Running a business is no small feat, and researching modern business news will make it clear that there are many factors at play. Business news may discuss finances and loans, inventory and stock, digital marketing efforts, outsourcing labor such as graphic design or recruiting new candidates, becoming more energy-efficient, and a whole lot more. Fortunately, any new business owner or aspiring entrepreneur (such as you) can listen to the latest business news and get a general idea of what your business needs to succeed, and the following business tips can help, too. Whether you’re a salon owner, sell Mercedes OEM parts (or even aftermarket Mercedes parts), running a marketing firm for dentists, or involved in any other type of business, there are dozens of things you must focus on to ensure the success of your organization.
The internet and computers are powerful tools for business today, and in fact, you may get your business news online, such as digital newsletters and videos. The bad news, however, is that technology will always be exploited by those who want to get ahead dishonestly. Cybercrime is a reality, and viruses, phishing scams, spyware, worms, and more are used to steal information and money, or blackmail people or simply crash an infected computer for the fun of it. Such malicious programs (and their inventors) should not be allowed to get the better of you and your business’s computers. Even small businesses need computers, and larger offices may have dozens or even a hundred desktop PCs that employees are using. They will need protection.
So, you can track the current business news and computer news alike to learn what’s out there, and how you can defend your company from harm. Professionals can be hired to install protective software on all work computers at your business, including laptops, and this includes firewalls and anti-spyware. IT workers can help with this, and make sure that your defense programs routinely examine your computers for any harmful programs and delete them. Weekly virus checks, for example, are a good start.
These virus scans can’t always protect you from human error, though. Make sure that you and all your employees practice safe habits for internet and email use, to prevent the accidental download of harmful programs and viruses. For example, do not download anything from a suspicious website, and watch out for phishing scams. Many virus makers send phony emails that mimic messages from legitimate parties, such as banks or credit card companies, asking for personal information. They may send a message such as “Someone tried to hack your bank account. To verify your data, enter your bank account number and routing number now.” But this is a trick, and none of your employees should fall for it. Real senders never ask for bank account or credit card information, or your SSN or various passwords. Also, never click on links from strange e-mails, and don’t open their attachments, either. Doing so may put a virus in your computer.
When you catch up on business news, you may realize that it’s time to take out some loans and buy a second property to expand your operations and keep up with the competition. What sort of loan is best for your business’s needs? If your business and personal credit scores are high, and you have a solid income, it may prove viable to get traditional loans, such as from banks. But be aware that even if the conditions are favorable, getting a loan approved takes some time, and you might determine that your company does not have that time. Or, your credit scores are iffy, or you have difficulty proving your income and capacity to repay a loan.
In this case, instead of a regular loan, you can look to get a hard money loan. Such loans are ideal for borrowers who need loans fast, and a hard money loan is based on collateral rather than the borrower’s (your) ability to repay that loan. Often, hard money loans are taken out to buy a new property, and if you cannot repay the loan, then the creditor simply takes the property and sells it elsewhere. Bear in mind, though, that while hard money loans are easy to get approval for, such loans tend to come with high-interest rates, often 10% or higher. Hard money loans are ideal for short-term investments, such as if you need to open a second location for your business for a certain season. Or, you buy a property and finance it with a hard money loan at first, then refinance that property with a more conventional loan once your income increases and your credit scores improve.
Consider Structural Remodeling Projects/Landscaping Work
While you tune in to business news, you may notice that many of your competitors are working from very attractive premises, such as modern buildings that have nice front lawns. This is no coincidence. A company — whether a salon, consulting firm, or roofing business — that gets featured in business news is doing many things right, and that includes some things that may be taken for granted. Why care about the landscape? Even though many business deals and purchases are done over the phone or internet, many customers and business partners still visit physical locations for business, and they want to see a welcoming place. A shoddy, run-down building, or a property whose lawn is covered in trash or weeds, is going to make a poor impression.
Make your building more welcoming by re-assessing its aesthetics, and determine how recently various remodeling work was done. If it’s been a while, it may be time to refresh the place. If your business has a front lawn, hire landscapers who can plant a few new trees, for example, or have some bushes and flowerbeds planted and taken care of. Grass can also be planted, and low brick or stone walls can border flower beds for added looks. And of course, be sure to clear up any trash or dead plant matter, such as a dead tree or a stump. You can find and hire tree removal services to clear away dead or ugly plant life, and this may be especially prudent after you just bought an older property.
Don’t forget the building itself, either. Remodeling crews can fix and update just about anything, from new lighting fixtures and new plumbing (such as low-flow toilets) to new flooring and repainting the walls. Even basement remodel work can be done, and the roof might need to be fixed up as well. This will cost money up front, but remodeling efforts can pay off in the long run, since a nicer building may draw in more customers and therefore help drum up business. Also, having more energy-efficient utilities and low-flow plumbing can save money on the electric and water bills.
If the weather in your business’s area is generally sunny and cloud-free, such as in Texas or Arizona, consider having solar panels put in. In the last 10 years, solar panel technology has become truly viable and economically competitive, and for a reason. Such panels can allow a building (such as your business) generates its own electricity and disconnect the structure from the general grid. This allows the solar panels to pay for themselves and then some, and they come with backup batteries that recharge during the day (in case of night work or cloudy days). So, solar panel contractors can be hired to install the panels and set up the wiring, and once everything is inspected and approved, it’s activated. As a bonus, this allows your business to join the “go green” initiative and help cut down on the need of fossil fuel plants (which heavily pollute the air).
Pay Attention to Competitors
No matter how niche your company’s line of work may be, it probably has some competition in some shape or form, especially with so many online markets out there. Bear in mind that the United States is home to some 32.5 million businesses, most of which are small (under 500 employees), and many items of business news may cover them and show you what they are like. Huge names will appear too, but for the most part, you are urged to know what companies in your weight class (so to speak) are doing. Of course, you should not stoop to unethical or shady means of tracking the competition. Instead, attend trade shows and get an idea of what’s out there, and you can have very informative conversations with the staff at many booths there. Also, be sure to attend seminars pertaining to your field of work, and this can be a helpful reference, too.
And this is on top of whatever business news you hear. All this can help you adjust your company to fit the times, and you may realize that your business could easily grow, so you may opt to undertake some aggressive strategies to make the most of that. Or, your industry may be facing hard times, so you can adjust early and adopt more defensive policies.
Revamp Your Customer Service Approach
Due to the internet, communication is now faster than ever, and more flexible and convenient, too. Still, this is no time to neglect the human element. After all, most consumers are sensitive about how they are treated by store associates or customer service reps, and it may take just one case of bad customer service to drive someone away for good. On the flip side, good customer service can entice a customer to not only make a purchase, but become a repeat customer, and that is vital since repeat customers are highly lucrative for any business, including yours. Make every effort to create and maintain loyal customers by phone and in person.
This means avoiding complacency, and you should encourage your sales reps and customer service reps to continuously learn new and better techniques for making sales and helping customers by phone. You may be surprised by how much more there is to learn, and any employee can stand to improve every year. This applies to in-person sales reps and other associates, who should always be drilled on how to better treat customers and appear approachable, friendly, and helpful to anyone who walks in through the doors. Attending seminars can help with this, and listening to speakers at keynote events, as well as keeping current on business news on sales techniques. This is a big field, after all; it has a lot of support, and you can take advantage of that.
Stay Active on Social Media
This is a continuation of the earlier point. Not only should your employees have excellent conversational skills over the phone and in person, but your digital presence should be strong, too. The best businesses excel at both, and you can hire outsourced labor to help maintain your brand’s online presence if need be. Web design and SEO firms can be hired to create and maintain your company’s website and improve organic (human) traffic, and you can sell ad space to any interested party. This has been true for decades, but you may notice that modern business news also discusses platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Platforms like those aren’t just for fun. Within the last decade, many companies have realized that those platforms have enormous marketing value, and they were proven right. You, too, can include your company in this trend. Your company can have social media profiles created, and with them, you can send messages and ads to customers all over the nation (or even across the globe) at any time of day, for a very low cost. Such social media profiles can share images and videos, news updates, announcements on new products or sales, and create polls. Many customers may also ask questions or make comments, and surveys show that customers appreciate companies that promptly respond to their input.
Your company’s website can act as the central hub for your operations, anything from digital catalogs for furniture to lists of vacation getaways (and getaway packages) to chatbots that are available every hour of the day. Social media profiles will share smaller bits of information and may contain links to your company’s website. If customers are visiting your website on mobile devices, such as smartphones, you should ensure that your company’s website is mobile-friendly, so guests can easily navigate it.
Running a business will always be a complex and demanding endeavor, and you may sometimes feel overwhelmed. But if you can maintain clarity on your business’s goals and its intended audience, then you can break anything down into a series of steps and follow them, from remodeling the premises to improving the website to training your employees to treat customers better. Do this, and it might be your company that is the next featured enterprise in modern business news and set an example to the others.