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Indian Entrepreneur

How to Become an Entrepreneur in 2022

Key Points

Resources to find ideas, funding, and more on starting a business

 

For many people, entrepreneurship is the ultimate career goal. And we love entrepreneurs at NuvoDesk!

Starting a company can be one of the most rewarding and interesting opportunities you’ll ever get. When 90% of startups fail, we want to give you the tools you need to succeed! If you’re aware of the risks but you’re still determined to be an entrepreneur, start with the information in this article.

How to Become an Entrepreneur

how to become an entrepreneur checklist

1) Identify Profitable Startup Ideas

A successful startup begins with an idea. Here are some techniques for thinking of a product or service:

Ask your friends what frustrates them. 

How could you solve this problem for them? As you brainstorm, ask your friends to keep track of the day-to-day things that annoy them. Then go through their lists and look for problems you might be able to solve.

Get inspired by other emerging startups. 

For instance, if you go to Product Hunt, you can find a constantly updated curation of the newest apps, websites, and games, for digital inspiration. Meanwhile, Kickstarter is great for physical products.

Identify trends to future-proof your idea.

People need different products as the world continues to change. For example, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing apps created a demand for a third-party app that will tell you the cheapest fares when someone needs a ride. Read trend predictions for your industry or market, or check out universal trend forecasting publications like Trend Hunter and Springwise. Then ask yourself, “If these predictions come true, which tools will be necessary?”

2) Identify and Focus on a Growing Category (or Categories)

Pick a category that interests you but isn’t overly competitive.

  • After you’ve picked a category, study all the products/services in that category.
  • What are each product’s benefits, and how do they vary?
  • What’s their packaging and marketing strategy?
  • What do reviewers say?
  • What are the potential improvements?
  • What services are people taking advantage of and why?

Once you’ve picked a product/service, consider questions like:

  • What can be done to improve it?
  • Can I add a new feature?
  • What about a different material?
  • Can I personalize it somehow?

3) Fill an Underserved Demand

Many people start successful businesses after noticing a gap in their market. For example, perhaps you learn there’s a shortage of high-quality sales outsourcing. Since you have experience in sales development and account management at early-stage sales companies, you might decide to offer this service to tech startups.

4) Make Something Better (or Cheaper) than What’s Out There

You don’t always need to develop something brand-new or even reinvent the wheel. If you can offer an existing product at a lower price point, better quality, or ideally, both, you’ll be able to attract plenty of customers. 

5) Validate Your Startup Idea with Buyer Persona Research

Once you’ve got an idea, you need to know other people will actually want your product or service. Start by understanding your buyer persona, i.e. the real people you plan to sell to. 

Once you’ve identified your ideal client, interviewing people who fit the bill should be an important component of your research. Show them a working demo of your product, ask what they like and what they don’t, how much they’d pay for it, how often they’d use it, and so on.

6) Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

An MVP is the simplest, most basic version of your tool or service possible. It’s functional enough to satisfy early customers and get a sense of what you should improve.

Starting small with an MVP keeps your costs low to start but allows room for growth as the product continues to be validated.

7) Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a formalized document that details your business goals and the steps you’ll take to achieve them. This may include marketing strategy, budget, and financial projections and milestones.

Your business plan also includes your company’s mission, vision, as well as long-term and short-term goals. This strategic planning helps guide the growth of your startup.

8) Continue to iterate based on feedback

Keep in mind that your MVP will not likely be enough to stay competitive in the market categories you choose.

Optimizing your flywheel: Generating interest and demand (marketing the product), securing customers (selling the product), gauging satisfaction, improving the product based on feedback. Repeat.

Gaining Experience as an Entrepreneur

There are two main ways to approach gaining experience as an entrepreneur: doing the work yourself or hiring for it.

Acquiring Experience Yourself

You can acquire experience as you develop your new business by:

Networking with other professionals.

Professional networking will expose you to more professionals you can learn from or even find a willing mentor. You can join online professional networks, like LinkedIn, to find out about virtual or in-person networking events to connect and meet other entrepreneurs.

Conducting independent research.

Conducting personal research from reputable sources and other entrepreneurs will help you better understand your responsibilities.  Behavioral research helps you find resources to simplify your business operations and grow your business as you scale.

Take entrepreneurial courses.

Exploring entrepreneurial studies through a college institution or certification course can offer more in-depth knowledge about breaking into the industry than typical internet sources.

Hiring for Experience

Oftentimes an entrepreneur beginning a business will hire for experience to guide them in the right direction.

Work with a business coach.

A paid option to gain experience is to work with a business coach or consultant. 

Business coach – This coach leads an entrepreneur toward solutions. This means that the entrepreneur is actually improving their own competency.

Business consultant – A consultant will solve problems for the entrepreneur as a contractor.

Add experienced individuals to your team.

Learn from people you add to your team. Their talents may fill the gaps in your own knowledge as time progresses. 

Ways to Finance Your Business

Many entrepreneurs typically grow their startups by bootstrapping (securing funding on their own), through small business loans, or by securing funding from investors. Here are some resources to check out:

SBA Funding Programs – The SBA offers resources to help you find lenders, secure investment capital, win grants, and more.

Incubators – A startup incubator provides resources to help grow the business in exchange for equity. 

Angel Investing – An angel investor uses their own money to invest and focus on helping entrepreneurs build and grow in exchange for equity. 

Venture Capital – A venture capitalist does not use their own money to invest and therefore takes fewer risks and has less agreeable terms, which is why you may want to avoid VC funding until you’re more established in your business. 

Counseling & Advocacy

Training, counseling, and advocacy can help you fill knowledge gaps.

SBA Learning Center – The SBA offers a learning platform “designed to empower and educate small business owners every step of the way.” This includes business guides, courses, and development programs.

Business Hubs – Some local governments cultivate business hubs that combine low-cost office space, networking, and other resources to support small businesses and develop the local ecosystem. These are location-specific and more common in urban areas.

Trade/Professional Associations and Business Groups – Membership in a professional association may help you build trust with your customers, but it often comes with additional perks such as job boards, legal resources, training courses, and more. These are location- or industry-specific.

Support Networks – You don’t have to go through the trials and tribulations of starting and running a business alone. Try entrepreneur networks, groups, and events where members share experiences and learn together.

Here’s how you can build your support network:

Find and attend entrepreneur events – The SBA offers both online and in-person events for entrepreneurs. Simply use their search engine to find the ones that make the most sense for your situation.

Join existing organizations and peer advisory boards – Organizations such as the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the Tugboat Institute, and Vistage offer membership and resources to entrepreneurs.

Get a mentor or business coach – Personalized attention from a mentor or coach can help you work through issues one-on-one and help you develop as a leader.

Get Started

Starting your own company has pros and cons (as with anything we do in this life.) Success doesn’t happen overnight. Now that you know what it takes to become an entrepreneur, gain experience, and fund a business, we hope you can find a place at NuvoDesk!

By Leslie Radford
Woman Plays with Paper Plain at Office. Procrastinating

7 Steps To Help You Go From Task Procrastinator To Goal Dominator

Key Points

Use these steps to help you create an action plan you can stick to

The first full week of March is Procrastination Week. You can either use this week as an excuse for a much-needed mental break or use it as a motivator to accomplish tasks.

While we have all procrastinated a myriad of times in our lives, it’s important to stay motivated and plan your day (or week, or project) by mapping out a concrete action plan to help you feel more focused and accomplished in less time.

Napoleon Hill quote about procrastination

What is an Action Plan?

An action plan is a proposed strategy to accomplish your goals. It’s a clear, detailed list of all the steps you need to take to reach your goal, along with a proposed timeline of when you’ll complete each step or task.

This sounds like a lot of work but in the end, it will actually help you achieve your desired goal faster and more efficiently. (We can already feel you wanting to procrastinate!) They are especially helpful to those who know what they need to do but easily get sidetracked.

What is the Purpose of an Action Plan?

By breaking down projects into smaller steps, you can ensure that you:

  • Meet your goal in a timely fashion
  • Don’t skip a step
  • Communicate effectively with team members
  • Set reasonable expectations for what you can accomplish in a specific period of time

Action plans are good for all sizes of projects and vary in complexity.

Are you convinced you need action plans in your life, yet? 

How to Write an Action Plan

Action plans can be as simple or complex as they need to be. Before you start writing out the steps to reach your goal, you’ll need to identify what that goal actually is.

Get very clear on what it is you want, why it’s important, and when you need it done. Create a SMART Action Plan by incorporating SMART goals into it. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. This framework will help you determine if your goal is realistic, identify what actions are needed to reach your goals, and defines what your success will look like.

Follow these steps to create your plan of action:

  1. Use a template or tool to capture your action plan and share it with anyone who needs to be involved. (Do a Google search for free templates.)
  2. Brainstorm. Consider all the steps that need to get done to complete your project. You may find it helpful to start with larger aspects of the project and then break those down into smaller tasks. No task is too small to be listed.
  3. Delegate and assign responsibilities to team members. 
  4. Schedule due dates. It’s a good idea to assign due dates to keep you on course. Keep in mind that some tasks can be worked on at the same time, while others will require that a previous task has been finished before you can start the new one. (You may look into task software.)
  5. Set up alerts to keep yourself (and your team) on track. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget about a larger project looming in the distance. Use your scheduled due dates to set up reminders and pencil in time to work on specific tasks.
  6. Track your progress and check in with your team. Your action plan may have looked top-notch when you wrote it, but as you work through it, you may discover that things need to change. Falling behind in the tasks? You may need to tweak your plan.
  7. Celebrate. Completing a project is cause for celebration.

Action plans will not only help you achieve your goals and feel accomplished once you’ve accomplished them. Formats for your plan may differ depending on your specific project. As long as you include the goal, the steps, the people involved, and the due dates, you’ll have a solid plan to work with.

Are you a constant procrastinator? This article may help. 

By Leslie Radford
upset customer on phone

How to Deal With Difficult Customers

Key Points

Listening to upset customers helps you understand how to interact with them in your business. Here are 7 tips to manage conflict with a customer.

Often, difficult or angry customers aren’t expressing frustration with you. These emotions are tied to external situations and psychological stimuli. What you need are communication skills to manage difficult customers. Take these tips into consideration when dealing with upset customers.

upset customer on phone

Practice reflective listening.

Telling someone, “I understand,” doesn’t always make someone feel better. This kind of broad statement will not calm the customer down. When a customer is telling you their issue, practice reflective listening. 

Reflective listening requires that you understand what the other person is saying by interpreting their words and their body language. Once you’ve analyzed the situation, then you respond by reflecting the thoughts and feelings you heard back to your customer.

Example of practicing reflective listening:

Customer: “I’m frustrated because we have a limited budget and you’re unwilling to offer us a discount.”

Customer Success Manager: “So, what I’m hearing is that our pricing is a barrier for your business. Your budget is tight, and I’m not offering a discount that meets your needs. Is that correct?”

If you’ve adequately understood their sentiment, move on. If not, say, “Tell me more, so I can better understand.” Never promise you’ll fix the situation — because you might not be able to. Your goal at this moment is to make your customer feel heard and valued.

Consider their affect heuristic.

The affect heuristic is a mental shortcut that helps you make quick and efficient decisions based on how you feel toward a person, place, or situation. It explains the fact that we all make decisions and judgments based on our worldviews and experiences.

In these situations, objective facts carry little weight for us. Instead, we run the decision or situation through our internal “software” and develop our own opinions based on what we already know. One’s affect heuristic is subjective and based on their past experiences.

Example of the affect heuristic:

Ask questions to understand the root cause of their apprehension. The questions below can help your customer relax, and yield insights into why they’re unwilling to move forward:

  • “I’d like to understand. Tell me more about why you’re skeptical.”
  • “What can I do to relieve your fears?”
  • “How can I help you feel comfortable enough to move forward?”

These questions also redirect their mind from thinking you’re untrustworthy to proactively considering what they need to move forward.

Tap into the beginner’s mind.

The beginner’s mind is the strategy of approaching every situation as if you were a beginner. When you adopt this way of thinking, you enter every conversation with the “don’t know” mind, which keeps you from prejudging a customer or their situation.

It also encourages you to live without “shoulds.” These are nagging thoughts like:

  • The customer should have already known they wouldn’t have a budget until next quarter.
  • The customer should have read my email about their discount expiration.
  • The customer should not have assumed I would be available for weekly consultations.

“Shoulds” put your mind on the defensive and jeopardize the productivity of the conversation before it even begins.

Let go of being an expert. Sure, you’re an expert in your product/service, and you might be an expert in customer service, but you’re not an expert in this customer, their situation, or the conversation you’re currently engaging in.

Example of tapping into the beginner’s mind:

So, instead of saying, “You told me you wanted to increase your inbound lead generation by 20% by the end of this month, and these delays won’t make this possible” approach each conversation with the beginner’s mind. Don’t prejudge your customer’s frustration, forget about what they should have done, and view each conversation as a new puzzle to be solved.

Try saying, “It looks like with these delays, we won’t be able to meet our inbound lead generation goal. But, let’s see what we can do to get the results we’re looking for.” This approach acknowledges the problem but immediately begins working towards a solution.

Let go of fear.

Fear of a negative outcome drives many of our reactions. Commonly, fear makes us want to control things. If a customer is being difficult, there is a fear of challenging them and damaging the relationship. If a customer expresses displeasure with your timeline or pricing structure, the fear is we might not be able to fix the situation.

First, let go of the idea that you need to fix anything. When sitting down with a difficult customer, your job is to listen, understand, and discern the next steps; not immediately produce a solution.

Example of letting go of fear:

So, instead of apologizing, slapping together a mediocre fix, or validating feelings, say, “It’s unfortunate X happened. I’m aware of how this is affecting your business, and I appreciate your patience as I work to resolve this matter.”

Remember that anger is natural.

The Recalibration Theory of Anger says this emotion is naturally wired into humans. In short, anger is our evolutionary way of bargaining. We furrow our brows, press our lips together, and flare our nostrils in to drive our “opponent” to place a higher value on what we have to offer.

Example of using anger to bargain with a customer:

When faced with an angry customer, avoid the (natural) tendency to justify your position. Instead, understand that they’re merely feeling undervalued and attempting to control the situation.

Take your customer’s frustration seriously, but not personally. Remain calm and actively listen to what your customer says. When you’ve confirmed you understand their frustration, thank them for communicating it, and tell them you’ll get back to them with a solution.

When a customer’s angry, no solution may make them feel better. Give them time to cool off. Consult with your manager or partner on the best way to move forward.

Keep calm and carry on.

Conflict is a part of business and how you react under fire impacts the future of your customer relationships.

The adage, “The customer is always right” still rings true. You have far more to lose by taking the low road and stooping to a customer’s level of hostility.

Treating someone with disdain or disrespect can reflect negatively on you and your company, so reputation management should always be top of mind.

Remember, people will often mirror the emotional signals you emit. If you respond with hostility and anger, don’t expect friendliness and understanding in return.

Use these tips for navigating your next conflict:

  • Maintain a calm and professional tone while also remaining assertive.
  • Refrain from name-calling or finger-pointing.
  • Never say or write anything that can be used against you.
  • Always resolve disputes in person or over the phone. Email is not an effective tool for hashing out disagreements.

Use your support resources.

These are the tricks you can use during a call, chat, or in-person interaction to deal with a difficult customer. While they should be used on a case-by-case basis, here are a few resources reps should learn to master:

  • Placing a customer on a strategic hold to buy time or de-escalate emotion.
  • Setting up a screen share or recording troubleshooting steps to explain a complex solution.
  • Ask a colleague for additional confirmation when you know your solution will work. (This can build rapport with a customer who’s dubious of your advice.)

Example of using your resources:

Let’s say one of your most-loyal customers calls your support team with a common problem but they’re convinced the issue is extremely complex. When you show them the proven solution, they insist that they’ve gone through the steps exactly how you outlined them. Now, they’re starting to get frustrated because they suspect you don’t trust that they followed your directions.

This is an excellent opportunity to use a strategic hold. Tell the customer you’d like to look into this issue to make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary with their product or service. You can tell them you’re performing diagnostics, referring to a colleague, or simply “running tests” to ensure things are working properly.

After a minute or two of sitting silently, return to the call and ask the customer to perform the troubleshooting steps again, but this time, do it together. This puts you in a win-win situation, because either you’ll spot the user error, or you’ll identify the abnormality without making the customer feel like they’re repeating steps for no reason.

how to deal with angry customers infographic

Is it Worth it to Deal with Angry Customers?

In short, yes. Dealing with angry customers can be difficult, but angry, demanding, or hard to please customers are beneficial to your company’s success by providing opportunities to improve your business.

These tips all have one element in common in dealing with difficult customers: listening. Listening to upset customers helps you understand how to interact with them in your business.

Dealing with unhappy customers is never easy. Many customers just want to be heard and for their problems to be understood. By actively listening to a customer’s concerns, you can see an alternative point of view on how your business can improve a product or service and help to improve the structure of your business.

No company is exempt from having difficult customers, but allowing your customers to be heard and understood can increase brand loyalty, product or services, and conflict resolution training skills.

Learn 3 Ways to Provide Excellent Customer Service.

By Leslie Radford
business startup concept

Tips for Starting a Business in an Uncertain Economy

Key Points

Learn what industries were affected during the pandemic along with tips for testing the waters for your new business venture.

Starting a small business is hard work in any environment, but it’s even more challenging in a tough economy. Small business owners must hone their business plans. If you create a thorough business plan for starting and growing your company you can stay focused on your goal when things inevitably get tough.

If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, consider the following tips for successfully building your business in a challenging economy.

Tips for Starting a Business in an Uncertain Economy

1) Be Real with People.

Don’t gloss over the realities people are facing. Offer support.

2) Prepare to adapt.

Prepare for business to be slow, but also be open and willing to adapt. You may have to broaden your horizons or niche down.

3) Track your expenses.

Keep track of your finances. You need to know where every dollar goes. Cash flow is crucial in times of uncertainty.

4) Get clear on your audience and their problems.

Know the problems they face and how you can solve them. Don’t start a business if there is no need for your product or service. 

5) Build an audience first.

Network and build an audience before launching. You can build an audience for free through a blog and on social media. Make sure to collect feedback — it will tell you whether or not you’re heading in the right direction.

6) Get moving.

Crises inevitably end. If you start moving now, you’ll be the one standing while others take time to get back up and running. Start small and grow over time.

7) Do your research.

Nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. That number jumps to almost two-thirds by 10 years. There are plenty of reasons why a business fails, but CB Insights found that 35% of startups fail because there’s no market need.  The way around this is to research your target audience before starting a business. Look into economic trends, consumer behavior, audience demographics, and competition.

The Truth About Uncertainty

Economic Uncertainty Headline

While uncertain times surely make it harder to build a business, the truth is that there truly is no certain or perfect time to do so. If you’re considering starting a new venture, evaluate your life, relationships, and bank account and decide if they’re sturdy enough to ride the waves of entrepreneurship. 

Be prepared for the ups and downs of business-building. Add safety nets before starting your business (whether that’s having X months’ living expenses saved, a healthy pipeline of leads, etc.), and know that there’s always risk involved.

Data from several sources continues to support those looking to start a new business. The Census Bureau reported that more than 4.4 million new companies were created in the U.S. during 2020 — a record-setting high. This is a 24% increase from 2019 and 51% higher than the average from 2010-2019. 

The influx of entrepreneurial activity during 2020 didn’t just set records in the US. It was also the largest increase of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or the G20 with available data.

Before taking the leap, consider which industries have been most affected by the pandemic and which may be the most profitable. Retail, food service, and logistics have seen major losses. However, finance, construction, and eCommerce barely slowed down. 

Your chosen industry plays a part, as well as the amount of additional funding you can get from the government and private stipends. But it’s clear that the economy is getting back on its feet, and more people than ever before are setting up their own businesses.

When Is The Best Time to Start a Business

Ask any entrepreneur when is the best time to start a business and they’ll probably tell you “there is no perfect time.” Every business takes dedication, strong leadership, a great product or service, and a little luck.

Research from the Kauffman Foundation found that 30% of new entrepreneurs in 2020 were unemployed when they started their companies. Some entrepreneurs had ideas brewing for a while and took advantage of downtime during lockdown to create their own companies. 

See what the experts are saying.

The Bottom Line

There are unique benefits associated with starting a business in any economy. If you do your homework, think strategically, and take advantage of every opportunity to minimize costs while maximizing the value to your customers, you can build a foundation for long-lasting business success.

 

By Leslie Radford
lady organizing her office

How to Improve Your Organizational Skills at Work

Key Points

Learn how to get and stay organized along with the tools that can help you do so

Having organizational skills means that you can meet deadlines and be efficient in your workflow management. In fact, organizational skills can be synonymous with energy and time management. When you’re organized, you can get things done faster and more efficiently.

Organizational skills are very important in the workplace, especially if you are a solopreneur.

Let’s discuss what organizational skills are, specific examples of what they look like in action, and how to develop organizational skills in the workplace.

lady organizing her office

What are Organizational Skills?

Organizational skills mean you have the ability to use your time and resources efficiently and effectively. You’re able to manage your time, energy, and physical workspace so you can successfully accomplish tasks.

Organizational skills are about building structure, boosting productivity, and prioritizing the right tasks at the right time.

In contrast, procrastination leads to clutter, inefficiency, and miscommunication.

Having organizational skills means you’re able to come up with an effective plan for your work schedule. Many people with good organizational skills break up projects into smaller goals so they are easier to accomplish.

Importance of Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are important because they’ll help you get tasks done on time. These types of skills are important in the workplace because managers will see that you can handle your tasks, and have autonomy over your own projects. This will help you get promotions and references if you apply to new jobs in the future. As a sole proprietor, these skills will reflect how your customers and clients perceive your ability to run your business. Being constantly unorganized can turn off customers.

If you don’t have a plan in place for how you’re going to accomplish something, it will be much harder for you to achieve. You’ll need to be able to anticipate how long a task will take, what resources you’ll need to complete that task, and have the discipline to block out the necessary time to finish it.

Types of Organizational Skills

If you break down organizational skills into specific skills, here’s what they would look like:

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Delegation
  • Attention to detail
  • Decision making
  • Strategic planning
  • Goal setting
  • Creative thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Productivity
  • Managing priorities
  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Deadlines
  • Scheduling
  • Conflict management
  • Office management

How to Develop Organizational Skills

Enhance your organizational skills with these tips:

  • Own your calendar.
  • Make lists.
  • Figure out what tools will help you.
  • Communicate with your team.
  • Declutter your workspace.

Own your calendar

Man Using Calendar App on Tablet at Work

The best way to develop organizational skills is to truly own your calendar. Block off time where you need to get work done. Then, create a schedule for yourself that is realistic to stick to. Know yourself and when the best time is for you to get certain tasks done. For example, are meetings better for you in the afternoon or in the morning? If you can run a more effective meeting in the morning, try to avoid them in the afternoon.  It’s hard to stay organized when you have random meetings popping up on your calendar.

Work in 30-minute increments. By keeping a smaller block of time, you know you’ll need to complete a task accordingly and can get more done in the day.

Make lists and prioritize items

When you have a lot on your to-do list, you can make separate lists for what needs to get done and when. Have a running to-do list where you add everything you need to do for the week. Then, break that down into daily to-do lists. You can organize your lists by tasks, meetings, reminders, etc. It also helps to put the top 3 things you need to do for the day at the top. Having smaller lists will prevent overwhelm.

Figure out what tools will help you

Obviously, everyone works differently. Some people like to have a physical calendar and some like a digital calendar. Find out which works best for you. These days, there’s an app for everything from to-do lists to specialized calendars and project managers. Below is a quick list of physical and digital tools to help you stay organized.

Physical Tools

  • Planner
  • Calendar
  • Notepad
  • Folders
  • Journals

Digital Tools

  • Google Calendar
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Evernote
  • Teuxdeux

Communicate with your team

Another way to develop organizational skills is to communicate with your team. It’s important to communicate your plan of action to any necessary stakeholders. Additionally, communication will help keep you accountable.

If you’re working on a project with several people, you can communicate updates on your part of the project as they occur or at the end of the day. This is a great way to keep the team organized and on task.

Declutter your workspace

Lastly, to truly be organized, your workspace should be free from clutter. While not everyone likes to keep everything neat and tidy all the time, you should still only have necessary items on your desk so you don’t get distracted. Piles of paperwork and unnecessary items will only overwhelm you. When you need to find an item, it’s important that you know exactly where it is and it doesn’t get lost.

Organizational Skills in the Workplace

Organizational skills don’t just mean that you keep to-do lists. It means you manage your time efficiently, you’re productive, can solve problems, and think critically. That’s why it’s important to develop your organizational skills whenever you can. Find blogs and podcasts that can keep you motivated to stay organized and you’ll be successful.

By Leslie Radford
Happy man in Santa hat with bags on Christmas market

Focus on Customer Service This Holiday Season

Key Points

Going above and beyond for your customers will keep them coming back.

 

We all know that it’s far more affordable to retain your customers than it is to attract new ones. It’s important that you know your customers and how you can go above and beyond for them. The holiday season is a fantastic opportunity to remind your customers why they should stick around for another year (or more).

While every day is a good day to delight your customers, these best practices are especially important around the holidays, when stress levels rise and patience levels drop. Here are some ways you can do extra for your customers this season.

6 Ways to Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

happy man reaching in box at christmas

1) Prepare for the holiday rush

The holiday season is a crazy time, so make each and every interaction with your company a positive one. Being prepared will help you do so. While customers may expect longer lines and wait times around the end of the year, it’s never a bad thing to surprise them with the opposite. Keep your customer service team well-staffed so they can engage with customers when needed. Limiting how many people they have to interact with will keep frustration levels low and holiday spirits up.

2) Pay attention to your social media channels

Consumers send more messages to businesses during the holidays. According to recent research by Sprout Social, retailers can expect an average of 18% more social messages per month during 2021’s holiday season than normal months. More and more, people are wanting to interact with customer service on social media instead of standing in lines or holding the phone. Interaction with messaging systems is much more convenient.

Have support reps available to help on social media, and maybe even add more reps to your channels during the holiday season to ensure someone is always ready to help. You’ll also be meeting customers where they already are, helping them succeed during the holiday season and continue to have seamless experiences.

3) Offer a compelling discount

By a compelling discount, we don’t simply mean “10% off your next order.” Instead, try a discount that will inspire your customer to continue shopping with you.

What that looks like will depend on your product or service. You should focus on the value your product or service provides customers, not just the price you discount it by. In other words, position yourself in a way where buying your product is a complete no-brainer.

Write your promotion carefully. According to Psychology Today, a “Get $ Off” promotion emphasizes achieving a gain, while the “Save $” wording emphasizes avoiding a loss — and customers recognize that difference.

4) Get personal

Great customer service is about more than just solving your customer’s issue. Go above and beyond to personally remind your customers how grateful you are for their business and why you care. 

We may live in a digital world, but it means a lot to receive something handwritten, and capitalizing on the holiday spirit in this way can build a positive brand association. This could be a simple greeting or thank you card in the mail or as extravagant as a gift delivered to their door.

Here are some of his best practices for personalized communication with customers:

  • Use tone and language that aligns with your customers’ knowledge and experience with the product.
  • Listen to your customer and empower them. Asking the customer direct questions about their preferences both personalizes the experience and builds their confidence in the product.
  • Send follow-up messages to customers after each interaction to thank them and offer further assistance if needed.
  • Recommend features and tools based on their history and business needs and always provide notated documentation.
  • The strategy of sending personalized notes or gifts works well because, with every exchange, customers are encouraged to become brand ambassadors.

5) Invest in premium packaging

Anyone that’s spent any amount of time wrestling with a roll of wrapping paper and tape dispenser knows the value of a pretty package. In fact, according to a recent Dotcom Distribution packaging study, branded or gift-like packaging makes customers more excited about receiving an item, especially younger shoppers. 

Moreover, 42% of respondents credited sustainable packaging as a feature most likely to make them want to shop with a brand again. 

First impressions make a huge difference in our fast-paced, digital lives, so using premium packaging allows your product to stand out against others. 

6) Be transparent about the small print

Refund and exchange policies, as well as additional services, are often part of the small print on your website or receipts. As busy and loud as the holiday season is, do your customers a favor and place those policies and services front and center. 

When buying gifts, customers prefer a return policy that ensures they can easily return them. You have a better shot at increasing sales and keeping if you can offer this, especially if you offer free returns. In fact, 55% of consumers won’t even shop with a company that doesn’t offer free returns.

Delight Your Customers

white christmas gift with red bow

These customer service strategies are a chance to delight your customers, express your gratitude, and remind them why you care.

By offering compelling discounts with creative call-to-actions will inspire your customers to buy, but great customer service is why they will return. Remember to focus on the value that you are bringing your customer, not just how low you can get your prices.

 

By Leslie Radford

 

christmas tree close up with office party in background

How to Plan Your Office Holiday Party in 2021

Key Points

Things to consider when planning your holiday party along with ideas for virtual and in-person events

If your office is back to working in person, your holiday party may look a little different this year with social distancing still being a thing. If you haven’t returned fully to in-person, you may be looking for new ways to still host a holiday party to boost morale. Either way, NuvoDesk can help you out with ideas and steps to plan the perfect holiday party at work.

Be Mindful of Your Holiday Gathering

Holiday parties are meant to celebrate your company’s accomplishments and express gratitude to your employees. And my goodness, do we ever need little celebrations and to cherish moments of gratitude after 2021 and 2020!

Taking into account the necessary Covid precautions, there’s a little more preparation that will go into your end of 2021 company party. You want to be mindful of everyone’s comfort levels considering we are still amid the pandemic.

Your employees may feel more comfortable with an in-person party that requires masks. The ones who don’t want to wear masks or be so close to others may prefer a virtual party. The best thing you can do is ask them what they want so you can make everyone feel comfortable and have a good time.

Virtual, In-Person, and Hybrid Gatherings

  • Host an online white elephant gift exchange.  Using a site like https://www.whiteelephantonline.com/, you can have fun exchanging gifts while social distancing. Set a gift amount limit, meet up online, unwrap a gift from the virtual table, and view & steal gifts from fellow participants just like in person.
  • Virtual holiday pub quiz. Pub quizzes are a fantastic way to bring the team together. This lively holiday party idea is ideal if you have some trivia fans in your midst, and it works well for larger groups. Transform a regular pub quiz into the perfect holiday party quiz by adding some festive flair. You could fashion your own game on zoom or use something like https://breakoutiq.com/.  This can easily be set up for an in-person gathering.
  • Painting party. A virtual painting party is a great option for organizations looking to buck the party trend. It’s a relaxing experience that your team can enjoy together to embrace the holiday season, and it makes a refreshing change if being lively and extroverted isn’t your team’s style. Many companies out there will arrange for painting supplies to be sent to your party guests with instructions so everyone can paint together!
  • Virtual Happy Hour. Choose a platform to host your happy hour (Zoom works) and spice it up with a theme (ugly sweater contest anyone?). You could play drinking games or give everyone a chance to share a holiday cocktail recipe. The options are limitless. You could also use something like Hoppier.com to set up and send out virtual credit cards for your team members where they can order drinks to be sent to their homes and it’s also a simple way to give back to your coworkers. 
  • Escape Rooms. Good for team-building and also just downright fun! These will be hard to reserve throughout December, so plan well in advance. Afterward, grabs some drinks or dinner.
  • Rent a Movie Theater. Rent out a movie theater and watch the latest blockbuster with all of your employees. It’s an easy way to get everyone together in one place without having to worry about food or drinks.
  • A Cookie Decorating Class. Can be done in person or virtually or both! Decorating is fun for everybody and adds a flair to a traditional holiday party while doing something a little different. 

How To Host A Successful Holiday Party

christmas office party close up

Planning, setting up, and hosting a successful holiday party comes down to a lot of small decisions. Here are some things to consider when planning a holiday gathering whether in-person or online:

Set A Date  

  • Send a survey to employees with possible date options
  • Select the date with the most votes
  • Send a “Save the Date”- this can also be done via monday.com

Budget It  

  • Determine how much you want to spend for a budget to be set.
  • List party elements in order of importance (entertainment, food, decoration, gifts, etc.)

Type of Party  

 

  • In-person event
  • Hybrid event
  • Virtual event
  • An after-hours party
  • Formal event
  • Casual affair
  • Themed party
  • Venue 
  • At the office
  • At a home
  • At a local venue

Tip: Consider the following elements when selecting a location for your event: price to book the location, size/maximum occupancy, the proximity of the venue to work, and available facilities.

Transportation 

  • Pay for Uber rides
  • Hire a bus
  • Have a carpool sign-up sheet.

Food 

  • Buffet
  • Sit-down dinner
  • Floating appetizers
  • Venue-supplied food and beverages
  • Potluck

Drinks 

  • Holiday-themed cocktails
  • Open bar
  • Just wine (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)

Entertainment 

 

  • Holiday music
  • Live entertainment
  • DJ
  • Low-key tunes
  • Games

Other

To make those precious memories last, you can hire a photographer and set up a photo booth to capture holiday laughter and fun.

Party Time

festive guitar

Whether you decide to have an in-person party or a virtual one, the key is for everyone to have fun!

Need a space to host your holiday gathering? NuvoDesk has an event center perfect for you! 

 

By Leslie Radford
small business saturday tag on canvas

Small Business Saturday Ideas You Can Use To Sell More This Year

Key Points

Small Business Saturday – what it is, how it came to be, how to support a small business, and some ideas you can implement into your small business to help it grow.

 

If you think about it, every business started out as a small business. Even Amazon started in a garage as a small business! Small businesses become larger businesses because consumers like what they had to offer. 

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 27 this year. Let’s take a look at what it is, how it came to be, and some ideas you can implement into your business to help it grow.

What is the Purpose of Small Business Saturday?

SBS encourages consumers to keep it close to home when buying gifts this holiday season. Spending money locally helps everyone in the community prosper.

History Of Small Business Saturday

American Express, a U.S. corporation with $37 billion in revenue in 2018, started Small Business Saturday in 2010. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) joined as a co-sponsor five years later. SBS has become an important part of how many small businesses launch their busiest shopping season.

According to the 2018 SBS Consumer Insights Survey, the total reported spending among U.S. consumers who said they shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on the day reached a record high of approximately $17.8 billion. The same survey reported that more than 70% of consumers are now aware of the Small Business Saturday initiative. Based on this annual survey over the years, SBS spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began.

 

Most Popular Things To Buy Local

According to one study, the following are things consumers are most likely to buy from a small business.

Most Popular Things To Buy Local  bar chart

Small Business Saturday Statistics

99.7% of all U.S. businesses are small businesses

64% of new jobs created in the U.S. between 1993 and 2011 were from small businesses

Small businesses donate 250% more to non-profits and community causes

Small Business Saturday Activities

Here are some things you can do to support small businesses:

Go On A Local Shopping Spree

Many shoppers opt for big box stores on Black Friday, knowing that there’ll be sales on common holiday gifts. Small businesses sometimes offer many similar discounts — but without the marketing dollars to display the price cuts, they’re often left out in the cold. If you were planning on purchasing a TV this holiday season, try calling your local electronics store to see if they’re offering any discounts first.

Talk About It

Social media is a wonderful way to share our daily lives with friends, but sometimes, letting them know about a good deal from an e-commerce giant or a big box store can feel like advertising. With small businesses, it’s different: Instead of contributing to some corporation’s bottom line, you can rest easy knowing that you’re helping a neighbor succeed.

Make It A Habit

Small Business Saturday only lasts for one day, but you can get acquainted with your local shops. Don’t let another year pass before your next visit! For small businesses to succeed, they need our support throughout the year.

Think Big Shop Small signage

6 Small Business Saturday Ideas You Can Use To Sell More This Year

According to one survey of 5,000 consumers, 72 percent of people said they will make more of an effort to support small businesses this year. Use these simple ideas to make sure you’re a part of the big day.

1) Own your identity as a small business

Customers want to shop small this year so highlight your identity as a small business. Tell your story of how and why you got started. Remind your customers of ways you’ve gotten involved in local community efforts. Share what makes your products or services special and personal. Don’t be shy about talking about what makes you different from the big box stores. 

2) Craft a compelling Small Business Saturday offer or discount

It’s so important to have a great offer to help your business stand out from the crowd. Start thinking about your audience and what would appeal to them. What is your store known for? Has anything worked particularly well in the past?

Here are some examples of offers you might want to consider:

  • 15 percent discount on all new items
  • Free coffee and cookies for guests while they shop
  • Free gift with any purchase over $50
  • 20% off your next purchase when you spend $40 or more
  • Free gift wrapping

3) Send out an email series

Email marketing is a tool that helps you reach your customers and prospects, directly in their inbox. (Click here to learn who NuvoDesk recommends for help with email marketing.)

When people sign up to your mailing list, they’re interested in what your business has to offer and are interested in supporting your business. Let people know why shopping small is important for your community. You can include a special offer or exclusive content to promote Small Business Saturday.

Consider partnering with other local businesses in order to promote each other. Let your email readers know where they can shop local on Small Business Saturday. It’s recommended that you use a series of 3 emails to remind people to shop with you. This time of year is busy, so these emails are a great way to remind people and get them to take action to support your business:

Email 1:  Send an announcement email as soon as possible. Let them know that Small Business Saturday is coming up and why they should shop locally. Include the details about your offer.

Email 2: Send a reminder email a week before. Remind them of the deadline and your offer so they don’t forget.

Email 3:  A day or two before Small Business Saturday, send a last-chance email so they don’t forget to shop with you and use your offer.

4) Reach interested customers on social media

Social media is a tool that will help you expand your reach to even more potential customers. Start by sharing similar content used in your email series on social media. Use the content and offer you’ve added to your email campaign to promote the idea of shopping small.

Create a series of three social posts, just like you did with your email series; an announcement, reminder, and last-chance reminder to keep the buzz going. (We partner with these guys to make sure our social media makes an impact.)

5) Prepare your physical store (if you have one)

Now that the word’s out, make sure you’re stocked and staffed for success. Think about your staff and what their strengths are, then assign tasks to each member to cut out any confusion when your store is filled with eager shoppers.

You could also print out an email sign-up sheet ahead of time and encourage shoppers to share their email addresses to stay in touch throughout the rest of the holiday season and into the new year. Don’t forget to snap a few photos to capture the excitement in your store. Share them on social media.

6) Keep the momentum going

As exhausting as the day might be, don’t overlook the importance of follow-up in the week after Small Business Saturday. A small thank you can go a long way, and it will only take a few minutes to create. Depending on how many photos you took, you could share an album on Facebook, or simply pick the best one to share with your fans via SMS.

You can keep your text simple — try something like, “Thanks to everyone who stopped by to #ShopSmall this Saturday. We appreciate your support and hope to have you back again soon!”

Next, add your new email subscribers to your list and send out a quick email.

In any follow-up message you send, your goal should be to remind your customers of their great experience with you and entice them to visit again soon. Include an image to make the thank you more personal and include an offer to bring people back into your store before the end of the year.

 

Encourage Your Customers To Shop Small This Year

Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store, you can take some of these ideas to use for your service or products. Partnerships can go a long way. Referrals are extremely important, so start telling your friends and neighbors to #ShopSmall.

 

NuvoDesk supports small businesses just like yours!

job description typewriter

How to Write a Professional Job Description

How to Write a Professional Job Description

In this Article –

 

Job description definition

How to write a job description

Job description essentials

 

Your business is growing and you need extra hands. How do you write a job description that will get a qualified person in the position you’re seeking to hire?

Here are some things to consider when writing up a job description.

job description typewriter

What Is a Job Description?

A job description is a medium by which hiring managers communicate their needs to both external and internal candidates. 

For the employer, the job description lays out essential information about the role, the candidate’s experience, skills, and readiness.

For the employee, the job description describes the responsibilities, tasks, and related duties of a position. It will often include additional information such as education, qualifications, and skills required for the role. You can also expect important details like working conditions, compensation offering, physical demands, and tools or equipment required.

 

How to Write a Job Description

It can be as short or as long as you like. As descriptive or vague as you want. It can also have hidden instructions to gauge people’s attention to detail. Most importantly, it should be clear and concise. You can use it briefly when posting a job offering and give the candidate more details during an interview.

Ideas to Get You Started

1. Jot Down the Position’s Responsibilities and Duties

Some critical questions to ask yourself as you write this are:

  • What does their day-to-day look like?
  • What tasks do you expect they own and complete in a timely manner?
  • Who else do they interact with day-to-day and how are they accountable to those people?
  • If they were to provide reports or updates to someone what metrics are included?

Be as specific as possible here to make their day-to-day and your performance evaluations easier.

2. List Experience and Skills Required

Now that you’ve specified responsibilities and daily activities it is time to create your wishlist of skills, experience, and education. Who is your ideal candidate? 

Take another stab at your wishlist and order it from most important to least important. Finally, add in what’s required and what’s optional.

3. Include Desired Soft Skills and Personality Traits

Describe their education and experience that fit your culture. Do they have the soft skills to pull off their job function? Here are a few questions to consider when dreaming up the right candidate:

  • Do you need a self-starter or someone who can simply follow directions?
  • Will they work independently or as part of a team?
  • How flexible is the role? Do they follow checklists or is a lot of it creativity?

Describe the current team’s personality or the company’s culture. Jot down what you want and what you don’t want.

4. Determine Compensation

How much would you have to pay that ideal person and how likely it is to find that person? Decide if it’s an entry-level position or a higher tier that requires more experience and a higher starting salary.

A fair salary is a must, but how else can you entice a candidate to apply?

Consider adding monetary and non-monetary benefits besides salary. Sometimes people will take a lower-paying role if the health, dental, and retirement benefits are excellent. Or if they know there’s a lot of opportunity for growth at the company.

Determine ahead of time if there’s a salary cap or a merit increase schedule and what you’re comfortable paying year over year.

5. Write the Job Description

You now have everything you need to write your job description.

Start by writing the job title and a brief introduction to the company. Explain what the company does, how many employees you have, and your overall mission.

Next, add position details, including job requirements and day-to-day responsibilities. Ensure that they understand both the opportunities and the challenges of the role. The more transparent the better so nobody wastes their time.

Add in miscellaneous details like work hours, location, compensation, and start details.

Finally, list out the attributes that the ideal candidate would possess, ranging from education to prior work experience and soft skills. Ensure that they know what’s required and what’s optional.

 

Job Description Essentials

We’ll leave you with some best practices for writing an effective job description:

  • Transparency is key – Glassdoor and job review sites are widely used so it’s better to disclose any and all rough aspects of the job or the company upfront.
  • Limit industry jargon – It will only discourage candidates from applying.
  • Help them do research – Link your website, social media pages, and relevant press releases so they can easily do more research on your company and its values.
  • Talk about your customers – Give them industry insights so they have a better understanding of what they’re signing up for.

The last and best piece of advice on writing job descriptions is don’t start from scratch. There are countless jobs out there just like the one you’re posting. Use them as inspiration and adapt them to your needs.

networking graphic

Three Most Important Reasons You Should be Networking for Your Small Business

Three Most Important Reasons You Should be Networking for Your Small Business

By Leslie Radford

Key Takeaways

Business Leads and Referrals

Connections

Visibility

There are many reasons networking is important to your small business. It can help you build leads, get referrals, make important connections with people in your industry or community, build your confidence in connecting with others and, so much more. Networking can also help you identify opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures, or expanding your business. 

Here are the three most important reasons you should be networking for your small business. 

networking graphic

1. Business Leads and Referrals

It is vital to your business’s success that you acquire business leads and gain referrals. Without them, you do not have a business. You should use every social and professional opportunity to meet and connect with new people and use them to open doors for additional business opportunities.

People want to help others so make sure to communicate professionally when you follow up on leads and not badger them for business. Be sensitive to timing and use common courtesy when following up with contacts. When they discover you have value, are courteous, and feel they can trust you with their own network of people, then these connections will be more likely to send you referrals. These referrals will get you higher quality leads compared to the leads you get from marketing, and thus increasing your business. Remember, you’re in the business of building relationships first. 

2. Connections

Networking can open the door to talk to highly influential people that can help grow your business. But it’s not just about who you are networking with directly either – that person will already have a network you can tap into as well. With the help of these connections, anytime you need something, you can easily call them to get some help that is needed. Whether you need a residential plumber, a business accountant, or anything else, somebody will know someone who can help you. Also, these people can give you advice on various matters that might help in improving your business.

3. Visibility

Meeting and communicating with potential clients and business partners on a regular basis will help maintain your business relationships. Attending networking events raises your personal profile and can help keep you front and center in the minds of the right people. You can build a reputation for yourself as a supportive, reliable, and knowledgeable person by offering tips and useful information to others.

When you have earned respect from everyone, you will get referrals much more easily. If you’re not out in your community spreading the word about you and your business, you will not be top of mind to those who may need your services or connections. 

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