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Can Startups Rely on a Remote Team?
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Why Do Small Businesses and Agencies Fail at Social Media Marketing?
3
7 Common Ways That Small Businesses Waste Money Marketing
4
2016 Trends: How Remote Team Hiring Has Increased Revenue For Small Businesses

Can Startups Rely on a Remote Team?

Remote hiring is something which is slowly being accepted more and more as we edge into the future. Shunned earlier by many companies owing to the lack of clarity regarding the entire process, remote workers are now gradually being inducted into the workforces and task teams of various companies. This is contributing to the growth of workplace expansion beyond the physical confines of the office. What’s even more encouraging is the fact that this trend is being quickly adopted by smaller companies, especially start-ups.   

There’s good reason behind people getting excited about remote offices. It is, first and foremost, quite cost-effective, saving money by not having to invest in the physical expansion of the workplace. The cost of office furniture, broadband internet connection, computers, air-conditioning, etc., is really difficult to muster for most start-ups. So, it is logical that the trend of remote working from different locations would come as a blessing in disguise for them. There are plenty of jobs that do not require the daily physical presence of workers in the office. A few examples would be a biochemist, a biomedical engineer and construction engineer. If you are planning to set up a firm that is primarily centered around these (or similar) jobs, then you’re at full liberty to forgo the office set-up. Instead, you would conduct business from your own home (or any other ‘headquarter’ location you choose). and a few decentralized locations scattered across various geographical locations.

Now, the question that arises out of all this is: Is it possible for start-ups to completely bank upon a remote team instead of an office team?

The answer is multi-layered. There are several things that ought to be kept in mind while beginning to work with a remote team. The first thing is the culture of the workplace. Remote workers that are being hired should first be tested for cultural compatibility as well as the speed of task completion and work ethics followed. The second thing is the structure of management. If you have a work supervision and employee productivity tracking system that depends on the physical presence of the employee in question, then problems are bound to arise. As I’ve mentioned previously, there are certain kinds of jobs that people can hold without having to actually travel to an office. If a start-up is made up of people who would be working chiefly from home or other remote locations, then an office would not be required in the first place. On the other hand, if a huge part of the company’s staff consists of people in traditional office-based roles, then that company would need a separate work building. It really depends upon the kind of industry the company is part of, and the type of work the company does.

Here’s what you can do if you’re a start-up and want to utilize a remote office:

  • Don’t use e-mail for communications; make use of Skype or Slack. The only place where you should use e-mail for communications is when you are notifying your employees on an official communication made with another organization. Another instance would be when you’re sending out official invites for a conference call. If you have a very small staff, you may have no need to communicate via technology.
  • You could make use of, as we have already stated above, real-time communication technology such as Flow, Skype, Skitch or Slack. These not only help in interpersonal and inter-group communication but also have live video chats and can also be used to keep track of employee progress. When it comes to keeping all work progress recorded centrally, there are few alternatives to cloud storage mechanisms such as Dropbox. It not only keeps all files stored in one place, sorted according to size, date, priority, and employee, but it also has the provision to bring back a deleted file by clicking the “undo delete” button (Note: This can be done within 30 days of deletion).
  • Create a position that is Two-in-One: Office Assistant and Manager. You could have the same person who has the responsibility of office secretary also carry the responsibility of the event scheduler. They would not only assign you the tasks to be completed but also fix meetings, book flights, carry out transactions with banks and other similar work. Thus, you could have a person handling your projects who knows the details and schedules of the company inside out. Having a position like this can help with better task coordination and optimization time. This position, acting as a schedule manager, is also an able observer of the company’s progress. Owing to their deep knowledge about the work mechanism and schedules of the company, they would be able to provide valuable inputs regarding the work to be completed.

In general, there are many good reasons for a start-up to go completely remote. It is definitely worth the time and effort to explore this as a possibility if nothing else.

Why Do Small Businesses and Agencies Fail at Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is an integral part of making a site more popular to the target consumer base. There are numerous benefits to placing an advertisement on social media. If you open a fan page of your company on Facebook, for instance, then you can use your personal contacts list to spread the link and gather more followers by means of ‘likes’. The more friends that ‘like’ your page, the more likely your page will be visible around the virtual world. Suppose one person from your Facebook ‘likes’ your page. The people on their friend list would be able to see that the person liked a page and would be curious to check that page out. If the curious person also ‘likes’ your page, the cycle of spreading ‘likes’ goes on and on. If you follow the principles of online PPC techniques,  you can place advertisements on Facebook (and other social networking sites) where a person would be able to view your advertisement if he/she displays a leaning towards the kind of product or service you sell.

Twitter is not far off. The Twitter Analytics feature platform is of huge benefit to business owners. Through it, a business can track the changes in the size of their customer base. In addition to this, they can also see the demographics the followers belong to, and their tastes and preferences.

The question remains: why do small businesses shy away from using social media to their full benefit? The answer is multifaceted:

  • The majority of small companies, especially start-ups, are intimidated by the idea of social media campaigning. To them, a social media campaign is something that requires a lot of time, resources, efforts and energy that cannot be afforded. A lot of these companies are not aware of campaign tracking tools such as Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Omniture, etc. Because these companies want to play it safe, under the notion that social media campaigns only work when a company is well established, they end up depriving themselves of the benefits that online business campaign tracking tools can give them.
  • Many times, a company doesn’t even have a plan for conducting a campaign on social media. They simply enter the space and work randomly, even taking flawed routes (such as bombarding members with spam messages). As a result, their campaigns fail and they end up dismissing the effectiveness of social media campaigning as a whole. Social media marketing requires a plan in order to succeed. Each business needs to target a certain demographic and then develop their campaigns accordingly, instead of simply making a universal appeal. They need to make use of tools, such as market survey tools and holding consumer contests, with special offers to be won as prizes. Yet, all these, for some reason, intimidate smaller companies.
  • There may be companies that feel that the competition is very packed and that the ‘early birds’ have caught all the worms. That is, the bigger or early-arrival companies have already reaped all the benefits from a particular social media strategy and occupied all the niches. While this fear is not totally unjustified, it is also true that sustained and diligent marketing can indeed popularize a company among social media users without even needing to spend much on advertising. For example, if a company sells health products, they can hire people to research health-themed Facebook groups (or other social media communities)  and promote the products of the company. They can participate in discussions on social media groups and share the positive aspects of the products that are being sold by the company. In doing so, you gain popularity within a particular niche.

Thus, it’s mainly a combination of unrecognized potential and a presence of uncertainty regarding social media that prevents small companies from achieving success in social media marketing campaigns. The scenario is slowly changing, but as small and niche businesses become more informed about social media marketing, there’s a promising future ahead.  

7 Common Ways That Small Businesses Waste Money Marketing

Growing a small business is not that easy. We start a business because we may be a good accountant, lawyer, website designer, business consultant, lawyer or other professional service providers, but that does not mean that we are experts at growing and marketing our own small business. As we are not business marketing experts, we tend to follow what others do. And most of the time, it does not work at all. Here are the most common mistakes that small business owners make when it comes to spending money and how they can turn those losses into gains.

Building a social media following

It may sound good, but building a following on sites such as Facebook can actually cause more harm than good for your small business, in that it can be a waste of time and therefore money. As the algorithm of Facebook is always changing, it has made it harder for marketers to reach their clients organically. Based on 500,000 likes per year, only around 2% of your followers actually, see your posts. The good news is that now you can buy Facebook ads so that you can boost the number of users who see your posts.

Solution: Try to get your client’s email addresses and send them weekly newsletters with updates about your services. Also, you can offer incentives to those who recommend your products or services to their friends or family.

Not Understanding What Your Customers Want

Marketing is all about knowing the needs and wants of your audience, but small businesses tend to lack this information. You will be wasting your time as well as money if you do not understand the demographics of your target market.  

Solution: The first thing that you need to do is to identify who your customer is and determine what their needs are, where they reside and what they can afford to purchase. In defining who your primary customer is, you learn how to meet their needs and have a happy clientele.

Being Impatient and Giving up Too Soon

Marketing needs a lot of time as well as effort when growing a business. If you expect to get hundreds and thousands of followers in just one week, then this will seriously upset you. And as a result, small businesses give up, in spite of starting strong.

Solution: The solution to this is quite simple. First of all, do not raise your expectations too high. Give your small business a year or two to ramp up. Once you start getting followers, you can engage them with as much interesting content as possible.

Trying to do Too Much

Creating an account on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and a lot of other social networking sites is highly ineffective for a small business. As a small business owner, you have fewer employees. So don’t try to be online everywhere at the same time, all at once.

Solution: You can’t do it all – accept it. Choose one or two social media sites that your customers use the most and devote a few hours per week in promoting your products and services.

You Are Not Tracking Your Marketing Results

You may have Google Analytics set up, but do you really use it at all?  Many small businesses aren’t aware how this tool works. They have a lot of questions and confusion regarding Google’s PPC and AdWords. As it is an effective marketing tool, business owners simply buy ad space without fully understanding how those ads work. This is one way that you could unwittingly be wasting a lot of money.

Solution: You can set up conversion tracking for your ad campaigns. This way you will get to know how effective your ads are at attracting your customers.

You Have Not Changed Your Marketing Strategy in Years

Times change, and so should your marketing strategy. If you have a marketing strategy that you have not changed in years and are still investing in it, this is simply a phenomenal waste of money.

Solution: It is suggested that you try new things every year. As marketing is always evolving, you need to evolve too.

Huge One-Time Ad Campaign

There are a number of cool marketing tactics that you can try. While some of them work great, others do not. This is especially true if you only have one shot to make them work. Diving into marketing campaigns that require a lot of money is a waste of money for small businesses.

Solution: You need to first test the ad campaign with a modest budget. If you see that this new tactic is not working even with a smaller budget, it is likely that it will not work with a large budget.

Are these the areas in which your business is wasting money? If so, then it’s time that you make some changes in your marketing plan and grow your business.

2016 Trends: How Remote Team Hiring Has Increased Revenue For Small Businesses

Recruiting new members is not a decision that small business owners can choose to make lightly.

Forget about recruiting, if you are a ‘lean start-up’ just taking off, you think twice thrice even before buying news office supplies. Also, as a start-up with a potential to branch out and grow in unlimited directions, hiring permanent in-house employees can significantly add weight to the list of considerations that you have to make while taking the most minimal of risks.

Most small businesses, thus often end up with an inadequate number of resources to manage everything on their plate. But that’s not the right for businesses who really are looking to expand and reach their full potential.

So how do we address this problem?

Cue: Remote Hiring of Dedicated Team Members

Hiring of remote & distributed yet dedicated teams gives businesses all the benefits of an in-house team without forcing them into monetary or other commitments that they may later come to regret.

Let’s explore how that works.

Talent pool from around the globe

Your brilliant business idea might be in need of some serious talent for execution. If you restrict yourself to your backyard, chances are that you are compromising on your needs. Hiring a dedicated remote team where you pick and choose the exact talent that you need for your business will do the job for you.

Saving Money

To hire say 5 more people working for you, you do not have to incur costs of providing them additional workstations, office supplies, utilities etc. Plus operations that have remote staff usually have less turnover, meaning that you save time and money on training and hiring in the long run.

According to a Forbes magazine report, American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote worker options.

Agility & Scalability

No project is same, and you cannot expect every person to be good at everything – but guess what – it doesn’t really matter when you have a dedicated remote team. When you need certain skills for a particular project, you can list those skills and hire a team accordingly. For the next project, you can move on to a different team comprising of a different set of people. This kind of agility is gold for small businesses as they like exposure in diverse work.

The agility can also be a source of scalability and can help businesses figure out what they do best. A dedicated team gives you space and encourage taking minimal risks once a while without the fear of large-scale effect.

Stability

You know the only difference between hiring freelancers and a remote team? With a remote team, you are not only getting the right skills for your project, you are also getting people to lead that team and optimize that team as per your requirements and goals. So you essentially do not need to worry about different time zones, unavailability, erratic reporting, divided attention in projects etc.

Two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.

All these advantages and benefits said and discussed, if you are that kind of a leader who likes having his team close and likes keeping an eye on her/his team to help them reach their full potential – you might still be shying away from a remote team despite all benefits – technology comes to your rescue.

The collaboration tools available in the market these days are so sophisticated that we wouldn’t be exaggerating if we say that you’d almost feel no difference between a team right under your nose and one 10000 miles away. You can easily optimize your team’s performance with these tools and a few effective communication practices

“By telecommuting, 83 percent of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate with co-workers was the same as, if not better than, it was when working on-site.”

It’s not easy to build a winning small business team. You won’t instantly find the perfect team members. However, if you take the right approach and you look for people with similar core values, you will be able to build a winning team and grow your company.

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