insights, Algopix helps save you time, as well as increasing the number of sales you make on eBay. Algopix’s Basic plan costs $19.99 a month and allows you to analyze 1,000 products each month.
By integrating with eBay, Veeqo helps you manage orders more efficiently, making it a great tool for bulk sellers. With Veeqo’s Product Management Software, you can manage any number of products listed to marketplaces like eBay, control prices and manage intricate details, all from one single convenient platform. Veeqo’s Accelerator plan costs $200 a month.
WonderLister is a great tool for serious eBay sellers, designed to help sellers create, edit, relist and duplicate listing with ease. With WonderLister you can edit listings in Excel style and use an HTML description builder without needing to know HTML. You can manage Best Offers with greater proficiency with auto accept and auto decline limits and duplicate listings ‘X’ number of times with the Bulk Duplicate feature. WonderLister’s Beginner plan costs $5 per month for two eBay accounts.
The right item title can help sell your items as it enables the maximum number of buyers to views your products. Title Builder is a free app, which enables you to find the optimum title and keywords for your products. Simply enter the name of your items and the select from the best keywords and category related to your item.
Sellbrite is a comprehensive solution for managing eBay listings, fulfillment, inventory and reporting. You can connect your account and import your existing listings with ease and bulk your products on eBay in seconds using the Sellbrite software. eBay sellers can also monitor, revise and relist items from one convenient place on Sellbrite. Sellbrite’s Pro plan costs $49 per month, for up to 100 orders a month.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “10 Best eBay Listing Tools for High Volume Sellers” was first published on Small Business Trends
More than half (51%) of U.S. employees are experiencing greater job satisfaction today than ever before. This follows seven consecutive years of improved employee attitudes about wages and job security, according to a recent study conducted by The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association headquartered in New York City.
The Conference Board surveyed approximately 1,500 employed individuals who together comprise a snapshot of the U.S. workforce, to ascertain the level of employees’ job satisfaction. Participants weighed in on 23 components that contribute to job satisfaction.
If you’d like to retain more of your small business employees, the study’s findings provide useful insights. It highlights what employees say gives them the greatest satisfaction in the workplace.
Factors Contributing to Employee Job Satisfaction
According to The Conference Board, employees are looking at the people at work, followed by commute to work; interest in work; supervisor; and physical environment when gauging job suitability. If you are worried about job hopping, those are the key factors you should be addressing to improve job satisfaction and enhance workers’ productivity in your small business.
“To attract and retain the most productive employees in today’s labor market, companies must make a bigger commitment to addressing the factors [that contribute to job satisfaction] within their control,” Rebecca L. Ray, Executive Vice President at The Conference Board and a co-author of the report, says in a statement. “Among other steps, that entails addressing the job components with which employees are least satisfied, including job training, the performance review process, and promotion policy.”
2018 Job Satisfaction Statistics
The greatest disappointments for employees in their jobs were identified as workload; educational/job training programs; performance review process; bonus plan; and, in last place, promotion policy.
Generally, employees want to feel like they are growing professionally. And so they are prioritizing components relating to their professional development. If this need is not met, and they don’t get the job satisfaction they want, employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs at a record rate, the report finds.
“As workers continue to voluntarily leave their jobs at a record rate, the need to prioritize components relating to their professional development could not come at a more pressing time,” Ray says.
Stop Employees Voluntarily Quitting Their Jobs
Employees are quitting jobs confident they’ll get a better one since there are too many jobs and not enough workers to fill them, the report says.
To stop employees quitting their jobs, employers are finding they have to keep sweetening the pot to satisfy their workers for retention and productivity. And this trend is set to continue in coming years.
The Conference Board projects the labor market will continue to tighten through 2018 and 2019. The organization says the tightening labor market will benefit employees and challenge employers.
As a small business owner, you MUST prepare for what’s coming.
“In 2019, we forecast unemployment to dip close to 3.5 percent, a low rate not seen since the 1960s,” Gad Levanon, another author of the report and Chief Economist for North America at The Conference Board, says in a release. “As a result, we can expect employers to continue reducing educational requirements in the hiring process, leading to fewer workers feeling overqualified in their jobs, which further raises their job satisfaction.”
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “Job Satisfaction Hits 51% But Small Businesses Must Still Work to Retain Employees” was first published on Small Business Trends